Artists at a glance
HOPE AND SOCIAL
THE OLD PINK HOUSE
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and are reviewed here by long-standing Fresh On The Net devotee, Derval McCloat, this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
DA VILLAGE WOES – Lend Me Some Sleep
Oddly enough, this could have been my mantra at 4am this morning when having been woken up by the usual unneighbourly nonsense, I found myself unable to return to the land of zzz.
You might think me strange – a lot of people do – but what leaps out of my musical cache when I hear this track is something like a cross between Jim Morrison and Paolo Nutini. I think it’s the near monotonous vocal string that draws the words together like a tightly beaded necklace. That, twinned with the carefree, jazz-bluesy chill of the instrumental, pulls both names from the depths of my musical well. I’ll park that there then, shall I?
Da Village Woes are allegedly based in London and social media shy, but, BUT, they have “strong personalities like Jimmy Fallon” (which in my world, isn’t necessarily a good thing). There’s more than a hint of USA on the lip of that vocal so it’s not improbable that there’s an American connection, or it’s Paolo Nutini incognito (there is that whiskey in the jaro scratch on that scruffily sexy vocal).
Lots of synth scissoring, guitar lazing, and foot off the pedal percussion. It has the best of the Kinks in its laid back easiness and a bit more than a jot of Jim & Co in its nonchalant couldn’t give a f**k moody basslines and throwaway vocal. The Top Brass raved about this track – will you?
EKKO – Mannequin
Listening to the intro to Mannequin is like walking through the Northern Lights while your hand is being held by an angel. Surreal tranquility with more than aura of the spiritual – music is beauty, beauty is music (to take licence with the words of Keats).
There is more than a touch of the otherworldly about the instrumental – it is removed by its spacey almost metallic qualities, given humanity only by the gentle emotion of the lyrics. Contemporary beats keep the track relevant amidst the hazy backdrop of an ethereal-cum-space-age landscape.
Mannequin, the second single from young singer/songwriter, Ekko, who hails from Stavanger in Southwest Norway, is the second to be featured on Fresh Faves this year; oddly enough, I reviewed the last submission, Paradise and was equally smitten. The first time I heard Ekko’s voice I likened her to a Nordic Dolores O’Riordan – I haven’t changed from that opinion. Her vocal which she plays like the perfect instrument, is capable of both pillow-down softness and frosted lofty clarity – in other words, Ekko is blessed with the wonder that is a pure Norwegian vocal.
Mannequin has received airplay on several radio shows including that of our very own Shell Zenner and having made a not insignificant impact with just two singles under her belt, Ekko is surely set for a bright future over the weeks and months to come. She’s certainly one artist I hope to run into over the course of my 2017 Norwegian escapades! Mannequin is out now on both Spotify and iTunes.
HOPE AND SOCIAL – Feel
Next up we have Leeds’ Likely Lads, Hope and Social with new track Feel.
There’s quite a lot of David Byrne-ing going on along with a side order of the B-52s and some strange Thomas Dolby like instrumental ‘noises’. Intersected by the cut and thrust of a jagged guitar sequence, aka 10 seconds of Slash-arama, that rips down through the melody like a mid-season hailstorm, it all ties in nicely with the lyrics, which seem to be meteorologically oriented. Squiggles, squeals and squibs take it to the close or wherever you like yourself.
Founded in 2008 (no Northern ingenues here), they’re a sextet signed to the “worlds first fan-funded record label”, self-managed and cite as influences, The Boss (not, not Hugo or The Donald), the artist formerly known as Squiggle i.e. the l8 gr8 Prince, and lo and behold, one of the best Irish music acts never to make it big on the world stage, The Frames!
