This week’s Fresh Faves, chosen by readers over the weekend, are reviewed by special guest Howard Gorman, editor-in-chief at ppsf.co.uk – the website dedicated to Putting Performers and Stand-ups First. Welcome on board, Howard!
Well it’s everyone’s least favourite day of the week until about this time of the day when the Fresh Faves are unleashed. It’s always a pleasure to see voters commenting on having suffered serious cases of fave overload syndrome making it nigh impossible to choose only 5 from thirty one first-rate tracks. It just goes to show that submissions are brimming with quality and Team Freshnet sure know how to pick ’em. After everyone’s umming and ahhing the votes have been counted so let’s crack on with this week’s Fresh Faves.
ABBE MAY – Karmageddon
With the Mayan calendar reaching it’s bitter end, if you believe that kind of thing of course, this week’s Fresh Faves rather aptly begins with a track which the Australian electronica/doom queen ABBE MAY suggests the end of the world sounds like. Karmageddon is the first single to be lifted from her new album ‘Kiss My Apocalypse’ which is set for an April 2013 release date, should the world keeps turning. The internet celebrates her guitar shredding which took me back a bit as Karmageddon is quite the opposite with weirdo pop taking over from heavy guitar riffage. May and her best friend, regular cohort and producer, Sam Ford, condemned themselves into the studio to take things back to the drawing board and experiment with a mellotron and a drum machine.
The resulting concoction is more effective than anything even Breaking Bad’s Walter White could come up with. It’s the trippy beats and buzzing bass lines that prick up the ears here. It came as no surprise that May’s previous long player “Design Desire” was awarded a place in the top five Australian albums of the year in The Australian Music Prize. If the thought of Kylie on Ketamine and Beyonce in the microwave proclaiming the death of love lights your musical candle (and how couldn’t it?) then this is certainly one to consider.
DEATH RATTLE – Fixer
I read the book before looking at the cover for this one. What I mean to say is that I heard the track before looking up what a death rattle actually was. If you haven’t already Googled it it’s “a medical term that describes the sound produced by someone who is near death when saliva accumulates in the throat.” If that’s the case then my fear of death has just been cured. London Electro duo Death Rattle’s ‘Fixer’ doesn’t stray too far of the beaten path from where Abbe May’s track left us, with the band describing their sound as Electronic gloom pop.
The track features on their HE&l EP with the video completing a trilogy. What first drew me into this song were the crashing drums and their unique song structure with the chorus stripping things down to the bare essentials – less frantic drumbeats and a simple 80s Casio keyboard feel – whilst remaining as contagious as hell. It’s a surprisingly slick approach that may not appeal to you on paper but, if you haven’t already heard it, I strongly recommend you give it a try.
KID GALAHAD – Never Let You Fall
OK, so would you like the bad news or the good news first? Probably best to get the bad out of the way first. Kid Galahad aka Morph aka Lemon Incest aka The Furze, not to be confused with the artist formerly known as Prince, are no longer with us. The good news? Although their latest project, The Furze, haven’t released anything since 2007, it looks like their hibernation period could be coming to an end as they recently re-issued their Skeleton EP over on bandcamp. These chaps hail from Maidenhead and have been recording together for over a decade.
They’ve had the pleasure of supporting the likes of Oasis and Supergrass, to name but a few, and Never Let You Fall certainly roused my dormant memories of Supergrass’s earlier, laid back acoustic numbers. The dust has been blown of this hidden treasure as one of this week’s Faves thanks to 360 records. They came across it whilst rummaging through their vaults and thought it was worthy of the full remastering treatment, and so rightly so. Let’s just hope it gets The Furze, or whatever reincarnation they have on the cards, in the mood for picking up where they left off.
LIZ LAWRENCE – Bedroom Hero
‘Bedroom Hero’ is the new single from the 22 years young British songwriter Liz Lawrence. After hearing Bedroom Hero I was bemused to discover that, growing up in the Midlands, she started out playing guitar in a number of punk and ska bands. This week’s Fave just grows and grows with each play thanks to the instruments being seamlessly introduced to us to slowly build up the song.
A simple acoustic guitar starts off the proceedings and it just keeps on growing in all senses of the word. The strings, piano and marching drums and brass section are all cleverly held back until just the right moment. With the whole band playing, the likes of Mumford and Sons and Young Rebel Set spring to mind whilst Liz’s fantastic feisty vocals play the perfect complement. The track has already gained praise and support from Amazing Radio and Absolute Radio so it comes as no surprise that it’s a Fresh Fave this week.
