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Music of the Month: February 2020

We’re constantly on the lookout for amazing music new and old, and each month we share our favourite discoveries with our readers.

The motto: “Broaden some horizons”.

3 songs of varying genres.

1 cover song that we love for some reason or another.

1 essential album to hear before you die.

Song #1 – ‘Date With Destiny’ (Nightmares On Wax)

Leeds lad, local legend. Nightmares On Wax is undoubtedly one of the coolest UK producers of the last few decades. Originally formed as a group project, Nightmares On Wax eventually came to refer to one man: George Evelyn. He has seemed to operate from a more relaxed perspective of the UK’s electronic scene over his career. Whilst underground scenes have witnessed a long and complex evolution of house, techno, and jungle since the 90s, George has always kept his cool. The beats of Nightmares On Wax are calm and dreamy (and definitely not nightmarish). ‘Date With Destiny’ from his 2002 album Mind Elevation is the perfect example of this. With vocals seemingly inspired by 2000s chart music, this tune has great nostalgia value.

'Date With Destiny' - Nightmares On Wax

Song #2 – ‘The Champ’ (The Mohawks)

Alan Hawkshaw (also from Leeds) formed a group called The Mohawks in the late 60s. These guys were all session musicians, and very good ones at that. ‘The Champ’ is by far their most famous release, and for good reason. This instrumental has an irresistible drum pattern, perfect for crafting breakbeats, and every other layer just bleeds funk. It has been sampled hundreds of times throughout the evolution of Hip Hop and is now integral pillar of the genre’s history. Here’s a little taster of those who have paid homage to this beat over the years:

Salt-N-Pepa, MC Hammer, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Frank Ocean, Nicki Minaj, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G. The list goes on…

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for the rest of us.

'The Champ' - The Mohawks

Song #3 – ‘Joints and Jam’ (Black Eyed Peas)

I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. This was 1998, the Black Eyed Peas had just released their debut album Behind The Front, and it was fresh. ‘Joints and Jam’ feels like a bridge between the raw hip hop of the 90s and the smooth R&B of the early 2000s. Yet on their rise to ultra-fame, these guys seem to have traded their simple but catchy beats for Fergie’s vocals, over-production, and an absolute mountain of cash. Luckily, we can still enjoy the good old days of when the Black Eyed Peas used to be cool:

'Joints and Jam' - Black Eyed Pea

Cover of the Month – ‘Teardrop’ (AURORA)

Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora Aksnes has humbly raised the bar for electropop over the past few years. Her first track was released in 2012 and she has since gone on to sell out venues around the world and chart internationally. Back in 2017, she performed this mysterious cover of Massive Attack’s iconic 1998 track ‘Teardrop’, and it’s fantastic. It’s hard to believe that she can summon these vocal tones during a live performance, which are perfectly mirrored in her gentle piano. She managed to create an unending feeling of spaciousness, which reimagines the spirit of the original in stainless fashion:

'Teardrop' - AURORA

Essential Album of the Month – Antiphon (Alfa Mist)

Hailing from East London, Alfa Mist is a ridiculously talent pianist and producer. Originally a fan of grime and hip hop, he set out in his teenage years to learn the art of jazz. Reflecting the mood of his neighbourhood in his music, Alfa’s 2017 release Antiphon is poignant and almost dark. However, it also makes for serene listening and the tracklist flows like a river. The man himself is performing tonight at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, and a venue of this size will no doubt suit his broody atmosphere.

Antiphon - Alfa Mist

Check out January’s music of the month HERE.

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