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10 Notts Music Albums to Tickle Your Tabs This February

20 February 17 words: LeftLion

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Grey Hairs
Serious Business
Album (Gringo Records)

If Colossal Downer was a Friday night down the pub, then this, the follow-up album, is the band waking up the morning after the night before with a grizzly hangover. Getting down to *ahem* business on the opening title track, a buzzsaw stop-start riff has frontman James Finlay howling about “having the drink in me” like a man having his tenth nervous breakdown of the day. On the nervy 2:36am, a surfy bone-rattler of a track, you can picture him leaning into his spittle-flecked mic, eyes bulging, veins straining, as he roars his heart and lungs out. Grey Hairs occupy that sweet spot between noise and melody – they’ve brought the riffs, but not forgotten the melodies; there are tunes among the fuzzed-out guitars. Sausage, with its heavyweight pummelling guitars, goes around on itself, getting more intense with each pass, with Finlay contemplating the cyclical nature of life. The swampy, weirdo rock n’ roll of Misophonic and Red Paint are the evil twins of Serious Business; the band introducing a creepy uneasy Lynchian fifties rock n’ roll vibe that’s all tremolo, reverb and damn fine coffee. Cranking the volume up as much as their tinnitus-riddled ears will allow, on Serious Business Grey Hairs have channeled the impotent anger that is living in the UK in 2017 and directed that frustrated rage into a collection of earth-shaking, ear-drum threatening, gloriously noisy guitar rock tunes. Paul Klotschkow


Amber Run
For a Moment, I Was Lost
Album (Easy Life Records)

Back in 2015, Amber Run became the latest Nottingham band to break through nationally when their excellent debut album, 5am, made the UK Top 40. Despite that success, the band were dropped by their label in 2016, and with drummer Felix Archer quitting the band soon after, the future looked bleak. However, the four remaining members regrouped and now return with their follow-up album, For a Moment, I Was Lost. With brave lyrics documenting the band’s struggles with the pressure of the music industry, it’s a grown-up record that occasionally veers off in directions you don’t quite expect. No Answers explodes into frenzied, loud guitar with no warning, while parts of the record – most notably the current single Fickle Game – evoke the sound of nineties-era Radiohead. For A Moment, I Was Lost is a grown-up album, although for me the maturity comes at the expense of some of the exuberance and punch of their debut. Nick Parkhouse

Bloody Head
July 16
Album (Viral Age)

If crisp production values and clean studio perfection are your thing, then you’d probably be well-advised to steer clear of this album. On the other hand, if you’re prepared to wade through the muffled gloom, then there’s some treasure to be found here. Perhaps neither band would thank me for the comparison, but Bloody Head remind me a little of Sleaford Mods: switch Andrew Fearn’s purgatorial loops for Black Sabbath-esque muddy, caveman punk rock guitars and you’re halfway there. Even the murky production can’t entirely hide the spitting vitriol of the lyrics that summon the spirit of Jason Williamson’s profane and vital rants, if not the brutal clarity. Besides, who could possibly argue with the unalloyed genius of the song title The Pope’s Head is the Same Shape as His Hat? Bloody Head might be a little tatty around the edges, but they’re diamonds in the rough for definite. Tim Sorrell

The Death Notes
White EP
EP (Self-released) 

Local Nottingham band The Death Notes are channeling some Sonic Youth and Joy Division sounds in their four-track White EP that features the songs Sentience, Eyes to See, Akuphase and Victims. The sombre tunes still have a definite post-punk style to them, with the more electronic notes leaving you feeling like you’re going through a long tunnel. Although the five-piece alternative rock band were only formed in 2009, their music has an old-school feel of the classics mixed in with their own personal style, which means the whole EP sounds pretty timeless. The combination of all five members’ different talents gives the songs a diverse and perfectly orchestrated collaboration of delicate, angry and depressive sounds. Although the band’s poetic lyrics might leave you feeling a little subdued at times, I promise it’s in the best kind of way. Elizabeth O’Riordan

