Rocky Horror Show

Music Reviews: April - May 2013

2 May 13 words: Various
Kirk Spencer, Seas of Mirth, Frankie Rudolf, Ronika, Frazer Lowrie, Hot Coins, Haiku Salut, Guilty Parents, Rob Green, The Gorgeous Chans, Gallery 47 and The Bella Sisters
The Bella Sisters

The Bella Sisters - How To Defeat

The Bella Sisters
How To Defeat
EP (Self-released)

Eighteen-year-old Jake Bugg thinks he’s Seen It All. He might have scored the city’s first number one album, but compared to some other local bands, he’s still pretty wet behind the ears. Take The Bella Sisters for instance: they’ve definitely been around the block. Formed in 2007 and veterans of local bands like The Blueprint, Consumed and The Leif Ericsson, it took them five years to get round to playing their first gig (they’ve got jobs and mortgages and families, and you can’t rush these things). They’ve now released an EP, and it sounds great. The band describe their own sound, tongue-in-cheek, as a “fairly average brand of dated melodic hardcore”. Melodic hardcore? Definitely… but How To Defeat is anything but average or dated. The Bella Sisters are evidently outstanding musicians and this EP scorches out of the speakers. Four tracks, fourteen minutes and not another moment to waste. Tim Sorrell

The Bella Sisters on Bandcamp

Gallery 47

Gallery 47 - Dividends

Gallery 47
EP (Robot Needs Home)

It’s not exaggerating to say that Gallery 47’s debut release Fate Is The Law is one of the best albums produced by a Nottingham artist over the last couple of years. Now, after some health scares and time out of the studio, Jack is back with a brand new EP, Dividends. Opening with the beautiful single All It Could Grow Up To Be, Dividends is another collection of heartfelt music from a brilliant songwriter. What I particularly love about Gallery 47’s music is that it always has a unique lyrical content, often inspired from a very personal place. Mr Baudelaire
certainly fits this bill, as does Close To My Mind, a song which owes as much to rural America as it does to the East Midlands. If Simon and Garfunkel had been from Nottingham, this is what they would have sounded like. Dividends is another assured, accomplished release from someone who is clearly destined for great things. Nick Parkhouse

Gallery 47 website

The Gorgeous Chans - Welcome To The Gorgeous Chans

The Gorgeous Chans
- Welcome To The Gorgeous Chans

The Gorgeous Chans
Welcome To: The Gorgeous Chans
EP (Self-released)

It’s only a matter of time before that scabby  beach is dropped on Market Square again, but a far more wholesome local summer comes courtesy of this EP. Opener Night In Graceland is a scorching Paul Simon-esque burst of sunshine by way of Noah and the Whale and Vampire Weekend without the American Apparel pretensions or trendy Afro-beat wankery – it’s just a solid gold good time. Dream Machines is an imaginative bundle of quirks and charm while Where We Belong has more sweet zest than a litre of Rubicon – all before Santiago (Tell Me What’s Wrong) takes you to a South American Latino festival in three glorious minutes. We may never see soaring temperatures here in Nottingham, and the closest thing to smelling a fresh sea breeze is that baffling scent in Cookie Club – so kick off your shoes and take a dip. Andrew Trendell

The Gorgeous Chans on Soundcloud

Rob Green - Learn To Fly

Rob Green - Learn To Fly

Rob Green
Learn To Fly
EP (Outlaw Label)

Rob Green is a born entertainer, and the irrepressibly buoyant eagerness he displays
on stage also shines through in all his recorded vocal performances. Available as a free download via his website, the Learn To Fly EP is an instantly delightful representation of his talents. Magnetic kicks things off: an accusing scold, with a smile on its face. On the title track, a gently acoustic intro bursts into life with rippling piano and supportively cooing backing vocals, before Rob states his personal mission: “Wasting no more time pining, ambition climbing, got to change my state of mind.” Things get faster and funkier on Playing With Fire, offering breakneck verses and playfully staccato jibes at his errant lover; indeed, it’s hard to think of any words rhyming with “fire” that aren’t spat out along the way. Finally, live favourite Over And Done delivers the ultimate kiss-off: “It’s been all of the pain, but none of the fun”.
Mike Atkinson

Rob Green website

Guilty Parents - Noro

Guilty Parents - Noro

Guilty Parents
EP (Self-released)

On first listen those of a weaker disposition  may be put off by discordant harmonies on this EP, but I urge you to listen on. This five track effort beats with the heart of punk rock and each song grips you from the off and doesn’t let go until the next song, which then does exactly the same thing. I implore you to seek out the first track, Head/Basket/Dance/Casket, it kicks everything off with furious intention. The gritty tone is then set and the record packs in everything you want from a modern day punk record - old school punk with a modern edge, taking influences from bands such as Sonic Youth among others, all the while adding their own distinct sound. If you are the kind of person who longs for the golden age before My Chemical Romance, I’d suggest you listen to this record. Edward Easton

Guilty Parents on Bandcamp

Haiku Salut - Tricolore

Haiku Salut - Tricolore

Haiku Salut
Album (How Does It Feel)
Like a Parisian street, a pinball machine and a carousel all at the same time, Haiku Salut’s debut album throws together pop, folk and electronic in a dizzying rainbow of sound. Beginning with the fragmented chimes of Say It, a sense of nostalgia seeps through each track from underneath looping beats, leaving you quite unsure as to how this band want you to feel. Los Elefantes is an album highlight: stripped-back, melancholy piano is joined by an accordion, giving the track a distinctly French feel, before descending into rippling, disjointed electronica at the end. What can only be classed as mild dubstep beats are combined with a ukulele on Leaf Stricken and a glockenspiel on Glockelbar, turning the dreamlike quality of the songs into something resembling a trance. While the overall album concept seems a bit muddled at times, the experimental nature of Tricolore makes it unmistakably alive. Katy Lewis Hood
Hot Coins - The Damage Is Done

