Fresh Faves : Batch 186

Shrug Life - photo: Sean Conroy Photography

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed this week by BBC Introducing in the West‘s Sam Bonham co-creator (with Richard Pitt) of The Fringe, Supported By The 6 Music Festival in Bristol last weekend. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

Never underestimate how much good music there is out there, in the UK and beyond. This week was one of the strongest on the Listening Post I’ve heard in a while. We are in a golden age of songwriting, production and recording. It’s all there, we just have to give it a chance. Give it time. And give it support.


Kicking off with a collab! When I listen to unusual combinations of musicians I am always intrigued at the process. How did it come about? What needed to happen for Annie Drury to end up singing in a room whilst Moonracer (aka Lewis West) kicked about with a few new Korg sounds? This is a gorgeous tune. A wonderfully deep, crafted, deliberate sound. A wistful vocal. Nice stage(wo)manship. It’s Simple, Steadfast, and not too Swollen. Annie has done a few interesting things elsewhere by the looks of it too, well worth keeping your eye on.

Moonracer: Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp
Annie Drury: Cuckoo Records | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube


I love everything about this song. The catchy chorus. Ciara O’Neill‘s ethereal voice. Hypnotic guitar. It’s great. But I tell you what I love the most: the creativity. This song, just like others on the LP this week, is a flood of creative juices. The production is totally unique. Moving through paradigms with every section. THE SNARE DRUM! I love the snare, it sounds like a swarm of flies (or ghosts)? It’s perfect. And the pre-chorus. Almost off-putting, but yet totally mesmerising. Wonderful. Great video too on Youtube, definitely worth a watch.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

DE’NOVA – Brighter Days

One of the best things about being in a band is being able to be part of something, together. It’s tribal. You’re in a gang. Being in a band is like being in a gang. De’Nova play like they’re playing for each other. I think the best bands do. You kind of have to in order to survive. The new EP, Young Hearts, comes out next month.Get it and join the gang!

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

HEIR – Scrapped Paper

Yes, I needed this. What a great lesson in songwriting. Well-designed, exceptionally listenable and spot-on in terms of credibility. Based in Leeds, I turned Heir up proper loud at home, it sounded like the front man, Tom, was sat in my lounge at points. But then he killed the stadium-filled falsetto lines too. Really impressive. I watched the video too, was really fun and full of the freshness of a brand new band. No idea what was going on, but it didn’t matter!

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

KISS THE THIEF – Friday Night

“Write about what you know” they say. Kiss The Thief – aka Ed, Tom, James and Hayden – play indie rockn’roll in Shrewsbury. They live and breathe it. These guys really know rockn’roll in Shrewsbury. You can hear it in the music, it’s simple and straightforward. Rooted in history, but at the same time totally “now”. The vibe is suburban weekends in the early hours. The boys probably had a great weekend. They sure have a good few years ahead of them.

Soundcloud | Facebook | YouTube | What’s The Point Of Twitter


I listened to some of Matthew’s record from last year, it was good. But this is better. Bright yet mellow. Shouty yet musical. Fun, fun and more fun. People don’t garner enough excitement from an acoustic guitar. I think people feel like the acoustic guitar is something to be strummed quietly in the corner of a room. Remember Newton Faulkner (still touring, still writing great music)? Matthew the Oxx has the brutality of playing that Faulkner has. He’d play the acoustic guitar with his teeth if he could. There is a new long player with the same name, available for your ears online.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

SHRUG LIFE – Making Progress

This is an incredible piece of musicianship. Shrug Life‘s Making Progress is my fave tune from the LP this week. As a broadcaster, I’m always looking for something new. Something unheard. “The next big thing”. This is totally bonkers yet 100% mainstream. It’s new. And it’s certainly a big thing. I love the part-spoken part-sung vocal, the crisp guitar (almost talking back to the singer half the time) and the tight backline. In fact, having listened to this tune a few times, I think the backline holds it together and propels the song to the next level. There ain’t no party like a drum and bass party!

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

THE DOWLING POOLE – Rebecca Receiving

I was lucky enough to work alongside Tom Robinson recently, as part of a masterclass session with some students. We talked about what it means to be genuine as a musician. To be yourself. Or a version of yourself. I love the vibes of The Dowling Poole. Fun-filled, energised and youthful. It feels like they are being the best part of themselves on this one. It’s honest. This tune sits on their forthcoming LP too, One Hyde Park.

PledgeMusic | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Official

THEA – Last Serenade

Surprises. This band Thea is full of surprises. Timing, instrumentation and structure. Let’s play a game: listen to the first 17 seconds of this tune, just before the vocal comes in, then pause the track. Try to guess what you think might happen in the rest of the song. It goes in a direction I didn’t expect. It’s not too wild. Not overly poppy. It’s not even too twee. It sits perfectly in that realm of songwriting and performance that everyone aspires to (and should aspire to). It’s new. FOTN supports the new!

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Thea the band
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… click here for more info.

Sam Bonham

Sam Bonham presents and produces BBC Intro in the West. He is Tech Development Manager at Digital Radio UK, a not-for-profit organisation representing the BBC and commercial radio on their digital radio programming. He’s an indie radio producer making programmes for Radio 1, 6 Music n elsewhere. He presents n produces for Amazing Radio. He is a Trustee at Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF), a charity using radio as a tool to give young people a platform to say whatever they want. He also sits on the Board for Resonance FM. Sam is also a musician, performing solo and with the sometime band Let’s Tea Party.


  1. Derv

    Gr8 reviews Sam, well done brother. Derv

  2. Ciara O’Neill‘s , if i were still putting on silencio i’d love to put this on

    THE DOWLING POOLE – Rebecca Receiving
    something costello madness about this.

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