Taking a look the acts you should be keeping an eye on in Nottingham
Nottingham. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. For outsiders, the city has long been mocked for being, well, bland. Best known for Robin Hood and Torvill and Dean, Nottingham is seen as being a city more than happy to bathe in vanilla essence. However, for those within its walls, a sense of quiet pride lingers.
In reality, Notts is Britain’s best kept secret.
Nottingham is the perfect example of why British music isn’t just a game played by London, Manchester or Bristol. From rock (Jake Bugg; Sleaford Mods) to grime (Young T & Bugsey; Bru-C), the city has space for every genre. Whether you’re a festival fan (Dot to Dot, Hockley Hustle, Splendour, Beat The Streets), fancy a night at ‘one of the best venues in the country’, or if you’d prefer to lose track of time perusing in Rough Trade, the city is a music lover’s delight. Besides, when the BBC commission a show called ‘Music City: Is Nottingham the UK’s new hit factory?’, you know the hype must be true. Forget Arctic Monkeys harking on about 0114, because 0115 is where it’s really at.
Without further adieu, here are some of the homegrown indie acts that you should probably get to know.
In talking about just how good the East Midlands is at churning out creative talent, Do Nothing are the perfect place to start. Having released their debut EP in April, and having gained support from the likes of NME and DIY, Do Nothing are well and truly on the cusp of something amazing.
Best described as creating post-punk music that you can groove to, Do Nothing are razor sharp and full of energy. Besides making melodies replete with cutting guitar riffs, heavy bass lines and thundering drums, the band represent the full package. As lead singer Chris speak-sings the rambling lyrics, you’ll find it hard not to be impressed by the experimental wit that they embody. Just check out their fourth single, ‘LeBron James’. Based on the Fyre Festival saga, the lyrics are full of satire, with the band even managing to squeeze in references to The Simpsons’ ‘Marge vs the Monorail’ episode. Paired with Chris’ theatrical on stage persona, Do Nothing manage to make the post-punk revival even more exciting.
Soft Girls & Boys Club
If Do Nothing are a hit of adrenaline, then Soft Girls & Boys Club are a serotonin shot. With a rock-meets-dream-pop-meets-psychedelic vision, Soft Girls & Boys Club’s sound meanders somewhere between upbeat and mellow.
Contrastingly, beneath the glossy licks and ethereal orchestration, are lyrics that contemplate the not so glamorous realities of life. Contributing to the nation’s love for happy-sad music, Soft Girls & Boys Club’s somewhat dark lyrics are in complete opposition to their airy, sugar sweet melodies. From ‘Sertralean’’s discussion of living with depression to ‘Baby, We All Get Lonely’’s exploration of heartbreak and loneliness (if it wasn’t evident from the title), the smooth reverbs and layers are strong enough to distract you from the melancholy lyrics.
With two albums under their belt, Kagoule have come a long way since forming the band as teenagers at school. Just comparing their latest album, Strange Entertainment, to their debut, Urth, and the growth is made clear.
Kagoule’s musical influence has been widely described as 90s grunge. However, it would be reductionist to say that this is what the band are limited to. Whilst the jagged, guitar heavy sound draws parallels with bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Kagoule give the 90s grunge elements a contemporary twist.
Perhaps what is most endearing about Kagoule are their distinct vocal arrangement. As Cai and Lucy work to create fresh harmonies, switching up their dynamic on every track, each song possesses a different identity. One moment, their vocals will be accompanying each other like gentle whispers and the next they will be bouncing off of each other in energetic bursts.
Championed by BBC Introducing’s Dean Jackson, Vega Bay pack a punch with their feel-good vibes. With their unique take on indie – merging it with elements from guitar pop, electronic and rock – Vega Bay are refreshing and outright fun. Worthy of endless radio plays and alternative dance floors across the country, Vega Bay find success in their ability to blend the timeless with the innovative.
Think anthemic choruses and upbeat indie, Vega Bay are all about the crowd pleasers. The guitar riffs are always undeniably catchy, Sam’s raspy vocals are never anything less than endearing and the beat consistently has you in the palm of its hands. Covering topics such as mental health (‘Sometimes It Rains’), Vega Bay capture the feelings of a generation who want their music to be equally smart, vulnerable and positively escapist.
Any list related to Notts music wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Saint Raymond. Held dearly in the hearts of Notts locals, Callum has become synonymous with infectious choruses and summer anthems. Put on any of his records and you’ll immediately be thinking about the joys of being young and carefree because, if there’s one thing Callum is bloody good at, it’s conjuring up a sense of nostalgia. Whether you’re 23 or 53, the addictive melodic shape, sprinkling of synths and energetic riffs will have you basking in euphoria.
Having released his debut album back in 2015, Callum has been slowly but surely teasing us with new music. Following the release of his latest single ‘Love This Way’ a couple of days ago, rumour has it that a new album is coming early next year.
On a personal note, Callum, Bodega is waiting for you to perform Mojito Sundays just one more time.
Words by Lucy Robinson