Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Review: Chronologic - Caravan Palace

Caravan Palace. Quite possibly the most respected act in electro swing – in fact quite likely. You’d be hard-pressed to find any other artist in the genre who doesn’t cite them as an influence of some kind. These guys have been making music for over a decade now, and have consistently set the bar for others to try and reach. Chronologic represents their fourth album now, and it’s one which has been both highly-anticipated, and greatly-received. In fact, as the band announced on their Twitter last Saturday, the album was amongst the top ten bestselling albums worldwide. Quite a feat for an electro swing act, and one which may take us some time to see repeated.

The album is certainly something of a departure from what many of us were expecting from the band. It’s understandable that, having been in the game for such a time now, they would want to expand their sound, and actually something that I’d argue most acts should attempt more. Of course, making significant changes to one’s sound carries risks with it, and whether this has paid off or not for Caravan Palace is a different matter.

The album opens with ‘Miracle’. Now, this track has been available for some time now, and so I was already very familiar with it. I recall back in February, upon it’s release, saying how different it sounded, and that I probably wouldn’t recognise it as them had I not already known. This definitely set us up for what was to come, and gave us time to prepare ourselves. It’s a brilliant start though, very bluesy, very positive and energetic, and some great use of samples throughout. Following this is ‘About You’ – another which had already been released earlier in the year. This features a bit more of a familiar CP sound, particularly in the high-pitched group vocals that come in towards the end. The track features Charles X, who I’m only familiar with because of Smokey Joe and the Kid’s ‘Smokid All Stars’ (an absolute tour de force), however I was a little disappointed with his vocals, which aren’t all that interesting as a whole. The massive bass hook that follows his lines certainly makes up for it though. Next, the first track that I didn’t already know was ‘Moonshine’, which is very reminiscent of ‘Russian’ off their last album. Again, it’s a return for the familiar CP sound, and we have the trademark high vocals again. There’s a very interesting contrast here between the cheery, upbeat music, and the slow, wistful, solo voice.

The next track is ‘Melancholia’, which unfortunately, does not hit the mark at all. It’s as if the worst parts of ‘About You’ have been extended into a whole song; for the most part, the baritone sax is the only saviour. Towards the end, I can appreciate the piano solo as well, but overall, this one I was not so keen on. Thankfully, the next song is ‘Plume’, which brings us back to the highs we know Caravan Palace are capable of achieving. The song is great, and represents everything I was hoping the album would be. It was definitely the right choice to release this as a single as well, and I’m glad they did. ‘Fargo’ follows, which is a nice little interlude with a New Orleans feel, before transitioning and ending on an almost cinematic note, before we find ‘Waterguns’, the second collaboration of the album. Again however, the vocals are not particularly impressive. Songs like this one really highlight the decision by the band to pursue a more pop-based sound, and it was a bad decision. Throughout the song, I couldn’t help thinking how much better it would sound with Zoé’s distinctive vocals. The instrumentation is good though, very much in line with the band’s sound.

‘Leena’ is probably the most interesting of all the songs on the release. Structurally, there’s definitely an escape from the standard pop formula, and we find that great use of samples like on ‘Miracle’ again. The sharp cutting throughout strongly reminds me of C2C, and I can’t help but wonder if Mighty Mezz’s work with DJ Greem in Alligatorz has played a strong role in influencing this album on the whole. Particularly on this track, each individual sample seems to smack you in the face. The next track is ‘Supersonics’, which might be my favourite – it’s definitely the best non-single. It’s really bluesy again, really upbeat, and just a great singalong. I love the group vocals in the chorus; this definitely has the potential to be stuck in one’s head for days. Another little interlude, like ‘Fargo’, follows with ‘Ghosts’. It’s interesting that they’ve included these almost mood-setting tracks, as if they’re setting us up for what’s to follow. Indeed, the transition is needed, as the final track ‘April’, is considerably different from ‘Supersonics’. A lot more downtempo, this is probably the most ‘vintage’ sounding track for the most part. You can tell it’s a finale song from the very beginning, with the bursting chords that start the piece. We have the C2C-esque sampling again, and the build-up towards the end is absolutely superb – I can tell this will be fantastic live – before we’re left with a minimal, lone vocal to close.

