Artists at a glance
CATTLE & CANE
COLOUR OF SPRING
DOG IN THE SNOW
KATIE AND I
ALEX RAINSFORD – Lighter Mind
That’s some blast of guitar at that there start of Lighter Mind! Quite the guitar orgy; manic string-fest dude!
Vocally, for some weirdy reason, I don’t know why, all I can hear is Shane Filan! And that’s not being smart or disrespectful. Filan is a good singer, and I’m Irish, and my Dad’s from Sligo!! No seriously, Rainsford’s voice is very similar in timbre and nuance to Filan, and considering the success he had with Westlife, if I were Alex I’d take that as a big positive.
Back to the guitars… wow. The guitar playing on this track (and across the board this week) is pretty awesome. Rainsford plays with three other musicians, including guitarists, so I don’t know who is responsible for what, but guys this is pure class guitar playing.
Cut across with stops and starts, this is a jagged, edgy pop-rock track, with plenty of peaks and troughs giving it a fine balance. Soft lulls mitigate against the severity of the rockier guitar sequences. Oh and I must not forgot to doff my cap to the drummer – doff, doff – pretty nifty that drumming!!
Lighter Mind is a pretty neat track and Alex Rainsford is a pretty cool musician. This impressed me a lot more than songs from this genre normally would. Applause!
Alex Rainsford is finishing up his UK tour tonight – awh – but you can keep up to speed with him here.
BUNTY – Mysterious Fruit
Bunty, Bunty – now there’s a blast from the past! The boys probably won’t know this, but there used to be a comic for young girls called “Bunty”, in which featured the legendary, “The Four Marys”. Yeah, fountain of all trivia me!
Nothin’ “Bunty” about Mysterious Fruit though! It’s all very Bjork of the Jungle, with lots of intermittent electronic splodges, bonkers percussion, snatches of güiro (www.google.com) and some heavenly synth twinkling — we love a bit of “Twinkle” (see what I did there!). The kooky vocal is brilliantly executed – nippy, nuanced and flavoursome.
Bunty, the band not the comic, very much remind me of Bow Wow Wow – they have that same off-centre, hugely rhythmic, nothing samey here, wild in the country vibe! I had a lot of fun with this one, because that’s what it is – musical fun, sonic whoopee. This is an ebullient, imaginative, wonderfully creative piece of songwriting and performance. And guys, I LOVE it!
Winner of the most diversely unique, and, “Outlandish D’amour”, award (see what I also did there).
Bunty from Brighton’s album, Multimos, is available now on iTunes.
CATTLE & CANE – Have You Been In The Wars
Have You Been In The Wars was TOTP with the public this week – so far, so wonderful for Cattle & Cane. However, and here’s the thing. I’ve kind of been here, done this many moons ago, and I’m sorry, I really am very sorry, but I just don’t feel it.
It has a nice enough vocal, no, that’s not fair, it has a lovely vocal. But it’s the music – its like something dragged out of an 80s slow-set, like Roxette gone on a gander and landing up in 2015 without the black leather. The musicianship is good, and the arrangement is well worked and produced, but for me this song is dated and the formula tired.
Because I’m not a total bag, I decided to give Cattle & Cane the benefit of further listening and happened across their track Skies. Lads, this is a cracker and far better exemplifies the band’s obvious talents as singers and musicians. If Skies was the track on here, I’d be raving about it.
Sadly it isn’t, but hey, Cattle & Cane have a solid following, and I’m just one pea in a large colander of pods. Have You Been In The Wars isn’t my cup of tea, but Skies is. Each to their own.
COLOUR OF SPRING – Grey
Time for some scorch! And that’s exactly what the intro of Grey does – scorch your ears with some red hot’n’searing guitar chords! Whack that on at full blast on a bleary autumn morning and you’ll be wide awake in no time, with more pump in yer stump than if you’d just done 10 circuits of the gym.
This is seriously rockin’ indie with some shoegaze condiments on the side! Me fancies there’s a bit of ebow mixing up the fuzz with some well positioned squinkley synths sequences (we’re giving “sparkling” a week off!). Bit of reverbed vocal to add a bit of wooze and you’ve got a pretty awesome track.
Full-bodied, with a lot of bite and some seriously white hot spectacular guitar playing (me being a JDB fan and that, likes a bit of revved-up raunch), there’s much ado about a lot in this song.
Colour of Spring, not to be confused with the awesome 80s Talk Talk LP (Encylopedia Dervannica me), are a new young band from Leeds to whom the more hardened critics of the musicverse appear to be taking a shine. Kudos guys!!
Winner of the “bloody fantastic indie track of the week” award… Grey is in a word, “ripping”.
The single Grey is out now on Bandcamp via Plastic Fish Records.
CORINNA JANE – Floodlights
Ooh hello!! Very Billy Joel intro there. Which is all fine and #Pianowoman dandy until the vocal kicks in and we’re lobbed into Tori Amos territory. Hmm, with a wash of Kate Bush methinks – hear that vocal lick on the tip of the chorus, sweet!!
This honey toned Franco-British songstress was born in Germany, but grew up in Northampton, raised on a diet of 90s MTV. She classifies her music in the mould of “piano driven alternative pop rock” – well it’s as good a term as any! It is very heavily 90s influenced, but there are also Abbaesque touches in there, especially in some of the piano sequences and close harmony arrangements.
Tell me you heard the 4 chord sequence at just gone 3+ that was pure Money, Money, Money. Listen again!!
Whilst it harks back to the past, Floodlights is very much in the present. Catchily moreish, it is one of those songs you’ll find yourself involuntarily singing along to after a few plays. It has its own very unique, identifiable sound, and magnetic quirkiness. Corinna Jane is a seriously talented young woman, with strong vocal ability, who is also a mighty fine instrumentalist. I think possibly this week’s #onetowatch.
