Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Hamish has collated the roundup of the best singles to drop from May, featuring releases ranging from jazz, spiritual, electronic, techno, afrobeat, house, and hip-hop music. The following artists feature in this article:
BADBADNOTGOOD / Lindenbaum Modular / Tenderlonious / Fold / Spacey Basement Cult / Ruby Rushton / Nubiyan Twist / Kamaal Williams / Otis Mensah / Nubya Garcia / Maria Chiara Argirò
(Links to artists' social media and the tracks are found on the artist name and track title)
BADBADNOTGOOD - Goodbye Blue / Glide (28 April)
Marking the end of hibernation after a busy past year, Canadian jazz outfit BADBADNOTGOOD, “offer some peace in these troubled times” with April release, Goodbye Blue.
Familiar collaborating voice, Jonah Yano illuminates a melodic lullaby, gently accompanied by sax. Sliding into counterpart, Glide: an instrumental chorus of surging woodwind to a crescendo.
A gentle release, for gentler times. BADBADNOTGOOD's sound continues varying and exploring with this record.
Lindenbaum Modular - C Is for Canada (1 May), Opus (21 May)
One of Leeds’ unique voices in its electronic scene, Lindenbaum Modular has shouted out twice this May with these two energised releases.
Starry-eyed, C is for Canada, soars from sounds of the forest to a digital soundscape of pirouetting synths and pacing drums. A soundtrack to your walk through the woods: nourishment for all you nature & techno lovers.
Opus’s drops and dance floor familiarity harks back to those long lost days of bopping and jiving, publicly. It’s deep, bassey and hypnotic. We can’t wait to see this one live again, especially using a wii nunchuck remote as seen on instagram.
Tenderlonious - Impressions (8 May)
A taste of what is yet to come later this year, Impressions introduces Tenderlonious’ musical collaboration with Pakistani raga quartet, Jaubi in Lahore, Pakistan in April 2019.
Raga is traditional north Indian music and is entirely different in its core structure and rhythm to traditional western music. Jaubi & Tenderlonious weave and float across these boundaries. The hypnotic ‘tals’ and ‘drones’ lay down a feast for Tenderlonious’s impassioned improvisation, as we’re introduced to Jaubi’s jazz improvisation on the sitar.
Fold - The Prize (8 May)
‘Open your heart, something is wrong, we’re left it too long… lift up your voice. Wake up’, Fold sing out in their latest release The Prize, ahead of their album coming later this year, Aphelion.
This musical message of equality couldn’t ring clearer as the world shakes from the murder of George Floyd. Recorded days before lockdown, and originally set to release later this year, Fold brought it forward on the 8th May.
‘It means that we must keep struggling & enduring until everyone is truly equal’. This is a funky, uplifting and timely track, setting the sights for their release later in the year.
Following their February release, George Eats, the Leeds Hyde Park pair have scurried back down to the basement to release their latest ‘wonky pop’ track, Leave it on the Shelf.
Hypnotic, futuristic, wavey and dreamy. A spicy release to keep the wonk pop pot simmering whilst this all blows over.
Ruby Rushton - Sun Khosi (22 May)
The Tenderlonious led quartet continues to hit new heights, recalling the spirit of their debut 2015 album ‘Two For Joy’, with two brand new, afro-tinged, jazz fusion gems.
‘Sun Khosi’ is a tribute to Tender’s father who spent many years in Nepal working as a Gurkha officer. The name is taken from one of the most famous rivers in Nepal, which runs through the Himalayas. It translates to “River of Gold” and is an appropriate title for this uplifting, feel-good summertime tune. It’s also Tender’s first composition and recording to feature him playing the alto flute, which has a deeper, more mellow tone compared to the usual concert flute that he plays.
Leeds / London collective Nubiyan Twist return with their first single of 2020, '24-7' featuring one of the UK's finest new soul voices Ego Ella May. Documenting the breakdown of a relationship, the track rides effortlessly on pattering beats and oozes regret through Ella's gentle, wistful vocals, some great off-centre keyboard lines and a yearning sax solo from Denis Scully. Another essential single ahead of the band's 'Freedom Fables' album, being released this Autumn.
Kamaal Williams - One More Time (26 May)
Henry Wu - aka Kamaal Williams - releases 'One More Time', and announced his second album Wu Hen, set to land on 24 July 2020.
“This is a revolution of the mind. A spiritual rebellion. To reach new heights requires separating ourselves from the material world and finding power in what’s intangible. That’s what music and art is for—whether it’s a primitive emotion or something deep, you feel it. And there’s a subliminal element that resonates throughout my work. If you’re painting, it’s what you’re feeling as you’re painting. And the person looking at that artwork or listening to that music, they can feel it too, because it’s sincere.”
Otis Mensah - Breath of Life (26 May)
Spoken word artist, Yorkshire favourite Otis Mensah releases the first single of a new series titled #OtisMensahExists, which will see a new song released every 3 weeks, accompanied by original animations.
This series came from a shift in perception. I began to emphasise art as a means of documenting my existence. This is about mortality and all that is ephemeral about life. These are some of my most important musings I’ve dared to share and stand testament to my being here. I lived, I loved, I feared. Jazz in the realm of words.
Nubya Garcia - Pace (28 May)
Nubya's fierce representation of inner-city madness is a panoramic frenzy of thrilling beats and whipping horn soloing. Recalling the contained madness of Kamasi's momentous build-ups or Coltrane's 18-minute long continuous movement of sound in Olé. We'll add this track to the list of confirmed build up bangers.
Maria Chiara Argirò & Jamie Leeming (Alfa Mist's guitar wingman) have released a stunning cover of James Blake's 'Retrogade'. A peaceful, oblique, tranquil rendition of the Mercury award-winning title track. Their delicate improvisations unveil Retrograde's tender instrumental side. Argirò's unique, focussed touch echoes from her last album, Hidden Seas. Intertwined with Leeming's softly melodic style, familiar from Alfa Mist records, the pair sail together. Make sure to watch the performance of this for the first time, in their gentle music video above.