Last week our moderators listened to 180 tracks in our inbox and chose our favourite 25 for our Listening Post. Our readers then picked their own favourites from that shortlist over the weekend. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
Writing his first-ever Fresh Faves review for us this week, please welcome newly-joined FOTN moderator, artist, composer, designer and all-round good egg Russell Jeanes:
I’ve been enjoying the Listening Post for several years, it has become part of my life ritual and I look forward to it every week. It is a privilege to get the opportunity to moderate – I listen to the 150+ tracks submitted every week. There is something wonderful about looking at a sea of tracks and knowing that hidden in the depths are some real musical treasures. The process very much reminds me of the joys of searching through piles and piles of records in musty old record shops in my youth.
This is my first chance to review the artists. As someone who has been fortunate enough to have my music reviewed by others, I understand completely the importance to the artist of being included in the list, and that each track has been submitted in hope/anticipation that people will love it. I believe it’s been one of the strongest Listening Post weeks I can remember. There were genuinely wonderful artists who did not even make the original list of 25.
Hats off to anyone/everyone included.
BITMAP – I Threw My Life Into The Sea
I first heard of Bitmap back in June 2015 when Tom played You Cannot Steal My Heart on his mixtape. It would appear Bitmap is just one man – Luke Barwell (formerly the drummer of John Peel favourites Salako). This track got the most votes on this weeks listening post, and like many of the other listeners I loved it from the first second.
My best description would be to imagine what would happen if The Beta Band met The Monkees and The Beatles, and were produced by John Lennon’s infamous head of Apple Electronics “Magic Alex” (Yanni Alexis Mardas). Luke Barwell’s twitter account says he is a singer, producer and general know-it-all graphic designer from ‘New Yorkshire’ (otherwise known as Hull). Wonderful electronic psychedelia from a fellow Yorkshireman.
BURHOU – Please delete
Burhou, (pronounced ber-ROO) are London duo Ross Hutchison and Tom Cooksey, who have been making tracks in Stoke Newington since april 2015. Tom used to play in Nao’s band and Ross in Royce Wood Junior’s band. Their debut EP is out later this year titled Lola. this track Please Delete was written in Spain, and is all about learning something you didn’t want to know.
It creates a hypnotic mood and atmosphere from the outset. The vocal is delivered beautifully by Ross and is breathy and laid back. Simple bleeps of electronica permeate a tribal drum beat and seductive bluesy guitar. The track has the most wonderful repeated lyrics “if you were data I’d wipe you out but I’m film soaking in your chemical bath” – evocative and fabulous.
COLD, COLD HEART – Mountain
It is such an incredible skill to convey emotion and mood using nothing but music like this track does. I recommend watching an emotional film with the soundtrack removed, just to see how much raw sentiment is lost. I am so pleased to see this piece of cinematic guitar music make the shortlist. Mountain is taken from Cold, Cold Heart‘s forthcoming album How The Other Half Live And Die, which is to be released 12th March 2016 via Fluttery Records.
The album is built around the concepts of love and loss. To the fear and beauty in death; to infatuation and devotion; to the band’s personal battles with illness. The composers and performers are Robert Manning, Chris Daniel and Adrian Jones; their hometown is Kingston upon Thames, but they are now split between London and Chichester. Put your headphones on, sit back and listen, the music is so wonderful that all you need is your imagination.
EDGAR WALLACE EXCHANGE – Archives
After listening to this track I contacted Edgar Wallace Exchange frontman Cameron J Niven to say that parts reminded me of guitarist Freddie Phillips who wrote music for Camberwick Green etc. I wasn’t sure he would know/like the reference, fortunately he was very pleased. Archives has a fantastic non stop nylon guitar pattern, brushed drums and delicate piano that immediately wrapped me in its spell.
Archives was produced beautifully by Ben Walker who was a winner at last year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (for Best Duo, with Josienne Clarke). The song contemplates The Afterlife and all the things that become lost or filed in the archives. Cameron takes the lead vocal, with subtle harmonies from Caroline Niven and Graham Brice playing understated bass. This is my favourite track in an incredible week of music.
