Artists at a glance
WINTER IN TORONTO
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed for the first time by new team member Kimberley-Marie Sklinar from Never Enough Notes. You can hear all these tracks in a single SoundCloud playlist here.
Ello folks. I’ve been on the Fresh On The Net team behind the scenes for a few weeks now but it’s time for my first review piece. I bow to my awaiting public. Why, thank you thank you. We’ve got a real selection of aural treats for you this week – some slowburners, a great rock-dance-punk fusion and some really beautiful folkier pieces. It’s a veritable reminder of just how much undiscovered talent is out there. Without further faffing, let’s get down to the music.
BIRD – I Am The Mountain
I Am The Mountain by Liverpool band Bird was this week’s favourite track with our readers and rightly so. It’s a brooding attention-grabber of a work right from the off and one you are going to have on repeat. Just saying. Ethereal synth movements are set alongside sweetly-enunciated lyrics, creating a huge amount of drama for the 3-piece that have been around since 2011. The whole affair is mystery-filled from the very start, and when the track really gets going we’re treated to some Smithsy bass and whispery layers. It continues building right until the very end where it swirls around your ears as well as your head and down your spine. Adele’s vocals are comparable to those of Saint Etienne frontwoman Sarah Cracknell, with an additional element of perturbing backed by gentle guitar. I’m trying not to swear to describe how much I am impressed with this but I can’t, here goes: this is effing epic. Click here to see Bird perform I Am The Mountain at BBC 6Music’s inaugural 6 Music Festival in Manchester earlier this year – their album My Fear And Me is out now.
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BLAIR JOLLANDS – Carve It Up
This is a sauntering gravelly singalong delivered by London-based kiwi Blair Jollands. Carve It Up is a roaring foot-tapper, a summery track with a slight soul-baring melancholy within. Upon researching further it transpires that Mr Jollands is an award-winning singer-songwriter (I love hyphens, I do) and has even collaborated with the likes of Boy George. Carve It Up is a well-produced number (there I go again!) and Blair’s leviathan vocal carries the song above its rhythmic alt-country backing amid a few surprises. Where one would expect a harmonica cameo, there’s a brass solo. Where there could be many more lyrics we find repetition. If it ain’t broke…
Sorry New Zealand, we’re keeping him.
CENTREFOLDS – Aquaplane
And now for something completely different. Sixteen beats in, I find myself waiting for Phoenix’s vocal but instead find the guitars taken away and replaced with a creative multi-genre breakfast of champions. Aquaplane is Centrefolds‘ current single which takes the best bits from punk, electronica, French house, trance (yes, trance), rock and brings it together to create a swaggery release that’s going to see Foals cowering in a corner behind Soulwax. Unfortunately, finding that their current EP is entitled Fashion has put me off from wanting to find out more. Essex, they’re coming to getcha.
FRANKIE FORMAN – Scars On Me
Frankie Forman, for starters, is a woman (I was expecting a man, how bad is that?) No, she’s a LADY. And this lady has a deliciously jazzy vocal treat in store for you. Scars On Me sees our Frankie deliver a well-paced country backing with a trip-hop edge. Honest soulful delivery is Frankie’s calling card; a delightfully gentle demeanour creates an atmosphere so smoky you could be in the blues clubs of yesteryear simply by closing your eyes. The word on the street is that Frankie began her career in Paris playing the cafes and bars of Montmarte where she met bandmate Johnny. I am particularly excited for seeing what Frankie Forman conjours up in the future: be sure to catch her at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival.
LOUIS BARABBAS & THE BEDLAM SIX – All That’s In Between
With their website proclaiming that Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six are purveyors of ‘dirt swing’, consider my interest piqued. However, All That’s In Between by Barabbas et al is a slow-builder. With voice joined by piano a few counts in, we hear Louis’ old-worldly storytelling fuelled by a gentle trumpet (these come in to a whole brass solo later on). What is it with trumpets and nostalgia? At just over a minute in we’re treated to rousing drums as the theatrical vocal strengthens. All That’s In Between is a reassuring and frank account. It’s a love song without being full of love.
SAM AIREY – Station Approach
This week’s Fresh Faves is full of slowly-driving pieces and this offering is no different. Layered and whispery voices are the key to the hopeful Station Approach, and Sam Airey‘s vocal is much more mature than his youthful visage suggests. After its peaceful intonation and folky start, 3 minutes in the track bursts into a full-on dramatic intrumental before Airey rejoins proceedings with his earthy overtone. It’s freaking beautiful, resounding, epic. Factfans: this track was recorded and mixed by Whiskas from ¡Forward, Russia! Station Approach comes out as a single later this month and can be pre-ordered via Sam’s official site by clicking here.
SILVIA NOVE – Nothing Is Right
This is a decent nod to female slacker-rock with some distinct punk undertones. Silvia Nove is an elusive individual if the internet is anything to go by, hiding out in Italy somewhere in some cave in the mountains. Nothing Is Right is a confidently driving offering that reminds me of Elizabeth from Land of Talk (particularly their track Magnetic Hill). Towards the end there’s a decent electric guitar solo followed by some Weezer “yeah yeahs” – a big thumbs-up in my (virtual) book. You can get Nothing Is Right from the Bandcamp link below. Meanwhile, the mystery remains… just who is this Silvia Nove?
SKINNY BONES – Sleep In
Sleep In is at first a chopped-up sonic spaghetti that might have you checking if the CD is skipping. Bear with it and be rewarded. Seemingly taking a leaf from Alt-J’s book, we hear Skinny Bones working some clever production wizardry that becomes much clearer as this electronica-meets-psych folk piece goes on. There’s a delicate tempo – really reminding me of Gooey by Glass Animals – and a slight hint at a female vocal underneath the haunting male overtone. This deconstructed piece comes together the further along it moves, and I feel that had the confusingly sliced intro been shortened, this composition would have fared much better on the Fresh Faves voting.
WINTER IN TORONTO – Pen Y Fan
Our final Fresh Fave chosen by readers this week is actually one of my favourites from our selection. It begins vulnerably with rousing bells overtaken by intricately-plucked guitar. Winter In Toronto are the London-based duo of Cameron Pickard and Ellis Mizen who clearly sing and songwrite from the bottom of their souls. Rhythms build and chords soar as the well-layered Pen Y Fan finds the confidence to carry itself forward. Although beginning with a very stripped-down opening it’s complex in places, but not overly so. There is something much deeper here than simplistic and generic folk at play here. I’m hoping to hear much more from this pair of talented gents and their strings soon.
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.