Music Reviews - November 2015

11 November 15 words: Music Reviews
With Congi, Bakes, Harleighblu, Fickle Twin, White Finger, Juneau, Leftback Records, Lorna, Molly and Jack and Practical Lovers
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Congi
Nine Sessions
Album (Mimm)
I find my eyebrows furrowed with the pain of falling in love. This ridiculous EP opens with The Escapade, a cloud of smoke that swallows you up like a duvet with delicate precision – it is nothing short of stunning, a standout track for me. As we course through the beautiful, antique vocals of The Pursuit & The Shadow, we enter into the late Nujabes’ territory, with hip hop flowing through veins, but with more roundness, glitchiness and authority. Crazy interesting samples aside, this is a trip-hoppy, atmospheric sound, but it would be blasphemous to call it background music. Nine Sessions grabs you tenderly by the neck and mutters dark secrets, through gritted teeth, in your ear. Part of a collaborative package, inclusive of Ink Soup’s graphic novel, we get the distinct notion of the story’s naughty, creeping criminality with tracks like Hard Boiled and Black & White, while romantic road trips with the window down seep through in Eva’s Song. The idea is to read the graphic novel alongside the music, with every three pages reflecting a track. There are so many textures and tones to be found in the album that it’d be easy to assume confused, disjointed chaos. But no. It’s gloriously beat tape-esque, with genre conversations and all the spaciousness of meditative dubstep to boot. Unearth it, turn all the lights off, slot it into your brain crevices. It’s emotional. Bridie Squires

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Bakes
Drink Me EP
EP (Self-released)
Bakes, aka Tom Bacon, delivers a spellbinding EP of authentic, homage-like hip hop, taking inspiration from a cross-section of influences ranging from the kung fu-oriented Wu-Tang to the Shutdown generation of grime enthusiasts. Each track of the five-song mixtape delves into distinctive genres of music that have obviously had a lasting impression on the young producer/emcee. Salute is reminiscent of Eminem circa The Slim Shady LP, packed with punchy hooks and testing wordplay, while Koto draws comparisons to the unparalleled storytelling techniques of the legendary Ghostface Killah, creating a collage of imagery so mature it’s hard to believe this guy is only eighteen years old. Jam Pie is pure grime in every sense of the word; dirty, murky flow combined with references to everything from 0.8g draws to Nicklas Bendtner. The title track closes in exquisite jazzy fashion. A relaxed, soothing number full of originality, imagination and spirit. Jack Garofalo

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Harleighblu
Futurespective EP 2
EP (Tru Thoughts)
You won’t hear anything like this anywhere this side of the next millennia. Collaborating with the likes of drum n bass duo SpectraSoul, LA producer Captain Supernova and Bugz in the Attic’s Daz-I-Kue, aka Audio Sparks, Harleighblu has smashed right back into the music scene with a bunch of futuristic tuneage that thrusts techno beats and jazz flavourings straight up in your grill. There’re only three unique songs, but seven tracks altogether including the instrumental versions and a cappella setups. This might appear a little indulgent, but once you catch wind of Real Good feat Spectrasoul (Acapella), Ms ‘Blu’s massive vocals will pound your tabs with the glory of a throng o’ jazz angels. Forget feat Captain Supernova is the standout track and definition of futuristic jazz with Star Trek-esque glitches and a vocal flow reminiscent of the late, great Amy Winehouse. She’s not one to be compared, though. Our Harleighblu is a talent, and a law, unto herself. Lucy Manning

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Fickle Twin / White Finger
Fickle Twin / White Finger Split
Cassette (Vetala Productions)
What happens when you ask a punk band from Nottingham and a punk band from Derby to collaborate on a split tape? Well, pretty much exactly what you’d expect: human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. They might come from opposite ends of the Brian Clough Way, but there’s a definite shared love of shouting and buzzsaw guitars to be found here. I’d hesitate to describe White Finger as subtle, given that Slow Patty revels in a refrain of “fuck you and your fast food”, but it’s all relative: Fickle Twin open up their half of the tape with the decidedly earthy and defiant declaration, “I eat shit, I love shit”. There’s a song here called Clean Living, but let’s not beat around the bush: this is the sound of the messy end of a very drunken night out. We’ve all had them, whichever way your taxi is travelling up the A52. Tim Sorrell

