Fresh Faves: Batch 25

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.

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...

7 Comments

  1. loz

    Hi Tom,

    It is indeed a great batch of music this week and I was very happy to listen to the tracks – without actually voting.
    I was just wondering however, how the final 9 tracks were chosen – was it a mix of top 5 votes plus the other notable mentions from people, as the numbers don’t actually seem to add up?

    For example, Sam Cleeve only got two Top 5 votes and Natalie McCool who only received 4 have both made the fresh faves batch when Laces received 5, as did Ermomnim3. Talat Marmood, Bird and Fully Grown Bear had 4, The Fades had 7 and Sootyern had 6? This is not including the vote from Alex once the listening post had closed. The main reason I ask is that it would be very disappointing for the vote to be rigged in any way and from any point of view, as there are a lot of bands and fans who rely on your site to maintain an honest and helpful status in the cut throat and often disappointing music business.

    Thanks,

    Loz

  2. Tom

    Hello Loz – sorry if my explanation at the top of this page explaining how the votes were added up wasn’t clear. Every week up we add up the number of Top Five ratings for each artist and look for the ten most-liked tracks. Sometimes we end up with 9 front runners, sometimes tweleve, but ten is what we’re aiming for.

    There were nine tracks that clearly got picked in more people’s Top Five than everybody else. So that would normally be it, a Top Nine. However this week an unusual number of people couldn’t resist namechecking the other artists they had enjoyed – in addition to their Top Five.

    When people give these ‘honorable mentions’ it’s because they’ve listened to all 30 songs and have adored more than five of them. I figured these mentions stemmed from general love of music rather than trying to push any particular favourites up the rankings.

    So as an experiment I added them into the totals just out of interest to see what would happen. That suddenly gave us 12 front runners instead of nine, and I decided – again as an experiment – to include them. As it says in my introduction “FOR ONE WEEK ONLY WE’VE INCLUDED THOSE EXTRA NAMECHECKS IN THE OVERALL RECKONING.”

    Which means yes, those are the twelve artists who got the most mentions on the listening post overall last weekend – and not just the nine who got the most votes. I hope this is 100% transparent, and if doing it gave rise to any suspicions of rigging, then it was a serious mistake on my part. It won’t be repeated in any case.

    The only reason we don’t publish the totals of how many ratings each act got (and publish the Fresh Faves in alphabetical order) is purely because we don’t want this to become an X-Factor style battle of the bands with a hierarchy of “winners”.

    But we do always leave the Listening Post online for five days so people can check, verify and challenge our artithmetic. If I got the totals wrong – by the method described above – then drop me a line via http://freshonthenet.co.uk/contact and we’ll get things corrected.

    Incidentally, my BBC Introducing Mixtape on 6 Music is a 100% personal choice of music on my part from a variety of sources. Much of it comes from our dropbox here where I listen to everything that comes in. Anything that floats my boat gets selected for the mixtape, regardless of how well it does on the Listening Post or Fresh Faves. And there are always some Fresh Faves that don’t end up on the Mixtape. Either because they haven’t been uploaded to BBC Introducing, are by overseas artists, or else because they don’t happen to float my boat.

  3. loz

    Thanks for your very thorough reply and extra informations.

    Unfortunately, it still just doesn’t add up for me, but maybe I’m being stupid. I also have no vested interest in this other than that I want things to be fair, especially for struggling artists, so I’m not pushing for anyone in particular.

    There are some artists in the top 9 that got less votes than others who aren’t. Sam Cleevea and Natalie McCool would not have made either list? And why Vincent Burke over one of the other artists that got the same amount of Top 5 votes and notable mentions? The numbers are there for people to add up if they so wish.

    If it was the mentions as well, am I right in thinking that 2 top 5 votes and a smattering of mentions is greater than 6 or 7 top 5 votes? And therefore why not get people to just do a top 7 in the first place?

