This month, Robbie’s friends didn’t want to go to Aldi with him and Juliette had meal deals for lunch and dinner for 6 days in a row.
November is officially the most fucked up month on the calendar. The pleasure of celebrating all of my fellow November Babies’ birthdays and getting ready to unrelentingly embrace the Christmas spirit is completely ruined when you realise you have an unholy amount of essay deadlines around every corner; your tutors are getting pretty tired of your increasingly blatant attempts to bullshit your way through every seminar; your promise to climb out of your overdraft has only resulted in you sinking further and further into the red, and your so called ‘friends’ keep driving to Aldi without you. These are the five artists I chose as my allies to combat ‘Nofunber’.
To inject some funk into my life, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic was the perfect substitute for not being able to take advantage of Aldi’s ridiculous offers. A more sophisticated – and sadly shorter – album than his previous poppy ventures, Mars shows off his delightful swag in ‘That’s What I Like’ and reminds us of his excellent vocals in ‘Calling All My Lovelies’.
The time that wasn’t spent at Aldi was spent scouring the recesses of my Spotify starred playlist, I stumbled across a song I can’t believe I ever forgot about: Nick Hakim’s ‘I Don’t Know’. Words can’t do justice to how good this song is. It’s a wonderful blend of stripped back electric guitar, floating vocals and a guitar solo that is absolutely obscene. It hits every spot, and it’s perfect. Please listen to it. Please.
“it all hits a little too close to home in the lyrics “how I’d love to go to [Aldi] again””
Palace’s Family is a lovely chilled back album ideal for staying calm amidst the ensuing storm. For me, the pick of the bunch is ‘Family’, helping you to remember “we’ll be just fine”. Palace would never desert you to do an Aldi run without you.
I also had the pleasure of seeing an exciting up and coming band from Manchester, called Rivet City. The fact that their music sounds like a cross between the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine should be enough to catch the attention of any underground music lovers out there. Their single ‘Circles’ is a smart example of their talent, and – much like my back-stabblingly enforced hiatus from Aldi – there will be more of it to come.
The Last Shadow Puppets returned, but more importantly, November saw the return of Alex Turner’s Humbug hair. Their cover of ‘Les Cactus’ has been a welcome revision break, as has the 1975’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, which was voted album of the year by NME. Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with the verdict, I can’t help but falling in love with the beautifully constructed riffs of ‘Paris’, and it all hits a little too close to home in the lyrics “how I’d love to go to [Aldi] again”.
Tracklist: Bruno Mars – ‘That’s What I like’; The Last Shadow Puppets – ‘Les Cactus’; Palace – ‘Family’; Alicia Keys – ‘Pawn It All’; Rivet City – ‘Circles’
November’s been a bit of a jazzy one.
Not new music per se, but I started the month listening obsessively to both Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch. With the promise of Jordan’s soulful stylings at Headrow House, followed a week later by the intricate, guitar-driven beats of Tom Misch, I was pushing their music harder than I push to pass my degree. If I fail this year, I’m going to hold Misch and his hits ‘Midnight Mischief’, ‘The Light’ plus anything from his Reverie EP as personally responsible.
I was saved from my Tom Misch obsession by hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, who released their first studio album in 18 years. Although still a raucous affair, We Got It From Here… is more electronically produced than its jazz-infused predecessors from the mid-90s, with tracks often whimpering into nothing rather than climaxing. It might not be as biting, but Kendrick Lamar’s feature ‘Conrad Tokyo’ is absolutely on point. Well worth a listen.
New release ‘On Hold’ from The xx was a welcome chill out, despite sounding like Jamie XX has stolen the show in terms of production. But for me, this tune was quickly overshadowed by ‘Redbone’ which, as usual, sees Childish Gambino lend old school funk & soul a 21st century twist.
The month closed off with Riot Jazz Brass Band’s hometown gig at Manchester Gorilla. I could tell you they’re a New Orleans style group, playing originals and unruly covers of pop tunes, but words can’t describe. Neither can Spotify. It’s the kind of music where the energy is only really captured live.
