Artists at a glance
ASTRAL CLOUD ASHES
DUTCH CRIMINAL RECORD
NO MIDDLE NAME
ALEX MAHER – No One Else
Vancouver based multi-instrumentlist Alex Maher has just released his second solo record in February of this year, of which No One Else is the lead single. The song has ‘radio-friendly’ written all over it. From the crisp and considered production to the oh-so-current lamentations on the social and political climates (and the need for kindness and unity to overcome problems big and small) the song is painfully relevant. And then, just when you think you’ve got the measure of it… Sax solo!
Maher describes himself as “Vancouver’s most soulful one man band” and the delivery of the solo only goes to prove this. The solo accompanies a final chorus before becoming a saxophone section and playing us out, breakdown style, to the end of the track. A positive, thoughtful and polished start to this week’s readers’ favourites.
ASTRAL CLOUD ASHES – Avant Blah!
Avant Blah! is a very well put together nugget of unsigned Indie-ness. Writing and production project of Jersey native Antony Walker, Astral Cloud Ashes‘ debut album Too Close To The Noise Floor was released in July of 2016. It draws influence from an array of artists and genres.
This cut has echoes of Appliance and Pixies among others, with a refined approach to structure and production that bring the lo-fi, indie vibes into a polished and modern framework. The guitar tone in particular is excellent with a gorgeous amount of breakup in the early verses and sparing use of spatial and modulation effects to craft changes in timbre throughout. Subtle developments in the melody and bass are a by-product of Walker’s writing style and keep your ears intrigued from beginning to end.
DUTCH CRIMINAL RECORD – Change of Heart
Self proclaimed indie-surf band hailing from Chichester, Dutch Criminal Record are a four piece outift making slick sounding, summer-vibes tunes straight out of the modern indie recipe book.
The opening guitar line of Change Of Heart is hypnotic, leading you obligingly through the (long) intro before getting to the meat of the first verse. The melodious guitar provides a strong bed for the majority of the song, allowing the drums and bass room to play with timing and dynamics. The vocals are a sizzling outer layer to the sound, providing a half time feel to the oft speedy accompaniment.
The peaks and troughs are well formed and the final furlong is reached with a neat build up, delivering a punchy outro/chorus to cap off D.C.R’s latest offering.
GLASS MOUNTAIN – Cowboy Song
Part one of a two track release, due out this coming Friday the 17th of March, Cowboy Song is the latest serving from Bradford’s own Glass Mountain. Recently they completed a seven date tour supporting Embrace. You can see why – with their expansive, scenic and confident sound they are a good match. Steeped in reverb, almost (but not quite) to the point of saturation, Cowboy Song paints a cold shimmery picture in fine and rather deft strokes.
The band borrow their name from one of David Hockney’s Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and pay great reverence to their fellow Bradfordian with a sound that draws strong parallels to his darker etchings. On tour from this Thursday (where they begin by supporting the mighty Hawkwind) at The Refectory in Leeds.
JOSEPH MOTT – Changes Come
Currently based in Liverpool, Joseph Mott‘s Changes Come is a lovely slice of Pop-tronica with some intriguing sounds and production choices. The playfulness of his writing and arrangement style really show through in this track and help embellish an already well rounded song.
It appears that Mr Mott gives his music away – whilst available on a couple of the usual digital outlets his releases can be downloaded in zip file format directly from his website with no mention of paying for them or donating to the cause. Due out on the 30th of March is The Outside Influence which I can only assume is an album (further info is scarce, perhaps even non-existent) from which Changes Come is an initial offering. Enigmatic and full of intrigue!
LEWIS BOOTLE – Cells
Cells begins with a tasty little call and response between bass and guitar, continuing with some great strutting vocal rhythms that support Lewis Bootle‘s signature lyrical wit. Everything about this song is tight and angular with a whiplash inducing head-nod vibe.
Hailing from Ware, Bootle has been bothering the Apple music charts with his previous two releases and looks set to do the same with this one. It has all the makings of a bit of a summer anthem… let’s hope he doesn’t have as much trouble getting into festivals as he did in his song Festival Band.
Cells is Lewis Bootle’s latest single and is supported by a busy tour schedule culminating in a full band show at The Dublin Castle in Camden on the 5th of April.
LITTLE RED – Hell
Released on the 8th of March, Hell is the debut single from Little Rêd (formerly known to FOTN readers as Ellie Makes Music). A re-imagining of her former self, Little Rêd creates “emotionally charged electro-pop” that still retains the vocal and guitar assuredness of her earlier work and adds modernity and mainstream radio-friendliness in the production style.
Hell has some wonderful little moments of sparkle and is an elegantly crafted song that wouldn’t be out of place providing the soundtrack to visuals of epic landscapes.
Catch Little Rêd in concert on the 21st of April at St. John’s in Cardiff.
NO MIDDLE NAME – Saturday Girl Sunday Boy
Saturday Girl Sunday Boy comes from No Middle Name‘s latest album, released earlier this year. It begins with the Thames Television ident theme circa 1968 (I think) which makes me think about watching cartoons on a weekend morning. Not a bad thing.
The track is a fast paced piece of pop perfection reminiscent of many of the darlings of the 90’s/00’s twee indie-pop brigade. The juxtaposition of male and female vocals is always a pleasing one, and never more-so than in this instance. Guest vocalist Samantha Whates perfectly compliments the voice of David Bailey who is the brains behind No Middle Name (and is also half the brains behind The Title Sequence). Short and to the point, Saturday Girl Sunday Boy is as succinct as it is cute and enjoyable.
ROE – Cheek, Boy
The second single from her second EP, Cheek, Boy is an assured and solid offering from ROE (Roisin Donald) who hails from Derry. ROE’s voice is one with more wisdom than her years would suggest. Tagged as ‘grumpy electro pop’ the description doesn’t quite do the song justice. The production is spot on – rich synths, spatially varied and it has a lovely movement as it glides into a double-time section from it’s trap-esque more stately starting pace. There’s no messing about; all of this happens in under three minutes. A lovely little pop-nugget.
ROE’s sophomore EP is called You Call It Art and is due out soon on Northern Ireland’s own Fictive Kin label.
SASHA – Gracious
And so we reach the last of this weeks faves, and what a beautifully ambient note to finish on.
Elements of Sasha‘s skill at the keys of a piano are still evident among this electronically creative production. The arrangement and structure are subtle yet complex, naïve yet worldly and it is the perfect bed for the soft and sweet vocal delivery. While Gracious is nearly four minutes long, the time flies by. On each listen there is a new and exciting element to discover – little moments of reversed piano, vocals, drums, strings let each section flow into the next – a tiny bit of chopped up, glitchy piano lends a punctuative effect at near enough the half way point, immediately preceding a beautiful vocal line which is present several times in the song. Beautiful elements and a rounded, polished whole. Great tune.
Gracious is Sasha’s latest (and just her second) single and is released on Lemon Zen Records.
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.