Artists at a glance
POLLY AND THE BILLETS DOUX
REBECCA CLAMP & MATTI KELTANEN
THE BIG SUN
Top tunes from DARK BLUE, THE BIG SUN, BLUE ROSE CODE, KITTEN PYRAMID, OLASZMIDT, PAINT HAPPY, SHADES, LEANNE LOUISE, LUK, HAPPYNESS, STATEMENT HAIRCUT, REBECCA CLAMP & MATTI KELTANEN, SAMUEL THOMAS, GERAINT RHYS, YUSUF AZAK, POLLY AND THE BILLETS DOUX and OWEN TROMANS.
The BBC Introducing Mixtape is a 60 minute radio show and podcast broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music from 2-3am every Sunday night/Monday morning. Each show is available as a podcast for 30 days at the BBC 6 Music downloads page. The full tracklists and start times are published here at Fresh On The Net together together with biog information supplied by the artists. Previous tracklists can be found via the MIXTAPE tab above or on the BBC website.
All tracks on the mixtape come from the BBC Introducing Uploader: some are recommended by BBC friends and colleagues – the rest are tunes I’ve discovered here while listening to our Fresh On The Net inbox. For more about how the process works see this post. These are the listings for the episode broadcast overnight on Sunday 18th May (technically 2am on Monday, 19th May 2014…
DARK BLUE – The Criminal Code [starts 00:17]
Skipton-based songwriter and multi-intrumentalist Gavin Loughlin has already featured on our BBC Introducing Mixtape both under his own name and as Dark Blue. “I started using the Dark Blue pseudonym many years ago” he says “when I first discovered MySpace. I had a few dodgy four-track songs and compositions on there which people seemed to like, and I received some really encouraging feedback. After a long break from music I decided to revive the Dark Blue name for a side solo project which incorporates guitars, vocals and electronic music.” This track – with words by Vladimir Vystosky http://www.kulichki.com/vv/eng/, translated into English by George Tokarev – is from the Dark Blue 2 EP, due for release in June 2014 via Bandcamp.
THE BIG SUN – Here Comes The Flood [starts 04:20]
The Big Sun, attentive readers will remember, are an Oxford based indie outfit fronted by teenage vocalist Berry who is, they claim, “a pottymouthed student… who creatively peaked at the age of 15. Now 17 she has moved on to toying in an optimistically interpretive way with eastern religions and is currently touring sports shops across the south east for payment in roll-ups and peach cider. Next year she plans to convert to a hitherto unheard form of christianity followed by a tour to finance her so far neglected tax bill. Guitars and Things are provided by Richard Browns – whose day job as an eminent archaeologist involves overseeing excavations on Crossrail and at the Royal Households – and who is writing a book on early property development in West London.”
BLUE ROSE CODE – One Day At A Time [starts 07:50]
“Ross Wilson is an Edinburgh-born songwriter who labours under the name of Blue Rose Code. Having discovered the traditional music of the British Isles whilst in his present day exile down south, he fell in love with what he heard. His album The Ballads Of Peckham Rye features folk aristocracy Karine Polwart, Mattie Foulds, Lau’s Aidan O’Rourke and Rachel Newton from The Furrow Collective. Also two of the Scottish jazz scene’s leading talents in trumpeter Colin Steele and pianist Dave Milligan – with Danny Thompson, no less, on bass. Bob Harris was so struck by Ross’s songs that he invited Blue Rose Code to perform in Nashville for the BBC Introducing showcase at the 2013 Americana Music Association conference.” As if the above stellar lineup of musicians wasn’t enough, this latest release features guest vocals by Kathryn Williams.
KITTEN PYRAMID – Whale [starts 11:30]
Kitten Pyramid are a 14 piece British Prog Pop band from Burton on Trent whom Classic Rock Magazine accorded the heady accolade of “The New Cardiacs”. Their newly released debut album Uh-Oh! has also garnered widespread acclaim and media support – not least from Paul Lester, Chris Hawkins and myself. Laura Barnett from The Guardian followed the band on their recent tour of psychiatric hospitals ending at the famous Bethlam Royal – legendarily known as Bedlam. Laura’s fascinating article can be read here. The album is Part One in an audio-visual project that will include a film – to be made in 2015 – based on frontman Scott Milligan’s Polish immigrant uncle who suffered from schizophrenia. They play Newhall Social Club, Swadlincote on May 30, headline Alsager Music Festival on July 12th and a London show at Dublin Castle on July 26th.
