Who is Jai Paul?

Recommended listening while reading:

 

No, I have no interest in knowing who Jai Paul is. I just thought it’d be fun to throw a ‘who is John Galt’ reference in there just to ensure I shed as many readers as possible before paragraph two.

Well that was a straight up lie. I’m obsessed with Jai Paul. The fact he’s officially released 2 singles in 6 years of being signed to a record label drives me crazy. I want more music. But then I thought of that (pretty terrible) Ayn Rand title // joke and I realised Jai Paul is basically John Galt. And I realised, he needs to stay that way. Enigmatic. No public presence. Perhaps, even, no new music. Ever.

Really?

Well, a little background for the uninitiated. Jai Paul is the name of a musician who got signed to the soothsayers of all big things, XL Recordings, off the back of one demo, BTSTU. This happened in 2010. Six years ago. BTSTU got released in Spring 2011 as a single. Another single, Jasmine, was released the following year, again in Spring. And then, in the Spring of 2013, a wedge of demos were hoisted onto a Bandcamp page, priced at £7, and rapidly gorged upon by the needy masses (myself included). You see, we were desperate for more, irrespective of it this was a leak or not. Turns out, according to Jai Paul’s one and only ever Tweet, it was. We all felt a little bad. But then we carried on listening to some of those demos and sat with wonder at how incredible they were. Str8 Outta Mumbai, amazing. A cover of that Jennifer Page song everyone sang while at school (Crush), amazing. Imagine what a real, finished album by Jai Paul could sound like?

Notice how all the events in the previous paragraph took place in Spring? And notice how the last event took place in 2013, three years ago? Well, much has changed since then. The world has changed in leaps and bounds. I think we believe the internet has given people an increasingly powerful voice, for good and for bad. I mean, we’re on the verge of naming a polar exploring ship Boaty McBoatface. Plus, Spring has just sprung again. Things with Jai Paul seem to happen in this time of year. And so just as releasing a Groundhog to see if he sees his own shadow has become a strange ritual, a bunch of people aimlessly wander around the internet trying to sniff out Jai Paul activity each Spring. We shout into the endless void of the internet in the hope it’ll stir something out of him. We are the groundhog handlers trying to drag the Jai Paul groundhog out of his little goundhog cage for our own shortsighted entertainment.

But it’s not the same as with other artists. Frank Ocean said he’d drop his new album in July 2015, and here we are in March 2016, still waiting. But we know he’ll be good for it. We know it’ll be worth the wait. We know he’s still alive, and who he is. And this Frank Ocean wait has become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Memes litter the internet every day as we jestingly post pictures of Frank out shopping when he should be at home, WORKING ON THAT DAMN SECOND ALBUM FRANK! COME ON MAN!

With Jai Paul, we know nothing, about anything, and maybe that’s why he should stay away. We don’t really have a clue who he is. He’s not something or someone to get eaten up and swallowed by the news cycle. A perfect example of this is Kanye West’s Twitter. There was a time when I was a Kanye fan. He was a little bit of a new thing. A bit weird, and made some pretty great music. He tweeted rarely, and it helped to make him more deceptive and unknown, likely for the better. Now that he can’t stop posting, we’ve come to realise that maybe we liked how it was before. EG, how to go from enigmatic to banal AF:

 

 

Some like to refer to Jai Paul as an alien who visited us for a while, who’s gone back to his home planet. I’m pretty sure he’s in London somewhere, doing something weird and amazing, like this ‘Foundation’ he’s set up with his brother recently suggests. It gives no information what it is, and just asks you to sign up with your phone number. He could be trying to sell us PPI Protection, but I’d be down for that because the hold jingles would be out of this world.

So are we going to get anything new from Jai Paul this Spring? Probably not. I’m at that stage now where I’m happy for it to never happen, which sounds weird and self-defeating, I know. But how can he beat BTSTU and Jasmine? How can he beat those leaked demos? This level of myth and legend surrounding his music and persona makes it nigh on impossible for him to really succeed in a conventional way, like appearing on a Graham Norton chat show making ‘banter’ with some other famous people.

Jai Paul

And him being this weird deity, with his one-tweet-Twitter, and his insane set-in-space collage of Lizo Mzimba, bears and Gianfranco Zola…. I’d rather never hear from him again, and put him on this untouchable pedestal rather than read what he had for lunch. Besides, his brother seems to make a pretty mean jam anway.

 

 

 

 

 

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Darwin Deez @ Oxford O2 Academy // 03.11.2015 //

In what felt like a terminal wait between Darwin Deez’s glorious self titled debut, and the follow-up, ‘Songs For Imaginative People’, occasional videos would show up of Darwin shredding the bejeezus out of a guitar from the comfort of his own home. Usually a cover of some proggy-jam from a bygone era, it was clear that this was one type of music Darwin liked to listen to, and play. However, what he liked to create, based on that first album, was something quite different. It used simple, steady chord structures, creating charming indie pop.

