14 Music Albums to Stuff in Your Tabs

Friday 13 January 2017
reading time: min, words

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The Enlightening
Album (Phlexx Records)

We’re always banging on about the diversity to be found within this city, but rarely does one creative project highlight the extent of it so fiercely. 24 local and international artists feature on this album, all bringing a unique and interesting vibration to Trekkah’s colourful, emotional, and electric signature production that threads its way through the various vocal textures. There are fourteen tracks, all representing the seven different ‘chakras’ – from Frazer Lowrie’s feature on opening track Slowly Fading representing the root chakra, to Percydread’s interpretation of the crown chakra in closing track Watch the King. The whole selection starts in the depths of the mud, muffled synths thumping against the surface, moving onto a woodland disco feel with Lauren Firenza in Chasing the Flame, eventually shifting into spooky spoken word with Motormouf, and then the beautifully mournful warbling of Mina Minnai. There’s a serious plethora of genres and influences to be found within The Enlightening; a vein of naturalism beating through the live instrumentation and honest lyricism. The standout tracks on this thoughtful, detailed and stunning album are Stereo featuring Bud, and Own Worst Enemy featuring Edward Reisner. Both are taking it in turns to be earworm of the month. Me chakra’s all over the shop. Bridie Squires

EP (Hawk Moon Records)

Albosel’s second EP is comparable to a very sad, yet sweet dream. The Nottingham-based band remind the listener of every bittersweet moment they’ve ever experienced with the mixture of subtle, swaying notes that make up this release. Even so, the songs don’t fall into the pit of sadness it could have set itself up for, and a spark of hope always manages to pierce through the cloud, floating on the soft, high notes scattered through the more melancholic tones. With a large and varying instrumental input to all the tracks, Albosel’s folk-pop style can quickly sweep you into a mellow trance with their acoustic sounding guitar and electric keyboard combination. This collection, consisting of six songs – Silver Newt, Fireball, Slasher, Komorebi, Golden Egg and Manitode’s Goblin Teeth – is a perfect Sunday afternoon set of tunes for when you are feeling wistful. Elizabeth O’Riordan

EP (Self-released)

Already a firm favourite on the local scene, Billie has proven that as a live performer she is an exciting, fresh talent with the songwriting chops to hold her own against some of the city’s more established artists. Fingerpicking her way through these yearning, bittersweet laments, with her voice soaked in reverb, Billie transports the listener to the bars and back rooms she can often be found in. Comparisons to fellow indie-folk artists such as Soak and Daughter are maybe easy to make, but they shouldn’t be shied away from either; wistful vocals that stop you dead in your tracks and heartfelt, stripped-back, slow-burning songs that cut deep. As most debut EPs, this captures Billie as a raw, undiluted talent, but it also has everything that marks her out as a true one to watch – it’s breezy and understated, while still retaining an honest emotional centre. Paul Klotschkow

Cherry Hex and the Dream Church
Tea of Tears
EP (Self-released)

After meeting at university here in Nottingham, the curiously-monikered two-piece have only been together since the back end of last year and started gigging in early 2016. But they’re already set to release their debut EP, which was put together on a budget of whatever their student loans would allow – basically nothing – and recorded in bedrooms. Over these meticulously crafted five tracks, Cherry Hex and the Dream Church show that limited resources aren’t always a hindrance to creativity and can in fact be the opposite. The band have taken what they had to hand (essentially a bass guitar, glockenspiel, synths and a laptop) to conjure up an air of ice-cold glacial electro-noir. There’s the wub-wub bass of modern dance music, but this is music that stalks in the shadows instead of hitting the dance floor. Part spooky space lullabies, part woozy hypno-pop, CHATDC should be pleased with how far they’ve come in twelve months; we look forward to the next. Paul Klotschkow

Crosa Rosa
Candy Eyes
EP (I’m Not From London)

Formed in the classrooms of Nottingham’s Confetti, Crosa Rosa had only been together for a matter of months before they were gracing the main stage at Rock City as finalists in the 2014 Future Sound of Nottingham competition. They didn’t win that one, but these three guys aren’t a flash in the pan. Candy Eyes is another dose of their distinctive, psychedelic-garage rock and there are six great songs here: Like a Lady is as good as anything else you’ve heard this year and the driving energy of Baya will simply blow your socks off. Crosa Rosa have just played their biggest ever headlining gig at the Rescue Rooms, recorded at Abbey Road Studios, and been backed by Fred Perry Subculture, the people responsible for helping to break artists like Amy Winehouse, The Rakes and The View. Mark my words – these guys are going all the way. My advice? Get on board now. Tim Sorrell

