Artists at a glance
DARLA AND THE BLONDE
K.O.G & THE ZONGO BRIGADE
BONES GARAGE – Birthmarks
Tel Aviv quintet Bones Garage “marry post-punk aesthetics with surf-rock accentuations,” in their own words. Their debut single Birthmarks takes its time to get going, but once it does, it is a delectable feast of melody, layered with vocal harmonies and rich textures. After an innocuous introduction, the arrival of Ariel Pedatzur’s husky, idiomatic vocal is an engaging, attention grabbing diversion. When all these elements are combined, and Birthmarks reaches full-speed, the track is undoubtedly at its strongest – until then I have to admit I am occasionally looking at my watch. It feels like a very promising taster from the band though; I look forward to hopefully hearing a more fully fledged and direct sound in releases to come.
The accompanying video is well worth a watch, and look out for debut LP ‘Massacre/Dance’ which will be out on digital and vinyl this summer, according to their Soundcloud.
DAKAR AUDIO CLUB – Sossul Ma
Dakar Audio Club describe themselves as an “Afrofusion Band” who play a mash-up of “Soukous, Reggae, Desert Blues and Highlife”. Their track Sossul Ma caught the attention of voters over the weekend with its addictive rhythms, jangly guitars, and hypnotic vocals. It’s no surprise to me that they have an impressive array of festival performances under their belt – I can imagine this song easily getting audiences moving.
Based in Exeter, the band is the brainchild of husband and wife songwriters Nick and Fatou, who perform with a live band of up to eight members. You can catch them live at Kaya Festival South Wales 7-9th August.
[p.s. if you’re reading this D.A.C., this reviewer would also love to read a translation of the lyrics – get one up on Soundcloud!]
DARLA & THE BLONDE – The Article
“This is a song about how lies can destroy your hopes & dreams. Inspired by Eugenia Falleni who lived a lie because society couldn’t accept her as a him.”
Darla & The Blonde‘s The Article is a dark, brooding cataclysm of tragedy. The songs performance, from the bell-toll-guitars to the look-me-in-the-eye vocals, goes some way to conveying the reality of the torturous life of Falleni. The powerful intentions here make this a truly engaging story and song from start to finish, and I’ve no doubt this must make for an exciting live performance too.
Based in east London, Songwriting is undertaken by Nina Lovelace, who also performs backing vocals and rhythm guitars, alongside Jen Demaris (lead vocals), Rob McCabe (lead guitar), Craig Page (bass) and Tom Loffman (drums). The Article is the lead single from their upcoming EP Eugenia, out May 19th.
EMMA MCGRATH – Too Much Time
Too Much Time is a delicate number based around the nuanced vocal performance of Emma McGrath. The instrumentation is subtle but intricate, and when all elements combine the song really shimmers.
I can’t help but feel that Emma has even more engaging material yet to come, as I find the subject matter here somewhat flat at times – with the talents at her disposal it is only a matter of time until the right song clicks with everything else, and time is something she certainly has plenty of [song title reference!] as she is still only 16 years old!
Emma is based is in Harpenden and has already turned heads by winning the PRS Foundation’s Lynsey de Paul Prize for Female Songwriters last year. Too Much Time is available for free download via bandcamp.
FILTER DISTORTION – Pressure
Much to my own chagrin, I am only able to have (legitimate) flashbacks as far as 1992. However, if I were able to have ’80s flashbacks [you weren’t there man] then this would definitely spark them! The production here is a total triumph, complete with phased drums, chorused Marc Almondesque vocals and more squelch than a squeezy ketchup bottle. I feel like I’m playing lazer-tag, inside a retro games arcade, while Al Pacino, Giorgio Moroder and Ryan Gosling throw glow-sticks in my face.
Filter Distortion are based in Liverpool, and Pressure is taken from their latest album, Transition, out now on Modulator Records. They are Ian Hall, Wesley Hughes, Phil Morton and Phil Gofton.
