Artists at a glance
EAST INDIA YOUTH
ROSS AND THE WRONGENS
THE BALTIC STATES
THE BLACK FIELDS
THE RAILWAY CLUB
Top tunes from AIRPORT 85, GLASS ANKLE, OOBERFUSE, THE BLACK FIELDS, OLYMPIAN, EAST INDIA YOUTH, THE BALTIC STATES, ROSS AND THE WRONGENS, CHERRY HEAD, CHERRY HEART, KEEP UP, JIMMY BREWER, KITTEN PYRAMID, ZEMMY, ZIBRA, THE RAILWAY CLUB and RORY WYNNE
Every Sunday night/Monday morning on BBC Radio 6 Music from 2-3am you can hear a selection of my favourite new tunes from the BBC Introducing Uploader in an hour-long music mixtape. Some of the tunes are recommended by BBC friends and colleagues, others are handpicked by me from our inbox here at Fresh On The Net.
Each of these mixtapes is available free when the radio show ends at 3am via the 6 Music Downloads Page. You’ll also find archived episodes there from the previous 4 weeks. As of this week, the full tracklists and start times are now published here at Fresh On The Net with a link to each artist’s website. These are the listings for Monday, 19th August 2013 – recent mixtape tracklistings can be found via the MIXTAPE tab above – earlier listings are on the BBC website.
AIRPORT 85 – Gliders [Starts: 0.13]
The vast majority of tunes we get sent at Fresh On The Net are simply too long – a promising musical idea is so often stretched out spread too thinly to sustain any real impact. It’s far better to leave listeners reaching for the “replay” button rather than clicking fast-forward the play cursor to see if anything else happens. So three cheers for the wilfully mysterious artist(s) known as Airport 85 whose song Gliders grabbed my attention and held it effortlessly for a full 5:40 and even then had me reaching for Replay. The dense, vivid, poetic flow of lyrics washes over you, as the chords twist and modulate along paths less travelled – so that you can never quite guess what’s going to happen next. I’m a sucker for artistic manifestos and Airport 85 proclaim that their music is for “bears, monsters, dreams, flying, ghosts, radio towers and you”. And what are these songs about? Why, “childhood, airfields, space, flying, love, childhood and scratchy old movies” of course. These are best heard “when you’re cruising at 35,000 feet. Or drifting off to sleep. Or when you need waking up. Or when you have to walk from one end of a city to another. Or when you’re drinking whisky in the bath. But Airport 85 should NEVER be listened to during sexual activity, or when you’re torturing somebody. In fact,” he/she/they add hastily: “please never torture anybody.”
GLASS ANKLE – Poor Boy [Starts: 06:05]
Elegantly understated with hypnotically grooving ukulele, Poor Boy is the new single from Glass Ankle – aka Gregory Martyn and John Jackson – released last week on the independent label, Sleeper Train. The backing may be minimalist and low-key, yet a huge amount of work, thought and attention to detail has gone into the making of it. The song was recorded in fragments over the last 8 months in bedrooms and studios across the North West. Locations include Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Congleton, Macclesfield, Marple, and Salford. A remix is being supplied by London-based producer, Legomec (www.soundcloud.com/legomec), and a computer game is being made by Congleton-based game developer, Samir Graba which incorporates the song. A launch party – showcasing the single, video and computer game – takes place at The Young Pretender, Congleton this Thursday, August 22nd.
OOBERFUSE – Summer Skies [Starts: 09:07]
Cherrie Anderson vocal on Summer Skies reaches out of the headphones from bar one and shakes hands with your ears. It’s just gorgeous. If pop music is a broad church, then credibility is a fine line drawn down the middle of the nave, and one that Cherrie and her collaboration partner Hal St John have managed to tread deftly on this track. Music that’s upbeat and accessible, yet quirky and charming with enough grit in the production to counterbalance the occasional hint of saccharin in the chord sequences. Based in Woolwich, the duo are, they tell us, “unafraid to deep-sea dive into the deepest oceans of human emotions to colour-up drab contemporary life.” They also told us a lot of stuff about “dangerous excursions”, “weaving stories”, “narcotic dreams” “Orchestral electronica”, “strange eastern fragrances”, “delicate textures,” “Himalayan foothills” “teak and bamboo rainforests”, “wild exotic spices”, “the advancing thud of war elephants crashing through the borogroves” and the “lilts and tilts of a strange new technicolour”. You get the idea. Classy, well-made pop music, innit.
