With many of the tracks in this week's The Mic Recommends... being from artists who are local to Nottingham, including hidingthehurt, Lydia Prettyman, and Holly Humberstone, now is the best time to discover some of the city's best up-and-coming talent. Elsewhere, you will find the experimental sounds of Yung Lean, a summery indie anthem from The Amazons, and the mellow psychedelic rock of Kurt Vile. Enjoy!
Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone) - Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile seems to be at the end of a long journey, the lyrics of this song playfully suggesting that disturbed grass snakes are the only evidence left of him passing through. Yet the sweet and hazy guitars and meandering tones suggest that being “way gone” is just another reversible state in the indeterminate dreamscape he has created. To me this song has the timeless Neil Young quality that feels like you could be lying in a corn field in the heartlands of the U.S staring up at the constellations contemplating the harvest moon (instead of listening sat stationary in Nottingham’s glorious rush hour traffic). Christi Smith
Take Ur Leave - hidingthehurt feat. Tsuyunoshi
Nottingham-based student hidingthehurt has released new single Take Ur Leave, the final single from his upcoming EP, featuring Tsuyunoshi. The guitar-driven beat sees hidingthehurt experiment on pastures new, expanding his sound to another level, almost as if you merged the sound of artists such as Aries or Rex Orange County with some more hyperpop and emo-rap influences. The hook of the track is incredibly catchy and upbeat, with beautiful falsetto vocals. The two promising up-and-coming artists come together seamlessly, with commendable chemistry, resulting in a song that feels like a true collaboration. Having almost doubled his monthly listener count since last summer, things are only on the up for hidingthehurt, marking him as one of the most exciting artists emerging from Nottingham, and the UK, right now. The track is one of his best, and only serves to build my anticipation for the EP, which will be released very soon. Gemma Cockrell
Trip - Yung Lean
Following his recent newfound popularity on TikTok, and being pictured with the likes of Kanye West and Drake, Yung Lean has wasted no time in dropping his new single Trip. With Yung Lean’s music, it has always felt like he was ahead of his time, and it feels like recently people are finally starting to catch on to his unique sound. Trip sees him continue to push his sound forward; showing no signs of staying the same, Yung Lean once again takes a step forward. Produced by a variety of names, including long-term collaborator Woesum, Trip has a euphoric, upbeat instrumental that feels like basking in sunlight, released at the perfect time of year. Lean’s airy, light, and breathy bars complement it perfectly, my favourite line being “We go hard like Eversince”, a reference that is likely not just to how long Yung Lean has been making music, but also to his close friend and collaborator Bladee’s album Eversince, a welcome nod to one of my favourite albums of all time. Who knows what Yung Lean will do in the near future, and whether we will see him appearing on any of Kanye or Drake’s upcoming releases, but for now this solo track proves that he is still able to innovate and keep his sound fresh, nine years after the release of the songs of his that are currently dominating TikTok. I was left hoping that the track would be the lead single of an upcoming Yung Lean project, with it having been two years since his last album Starz, and Yung Lean responded by announcing his upcoming project StarDust for release on April 8th. Gemma Cockrell
Picture Frames - Lydia Prettyman
The Mic Alumna Lydia Prettyman has released her debut single, titled Picture Frames. With a chilled-out, easy-listening, and languorous sound, which instantly struck me as comparable to modern artists such as Frank Ocean, Arlo Parks, easy life and Daniel Caeser, Picture Frames is a pop song at its core, layered with hints of soul and jazz. The lyrics tell a beautiful story; in Lydia's own words from The Mic's interview with her earlier this month, the song is "a reflection on a relationship when you’ve broken up. I liked the concept of talking about baby names with someone, and then breaking up and not doing that anymore. It all started from that. Reflecting on memories and pictures. That's the story behind it." She cites 70s artists, such as Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, as the driving inspiration behind her desire to use her lyrics to tell such a vivid story, and the intricate details within her depictions of her memories truly do bring the song to life. As an independent up-and-coming artist, with close connections to the city of Nottingham and The Mic, Lydia deserves all of your attention, and I strongly urge you to check the song out so you can witness her incredible talent and song-writing skills for yourselves. Gemma Cockrell
I Would Die 4 U - Holly Humberstone
Following her previous single London Is Lonely, Holly Humberstone is back with a lo-fi, low-key cut titled I Would Die 4 U. The gentle and heartfelt piano ballad sees Humberstone continue to master the song-writing style that has dominated her previous EPs, characterised by lyrics which are written with poignant vulnerability and poise. Managing to pack vast amounts of emotion into the track's short runtime of two minutes and twenty seconds, Humberstone is a master of portraying a great volume of feeling and sentiment through minimalism, letting the song breathe through moments of effective silence so that her emotions spill out of its pores. The song is not flashy or in-your-face, and it doesn't have an upbeat and catchy pop hook, but it is beautifully haunting in its stripped-back and bare nature. Not many artists can create a comparable atmosphere to the one that Humberstone achieves through her music. Gemma Cockrell
Bloodrush - The Amazons
The Amazons have released their new single Bloodrush this week, in anticipation of their next album How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me? coming out in September. In comparison to the multi-layered, heavy and occasionally gritty sound of previous singles like In My Mind and Black Magic, this release is lighter in texture. In some places it is instrumentally relatively stripped back, at one point a single guitar is left to wistfully strum, which would seem wildly out of place in some of their earlier work. However, the importance of complex guitar riffs to the band’s sound remains the case in Bloodrush. This is particularly seen in the bridge section, which is peppered with catchy yet impressive riffs. Lyrically the song is simple and repetitive, yet it effectively explores the loneliness of long-distance relationships with lyrics like "holding on is all we’ve ever known" encapsulating these struggles. Bloodrush was written by the band during the pandemic which gives it a resonance with many listeners because of its exploration of difficult phases coming to a close and new opportunities arising, "it’s about time we got a bloodrush in". The single as a whole seems to diverge a lot more into the realms of mainstream pop compared to their typical alternative indie rock sound. Therefore, the release of a single like this could be perceived as a business driven move aimed to create hype around the band and expand their listener base ahead of their next album. Fans were able to get an exclusive listen to part of the new single ahead of its release on TikTok which perhaps indicates this intention. However, the band could have simply made the decision to take their sound in a different direction and considering this is their first release since 2020, they will inevitably have developed as a band within this time frame which is bound to influence their musical output. For now, we can and only patiently wait and see what is to come from The Amazons this autumn. Emily Campbell
Edited by: Gemma Cockrell
Featured image courtesy of Holly Humberstone via Facebook.