Good grief. In the immortal words of Montserrat’s finest export Arrow – it’s “HOT HOT HOT”! Trapped in the Luciferian clutches of a hellish heatwave (and accompanying Football Fever™), Liverpool has transmogrified into a toasty yet beautifully breezy paradise akin to some fabled Caribbean clime, like Merseyside’s answer to Miami, with sweltering sunbathers and cool cocktails to boot. Jacaranda
One gets the impression that the very fabric of society is about to break down, should we see another week of sunshine – our historic city joyously crumbling forth into a sweaty utopia. At Jacaranda Records, however, it’s business as usual. You’ll find no beach bunnies here. The truth is heavily on the contrary – you can very clearly see that we’ve been locked behind closed doors, poring over vinyl treasures like that mad fella Gollum from The Lord Of The Rings. Not a tanline or pair of sunglasses in sight.
Anyways, all the hard work has paid off! We’ve got some doozys for ya this July, folks. Los Angeles R&B group The Internet bless us with a hot new LP entitled Hive Mind, the long-awaited follow-up to their grammy-nominated 2015 album Ego Death. It promises to expand on their bass-heavy blend of soul, funk, and R&B – “If Ego Deathwas a pencil, it was like a good pencil…. It was a bit dull, but I’d say this pencil’s really sharp, and we’re gonna draw nice…” says stationary-minded member Steve Lacy. No erasers necessary.
Neo-soul auteur Adrian Younge drops two vinyl releases this month; March’s Voices Of Gemma, a kaleidoscopic, psychedelic mix of folk, jazz, funk, and soul; and June’s The Midnight Hour, a collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad which evokes the intimate setting of some small basement soul club, blending jazzy hip-hop and soul feeling in a retro aesthetic reminiscent of their Harlem Renaissance-inspired Luke Cage soundtrack. Something for the heads indeed.
On the subject of hip-hop, and accompanying Heads™, satisfactory sounds abound this summer. Los Angeles rapper Blu drops the wax cut of his collaborative mixtape Blueprint, produced by Shafiq Husayn and released to acclaim earlier this year. If you were into Blu’s work with Madlib, Exile, Nottz, etc, then you’ll feel this. Husayn has his own stellar track record which kinda speaks for itself – Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Andre 3000, John Legend, Anderson Paak, Thundercat. Left-field producer Charge It To The Game & mainstream-dodging Houston rapper Fat Tony’s noisy, synth-funk-laden album House With A Pool gets a vinyl drop this month too. Something for the pool party playlist, if your friends can handle it.
There’s also a limited reissue of K-Rob & Rammellzee’s Beat Bop coming through. Famed for its original artwork by cult New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, original copies of this rap holy grail change hands for hundreds, if not thousands of $$$. They had one on display at Tate Britain last year as part of the Basquiat retrospective. It’s that rare. So save yourself a few grand and cop a reproduction, while stocks last. Also on the reissue tip is Comton’s Most Wanted’s Music To Driveby, a true South Central gangsta rap classic, for all the Raiders-cap-wearing, lowrider-cruising Gs out there in the Liverpool metropolitan region. Not one to miss if you regularly dust off your copy of GTA San Andreas.
Speaking of heartless gangsters – there is seemingly no pity in the hearts of record companies for the true victims of summer heatwaves. It’s a real, serious issue: the heavy metal fans are really cooking under all that leather! Fuel is thrown onto fire in with an insane roster of new releases and essential reissues in the world of metal this month. Prog and tech-metal purveyors Between The Buried & Me drop Automata II, which follows on from the well-loved (and frustratingly abruptly-ended) Automata released earlier this year. German death metal masters Obscura complete their long-running, four-album conceptual circle with the release of Diluvium. The brutal, technical Chelsea Grin usher in a new dawn with Eternal Nightmare. Korn frontman Jonathan Davis has a new record called Black Labyrinth, and it’s pressed onto marbled, smoky coloured vinyl.
Are you still getting this, dear reader? Get a pen and paper. There’s a lot to get through. You’ll have to get a special neck brace for the inevitable head-banging-related sprain when we’re done with ya. Maybe some throat lozenges, too, if you’re the type of fan that likes to scream along to your favourite Metal Hits™. Pioneering extreme metal group Death get a trio of limited edition reissues – Individual Thought Patterns, The Sound Of Perseverance, and Leprosy all get special uniquely coloured vinyl pressings. Finnish band Amorphis release aqua-blue coloured vinyl copies of Tales From The Thousand Lakes and The Karelian Isthmus. Dutch symphonic metal gods Epica give an overdue vinyl release to Epica Vs. Attack On Titan Songs, their extended play of songs based on the post-apocalyptic anime Attack On Titan. Alice Cooper’s disturbingly weird and undeservedly misunderstood DaDa is coming back into print – time for a reappraisal.
That’s surely enough darkness to cloud over the sunshine this summer, no? How about some ice cream? Funk-poppers The Time get their Prince-produced classic Ice Cream Castles pressed onto neapolitan coloured vinyl this month. That’s chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, baby! A little tropical flavour is on the menu with a deluxe re-press of French electronic duo Polo & Pan’s 2017 LP Caravelle. Tom Waits takes you on a musical holiday with a fresh pressing of his classic Foreign Affairs. Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke gets his timeless Afro Latin Soul – both volumes – in print again. Three fan faves from The Flaming Lips are coming back too. Hear It Is, Oh My Gawd!!!, and Telepathic Surgery return to shelves this month.
I know it’s a lot to take in. Just relax. Breathe deeply. We can’t cover it all here. Hot new Scandinavian jazz? DJ Seinfeld? Natureboy Flako’s “exploration of the human inner space, the balance of musical energies and music’s healing capabilities”? It’s too much to tell. Don’t even get me started on the new Rick Astley album*.
*Not a joke.