Currently touring with the reunited Bros … #gotcha! Currently touring around select music venues in a town near you (Yes, YOU, HARROGATE!), you can find out all you need to know on their socials. Feel is the lead/title track from their new album, out now – see Bandcamp for details. –
JERRY WILLIAMS – Let’s Just Forget It
Jerry Williams is like a female Alex Turner, and I mean that sincerely and in the best possible way. Her talent is raw, poetic, easy, unforced and compelling. Her lyrics are smart, her melodies warm and delicious, together they spin a sugar coated bitter pill of reality.
Let’s Just Forget It is a ’50s/’60s helter skelter, down which slide tight, sizzling guitar riffs, gliding basslines and a duet redolent of Hazlewood and Sinatra.
With a vocal that harks back to Duffy and even further to Mary Hopkin and the aforementioned Nancy Sinatra, Jerry Williams is a singer whose influences are clearly a compendium of the icons of the past and singer/songwriters of contemporary retro. Her voice is clear, strong, controlled and wrapped in a golden glow. Like Turner she is capable of taking a song that is steeped in vintage and dressing it with a modern day flourish. Lyrically, her words are forthright and intuitive with the same touching honesty that ran through the songs of Dusty Springfield.
This is indie with a hint of country and a swipe of blue-eyed soul and Williams has the perfect vocal and youthful verve to pull it off. If I were to put one word on Jerry Williams, it would be refreshing. Refreshing in every way. Wonderful, soulful, colourful refreshing organic music, full of life, full of excitement, untarnished and in the raw.
Currently gigging her way around the British Isles, Portsmouth’s Williams is one to keep an eye on!
KEITH MONNACHIO – Bad Girlfriend
Keith Monacchio is from Trenton, New Jersey and sounds a bit like Roger Whitaker vibing a very down at heart Kenny Rogers or Willie Nelson!
Bad Girlfriend (the clue is in the title), is a long suffering country lament, a l’acoustic guitar in the mould of Nick Drake. Oddly enough, while Monacchio doesn’t cite Whitaker/Rogers or indeed Nelson as influences, he does namecheck Drake – a 25% hit rate, is, er, a fail!
Unlike with many of today’s Americana country vibing ballads, the vocal here is real – real in that it’s not Keith from Wrexham trying to do the twang down the back of the practice space – nope, this is the real American deal. So is its dense, drama laden, doleful atmosphere.
Acoustic country isn’t my thing, but it is obviously the thing of many of our followers, otherwise it wouldn’t be here. Keith Monacchio seems to be mighty busy playing live and hopping out multiple tracks on ReverbNation. You’ll get your down south Nashvilleseque fix on FB and his other socials.
PCGIII – Animal
So far, so tame. Haha – not any longer!
Next under the stylus is a dark ‘n’ sultry electronic fiend from the collaborative minds of Katy Starr and PCG Music aka PCGIII or in a parallel universe, “The guides to the world of Hypnotical sounds” – put that in yer pipe and smoke it!
Because I don’t have time for faffin’ around, I can tell you – nothing about Katy Starr (about section on FB is ‘blankety blank’), and that the PCG element comes in the shape of one, Parker Gabriel. Hailing from New Orleans – no wonder the sound is darker than voodoo dark – Mr G is a DJ/multi-instrumentalist musical wild child, with a bent towards jazz-rock-triphop and electronica, washed down with a splash of Marc Cohen Delta Blues (just had to get that one in!).
Like a musical ode to the ‘Walking Dead’, Animal is sticky, sultry, and oozing both sensuality and intrigue. The midnight black of the instrumental is in sharp contrast with the bewitching, softly illuminated Starr vocal – a vocal that flicks from captivatingly childlike to dangerously seductive without skipping a pulsating electro-heartbeat.
Damned and bedamned… this is goth-gone-swamp.
RYD – Alter
RYD is short for Ryan Downie, a London based music artist with a clear grasp of what it means to make moving, understated and memorable electronic music. Alter is his new single, released only a handful of days ago and already on the receiving end of several noteworthy reviews.
