I wasn’t particularly excited about a lot of the new music that came out in March, so I set myself the task of finally working my way through my Spotify discover playlist, the songs of which I have been saving each week in another playlist until I had over 260 previously untouched songs sitting, expectantly awaiting my perusal. For those mathematicians of you out there, that’s about 17 hours and 17 minutes of potentially awesome/potentially shit music to listen to. Yes, this crusade was around about the same time as I sat down to start my dissertation, but I soon found that delving into the abyss of musical discovery went hand in hand with investigating why William Shakespeare was such a sadistic, little fuck-boy.
What I also found, is that Anderson .Paak is a Don- a beautiful, omnipresent, Don. ‘The Bird’ is one of his best, but also his appearances on ‘Dapper’ with Domo Genesis, ‘Dang!’ with Mac Miller, and ‘Get Along’ with Elements Of Music are just too good not to share. He’s supporting Bruno Mars in Leeds next month, and if I manage to catch that performance I might just pop the biggest boner since Ron Burgundy asked Veronica Corningstone on a date (It’s the pleats of the pants, an optical illusion I swear).
Two other gems I stumbled across were Samm Henshaw and Dan Caplen. Quite similar sounding artists – both engaging in sweet soulful compositions – they provided the soundtrack to my every morning, afternoon and night towards the end of March. Henshaw’s ‘Better’ was a real delight, while the stripped back chord progressions of Caplen’s ‘Badman’ was the perfect counterpoint to a strong and captivating voice. They reminded me of Ady Suleiman, who’s ‘Ain’t the Beep’ also made a much appreciated appearance.
In a different dynamic, Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White stood out with their cover of Little Wings’ ‘Look At What The Light Did Now’. Feel good and perfectly paced, the combination of two artists has resulted in a quality collaboration, with Morrissey’s unique vocals taking centre stage. Listening closely, there’s some really understated spine-tickling bass licks running throughout the song that are hard not to bob along too.
If that wasn’t enough, some absolute genius compiled all of the Arctic Monkeys’ acoustic versions of their songs into one huge album. Hearing the progression of Alex Turner’s voice over the years has given me hope that my dissertation ideas might actually be able to progress into actual words someday soon.
I also had a musical epiphany when I discovered that the hook to Nelly’s ‘Ride Wit Me’ literally works in every song ever. Seriously. Try it. Next time you’re and the DJ puts on some rogue “ooh look at how musically edgy I am” track, there’s no better way to ride out the awkward silences than by yelling “Ehhhh, must be the money!” at the top of your lungs.
Amidst all this discovery I almost completely forgot that James Blunt had an album out, a transgression which is actually now considered as one of the 8 deadly sins, sorry James! Oh yeah, and Kendrick Lamar dropped two shit hot tracks, which might just have been everyone’s musical highlights of the month.
Tracklist: Kendrick Lamar – ‘The Hear Part 4’; Kendrick Lamar – ‘Humble’; James Blunt- ‘2005’; Drake – ‘Passionfruit’; Tuxedo- ‘2nd Time Around’
March was a jazzy one. Having spent an unjustifiable amount of time in beer gardens despite having approximately only two days of sun, I used my Spotify playlist to help convince me that it really WAS sunny and help distract me from the fact that I am also approximately 11 texts behind for my course (not so great when you’re an English Lit student).
Kicking off the month I was lucky enough to have free tickets to see the incredibly talented Dominic J Marshall Trio at The Cast theatre in Doncaster (perks of having friends in the theatre). An instrumental jazz trio, the trio took jazz and twisted it: it was experimental, hypnotic and your entire attention melted into the talent of the three musicians before you. It was a musical journey that went soaring through the night; the piano and synths played by lead Dominic J Marshall picked you up and carried you away with them. My only regret is that this live performance was almost too good: I was picked up and flown around the room in a way that the band’s studio recordings can’t grapple me. This isn’t to put down their recorded material, but to simply stress the speciality of the evening. If you ever get a chance to see them, then do.
