12 Revolutions of 2017: Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone

Loyle Carner stands front and centre on the cover of his album, but he is not alone. Family and friends crowd around him on the unkempt lawn, in front of a tenement block. People smile and giggle, nervous with the camera pointed at them. This is a moment repeated a hundred thousand times, same but different, an echo of family gatherings across the length and breadth of the UK.

Hip-hop is supposed to be brutal, frank and honest to reflect the troubled lives of its purveyors. This was true for the originators, it was true for the gangsters and it’s true for modern grime. Rather than turning his razor-sharp pen and honey-dewed drawl to everyday violence, the fraternity of gang life or the escapism of retail therapy, Loyle turns it inwards and creates a record of personal reflection, of pain and doubt and resilience and hope.

The album opener, The Isle of Arran, seduces the listener with its heavenly, gospel-tinged hook – “The Lord will find a way” – and then bares its teeth in a meditation of death, loss and grief that flickers across the flesh like the lash of a whip, pain and diffidence rising with realisation: “Clinging to that whole one/My mother said there’s no love until you show some/So I showed love and got nothing, now there’s no-one/You wonder why I couldn’t keep in tow, son.”



We roll forward and Loyle’s lines – languid, smooth and resonant – lead us into his inner existence. He contemplates the difficulties of early adulthood: struggling to get by, trying to be responsible, and the loss of innocence. Ain’t Nothing Changed is a jazz-infused eulogy to the shedding of childish freedom. He dreams of the past as he struggles with the present: “Trust, I’m all alone panicking to play it safe/This talk of paper chase is forcing me to stay awake/Living in sake of cake, yeah, others will say you’re straight/Say they got my back and that they’re praying Imma pave the way/Like it’s the great escape.”


Like in life, there is also light amongst the darkness here. No Worries shows a more sanguine attitude to adulthood: “Fear loathing on this helter skelter/When all we really need is food, clothing and shelter/Played the hand they dealt ya down ’til the last card/You claim king but only jokers have the last laugh”. In almost self-therapeutic manner, Loyle reminds himself of what’s truly important in life: Love first, success second.

No CD is a highlight. A joyous boom-bap anthem, underwritten with humorous self-deprecation, that serves as a homage both to his love of music and the music that he loves:  “Oh please, we ain’t got no P’s/Because we spent all our money on some old CDs/We got some old Jay Zs, couple ODBs/Place ’em up in perfect order ’cause my OCD.

Family and loyalty are a constantly re-occurring theme. On Florence, Loyle imagines making pancakes with the little sister he never had while, on Mrs C, he speaks of the death of a friend’s mother. Sun of Jean starts as a tribute to his mother and her strength and ends with a poem about him as a child, spoken by his mother. While Loyle may have struggled because the world wouldn’t accept him as he was, he never felt this way with his mother. Their closeness is evident, and in a way that most artists would struggle to speak about with such frankness: “Call me the son of Jean/My little submarine/Me and my mother, there ain’t nothing that can come between/Call me the son of Jean.” There is hope in this track and that really is the conclusion of this record. Look forward; don’t look back because Yesterday’s Gone:

There is so much, which is refreshing about Yesterday’s Gone: its finally crafted beats, its candid discussion of difficult topics and its humour and warmth. There is no one in hip-hop making music quite like this and that makes the album, and Loyle, very special. Both musically and lyrically, it respects the past but looks forward to the future, which is something we can all get better at.

You can grab Yesterday’s gone from Loyle’s website.



12 Revolutions of 2017: moonweather – sit down, be small

Imagine taking a few months off in order to spend some quality time doing whatever you are passionate about. This is exactly how moonweather approached the making of their first record sit down be small: During the summer months last year, Colin, Bobby and Billy came together with local musicians and created something that has left Quiff weak with wonder:

“We quit our jobs for a summer and built the studio, with help from our friend Jon. The whole idea was that we weren’t going to rush the writing and recording this time around. We simplified the amount of things we were trying to do. There weren’t any festival application deadlines, or shows to practice sets for. Just a few of us in a basement taking our time writing and recording until we were happy with the result.”, states Colin.

The opening track is an experimental sound potpourri stitching together little patches from the album without revealing too much; like a hand surrounded by haze and hope reaching out to guide you through the intricate, yet joyous tangle.

