Artists at a glance
I SEE RIVERS
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Russ Jeanes this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALBERT MAN – Riding Shotgun
Albert Man records and mixes on Pete Townshend’s 100 year old Dutch barge recording studio, and has garnished regular approval from FOTN’s audience through the Listening Post. Albert’s recent EP Nothing of Nothing Much was released on the 3rd February 2017 when it was lovingly reviewed by our own Flo Bannigan here.
Albert talks eloquently about his music, and there is an interesting interview on his soundcloud from a BBC Essex live set. He is also clearly an interesting live prospect.
Riding Shotgun is a track about lazy, heady days driving around, listening to radio in summer sunshine, hoping to pick up ‘that girl’. It is backed by honkey tonk piano reminiscent of Billy Joel. The song has an infectious, everything in its right place arrangement; I particularly like the pizzicato strings played by Sarah Lynch at about 2:28, and Collette Williams’ backing vocals.
Albert is gathering support across Europe particularly Germany and Holland, as well as much praise from the London gig circuit and BBC Introducing. He has a couple of shows coming up in June – keep and eye out for more tour dates here.
BEDROOM EYES – After I Was A Kid But Before I Grew Up
Underneath the northern lights, deep within the arctic woods lies the Swedish town of Föllinge. The population numbers less than 200, yet amongst them, wearing a white suit and carrying his indie pop songbook under his arm is Jonas Jonsson from Bedroom Eyes.
Many of Jonas’ recordings are made inside a small boat house on the sandy Atlantic shores of the tiny Norwegian island Giske. He is influenced by The Smiths, Roy Orbison, Teenage Fanclub and Bruce Springsteen, and has signed to Startracks. His songs have been played in 20+ countries worldwide and he has received positive praise from Rolling Stone Magazine among others.
Unfortunately I struggled to find out much information about this actual track or its lyrics. However Jonas is backed by a five piece backing band for his live shows and I would imagine that After I Was A Kid But Before I grew Up will work brilliantly live – with its driving guitars, quick lyrics, lovely melodies and a relatable story of drinking high jinx.
FLO PERLIN – Share My Heart
There are some weeks listening to FOTN’s inbox where you come across a track which completely resonates. I’ve had my fingers crossed ever since I heard Flo Perlin‘s enthralling Share my Heart that I would get to review it.
Born and raised in London, with Iraqi heritage on her mum’s side, and Russian on her father’s, Flo grew up surrounded by incredibly diverse music. Her earliest memory is listening to Stevie Wonder, cradled by her dad. She also learned to play cello from an early age, and believes her dyslexic challenges with music theory forced experimentation, and subsequently her musical creativity flourished.
Fast forward to adulthood: after a year at LIPA, Flo went travelling. She ended up on a hitch hiking journey which lasted three years; these experiences inspire her writing.
Share My Heart starts with a musical montage of beatlesque backwards vocals mixed with white noise from crackling radio broadcasts. The song is underpinned by crisp, infectiously simple guitar patterns. The crowing glory is Flo’s unique vocals and harmonies, they have a gorgeous ‘spring lamb’ warble on the vibrato which is utterly captivating and instantly endearing.
Flo’s lyrics implore the listener to share her heart – and how could we not? The song is as good as anything I’ve personally heard for some time, a pleasure to find and review.
I SEE RIVERS – Da Ram
I See Rivers are a female trio – Eline Brun, Gøril Nilsen, Lill Scheie – from the Northern, Southern and Western parts of Norway. They are now based in Liverpool. The band have coined the phrase ‘Float Folk’ to describe their arresting, uplifting harmonic style.
Previously reviewed for their song Loved Ones, FOTN’s own Derval talks of the “clarity and purity inherent in Norwegian vocals” which sums up how I feel about the arrangement of words, sounds and harmonies in this song.
Da Ram is an infectious little ditty – I instantly Ioved everything about it. It’s a relatively short track but for me everything is incredibly well formed. It grabs attention from the outset, and just never lets go – rising and falling throughout with beautiful musical punctuation. The “One Two Three!” breakdown half way through is simply adorable, as are the vocal crescendos and the “yee ha”. The outro is a clever little vocal remix of other parts of the song.
If you get a chance, watch the YouTube video of them performing this song in a park.
Da Ram is the single from their upcoming EP Standing Barefoot which will be released in April 2017. As Mary Poppins once said: “practically perfect in every way”.
MIKARTISTIKSEGOTRIP – David Bowie Was A Funny Man
As a proud Yorkshireman, I am embarrassed to say that this was my first introduction to Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip. Mik reminds me of a mix between John Shuttleworth, John Cooper Clarke and Jake Thackray. The band say they are influenced by people like Reeves & Mortimer, Half Man Half Biscuit and The Fall but their mix of Rock ’n’ Roll & dry West Yorkshire wit is unique.
Behatted Mik is Leeds (Beeston) born and bred. He sings and plays keyboards. Jonny Flockton on guitar and banjo, plus Benson Walker on bass and keyboards, make up the trio. I spent an enjoyable hour watching/listening to various videos which usually contain eclectic mix of everyday Yorkshire characters.
Many of you will probably know Mik Artistik from their performances at Glastonbury and other music festivals. The band has also had supportive airplay from many national BBC radio shows, and have countless celebrity fans including Jonny Vegas, Keith Allen, Vivienne Westwood, Suggs and Irvine Welsh.
