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9 Notts Music Albums to Tickle your Tabs

22 March 17 words: Music Reviews

We review the latest music albums born in Nottingham

Sleaford Mods
English Tapas
Album (Rough Trade Records)

Although the band are a world away from the days when it was Jason Williamson and a minidisc player down JamCafe, musically and thematically the band haven’t strayed from the blueprint laid down in those early performances: venomous rants taking in working-class culture, the banality of everyday life, politics and local show-offs, over the top of minimal post-punk loops of music. It’s fair to say that success hasn’t dampened the fury that fire Sleafords Mods. Williamson, an engaging and intelligent lyricist, spits out his lyrics, bouncing between snarling anger and sarcastic passive-aggression, and always the in-your-face botherer. Take Just Like We Do – it’s an ear-worm of a tune where in typically acerbic fashion, Williamson takes on the social-media trolls and haters of their recent good fortune. Musically, Andrew Fearn, while still keeping things simple, has gone for a wider musical palette – bigger venues require broader sounds, I guess. The bassy grumble of Moptop is perfect accompaniment for Williamson’s scattergun vocals. I Feel So Wrong’s groovy, melodic bass line and housey ascending piano loop makes this their funkiest tune to date. Snout feels like a throwback to their older style – a jittery hyper-rant with Williamson snarling down the mic over skeletal bass; it’s one of those perfectly formed hate bombs that made them such a thrilling and exciting proposition in the first place. While Drayton Manored and Carlton Tours will please any Notts heads who enjoy picking out local references and trying to work out who is being slagged off. These are heavy rhythms and even heavier rhymes made for heavy times. Paul Klotschkow


The Amber Herd
In Cascade
EP (Self-released)

It’s been a couple of years since this five-piece alternative rock band released their debut album, Our Only Eden. Now they’re back with new four-track EP, In Cascade. The whole thing has a slightly psychedelic sound, brought to the fore by the keyboards, guitar effects and the fact that lead singer, Neil Beards, sounds and phrases some of his lyrics like Jan from British Sea Power. The second track, Hall Of Mirrors, stands out; Paul Wentworth’s delicate echo-strewn guitar weaving in and out, interplaying with Ollie Powditch’s keyboards. Then the distortion builds through the instrumental to a disembodied spoken word part before the song falls back in on itself. Third track, Thursday, is a re-recording of a B-side from 2010, and the new version is somehow both subtler and more immediate than the original version, with Wentworth’s guitar sounding like Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Gav Squires


The Last Pedestrians
Battle of a Simple Man
Album (Yeti Boy Records)

I don’t know about you, but for me, the faintest hint of boogie-woogie summons the spectre of Jools Holland. Fortunately, The Last Pedestrians have enough of a gnarled, whisky-soaked Tom Waits edge about them that almost all thoughts of that unctuous toad are quickly banished. They can trace their earliest roots back to the seventies, and although Battle of a Simple Man is their fifth album proper, they’ve been gigging around these parts for decades. You can hear the benefits of that experience in the easy charm of the music and the unfussy excellence of the band, elevating this beyond mere pub rock. There’s a wonderful world-weariness to be found here: they write their own songs and paint wry snapshots of an austerity Britain where people grow weed in the cracks in their concrete gardens and breakfast at Wetherspoons. Earthy and vibrant, although you should probably see them live. Tim Sorrell


Matt Blick
Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky
EP (Self-released)

Songs of faith and devotion from a former pastor who’s roped in a bunch of fellow Notts-muso types to assist in delivering his musical vision on this succinct EP. The impression you get of Blick over these three songs is a man who struggles with and is constantly questioning his beliefs. If there ever was a style of music suited to singing about your struggles with the Lord it’s gospel and blues, and this is where the opener Fingernails takes its cues. Over a pleasingly twangy riff Blick asks why his higher power has forsaken him; while on Me And The Devil he pulls off a mean Tom Waits impression. Much of the religious stuff is laid on a little too thick for my particular tastes, although that’s not to say everyone will be put off, I’m sure that there are plenty who’ll be able to relate to Blick’s questioning of his faith. Paul Klotschkow


Mowbeck
Talkabout
EP (Self-released)

