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Music Reviews: August - September 2013

21 August 13 words: LeftLion
Band of Jackals, Can B, Marita, Bitter Strings, Young Light, The Golden Troubadours, Cult of Dom Keller, HCBP, Huw Costin, OneGirlOneBoy, Origin One
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Band of Jackals - One Hand Washes The Other

Band of Jackals
One Hand Washes The Other
EP (Self-released)


Joshua Homme hails from the deserts of California and you can definitely hear that influence in the skuzzy, dirty rock of Queens of the Stone Age. Nottingham is an entirely different kind of badland, but you can still hear the tumbleweeds blowing across the arid soundscapes on One Hand Washes The Other. There’s a real and justified swagger in the way that these guys rip out perfectly formed blues-rock stompers. QOTSA are probably the obvious reference point, but there are echoes too of Black Keys, The Raconteurs and maybe even Led Zeppelin. For a debut EP, they show off a proper pair of musical chops: Tempted by Lasers and Two Revolutions are every bit as good as any rock song I’ve heard this year. In fact, they are so good it can surely only be a matter of time before Dave Grohl is banging down their door for a guest appearance. Tim Sorrell

Band of Jackals on SoundCloud

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Bitter Strings - Wondering Eyes

Bitter Strings
Wondering Eyes
EP (Self-released)


Contrary to their name, Bitter Strings’ music is full of sugar-sweet synth and rippling guitars wrapped around a classic rock’n’roll style. There’s an easy, dreamy sound to the EP, especially on tracks such as Gone where simple lyrics and a carefree rhythm give it a timeless quality. However, the presence of heavier sections on songs, like title track Wondering Eyes, gives the EP weight and texture, as the drums thrash and the guitar become darker. A particular highlight is the end of Colour Fades, when the punch of a killer riff fades out to a mesmerising echo. Bitter Strings have managed to create incredibly catchy, multi-layered pop with a smattering of rock and psychedelica for good measure. The combination of classic and modern gives the EP a strong sound, and indicates that the boys have a bright future ahead of them if they can develop this sound further. Katy Lewis Hood

Bitter Strings on SoundCloud

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Can B - Octopus

Can B
OCTOPUS
EP (NG64)


Ill Citizen’s Can B is the lead visionary behind a groundbreaking EP that has been billed as a collaboration, not a solo effort. NineteenTwentyThree’s unbounded production, Can B’s lyrical mastery, and artwork by Mac of The Tribes amalgamate to make a dexterous work of Nottingham hiphop, a city noted for its prestige in the genre. A dab hand using polemics and rhetoric, his words sneer dually at politicians and populace, not excluding condemnation for his own frailty. His voice is that of disenfranchised youth wanting to excel, make a mark, set a precedent. He is enlisting his army. An intricate soundscape, the genre is foremost hiphop but takes in ambient, dub, jazz and perhaps classical. Can B’s tone, often pitch perfect, demonstrates deeper musicality. Add to this impeccable timing, writing, structure, alternating flow and innovative beat selection for an overall exemplary release. Parisa Eliyon

Can B on Bandcamp

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Huw Costin - Something/Nothing

Huw Costin
Something/Nothing
Album (SpecialSoundUnit)


According to the man himself, Something/Nothing was twenty years in the making. It is of no surprise then that it flows with such beauty and ease. Doomed, is a tantalising opening track, which leaves a haunting impression. Loaded with beautiful words, the rest of the album follows with a mixture of dark, twisted and refreshingly truthful songs. Within the title track, the repetitive lyrics creep up on you and draw you into a story of false love and harsh truths. Steering away from the solid acoustic guitar, this album gains dynamism through the use of other instruments and additional noises. From beginning to end, the album is a reflection of loneliness and mystery. The realism and sincerity, which define it, create an intense collection that will leave you with a mixture of emotions. Surrounding that delicate issue of real passion and heartbreak, Something/Nothing could well make you cry. Georgia Taylor

