Fresh Faves: Batch 88

Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six = photo ©Ian O'Brien

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend as usual. This week they’re reviewed by Team Freshnet’s very own Andy Von Pip – better known to BBC 6 Music listeners and the world of music blogging as proprietor of Liverpool’s legendary Von Pip Musical Express

ANTO DUST – The Polyglot

Not to be confused with Ant n’Dec, Anto Dust is the work of singer-songwriter Anto Cossu. After moving from her native Sardina she soon found her musical feet in London and now has drawn together a like minded band of musicians to give her music wings. This track ‘The Polygot’ is seriously right up my musical street! Chiming guitars and celestial vocals combine to produce an otherworldly slice of pristine ethereal dream pop which conjures up the beauty of ‘Spooky’ era 4AD shoegaze legends Lush.

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GECKO- That Time Of Year

People who have come across my fiery rantings on twitter may be somewhat surprised to learn that I’m a real sucker for Christmas tunes. A jaded world weary cynic all year round gives way to a post visitation Scrooge at Xmas as my sardonic self takes a break and I embrace the magic, making Buddy the over excitable elf resemble something of a Christmas curmudgeon. Ill-advised knitwear, comedy Rudolph noses and novelty Santa hats all feature strongly in my seasonal wardrobe and therefore it goes without saying I do rather enjoy a decent Xmas tune.

It’s a fine balance getting the tone right for a festive song, throwing in the odd sleigh bell and referencing snow or Santa often doesn’t cut it but ‘tropical pop’ trio Gecko nail it. They mix wry humour, clever wordplay a dash of sentimentality and more warmth than a weapons grade vat of mulled wine on a winter’s eve on their excellent Christmas single ‘This Time Of Year’

And even if you aren’t a fan of Christmas music, it’s worth pointing out that all profits from the single go to Shelter. Whilst George, Boris and Gideon doubtless enjoy the sort of lavish Christmas many can only dream of Shelter’s 2013 Christmas campaign highlights the sad and shocking statistic that some 80,000 children in the UK will wake up homeless in hostels or temporary accommodation on Christmas Day.  You can buy the single here  and check out Shelters campaign video here

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“If you don’t let your imagination run away with you… it might run away with someone else “ – so say Louis Barabbas and The Bedlam Six (pictured above) who are on top form on the sulphurous slice of bluesy wide-screen brilliance that is ‘Waiting For Bad News.’ It’s impassioned, dramatic, compelling and according to Mr Barabbas has “a certain petulance in the lyrics that is deeply unattractive.” It’s from their forthcoming album ‘Youth’ and is apparently the one track on the album in which ‘the moaning wasn’t played for laughs.

Of course we live in the age of the comparison and there are hints of The Bad Seeds, The Bookhouse Boys even Johnny Cash from a band who may look like the ‘Ripper Street’ house band but who are, I’m assured first rate chaps. I’ve been reliably informed that they are also quite simply a must see live act – theatrical, energetic, dramatic, hugely entertaining and of course all fantastic musicians. Their Raison d’être appears to be ‘ Take the music very seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously’ Amen to that!

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There’s a wonderful unaffected purity about Louisa Roach’s voice, for it is she who sings under the “She Drew the Gun” alias. She’s based in Liverpool and she says her music is not “about being polished and perfect but about finding lyrical meaning and letting it flow.” To reflect “ a messy life in songs.” It sounds like she’s doing things just fine, messy or otherwise, and let’s face it, the artist with flaws is far more engaging, far more interesting and far more likely to make an emotional connection with the listener than the homogeneous vacuum packed “pop products” that the industry regularly tries to foist on us. This is the real deal, from heart to ear so to speak, there is a timeless quality to the songs she has currently has on her soundlcoud page and it will be interesting to see where she takes this musical project next.

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SOULMATES NEVER DIE – Two Lovers Tussling Tenderly Between Two Trees

This certainly wins the award for this week’s best song title and not only is it a great title but it’s a blisteringly good tune too. It’s by Leeds based artist Soulmates Never Die and if you enjoy this slice of quirky fuzzed up excellence you’ll adore his new EP – ‘Nothing Hurt, Everything Was Beautiful.’ It’s chock full of witty, bitter sweet literate guitar driven pop songs with a hint of Eels and Weezer (when they were good) and it really is a tremendously enjoyable listen.