With album’s two and three now under his belt, his live show now highlights his pure, unadulterated love of a face-melter, and how he’s begun to incorporate that into his music. The show opens with a couple of ‘oldies’ from album one, ‘Constellations’ and ‘The City’ highlighting the old Darwin style. Oh, and the between-song dance routines are still an ever-present part of the Darwin Deez experience. It wouldn’t be a Darwin show without it. But it’s when we get into the meat of the set that fretful guitar fireworks act as a lynchpin and centrepiece for the whole set.

‘Chelsea’s Hotel’ closed album two, and is a track most people, myself included, wouldn’t place in their list of favourites. But hidden away in this lesser-known track is a lead guitar riff weaving through the chorus that’s quite the departure from what we’ve come to expect. With a live airing, Darwin and his band take that chorus riff as an opportunity to expand the track into something almost double in length, with Darwin evoking the spirit of those aforementioned videos as he gets to break free of the shackles of his usual sound.

‘Redshift’ follows not long after, and plays a similar trick to ‘Chelsea’s Hotel’, before the show closes out flicking between tracks from his new record, Double Down, and his debut. Darwin spoke openly ahead of Double Down’s release that he was looking to re-create the sound of his debut a little, and when tracks get played next to each other, that’s easy to hear. The lead guitar riffs on tracks like ‘Kill Your Attitude’ act as commas and full stops between his lyrics, just like on set closer ‘Bad Day’. But there’s something smart to those simple arrangements that helps to nestle those melodies into your brain, accentuated when hearing them live. Now we just need to wait to see what videos Darwin posts once he’s done touring to figure out what to expect next time round.

Wolf Alice @ Oxford O2 Academy // 04.04.2015 // World domination is next

WABombastic but ultimately-empty rhetoric is the kind of thing that keeps part-time blaggers/bloggers like me going. It’s too easy to say nice things in the hope of scoring retweets to get my precious view count up. But here’s a thing that I believe with 100% sincerity (‘cos I’m a stats guy). Wolf Alice are Britain’s best live band right now.

Wolf Alice swung past Oxford 10 months ago before their second EP – ‘Creature Songs’ – was released. It was a show which pointed to a bright future for the band, but like a greedy kid at Christmas, I wanted more. There was an underlying hope of ‘how great can this band be with a bigger collection of thunderous post-grunge rock ‘n roll?’ And so 10 months on, with a first U.S. tour behind them, a debut album close to being released, extensive radio play and a ballooning fan base, what we got was Wolf Alice v2.0. Harder, better, faster, strobe lighting. They have played more shows this year already (by April 1st 2015) than compared to all of 2014 (told you I’m a stats guy/thanks Songkick). Like Jafar, Dr. Evil and Pinky & The Brain, they are ready to take over the world. Except Wolf Alice might actually pull it off.

Latest single ‘Giant Peach’ showed singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell experimenting with her singing voice, throwing in chant-like bursts, yelps, and fun little low-octave moments. That experimentation has now become stitched into their live shows, such as on the show opener, ‘Fluffy’. Instead of a pretty-literal translation from record to real-life, the live version is made fresh with little nuanced changes like Ellie changing up the vocal tone and style of delivery. For a band that’s clearly destined to tour the dickens out of their music this year, that variety helps to spice things up.

The world will finally get studio versions of live staples ‘Your Love’s Whore’ and ‘You’re A Germ’ once the album arrives, but what they represent is what we expect Wolf Alice to be right now. The lightness of touch they show on ‘Your Love’s Whore’, building gradually from the rhythm section to an awesome cacophony of noise by the end. And on the flipside, a whole lot of fury on ‘You’re A Germ’ as the crowd screams back their 1 times tables in the chorus.

Even more exciting is the notion of experimentation, with the band not afraid to take a risk or two. An airing of forthcoming album track ‘Soapy Water’ sees drummer Theo using a drum pad for the first time, while Ellie channels a little of Lana Del Ray as she croons wistfully. Wolf Alice have done mid-tempo before, life started for them as a folk-pop two-piece. But ‘Soapy Water’ is something completely different.And that’s exciting.

However, main-set closer and latest single ‘Giant Peach’ is everything we’ve come to know and love: pure chaotic perfection. Somehow it sounds ten times heavier than anything else that’s come before as a gargantuan Muse/Led Zepp-in-their-heyday guitar riff floors the room. I’m told an encore happened afterwards but I was busy picking up pieces of my shattered skull from the floor.

Get ready to bow to your new overlords, Wolf Alice. And get ready for their debut album, ‘My Love Is Cool’, dropping on June 22nd through Dirty Hit.

Delta Sleep – Lake Sprinkle Sprankle // Debut Album out May 25th

spinkleJesus Bill! Delta Sleep are back! I was a big fan of their EP which came out almost two years ago, so admittedly the band had faded from my thoughts recently. But clearly they’ve been beavering away on their debut album, named ‘Twin Galaxies’, due to be unleashed on May 25th on Big Scary Monsters.

Clash Music is hosting the premiere of the first cut from the album to be set free, entitled ‘Lake Sprinkle Sprankle’, and it’s a reminder of why I’m so fond of these guys. A little bit mathy and fierce initially, it skips into a more heartfelt  and open ending. Bring on the album we say. Listen to ‘Lake Sprinkle Sprankle’ on Clash Music.