THE BLACK FIELDS – Dig Billy Dig [Starts: 13:21]
The unmistakeable sound of a gigging band that thrives on playing live. An arrangement that has grown out of live performance rather than being concocted by some über-producer in a studio. It’s a bit long, but when you’re milking an audience at the end of a set, that’s the way things tend to roll. In all honesty if you had tried to sell me the proposition of tough-rocking Americana from Brighton, or anywhere else on this side of the Atlantic I’d probably have run a mile. But once Dig Billy Dig came pumping out of the speakers, it was simply irresistable: the relentless guitar riff, the locked-in drums, insane latin percussion and minimal bassline were all exactly what was needed for the song. It takes considerable experience for musicians to to play as economically as this: the whole band is so tight you couldn’t fit a Rizla in sideways. And by the time the groove was locked down, even the gruff Wild West vocal (from Brighton, remember) carried me away with its expertise. The songwriting’s strong. The arrangement – not quite so sure. Like I say, it’s pretty long – and in common with the album version of Free’s All Right Now (5:47), the whole thing kind of goes off the boil about half way through. A three minute single edit might pay off – not in terms of radio play (they’ve already got that on this show) but simply for grabbing the interest of casual listeners via personal recommendation. Live is one thing, but on record sometimes less is more.
OLYMPIAN – Back To The Great Lakes [Starts: 18:30]
I owe Olympian a bit of an apology for having pilloried them in my recent Fresh Faves review here at Fresh On The Net http://freshonthenet.co.uk/faves71. It was my usual uncharitable rant about artists seeking exposure for their music while at the same time giving potential media allies absolutely no information online. [NO CEREMONY/// have a lot to answer for on that front.] So fair play to Olympian mastermind Aron Robinson for taking the point, upping his game and providing comprehensive facts and information concerning his latest project. Having grown up in Canada and Machester – and settled in the latter – he cut his teeth in various local music ventures before achieving his current breakthrough success with Olympian. In Spring last year he released a two-track Olympian demo entitled, Change Will Come, and followed it that Autumn with the official debut EP Back to the Great Lakes, from which this is the title track. High profile local fans include John Bramwell and Damon Gough – as well as the team at BBC Introducing In Manchester – and Aron’s own neatly poetic strapline for the band sums up their musical philiosophy in just five words: “an introspective kind of grandeur”. Enough said.
EAST INDIA YOUTH – Looking For Someone [Starts: 22:25]
William Doyle modestly describes himself as a “London based song architect and sound gardener” but as those of us who were saddened by the implosion of his previous outfit Doyle And The Fourfathers will remember, he’s so much more than that. This is the man who began recording music in his bedroom at age 14 and managed to pen literally hundreds of songs with various bands in the five years that followed. An early fascination with electronics was reflected in the title of his first solo album Born In The USB. Supported by 6 Music DJs Steve Lamacq and Marc Riley, they supported us right back by playing the legendary “Save 6 Music” gig at London’s 229 club when the station was under threat. Although William once sang about The Governor Of Giving Up, the title was anything but autobiographical, as this latest project attests. Rather than heading down an overtly commercial highway, or simply creating The Fourfathers II to scoop up the first band’s army of willing fans, he’s returned to his electronic roots. On Looking For Someone he creates this widescreen digital soundscape behind his disctinctive vocals and in the process neatly picking up a musical mantle dropped by much-missed Kid Adrift. It’ll be fascinating to hear what he comes up with in the coming months.
THE BALTIC STATES – Kontrol [Starts: 26:37]
Lovely female fronted electro with gorgeous floating vocals by Helen Morrisson, musically located somewhere between Gemma Hayes, Goldfrapp and Georgio Moroder. The Baltic States is an alternative indie duo based on Merrseyside consisting of Helen (formerly of The Wretched Pearls) and Jev Maligins – a former member of Beat Milk Jugs. This recently-released debut single Kontrol has been made waves for the pair in the Blogosphere and they’re currently preparing to take their music directly to live audiences. These performances will feature additional visuals and musicians, with a view to offering far more than simple duplications of the studio recordings.
