Album Club: Album Club – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


ALBUM CLUBALBUM CLUB

Make No Bets sets the scene incredibly nicely, being a gentle, laidback piece with nice lyrics and so much warmth behind the dual harmonies; contrastingly, The Hard Part has a fervid, enthusiastically loaded punch to it which makes for an utterly rousing and catchy track, and Different Hours features some breezy accordions and pleasing guitar work throughout.

The writing of the tender Transmissions From The Moon elegantly and creatively encapsulates that longing for your loved one far away. Similarly speaking, Fragile And Frail wraps around you in a safe veil of comfort, and Leave Me Singing flows to a fulfilling beat while shining with a great chorus. Suddenly, Walls swerves down a different path, with a neat hodgepodge of strings, electronics, spoken word and lots more in a compelling two minute space.

Night Owls gleams with a mesmerising ambient mood, Never Sleep Alone is effectively descriptive with plenty of pictures vividly popping in your head of the moments being disclosed, and finally When You’re Ready once again displays a strong sense of loving and caring that couldn’t possibly light up a smile from the listener.

The Glaswegian outfit have been quite successful in producing a solid debut record which is capable in conveying interesting storytelling, expressing appealing affection and cultivating engaging sonic atmospheres.


Deepshade: Gloaming – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


DEEPSHADEGLOAMING

Things are off to a fresh and electric start with Eat My Dust, where the grunge influences come through hot in the sweet riffs and thundering bass tones, and the whole thing has an infectious buzz to it. Next up is the real cool Mountain, which enraptures with entertaining, vivid lyrics, enlightened by the equally fascinating vocals, and there’s both nice drumming and a mighty fine sax-drenched atmosphere throughout.

Life Is Beauty is a quality banger that is utterly catchy and addictive, with the guitars in particularly punching up the energy to a fun, rocking intensity that’ll definitely get you boogieing along without a care in the world. The raving ride keeps on going in the very solid The Wolf, and lastly we arrive at the title track, which can be likened to an exotic and highly satisfying psychedelic trip.

Gloaming is a smashing output from the well-tenured Wigan stoner outfit, who deliver exactly the kind of stuff you want from the genre they inhabit. Each song stands out distinctly, and they’re able to nail whatever mood they seek to create, be it heavy and dynamic, or loose and kaleidoscopic.


The Abyss Inside Us: City Lights – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


THE ABYSS INSIDE USCITY LIGHTS

The eponymous track itself starts us off, and it’s a terrific piece that sparks imagery of the night-time city in your head, with a mysterious noir-esque atmosphere created from the smooth and highly relaxing slow jazz instruments; cool bass notes, shimmering cymbals, sleek pianos, and a dash of delicate sax.

Passers-By slips a little more into an ambient post-rock tone familiarly associated with the Abyss Inside Us brand, featuring a combo of various, engagingly mild guitar chords accompanied by occasional eerie whooshes of noise lingering in the background, and lastly is the sweet and brisk Highway Night Drive which dons such an infectiously hip rhythm mainly coming courtesy of the slick drumming.

Nikos Togkaridis, the man behind the project, first came to my attention last year with the enjoyable What Words Can’t Say EP, and he’s impressed again here, where I appreciate not only his skilful talents, but his willingness and desire to spread his wings and jump into an diverse array of styles.


Every Enemy Alive: War Within – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


EVERY ENEMY ALIVEWAR WITHIN

A roar of twin guitars greets us into Thief, which subsequently takes off into an energised banger that is defined by potently impressionably lyrics that, based on your truly’s past experiences, perfectly embody that horrible sense of overwhelming panic and anxiety. The fire carries on high through into Don’t Start A Revolution, aggressively through both the performances and the words taking aim at people who claim to be rebellious when in reality they contribute little to the fight, instead actually feeding into the corruptive system holding us down.

Seth Bartholdi steps up to the mic and makes his brash presence efficiently felt in the smashing Stories Of The Damned, An Amorous Affliction opens on an atmospheric note before returning to the familiarly resolute setting, plus it’s highlighted by a great chorus, and the climatic, emotionally-riding Midnight Tragedy conveys a lot of sorrow and helplessness in how people can so easily fall apart from each other and spin out into a forsaken spiral as a result.