The Go! Team – The Scene Between

go teamThe Go! Team’s Mercury Music Prize nominated debut, Thunder, Lightning, Strike! (2004) was an album that helped nudge me off-course from my typical teen oeuvre of pop-punk sensibilities. But come on, I was 16. Of course I was listening to a lot of Blink 182 and Sum 41, because that’s what everyone (or my friends at least) listened to. And that’s why Thunder, Lightning, Strike! was such a revelation for me. It was like nothing I’d heard before. It was weird and a little wacky. It ripped up and tied together all sorts of samples, from a Black Panther Party chant, to the theme from Ironside by Quincy Jones. But most importantly of all, it was interesting, full of depth and presented new layers on additional listens. It’s an album I owe a debt to for helping to expand my own horizons. To prove a point, last year I reviewed a psychedelic album by a band featuring the lead singer singing only in Cambodian (The Cambodian Space Project). Would this have happened without The Go! Team? Who knows. But maybe this blog would have been about my fandom for Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, and the colour beige, instead of what it is.

Jumping ahead 11 years from Thunder, Lightning, Strike!, The Scene Between is The Go! Team’s fourth full-length, and on paper alone sounds like a fascinating proposition. It sees ‘the band’ returning to their sample-loving roots somewhat, although now the band is just front man Ian Parton working solo, although not entirely. He set himself four rules with this record: Melody would guide the song, samples would be treated as an instrument rather than a basis for the song, the production would vary across the song like flipping the dial on a radio and the singers must all be people he’d never previously heard of.

We’re used to a range of different vocalists flitting across The Go! Team records, so the concept of having vocals from a bunch of mostly bedroom-DIY vocalists isn’t a stark change, but is a neat concept. An initial concern that this may come across as gimmicky doesn’t come to fruition, as none of the vocal styles sound out-of-place or shoehorned into a track where it doesn’t sit well.

Of Parton’s four rules (now he sounds like Descartes), the third rule brings me the most joy. The constant tectonic movements of production changes leaves you juggling and trying to grasp the percussion as it slips out of grip and metamorphosis’s into something else. On lead single ‘The Scene Between’ it’s at its most riotous, bringing a fuzzed-out ramshackle barrage of percussion instruments that shift and change during the chorus.

‘Walking The Jetstream’ is another highlight, with Parton’s four rules uniting perfectly. The verses build gradually to beguiling choruses, as a memorable melody combines with windswept drums producing a cacophony of noise.

Some tracks do tend to seep into each other as they struggle to be easily identifiable as unique amongst the album. This leads to a slight samey feeling at times, causing a craving for something a little more salty and sour to cut through the sweetness. Like a ‘The Power is On’, for example. But I should stop harping on about that debut album. There’s lots on The Scene Between to enjoy. The record as a whole is a saccharine-sweet bundle of fun, full of teeth-rottenly-good indie-pop noise.

Asylums – Wet Dream Fanzine [EP]

asyI have a decent pair of Sennheiser bucket headphones that spend the majority of their existence sat in the corner of my room, sad and alone, while I listen to music out of my tinny, crappy laptop speakers. Today I sat down, plugged them in, and decided to have a listen to all the music in my inbox. Fortunately / Luckily / It was meant to be that Asylums happened to be at the top of my inbox. I haven’t even got onto the second email yet. I’m stuck on this band.

Asylums hail from Southend, and release their first EP on February 23rd on their own label, Cool Things Records. Their DIY approach doesn’t stop there though. The whole EP is lyrically focused as an urgent attack on various forms of media, giving credence and authenticity to their entire approach. Plus, they make sock puppet music videos. So win-win.

Credo aside, they sound like something we’ve been waiting for without even realising we were missing them. Punk noise with no track lasting longer than 2 and a bit minutes, they come at you fast with some brutal rock and roll, but not forgetting for a second the need for a little melody. Like an angrier Young Knives, a poppier We Are The Physics…….these guys are going to huge, and I can’t wait.

King Krule – Easy Easy (Willow Freaking Smith Cover)

I’ve decided this week that now is the time for me to actually invest in Soundcloud. Put in the hours. Do the legwork. This isn’t me trying to expand the reach of this site, but quite simply, it’s too much of an amazing way to find new music to ignore it any longer. Spotify is handy, but music has to be officially released. It has to be licensed. Blah blah blah. And beyond surfing related artists and looking at new releases, it isn’t all that easy to find new music.

So a couple of days in, and what have I found. Fustratingly, at least one of Will Smith’s kids has got some serious talent. Willow, best known for that ‘Whip My Hair’ song a few years back has done a seriously mean cover of King Krule’s amazing ‘Easy Easy’. A few things are pretty striking. A) Her voice. Holy moly. It’s credible. It’s subtle. It’s got these little nuances that make it so listenable. B) A cover of King Krule? One way to get some nifty indie-cred for sure, but it works for her here. And finally, C) I notice she did a track with SZA (one of our favourites) not so long ago. SZA played a similar trick to Willow by loading an EP with cred-giving indie reference points, and that’s worked out for her pretty well.

So all hail Willow Smith, and all hail Soundcloud.