1. Stefan and Tania
Just one year ago this dynamic musical duo were experimenting with the occasional unofficial open mic night around their university halls. Fast-forward onto this year and Stefan Cave (guitar) and Tania Sheratte (vocals) are a well-established act on Nottingham’s alternative music scene with an ever-growing following. Frequently found in venues such as The Ropewalk, The Jam Cafe and Alley Cat Cafe, their engaging sets have become something of a local legend. Stefan and Tania’s sets offer something to both locals and students with their winning combination of classics and arrangements of more popular music. While their set consists mainly of covers, their interpretations are unique. Their ingenious mash-up of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’ and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley is a favourite of many and a fine example of what they’re all about. The twosome has recently recruited a new member, Peter Beardsworth, who plays the banjo and the saxophone. The onstage chemistry between the group members makes them an absolute joy to watch. They have recorded a demo and are hoping to put some of their own independent gigs on soon, so watch this space.
Nottingham-based band Swimming have a lot in common with fellow local band Late of the Pier. Both of the bands enjoy turning all things up to eleven in terms of synthesisers. However, where Late of the Pier sound like a bizarre combination of Muse and The Clangers, Swimming bring soaring harmonies into their music. They have just released their major label debut ‘Ecstatics International’, and on this album the band live up to their name while providing a truly fluid musical sound. From the incessantly catchy opening tracks, ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’ and ‘In Ecstatics’ all the way to the superbly harmonious closer ‘Team Jetstream’, they display a real feeling of fun and experimentation with sound. The band can be regularly seen around Nottingham in different venues such Nottingham Contemporary and Broadway Cinema; truly, this is some exciting new local talent worth checking out.
Forgotten Classic: Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘One Hot Minute’
For many, ‘One Hot Minute’ is the awkward, John Frusciante-less, intermediate phase that nobody likes to talk about, namely because of poor reviews and sales. The pressure of starting again with a new guitarist, Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction, and meeting the dizzy success of ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ was too much.
Unless the record was just underrated. In my opinion, it shows RHCP trying to grow up, tackling issues they were dealing with at the time: death, depression and drugs. Tracks such as ’My Friends’ and ‘Transcending’ display extraordinary lyrical and melodic depth, especially ‘Transcending’ where the subtlety and ease of the guitar rift intertwine with the effortless, yet complex bass line. It is one of the tracks bassist Flea wrote when drugs made Anthony Kiedis incapable of doing so, showing that success could rise out of chaos.
RHCP also did not forget their funk roots. ‘Walkabout’ and ‘Falling into Grace’ have a deep funk groove with hammering riffs reminiscent of their older material. While ‘Aeroplane’ may have a bland melodic chorus, Flea thumps out a driving bass over the verse and Navarro’s guitar solo meets the quality of Frusciante. Perhaps ‘Aeroplane’ highlights the problem of the record; there is little coherence in their attempt to bring together funk and a more melodic sound. ‘Transcending’ encapsulates this conflict when halfway through it suddenly launches into a mash of wah-pedal and noise that destroys the chilled vibe of the beginning.
This, however, does not mean ‘One Hot Minute’ should be regarded as a total failure. It has moments of ingenuity all wrapped up in the bewilderment of an uncomfortable transition stage. No one would regret Frusciante’s return in 1998, but one wonders about the different heights the band might have reached if Navarro ultimately had not been fired.
Riana Sadrudin, Liam Coleman & Emily Shackelton