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The Art of Jazz Rap

Seeing the sun through a rift in the clouds, as rain still lashes down. This fresh and creative approach to music is the rainbow that comes out after. That’s how I would share my first token of the laidback storytellings of jazz rap.

Some of the best collectives pulled from the archives …
Abstract Orchestra’s recent release of Fantastic 2020, Vol. 2 (2019)

The mellow, nonchalant pout of soulful piano and brass mixed with sultry hip-hop is a brilliant combination and exploration that has brought about such creativity for UK music.

As always. It is a mighty feat to find such a rare and exquisite catalogue within jazz rap too, finding those golden nuggets within the genre makes it all that more exciting.

Ever since we were thrown into panic again at the start of this year, I have decided to sway from my usual music collection and dive straight into new. And out I came with jazz rap. It is no wonder that this genre is an untapped source of happiness, especially with Loyle Carner’s Let it Go and Damselfly leading the pack in bringing the alternative to hip-hop. I just know his million or so followers on several music streaming platforms are screaming at me for being so idle with my music searching – to be honest, I am too. His honest and languid vocal delivery has brought him instant attention in the scene, as the pioneer in this crate-digging genre.

Carner’s critically acclaimed second album, Not Waving, But Drowning (2019)

Other archived songs range from Future Utopia‘s Future of the Internet, Fruits by The Silhouettes Project and the raw anatomy of Anything by Revolutionary Rhythm.

Artwork from their EP From The Soul (2019)

All in aid to raise awareness for underground hip-hop, jazz and soul music in the UK and overseas, they are making their efforts upon collaboration with collaboration with other like-minded and able-bodied artists to make this happen. Rest assured, I will certainly be spreading the word, too. How have I missed out on such an inviolable stage in music for so long?

Time to step up and get learnin’.

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The Downfall of Blink-182: What happened?

Matt Skiba, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker [from left] – Skiba joined the band after Tom Delonge’s departure in 2015.

From a person who dabbles in every plethora that pop-punk has to offer – including the sh*t Blink-182 are one of those bands that will remain iconic for 90s kids – either growing up with or listening back – as their chaotic tales of teen angst, women and sex is lovingly wrapped up in one loving spunky-punk burrito. With Enema of the State, Take off your Pants and Jacket and Neighbourhoods being the juicy toppings, they’re a worthy delicacy to our ears .. despite no one knowing what the band name actually means.

But, something keeps me Up All Night with this one. Amongst the continuous forums and streams of outrage from pop-punk worshippers, I happen to come across this question that I surprisingly and undoubtedly agreed with among my travels …

Are Blink-182 dead? Dammit, is it true? Of course, long gone are the days of Tom Delonge and American Pie, but I feel like everyone who was avid fans of Blink-182 – have either moved on or grown up – and seemingly left the band behind.

After the release of their ninth whack of cringe-awful teenage punk in one of the most un-original album names – NINE – it doesn’t seem to have a hair on the effervescent takes of Take Off your Pants and Jacket (jack it) in 2001 and its prologue of sexy-nurse Enema of the State two years prior. Maybe because their audience were actually still teenagers then. Huh. Like the now-Grandads of pop punk, it seems they’re still trying to keep up appearances and retain the novelty of an adolescent child screaming “f*ck off” to their mother who would simply never understand. But we’ve all gone on and grown up. How sad.

Of course, the material since 2016 simply does not have the spark or same rarity that is shone on the earlier projects. Without Tom, we are not receiving the pleasures of Delonge’s infamous vocal satire of pronouncing words longer than they have to be. The definitive favourite of I Miss You is not complete without his reverent WHERE ARE YOUUUUU that sets off his verse in the most thrilling of ways. It seems, unfortunately, that with his departure in 2015, so did the spark. Aside from the exploration of UFOs that Delonge embarked on, Delonge’s departure left a rather large hole within the band’s infrastructure. A supermassive black hole, you could say … and with Delonge’s other project of Angel & Airwaves not hitting the Mark, fans were left to Muse over the band’s future.