As Dominic J Marshall and co had dominated my Spotify listening that week, it wasn’t long before Spotify pointed me to the equally as experimental and jazzy Bad Bad Not Good. ‘And That, Too’ and ‘Speaking Gently’ are pieces of pure jazz trance, and I was somewhat disturbed to wake up one evening from a dream in which my fellow editor Jemima and I managed to get ourselves locked in an underground basement club with only the Pied Piper there to help us while the hypnotic riff of ‘And That, Too’ played on loop for the entire duration of our club visit. Warning: this band WILL get inside your head.
March also saw me complete work experience at the little known music magazine NME. As if knowing that my monthly listening had been dominated entirely by jazzy vibes, they had Rex Orange County’s perfectly summery and brass-infused ‘Sunflower’ playing in the office upon my arrival. Complementing Rex Orange County’s chilled yet energetic energy was Steve Lacey’s ‘Dark Red’ – the two artists sound tailor made to be played simultaneously in the sun with beers and chums. Completing my new wave trip hop jazz love affair, Mr Jukes and BJ That Chicago Kid’s ‘Angels / Your Love’ provides the perfect sun-ridden saxophone line you never knew you needed.
If you know me, I will have undoubtedly forced my love of Chicago babes Whitney down your throats at some point. Taking a break from my affair with all things jazz, my song on repeat at the end of the month was the band’s latest single, a cover of Lion’s ‘You’ve Got a Woman’. If you’re in need of a masterclass in sultry, seduction and absolute filth, then this gem to twist round your consciousness.
Tracklist: Bad Bad Not Good ft. Samuel T. Herring – ‘Time Moves Slowly’; Rex Orange County – ‘Sunflower’; Steve Lacy – ‘Dark Red’; Dominic J Marshall – ‘Leaves’ Dance’; Whitney – ‘You’ve Got a Woman’
March is the slow crawling toward the end of term, the faint glimmer of hope that at the end of the month you will be able to go home and not feel guilty about not going to seminars, the warm cuddle knowing that soon you’ll be back with Mum’s home cooking. In this purgatory, it was Four Tet’s ‘Morning Side’ that I put on loop to get me through the seemingly endless stream of midterm essays. The 20-minute track builds beautifully in a way that only Four Tet can manage, weaving in ethereal vocal samples to a wonderfully subtle backing track that makes it perfect to mindlessly type to. Don’t tell my tutors.
I know it came out months and months ago, but Frank Ocean’s Blonde was the dreamy soundtrack to my guilt-laden Sunday mornings. The album moves through songs effortlessly, almost without structure, shifting from one vocal run to another. The man hardly needs to justify this shift from the amazing catchy riffs of Channel Orange; his songs speak for themselves. And provide a truly wonderful soundtrack to have a headache to. Very soothing.
By far my favourite March revelation is ‘Get It’ by Polix. It came out of a very familiar situation: a group of friends sitting around late at night sharing their favourite musical discoveries. My friend put this on and I swear I nearly had a heart attack: not only is it a stellar tune, but it uses the exact same sample as my favourite song of all time, ‘Motherfucker’ by Stacy Kidd. If you know me, you’ll know that I love that song maybe more than my own life. Neither of these songs are particularly widespread or entirely well-known, so imagine my surprise. Definitely Gryph Picks-worthy.
Because we had two hot days in the whole of March and it got kind of sunny, that was obviously justification to sit on our front porch and sun ourselves senseless when we really did have something better to do. Lana Del Rey’s ‘Radio’ is sun-soaked californication personified, shoving it in my face that, yes, I do actually have real-life responsibilities and no, I can’t drive around Leeds in a red convertible with heart-shaped sunglasses wishing my problems away. A girl can dream, eh?
Tracklist: Stacy Kidd – ‘Motherfucker’; Polix – ‘Get It’; Lana Del Rey – ‘Radio’; Four Tet – ‘Morning Side’; Frank Ocean – ‘Self-Control’
Listen to our March Playlist below and make sure to follow us on Spotify @ TheGryphonMusic !
Image beautiful crafted by Juliette Rowsell