Artists at a glance
DUKE OF WOLVES
THE WINACHI TRIBE
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Angry Baby founder and chief writer Flo Bannigan this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
BELLATRIX – Still Lookin For
Bellatrix is an eclectic enigma. Still Lookin For features African drumming, neo-punk vocals, touches of ballad, rhythmic electro, arrhythmic handclaps, chants… The only thing missing is the magic of Harry Potter, although images of Helena Bonham-Carter top the Google search results.
Digging a bit deeper reveals this to be the first solo offering from Bellatrix, following an impressive track record of collaborations. Bellatrix is an accomplished bass player, who won the World Beatbox Championships back in 2009, and successfully defended the title of UK Team Beatboxing Champion, with her team-mate Grace Savage, earlier this year. Examples (not for the feint-hearted) are available on her Pledge Music page, where – for less than the price of a pizza – you can support this unique artist to complete her debut EP.
This is a musical project delivered with care and attention to detail. Time is running short, so if you’re thinking of getting on board, be sure to click the link and make your contribution soon.
DUKE OF WOLVES – They Laugh
They Laugh opens with the rapid repetitions that anticipate a rock anthem. It doesn’t disappoint. Musicianship this tight is usually the result of years on the road and hour after hour in stuffy rehearsal rooms, so it’s a surprise to find that London-based Duke of Wolves – Jim (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar); Orlando (Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals); Sara (Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals); Tom (Drums) – have only been together since January.
Brash and festival-ready, the band describe their work as “eargasms and high jinks, suitable for crowded public transport, open desert roads, and every mood in between.” Citing Led Zepellin, Rage Against The Machine and (of course!), Wolfmother among their influences makes perfect sense. Quite where Cream, The Kinks and The Beatles fit in is less apparent, but there’s plenty of time for melodic story-telling in future material.
Catch Duke of Wolves live at The Monarch on 7 December, then look out for many opportunities to grab your wellies, stride across muddy fields and experience Duke of Wolves in their native environment through next summer’s festival season.
FURNSSS – Surmjoolk
Every reviewer’s nightmare is not being able to find any information about an artist or a recording. Even with the wonders of the internet just a keystroke away, sometimes there’s just nothing there. Not so with this track. Toad (Matthew Young) provides a compelling story of his collaboration with Tom (from the highly respected Gold Flake Paint music blog), making music in New York and working alongside his younger brother (tadpole?) at the National Opera Centre’s studios. The resulting collaboration is under the umbrella title of Furnsss.
What the story misses out is the sheer emotional perfection of this track. This is music to carry you away. Minimal lyrics invite the listener to write their own story into the space in between, while gentle transitions build from solo acoustic guitar, interweaving piano, percussion and vocalisations. A masterclass in subtle musicianship – turn down the lights, slip on your headphones and experience a massage of music.
Catch Toad and his song at The Happiness Hotel, Leith, on 2 Dec 2016.
KING CASIO – Who Cares My Love
King Casio is a 75% Swedish, 25% English band comprising Petter Grevelius, Breidegard, Bengt Griddy and Aaron King. Based in London, their last live gig appears to have been at the LOST Festival back in August. Since then, they have been holed up in the Holy Mountain Studios, presumably creating Who Cares My Love.
Providing the sort of laid-back jazz-laden pop that should be played at the end of any self-respecting night out, Who Cares My Love is a contemporary dance choreographer’s dream. Rich vocals and smooth keys, supported by understated percussion, this is a not-quite-in-love song to warm the hearts of commitment-phobes everywhere, singing “last night I gave you more than I was willing to give… I can’t believe that I have gone down this road”.
King Casio are not big on social media, and have just this one track on Soundcloud, so we’ll have to make the most of it for now.
LEWIS BOOTLE – Trackname
Lewis Bootle‘s The Seed was my stand-out track for this week, so it’s good to see that it found favour with visitors to the Listening Post. Put Ed Sheeran, Nizlopi and John Legend in a blender, the result might be Lewis Bootle. That’s not to say his music is derivative – there is an originality to Lewis’s style that’s rooted in his authentic, observational storytelling.
This isn’t the first time Lewis has come to the attention of Fresh On The Net listeners. Back in October 2015, Do What I Need made an appearance as a Fresh Fave. The folk/rap/hip-hop mix that Lewis presented back then is less apparent in The Seed, but his rhythms and rhymes still twist and surprise.
Lewis’s live performance schedule is impressive, with some 30 gigs listed through 2017. There are a couple of opportunities to catch him live in London before the end of the year, on 18 December at The Garage and 19 December at The Finsbury, or if you are closer to Devizes, you’ll find him at The Lamb on 9 December. There are tours of Scandinavia and Italy planned for 2017.
