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PROLE JAZZ

Songs of March 2020

In what's been a month of extraordinarily turbulent and unprecedented goings-on, music has continued to flow from the quarantined studios and jam lofts of Sheffield in unprecedented rivers of quality.

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The past four weeks have been as mad as a March hare. In what's been a month of extraordinarily turbulent and unprecedented goings-on, music has continued to flow from the quarantined studios and jam lofts of Sheffield in unprecedented rivers of quality. We're hoping that the lockdown will continue to produce such sound wonderments in April as we've witnessed in March. Only time will tell! We predict a boom of DIY home recordings - send us your creations my friends!

Until then: keep positive, keep safe, keep sane. Wash your hands with soap and your ears with the joyous sounds of our PROLE JAZZ monthly picks of Sheffield releases. From ukulele meditations to electro jive to darkside hip-hop, it's been a wild few weeks.

Oren Dji - My My My

Enigmatic folkstress Oren Dji released a series of ethereal and beautiful home recorded songs on YouTube this month. A member of long-lost improv troupe Minstrelephants & Baardvarks and vocalist with avant-soul beatniks Winston Macabre, Oren Dji has been a major presence on the odd-folk scene of Sheffield for some years now. But these are the first solo recordings we've heard, and they're absolutely incredible. 'My My My' is the highlight of the collection, a brittle and lilting ukulele sojourn, a wistful swirl of song-poetry, a jewelled box of sonic enchantment. Lying somewhere in the magical landscapes between Lior Shoov, Vashti Bunyan, Beirut and Josephine Foster, this is deeply personal, transcendental music, a soul-salve for lockdown. [HE]

Louis Berlin - Isolation Meditation

New kid on the Sheffield block Louis Berlin is bringing full-blown radical hipster satire straight to your earholes. He's nailed it with this new tune, carefully designed to enjoy your inside time to. Funky beats, wonky melodies, theatrical piano and a drum'n'bass breakdown that you should most effectively wash your walls to. This is what you need inside your head cavity to survive the isolation - play it on repeat. [CB]

Oh Papa - I Wouldn't Mind

Yet more languid vibes from the dukes of supine indie. 'I Wouldn't Mind' is wonderfully dreamy surf music, evoking the hazy sunshine of late afternoon summer days and meandering bike rides along deserted beachfront roads. Oh Papa continue to mine a rich seam of classic songwriting here, with a touch so gentle and light as to barely even exist. New EP Sitcom is on the verge of release, and the PROLE JAZZ crew can't wait [CJA]

Five Leaf Nettles - Quarantining With My Girl

We're predicting a lot of lockdown-inspired music these coming months (two already!), and Elephant Six-inspired low-fi gurus Five Leaf Nettles are ahead of the pack with new single 'Quarantining With My Girl'. It's a great tune, all lackadaisical anti-folk vocals, finger-click percussion and bluegrass guitar. The take home message here is if you gotta be quarantined, make sure you have a banjo to hand. Lovely stuff. [OPF]

Jackie Moonbather - Parallel (Seigfried Komidashi Remix)

Even more haunting sounds emit from this remixed version of 'Parallel', and Jackie's voice seems to work with all the tones available to the human ear. This remix maintains the tranquil atmosphere of the original but replaces that steel drum feel with the sense of a clipper ship signalling its emergence from the fog. A perhaps unnecessarily distorted vocal sample detracts from an otherwise satisfyingly dramatic remix of a beautiful jazz track. [CB]

Captain Avery & the Cosmic Triceratops of Intergalactic Peace - Cosmika Oktopus

Another frenzied foray into frantic fun from Sheffield's glitterati, those triple-pronged psychonauts from beyond the stars. New single 'Cosmika Oktopus' is a prime example of the Triceratops' contradictory dualism: absurd irreverence meets meditative devotion. Beautifully crafted melodies interweave into upbeat dance grooves which become a vehicle for the band's core message - life beyond our atmosphere is thriving and sends us a message of hope and love. With glitter. And in these dark times, what more could we want? [RL]

Mr Ben & The Bens - Beast in the House

The Bens just released their first single from upcoming album Life Drawing, due out in May. The video captures a timely evaluation of the woes of family life as a medieval peasant - something we can all relate to right now. With layers of heart-warming melodic harmonies over perfectly arranged instrumentation, the Bens have gone back to their folky roots with 'Beast in the House'. Another perfect pop song to wrap yourself up in from this adroit clan. [CB]

MOAN - Bored Of My Life

The lead single from MOAN's new release Bipolar Love Affair epitomises the raw emotion of the EP. The track spotlights the reality of living with mental health issues, the video an effectively edited and apt juxtaposition between agony and monotony. An assortment of thoughts and feelings integrated over an ominous backdrop of satisfyingly simple rolling phrases. Surprisingly comforting hip-hop, considering the subject matter. [CB]

Thomas and the Empty Orchestra - Old Crow

This is not a moniker that screams frivolity, and sure enough, the Empty Orchestra's new single 'Old Crow' is a serious affair. The finger-picked guitar, soulful vocals, searching lyrics and building production give this Mumford-esque tune an anthemic feel. It's heartfelt stuff, and if you're a fan of epic, brooding folk rock this will be right up your street. [OPF]

Teah Lewis - Jamie

'Jamie' is an uplifting song for spring, and the debut single from superb female singer-songwriter Teah Lewis. Teah's sweet sounding vocals lead this love song's relatable lyrics through a pleasing arrangement of instruments, with highlights of trumpet punctuating the narrative. Familiar Joni Mitchell vibes but with a warming British accent. Music to eat ice-cream with your mum to. [CB]

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