As always, Travis is the work-alcoholic that does everything in their power to continue the meteoritic rise of pop-punk. And with his fingers in so many drumming pies, he’s been doing that. Just not with Blink, it seems.

Where California in 2016, has somewhat of a feeling of prosperity with Bored to Death and She’s Out of Her Mind for which we saw the same in their self-titled in 2003, NINE 16 years later – 4 years after the departure of Delonge – is a slippery slope for any listener to endure, and is a tragic reminder that this band are now all in their 40s with kids. What’s My Age Again indeed. With a cover like sh*tting rainbows, it shows our worst fears in the band’s future direction.

Now with Barker confirming new plans in the horizon for the band in 2021, will we see the rinse-and-repeat formula of NINE or will we see remnants of old Blink coming through? Time will tell.

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Hidden Gems (Week 8)

Welcome back, folks. WEEK 8! Our picked four this week cover the vast plethora of music alternatives and are well enjoyed in our ear nodules.

Give it a read … then give them a listen.

Langkamer

Quirky alternative Bristolian 4-piece, Langkamer are bringing the class back into classic rock ‘n’ roll. Sweet soothings of guitar trills and hush vocals come together for an eclectic blend of that good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll we’ve been wanting a taste for – with a cheeky pinch of country from the far West.

The bands’ releases from both their eponymous EP and their second instalment, Getting The Band Back Together in 2019, are jaunty tales that brings instant comfort to any avid listener of music.

Key picks to listen out for have to be Hotel Hello, Cloud Mountain and of course their new take, Full Contact which has gained insurmountable support and success since its release. Full Contact is just the latest showing of a band that rolls with the punches – and has an incredulous amount of fun doing it, too.

Glass Monkey

Glass Monkey and their sounds of music is every bit as beautiful and aesthetically-pleasing as their EP’s Find Your Bearings eclectic artwork. Seriously envisioning a strong presence in the future pop-punk scene – and not just in the Scottish Highlands – Glass Monkey are out here with a point to prove.

Despite being fairly quiet this year (for obvious reasons,) they’ve managed to constantly build momentum and a rapport, as they’ve let their music do the talking instead. Shark Tooth bears a profound edge to it and works fantastically well as a final EP piece. Other jewels go from Granite States and Myosotis, as they drive an impressive thump from the get-go. All the while showing off the true syncopation of Glass Monkey with their all-out guttural guitars, syncopated lyrical duels and booming bass that knocks the sockets out of your ears.

Pseudo Cool

Following in their predecessors footsteps from the likes of The Clash and Buzzcocks, Pseudo Cool are every bit as rebellious punk-modern as they say, demonstrating their disgust for conformity in society and writing raw, spiteful punk anthems about it all.

Having only released four singles since last year, they’ve already built a storming reputation with the dark temptations of Pseudo Cool brought to everyone lips in the spunky-punk (is this a saying?) scene. Wrong and Modern Man brings the true strengths of the band together in a frantic disorder of sheer satire, to share their distaste of relationship ideals that pretty much everyone can relate to in this day and age.

Good For Gordon

Last but by no means least, another female-fronted band graces our presence on Hidden Gems – and for good reason.

Drawing inspiration from similar counterparts of Wolf Alice and Black Honey, Good For Gordon join the plethora of sheer, genuine musical talent on offer in the city of Manchester. The brash with the brazen is the rightful approach to their sound and brings about something new with it.

Their stark-raving bold rock draws you in with grandeur from those emphatic melodies and that vocal presence that leads the pack in sheer-ferocious beauty. Right now, three releases is all you need from a band with an impressive sound behind them, to tempt and tease us for more in the coming year. Sunflower World, Black Rose and Disarm Your Denial live up to the expectations, I assure you.

That’s all for this week. Who’s set to be the next four?

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The Rock List: What’s New in Rock Music?

From the grudge of the UK rock mafia to the hip-hop influence into the alternative punk scene of the US, let’s take a look at what’s new in rock …

A lot of rock right now is not really in the sense of the word rock, anymore – certainly not with classic rock, that’s for sure.

