From A to Z

It’s usually about this time – middlish of the month when I’m drowning myself in new tunes – that I recall that I had an overly optimistic plan which involved actually telling you some stuff about all the random music which appeared in the last dose of Quiff. This, of course, would require me to get my shit together in some definite kind of way. I would have to stop pondering and start doing. I would require some sort of plan – I’ve vaguely heard of diaries – which would involve scheduling and reminders. Instead, what I did was get a cold and then pretend that I’d forgotten all about it for several weeks. If it helps, I’m not particularly proud of myself.

Another thing that I’m not particularly proud of is my pretence of musical knowledge. I allow silence to lead to presumption. A monthly mix magically appears but, like a panel show where all the comedians are constantly, impossibly witty , you never get to see the myriad team of unknowns who I beg, borrow and steal from or the hundred thousand outtakes which are, frankly, unlistenable.

Despite this it’s broadly my intention to keep it this way. It’s not that I enjoy the glory, it’s that I really, really enjoy the glory. Well, the extremely limited glory that comes from my worrying obsession with music.

I’m going to make an exception, however, for the all too excellent Z Tapes because Filip Zemčík is a man that actually deserves some glory. Somewhere in Bratislava one of modern music’s finest ears sits woefully  unappreciated. Plus, Quiff’s have been dotted with tracks from the tapes he puts out for at least a couple of years now.

Last month’s Quiff is no exception (and neither, probably, will next months) and features a couple of great tracks from the Summer of Sad compilation he did with Swell Tones. First up is a wonderful track from Lomelda, who combine fuzzy, slack guitar noises with wistful, yearning vocals. This song is like being wrapped in cotton wool, ill-fitting and comfortable. To put it in their own words: ‘Feel something. Be patient. Get together. Take a heavy breath’

Bevelers are a pair of musicians from Portland, Oregon who make deceptively powerful indie folk. Icebergs is a minute and a half of freedom, it’s beautifully simplicity providing perfect symmetry with the concept within:

As mentioned above, these tracks appear on the Summer of Sad compilation on bandcamp. It’s not only another name your price purchase but the profits go to a charity for survivors of domestic abuse. It doesn’t really get much better than that. You can stream the whole thing here (and then buy it):

Both of these songs also appear on last month’s Quiff, which is excellent, obviously:






A sombre dirge arises from the crowd and the mood rises again, this time from joyous to heartfelt. The emotion is pure, the moment is blessed. It is the worst song of the night and none of this is Loyle Carner’s fault. He couldn’t stop it even if he wanted to. It’s not his fault Happy Birthday is one of the least happy sounding tunes you could imagine. As we close, slightly incoherent from the rush of adrenaline, from shouting too loud, the tear in his eye twists and twirls in a cacophony of shock, horror and foam. From the side of the stage a fire extinguisher appears dragging behind it half of the support act, liquid pouring forth from its nozzle to drench our new hero. Behind me balloons float across an expanse of raised arms and party poppers launch themselves optimistically at the ceiling. It’s Loyle’s birthday and the party has come to Brighton.

He deserves it as well, this handsome, scrawny, bouncing heap of hip-hop madness. For the last hour he has flung himself at this crowd – his first sell-out by the sea – blending anarchy with adroitness, a showman mastering his craft. Between songs, as we all catch our breath, a bewildered disbelief flickers across his face as he realises that, actually, this is really, really fucking happening.

Loyle Carner is the next big star of UK hip-hop, of this I have no doubt. He may be boom-bap but he doesn’t carry a gun or call anybody a ho’ because for a start his mum would probably batter him (she’s somewhere out there in the crowd, of course) but also because that’s just not his way. He tells us a story about he last time he got in a fight (after spending all night repeatedly telling us not to fight). Some bloke had said that all of his songs were about the same thing: his family. I guess the startlingly good BFG would be one example:

But Loyle isn’t a fighter. This is an isolated events of which he’s clearly not proud. It would also be a vast miscalculation to presume that the only thing he has to talk about are his family. Nestling amongst the beautifully broken beats of his various collaborators (including Rebel Kleff, Kiko Bun & Tom Misch) lurks a witty and observant lyricist. He doesn’t do a capella he does poems. Take, for example, Ain’t Nothing Changed a paean to all things student, including loans, dropped across some languid jazz horns:


Before he leaves, shivering, soaked to the bone and ebullient he slots in his last single, a love song to the lost hip-hop of a previous era, a song that should launch a thousand Saturday nights:

You can catch all thing Loyle at his website. His latest record graces the A side of October’s Skewed Quiff which you can catch here:

p.s. Apologies for the terrible pun

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