Artists at a glance
DAH RHYL GAH MOOR
I SEE RIVERS
JAMES HOLT MUSIC
MICHAEL BAKER MUSIC
BLOOM – Voices
Now that’s what I call music! What is not to love about indie-psych?
Fuzzy, thrumming guitars with lots of jangly swagger, vocals with attitude and just a dash of reverb, and lots of “animal” on the drums.
Bloom are from Exeter, which is an historic town in Devon (I know this, cos I Googled it!). Voices is their new single and band member Ben Leftley did the cover artwork, which looks very suspiciously like a Norwegian mountain forest scene (just sayin’, given that it’s no secret that I’m partial to a bit of Nordic gaze).
Voices is vibrant, energetic, fast and furious music, with a good line in chat and some pretty sweet guitar playing. It’s noisy enough to make its presence felt, but honeyed enough on the melody to give it a very pleasing sound. Thankfully, the reverb has been held back somewhat on the vocal, allowing it to keep its clarity, whilst still having a hint of ‘blur’ around the vocal-tips. Other gaze bands please make note.
Bloom seems to have attracted quite a lot of local media attention, having recently been featured by BBC Introducing for one. They also appear to be gigging hard around their region; “doing” festivals and playing clubs, in an effort to get their music heard. What’s nice to see is that all the hard work seems to be paying off! It’s kinda neat to see effort being rewarded.
I’ve reviewed enough psych gaze music to know a good song of that ilk when I hear it. Take it from me dudes of Exeter, your sound is a good one. Voices is a pretty hot piece of metal from a band only in their musical infancy. Ones to watch I’d say.
DAH RHYL GAH MOOR – Simba
London based three-piece, Dah Rhyl Gah Moor (sounds a tad Welsh) pack a pretty luscious punch with their very 80s jazzy RnB sounding track, Simba.
The sound is pure George Benson, with its tightly arranged and slickly produced “funky bro” guitar riffs and chilled synths, while the treacly tones of the female vocalist are pure Dinah Washington! Oh brother, they just flow languidly along over a slick sonic seabed, like a volcanic eruption of molten chocolava. This is one class combo if ever I heard one.
Dah Rhyl Gah Moor are sparse on detail, seemingly wanting to remain anonymous. They’re based in London, but might not hail from there. They also don’t name names, genres, influences or otherwise. Their website is full of “etcs” but little else to help out an ardent reviewer desperately seeking info to help promote their work. Give a reviewer a break, guys!
Be that as it may, DRGM are pretty “dude”, and Simba is a lush song with a very strong instrumental, and a pretty cool and unique sound. It’s not just a.n.other pop/riot grrrl/folk song, which is as pleasantly refreshing on the aural palate as a cool, cleansing sonic sorbet.
Dah Ryhl Gah Moor have made a video for Simba – it’s a little quirky, not your standard fare, and pretty entertaining for a low budget film. You can watch it here.
So DRGM folks, if you’re ever looking for a song to cover, I’d really love to hear you play a funked up 21C cover of Mad About The Boy polished off with full bells and whistles Benson-esque production. Now that would be quite something…
Check out DRGM’s new EP, the hilariously entitled, The Sounds That Prawns Make. Do prawns make sounds? Find out here.
FAIRCHILD – Breathless
WOO – INDIE BABY! Fairchild are from the Australian Gold Coast, but now reside in Manchester – er, why? Did I miss something the last time I walked down Salford Quays? Sand, sun, blue sea, tall, tanned, lean … oh yeah sorry, music review right.
Indie boys, Fairchild, are a sextet (don’t come across that very often) who most recently recorded a Double-A side, mixed by dab-hand Marks, in the hallowed musical ground that is Assault and Battery. There will be further releases in 2016, which for this indie-chick is a good thing, because current single Breathless, is a pretty neat and catchy track of the guitar grazing ilk, if ever I heard one.
Full of looping guitar sequences, enticing piano riffs, and way down low, seductive bass, this is one cool drive in an open-top down the Gold Coast on a warm, balmy night! The drumming has a nice lazy vibe and the vocal is “mellow-man” given extra gorgeousness by the inclusion of pretty sexy, “deep n dark” backing.
This is laid back indie so chilled it’d cool your Fosters in less than 3 minutes, and I totally dig it.
Fairchild are a band over whom I’ll be keeping a watchful “gaze” during the coming twelve months.
GLASS – What It Is To Believe
Glass hail from London and their buzz is, and I quote “Pop Hip-Op Crance”. As I am not 22, I haven’t an earthly what that means, innit!
Glass would appear to be divided into the “core team” of Jessica Winter and Scott Rimington, with a “recording band” consisting of three additional musicians covering Bass, Keys and Percussion duties.
