TRCH

9 Albums You Need To Listen To This Month

27 September 17 words: Music Reviews

The latest releases from some of Notts best-loved musicians...

Childhood
Universal High
Album (Marathon Artists)

Childhood’s new album is kind of like Curtis Mayfield meeting Mac DeMarco. Founded in 2010 at University of Nottingham, the band have mined a vintage, seventies sound while still feeling modern throughout, with its mix of indie, pop and soul, plus a smooth, upbeat and warm vibe that feels a little sexy too. The combination of upbeat rhythms and a breezy quality gives the band’s second album real depth, making it one of the rare albums that I feel comfortable describing as “groovy.” Also, Childhood’s perfectly tailored aesthetic of wide-leg trousers, suede jackets and flared collars acts as an inspiration to head down to the local vintage shop before hitching a ride in a Ford Cortina. Every song consistently maintains a strong sound while still tickling your sense of freedom, flowing in and out of tabs with ease; since its release, I’ve had this playing non-stop without ever getting bored. The vocals from frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft range from gravel-deep to effortlessly high, remaining in perfect harmony with the other instruments: electric guitar, keyboard and drums, all of which the band melodically blend together. The tracks are really versatile too; they can be full of energy when you’re in a feel-good mood, but also dreamlike and hazy for when you’re more relaxed. With a few tour dates already lined up, good things are absolutely to come from these guys. Elizabeth O’Riordan

Berserk
Towards Emptiness
EP (Self-released)

This new offering from the hardcore music scene of Nottingham is a masterclass in high-tempo, headbang-worthy, death metal. If done right, this genre can really get your blood pumping, and Berserk’s take on the manic excitement of their craft does just that. Each song fills up with a combination of fast-moving drum accompaniments and soaring guitar riffs. Most notably, Exit From Life and Sodomy and Torture boast highly skilled, high-speed displays of death metal instrumentals. This, added to a memorable vocal performance throughout the album, feels particularly present in Pure Hate, a song more focused around its voice element. Don’t worry though, the music isn’t taken out of the picture completely. The final tune, Towards Emptiness, does not disappoint as a finishing touch; a true headbanger to complete a work can never go amiss – particularly in the hardcore scene – and this song certainly delivers that. Alex Keene

Congi
Motion EP
EP (Self-released)

It’s all squelchy synths, dust crackles and ethereal bass in the latest offering from Congi, who don’t seem to want to stick to one sound for too long. Past dubstep releases have opened eyes in raves with spacious, intelligent sounds, and anime-style beat tapes have delivered bedtime stories to insomniacs; Motion moves forward to combine the feelings, and seems to know something we don't. The textures of this five-track EP are more optimistic, gliding from the shape-cutting arms of opening track 174, through the soft, DMT-trip voices in Spring Cut, and into the piano-punctuated moon chase of Something in the Water. London-based Geode features in Back Again, a tune that tumbles around in heads, thudding and releasing with expert conduction. There’s room to move around in the music still, but now we’re looking at the denser parts under a microscope, zooming in and out of this chaotic universe. Bridie Squires

Isaac
Let it Burn
Album (Golden Triangle Records)

Following their debut album, the now four-piece band Isaac are back with Let It Burn. After a few listens, it became clear that I had mixed feelings about this one, as the band are clearly talented, yet I question whether they offer anything special. While opening fairly strong, it became clear that the first seven songs – minus A Polish Café at Christmas – offer little variation to each other, with the rhythm section sounding like it’s on autopilot. However, the unpolished production and scuzzy bass-tone work well with the melodic vocals: the standout feature on the album. The second half definitely improves on the first, varying the pace from song to song, giving a more energetic pop-punk vibe, and using instrumentals to allow the album to breathe. Clearly rooted more in the early 2000s than the late seventies, Let It Burn is a nice listen, but unfortunately becomes repetitive and forgettable. Matthew Williams

Luke Peter-Foster
It’s Even When It Pours
EP (Self-released)