Huw Costin website

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HCBP - Charger

Haggard Cat Bothday Present
Charger
EP (Self-released)


The first question you’ll ask yourself when you hear Haggard Cat Bothday Present is, “are they from Nottingham, UK, or Nottingham, Alabama”? Such is the intensity of the ‘good old boys’ filthy blues on offer that you’d swear that this Baby Godzilla offshoot were raised in the US deep south, on a diet of grits and fried chicken, listening to nothing but The Allman Brothers, Bo Diddley and Captain Beefheart. Clearly, one of their mommas had a thing for Led Zeppelin as well, as many of the tracks on Charger have that epic Zep quality. Turn it up loud enough and ears will be shredded, hearts will be quickened, and nether regions will be tickled. Check out $hit Dollar $huffle, Beard O’ Leeches and Gumblood Shuffle to see what I mean. The second question you’ll find yourself asking when you hear HC BP is; “where have you been all my life you gloriously noisy boggers”? Stephen Murphy

HCBP on Bandcamp

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Cult of Dom Keller - Cult of Dom Keller

Cult of Dom Keller
Cult of Dom Keller
Album (Mannequin Records)


Part-assembled from reworked EP tracks and part-funded via a Kickstarter project, The Cult Of Dom Keller’s debut album offers a long-awaited treat for fans of heavy psychedelic noise. It opens with the grungy Wild West twang of Swamp Heron, which steadily builds intensity before unleashing a searing acid-rock guitar solo, couched in feedback and effects. Keyboards make their entrance with Eyes, whose vocals are mixed relatively high – you can even catch the odd lyric – before being submerged in swampy reverb for most of the remainder. The exultant squall of Worlds marks side one’s midway high-point, but by the start of side two, things take a doomier turn. You Are There In Me nods towards Crystal Stilts’ lysergic garage rock, Nowhere To Land picks the pace up, and the journey ends with All I Need Is Not Now, an epic, all-consuming drone. Mike Atkinson

Cult of Dom Keller on facebook

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DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show
- Escape This Wicked Life

DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show
Escape This Wicked Life
Album (Self-released)


Escape This Wicked Life is the debut release from the wonderfully monikered DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Band, a local combo whose line-up feature exotically titled members including Misk Hills Mountain Rambler and Minin’ Bill Kerry III. Somewhere half-way between an EP and an album, this is a superb collection of six original songs which, despite being recorded in Sherwood, sound like they belong in a small saloon bar in the Wild West. This is modern Americana at its best, replete with fiddle, acoustic guitar and accordion. What is most impressive about this record is the sheer quality of the songwriting. Bluebird is as good an opening track as you’ll hear this year, while the drinking anthem White Jesus and the terrific Wide Open Spaces also deserve a special mention. A fantastic debut release - I can’t wait to hear more. Nick Parkhouse

DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show on Bandcamp

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The Golden Troubadours - Beautiful Revolving Jane

The Golden Troubadours
Beautiful Revolving Jane
EP (Self-released)


The Golden Troubadours. I say the name, and in my head images are evoked of long, warm summer days, walks through long fields of whispering barley, holding on to my sweet lover’s hand, the ‘perfumes of nature sighing on our skin’ (a tiny tribute there to the late Uncle Monty). With a name this lovely, the cynical part of my nature suspects they are either going to be an ‘ironic’ death metal band, or a bunch of gurning Mumford and Sons clones. Thankfully, I’m wrong on both counts. Moth Into Your Flame begins with a strumming acoustic guitar and builds into a beautiful cello/trumpet peppered corker of a song that puts me in mind of late period Belle and Sebastian. Things get even better with Wish and title track, Beautiful Revolving Jane. Both are Crosby/Stills/Nash feeling, alt-country splendours, which on hearing make the world seem like a much better place. Exceptional stuff. Stephen Murphy

The Golden Troubadours on Bandcamp

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Marita - Marita Just Me

Marita
Marita Just Me

EP (Self-released)

