EP (Self Release)
Seven starts funkily, reminiscent of Ege Bamyasi-era Can. The band’s emphasis onpercussion in the intro is an especially welcome touch, ushering in a verse soaked in tremolo-treated guitar. After a squelching build-up, the band stutters between heaviness and melody with the bass providing a supple spine that the guitarists work around.
Untitled (Trains) is a wonderful song, providing ambience and atmosphere by the truckload. The reverb treated drums and echoing glockenspiel (that eventually reverses in a Four Tet manner) haunt the bass harmonics closely until the song finalises on a note matching Explosions in the Sky. The guitars duel for attention, rhythm and arpeggios in perfect harmony, until a pleasant peak that quickly fades and breaks to make way for lazy keyboard chords.
Only Clouds Move The Stars smacks of early 65daysofstatic, a sort of reinterpreted Retreat! Retreat! which brings forth feelings of hope and sadness in a simultaneous wave. An accordion misleadingly dominates the intro, and soon leaves us to be replaced by swathes of passionate guitar distortion. The band grip the main lead guitar theme and set about changing the mood until they explode completely in a cacophony of riffage. The song devolves, displaying the band in a more introspective mindset - the accordion returns with an acoustic guitar... and then they rip it all away with one final crescendo, complete with vocal harmonies. Anthony Whitton
Available at gigs or online
8mm Orchestra MySpace
In Search of the Light
EP (Light Commisionerz)
The constantly evolving nature of hip-hop often sees artists ditch their former personas to take on new
projects and gain wider appeal. KMD’s Zev Love X became MF Doom while Messrs. Nas and Ghostface dropped their respective Nasty and Killah monikers to chase the big bucks. Now rapper and producer Low Starr becomes the Starburst to the Opal Fruits of Lee Ramsay that older Notts heads already know and love. Ramsay made his name with legendary group OutDaVille − alongside Scorzayzee − going on to form Marga Boys and pursue his own projects. On this new EP Low Starr goes it alone, releasing a self-produced four-track teaser marketed under his own Light Commisionerz label.
The stand-out single here is Reminisce − an exploration of the rapper’s fame forged in his near two decades of recording. Low Starr’s flow lilts while peppered with double-time bars that merge perfectly into the sultry hook of You’ll Remember Me. Electronic drums and Kanye-style synths make this perfect summer pop. His slick production skills are showcased again on Orchestra Minded where grand horns and handclaps turn it in to what sounds like a Jay-Z smash. The bouncy soul of Oh My Dayz and I’m Coming compliment Low Starr’s local vernacular with production that works on an international level. This name change and new direction should hopefully give this most hard-working of artists the wider recognition he deserves - and I’m willing to stake a Marathon bar on that. Shariff Ibrahim
Low Starr Myspace
Like a mechanic stripping a motorbike, or a predator skinning its prey, Tom Garner is able to take songs down to their bare essentials, immediately getting to the heart of the song. Most of the tracks on Coaster are based around Tom’s piano and voice, with drums, electronic percussion and bass as accompaniment. The easiest comparison to make would be Ben Folds Five without the need to cover up his insecurities with a geeky knowingness. For, over ten tracks, Tom conjures up gentle melodies delivered with soulful, wistful, heartfelt singing as his piano rolls around him.
Occasionally, Tom is partnered by female vocals, adding an extra emotional edge to his words and putting this album firmly in the ‘songs about relationships’ camp. Tracks like Bright Lights and Empty Rooms showcase a talent unafraid to deal with the bitterness of relationships - his heart is firmly on his sleeve. This is his debut, but Garner plays like he has been crafting these songs for years making sure he gets to the heart and soul of what they are about. Paul Klotschkow
Tom Garner Myspace
Noble in challenging the received wisdom that the only Baby Godzilla worth caring about is Godzooky, this Notts Agit-Psycho-Rock outfit put up a good fight with their new EP. You certainly couldn’t accuse them of lacking in confidence; The Disenchantment Boogie fires things up with a London Calling- era Clash-esque thump of melody, vocal harmonies and heavy rhythmic kick.
