Artists at a glance
JOHN D REVELATOR
JUSTIN DEAN THOMAS
LILY & MEG
WIRED TO FOLLOW
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend and are reviewed, for the second time in two weeks, by new and highly dedicated Team Freshnet member Steve Harris. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
AKIRA THE DON – Put A Jumper On
Anyone who’s bemoaned the dearth of political protest songs in recent years need bemoan no more and take a listen to Akira The Don’s “Put A Jumper On” instead. Undeniably referencing The Sultans of Ping FC’s indie classic, Where’s Me Jumper, it includes lines such as “It’s your damn fault you didn’t go to Eton, and you can’t afford your central heating,” so it’s possibly not one for supporters of the UK’s political incumbents, but you never know. Our very own Big Jim Craigen is a fan, recently highlighting Akira The Don in his Pick’n’Mix, albeit for a completely different track of just vocals and piano that shows off this artist’s versatility.
GOLD SPECTACLES – What We Might Have Been
Gold Spectacles describe themselves as a London-based “baroque-pop duo” who cite Phoenix among their influences, and there is a clear nod to those Gallic legends here, with delicate guitar lines and that sense of unassuming pop. While I especially enjoyed the reference to a Brocken spectre, it struck me that many of the lyrics are cut-and-shut versions of sayings often trotted out during breakups: the grass is greener, shoulders cold as ice, and so on. It’s not the most harrowing split ever — no bunnies were boiled — more a parting of ways. This, then, is simply a musical sigh about something that could’ve been, and that straightforward approach to songwriting clearly works, because “What Might Have Been” resonated very strongly with you, the Listening Post voters.
HAPPYNESS – Great Minds Think Alike…
In this track, London three-piece Happyness effortlessly recall “slacker rock” bands of the 90s, such as Pavement and Dinosaur Jr, where nothing is overdone and a catchy hook is all you need. We’ve seen a lot of Happyness lately: they’re currently touring with the sublime Ezra Furman, who said he adores them on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show just last week, recently did a session for John Kennedy’s X-Posure on XFM, and appeared at Liverpool’s Sound City over the weekend. After seeing them at the latter, our very own Shell Zenner told us they were “catchy and rousing and certainly didn’t take themselves too seriously. A bit of that 90s guitar vibe that’s so on trend right now and their banter was good craic too!” That illustrious fan base is now complemented by you, Listening Post reviewers, who absolutely loved this track.
HAZE – Smoke
Haze might sound like a band name, but is actually the singer / musician you hear on this haunting piece, which appears to question the conscience and motives of fictional chemistry teacher-turned-meth cook, Walter White from the US TV series Breaking Bad, but also raises questions valid for anyone who’s overruled their inner moral compass for monetary gain. A strong track, “Smoke” is actually the B-side to Haze’s single “Together Or Apart”, available now on iTunes and Bandcamp (and you know all money from Bandcamp sales go to the artist, right?). Haze will be appearing at The Great Escape in Brighton next weekend, along with a few more appearances around the UK over the coming months. See her web site for more information, yo! (sorry)
JOHN D REVELATOR – Union Girl
In “Union Girl”, John D Revelator laments the demise of socialist politics through this song about the heartbreak of losing his “union girl” to the rightwing. A charming tune in itself, the witty lyrics really win you over, recalling time spent around the brazier, scoring “top Marx for politics” and so on. It’s possible a few people born in the last 25 to 30 years won’t get the references, but for everyone else it’s a hoot. According to their Facebook page, John D Revelator is a duo consisting of John Diment and Colin Baird who started playing original tunes together last year after John’s song “In My Loving Arms” won a local folk club songwriting competition.