Hot Coins - The Damage Is Done

Hot Coins
The Damage Is Done
Album (Sonar Kollective)
Four years in the making, The Damage Is Done is the work of Danny Berman, best known in Nottingham as Red Rack’em, who is now based in Berlin. Its ten tracks offer “an estranged homage to late seventies NYC anti-culture”, with a mood that reflects the austere, angsty, recession-hit and pre-apocalyptic gloom of a period where post-punk met choppy new-wave funk and early electro. First single Geek Emotions sets the mood, as a desultory spoken vocal complains that, “I never get to go to anything, overlooked and underpaid, on a string”. Elsewhere, New Beat carries echoes of Yazoo’s synthy burble, and Leathered nods towards the dark side of Italo. The clouds part for the final three tracks: the lengthy, beatific Roadtrip is almost cheerful, and I Ching (described as “David Mancuso having tantric sex with himself in a NYC loft”) soundtracks the post-club comedown. Mike Atkinson

Hot Coins on Facebook

Frazer Lowrie - Brittle Bones

Frazer Lowrie - Brittle Bones

Frazer Lowrie
Brittle Bones
EP (Self-released)
Showing a charitable side to his talent, the proceeds of Frazer Lowrie’s EP will go to homelessness charities Framework and Emmanuel House. Title track Brittle Bones
was written about homelessness on the Nottingham streets after Frazer became more aware of the issue, and consists of a calm, steady beat and layered vocals that make both the main track and its acoustic counterpart incredibly sincere. The pace picks up on Little Black Bird, as the acoustic guitar becomes more frantic and Frazer’s usual calm and melancholy tone becomes more expressive – a lively centrepiece between the gentler beginning and end of the EP. The soft, teasing guitar of Lend Me Your Love introduces a haunting love song with echoing, lingering vocals that are likely to leave you in pieces. Even so, it’s great to see local artists not only creating new music, but speaking out for local issues at the same time. Katy Lewis Hood
Ronika - Rough N Soothe

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Rough N Soothe
EP (RecordShop)
Proving that the old adage “what goes around comes around” is scarily true, listening to Ronika’s new EP, I find myself transported back to 1987. Old skool synth pop it may be, but it’s gloriously good. The title track does start off like a John Shuttleworth Casio keyboard classic, but it quickly becomes clear as the track progresses that Ronika has more in common with vintage Madonna, than Radio 4’s failed Sheffield singer/ songwriter. Track two, Dance (The Modern Way), her collaboration with Mylo, is equally Madgetastic, but rather than being derivative, the quality of the track acts as a stark reminder of what poor material Madonna is producing these days. The rest of the EP is taken up with remixes of Rough N Soothe, but if I were you, I’d concentrate on the first two tracks. Marvellous stuff indeed from this talented, Nottingham based, electro pop princess. Stephen Murphy
Ronika website

Frankie Rudolf - Heart On Fire

Frankie Rudolf - Heart On Fire

Frankie Rudolf
Heart on Fire
EP (Self-released)

Frankie Rudolf may sound like the name of  a crooner from the forties, but he is in fact just a slip of a lad from Nottingham. At the age of just fifteen he has released his first EP Heart on Fire, and the four tracks certainly belie his age. The title track sets the folk tone with a gentle acoustic guitar and deep vocals. What threatens to become an average track sets itself apart from the crowd with its bursts of energy when the guitars layer and the percussion comes into play. The melodies on this EP give you a strange sense of soaring and dipping through the sky like a bird, and the lyrics are akin to poetry. Although the vocals feel somewhat strained at times on Set Free, the track itself pulls you in as it picks up momentum and the musical layers stack up thick and fast. This is a pop-tastic little EP with a lot of heart. Ali Emm

Frankie Rudolf on Facebook

Seas of Mirth - Septopus

Seas of Mirth - Septopus

Seas of Mirth
Album (Self-released)

Being the band’s first full length album you might expect a few niggles here and there, however this record shows the experience of performing live regularly for a few years can reap andsome rewards. A pirate-themed band, and one unlike any others you will find locally, with a keen sense of humour you would expect from a band with tug of wars and crab wrestling at their shows. Septopus is exactly what you would want from them; twelve songs of pirate-y goodness with a lot of immature humour thrown in for good measure. One of the biggest surprises is the instrumental talent from the band, where at times the songs (minus the lyrics) are comparable to modern day folkies such as Flogging Molly. The Sinister Sisters of Sicily and Is Your Betrothed The Drunkard? are where the bounty is at and the lead singer will have you singing along before you realise. Edward Easton
Seas on Mirth on Bandcamp

Kirk Spencer - Wonderland

Kirk Spender - Wonderland

Kirk Spencer
EP (Stranger Zoo)
For his first EP release since The Shanghai Underground in 2011, Kirk Spencer has teamed up with three local singers, for a five-track offering that combines bassy, mostly downtempo, sometimes trap-inspired beats with atmospheric, richly worked arrangements that cast a bewitching spell. There are still a few trademark Eastern touches – a sitar here, a chant there – but these are no longer the most dominant components of Kirk’s sound. Instead, on lead track Kukcu, Safia May invokes the dreamy tone which characterises the EP: “Where do you go when you close your eyes?” Louis Scott takes over for A Kid, an initially unhurried meditation (“nowhere to go, but it doesn’t matter”) which is accelerated by the arrival of a benignly twinkling, almost EDM-style synth riff. Long-time collaborator Marita also returns for the brooding yet affirmative Life On The Island, which pits her prayer for survival against icy swirls and ominous bass thuds. Mike Atkinson