Artists at a glance
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS
THE GLASS CHILDREN
THE LUKA STATE
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Derval McCloat this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALL THE PEOPLE – The Hills (Promises)
Flying the flag for music being the harmonious thread binding the universe, London based trio All The People come complete with a mission statement courtesy of ‘universal Sufist’ and Indian classical musician Hazrat Inyat Khan:- “Music is made by all the people and is for all the people”.
Fixing themselves with the ‘alternative’ label and, with an apparent fondness for #hashtags, All The People are Ashley Arnold, Simon Arnold (related, yes?) and Curtis Dennie. Signed to 100 Billion Wires, their new single, The Hills (Promises) is something of a deep dive stope into dark, flickering electro drone.
The lyrics are posted with the song but as with most things ‘alt’, they’re so cryptically opaque, or maybe I’m too opaquely thick, that I have no idea what the song is about. The vocals have a rich caramel warmth redolent of Tunde Baiyewu whilst the instrumental vibe is urban electro-soul. The overall trip is incredibly cool, the musical styling refreshingly original.
Having already had airplay from Pete Tong and that harbinger of future success Tom Ravenscroft, The Hills (Promises) looks set to be a UK radio playlist favourite. Which can only mean universal harmony will be very much a thing for All The People! Namaste.
ANDRE TAJCHMAN – I Am The Sun
No stranger to our reviewers and listeners alike, Belgian native and London ‘habitant’, solo artist Andre Tajchman returns to the FOTN charts with his latest release, I Am The Sun (as opposed to Here Comes The Sun or I Am The Walrus!).
In days of yore, this self-styled ‘misunderstood child’ threw himself down a musical rabbit hole in which he crafted a musical world of escape and solace. Now Tajchman is in his early 20s and has sufficiently honed his imaginative composition to pursue a full-time career in music. A purveyor of PBR&B (no idea), trip-hoppin’ soulful indie, Tajchman is a unique crossover artist who isn’t defined by any one sound or style.
Opening with what could be a snatch from the Flight of the Bumblebee (good old Rimsky) the slightly surreal track quickly freeze-frames, and then, like the somber ooze of a dark treacle starts to flow soberly to a funereal beat. Random noises and sounds add texture to this unorthodox songs spacious, minimalist arrangement.
The vibe is a bit experimental ’80s – Tears for Fears on a leash – while the stylistic direction is not unlike another Fresh Faves alumnus, Temples of Youth. Vocally very strong, this track screams creative abandon and endless imagination.
Tajchman has hooked onto something good here. Will it translate into radio ‘gold’? That remains to be seen. Andre has brought out a video accompaniment to the track which you can view here.
ELK – Specimen
The intro to this ethereally inclined alt-pop song is bit like an cross between Clannad and Aled Jones for adults. Wistful peacefulness with a slightly saintly air. Bit like the Philadelphia ad without the annoying angels.
Elk are a fourpiece from er, possibly somewhere near Clerkenwell, London (The Slaughtered Lamb (eugh) features heavily in the one Tumblr-esque type blog I found). They also have a Bandcamp page where if you hang around for long enough, you’ll be able to buy their upcoming EP – details please! Another band hitching themselves to the ‘alternative’ star, Elk appear to have been doing an intense, attic bound stint of rehearsing – possibly for a myriad gigs to promote their upcoming EP due for release on [enter date here guys].
The vocal is a bit James Blunt – of the angelic variety, with that misty quality of mindfulness and transcendence that the likes of NME term ‘soporific’. Mister Anonymous [enter name here] Lead Singer has an exceptionally clear and controlled vocal with an infinite reach, that this ‘doyenne’ of Nordic music (joking) is inclined to call ‘ice-tipped’.
The instrumental is clever and well executed. Leading with an intro of sparse electro bips and beeps, it bleeds very slowly into a gentle stream of guitar-driven loveliness. A steady build into captivating alt-rock balladry incorporates a short but searing guitar solo with the track being brought to a spine-tingling close with a stunning a capella vocal.
The more I played Specimen, the more I liked it, and for all my jocose verbiage I am genuinely of the opinion that Elk have a serious future in music. Looking forward to the impending EP guys!
Ok this is getting boring. Guys, polite message from the seriously tired person writing reviews after a hard day at the office. I do not have time to be faffing about looking up non-existent info. Get your shnazz together people and load up some bio info on your FB page.
ELLIE BLEACH – I Want You So Bad
See note above.
Female soloist Ellie Bleach operates out of Southend-on-Sea, likes colour block pink and orange, and is a big fan of pasta. Full stop.
