You’ve GOT to Hear This: “Smoke and Jackal”

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Smoke & JackalNot too long ago, I travelled down to Manchester to take part in Record Store Day. I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. I had expected a few people like myself, whose parents had instilled an appreciation for vinyl. Instead, each store I went to hosted a queue which extended far down the road. Unfortunately then, I did not manage to get as many records as I would have liked, but I am quite glad somebody did. Amongst the vinyls I did manage to get was Smoke and Jackal’s six song EP. I had heard a little of this new project from Kings Of Leon’s Jared Followill and Mona’s Nick Brown. I didn’t entirely know what to expect, but decided for £6, I couldn’t really go wrong. It is one of the best feelings to be pleasantly surprised by music. To have no idea what an album entails, but to be comforted when the needle falls. Simply, the EP is brilliant. It is not similar to anything either contributor has produced before. It is unique in that sense. Whilst I could try to describe in a technical sense what the album is like, I feel it would be wasted. It is not easy to transcribe in words a sound that is clearly very electric, yet still sounds so raw. An EP that has no doubt been laboured over by skilled musicians, yet at times features just a wandering bass and some whistling.

Musically, the sound would certainly appeal to fans of Arcade Fire, or even The Postal Service. I have listened to it for quite a while now, and I am still not entirely sure about it. The heritage of the music is easily noticeable, yet it does not feel like Mona nor anything Kings of Leon have produced. Instead it feels lighter, bouncier, and a little more reserved about itself. It does not proclaim itself upon the world as a future hit, it is modest music. The artists said of the EP “we wanted it to be driving music.” In that regard, the sound proves successful. It will resonate with anyone driving home after work, with the sun setting slightly, and aiming to wind down. It does not appear to have much of a place elsewhere. Whether or not this is Followill and Brown’s own personal driving mix-tape, it is an interesting sound to listen to, and something any fan of the modern alternative scene should consider.

I was reading an article recently, about why people are attracted to nostalgia. Why so many of us use Instagram. It seems, that our generation does not want to wait for memory, it wants it now. We want to look back with introspection and nostalgia whilst we’re still experiencing. Smoke and Jackal harmonise that feeling. This is probably not a sound that will make you want to dance. It’s probably not an EP that you should play whilst getting ready for a night out. However, it’s a sound that brings back all those memories that we’re still experiencing. It’s an EP that you play on the drive home. It’s the equivalent of an Instagram filter. So, whilst the EP is unlikely to get you on your feet, it connects with you in that most personal space. It will be the soundtrack to that nostalgic avenue we all enjoy travelling down. Recounting memories of girls and dances and friends whilst murmuring ‘I want to fall, around the world, with you.’

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David Berry

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