Welcome to Fresh Faves 225. This was the biggest ever turnout for a vote on a music blog in the history of the world, period, and any screenshots that suggest otherwise have been faked by dishonest people obsessed with de-legitimising the vote. Sad losers!
BEVERLY SHRILLS – Space Invaders
There are five words in Beverly Shrills’ Soundcloud bio. The first four, “Thick – Fuzzy – Alternative – Rock”, do a good job of summing up their sound, but I wasn’t expecting the last one: Bristol, and further investigation reveals Tewksbury to be their original location. The scuzzy guitars and stoner vibe suggests West Coast slacker rock far more than the Cotswolds, that’s for sure. Similarly, playing Space Invaders on an Atari could almost be an anachronism for this track’s late 80s / early 90s sound, but hey, Sonic the Hedgehog probably wouldn’t have the same (ahem) ring to it.
Thankfully, none of that actually matters, because this is delivered with such conviction that I was immediately won over, and you thought so too, making Space Invaders the most popular track this week. I can find little else about the Beverly Shrills, but they appear to be five guys and this is their debut single, which you can purchase on their Bandcamp page.
BRAVE LITTLE NOTE – Grrrl Trouble
We move from a track about playing Space Invaders to something that sounds like a thousand games consoles coming to get you, all arpeggio synths and urgent beats. Brave Little Note doesn’t have Grrrl Trouble, SHE IS Grrrl Trouble, and boy does it sound like it.
Brave Little Note, aka Jacqueline (Jack) Irvine, began her musical journey aged 8 as a chorister at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, is classically trained in viola, piano and voice and moved from performing choral music in cathedrals and symphonic works in concert halls to this via some studio work providing backing vocals and string arrangements for Idlewild’s Rod Jones, no less.
The result is probably about as far as you can get from the world of cassocks and choir stalls. There’s a line that caught my ear: “I don’t care what your ceiling’s made of, I’m ready with my sledgehammer.” So what’s behind that? Well, over on this track’s Bandcamp page all is revealed. “Grrrl Trouble is a visceral, emotional response — triggered by the election of Donald Trump — to personal experiences of misogyny” says Jack, who released this track to coincide with the Women’s March in protest at Trump’s election in Washington and around the world.
In the interests of balance, I called the White House* for comment. “Brave Little Note’s music is the absolute worst!” said a spokesperson who didn’t want to be named, “and her claims are nothing more than fake news!”
*Of course I didn’t.
FROM THE TIGER’S MOUTH – Family Tree
While it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, it’s almost always possible to get a grip on a four minute track based on what you hear in the first minute or so, which is why it’s so unexpected when this initially quiet and, er, twinkly track unloads a thumping kick drum and pounding bass from the back of the truck almost halfway through, along with some noisy guitars and synths, building and building before reaching what might best be described as a satisfactory conclusion.
From The Tiger’s Mouth is Harry Sullivan from London, and while he hasn’t appeared on Fresh On The Net before in this guise, he has as a member of Bengal Lancers on Tom’s Introducing Mixtape back in 2014. Bengal Lancers are still active, and From The Tiger’s Mouth is Harry’s solo project.
GRIFF LYNCH – Don’t Count On Me
If you know anything about Wales’s vibrant music scene (and, being Welsh myself, I try to keep up) then it’s often possible to identify tracks as Welsh even before the vocals kick in. Consider, for example, that artists such as Cate Le Bon, H. Hawkline, Meilyr Jones and Sweet Baboo share a similar sonic palette, but more than that a humour and imaginative quirkiness, which can be traced back to their forerunners, such as Catatonia, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, and so on. This is probably the result of a relatively tight musical scene, but also reflects the Welsh character, which on the one hand is prone to pessimism and loves to complain, but on the other just has to laugh about it.
Which brings us very nicely to Griff Lynch, whose Don’t Count On Me fits in here perfectly. “Don’t count on me to love you when you’re down, to wipe away your frown,” he sings, making it the complete opposite to your “I’ll be there!” type anthems. He won’t, he’s off to France on a whim.