So overall I’m a little torn about this release. It’s certainly a departure from their established sound, and whilst I encourage this, I’m not sure it’s completely worked in their favour in this case. It’s a lot more downtempo, and significant sections of it don’t feel very dancey. The decision to move closer to the standard pop model in parts is one I wish they hadn’t taken, and there are certainly improvements that could be made. However, it is a good listen, and I really enjoyed the way in which they used sampling throughout. So it’s not their best album. But, from time to time, there are little scraps of genius.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Review: Light Up The Night - Jamie Berry

There aren’t many songs that could be identified as ‘hits’ within electro swing, but of the few that could be said to have achieved that description, Jamie Berry stands tall as one of the biggest producers in the country, if not the world. Anyone stumbling across this genre will likely discover his music within the first ten or so tracks they listen to, and he’s established himself as the producer with perhaps the most representative sound of electro swing itself. With his new album, Light Up The Night – out on the 16th of September – Berry continues to prove himself as just as adept at producing this style as ever.

The album opens with the title track and lead single, ‘Light Up The Night’, which sets us up with some gypsy jazz guitar before plunging straight into the trademark Berry house style. Working with frequent collaborator Octavia Rose, we find the type of feel-good lyrics that have become so associated with Berry’s music (think ‘Delight’; ‘Lost in the Rhythm’), and I especially like the trumpet over the wobbly bass that enters after the chorus. The slightly slower ‘Dance Dance’ continues with the feel-good lyrics – in fact, these continue throughout most of the album: ‘Charlie Stone’, and ‘The Trumpets’ promote similar themes later on. ‘Dance Dance’ also features the bass wobbles which form just as much a part of the Berry sound as anything else. We then follow with ‘Dirty Swingers’, the first instrumental of the album, which despite a slightly bizarre breakdown in the middle, will certainly be capable of filling dancefloors; it is incredibly upbeat, and just straight fun.

The fun continues with ‘Charlie Stone’, before ‘Make Me Lose My Mind’ presents us with the first track to feature some slightly darker overtones. In a minor key, and beginning with almost threatening horn and piano sounds, the song progresses throughout its duration to the point where we’re back to quoting ‘Sing Sing Sing’ towards the end – this is Jamie Berry we’re talking about after all. ‘Chicken Feet’ follows – our next instrumental, similar to ‘Dirty Swingers’, and one of the bounciest tracks I’ve ever heard – before another trademark Berry instrumental, ‘Shipshape’, featuring a bass that genuinely seems like it could not physically get any lower.

The final three tracks seem to bring us down a little in tone; parts of ‘The Trumpets’ are somewhat chilled – at least by Berry’s standards – but the themes remain very much the same: very danceable, joyful music. ‘Mighty Punch’, again, is slightly downbeat, but Berry manages to achieve exactly the feeling he is going for with this one. Every sound that appears works seamlessly with one another, and has been positioned in the perfect place. If I were to pick a favourite from the whole album, this may well be it. Finally, the album ends with Boondoogle, which – again starting off quite downbeat – initially seems like quite a strange way to close the album. This would be a mistaken impression however, as this is only the setup for a huge finale; halfway through, the song explodes into a drum ’n’ bass anthem which I wasn’t expecting at all. Without doubt, this was the right choice to finish the album, providing a welcome change from house, and proving that Berry is just as proficient at this genre as well.

It would be easy to dismiss Berry’s sound as being sometimes derivative, and it’s true to say that for the most part, he definitely sticks to a formula. However, it’s a formula that works, and what Berry does, he does very well. Indeed, nearly every song on this release could have worked equally well as the lead single, and in full honesty, I think that singles are probably better suited to Berry’s style than an album such as this. But that’s not a negative comment on any of the actual music itself; the songs are produced fantastically well, and his fans will not be disappointed. High praise must be given to Octavia Rose as well; her voice is totally suited to Berry’s sound, and as a team, they’ve managed to produce an admirable release.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Boomtown write-up

The nature of Boomtown makes it so that it’s quite difficult to actually write a conventional review of the event. Unlike many other contemporary festivals, much of one’s time at Boomtown is spent exploring the immersive maze, as well as wandering into small, hidden-away venues where you won’t necessarily have any knowledge of the act that you’re seeing. So whilst I’m able to discuss the various names I specifically planned to see, whatever I write can only ever encompass a fraction of the full Boomtown experience. It really is a significant challenge to put this festival down into words, and I don’t think that one could ever fully grasp the experience without having experienced it first-hand.