But it is second track Steamline Feline that shows Baby Godzilla at full expression. Starting out as a creep and then moving about in skulks, before long it’s gathered enough back-tension to swagger out and work the room: pounding the walls, smashing it up and raising all bloody hell. Fast. Snottily obnoxious. Downright scary in the way that it might be if you were waiting tables on Lemmy and Rocket From The Crypt as they down shot after shot before picking a fight with the bouncer, getting chucked outside and started waggling big boogie-woogie bollocks around in front of passing riot vans.
Upping the tempo when it feels like it, calming down when it’s had enough, NPAG is a fine presentation of this Notts outfit’s talents. If Baby Godzilla sound like this now, heaven help us when they’re all grown up. Al Draper
Available at gigs and online
Baby Godzilla Myspace
Manière Des Bohémiens
Manière Des Bohémiens
EP (Farmyard Records)
As a band known for their engaging and exciting live shows, Manière des Bohémiens are a staple of the Notts music diet and are decidedly against the grain. Playing a hybrid mix of the French swing style popularised by legends like Django Reinhardt in the thirties and Eastern European gypsy music, their improvised reworkings of jazz standards and traditional folk tunes set each in a new and unique light. To capture a sound like this on a recording is no mean feat but, having been recorded entirely live and in just five hours, the band’s new EP has done as much justice to their live performances as humanly possible.
The technical skill displayed by the musicians of MdB is blindingly apparent with wonderfully inventive, silver-fingered violin solos abounding in each track, along with effortless accordion, flowing guitar playing and cool, understated double bass solos. There is a really comfortable feel to this record, as if they are playing for you in a tiny candlelit club, and the transitions from one fabulous solo to the next flow with coolness and ease. The pace of the EP ebbs and flows, from the slow and sexy refrains of 2 Guitars to the blistering speed of Romanian Train Song, which quickens to such intensity that it’s almost shocking to find that violinist Rob Rosa still has all his fingers in the aftermath of the recording. This is certainly a record to invest in if you’re looking for something exciting, unusual and technically beautiful to grace your headphones. You won’t be disappointed. Sarah Morrison
Available at gigs and farmyardrecords.com
Manière des Bohémiens Myspace
Whatley & Stone
Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly. Woven is that spider, pulling tighter on the web you’ll find yourself
caught up in. Opening track Pulse is the bait laid out to catch your attention. Part Lalo Schifrin brassy soundtrack, part Portishead on the pull. Ms. Whatley’s vocals are beautiful; she could sing an angel to sleep, with songs that, er, weave between gothy pop and big beat pomp - Cocteau Twins versus Tricky, if you will.
Take Me to Heaven is a good example of Whatley and Stone’s crossover appeal. This song would work just as well from a club’s huge sound system at midnight as from your stereo at home on a Sunday teatime - the bassline is to die for, the vocals let you know what Heaven would sound like. Drowning is a trippy, hippy sounding campfire song, with killer strings.
Dark Angel, Black Heart is a classic ballad of the type that MTV would play to death back in the eighties, all driving rain and handclaps. Cue Ms. Whatley, black stilettos and trenchcoat, wistfully walking towards the camera. Her voice is beguiling, the voice of the approaching spider ready to pounce. At Haunted you’re wrapped in silk, by final track Sleepwalking she’s stashed you away with the other victims, to be devoured at her leisure. Accept your fate: if you’re going to be transfixed by one record this summer, let it be Woven. Piers Edminson
Whatley and Stone Myspace
Kirk Spencer ft. Wariko, Shifty Spirit, Jah Digga and 2Tone
Single (CRS Entertainment)
You’lll have come across this character before - works in an office by day, lurks in an alley by night. All false posturing and braggadocio under hoods and bandanas. This mentality is explored on Nottingham producer Kirk Spencer’s massive new single Night Time.
