Fresh Faves: Batch 241

Caitlyn Scarlett

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s ‘Oldie’ Rob Ball this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

I write this as news filters through of the explosion at MEN. Our thoughts go out to all those affected, many possibly having just experienced the joy – as I am sure all of our readers have had – of attending a live concert in the company of like-minded people for the very first time. I really struggle to think how anyone anywhere can ever think that any terror, which always impacts totally innocent people, is just.

In a week of music that really epitomises what we at FOTN stand for, our readers have picked a very eclectic group of Fresh Faves. As one of our voters commented: “Wow! a big week, big productions, soaring highs, punk riffs, electronic beats and whimsical melodies.” All have found their way into the top 10.

This week’s format (borrowed from Sharon Pearce):

  1. About the artist/band
  2. About the track
  3. What the artist/band are up to next

So, without further ado, let’s begin…

ANDY ZUK – Jack Nicholson

Ah best made plans and all. There is very little I can say about Andy Zuk; he wears glasses and has recently released an EP of five tracks, of which Jack Nicholson is the title track. With minimal content on his social media pages, the EP itself seems to be all we have to go on. Now then, the prime aim of LP is to give acts the opportunity to see how their hard-worked music sounds to a totally unbiased audience. If Andy has posted to just see how his track is received by others then it’s been a success; they like it. If he is hoping for more exposure and potential radio play, then less so… [Check out the tips page Andy, if you fancy.]

This track proved popular with our audience and I love the diversity we provide for our listeners. I can imagine listening to this in the fields of glastonbury in the early hours and being drawn in. It is “alternative rock” apparently but I would class it more as dark electro, which two thirds in shifts into industrial rock, with an impressive outro marked by the repeated, hypnotic line “make a waves carry me out to sea”.

We’re not sure what Andy is up to next though…

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Myspace | Bandcamp

CAITLYN SCARLETT – Shangri-La

Caitlin Scarlett is a pop/R&B singer from Windsor/London who proved to be very popular with our weekend audience. She has already had support from BBC Introducing in Berkshire and Radio X. In her own words she tends to write from own experiences and the sound that follows will be whatever best fits the mood for her. Certainly, her back catalogue has quite a wide range of styles for someone relatively early in their career. The one constant is a very powerful voice. She also has an obsession for dinosaurs.

In Caitlin’s words “Shangri-La is based on the classic novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton, a book about escaping to a nirvana first imagined by an English creative who also craved adventure outside of grey London.” In my words it is a very powerful pop ballard with strong influences from Bollywood, smouldering towards some big bass drops that remind me of US singer Bishop Briggs. I can imagine a venue really coming alive to those drops. Lyrical highlights include “shards of glass reflect the evening sky”.

There doesn’t seem anything posted about future plans presently for Caitlyn.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

THE CLEAR – When You Are Far Away

The Clear are a three piece band from Sheffield playing classic West Coast pop and playing it very nicely thank you. Chris Damms, Jules Buffey and Bryan Day clearly have a great understanding between themselves. They have been together for four years, have featured in Fresh Faves 229 and had support from BBC6Music and BBCIntroducing. In the words of our very own Derval McCloat “The Clear’s style is a compendium of jazz, pop-orchestral, latin and tropical with more than a hint of John Barry around the edges.” Couldn’t have put it better myself so I stole her words. Cheers Derv!

When You Are Far Away is a really mellow and chilled song reminiscing about times with a loved one leaving in the early hours and looking forward to their return: “the sun will rise again”. The lovely harmonies and a gentle guitar solo took me to a sunny evening beach with rippling waves.

There appears little posted about the future plans of The Clear – I am hoping they will pick up some summer festival slots where their sound is sure to go down very well.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

DIICE – Do Wrong

DIICE are an R&B/pop duo and in the words of blog AllFreshSounds “There’s about as much info on British duo DIICE as there is credible evidence on the 1969 Moon Landing being fake, which is to say not a whole hell of a lot.” Well said! They are from… and have been together since… (sigh!) [also sigh – Ed.] What is clear is they are starting to build up interest in their music and Do Wrong, their second release, will only continue this.

Do Wrong is a James Blake influenced electro R&B track that moves along seamlessly with strong and easy sounding vocals. It is a real ‘swayer’ and I have to admit to a bit of dad dancing [videos next time please Rob. Ed.] whilst listening in my hotel room.

Future plans? Who knows but I suspect we will be hearing quite a bit more in the not too distant future.

[Part 3. of these reviews ain’t going so well Rob – are none of these artists planning anything!? Strange huh… Ed.]

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

EMMA MILLER – Burning Out

Emma Miller is a singer-songwriter based in North London who writes piano driven sophisticated-pop. From the age of 12, Emma has been penning her own songs at her piano. She moved to London in 2014 and enrolled at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance to study Songwriting – and has just finished her course there. Her sound is of a likeness to The Staves and Joni Mitchell.

Burning Out has soft vocals with the richness of a Belgium truffle. It wraps around your ears like a comfortable scarf in a howling gale. It is the sort of song that commands attention by gently drawing you in. The track has a gentle jazz feel and is a song that would bring the place to silence at Ronnie Scotts. It tells of a woman questioning her lovers commitment: “would you love me more or would our love fade away?” Simple it may be but making simplicity sound this rich is a very skilled thing.