The State We’re In
Album (Your Childhood Records)

It's been a quiet time for the newly-rebranded D.I.D after the success of their debut release four years ago. Now, their long-overdue second album The State We're In finally arrives and it's been worth the wait. Hardcore D.I.D fans will have heard a fair amount of this album already as the majority of the songs have spilled out on EPs or album tasters. The band have picked the best of their material, and opening tracks Fast Food and Killer Whale are two absolute corkers. While there's plenty of the jaunty, indie-inflected pop the band are known for, side two is a more reflective affair. Title track The State We're In and the downbeat I Meant To Hurt You – with echoes of 10CC’s I'm Not In Love – really showcase the band's songwriting talents, even if they're unlikely to get a live crowd bouncing along. In short, The State We're In is a terrific album. Nick Parkhouse

Fat Digester
Are You Ready?
Album (Self-released)

This band of innumerable contributors, members and mischief makers has released a one-of-a-kind album that showcases their individual personality, talent, and unique sound. It’s fun, it makes you want to dance, and you’ll be warbling along in no time. The full-on sound created from numerous instruments on tracks like Come on the Dance Floor produce funky disco grooves, while the strong, infectious vocals on tracks such as Swamp Gas help to make this an enjoyable album. With Fruitcake, the band prove that you don’t need vocals to join in with a song; if the beat is addictive, and the musical flair is flowing, any song can be made to dance to. Fat Digester not only show the world a different meaning to the word ‘band’, but also give a fine example of what a fun and exciting album can truly be. Hannah Parker

Megan Kelsey
In My Blood
EP (Big Help Management)

For a young lass, our Megan hasn’t half got a set of pipes on her. Voice breaks and trilling all over the shop, she’s giving the country-folk scene a youthful kick up the arse. Her ability to craft detailed and distinctive melodies belies her years, but her writing gives the game away. Her debut offering is a teenage tell-all, perhaps a little basic and predictable in tone, but hey, you write what you know. And, at eighteen, what you know is the sting of a crush who hasn’t got a clue you exist, and the buzz of fancying someone you shouldn’t. To Know You is drenched in the excitement of finally linking the bad lad from the year above. It’s sultry in tone, building tension with a rolling drum beat. A steady first outing for Ms Kelsey, and as her experience grows she’ll be one to keep an eye on for sure. Lucy Manning

Mountain Schmountain
Skate Chills
Album (Self-released)

As winter rolls around, it’s time to swap t-shirts for chunky cable knits, and ditch that summer banger playlist for something more hibernal. Indie rockers Mountain Schmountain have just the thing. Warm, russet-rich vocals and melodies conjure up woodland afternoons, helped by the video for Dewey Decimal which sees the band spliced into some old sixties American home footage of a bear hunt, “ducking branches, forging paths, putting drawing pins in maps”. The band joshingly describe themselves as ‘extreme MOR’, but there’s a real emotional edge in the songwriting and storytelling on songs like Treasure Maps on Paper Serviettes, moments of levity like the poppy guitar and hook on Photocopy / Filter Coffee, pounding drums of Murmuration, and shouty outro to (This House Is) Hardly Haunted (At All) to establish themselves non-central to the soft rock highway. And, at just 27 minutes, it’s the perfect soundtrack to a quick stroll kicking up leaves in the park. Shariff Ibrahim

Nick Aslam
Crime For Thought
EP (Self-released)

The dreaded winter may now be upon us, but Aslam has created the perfect soundtrack to keep us warm during the colder weather, with head-bopping beats and an exciting mix of styles and lyrics you can’t help but sing along to. Nick keeps the energy high throughout the EP, getting you pumped up for the day ahead, whether you’re off to work, getting ready for a date, or forcing yourself to give the house a clean. His dulcet East-Midlands tone, though rarely heard from local singer-songwriters, is noticeable in many songs such as Going Home, a proper home comfort if ever there was one. Mixing up various genres and showcasing his versatility as a songwriter, there are bits of punk-rock, psychedelic, and a hint of folk at times on Crime for Thought. There is no denying that Nick is a very talented and exciting artist. Hannah Parker

First Run
EP (Self-released)