Her song, I Want You So Bad is part of a new series of monthly single releases being channelled by Norwich based multi-media outfit Seal of Approval. End of.
Drifting on a slow moving late ’50s/early ’60s cloud, this wistful dirge sees a slightly raspy voiced Ellie pine longingly for he who is obviously Mister Wonderful. While the song has a strong, definite central line and some seriously cracking organ playing, for me it’s more style than substance. For a three minute song to have just one verse is imo bizarre, while the over-repetition of the hook is just plain annoying.
Ellie Bleach has all the prerequisite ingredients that make up a unique, powerful and idiosyncratic performer. What’s needed is some quality time with a topliner. Or some songcraft upskilling that will enable her to produce a song with such a challenging vocal frequency that it will draw out the sultry, smokin’ punchiness bubbling underneath the surface.
The talent is there, it just needs the right vehicle to take it to the next level.
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS – No Going Back
Manchester based Ghosts of Social Networks, previously featured on Fresh on the Net, is a one man show project managed by Nathan Till. He works with a cutting crew of backing musicians namely Ben Dargue on drums and bassist Andrea Gobbi whose surname had he grown up in Dublin, would have been the source of much childish amusement.
Lauded by Beeb ledge Steve Lamacq for having a “very embracing sound” GoSN have in No Going Back produced epic widescreen indie rock with a dash of orchestral and a smattering of twinkles. There’s an echo of With or Without You style Bonovox (don’t tell John Doran) along with a smidge of Ian McCulloch on the vocal, which benefits from a rich earthiness to its slightly grizzled baritone.
The manliness of the lead, perfectly offset by contrasting feminine harmonies, has sufficient oomph to contend with a surging instrumental. One almost gets the feeling that the instrumental is reaching into infinity while the coal-tar vocal is drilling for oil.
Released via Integrity Records, No Going Back is the latest in a long line of strong songs from Till & Co. The simple accompanying video, cutesy baby shots and all, follows the torn love storyline. Check it out here.
SNIPPET – Bad Man
Groundhog day P3 – this playlist is fast becoming a club for FOTN alumni. Enter Snippet, our third re-entry into the Fresh Faves, this time with a track from his upcoming album Future Melancholy Pop Music.
Bad Man is a blur of overdubs, irresistible handclap beats, ‘manly’ lyrics. Simply styled, neatly arranged, and tightly packed instrumental layers blend over, under and around each other. There’s a whole carnival of attractions going on under that adamant vocal. In fact, I don’t actually think Snip draws breath once during the whole song! How’s that for lung function.
Bad man, old man, mad man (you did say mad didn’t you?), the lyrics poke a bit of self-deprecating fun at the artist aka Johnno Casson. As per, this is Johnno doing what he loves to do, making music to have fun with. Bad Man can be summed up as an animated and colourful vocal personality chasseing down an instrumental avenue lined with crazy paving, or, in other words, a tongue in cheek rogue of a tune!
SWIM – Be There
Oh sweet irony of ironies! Behold, when I go to look up Swim, what do I find? They’re from my home from home Nordic belt; Sweden to be precise.
Be There was released in Sweden in late 2016 and was met with a reception of a warmth usually found in tropical climes far removed from Scandinavia. A follow up to their first two singles which received airplay across the BBC and Swedish radio channels, it’s a multi-tonal sonic heatwave cooled by light breeze that flows easily across a clear blue sky.
Speaking of the track singer Erika explains: “Be There was written during the Spring. It’s about choosing different paths, about letting go without losing anything or anyone. It is about one leaving without abandoning the other”.
Interestingly Swim is the product of an internet exchange as producer Carl sought out a singer/songwriter, Erika, with whom to collaborate. Their music which crosses over reggae-busting bass-beats, over-easy electronic surfing and Caribbo-chillwave, is caressed by the softest of web-delicate voices.
The 12” Limited Edition Vinyl of Be There is now and can be found on the duo’s Bandcamp page.
The pair are currently working on new music, so you can expect more Nordic chillwave that’s more sauna than snowdrift later in 2017.
THE CLEAR – The Planets
No words! This is undoubtedly, one of the classiest compositions I’ve come across either here on FOTN or in the rest of my musical universe. Which probably explains why this track is receiving so much radio airplay, as undoubtedly I’m not alone in forming that opinion!
