Sunstack Jones unleash the album of the year in Golden Repair and Sun 13’s Banjo is blown away.
Being a music fan since I bought my first single at 9 years old, I have sometimes thought that there is nothing left to surprise me when it comes to the search for new songs and artists.
But if there is one thing recent years have taught me, it is that there is always something new just around the corner and always new acts who can come at you unexpectedly and blow you away.
It must be said that Mai68 Records have been responsible for more than their fair share of these surprises lately, a trend that continues with the release of the debut album by Ennio The Little Brother, the strangely titled Goodbye Magnolia Stump.
While a good deal of Mai68’s output has been guitar led, Ennio The Little Brother comes from a different angle, and one that I am having trouble attaching a label to.
His music is built on a foundation of hip hop, but takes a more organic, laid back and dreamlike approach than the standard fare. In fact standard fare Goodbye Magnolia Stump is about a million miles away from standard fare, so much so that our good friends at p3dro.net have called it the best album of 2020.
The songs float by on a blissed out bed of sound put together from guitars, loops and beats over which Ennio The Little Brother talks, whispers and raps as he takes us through his concerns and his life. The overall effect is akin to a more mellow, chilled out Kate Tempest.
With Goodbye Magnolia Stump now available, Sun 13 asked Ennio The Little Brother 13 questions. Read on to find out more about naughty pizza, hugs and not being able to cry.
1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
“I’m currently sat in the kitchen of a house when I come to take care of a boy who has autism. He’s just come home from school and informed me he needs some double-sided sticky tape so we’re off to the shop to get some! Be right back.”
2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
“Honestly, I count myself super fortunate in that two of my jobs were key worker roles so I went to work everyday. In that sense, not a lot changed for me. I was also lucky enough to have finished my album before lockdown so recording sessions weren’t compromised at all. As terrible as this year has been, I find myself holding onto the fact that we are all experiencing something for the first time and figuring it out together as we go.”
3. What do you miss most about pre-lockdown times?
4. Recommend one band or album that you think we should check out?
5. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to do?
“Last night, I really couldn’t be bothered to clean my teeth as I sort’ve collapsed into bed and dozed off before I realised I hadn’t done them. Yeah, sometimes the truth is boring. Sorry.”
6. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?
“I like listening to ASMR before gigs…there, I said it.”
7. Can you cook?
“Heck yeah. I make a really naughty pizza from scratch.”
8. Tell us a secret.
“I can’t cry tears. I still get real stingy when I chop onions and stuff, but no water comes out.”
9. What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
“To be fair, I’m not much of a night out person, but I’ve had a lot of fun times in Leeds with some of my favourite humans to hang out with. I gather you wanted specifics here…sorry I don’t have any!”
10.When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
“Well as I mentioned earlier, “crying” is somewhat a delicate issue for me. However, being happy-sad is my favourite feeling. The last time I laughed until I cried was the other evening when I watched the finale of The Office for the umpteenth time. THAT Tim and Dawn moment gets me every time man!”
11.What is your favourite view?
“The view over Denbighshire from Moel Arthur.”
12.When did you last shout at the TV?
“Last week, I watched ‘Room’ and started shouting at the screen when Brie Larson’s character decided to roll her son up in a carpet in order to escape their awful situation. I literally stood up and screamed “NO BRIE! THIS IS THE WORST IDEA EVER!” Anyway, turned out to be a good idea in the end (spoiler alert).”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
“People stopped reading my absolute drivel halfway through question 2 so I think I’ll just bow out gracefully now and say a big fat thank you to Sun 13 for the chat! Take care, Ennio”
The ever dependable Mai68 Records have come up trumps again with their latest release, the latest single from Sunstack Jones.
How It All Went Down has one foot in a fairly conventional, almost country-ish song, but the other foot is firmly in the camp marked ‘guitar hero’.
Make no mistake, despite How It All Went Down’s loose groove, note perfect harmonies and heartfelt lyrics, it is the lead guitar that is the star here. It stands proud, high in the mix and adds several extra layers to what could be quite a simple but effective song.
Both Simon Jones and Nick McCabe from The Verve are fans, and you can see why. I first stumbled across The Verve as an unknown band supporting Spiritualized at Liverpool’s Krazy House and I can quite clearly remember thinking that a) they were fucking brilliant and were quite clearly going to be famous and b) I loved the way that the guitar ripped through their songs and lifted them into something very special. I get the same feeling here with Sunstack Jones, on both of those points.
Sunstack Jones already have three albums to their credit. I am going to be honest here and say that until How It All Went Down I hadn’t actually heard the band at all. A short while later I am now the proud owner of these albums and I have a new band to fall for. Don’t you love it when that happens?
How It All Went Down starts calmly enough, lulling us into a false sense of normality. The opening line “said you know me, well I’m sorry I don’t even know myself” starts off an introspective set of lyrics and all seems well. Slowly though, the guitar takes the basic structure and uses it to transport the song into uncharted territories. Lorcan Moriarty is surely the next wunderkind guitarist to appear on the British music scene.
As the song nears it conclusion, you notice that it has grown, slowly into a shimmering wall of beautiful noise.
How It All Went Down completely restores my faith in new music. If there are bands out there that are new to me who are making music that is this good, the world is a better, more wonderful place than it was a few short hours ago.
Sunstack Jones have a new album out on October 9. Personally I can’t wait to hear more of this. Until then we can content ourselves with this magnificent single.
Having worked with the Mai68 folk, I felt it only right that I should give their latest release a good listen. After all that’s what friends are for right.
Sometimes when placed in this position, the best reaction we can summon is one of forced politeness, trying to find something good to say about a record you may feel isn’t really that great. You know the kind of thing I’m sure; we’ve all listened to a friend’s new song, read their prose or admired their art with words that are kind but insincere.
But one play of Campfire Social’s new single made all of these concerns evaporate. Awake in the Wake of a Wave is an understated gem of a record.
My first thought is that the band are well named, as I can imagine myself sat around a campfire in the woods listening to this, its pastoral beauty perfectly suiting this setting. There is a summer air about Awake in the Wake of a Wave that conjures up images of unspoiled days and warm nights.
Scratch beneath the song’s surface though and we reveal the melancholia beneath, the lyrics pointing towards possible emotional turbulence with the opening line “I can see some trouble up ahead“
The mixture of buoyant music and sad, introspective lyrics make this a song that gains more significance with each play.
The definition of introspective is given as “characterized by examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings, thoughtfully reflective” and that, admirably, does apply to the lyrics in spades.
“I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, I haven’t really had the time for anybody else” the song continues, before adding “I believe it’s time I should be leaving, and it won’t be long until I’m gone. I don’t belong“
Awake in the Wake of a Wave is a heartbreak that comes wrapped in a velvet bow. As the song progresses, we realise that the music is sympathetic to the theme and the whole thing is beautifully executed.
Echoes of Belle and Sebastian could be made, but Campfire Social have a sound all of their own. To hear Awake in the Wake of a Wave is to fall in love with a new band. Try it yourself and you will feel the same.
A wonderful song from a wonderful band.