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PROLE JAZZ

Come What May 2020

Another month of lockdown, another four weeks of continued cold turkey from gigs, live music and people.

In the PROLE JAZZ quarantine bunker we've been keeping sane by immersing ourselves in the storm of diverse releases that have appeared across the musical landscape of Sheffield. This month we've been listening to avant-pop gems, minimalist punk micro-songs, trip-hop collaborations and rap poetics, all born (or at least conceived) here in the Steel City.

In the absence of live shows and the income they generate for our sonic artists, don't forget to keep funding and supporting their creativity. Check out their Bandcamp, buy some merch and give your favourites a shout out on your preferred social media platform. Peace! Keep well!

Jeuce - Hangover

This is raucous, rhythmic garage-punk poetry. It's shouting with drums, unhinged and exhausting, and over in a blink. Imagine Yo Dynamo with no Yo and insane amounts of Dynamo. Imagine an angry, witty, self-lacerating Patti Smith with a Sheffield accent jamming with the drummer from Lightning Bolt. 'Hangover' is a standout track on new album introJEUCEing, a mad-as-biscuits gem, with hi-five rhyming couplets all over the place. Right afterwards the genius of 'Limes' implodes, all mad bossa nova beat and existential beat-poet howl. I'm only supposed to review one track from this but the entire album is maybe ten minutes long: just gonna park it here that this is a stone cold classic. Do yourself a favour and listen to the whole thing. It's time to discover your new favourite band! [CJA]

Minimal Animal - Don't Even

Powerful wonky synth-pop, lyrical reassurance on the handling of arguments with a loved one, an instructional video on whistling, choreographed fighting - what's not to like? Minimal Animal is the creation of former Screaming Maldini front man Nick Cox, and he's certainly keeping the infectious pop tunes strong with this exceptional release. You'll be humming the earworm hook all day long. [CB]

Katie Pham & The Moonbathers - Stay Inside

Mellow jazz-tinged pop from our favourite Blancmange Loungers. 'Stay Inside' was written and recorded pre-lockdown, but releasing this suitably apt love song now is a perfect gift from the Moonbathers. Go outside and listen to this track in full sun with a safe distance between you and less than five others, and enjoy the dreamy irony. [CB]

Sieben - Coldbloods

This track hails from Sieben's new album Lockdown Sieben Volume 1. It's an eclectic mix of tracks characterised by layers of looped strings, beatbox sounds and intriguing samples that build an ominous vibe across the entire album. 'Coldbloods' is a particularly poignant track. Matt Howden's commanding, Bowie-esque vocals are interspersed with potent reminders of what's waiting for us post-lockdown. [CB]

Copius - Climate's Gonna Change feat. Conor Nutt, Tom Douglas & BruceIsDead

What happens when you link up one of Sheffield's most prolific and talented beatmakers, Copius, with avant-soulman Conor Nutt and two mad-good rappers, and let them rip on the political and moral failure of the government to deal with the Covid crisis? This is a collaboration worth its weight in trip-hop gold, a melting pot of rhyme and song and bass that hits a sweet spot of deep groove and wordplay so fine you must have got caught driving in a bus lane. Sublime. [CJA]

Self Esteem - Favourite Problem (Alternative Version)

Compliments Please, the debut album by Self Esteem (AKA Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club) was released more than a year ago now, but this month Taylor released alternative versions of some of those songs on her new EP, Cuddles Please. The first single from the EP showcases subtle yet powerful shifts in emphasis in the recording and production to give a much rawer sounding track, with more intense emotion, and what sounds like a million more backing vocalists. It's beautiful. [CB]

Thee Mightees - Paranormal Vacation

This haunted house has a parquet floor and ghosts all over the place. If you like your indie jangly and studiously cool this analogue-recorded ditty will flood your heart with alt-rock joy. An awesome tune by an awesome band. [CJA]

Otis Mensah - Breath of Life (feat. Hemlock Ernst)

Breath of Life is the first release in a new series of new songs titled #OtisMensahExists, each accompanied by an original animation. It's a captivating description of processing and somehow tolerating impossibly escalating anxieties. Mensah's flowing lyrics build into a contortion that is effortlessly unwound by Ernst's composure, allowing us to reach the end of the song without passing out. These two are so perfectly matched you almost don't notice the stunning backing track. [CB]

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