Hailing from Norwich, but studying in Nottingham, rising star Luke Peter-Foster mixes spoken word with hip hop to create a unique sound. His third EP is his best yet, with an extremely laid back, yet addictive style that leaves you begging for more. After hearing Everyday, I immediately went back and listened to it again; his innocent lyrics flow perfectly over a bed of guitar flourishes, gentle beats and ever-so-slightly discordant pianos. While I personally think the rest of the EP doesn’t quite match up to that opening track, it’s still all good stuff, as it further develops Foster’s unique style and is definitely a step in the right direction for this rapper who looks to have a bright future. This four-track collection is a marker on the map for an alternative rap movement that is currently gaining momentum. Matthew Williams

The Madeline Rust
21 Girls
Album (Self-released)

Taking inspiration from real-life criminals, 21 Girls is a journey into the mind of a serial killer. Setting the scene with melodramatic widescreen bluster, the desert-blues of Inside introduces a welcome change in tone. From there on in, the distorted crunch of Images of Donna injects some much needed energy and, with the band now fired up, they rattle through the proceeding tracks, with the seventies stomp of Stop Your Heart a particular highlight. The woozy, disorientating Holes in the Sand brings the record full-circle and the story to a close. The subject matter might be heavy, but the band deal with it by creating a swirling soundscape of cavernous guitars and dramatic songwriting; for all of the record’s pretence, the band’s deft knack of songwriting means they keep a lightness of touch throughout. What could have been a prog-rock nightmare turns out to be an absorbing listen. Paul Klotschkow

Sunset Nebula
Sunset Nebula
Album (Self-released)

Making a beautiful noise since they formed in Nottingham in 2015, Sunset Nebula describe their own sound as “groovacious space rock.” On the strength of this, their debut album released earlier this year, it’s hard to disagree. A three-piece consisting of Tommy on guitar, James on drums and Lewis on bass, this is a band that clearly has no need of anything as vulgar and mundane as a vocalist; they conjure and weave their magnificent, flowing soundscapes just fine without one, thanks very much. This is an album of startling beauty and subtle craft, sounding all the more remarkable for being recorded entirely live. Listen to Oceans and you could almost be listening to a spacey, transcendent version of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, only with a definite, underlying bite and a hint of Hendrix-like groove in the guitar. A stunning debut. Tim Sorell

Taco Hell
Retainer
EP (Self-released)

Stating that “the funny name is to cover up the sadness,” Taco Hell aren’t lacking in the self-awareness department; Retainer is like tearing open the pages of a teenager’s diary. Angsty and at times a little too self-pitying (“I know that I’m worthless, you don’t need to say it”), you can forgive the band for their self-indulgent woe-is-me schtick, as they know how to write the type of hook-filled indie-punk track that’ll get the kids moshing. Palaeontology (Happy Birthday David Schwimmer) rides on some taught guitars and dreamy-girl vocals, while Baby Teeth is a riot of effervescent jangle and celebratory happy-sad shouty singing favoured by certain emo bands who want to let the listener know that they’re feeling all of the feelings. Being young is like riding on an out-of-control emotional rollercoaster, and Taco Hell are doing it with joyous abandon. Paul Klotschkow

Vandal Savage
1000th Prestige
Album (Self-released)

This local rapper shows exquisite wordplay and lyricism every release without fail, and is making hefty strides in Nottingham’s underground scene of late. 1000th Prestige adheres to the same stomp, with even more to boot. His smoke-induced lyrics drift over the airy but somewhat solid beats, and seem to meander through the tunes like a stream running through a dank, dimly lit street. Vandal Savage clearly has a massive presence in this release and isn’t out-matched by UKHH heavyweight, Micall Parknsun. His partners in crime – Notts’ very own flow demon Juga-Naut and legendary veteran Cappo (collectively VVV) – add a unique helping hand with their features. 1000th Prestige is most definitely some of Vandal’s best work yet, with great attention to detail and an inspiring instrumental selection. Curtis Powell

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