Music Reviews: December/January 2016

13 January 16 words: Music Reviews
With Ady Suleiman, Daudi Matsiko, Haiku Salut, Kount Masloff, Lost Pets, Louis Antoniou, Rolo Tomassi, Unknown Era and more
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Ady Suleiman
What’s The Score
EP (Sony Music)
With Notts currently bossing dance, rock and shouty electronic post-punk, to cover all bases we really needed someone reppin’ reggae-infused soul-hop. Step in Ady Suleiman (that’s Ady as in ‘email addy’, not Aidy Boothroyd). You probably already know this talented singer-songwriter from his tireless gigging, and will have heard the title track before on BBC Introducing, YouTube, etc. Now, with the full might of Sony behind him, he releases it proper on his second EP, with A$AP Mob alumnus Joey Bad A$$ guesting. It’s breezy, poppy stuff that’s a perfect foil for Ady’s rich, slightly reggae-inflected, almost Finley Quaye-styled vocals. Joey’s bars wouldn’t actually be missed here, but then, I’m sure they help pull in the YouTube views. Ain’t the Beep sees Ady in full-on romance mode, longing after a lady that he wants to, but realistically knows he ain’t going to, be with. Sexy horns give an almost D’Angelo vibe, and you’ll be endlessly repeating the chorus refrain, “Sound the alarm, bwoh-bwoh-bwoh…”. That disarming charm comes undone in an interlude where a disembodied lady’s voice on the end of a phone berates Ady for his drinking. He doesn't heed her words on the brilliantly sweary invective Drink Too Much, though, “Pass the alcohooooool”. But he’s back on charming form by the outro, asking the listener, “What you gunna do? When Ady comes through?” For this short EP, the answer is to press repeat and wait for an album. Shariff Ibrahim

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Attraktors
Future Systems:EP
EP (NGLand Records)
The term “gone kraut” has been abused recently by creatively flagging artists trying to prove that they’re still capable of making relevant music – we’re looking at you, Mr Weller. All it really means is that they’ve lobbed a motorik beat onto something. But there are still a bunch of modern-day acts carrying the spirit as well as many of the stylistic tics of the classic krautrock bands of the seventies. Among this lot are Attraktors, whose record collections must surely be rammed with musty vinyl from this gloriously forward-thinking musical period. This EP has it all – the harmonious atmospherics of Cluster, the pulsating energy of Neu!, the mechanical rhythms of Kraftwerk, the robotik vocal stylings of Eno. If music that’s informed by the past but sounds like the future, the way many of those original Krautrock records still do, is your thing, then this will be right up your strasse. Paul Klotschkow

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Daudi Matsiko
The Lingering Effects of Disconnection
EP (Self-released)
This well crafted EP of emotional trajectory and hollow pain is something of a rare beauty, designed to make even the coldest heart tranquil. Matsiko has been on the circuit for a fair while now, yet this EP firmly establishes him as one of the great songwriters this city has to offer. Let’s be frank, indie-folk melancholy love songs are not the hardest thing to come by in this day and age, yet Daudi conquers those barriers with such angst, captivation and power to create something greater than the sum of its parts. The opening track Sandwiches throws the listener into a journey from upbeat catchy riffs to pure crescendo-building, Alt-J-like grace in the space of three minutes. Warming listening as the cold starts to seep in. The wonderful cover artwork only adds to its appeal and sombre state. Daudi Matsiko is a name I hope to hear a lot more of. Jack Garofalo

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Haiku Salut
Etch And Etch Deep
Album (How Does It Feel To Be Loved?)
I am a newly formed, number one fan of Haiku Salut. Loud and proud shall I shout my praise of the all-female powerhouse taking musical exploration and instrumental experimentation to all-new levels. Their latest offering comes as a revelation to my eardrums. Each song title reads as a sort of menu – giving you a bit of insight to what you can expect to hear from the song. You Dance A Particular Algorithm kicks in with poppy, mathletic beats, reminding me of Saturday mornings as a kid, whooping my brother’s bottom on Spyro. The No-Colour of Rain and Dust struck a particular chord with me. The piano plays melancholy musical poetry, telling us that the rain and the dust are ever so sad that they’re not electric blue or magenta. Dig your headphones deep into your ear canal, and lose yourself in your imagination with this one. Lucy Manning