    Sorry for being awkward, but these voting systems always seem to be flawed unfortunately and it just makes me distrust this otherwise usually excellent listening post system. Good luck with everything and I think you provide an excellent information service for new artists, but this has somewhat soured my opinions of yet another biased voting exercise, I’m not blaming you for this either. It’s like those awful vote for your band to play at the ‘unsigned stage’ at a festival, which is a great way to get free advertising and marketing for the festival by fooling people into thinking that a) anyone actually will watch your band at the festival if you do get picked and b) you will actually receive a fair vote.

    Thanks,

    Loz

  4. Tom

    Thankyou for sharing your views Loz. I’ve removed the tunes by Sam, Natalie and Vincent from this week’s fresh faves, since they were included only because of “honourable mentions” they rather than actual votes. It was a one-off experiment that clearly didn’t work and you’re right that it wasn’t fair on the other artists. It also wasn’t fair on those three to first include them then remove them, and I sincerely apologise to all concerned. Finally I’ll also do the arithmetic when I get home tonight to check whether the above were in fact the nine most-liked, and if there is any mistake I’ll fix it at once.

  5. loz

    Tom, you are an honorable man and it certainly was never my intention for this to happen. It shows that you do listen to your fans. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things as it’s a great opportunity for people to hear some brilliant new music and all of the featured tracks on your listening post and fresh faves are always very good!

    I just didn’t want you to lose the trust and great reputation you have built up in this aspect by accident. It is hard to be authentic and reliable in this day and age, particularly in the music industry. The last thing you want is to fall into a grey area when it comes to a vote like this because it can inadvertantly devalue the artists who are featured if the vote is in any way unreliable or purely fuelled by a social networking campaign.

    Thank you for listening

  6. JBoyle

    Tom,

    After reading loz, I decided to check your figures…

    (in a sad spreadsheet way)

    … and you are correct.

    The top ten were the top ten posted.

    Keep up the good work.

    J

  7. Tom

    WHAT A DIFFERENCE A BIOG MAKES…

    Since this article was first posted, the Free Swim Facebook page has suddenly acquired an enviably entertaining and informative biog. It’s exactly the kind of thing that both industry types and rabid fans like to read about an artist: it’s wry, well written, has all the facts and (crucially) it spins us a yarn and tells us a story…

    “Free Swim is the music of 30 year-old Secondary School Lab Technician Paul Coltoféanu from Reigate in Surrey, UK. After squandering the opportunity of a lifetime with another band in his early 20s, Paul ploughed headfirst into a six year wilderness of regret, woe and countless Friday evenings with nothing but a discontinued Casio keyboard, a growing collection of Frank Zappa records and a temperamental 8 Track Recorder for company.

    Come 2010 and by way of numerous lost weekends at ATP Festival and a summer or two wandering the streets of Brooklyn or lost in Eastern Europe, Paul created Free Swim. Inspired by the stream of consciousness songwriting techniques of Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and the desire to finally create something truly unique, Paul plays all instruments & sings all vocals while patient flat-mate David Knight often contributes spoken word monologues.

    The first 3 ‘surreal concept’ EPs were self-released on Paul’s very own Radio 1 approved Sex Farm Records label (sexfarmrecords.tumblr.com/). They were praised on a number of UK blogs for their lyrical whimsy and musical proficiency culminating in Radio support from BBC Radio 1, BBC 6music and XFM.

    Heartily buoyed by the project’s reception, the Free Swim live show took to the road in 2011 with Paul being joined onstage by David, Ryan, Steve and Joe, who performs dressed as a Giant Panda. The band have gone on to share a stage with the likes of Tom Williams & the Boat and also performed at John Kennedy’s XFM Remedy night in London.

    The new EP, ‘She Dreams In Lights’ sees the music shift to a more dream-pop feel in the vein of Youth Lagoon, Washed Out and Mercury Rev. The EP has already received support from Huw Stephens on Radio 1, Steve Lamacq, Jon Hillcock and Tom Robinson on BBC 6music, and is currently available to download for free from freeswim.bandcamp.com/.”

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