The new stuff is either compartmental divisions of dirty punk or psychedelic electro-waves of noise with influences of hip-hop. You’ve got the familiar favourites shame, Lonely The Brave, You Me At Six, Royal Blood and Black Honey keeping it classy, but then you’ve got these subtle subversions that are creeping up on us. Which is very American influenced, I must say. You can kind of see this rise since Machine Gun Kelly’s punky album blew up, and everyone has jumped on the band-bandwagon since. I’ve had a look at some of my key favourites.

Grandson

Grandson‘s approach to the rock throne is with, We Did It!!! which combines electronic and hip-hop into a glorified version of sheer rock oddity, and it is certainly different compared to what’s in the rest of the list.

It seems that a lot of attention is being drawn to a somewhat rustic and punky voice that is neither here or there with it. Other associations like Yungblud and Kenny Hoopla spring to mind who use their voices like this a lot – guess it’s very on brand to the music they create?

Bad Nerves

Fast and albeit flashy, Bad NervesTerminal Boy is a frantic beauty. Aptly named as, ‘the bastard child of a Ramones/Strokes one night stand’ have coerced themselves into an explosive future, certainly since the release of their eponymous EP.

Cleopatrick

Cleopatrick’s deceptively dirty style is soon becoming the defining nature of UK rock mafia, and I’m ok with that. It certainly fits the bill as rock more so than what Yungblud and Grandson are trying to achieve. GOOD GRIEF? Good grief it’s brilliant!

Kenny Hoopla

With Machine Gun Kelly, Kenny Hoopla, nothing, nowhere (I would recommend Fake Friend from him) and Travis Barker running the same circles, they have made incessant collaborations between one another.

Kenny Hoopla‘s quick thrash in ESTELLA, with Barker providing the thump adds to the pile of artists reclaiming the need and desire for making punk music for us all. Travis is also trying his bit, too, because let’s be honest, Blink ain’t doing it anymore.

Travis Barker (and those beats)

Travis Barker has also teamed up with emo-throwbacks Escape the Fate with Not My Problem and jxdn with Tonight, where you can hear those hip-hop influenced trash beats that are clawing their way into the punk/rock scenes, giving it an unprecedented feel to how we’ve heard these genres in the past. Of course, this is nothing new we’ve heard of per se, as the likes of Limp Bizkit have been done there and done that, but it has a feeling of coming back, that’s for sure.

Hip hop trash beats are clawing their way into the punk/rock scenes, giving it an unprecedented feel to how we’ve heard these genres in the past.

You can take a gander at my honest review about MGK’s return to the punk scene with Tickets to my Downfall, if you like. (I mean, only if you really want to.)

The RANGE in Rock

Where you’ve got the UK rock stabs of Cleopatrick, shame, Bad Nerves and Royal Blood back for the third … (view Royal Blood’s music evolution here)

… and you’ve got the alternative US spunk-punk scene bringing their eclectic taste and hip-hop influence with POORSTACY, Kenny Hoopla, nothing, nowhere and Machine Gun Kelly (who all seemingly only hire one drummer of Travis Barker) …

… everyone seems to be forgetting the female-fronted rock collectives that are leading the pack. Dream State with Monsters and Against the Current with that won’t save us are absolute corkers that complement the sounds of the old and the new amazingly well.

Whether or not it’s your bag though, better keep up with it, because you’re in for a crazy ride.

What are your favourites in rock so far?

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Hidden Gems (Week 7)

Lost in finding new music you like? No problem. Hidden Gems is back for its seventh successive week with four of your new favourite artists to listen to.

  1. The Capollos

2. Divisions

3. Ben Alexander

4. King Violet

Check out the weeks prior below:

The Capollos

Must-Listens: Electrify, Addiction

Out to make a name for themselves, The Capollos are doing just that. With an already unprecedented in-demand status throughout native Scotland, The Capollos are aiming to do the same for us down South. Similar to their inspired counterparts of Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs, their contagious tongue-in-cheek style of song-writing has festered into an effortless and rambunctious live performance. They are definitely the ones to watch, so make sure to save these lot for your calendars when live music can return in late 2021.