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Kount Masloff
Pop < Culture
Album (1st Blood Records)
1st Blood Records are firmly established as an underground entity of creativity and mould-breaking – and this release once again abides by those objectives and more. A fourteen-track LP of shrewd production with an array of the creme de la creme of rapping talent Notts has to offer, from the vicious wordplay exploits of Cappo and Louis Cypher, to the poetic storytelling of Rukus Regardless. Pop < Culture manages the rare feat of adhering to the street culture of hip hop while also furthering the boundaries through vastly differential rhythms and sounds. For me, highlights on the album include the opening track Alpha Omega, a futuristic homage to Russell Brand and the socialist values of Britain from newboy emcee Ty Healy (who appears on a large proportion of the album), and also Brighter Days, a soulful catchy number dominated by the Ghostface Killah-like imagery of Rukus Regardless. Jack Garofalo

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Lost Pets
Lost Pets EP
EP (Self-released)
If you are looking for something that’ll give you the relentless riffage of Sepultura or the dexterous wordplay of Jay Z, then look away now, there’s nothing for you to see here. On the other hand, if you want whimsical indie-pop that’s as comforting as sipping tea under a blanket while the rain outside batters your window, then you need to get your chops around this debut EP from Lost Pets. Although they claim that they can’t play their instruments, and song titles such as Richard Loves Doris and Mablethorpe are a little icky, there’s some seriously solid songwriting going on here. A Bad Year For Artichokes sets the stall out – wistful vocals, jangle-pop guitars, a gentle pace, it’s pretty damn good. Lost Pets certainly know their way around a tune, with Discount Sushi proving itself to be irresistibly catchy, proper earworm stuff. Paul Klotschkow

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Louis Antoniou
Scum EP
EP (Parloscope International Recordings)
Electric guitars, strong vocals, head-banging drum beats, and catchy lyrics are a difficult mix to get right, but this is one man who’s known for doing so. And he’s doing it well. His latest EP shows his immense blues rock talent, and with tracks such as Poor Man’s Rich Song, he grasps the essence of this genre with both hands and chucks it into our ears. Having been on the scene a little while now, it’s easy to notice the difference between his more advanced, skilled and mature music compared to newcomers, with Suicide Tasty proving he’s nailed the slower tempos as well as the faster tracks. With indie and rock club nights growing ever more popular, his music would sound perfectly at home at these events, and after listening to the tracks, you can’t help but imagine how fun an Antoniou gig would be. One to watch. Hannah Parker

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No! Disco
Just Visiting
EP (Sound Hub)
Poppy, punky, indie rock, nostalgic of the days when wearing skinny jeans was still considered ‘edgy’ and The Maccabees were new and exciting. No! Disco are a fresh-faced four-piece from the tough old streets of Notts, bringing back the sounds of the mid-to-late noughties to the modern day. Think Catfish and the Bottlemen. Lyrics bubbling with angst and enough instrument thrashing to get you jumping about like you’re fifteen again. There seems to be no loose ends out of the four members. As musicians, these guys fit together like a Lego set. The first track, Silhouettes, is the band's second official single and is a perfect EP opener, showcasing the band's tight production and musical chemistry. The title track, Just Visiting, is a great sing-a-long, and their ability to create genuinely catchy melodies could mean good things for this lot. This is just the beginning for them, after all. Ruby Butcher

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Rolo Tomassi
Grievances
Album (Holy Roar)
Loud, quiet, loud: one of the hoariest musical cliches in the lexicon of rock music. We’ve heard it all before, right? Wrong. Rolo Tomassi – named after an imaginary crime kingpin in LA Confidential – manage the impressive feat of taking that basic technique somewhere genuinely original. On the face of it, they’re a straightforward mathcore/metalcore band, with plenty of shrieking by singer Eva Spence and her brother, vocalist/keyboardist James. Opening track Estranged grabs you by the throat and pummels you in the face. Then something magical happens about halfway through Raumdeuter, Eva begins to make her presence felt: the music slows and her voice soars like an angel. The effect is breathtaking. The rest of the album is stuffed with complex arrangements and shifting tempos, but it’s the nuanced contrast between those two voices that really holds the attention throughout. Quite stunning. Tim Sorrell

