Fresh On The Net isn’t any kind of news, opinion or current affairs blog – but given a news agenda today that seemed at first like some grimly awful kind of April Fool’s joke, it’s felt odd to be writing about mere pop music for the last few hours. So here’s a small reminder of how we got here, posted on Twitter by Dr Pete Deveson.
And now moving smartly on to the matter in hand: the music our readers picked as their favourite tracks on our Listening Post this weekend.
To see the full ten tracks, just click Read More »
BLUE WILLA – Fishes
With its huge weird energy and a massive smile across its face, Fishes simply sounds like everyone concened is having the most enormous fun. Blue Willa is both an album and a four-piece band from Prato in Italy who have been together for seven years and three albums so far. This time around it was in historic Florence they met their California-based producer, who oversaw the recordings in Maranello, Italy, started mixing them in the Indian Himalayas, and finished the process in Paris, France. It’s wild and crazy music from a wild and crazy band, faithfully captured in ones and zeroes by their wild and crazy producer Carla Bozulich. What’s not to like?
CRAIG HANSEN – My Way Home
Sydney musician Craig Hansen sends track to our inbox most weeks and has been featured on our Listening Post five times in the last four months. His music is thus not only familiar to our whole team but to a great many Fresh On The Net readers – who this week voted him into our Fresh Faves for a second time. My Way Home comes from his forthcoming debut album Open Up and you would never guess from its widescreen Pink Floyd-flavoured production values that this project is self-produced and self-funded. Much of this is down to a good pair of ears and dogged determination – but also to gifted collaborators such as Sean Carey taking care of the engineering and Japanese percussion virtuoso DetaRamei who flew in specially to play drums on the record. As a guitarist/songwriter with the Brisbane band Wired, Craig once chased The Rock Dream all the way to the UK and major label interest, before the harsh realities of mind-numbing factory jobs, poverty and overstayed visas brought it all crashing down. This time around his feet are firmly on the ground, with creative control of the whole project in his own hands. We wish you every success, Craig.
DEADCEREMONY – Trophy
This is the way to do it. Keep your powder dry, your quality control tip-top – and then arrive out of nowhere with just one amazing song that you unleash on an unsuspecting public. There’s already a Facebook with regular tips, chat, news and updates; a conversational Twitter (completely devoid of #twitzkrieg selfpromotion), a Tumblr with well-shot images and the song lyrics, plus a YouTube – and across all of them, just the one beautifully understated gem of a song. The offer is completely straightforward: do you like this track, yes or no? If not, there’ll be another one along in its own good time. Except that our readers liked Trophy very much indeed on our Listening Post this weekend. It’s very rare for a completely unknown act to spring out fully-formed into the blogosphere like this, and in two clicks of the mouse all becomes clear. Dead Ceremony is in fact Chris Stewart – who’s learned his musical and promotional skills as an active member of Tom Williams And The Boat over the last six years – and knows exactly what he’s doing. Right down to recruiting our old friend Tim Worthington (aka Maths Time Joy) as producer to ensure the highest possible quality to the finished track.
FLUTES – Kilburn
We first stumbled acros Flutes back in November when their track Auld Archie crashed its way into our Fresh Faves. For me, though. it was only after watching the strange, brooding video directed by Mark Buchanan that the song’s full impact truly hit home – I added it to our Fresh On The Net playlist in a heartbeat. “Blimey” went my comment on YouTube “dark, mysterious and powerful… so many people waste so much of their lives fighting shadows from the past… (this is) deep stuff…” Kilburn demonstrates a similar sureness of touch in the writing and recording that confirms Flutes as a major musical force to be reckoned with. Their biog tells us “for the past 8 years we’ve been concocting a musical story together which contains a church hall in Oxford, corporate espionage, recording in sheds, recording on industrial estates, the M6, an old white minibus, too many London gigs circa 2007/08, grizzly old men, a BBC technician with a fetish for vintage microphones, big belly laughs – and a Scottish football stadium. More recently, we decamped to a static caravan in Craigenmuir on the outskirts of Glasgow. This put us within striking distance of the recording studio Chem19 to finally document the songs which provided the soundtrack to this chunk of our life.” Shared experience and hardship. Sheer hard work and commitment. Life as she is lived. There’s no substitute option or alternative route to achieving music with this kind of grain and depth. Up The Flutes!
OH SO QUIET – Rain At Night
You wouldn’t neccessarily expect a multinational group of musicians like Lucas and Malena Zavala, Axel Martinez, Silvija Vil and Martin Gregoire to name themselves after a 1951 song by US chantese Betty Hutton and famously covered by Björk. Nor would you expect them making alternative acoustic roots music from a bedroom in leafy Guildford. Yet, as their Facebook biog tells us “Formado en 2011, Oh So Quiet están listo para lanzar un EP de debut y comenzar su carrera como grupo folklorico alternative multinacional.” Release of their debut EP is planned for this spring and their next gig is at Surya in London on April 20th. Rewarding though it is to listen to this song on Soundcloud, the best way to enjoy it is via their charming video on YouTube shot – yes – in that Guildford bedroom. Or is it?