HAARM – Foxglove
Haarm are a Liverpool four piece: Jennifer Davies (previously front woman of electro pop band Soft Toy Emergency), Oliver Gorman, Robert Whitely and Chris Macintosh. Everyone is musically connected; Olly and Chris are members of Silent Sleep and have both played live with Jen. All record in Rob’s studio. They started out as a songwriting team, but soon discovered their collective sound.
Foxglove is their first single, and the whole thing is underpinned by solid driving percussion/bass, with shared male and female hushed vocals and simple underlying melodic synth lines. Haarm proved to be hugely popular with both listeners and moderators alike and I look forward to hearing more from them as their sound continues to develop.
HELDINKY – Arms
I am sure that Heldinky have often been likened to early PJ Harvey. A quick search on Youtube reveals accomplished live videos, and the animated video for Time which was created by BAFTA award winning Hywel Griffith. The band are from Bangor and comprise of singer/guitarist Helena Palombo, Drummer Mike McMahon and Ian Warburton on bass.
Heldinky are currently being championed by Adam Walton of BBC Radio Wales, and their sound is described as ‘intense and dark’. Arms has a wonderful hiccup drum intro, and then is driven along by a fabulous bass line, Helena bewitches with her rich seductive tone, while some great guitar chords awaken each chorus.
MICHAEL BAKER – Elephants
Michael Baker is originally from Brighton, and his Facebook site says he is now living in the south of England in his van. Elephants is taken from Michael’s EP Caroline which I have just listened to. It is a really rounded piece of work, which contains the beautiful title track – which he performs with Georgia Mason: their voices compliment and entwine so well.
Michael’s influences range from Bon Iver to Kings of Convenience and you can definitely see similar details in his own well crafted songs. Elephants itself is a warm and heartfelt piece of writing. His higher/top voice has a touch of fragility that I find comforting and endearing. I also love his clever interplay of words surrounding relationships, elephants and forgetting.
MØGEN – Anchor
Møgen is the Scottish duo of Imogen Gordon and Aiden Halliday – and this track Anchor has a touch of early 80’s synth, mixed with modern glitchy electronics, music box notes, and slightly off kilter electro style drum beats. Draped perfectly over the top is Imogen’s wonderfully haunting and lilting vocal (a little touch of Lana Del Ray/Marika Hackman). Her rhymes enter your head and simply won’t leave: “Waves wash me out into the ocean, no-one around, just sea, I see, I see”.
This tune was the first thing in my head when I woke up this morning, and I’m sure it played in my sleep, a real earworm. Møgen are from Dumfries; Incredibly Imogen is only 16. This song has potential to appeal to a huge popular audience.
ROBOCOBRA QUARTET – Kikazaru
“Don’t say nothing, if you got nothing nice”. A compelling piece of wonderful from the Belfast-based, horn-led quartet. It has an in-your-face, almost spoken delivery. The song is about diction and punctuation from a trilogy of songs based around the Three Wise Monkeys, where every musical phrase and word are given the same level of importance.
I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from Robocobra Quartet. They’re no strangers to Fresh On The Net: Mizaru was a Fresh Fave in June 2015, and Artbook Flippin was on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape in November 2014. Their sound is truly unique and hard hitting – with pointers to Miles Davis Jazz, electronic beats, rock and punk. Kikazura is due to be released on February 12th.
PS from TR: if you’d like your tunes considered for the BBC Introducing Mixtape on BBC Radio 6 Music, don’t forget to upload them to BBC Introducing in the first place, via this link. Among the 150-200 tunes that arrive our inbox each week, we hear at least half a dozen great tunes by UK artists that haven”t been uploaded there, and like it says in our guidelines: NO UPLOAD = NO AIRPLAY
If we do feature you in the Fresh Faves or BBC Introducing Mixtape please do us a favour and wait three months before sending another track, so we can help other deserving artists in the meantime… More info here.