OLASZMIDT – Walk Into A Painting [starts 14:19]
Walk Into A Painting is a solo recording featuring Ola Szmidt on electric guitar, vocals, lyrics, “late night owling” and production. It was written, she tells us, “for a friend who’s recovering from a major heartbreak. She lives in L.A, so there is no chance I can give her hug for a while. This song is evoking a cuddle. The idea came to the me with a night breeze through my window.” Ola’s debut EP Elephants Above was physically released in April as a limited edition of one hundred, which included 25 chocolate CDs made by Cocoa Amore – an independent Chocolatier based in Leicester. The digital version is available via her Bandcamp. “It’s springy and light…” says Ola “…just like dandelions”.
PAINT HAPPY – Last Under The Sun [starts 15:17]
“Out of a backwater, invisible valley town in South Wales, Paint Happy are five teenagers who don’t look how they sound together – creating agit rock with a hip-hop influence. They consist of vocalist Malik Furreed, Tom Gwyther on guitar, bassist James Thomas and Henry Nichols-Singh on percussion. Having played last year’s Swn Festival in Cardiff, they have now gone on to record their debut five track EP, releasing it track by track online.” They’re looking to play as many gigs as possible outside their home area of Merthyr Tydfil to promote their music and play to wider audiences and would love to hear from promoters and fans interested in putting on gigs.
SHADES – And This Is For You [starts 18:15]
“Shades came to be,” we’re told, “when a group of music students found themselves in a rehearsal room tending to a bubbling cauldron full of harmonising guitar parts and clever riffs. They mixed in some heavy distorted chords and slightly freelance rhythmic basslines, and saw fit to add a hearty helping of thoughtful wordplay and aggression. Upon stirring this eclectic brew in shifting time signatures and rhythms, Shades were born. Anthemic, provocative, explorative and alternative post-rock music. Mixing anthemic indie-esque hooks with post-rock and ambient instrumentation, heavily influenced by every corner and crevasse of experimental and alternative music, Shades are a melting pot of ideas and genres creating something temptingly undescribable. Building a reputation for their energetic live portrayal of their complex melody-laden strata, Shades have supported the likes of Wot Gorilla? and This Town Needs Guns in the past, never failing to deliver.” Gosh.
The debut Shades EP, Existential Ambiguity Or Something, was released in March via their Bandcamp and their first single was given its radio premiere on Xfm by John Kennedy. They will be opening the Tyne Bar Stage at 2014’s Evolution Emerging Festival next week.
LEANNE LOUISE – Glass House [starts 22:25]
“Portraying an honest mixture of soul, acoustic and stripped back electronic music that saw her win ILUVLIVE and Live & Unsigned, Leanne Louise is a Singer/Songwriter from Essex. Until now Leanne Louise has spent her time finding her identity, building a fan base and focusing on new music for 2014 and here we are. With her debut EP Count My Blessings having just been released last month and further work already in production, Leanne Louise is set to take 2014 by storm.”
LUK – Deluxe [starts 26:57]
Two lots of artists from Merthyr Tydfil in one mixtape – what are the chances of that happening? This track Deluxe – easily the most startling record of the week – comes from the DIY producer and rapper known simply as Luk, who describes himself thus: “Lukas Benyon 18, head in the clouds, often comes down to write a song, produce a song and/or (most of the time) eat.” How refreshing to hear music that simply doesn’t sound like anyone else on this – or any other mixtape we’ve compiled this year. If you like it as much as I do, then Luk’s latest track Vitamins – uploaded to his Soundcloud just four days ago – will be right up your street: listen to it here.
HAPPYNESS – Great Minds Think Alike,
All Brains Taste The Same [starts 31:12]
The only information to be gleaned from the Happyness Facebook page is that they are “Jonny Allan, Benji Compston, Ash Cooper in South London”. Luckily their plugger did send out a press release and – although there were a lot of words such as “acclaimed”, “highly anticipated”, “packed out” “winning admirers” “rapid rise” and “key appearances” – a few nuggets of hard fact did eventually emerge. Namely: Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same isthe trio’s new single, due out on June 9th and followed a week later (June 16th) by their debut album Weird Little Birthday. They play Servant Jazz Quarters in London on June 17th followed by Pop Recs in Sunderland (18th), Bloc in Glasgow (19th), Manchester Castle Hotel (20th) and Leeds Brudenell on the 21st.
STATEMENT HAIRCUT – Parachute Test [starts 33:06]
“Statement Haircut are a London-based indie/electro group with members originally from Liverpool, Rotherham and Lincolnshire. We like electronics, post punk, funk, dub, and pop and are interested in guitars vs. synths and harmonies vs. samples, recently adding live drums to the mixture. Since moving to London in 2013 we have started work on a new collection of songs which will be out in the summer.”
REBECCA CLAMP & MATTI KELTANEN – Communion [starts 35:49]
This tune by Rebecca Clamp and Matti Keltanen is “a collaboration between two artists, one British, one Finn living in UK. Singer-songwriter meets dark, moody electronics.”
