There are few artists more dedicated to pushing classic, 4×4 sounds than J69. Packing a proud array of club-ready anthems, the Sheffield native’s unabashed promotion of the region’s key underground export has only gathered momentum as bassline’s popularity skyrocketed. Eschewing more popular EDM influences, “Bap Bap” is a headfirst descent into the sonically askew, opening with a cartoonish xylophone motif before colliding into skittering bass, saucy, almost drawled vocals and offbeat synth stabs. The arrangement is rustic, but very much fit for purpose. and the vocals are smoothly laid down courtesy of veteran MC, Breeza. The result is an explosive one forty collab dripping with vintage charisma and is one that will most certainly get significant playtesting in many of the region’s raves to come.

The sum total of a now well-refined formula, Bap Bap is a testament to the never-say-die attitude of Sheffield’s old-school bassline scene. For fans of UK bass music, the rest of the compilation is highly recommended, with standouts Palize, Killa P, Burt Cope, and Badger all offering their talents.

Sheffield’s burgeoning crop of talent is becoming difficult to ignore, a fact that is no more true than in the case of NUKG upstart, Weagle, dropping his latest on acclaimed label Southpoint.

“More Noise” is a busy two-tracker with a bright, sunny feel that arrives ahead of summer rather opportunely. Much of the ancillary work on the first track of the record, “Lucky”,  is performed by the dizzying arrangement of instruments and samples, with syncopated keys playing off chopped vocals and clavinet and saxophone-like sounds serving as accompaniments throughout. These tuneful flickers are complemented by the liberal use of sidechaining and the track’s 4×4 drums, which manage to maintain a lively pace throughout.

The brightest spot on the record, however, definitely belongs to “Stormin”. An altogether more terse affair, the release’s second cut is a more concentrated representation of the sounds that initially enamored many to Weagle; the tasteful creation of space around the drums is supported by excellent stereo work, which is used to fire off vocals and key licks across the left-right spectrum. A subtle, detuned progression adds background color, helping complete a dynamic and, at times, hyperactive groove, which leans into the stylings most prominently exhibited on “With the Ruff N’ the Smooth”, a NUKG pressing that became a personal favorite of 2020.

More Noise is an effort constituted of two halves—both entries are impressively solid, with Stormin representing the more incisive distillation of Weagle’s distinctive sound.

Liam Bline’s newest drop is a playful throwback to the “good old days” of bassline, with an entry that wouldn’t be out of place on an old-school Niche nightclub compilation.

Released through Sheffield’s Chip Butty Records, “Caught Up” bears all the hallmarks of party-igniting banger—a nostalgic vocal sample complements the uptempo drums, with bubbling bass work doing much of the heavy lifting. The end result is a hybrid of vintage vibes enlivened by modern production techniques and is a production trend that has steadily gained some traction, especially in the UK’s North.

To the previous point, the track arrives amidst something of a revival for speed garage sounds; a genre witnessing a noticeable uptick in inclusion across bassline, garage, and techno sets.

With lockdown coming to a foreseeable end soon in the UK, Liam Bline’s effort is varnished with vibes from start to finish, making for perfect middle-of-the-night skanking in any set, at any bumping rave.