The lovely bass and accordion accompanied track David Bowie Was a Funny Man with its simple hand drawn video is a sweet lament to Mr Bowie. It’s an interesting journey through some of the more surreal facts from David’s life funnily told with nods to his songs, and his link to Doncaster in Yorkshire: “Sometimes he’d sing in American, sometimes in cockney, even though his dad was from Donny”.
It’s rock & roll… It’s comedy. Have a listen now and check out the socials below.
PUZZLE – Realign
Puzzle is originally from Brazil, but has lived in Shoreditch, East London for the last ten years. His sound sits on the darker side of electro pop. According to online material, influences include the Pet Shop Boys and Lauren Hill. However, visually I can see there are some new romantic influences, particularly Steve Strange’s Fade To Grey video.
Puzzle says that he feels it is important as an artist to portray something exciting and to take people outside of their everyday routines, an ethos I believe he fulfils. Whoever is in charge of marketing clearly has a vision for Puzzle as a digital brand, with everything surrounding him incredibly polished, produced and thought through, and Puzzle himself has a great look.
Realign is a song from his debut EP Babylon which came out on the March 3. The track explores the difficult task of letting go and the hurt it can cause, countered by the opportunities of starting afresh. Like the marketing, the song has great writing and production. I can imagine the first verse, “running out of air, as the sun appears” belting out as the sun rises in Ibiza.
I find it hard to imagine that this package will not be picked up by ‘mainstream’ radio, as to my ears this really does have the potential for wider appeal on radio and in club land. Fingers crossed for him.
SERA – Optimist
Sera is a FOTN regular, proudly hailing from Caernarfon North Wales, her writing seamlessly switches between Welsh and English, and she has a deep ability to connect people through her writing.
Optimist is a radio edit which will be released by Folkstock Records on the 24th March, and is a song from the recent album Little Girl which FOTN reviewed here.
Sera explains that the song is all about letting go of restraints, fears and negativity and embracing change. The song opens gently on piano, followed by beautiful vocals; warm, familiar and comforting with an effortless lilt. There is a lovely amount of space around the verses which allows the song to breathe and build to its peaks, the middle section soars before falling silent once again ready to rise back for the finale.
It’s easy to see why Sera receives so much airplay across the whole of the UK, and why her songs are used in high profile TV ad campaigns, there is not much for anyone to dislike. This Sunday (26th March 2017) Sera will perform live on BBC Radio 2 on the Clare Balding show where I hope she will recruit more fans to her growing audience.
SLOWLIGHTS – I Try So Hard
Currently voted London’s 128th most attractive band(!), Slowlights have already received glowing reviews of their live set from their tour with Eliza And The Bear, this new single from is destined to increase their already growing fanbase.
The four piece band from London formed in March 2014, writing together and taking influence from bands such as Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Radiohead and Sigur Ros.
I Try So hard is the type of rock track that immediately gets into your psyche, and makes you feel like you’ve known it forever. I can picture this live; bouncing crowds, pregnant pause, spilt beer and sticky floors, driving drums, lashings of guitar, with a great rock vocal rising transcendent. For anyone who loves live music, I would imagine this band is a must for 2017. Luckily they are on tour throughout March and April!
I Try So Hard is available to stream or download now from the usual outlets.
THE BABY SEALS – My Labia’s Lopsided, But I Don’t Mind
A huge hit with voters this week, The Baby Seals are a three piece band made up of two sisters from Cambridge – Jas and Amy – and their best friend Kerry from Peterborough. They describe their sound as Empower Pop Punk and their instagram proudly proclaims “like spinal tap, but with tits”.
With a set list that includes songs such as Period Drama, Nipple Hair and Yawn Pawn, their songs are hilariously honest, with strong, clever empowering lyrics about female body confidence. One voter commented “a great lairy sound, I love people who promote the idea of being happy with your body during a time when people see whitened teeth and implant-filled arse cheeks as perfection”. This says it all really.
The song is an ear-worm, complete with singalong chorus, which I found myself humming today in the queue at Tesco, “my la la la la labia’s lopsided but I don’t mind” If you want to get a feel for their sense of sense of humour and energy have a look at their Facebook page or watch the video for My Labia… (filmed in a chalk pit in Cambridge!)
TBS state they have been influenced by many including The Spice Girls, Patti Smith, Princess Nokia and Amy Shumer. The band have a self titled EP coming out soon, and as it says on their Bandcamp page, “if you pre-order now you will receive Labia AND Nipple Hair instantly.”
If you go down town – don’t you dare close your eyes.
TICTOKBOOM – The Wave
Tic Tok Boom are Pete White & Steve Austin, who met in the 2000’s through the Watford open mic scene. Steve loved Pete’s delicate, unusual voice, and collaboration ensued. The duo perform acoustically as part of the folk trio Navaro and create electronic atmospherics as Tic Tok Boom.
Intrigued by the juxtaposition of mechanical and organic sounds, they have been particularly inspired by Bjork’s Hyperballad and Gabriel, by Lamb. Bizarrely this is the second band this week to record their music floating on water, this time on the Grand Union Canal. They feel their narrowboat is an incredibly inspiring place for musical experimentation, spending “days on the water, and nights with their heads in the stars”.
The track is part of a collection of songs called Blissfully Deviant. The Wave starts with the wisdom of Martin Luther King, with delicate electronic backing, atmospherics and Pete’s heartfelt vocal. The reflective song tells the story of someone who is finding it hard to come to terms with how they feel; a hidden love, and concern about how others may perceive it.
It’s well written and easy on the ear, with a really well constructed ending, and I’m sure Tic Tok Boom will find a willing audience for their music.
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.