Fresh Faves: Batch 101

AK/DK

Artists at a glance

10TIGERS
AK/DK
BI:LINGUAL
CORONATION BALL
GLASS CAVES
HUIAS
JESS MCALLISTER
KING SINGH
SAMUEL GRIFFITHS
SEATTLE YACHT CLUB

Thanks to everyone who came by and gave their time at the weekend to listen through to the handpicked selection of tracks on Listening Post 101 and tell us which ones they liked best. Here, in alphabetical order, are your ten favourites, which you can also hear all together in their own playlist on our Soundcloud page.

10TIGERS – Owned

This tune grabbed me on first hearing last week in our inbox. Straight in with motoring bass, drums, acoustic guitar and a teeth-gritted seriousness of intent that declares These People Are Not Messing About. It’s interesting how so many artists marshall their amped-up fuzzball guitar attack with widescren epic drums and a screaming vocal snatched from the jaws of hell – without coming anywhere close to the conviction of 10Tigers. This atmospheric landscape frequently blooms with fresh textures along the way, while adhering to my own deeply held conviction that The Groove’s The Thing. Whatever bells and whistles you use (literally or figuratively) to make music shine in the studio you should never, ever mess with The Groove. This is fine writing and great production. Not the buffed and reassuringly expensive sheen you get from a five figure spend at Abbey Road, but the work of a person with serious musical intelligence and a working pair of ears. Whoever the hell that might be. How To Write A Band Biog.

Soundcloud | Bandcamp

AK/DK – Battersea

A tune to put a smile on your face with its ADHD energy, this cheerfully head-battering chiptune riffage is exactly the kind of noise for which the term “wonky pop” must first have been coined. AK/DK‘s near-indecipherable vocoder vocals are a reproach to every soul-seraching lyricist who ever agonised over a rhyme. Just as on Louie Louie – arguably the greatest pop record ever made – you can’t make out a word of Battersea and IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER.  This dollop of upbeat sunshine fun is instantly likeable because, while carefully made, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Music this repetitive and bleepy could easily do your head in, yet it all somehow works because of the wonderful acoustic drum track. It’s either a masterpiece of programming that makes the playing sound human, or else a masterpiece of human playing that make the programming come to life. Either way, a triumph.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

BI:LINGUAL – Spiderwebs

For two hours of great tunes and a wonderfully engaging weekly lesson in the history of music. you could do worse that tune in to The Iggy Pop Radio Show every Sunday afternoon from 4-6pm on 6 Music. Bi:Lingual are A Proper Band and share  Iggy’s grasp of the timeless primal power of rock, rap and roll. It has nothing to do with how many fancy chords you can cram in, how many fancy licks you can play, or how many fancy paradiddles you can play with double pedals on your kick drum. It’s partly a question of whether you can dig in, lock together and get on with it, which Bi:Lingual certainly do. But ultimately it’s about the vocalist – The Stooges without Iggy were just another bunch of West Coast garage musicians, one band among many. The Doors without Jim, the Stones without Mick. The reason why our readers voted for Spiderwebs in droves is that from the moment the vocal comes in, its declaiming sardonic rap jeremiad on the state of the record industry grabs us by the lug holes and refuses to let go. Wonderful flow, genuine bile and a band that sounds pretty much guaranteed to tear your head off live.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

CORONATION BALL – God Be Careful

Canny songwriting, and another great arrangement that lunges straight for the jugular with no messing. The arresting hookline “God be careful!” could means so many things to so many people – and Coronation Ball tease us by almost saying it, yet not saying it, right from the outset. Again, an outstanding vocal performance – this time underpinned by lush, intelligent instrumentation, and turbocharged – as in the previous three tracks – by an outstanding drummer. One of the frustrations of championing under-the-radar artists is that their biggest obstacle to mass sales is not lack of talent, but lack of attention. In my opinion if this record was serviced to the media as Keane’s new single it would be acclaimed as a major return to form and go straight to Number One.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

GLASS CAVES – Out Of Control

Glass Caves featured on our fresh Faves back in February 2013 with their song Muscle and as Fresh On The Net’s James Robins wrote at the time “Glass Caves aren’t giving away masses about themselves online” which is something of an understatement. Biog? Nada. About Us? Zilch. Despite this Billboard Magazine has apparently described them as one of the “fastest growing new acts on the internet” and certainly the figures would seem to speak for themselves: 7,000+ likes on Facebook and 2,500 plays on Souncloud for this track alone in the last 24 days. It’s the title track of their upcoming second EP, produced and mixed by Richard Turvey at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool. Although the band don’t tell you any of this themselves, according to Mind Equals Blown they’ve made their way from busking on the streets of UK cities to the BBC Radio One playlist and Leeds/Reading Festivals in a matter of months. They will be playing in London this Thursday April 3rd appearing alongside The Traps at the Black Heart, Camden as part of Music Week Rising.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

