Artists at a glance
COLD, COLD HEART
FLUENT IN GREY
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Steve Harris this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
Welcome to Fresh Faves 127. Following a week that gave us Halloween, two space-related disasters and a trailer for Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, we present you with something actually good, or rather, ten things actually good…
ALEX HIGHTON — It Falls Together
Kicking off this week’s Fresh Faves is Alex Highton and It Falls Together. No stranger to Fresh On The Net, Alex has now made the Faves five times, along with airplay on Tom’s shows, featured in Johnno’s Prick And Ding and more besides. Those will tell you Alex hails from Liverpool, although has since moved to Cambridgeshire, and It Falls Together seems proof that you can take the scouser out of Liverpool but not vice versa. This is no pastiche, but a fine example of musical heritage woven through a composition that somehow keeps giving, with layered vocals, catchy riffs, wonky piano and a variety of other sounds that come and go to create a compelling song with a heartwarming premise. It’s no wonder It Falls Together topped our poll this week. Alex’s album “Nobody Knows Anything”, will be out on December 1st on Gard Du Nord.
CAPTAIN WILBERFORCE — The Johnny Depp Memorial Café
“Don’t be happy, because it always turns to sad,” sings Simon Bristoll in this — I was going to say bittersweet, but possibly just bitter — lament to a love, or loves, that never seem to work out. And yet despite that bleak sentiment, this is a cracking tune. The almost audible drumming of fingers from the opening line of it being “a slow day at the Johnny Depp Memorial Café” (it was so sad when he passed on) open up to tell this tale of woe with considerable gusto. It’s no wonder Captain Wilberforce has fans such as Huey Morgan, 70s protest singer Tom Robinson, and Dermot O’Leary, who invited the band to record a Saturday Session for Radio 2 in 2012. Captain Wilberforce is fronted by Leeds-based singer/songwriter Simon Bristoll augmented by local musicians, currently Carl Banks on drums, Mike Browne on guitar and Chris Newiss on bass. The Johnny Depp Memorial Café is part of Captain Wilberforce’s Distance EP, which is available now as a “name your price” download on the band’s Bandcamp page.
COLD, COLD HEART — Stand/still
It may be the band’s own imagery influencing me here, but when Stand/still starts out, I see that tree, devoid of colour, possibly dead or stripped of all its leaves, and feel the cold, icy fingers of winter gradually give way to shafts of sunlight that bring warmth, illumination and hope. This is a fine and delicate composition that resists any temptation to go supernova. Cold, cold heart (their capitalisation) is a three-piece band split between London and Chichester comprising of Robert Manning, Chris Daniel and Adrian Jones, who’ve recently found Simon Raymonde among their admirers, having played them on his Amazing Radio show last week, along with Gideon Coe on his 6 Music show and our very own Christopher McBride on his Metaphorical Boat.
FLUENT IN GREY — Lost
I was struck by Lost from the first moment I heard it: the confident vocals, haunting melody and, it must be said, top notch production — all the more striking, because Lost is the first track from Fluent In Grey, but one that sees the band arrive fully formed, complete with a stunning video for this debut. A glance at the credits reveal this was mixed by Brett Shaw, who’s worked with a number of familiar names, the most appropriate to mention here being Daughter, but sonically at least, Fluent in Grey pack more of a punch, and their claim to make sounds “like dark, stormy nights” rings true. So who are these people? The band describes itself in the singular as “I come from England, USA and Italy” but consists of four members, Anna Marcella, Simon Langford, Marco Italia and Phil Page, now all based in London. I hope we hear more from Fluent In Grey soon.
GLYMJACK — Nothing Scuffs The Soles Of Your Shoes
Speaking of unbelievably good debuts, here’s another. “Nothing Scuffs The Soles Of Your Shoes” is a perfect piece of soaring electro-pop and the first single from Glymjack, who describe themselves as “one of the most punctual electro acts in the East of England” and a “Literate indietronica duo”, but that’s about all we know. According to Wikipedia, “Glym Jack” is the name for a “link-boy” in thieves cant; link-boys would carry a flaming torch to light the way for pedestrians at night in the days before street lighting. Good name! “Nothing Scuffs The Soles Of Your Shoes” will be released on 26th November, and you can also find a video for it on their YouTube page.
MIKE WYATT — Tell Me
Based on his voice and musical style, I really would have put Mike Wyatt a good few years older than even myself, but it turns out he’s a fresh-faced 22 year old whose musical CV already looks quite impressive, having worked as a session guitarist for artists such as The Ting Tings and Dannii Minogue, along with a band of his own. He’s now solo, and the soulful, bluesy “Tell Me” is taken from his 4 track EP of the same name, available now. His talent has already been recognised by BBC Introducing in The South with both radio play and a live session, and BBC London.
¿QUE-PASA? — Phantom Of The Restaurant
Speaking of youngsters, ¿Que-Pasa? is a bunch of them, not from Spain or Mexico, alas, but Banbridge in County Down. Still, there is something of the fiesta about their sound, just as there’s something endearingly un poco loco about them (sorry boys, you got a Spanish speaker doing your review). Claiming to lead “the new movement of the genre swez”, which they have totally just made up, ¿Que-Pasa? consists of seven members playing a surprising array of instruments including mandolin, sax, trombone, ukulele and, um, shaker, alongside the regular guitars and drums. The bio on their website is a hoot, including the fact nugget that “Headlining prestigious events like “Craigavon’s Got Talent” may have proven too much for some, but not ¿Que-Pasa?”. Indeed. Rigsy at BBC Radio Ulster seems to like them, as did the Listening Post voters this week. Phantom Of The Restaurant is taken from their Mellon EP, available now.
SYKES — I’d Do It Again
“I feel on top of the world,” is a line repeated throughout I’d Do It Again, appropriately enough for such a tightly produced pop track that has everything the genre demands, such as a catchy melody, chiming synths, gentle guitars and crunchy drum pads, topped off with sunny vocals and lyrics of deceptive simplicity. A three-piece from South London, Sykes are Julia on vocals and guitars, Kristian on lead guitar and bass, and Will on drums. The band last appeared on Fresh On The Net back in September for Fresh Faves 121 with another track, Anybody Out There which, like I’d Do It Again, is taken from their debut Gold Dust EP, available now on iTunes.
THE EDGE — Moon Monkey
Here is a story about a monkey that lives in the Moon, and it really is a story with all the drama and extravagance worthy of a full-blown theatrical production. The Edge Project is led by trumpeter and composer Ben Thomas, aided by the talents of a number of “inspirational musicians” as an art project, as well as a musical endeavour. The full version of the album from which Moon Monkey is taken, Within This World Within My Mind, also includes films, photography and paintings, and The Edge Project presents itself through musical productions, paintings, photography, film, exhibitions and live art. Radio love includes airplay on Jamie Cullum on BBC Radio 2, Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Introducing in Hereford and Worcester.
THE JACQUES — Pretty DJ
“Pretty DJ won’t play any of our tunes,” complain The Jacques in rasping vocals. Well, they might now, and while you probably wouldn’t describe him as pretty, Huey Morgan gave this track a spin on his 6 Music show a couple of weeks ago. The Jacques are two sets of brothers aged 16 to 21 from Bristol who were apparently signed to 25 Hour Convenience Store by Libertines drummer and that label’s co-founder Gary Powell “on the spot” after seeing them support his band in Hyde Park last summer. Listening to it, that all makes perfect sense. Their debut EP, also titled Pretty DJ, is out today and they’re playing a number of gigs in key locations in the UK over the next few months too.
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.