Artists at a glance
ST KILDA MAILBOAT
THE BLACK FEATHERS
Photo (above): yoB
BEETHUM – Nothing Left
I should have clocked Bristol as the location for this band. Blissed out, swirling textures framed with super slow, trip beats are the order of the day and a perfect accompaniment to an evening in, long journey or any other time that you have time to plug in, tune out and let the world wash over you. By all accounts Beethum have been making music for some time and have recently decided to unleash it upon the public. They welcome any feedback so why not drop them a line. Early days and lots of potential…
BON-BON – She Don’t Want To Know
She Don’t Want To Know is the title track from singer songwriter Sian King’s debut EP. Produced by Mazen Murad (MIA, Florence ATM), this is an accomplished little pop number that gives you a little something new every time you listen to it. So many references spring to mind but to create an interesting venn diagram, mix the surf influence of Anna Calvi, the classic pop arrangements of Françoise Hardy and the bubblegum of Robert Stigwood’s Grease. With a Glastonbury set already under her belt last summer the future is looking good for Bon-Bon. Watch this space!
FELDSPAR – In The Bleak Midwinter
FOTN is not really about covers but hey it’s Christmas and if you’re going to do a Christmas number then In The Bleak Midwinter is a belter of a dark song. There is a lot to like in this interpretation. I can’t help but think of early to mid Radiohead in places and as such would love to hear the singer being a little more experimental with vocal production and diction. To truly get this version you really need to watch the video. I won’t say anymore, as it will spoil it! When Feldspar get it right they really nail it. I am a big fan of their song The Flat And Paper Sky and a little potter around their YouTube page reveals a wealth of ideas and potential.
FRETT – Door Open, Door Closed
And so as only the FOTN listening post can do we swing to the other end of the listening spectrum with this intelligent, earnest number from Suffolk/Essex duo FRETT. It staggers me what you can do these days with technology. I remember watching a James Blake session and thinking what a minimal set up he had and sure enough a vid of these two just shows what you can do with basically a couple of laptops and a guitar. I’d be interested to see what FRETT could be live with all analogue gear – loads of it – shitloads of knobs and no click, wigging out Fuck Buttons stylee.
MADARA – Be Still
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is totally nuts what you can do with a little bit of equipment these days. Production like this used to be the preserve of massive studios and orchestral budgets. The vocals here glide effortlessly over a backdrop of orchestral dream pop and build to mini anthems to uplift even the darkest of hearts. Madara is one for fans of Bat For Lashes, CHVRCHES and Bambi – and another artist to keep an eye on for 2014.
ST KILDA MAILBOAT – Heebie Jeebies
I have to come clean and admit that I would have totally skipped most of this track purely on account of five seconds of lyrics containing the words ‘heebie jeebies’. But then I pulled my head out of my pretentious *$%^ and listened again and you have to just love the infectious enthusiasm of these two. This is best represented by the video for this and in fact all St Kilda Mailboat‘s other videos. Real people having real fun making catchy, folk dance numbers. Maybe not quite as bonkers as Gogol Bordello but I am duly back in my box.
Dance or Die
THE BLACK FEATHERS – Strangers We Meet
When listening to Strangers We Meet, the dedication to their project from duo Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler is immediately obvious. The song is a masterclass in vocal harmony all hung on a well paced and beautifully crafted recording. Harmonising is one thing but timing another and these two sound like they have been singing together for years. Dig a little deeper into what the band have been up to and the same quality assurance is abundant. Flashy website, tight branding, genuine social network engagement and a string of live dates – this is a band who know what they are doing. Whilst no hipster sensation I can see The Black Feathers, with their gentle combination of American roots and English folk, being around for a long time yet.
THE INKHEARTS – Animal
I love a good set of drums. So many versions of the same beat pattern and they either work or they don’t. This does. Fresh out of Skelmersdale, The Inkhearts are a no-nonsense 4-piece fronted by singer and guitarist Lauren Shaw. There’s nothing new here but don’t let that stop you enjoying a tight little indie number jammed full of energy and sassy wit. The best bit is the ending when everything kicks off and I get an inkling of what Shaw may be capable of live. More of that please!
yoB – Don’t Say One Thing And Do Another
Don’t Say One Thing and Do Another immediately demands your attention. The arrangement is simple, uncluttered and moves the song along in a cheerful jaunt but it is the lyrics that stand out a country mile. I’m not going to rabbit on about the meaning or musical reference as that is all straightforward. It is more the ability to simply communicate a point that I applaud. So much of singer songwriting has become narcissistic to the point of farce and it’s great to hear someone singing meaningfully about the world around them. Love or hate Thatcher, Blair, whoever the next politician is, the only way to do something about it is to communicate and songs are a great way to do just that. So thank you yoB, an inspiring little number that makes me want to go out and continue doing something!
YOUNG BRANDO – Made From Each Other
Young Brando are a new (or not so new reformed version of City Stereo) 5 piece from the epicentre of British rock, Salisbury. Super clean production and processing – with big guitars and harmonies – brought to mind bands like Feeder or something that would have been an alternative theme tune to the US sitcom Friends. I am curious about the name – maybe the band are fans of A Street Car Named Desire? If super-tight accomplished playing and middle of the road pop rock floats your boat, this one’s for you.