The music scene in Notts is something really special. With all the amazing artists, it can be hard to find the hidden gems. We’ve made a list of seven of the best emerging and under the radar talents Nottingham has to offer…
This guy is Nottingham based rapper Ryan Pearson and if you haven’t heard of him yet then you should have done. With the lyrical intensity and flow of rappers like J.Cole – as well as the wit and nuances of his ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude – his music is a well-oiled blend of modern R&B and old-school hip-hop. His peers include the likes of Tee-Peters (also worth checking out) and you can see the resemblance, although for me Nebula’s sound is a slightly more charming and polished rendition, smiling at the mainstream but still keeping his head fully in the old-school. Think J-Hus, KAYTRANADA but with a good measure of early Death Row Records.
For fans of: KAYTRANADA, J-Hus, RAY-BLK, J.Cole, Slowthai, Mac Miller and Warren G
Modern soul has been making a comeback in a revolution like way, from Jorja Smith to Tom Misch to The Milk. This singer is no exception to the trend. Very much in the early days of her musical career, she’s already making waves with her sensational voice – she’s got one of those effortless – vocal runs for the hell of it – type of voices that makes you want to listen more, but also makes you frustrated that the extent of your own singing is a poor rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ down the local. As she says herself, she’s in the process of experimenting with her sound and actually finding: unfortunately she’s only got one track on Spotify and for me, it really doesn’t do her justice (sorry, don’t boo). BUT I’ll just reiterate – she’s still trying to hone her sound – fair enough, that’s the mark of a proper artist – and with such raw talent I am so excited to see what she’s going to offer us in the future.
For fans of: Jorja Smith, Hiatus Kiayote, Charlotte Dos Santos, NAO, Tom Misch, Sigrid
These guys are an enigma. I only know they’re from Nottingham through word of mouth, which to me is pretty cool – it’s interesting and creates an aura, as well as being kinda refreshing to be directed to the content of the music rather than what they actually look like; all this and I haven’t even got to the music yet. They’re unsigned, but the level of what they’re putting out screams professional: from the production to the musicianship to the song-writing. This duo is an alternative style powerhouse of raw emotion. It’s very much in a similar vein to Mystery Jets and Local Natives but has influences of Jungle and Cage the Elephant chucked in, because why the fuck not. What’s the catch you ask? They have not played a show yet. Ah, so it’s all still a mystery, but at the same time it’s a nice bit of anticipation. From a recent interview with Otto Video they stated they are already recording a second EP and this is when we can expect a show – in the meantime, I would highly recommend checking out they’re debut on Spotify.
For fans of: Local Natives, Mystery Jets, Jungle, Flyte, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Half Moon Run and Bombay Bicycle Club
The alter-ego of Holly Taylor-Gamble, AVA SAINT (and yeah, that’s a pretty fucking badass name) plays a nice concoction of styles; it’s basically like a heavier London Grammar, but you can see various nods to other artists. There’s an air of Jeff Buckley in there, in the fact that the songs are very powerful and emotive, which gives it an ethereal tone that I like. It’s a bit like giving Florence Welsh an electric guitar. Think Chris Isaak with distortion. The only issue that you may find with AVA SAINT is the difficulty in telling what she’s actually saying – I don’t really care, because she manages to provoke the same emotion simply through her hypnotic melodies, a bit like the Cocteau Twins. Although not polished and perfect, it’s a nice raw sound.
For fans of: London Grammar, Chris Isaak, Jeff Buckley, Patti Smith and Courtney Barnett
Luke Peter Foster
Norwich based spoken-word artist Luke has become a stalwart of the Nottingham scene in recent years, having already headlined the Bodega to a packed venue and continuing to build momentum from every show. He provides a reflective day-dream lyricism, which is simply put to developed hip-hop beats. It’s a lot of teenage angst, but it’s mature in its delivery and really offers an honest reflection of the struggles of the life of a millennial. His latest offering ‘Of The Night’ is a really nice inner-monologue of Foster and really captures his emotion and artistic talent – definitely worth a listen, as well as his extensive back-catalogue.
For fans of: Loyle Carner, Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn, J-Cole, Rejjie Snow and Kojaque
There are a lot of indie bands. There is no dispute in that. But do you want one that’s actually really good? Of course you do. Vega Bay bring back the sound of the pioneers of the genre, such The Smiths and Joy Division; their skill as songwriters makes for a really interesting take on the style. They also make a stand-out with soaring vocal melodies and the energy of their live performances; kudos should also be given for their belting choruses – proper crowd pleasing old-school indie bangers. I think that’s all I really have to say, because, everyone knows what indie music is by now, right? You don’t have to answer, because the answer is yes.
For fans of: The Smiths, Two Doors Cinema Club, Habitats, Joy Division and The Maccabees
Billing themselves as Nottingham based alternative rock ‘n’ roll, they certainly live up to the name. Being possibly the most successful act on this list, they have cemented themselves on the local and national scene. With tunes like ‘Money Maker’ they have some serious vibes from early Vaccines, they manage to channel a bit of every alternative band under the sun from song to song. It’s kinda confusing, but in a refreshing way. For instance, we go from Vampire Weekend to The Doors to Spring King in the space of three songs. If you’re into that then these guys are for you – you won’t be bored and with the energy being evident in each song, I would highly recommend checking out their live sets.
For fans of: Spring King, Kasabian, The Kooks, The Vaccines, Maximo Park and Indoor Pets
By Oli Aston
Photo Credit: Lucy Beth Munday. The Shrives at Live at Leeds 2018.