Artists at a glance
These Fresh Faves were chosen by our readers on our Listening Post from a shortlist of 25 tracks over the weekend. They are reviewed this week by vocalist, pianist, flautist, composer, improviser, FOTN moderator and proud mother Ola Szmidt. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALEV LENZ – Eggshell
Alev Lenz proved to be very popular with the Freshnet public in this week’s Listening Post. Bravo! The song comes from her newest single, promoting upcoming release Two Headed Girl. The music shifts between classical and experimental electronica. The context of the lyrics brings you a strong message about bottled up anger from childhood and freeing yourself from its thorns whilst an adult. Powerful, ambitious sounds signpost a bright future for this lady! If you are a fan of My Brightest Diamond or Agnes Obel, this will be right up your street!
There is also a chance to see her performing; upcoming gigs are at Union Chapel, London 14/05/2016, and a live performance on Resonance FM 04/06/2016. Crossing my fingers as this is a very interesting songwriter to watch out for. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her performing on Later… with Jools Holland one day, due to her jazzy influences and distinctive style.
BEN ROBERTS – Lovely Day
Bring on the sun! Take your surfboards and roller skates out! This super catchy tune from Ben Roberts will definitely make you smile, and should be taking over most of the charts very soon! No joke! Just listen and see how the melody slowly becomes your daily ear-worm. You will end up playing it on repeat in your head everywhere you go – I just can’t get enough of that guitar riff! My mind naturally associates the feel, rhythm and style of song writing with artists like Newton Faulkner, Benjamin Francis-Leftwich and Jack Johnson- but is that not great? That is wonderful! I’m not a Nostradamus but I predict some good things for Ben. He comes from Leeds and I believe I heard him recently on my local BBC Introducing show. Good Start Ben! Keep writing songs and keep making us smile!
FLECKS – Distance=Distance
Firstly, I would like to point that I wasn’t moderating last week, which means until I reviewed these tracks I had never heard them before. Last night I received a list of songs to review, including Flecks, and decided to look for this particular one via google. To my surprise there was a dreamy video clip to accompany the song. Bingo! It works so well with the tune’s feel – childhood dreams and innocence. Somehow it conjures the memories of the Never Ending Story soundtrack, Lost Boys and listening to Enya on tape cassettes! It does have definite ’80s vibe. This would be my favourite tune to accompany spring-time and my daughter’s bike rides -watching how she’s disappearing in the distance speeding up. I would like to also add that the midi strings on Distance do not detract at all; in fact they work really well and complete the beautiful retro feel. Now go and watch the video like me and tell me it doesn’t teleport you to a happy place…
HELEN SHERRARD – I am the Wolf
Helen Sherrard is a 22 year-old song-writer and composer hailing from the West Midlands and currently studying music at Bangor university. Her music is cinematic, and makes me think of soundtracks to films like Hunger Games. Personally I prefer her other songs on Soundcloud, but hey; this is my humble opinion. We all have got different tastes. However, I truly appreciate Helen’s beautiful, angelic voice and multi layered harmonies, which cascade through her compositions as a constant. I would like to hear Helen with a live string section one day, and look forward to seeing how she will be developing her craft.
[Helen – you’re very hard to find online – nothing links to anything else! Try reading this discussion on the importance of social media… Ed.]
HOOD SMOKE – Anything But The Answer
Hood Smoke have conjured MY FAVOURITE TUNE this week! I absolutely love it! Let me talk you through it:
Firstly, oooh la la – the smoky, warm voice; this is jazzy and groovy! Yes! The lyrics are adorable but this is not all… Oh my! Those sexy harmonies dropping in just after the chorus. My mind is melting in a pool of joy… Hold on, there is Hammond too!?!
Due to the song’s structure, and concise, listener-friendly length, this track is dope and total PERFECTION; I went back and listen to this tune at least 5 times more. I also dig cover art! I’m writing the name of the band down and peeling my eyes to see them live. No need to write more apart from go and buy their new album – HOOD SMOKE: Rough Around The Hedges, out now on Ears&Eyes Records.
HUGH KELLY – Give Me All Your Love
Hugh Kelly comes from Edinburgh and his style shifts between bluesy and soulful, and he possesses a vocal delivery reminiscent of Paulo Nutini and John Martyn – good start, hey! After first listening I can’t help but compare it to Alt-J (perhaps it’s the dynamics and the way harmonies are being built upon). I believe this is a massive compliment and means that his productions skills are top-notch. I hope that he will get a recognition in States as to me it seems his music would resonate with audiences on that part of the world. He’s touring around the UK at the minute, so make sure to check dates out and add him to your songkick if you dig his sound.
JOY ATLAS – Drop Your Sword
I’m really glad that this tune managed to get to our reviews thanks to the votes received from moderators and public voters! Joy Atlas are a quartet from Newcastle. This tune is fresh, super catchy and relaxing! Loving the album artwork too. Already 3 massive yeses from me! I adore how low and high harmonies are blended with each other, and the way the dynamics grow with time. You won’t be disappointed if the vocals reminiscent of Imogen Heap and Merrill Garbus (Tune Yards) are your bag. I recommend checking their website below, giving them a ‘heart’ on Hype Machine and going and seeing them live!
THØSS – The Meter
I want to confess to you how I review if a song does not resonate with me from the start: normally I would listen to it a couple of times, walk away for some time, and try to listen again later in the the day. In this case – it still did not work with me. My ears did not scream for a repeat button… BUT WAIT – BEAR WITH ME…!
I decided to fight with my perception and geeked-out on Thøss‘s music on the net and I came across his other song called IWITW. Wow! The song and the video to accompany are both STUNNING. He’s singing lying down in the water and there are some distinctive, goose-bumps-inducing melodies and ideas all the way through. Conclusion? Polaroid dreams, love songs with a twist and smoky, powerful vocal deliveries: sexy and captivating. If you fancy checking out his music live, he’s performing in London at Notting Hill Arts Club on 5th of June!
WILLIAM GRAY – Child’s Play
I’m a massive fan of minimal approaches to music making. I believe they can be successful and create amazing songs, just like this one by William Gray! How can you not fall in love with the music of an artist who recycles children’s toys?! I’m always drawn towards lo-fi over highly-produces tunes; I like artists who are not spending lots of money on new gear, but they are utilising what they have already.
William’s music is creative and super cool. His style and vibe reminds me of releases from Damon Albarn, Flaming Lips, Modified Toy Orchestra and Cocorosie. Dont’ expect additional harmonies and massive buildups – there is a drum machine kicking in which does the job – keeps everything flowing. I’m literally tapping my foot and swinging on my chair while reviewing this. Thank you for sharing with us and I’m so happy it landed here as a song to share my thoughts about.
PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t been picked for the Listening Post, our team will definitely have 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… More info here