9 Nottingham Music Albums - September 2016

24 September 16 words: Music Reviews
With all the musical goodness of Lone, Brooders, Deafanese, Kretchmer, Mammoths, On the Open Road, Seas of Mirth, and Zaim
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Lone
Levitate
Album (R&S Records)
In music, nostalgia can be a dangerous thing; images of bands with bad hair and even worse trousers wishing it was the sixties all over again, or people mithering on about how new music isn’t what it used to be. Basically, it can make people boring – the opposite of what music should be. But when done right, nostalgia can not only be beautifully evocative, it can also turn the thing that it is supposed to be evoking into a new entity, and this is the area Lone straddles on Levitate, his first album following 2014’s Reality Testing. A refreshingly short listen, clocking in at 33 minutes in total, there’s something here for both wide-eyed rave veterans and today’s more head-nodding, chin-stroking electro heads. Immediately double dropping with the head rush of Alpha Wheel, from thereon in, Levitate takes us on a journey of late-night parties and blurry-eyed comedowns. Backtail Was Heavy is a techno hand grenade ready to make any dance floor go off, while tracks like the choppy Double Helix combine relentless beats with a woozy spaciness. But for every high octane rave-up, there’s a dreamy, blissed out counterpart bringing the listener back to reality, such as on the dreamlike Breeze Out. The former Kids In Tracksuits man’s star has been steadily on the rise since his debut solo release way back in 2007, and Levitate will only see Matt Cutler’s status ascend further skywards. Paul Klotschkow

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Brooders
Hunny EP
EP (Self-released)
When you get to a certain age, you start to see things that were once popular in your youth come back around again as a new generation look to the not-so-distant-past for inspiration. To say that there’s been a bit of a grunge revival of late is an understatement. You don’t even need to look very far – in Notts alone at the moment, the likes of Grey Hairs, Autumn Diet Plans and Crosa Rosa are harking back to the halcyon days of 1993 for musical inspiration, and now we can add another name to that list – Brooders. This four-track EP has it all: from the spiky You Called My Queen, the frantic and propulsive No Tomorrow, Just A Game’s snarling riffery, through to Isolation’s grizzled desert rock, Hunny is the perfect showcase for Brooders to show off their grungy credentials. Paul Klotschkow

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Deafanese
Gyokuro
Album (Self-released)
“This is the dream of the machines” states a brief vocal sample, opening up Out of Balance. If it is, then it’s a sad dream. With Gyokuro, Deafanese create a world so enveloping, colourful and emotive that it’s hard to re-emerge into the grey Midlands day after listening to the album. Dominated by percussion that skitters in and then disappears, it constantly provides an unsettling undercurrent underneath choral vocal snippets. The highlight is the title track; a synth-wave banger with 8-bit synth lines that sound like they’re from a great Mario soundtrack woven on top, and a pop vocal chopped up beyond all recognition and reassembled like a catchy Frankenstein’s monster. At its peak, Gyokuro erupts into technicolour glory with an endearingly tactile lo-fi quality. If you ever wanted to know what it’d be like to hear a John Williams symphony played through a Nintendo, I’d say this is probably pretty close. Alex Fowler

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Kretchmer
Music In The Key Of Major
Album (Self-released)
If there’s one thing that Nottingham loves, it’s sleazy, glitchy techno, with origins lying somewhere between an industrial estate and the borders of outer space. This ideal is presented perfectly in Kretchmer’s new album, Music In The Key of Major. Little to nothing is known about Kretchmer, the enigma behind this series of bleeps and tweaks, but this mysterious producer has served up some serious sound in this eleven-track offering. Curious titles such as Boxed Mischief, Shanti Funk and Sleaze Laden Futurism all pack an intricately placed, beat-fuelled punch, splattered with sweet electronica melodies. Reminding us of Dominik Eulberg or Marek Hemmann, fans of layered synths with hypnotising harmonies and ridiculous breakdowns will like this album. However, the gritty, complex but catchy Sick Car earns its place as a firm favourite for us. We’ve enjoyed the ride down this sonic motorway and can’t wait for the minor offering… put your hazards on for this one. Eileen Pegg