HUIAS – Dealer

It takes a sure hand to leave your production as empty as this and Dealer is that rare combination of loyalty to its own wayward artistic vision and a perfect three minute length for radio. The Spanish duo Huias – aka Alejandro Santana and haunting vocalist María Lastra – don’t make this spooky, otherworldly music with a view to getting rich,  but because it’s clearly their life’s work. And for truly visionary artists the route to major popularity paradoxically lies in a directon opposite to the mainstream – think tUnE-yArDs or Burial for instance.  Accordingly, without any hype, industry bombast or obvious promotion at all in the six days its been on Soundcloud this gossamer-light gem has already racked up 7,000 plays. That’s more than A THOUSAND LISTENS A DAY – ten times the rate of even our friends Glass Caves.  And yes, since you ask, Huias do seem to have given us a pretty comprehensive biog on their Facebook page which you can peruse here. So long as you can read Spanish.

Tumblr | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Vimeo | Bandcamp

JESS McALLISTER – Take A Walk

As a manifesto of intent – from an artist of selfevident passion and integrity – the following takes some beating. “I do not sing, write or play to impress or astound” wrtes Jess McAllister. “I am readily aware that there is nothing I can do that someone else can’t do better… What I can offer is a little piece of myself:  songs written in times of happiness, anguish or irritation, about real people.” And Take A Walk makes good on that offer with a vengeance. Jess’s beautifully understated  production and writing effortlessly transcend the standard singer-songwriter-at-grand-piano cliché – with no shortage of harmonic and textural surprises along the way. As the music weaves its spell and draws you in along the way – with arresting drops and pauses – Jess then delivers her startlingly fresh-minted narrative. Heartbreakingly gorgeous string arrangements run like sinews through the whole body of the song as an integral part of the whole. Plentiful evidence of a ferocious emotional and musical intelligence at work. Find of the week, no contest.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

KING SINGH – I’ve Said Words

This is Alexander McIntyre Singh’s third appearance – by the popular demand of our moderators and readers – here in our Fresh Faves. However I’ve been enjoying his composition and production skills for much longer than that: we first played his instrumental classic Hijamumpa on 6 Music back in 2009, and subsequently enjoyed the wonderful live band that he formed with fellow Redditch songwriter Thomas Rees – Pandas and People. It’s always good to hear new music from King Singh, and with I’ve Said Words he’s back on fine form. As a matter of fact this tune already made my personal Extra Gems playlist on Soundcloud last week.

Instagram | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

SAM GRIFFITHS – A Noise Such As You

To misappropriate Dr Samuel Johnson’s famous pronouncement on patriotism, labelling oneself “a singer-songwriter” is all too often the last refuge of the scoundrel. Think about it – Prince, David Bowie and Beyoncé all sing and write songs, yet we’d never dream of applying the label in their case. Plenty of honourable exceptions of course, yet all too many lazy chancers still use the umbrella term “Singer-Songwriter” to shelter their feeble cliché-ridden noodlings from the harsher critical scrutiny applied to actual “Bands” and proper “Solo Artists”. But I digress. The point is that a song is a song is a song, and all songs should be judged by the same standards – does it connect and do the business – or does it miss the mark?

Sam Griffiths describes himself as “a York-based singer-songwriter” yet – given that A Noise Such As You hit a bullseye with our readers over the last three days – I’d say he definitely qualifies as a fully fledged Solo Artist. I’d never knowingly come across Sam’s work before this weekend, yet this understated and hypnotic tune draws us effortlessly into his world. It’s a beguiling combination of wildly original production with a delicate vocal performance of enormous poise, and quite delicious. My only reservation is there’s ever so slightly too much of it. After all – smoked salmon with black pepper and a zest of lemon is pretty tasty too: but you wouldn’t expect the waiter to heap a kilogram of the stuff on your plate. Once we passed the three minute mark without any substantial build or change of texture, there was just the teensiest sense of this excellent track outstaying its welcome. An extremely minor niggle that a judicious radio edit could fix in an instant.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