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Unknown Era
Unknown Era
EP (Deeper Than Roots)
The vibrant, six-track EP from this ska group shows us why they've gained such a following over the past year. It's bouncy, knees-up music to get your body moving and your blood pumping. The band have a narrative approach to songwriting and you hear the undercurrents of jazz, hip hop and and reggae. Weekend Tales takes a dark look at western society, whereas My Town highlights youthfulness, with a sing-a-long, dance-a-long tune about life in Notts. Change Is the Element is the only track on the release that the female lead vocalist gets a proper look-in. Emily’s silvery voice gives the EP the injection of tenderness that it needs, her intricate verse dropping into a soft instrumental breakdown before soaring into a hectic crescendo alongside Molly’s gravelly vocals. The EP is bold and captures the energy this promising, motley bunch show on stage. Definitely worthy of a listen. Ruby Butcher

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Whalo
Sleepy
EP (Self-released)
This Stockholm/Nottingham hybrid two-man band comprises Johanna Lageryd and Matthew Breed. Their debut EP is the epitome of indie-pop-cum-alternative-rock, with proper punchy rhythms that give that ultimate cool feel, only otherwise found during your first week at the top of the pecking order – year eleven. In Artvocado, a clever misspelling of the fondly thought of, stone-centred fruit, airy vocals are distorted by driving guitar riffs. What’s Left for Us Girls starts with a muffled telephone or radio conversation – you’re desperate to make out what they’re saying but nothing is clear enough. In saunters a host of droning guitar sounds, before a gut-busting barricade of bar chords punctuate the false sense of security you created for yourself. There’s a mighty good tumpin’ of the drums, an’ all. Fans of The Black Kids and old-school MGMT are in luck with this one. Lucy Manning

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Youf
Peak Times
EP (Self-released)
The Superdrug eyeliner-clad emo buried not so deep within me is bouncing about with as much joy as is physically possible for a being defined by perpetual misery. EP opener, Qui-gin & Tonic sets the tone for the rest of the record – suitably petulant bar chords with a melancholy instrumental bridge. Despairingly poetic lyrics with delightful messages of woe, including, “Well I hope you find yourself/ Rotting out on the inside/ Pass your poison onto someone else” are ever-present, and often delivered in the obligatory emo scream. It’d be nice to have a little variation, and some light relief from all the doom and gloom – an ironic love song, perhaps, just to prove they can do it. It’s not the best listen following a particularly heavy night out, but definitely one for when your mum just won’t stop interfering with your life. God, why won’t she just let you live?! Lucy Manning

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Various Artists
Space Trix Volume 1
Album (Colour8)
Unlike anything you’ve likely heard before, Space Trix is a blissful piece of synth-heavy, ambient music intent on pushing the boundaries of how we experience sound to new heights. Producer CJ Mirra has reworked and mixed all tracks on Space Trix into binaural audio, creating a unique 3D listening experience. However, you must listen to it through headphones or the 3D effects will not be heard properly. Never is this more apparent than on closing track Webster’s Raft which, although optimises the album’s seeming vision as an art installation rather than a music piece, feels so stunningly realistic that the natural sounds of the wind feel as though they are actually flowing past your ears. It’s not a conventional piece of music, but then, that’s the point. Its unique feel is its attraction, and the 3D effects leave you feeling wonderfully immersed in the album. George Ellis

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The Wild Man of Europe
Gave Up The Ghost
Album (Self-released)
Despite their obvious country music influences and Americana instrumental style, it’s an absolute miracle that there is no horrendously fake Nashville-esque drawl to the vocals on Gave Up The Ghost, the follow-up to 2014’s Old Fashioned Flames. In fact, there’s summat rather Frank Turner about the stylings of vocalist Alec Bowman, accompanied by sweet, female, folky harmonies as seen on tracks including the slow-burning Forest Floor. With six of ‘em, there are more blinkin’ instruments than you can shake a stick at – including what sounds like the musical saw on Carrion – and all come together seamlessly in All I Ever Can Say. The harmonica, in particular, leads the way in taking you straight from your Sneinton bedsit to a porch in early evening Tennessee. Think Bruce Springsteen, if he was born and raised in north Notts. Lucy Manning

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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