Artists at a glance
I, US, & WE
THEE CONCERNED CITIZENS
TOBIAS & LUKAS
WE WERE STRANGERS
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.
In the week following one that saw growing evidence Ab Fab was as much prophecy as sitcom, and I got one of those really bad paper cuts that keeps catching on things, we bring you music about incest, political activism and cocktails, artists at all stages of their careers, including ones we can’t tell you much about, and a variety of genres, from the most gently strummed acoustic folk to explosively zingy electro indie alt dream funk pop rock pop.
ALICE & THE LOVERS – Mother’s Bedroom
Kicking off our Faves from Valentine’s Day weekend is Alice & The Lovers and an unfolding tale of incestuous love, set to a creepy rock soundtrack. I know Creepy Rock isn’t a genre per se (or is it?), but there’s an element of theatre about it, and you find that here with the two-way “What did you do?” / “I didn’t kiss him, I didn’t hug” conversation in the chorus.
Alice & The Lovers call themselves the “Original girlllltar band”, make “dark romantic pop”, were formed on Valentine’s Day 2013 by singer / songwriter Alice Offley, and are releasing their debut single, Valentine, now. Mother’s Bedroom is one of the two, er, B-sides to that. You can find all the tracks on their Soundcloud page and buy them on iTunes. And oh look, I’ve used up our entire quota of references to Valentine’s Day while reviewing the first track.
GOLDEN FABLE – Lifeline
Golden Fable is Rebecca Palin, Tim McIver and Jack McCarthy who recorded their latest album, Ancient Blue, in the foothills of Snowdonia. By coincidence, the last time Golden Fable appeared on the Fresh Faves in September 2014, I wrote the reviews, which presents a gloriously narcissistic opportunity for me to quote myself. Back then I exclaimed, “I didn’t see that voice coming!”, but Lifeline differs from the rockier Armour in that Rebecca’s ethereal tones lead the music rather than dance on top. Hearing them back-to-back I think either approach is fine, because what a voice! However, Lifeline was our readers’ outright favourite track this week.
Like Armour, Lifeline is taken from their second album, Ancient Blue, available on Bandcamp now, and is released as a single on March 23. Also excitingly, the band will appear at SXSW in Texas next month.
I, US, & WE – Lanterns
I love a bit of dark dream pop. It always sounds like you put an upbeat 7” single on at the wrong speed, which gives me 80s nostalgia tingles. Yes, I was there! What’s that? I don’t look old enough? Oh stop! A good question is were I, Us, & We there too? I’m going to have to assume that the three bodypaint-covered Californian band members, Jordan Doverspike, Evan Doverspike and Aaron Doverspike are related (or three-way married, hey it’s 2015) and that makes me think they only saw the 80s as toddlers. Certainly I’d have no way of telling from their bio, which is all a bit… metaphysical. Does it matter?
I don’t think it does when something is executed this well. This is a great dream pop track, it’s got all the swirly, burbling synths, wounded lyrics and pristine production you’d expect. Yes, there’s even a brief, clinical guitar solo. You could argue that it doesn’t really go anywhere, but then it could so easily be overdone. Lanterns is taken from I, Us, & We’s Mono EP. Good luck trying to find out when and where you can buy it though.
JON WOODE – The Flow
As soon as this intricately played track gets going, you get a creeping suspicion that Canterbury’s Jon Woode is not supplying the vocals. Deft investigative journalism (reading the track info) reveals the voice actually belongs to his daughter, Sophia, who sings of being an uncontrollable fire that consumes all, then a waterwheel, perpetually pushed around, and finally the air, wind and breeze, “Delivering kisses and scattering seeds”. It’s really as beautiful as that sounds, and proved immensely popular with Listening Post readers this week. The only thing I’d gripe about is a 30 second fade on a 3:30 track, but that’s no biggie.
The Flow is taken from the album Hanging From The Trees, and all of Jon Woode’s albums can be downloaded gratis from his Soundcloud page or heard in full on his YouTube page.
LUX LISBON – Keep Me Wild
Confession: I have an unreasonable aversion to clichés in lyrics — although it depends how they’re used — and because the first two lines of Keep Me Wild are “Tell the world to stop, because I want to get off,” I must admit my lip curled. Fortunately it uncurled again quickly, as everything that follows is uplifting and original, albeit somewhat in ignorance of Newton’s laws of universal gravitation, but that’s artists for you!