ROSS AND THE WRONGENS – Shooting TVs Just For Fun [Starts: 30:07]
Irresistible energy from a band overflowing with upbeat fun and positive vibes. Perhaps not the most groundbreakingly forward-looking blend of musical influences to have rocked my laptop this week. But then back in my pre-teens the Beatles used to spend their time bashing out old Chuck Berry and Miracles covers four times a night in Hamburg. The Camden Crawl, Ronnie Scotts, The Cavern Club and Islington Academy might not equate to the 1960s Reeperbahn and Star Club, but Ross and his merry crew have nonetheless played over 400 shows with a zest and determination that’s all their own. And – if Shooting TVs Just For Fun is any guide – they’re enjoying themselves along the way. Why, they’ve even played a gig opening for Paul McCartney’s son James. Next on the agenda is an autumn tour and recording their first album.. We wish them well…
CHERRY HEAD, CHERRY HEART – Chihuahua (Acoustic) [Starts: 33:09]
Professional writers and composers always used to say – and a good many of them still do – that the acid test of a decent song is whether it works on a single acoustic guitar. One the one hand it’s debatable whether Unfinished Sympathy or Paranoid Android could survive that particular hurdle – on the other hand there’s always the acoustic mix of Thugz Mansion and Thom Yorke playing There There solo at Latitude, to proclaim that yes, it can be done.
This Teesside-based duo consists of Andy and Naomi who are never more at home – we’re told – than when stomping the boards of local venues. They’re also selfevidently at home amid the idioms of the 1950s doowop and, like their heroes, their own songwriting does more than merely survive being stripped down to one acoustic guitar. In fact this whole daft two and a half minute pop gem Chihuahua positively bursts with humour, brio and joie de vivre. “Cherry Head, Cherry Heart…” they proclaim “…straddle the past, present and future like a pair of rustlers upon a horse with three backs and too many names to remember.” Currently working up a batch of new songs about a disastrous road-trip around Europe and booking gigs around the North East of England and beyond.”
KEEP UP – Ah Tonight [Starts: 35:53]
Like the Fourfathers – except perhaps even more so – The Kabeedies established themselves as a formidable presence on the UK indie scene winning high profile supporter at radio and a huge dedicated fanbase in the course of their six year existence. However after the departure of a founding member, plus the arrival of a key new face – it didn’t make sense for the band to exist in the same way any more. However Evan Jones, Rory Hill, Francis Bell and Christian Daniels are, and will continue to be, a band. And from this point on they will be known as Keep Up. This is the lead track from their new digital EP with Motor Music which was recorded at The Mill Studios in Winfarthing by producer Jonny Cole and is due out next month. The band will be playing two key shows in the UK in September, including a hometown Norwich performance, followed by a European tour in November.
JIMMY BREWER – Days, Weeks, Years [Starts: 39:29]
Days, Weeks, Years is a further beautifully executed example of the traditional songwriter’s craft, this time by Jimmy Brewer. Growing up in rural Lincolnshire, he found inspiration amongst his parents’ record collection, from the Stones, Beatles, Elvis, Buddy Holly and Shakin’ Stevens – perhaps an unusual musical diet for any eight year old in 1996. Hoever it completely explains Jimmy’s innate grasp of classic song construction nad his way with a memorable hook. This track comes from his debut album As Time Stands Still which was released in January this year. It features a collection of songs written over the past year and a half and recorded on a dairy farm in Pembrokeshire with producer Owain Fleetwood Jenkins.
KITTEN PYRAMID – Uh Oh [Starts: 43:41]
The moment I heard Uh Oh by Kitten Pyramid in our dropbox at Fresh On The Net I approved it for for our Listening post with a three word memo-to-self-style review: “exceptionally good prog”. Spangly clear production, prominent grab-you-by-the-throat vocals, and a real rhythmic toughness to the playing as it twists and turns through the stops, starts and backflips that bands ceased executing back when “prog” first became a dirty word and punk rockers took over the world. Uh Oh is the first single by these East Midlands-based experimental rockers and also the title track of their debut album which centres around a day in the life of a young schizophrenic Polish immigrant arriving in the UK to work – loosely based on frontman Scott Milligan’s late uncle, Jarek Baczyk). It will be the soundtrack to a film, also being created by Scott – who’s clearly a bit of an overachiever – with both projects being released next year. A special word of praise for the wonderful clarity of the recorded sound goes to Nick Brine who produced the record at Rockfield.
