Artists at a glance
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Richard Dowling AKA Forest And Dove this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
BAY – Desirous
Bay are a two-piece from Croydon specialising in trip-hop and electronic music.
Desirous is a catchy tune that makes use of many elements, the first of which to grab my attention was a stacatto guitar line, conjuring up a glamourous, glitzy feel. The bass sounds like a live player rather than programmed, but with today’s technology anything is possible! The baritone singer slides up in range rather sweetly when the melody requires. And the whole track has a glossy feel, yet the grit in the singer’s voice stops things sounding overproduced.
All in all I really enjoyed the track; I just wish that more information about them was easily accessible online. [A theme common among recent reviewees at FOTN!]
Bay will be playing on the 17th March at Matthew’s Yard in Croydon.
BENDIGO FLETCHER – Sleeping
If you’ve got a beautiful vocal melody then the addition of a few gentle strums of the guitar and some light percussion are all you need for a great introduction. Bendigo Fletcher prove themselves masters of song arrangement by getting my interest right from the very first few seconds. It’s a skill that surprisingly few bands really get the hang of.
Sleeping Pad, released on the 3rd March, is a funky piece of folk rock that avoids all the clichés you’d expect from that genre while incorporating familiar elements such as violin and acoustic guitars. The freshness of the melody, coupled with the gorgeously laid-back yet earnest lead vocal just had me grinning from start to finish on this one.
Bendigo Fletcher come from Louisville in Kentucky. The group is made up of five members – Ryan Anderson, Evan Wagner, Sarah Brower, Josh Harshbarger and Chris Weis. I think they’re going to be huge and I hope they can come to Europe soon for some live gigs.
CRYSTAL CITIES – Who’s Gonna Save Us Now
The real secret to epic rock, in my arrogant opinion, is to understand the power of subtlety and gentleness. Crystal Cities get this like few other bands. If the melodic and harmonic elements are in place, you can induce back-shivers without resorting to whacking the amp up to 11.
Who’s Gonna Save Us Now is an epic track. So epic that the band describe their sound as Empyrean Rock, which, after a quick wiki trip I understood to mean “Of the Highest Heavens”. But before you press the pretentious button, understand that they come from Australia. This combination of earthy origins with celestial dreams is at the heart of the band’s sound. And I was astounded to see that they concoct their sound with only three members.
Geoff Rana’s vocals are breathy and evocative, and his guitar playing is sublime. He is complemented by Jared King doing wonders on bass and Daniel Contie crushing it on drums. Will they be bigger than U2? I certainly think they should aim that high, at the least.
The EP Who’s Gonna Save Us Now was released on the 3rd March.
[***** social media presence!]
DRIFTBOX – Understanding The Poets
Understanding the Poets is a bittersweet slice of triphop that features a dreamy lead vocal over a subdued beat with tinkly pianos and a chugging synth line. Very difficult for me to do justice to this track and I urge all the readers to take the time to listen and experience the slowburn emotions for themselves.
Driftbox, so their website says, “create music about oppression and explore an expressionist landscape that is liberated and revisionist”. That all sounds very cerebral and dry, but the track itself is anything but, with a yearning melody that stays in the mind long after the song has finished.
I haven’t been able to find out much information about whoever are the talents behind the bandname but I wish them all the best!
The Driftbox EP Memory Blocks was released on the 6th March.
FIRST TIGER – For Pete’s Sake
First Tiger describe themselves as being influenced by early American Jazz and French chanson, filtered through a contemporary Scottish feel. The band comprise Shorts on guitar and vocals, Stevie on vocals and guitar, Paddy on drums and Iain on bass.
For Pete’s Sake rolls along like you’re watching a movie, with the off-kilter drums balancing the jazzy guitars and the almost spoken vocals. Effortlessly referencing so many disparate cultural points, I wasn’t surprised when the Glaswegian lead singer started singing in French. What’s it all about? I don’t think we’re intended to get the meaning of the song on the first listen, indeed the track invites repeated plays.
First Tiger somehow manage to cram more variety into one song than many acts achieve in a lifetime. It’s refreshing to see a band who aren’t afraid of pursuing their own artistic course, rather than trying to jump on some popular bandwagon. And hats off for singing in a natural Scottish accent without playing it down or up.