Burn Me with its remarkably well-conceived orchestration is an impeccable example of how the carefully selected instruments and feelings expressed within this multifarious swirl correlate with each other: “Notice low, red low/See your breath as it/Slows” The trumpet flutters between the pattering drums and the soothing cello, reiterating the words with pleasure and purity – an aural manifesto that is floating free but in perfect time to the beat like a nimble-footed and light-hearted dancer.

The Quiff staggers and sways as the record moves on, giddy with excitement, appeasing his thirst with a fine pinch of musical ambiguity. Heads Up plays with contrasting spirits, it leaves the beguiled listener on his own, floating in anticipation but buried in thought, a dark aftertaste whispering across his throat: “Hold your head up by a smile/Piles of garbage thrown, creeping like the sub-floor/When you know you’re dead and gone/Taste the moon on your tongue.” Colin admits that “the music has a little bit of an upbeatness to it that the lyrics don’t really share.”

Nevertheless, moonweather have the rare ability to create vivid images in Quiff’s head that make him run along a gust pebble beach, pause in wistfulness standing amongst the ever-moving throng of city life or catapult him foolishly into the sky. Too Soon is probably the album’s empathetic masterpiece. The floating guitar and subdued horns gently war with vocals of urgent supplication. It’s a song about struggling with life and making mistakes, about regret and realisation, all combined in the recurring line “I should’ve known better.”

The genuine storytelling is complemented by the neatly styled musical arrangements, which reflect a sense of togetherness. That sit down be small is a team effort is plainly audible in every song and this has a great impact on the record’s cohesiveness. The result is manifested within the process; refined by the innovative input from a dozen musicians: “There was just a constant feedback loop happening, and people were adding all their different flavors to the mix. We’d try to explain to them the part that we wanted them to play and then they’d come up with something totally new and unexpected. The whole process was just so unpredictable and exciting.”

2017 has been a year of extraordinary songs rather than the coherent records that are so essential for the Quiff’s survival, his love and longing – and moonweather fed the Quiff well with the band’s precise feeling for timing, the sheer beauty of instrumentation and the common bond this album creates.

Self-critically, Colin, Bobby and Billy (and now Michael) are already planning their next undertaking: “We’re working on our second album right now, and it’s a goal of ours to have lyrics that are a little more concrete in what they mean, with stronger themes threaded throughout every song.”

You can get the moonweather record (for free) from their Bandcamp page.

12 Revolutions from 2017: Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song

We ease past the spluttering procession of trucks and Sunday drivers, wheels sliding across the smooth tarmac, the road stretching lazily in front of us as it undulates its way to the distant horizon. The world feels endless but narrowly defined, the vast tracts of tall pines on either side holding us in place, keeping us on track. The only way to move is forward. We are trapped but free, lost in the first heady days of the summer, somewhere between anywhere and nowhere and Dan Auerbach is our soundtrack.

On his second album, Waiting On A Song, Auerbach has left behind the gritty, broiling blues of the Black Keys, widening out his songbook to incorporate breezy folk pop, pristine orchestral funk and lazy, countrified acoustic unrest. Now with his own studio, and a bunch of production credits behind him, he seems like a man at ease with himself. The album’s title track, a joyful homage to the song-writing process, is followed by Malibu Man, a rising chorus of strings giving way to a glorious shimmy of horns. It’s a soundtrack to a way of life: “I moved from New York, with my boogie board/And bought a big house on the ocean/Stopped eating meat, I took the shoes off my feet/Just because I took the notion.” The song’s central character, his sparkling eyes and lazy smile breaking through an unshaven face, holds a cocktail in hand as he saunters down the beach.

And so we saunter with him through a pair of fuzzy guitar pop gems. Livin’ In Sin and Shine on Me – the latter in particular bringing the kind of chorus hooks and clap-along joy that merits a full ensemble of jiving housewives, swinging shopkeepers and pirouetting policeman – only to be hit by the earnest lonesomeness of King Of A One Horse Town. Now the streets have emptied and our bedraggled king kicks pebbles through an empty parking lot. Summer gives way to autumn and then winter. Snowfall tumbles around him as he shivers past the abandoned lots of half-built dreams, paralysed by his own fear:  “Guess I’ll stay on desolation row/Go get stoned and hang around/The beat of my drum is the only sound/I would jump into the ocean but I’m scared I’d drown.”

