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Music Reviews: December 2012 - January 2013

30 December 12 words: Various
Crushing Blows, Drops, Duke01, Frazer Lowrie, Geiom, Injured Birds, The Madeline Rust, Opie Deino, Rob Green, Rosie Abbott, Sinners Highway and We Are Avengers
Crushing Blows - Crushing Blows EP

Crushing Blows - Crushing Blows EP
 

Crushing Blows
Crushing Blows
EP (Self-released)


The psychedelic-pop duo return with a newfound sense of vigour and ways of combining their melodic hooks to dreamy musical nuggets. The People You Will Never Meet sounds like Prince kidnapping post-rockers Explosion In The Sky and forcing them to get down and dirty in his purple pixie land, with falsetto vocals over emotional cascading guitars that flow from the speakers like warm honey. What’s immediately obvious is that they’ve hit the next level in terms of their songwriting; I Dream Of Becoming A Girl is a breezy slab of tropical pop, whilst Love Is Dangerous sounds like an in-joke that eventually morphs into a fist pumping barnstormer with the title lyric sung over a cavalcade of organs and driving guitars. It all ends with No Halcyon, the most direct offering here, that hits home like a spiky punch of fuzzy guitars and anthemic vocals. Paul Klotschkow

Crushing Blows on Bandcamp

Drops - Believe You Me EP

Drops - Believe You Me EP
 

Drops
Believe You Me
EP (Self-released)
 
Listening to Liam Hennessy’s debut EP (under the guise of Drops) is like being caught in a daydream with an infectious guitar melody. Beginning with the mellow optimism of You Have My Word, the four tracks consist of layer upon layer of instrumental bliss activated by a loop pedal and recorded in his bedroom. With a sound as wandering as the human mind, Autumn Walks starts with rhythmic, footstep-like beats before drifting into a gentle ramble of chimes, in perfect resemblance of its title. The echoing, barely-there vocals on closing track Return Stones To Sea bring a reflective, sincere tone to the EP, while its looping beats maintain the playfulness that is evident throughout. Liam may be leaving Notts soon, but this record is guaranteed to leave you tapping your feet and drumming your fingers with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside - and you can’t ask for much more than that. Katy Lewis Hood

Drops on Bandcamp

Duke01 - Steroid Stereo

Duke01 - Steroid Stereo
 

Duke01
Steroid Stereo
EP (Team Chameleon)
 
One half of Non Thespian and part of hard-rocking cover band Def Goldblum, the Notts rapper returns with another blast of hard-hitting hip-hop. Kill The Robots is a menacing opener, essentially a piece of music that loops the name of the EP against a threatening wall of static. Things don’t really get going until Ellington Binary, which sees Duke01 doing his thing over broken funk jams and wailing sirens that sound as furious as his rhymes. The rest of the EP follows in a similar vein; Eat Your Mistakes tips its Pittsburgh Pirates cap to Public Enemy, with Chuck D’s ire perfectly channeled. A tip of the hat to DJ Johnny Crump too, who provides most of the beats here - his mix of classic soul sounds and eardrum-piercing samples amplify Duke’s lyrics to stratospheric levels, especially on the seven-minute jam Countdown To Armour Gettin’. Paul Klotschkow

Frazer Lowrie - Things Have Changed

Frazer Lowrie - Things Have Changed
 

Frazer Lowrie
Things Have Changed
EP (Self-released)
 
The twenty-year-old truth-teller and self-taught musician delivers a strong, slightly angsty, EP. Musically, the festival friendly indie-pop-folk shines a light to the likes of Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran, and it’d be rude not to mention the route-one anthemics; City of Lights recalls Friendly Fires with its stomp and shouty sing-a-long chorus. Lend Me Your Love turns the lights down on the party and proclaims “Lend me your courage, so I can scream at the world for making me feel so damn useless.” and God’s Truth returns us to the indie barn dance, despite the moody lyrics. Things Have Changed is not going to break any new ground - and was never supposed to - but it actually manages to come across as incredibly authentic. Probably best enjoyed outdoors with a pint in hand, whilst wearing that straw trilby hat you found on the floor. Ashley Clivery
 
