Fresh Faves: Batch 264

Alex Maxwell

Artists at a glance

ALEX MAXWELL
CHINA BOWLS
CHLOE MARCH
DARLA AND THE BLONDE
FAELAND
GAPTOOTH FEAT. SISTERS UNCUT
GLENN MALTMAN
LUCA ST. JUDE THE OBSCURE
TRIPLE LIP GLOSS

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net legend Johnno Casson this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

ALEX MAXWELL – The Want Comes In Waves

A bright beginning that would make C Duncan proud and sure enough a wonderful Scottish vocal follows and delivers – with the aid of some lovely backing vocals and a simple yet effective groove – a smashing song (do people still say smashing? or did the 90’s kill that phrase dead? well I’m bringing it back, so there).

Alex Maxwell is a Dumfries-based indie folk singer-songwriter who has just released his debut EP entitled The Want Comes in Waves. He has a lovely voice and I for one love a lovely Scottish voice, give me Blue Rose Code or Kenny Anderson and I’m lost in wonderment at their glorious tone.

Debut EP! What?! This good on a debut? Bloody stupidly talented young people are starting to get on peoples nerves with their solid songwriting and performance, it’s not fair on people who have been doing it for years that debuts are getting this good, think of the poor old codgers you are putting in the shade Alex, what’s going to happen to their sorry arses eh? Pork scratchings, pale ale and disappointment no doubt – yeah you didn’t think of that did ya when you took to the stage all bright eyed and bushy tailed, pah!

Maybe Alex is secretly in his late 40’s (and had an easy life), you just can’t be this good already man!

I hope you know I am jesting with you Alex, you should be proud of what you do, our fine listeners loved your song and I did too.

I’m particularly pleased when I get the chance to listen a number of times to the songs the public chooses. As a moderator I listen to every song that is submitted to our dropbox every week between Monday and Thursday but with 140-240 songs to get through every week you just don’t always have the time to linger and re-listen, to do so with your track was a pleasure, so thanks.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

CHINA BOWLS – The Way

I love this tune from Bristol’s China Bowls, it’s a bounty of live soul and jazz-tinged loveliness. This is summer day music for when the British winter has other plans, press play and switch to internal sunshine. I can imagine these guys playing all manner of great venues and absolutely storming it. They’ve already played Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and Bestival.

China Bowls is the work of one talented lady called Lucie and she has such a great soulful voice and is backed by a strong set of session musicians on this song, namely Hal Sutherland, Dan Plimmer, James Vine, Eli Jitsuto and Nick Robinson.

If you like your sound with a pinch of neo-soul and a dash of jazz infused wonderfulness then this is for you.

China Bowls was the first signing to Saffron Records and The Way has just been released as a single.

Good luck on the journey guys.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

CHLOE MARCH – Let It All In

Soulful dreamscapes a go-go, I’m getting shades of Sade with her hair down in the ambient tent.

Chloe March knows her way around a beautiful melody and perfectly placed dynamics, it’s dream pop-esque with a dash of electronica and it’s rather delightful.

The best music often falls between the gaps of definition, not in one box or another but proudly sitting in the borders, Chloe’s music does that and it’s all the better for not being easily pigeonholed. This is music to soothe, let it wash over you to feel refreshed and relaxed anew.

Chloe released her debut in 2004 and has been steadily building a great body of work.

I do wonder whether people could improve their mental wellbeing if doctors were able to prescribe them lovely music to go home and listen to. A weekly prescription to settle the soul with – Dr Johnno’s prescription service recommends you go home and take Let It All In three times daily to see an improvement in anxiety and an inability to relax*.

*If relaxed do not drive or use heavy machinery. No need to avoid alcohol.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

DARLA AND THE BLONDE – Zapoi

Ooh taste the bounce and kiss the swagger. Theatrical, atypical – bang!

With the band comprising of Nina Lovelace (rhythm guitar and backing vocals) and Jen Demeris (lead vocals) and augmented by Davide Mongirulli (lead guitar), Craig Page (bass) and Tom Loffman (drums) Darla and The Blonde are based in the place of my birth – Hackney. They look like they were born in Soho’s legendary Blitz Club and sound like the best mosh pit party you’ve never been to.

They pulled in some impressive voting numbers on this weekends Listening Post as their rock poise and trashy pop confidence really resonated with you guys.

Zapoi is a lovely beast of a tune that smacks you round the gills and leaves you wide eyed and battle fatigued in 3 minutes 24 seconds, it even finds a way of re-channeling Blur’s Parklife guitar riff into a new dirty rock riff.

To me they sound like a futuristic rock musical set in 1920’s Berlin where a debauched gang of outlandish renegades of rock are sent back in time from 21st century London to (initially) scare and ultimately thrill the locals, Marlene Dietrich meets a flipped up Bill & Ted if you will.

