by Rowan Gavin
It’s been a great year for music in East Anglia’s Finest City. If you’re a gig-goer, you’ll no doubt have come across some of the many up-and-coming Norwich and Norfolk musicians breathing new life into the local scene these last few months. Here, in no particular order, I’d like to present five of the local acts that have most impressed, entranced, and inspired me in 2018.
Tibetan Night Terrors
Tibetan Night Terrors are the calypso indie rockers I didn’t know I needed in my life until they leapt on stage at the Arts Centre this spring, replete with Aloha shirts and winning grins. Their tropical disco stylings grow a luscious jungle of groove, into which bounds a setlist of captivating, giggle-inducing, occasionally epic love songs shot through with motifs of queer resistance. Every one of their singles to date has seen heavy rotation in my headphones, and the album currently in the works, which may or may not be called Goblinquest, is one of my most anticipated of the new year.
Let’s Eat Grandma
If you hadn’t heard about then-teenage Norwich duo Let’s Eat Grandma off the back of their debut album, the eerie, faerie, magickal I, Gemini, then I hope for your sake that you caught wind of the phenomenal success of its 2018 follow up I’m All Ears. The otherworldly vocals of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth float poetry over hypnotic bass, sublime synth lines and gloriously unexpected bursts of sax with a childish brilliance that demands attention, rightly earning the album a place on many best-of-2018 lists. Hot Pink is perhaps the best showcase of their range and strangeness, but there’s a special place in my heart for Donnie Darko, the 11-minute epic that might just be my favourite track of the year.
Bag of Cans
Obvious disclaimer is obvious: the fabulous Tom McGhie, one of the Cans, writes for this very publication. Not that any such affiliation would stop me including the Funniest Band I’ve Heard This YearTM on this list. Bag of Cans have been tearing up Norwich’s pubs and small venues all year with their infectiously wacky brand of boogie-woogie punk – their Chapelfield Bandstand set at the Lord Mayor’s Parade, featuring a then-still-appropriate version of Football’s Coming Home, was a particular highlight. If you want a sense of just how beautifully absurdist the Cans get, seek out Antboy (“No Uncles! Just Ants!”) and Captain Britain’s Funk Nightmare (complete with the infamous Bag Solo), then get thyself hastily to your nearest Cans gig for a live experience like no other.
Sink Ya Teeth
Sometimes, you hear a new band and think “I’ve never heard anything like that before”. Sometimes, you think “I didn’t even know music like that was possible”. Sink Ya Teeth’s breakout single If You See Me gave me inklings of both those feelings, and the rest of their self-titled debut album compounded that – an impressive feat indeed, given that it draws on and references so many of the most familiar sounds and styles of post-punk and dance. If, like me, you’re not intimately aware of the past few decades’ trends in dance-punk, electro and bloghouse, I recommend doing some reading around this album, just to assure yourself that you’ll never quite understand the genius of Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford. That won’t stop you stepping to it if you catch them live though – their performance oozes so much style it makes the floor sticky.
I’ve seen Maya Law, for my money the finest singer-songwriter on the Norwich circuit right now, play more times in the past couple years than probably any other act. Her set hasn’t changed that much in that time – a few older songs that she accompanies on acoustic guitar, and a few newer hung over tracks of smooth neo-soul beats. And every single time I find myself elated, mesmerised, nodding and swaying and mouthing along just as much as the time before, if not more. Her lyrics ring of a rare level of emotional intelligence that is eye-opening in its insight and young wisdom, interspersed live with infectious laughter. No word yet of a follow-up full-length to 2016’s excellent Her or Him, but whatever Maya does in 2019, it’ll be worth paying attention to.
If you’re looking for a resolution to make today, here’s an easy one: go check out one of these acts the next time they play in Norwich. It might just change your year.
Tibetan Night Terrors support Space at Epic Studios on March 9th
Let’s Eat Grandma tour the UK with CHVRCHES in February
Sink Ya Teeth play Norwich Arts Centre with Algiers on January 11th
Maya Law supports Bessie Turner at Norwich Arts Centre on February 16th
Bag of Cans… aren’t hard to find if you sniff around 😉
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