Adult Jazz

Adult Jazz


Adult Jazz have made one of the best debut albums of the year in ‘Gist Is’ (if not one of the best albums of the year full stop) and despite it being somewhat overlooked compared to terrible British bands like Alt-J this year, the Deaf Institute is pretty busy to see them play the majority of their magnificent LP in full tonight.

I mention Alt-J because they seem to get a unreasonable amount of attention for being just on the right side of ‘quirky’ (i.e: boring) to get mainstream attention, whereas Adult Jazz are firmly on the other side of that quirky line (i.e: really really good) where adulation is somewhat out of their grasp. Not that I imagine it bothers them too much, they probably don’t want to be in the top 10, but it would be amazing if they somehow were. For Adult Jazz are a weirder version of a band like Vampire Weekend, a mish mash of musical influences and styles that somehow shouldn’t work but massively does. Tonight the Leeds four piece barely play the same instrument twice between them; the drummer plays the trombone, the guitarist plays the drums, the electronics guy plays the laptop, drum pads, synths…anything that plugs in. And it’s all underpinned by singer Harry Burgess’ quite extraordinary vocals. He goes from angelic James Blake/Bon Iver falsetto to powerful holler in the blink of an eye, it’s quite incredible to behold in such an intimate venue.

Their songs can sometimes sound like four or five different songs mashed expertly together – they flip and slip and slide around different time signatures, tunes, rhythms and structures within their sometime 10 minute running time. Take the majestic ‘Spook’ for instance, beginning with just Burgess’ voice backed by atmospheric electronics, before blossoming into something utterly wonderful, all lilting guitars and trombone slides, before they bring it right back down to just a guitar and Burgess again, as they build it back up to a glorious finish; it’s outstanding to watch and hear.

They are a new band, so they can be forgiven for their terrible stage ‘banter’, it’s pretty awkward but endearing, non-more so than when Burgess tries to explain that he dedicated a new song they play (more intense and forceful than anything from Gist Is) to Dapper Laughs last night and it didn’t go down well. He hits the nail on the head though when one of his band mates reminds him to change his effects mic and he responds ‘oh yeah…it’s complex up here’, which pretty much perfectly describes their sound.

‘Springful’, one of their most straightforward beautiful songs is a highlight tonight, the anguished beginning yelps of “my sugar veins” relenting to a gently plucked electric guitar line which, true to form, explodes in the middle of the song creating something completely different to the start. It’s about now that I notice how serious-faced the drummer/trombonist is throughout the gig, and I just can’t stop looking at him. Honestly, he never cracks a smile the whole way through, just an intense face of concentration; I think he needs to stop and listen to the brilliant noise his band are making because everyone else in the room is beaming. They end with the thumping ‘Idiot Mantra’, with floor toms that are pounding like something from Missy Elliot’s ‘Get Your Freak On’, Burgess singing in backwards tongues, as the floor beneath us shakes to the drums and the shuffling of a crowd full of skinny indie kids (seriously, the cheekbones on tonight’s crowd are something to behold). And with that they are gone, true to their promise of ‘not hiding by the side of the stage and coming back out for more’. It’s been enchanting, and it’s thrilling to think where they might go next. Get a bit of Adult Jazz in your life.

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