Closing out the bitter slog that was 2016 are a band who are bringing the sunshine grooves of the Caribbean to the urban metropolis. The Hempolics are a little-known ska band from London, who have steadily been crafting their sound for over a decade now. They have received attention from radio, not to mention the fellow musicians, such as La Roux, Eliza Doolittle and Paolo Nutini.
With 2015’s Notting Hill Carnival still fresh in our memories, this week’s jam is a placid dub tune that spurs the gentle hip-swaying of couples on the dance floor. It’s ‘More Than Memories’ by Jr Thomas & the Volcanos. This songwriter, who hails from Minneapolis, USA, writes reggae and soul influenced music in a similar wheelhouse to The Skints. His upcoming debut album, Beware, was recorded at the Volcano Lounge in Los Angeles, and is out later this month on Truth & Soul Records.
It’s a stirring rallying call to hear music representing your town or your neighbourhood especially. Unlike the US, however, we tend to be reserved when it comes to bigging up our roots, humble or not, here in the UK. It’s often dissenting voices – be it the rebellious words of The Clash’s Joe Strummer or Lewisham grime artist Stormzy – who are the first to shout about their home turf, why they love it and why others should respect it.
Yet this is nothing new to punk-ska group The Skints, whose roots lie amid the bustle of the multicultural marketplaces and marshlands of London’s east end. ‘This Town’, the lead single from their forthcoming third album, FM, is a stupendous celebration of London’s vibrancy and people, and of the suburban neighbourhoods at opposite ends of the Victoria line.