Friends! 2020 is upon us, the year of the Dawson, and we’re very excited to present this new PROLE JAZZ feature, a monthly round-up of the incandescent songs borne of the Cosmic Citadel of Magical Sheffield and beyond. Each month we’ll publish a version of this article first on the fantastic Now Then app with a focus on Sheffield releases, and then an extended version here a week or so later with a broader, global, intergalactic viewpoint.
Download the legendary Sheffield snazzy zine’s app direct to your device to keep speedily apace of what we’re excited about down here in the PROLE JAZZ bunker!
December is often a quiet time for releases but not this month gone. It followed the insanely high bar set by 2019 generally for musical productivity and sonic panache (read here & here for our PROLE JAZZ round up of songs of the year…).
The twelfth month here aboard the MotherShip of Planet Earth witnessed the appearance of noise nuggets aplenty, a rainbowed and eclectic smörgåsbord of melodies and textures to set your earlobes aflame and feet a-tapping…
P.S. if you like what you hear, follow the song title/band name link to the artists Bandcamp sites and buy some of their tunes & merch! Money talks babies!!
~ Jack Avery
Sirens ~ Duck
Synth-grunge gurus Duck embrace their inner 80s with this fantastically atmospheric single from their upcoming sophomore album. The woozy keys and drum machine hold court until the chorus, when a tidal wave of overdriven shoegaze guitar washes everything away and you’re lost in a fuzz-dream of hypnotic overdrive. Sensational stuff from one of the most creatively exciting bands in Sheffield. If you like what you hear you’re in luck – their sophomore album launch party is coming up at Hatch on Feb 8th.
Art-pop maestro Nick Cox (Screaming Maldini/Sheffield Beatles Project) released his second EP of 2019 under his new Minimal Animal moniker in December. Barely Seeing is the opening track and is an electronic feast, bursting at the seams with energy and ideas, an innovative mash-up of genres with a killer melody. Lovely stuff!
Komorebi is the sound of light streaming through the sunlit canopy of trees, casting fragments of shadow and lambence across the leaf-strewn ground. It’s a beautiful piece of finger-picked guitar, evocative and languid, a day-dream of a song, and over almost before it’s begun.
This is old-skool dub junglism at its blunt-heavy best. It’s a vinyl-only release, a smoke haze of bouncing sub-bass, ghostly synth and mad snare-wild beats. Blessing the Chalice has all the instant hallmarks of a classic: the production is top-notch, the now-vintage pitch-shifting snare hits skip and jitter like some kind of stacattoed dervish-prayer, the nuanced polyrhythms of the cymbals wend and weave… and all over a pulsing reggae heartbeat. Rewind!
Louis dropped this infectious slice of cheeky electro-pop mid-month and it’s the musical equivalent of a SAD lamp. It’s a chirpy, tongue-in-cheek, 90s-referencing joy tune, all quirk-drenched keyboard and fresh prince beats. There’s even a mid-song rap breakdown! Imagine DIMITRI with an injection of funk and early 90s hiphop and you won’t be aesthetically too far off. If you want some summer in your winter this is a good place to start … Great vibrations here!
Jackson Swaby, the most prolific of Sheffield’s electronica producers, was back at it in December, releasing the juicy 3 weeks 4 days EP. The eponymous title track is a click-house classic, replete with a beautifully dirty bass wobble and gasps for hi-hats. There’s something intimate and immersive about this track, right up until the layers disintegrate and it’s all phoenix jive and skitter-funk and the extended, hypnotic head-nodding outro ends with a whispered ‘Three’.
The Floodhounds return with their jaunty brand of post-Libertine rock. Lots of classic indie touchstones to identify here in this electric tune which doesn’t quite escape the long shadow the Arctic Monkeys still cast over the city’s trad-indie scene. It’s a wormhole that many lesser local bands have vanished into and never returned, the question is whether Floodhounds can sidestep the trap and find their own voice free of the Turner-isms that are peppered through this track. By the sound of it there is everything is to play for: Out of Time has great guitar and chunky production and lacks only the idiosyncracy and adventurousness that is the hallmark of all transcendently fantastic music.