Our final Fresh Faves of the summer were picked by our readers over the weekend. They’re reviewed below by Fresh On The Net’s Johnno Casson – known to the world of music as Snippet – and bosom companion to the shy and retiring Old Tramp… You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALORIC – Who?
Here’s how to test whether your neighbours really like you in one easy step: play the first minute of Who? at full volume and see what happens. I am at an advantage in that my neighbours have been at the forefront of the Alt-Rock scene for the last 20 years (result). But they could also call my bluff at any given moment and trump me by playing some extreme sonic noisescapes of their own (damn and blast).
Aloric give you the first minute to wake you up – they are kind that way. They want to beat your senses into submission and show their savvy alternative rock credentials. Then – just when you are about to judge whether you love/hate this – they make another canny move. Suddenly they throw a massive curveball: the song drops to piano and a beautiful voice floats in, from a similar planet to Antony Hegarty, giving it large in a majestic ethereal overcoat… and BANG they have sucked you in!
It’s a lesson in How To Do Dynamic Range Within A Song – bloody champion! This London-based two piece are looking for a drummer – and can you imagine what they’ll do when they add one to the line-up? Big luck on your journey.
BENEDICT BENJAMIN – Had What You Had
You know when people say the music of this or that artist is “timeless” ? Well, apply that here. It’s the voice of Benedict Benjamin that puts me in a candy-covered swoon. As soon as I hear that timbre of voice I’m at peace with the world – isn’t it great when music does that? Pound for pound, music often offers the best value out of anything you buy in your life. Think about it: you pay a very small fee for a song/album/EP – and yet when it’s great, you return to it again and again. It helps you through good (and bad) times in your life. It doesn’t wear out – it brings out emotions that in another form you’d have to pay a fortune for – and keeps giving again and again.
Does a can of soup do all that? Does a car do all that? Does a coat do all that? You catch my drift. If you like these artists featured here, go and buy their wares: you won’t find value like this anywhere else all year long. Within two seconds of hearing Had What You Had I liked it. Within eighteen, I loved it. In the last few days I’ve listened to it about fifteen times and still want more. And it certainly resonated with you dear people. London based Benedict Rubinstein used to be in The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue and he makes sad songs in major keys. This is not folk music. This is not rock music. This is not a fad. This is not a fling.
This is just blissfully special melodic music for people with good taste.
BLOCH EYOT – Do It Again
What a corker of a track. I like their description of this as ‘magic folkgrass’. Bloch Eyot – aka Nikolaj Bloch – is a Danish instrumentalist living on a barge in London and this song is alive with the possibilities of life. He gives great beard, gives great song, and knows how to ride a one-eared Zebra. In fact was so taken by Nikolaj’s biography I had to share it here.
“Nikolaj’s musical journey has been broad. From touring the world with an indie band – to ghostwriting in Hollywood. From writing with the late Rick Wright (Pink Floyd) and Chris Difford (Squeeze) – to running a studio in the Lebanese mountains. From performing with the British rock band Feeder on Top Of The Pops – to being on the review panel at Sound on Sound magazine”.
Everybody should have a friend called Nikolaj in their life. This is one special musician and he plays a mean saw I tell thee. There also is a fine video of this track. Search him out and you will not be disappointed.
DAMIEN J BRENNAN – Broken
This is alternative rock that proved a hit with your earlobes over the weekend. Damien J. Brennan is a singer/songwriter from County Down in Northern Ireland. After busking and backpacking through Italy and Australia he’s been steadily picking up plaudits and radio support. I can see him doing well on rock shows – particularly in the States: he has a fine voice and his material packs a punch. Fans of alternative rock are going to love this – it’s well produced, well played and a strong song.
GRIS-DE-LIN – Birthday
Oh sweet children of Dorset how you beckon me with your gorgeous voices and melodies (plus drums ‘n’ guitars ‘n’ that). If this was my child I’d kiss it, tell it I love it and give it a big bowl of milk. Hold on, that’s a cat. I got my children and cats mixed up – it can easily happen. This was my standout track of the week – in a sea of great songs – what a stunner of a tune! Songs like this give me renewed faith that the UK music scene is bristling with great music. For me the best of it lives underground, emerging with new artists like Gris-de-Lin.
I’ve said it before, but when it comes to quality of material the gap between upcoming independent artists and mainstream artists is paper thin. Gris-de-Lin have all the attributes to do exceedingly well and I feel sure they will. The content on their website reeks of originality and promise. I can’t give you much info about them but – possibly like you – I’m willing to wait with bated breath. This is music for the heart and soul from the sweet children of Dorset. Jump the borders, break the queue – and let joy be unconfined.
JIM PEARSON – Falling Back Down
Flexing his strong pop sensibilities here is the marvellous Jim Pearson. This will be Jim’s third Fresh Faves appearance after being featured in March 2015 and December 2014. He has a touch of Neil Hannon about his work – which is no mean feat in my book. Falling Back Down went down a treat with you, our readers, this week. It’s a gently rolling, sweet and melancholic ride through Jim’s vision of outer space – be it actual or merely the product of his active and beguiling imagination.
It’s unclear whether Jim is an actual real-life astronaut – so the chances are that he was using poetic license to write a lovely pop song. But, interestingly, he does seem to know a lot about distant astral plains and motherships so you never know. He’s from Liverpool and well worth searching out further. Jim has released four albums to date and you can download them all (FOR FREE!) on his Bandcamp page. What a guy and a fine songsmith to boot.
NOLITA VIEW – Departed
It’s 3am. I can’t sleep, my back is killing me, my life is shit and I hate everyone. For the next review along come Nolita View on the stereoradio/internet-o-gram with their hashtag #Stadium Krautrock and my instant feeling is SHOOT ME NOW!!! But hold on – after pressing play I feel my toes moving, my index finger starts tapping out the beat and my eyebrows wake up and start shuffling like dodgy caterpillars on a promise.