K.O.G & THE ZONGO BRIGADE – Turn Up The Music
Turn Up The Music was a personal highlight for me this week, and turn up I did! As someone who has not been gifted with the ability to dance naturally or stylishly, I can say that this is the sort of thing that- with a few cans of Red Stripe inside me [other lager brands are available]- would have me throwing some wonderfully awkward shapes around the room/tent/stage in no time.
All the festival boxes are ticked: huge brass, infectious riffs, and more cow-bell than a field in Switzerland. The Zongo Brigade band are clearly sh*t-hot, and the energetic performances from K.O.G (vocals) and Franz Von (MC) just send it even higher. Definitely one to catch live.
Turn Up The Music is the first single from K.O.G. & The Zongo Brigade‘s ‘Baako-Baako Collection’ in which a new song will be released every month until August.
PLAYHEAD ft. RELLY – So Much So
Great to hear more than one song tackling social issues in this weeks Fresh Faves, especially at a time when political apathy is often perceived to be more rife than ever, and the protest song ignorantly considered dead as a form.
PLAYHEAD, featuring an incredible performance from Relly, deliver a hard-hitting, satirical look at social hierarchy. Sorry (not sorry) to bang on about production today, but ideas as good as this can only be taken seriously with the kind of discerning, top-end production that So Much So has received. There are shades of Roots Manuva here, and with rhymes as inventive as “I may not meet the quota/and I may not wear a bow-tie” there’s so much (so) to love about this track, not to mention the bowel-dropping bass and pan-to-the-face kick-drum. Also love the ‘hierarchical seating plan’ breakdown.
The Bristolian outfit have no shows listed at present, but keep an eye out here for any updates.
REWS – Shake Shake
REWS track Shake Shake is a masterclass in simple, effective, pop songwriting. It’s all about the pile-driver chorus; they found a hook more than worth repeating and ran with it. It’s all-out from the start to the end, with barely any let-up at all, the razor-sharp vocal harmonies from songwriter Shauna Tohill and drummer Collette Williams tearing through the chorus in tandem.
Their aim is “to inspire people to be who they are, dance, sing, have fun yet address those deep issues that people face in every day life” – I can’t argue with that!
The duo are based in London and Belfast, and they have upcoming April shows in both cities plus Dublin.
SAN FELU – Quantum Entanglement
Great to see this musician back in the Fresh Faves – I reviewed Cape of Good Hope last year – and coincidence would have it that it’s me reviewing again!
San Felu is one of many artistic pseudonyms of Patrick Pearson, and Quantum Entanglement serves as the b-side to his latest release Sanctuary Blues. The song is a waterfall of vocabulary and vivid imagery (“drowning in magnolia”). I’m never quite sure what’s happening, even when reading the lyrics, but it’s intoxicating and affecting nonetheless – especially in combination with Pearson’s rich, emotive vocal – and it creates a world I want to dive right into.
Pearson, born in Plymouth, but based who-knows-where, describes himself as a Sancturist, Moorland Occultist, Neptune Bather and Coastal dweller. Good to know!
THEAWFULTRUTH – Men & Women
Manchester based THEAWFULTRUTH (aka Matthew Gray & The Awful Truth) proved very popular indeed with our voters this week, and it’s not hard to see why.
Men & Women tells the tale of a woman waking up after an apparent one-night-stand, and questions pre-assigned gender roles in the process. I love the nod-and-wink inference of generations of submission, frustration and apathy in the succinctly delivered line “don’t ask why”. I am also particularly fond of the line “making love without love – just elaborate masturbation” (might get a tattoo? no??). Gray wastes absolutely no words or time at all here and the song is a remarkably well rounded bundle of story, abundant with humour and idiosyncrasy.
It would be rude of me not to also mention the fine musicianship of Eddie on percussion, Chris on double bass, and Kath on flutes and keys. The single, taken from their debut album Songs of Love and Lust, was recorded live at Chorlton Central Church.
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.