PROLE JAZZ Songs of February 2020

We’re a bit late to round up February’s sexy wave forms here at PJHQ, bit distracting being caught in the grip of a global pandemic innit…

It was a month not to be easily forgotten, musically-speaking; and a veritable maelstrom of releases kept us happily busy aboard the PROLE JAZZ sausage yacht, blissed-up in pre-corona innocence, drunk on sounds. February witnessed a musical swarm of creative output from the city of Sheffield and we found ourselves joyously inundated with all kinds of tunes: from tropical bangers to cosmic boogie freak-outs to psych pop gems, with lyrical themes ranging from space bananas to migratory birds to motherhood.

The shortest month of the year may end up being the sweetest… Enjoy my friends! Sending love and solidarity to your temporarily quarantined lives!

~ PROLE JAZZ

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ONIPA – Fire

Fire is a flowing afrobeat meditation, a luminous and polyrhythmic dance of reverbed guitar lines interwoven with xylophone melodies, synth basslines and vocalist Kweku’s sing-song toasting. It unfolds like an esoteric daydream, a sun-blissed fugue. The musical craft of ONIPA goes from strength to strength: they release their debut album later in the year* (Ed.s note: this just happened!!) and if Fire is anything to go by it’s going to be something special.  [CJA]

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Captain Avery & the Cosmic Triceratops of Intergalactic Peace – Space is Tropical!

An ode to the wild and burgeoning cosmic-tropical scene of psychedelic Sheffield, Space is Tropical! is the first single from Cosmic Triceratops’ new EP Apocalypso Now.  It’s a vibrant jive-swirl of kaleidoscopic melody and rhythm, a hi-energy party-skronk banger and aural proof that aliens really just wanna dance. Awarded song of the week by BBC Introducing Sheffield’s extravagantly bearded Christian Carlisle, this slab of musical Dada will brighten up your dreary February, transmutating grey skies into a tropical disco in the year 3050. Listen up Earthlings, the future is sexy! [OPF]

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Mango Rescue Team – Bingo

Local heroes Mango Rescue Team released Bingo this month to international acclaim (already two weeks at number 1 in the Cuban Reggaeton charts!). The hilarious video features cameos from Yo Dynamo’s drum monster Tom and Poppers Revival’s resident didg-wielding maniac Felix, and contains actual footage of what happened at a local bingo night when the Mango’s music came on the jukebox. It’s 5 minutes of joyous latin-tinged psych-pop with the catchiest chorus this side of the Caribbean, and quite possibly the most glorious bari sax solo of all time. Go Mangos! [HE]

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Frogbelly & Symphony – Benjamin went fishing

The gorgeously eccentric Frogbelly & Symphony released multilingual odd-folk gem Benjamin went fishing a few days ago, with the video premiering on PopMatters. It’s a wonderfully constructed, joyously inventive song with a magnificently playful melody above a rainbowed web of slide guitar and (possibly) mandolin. Benjamin’s looseness belies the meticulous songcraft and production here. It’s a sonically delicious treat you’ll have on repeat, as it has been over at PROLE JAZZ towers’ ghetto blaster since we discovered this tasty nugget of freaky sound. [CJA]

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Xybots – Jungle Passive

More fyah from futurist drum n bass fiends Xybots, this time with No-Fi label-mate Bert Rogers contributing vocals. The tune has a classic feel with Andy C-like ambience interspersed with old-skool jungle breaks. Jungle Passive is a head-nodding and rhythmic track and a fine addition to the Xybots crew’s growing repertoire of darkside drum ‘n’ bass tunes. [OPF]

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Captives on the Carousel – Geese

This month the Captives released a bucolic and autumnal video for new single Geese. It’s a meditative folk wonderment, a masterwork of contemplative lyric and fingerpicked guitar, and a cut from their most recent EP ‘The Violet Bank Sessions’. The music soars vertiginously during the cello-clarinet dialogue, which emerges as an interwoven and heartfelt dance of cautious hope, and the vocals are clear melodic poetry containing feathery echoes of Mary Oliver. Yet more gentle incandescence from Sheffield’s much-loved folk duo. [HE]

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Before Breakfast – Stand

Chamber popsters Before Breakfast break their usual mould of brittle ballads with new single Stand, a jazzy tale of a woman grappling with her need to become a mother and start a home, to be reborn through the act of birth. There’s an edginess to the song that makes it standout from their previous work but the hallmarks of Before Breakfast are all still present: the lilting cello and strong melodies leave a lasting impression here in this innovative release. [OPF]

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Frank Birtwhistle – Invisible

This is a deft and fragrant daydream of sound, an ethereal sojourn, a smoke ring of melody and poise. Invisible is full of fragile emotion and as ever Frank’s fingerpicked guitar chords evoke landscapes of solitude and soft awe. This is music that deserves the gentle attention with which it was created. [CJA]

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Life Aquatic Band – Underwater Highway  

Life Aquatic are one of the most inventive bands birthed from the Sheffield scene in recent years, and their idiosyncratic new album Band on the Hunt shows them in fine fettle. Underwater Highway is one of the LP’s highlights: this is psychedelic rock gold, a groove-laden synth-heavy indie-disco jam, a quirky earworm of fuzzy bass and whispered vocals and warbling guitar. Check this crew out! What sounds! [CJA]

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Genevieve Carver & The Unsung (feat. Before Breakfast, Morven Bryce, Manon McCoy) – Little Green

Snatched from the much-lauded show A Beautiful Way To Be Crazy, Little Green is a spoken word piece with a chorus. It captures the monologue of an overwhelmed mother to her newborn daughter as she tries to explain the absurdity and beauty and cruelty of the human condition to her tiny child. It’s dark, funny and moving in equal measure and delves into the contradictions inherent in bringing new life into this complex, stupid, wondrous world. The Unsung’s show is touring now and if this release is anything to go by it’ll be an intense and rewarding experience. [HE]

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