SQUIER SQUIER – The Art of Being =
Squier Squier, who describes himself as an artist, producer and director, working across a range of disciplines, wins this week’s award for internet honesty by inviting website visitors to sign up for “sporadic emails”. He is also one of the creative forces behind Perhaps Contraption, a favourite of Fresh On The Net and Tom Robinson, having appeared in the BBC Mixtape back in August this year, October 2015 and October 2013.
A multi-instrumentalist, playing guitars, flute, piccolo, alto sax and dreaming of a marimba, we can only speculate that his name in this incarnation reflects a relationship with a Fender-liscenced guitar or two. These multiple talents are used to good effect in The Art Of Being = which is deliciously complex, shimmying up to the edge of chaos, dropping into a reassuring curve and building a further wave of sound, all without pause for breath. Despite the #folk that sits on the Soundcloud track, this is deliciously experimental stuff.
The Art Of Being = is the opening song for 2-track release Oversleep. There’s no mention of any live performance for Squier Squier – perhaps we’ll have to wait for one of those sporadic emails…
THE VIGILANTES – Fairweather Friends
The Vigilantes have been around since 2014, bringing their indie rock style all the way from Boston (the one in Lincolnshire) to FOTN, BBC Introducing and beyond. Including Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me, where they’re introduced with the immortal line “ruddy heck, Liam Gallagher’s had a perm!”
Opening with a cute little acoustic intro, Fairweather Friends picks up the beat, layering deceptively complex guitars and percussion behind the solo vocals of whichever one of Alex, Curly or Joe fronts the band (my guess is it’s Curly). What they leave out in harmonies, they more than make up for in instrumental energy. The Vigilantes are no poor man’s Oasis – with a quirky edge to their rock production, they’re having far too much fun for that.
Want to join in? Sadly there are no live gigs listed, but you can console yourself with a Vigilantes T-Shirt from their merch shop.
THE WINACHI TRIBE – A Room With A Zoo
Describing their genre as Electronic-Indie/Dance/Electro/Funk, The Winachi Tribe‘s A Room With A Zoo provides the chirpy blast of musical perkiness we need in those gloomy evenings between bonfire night and Christmas. Don’t expect to sing along – the lyrics are far too rapid-fire for that, and the themes are surprisingly morose for such an up-beat tempo – but the hook line “give my soul back… give my soul back to me” will live in your ears forever.
We may not be ready for seasonal songs yet, but the band has included a handy children’s choir, warming the context for carols to come. This is no gratuitous exploitation of young people, despite the lack of a mention in the credits. The kid’s rock education has been advanced as they cover a line from The Animals’ 1965 classic “we gotta get out, out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do”.
The Winachi Tribe seem to enjoy cross-media expansion for their art and creativity. The ten-minute short film that accompanies A Room With A Zoo draws on First Nation and Aborigional imagery, filmed in California but with Tommy Flanagan as a distinctly Glaswegian Shaman. The debate about appropriation vs. appreciation will continue elsewhere.
THOSE WILLOWS – Know More
All the way from Portland, Oregon, Those Willows are Mel Tarter, Jack Wells, Mike Grippi and Kirch Hertel. They bring a flavour of indie soul-folk that caught the ears of visitors to this week’s Listening Post.
Know More, the opening track of the band’s self-titled album, released on 18 November, is an anthem for low self-esteem over-achievers. “I know I need to read more, write more, see more, know more.” Beautifully produced, with polished arrangements supporting crystal-clear vocals, Those Willows create neat music without a phrase or a note out of place.
Although there are no upcoming gigs listed, Those Willows have a track record of regular appearances in the USA. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for future dates.
TIRIKILATOPS – Walking Bee
“The Walking Bee”… are you having a laugh, Tirikilatops? Of course they are! And why not? Life should be fun, and there’s room for a bit of fun in music too. After all the dismal news and dour political predictions of the past few months, what a treat to escape into Tirikilatops’ wacky world.
Based somewhere between Seoul and Lancashire, Tirikilatops is Bom Carrot, Super Bodreong, Rikkuuu and occasionally Sea Robber Potato and Grassface Wilson. Their interests include Dinosaurs, Kimchi, Mars and Soup… but not bees, apparently. As for the music – Tirikilatops “mash up de place with a combination of kimchi beats, offbeat lyrics of Bom Carrot’s adventures, dayglo colours, hacked keyboards, rice wine, halloween attitudes and earworm melodies”. So now you know!
Anyone who is determined to be cheerful can seek out Tirikilatops performing live across the UK and Korea, or visit their Bandcamp site where there are many, many more tunes just as appealing as this one.
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.