Music Reviews: March 2024

Words: Gemma Cockrell, Maddie Dinnage, Phil Taylor, Rachel Imms, Faye Stacey
Tuesday 05 March 2024
reading time: min, words

This month, we review music from Whisky Stain, Lacey, Otala, Hallowed Men, Blu Syrup, Cappo & Kong Artisan, Bunnie, Albion and Daudi Matsiko...


Whisky Stain
My New Religion (Single)

Blues rock two-piece Whisky Stain have been a pillar of Nottingham’s music scene for ten years now, and after a recent hiatus I am personally very happy to see them back gigging and releasing music. Slick vocals, stomping drums and seductive riffs is what drives the Whisky Stain sound, and new single My New Religion doesn’t stray far from the formula. But this isn’t a tired concoction - fresh, potent and catchy, I dare you to not develop a swagger after listening. Sophie Gargett

This Is All We Are (Album)

Lacey's long-awaited album This Is All We Are marks a triumphant return after a five-year hiatus. Graham Turner's soul-baring vocals guide listeners through an emotional journey, addressing every conceivable human emotion. The band ensures long-term fans leave completely satisfied, possibly gaining new admirers along the way. This Is All We Are reaffirms Lacey's importance in the music scene, making it a must-listen for anyone craving an emotional and authentic musical experience. Faye Stacey

Commedia (Single) 

The latest track from Nottingham’s own post-punk, jazz quintet begins with a set of ominous bells - the melody of a gravekeeper’s jangling keys. This track creeps up and sinks its teeth into your neck without the kindness of a warning. Charlotte Foulkes’ saxophone melody lurks among the shadows, biding time before striking at the end of the track, aided by the crash of Fin Hills’ merciless cymbals. Oscar Thorpe’s spoken-word vocals are both urgent and blissfully haunting, matched only by his equally stirring lyricism ‘there is no applause, just the sound of worn-out studs and incessant chatter to mask any chance of self-reflection’. Each musician’s influence is deeply essential to the track, particularly during those signature moments of perfect dissonance, in which each instrument is violently at odds with the other. I suspect that this powerhouse track is only an indication of what is to come for this up-and-coming band. Maddie Dinnage

Hallowed Men
Hollow Man (Album)

LeftLion contributors Bassey and Rich Higton (aka Jarrow Junction) have come together to release Hollow Man, a project which, in their words, is “a pretty dark album with some pretty dark themes.” With tracks such as Sew Sweet and Notice (What We Have Become) discussing a relationship which is frozen in time, to themes of depression, conflict and loss of hope on Black Dog, this album covers a lot of ground in a relatively short tracklist of seven tracks (plus three remixes). As for the track Badass John C. Woods, he’s a real person so look him up. Villain or hero? I’ll leave that for you to decide. Gemma Cockrell

Blu Syrup
Scissors & Cigarettes (Single)

The debut offering from this local alternative rock duo who clearly have a penchant for interesting names. Elements of grunge revival and garage rock meet heartfelt themes echoing through straightforward, impactful lyrics. This is good old-fashioned songwriting delivered with punch and panache: there are satisfying riffs; a section of swirling guitar effects; rich and appealing vocals; and great use of space. Blu Syrup are the pub band you stumble upon one night, and quickly embrace as a new favourite. One to keep an eye on. Phil Taylor

Cappo & Kong The Artisan
Canon (Album)

With beautiful, personal and poetic articulation of universal human experiences and emotions, CANON is Cappo’s first full-length recording since he completed his PhD into the techniques and literary devices used in rap artists to convey personal trauma. Touching on themes such as grief, addiction and masculinity, the work celebrates the landscape of Nottingham through the medium of rap and features local legends such as Vandal Savage, Midnyte and Liam Bailey. Informed by this literal Doctor of hip-hop’s studies and rich life experiences, and produced by Kong the Artisan, Chapter one, “Pain” is a subtly emotive album, to be followed by Chapter two, “Escapism”, and Chapter three, “Absolution”. Purchase from Bandcamp to access exclusive instrumentals, which will not be released elsewhere. The LP’s available at Rough Trade and Rare Kind Records, and a limited-edition cassette will be released in the near future – keep an eye out! Rachel Imms

Speed Machine (Single)

Pictured on a motorbike on the cover art of this single, Bunnie’s first single Speed Machine sets the tone and establishes her upbeat, dance-infused pop sound. From the title, you won’t be surprised to find out that this song is a fast-paced whirlwind with a pulsating instrumental and catchy vocals. If you’re a fan of Charli XCX (aka you like upbeat pop songs with lyrics about fast cars with sexual undertones) then this one is definitely for you. Gemma Cockrell

Lions (Single)

When Albion got in touch to tell us they’d written a song about this very magazine’s namesake, we knew we had to give it a listen. Taken from their EP The Rooms Where Songs are Made, this song tells the tale of two lovers destined to meet at the Left Lion, Nottingham’s famous meeting point, in the Market Square, inspired by vocalist Ben’s Grandad’s stories of his meeting with his Grandma by the Left Lion and the telegram he carried every day with the words “Meet me at the Statue”. A beautiful story - and a beautiful song, too. Gemma Cockrell

Daudi Matsiko
The King of Misery (Album)

With the threat of AI taking over the music industry seeming more real as time goes on, The King Of Misery is as human as music gets. You can imagine Matsiko recording each of these instruments and layering them with one another in a way that only a human being could, and the emotion within his lyrics and delivery is something that no machine or robot could ever mimic. The sadness, the despair, the hopelessness, the guilt. But also, the joy, the beauty, the gratitude and the hope, as it gradually begins to outweigh the darkness. The King Of Misery is a celebration of everything that it means to be human. Gemma Cockrell

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