Artists at a glance
DULL & DECENT
PAUL COOK & THE CHRONICLES
VIRGIN OF THE BIRDS
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend as usual and are reviewed, for the first time, by new Team Freshnet member Steve Harris. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
AUGUST AND AFTER – The Orchard
In “The Orchard”, gently picked guitars and tight vocal harmonies lead to a soaring violin solo that will have you gazing wistfully out of the nearest window. August and After are a four-piece act from Finchley who, in their own words, play “a distinctive style of classically inspired indie-folk, with close harmonies and hauntingly beautiful orchestration.” It’s hard to argue with that. This track is part of their self-released debut album, “Embers”, which includes collaborations with a surprising variety of guest musicians.
COLLEAGUES – Tears
Ah, perfect pop from Sweden! Yes, it’s almost a cliché, but listening to this, what else can you say? No matter when or where you hear “Tears” by Swedish five-piece Colleagues, the sun will come out and a smile will appear on your face. It bursts into life with each chorus, throwing zesty synths, jangly guitars and arms-in-the-air euphoria into the musical punch bowl. Steady, you know what happened last time! “Tears” is released as part of a double-single with the track “Parents House” on London label In Stereo Records. Please throw synths into musical punch bowls responsibly.
DEBS MCCOY – The Therapy Sessions No.1
Listening Post regulars will recognise Debs McCoy as one of Team Freshnet’s most attentive moderators, but she didn’t need our help to propel this track into the Fresh Faves this week. “The Therapy Sessions, No. 1” teases out worries, summons dreams and paints landscapes upon which you can project your innermost conscious and subconscious thoughts, along with — by the looks of it — your deep admiration for a musician who’s clearly not afraid to put herself at the very heart of her music. Stunning work, Debs! *high fives all round*
DERREN HEATH – Pretend
In Derren Heath’s “Pretend”, we hear someone torn between the fantasy and despair of unrequited love with a song that’s both beguiling and heartrending. “I’ve bought into a dream that’s already been sold,” he laments, and we’ve probably all been there once or twice (or, like, my entire life). There isn’t much information out there on Derren Heath right now, but we know he lives in Pembrokeshire and that his work has already caught the attention of Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales. You can see why from this captivating track, and check out more of Derren’s music on his SoundCloud page.
DULL & DECENT – Pioneers
There was absolutely no information provided by Dull & Decent about themselves, which sent me off to do some internet sleuthing, only to discover from a single Facebook post that Dull & Decent is a side-project of Son of Jack, aka Welsh musician JP Jones, who’s previously fronted UK band Grace, and recorded and toured with Chrissie Hynde as part of JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys. “Pioneers” is a dramatic departure from all that and the soulful acoustic work he puts out as Son of Jack. According to his Facebook page, JP will be filming a video for this track in LA soon in preparation for release as a single in the summer, duuuude.
GYMNAST – Geneva
“Don’t breathe a word to your father, will you?” pleads Cathy Wilcock, one half of Manchester-based duo Gymnast, the other being Chris Lyon whose vocals also appear on this tale of forbidden love, clandestine meetings at the lake and plenty more besides. Reading the band’s bio, this sounds true to life, as they “make a habit of playing [their music] live in unusual places”. It’s not easy to describe Gymnast’s music or attach it to a specific genre, but why box them in? It takes talent to create something as tight as this and courage to beat your own path. Their third appearance as Fresh Faves proves that Gymnast lack neither. “Geneva” is out now on Gizeh Records.
MYLITTLEBROTHER – Gold
Having previously featured as Fresh Faves and interviewed by Johnno in a Prick & Ding back in 2012, we already know that MyLittleBrother is essentially Cumbrian native Will Harris when recording, augmented by a band of interchangeable people when playing live. It’s interesting to look back, because the style has shifted considerably from the fuzzy “NoseDive”. “Gold” retains that track’s warmth, but the fuzz has gone, replaced by crisp guitars and confident vocals. “Gold” is part of the album, “If We Never Come Down”, which will be available on Bandcamp from 26 April.
ORDINARY NOISE – Hungry Tongues
If Colchester four-piece Ordinary Noise sound anywhere near as familiar to you as they did to me, perhaps that’s because they have fans such as John Cooper Clarke, have been played on BBC Radio 6 Music, XFM and BBC Introducing in Suffolk, and interviewed right here on Fresh On The Net last year. “Hungry Tongues” describes someone who builds a nest, raises a child, remembers your face, dreams and is then killed and “packaged on a shelf for hungry tongues”. As the story unfolds, so the anger builds, challenging us to consider the reality of the food many of us put in our mouths.
PAUL COOK & THE CHRONICLES – Radar
If the object of Paul Cook’s desire can’t see him on their radar, it must be broken, because he’s definitely appearing on ours. Listening to this band, fronted by a softly-sung man whose heart is bursting at the seams, your world turns hazy and soon it’s you wondering whether you’ll ever find the courage to say hello, let alone ask if they’re free next Thursday, because WHAT IF THE ANSWER IS NO?!! Your dream will be shattered and you will die. I know, I know. “Radar” is available as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp now, with an official release by Grandpa Stan Records on 1 June. I bet Stan would ask her out.
VIRGIN OF THE BIRDS – Every Revelry
“Give your dirge a place to bloom,” sings Jon Rooney on “Every Revelry”, which went down a storm with our listeners. The ominous lyrics prick your ears and the surprisingly catchy melody draws you closer. Accompanied by perfectly layered, grumbling guitars and an understated rhythm section, nothing in “Every Revelry” is overdone, but it has everything it needs, and manages all that in a little over 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Love it! Released as part of the album “Winter Seeds” on Song, By Toad Records.
xBOMB FACTORY – Small Things Matter
1 minute and 45 seconds of post-punk excellence.
Oh, alright, a bit more! Debut album, “No”, from this Cambridge five-piece is released on 28 April on German label, Noisolution, and the X in XBOMB is apparently silent. Otherwise, in the interest of brevity as a comedic prop, this blisteringly energetic track and its inclusion here, I think, speaks for itself.
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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.