Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs-Heavy Rockin’ Steady.

Label: BBE.

While many of Byram Joseph’s classmates at junior school  Sarnia, a small city in Southwestern Ontario, in Canada were interested in sport, the future Slakah The Beatchild was much more interested in music. He already had a small record collection which his parents had given him, and these had become his prized possessions. 

When returned home from school, Byram Joseph would spend time listening to his collection of records. It was becoming smothering of a daily ritual as he headed up to his room and spent time flicking through his collection looking for a record he wanted to listen to. He carefully lifted it onto the turntable and put the needle on the vinyl and then sat down and listened to the music. Before long, Byram Joseph had decided that he would also like to make music.

The instrument that Byram Joseph wanted to play was the drums. At first, Byram Joseph borrowed the pots and pans from the kitchen, which became a makeshift drum set. For a while, his parents watched on as their son happily pounded away at his drum kit. Eventually, Byram Joseph’s mother decided to enrol her ten-year old son in drum lessons.

Having started with the drum lessons, Byram Joseph later learnt to play the piano and took singing lessons. All this would prove invaluable when Byram Joseph dawned the moniker Slakah The Beatchild and embarked upon a career as a professional musician.

Soon, Slakah The Beatchild was a familiar face in Toronto’s recording studios, where he spent many a night serving the equivalent of a musical apprenticeship. This stood him in good stead when his solo career began.

In 2008, Slakah The Beatchild signed to British independent record label BBE, who had agreed to release his debut album. Later, that year, BBE released Slakah The Beatchild’s critically acclaimed debut album Soul Movement Vol.1 which was also nominated for a Juno Award in his native Canada. This was the start of a successful career for Slakah The Beatchild.

Just under three years later, and Slakah The Beatchild returned with his much-anticipated sophomore album Something Forever in February 2011. It was released to the same plaudits and praise as Soul Movement Vol.1. However, by the time Slakah The Beatchild returned with his critically acclaimed third album Soul Movement Vol.2 in March 2014, he had founded a new band.

Slakah The Beatchild’s had formed his new band The Slakadeliqs in early 2012. Soon, Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs were working on their debut album The Other Side of Tomorrow. It was released in September 2012, and at the end of the year, found its way onto the long-list for the prestigious Polaris music prize in Canada. However, it was a case of close but no cigar for Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs.

Just over five years later, and Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs returned with their eagerly awaited sophomore album Heavy Rockin’ Steady which was released by BBE in February 2018.  

Heavy Rockin’ Steady is captivating, eclectic and genre-melting album where Byram Joseph once again, showcases his skills as a songwriter, musician and producer. He wrote California Coastin’, In My Arms, 2nd Most and Beach, and cowrote the other six songs with various songwriting partners.  These songs were recorded at Beatchild Productions in Canada.

In Byram Joseph’s studio, the multi-instrumentalist, played most of the instruments on Heavy Rockin’ Steady. That was apart from when he recorded The Good Life and Ricky Tillo was brought onboard to add the guitar parts. Then when In My Arms was recorded, Anna Atkinson played the viola and violin parts. Meanwhile, Byram Joseph was taking charge of production and later mixed Heavy Rockin’ Steady. Now Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’s Heavy Rockin’ Steady sophomore album was almost ready to release.

There was just one thing left to do master Heavy Rockin’ Steady. To do that, Mandy Parnell one of the leading mastering engineers in the world was brought onboard. This was a real coup, as Mandy Parnell is an award-winning mastering engineer with twenty-four years of experience. Mandy Parnell mastered Heavy Rockin’ Steady at her own Black Saloon Studios, in Walthamstow Village in London. Once the album was mastered, Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’ sophomore album Heavy Rockin’ Steady was ready to release.

As California Coastin’ opens Heavy Rockin’ Steady, the sound of crackling vinyl and birdsong give way to a picked acoustic guitar and distant, tender scatted vocal. When it drops out a wistful rueful strings are joined by a strummed guitar, bass, beats and flute. By then, the sound of crackling vinyl, birdsong and distant vocal has returned and the track showcases a laid-back, dreamy sound. The tempo rises slightly  when a chirping guitar, rhythm section combine and the track reaches a memorable ending. In doing so, this sits the bar high for the rest of the album.

Very different is Giants and Monsters where Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs throw a curveball as acoustic guitar and a banjo are joined by ethereal harmonies and create a genre-melting track. Elements of bluegrass and country music have already inspired Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs. Soon, it’s all change as a piano interjects and the Beatchild sings call and respond with The Slakadeliqs. By then, the acoustic guitar and banjo have been joined by the rhythm section, weeping guitar, percussion and handclaps Meanwhile, the Beatchild’s soulful vocal delivers lyrics that are rich in imagery as The Slakadeliqs encourage him to greater heights. In doing so, they combines elements gospel during this captivating musical roller coaster ride.

Drums set these scene for Beatchild’s vampish  and charismatic vocal on The Good Life. Meanwhile, tight harmonies, handclaps, futuristic synths join the rhythm section who anchor the punchy, swinging arrangement. Beatchild seems to have embraced the role of frontman, and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Later, a blistering rocky guitar cuts through the arrangement and latterly, is joined by sci-fi synths as this irresistible track reaches a crescendo.