I can totally imagine the sheer dominance display of performing such songs like, Electrify and Get Out (Out) to a full-house when this pandemic over.

Their recent release, Telephone has received with high praise and popularity since its release just a month or so ago. This certainly puts any future releases – albums included – in good stead to receive the same treatment, as the name of The Capollos is amplified from every new reveal. The only way is up, boys.

Divisons

Must-Listens: Constants, Blessings in Disguise

Beautifully moving and intelligently crafted, it seems that Divisions are in another league of their own. The combined class of those vocal arrangements with the delicate electronica senses is an absolute favourite of mine. From here, we are taken on a stupendous show-and-tell on exactly how they work as musicians – it’s all there, and they’re not afraid to show any of it.

If similar soundings of Arcane Roots and Sleep Token stripped their sense of chaotic dispel and left us with their unwinding moments of beauty, you end up with the brilliant array of Divisions. You can also feel their awe and presence of Radiohead‘s In Rainbows on songs like, The Waiting Song and The Greater Good with their dynamic story-telling abound.

Their most recent EP, Constants (2019) shows their maturity and interdependence on one another, as their musical story-telling comes in full swing. I think I speak for everyone when we say how excited we are for their second LP…

Ben Alexander

Must-Listens: Lucozade Mornings, vanilla milkshake

Fit for any ambient interstellar soundscape, solo man Ben Alexander is fully exploiting the term, bedroom musician, as he expertly dives around making the perfect atmosphere.

Favoured singles, 2812 and flowerbed are great examples of this, as they never detour off-track, and just pull you in that bit more with it all. While also being the driving beat for dreamy indie five-piece, Sukko as the drummer, it’s safe to say Alexander is diving his fingers into as many musical pies as he possibly can.

His most recent release, Lucozade Mornings, gives you the perfect alarm to wake up for, as it flicks in between a syncopated lo-fi drum track, the pleasantries of a warming saxophone line and piano trills that weave in and out throughout. It seems he has found what works for him, and is going all the way with it.

King Violet

With a name that represents the same feeling of domestic bliss and europhia, King Violet are an all-alternative and all-divine 4-piece from St.Albans. Venturing into cities with a more successive music scene to bite the bullet, they have instantly harnessed a mass following behind them, especially since sharing the same stage as indie favourites, Declan McKenna and the Sad Boys Club. To say that they only have two singles that have been officially released, too? Not bad going, not bad going at all.

Easy to play over and over and over again, October is one of those moments that fits into any pocket of soul-comfortin’ and relaxin’ indie-listening and could just as easily fit on the bill of bands like, Wolf Alice and The Big Moon, without anyone battering an eyelid. Excited and hungry for more.

Let me know what you think …

Past Blogs

Spector: ‘Now or Whenever’ – Album Review

With the 2022 train of new music not seemingly stopping for a breath, we take a look at no-holds-barred, straight-arrow Spector rock with ‘Now or Whenever’. Popularised with their splashy singles of Chevy Thunder and All the Sad Young Men from respective albums Enjoy it While it Lasts and Moth Boys, the London boys themselves […]

Living Room’s Lo-Fi Magic: ‘After The Rainbow’

Adorning a lo-fi portfolio for the ages, German sound engineer, DJ and producer Living Room is a rare musical delight for thos avid listeners of the low-down. Briefly described as a “soundsystem melting pot” he transcribes the work of classical in the fledgings of sultry jazz and rippled electronic music into flawless routines of work. […]

The Case to Define our Industry: Fighting for a Better Economy

You may have heard the news spreading regarding the fight for a more equitable music economy with a greater emphasis on the economy of music streaming to artists… .. aaand another one has been added to the roster. A UK artist, who goes by the name of Kieran Hebden (artist alias of Four Tet) has […]