Artists at a glance
Welcome to Fresh Faves Batch 120. If Scotland votes “yes” for independence this week, the people of Scotland will still be able to submit tracks to and vote on the Listening Post, but it will cost TWICE AS MUCH.
So, with that cleared up…
ALEX MOIR – Night Of Nights
Alex Moir was featured on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape at the start of the year, appeared in session for Jack Parker on Amazing Radio, and has garnered plays on BBC Manchester and his local BBC Introducing station, BBC WM. Alex, who’s from Birmingham, is a multi-instrumentalist that likes words and says Night of Nights is “meteoric melodic slightly odd pop”. That’s a good description, but I’m not sure about odd (Listening Post 120 also featured Mr Underwood’s brilliant, but slightly odd “doom tuba” piece, Stubnitz, for example), because to my ears, Night of Nights sounds slick and perfectly produced, and Listening Post voters loved it for that.
ETCHES – Ice Cream Dream Machine
A little scant on biographical information, Etches self-identify as a Liverpool-based band of five musicians from different corners of England, and their single, Ice Cream Dream Machine, is a catchy indie pop thing (I’m still waiting to hear back from The Quietus about that writing job, BTW) that got a whole lotta love from Listening Post voters, along with plays by our very own Shell Zenner on Amazing Radio, Maz of Communion, and the exquisite John Kennedy on XFM. Etches will be released on Club.The.Mammoth on October 13, with launch events at St Pancras Old Church in London on October 1, and the East Village Arts Club in Liverpool the next day.
FELIX PALLAS – Too Sad For Tea
Oh dear, could anything say “inconsolable” better than feeling too sad for tea? You can hear the pain in this song, which swells from a somber beginning to the singer wailing “Howl at the moon! Howl at the moon!” That said, they could’ve gone too far, but didn’t. Felix Pallas is a band from Belgium comprised of brothers Simon Nuytten (guitar, vox) and Pieter-Jan Nuytten (keys, vox), along with Xavier Gosselin (guitar) and the wonderfully named Ziggy van Wallendael (drums). Too Sad For Tea is taken from their debut EP, 2S4T, which was released last Friday on iTunes, Spotify, etc.
GOLDEN FABLE – Armour
I didn’t see that voice coming. That’s the surprise you get hearing Armour, because for all that’s familiar about the guitars-and-drums backing, Rebecca Palin’s vocals are so other-worldly. This suddenly makes sense when you learn that Armour was recorded at Bryn Derwen studios in the beautiful surroundings of Snowdonia. Golden Fable is Rebecca Palin, Tim McIver and Jack McCarthy, and Armour is taken from their second album, Ancient Blue, which will be released on November 10 and is available to preorder on their Bandcamp page.
J.P. WHIPPLE – Gone
Just the banjo and that slow, thumping bass instantly summons the vision of a campfire for me, but it’s dark, where are those voices coming from? A lap steel guitar appears and turns the atmosphere electric. According to his web site, the barefoot vagabond J.P. Whipple has written several hundred songs, makes appearances both as an acoustic performer and one man band, and plays a variety of instruments to conjure music that explores “the Dark Side of the American Dream”. That much is true, as just a few bars of this outstanding track will demonstrate.
LEILA JANE – Carry Me
More Americana as we travel from J.P. Whipple’s campfire to the Mississippi Delta, with Leila Jane asking to be carried, to “let this river flow” and be “taken east and west” which, now I’ve seen it written down, I refuse to believe is any kind of euphemism. After all, Leila Jane is a proper Southern lady and hails from… er… Northampton?!! Well, not quite. Born in London in 1994, she then moved to Co. Donegal in Ireland aged 6 and finally to Northampton University in 2011. Perhaps such details shouldn’t matter, but with that knowledge I admire Leila Jane even more for making this kind of music, and making it sound so good.
MEMORYCLINIC – Gentle Neglect
Memory Clinic is a four piece band from Llanfairpwll in Anglesey (yes, of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch fame) who were featured on the Green Man festival’s Rising Stage this summer, and whose proclaimed style of psychedelic jangle pop is exemplified by Gentle Neglect. As Phil Meadley remarked in the comments, this style has seen something of a revival in recent years with bands such as Temples and Tame Impala, but “when it’s done well, such as this tune, then why not?” I agree, and believe that Memory Clinic sound distinct for all that. Gentle Neglect is available to buy now on Memory Clinic’s Bandcamp page.
SALT ASHES – If You Let Me Go
Pop doesn’t come much poppier than If You Let Me Go unless it’s straight out of a SodaStream. Salt Ashes is Brighton-based 22 year old, Veiga Sanchez, who apparently wrote this “while sleeping on floors between Ibiza, New York and Berlin.” The track notes mention influences such as early-80s Madonna and the New York club scene, but while this doesn’t sound retro to that extent, if the Danceteria was still going, I think it would fit right in.
SIFU HOTMAN – Matches
Matches arrives like a speeding train that takes you from a Star Trek reference to “tackling poverty, war and hardship” in a matter of seconds. Sifu Hotman is Minneapolis MC Guante, a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, MC deM atlaS and producer Rube, who provides the groove. Matches is the first single to be taken from their Embrace The Sun album, and they say is “a battle cry for something better.” Matches topped our poll, and Listening Post voters are not alone in their love for it, as it’s been played by Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music and spent last week as Amazing Radio’s Record Of The Week too. Embrace The Sun is available now on their Bandcamp page.
TROJAN HORSE – Jurapsyche Park
In Jurapsyche Park, Salford-based Trojan Horse have made something that sounds appropriately epic for a band whose influences include King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Yes, and who say they’re “dragging the 70s kicking and screaming” into the present, but without the 20 minute keyboard solos. Perhaps it’s that restraint which prevents Jurapsyche Park from sounding like a prog pastiche, along with a harder, rockier edge than you might normally expect. The result is still undeniably indulgent, but holds your attention and doesn’t let go.
TYRANNOSAURUS DEAD – Local Bullies
Tyrannosaurus Dead is a Brighton 5-piece with a name that’s hard to beat, but may also prove a lot to live up to. They’ve recently released a split 7” with the also splendidly named Joanna Gruesome. While sharing Gruesome’s boy-girl vocal style, the sound here is far less shouty, perhaps more reminiscent of a shaggier early Pains of Being Pure at Heart, for example, a band who Joanna Gruesome themselves supported on tour. Local Bullies is taken from their debut album, Flying Ant Day, due for release on Odd Box Records on November 3.
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.