Fresh Faves: Batch 267

Apostle

Artists at a glance

APOSTLE
BERRY
CAITLYN SCARLETT OFFICIAL
FASCINATIONS GRAND CHORUS
GIANT BOYS
JOHNNY KOWALSKI
KING CAPISCE
LAURAN HIBBERD
LAURE
THE DEATH PARTICLE

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

Before we begin, I think it fitting that as music lovers all, we pay tribute to the unique artist that was Dolores O’Riordan. Unlike her early performer self, her lyrics were both raw and uninhibited, while her so, so precious and instantly recognisable vocal, drifted seamlessly between angelic, yearnful and powerful feist. The first globally recognised Irish female rock star, she was and will remain an inspiration to young, aspiring female music artists. Codladh sámh a leana, sleep well.

APOSTLE – Dakota Thunder Rising

Apostle is David Gray gone to the American country-rock dark side. Actually he’s Welsh singer-songwriter Siôn Russell Jones, who just happens to vocalise like the White Ladder star.

His track Dakota Thunder Rising is the type of song that could easily be picked up as a theme to a US TV series. It has that sense of melodrama, urgency and passion to it. This is a song with all the key ingredients required to formulate a hit.  Catchy hooks, strong melodies, magnetic guitar chugs and propulsive percussion.

Opening with calm slices of slide and acoustic, the song quickly rips open to expose a thunderous chorus and some generous helpings of dreamy electro-pop amidst its country-rock breeze.  Apostle cleverly switches gears throughout, so that one minute you’re listening to a dreamy swoon, the next to a blistering rocky kerrang. The vocal is sure and steady, always in command, but nuanced enough to connect with the listener.

Possibly one of my favourite tracks this week, this opener to our playlist packs quite the punch.

Per his FB Apostle is heading back into the studio to lay down more sounds.  There’s also a hint that some gigs are pending – tbc. If you like, then check out the socials and stay engaged.

PS – Apostle whipped up a rather nifty vid for this track, which you can watch HERE.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

BERRY – Cathedral

Opening with the gentle gong of Tibetan bowls, Cathedral is a song which from the off, gives a clear indication of its intent. This is a celebration of inner strength, a call to “reach out for that beautiful truth”, a “you can do it if you try” anthem of sorts.

Clear, spritely piano chords dance through simple melody lines in a tune woven from strands of electronica. The vocal, young and warm, is at once soft and confident.

“I’m not lost and lonely in this empty place”

The lyrics lean heavily on actions – doing, touching, reaching, seeing, dancing, beating; it has a sense of purpose, something about which the singer seems to want the listener to become aware.

It’s a little random, a lot quirky, but very well stitched together. Uplifting, joyful, animated and brimful of positivity, Cathedral is a song most delightful performed with a lot of self-belief and humanity.

Unfortunately, no amount of plumbing search engines could pull up a shred of information on Berry. Dear Miss Positive Reinforcer, could you do, reach and see your way to building a wee profile of yourself somewhere social. You owe it both to yourself, and to your music.

Soundcloud

CAITLYN SCARLETT – Happy When

Caitlyn, Caitlyn, Caitlyn – you my girl, can do no wrong. You have the Midas touch when it comes not just to songwriting, but to giving a compelling and faultless delivery.

Happy When, which was remixed by Berlin based DJ and producer Miko Waye, is the closest this playlist comes to 6 Music/Amazing Radio airplay (Caitlyn has been playlisted by most UK radio stations). Its blend of sexy R&B and sassy hip hop beats with a sparky Latino kick, works Caitlyn Scarlett’s playful nonchalance and quick witted lyricism to perfect pop advantage.

“I’m drinking singles but I’m seeing double”

Caitlyn Scarlett has a voice that somersaults, pivots and undulates. It is an instrument she wields not just with the confidence of youth, but with the gutsy spirit of a rising female artist who knows how to nail a self-assured vocal delivery. Combined with her observational lyrics and sharp hooks, it makes for relatable ‘pop’ with a magnetic draw.

We’ve given you the skinny on Caitlyn’s background before, so we’re not going to cover old ground here. Suffice it to say, all you need to know is on Ms. Scarlett’s socials.

Oh, and that Caitlyn is now signed to BMG. And destined for great things.

Happy When (Miko Waye Remix) is Caitlyn’s latest release but if you want to amble down memory lane you should check out her ‘phat’ (wtf does phat mean?) playlist – ICI.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

FASCINATIONS GRAND CHORUS – Sundown

Sundown is delish … super delish in fact.

It picks you up in its dreamy teleporter and carries you away on a cloud of vintage wooze, before dropping you smack bang into a 1950’s American dance-hall mooch.

This, people, is pop perfection.

Laid back guitar twang, ripples of intoxicating keys, and so, so 50s retro percussion, blended to created heady waves of vintage pleasure. Simple hooks, lush melodies and a charismatic personality make this track a friend of radio and fireside rendez-vous alike.

