Fresh Faves: Batch 265

Beach Riot

Artists at a glance

AUSTERITY
BEACH RIOT
COLOUR SERGEANT
DAN PHELPS
DUKE OF WOLVES
FLORA CASH
MEERNAA
POPULATION 7
PORTRAYAL
VAN WYCK

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

AUSTERITY – Rinse And Repeat

Perhaps it won’t surprise you to hear that 2017 has brought an absolute shedload of political / protest / social commentary / issues tracks to our inbox. We probably get more each month now than we received in total over the previous few years I’ve been working on Fresh On The Net. That’s great, but it’s not enough to have a message or bang a metaphorical drum, no matter how well intended; these tracks must stand on their own two feet musically just like any other.

I feel compelled to mention that, because if you haven’t heard Rinse and Repeat yet, and I described it as a track about consumerism by a punk band named Austerity, you may be forgiven for thinking you’ve heard it all before.

But wait! Rinse and Repeat is fun, and while it clearly takes a position on the kind of repetitive cycle of consumerism we especially see at Christmas, it’s a rant rather than a lecture, with a great groove and a hooky chant.

From Brighton, Austerity is Thomas Vincent, Stu Chaney and Sam Luck, and they have received support from BBC Introducing in The South, and our own Tom Robinson on his BBC Introducing Mixtape, as well as their debut single reaching our Fresh Faves last year, all of which is impressive. If you need more ideas on how you can spend money this winter, then Rinse and Repeat is released on December 15, and you can see the band play at Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton the day after.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

BEACH RIOT – She’s A Hurricane

She’s A Hurricane was one of our most popular tracks this week, and it’s not hard to see why. If you like your music fast, fuzzy and loud, then Beach Riot have it all. Guitars saw and wail, feedback squeals, bass and drums pound, cymbals crash and the vocals ride this crazy beast so fast you can’t always tell what they’re saying, but it hardly matters, because in your head you’re now moshing, and there is every chance you may leave the imaginary venue through the wall should that big bearded guy get any more enthusiastic with his chest bumping.

All this is to say that, as great as it is to hear She’s A Hurricane in your headphones, surely what you need to do is see this four-piece band live, and your next chance is a free showcase at The Monarch in London on Dec 21 along with Calva Louise, who were also on our Fresh Faves recently. She’s a Hurricane is out now on Killing Moon Records.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

COLOUR SERGEANT – Now It’s Colour

Apparently 1 in 40,000 people are born with achromatopsia — total colour blindness — a genetic disorder with no cure. But what if your previously monochromatic world suddenly came to life? Maybe this is what it would sound like. To take that even further, what if the cure WAS music? Some kind of synesthesia, where the ethereal vocals in this track saturate your vision in every imaginable hue. Well, that would be amazing, but in Britain at least, the sky would still be grey.

Sadly, I have no information about Colour Sergeant, but perhaps this track best speaks for itself, as a constantly unfolding journey of discovery.

Soundcloud

DAN PHELPS – Minimum vs. Maximum

We’re not completely unfamiliar with piano and cello compositions here on Fresh On The Net, but as Tom pointed out while the Listening Post was open, this shows ambition and daring that far exceeds what we normally hear, and won over the hearts of moderators and readers alike this weekend.

Minimum vs Maximum envelops you in the drama of its frantic highs and exhausted lows. The way it jabs at you and darts around at the beginning could be a confrontation, or a hurried escape from a perilous situation, but then it opens up, and while we’re not in the clear yet, things are moving more freely now, there is light and some relief. Occasionally it catches its breath, then takes another run at it. You never quite know where it’s going, but it carries you all the way.

Dan Phelps is a composer and pianist from Tonteg near Pontypridd in South Wales, and Minimum vs Maximum is taken from his third album, Pathways, performed by Katy Cox on cello and Richard P John on piano. It’s available now through Bandcamp, iTunes and Dan’s web site.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

DUKE OF WOLVES – Without a Name

At first listen, here’s an appealingly melodic rock track that’s played tight enough to hold everything together, but limber enough that it can breathe. Listen closer and the lyrics reveal that this is not about a real person, but a girl seen only in dreams. “Some people live for the weekend, I’m dying for the day’s end,” sings frontman Jim. It’s a very accomplished track for a band that’s only been going since last year.

Duke Of Wolves previously appeared on our Fresh Faves just over a year ago with They Laugh. Listening back, it’s clear that Without a Name has moved everything up a notch. The band played a slew of festivals over 2017, and will be playing in London and Brighton early next year. Without a Name is out now.