Geiom - Black Screen

Geoim - Black Screen
 

Geiom
Black Screen
LP (Frijsfo Beats)
 
Geiom’s third long-player sees him cement his reputation as one of the UK’s leading underground electronic music producers. With a title inspired by the dying moments of a mobile phone, Black Screen touches on all of the genres Geiom has dabbled in in his decade-long career. If you took apart your iPhone and fed its microchips every electronic music genre of recent memory, this is the album that it would eventually spew out from its circuit board. That’s not to say it’s a mess, however; this is a coherent mix of sounds and styles. Tracks such as Rhode Rage offer up re-booted funky house with an injection of UK garage into its DNA, whilst the more cerebral moments (such as the ghostly White Screen), offer respite from the clattering circuit-bending sonics. It’s good to see an artist still making forward-thinking music after over ten years in the game. Paul Klotschkow
 
Geoim on Resident Advisor

Injured Birds - Silver Birches

Injured Birds - Silver Birches
 

Injured Birds
Silver Birches
LP (Denizen Recordings)
 
Call the authorities – I reckon there’s something in the water around these parts. As Jake Bugg sends the world a-swooning with his chart-dominating awesomeness, just scratch slightly beneath the surface to find a whole world of talent in Notts. Scratch a little deeper and the beautiful Injured Birds come soaring out. Silver Birches is one of the most solid and consistent LPs that you could hope to hear this year. It’s that kind of excellently Mumford-free folk that’s compelling but never contrived, touching but never twee. I’d call them ‘nu-folk’, but there’s no such thing and I’m not a nobhead, but you get the idea. Opener K is a slow-burning fireside ditty that perfectly showcases the band’s cinematic qualities, while Hey Now is a right little firecracker of a tune that you can’t help but lose your mind to. Ten tracks of power and poetry that understatedly scream #NottinghamRocks. Andrew Trendell

Injured Birds on Facebook

The Madeline Rust - The Madeline Rust

The Madeline Rust - The Madeline Rust
 

The Madeline Rust
The Madeline Rust
EP (Self-released)
 
With a name taken from a dream, album art inspired by a surreal Mexican western and a sound influenced by the nineties grunge scene, The Madeline Rust are Lucy Morrow on bass and vocals, Aly McNab on guitar and Martin Syvret on drums. Back Home kicks us off with a Black Sabbath-sized riff and a Cobain-esque throat-stripping chorus. It quickly becomes clear that this is quite a feature of Morrow’s singing style, with songs like How Would You Move Me? and Now starting off with delicate, melodic verses before blasting off into rasping choruses. Nirvana are a reference point, but there’s also notes of classic rock, as well as bands like The Runaways, Belly and even – on I Will Not Hide - Iron Maiden. You can never have too many great three-piece rock bands; it looks like Nottingham has got another exciting one. Tim Sorrell
 

The Madeline Rust on Bandcamp

Opie Deino - Facing Up

Opie Deino - Facing Up
 

Opie Deino
Facing Up
EP (Self-released)

After making it to the finals of 2011’s Future Sound of Nottingham competition, Sian Fawcett (AKA Ms Deino) has kept the momentum going by becoming a firm fixture on the gig scene, indulging in a spot of city centre busking, and - just in time for her debut release - putting a band together. Facing Up is a folk-pop EP that rolls from acoustic lightness (Richard Parker) to jangly light power-rock (Macc), while Sian’s American style vocals sound eerily like Hayley Williams from Paramore at her sweetest. Uptempo to the last, here are five songs about love, friendship and, well, not being in love and not being friends anymore. So if you like a bit of balls to your girl-fronted pop and aren’t afraid to sneak a peak in a young lady’s diary, then Opie Deino may well twang your G-string. Ali Emm