Just a lone guitar opens Bottom Of You and is joined by the Beatchild’s emotive and urgent vocal. He’s joined by handclaps and harmonies which answer his call. The harmonies and later, drums add to the urgency before keyboards are added. Later, as the Beatchild delivers a heartfelt vocal, he sings call and response with The Slakadeliqs. Behind them, drums pound,  banjo and keyboards play while the handclaps are omnipresent. They play their part in this slice of genre-melting paean which features a catchy good time sound.

Straight away, it sounds as if Your Believer (Say Goodbye) has been influenced by the Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra and The Beatles from post 1966. The Beatchild’s vocal is high and distant, and like the rest of the arrangement sits way back in the mix. Gradually, the rhythm section, guitars and multi-tracked vocals are brought to the front of the mix and the volume increases. Keyboards are added, and soon, are joined by pounding drums, tight harmonies, keyboards and a searing guitar. Later, sci-fi synths, chiming guitars, keyboards and cascading harmonies are added. Sometimes, instruments make a brief appearance, other times they play an important role in this carefully crafted multilayered track where sixties sunshine pop and psychedelia melt into one. It’s Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’ finest moment on Heavy Rockin’ Steady.

The first of the guest artists, Justin Nozuka makes an appearance on the piano led The Only Difference. It features another carefully crafted arrangement that gradually unfolds. From just stabs of a lone piano, hip hop beats where reverb has been added are joined by a chiming guitar and later, gospel-tinged harmonies. By then, there’s a more swing in the  drums and they play their part in the sound and success of this joyous and uplifting song. It’s a beautiful fusion of hip hop, Nu Soul and gospel harmonies 

In My Arms is another piano led track, but this time, space-age keyboards join a lysergic filtered vocal. Meanwhile, drums drive the arrangement along, while washes and stabs of keyboards join multi-racked harmonies and a scorching, searing vocal. Adding a contrast is the viola and violin, which sweep and swirl, while the piano and drums pound. Still, the vocal is lysergic and dreamy before a sample of a baby is added as this modern-day psychedelic symphony takes shape. It’s another of the highlights of Heavy Rockin’ Steady,

Straight away, there’s a cinematic and baroque sound to 2nd Most. However, it’s The Beatles have obviously influenced Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs. They create a cascading arrangement that is like a merry-go-round as psychedelia and sixties pop combine. Harmonies, handclaps, and guitar join with the rhythm section in providing a backdrop for the Beatchild’s otherworldly, dreamy and lysergic vocal. It plays its part on one of  Heavy Rockin’ Steady‘s finest moments.

The Remedy features the second guest vocalist Edda Magnason. Initially, the arrangement is understated,  allowing the tender, breathy vocal to take centre-stage. It’s accompanied by harmonies and a strummed guitar. However, when the vocal drops out, the rhythm section, guitar,  harmonies and weeping guitar are part of a Sg. Peppers’ inspired cascading arrangement. Later, the vocal is distant, dubby and haunting as the guitar, bass and glistening keyboards play leading roles. Together, they play their part in a spellbinding track that has been heavily inspired by sixties psychedelia.

It’s the piano then drums that play leading roles in Beach which closes Heavy Rockin’ Steady. These are the two instruments Byram Joseph first learnt to play. He’s a one man rhythm section who also plays the keyboards, rocky guitar and harpsichord. At 2.06 the instrumental pauses, adding a degree of drama. However, after this dramatic pause, the arrangement rebuilds and is driven along. Latterly, sounds assail the listener during this inventive instrumental. It closes Heavy Rockin’ Steady on a high.

After ten carefully crafted tracks lasting thirty-eight minutes,  Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’ eagerly awaited sophomore album Heavy Rockin’ Steady is over. Long before the final notes of Beach which closes Heavy Rockin’ Steady, it’s obvious that this is the finest album that Byram Joseph has released. Heavy Rockin’ Steady which was recently released by BBE, surpasses the quality of Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’ 2012 debut album The Other Side of Tomorrow. Heavy Rockin’ Steady also surpasses the two albums that Byram Joseph has released as Slakah The Beatchild. Quite simply, Heavy Rockin’ Steady is career-defining album from Byram Joseph.

Heavy Rockin’ Steady is also a musical roller coaster where Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs flit seamlessly between and sometimes combine disparate influences and genres. Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs draw inspiration from the Beach Boys, The Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra and everything from bluegrass, country, hip hop, Nu Soul, pop, psychedelia, rock and soul. There’s also hints of ambient, avant-garde and dream pop hidden within Heavy Rockin’ Steady which is a carefully crafted and captivating album full of subtleties and sonic surprises. 

Part of the success of Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’ Heavy Rockin’ Steady is down to Mandy Parnell’s mastering. She is one of the top mastering engineers, and is who the great and good of music go to when they want an album mastered. Mandy Parnell shows why, on Heavy Rockin’ Steady, and is responsible for a beautifully balanced album which truly is a pleasure to listen to. Hopefully, Mandy Parnell will be BBE go-to-mastering engineer in the future, that is if her busy schedule permits.

For everyone who has patiently awaited the release of Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs’ sophomore album Heavy Rockin’ Steady, their patience has definitely been rewarded. Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs have returned with Heavy Rockin’ Steady, which is carefully crafted career-defining, genre-melting opus that sets the bar high for future albums.

Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs-Heavy Rockin’ Steady.

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