Grit-pop band Mowbeck will get Notts chatting with their latest EP, as the four-piece are straying from the poppy boy band path and instead, heading down a darker route; embracing a grungier vibe in their latest batch of songs. Among the tracks here, Vaseline, I (Don’t) Care, Talkabout, and Runaway manage to be hypnotic and exciting all at once. Played with a mix of honest vocals, electric guitar, keyboard and drums, they create a classic indie feel that’s got versatility. It’s the perfect Friday night set of killers that are still thoughtful enough to be listened to during your down time. The lads have been performing all over the place and are quickly becoming crowd favourites everywhere from Nottingham to London. All the tunes can be found on Spotify and SoundCloud, but if you’re into feeling the beats properly, get down to their next show. Elizabeth O'Riordan


Kirk Spencer
Zu Year
EP (Strangerzoo)

Kirk Spencer has pulled off something remarkable here – he’s managed to combine his love of worldly sounds and electronic music without coming off like a tie-dyed, lentil-knitting, gap-yah crustafarian. The result is he’s woven together a collection of sublimely crafted sounds that should please both the more sonically adventurous listener and those simply wanting a speaker-shaking collection of banging techno. Tracks such as Yamo Trip and Regime are suitably equipped with enough thrust to fire up those post-club parties. Elsewhere, the skittish Hotel and the glitchy organ sounds of Fires tip their hats to DJ Shadow’s cut-and-paste techniques. The massive rave-up that is Forward has some pleasingly retro sounds; with Zero bringing things to a suitably euphoric end. There’s plenty going on here that listeners will be rewarded whether sticking in their headphones looking for some headspace or cranking up their speakers at the weekend. Paul Klotschkow


Rosie Abbott
After Image
Album (Self-released)

Abbott’s second album channels Elliot Smith coupled with the kind of retro, slightly psychedelic, electronic flourishes that a band like Kasabian might favour, just without their megalomaniacal bombast. Her experimentation with synth sounds, a variety of instruments, vocal style and tempo not only creates a spacey quality but also feels like she had a lot of fun writing and recording it – there’s a strong, playful streak to the whole collection that comes across as very organic. The variation of hallucinogenic sounds evoke an image of being on a surreal carousel ride, going round and round. Not only is her music entertaining, it’s also chock-a-block with strong and clear vocals that have an incredible range. From sweet to powerful, her voice and lyrics are full of integrity and honesty. My favourite tracks are Off the Radar, Failure and Golden Cloud, but the whole album is worth a solid listen through. Elizabeth O'Riordan


Tom John Hall
Normal Life Is Fine
Album (Saxon House)

As a self-professed indie-rock guy, Tom John Hall’s latest release makes the ideal soundtrack for sticking your headphones in, walking around your neighbourhood, and pretending your life is one cool, hip and trendy independent film. The East Midlands/London-based songwriter reveals the album was patched together in his bedroom in late 2015, early 2016, which you can hear in the homemade, authentic, experimental indie vibe that shines through the collection. An original and reflective voice appears in all the songs, considering the everyday social and political problems that face everyman. As the debut album for the alternative singer, this eight-song mix is packed full of highlights, from Clever Boy, Woods Lane, /$p£nd£r, The Alchemist, Do They Know It’s Christmas, Apple and The Tree, to Endings and Normal Is Fine, making this an enjoyable and relatable contribution to the music scene. Elizabeth O’Riordan


Underdark
Mourning Cloak
EP (Self-released)

Mourning Cloak is an example of pure, unadulterated darkness manifested into three face-numbing tracks on an EP that takes you through the depths of blackness and beyond. Each song tells its own story with ever-changing melodies, ranging from brutal riffs to beautifully strung chords. The EP begins with Bank of Roses which opens as a relentless introduction to what the listener is about to experience. At seven minutes long, the song embarks on a journey into the abyss and back, which truly needs to be heard to comprehend. One minute the song is metal at its blackest, and then suddenly you find yourself hearing near angelic melodies that perfectly juxtapose each other to create a unique and engrossing sound. The theme is mirrored in each song as the boundaries between light and dark are constantly intertwined, with the band somehow managing to create an uplifting sound on an EP with a pitch-black core. Tyrone Scott


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