When you can’t decide on what genre to go with, why not just choose four instead. Somehow, Onkaur has produced an album that blends r‘n’b, reggae, pop and soul. There’s a mixture of upbeat and slower, acoustic-based songs, resulting in a brilliantly mixed bag of tracks. Showcasing Onkaur's amazing and adaptable voice, Trekkah’s high-quality production really does her justice. With loads of solo vocalists in and around Nottingham, it can sometimes be challenging to get yourself out there and get noticed. Trust me, Onkaur is well worthy of your attention. Listening through First Run is sure to liven up your day and put a spring in your step; it’s the mix of styles throughout that really elevate the EP, raising it high above the also-rans. At only eighteen years old, Onkaur has an extremely bright future, I’m preparing to be dazzled. Louron Pratt

Red Rack’em
Wonky Bassline Disco Banger
12” (Bergerac/Classic Music Company)

Already onto its umpteenth re-press, and a sales-chart fixture ever since its March release, Wonky Bassline Disco Banger is not only one of the year’s biggest deep house/nu-disco tunes, but also one of the strangest, defying predictability at every turn. It begins as a sweet, relatively subdued affair, with simple ascending keys and a sampled soul vocal. Ninety seconds in, this ebbs away to a near-standstill, before the track reboots as something wholly different. For a short while, you think you’re in familiar disco-house territory, somewhere between Sylvester and Chic, but the perkiness is soon subverted by the entrance of the eponymous ‘wonky bassline’. Foregrounded in the mix, this cheerfully galumphs all over the place, tweaked further askew with each repetition. Shimmering, stabbing strings descend from on high, for a blissful peak section that’s yanked away after less than a minute. It’s all bonkers. But it works quite brilliantly. Mike Atkinson

Lose My Cool
Album (Record Shop)

I don’t reckon it’s possible for Ronika to lose her cool. She’s got more of the stuff in her big toe than us at the ‘Lion have combined. Luckily for us, she’s well up for sharing her pearls of bang-on-trend electro-neo-soul so that we mere mortals can bop along like we’re part of the in-crowd. The highly anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Selectadisc, Lose My Cool is giving disco a face lift. Combining the familiar funky-souly goodness with deep house rhythms and the occasional bird-call sample – see the many-layered Trouble – she’s taken her time to carefully polish each track until a stand-out single is impossible to distinguish. Dissolve is a personal highlight – glitching its way through breathy vocals and keyboard notes, it’s like Disclosure and NAO got it on to create an ultra-megazoid disco/soul baby, but the credit’s all Ronika’s. Absolutely buzzing to see this pop-coated baby live. Lucy Manning

Gangsta Wraps (Takes The Throne)
12” (Gangsta Wraps)

Rap’s Robin Hood returns, this time robbing from the rich, multinational fast-food chains, and giving delicious (w)raps and succulent beats to poor heads. First in Scorz’s sights are the famous golden arches, sticking up a Maccy D’s armed with a bagel, all in the name of condemning crap burgers, overworked workers and misnomered ‘fries’. KFC, cheeky Nando’s and even Wagamama get a grilling on this EP’s title track – taken from 2015’s Aeon: Peace to the Puzzle LP – with an arm-wavingly catchy chorus that’s as addictive as whatever it is that goes into those McNuggets. Our robber hero’s backed up by a band of merry emcees on posse cut Equestrianism, with Jehst, Micall Parknsun, Stan and Oshea taking the mic over a galloping drum beat, while Taskforce’s Chester P (plus some always-welcome Alan Rickman as Sheriff of Nottingham samples) add to Double Dragons. “Ain’t nuttin’ better than a gangsta wrap”, indeed. Shariff Ibrahim

EP (Self-released)

It’s fair to say that the world went to shit in 2016 in a big way. The kind of turd that refuses to budge and the more you try to clean it up the more it smears its greasy brown residue all over the place. While one way of dealing with this is to shout impotently at the television every time the turnip-elect appears on the screen. Another is to find the dirtiest, nastiest music and turn it up to drown out the white noise of bullshit that’s currently saturating every orifice. This is where the aptly-named Society come in. Talk sounds like Underworld raiding a pharmacy and stealing all the wrong kind of drugs, while It Takes Two is The Cure’s A Forest having a mental breakdown. This is the soundtrack to the floating garbage can of a planet we are currently sailing on. It’s not pleasant, but pleasant just doesn’t cut it right now. Paul Klotschkow

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