Tuesday, 9 October 2012

From an album launch to a city relaunch

Usually, the most interesting thing in a shop at 4pm on a Sunday is the sight of shop assistants willing the last 30 minutes of opening to travel quicker than a proton round a hadron collider. Last Sunday at 4pm, a small record shop played host to something fairly more intriguing than bored staff members; as indie group Dog is Dead played a short acoustic set to celebrate the launch of their debut album; All Our Favourite Stories. The band were great, with the intimate atmosphere of the store providing a perfect venue for Dog is Dead's mellow, laid back indie sound; scaled back to the basics. The album is a a rewarding listen, alternating from up-tempo pop songs such as Glockenspiel Song; to more languid tracks such as Get Low, which have clear echoes of Bombay Bicycle Club. Some of the tracks feel a tad too long, but this is a small point. Maybe the most exciting thing (well, to me, maybe), is that the band hail from Nottingham.

Nottingham has hardly ever left any kind of impression on the British music scene. Whilst venues such as Rock City are a staple on many bands' tour itineraries (and the Ice Arena plays host to a whole plethora of chart cloggers), the city's bands hardly make it beyond the county boundaries. When compared to places such as Sheffield, Leeds, Bristol, Oxford and Newcastle, it becomes apparent just how much of a dearth of breakthrough music acts Nottingham has suffered from. It seems to be entangled with a much greater image problem the city has. Nottingham is seen as city blighted by gun crime and gang warfare. Even the city's most notable resident is, technically, a criminal. Nottingham's image problem is persistent, with the writer behind BBC's drama Murder:Joint Enterprise described Nottingham as 'murder capital of the UK'. 

Image problems, can be overcome however. Sheffield is a case and point. Portrayed in 'The Full Monty' as a city ruined by the industrial decline of the eighties, intensive regeneration has led to the transformation of the steel city into a modern and vibrant place. It is not inconceivable that Nottingham could shed its image problems, especially with the renovation of the station and the Broadmarsh shopping centre (a place so desolate that it resembles the apocalyptic aftermath of a bad science fiction movie). Maybe this potential upturn in fortunes can be linked to the beginnings of a breakthrough for the Nottingham music scene. Alongside Dog is Dead, singer Jake Bugg is starting to make waves with his Bob Dylan-influenced brand of folk music; with his own debut album soon to be released. It is a small start, but hopefully the momentum will bring with it more artists and musicians with the quality to make it on a bigger stage. And, as a parallel, maybe Nottingham can better the tired stereotypes, and reinvent itself as a modern city.

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