I bet they are great live and know how to party, they probably don’t even mind a bit of motorcycle grease under their fingernails as they drink at least 2 or 3 shots of liquor in an evening soirée and smoke at least 4 cigarettes (maybe 5), all of which is obviously much more than this soft lad with clean fingernails and lungs can handle. My idea of edgy behaviour is to order a separate portion of coleslaw with dinner when they have already brought you some as a salad garnish. Last week I even told a waitress that the fries she had served us were too hard!!! Well my wife did, but I was willing her on I tell ya.

Live dangerously and grab life by the horns – go and search out Darla And The Blonde, they are most excellent.

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FAELAND – All My Swim

Faeland are Bristol based Rebecca Nelson & Jacob Morrison and All My Swim is a slow burning corker of a song. It shimmers and swoops like a yellow wagtail in flight, a harp dances around a gentle guitar and Rebecca’s voice goes to work on a field of empty souls to help them rise again. Is that a clarinet popping in and out? I love a well placed clarinet of an evening, every album should have clarinet on at least one song, it should be made a legal requirement when you get your “I’m an official musician” passport.

Their new album is also called All My Swim and I believe it’s their debut, it is released on January 20, 2018 and the lyrics booklet that comes with it has medicinal plant art embellishment, how delightful.

Rebecca and Jacob are well versed songwriters/musicians as regulars on the Bristol folk scene and beyond. Rebecca plays violin, vocals, piano and guitar and Jacob guitar, ukulele, banjo and mandolin.

Something about their songs and the ethos dancing around their output tells me they are kind people, I very much like kind people. I mean I hope they are kind people, they could be gentle folk musicians during the day – all open woods and earnest looks – and then at night they change into crazy kind serial huggers – all over-long compliments and hard to forget promises of goodwill as they lure you into 17 minute cuddles.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

GAPTOOTH FEAT. SISTERS UNCUT – They Cut We Bleed

Gaptooth is Hannah Lucy, originally from Basingstoke and now decamped in East London. Hannah is joined on They Cut We Bleed by Sisters Uncut, who are a feminist direct action group defending domestic violence services.

This is electronic pop music with bite – sharp, purposeful and powerful. All chants and lyrics are by Sisters Uncut, with Hannah doing the music. I’m delighted you voted into the Fresh Faves dear public, some songs go beyond the every day confines of the pop music game into meaningful social commentary and the striving for justice and fairness in an often brutal world. The video for it is here.

I recognise their fight having sat on a domestic violence awareness panel for a few years in a former life, it saddens me to see people are still having to fight the same battles year after year but it heartens me to see that people are still not lying down and are spreading the good word. All the proceeds from downloads of this song go to Sisters Uncut.

Hannah has an interesting back story, while she was studying politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford she worked for local indie label Truck Records, as well as running the indie/electro club night Chicks With Decks with friends.

It’ll be interesting to see where Gaptooth go next, keep us posted Hannah.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

GLENN MALTMAN – Jed’s Theme

Glenn Maltman is a very talented composer and pianist/organ player and being a former moderator on Fresh On The Net I keep it touch with him on Facebook. Mostly because he’s such a lovely fella and a dapper one at that.

Glenn Maltman

It’s a little weird reviewing someone you know but at the same time it’s an occupational hazard that can be a real joy.

Jed’s Theme is a lovely jazz infused number that is a delight to listen to, I’ve lately been partaking in the music of jazz legend Bill Evans and this song puts me in mind of Bill. I reckon Glenn played everything, he certainly wrote, recorded and produced it.

The song starts with an almost Ryuichi Sakamoto inspired motif before the deft piano and double bass caress your ears as they take us on a little walk around this snazzy jazz number.

Glenn has been appearing quite a bit on BBC Newcastle lately as his music and conversation as featured DJ have, er featured. I think Jed’s Theme beautiful, have another listen and see what you think. You can download it via Glenn’s Bandcamp page below.

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LUCA – Wales

My standout track this week, in a week of many fine moments. As soon as that gently strummed acoustic and beautiful backing vocals arrived I was hooked, that they were followed by a beautifully strange lead vocal with a slight theatrical and soulful inclination only confirmed that I was smitten and wanted to hear more, more and er more.

Luca has a unique voice, faint echoes of Roy Orbison or Israel Kamakawiwo’ole meets Bright Eyes as reference points but be clear, this young man has a talent quite unlike anybody else. Talent like this rarely arrives fully formed with wings already in flight so this is so refreshing. Sometimes great voices come along but they write sh*t songs, not so with Luca – Wales is a thing of beauty and wonderment.

Oh hug my Monday like it’s the last one I’ll see — this is fantastic! Luca’s voice soars in the rafters of my mind as he produces a gentle song that uses its dynamic range like a seasoned pro, with a story about heading to Wales in a sail boat in a lightning storm.