SILENT CITIES – Beating Heart
Another reader favourite this weekend was Beating Heart by Silent Cities – a fresh glimpse into the world of selfstyled “blissfully obscure experimental recording artist, S. Maddison”. Reviewing his earlier track All These Winds last May I wrote: “This haunting performance completely blew me away when we first heard it at Fresh On The Net. It was uploaded to BBC Introducing by the artist Simon Maddison – born in County Durham, currently studying in Liverpool and destined for great things, should he choose to pursue them once his studies are at an end. It’s not a question of chords, lyrics, melody or recording quality it’s simply that sometimes you can tell within seconds that you’re listening to The Real Deal. And – take it from me – this artist, my friends, is The Real Deal.” A debut EP from Silent Cities is set for release in May and Simon plays Johnny’s Acoustic Caravan Club in Liverpool under his own name this coming Thursday (April 4th).
SONGS FOR WALTER – Family Hold Back
Songs For Walter is the project name of Manchester songwriter Laurie Hulme. SFW began as a biographical account of his grandfather’s life and first flowered with his miniature jewel of an EP Meet Me At The Empire in April last year. Twelve months on, and Laurie hasn’t rested on his, well, laurels… he’s taken the momentum created by that first EP and run with it, building a live following, assembling a more powerful electric band and – currently – releasing one free single a month in the run-up to the debut vinyl SFW album due out this summer. Many old music industry hands will tell you that successful artists make their own luck; though many unlucky acts over the past forty years would profoundly disagree. What’s certain though is that musicians can make their own momentum, and Laurie Hulme certainly shares his grandfather’s work ethic. As a result the growing army of Songs For Walter supporters includes the likes of For Folk’s Sake, Simon Raymonde, Steve Lamacq, Jarvis Cocker, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft – and this latest single will only serve to swell their numbers still further. Songs For Walter play a stripped back show in Lancaster tomorrow (Tuesday April 2nd).
THE RAMISCO MAKI MAKI ROCKING HORSE – Danger Danger
A rollicking great noise from The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse who is – we’re told – “an alternative indie folk artist who resides in a tiny village named Strathcarron in the Scottish Highlands.” Primarily a solo artist, he also performs with a backing band called The Wat Wat Kings. Previous to becoming The Horse, Ray McCartney was a founding member, songwriter, performer and producer of The Kazoo Funk Orchestra. He was also the founding member / songwriter and frontman of El Jugador until the band split in 2005. Musically, he was brought up on bluegrass, country, blues and punk, spent his younger years between alternative rock and hip hop, and cites some of his influences today as Beck, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Hank Williams.” On May 6, 2013, TRMMRHorse will support The Boy Who Trapped The Sun at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, UK. If you like this song as much as we do, you’ll certainly appreciate the spelndidly eccentric video on YouTube.
THE VOLTAIRES – Recall
The Voltaires are a garage rock band from Leeds who would dearly like to be your friend and proudly boast “No songs over 3 minutes 30 seconds, GUARANTEED!” My kind of band, and in fact this song Recall manages to get in, do the business and get out again in 1:57 flat. Although their first incarnation was conceived in Spring 2004 it wasn’t until 2011 that they retreated to their pop bunker with a view to writing songs for their debut album. As recording continued throughout 2012 the band barely saw the sunlight – apparently there was an Olympics or something. 18 months down the line, The Voltaires’ latest musical fruits are, they say, “ripe and juicy and drop from the tree today (Monday April 1st) in the form of their selftitled debut album. Prepare your senses…” My recommended way of doing that is to watch their splendid video for I Hate Saturday Nights. And yes, it too comes in under three minutes and 30 seconds… at a record-breaking 1:42 since you ask. Now that’s class.
VASCO DA GAMA – Brigadiers
The Reservoir blog once quipped that if “instruments could smile, the guitars of Vasco Da Gama would have grins as wide as the Mersey.” This powerful and innovative four-piece were first brought to my attention by Team Freshnet’s Chris Chadwick and have since become longstanding favourites on my 6 Music radio shows. Their epic Them Teeth also figured in our readers’ Fresh Faves back in May. This track Brigadiers was part of last week’s Introducing Mixtape and got a well deserved second play on my Saturday night show as well. It’s the opening track on their new EP Geography, due out on April 22nd: let’s hope it’s a smash.
This week’s Fresh Faves
reviewed by Tom Robinson
PS: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t made the Fresh Faves you’re welcome to re-submit it again. But if you have been a Fresh Fave in recent weeks could you possibly hold back for at least six weeks before sending us another one. If you keep sending us great tracks every week it leaves less room for new names who haven’t had a chance yet…