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Mammoths
Studies in Salzburg
EP (Self-released)
All right, so perhaps the 26.2 miles between Nottingham and Burton-on-Trent is stretching the definition of ‘local’ just a little bit… but the classic marathon distance is a mere bagatelle to the fans of quality garage-punk, right? Well, as it happens, marathons are not really Mammoths’ kind of thing: as you might expect, there aren’t really any Yes-esque fifteen-minute concept epics here. Thankfully. No, on the whole, Mammoths’ songs are short, sharp shocks – Lager Boys is a mere thirty seconds long, and this whole EP is done and dusted in a little over twelve minutes. It’s not entirely blink-and-you-miss-it stuff, though. Believe it or not, the band makes the somewhat unlikely claim that they occasionally moonlight as a Take That tribute act in their spare time. If that’s true, then perhaps we have Gary, Howard, Jason and Mark to thank for the poise that can be heard here amid the thrashing guitars. Well, stranger things have happened. Even in Burton. Tim Sorrell

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On the Open Road
Storyteller
EP (Self-released)
Is it possible to ever get bored of pop-punk? This group of four lads have just answered that with a big fat “No”. The energy and excitement coming from their latest EP has you jumping up and down in nostalgic glee remembering your teenage years that were filled with deafeningly loud music in your headphones and a fringe flopping over your eyes. However, they aren’t merely ripping off the likes of Blink 182 or Green Day. With tracks such as Smooth Sailing Is A Fool’s Thought and Rainy Days showcasing their own personality and style, it’s clear to see that On The Open Road know this genre inside out, and on Storyteller they are able to make it their own. With their occasional nod to a more hardcore rock genre, they tease us with many more musical possibilities. This band are ones to watch out for in the future. Hannah Parker

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One Giant Causeway
Smoking Cardboard
EP (Self-released)
When talking about their influences, this four-piece band mention the likes of Stereophonics and Blur, which can clearly be heard from the get-go on this EP. However, they aren’t being just copy cats, and their eagerness to carve their own style and sound shines through. In the overpopulated indie-rock genre, this is an ambitiously high bar to get over – but Smoking Cardboard is proof positive that they have more than enough songwriting skill and flair to easily clear that bar. With strong vocals upfront, the band easily manoeuvre between the harder sounds of Get On to the comparably softer styles of Moving, creating an exciting EP that’ll be on replay in no time. They may have only been together for two years, but this group sound so in sync that it’s hard to believe they haven’t been together for ten. Hannah Parker

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Seas of Mirth
Hark! The Headland Approacheth
Album (I’m Not From London)
Opening with a tickling swashbuckler, the waves rumble beneath our feet as shanty-style “Ohh”s build into foot-stomping, earthy drum beats and bouncy strings. As we come to the end of the track, it’s easy to imagine yourself at a sea festival, clutching a bottle of rum and wearing an eyepatch. As tracks progress, funky punk starts to happen, with quick plucking and a sense of an impending plank-walk to the dance floor. Everything sounds very wooden, echoing crowds of people donning floaty, twirling clothes. Often, though, we are transported to hot, terracotta-tiled castles with rapid, rhythmic vocals that come laced with an array of hearty voices. A pause for breath and a smirking, slow sob in Sulphur-Bottom Lament (Plankton Song) and we’re back to tinkling momentum-building in BrandyWine with its scallywag scuttling over strong foundations. These are folky, clamorous pirates with a greed for genres and a swag bag full of party. Bridie Squires

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Zaim
Reminiscent Relapse
EP (Self-released)
These three tracks shine with Asylum Speakers-like ice thanks to bang-on production from Aokid. Now, Zaim. He glides through the tunes, knocking over obstacles of violence, drugs and writer’s block as he goes. This is a launch pad of an EP that champions the “nice-but-gritty” Nottingham, swirling its finger around in the braggadocio to dose up for the world to come. Zaim stands ready and knowledgeable of the fact he is at the beginning of his journey, hopeful of success off the back of hard work. Vocals from Daisy Godfrey on Reminiscent Relapse make for a slow, garage-laced listen, while Inglorious Bastards whistles away as the dandelion clocks float. “You ain’t getting rid of me,” chants Zaim, with a voice that begs to be recorded. A tendency to very occasionally slip into an American accent does jar, but that’s a small blip on this clean, clear map to the top tier. Bridie Squires

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