This song is the essence of this album. On the surface it’s bright and free – a series of wondrously effortless pop moments found with immaculate poise – but lyrically there are lines which unpick this ease. As you peel back the layers you see the intricacy and depth that lies beneath. Our Malibu Man is lonely and without roots. Shine on Me is more grasping, hopeful optimism than assured happiness. Even Stand By My Girl, an ode to loving monogamy is underwritten with anxiety: “I’m gonna stand by my girl, don’t think I won’t/I’m gonna stand by my girl, because she’ll kill me if I don’t.”

In reality, of course, it’s not all sadness and the durability of this record comes from its ability to balance light and dark. Yes, we swing to its casual beat and sense of escapism but we also find empathy in its disquiet and alienation. On Never In My Wildest Dreams, Auerbach writes of love and freedom, embracing us in a wave of delightful acoustic guitar and warm, fecund horns. But it’s a love that he hopes for, not one that he has yet reached: “Never in my wildest dreams/Would I be loving you/Never in my wildest dreams/Would my dreams come true.”

Waiting On A Song is one of the quiet success stories of this past year. A supposedly summer record that manages to be for all seasons. For some it may be a little too derivative, and certainly it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but it’s musically adept, finely crafted and constructed with a sly subtlety which can be easily overlooked. Give yourself a treat and grab this album from Easy Eye Records.



12 Revolutions from 2017: Patch & The Giant – All That We Had, We Stole

Angie’s trumpet flares and detonates. Nick’s bass stomps and strides. On strings, Gabe and Derek compose a dulcet roar in the background. Luke steps towards the microphone, his throat raw, his voice a tired and beautiful bark, to tell us the stories of the forgotten.

Patch & The Giant’s debut album All That We Had, We Stole is peopled by a cast of the downtrodden: Butchers and their beasts, anonymous buskers, lovers left behind, ageless mothers and crying fathers, blooded soldiers and lost sailors, heavy-browed brothers and actors without words. These are the tales of those gathered amongst the muck and the mire. It seeks them out and finds dignity and beauty in the undulations of their seemingly prosaic existence.

Local Man is a strident call to arms. The accordion stirs and sways, the strings raise us to our feet in honour of the barely visible musician in the background of our lives and his “songs of freedom/and of loneliness and joy.” We are gracefully berated for our ignorance of his humble vocation: “But if you’d ever stop to pause and listen/You’d see what is missing/But all your eyes and all your ears/Are vacant/Eluding time.”

Having lifted our spirit, the album turns and shows us a darker side. The Day You Went To Sea is a paean to family and love and to death and loss. Its warm, sepia-tinted nostalgia has an undercurrent of violence and confusion: “A song can be the best of me/A heart devoid of melody/A book that took on grass and leaves/A man could falls on bloody knees/To give you all you need.”

Flowers may be the closest thing this album contains to a love song, though whether for a lost love or a lost life, it’s never clear. We are drawn in by the intimacy of this song, the audience mouthing the words, not singing, for fear of breaking its fragile beauty. There is regret but also hope – a small flame nurtured between the lines of its evocative and elegant imagery: “Lavender blue/All that’s good I stole from you/A faceless gain/Lavender black/Shake the devil from your back/I’ll take your weight.”

Were this a decade ago – in the epicentre of the indie fold revival – Patch & The Giant would be in the vanguard, and this album would be gracing enough radio playlists to grant them the time and freedom to write and record at will. Instead, they are bringing their euphoric and delicate songs to a tiny corner of our musical consciousness. Perhaps the groundedness that comes with this is what gives them their essence, but if All That We Had, We Stole is the standard they are setting then they surely won’t stay hidden for long.

You can purchase All That We Had, We Stole direct from Patch on CD and Vinyl.

12 Revolutions of 2017: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – French Press

The rain skewers down from left to right, the wind rolling across the swollen, churning ground grappling and grasping at the last of us, shaking us numb. Up on stage at End Of The Road, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever occupy a tiny square of space, the 5 of them huddled together in almost indecent proximity, as if they can protect each other from the coming storm. Fragments of beats and chunks of guitar roar from the speakers in defiance of the weather.