Intoxicating sequin-strewn Rhumba-esque latino beats are treated with the graceful elegance of chiffon-light sweeps of orchestral fantasy: like classic ballroom it has rise and fall, like its Latin counterpart, rhythm and romance. Its dark as night vocal, sumptuous, compelling, and bewitching, pours cool sophistication over inter-stellar turmoil. Think ice cool Grace Kelly cast in a Bond film set in the heart of the Caribbean. Midnight-blue starry skies, the strain of music on the warm night breeze, the caress of silk-chiffon as it floats past.
That’s the story this song tells to me… a cocktail of Latin, melodrama, strings and molten vocals. And love floating adrift amidst a dark sky of lonely satellites.
The Clear are a three piece from Sheffield who indulge in “West Coast pop”. Chris Damms, Jules Buffey and Bryan Day, I salute you.
The Planets is out now via ClearMusicRecords.
THE GLASS CHILDREN – Anything Else
David Fairweather and Daniella Kleovoulou are the duo behind London based electronic project The Glass Children who make a long awaited and much welcome return to the faves with their latest single, Anything Else.
Known for creating gripping soundscapes awash with brooding darkness to which they always manage to give a dreamy, iridescent glow, their latest single, a paradox of power and fragility, doesn’t disappoint.
Tinged with melancholy, Anything Else has more than a touch of the spiritual or otherwordly about it. Perfectly synchronised harmonisation and wonderfully contrasting vocal tones blend colour into its spare electronic landscape, enhancing the track’s already haunting atmosphere. I’ve long been a fan of the light and shade of their vocal interplay – David’s night to Daniella’s day. Kleovoulou has a pretty perfect vocal – clear, translucent, pure and flawless – the perfect vocal pearl.
The Glass Children are masters of subtle yet sophisticated and luxuriant electronica that relies more on carefully placed spaces, careful texturing and meticulous layering than on driving beats and thrum. There’s no electronic clutter in Anything Else – it’s a masterclass in thoughtfully conceived sublime landscaping.
Anything Else is available on the duo’s Bandcamp page.
THE LUKA STATE – Lies! Lies! Lies!
The Luka State is an “electronically enhanced rock ‘n’ roll” outfit from the middle of nowhere, the centre of everywhere, via Winsford! Founded a few years ago, TLS comprises Conrad Ellis (Lead Vocals & Guitar), Sam Bell (Backing Vocals & Bass) and Jake Barnabas (Drums & Percussion) with Lewis Pusey (Live Guitars).
Signed to Project Records they have of late, been pulling in some crack reviews from the likes of Q, Clash and our very own BBC Introducing to name but a few. If you could ever say that music moved like Jagger, Lies! Lies! Lies!, with its insistent guitar lines, self-assured rock-god vocal and bristling attitude, screams epic swagger.
Not far removed from the rocket-fuelled, cut and thrust sound of The Stereophonics, this is seriously strong modern rock, brimful of bristling energy, played with more than a touch of flair. This is rock as it should be.
Another band with a video on the go, which you can watch here.
The band are currently gigging and house partying like it’s the end of the world. Details on their socials.
Lies! Lies! Lies! is out now via Project records.
THE BOOKSHOPBAND – How Not To Woo A Woman
‘How Not To Woo A Woman’… where would you like me to start?
Another invitee to this week’s FOTN reunion, The Bookshop Band pitch up with a track lifted from their recently released album Accidents and Pretty Girls. It must be kismet ‘cos the last time these guys had a track up for reviewing it was yours truly who was on duty!
This time they’ve stumped up with folksy ode to love How Not To Woo A Woman, the type of nonnyesque ditty I can imagine soundtracking a big English blockbuster replete with scurrilous monks, beautiful maidens and the odd dude in green tights! The song is based on the story of Harold, the dancing idiot protagonist, and the moment when he met his wife Maureen – check out the band’s FB page for the full story and a cracking live recording of the song.
The most organic of all the tracks on this week’s playlist, it is a lovingly crafted acoustic track that features three things – a cello, bells and vocals. It’s simple, unadorned, pastoral, with a hint of medieval (and I don’t say that in a disparaging way). Yet somehow, this song has created the warmest of glows. It has made me smile, with its everyman funny storyline complete with a clever little twist in the final verse.
The vocal is warm and mellow, the cello playing is keen, more than competent and imaginative, and the bells, well, they add that touch of the nonny that keeps bringing Much Ado About Nothing to mind. In a way, this song is the perfect way to end this week’s tracklist… a quiet, happy, wittily written little song about love, performed with love.
Accidents and Pretty Girls is out now via Letterpress Records.
Until next time!
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.