This was to be my sixth year at the festival, having been every year since 2014, and it completely lived up to every expectation; indeed, this was quite possibly the best one yet. I think I’ll probably always judge my very first Boomtown as my favourite, but attempting to look at it from an objective point of view, it’s very tempting to say that this was the most outstanding. As I’ve said, there’s an inescapable challenge in describing one’s full experience, but in the following few paragraphs I’ll do my best to sum the festival up day by day.

The festival opened on the Wednesday this year, however Becca and I weren’t to get there until the Thursday. Upon arrival, I was immediately impressed with the speediness of the entrance queues. After the horrendous disaster of the 2017 gates, Boomtown really needed to step up their arrival game, and rather than just stick with the changes made last year, they’ve continued to improve, and we whizzed right through to have everything set up before it was even midday. Most of the afternoon was spent exploring, and the first act we properly saw was Jurassic 5’s Soup and the Fullee Love Collective. Immediately the festival was off to a great start; the soul, hip hop and funk vibes put everyone in a great mood, and had the entire room dancing. Following this we caught the end of Don Johnston’s new live project; whose music I’ve always enjoyed, so it was great to see it translate across to the live stage. Managed to catch some of Napalm Death, which was one of the heaviest things I’ve ever witnessed, and then attempted to see some of Phibes’ set, although unfortunately the venue was completely packed, and there was no way we were getting in. This was the one negative experience of this year; Boomtown continues to grow and grow, and – whilst I’m glad that more people are getting the opportunity to experience it – I question the point where there’s just too many people. The whole festival was considerably busier this year, and I would hate for anyone to miss out on any of their favourite acts as a result of this. Aside from this though, Thursday was super, and a great way to ease us into the weekend.

We started off the Friday at the drum ’n’ bass morning workout session, which was great fun, getting us sufficiently energised for the day ahead. After watching the opening ceremony at the Lion’s Den stage, the first act we properly saw was Leicester’s the Brandy Thieves, playing a fusion of gypsy folk and punk rhythms. Following this was Neville Staple. As I only managed to catch a small bit of the Specials when they played two years ago, this set more than made up for that lack of experience. Our first highlight of the festival was then Ms. Dynamite, who – despite only playing a half-hour set – packed so much in and had such high energy that she proved to be one of the best acts to grace the Lion’s Den over the whole festival. We then saw a little bit of Goldie Lookin Chain and cheered along with any and every reference to Newport, before going over to the Nucleus stage to watch Freear’s Keith Flint tribute set. I’m a huge fan of Slamboree, and was very glad that Freear was given the opportunity to perform this set, and he definitely proved himself worthy. Another highlight for this day then followed with Skinny Lister at the Forge Stage, who I always love, and who did not let down – before catching the end of High Contrast performing at Dubtendo. Later on, Friday evening proved to be one of the wildest nights of the festival, with standout performances coming from Gogol Bordello, Four Tet, Emily Dust, and AAA Badboy's set with Count Bassy. I’d love to be able to go into more depth regarding each of these acts, but there was so much exploration and adventure that night that the whole thing instead seems to serve as one fantastic memory. Boomtown 2019 was already proving to be exceptional, and we were only two days in.

Saturday began with the politically-charged lyrics and experimental sounds of Dizraeli, before sticking around the Town Centre stage to watch Cut Capers’ set. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love Cut Capers, so it’ll come as no surprise to hear that I found them fantastic. We then went to support my fellow Geordies that are Holy Moly and the Crackers; I’ve seen these guys a fair few times in the past, and was surprised to find that their style has actually changed quite a bit in the past few years, having moved on to a more rocky sound than their previous folk blues. Still amazing though; if anything, I think they’ve gotten better. Following this was Bare Jams, who brought the summer sound with their infectious ska, before going to see Dizraeli again, but this time at Speaker’s Corner. One of the best parts of Boomtown was the variety of things to experience, and it was certainly interesting to have a bit of a switch-up from the constant music. We followed with a little bit of Groove Armada’s show, but the highlight of the entire festival was then Michael Franti, playing at the Forge. Franti’s upbeat positivity and presentation of pure joy was the most entertaining performance we saw all weekend by a country mile, and every single person in that crowd felt like an essential part of the show. Easily the best performance of the festival, and up there with some of the best shows I’ve ever seen. We then caught the end of the Streets after this, and a bit of Pennywise’s set – both great – before heading to what was always going to be a highlight of the festival for me – the electro swing party held in the Paradise Ballroom, and lasting the remainder of the evening. Chris Tofu, Duke Skellington, Fizzy Gillespie, and C@ in the H@ all demonstrated why they’re valued representatives of this scene, and the stage was packed and jumping all evening. Finally, we ended the evening in a relaxed way, sat around the fire jamming to the acoustic music at Whistler’s Green.