ZEMMY – Brittle Pieces [Starts 46:46]
Champions of Zemmy Momoh’s music include Mercedes-Benz, KCRW, Myspace UK, national British newspapers The Times and The Independent, national and local BBC radio and, erm, me. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with this fine Nigerian-born, London based female songwriter at a songwriting retreat in Kent a couple of years ago, and she has amply fulfilled all the promise she displayed at the time. On this lush, widescreen, deeply personal ballad Zemmy’s piano skills come to the fore , while skills with a groove – an wicked sense of humour – take a back seat. She describes her working routine as “performing, live music, concerts, gigging, singing, eating, pouring my blood, sweat and tears into this shizzle… Thank you for taking the time to click on me out of the millions of things you could have clicked on.” The pleasure is ours
ZIBRA – R.I.P (Rest In Peace) [Starts: 50:52]
This mad glitchy chiptune electropop epic comes from Sam Battle and Cal South who are based on the famous Broadwater Estate in Tottenham, North London. As Al Mobbs wrote when reviewing this as part of our Fresh Faves a couple of weeks ago: “If this band doesn’t take off like the little elasticband-wound toy helicopter my son and I were playing with this morning, I’ll eat my … well it. Energy, melody, great production, remix potential, SONG… all of the above. As a note to all new artists out there, there is only one track on Soundcloud for Zibra. This is annoying because I want to hear more but great because I want to hear more. I am sure there is more but why give it up yet especially when the track up there is great.” Rest In Peace has been on their Soundcloud for just 17 days and has already racked up some 460 plays. Not bad for a brand new and supposedly unknown band. Watch out, Klaxons – Zibra are after your crown.
THE RAILWAY CLUB – I Dreamt That You Chased Me [Starts: 53:51]
New music from from Tiny Lights Recordings in general and from The Railway Club in particular is always welcome at Fresh On The Net and this single was released as a free download last month via the Tiny Lights Bandcamp page. Fronted by songwriter Martin Trollope, I saw them play a highly promising electric set – quite early in the band’s career – at Split Transmission in Sunderland in Autumn 2011. A major upheaval has recently seen the (amicable) departure of their drummer and mandolin player, hence the rootsier sound of I Dreamt That You Chased Me – which has been released to signal this beginning of a new chapter for TRC as an acoustic four piece. Interestingly rather than having noticeably shrunk, the band sounds deeper, richer and more atmospheric – underpinned by a low percussive heartbeat – despite the lack of a fulltime drummer. Promoters nationwide please note – they’re looking to book gigs again from next month with the new, more flexible lineup – and audiences outside the North East deserve to hear this body of songs.
RORY WYNNE – Heart Of Stone [Starts: 56:44] 2:36
Unless you’re making instrumentals, it’s ultimately the vocal – always the vocal – on which a song stands or falls. You can record the grooviest funk track imaginable but a cheesy vocal will kill it dead – but a convincing vocal can sell a songwithout any backing at all. Rory Wynne’s singing on Heart Of Stone has the same louche, casual swagger of a true rock’n’roll poet that we’ve come to love in Mark Wynn and his spiritual godfather John Cooper Clarke. The ramshackle DIY backing just adds to its charm – I’m pretty sure John Peel would have loved this. Having been won over purely by what came out of the speakers, I was positively gobsmacked by the opening line in Rory’s biography: “Born in Stockport/Manchester in 1999 my first influences were…” Whoa, hold on, back up there. Surely some mistake in the date ? But no. Mr Wynn is fourteen and already a convincing enough musical stylist to elbow his way through several hundred artists twice his age into the closing slot on our mixtape this week. “It isn’t polished yet” he says modestly. “My interests are Tea, Biscuits, Music and Football. I like a few local undiscovered artists like Onions, Simon Connor, Voy Eur and The Outreach Project. My biggest fans are my three year old cousin and my sister.” Arthritis, thinning hair, thickening waistline and growing forgetfulness… pah! Nothing rubs in the advancing years quite as forcefully as discovering that you’re old enough to be the great grandfather of one of your favourite artists of the week.