Helped by CRS Entertainment label-mates and some of the city’s finest rappers, Mr.Spencer delivers another banger from the St. Anns-based studio. Jah Digga (AKA Dan Dan) kicks things off with a solid verse: ‘You wear a shirt, tie, trousers and a suitcase/At night you wear a tracksuit, hoodies and a screwface/I know the truth, mate/You act for your crew’s sake/Everybody knows that you’re sweet like a fruitcake’, while 2Tone provides the anti-fronting hook in an inimitable Notts drawl. Mixing hip-hop with dubstep and grime is the producer’s trademark; on Night Time the dirty, fuzzy bassline and Spencer’s own live guitar and drum samples progress into a full-blown drum and bass track. Legendary grime MC Wariko sounds just as at home flowing over the epic beat as no-nonsense rapper Shifty Spirit as they lyrically out the fakers.
Really slick production and great guest spots from the Community Recording Studio explain why this tune has received so much airplay on BBC Radio 1xtra. Worth the price of the instrumental alone, this one is a must-download. Just remember the song’s immortal message – check yourself before you wreck yourself, don’t disrespect yourself. Shariff Ibrahim
Available from iTunes
Kirk Spencer website
Spaceships are Cool
SaC’s website boasts a huge list of synths and other kit at their disposal. It’s an itinerary that would make any Kraftwerk fan cry with joy. There the similarity ends, but only in genre and style; in terms of innovation, SaC are on top of their game. Deemed the city’s premier (and possibly only) purveyors of uplifting, electronically driven sci-fi pop, they’ve managed to squeeze as much of the intrigue and energy of their excellent live shows into their debut LP as humanly possible. It’s chock-full of dreamy, lilting ditties that invoke a child-like whimsy at the same time as filling your ears with enough delicious synthy goodness to satiate your appetite for electronic nutrition for days.
Opener Along These Sleepless Nights, introduces the band’s penchant for merging analogue sounds with digital, beginning with slide and acoustic guitar before introducing the ever-eerie, spacey sound of the theramin and synthesiser combination that continues throughout the record. Heart Echoes sounds like the soundtrack to a futuristic primary school’s field trip to space; wide-eyed children exploring the solar system to a backdrop of Moog synths, undulating theramin, glockenspiels and Fisher Price toys. Yet as charming and innocent as it may sound, there is a high level of production and compositional skill to the album, with its diverse elements having been weaved together to form songs that defy any efforts to be grumpy whilst you listen. Sarah Morrison
Available from gigs and online.
Spaceships are Cool website
How To Survive A Robot Uprising
Yunioshi are sticking their fingers firmly in the socket with their new EP. A sample from an old fifties sci-fi film warns of an imminent attack which then leads in to the howling siren stomp of Ghetto Getgo -guitars clatter and clash as if trying to break out of Beck’s bedroom circa Midnite Vultures, whilst the bass and burbling synth breakdown near the end drags the song firmly to the dance floor. The cheeky Star Wars reference at the end shows that Yunioshi should be the house band for Chalmun’s Cantina.
Believe It pulsates with a sultriness intent on grinding against you. Ctrl sees burbling keyboards and bubbling sound-effects dart around whilst the song struts around like CP-30 after mainlining an entire stash of Viagra hoping to get his end away with anyone and everything, as Rob and Anna sing, “Your touch is bruising me, the feeling I want more and more.” Oh my. Matt Bellamy must have broken into the Yunioshi studio as an electrical storm of guitars clatters down over Hakushi! in a way of which Devon’s guitar maestro would be proud and, with it, Yunioshi have created a whole new genre – ‘Robo Funk’. Thunderbird is a slab of sixties tinged lounge pop with breakbeat drums and fuzzy bass having a laser battle with a rainbow synths, as Rob lays down the Yunioshi mantra. ‘Robot funk shit’ indeed. Paul Klotschkow
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