Intelligently Designed
EP (Self-released)

This four-track EP encompasses beats from four different producers, plus the gruff lyrics of one local lad whose boat’s just hit the water. And he’s making one hell of a wave. Dystopia’s voice sounds like it’s had a few copper coins and fags rattling around in it, with clever metaphors and calls for intelligent music that hydrate after washing down easy. This is a hip hop, trap hybrid – gutteral, hopeful, slam-the-flow-down goodness. But it ain’t an easy listen, it begs to be sat and absorbed properly in all its wordy glory. Not There, produced by Reaction, is a standout track, with light dubstep wobbles rippling in the background of Dys’ thoughtfully off-beat delivery, and his chants of “You can either fight or run”. The whole track acts like a hypnotic see saw, and the whole EP shows some great promise for the future. I’m looking forward to what’s to come. Bridie Squires

Vibes EP
Mixtape (Team Certified & Blood)

An EP that does exactly what it says on the tin, as Fonzse drops a solid selection of tracks that balance breezy laidback beats with his own gritty, lyrical take on everyday real-life issues. Thoughts In My Head is a perfect example of this, as his own contemplations about love and life are countered by low-key soulful guitars that optimise the tranquil mood of this EP. As many British rap and grime artists try to form their own sound away from their American counterparts, Fonzse creates his own by embracing West Coast chilled vibes, which, when paired with his distinctly British take on modern life, makes for a unique addition to Nottingham’s thriving hip hop and grime scenes. Pardon the pun, but if he continues to produce music to this standard then there’s happy days ahead for Fonzse. Geroge Ellis

The Further
EP (Self-released)

Melodic, catchy and rocking are just three ways to describe this EP. The whole band are in sync on every track; slower, softer verses balance the heavier, head-banging choruses perfectly. The guitars, drums and vocals all come together to make every track sound incredibly professional. The title track, Ordinary, showcases the group’s inimitable immense talents; the emotion that each song exudes creates a deeper level, which in turn makes you feel connected to the band. The kind of connection many successful bands would kill to make with their audience. Suffocate Yourself is a great example of this, with the meaningful vocals on top of the wonderfully gloomy music being played behind. If a band can evoke feelings within the listener in such a beautiful and expressive way through an EP, who’s to say what they could do with a full album. Hannah Parker

Harleighblu x Starkiller
Album (Tru Thoughts)

Harleighblu – aka Notts’ official ‘Queen of Soul’ – spent the majority of 2015/16 redefining her sound on the Futurespective series of EPs, which saw her teaming up with a series of collaborators to add an electronic twist to her retrofitted sound. An inspired move, it brought her sound up to date while maintaining that classic, warm back-in-the-day vibe. This next step has her tag-teaming with LA-based production duo Starkiller, and on it she sounds more assured with the direction she wants her music to take. Finish Me – I’m Done, a slow-burning callback to her earlier analogue sound, is as close to a stone-cold classic as any Notts artist has ever done. Elsewhere, electronic flourishes flesh out Save Me, while Killing My Heart samples her voice to extraordinary effect. I’m not a fan of hyperbole, but Amorine is a strong argument for Harleighblu being the best singer Nottingham has ever produced. Paul Klotschkow

Circles EP
EP (Self-released)

A gem of an EP released with minimal fuss, from the relatively unknown – to me at least – musician and composer RunRain. A solo piano piece split over three songs, the opening and title track Circles, a lilting melodic rumination, has a sense of space (a theme that runs throughout the rest of the EP) with the music given room to breathe, making this a calming listen. Fans of Nils Frahm will want to add this to their playlist. With a bittersweet sense of melancholy hanging in the air, Note To Self feels more contemplative, the calm punctuated every once in awhile by a flurry of keys. This short set of songs – total running time is around nine minutes – ends with the hopeful sounding Little Tiny Light, RunRain’s delicate cascading piano stretching out like a dawn chorus. A beautifully meditative piece of music that deserves to be heard by more people. Paul Klotschkow

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