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Music Reviews: November 2014

20 November 14 words: Music Reviews

With Amber Run, Origin One, Separation Anxiety, Trekkah, The Madeline Rust, Rattle, Merrick's Trust, and The Wild Man of Europe

Amber Run
EP (RCA Victor)

There’s been plenty of great music to come out of Nottingham in recent years and Amber Run are one of the more commercially-friendly bands. The five-piece released their excellent debut single Noah in 2013 and after the brilliant follow-up Spark comes the band’s third EP. It’s easy to see why these guys are set for big things. They have played some superb gigs across the UK – their turn at the recent Hockley Hustle was terrific – and slots at Reading and Leeds have also earned them recognition. In addition, the quintet make a brand of radio-friendly indie-pop that combines soaring guitars and anthemic choruses to great effect. While the new EP features three new songs, perhaps the best way to introduce yourself to tracks Pilot and I Found is to watch the band’s inventive two-part video. A narrative story with a cliffhanging ending told across eight minutes of film is a brilliantly original idea and is certainly worth checking out online. The EP’s title track is a thumping up-tempo indie-pop tune with a Razorlight-esque drum beat and one of their instantly recognisable choruses that are rapidly becoming the band’s trademark. Thank You is a similar slice of likeable alternative rock while, in contrast, I Found is slower and more reflective, particularly in the acoustic version that features here. In Pilot, singer Joe Keogh claims that, “I don’t want to be the centre of anything/just a part of something bigger.” If his band keeps releasing singles of this quality, such limited ambitions are unlikely to last long. Nick Parkhouse

Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety
EP (Self-released)

A rock band with a female lead singer that doesn’t resemble Paramore? Well, it’s unheard of. This band of five have managed to do the impossible and stand out from the crowd in such a widespread genre, it’s difficult to even get noticed. Not only does Cassie have the vocal talent and strength to match any singer in the industry right now, but the head-bopping and toe-tapping you can’t suppress when listening to them is courtesy of the musical talent created behind her. However, credit must be given to the additional vocalist who keeps up with his own strong and striking set of pipes, accentuating the intensity of Cassie’s voice. It’s a struggle not to listen to all three tracks, in particular Ashes to Amber, over and over again – you might find yourself singing along sooner rather than later. Hannah Parker

Midnight EP
EP (Phlexx Records)

Involved with two of Nottingham’s most prominent bands, The Afterdark Movement and Origin One, the producer and musician is still finding time to release his own easy on the ear material. Sunflower’s breezy late-summer beats opens the EP with wafts of piano and saxophone, and some stunning soulful vocals from Yazmin Lacey. Regular Trekkah collaborator Esther joins him on We Can’t Go On that has shades of The xx in its overlapping boy/girl vocals, before an injection of energy via some house-y piano and Esther’s Florence Welch-style belting transports it to more colourful territory. You are best skipping over Vibes - its aimless saxophone more at home soundtracking some new age healing type nonsense. The deep house of Promises and another appearance from Yazmin Lacey brings the EP back on track before ending on the skittery garage inflected Deception - a collaboration with his Origin One cohort Parisa. Paul Klotschkow

The Wild Man of Europe
Old-Fashioned Flames
Album (Self-released)

This group of five musicians, led by ex-Formication man Alec Bowman, have created what can only be described as a simply stunning collection of music that’s part Ryan Adams and part Gram Parsons. With smooth vocals and harmonies up front that are backed by a band playing lilting, heartbroken Americana, your body can’t resist swaying along. There’s a ridiculous amount of talent on show here and the heart-on-sleeve honesty that is present in much of the songwriting, evident in choice cuts Set With The Sun and Light Your Way Home, transports you to a bar where regulars are drowning their sorrows with the band playing in the corner. The lyrics are beautifully vulnerable, packing enough emotional punch and resonance that most will find something to relate with here. This is certainly an album to slip on and unwind to after a long hard day. Hannah Parker

The Madeline Rust
Truth or Consequences
Album (TOR Records)

On their first EP, The Madeline Rust had throat-stripping choruses, classic rock riffs and masses of potential. Fast-forward a couple of years and it’s immediately obvious that the band’s horizons have widened considerably, this album boasting all the widescreen cinematography of a spaghetti western. The songs here are wound tight with coiled menace, all the more muscular for their restraint, so that when the band really do let rip, it’s all the more shocking. There are echoes here of Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi’s Rome, and the consistently dark lyrical content, especially on Serial Killer Song, evokes the murderous, vengeful spectre of Nick Cave himself. For all this darkness, The Madeline Rust are still a rock band at heart, and the closing 1-2-3 of Pick Number Three, I Hate What You Know and When the Sugar Dies sees us galloping downhill into a gleeful wall of noise. Outstanding. Tim Sorrel

Merrick’s Tusk
EP (Self-released)

Heavy rock may be becoming more popular by the day, but this makes it even harder to find a band that’s enjoyable to listen to. Fortunately, this group of four lads have created a melodic rock EP with tracks that could rival the professionals, with their strong lead and backing vocals, solid drum beats to hold the tracks together, and impressive guitar riffs to set the songs apart for lesser outfits. Songs Space and Persist have strong enough introductions to grab your attention from the start, and with this momentum carrying on throughout the rest of the EP, you can’t help but head bang - even if you don’t realise you’re doing it. Added to this, the skill on Sonder makes you want to go and see the band live, whether it’s for the music or simply to headbang en masse. Hannah Parker

Origin One
All For The Love
Album (Deeper Than Roots)
This group are fast etching their way into Nottingham folklore while wholesomely proving they don’t rely on the same sound like a one-trick pony. All For The Love is built on the same foundations and creative spark as their self-titled debut mixtape, yet it relies more heavily on electronically-induced beats. They’ve grown as songwriters and are pushing the boundaries of their undeniable talents, albeit with the same outcome as their debut: feel-good mellow rhythms with a soothing soul. The title track, with vocals from the majestic Parisa, proves a centrepiece, and would spark the same ecstasy at a dancehall in Kingston as it would in the bath with a few fragranced candles. A dub masterclass. Origin One played this year’s prestigious Soundwave Festival in Croatia and are making serious movements, meaning you should get the hell on with listening to this jam. Jack Garofalo

Rattle EP
EP (I Own You Records)

Rattle’s self-titled EP is remarkably cohesive for such an off-kilter band. The duo of Katharine Eira Brown (Kogumaza) and Theresa Wrigley (Fists) forgo the traditional band format solely for drums. The result sounds like Tune-Yards if she was obsessed with Joy Division records. The songs are packed with icy whooping and wailing before the vocals pinch together for tight harmonious vocal lines. The edge on their songs comes mainly from the production of Mark Spivey who adds echo and delay to the minimalist sound. On Elegant in the Mouth Spivey morphs and stretches the ending vocal note into an electric hum that seems a far-stretch from a female vocal. Whether an LP length release can avoid being repetitive without the addition of more instruments is yet to be seen, but their current four songs complement each other well and intertwine seamlessly. Alex Fowler

Find local releases in The Music Exchange. You can also hear a tune from each review on: 

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