The vocals are alluring, provocative and sensual, their captivating, come hither quality somewhat soporific. Which brings us back to our 1950’s mooch, and those hopeful young lovers moving slowly as one around a dark, dimly lit dancefloor …

Fascinations Grand Chorus is “Two Rival Songwriters/One Audio Experiment” which I might add, both myself and Stevie Wonder, the Ed, think is one of the most original taglines we’ve ever come across! AKA Stephanie and Andrew, they hail from Jersey/Brooklyn, and have a penchant for The Beach Boys and Black Sabbath, though not at the same time one hopes! They also like 1910 Fruitgum who I’ve never heard of but are making my mouth water.

Just like the Apostle track, Sundown would sit perfectly on the soundtrack to a film – one of those 50s style affairs featuring a coy Winona Ryder or someone equally gamine and alluring. Sundown is lifted from the five-track Anglesea EP, out now and available via Bandcamp.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

GIANT BOYS – Leeches

The About on Giant Boys’ FB page leaves a lot to the imagination, or to be desired. Whichever way you look at it, you see a lot and yet nothing. There’s attitude, but what else there is remains a mystery!

There appears to be two Giant Boys, although I’m open to correction, and if my investigative journalistic skills are any use, they might just hang out somewhere in Manchester.

Their track Leeches lives up to the title. It’s dirty and sticky and underground. Fractious, wrought with frenzy, paranoia and clangour, Leeches is a bit Sleaford Mods go subterranean. There’s a lot of shouting, a lot of menacing brood, and serious helpings of thrang. Moshers will love this.

Not for those of a nervous disposition or lovers of kittens.

Giant Boys have a video of Leeches up on their FB, which was recorded in their preferred Salford-based Blueprint Studios. Not much else to say here as no indications of any upcoming shows or future releases. If you think roar is more, these here are the boyz for you.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

JOHNNY KOWALSKI & THE SEXY WEIRDOS – Flight of the Juniper

I don’t quite know what to say here. I’m listening to music that is actually quite indescribable. It’s a bit like Madness jamming with a group of Russian buskers, Slavic fiddlers and Romani pipe players. It’s got more ethnicity than NYC.

Flight of the Juniper is by Johnny and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat of sexy weirdo supertroupers. They hail from The Midlands (nice and broad), and are five sexy guys and one weirdo woman. I jest. Kate, your fiddle playing is immense!! They cite The Clash (makes sense), Icelandic  chamber-pop outfit Útidúr (also makes sense) and The Pogues (you have scored serious brownie points with that one) as their inspos.

Flight of the Juniper is messy, it’s urgent, it’s feral. Its quasi-punk guitar riffs and street-theatre style will knock you sideways, but it’s the clarinet that lands the killer punch.  Seriously, that clarinet player totally slays it.

This reminds me of Dvorak’s Hungarian dances, roughed up a bit, with some slapdashes of colour thrown at it, and spun throw a tumbledryer. In fact, that’s what this track does. It tumbles along at breakneck speed, gathering all kinds of flotsam and jetsam in its path.

You can’t label music like this. All you can do is exhale and roll with it. Let yourself live in its extraordinary moment and feel the energy as it charges through you like rampant electricity.

If the Monster Raving Looney Party had an anthem – this folks would be it!

Come the Spring, Johnny Kowalski & The Sexy Weirdos will be gigging across Europe. Keep an eye on their socials for any local gigs, but in the meantime you can saturate yourselves with sexiness via their Bandcamp page where you’ll find their European English album.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

KING CAPISCE – Stateless

Intricate finger picked guitars, clever, natty drumming and a fusion of golden sounds; from the off, all bodes well for Stateless, our offering from Sheffield-based King Capisce.

Stateless, which is taken from their recently released Memento Mori album, has already been shored up by the stolid support of BBC Introducing Sheffield and rightly so. It’s also been played by our own Tom Robinson during his Edgelarks Live Session show (in case you’re searching).

King Capisce, an all-male six piece, know their craft and ply it well. While it would be wrong to label their music with as jazz, theirs is a sound that relies heavily on free-jazz fundamentals, whilst weaving them with a blend of understated prog.

The overall result is a sound that’s a bit Mark Hollis’s unstrstructured/structured improv, if that makes sense. That approach of allowing musicians to play freeform improv, then arranging it to form a most well-considered piece of musical magic.

This is seriously good stuff. It flows, but with a sense of purpose. It’s weighty and dense, yet warmly soothing. Bit like a 14 year old single malt. One for refined palettes and those who don’t like to conform.

King Capisce look like they’re well up for doing plenty of live shows given the history of dates on their socials. Keep your eyes peeled for more shows coming up in the future.

Memento Mori – the new album by King Capisce, out now on Lamplight Social Records.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

LAURAN HIBBERD – Hunny Is This What Adults Do?

