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9 Nottingham Music Albums to Listen to This December

18 December 17 words: LeftLion

Some of the city's musical fruits, brought to you by our task force of reviewers...

Torn Sail
This Short Sweet Life
Album (Self-released)

Formerly in Earth The Californian Love Dream – a band LeftLion readers may remember from the turn of the 2000s – Huw Costin has continued to make music in various guises, with Torn Sail being his current band. This album has been a long time in the making; the opening track Birds was released in 2011 with Treasure coming a year later and, in between, Costin has released a couple of albums, while an EP from  Torn Sail Two came out earlier this year. Much like the album’s lengthy gestation, This Short Sweet Life’s songs burn slowly, with Costin in reflective mode contemplating big themes, namely life, ageing and death. And the music glides like Americana honey, all spacey reverb, sad guitars and furrowed brows. The ghosts of Laurel Canyon hang heavy over this album. Birds has echoes of Crosby, Stills and Nash with its laid-back slide guitar and lush harmonies. Costin sings of mortality and growing older with a raw honesty. On the mid-life blues of Ricochets (which features Mark Lanegan) he laments, “the older I get the more scared I am of being gone” while on Self-Medication we go from “take whatever gets you through the night” to “we just gotta hold each other tight” as the song swells and climaxes. Though it sounds hopeful, you aren’t sure if he’s now addressing a lover or if he’s serenading his poison of choice. The old adage that good things come to those who wait more than applies to This Short Sweet Life as Torn Sail have delicately woven together a timeless collection of songs. Paul Klotschkow

One EP
EP (Self-released)

Heurt’s new EP follows their typical style that anyone who listened to 2015’s Lover EP will be familiar with; it’s an interesting collection of slow r’n’b music, bringing a great sense of ambience to each track. Several of the songs are so stripped back they’re pretty much vocals only, like on Touch Me, which opens this collection of songs and brings a lot of focus on to the raw voice. Elsewhere, tunes gently build up the instrumental in the background, evolving each piece into an impressive rhythmic combination of vocals and music. Heurt is bringing a unique voice to the scene, full of both smooth soul and gravely undertones that hold your attention with emotion hanging off every word sung. Heurt’s sound is individual, combining the acoustic nature with lighter elements of neo-soul. If you’re looking for something different, give this a listen. Rachael Halaburda

Beautiful Night
Album (Self-released)

We don’t know much about Lokumu beyond the fact that he’s from round these parts and this is his first album under this moniker; he’s probably kicked stuff out previously. The first listen of A Beautiful Night immediately made me interested in sticking around to hear the full release through to the end. Its title track introduces us with a trip-hop-style piece, sampling an old movie quote and quite possibly its soundtrack too. The resulting composition lies on just the right side of psychedelica, feeling like a chill-out track in the same way as The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds does. This theme continues throughout, with each cheekily named song, like Dracula’s Teabag, Kick Off Your Heels or simply, Naked, soothing the soul in a slightly surreal way. One to listen to after the party, and not before. Eileen Pegg

Oliver Whitehouse
Rise of Orion
Album (Self-released)

Oliver Whitehouse brings us his debut album, Rise of Orion, and this powerful collection reaches the epitome of tranquillity.  The tracks largely mix acoustic and synth sounds which combine to create an intriguing space-age sound with strong undertones of synth-pop throughout. The vocals are beautifully calming for the soul, mind and body; I found each song to feel intensely spiritual, heightened by the combination of male and female vocals. Using both voices added to the melodic rhythm of each song, and I felt a real sense of connectivity in this music; perfect for meditation and finding peace of mind. There are tones of progressive rock within each song, intensified by electronic sounds that are carried throughout. This is truly an excellent choice to add to your chill-out playlist. Rachael Halaburda

Saint Raymond
A Light That Blinds
EP (Never Fade Records)

