Normally I start these Faves by putting the music in the context of current events — sometimes it matters and sometimes it’s just for laughs — but the way things have been going lately, nobody’s really laughing, so it’s a relief to present this collection of fine new tracks that reference absolutely none of it.
BANGBANG – Slow
This week’s Fresh Faves open with this achingly cool track from Bangbang. In this context, “slow” is most definitely of the Netflix & Chill variety. We hear a lot of slick, finger-clicking minimalism around these parts, and it gets old fast, but Slow is seductive: the pitch-bending, fidgety bassline adds tension and the handclaps substance, while at the top end it holds your attention with those whispy vocals, chimes, bubbles, beeps and occasionally glistening synths.
Sadly I can’t tell you much about Bangbang themselves, because they’re mysterious and enigmatic, but they appear to be a duo called Ryan and Criz, and may be Londoners.
BEN GERRARD – Ghost
Ten years ago Ben Gerrard was in Hollyoaks. Sadly I’ve missed every episode so far, but online research informs me that his character, Cameron Clark, eventually discovered he had OCD then inexplicably joined a band and left to tour Europe. Soap actors often complain they get mistaken for the characters they play, but here is Ben now, like a real life version of Cameron Clark. According to his website, Actual Ben really did join a band and tour for several years until a young family beckoned, but now he’s returned as a solo artist.
Before I knew any of this, Ben’s music reminded me of something you might hear soundtracking a TV show: the arrangement, instrumentation and melody all scream of “a journey”. Anyway, Ben is now back on the road with gigs across the north of England this autumn. Check his website for details.
CASE CONRAD – The Swim
Listening to the lyrics for this reminded me of that old joke: what do you get if you play a country song backwards? First you get your dog back, then your truck, then your wife. This isn’t a country song per se, but it’s a mournful as one with the singer looking for all kinds of things that aren’t there anymore. Case Conrad has five members split between Barcelona and Malmö, and recorded their latest album, from which this track is taken, in Sauerland, Germany. Isn’t it great you can move and work so freely around Europe!
Anyway, the album is called A Tightrope Wish and is out now, and Case Conrad will be touring Sweden and Germany over the next couple of months — details on their website.
DRAW THE SHADES – Down
Sound the rock klaxon! I love the grumbling guitars that open this track, like shovels on tarmac. Soon the bassline is bobbing, drums are thumping, guitars go to eleven and perfect rock vocals cry above the din with power and presence. There’s a lull in the middle, just to build anticipation before everything kicks back in again — it’s not like that hasn’t been done before, but it works really well, and I’m sure this band will be fantastic live.
Draw The Shades are from Reading, with Daniella Acton on vocals, bassist Emily Rowley, Ryan Manning on guitar and drummer Matt Parnell. Next Saturday (Oct 15) they’ll be playing at Readipop as part of the Oxjam Reading Takeover.
FAITH ELIOTT – Pyrite Ammonite
BBC Radio 6 Music listeners may already be familiar with Pyrite Ammonite as it’s been Steve Lamacq’s Lamacq Livener over the last week, which means he’ll play it every day until another track comes along that’s good enough to take its place. This track was the clear favourite with our readers this week too.
According to her bio, Faith Eliott is “pretty good with a yo-yo”, grew up in Minneapolis, moved to Edinburgh over 10 years ago, and graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a BA in Sculpture in 2014. She’s also studied puppetry and animation, and since graduation has apparently painted murals at an Owl Centre and been an artist in residence in Nebraska. Somehow all that fits perfectly with what you can hear in her music.
Pyrite Ammonite is taken from the album Insects, which is out now on the superb Song, By Toad Records, who never seem to disappoint (or not me, at least).
HASHTAGOBI – Student Loans Dropped [Money!]
Write what you know, they say, and here the gloriously named Hashtagobi celebrates the arrival of funds that will take the rest of his working life to repay. Don’t spend it all at once, I say! Oh, you did already.
I love this, it’s skilfully cool and pretty funny, listing all the things that are gonna happen: Amazon purchases, new phone, shopping trips, takeaway deliveries to be eaten in bed, and more. I don’t think I’ve heard another track that uses the word “bursary” in my life. Artist info is not forthcoming, but the tags on this track mention Nottingham University and that it also features Brudda Nay. Student Loans Dropped can be downloaded either as an MP3 or ringtone, and there’s a big budget video for it too.
HUNTSMAN – Somewhere I Used To Know (feat. Tommy Sissons)
There is a dark, menacing sound to this even before Tommy Sissons’s sampled poem kicks in, where roads, bus stops and lamp posts all signpost memories that won’t stay buried. While I know it’s lazy to make comparisons, Somewhere I Used To Know reminds me of Burial; not exactly, but in essence, and in the best possible sense.
There isn’t much information about the hooded Huntsman, sadly. His bio describes him as “a producer of electronic music who pays no heed to genre definitions and spends his time hunting for talented artists to collaborate with.” On this track that talented artist is the aforementioned poet and playwright Tommy Sissons. It’s a winning combination.
LEADER – Young Again
Appropriately enough, Young Again is a supple and energetic modern indie track that shows originality in a genre where that can be sorely lacking at times (and about which I’ve been quite critical in the past). I also think this will sound as good in a small venue as on a festival stage. In fact, if I close my eyes I can see grass, beer in plastic cups, sunshine and intermittent cloud cover.
Leader are five guys from Witney in Oxfordshire who’ve been supported by BBC Introducing Oxford and BBC Introducing Three Counties. Their eponymous EP is out now on iTunes and they’ll be playing a headline gig at the O2 Academy in Oxford on November 5.
RICHARD WALTERS – Where Were You?
Richard Walters is well known to us here at Fresh On The Net, having appeared in our Fresh Faves and Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape as a solo artist, and with his band Liu Bei quite a few times. He’s also worked with a number of well known types, such as Bernard Butler, Guy Sigsworth, Faithless and Olafur Arnalds, and his music has appeared on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and CSI: Miami too.
Listening to Where Were You? it’s not hard to see why. The track is a masterclass in understatement, gradually building from muted chords and soft vocals to introduce strings, swirliness and other intriguing noises. It’s just as well you can listen for yourself, because this writer has clearly run out of talent. Where Were You? is taken from the forthcoming album A.M, which will be out on October 14. Richard will also be playing gigs around England between now and early December.
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.