What It Is To Believe is their current single and believe it or not (“I’m walking on air”, sorry couldn’t resist!), they will be honoured by the Mc Swerve presence on Weds night 9th in London’s The Old Blue Last, when they play support to the one and only Kings of Norwegian psych-indie-jazz-gaze, those cherubims of love, Gold Celeste. (Editor Steve is now tightening the noose to restrain me from going off on world record breaking tangent about my deep love for Nordic gazesters, cough!)
Right, so back to Glass, and their popular, hip opening, crance.
Jerky, quirky, with tumbling piano sequences, and a percussive pick n mix, this is an upbeat, melodious little concoction, with some nice tempo changes and delicate synth sequences (as opposed to the sparkling kind). There are a lot of oohs and aahs in the vocal department alongside some otherworldly electronic noises. There’s a touch of Claire Grogan about Jessica Winter’s voice (I told you I wasn’t 22) – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as any fan of Altered Images will attest to.
It’s quite a pleasant, happy little track – positive vibes are good right, and What It Is To Believe is positively bursting with those. I anticipate that London’s OBL will be radiating happy positivity and a warm celestial glow on Wednesday night.
Oh and if all of the above has even touched upon the description of what exactly “crance” is, someone might let me know.
I SEE RIVERS – Loved Ones
Ah… I’m right at home with this baby.
Don’t be fooled by the Liverpool label on I See Rivers Soundcloud page. These lovely lasses are actually from, cough, Norway!
I’ve said this before, and again as lately as this afternoon whilst in conversation with a musician from that very same country, there is a clarity and purity inherent in the Norwegian vocal that one rarely finds elsewhere!
Kasa, Sundfor, Aurora, Frokedal, Tina Refsnes – each and every one has that distinct crystal clear quality, with that quirky but lovely Nordic inflection that makes their vocals both unique and sublime.
Loved Ones is a warm hearted, folksy song, with traditional northern Nordic drumming patterns and delicate intermittent synth sequences, all aboard an easy going train ride of gentle acoustic guitar. The thrice harmonised vocal takes and maintains centre stage throughout, with its varying degrees of range and colourful yet complementary tonal qualities. This is vocal harmonising at its exquisite expert best.
I See Rivers say their lyrics are “inspired by Norwegian storytelling and the Scandinavian landscape around their hometowns.” I hope one of those hometowns is Trondheim, because if it is, certain record labels in the area might do well to give a listen to some sounds by these gals! I’ll be there in February, decked out in my triple thick thermals and super cool bobble hat. If you’re passing by girls, do drop in and say hi!
JAMES HOLT MUSIC – Whispers
I’ve loved James Holt’s music since the first time ever I heard it, so I was positively delighted to see him get through onto the Fresh Faves this week with his track, Whispers.
I have a huge respect and admiration for James’s work and so it’s quite the pleasure to review Whispers, which IMO, is probably one of the finest tracks he has produced thus far.
Where to start… oh my… I must fasten my seatbelt as I speed into hyperbolic overdrive on this utterly sublime composition.
The track opens with a fairytale instrumental made up of shimmering cymbals, tiptoeing synths and wondrous string arrangements as delicate as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings. This intricately and meticulously arranged twinkling landscape, evolves and builds slowly into the body of the song, with its exquisitely played classical guitar sequences, divine vocal falsetto and delightful aqueous and glassy sample sounds. The song title is perfect, for this is a song sung in whispers, seamlessly interlaced by the glittering strands of a wonderfully complex musical web.
James Holt is a truly gifted musician and songwriter, and I think I speak for all of us on FOTN when I say that we are truly thankful he has chosen to share such an exceptionally well performed and produced piece of music such as this with us and our readers.
This may be a song of “whispers”, but Holt’s is a talent that should be loudly shouted out.
JARBIRD – Such Is The House
Jarbird are another elusive of the species who don’t give their details on their FB page and whose website has to be requested. Ok then. Moving swiftly on then …
Such Is The House is electronic R&B for those with eclectic tastes. The harmonious, soulful vocals which open up this piece of doleful blues, somewhat mask the bleakness of the lyric. The blissed-out harmony is however interrupted by what sounds like “out of key” synth playing, which I presume is a deliberate musical ruse, to add a quirky edge to what could be at risk of being an otherwise bland melody.
Bolstered by electronic thrums and given added edge by some definitive percussion, this track transitions into something above the R&B norm, elevated by a well synced vocal meld, which gives it a nice chillaxed vibe.
Not one to listen to after a few gins mind you, but notwithstanding that fact, this is wholesome R&B fare with an interesting electronic twist, the highlight of which is some pretty fluid vocal gymnastics.