Riot Jazz hit Manchester again in late January. I’ll see you there…
Tracklist: Jordan Rakei – ‘Midnight Mischief’; Jordan Rakei – ‘The Light’; Tom Misch – ‘I Wish’; Tom Misch – ‘Crazy Dream’; A Tribe Called Quest (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – ‘Conrad Tokyo’; The xx – ‘On Hold’; Childish Gambino – ‘Redbone’; Riot Jazz Brass Band -‘Livin’ on a Prayer’
November started where October left off: Juliette is sat in Eddy B. It’s 11:59pm. She’s living off caffeine and has had Tescos meal deals for lunch and dinner for the past 6 days in a row. Yup, you heard me. Juliette’s on (what feels like) a never ending essay marathon, and she’s relying on her Spotify Premium account to get her through these hard times.
Exploding onto the scene this month we saw Childish Gambino release ‘Redbone’, providing us with that perfectly smooth yet feisty track that acted as the perfect come down/pick me up as I walked in a haze back through Hyde Park at 1am following said essay cramming. The xx’s ‘On Hold’ was a welcome return of their minimalistic vibes, even if Jamie XX’s influence does feel like it risks turning the band’s sound into just a remake of his solo projects.
Having seen the B-Town babes JAWS at Headrow House following the release of their second album Simplicity this month, I was stuck on their track ‘Cast’. Their lyric ‘you’ll be alright, it takes time’ has been particularly poignant this month, especially when I have been sat in my room at 4am – 13 cups of tea down – desperately trying to pass my degree. Supporting JAWS was the magnificently talented Cosmo Pyke. Providing us with Mac DeMarco meets King Krule vibes, his track ‘Social Sites’ feels like a sunbathing cat personified.
At some point in October, drunk Juliette decided that it was a good idea to slip further into debt and order The Last Shadow Puppets’ latest EP on limited edition red vinyl, The Dream Synopsis. When sober (and hungover) Juliette was then woken up at 10am rudely by the postman demanding that she signed for a mysterious 12 inch parcel this month, she was confused. “Why is the postman getting aggy outside my window? Is it worth getting out of bed for? When will this hangover end?”, she pondered. But, on opening said parcel, she came the closest she has ever come to having a religious experience upon seeing the EP. Don’t get me wrong, The Dream Synopsis is a mixed bag; like every Last Shadow Puppets record, it is the tracks led by Mr Turner that shine through, while Miles’ attempts come across as a little embarrassing compared to the performances of his best friend/idol. However, the mediocracy of some tracks is made up for by the reworked version of ‘The Dream Synopsis’. Including an elongated sax solo that melts in and out of consciousness, it is safe to say that the treat of this track made me very glad that I made the effort to answer the postman. Very happy indeed.
Tracklist: Jaws – ‘Cast’; Childish Gambino – ‘Redbone’; The Last Shadow Puppets – ‘The Dream Synopsis’; Cosmo Pyke – ‘Social Sites’; The xx – ‘On Hold’
What even is November. It’s a halfway house between reading week and the Christmas holidays, between vodka and mulled wine. It’s the stage when I get really antsy about not being able to listen to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ because apparently, it isn’t “socially acceptable” to do so until 1st December. Balls to that, fam.
As if he read my mind, Childish Gambino came out with ‘Me and Your Mama’, a swirling opus of a track that moves effortlessly through several stages of half-formed songs to create a stylish and stunning masterpiece. It at once eases you, lulls you into a false sense of security before blasting you into the outer spaces of his imagination, carried along by his screaming vocals. Come thru.
HMLTD also graced our darling Brudenell with a free gig, pulling together all of the elements of the weirdest kinds of music you could possibly imagine. Dressed as vaudeville clowns, grinning menacingly and maniacally at the audience, they brought the bizarre to the Brudes in a Fat Whites-esque way. Their recent release ‘Is This What You Wanted?’ deliberately keeps you on-edge as they wade through feedback and swampy bass to deliver you from reality.
It’s also criminal not to mention the fantastic Nightmares on Wax, who did a night at Wire. The classic ‘You Wish’ is soothingly soulful, inviting you to kick back into the gorgeous manipulation of sampling and drum machines. On the other end of the scale, I’ve rekindled my love for the bloody gorgeous Magic Gang, the Brighton band who are guaranteed to make you smile with their lovely soppy pop.
I can absolutely guarantee my December picks will be full of Christmas songs. Sorry not sorry?
Tracklist: Nightmares on Wax – ‘You Wish’; The Magic Gang – ‘All That I Want Is You’; Childish Gambino – ‘Me and Your Mama’; Childish Gambino – ‘Redbone’; HMTLD – ‘Is This What You Wanted?’
(Image: Juliette Rowsell and her amazing Paint skills)