Opei Deino website

Rob Green - Parlour Tricks

Rob Green - Parlour Tricks
 

Rob Green
Parlour Tricks
EP (Outlaw Label)
 
Do not settle for less. Do not accept lame imitations. Ladies and gentlemen, go listen to Rob Green. Opening track Straight And Narrow demonstrates his remarkable dynamic perfectly; a brilliant balance where classic and timeless sounds of soul and R n’ B are given a fierce makeover. “I wanna drink every drop of you to satisfy my gluttony,” he croons on Cardinal, smoother than a milkshake made of clouds and dreams. While the current scene is cluttered with lots of beige X Factor music-lite types having a crack at this acoustic soul rap malarkey, this lad hasn’t half got a set of lungs on him. As he sings on Underdog: “They’re convinced it’s a game, but I don’t feel the same, they work me to the grave to be saved – I’m the underdog.” Make room for Rob Green – he’s the real thing. Andrew Trendell

Rosie Abbott - Rosie Abbott

Rosie Abbott - Rosie Abbott
 

Rosie Abbott
Rosie Abbott
LP (Self-released)
 
Rosie Abbott’s eponymous debut release comes following many acoustic gigs in Notts and nearby, and radio plays as far afield as Washington D.C. She writes, plays, records and produces all her own music and the result is a style reminiscent of a bygone age before auto-tune, drum loops and over-dubbing that’s almost been forgotten but really should make a comeback. Telling relatable stories about everyday life in a raw, confident way with a voice full of character, it’s the perfect remedy to processed pop. Rosie has in her canon such a selection of styles, ranging from cheery ragtime piano in If You’re Happy and You Don’t Know It to dirty, bluesy guitar rock in Victim of My Imagination, not to mention a duet with a woodpigeon in Woodpigeon Translation, a drinker’s singalong in One More Glass, and so much more. There’s something for everyone here. Quirky, original and always loveable. Graeme Smith
 
Rosie Abbott website

Sinners Highway - Sinners Highway

Sinners Highway - Sinners Highway
 

Sinners Highway
Sinners Highway
EP (Self-released)
 
This is an explosive four-track fury of rock n’ roll dynamite. Opening track Sinners Highway is a death trip joy ride around hell with the initial scorching riffs building and building until Simon Ross lets out an almost primal roar “Her beauty will drive you crazy. She’s on a Sinners Highway.” Reaper, possibly the highlight of the EP is a Satanic tsunami that builds and falls violently throughout, Simon’s voice pure rock n’ roll. The eighties metal tinge is evident with the odd riff of Metallica here, the occasional Slash solo there. It peaks with the monumentally epic ballad of Can’t Stand The Fate; Ross’ deathly shrieks are replaced by softer vocals but still with every element of power. The heartbreak, lighters-to-the-air tale, is on the same level of epicness as Aerosmith’s I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing and is teeming with raw emotion. Tom Hadfield

Sinners Highway website

We Are Avengers - Midbrow Lover/ Revolution

We Are Avengers - Midbrow Lover/ Revolution

We Are Avengers
Midbrow Lover/ Revolution
Single (Farmyard Records)
 
For their second single this year, the Avengers – now expanded from a trio to an elegantly turned-out six-piece – have dipped their toes into funkier waters without surrendering any of the tight songwriting and arranging skills that flavoured their debut release, Trouble. You can hear this most clearly on Revolution, which pits a loping backbeat against choppy, bluesy guitar and a discreetly swelling Hammond organ in a way that bears comparison with nineties trip-hoppers and acid-jazzers such as Young Disciples. The slinky, spacious and deftly restrained arrangement makes a neat counterpoint to Midbrow Lover, the lead track. Here, a brooding bassline ushers in stately, rippling piano, funk-rock guitar, and ambient strings, forming a suitably cinematic backdrop for Emily Martin’s smouldering, torch-song vocals. “Can we make an agreement?” she pleads, while a ghostly chorus coos in the background. Natalie Duncan’s already a fan; there’ll soon be plenty more. Mike Atkinson

 

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