This is a truly staggering debut EP right here from the Vermont metalcore squad, who do such a stupendous job tackling and emphasising a variety of mental health and social issues tearing us apart inside and out, and the record more or less serves as the quintessential vessel for anybody who can relate to battling with these particular struggles to simply vent it all, aware that somebody else out there – Every Enemy Alive, in this case – understands what you’re suffering through.


Sea Glass: Elevator Chat – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


SEA GLASSELEVATOR CHAT

The opening namesake piece sparks instant magic with a stunningly wistful aura that is pure bliss to the ears, and the velvety harmonies play a major factor in creating the lovable sound. The synths of Queen Of Hearts are indescribably cheerful and luminous in tone, the lyrics are great, and the melody is ridiculously infective and full of life.

New Romans has a calmer, more chilled out vibe to it, but one that’s still so absorbing, and the guitar chords are nicely implemented. Misty Boyce heads the dreamy, acoustically rich and bass-flavoured Razor Bones with a beautifully arresting singing display, and the wholesomely romantic words of Asleep help make it an ideal, positive-affirming way to see us out.

The 2nd EP from the Brooklyn producer is an excellent slice of joy, with he and his similarly talented associates assembling a sweet bundle of numbers that get you smiling like an absolutely fool in an irresistible bout of contentment.


Jahmal Padmore: Esparonto – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


JAHMAL PADMOREESPARONTO

Quite a sweet mood is lit up as Sorted begins via the easy-going and tranquil production, and Jahmal makes a welcoming first impression, as he comes to realise the faults in his relationship and is willing back to make amends and change for the better. Ride is nudged along by a quietly bopping beat and swell bassline, making for a track that is equal parts chilled and catchy, and the electricity in the air continues to ream all the bigger as it jaunts toward the end.

Sunday In The Living Room sees Jahmal take the time to sit down and pledge his case in order to repair the domestic rifts, but as Benja’s brief but effective guest verse underlines, there are still lingering doubts in the mind. Next is Pretty, definitely the best cut so far, not only being sonically stellar and pretty infectious, but Jahmal, riding off soul and passion, doesn’t hold back admitting his flaws, how they’ve caused issues, and that overcoming old habits is going to be a challenge.

On Without states simply that the past is the past, nothing can be done to change it, and that it’s best to make a fresh start towards a brighter future; also, the sax solo is a thing of beauty. Matthew Progress’ staunch rapping steals the show in the great and memorable Operator, where Jahmal is also really convincing expressing the fears of a potential fallout and hiding himself away in denial by clinging onto precious nostalgic memories.

Then in Your Joy, through his most excellent performance yet, he really pushes selfless devotion and his determination to ensure his lover’s happiness first and foremost above all else, and the tune matches up to his fire with a contagious rhythm and brimming guitar-helmed melody. Cut The Rope is a cracking interluding piece encompassed by sizzling ambience, neat chords and grooving electronics.

And after all the turmoil, Jahmal ends up going alone as detailed through his zealous outpouring in the instrumentally-meaty Instigation, coming to the conclusion, with keen assistance from Keita Juma, that the pain and the pressure trying to maintain and fully commit to the partnership was just too much and the logical final act was to simply call it off and find peace flying solo, but as the conclusive So Cold depicts, it’s a difficult to task to accept, leaving Jahmal crying out for some form of warmth and comfort from the one he’s now lost.

There are so few records that I’ve experienced this year where I’ve found myself totally hooked and entranced to its content without a break of attention from beginning to end, but that’s exactly the case with the Toronto R&B artist and his phenomenal, wholly fixating debut album that could possibly set him on course to becoming Canada’s next breakout star down the line; talent like this can’t be dusted under the rug.


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Ariel Rose: In Paraiso – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


ARIEL ROSEIN PARAISO

Let Me Go makes for an entertaining starter, where Ariel’s great on vocal duties, the lyrics are quite memorable, and sonically it’s a tonne of fun; the beat is cool, the trumpets are simply delish, and there’s even a hint of R&B lurking in there, plus big shout to LORS on his top-notch verses.

