Fresh Faves: Batch 216

Ako

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and are reviewed this week by guest writer Max Pilley – who writes for such websites as Silent Radio and Treble – and hosts his own blog at findingmyedge.wordpress.com.

You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

AKO – Nightforest

How appropriate for the first track on a playlist released on Halloween – a predatory, menacing IDM banger from Newcastle’s Ako, aka Simeon Soden. This is a paranoid, pulsing track that would be as much at home as the soundtrack to Edvard Munch’s The Scream as it would in the basement of a super cool underground witch-house DJ set.

Ako’s first new music since last year’s LXXXIX EP, this is some return. Buyer beware – this is an addictively uncomfortable track, squelching its dastardly tentacles under your skin and into your mind, and squatting there, just waiting for you to go back and press play again. It calls to mind the most abrasive music of Aphex Twin or Clams Casino, and would be a good accompaniment to Powell’s new album on XL Recordings. Soden has a masters in music from Newcastle University – if this is what they’re teaching in school, then the future is exciting.

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ALBERT JONES Music – La Nuit (The Night)

A far warmer and more embracing treat is this by Shropshire singer-songwriter Albert Jones. Beautifully muffled bass and drums, hushed vocals and lazy, twinkling guitar lines weave together to create a little capsule of happiness.

Mr. Jones has been releasing music for nearly five years now, which speaks to the confidence and maturity that is on display here. This track is the first glimpse of his new album, also to be titled La Nuit, which will be released in December. After a couple of spins of this one, if you’re not humming the lines, “oh I wish that I could wish away/The longest night and darkest day,” gently under your breath then I’m worried about you.

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BRYDE – Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good?

The title itself is like a taunt. This is a dark song that most definitely makes you feel good, but in a very unconventional way. The doom-laden slow plucks of electric guitar, the distant clattering percussion, the haunted vocal delivery – it’s unsettling, and you LIKE it.

Just over half-way through its four minutes, it bursts upon, and a guitar begins to let rip. You prepare to let loose yourself as a listener, before Bryde reins you back in, and her stern, alluring control returns. Think of Angel Olsen or Anna Calvi, but with the sultriness dialled up, and the atmospherics even more moody.

Bryde is originally from Wales, and now based in London. This is the second track to have been released from her forthcoming EP2, which is out this Friday (Nov 4) on Tipping Point Records.

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FAUNA TWIN – Edge of the Coin

Fauna Twin are French singer-songwriter Claire Jacquemard and Welsh musician Owain Ginsberg (of We Are Animal and Masters Of France renown), and this is a track from their debut EP The Hydra, which was released earlier this month on Crammed Discs.

Opening with a shimmering vocal chorus, a rumbling bassline quickly kicks the track into third gear, and Claire’s honeyed voice begins to sing of “white linen on my face/cut two holes for my eyes/spin around in fancy dress/I’m a ghost, I spook myself”. I mean, are we on theme here or what? By the time we reach the second half of the song, it has broken down into a jamboree of dancing synth lines and clapping sounds. It’s one for the jauntier Halloween parties that refuse to succumb to the darker tendencies of All Hallows Eve. It’s a joy.

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JANGLE – Uncle

Jangle is a multi-instrumentalist and electronics wizard from Cardiff, and this is a track from his latest collection of tunes, which is titled 9, and is available now on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

Uncle is an introspective, intricately balanced piece of music. It’s like a beautiful, glistening pool that draws you in, and once you submerge your head into its water, you see a maddeningly complex, kaleidoscopic array of sampled sounds and neatly interlocked loops. The more you listen, the more of its lulling beauty you are able to unpick. This one may not be the most immediately striking song in the playlist, but its riches are there in abundance if you’re willing to find them.

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JULIE ANNE McCAMBRIDGE – Scared

Julie Anne McCambridge is, by day, an English teacher at Peterhead Academy in Aberdeenshire. I don’t know about you, but my English teachers were not also wonderful Celtic folk singers, with an album available to buy. Julie Anne does, it’s called Nature Makes Amazing Shapes, it came out in August, and this is a track from it.

The whole affair is driven by her strong, compelling voice. When she sings “I’m scared”, she does so from a position of immense emotional power. Handclaps and staccato percussion (is there a marimba in there?) soundtrack her tale, and all the while Julie Anne taps into a primal musical tradition, channelling hundreds of years of such performers. You can’t help but be moved by it.

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MERCURY MACHINE – Fictional Mind

Mercury Machine celebrate the 1980s influences in their music. Their website cites Joy Division, Depeche Mode and The Cure as pivotal touchstones in the band’s evolution, and whilst their traces are evident, it is truly in the early recordings of Simple Minds and Ultravox, with their electronic underpinnings alongside guitar-driven high drama that Mercury Machine’s real provenance lies.

They are a four-piece hailing from Manchester (you can hear that town’s famous swagger in there too), and this is a recently remastered version of a track from their forthcoming debut album. The epic sweep of the track is sure to secure them growing audiences as more and more hear their music.

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NAZ & ELLA – Love is Love

Nasreen Toorabally sings lead vocals and Ella Patenall is on guitar and backing vocals, and together they are the quite reasonably named North London duo Naz & Ella. Their stripped back folksy loveliness inevitably brings to mind First Aid Kit and The Staves, but when they can pull it off as sweetly and winningly as they do here, that is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Music like Naz & Ella’s lives and dies by its honesty, and here they lay out their vulnerability for all to see. They find strength though when their voices harmonise, and that unexplainable alchemy lifts this already lovely track into a new plane. Suddenly Naz & Ella become formidable and defiant. Their debut EP is expected next month.

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THE MIDNIGHT ECHO – Guide You Home

The spirit of early 2000s anthemic indie rock lives on with The Midnight Echo. This track from their debut album Voyager is a slab of cloud-busting, arms-flailing, head-rushing emo that sits somewhere between Biffy Clyro and My Chemical Romance.

The band come from Southern Ontario in Canada, and by the sound of it, they can’t wait to break out of their homes and into the grandest stadiums that the world’s major cities have to offer. As this particular brand of guitar music has been forced to take a back seat somewhat in recent years, it is cheering to know that a band like The Midnight Echo can still come through. Voyager is available to listen to in full now on Soundcloud.

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TRADEMARK BLUD – Sugar Rush

Trademark Blud is the sort of artist that we need to be supporting at every single opportunity. He is a rapper from the West Midlands, who has already shared a stage with the likes of Talib Kweli, Dizzee Rascal and Akala. With Sugar Rush, he has created an earworm to die for, and the combination of his lyrical dexterity and Tazman’s funtime production is a winner.

Opening with a cheeky sample of Winston Churchill preparing to address the world’s ears, the track bursts into life with a skanking beat and an indecipherable vocal sample that sets the hyperactive, E-numbered tone for this sweet-obsessed track. It calls to mind the most playful music of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, as Trademark Blud rejoices in the mindless ridiculousness of eating too many sugary treats. LISTEN TO THIS SONG.

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Trademark Blud

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.

Max

Hi! I’m Max, and I’m a freelance music journalist based in Manchester. I’m actually a refugee in Manchester, having grown up in Birmingham. I’ve done a masters course in Multimedia Journalism at MMU, and have had work published at places like Fresh on the Net, Overblown, Treble, Gig Junkies, Too Many Blogs and Silent Radio, where I also co-present and produce a weekly radio show. When doing none of those things, you can usually find me out and about watching bands around town.

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