Listening to this track is like waking up in a crazy dream where Dave Davies, having morphed overnight into a female, has joined his Kinks forces with T.Rex. Hunny Is This What Adults Do is a cantering hoof driven throwback to the melodramatic aplomb of the 70s, and boy has its creator, Lauran Hibberd, got her Marc Bolan feather boa wrapped attitude going on.

Vocally Lauran lies somewhere between Lucy Rose and Birdy. Her bouncy, effervescence is infectious while her bright, crisp voice firmly parks itself, sets up camp and settles into your aural space.

This fully loaded kitchen sink is as retro as they come. Hibberd has thrown everything at it – tight guitar riffs, clattering cymbals, big drums beats, ‘wandering minstrel’ keys, and cloudy synths. There’s even the odd Jethro Tull-esque flute moment. An infectious jamboree, this could be the product of a random jam by a raggle-taggle orchestra plucked from 70s groups and troupes. Its uniqueness of sound is what makes this song so darned stand-out attractive.

Lauran, who hails from the Isle of Wight, declares “Don’t tell me stories, I’ll write songs about them”. And that’s exactly what this track feels like. A personal story, a ‘Dear Diary’, a colourful animation in which Lauran Hibberd’s left-field personality spills over.

Funny, self-deprecating and honest, these are the real-life observations of the reluctant ‘kidult’ who has arrived at that point in life when they must step away from the ‘free world’ into one filled with drear, drudge and dullness. If it’s possible to achieve comic-timing in music, Lauran Hibberd has done just that.

If you’re in any doubt as to Ms. Hibberd’s personality type, just take one look at her FB cover photo. There’s a lot of life, fun, irony, wit and keen observational savvy in Lauran Hibberd’s retro-facing indie. With more music in the making and live shows soon to be announced, one expects we’ll be hearing a lot more from Lauran Hibberd in the not so distant future.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

LAURE – Brain Training

Laure is the ‘trade name’ of Laurence Morgan, who hails from Taunton in Somerset, but is based in York, and probably knows our own Mod and music maker Ola Szmidt.

Maybe it’s some kind of weird word association thang I’ve got going on but the opening bars of Brain Training, with their distorted overlaid compu-vocal, direct me straight away to Laurie Andersen.

Brain Training is one of those complex simplex songs that are a bit like a swan on water. There’s more going on that first meets the eye. Countless loops of electric guitar wrap around underground rivers of extended thrum, creating precisely placed layers of sound that provide a deep foundation for Laure’s idiosyncratic vocal build. In fact, it’s more like a vocal journey, as he works his instrument hard, taking it through a range of octaves, switching timbres and changing tones like a chameleon changes colour.

Similarly, the song follows a journey of its own through a melee of thought processes and a scramble of opinions.

This is Laure’s first single release in three years; he was hanging out in York, London and Lilliput in between. When artists inject a dash of humanity and humour into their world it makes them and their music all the more appealing. Relatable I think, is the world music insiders use.

Laure cites James Blake as an inspo and you can hear the resemblance in pitch and delivery on the vocal. He also cites Sparks and Radiohead, and while their influence may not be as readily noticeable, a similar progressive attitude and nose for originality are definitely evident in Laure’s work.

No details on further releases or lives, so if you want to know more, tune into radio Laure on socials.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

THE DEATH PARTICLE – Atoms

Like a waterfall of piano chords, the opening of Atoms streams into the consciousness.

A contemporary classical composition with the addition of latterday jazz percussion and modern inflections, Atoms is a perfect example of what can happen when musicians have the foresight to sync two seemingly opposing genres. The resultant sound is a timeless confection of quasi-classical jazz of sorts.

The quality of composition, arrangement and performance on this track is par excellence. Precise, tight, no space left unfilled, no beat missed. Everything works beautifully. The rise and fall of the arpeggiated piano notes, the understated yet insistent cymbal work, the definite ebb and flow of the cello, the serenity of the violins, all seguing together in perfect harmony. This is a masterpiece of modern composition not far removed from something Johnny Greenwood could turn his hand to.

Bravo.

An emotive journey through a galaxy of sounds, a pool of nuances in which to immerse and reflect, Atoms makes for a stunning end to this week’s playlist.

The Death Particle hail from Wales, but who they are, what their background is and from where they pluck their inspirations must for now, remain a mystery. The Death Particle has announced an end of February release of its debut album, Atoms & Bone. Full details on their Bandcamp page.

Soundcloud | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

Caitlyn Scarlett

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.

Derval

Devotee of Music, Books, Art, Fashion & all things cultural. Keen interest in IT/Social media. Currently trying to plug musical gaps. With a special fondess for Nordic music, Derv has written for The Monitors, Ja Ja Ja and The 405, and blogs at DervSwerve.

4 Comments

  1. Ace reviews make the music even more special, these are ace

  2. Steve Harris

    Fantastic reviews, Derv, and some really good tunes there. And yes, that Fascinations Grand Chorus tagline is hard to beat!

  3. SweetP

    Wow Derve, you certainly have a way with words. Excellent reviews I must say.

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