Your votes actually gave us ten clear People’s Favourites on this weekend’s Listening Post, but I made a mistake when first adding up the numbers and accidentally left one of them out. This week I also at first tried adding in ‘honourable mentions’ for artists to the actual votes by way of an experiment, but it was pointed out in the comments that was neither wise nor fair. So now with big apologies to all, and especially The Fades, we finally bring you the definitive ten best-loved tracks from our readers’ Top Fives this weekend:
ARP ATTACK – Amnesty
Amnesty by ARP Attack was a popular choice this week. They have – we’re told – shared stages with the likes of Delphic, Chew Lips, Everything Everything and Two Door Cinema Club, and enjoyed unfailing support from BBC Introducing. They were first spotted performing in Portsmouth by NW Free Music who funded a recording of their debut single “Follow the Rhythm” at Dean Street Studios in London. It was released in April this year and caught the attention of Hype Music – affliated with MTV Networks – who are releasing a new four track EP by the band this August. From which – needless to say – this track is taken. ARP Attack are a band on the fast track whose music has the happy knack of winning friends and allies on first hearing.
ASTRO-PHYSICS – Chances
Brighton’s Astro-Physics are a 6 piece collective drawn together through a love of oldskool hip-hop. Influences range from N.E.R.D and The Roots through to The Fugees and early era Prodigy. They’re fronted by fronted by Rapper/MC Skilf, singer Rachel Mosleh and also include Steve Rainbow (bass), Martin Deering (drums), Jonny Coote (keys) and Mike Hawkins (guitar). Far from imitating their idols and influences their stated goal is to fuse hip-hop, rock and pop in a fiercely distinctive British fashion. Having recently undergone changes to their sound and lineup, Astro-Physics are, they tell us, “back in full force with a handful of new tracks, shows in the diary and a new EP called It’s a Mindstate”. From which this well-liked track is taken.
DENNIS : Caught In The Middle
Dennis are an 8-piece roots folkrock & brass band from the former pit town of Hetton, Co. Durham whose songs about the local town captivate audiences across the country. Members have played European tours, O2 Academy tours and National Brass Band finals with previous projects, collaborating under DENNIS to create music influenced through a local heritage of brass bands, workingmens clubs, pit village life and stories of the working class. This preview of Caught In The Middle was uploaded by Sapien Records and their debut video featuring this song will be aired across music channels throughout September to coincide with the release of their Colliery Welfare EP on September 10th. Not the easiest band name to find via Google, you’ll find links to all their various pages via dennisband.com
DRUNK MULE – Walkin’
What can we tell you about Fresh On The Net stalwarts Steve Simpson & Rich Morris – or Drunk Mule as they’re jointly known – that they haven’t already told you themselves in their funny, feisty comments, posts and songs right here on the blog? Walkin’ is only the latest of the irresistibly lofi guitar-driven tunes so beloved of our listeners – that invariably sound more like a full-on band than two miscreants holed away in the wilds of Glenrothes. “We started writing & recording together in May 2010” they say “and have amassed quite a hefty number of mule tunes since then. We just hope we get you dancin’ about yer place, get a wee toe or two a tappin’ or even put a smile on yer face. Cheers for givin’ us a few moments of yer time & hope you like our mulage.” We do, lads, we certainly do.
EIGHT ROUNDS RAPID – Channel Swimmer
When a first-time band suddenly gets a rash of postive ratings on the Listening Post from first time vistors, we know what to think. The great treasure of the FOTN Listening Post however is our loose panel of regular reviewers – those loyal flinty diehards who turn up and vote every week. Music lovers and music makers who’ve heard it all before and call it like it is. And this week Eight Rounds Rapid drew overwhelming support from such discerning regulars as Mar, Al Mobbs, Debs McCoy, Big Jim Cambo, MyLittlebrother and the ever-reliable Drunk Mule. Make no mistake, this band is the real deal. Their biog’s a bit sparse, but at least they’ve got one: “Essex bred four piece Eight Rounds Rapid write songs for themselves. Regardless of the latest musical fads and fashions they will produce a hard edged sound all their own. For better or for worse. They are: David Burke – Vocals, Jules Cooper – Bass, Simon Johnson – Guitar, and Lee Watkins – Drums.”