SAM THOMAS – The Morning After [starts 39:58]
Sam Thomas describes himself as an “urban singer/songwriter from the North East of England. As well as writing original material, I also arrange and record covers as part of my playlist on my soundcloud series The Cover Sessions using Garageband on my iPhone. Played with a number of credible artists such as Greg Holden, Brothers And Bones and King Charles. I’m interested in making a success of myself!”
GERAINT RHYS – Think Again [starts 42:53]
“I am a new bilingual singer songwriter from South Wales,” says Geraint Rhys, “singing my own brand of political-pop songs – bred from my experiences of growing up in Cymru. Having only been playing music live for just over a year, I’ve appeared as a live guest with Bethan Elfyn and Eleri Sion on BBC Radio Wales on the shows – and was featured as Welsh artist of the week in late 2013. My music has also been played on BBC 6 Music by Tom Robinson and I have performed on various shows on S4C including OCHR 1, Y Lle and Y stiwdio Gefn. It’s important to me to create songs that are lyrically thought-provoking and poignant, aiming to merge meaningful messages with memorable melodies. I’ve already self-released a debut English language single Think Again and my Welsh language debut Ble Mae’r Haul? – and will be releasing my debut album over the coming months. I’ll be performing at Focus Wales and How the Light Gets In Festival this summer and you’ll find various videos and past interviews on my website.”
YUSUF AZAK – Silver Rose [starts 46:08]
Yusuf Azak is, according to his former label boss Matthew Young, “an Aberdonian of Turkish descent currently living in Glasgow. I first came across him by virtue of a pair of self-released EPs, which we re-released on Song, by Toad Records in early 2011.” After two acclaimed albums with Song, by Toad Records, Yusuf’s third full-length release Peace in the Underworld came out earlier this month through Gerry Loves Records.
They describe the new release as “an album of off-kilter folk pop songs with Yusuf’s unique gruff-but-sweet vocals. It’s also a more luxurious sound than his other records, with his excellent songwriting and acoustic guitar skills filled out with drums, drum machines, keyboards, electronics and more.” Released on download, limited vinyl LP and very limited cassette. The vinyl version comes in a hand screen printed sleeve and both vinyl and cassette come with a download of the album plus bonus material.
POLLY AND THE BILLETS DOUX – Money Tree [starts 50:07]
Their biog tells us “Known for their flawless and energy-filled live performances, Winchester’s genre-defying quartet Polly and the Billets Doux boast a genius blend of Folk, Pop, Rock N’ Roll, Soul, Country, Blues and even Gospel. They have a solid reputation and extensive history of headline tours up and down the country; from Ullapool to Brighton, and almost everywhere in between. Their debut album Fiction, Half-Truths and Downright Lies had them topping many Ones To Watch lists back in 2010, and the buzz hasn’t stopped since…”
What the biog doesn’t tell us is that Money Tree is the title track of a new album they’re funding through Pledge Music, which you can support by pre-ordering here. See their website for a list of tour dates in Leicester (May 20th), Lowdham 21st, Sheffield 22nd, Bath 23rd, Totnes 24th, Bearded Theory Festival 25th, Brighton 27th, Aldershot 28th, Andover 29th, London 30th, the Acoustic Festival of Great Britain in Uttoxeter 31st – and Cheltenham’s Whychwood Festival on June 1st. Other live dates continue throughout the summer.
OWEN TROMANS – I Saw Him [starts 55:08]
Owen Tromans grew up in The Black Country and led Peel-favourites San Lorenzo before pursuing a solo career that has seen him release several acclaimed albums and appear on collections alongside Devendra Banhart, Mercury Rev, and members of Sonic Youth. Owen’s latest album Golden Margins was recorded in the Hampshire countryside with his band The Elders – see video for the album’s title track below.
My own favourite song on the record was the closing track I Saw Him – which is perhaps sparser and more haunted than the rest of the record. It sees the return of a central character from Owen And The Elders’ 2009 song cycle The Fall of Acre. The female voice belongs to Polly Perry, whose band Provincials “have been getting several plays on the Beeb of late”. Could this darker tone point to a new direction in Owen’s future work? Only time will tell.
ARTISTS: A Word Of Warning…
At least one PR company sends out an identical email to every single artist who appears on The BBC Introducing Mixtape. It says that the company heard your track on our show, they thought it “sounded fantastic”, and are wondering if you’re looking for promotion for your releases.
Before responding, please check out The Pros And Cons Of Pluggers. We strongly urge you to be wary of unsolicited email from anyone who claims to like your music and then suggests that YOU should pay THEM for services of any kind.