The final day of the weekend was kicked off with a set from Sheffield’s Renegade Brass Band – who are always a joy – before heading back over to Whistler’s Green for a few more talks at Speaker’s Corner. First up was Bradley Gunn talking about his raving experiences, and then Zack Polanski from Extinction Rebellion. In amongst all the chaos of the weekend, it was great to have a relaxing sit down and hear from some inspirational speakers such as these. We then caught Beans on Toast doing his traditional Sunday afternoon set, before heading downtown (for the final time) to catch Featurecast at Dubtendo. An incredible selection of tunes, confirming that Featurecast is up there amongst my favourite DJs. Returning to the Paradise Ballroom, I had to see the whole of Afro Cluster and support some fellow Cardiff locals, and I was not disappointed. Afro Cluster consistently put on a brilliant show, and I’d recommend seeing them whenever one gets a chance. From this point onwards, Sunday evening proved to be the time of the trickiest clashes. We managed to see the first half of Kate Tempest before whizzing over for the end of Salt N Pepa. Showcasing completely and utterly different ways of approaching hip hop, both acts provided a really entertaining watch, and I wished I could have stayed for the whole of them both. Up next however was the hardest clash of them all: I had to watch the whole of Prophets of Rage – there was no question about that at all – but was gutted to realise that I’d therefore miss the entirety of Lauryn Hill. (Later on I discovered that Hill had turned up an hour late for her set, and thus I could have caught the second half! Never mind – I’ll catch her one day). Prophets of Rage were certainly worth it though; the whole show was packed full of classic tunes, and the crowd were phenomenal – being up at the front there were times where I could feel my internal organs being completely crushed. This was effectively the grand finale for my Boomtown, but afterwards I managed to catch some of Sacha Dieu, before heading down to Nucleus for Amelie Lens and the closing show. Over these four days, Boomtown had been everything I wanted it to be, and I can’t imagine having had a better time.

This write-up contains much less than everything I experienced at Boomtown, and much much less than everything that one could have experienced there. It has certainly earned its reputation as one of the UK’s best festivals, if not one of the world’s. With such a variety of music on offer, as well as everything else demonstrating that it’s so much more than just the music, Boomtown is easily one of the best weekends one can hope to have. There’s easily something there for everyone, and personally, I hope I can continue going for as long as is viable.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Review: Hot Jazz Rollers - Extra Medium

Swing & Bass have been running club nights in London and Nottingham for several years now – unfortunately I’ve yet to actually to make it to any of their events, I was especially gutted to miss the Summer party held at Hootananny Brixton last month, which looked exceptional (though I do note that they’re hosting the Saturday night Paradise Heights Takeover at Boomtown next week, alongside Bristol’s Swing N Tingz) – and they’ve just ventured into running a label. At the start of the year, they announced their first album, a compilation in support of the charity Mind, and they’ve just put out their first artist release, Hot Jazz Rollers, from one of the nicest guys in electro swing, Extra Medium.

Like C@ in the H@’s Ragz, Riddimz & Rollerz that I reviewed back in May, this EP is made up purely of tracks that fall under the swing ’n’ bass subcategory. Whilst this is not an entirely new direction for Extra Medium, it’s a little bit different from his standard releases, and the EP begins with ‘The Beat Goes On’, co-produced with WBBL, who’s arguably more familiar with this style. The decision pays off, as WBBL’s distinctive sound meshes with the garage-influenced vibes that Extra Medium does so well to create a great opener. The original sample slides seamlessly in with this updated style, without any sense of incongruence or disconnect whatsoever.

‘My House’ sets us off with an upbeat, party sound from the very start, and the horns really highlight the danceability of the sample. It’s tracks like this one that remind me of why when electro swing works – it works so well. This song is a great demonstrator of how jazz was always dance music, and that what we’re all doing is simply updating it for a contemporary audience. I’ve also got to give special mention to the flawless build-up, which is so natural as to sound almost unrecognisable beyond the standard drum ’n’ bass conventions.