EP Hard in Love available now on iTunes.
DOG IN THE SNOW – Plastic Body
Before I even heard this track, I had a question. The name, Dog In The Snow: how, why, where? The answer came, not on a postcard, but via the Soundcloud bio.
“The name ‘Dog In The Snow’ originates from Helen’s interest in Franz Kafka and his existential writings. The idea comes from the line, “As he lies in a cold, snowy and deserted quarry he cries out aloud, ‘Like a dog!’.” Okeydokey, glad we got that sorted then.
The Helen to whom the bio refers, is Helen Ganya Brown, who along with musician and artist friend, Eva Bowan, is the brains and talent behind this experimental project.
Plastic Body wanders along a road of deliberately out of tune guitar, off key bass and out of kilter vocal. Playing to these anti-rules is a huge gamble which doesn’t always work, purely because it can sound SO deliberate as to lose the unique sound it’s trying to achieve. In this instance, and luckily for Dog In The Snow, the risk has paid off, and handsomely at that.
Plastic Body is an interesting blend of soundscapes, at times cacophonous, others deliciously euphoric, overlaid with captivatingly sung curious lyrics and a darkly haunting melody.
Dog In The Snow, another Brighton based act to be featured here this week, have been championed by BBC Introducing in the South, and are currently working with producer Steve Hillier.
Plastic Body is from the EP Uncanny Valley out now via Love Thy Neighbour, available in CD & digital formats. Check it out here. Woof!
FIFTEEN DAYS – At The Lake
You can drift off to At The Lake. In fact, you could almost imagine you were floating around on one, being carried off on a wave of acoustic loveliness, bobbing along on those hynoptic beats. Face falls into laptop, zzzzzzzz.
How lovely. And isn’t it nice to be able to say just that one word, lovely.
Pure and simple, unadorned, no fuss. Another one of this week’s tracks that doesn’t need me going all hyperbolic.
It says a lot about the person behind such a minimalist composition – tells me a lot about their ability, their self-belief. Let’s face it, you have to be pretty able to put yourself out there like this and pull it off. The vocal is confident, but soft, the guitar playing is accomplished, but not over-embellished.
One man and his guitar have pulled off serenity in a song.
At The Lake is the title track of Fifteen Days’s EP, which you can suss out here.
JOY ATLAS – Notice It All
Notice It All opens with a burst of strident, heavy, cyclical electronica, which is immediately countered by a bewitchingly delish marshmallow vocal. Oh Beccy Owen, your voice is superb. It has charisma, clarity and range. Its many layers contrast sultry flirtation with prepossessing airiness.
This is a brilliantly produced track that is most definitely taking its shine from “sunny Scando-pop”.
Calling themselves a neon-lit four-piece (nice!), Joy Atlas, from some unidentified “where” up North, are pretty good at this electronic lark. There is some mind-bogglingly good keyboard playing going on here, and the looping sequence that underpins the body of the track reminds me of something, but nah, t’won’t come. Notice It All has some really slick, choppy percussion and, way down in the basement somewhere, bass. It is well-balanced composition – light and dark, subtle and melodramatic.
Well performed and skilfully arranged, this is as fine an example of Nordic influenced electro-pop as I’ve heard in a long time. Hats off.
Notice It All is currently streaming on SoundCloud and Joy Atlas will be gigging in November/December, details of which you can find on their website.
KATIE AND I – Quicksand
This week the award for acoustic gorgeousness goes to Liverpool duo Katie & I. Made up of Lewis Veakins (the ‘I’) and Katie Overbury (to the very obvious ‘Katie’), these guys played their first headline show at Baltic Social only last week (Woo – hope it was a good ‘un). I can just picture the spellbound dreamy gaze that came across the universal face of the audience when this little beauty was played.
Gentle, serene, calming, even-tempoed – Quicksand doesn’t need big words to describe it. It carries itself well enough to forgo the big describe. All you could want and more from a debut single, this number perfectly showcases the pair’s delightful vocal abilities and Veakins’s adept guitar playing.
Like coffee’n’cream these voices were meant to go together. Precisely synchronised, they create charming harmonies that are both pleasing to the ear and soothing on the soul. After the week this reviewer has had, the dulcet sounds of Quicksand were very welcome indeed.
The debut Katie & I EP, Bones, is out now; find out more here.
WARM BLOODED – Laredo (It’s Around You)
Last up this week and definitely not least ‘cos guess what – yup, s’my fave fave.
This folks, is what Fry’s Turkish Delight tastes like in a song. It’s soft, it’s sweet, it melts.
Laredo is a thing of joy, of love, of gorgeous sincerity and I’m in danger of going off like an hyperbolic firework here, but I AM IN LOVE! I haven’t heard a track as sumptuous as this in a while. Words like LUSH were invented for Laredo.
Warm Blooded it is (first pun of the day) – warm, pulsing, flowing.
The instrumental here is as blissed out and mellow as you’ll hear. Synth and strings are evenly matched, the vocal — oh that velvety vocal — is just at the right pitch and pace, the harmonies are angelic, and the percussion is decisive without being overbearing.
Warm Blooded are an American outfit who, for this track, have collaborated with the very talented NOMO drummer Quin Kirchner and Chicago SO cellist, Katinka Kleijn, and boy does it pay off.
This is a beautiful, lovingly sung, skilfully played, and well orchestrated production.
Warm Blooded have acquired a new fan, and, hopefully several more. You can check them out here!
PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t been picked for the Listening Post, our team has still definitely listened to it and there’s no need to send it again: feel free to send us an even stronger track another week. The same goes if you were picked for the Listening Post but didn’t feature in our Fresh Faves.
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.