I have some news on future plans! [Yay!] Emma has a variety of summer gigs and festivals listed on her webpage including Live Expressions Festival, Kent, on 7th July.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

FACTORY ACTS – Ants

Factory Acts are a Salford-based post-punk dark-electro duo. They are SoS (aka Susan O’Shea) on vocals, synths and analogue digital devices, and Matt Davies covering bass, beats and magic mixes. They have been together for three years, have built a strong following on the local circuit with their regular gigging and had support from BBC Introducing Manchester.

Ants is from their recently released second EP and features haunting electronica with synth leads over driving basslines and electronic beats. Fact Alert: For the technical amongst you, the song is 88 BPM and in the key of F Major. [Random, Rob!] Susan’s vocals are laid on over the top, but the main focus is on the beats, bass and riffs.

Factory Acts are currently working hard at promoting their EP and are looking forward to recording their first album. Their next gig is at Night and Day in Manchester of Friday 8th June.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

GAPTOOTH – Terminal 4

Hannah Lucy began recording and performing as Gaptooth in 2005, releasing her debut album in 2013. Based in East London, her music is what I would class as dance-focused electro-pop. She has recently incorporated a keytar into her live set, and plays gigs all around the country, often for feminist and DIY promoters. She is also involved in London’s feminist activist scene, taking action against austerity and the detention and deportation of refugees and migrants.

Terminal 4 is takes me back to late ’80s electro pop with strong beats and rippling key board riffs. It talks about things that spark memories of which Heathrow Terminal 4 reminds her of being told that she wasn’t loved any more. It ends rather sombrely “Now I’m old and I want to go home. I just want to go home.” Hopefully to make more poppy bouncy music, Hannah! Yes, there has been some more dad dancing, this time in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport and I am getting funny looks – Sod ’em I say, it’s hard to resist with this beat…

Gaptooth will next playing the Something Else Sista on 9th June.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

NIMZO INDIAN – Friday

Nimzo-Indian is nomadic outsider musician and artist Andrew Spackman. His avant-garde jazz/elecronica/world music combines home-made instruments with world infused beats. He himself calls it “experimental electronica”.

He has been played on BBC Radio 3 Late Junction with Nick Luscombe several times and BBC 6 Music with Tom Robinson. Apparently The Nimzo-Indian Defence is a classic chess opening, who would have known?

[Yes Rob – something to do with moving the horsey and the vicar apparently]

On track Friday he is at his eclectic best with hand drums, crashing heavy heavy heavy electro bass which at times gives way to synth chords, but the bass is the key driver. This is complex stuff especially for this indie boy.

Again there appears very little about future plans.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

REDVERS AND MELISSA – One More Waltz

Redvers and Mélissa are the product of an encounter at an open mic night. Singer Songwriter Redvers Parsons, originally from Gloucester, England, met Quebecoise singer Mélissa Brouillette soon after moving to Berlin, to follow the dream of somehow being able to live as an artist someday. Wind forward, and they are now a couple with a young family. The couple have a habit of playing in people’s houses and welcome an invite. Together they sing a mixture of their own joyously melodic story-telling folk songs and also favourite songs of their heroes.

One More Waltz is a folk song with gentle harmonies, acoustic guitar and violin. Its subject concerns a regretted final farewell, where love is not returned: “she said ‘there is someone I love more'”. It is an emotional song, beautifully executed.

R&M are on their way from their home in Montreal as a family and planning new travels across Europe. Contact them and they may even come and delight you and your friends in your own lounge.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

TALK IN COLOUR – Roses

Talk In Colour are a London based five piece who have played together for a number of years. They play what they call “electronic bass throbbing over live drums” with “mesmeric polyrhythms, underpinning swirling guitar and cascading harp” Mary Erskine’s vocals describe thoughtful and expansive ideas that reveal more and more with every listen, adding nuance and narrative to rich arrangements. In essence they play post-pop, and use a wide variety of instruments and technology to produce their sound.

Remember those polyrhythmic drums they mentioned? Well for me they are a true stand out in Roses. Beautiful to hear and not something we hear a lot on Listening Post, the heavy synth chords are seasoned with a flavouring of harp and guitar all combining to produce a complex sound with everything appearing to go in different directions but stand back and it melds to a totally unified approach. Mary’s vocals arch over it all.

Talk In Colour have a single launch part at Archside on 21st January.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | SongKick

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.

Oldie Rob

Oldierob – aka Rob Ball – is not a musician and declares he has absolutely no artistic creativity. His art teacher suggested that he drop the subject when he was 15, and his trumpet tutor had a similar view – suggesting his talents were probably better focussed on the sports field. Rob has been a lover of new music ever since being blown away by a band he’d never heard of, playing a support slot, called Genesis. By the time he was 16 he had a collection of over 200 albums – and still listens to some form of new music every day. He can often be seen in his natural habitat of a small dark music venue – or large open air festival – in a red hat, clutching a pint of beer. If you spot him don’t be afraid to approach, as he is totally harmless. You can also let Rob know about your music, or recommend an act he should listen to, via Twitter @OldieRob.

3 Comments

  1. Jim

    Great words to some top tunes!

  2. Lovely reviews, Rob!

  3. SweetP

    Great reviews Rob!

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