En El Paraiso is infectious as all heck and relates well to anybody who just wants to escape the tedious grind and chill on their own terms for a while. It’s impossible not to shake your hips to the freakishly catchy continental tune Atrapada, and as you’d probably expect, Your Lovin’ is a pleasantly cute and romantic cut that has you exiting with a grin on your face.

Miami artist Ariel Rose provides a blast of love and bubbly positivity in this sweet and savoury Latin-pop record that only the most cynical of folks couldn’t possibly garner some form of enjoyment from, and it wouldn’t be out of place in the mainstream charts; if anything, Ariel deserves to take her spot on there with such pleasurable content like this.


Grawl!x: Spring – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


GRAWL!XSPRING

Hopelessness is a tip-top opener across the board. Instrumentally speaking, we get a tight mixture of sparkly synths, serene riffs and a good beat producing an infectiously engaging tune which is also led by meaningful words and a sublime vocal performance. Nine Ladies in contrast radiates with a gentler nature, shimmying along at a mellower tempo while eliciting a beautifully easing atmosphere.

And speaking of atmosphere, Taraa is wholly ripe with that vibe, being a spine-chilling number that is totally reeled back with not much more than divine piano keys to begin with before growing in scale, all while the blissful harmonies thoroughly impress, then Spring itself glints and gleams with a subtly chipper gusto in the first half before transforming into a dreamlike state, and the lyrics showcase a sense of loving and caring, being wary of the knowledge that the selfless route will be the correct one.

A worthy follow-up to 2020’s Peeps, this is a magical EP that is both musically wistful and incredibly attentive and thoughtful in its writing, leading to highly charming results.


Aibai: Disconnected – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


AIBAIDISCONNECTED

Higher opens with a showering of bright notes before sparking a pleasingly florid mood through colourful guitar chords and a tight beat, plus the faint vocals are a nice added touch. The title track begins with a stunning ambient vibe, then gets a pulse going that is both catchy and also so chilled and laid-back, draining your head of any negative thoughts as it advances.

Peaches is a deliciously fluorescent lo-fi anthem that has your body weaving along, while featuring some amiable singing, and the final song Gone satisfies in a similar fashion, with an extra peppy vibe and punch to the rhythm this time around.

The Minneapolis electronic musician’s latest EP is nothing short of a rewarding experience. While not necessarily the most advanced and complex of records, the tunes are adeptly produced and effortlessly put you into a positive and vibrant state of mind.


The Alchemy: Idle Ghosts – SMALL MUSIC SCENE


THE ALCHEMYIDLE GHOSTS

After a calm and unsuspecting intro piece, the group burst into the supreme Flawless, highlighted by a belter of a chorus, and everything else from the dense bass tones, to the sweet riffs, to the avid vocals also impressing pretty well; likewise, Brain Dead maintains the buzz with a hooking melody and a rocking energy as it hits its peak, and the lyrics are simple yet enjoyable. Flux features some real contagious work from the guitars, and at this point, they’re just churning out a perpetual drift of songs you can’t help but proudly join in and sing along to.

Afterlife eases the pace up a little and displays a greater sense of sincerity and emotion then ever before, and effectively so, and Digital People delivers better yet in that area, examining how in an age of being wired to the internet, social media and so forth, that proper human communication has been taken for grant and even damaged, and it’d be safe to say the track now has extra meaning with the world fresh off experiencing a global pandemic and an endless array of lockdowns.

After a sensitive pair of numbers, the band get the excitement pumping back up with the bouncing and inspiring Dream A Little Bigger. Little Hell is another smashing sonic whammy while the relatable writing continues to click, and Blossom and is just a pure swinging, high-octane riff exhibition.

The words of Plastic Flowers especially compel, scrutinising how blind we are as a human race to the amount of harm and destruction we’re causing on the planet and how little many will do to alter our habits in order to fix the problem, and the concluding title tune carries a firm weight and conveys that sense of helplessness and the worry of whether you’ll ever be able to break out from the cycle.

The Canterbury quartet’s sophomore album is a really tremendous effort that continuously fires you up with a series of hard-hitting rock numbers which are so infectious and energetic, all while expressing some fantastically thoughtful written insights that any listener can surely connect with.