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FLORA CASH – You’re Somebody Else

I love the way that You’re Somebody Else subtly unfolds, building from its gentle and tender opening bars to something much fuller, as though the realisation that the other person has changed deep down is crystallised. It never goes too far though — at one point it sounds like the vocals are going backwards, and everything takes a step back for a moment.

Flora Cash is Cole Randall from Minneapolis and Shpresa Lleshaj from Stockholm, who met via SoundCloud in 2012 and not only began to collaborate musically, but struck up a very personal relationship too, soon meeting in person, and eventually getting married. Over the years they’ve moved between the US and Sweden, with some time in London, all the while making and playing music together.

You’re Somebody Else is taken from their debut album Nothing Lasts Forever (And That’s Fine), which is out now in all the usual places.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

MEERNAA – Good Luck

I was thinking as I listened to Good Luck that Meernaa’s sound is difficult to pigeonhole — it’s folksy and bluesy, but with an untethered, dreamy quality about it. Sure enough, the artist’s own biog says something similar: “Meernaa doesn’t fit squarely into a single genre; at times it feels like a fantasy designed by Solange and Grizzly Bear on mushrooms.” Well, OK, I would never have thought to put it quite like that! The lazy (and I mean that in the best possible sense) vibes continue even when it comes to the extended fade on this track, which seems to kick in a good 45 seconds before it ends, slowly and gradually melting away.

From Oakland, California, Meernaa was founded by Carly Bond on vocals and guitars, and Rob Shelton on keys, with Andrew Maguire on drums and Doug Stuart on bass. Good Luck is out now as a single on Bandcamp.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

POPULATION 7 — Lowlight

Keeping things chilled is Population 7 and Lowlight. Having noticed there were a lot of band members in their photos, I thought there would be seven of them, hence the name, but apparently there are now nine, including a drummer, guitarists, saxophonist and plenty of vocalists. Bands with lots of members can often sound messy, even when not everyone is playing on the track, but there is none of that here. The flow is tight and coherent, and the soulful backing gives Lowlight an appropriately smokey, sultry feel.

So, East Coast? West Coast? How about No Coast! Worcester, to be exact. While I can’t see any upcoming dates, the band play their hometown often, with occasional excursions to places like Bristol, and I’m sure seeing them live would be quite an experience. Lowlight is out now as part of their Fiero album, which is available on Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

PORTRAYAL — Lost Souls

Our other most popular track this week comes from Shrewsbury duo Portrayal, which is Rob Tranter and Joe Crook. Lost Souls blends synths and electro bleeps with shoegazy guitars into four minutes of brooding energy, with the tenderness and vulnerability of Joe’s vocals woven throughout. I like this very much.

One of the nice things about Fresh On The Net is seeing artists grow. Portrayal last appeared on our Fresh Faves three years ago with a track called Never Adjusted. Reviewer Sam Bonham said it was perfectly made, but a little cautious. I don’t think that could be applied to Lost Souls. It’s understated in a way, yes, but surefooted too. Lost Souls is available now on Bandcamp.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

VANWYCK – An Average Woman

There’s an inescapable charm to this song by VanWyck, where she lists all these contrasting kinds of women, and rounds it all off by singing “And I was an average woman. I tried to be good, and I tried to be kind, and I kept my head above water, most of the time.” As things progress, she starts pointing out all the things she’s done and been, but like the rest of the song, this is delivered in a very matter of fact way. She is who she is, and that’s that. Isn’t that great?

Christine VanWyck is from the Netherlands, and has been on our Fresh Faves a number of times now, mostly as a solo artist, but also in collaboration with Welsh songwriters WREKIT88. An Average Woman is out now on Bandcamp ahead of her debut album of the same name, which is due for release on January 21, with pre-orders available on Pledge Music. You can catch her performing live in Amsterdam on the very same day.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

Austerity

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.

Steve Harris

Steve Harris is an independent app developer living in Swansea, Wales. A passionate music lover, his hobbies include not working, swimming, and pretending to understand science. Find him on Twitter: @steveharris. Read more about Steve.

4 Comments

  1. … and a master of words, too. :)

  2. Ace reviews Steve and fine music with some real gems in there

  3. SweetP

    Impressive reviews Steve, great work :-)

  4. Steve Harris

    Thanks all, much appreciated!

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