Griff Lynch is a former member of Welsh language band Yr Ods. While he has other tracks on his Soundcloud page, this appears to be his first English language track, and is off to a good start with airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales (whose Saturday show, BTW, is an excellent place to find out about the aforementioned Welsh music scene). I expect we’ll be hearing plenty more from Griff this year.
JAMESK$$$ – Never Ever Fall In Love
Keeping a similar sentiment going, here’s JamesK$$$ advising you to never, ever fall in love, break your heart and feel that pain, to the accompanying soundtrack of someone drowning their sorrows, which in some ways could be a woozy guitar version of Beethoven’s Für Elise (no bad thing).
Sadly I can’t tell you much about James K, apart from that he’s from London, and writes and performs all his songs. His Soundcloud page shows a few more tracks from the last five years, with this being the first in three years. Given that Never Ever Fall In Love has made it straight into our Faves, I think we should hear both more from James and more about him in the near future.
LOW ISLAND – Recent
Low Island last appeared on Fresh On The Net back in November in Fresh Faves 218 with their track Anywhere, which our own Nick Walker described very well as “dense and smooth”. This latest track, Recent, takes it up a notch while remaining fairly understated, with smooth vocals, seductive bass and gentle percussion that makes it very easy on the ears.
Low Island are Jamie, Carlos, Jacob and Felix from Oxford, and Recent is taken from their debut EP, Just About Somewhere, which is available now on iTunes and Spotify. They’re playing at a BBC Introducing event at the O2 Academy Oxford on 10 February.
MAGANA – Inches Apart
With no more than guitar, voice and minimal background sounds, Magana’s Inches Apart is dark, deep and heartfelt, grabs your attention from the outset and holds onto it. Singer songwriter Jeni Magana is from Brooklyn, and this track is taken from her Golden Tongue EP, which is available now on Bandcamp. While there are no UK appearances, her Facebook page lists some upcoming performances in Oakland and Bakersfield, California soon.
MATTHEW FOUNTAIN – Written On Your Wall
Keeping it stateside, Matthew Fountain is from Portland, Oregon and performs with The Whereabouts, which can be up to eight of his friends. In an interview with Glide Magazine, Matthew says “This song is about never being able to truly know your partner, and how much of what we think we know is what we want them to be. The refrain response ‘aahlooeeyoualooah’ to the narrator’s call is a sort of sonic Rorschach, allowing the narrator and the listener to attach whatever meanings they want to those sounds.”
Written On Your Wall is smart, poppy and very catchy. It’s taken from the forthcoming debut album Born On The Hook, and available now on iTunes.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT – Behaviour Saviour
There’s a line in this irresistible Caribbean-inflected pop song that I think sums the whole thing up, when the singer pleads “Would it be so hard to just be nice, yeah?” And so you end up with this juxtaposition between the sound of blazing sunshine and tropical summer nights on the one hand, and emotional abuse on the other.
Surprisingly for such a big sound, The Curious Incident are a duo, Kairo and Diaz, who nonetheless say they get frequent help from their friends and are based between England, The Netherlands and South Africa. Behaviour Saviour is out now, and recently got picked for Spotify’s official Fresh Finds playlist. They plan to release a new single every month for the next 3 months, with Behaviour Saviour the first, and you can next see them play the Independent Music Day Festival in London on February 25. Ones to watch out for!
THE KUBRICKS – Down With The Dogs
Finally, and also in the same sonic neighbourhood is London-based ska-pop band The Kubricks and Down With The Dogs, which sounds glorious with catchy vocals, sunny horns and an infectious groove. You can imagine this would go down a storm live, and last year the band played a number of festivals, including Wickerman, Godiva, Brentwood, Brownstock, and The London International Ska Festival. They’re no stranger to these parts either, having been featured by Huey Morgan on BBC Radio 6 Music and on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape twice in 2015, which led them to being championed by Horace Panter of The Specials.
Down With The Dogs is taken from their new album The Heist, which is due for release on 27 January, and will also feature Reggae legend, Horseman, Mitzi Fox, and as they put it “London’s finest soul singer”, Sharlene Hector. They’re already booked to play Brentwood Festival on July 15-16, and sounding this good I’m sure more live dates will follow.
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.