Ten great Derby releases from 2016

Happy New Year all ye of the Derby music and cultural scene.

We’re starting 2017 with this look back at these 10 great releases by Derby artists over the last 12 months. We’re also re-commiting to covering all the great stuff happening in the city on this here site by posting a bit more often.

Last year seemed to be one in which Derby started to pick itself up musically and began believing in itself once more (or perhaps, for the first time, at least in this generation). At the mainstream top we saw Derby Arena host its first shows and the city-wide 2Q festival make its inaugural appearance in the calendar. In the grassroots we welcomed the Hairy Dog growing into a two room venue, and despite having to do over a load of work it’s great to see Dubrek moved and re-opened as a multi-purpose musical space. Oh and an independent label launched in Derby too in the shape of Reckless Yes Records.

We are excited to see this growth and community continue in 2017 – may it be a year in which the cynics about creativity and happenings in the city are silenced, and we all make stuff happen.

But first – let’s look back at 10 releases by Derby artists which made 2016 musically better.

Unqualified Nurse Band – Debasement Tapes (Reckless Yes Records)
The debut long player from the ‘death surf’ trio was released in September digitally, followed by a later release on vinyl through Derby’s independent label Reckless Yes. Starting out as the solo project of Chris Jones he was joined toward the start of this year by Andrew Foster and Mark Jones. As a first release this is an impressive record but coming less than a year into the three playing together in this line up makes it even more impressive. Leaving out no genre of guitar music they show that mixing it up doesn’t have to be messy. According to recent posts the band are already at work on the follow up and have a single due shortly – an exciting prospect for 2017 and a band you must catch live if you can.

Diseases of Venus – Psychospiritual Guitar Loops (self-release)
We’re not sure this album has broken many waves beyond Derby and that’s a real shame because as an experimental psychedelic long player it’s really rather special. One very special performance in St Werbugh’s this summer means we’re looking forward to more live performances from this solo project of Nathan Cantrill this year. Of this album we said: “It is an unassuming gem within its genre, perhaps too easy to pass by and in doing so we miss the thrill of a discovered secret. Experimental, psychedelic of sound, awash with gently layered rhythms and fuzzed sounds.”

Goddesses – Goddesses (self-release)
A beautifully realised album of experimental psychedelic guitar music from four veterans of the Derby scene. Of this release we said: “There is a sense of balance between the light and dark of this album, and of the band having enough confidence in their control of it to occasionally swoop thrillingly and suddenly between the extremes, at other times to lead you gently through a transition. Even where tracks build to fuzzed out walls of soundthe noise stretching away, there is space and softness to it all; this is as organic as it is cosmic.”

Azzurro Peaks – Leave It On The Island (self-release)
Solo project of Mark Jones (also of Goddesses and Unqualified Nurse Band) and a sonic trip of layered guitar to make this one of the more interesting releases in either the indie, guitar pop or folk genres it crosses. A complete thrill to see this sound conjured live so catch him play as soon as you can. Of this release we said: “A technically intricate and highly melodic album from an artist delving deeply into multiple genres, unafraid of experimentation but anchored firmly in the hooks and melodies of pop.”

Anti-Pasti – Rise Up (Westworld Recordings)
The first album in 35 years from Derby punks Anti-Pasti. In a year which saw them part ways with frontman Gez Addictive (also of Addictive Philosophy) just ahead of this release the album takes on multiple socially conscious themes, much as you would expect from this band and fitting for the difficult times we find ourselves living through.

Find the band on Facebook.

Grawl!x – Aye! (self-release)
The second part of a trilogy of albums dealing with the theme of grief from multi-instrumentalist James Machin. The ambiance and glacial space of the first album (2015’s Good Grief) remains while there is also elements of guitar-led indie. The final album in the series is due in 2017 and set to be accompanied by a full length video feature.

Richard J Birkin – Vigils (Reveal)
A beautiful modern composition this is an album which is fragile and yet incredibly powerful too. In descriptions of the album he has said it is as if you are haunting significant moments in time and there is both the weightlessness of other, and the sense that the significance of this music will be best revealed from a distance.

Steven Battelle – Exit Brain Left
Debut solo release from LostAlone frontman is a bold actualisation of his enduring love of operatic rock. The thread of ’80s pop runs through this album of flamboyant and defiantly individual alt-rock allowing the prig songwriting chops of Battelle shine. He’s already working on the follow up too so seems to be back in the creative groove.

Pet Crow – Pet Soundz EP (self-release)
Released just a month after this band played their first gig together this four-track EP was an exciting introduction to a band who have made quite the impression on the live scene in the city. Full of garage pop vibes and grooving hooks and having recently signed to Reckless Yes Records we’re looking forward to their debut long player in 2017.

Yakobo –  The Passage Of Time EP (self-release)
The second in a trilogy of EPs from musical polymath and multi-instrumentalist James Currey. A more melancholy set of tracks than the first EP in the series the songs bring together a multitude of influences from classical to jazz and indie to ’60s songwriters. The final part of the trilogy is due in 2017 and you can also hear Currey’s work on a number of game soundtracks.

It’s great to hear so much great music coming from our small city and this is just the long playing tip of the iceberg. There have been amazing EPs and single tracks, rough demos, new bands springing up and a fertile live music scene. What this list does seem to show though is that there are very few women making music in Derby right now – something we hope will be re-addressed by the time we come to make our list at the end of 2017.

Send us your top tips for Derby music we should hear this new year: editor@storge.co.uk

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