Fresh Faves: Batch 103

94 Gunships

Artists at a glance

94 GUNSHIPS
CAROLINE ENGLAND
FREE SWIM
LAURENCE MADE ME CRY
STEFAN MELBOURNE
THE ACTIONS
THE BLUEBEAT ARKESTRA
VARDO AND THE BOSS
YOU

It’s Monday and once again it’s time for our latest batch of your Fresh Faves to banish those beginning of the week blues. As ever, we’d like to send out a massive thanks to all the artists who submitted their tracks and to all the Fresh On The Net listeners who dropped by to hear them. These were your ten favourites – which you can also hear all together in a separate Soundcloud playlist here.

94 GUNSHIPS – Dead Bees

Nottingham’s 94 Gunships list Edgar Allen Poe and maritime history amongst their influences, and you can certainly imagine this wilfully ramshackle five piece marauding across the high seas, regaling lost souls with their mischievous musical tales. Dead Bees enthrals from the very first strains of its unnerving, lo-fi intro, which could reduce even the rowdiest tavern to a hushed silence before plunging it into raucous chaos as it bursts bawdily into a bluesy, boozy and above all infectious stomp.

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CAROLINE ENGLAND – Crashing Down

Like all the best pop songs, Crashing Down weaves together hook-laden melody and expertly crafted instrumental arrangement to create a rich and unassumingly catchy musical tapestry, with an uplifting chorus that could walk onto any primetime playlist. Caroline England’s voice is beautifully pure, with an endearing honesty that could disarm even the stoniest of hearts, so it’s easy to see why our listeners fell in love with this talented Liverpudlian singer in their droves.

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FOLLOWER #7 – Episode IV

On Episode IV, Follower #7 – aka Carlisle based musician & producer John Laval – treats us to an arresting mix of acoustic and electronica; blending mesmeric, intricately picked guitars and pulverising drums that drive on relentlessly as the tune builds into a dark and foreboding epic. Electric guitars swirl and vocals soar, and it’s testament both to his musical skill and the engaging, natural tone of his voice that all these elements are able to intertwine so effortlessly. Episode IV is taken from the recent album ‘Absenteeism’ which is available via Follower #7’s Bandcamp.

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FREE SWIM – Meal For One

On this track, Free Swim have expertly channelled the monotony and loneliness of the modern day rat race, taking a swipe at everything from social media to the current obsession with boxsets along the way. Anyone who spends their weekdays working in an office will find themselves veering between laughter and a slight nagging despair, as the savagely crafted lyrical barbs are hammered mercilessly into the very core of their existence by the ‘meal for one’ refrain of the chorus. This is the kind of song that catches you off guard; at first you won’t know what to make of it, but by the end you’ll be convinced it’s a work of genius.

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LAURENCE MADE ME CRY – Bellgrove

If modern life is getting you down don’t fear, Laurence Made Me Cry has the perfect tonic to sooth your soul. Simple and stripped down, there’s a timeless quality to the music as soft vocal lines float like feathers over the gentle rhythm of the guitars. ‘Bellgrove’ is taken from on an upcoming EP of lo-fi recordings, which the Cardiff based musician is currently working on and if this lovely little track is anything to go by, it could be something special. If you’re searching for some calm amidst the storm, look no further.

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STEFAN MELBOURNE – Landslide

Recorded last December in a cold Manchester church, the crisp wintery atmosphere bleeds beautifully into this track, as the vocals of Stefan Melbourne and guest vocalist Chloe Leavers tumble exquisitely over the lush musical expanse. In an age when records can be made entirely in small bedroom studios, this serves as a reminder that it’s sometimes still worth going that extra mile to create something truly stunning. Landscape is taken from the new ‘The Way We Fall’ EP, which is available from Stefan’s Bandcamp page.

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THE ACTIONS – The Echo

Fusing elements of electronica, post rock and psychedelia, The Echo is like being stretched out over a musical event horizon, as you’re propelled from one sonic dimension to another. One minute you’re bouncing to the synth bass groove of the chorus, the next you’re drifting in a spaced out freak out, or bathing in a squall of twisted, overdriven guitars. What’s really impressive is that The Actions are able to thread all these twists and turns together with ease, and it makes for one hell of a trip!

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THE BLUEBEAT ARKESTRA – The Chillr

Birmingham six-piece The Bluebeat Arkestra make a beautifully complex sound. From the rolling jungle rhythms of the bass and drums, to the jazzy chops of piano and guitar, all the way up to the soaring strings and brass, the band are locked together like a flock of birds in flight. All this provides a perfect canvas for singer Hayley Trower’s sumptuous vocal, which melds seamlessly with her instrumental counterparts. By all accounts they’re also building an impressive reputation as a live act, and with a new self-titled EP due in a couple of weeks, the future certainly looks bright for this band.

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VARDO AND THE BOSS – Lady At The Bar

Vardo and the Boss were hugely popular with our listeners this week, who were clearly entranced by the sultry, bluesy sway of this track. The lilting instrumentation is perfectly understated, allowing singers Lauren Francis and Laura Wyatt the time and space to showcase their raw vocal power and heart-wrenching harmonies. The band are currently in the process of crowdfunding their debut album, so if you like what you hear, head to their website and help them make it happen!

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YOU – In Halves

Mysterious and compelling, this is an Escher-like illusion of a tune with myriad angles that entice and confound at every turn, all the more adding to the fact that you can’t take your ears off it. Sooner or later it becomes clear that resistance is futile as you succumb to the surreal bliss, losing yourself amongst swathes of delay soaked piano and guitar, and haunting vocal whispers. This is 3am music that will seep deep into your subconscious, drifting unexpectedly through your waking thoughts and resonating in the dark corners of your slumber. In Halves is the title track of You’s forthcoming EP, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for it.

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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 other deserving artists… For more info see Robinson Has A Good Old Moan.

James Robins

Originally from Manchester, in 2011 I came down to London to intern on Tom’s BBC 6Music show and ended up sticking around. Music has been central to my life ever since I can remember, so I’m loving being a part of Team Freshnet. Otherwise I can be found digging through dusty vinyl in musky record shops or arriving unfashionably early at gigs.

6 Comments

  1. Uncle Luc

    ‘I Write’ is the first single from Luke Barham the former singer of Radio 1 and XFM favourite’s Stagecoach. The songs from his debut album were conceived in a Hollywood garage over the Christmas period and hark back to a time when pop music was grand, something he likes to call “baroque and roll” On returning to the UK, Luke met Finnish producer Henri Växby whose family one by one joined the recording sessions eventually becoming his backing band. Taking hints from Surrey home town hero Nick Lowe, his songs are loaded with rich melody and vivid story telling.

    Luke Barham should take a few hints from this blog. Such as the blooming great red box marked SEND US A TRACK at the top of the page instead of spamming us in the comments like this.

  2. Liam

    Thank you for including us in this! Nice one, Liam (Vardo and the Boss)

  3. Mo

    Hey James, thank you very much. We’re glad to be one of the Fresh Faves this week. Cool review. Have a nice week!

  4. Hi James,
    multo thanks for the review, appreciate it. Cheers, John (Follower #7)

  5. Hey James,

    Thanks so much for your lovely writing about our song “In Halves”

    Anna and the rest of YOU xx

  6. Roy Shaiskii

    A slow trip down the Fresh Faves Lane is quite appreciable. And it is even more to pause on YOU’s “In Halves” ~3am music indeed~.

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