MICHAEL BAKER MUSIC – Caroline
I dunno!! There is definitely something in the air/water/sand in Brighton! Aaron King, Michael Baker, Will Samson… oh yeah, well we’d welcome Will if he ever fancied dropping by to share an auld tune, have a cuppa, dunk a jammy dodger, that kinda thing. You know, whenever you’re finished your European promotional tour Will, just drop by, anytime, day or night, here’s my number, oh right, yeah sorry! It must be the Brighton air wafting over here via kickback from Storm Desmond!
If memory serves me right, Michael Baker is an “irregular regular” on our Fresh On The Net site, and, justifiably so. Having dropped his Keys To The Kindgom EP six months ago, and fresh from a European tour with Common Tongues, he is now on the cusp of releasing another EP entitled Caroline. It is the title track from this EP that Michael chose to share with us, and as per, this MB creation was not just lovingly received with open arms by the mods, it was very much favourited by the voting public. All for very good reason.
Caroline is a raw, tender acoustic piece, featuring lark voiced Georgia Mason. Unadorned, no gimmicks, deft but subtle guitar playing, and a few sparse hits of additional sounds, this song has a tight, well constructed instrumental that firmly underpins the duo’s well synced feather light vocals. Lyrically strong, musically unambiguous, vocally perfect, this is a delightful song, of which Michael Baker has every reason to be proud.
This latest EP is Michael Baker’s first steps towards a full album. I think he is wise to test the market and I hope he’ll be more than pleasantly surprised by the hugely positive responses he is most certainly going to get to his very understated talent.
Caroline is available to pre-order on iTunes and releases on 11th December.
NADINE KHOURI – You Got A Fire
You Got A Fire, which goes on release this Thursday 10th, is the first single to be lifted from Nadine Khouri’s forthcoming album, itself due for a 2016 release date, TBC. One of the most popular songs amongst the voting public this week, this slow placed ballad is an elegant, lovingly performed, semi-acoustic track.
Featuring a mix of electric and acoustic guitars, Wurlitzer and drums, You Got A Fire is a simply arranged yet highly effective number, in which Khouri gives a very warm and touching vocal performance. The tenderness of her vocal is further enhanced by a complement of male harmonies that add a little depth of colour to the lighter hue of her own timbre. No need to bang on – I’ll let the song sing for itself.
Steve Gullick has directed a dramatic semi-psych blur-filled monochrome video for You Got a Fire, which you can watch here.
PAUL TAYLOR – Anomaly Three
Yes, I love gaze and indie and electro-ambient a la Arnalds, but anyone that knows me, will tell you that I have an huge soft spot for classical piano, and that’s what we have here with this Paul Taylor composition.
Anomaly Three is delightful, exquisite, heavenly piano playing that evokes all kinds of beautiful images in my mind. It is bells peeling, raindrops lightly splashing onto a colourwash of sweet scented meadow flowers, rivulets gaily meandering down mountainsides, winds gently blowing long wild grasses on a riverbank on a sunny Summer evening – the imaginary dreamscapes I could concoct are endless.
This is sheer musical elegance, exquisitely played, with a lightness of touch and a very loving feel, both of which add warmth and emotion to the enchanting world into which this piece invites.
Piano sequences ripple and bubble, before smoothing out into a peaceful flow until they finally come to a standstill like a glassy lake at midnight.
Probably the more perfectly executed track on the Fresh Faves this week, Anomaly Three exemplifies Paul Taylor’s magnificent musicianship and compositorial skills.
ZARA KERSHAW – Landslides
Here we go again – Brighton by the sea bringing more brilliance to Fresh On The Net and the musicverse.
Zara Kershaw pops herself in the electro “dysfunctional pop” box – don’t know about that, it doesn’t sound too dysfunctional to me, unless she means in a kind of crossed over to the dark side Lana Del Rey way.
Landslides, Zara’s second single, is the follow on from her debut Count The Days, which found all kinds of favour with such Beeb luminaries as Alice Levine. Zara’s music has also been featured by girl after my own heart, Annie Mac, as well as receiving airplay on Kiss FM and Ministry of Sound.
Landslides is pretty dark, evocative stuff — let’s just say it’s not the kind of musical something you’d be a-whistlin’ on your way to work of a bright morning. More suited to long dark shadows and possibly a deep pile rug, this is raw, heady, suggestive stuff. Kershaw performs a powerfully graphic vocal, its vividness intensified by moody electronica, doleful piano and intermittent but insistently sharp percussion.
Self-produced and self-penned, this is one of the strongest tracks on the Faves this week. Landslides is both very potent and highly addictive, and if Kershaw is capable of producing something as good as this, two singles into her career, then the future will possibly be a lot brighter than the darkness that lies beneath.
PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t been picked for the Listening Post, our team has 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.