JOINT HONOURS – Coming Together
Joint Honours are a four-piece band from Derby who mention influences such as The Streets and The Beach Boys in their bio. That doesn’t make any sense until you hear “Coming Together”, where rapid-fire, half-spoken half-sung verses race into vocal harmonies. It’s a bit mad, there’s mischief, references to “Lana” on the radio, things drift in and out and eventually it all (wait for it!) comes together to make an original and sweet pop song, which the band says is a fan favourite. Joint Honours have already received airplay and acclaim from numerous BBC Introducing presenters across the country, nice words from Kerrang!, and a compliment from someone called Simon Cowell, no less. “Coming Together” is taken from their second EP, “Lucky Number 8” available on iTunes now.
JUSTINDEANTHOMAS – The Night Is Far Gone
“The Night Is Far Gone” is the sound of one man and a 1956 Silvertone acoustic guitar who, for what it’s worth, looks every inch the 50s heartthrob, from the hair to the high-waisted slacks. The guitar may be acoustic, but this performance is electrifying and one that can hold a room even without him physically in it. According to his bio, Justin Dean Thomas hitchhiked his way across America immersing himself in folk, country, rhythm & blues and rock n roll. Originally from Boston and now in NYC, he’s one half of The Bowery Riots, but is gearing up for a solo album by releasing material such as this.
LILY & MEG – In The Water
If you haven’t heard this track yet, press play then come back when it’s finished. All done? What caught most people off-guard is the applause at the end. This beautifully crafted song was recorded in front of an audience at The Acorn Theatre, Cornwall as part of Lily & Meg’s Live EP. The duo met in Falmouth two years ago and bonded over “a love for intricate harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and timeless song-writing.” That is clearly evident here as repeated listens reveal lyrics that flow so naturally, sung by two perfectly woven voices, and accompanied by their own expert playing. Find their music on Bandcamp and iTunes, and catch them playing around the UK this summer.
STEVE DAGLEISH – Innocence
Steve Dagleish may already be familiar to you, having appeared on Tom’s Saturday show on 6 Music and the BBC Introducing Mixtape earlier this year with his track “45 Minutes”. This track, “Innocence”, which he calls “a meditation” and “a reflective irenic piece” sounds quite different, with a beautiful string arrangement and subtle beats to accompany a tale about the tender handling of a meeting with “a lonely woman and her one-night stand”. Find out more about Steve’s music using the links below, his YouTube channel in particular has many high quality videos of his live performances that are worth a look.
THESLOWREVOLT – Never Get Close
In The Slow Revolt’s “Never Get Close” we’re dealt the anguish of unfulfilled love with someone who refuses to let you in. Soulful vocals cry out over crisp beats and electronic murmurings, with a barely suppressed frustration that threatens to explode, although never quite does, preferring to pull back, take a breath and pace the room, while leaving us in no doubt that the torment is never far away. The Slow Revolt has fans such as new music visionary, John Kennedy (who owes me a lot of money for all these mentions), blog of excellence The Line of Best Fit, Clash magazine, and you in your droves. And me. And me. And me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have listened to this over the weekend. Next week on Fresh On The Net, we’re starting a 12 Step program for recovering music addicts. In the meantime, you can download this track for free (as in email address) from the band’s web site.
WIREDTOFOLLOW – Unix Epoch
To some, “Unix Epoch” may sound ominous, but this geek knows it to be a date that many computers use to calculate time. Computers only really understand numbers, see, so to track time they add or subtract the number of seconds from a reference date. OK, sorry, you didn’t sign up for a computer science lesson, and with all that said you may expect something Kraftwerk-esque from Wired To Follow, but “Unix Epoch” couldn’t sound any less electronic. Beginning with a snatched line of taped dialogue that simply says “I feel sorry for you”, we embark on a journey through a serene, perhaps eerie soundscape of soft piano, strings, various distorted noises and subterranean rumblings. Before you know it, shafts of light break through and cymbals clash for one brief, spectacular moment until it all fades away again. “Unix Epoch” is taken from Wired To Follow’s EP, Everything in Colour, available from their Bandcamp page.
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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.