The record rolls in with French Press, a glistening, airy echo of guitar, the pulsing thud of a snare and  the sweep of rhythm guitar and bass, like wheels turning on an endless stretch of wet tarmac. A melodious grumble kicks in: “I’m alright/If you asked me/But you never do/Is this thing on?/I’m coming at you.”

Across a mere 25 minutes, they come at you. Driven on by a rhythm section of perpetual motion and sharp, harmonious guitar hooks. Overburdened and overwhelmed by an excess of feeling and an increasingly desperate sense of distance, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever take shelter from the storm in these songs. There is love, lust, loss, disappointment, frustration, confusion, bemusement, anger and resentment glittering like broken glass in the corners of the opaque stories this band tell, each track a literate, lyrical journey.

Musically, they are lost in the post-punk and alt-rock of the 1980’s. Their guitar work is unabashedly similar to the Go-Betweens, a brittle blend of sugar and salt that, in lesser hands, would only sound like a pale imitation. It is their closeness, as if they were playing within each other, that gives it authenticity.

Sick Bug is the embodiment of the raucous, wild storm. We are buffeted back and forth by angular guitars and a driving rhythm until the briefest moment of calm in the middle, the eye of the storm, and then we are dragged back into the tempest.


The record rises through the storm reaching above the clouds for the closing track, Fountain of Good Fortune. Here everything is a little clearer, certainty emerging from the discord and we find a radiant jewel of alternative pop with a hard-boiled heart: “I see a problem/I’m not willing to address/And I take pleasure/In not wanting to impress/’Cos I’m drinking/From the fountain of good fortune.”


French Press is a record of beguiling ambiguity. Their lyrics are both enigmatic and sincere. Their music as disgruntled and distant as a storm on the horizon, yet as close and comfortable as a passing dream. With a debut album and a new tour on the way, they are a band to watch in 2018.

You can purchase this record from the glorious wonder that is Bandcamp.

12 Revolutions from 2017: Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher

It’s difficult to talk about the Jen Cloher record without mentioning Courtney Barnett. Jen’s wife is woven through its fabric of confusion, contemplation, anger and hope. Yet, this is a natural by-product of Jen’s candid approach to song-writing rather than any attempt to replicate Courtney’s successful template.

It’s a record of shifting moods, musically and lyrically. The opening salvo Forgot Myself and Analysis Paralysis lay bare her confusion at life both personal and public. There is an aching discord in the music here, echoed lyrically, as Jen struggles to come to terms with her own thoughts and how they stand in opposition to her everyday: “Oh God, I forgot myself/ Oh god, I forgot my health/Seen it coming but it’s too late now”, she intones, the words sparse and naked and troubling.

The mood shifts and we are walking the street contemplating the quiet suburban gloss of modern Australia. There is anger on Regional Echoes (“Wealth gone to waste/The Australian dream is fading/Stolen anyway”) but it’s couched in a stoicism that extends into the record’s high point, the slight and beautiful Sensory Memory. There is loneliness here, but a realisation that this is her choice, that it’s fine as long as her lover comes home again.

The second side begins with a harsh counterpoint. The anger becomes more visceral and this is reflected in a muscular, edgy guitar sound that manages to finds the perfect balance between sweet and sour. Shoegazers, with its indignation at the music industry, has perhaps the most memorably vehement lyrical moment (“Most critics are pussies who want to look cool/Those who can, they do/Those who can’t review/What’s hot today is forgotten tomorrow”) but dig deeper and you find that Strong Woman and Kinda Biblical rail hard against the rise of the populist right and the failings of modern gender politics, while Great Australian Bite questions the cultural depths of modern society:

What makes this record complete is the final mood shift, from angry to hopeful. It’s Jen’s adoration of music which moves us here. In Loose Magic she recalls a Dirty Three concert and the sense of freedom that came with their music (if you don’t know them, start here, and then listen to everything). This is clearest in Waiting in the Wings, a stunning piano-led ode to positivity: “There’s no meaning but the meaning you create/ And no end to all the things that you can make/ To be kind/ Truly kind/ Is radical.

Jen Cloher has created an album of great balance and depth. At times this is not an easy record. Her honesty can be brutal. But it also carries a quiet grace and a tender intimacy, like a secret shared between two lovers.

You can buy this record just about everywhere but, personally, Quiff loves Bandcamp or direct from  Marathon Records.

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