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Juneau
Into The Mouth Of The Wolf
EP (Self-released)
On their debut release, this duo prove that they’re songwriters worth keeping an eye out for. Over six tracks, Layla Remeikis (guitar) and bandmate Shauna Stapleton (vocals), deliver a well-written and emotive collection of songs that have a sense of defiance to them despite their relative introspection. You can’t blame a bunch of seventeen-year-olds for being a touch moody from time to time, can you? Fortunately, we can forgive them for all of the naval gazing because Juneau’s obvious conviction to what they are doing lifts the songs out of the emo-y mire. The simple production – many of the songs just feature electric guitar and vocals – enhances all the feels and, at various points, their delivery is reminiscent of acts such as Waxahatchee, Belly, and The Sundays. Although you feel it could do with a bit more grit, Juneau show a lot of promise and this EP deserves some of your time. Paul Klotschkow

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Leftback Records
Leftback Vol 1
Album (Leftback Records)
As I hit play I am immediately drenched in atmospheric tension; moody raindrops and tinkling piano notes tug me gently by the sleeve, inviting me to go forth with them wherever this musical journey might take us – and a journey it is. This mix is so seamless you may not even notice when the tracks change. Listen closely enough, though, and you might hear the early garage influences emerging from beneath some of the heavy, industrial-sounding techno. What Leftback is showing is a distinctive style that is easy to get lost in: pattering hi-hats, crunchy basslines and warped vocal samples all gelled together with darkly euphoric synths. They are proving themselves a force to be reckoned with. Vol 1 is set to be the first of a new regular feature from the label that will be used to showcase the current sound and to promote artists and new releases. Ruby Butcher

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Lorna
London’s Leaving Me
Album (Words of Music)
It’s hard to think of many bands that are five albums in and can still knock out tunes of such class and distinction. London’s Leaving Me is jam-packed with solid songwriting along the lines of, say, Belle and Sebastian or The Go-Betweens. This has it all – warm organs, gently caressed boy/girl vocals, picked, bright guitars, orchestral flourishes, a Guided by Voices cover. Essentially, if you are a fan of Indie Tracks festival, then there is something here for you. There’s a definite autumnal feeling to it all; this is the soundtrack to the leaves turning brown and wearing your favourite winter coat as you face the cold, dark evenings. The dreamy Bigger Than Sound (and Bigger Than Us) sticks out as a high point, but if you are looking for a record that gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling as the nights start to draw in, then this is for you. Paul Klotschkow

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Molly & Jack
Many a Moon
EP (The Acoustic Roots Label)
After an electrifying performance at Nottingham Contemporary recently to welcome it to the world, the debut EP from Nottingham’s favourite musical couple sees their twinkling acoustic sound blossom into something even more opulent. On Many a Moon, Molly & Jack enhance their ever-enchanting take on traditional folk music with impressive baroque pop instrumentation – the duo’s tightly woven harmonies come adorned with gorgeous, fluttering strings and are backed by a lively jazz-inspired rhythm section. At the core, though, is the intrinsic chemistry of Molly & Jack themselves – from the opening call of Bella the Brave through to the record’s graceful swansong To The Stars, the pair radiate the most authentic kind of heart that’s impossible to resist. Having successfully allured Nottingham audiences for a while now, their studio unveiling is so lovingly composed that you won’t fail to be charmed once more. Andrew Harrison

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Practical Lovers
Agony
Album (I’m Not From London Records)
The exciting electro-pop sounds that come from this male duo have been captured and laid down in this extremely listenable and catchy collection of songs that is their debut album. Their innovative and creative way of making music breathes life into the genre, making them a must listen to band. The low, monotonic vocals of Jack Wiles add to the growing intensity alongside the eighties-inspired electro beats, heard in tracks such as Put it Bluntly and Nobody There. However, tracks Never Again and The Work Around show the versatility of this band, with varied instrumentation added into the mix. Despite the dark lyrical undertones and its title, there is an underlying sense of fun to Agony, meaning it holds up to repeated listens. There may only be two guys in this band, but they managed to create a fuller-than-full-sounding album of layered songs. Hannah Parker

You can hear a tune from each review on our Sound of the Lion podcast.

If you're from Nottingham and want your tunes reviewed, visit leftlion.co.uk/sendusmusic

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