Our reviewer for this week’s Fresh Faves – chosen by our readers – comes from journalist, compiler, DJ, producer and all round Good Egg, Phil Meadley – who last reviewed our Fresh Faves in October 2014. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
AVALANCHE PARTY – Money
I’m afraid that I’m going to start this review off with a bit of a moan … this track by Avalanche Party sounds horribly distorted. I get that these two North Yorkshire brothers make garage-punk where every note is “played through white knuckles” and “every word spat through gritted teeth”, but the final mix doesn’t have to be mastered so loud that all the transients have mutated into one big fuzzy mess, making it hard to actually hear the more intricate nuances of what sounds like a decent band. But anyway, getting past that fundamental sonic floor, I like the influences of The Damned and Link Wray, although I hear more Echo & The Bunnymen on this particular tune. Reverb is obviously a very important factor in the band’s make-up and they wear it well. I like the vocalist’s languid style and the track dovetails neatly into the current trend for retro indie psychedelia. Just try to do a cleaner master next time lads. Your band deserves it.
ELLA JANES – Mechanical Mind
Twenty-two year-old London based singer/songwriter Ella Janes has a lovely voice which reminds me a little of The Cranberry’s Dolores O’Riordan. It’s ever so slightly folky, but also has an indie bent which probably explains why she was selected for Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Longlist in 2013. Mechanical Mind is a great song too; has really interesting textures and lyrics with a nice hook. I also like that it gradually builds into a rousing finale. So it’s thumbs up from me, and I look forward to hearing more from her in future.
FLIES & FLIES – Later On
I’m a sucker for eighties synth pop sounds and this London based band Flies & Flies really deliver the goods. Later On sounds like an updated, goth version of Yazoo (musically speaking, not vocal-wise) in places and I love the combination of analogue synth swirls, 808-style beats, cello, guitars and voice. I couldn’t find the name of the vocalist, but I really like his style; reminds me a little of Matthew Bellamy’s. In fact I liked this track so much that I put it on repeat. Hopefully the rest of the material is as good as this track.
GHOSTS IN DAYLIGHT – Golden & Green
Ghosts In Daylight describe themselves as an “electro-not-retro collective “ on their website. I can hear the electro-style arpeggiated synth chords, although I’d say that this track has an indie-pop feel reminiscent of Bat For Lashes and St Vincent, especially with Meme Love’s (great name btw) sweet vocal style. Golden And Green has a catchy anthemic charm and I really like how it’s layered, especially on the backing vocal parts. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for.
HANDS OFF GRETEL – Be Mine
Hands Off Gretel are another punk influenced band from Yorkshire, this time from the South side. Be Mine is classic alternative rock with its lineage no doubt stretching back to the nineties Seattle grunge scene, and none the worse for it. Singer (and main songwriter) Lauren can really belt a tune out, and guitarist Sean McAvinue sounds like he can shred with the best of them. I like the influences and their interpretation of it. This is a good, honest punk rock tune from a band that has a chance of getting somewhere. Great work. Hope to see you at a festival soon.
MICHAEL BAKER – Leaving it All
There seems to be very little information online about Brighton-based singer-songwriter Michael Baker. His sparse (to say the least) website directs us to his biog-free facebook page and twitter account and back again, which is more than a little infuriating. However this is a lovely tune. I love the combination of the breathy female vocalist (if only we knew her name) and his distinctive smoky tones. I wish I could share more information with you but nonetheless this classy slice of bluesy folk is the dog’s proverbial wobbly bits.
MOON TOURISTS – Love is Just
The Moon Tourists win this week’s best band name, but does the music live up to it? Well in a way it does and in a way it doesn’t. It does in so much that they have quite a unique, otherworldly female vocal-driven electro pop sound, but with a name like that I was expecting something far tripper, electronic and/or psychedelic. I’m such a literalist… Sorry we can’t provide any more information about the band, but there’s nothing on Facebook, their Bandcamp page, or anywhere else for that matter. Unnecessarily mysterious but still – a decent tune.
OH SO QUIET – Rain at Night
Their name reminds me of a song by Betty Hutton (famously covered by Bjork), but I’m reliably informed that Oh So Quiet is the solo project of Argentine-born Lucas Zavala, with help from his sister Malena. They describe themselves as indie-rock, but on the evidence of Rain At Night I’d say they are far more akin to the likes of St. Etienne and Jose Gonzalez. Theirs is a far more delicate sound than the term “rock” suggests, and rather delightful it is too. It’s like fresh air after a heavy thunderstorm, if that makes any sense at all. I look forward to hearing more.
PANKHABILLI – Water on Mars
More space references on offer here. Yet again I can find little information on the talented soul known as Pankhabili, but I think there may well be a strong French connection and that she’s based in the UK. What I do know is that she’s created a really interesting collage of sonic textures that actually does live up to its cosmic title. I really like her vocal style, the menacing piano chords, and the driving tribal drumming-style beats. She’s created something pretty unique here, which is increasingly difficult to do these days, and I’d encourage her to give us more, albeit with a little bit more information next time, please? NB for artists: if in doubt or struggling to describe your music, please check Fresh On The Net’s standard advice on How To Write A Band Biog – and why it matters.
THE SCHOOL – All I Want From You Is Everything
Just released on Elefant Records this bright and breezy slice of retro indie pop from Cardiff based band The School is perfect for the lovely spring weather we’re having at the moment. I believe there are seven of them, which is nearly a class-full isn’t it? Perhaps that’s where the name comes from… I believe this will appear on their third album due for release in the summer, and I think for anyone with a love of Phil Spector or Voice Of The Beehive (if any of you even remember them), that The School could be for you. I can hear them on a soundtrack to an American 1960s coming of age movie in the not-too-distant future. Charming stuff.
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.
During his journalistic career writing for the likes of The Independent, Observer Music Monthly, and The New Statesman, Phil wrote features on Massive Attack, Moby, Gogol Bordello, Steve Reich, Herbie Hancock, David Byrne, Damon Albarn, Richard Thompson, Gang Of Four, Placebo, Air, Rufus Wainwright, TV On The Radio, and many more. He covered rock, pop, electronic, folk, world and classical, which was sometimes challenging but always fun.
He’s also compiled over sixty compilations including ‘Miriam Makeba: South African Skylark’, ‘Kelly Joe Phelps: Roll Away The Blues’, and the Huey Morgan and DJ Format favourite ‘Eastern Bloc Funk Experience’. As a DJ he’s played numerous festivals and support slots for the likes of The Gotan Project and Misty In Roots, but these days is mostly immersed in music production under various monikers. He also claims to have a connection to mysterious collective The Gaslight Troubadours, who are currently working with Marc Almond and Professor Elemental.