Artists at a glance
JOHN JOSEPH BRILL
JUMP THE SHARK
ANGHARAD DRAKE – Sword
You could almost say that Sword sounds half a world away. Oh wait… This Australian songwriter “combines gentle folk melodies with insightful lyrics” in her own words. But now let’s have some of mine instead. Sword appears on Angharad Drake’s eight track album of the same name. It is ethereal and dreamy, while being markedly grounded and sober. The track contains one of the most effective and beautiful uses of the metaphorical that I’ve heard recently: “All that I’ve learned about love is love keeps its guns loaded/All that I’ve learned about pain is pain keeps its arms open” which has a ring of Cohen’s Hallelujah about it. And all the while the track – featuring sumptuous guitars and the artist’s unadorned, pure tones – which began gently lilting along, steadily gathers momentum as it crescendos both dynamically and emotionally. It is engrossing, affecting, and best of all, leaves me wanting more… Good work A.D.
BRYDE – Wait
Bryde, Brixton based Sarah Howells – “a girl and an electric guitar” – presents a delicate and subtle offering in the form of debut single Wait. The various bittersweet hooks of this song are of such quality that the repetitious nature of the song only feeds the addiction of the listener. It is the type of thing that one imagines would be at its best when performed live in the candle lit basement of a small pub – which is lucky because she’s performing at Servant Jazz Quarters on January 19th, followed by Bicycle Shop, in Norwich on the 31st of the same month.
ELIZA SHADDAD – Wars
London based Eliza Shaddad appears to be rising star, and in Wars she offers a neatly compact, driven pop track. Its slick combination of tight, parred back drums, and clipped melodic guitar reminds me of Blood Orange’s Champagne Coast (2011). She is part of a wave of songwriters who are working with minimal parts and adornment, in direct contrast to overly-emotive competitors, allowing the song itself to come to the fore and stand on its own, as Wars does with ease. You can see her supporting fellow Londoners Oh Wonder this Wednesday 16th December at The Hospital Club.
EVER – Haunt
Haunt has an undeniable air of sadness about it, brought about by the combination of layered ambient pads and an ethereal, melancholic vocal performance, best exemplified by the delivery of the line “I’ll grab another drink”. The mysterious singer/songwriter named Ever is based somewhere in the south of England, and Haunt appears to be taken from her EP Common Daze. Since then, she has gone on to release another EP, entitled Bones. The track was co-written between Ever and Rob Douglas.
JOHN JOSEPH BRILL – The Grape And The Grain
John Joseph Brill, appearing not for the first time in the Fresh Faves (FF158 – also reviewed by me!) named this song after his favourite boozer.
The confessional songwriter’s latest tune details an apparent romantic breakup. I believe the line “there’s grape and there’s grain in my bad British brain” is quite probably a reference to the singer’s alcohol consumption as a result of this. The performance is quiet and reflective; his croaky whisper accompanied by a lilting, picked guitar line. It’s a stark contrast to his righteous, slow burning track Golden Kids, and this reincarnation is surely another string to his bow.
JUMP THE SHARK – Robot Song
Jump The Shark, self-proclaimed Indie Rockers from Wolverhampton, are comprised of Tasha Jones (Singer/Drummer) [a great club to join, alongside that guy from the Eagles and Phil Collins] Theo Williams (Guitar) Jon Murphy (Guitar) and Matt Gregory (Bass). Robot Song, their latest single, has a lot to offer – huge riffs, killer melodies, group vocals and a guitar solo that sounds like a malfunctioning Dalek (on acid, of course). Jones’s smooth, assured vocal oddly matches the quirky, swaggering/stumbling verses. That the song transitions so easily from these verses into a seemingly natural, yet huge chorus is a testament to the excellent production here, not to mention the song’s dynamic flexibility which makes every second of the 4m28s a pleasure to listen to.
LILIA – Silver Sails
Great to hear a track pop up in the faves which sounds so positive/happy/joyous! Turns out we’re not all miserable sods after all, though this one did pass me by somehow in the dropbox this week, so I must be one…
Lilia is based in London according to her Soundcloud page, but it is very hard to find anything else on her as it’s not the most uniquely googlable name in the world! If you’re out there reading Lilia, I’d love to more of this melodic bouncy sunshine dream-pop any day of the week, even (especially in fact) in the depths of winter. Best of luck…
MADAME CESKI – Bone Spoon
Madame Ceski is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist Francesca Simmons (vocals, violin, saw, double bass, cello, viola, recorder, sop sax, ukulele and keys!) And Bone Spoon sounds like the end result of Sue White from Green Wing deciding to make a record! It’s genuinely petrifying for the first two minutes; a spiky and atonal nursery rhyme nightmare. It transforms into a kind of rustic groove for the second two minutes which was quite a relief. The aural landscaping of the sounds throughout the piece is impressive, and the track certainly arrested me as a listener. Sometimes it’s good to be taken outside of the aural comfort zone…
SAN FELU – Cape Of Good Hope
The personal outlet project of PJ Pearson, San Felu describes their debut single as an homage to the novel ‘Sirens of Titan’ by American author Kurt Vonnegut. While this reviewer hasn’t read the book, this song certainly serves as effective advertising. The song features a vocal performance delivered with a consideration and poise particularly tangible on lines such as “a mariner’s girl with mineral eyes” and “on the thermals of love”. Moreover the combination of the song’s instrumentation and diverse, enriched vocabulary creates a richly evocative and mysterious aural landscape. The aforementioned instrumentation isn’t overwrought or overly dense, but rather a great example of a whole reaching far beyond the sum of its parts. I look forward to hearing more from this exciting talent.
STILL CORNERS – Horses At Night
This is a very impressive, professional effort from London up-n-comers Still Corners. It’s the sound of right now, and their rapidly increasing following is a result of this. Horses at Night is a luscious, shiny, earworm. The two part-harmonies are irresistible and the staccato melodies layered around it are equally enchanting. It’s so euphoric that I can hardly believe the line “Stop, want you to stop/stop breaking my heart” – it perfectly encapsulates a feeling of infatuation, obsession, love-sickness… At 3m28s this listener wanted more, anyhow.
They don’t have any upcoming shows right now, but they’re certainly one to watch for the future, with a deal on the cards with Sub-Pop…
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.