From Jake Bugg to Sleaford Mods, Nottingham has enjoyed a renaissance of new music in recent years, seeing its artists achieve more commercial and critical success than many would have imagined ten years ago. Looking past the music headline grabbers, there is a youthful and vibrant live music scene reflecting the city's young population and varied culture. It has already produced bands such as Crosa Rosa, Kagoule and Same Streets with many others hot on their heels, so this month we set out to find which 20 Nottingham bands you need to hear now.
Punk ethics made into something new and exciting. Some readers may be familiar with Grey Hairs from their support slots with the aforementioned Nottingham heroes, Sleaford Mods. Grey Hairs' latest superbly stern and unrelenting long player, 'Serious Business' was recorded at Nottingham's JT Soar, an underground music and arts space based in an ex-fruit and veg warehouse. Catch them in London in May when they play The 100 Club.
Cherry Hex & The Dream Church
This minimalist electro-indie duo has a warm, blissful sound that doesn't rely on overused dream-pop tropes. Instead, they employ chiming synths and sparse drum tracks to complement a crystal clear female vocal. Listen to their latest 'Tea Of Tears' EP below.
A really refreshing take on the current Brit-rock format, sure to become a new favourite of the scene's followers. The Tangents are a smart sounding three-piece with new material imminent at the end of May. Check out their current track 'Forever More'.
As the name suggests, this is a young band who certainly pack a punch. If Hole had been British, they might have sounded like Babe Punch. Loud distorted guitars with a strong, multifaceted female lead vocal that sets them apart from the competition.
Atmospheric alt-rock drenched in reverb to file next to the likes of Sigur Ros and Mogwai. Field Studies manage to tread this territory skilfully without wandering into the confusing prog-rock fog that often strands similar bands leaving them inaccessible to many. Field Studies have well-defined melodies and structure to their songs that ensure this doesn't happen.
A post-punk trio who create a heady mix early '90s alt-rock and pre-Brit-pop indie-punk. There are obvious comparisons for those who remember Therapy? and other bands of the same era who managed to stand with one foot in the indie camp and another in rock. Find 'Sanctuary' below.
I Am Lono
A slick new wave synth-pop outfit who wear their OMD and Vince Clarke influences on their sleeve, but do so incredibly convincingly. It's almost impossible not to feel transported to a very cool version of the 1980s. Watch the video to 'Why Everything Is Made of Fives' below.
An altogether more organic approach to song making appears to be the trademark of Keto, AKA Leah Sanderson. 'Superstar' appears on her latest 'What We Do' EP.
An indie rock 'n' roll four-piece headed by singer, Conor Spray, these guys will appeal to fans of Nottingham's favourite son, Jake Bugg. Some of The Ruffs' biggest live slots to date have in fact been those supporting The Swiines, a Nottingham rock 'n' roll band whose guitarist is Jake's Cousin, Scott Bugg.
Contemporary electronic, danceable pop. Comparisons between this synth-driven duo and a reincarnation of The Pet Shop Boys are not inaccurate. Experience 'A Little Bit of Fear' below.
Dizzying psychedelic and bluesy songs that hint at Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' output from around the turn of the Millennium, or some long-lost unheard recording from an Eel Pie Island session.
Autumn Diet Plans
Describing themselves humorously as "Dangerously close to being an oasis tribute band", Autumn Diet Plans sound more influenced by the Nirvana/Seattle aspect of the '90s. They've recently supported Subculture favourites, Crosa Rosa. Listen to 'Moon Voyage' below.
As the name suggests, cool, shining, polished indie pop from this Nottingham based three-piece. Recent outings include a Nottingham support slot for Methyl Ethel. Listen to 'Fool' for a toe-tapping sample of their sound.
Cheshire and the Cat
Dark, brooding multi-instrumental songs from this seven-piece. Their dynamic changes of tempo and mood suggest the acts of a film and a storyline, as their epic latest 'Iron Fork' demonstrates.
Another band with cinematic leanings, Lorna are a six-piece indie-pop band with a penchant for John Hughes, David Lynch and deconstructing the idea of a Christmas song. If you happen to be going to Cardiff's Wales Goes Pop festival this April you'll be able to catch them there.
When The Sun Hits
With obvious but well-executed references to Joy Division, New Order and other members of Factory's extended family, When the Sun Hits make slow post-punk for rainy days. Check out 'Remain' below.
A great little indie-rock three-piece in their early twenties, with a wholesome energy reminiscent of The Magic Numbers.
Revenge Of Calculon
One of the less conventional bands on the list - an analogue electro-funk outfit who wear luchador (Mexican wrestler) masks at all times. You can catch Revenge Of Calculon gigging at Nottingham Contemporary's cafe-bar quite regularly, and listen to their recent 'Dirty Beast' here.
For The Girl
Hailing from Nottingham's neighbouring Mansfield For The Girl are five lads who seem to subscribe very enthusiastically to the Brit-rock movement. Watch the video for their latest 'Breathe' here.
These Your Children
We round off the list with this refreshing and uplifting sun-filled acoustic-vocal singer-songwriting duo. A million miles away from the folky sound you might expect this pair have a modern and original take on the stripped back approach. Expect them to be huge soon. Listen to 'Set A Fire' below.
Huge thanks to all of those who made suggestions or got in touch to be involved.