It’s hard to believe four years have passed since Callum Burrows, aka Saint Raymond, became “The Next Big Thing to Come Out of Nottingham.” Back then, his cheeky charm and youthful exuberance on debut album, Young Blood, earned him a top-ten chart position and a support slot on Ed Sheeran’s tour, no less. Now slightly older, and perhaps a little wiser, he’s back with EP, A Light That Blinds. Diminishing youth is something the 22-year-old acknowledges on the stadium-sized chorus of Younger, while the funky, Foals-esque guitar of Nightcrawling is among the most intriguing songs he’s produced. Last Time is more restrained as Burrows laments over a faltering relationship, while the joyous We Are Fire channels Coldplay at their most anthemic. While there’s little here that reinvents the wheel, A Light That Blinds is evidence the boy from Bramcote can still write a decent pop tune. Alex Thorp

Slumb Party
Tour Tape
Cassette (Self-released)

Drawn to the dark, dank corners of the late seventies and early eighties, Slumb Party twitch, lurch and squirm like the bands whose records they’ve clearly been pouring over: Pere Ubu, Gang of Four and The Pop Group. The EP was put together to flog on a recent tour, but is also available digitally, so you’ve got no excuse; this is definitely worth wrapping your ears around. With a saxophonist as a recent addition to their lineup, the band have taken the opportunity to re-do their debut four-track EP to add wild skronking stabs, with Factory and Silver Pyramid benefiting from the newly squelchy spurts. Elsewhere, the tape is fitted out with a couple of new ones, two live tracks, and a run through Young Marble Giants’ Final Day; with the pick of the bunch being Do You Want To Synth, a sort of bedsit version of Suicide. Paul Klotschkow

Bounded Palm
EP (Ad Hoc Records)

The Notts-born Taurtollo has popped together a chilled, three-track electro compilation filled with head-bobbing riffs and some unexpected – but welcome – entries of unashamedly South Asian vocals and instrumentalism. From the off, Om’s Mehndi eases you in with an upbeat tabla vibe before gradually layering in the steady, toe-tapping baselines all too familiar to electro. Bounded Palm then cranks it up a notch; getting busier, more mixed and more excitable with Palm, only to surprise you with an ending that I won’t spoil. Kingsdown Lounge has some proper grassroots Mirpuri Punjabi vocals – too realistic to not be personal renditions – weaving in and out of a baseline that’ll get you in the mood for jamming. Taurtollo’s known for bringing to life old-school tracks, but he’s outdone himself with Bounded Palm, using his roots to give us a proper original sound that’s well worth a listen. Summaya Mughal

Yashmak Webs
To Madness We Worshipped
Album (Self-released)

To Madness We Worshipped is an intense but accessible slant on poetry, combining a musical backdrop with an ominous-feeling spoken word performance. Full of emotional drive, the album is completely immersive, leaving the listener feeling somewhat uneasy. Most of the songs, including Craved, Dawn and Exile, focus on heavy subjects both emotional and metaphorical. Some of the lyrics and verses involve striking imagery such as “holograms of loss” and “inflamed rain.”  Musically, the tracks combine the steady spoken aspect with a softer and dreamlike instrumental backing that spins off into varying levels of intensity to match the content of the poems; the final result being full of atmosphere. Instruments include a softy played guitar, drums and percussion, alongside some natural sound effects, like the waves in Sea. Overall, I’d describe the project as great storytelling, very visual and sometimes uncomfortable, but worth a listen. Elizabeth O'Riordan

Screaming at the Screening
Album (Self-released)

The beats are fresh, there’s some well-placed samples, and he’s aiming for Mike Skinner/Just Jack/Scroobius Pip territory, but Charlesworth takes himself too seriously to succeed. The second track on the album, Come To Check The Gas, is the strongest; lyrically tongue-in-cheek and showing hints of top storytelling. But the rest of the album doesn’t follow suit, with track six, Legalise, feeling confused. The chorus is a simplistic call for legalisation – literally “legalise, legalise, legalise crack” and so on – but the verses consist of a string of “I’m harder than you” bars that get boring, and lyrics like “You’re gonna want full compensation, you want to be covered for raping, in all of its different divisions” never make you sound big or clever. There’s potential for growth here, but Notts’ hip hop scene is strong, and with this album, Charlesworth don’t quite cut the mustard. Lucy Manning


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