27 year old Luca must have been developing his style in secret, ready for a deadly strike with his debut song – a debut!! New Music keeps winning doesn’t it?

In Luca’s own words he was born somewhere in the grey-sprawl of suburban London, and spent his childhood studying poetry and literature; devouring the words of Thomas, Larkin and Yeats and living vicariously through the mad dreams of the book-characters he loved.

Teaching himself to play guitar after hearing Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, he began writing songs in his late teens, but found their simplicity empty, thinking that they asked no great questions of the world. Whilst living in a cellar in an indistinct seaside town he found his voice; the wailful choral outpouring which has come to be his blazon, and with it, also, the beginnings of the words which have come to be his songs.

Love it! Great back story Luca, can we have more of your music please, much more.

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ST. JUDE THE OBSCURE – Diving Bell

St. Jude the Obscure are a new Electronic Art Pop 2-piece consisting of Adele Emmas and Christian Sandford, previously from bands Bird and Feral Love.

This is atmospheric music for aching hearts, pop music for ever winding pathways and soundscapes to lose yourself in.

The reed organ beginning suggests a beautiful Scottish folk song of the sea is about to begin but listen carefully and you’ll realise this song doesn’t want to fit inside a pre-ordained box as sounds of the city and nuggets of rolling echoes prick your distant imagination. Adele’s voice beckons you over and offers you a special story from her soul. The song has a great dynamic flow, love the introduction of distant drums and the repeated refrain of “to the sea I go” (I knew the sea would be involved at some point).

I think they have something special going on, you need to show patience on this one and listen when you are ready to receive their goodness, I’m at 00.24 and am only beginning my journey. I want to hear a whole album’s worth of this stuff, send it over or direct me to where it’s available, I feel I need it in my life.

I listen to a ridiculously amount of music but have to tip my hat to St Jude The Obscure, they are cooking up some wickedly delicious recipes.

This song sounds like their wonderful soft spoken outsider art side whilst listening to their other songs they show more clearly the insider art intentions and the talent and ambition of this band. The thing is there is a clear thread running throughout their work, clear definition, great pop music songwriting (their song Wreckage is a corker – like a savvy Chvches meets Cyndi Lauper).

I think this must be early days for this Liverpool-based pairing as they have only played a couple of live shows, but quality will out and I for one will happily predict that you are going to hear a lot of good things happening to these guys in the future.

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TRIPLE LIP GLOSS – Can’t

Kevan Windle is an Icelandic Englishman lost in music in Liverpool and Triple Lip Gloss is his studio based project.

I spent an interesting Monday lunchtime looking for further clues about Triple Lip Gloss – oh Google! I can confirm that you can emphasise your look with luscious lips for a sultry, sophisticated style with Nars Lipgloss – other brands are available – and I now feel I have more than a passing experience of how to achieve the appearance of instantly noticeable fuller kissable lips. Pucker up people!

Kissable lips aside, Triple Lip Gloss have rightly featured on the BBC Introducing Mixtape a number of times and “Can’t” should perhaps be retitled “Can” as this song is a lovely electronic soundscape of keyboard, programmed drums and voice. There’s a certain tribal vibe to this one with a refreshing offbeat rhythm that tickled my fancy and put a lift up my undercarriage, I’m getting a splash of Thomas Dolby meets Kimbra and the use of voices as sounds rather than lyrics was pretty nifty. A slice of this, a dash of that and the ability to not follow the standard route was nice as this rich sound collage left me feeling like I was right of the middle of it being created in real time.

It certainly got your attention and was well received on the Listening Post and considering it made the top 10 from the 146 tracks submitted to our dropbox last week it’s a job well done by Kevan.

Soundcloud

St Jude The Obscure

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.

Johnno Casson

Johnno Casson is a London-born/Colchester-based singer, musician, songwriter and show-off. He also compiles and releases compilations and is a serial supporter of new music. Johnno releases his own music as Snippet ,Old Tramp and also under his own name Johnno Casson.. As far as we know he was the most-played artist ever on Tom’s legendary late night Fresh On The Net radio shows on 6 Music – having been featured no less than 18 times and appearing as an interview guest. You can also find Johnno on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

8 Comments

  1. SweetP

    Smashing reviews Johnno!

  2. fantastic reviews Johnno :)

  3. Let the smashing return SweetP – Cheers

  4. What a lovely read! Loved the coleslaw confession! And all the bands were ace too but that had me in stitches!

  5. Great work and words Johnno. Wonderful music and I’m humbled to be alongside these heros .
    Thank you Johnno Thank you Moderators Thank you Fresh In The Net.

    GM x

  6. ……..and one day i may learn to spell too :?
    1.*Heroes
    2.**Fresh ON The Net

    Detention for Maltman

  7. Cheers Chris & Glenn, its good to know its reaching

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