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TEDDY – Primate

This is a real grower: what starts out as something you could be forgiven for mistaking as traditional pop fayre subtly transmogrifies into something rather rare and exquisite taking you on a musical journey that’s as welcome as it’s unexpected. There aren’t many bands who’d have the nerve to release a pop song with a lyric such as “I’m rough, baby, I shit every day and I think about dying” set against an almost jaunty backdrop of percussion and guitars. At times Teddy sound like a rather funked up modern day version of The The.  Dare we dream that 2014 might herald the re-emergence of intelligent pop music you can dance to ?

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THE MOBBS – White Collar Worker

The Mobbs it would appear are purveyors of blistering old school punk thrash with an edgy confrontational style. Throw in some searing guitar riffs, a snarly attitude and a political edge and you’ve got yourself an agreeable short sharp slap about the ears to wake you from your torpor! Mumford and Sons they ain’t and at just two minutes and three seconds you feel there’s no danger of The Mobbs radically changing direction and writing a sprawling rock opera which y’know, is absolutely fine with me !

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Understated evocative yearning loveliness here from White Royal, another collective from Leeds in this weeks Fresh  Faves. There’s not a huge amount of detail about them on their Facebook or twitter accounts other than the statement ” we are a band” Ah great, thanks chaps ! How about youtube ? “ White Royal are a band from the uk – this is their first release” a bit better, but still hardly the Gettysburg Address.

To be fair its probably more down to the fact that the musical project is so shiny and new rather than an attempt at being wilfully obscure. However it has been said before on Fresh On The Net, but is probably worth repeating that if you spend so much time and effort creating wonderfully wrought electronic landscapes, surely a little bio on your social media accounts would do more good than harm ? They have actually conducted a short interview over at Little Indie Blogs so if you want more info about the duo head on over there. And obviously give ‘Embassy’ a listen as it really is a fine example of blissful cinematic electronica par excellence.

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White Royal

PS from TR: If you’ve submitted a track that hasn’t made the Fresh Faves you’re welcome to re-submit it again. But if you have been a Fresh Fave in recent weeks could you possibly hold back for at least six weeks before sending us another one. If you keep sending us great tracks every week it leaves less room for new names who haven’t had a chance yet…


In his first flush of youth a cherubic fresh-faced young Andy fell in love with something his parents described as a ‘god awful cacophony of talentless, directionless anger’. Yes he had fallen hook line and safety pin for the musical enema that was Punk, a savage incendiary explosion that effectively flushed away the egotistical histrionics of becaped hippies obsessed with Arthurian legends, who regularly produced spirit crushing self indulgent wankathons known somewhat grandly as ‘rock operas.’ Although too young to experience the first wave of punk it inspired young Andy to form a band, dye his hair various shades of red, blue and yellow and wear a safety pin through his ear. This made his parents VERY proud. His band the little heard, barely talented Distant Echos was built primarily around Andy’s distinctive songwriting style which could be described as “a mesmerising folly of epic proportions”. In 2007 his music blog the Von Pip Musical Express (VPME) was born under the slogan "asking dogs how they feel about lampposts so that you don't have to". Since its inception Andy’s humble musical organ has been voted in the BT Digital Music awards top ten music blogs and nominated in the Record of the Day Journalism and PR music awards, being named as runner up in 2009. Andy was also a member of ‘The BBC’s Sound Of 2010 taste-makers panel’ and has had press accreditation for numerous gigs and festivals including Liverpool Sound City , The Great Escape And Glastonbury. He is also a some time promoter in his home town of Liverpool putting on gigs featuring some of the most exciting up and coming bands about these here parts and beyond. The challenge still remains, to try and give great new bands a platform and to loosen Cowell’s cankerous grip on popular culture. It’s a tall order, but somebody has to try for f**ks sake. Who’s in ?


  1. Happy Monday!

    Great review as always Andy, eloquent, engaging and oozing candour. Although the mighty Gecko with their epic ‘That Time of Year’ didn’t make my top picks on this weekend’s Listening Post, I will take this opportunity to say I am so glad it made Fresh Faves if only because of that immortal opening line ” Somebody dressed the dogs in jumpers” which is almost without a doubt the best pop Christmas song line opener of recent times. I also like the fact this clever original song is benefiting Shelter, so all bloggers, promoters, DJs, presenters please spread the word, playlist the song, download it (I already have) and make sure it becomes the Christmas hit it deserves to be and in doing so, raise awareness of the fantastic work Shelter are doing to make homeless peoples’ especially homeless children’s lives a little better.

    Have a fabulous week everyone and thanks TR and FOTN team!

    DD x

  2. Great stuff andy. Nice one.


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