Debut album Dedicated is out now.
JAMES MACLAINE – All My Time
Having lived in various places including the south of France, James MacLaine now resides in London where is concentrating on songwriting and music.
All My Time has a stripped down feel to it, but nevertheless reveals a suprising complexity when you take time to peer into the arrangement. Things start off with an electropop beat which is quickly joined by a strummed guitar. There are keys and strings but the main focus is on James’ velvety voice, which is particularly effective in the emotional chorus.
James describes his music as Folk and Singer-Songwriter but I think that conjures up a different image. For me, this track is more pop (I like pop, in all its forms) and in the end is its own thing. I guess all that wandering around has paid off and now James has settled down in the place where he feels most comfortable, both geographically and musically.
ØYVIND WEISETH – Inside Our Minds
This track is an eclectic mix of influences, including a jazz-style guitar solo that could have been played by Pat Methany, a female vocalist whose timbre reminded me of a warmer Dolores O’Riodan and, just for good measure, Mo Tucker steps in occasionally on drums.
Øyvind Weiseth knows how to blend all these disparate elements into a song that masterfully builds to an epic crescendo. What really struck me most was how Mr. Weiseth (yes, I am avoiding the use of the first name because I can’t find the symbol on my keyboard) has a voice which effortessly goes from a delicate whisper to a full-on passionate roar – but without ever sounding strident or forced.
Delving deeper into Mr. Weiseth’s background it becomes clear why his influences are so different from the usual indie crowd. He actually hails from Norway, but now lives in Liverpool. Thus his effusive fusion of a literate, philosophical attitude with cool pop sensibility becomes clear.
Inside Our Minds will be released as a single on the 24th March.
PATAWAWA – Diversion
Sam Wilmot, Rory Lovatt and Beth Garrett make up the nu-disco trio of Patawawa. And straight off the bat they get THE THREE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF ANY DISCO SONG correct.
What are these ingredients?
- A four-to-the-floor beat that gets your hips involuntary grinding.
- A thumping bassline that makes your chest rumble.
- A classy vocal that makes you want to sing along even when you don’t know the words yet.
In fact Patawawa get everything so right I was surprised to see they come from Matlock in Derbyshire rather than The Loft in New York City. The track oozes glitter and the alternative male and female vocals are so confident I could easily believe they were from the first generation of electronic dance music. Do your ears and feet a favour and listen now.
Patawawa will play a headline show in London at The Old Blue Last on April 6th.
SI CONNELLY – Lion House
The lilting melody over a gently stirring piano line instantly had my attention. The production on this song is amazing. When the drums kick in and a backing vocal adds a strong counterpoint to the lead line, I was blown away.
Si Connelly is one hell of a talented all-rounder, responsible for all the instrumentation and production as well as composing and singing. What’s more, the track was written and recorded only week before it’s release in February of this year. This is all the more impressive that his debut album came out only last year. Si is obviously brimming with ideas and eager to share them with the world.
Brighton seems to be home to an ever growing number of musical geniuses right now. What is in the air over there? Si must be part of some Brightonian plot to take over the musical world. With tracks this good, that’s fine by me.
The Lion House single is available now.
THE VOLTAIRES – Natural Selection
How can you not like a track where the lead singer sounds like he has his balls trapped in a vice? Gripping is the word. Not to be left behind, the backing vox cheerily chime while the guitars rage, the drums crack and the bass rumbles like a tropical rainstorm.
Another point in favour is the proud proclamation that none of their songs are over three minutes and thirty seconds. Natural Selection has all the bounce and verve of, say, Violent Femmes, but the group have evolved (well, I had to put in one Darwinian reference, didn’t I?) their own distinctive sound.
The Voltaires come from Leeds and variously describe themselves as “quirk-pop-punk-rock” and “garage-punk”. I think all the adjectives fit perfectly. Here is a group that struts its stuff with the best of the best. The band currently comprise Gareth Williams on vocals, Cavie and Michale Cockerham on guitars, Suggy on Bass and Bobby Syme on drums.
The Natural Selection EP was released on March 2nd.
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.