Artists at a glance
TEN TONNE HEART
THE MODERN STRANGERS
These most freshest of Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and they are reviewed here by Fresh On The Net’s Benji Tranter this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
HONEY STRETTON – The Thrill Of Loneliness
Honey Stretton’s new track, entitled The Thrill Of Loneliness, made for a totally soothing and entrancing start to my evening’s listening. It has the feeling of lullaby, and, with my eyes stinging after a long day’s work, nearly sent me to sleep – in the best possible way of course. I dissect the track to its bare bones – quivering vocal harmonies, the pulsing of a Spanish guitar and a chorus of crickets and rushes and gently flowing streams; this is a simple recipe, but with exquisite results…
I decide to do some research on this here so-called Honey Stretton (I really ought to, being a conscientious and well-to-do semi-unprofessional reviewer, eh?) It turns out that Honey (or indeed Hana) and I are separated by only one degree – she is a (slightly more recent) graduate of the Goldsmiths music course of which I am an alumnus. This explains why she’s totally charmed so many of the FOTN listeners over the weekend and subsequently waltzed her way into the Fresh Faves; my influence has clearly rubbed off on her…
Furthermore, Stretton has started an imprint this year – check out Canigou Records here.
HOT COPS – Dumbbo (Radio Edit)
Reviewing the Fresh Faves isn’t always an easy task, because sometimes the reviewer just doesn’t like what they hear. They have to labour through the mundanity of a track they simply don’t see the point of.
Luckily that’s not the case here! (Did I have ya going there, Hot Cops?)
Okay music-enthusiasts, firstly, take a look at the waveform for this song. It’s a classic crescendo shape, which tells me one thing before I even start listening – Dumbbo ain’t gonna have none of that Verse Chorus nonsense. Visually, that shape represents an ever growing intensity until climax. Sound sexy? It is sexy.
This song is an unnverving existential hair-ball of angst which singer Carl Eccles, via a nuanced vocal delivery, wretches up over the song’s three minutes and forty one seconds. Slightly less sexy? That’s life kids. And don’t this Belfast trio just know it.
To go back to my original point, a band which recognises the simple power of dynamic control, is a band capable of delivering a well timed and effective punch. This is such a band.
LUUNA – A Big Fat Something
York based band LUUNA have created a really focused, thoughtful number, in their track A Big Fat Something. Again, a simple combination of elements, subtly combined, has a massive effect: a bell-like guitar sound, an unaffected vocal, bass and organ. None of these competing too hard to be heard – they take their turns.
The song was formulated as part of a PRS-funded project in Hull called My Words Our Songs, which was, in its own words a “[workshop] for any young women who would like to write a song but don’t know where to start, can’t play an instrument, or only sing in the shower.”
The lyric poem in this instance was written by Emily Harrison. She definitely got a good deal here in being paired with a band capable of producing such an accomplished performance. Good work all round. Hopefully this will help to inspire more women to come forth and claim their rightful place in what is currently still a hugely male dominated industry.
ROBOCOBRA QUARTET – Correct
Correct is a sneering, brooding, vitriolic, confrontational lyric-poem. It is underlined by masterful, assured performances around it; a stew of scrambled saxophones, pounding drums and growling bass, all rolling on the boil.
Robocop Quartet, while being a quartet at any given time, actually pick and choose from a rolling line-up of up to 14 members. It’s jazz in its soul, but punk, albeit punk’s all too literate and self-aware younger brother, in its execution. This membership revolves around a lead vocalist and drummer who would appear to remain anonymous. But whoever he may be, he definitely has a background in performance poetry, or ‘slam’ as they say these days.
Check out their songkick below for details of their upcoming tour of the UK and Ireland.
ROBOT DOLLS – Dim the Lights
Well I say. Two robot themed band names in one set of Faves! Who’d have thought it?
In Robot Dolls‘ Dim The Lights (their first track apparently) we find a less is more approach in full swing. It’s an engrossing, atmospheric world, full of neon lights (dimmed, of course) and 808 beats and hand claps. I’m in a smooth ridin’ Ford Escort, with a stranger at the wheel, cruisin’ down the musical autobahn. Who is this stranger? Where are we riding? Why am I wearing a shell-suit?