If Kirk Spencer’s Wonderland EP, on which Marita guested, offered a vision of peaceful solace in the heart of the city, then Marita’s Marita Just Me – released simultaneously, co-produced by Spencer and bearing some of his sonic hallmarks – reveals the darker flipside. Throughout its five tracks, Marita prays and pleads for release – both from “the city, so diverse though I feel so alone”, and from her own inner struggles – and yet it never comes, leaving her suspended in fretful claustrophobia. “I need to be at peace with my mind”, she intones, while fidgety beats, restless electronic pulses and deep bass drops trap her in their web. “I’m going to fly away, I’m going to find a way”, she sighs – but we feel steadily less inclined to believe she will succeed. By the final track, Shackles, her dreams feel drained of purpose, as skeletal beats and woozy sonic backdrops dissolve around her. Mike Atkinson

Marita on Bandcamp

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OneGirlOneBoy - OneGirlOneBoy

OneGirlOneBoy
OneGirlOneBoy

EP (Self-released)

Gender politics: this duo often come up in conversation about local music, but more than once I’ve heard their moniker reversed. OneGirlOneBoy have piqued interests of the musically-conscious in Nottingham and this EP is their bid to set their sights on loftier targets. It’s clear why the ‘girl’ comes first in this dichotomy; her voice is pivotal, right from sit-up-and-take-notice opener Wasted. OneGirl, AKA Natasha Miller, has a bizarre magnetic charisma, which so often separates successful artists from their undiscovered brethren. Thankfully this translates onto record. Meanwhile, gleaming yet unobtrusive guitar glissandos courtesy of OneBoy serve to complement the main attraction rather than distract. The production, is impeccable, balanced between professional gloss and the visceral power of vocals loaded with pathos. If influences are occasionally a little brashly sign-posted it’s only because they’re studiously pop-literate. Indeed, it’s startlingly accomplished for a first release. Keep an eye on ‘em. Andrew Tucker

OneGirlOneBoy website

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Origin One - Origin One

Origin One
Origin One EP
EP (Self-released)


The debut EP from the four-piece collective brings together a delicious melting pot of roots, reggae and dub that’s bound to bring the skank out of you. Upon forming in 2012, the group (N3ON, Parisa, Trekkah and Percydread) have built up a cult following by tearing up the regular monthly night, Rubberdub. Breaking in from the off with Crisis, Parisa shows off her hypnotising vocals backed up by a bouncy bass and immaculate production that would fit in perfectly in the dancehalls of Kingston. Don’t Dweet revokes fond memories of early-nineties garage with thought provoking vocals from powerhouse Percydread, while Heartless Dub and Calling in the Night hit the skanking spot like a bass-heavy slap in the face. Parisa closes with You Boy, blending upbeat Caribbean vibes with passionate jazzy lyrical flow. A mesmerising listen that should be top of the pile for a winding down/chill session. Jack Garofalo

Origin One on Bandcamp

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Young Light - Great White Arc

Young Light
Great White Arc
EP (Underground Communiqué Records)


Taking a break from his Amusement Parks on Fire duties, Young Light sees Michael Feerick team up with ex-Giant Drag drummer Micah Calabrese for a four song EP of irresistible space rock lullabies. Rue The Why’s liquid sound oozes out of the speakers as the song gently circles around itself; while the nagging melodies of Abide almost scream ‘highlight’, but it would be unfair to pick out one song for special attention when this is a record that works best as a whole. Ice Life picks up the pace and is the most direct song, its driving melodies pushed along by Michael’s clattering guitars and Micah’s booming drums. You can’t accuse the band of gazing at their shoes on this one. Giant Fire ends with a squeal of feedback, which is quite apt considering this is a band intent of getting lost in a haze of sound and harmony. Paul Klotschkow

Young Light on facebook

Find local releases in The Music Exchange, 2 Stoney Street, The Lace Market. You can also hear a tune from each review on our Sound of the Lion podcast.


 

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