With only a trio of releases on Soundcloud, there is little by way of back-catalogue to go on here. But what there is, more than makes up for the numeric shortfall with its unquestionable quality. The song is “about distorting your image to fit in” – something seen by many as a ‘necessary evil’ in this ever increasing perfect-centric world. It is a like a mist slowly rising from the quiet, solitude of an earthy Autumn morning, and juxtaposes ethereal nothingness with the harsh reality of the lyrics, and the result is an insightful reflection, the sharp edges of which are softened by a haze of ambient brume. Minimalist electronica as a counter to a maximalist world. Perfectly scored, delicately balanced, intuitively performed.
Nothing much else to tell from the social shenanigan – no news on gigs etc, but it’s early days and currently all about the single release. So quieten down, take a moment, and listen.
SNIPPET – On The Bed
While most of us will be familiar with the sunshine-fuelled musical installations of one Snippet, for his work has received many a splendiferous review on these here Faves, few of us will be aware that many of his happiness-charged compositions were produced by a wonderful human being by the name of Wim Oudjik.
Aside from being musical collaborators, Snippet aka Johnno Casson, and Wim, were also extremely close friends, and it was with a heavy heart indeed that Johnno recently conveyed the news to us Mods, of Wim’s untimely passing. Since Wim’s death, Johnno, or Snippet as he is better known, has led a chorus of shout outs about the humanity, humour and humbleness of Wim the man, and, the imagination, ingenuity and intelligence of Wim the producer.
On The Bed proved very popular with our listenership this week, which is more than Snippet could have wanted for his dearest friend. Just how it should be for a much missed musical talent. On The Bed perfectly epitomizes the happy synchronicity between two men for whom the stars aligned the night they met on social media many moons ago! RIP Wim x
THE OLD PINK HOUSE – So Bad
The Old Pink House are a trio – Max Middleton, Ollie Winn and Christopher Brown, and like so many of today’s fave ravers, they are London based. They’re only knocking around Twitter since July and their FB declares So Bad to be their debut single… bloody hell lads. Go in with a bang why don’t ya!
The opening to So Bad reminds me of (wait for it) Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody, which of course had this Santa lovin’ Elf all Xmassy eyed before we even hit the first verse! Yeehaw, giddyup there Rudolph!
In all seriousness, there’s a galaxy of influences here, and snippets of rainbows of sounds going on in this colour-pop melting pot. Strident, spiralling guitar lines criss-cross over a myriad synth sequences while the reverbed electro drumming is straight out of a Paul Young back catalogue!
So Bad gives new meaning to the term ‘music for the ages’ with its pockets of ’70s, ’80s and contemporary. Uplifting and infectious with its addictive beats and inviting vocals, this is deliciousness on a mass scale. Music as nature intended it to be. This is the kind of track you’ll find yourself singing to at the top of your voice without even noticing. It’s a song to be sung, and boy do they sing it well. One of the best of the week … as debuts go, this is surely one of the best we’ve heard in a very long time. The future is pink!
THEBOOKSHOPBAND – Thirteen Chairs
With its gently plucked menage a strings, curling and wrapping themselves around twinkly jewellery box magic, its swathes of clear vocal, floating freely over breezy clouds of harmonies and a countryside of ukes, Thirteen Chairs is what you might call a typically quaint-cum-jaunty alt-folk composition. Uplifting, melodic, poetic, with vocals that shine like a diamond in a rough of rural acoustica this is the type of music that, when it’s done well, is beyond captivating. With this short but succulently sweet song, The Bookshop Band have nailed it. With aplomb. And love. And sparkly, radiant magic.
It’s a modern day Twinkle meets fairytale-land for adults. You’ll be smitten.
Now get this: The Bookshop Band are midway through releasing ten, that’s right TEN(!) book-inspired albums. They say “the limited edition albums have been lovingly hand made by the band and are available to pre-order on their Bandcamp page here“
Also, there’s a live video of Thirteen Chairs over at YouTube.
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.