The final track – and certainly the best on the EP – is ‘I Fall In Love’. Completely unique, and sounding unlike much else you’ll find in the genre, ‘I Fall In Love’ disregards the conventional big band sound common to most electro swing, and instead chooses to utilise a more smooth jazz, mellow basis upon which to build the track. Extra Medium does this type of thing very well, successfully showcasing the range of electro swing’s potential – and a track as unique and innovative as this one is a perfect example of ways in which a producer may use a jazz approach to create music that would fit into the parameters of jazz itself.

It’s no mistake that this EP features the word “jazz” in its title, and Extra Medium continually demonstrates himself to be working within the original and explorative framework that jazz music encourages. I’m a strong proponent of the argument that certain examples of electro swing should be considered the jazz of the 21st-century, and I think a release such as this one – particularly with tracks like ‘I Fall In Love’ – present a good case for that argument to be made. Swing & Bass have been wise to get him on their label, and if this is the standard of what we can expect to come, then we can indeed expect great things.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Review: 'Snake Charmer' - Parov Stelar

I’m not particularly used to reviewing singles, preferring to stick with albums or EPs in which I can assess how the whole release works together, creating a collective feel across the entire record, but Etage Noir have made such a big deal about the new Parov Stelar single that I thought it would be worth devoting a few words to it. Besides, Parov is regularly recognised as the pioneer of electro swing (whether one agrees with that judgment or not), and I’ve yet to talk about him at length on this blog, so I figured I’d take the opportunity.

Now I’m a huge fan of Parov’s mid-career stuff – albums like Coco, The Princess, and The Art of Sampling are still firm favourites of mine – but it would be a lie to say that he hasn’t received his fair share of criticism from the community over the last few years. Regarding his most recent releases, I was rather unimpressed with ‘Mambo Rap’, and whilst ‘Gringo’ was alright, it was nothing special (although the video was pretty cool).

In contrast however, this latest release, ‘Snake Charmer’ is certainly an improvement on those two. I really enjoy the gypsy jazz guitar during the verses, and the piano underscoring the chorus is very classic Stelar. His collaborator, vocalist Sharon Kovacs certainly possesses a unique voice, and it’s clear to see why he’s chosen to work with her, as her vocals perfectly complement the music.

Whilst this is not the Parov Stelar of 2009, it’s still a thoroughly fun and entertaining track, and I definitely enjoyed listening to it. The all-new Parov Stelar band have a tour coming up towards the end of the year, and if I decide to go to the UK show in December, I can certainly see myself dancing along and having a great time to this one. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, slightly away from some of his more recent work, and I’d hope to see him continue along this trajectory.

Friday, 28 June 2019

A Note on Bad Reviewing: Responding to Anthony Fantano

Like clockwork, this conversation seems to come up on the internet every year or so: some online personality with the ability to reach a large audience announces how much they detest electro swing, and the ES community finds themselves frustrated with rushed responses to clichéd representations of the genre. The latest individual to do so is American YouTube reviewer, Anthony Fantano.

Now Fantano is an interesting character. I was already somewhat aware of his work, having watched a few of his reviews, and some of his ‘Let’s Argue’ series. I believe the first time I came across Fantano was through his review of Aesop Rock’s The Impossible Kid (link), and to be honest, I thought the review was quite decent. Fantano is clearly familiar with the work of this artist, and gave what I thought was a very satisfactory review. The problem however, is that Fantano seems to jump into every review that he does with the same level of false confidence, regardless of how familiar he actually is with the artist being discussed. This is no more obvious than in the aforementioned ‘Let’s Argue’ series – an interesting concept in which Fantano speeds through various opinions on a wide variety of music and musicians – which can at times be almost painful to watch, due to Fantano’s clear lack of understanding around certain topics.
(As a side note – if you’re not already familiar with Aesop Rock, you should definitely get yourself acquainted – his music is fantastic (link)).

As an example of Fantano’s eagerness to act as an authority on things he has little to no awareness of, on June 26th he would post the following tweet:

Following on from this, he would go on a bit of a Twitter frenzy, sending out a large number of – what I can only imagine he thought were – hilariously original tweets, elaborating on how much he hated this genre:

Now I want to make clear here: I genuinely couldn’t care less about how someone feels about electro swing. I’ve never really understood those who get offended when someone possesses a different music taste to their own, and if Fantano doesn’t like the music that I appreciate, he’s entirely entitled to that opinion. A similar instance to this happened in 2015, when journalist Angus Harrison would infamously write an article entitled ‘Electro Swing is the Worst Genre of Music in the World, Ever’ (link); however this article was largely intended to be comedic, and later on when I got the chance to interview Harrison, I found him to be a lovely, charming guy, and got on with him. My problem with Fantano lies with his approach to reviewing, and – as somewhat of a spokesperson for the electro swing community – this seemed like the perfect opportunity to air my complaints.