SEATTLE YACHT CLUB – Dreaming

I’m a big fan of Seattle Yacht Club: indeed, with Same Old Questions, Fall Deep and Feeling The Sunshine, they’ve made some of my favourite tunes of the past twelve months. Between them Tom Dale and Denis Brice possess a more outrageous amount of talent than any pair of individuals could reasonably expect. Dreaming sounds to my ears as if some manager or record label had taken the band in hand and said “right lads, it’s time to up your game and start producing tunes with a wider commercial appeal”. It’s certainly panned out that way: the gleaming express-train production – littered with catchy hooks – garnered easily the highest number of votes on our Listenig Post this weekend. I very much hope the song will carry them on to the bigger audiences and serious sales volumes they so richly deserve. But I also hope that in due course they’ll find a way to reincorporate the leftfield quirky charm that has always made Seattle Yacht Club such a unique and appealing band.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t made the Listening Post you’re welcome to re-submit it another week. If your music has appeared on the Listening Post but not in our Fresh Faves, feel free to send us an even stronger track another week.

But if we’ve recently featured you in our Fresh Faves – or on my BBC Introducing Mixtape – please wait three months before sending us another track, so we have space to help to other new artists… For more info see Robinson Has A Good Old Moan.

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...

5 Comments

  1. Thank you to everyone that voted. There were some really strong tracks here (as usual). This website is such a great platform to get your tracks heard. Thanks Tom.

  2. Lara Bruce

    A fan of Bi:Lingual. Fresh, innovative, impressive and worth a gander at their other tracks. I need to catch these live.

    Glass Caves have plenty of potential.

  3. Hello! Thank you for including my track on this list! Spent the evening drinking champagne in celebration and listening to the other tracks on here… ALL of which are incredible! Just wanted to add that I did upload another one of my tracks to fresh net… not because I’m annoying and wanted to be featured twice, but because I didn’t know ‘Take a Walk’ was going to be on here at all!
    So hope you like it anyway, and thanks for introducing me to loads of brilliant music tonight :)
    Lots of love Jess xxx

  4. I reckon this week I got almost as much pleasure reading the detailed reviews of Fresh Fave batch 101 as I did actually listening to the tracks. And that is saying something. Pausing for breath after a mirth-like attack, I just had to restrain myself at the highly visual image of this metaphorised umbrella, sheltering the poor self named Singer Songwriter’s “feeble cliché-ridden noodlings from the harsher critical scrutiny applied to actual Bands”. This has a sarcastic poetic value that really presses my buttons. Whilst making a perfectly valid, and encouraging point, we the readers are unconsciously being reminded to not upload cr*p, and if we do, should label our offerings more accurately, food standard-like.

    Examples could be Song Cobbler; Chord Flounderer; Song Bungler; Dreg producer etc. As we follow this particular linguistic journey we are being
    taken in two directions at once,one positive, the other slightly less so, and this wry observation is difficult to measure without the added
    non verbal communication which would add the finishing touch, and produce the maximum of cringing response. We of course are getting a slight taste of the frustrations inherent in your music reviewing role, and although I have touched upon it previously, its value in this industry is gold-plated, and rare, and we the “feeble” producers of this low quality noodle are in your debt.

    I think you should abbreviate “feeble cliché-ridden noodlings” to FCRN, and pronounce it as “it is writ” as I believe it has the potential to
    attract the “youfs” attention and could, by repetition, infect the nonexistant Oxford English Musical dictionary. Its sheer politeness disguises its formidable punch, and by wanton embarrassment hits the intended target spot on. Ouch.

    Other direct quotes which appealed to me were:
    “The teensiest sense of this excellent track outstaying its welcome”
    “Heartbreakingly gorgeous string arrangements run like sinews through the whole body of the song”
    “littered with catchy hooks”
    “marshall their amped-up fuzzball guitar attack”
    “its declaiming sardonic rap jeremiad”

    For me this example of quality writing reminds us that song production should not only be limited to musical arrangement, and an equal amount of time should be invested in punch line phrases, relevant to the music, clearly spelling out the sense, not necessarily rhyming and having some good old fashioned imperial meter (iambic pentameter comes to mind, an old memory from an English lesson many moons ago). This quality of language can literally transform a dull repetitive FCRN, and Mary Shelleyise it into a living breathing phenomenon.

    In short: no FCRN rubbish here.

  5. Great music,great reviews Tom,really in depth :)

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