“Keep me wild, be my drunken midnight choir,” singer Stuart Rook cries, and paints a scene of tumbling out the pub and into the night, drunkenly and enthusiastically proclaiming true love. Lux Lisbon are no strangers to Fresh On The Net, having appeared in the Faves twice previously and on Tom’s BBC Introducing shows before that, and it’s easy to see why.
Keep Me Wild is available as part of the band’s 11-track Get Some Scars EP, available as a free download via their website, and the band have just announced their biggest headline show yet at the London Bush Hall on June 12.
THEE CONCERNED CITIZENS – Solution Songs
“Without us around to stand in the way, the fascists will rise to steal the day…” sing Thee Concerned Citizens in Solution Songs, a modern take on the political songs of the late 70s, and the title track of their forthcoming album. The band describe themselves not as a supergroup, but a “superb-group” disturbed by “the rise of the populist right, the demonisation of the poor and the widespread disengagement with politics” and features a diverse array of talent that includes Steve ‘Smiley’ Barnard (Strummer / Foxton / Archive / The Alarm), Adam Devlin (The Bluetones), Billy Brentford (Thee Faction), Andy Lewis (Paul Weller / Spearmint / Drugstore) and Chris T-T on lead vocals.
In the run up to the General Election in May, they plan to release their Have An Analysis single on heavy vinyl on April 6, with the album Solution Songs released on May 4, a gig at the William Morris Gallery in E17 in March, and finally an invite-only performance at Wilko Johnson’s local, The Railway in Southend-on-Sea on May 8, the day after the election. See the Soundcloud track page for more information.
TOBIAS & LUKAS – Burning Low
Burning Low is a stunning song and the kind of thing that, when faced with trawling 180 submissions, can stop you in your tracks. I’m not fond of quoting press blurb, but one must read this stuff to glean information, and I can’t un-see the line where Folkstock Records say that Tobias ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater perform together “almost as one”, because such is their precision that if you’d told me it was the work of a solo singer/songwriter, I’d have believed you, albeit with a little production magic.
The Devon-based duo apparently formed when they found out, at the pub, that both were booked to appear at Glastonbury, and decided to join forces and perform together, with Tobias on guitar and Lukas on double bass. Both are accomplished musicians in their own right, having variously appeared on the festival circuit, including Glastonbury and Green Man, performed on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe, at Maida Vale Studios for BBC Radio 3 and plenty more besides. Burning Low is part of a double A-side release, out on Folkstock Records on March 24.
VENKMAN – Tricking
Some people can play the waiting game, but keep Venkman hanging on and they will tear their hair out, at least according to this antsy, energetic track that’ll have you jumping around like you’ve got fleas (in a good way!).
Lichfield four-piece Venkman appeared on the Listening Post last summer and on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape twice, but this is their first time on the Faves, and deservedly so, for Tricking’s infectious groove and tense synths are irresistible. In addition, they’ve received support from BBC Introducing, influential blogs and people such as David Durant on his Under The Radar sessions.
Tricking is taken from their double single Martial Law / Tricking, available on iTunes now.
WE WERE STRANGERS – Castaway
Castaway is a slow folk number packing in plenty of shipwrecked, seagoing metaphors to tell this story of lost love and longing. It’s very well put together, although probably nothing you haven’t heard before, and with only one other track out there, it’s a strong start. However, now we come to a regular complaint here on Fresh On The Net, and one you’ll hear echoed elsewhere.
There really isn’t much info available about We Were Strangers at the moment. I’ve gleaned from their Amazing Tunes profile that they’re from Manchester, and from their Facebook page that they’ve been played by Simon Raymonde and Jim Gellatly, charted on Hype Machine, and have a couple of support gigs lined up in Shoreditch and Manchester next month, but that’s about it.
YIPIOK – Tango
And finally! These tracks are reviewed alphabetically, but even if they weren’t you’d want to put YipiOK at the end as the “And finally!” story that warms your heart and makes you think that everything’s going to be alright. It’s probably best you enjoy the unfolding story about the events at a South American bar, with a girl on a jet ski and the guy who buys the singer a (surprisingly effective) cocktail yourself, but as our own Paul Kerr said, the track is “Quirkier than a cosplaying pensioner on a segway.” Sonically, think of a poppier Ezra Furman after a few of those cocktails. Intoxicating stuff.
YipiOK are Johnny Levett and Kissy Smallwood from London who only formed last October, but have already done a few gigs, including one with Misti Miller in Southampton, and seem off to a good start, gaining fans and getting noticed. Let’s hope we hear more from them 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.