Spring Releases on Planet Earth

Following on from Henrik‘s nifty round-up of the Hottest New Releases from Sheffield (read all about it HERE), we instructed noise-freak Captain Jack Avery to lend us his words summarising the musical goings on in February and March beyond the walls of the seven-hilled citadel.

Jack: The releases of the past couple of months stand as intergalactic evidence that the music scene right now is at some kind of lambent pinnacle on this fine Planet. It’s cruising at altitude! Zennithing frenetically! It’s like it’s fallen into some kind of apex wormhole and these past few years has been arguably the strongest and most vibrant it’s been for decades. And all this wild ecstatic quality just keeps comin’!!

I made a playlist! SPRING EVERYTHINGS

The past two months have provided lifeforms such as you and I with a deluge of beautiful and tropical sound from the Global Cosmic Scene: a monsoon of musical ephemera, a star-scattered constellation of song. From far-flung celestia fell unto Earth a space-gem of wild joy-noise from legendary futurists The Comet Is Coming. They released the quite wonderfully titled Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, an astral journey through kraut-jazz moonscapes of ecstatic galaxies and dream clouds to reveal a diversity of beguiling sounds, from aural meditations to wild groove jams. Arguably their best and most consistent LP yet, Trust… is a masterpiece of energy and form, and a shoe-in for the Mercury Planet music prize in this deranged astronaut’s humble opinion. Inspirational.


London-based acid-jazz collective KOKOROKO dropped their eponymous EP, a horn-laden funk jam guaranteed to get your feet moving, your head nodding and your mind soaring. Theon Cross unleashed the incandescent Fyah, a collection of serpentine tuba-driven bangers which drew together some of the finest players from the London scene to create some kind of inspirational solar wildness. It’s jazz but the kind of wild jazz you feel in your body, emanating power and vibration, without losing an ounce of soul. Feral and transcendent stuff!


From the burgeoning Leeds scene emerged ViperTime, a jazz-punk 4-piece fronted by Ben Powling on tenor sax and with Mattias Reed on bass, backed by two incredible drummers. From the depths of the snake pit came their debut single Augury, a hypnotic and visceral tune of reptilian proportions and a precognition of big things to come. PROLE JAZZ awaits more of this with deep impatience…

snake charmers

The Polyversal Souls of the divine Philophon Records continue an incredible run of afro-funk-collaborations, this time featuring Ethio-jazz guru Alemayehu Eshete, bizarrely dubbed the Ethiopian Elvis (there is no obvious stylistic link!). The vintage production on these releases is off the scale, rumoured time-travel voodoo machines are widely believed to be responsible. The baritone sax solo is fucking profoundly good here, it’s a sky deity, a mountain of sound to be worshipped with animal sacrifice and chanting. We lie prostrate before its godlike boom. Word!

The Ezra Collective gifted aficionados of hiphop-influenced jazz the clickstep jive of Quest For Coin as a taster from impending album You Can’t Steal My Joy and new-kids-on-the-Scottish-jazz-block Graham Costello’s Strata released their wonderfully hypnotic, whirlpool-music sound-mandala Obelisk, a fantastic and technically accomplished debut. Nice work fellas! Hope to see you this side of the border soon…

Dub got jiggy with East of the River Nile, a spiritual space-reggae sojourn from Zara McFarlane and Dennis Bovell. This Augustus Pablo-influenced head-nodding jam is a hashish-fugue and Zara’s voice is like an instrument wending its way through some kind of ocean of dub, a lilting beacon of sound.

pablo honey

The Indie / Folk / Americana worlds birthed a fair few nuggets of sonic bliss in February and March – Vampire Weekend continued to sneak out teasers like Sunflower, a joyously wacky and typically catchy indie pop number. 90s grunge waifs The Lemonheads released an album of covers in February (arguably Evan Dando’s strong point), which whilst overall of fairly mixed quality contained a few real beauts like The Eagles’ Take It Easy which Evan reimagines in his characteristic lackadaisical aesthetic. Lo-Fi hero Field Medic put out a right lovely earworm –  used 2 be a romantic – a self-referential and existential slacker classic about the emptiness of life on the road. It’s hardly original subject matter but the wry delivery and catchy chorus means that Field Medic’s take on the weary existence of touring to pay the rent somehow escapes the pitfall of tired cliché. Buck Meek (of Big Thief fame) released the wonderfully gentle bedroom-folk cocoon of Halo Light all by himself and the ethereal Elliott Smith-esque UFOF with his bandmates. Northumbria’s very own experimental folkster Richard Dawson (who is incidentally one of the live greatest musicians I have ever experienced) put out The Almsgiver, a taster for the upcoming Stick in the Wheel collection FROM HERE: English Folk Recordings Vol. 2. If this heartfelt and stunningly beautiful acapella song is any herald of the overall quality of the album it is gonna be incredible! Keep your ears peeled!

Half a bar of tallow soap

Garage-Indie japesters Holiday Ghost let loose West Bay Playroom the day after Valentine’s. It’s a lo-fi art-punk musical stroll through landscapes filled with influences from 50s rock n roll to the Velvets right up to Comet Gain, and a fantastic release from the Falmouth-based four piece. The ever-prolific psych outfit King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard continue their monthly release schedule with Fishing For Fishies, a jaunty and bucolic shimmerer beautifully constructed from a jigsaw of heavily vocoded vocals, click-hit drums and jangly guitars. DIY queen Frankie Cosmos dropped Haunted Objects #1, a piano-led anti-folk pair of heartfelt and earnest songs about breaking up and the first of a collection of Haunted Object singles (we’re up to #4 at the moment, they are coming out thick and fast!). The irresistable and idiosyncratic Jessica Pratt kick-started February with Quiet Signs, an album of wistful and charming oddball folk songs. It’s a contemplative marvel, a reflective opalescent sound-gem and well worth a listen.

Those of you with a penchant for pared-down post-classical piano dreams in the vein ofNils Frahm or Olafur Arnalds should check out the gorgeous work of Joep Beving. Unus mundus (‘One World’), released in late February from his forthcoming Henosis albumis a carriage-ride through snowy darkness in a distant Germanic winterland beneath a howling night sky. It’s a well of feeling and hope and dances between mood and shade with an exquisitely light touch. Olafur Arnalds himself released the meditative soundscape of ekki hugsa, an ambient journey that builds and grows from a quietitude of gentle strings to a climax of abstract piano and electronic pulses before becoming hushed once again and vanishing into a smoke dream.

Fourtet and KH dropped the euphoric world-garage chanter Only Human back in early March. It’s a hypnotic, circular banger that in some ways harks back to Fourtet’s Rounds days and is so damn catchy it will make a home in your head and squat there for weeks on end. Also worth a listen is Adhelm’s folktronica-cum-Miami funk remix of Oscar Jerome’s Misty Head/Sunny Street. It’s a genius of programming; skittering drums and a whirlpool of sounds make for a wild and wonderful cocktail of melody and rhythm.

So much crazy good music! Keep your eyes peeled for April’s instalment! And don’t forget to check out our round-up of Sheffield’s greatest springtime hits HERE

~ Captain Jack Avery

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