A similar barage of questions enter my mind when I try to find out who Robot Dolls are. It’s a difficult name to google really (there were some results which I definitely shouldn’t post here!) and there are no links on their soundcloud page, so for now, the music’s all we have folks!
SQUINANCYWORT – Autumn Song
Redwing, Fieldfare, Pink-footed Goose, Siskin, Brambling, Whooper Swan and Robin.
That’s just to name a few of the great performers who appear on this cut. Squinancywort, in Autumn song, has brought these oft overlooked and underappreciated melody makers out from the bushes, trees and rushes, and into back into the limelight.
Adding a new age twist to the classic birdsong formula, ‘Wort digitally processes certain calls into percussive elements, while leaving others to sing uninhibited. While this may seem unfair, let’s not forget that none of this would have even happened had Squinancywort not played Ry Cooder to the birds’ Buena Vista.
This isn’t the first time that this artist has worked with samples – no! In Squinancywort we have a seasoned practitioner of Musique Concrete; a specialist in the field of field samples. Check out his other works via his Soundcloud, and also hover over the comments on Autumn Song for the definitive list of bird samples included.
TEN TONNE HEART – Blinding Lights
Ten Tonne Heart appear to have been born into this world in July of this year – although my detective skills suggest it may not be the band’s first iteration – “I knew you were making synth pop now” says one commenter on their facebook page…
Though whether this was irony or not I do not know – track Blinding Lights is really more of a guitar-pop anthem. Some may describe the sound as uplifting, although the rather masterfully communicated storyline, told through a 2nd person monologue to Jenny, the song’s muse, actually details hard times in a dirty city.
The content here is compelling, and performances and lyrics at play are interesting and it’s driven. My one gripe would be that I don’t really believe that the world needs any more refrains that begin “And I”. I think Ten Tonne Heart can, and will, do better than to rely on such modern yet tired clichés in future efforts. Watch this space!
THE MODERN STRANGERS – Vanilla
A Talking Heads beat. Some squelch. A sweet, high falsetto. Welcome to Vanilla.
The Modern Strangers have no trouble bringing the funk. I ask myself where will this go next? I am given the answer at 1m00s: Riffs. Big guitars, with hard riffs damn it. It sounds like a lost track from AM, if Alex Turner had got in a fight, and his pomp got more skew-wiff than quiff.
But I don’t want to belittle this with tenuous comparisons to extant artists. This makes use of familiar elements to create something satisfying, and different enough to drive in its own lane on the musical autobahn. Pedal to the metaphor!
TYNESIDE RAIN – Time To kill
Tyneside Rain, although it might sound like a pretty cool band name, is actually a Rock Opera, no less. And this isn’t the first time that this ‘modern revenge Western’ by Roger Wicks and Syd Collumbine has featured on the Fresh Faves. Another track from the musical, named A Gun And A Girl, proved popular enough to appear in the 196th Fresh Faves.
This track, the cleverly named Time To Kill, features a sacharine-sweet performance from Jodie Nicholson on guitar and vocals. The project features on the Creative Arts curriculum at Gateshead College and is also in development at The Bridge Arts Centre in Darlington – this may explain why re-imagined recordings of the songs keep popping up on their Soundcloud.
WORST PLACE – The Sun Changed Everything
Welcome to Worst Place. It’s quite nice here actually! More than pleasant enough to have elicited multiple visits from me.
Here are some reasons why:
- The synth and the bass share the melodic movement in equal parts in the intro, and this totally keeps my ears interested. I’m hooked. And then it goes away, which means I’m back for more.
- The textures and tones chosen are awesome – everything from the jangles and screeches of guitar, to the way the synth modulates slowly in and out of tune. The way the vocal plays flat n pure n straight on top of all this, no adornment required. Top.
- The lyrics give enough to focus on – little phrases that trigger something in the brain – while remaining cryptic enough to again, require further listening.
A lesson in addictive songwriting.
A further point I would add to this lesson – make it shorter guys! You will almost guarantee radio-play for this if you cut it below the 3m30s mark. March on!
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.