This music is reaching parts of my body that mere alcohol couldn’t reach. I feel alive. I feel livened right up. I feel like joining a band and surfing in the warm flowing sea – although the waves in nearby Clacton-On-Sea might not carry my weighty frame. I like how Departed makes me feel like I’m 17 again and fresh out of a sweaty rehearsal studio after attempting to make my band throw shapes like Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division.
I love the guitar licks and west coast harmonies here – there’s a real solid sound going on. Check them out. “Friend” them on The Internet. Buy their candles or wicker hats – or whatever it is you usually do when fine bands come along. Plus – big respect to them for continuing to make fine music that our listeners really enjoy. This four-piece originally appeared on our Fresh Faves way back in June 2013. I myself know only too well how hard it is to keep on keepin’ on in this musical game we are all a part of – and still get heard when so many others are competing for blog space. Respect, guys.
PASSPORT TO STOCKHOLM – All At Once
Just waiting for the stars to align? This is MOR pop rock for the masses. Think Coldplay meets Athlete with a slight folky tinge and you are probably quarter of the way there – and rocking to the beat already. Well-produced and modern with a strong band performance this likely to send mainstream radio producers into a right tizzy fit. You readers certainly bloody loved it up and no mistake – this song was busy clocking up votes on our Listening Post all weekend.
I bet this four-piece – Barny (vocals), Tom (guitar), Henri (percussion), Mariona (cello) – play well live too: all the elements are there. It feels to me like they might be three minutes away from a big break. Watch out though: play it three times and you’ll be buying their T-shirts and staking out their home addresses in your lovepants. Passport To Stockholm are no strangers to Fresh on the Net – they’ve already appeared in our Fresh Faves twice before: in September and February 2014.
THE VRYLL SOCIETY – Deep Blue Skies
Yeah this is real good, I much like it very. And before anyone says anything, I don’t like everything for always and forever. I have a sunny way to see the world for sure, but I do hate stuff. Let me tell you what I hate. I hate cheese coleslaw (just why?). I hate brillo pads (too scratchy). I hate chocolate and orange when mixed together (evil). I hate flip flops on men (silly and a bit evil). I hate belly buttons (oh God don’t even get me started on that weird belly button freaky shit). There, you see? I hope this shows that I’m a well-balanced person who doesn’t automatically like everything.
Anyway I digress – where was I? Oh yes, I do like Deep Blue Skies. It’s bloody gorgeous: great guitar playing, tip top vocals and great musicianship throughout. A splash of Pink Floyd, a dash of The Stone Roses and a big fat psychedelic dynamic flow that’s all their own. Win-win. The Vryll Society are from Liverpool and that fine city should be proud of this five-piece consisting of Michael and Ryan Ellis, Lewis McGuinness, Lloyd Shearer and Benjamin Robinson. With chops like this they will go far.
I just don’t want to look at their belly buttons.
WALK – Sometimes I Feel
Also popular with you lovely lot this was Walk with this track Sometimes I Feel – an electricfied bluesy Rottweiler – with a charming pussycat undercarriage. Signed to the fine Debt Records imprint, Walk is the sequencer blues project of Rik Warren and David Schlechtriemen. Rik is a founder member of Ernie’s Rhythm Section, Noon and The Halelujah Whip. David drums with Driver Drive Faster, The Miserable Rich, Honeyfeet and his own project The Pickpocket Network.
This style of music isn’t my usual bag – as it often feels like a jam without too much dynamic shift or delivering the killer hook. But if anyone is going to get me to re-evaluate my opinion than it could be Walk. They shake up a whole bunch of goodness and – as I can truly testify myself – playing as well as this is not easy.
WOLF LIKE ME – Deep Green
As Deep Green starts, I feel I’m on a hill – a big hill – way up yonder. From my vantage point I can see the homes of some sad and pitiful villagers, which my evil (but ruggedly handsome) gang of mercenaries and I are just about to loot and pillage – together with a white-haired sister dressed head to toe in black. We laugh as we chew on half cooked birds of prey, then kick dust on the fire, don our Cloaks Of Satan and ride!!! As we ride we repeatedly sing this chorus to each other – allowing the manic beat to possess us as we deliver our wrath upon the village. Have you ever heard Lemmy singing a country-folky-rootsy duet with a high priestess of Bluegrass? Well you have now! And if it isn’t Lemmy then the singer must have swallowed Joe Cocker and then smoked 400 tabs.
I have honestly never heard anything like this song and I’m strangely smitten: it rocked the pants off me. You know how your parents warned you about the dangers of the world? Well Wolf Like Me ARE that danger. You know how a moth gets transfixed by a light and nothing will keep him from flying into it? Well Wolf Like Me are that light – and right now that moth is me. I’ve seen the light and Mummy, I want it. Oh Mummy, I want all of it. Please let me have it now, Mummy please! This song is much better than taking drugs and should have a health warning on it:
“Young people – don’t take drugs! Listen to this song instead – you’ll enjoy it more!”
Don’t worry, readers. In reality Wolf Like Me are lovely pop stars from Belfast. They don’t really pillage villages – and they don’t eat children, small animals or legendary sixties vocalists. At least, I hope they don’t.
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PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t made the Listening Post you’re welcome to re-submit when we return from our Summer break on August 31st. If your music has appeared on the Listening Post but not in our Fresh Faves, feel free to send us an even stronger track then.
But if we’ve recently featured you in our Fresh Faves – or on my BBC Introducing Mixtape – please wait until November before sending us another track, so we have space to help other deserving artists… For more info see Robinson Has A Good Old Moan.