Although her songs give a very personal view of her world, as seen from her bedroom, I don’t think it will be long before we’ll be singing along to lyrics about her views from various hotel windows around the world. I definitely hope so.
MOTHERS DAY – Shoulder Soldier
Shoulder Soldier is a song by Mothersday, a band hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. It’s lifted from their the upcoming album ‘Tree Houses’. Despite almost undecipherable vocals and muddy production, the militia guitar tones and ticking percussion will have you pressing replay not just to try and comprehend the mysteries behind the lyrics but to peel away the onion-like layers present on the track. I’m not sure if indecipherability was all part of their master plan but it works a treat and if anyone does manage to fathom out the lyrics if you could bring me up to speed that would be much appreciated. Right now I’m just Googling how to play mp3’s backwards.
ROO PANES – Know Me Well
It comes as no surprise that this track made the grade this week. His songs on YouTube have already received more than a whopping half a million views so followers of FOTN are by no means the only one’s backing this fine fellow. Roo says he was introduced to music at a tender age from his grandmother, a classical concert pianist, and the hymns and psalms of the local church he attended with his mum and dad.
‘Know Me Well’ certainly attests to his upbringing with a tip of the hat to more contemporary sounds. The moment Roo begins singing I was quick to draw comparisons with Editor’s Tom Smith. This is a beautiful, simply structured track with violins, that would have faired well on the ‘Far and Away’ soundtrack, coupled with a sparse yet resounding piano melody. Mix in Roo’s delicate acoustic plucks and his ever-surging vocals, demonstrating the expansive range he is more than capable of, and this hits just the right spot.
Roo is currently preparing two EPs which are set to feature a plethora of the musical friends he has met so far on a journey that I’m sure is only just beginning.
ROSE BETTS – Dreamland
Rose Betts is a London songstress boasting a voice as delicate and ethereal as it is strong, demonstrating an angelic, pitch perfect range on this track. The voice takes centre stage here, and rightly so, whilst the simple backing keyboards, reminiscent of early Keane, complement her voice perfectly. It’s just the right combination as it would have been a major mistake to drown out the best instrument at play here. This is a great pick-me-up track for these icy cold winter mornings we’re having and I’m sure Rose’s haunting vocal will be haunting you for some time to come, in the best sense of the word of course.
THE PORTRAITS – Validation
This is yet another great icy cold winter soundtrack. The intro had me grasping at straws trying to guess where it was heading for but it turns into a blinding orchestrated number. I’m quite the sucker for string sections and ‘Validation’ is about as tight as it gets on so many different levels. This, coupled with simple acoustic strumming makes for a perfect blend, giving Starbucks a run for their money, and let’s face it, they’re going to need every penny right now. It’s not just the actual instruments that work so well together either. I was seriously impressed by how perfectly the choir-like backing vocals and instruments to and fro with the lead vocals.
Given the tightly bound sound they have accomplished I was amazed to discover that up until only last year The Portraits had been an acoustic duo (piano, guitar 2 voices) before making an impromptu decision to find another three members so as to take to the stage at last years Glastonbury Festival. Rash decisions don’t always pay off but ‘Validation’ is just one great example of how well the five gelled instantly. I look forward to catching these guys live as I’m eager to see all the cogs and gears in motion. A line in ‘Validation’ states “Success is everywhere except here” but here’s to hoping they’ll have to change that line sooner rather than later.
THE SON(S) – If I Hear You Talk Apostrophes Again
Last but not least are/is The Son(s). Apologies for the are/is ambiguity but all the info I found was a little confusing for this one. Apparently The Son(s) were three. Two are gone. Now there is only one. From what I was able to uncover, the only active member is a chap named Karl. If this is so, this is a one man band that shouldn’t be missed.
Apparently the latest EP ‘Leviathan’, from which this weeks Fave is lifted, was recorded in an old, cold, echoey flat in Edinburgh, slap bang in the coldest winter there for over 50 years. ‘If I Hear You Talk’ would have you believe none of the above, with the intro inducing flashbacks of my “I Am The Passenger/Trainspotting” youth.
A comment on the soundcloud timeline quite rightly states that this has a Queens of the Stone Age feel to it, particularly the vocals. This being one of my personal Faves this week I dived into their latest EP with great enthusiasm. Although this week’s track is a romping stomping rocker, there’s so much more to this/these guy(s) as they also dig their teeth into folk and Americana; vice-versa, or something completely different entirely. I can’t recommend their latest EP enough.
As a side note, as it’s the season to be jolly, they have a Christmas cracker of a song available on the Olive Grove Christmas EP available here: all profits are donated to charity.
Fresh Faves reviewed this week by
Howard Gorman from ppsf.co.uk