FREE SWIM – Chumps Like Smee
I blogged recently about band websites uncontaminated by factual information, and artists who imagine that a load of flowery adjectives is the same thing as a biog. The biog section on Free Swim’s Facebook page simply says “Indie pop aux humeurs psychédéliques” with a list of DJs who have played them on the radio. Their given location is “The Leisure Centre”. And actually Reigate musician Paul Coltoféanu is so much more interesting than you could possibly guess from these sparse facts. I’ve played his music on all kinds of occasions and under all kinds of names – including Arcs and The Android Angel – as well as this latest and most acclaimed outlet for his whimsical genius. Free Swim boasts a five piece live lineup that includes an animal-suited bassist known only as Yoland The Panda. Paul doesn’t want to tell you anything else but you can read a lot of complimentary quotes about his music by rifling through the Free Swim Bandcamp pages.
PARTYCLUB – Shake
Formed late last year PartyClub herald from what they describe as “the quaint city of York” where they’re pioneering their own genre of #indiebounce© and inviting listeners along for the ride. And the listeners seem pretty keen to climb aboard: their earlier track Young And free saw them playlisted on Radio 1 in April as Introducing Band Of The Week. They now share management with Dappy, Tinchy, and Dot Rotten among others – and this summer brought them a flurry of live activity – with a mini tour around England plus assorted festival and summer balls at the country’s Ancient Universities. Unusually for an ambitious band with friends in high places, PartyClub retain a warm, toasty and down-to-earth charm in both their music and their attitude that bodes well for this canny and likeable bunch.
THE FADES – Be Your Man
The first version of this post accidentally left out South London punk soul rockers THE FADES who were deserving members of this week’s Fresh Faves, picked by Listening Post stalwarts including Steff Lane, Al Mobbs, Mar and The Paperclip Forum. To my mind a song like Be Your Man is deceptively difficult to write and play – needing to be both minimal and massive at the same time. No fancy stuff in the lyrics or chord sequence but – at the same time – it takes real musical smarts to get the voicing and arrangement right. You have to grab listeners in bar one, then keeps them mesmerised as the songs twists and builds right through the full four minutes. To bring it off takes the commitment, conviction – and deafening power – of a band like The Fades. Be Your Man comes from their debut studio album Ragnarok and is available in two versions – clean/radiofriendly and unexpurgated. (The ‘F’ bombs really only come at the end but there’s plenty of them.) The band’s current single Foot In Your Mouth is available as a free download from their Facebook Page and Londoners can experience the full might of their live sound at the album launch on September 29th at The Borderline. Take ear protectors!
THE JAR FAMILY – Broken Minded
Hartlepool 7-piece The Jar Family met on the North East’s open mic circuit in 2009 and include five very different singer/songwriters in their ranks. Describing their sound as ‘Industrial Folk’ they released a debut EP called Livingston Session in 2010. Their first single Poolie Strut was adopted by Hartlepool United Football club – and was played before kick off at every home game last season. They recorded their first album at Sawmills Studio in Cornwall and released it earlier this year. From it, Broken Minded is their newly released third single, and they’re on tour to support it this month, playing Norwich on Saturday (Aug 18th) followed by Hartlepool, Durham. Middlesbrough, Macclesfield, London, Braintree and Cheltenham. For full date sheet see their Facebook.
WE ARE ANIMAL – Royal Wolf
Through alphabetical accident the best comes last, and I’ve tracked the adventures of wiful musical maverick Owain Ginsberg for the last three years with keen interest. Ows comes from a musical family in a small village just outside Caernarfon in the foothills of Snowdonia – he’s a member of the hotly tipped Masters in France and brother to Caz Ginsberg of Fennel Seeds. He laid down the first WE//ARE//ANIMAL tracks in a local slate quarry by multitracking himself on a battered 7 track digital recorder (the eighth track was broken) but soon assembled a real live gigging and recording lineup. And like every great bandleader he has the knack of surrounding himself with gifted musicians, setting a direction and letting them get on with it.
Royal Wolf started out as a mistake when guitarist Dion Hamer accidentally hit a note on his guitar with his delay pedal on – providing us the drone-loop which circulates throughout the entire track. Writing the rest, says Ows, was a piece of cake. If you’re looking for The Next Big Thing on Pitchfork, Hype Machine and Radio 1, you’d probably better look elsewhere. I doubt if the genie of Ginsberg’s wild and ferocious talent will ever bend the knee or play the game for long enough to swarm its way up the tainted pole of fame and fortune. But for an unerringly inventive (and genuinely edgy) re-imagining of rock’n’roll’s long-lost antic spirit, We Are Animal is the band to follow.