His attitude can be summed up perfectly by his first tweet: “I just found out about electro swing”. By his own admittance, Fantano is speaking on a topic that he has literally only just discovered, and yet proceeds to immediately pretend that he knows everything there is to know about the style. This is a type of pretentiousness that I find incredibly off-putting, and one which I’ve encountered several times before with people who seem totally unaware that there is nothing shameful about admitting your ignorance on a certain topic. But people like Fantano can’t seem to see past their own arrogance, seeing ignorance as a kind of defeat, and refusing to admit that there could ever be anything that they’re not able to immediately understand.

When Fantano reviews someone like Aesop Rock, whom he clearly does understand, he does so quite well. But I don’t believe one can make accurate judgements on what makes a style good or bad when they don’t have the understanding necessary to appreciate how that style works in the first place. There are many genres which it would be inappropriate for me to attempt to have an authoritative discussion on, and I wouldn’t insult that genre’s audience by attempting to do so. Unfortunately, Fantano does not appear to share this mindset.

Fantano is very good at what he does, however what he does – in this sense – is create online media that appeals to a large number of people. Through his use of bright colours, garish editing, and meme-heavy content, he’s been very successful in attracting a large audience to his YouTube channel. However, with few exceptions, this success hasn’t translated over to the quality of his reviews. In this specific instance, I strongly suspect that Fantano has listened to a few Parov Stelar tracks, and maybe the Great Gatsby soundtrack, and has determined that he is therefore now completely qualified to judge an entire genre. I can guarantee he’s never listened to Smokey Joe and the Kid. I can guarantee he’s never listened to Boogie Belgique, or Dutty Moonshine, or Tuxedo Junction. And most importantly, he seems to have forgotten one of the golden rules of music criticism: never dismiss an entire genre. Otherwise, you’ll just come off as ridiculously narrow-minded. Dismiss certain artists and songs to your heart’s content – provided you’ve sufficiently familiarised yourself with them – but you can never say that an entire musical genre is to be viewed in any one particular way, full stop.

I’m disappointed with Fantano’s judgment, but having already seen some of his content, I can’t say that I’m surprised. I just find it disheartening to think that an impressionable audience will think that this is the way to approach music discourse. Through a lack of nuance, a lack of intricacy, and a lack of self-reflexive humility, Fantano has provided a perfect example of how not to do criticism. But  this is what’s getting him the big views, so is he going to change? I sincerely doubt it.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Review: 'Connected'/'Invisible Man' - Electric Swing Circus

Ragtime Records have certainly had a busy couple of weeks. Following the release of C@ in the H@’s Ragz, Riddimz & Rollerz at the end of last month, they’ve just come out with the newest EP from the Electric Swing Circus, featuring three new tracks from Birmingham’s finest six-piece.

The EP opens with ‘Connected’, which starts off fairly mellow and quite chilled compared to what we’re used to from the band. One may also note the addition of a live brass section for this release, which comes to the forefront during the chorus of this track, featuring a Wall of Sound-esque array of layered instrumentation. The track also features a really interesting, almost ambient instrumental breakdown, with some real jazzy vibes to it.

Next up is ‘Invisible Man’, which immediately demonstrates a contrast with the previous song by launching directly into an unhesitatingly upbeat energy that doesn’t relent for the entire track. The song makes great use of the Swing Circus’s trademark vocal build-ups to the chorus, also featuring a fantastic synth underscoring the hook. Great breakdowns seem to be the theme of this release, as – like ‘Connected’ – we can also find a moment of instrumental intrigue here. This is easily the best track of the EP – it’s clear to see why it was chosen for the video single.

Finally, we have ‘Minotaur’, which is effectively the “bonus track” of the EP. This is a very festival-friendly tune, very danceable, and actually reminded a little of their previous song ‘Swingamajig’, written about the festival itself. I’d argue that this track makes the best use of the live brass section, which is used highly effectively here.

A nice little release from the guys at the ESC. I’d heard some of these tracks debuted live back at the start of May at Swingamajig, and it’s promising to see that they’re just as impressive on record. Indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this release – my only complaint is that I wish it were longer!