Artists at a glance
GITTA DE RIDDER
JAMES EDGE & THE MINDSTEP
SAM CARTWRIGHT JOHNSON
ALED RHEON – Stay With Me
Now that I hear Aled Rheon‘s Stay With Me again, it’s pretty apparent that this song deserves so much more of my love and attention than I first didn’t lavish on it. Mea culpa Aled, mae’n ddrwg gennym am hynny.
This highly addictive, quirky, percussion driven number is a riot of fun sounds – a bit South American beats here, a touch looping Cajun guitar there, and delightfully delicious ‘n’ deliciously delightful vocals everywhere. If you ever find yourself at the ‘fed up’ end of the humour barometer, Stay With Me will lift you under the arms and whizz you up to the perkier end of the cheered-up scale, with an outlook so happy it is positively addictive.
In case it wasn’t obvious, Aled Rheon is from Wales (Cardiff/Carmarthen) and is a bi-lingual performer, who calls himself a troubadour, and who has done a cover version of ‘Delilah’, I jest not. In fact, I can imagine Aled doing the perfect rousing duet on ‘Delilah’ with our own Johnno ‘Snips’ Casson, of Snippet Cuts fame.
Aled, currently being played non-stop by sundry BBC jocks, will be releasing an EP in the not so distant future. Stayed tuned to his website/FB for news!
BIG TOOTH – My Woman
Big Tooth have bitten me before, cheeky cats, and now they’re back again to chomp another lump out of my sonic soul. ‘My Woman’ is sensitive, dreamy, lovey, with a sensuous vocal that floats up to falsetto and back down again to a soft evocation of pure romance.
Repetitive synth sequences carry the vocal along on an inviting river of melody until the big guns fire up and ‘My Woman’ switches from Mills & Boon to Dirty Dancing!! Enter stage left, our hero with some Swayze-esque tush swaggering to sweep his “woman” off her feet (or was that Richard Gere?). Punchy percussion, a billow of harmonies and a continuum of guitar longer than the Amazon build to a crescendo so explosive that if this were a book, you’d have arrived at the good bit … yeah, THAT good bit!
Big Tooth are still from Twickenham, there’s still five of them, and they’re currently to be found languishing on Bandsintown for anyone who cares to dare. Check it out, all their lives dates are posted on there. They’re currently working on an album, so hop on board their FB page to keep up to speed with this fang-tastic outfit (Awh come on – I haven’t used a pun in months!!)
BRYDE – Help Yourself
Frais du gig Parisien ‘tit et parfait, Pat Benetar vocal doppelganger, Bryde, has topped the FOTN pops with her smokin’ gotcha, Help Yourself. Sensual but strong, this demi-anthemic number is gutsy, feisty and packs quite the punch. Bryde’s voice is pretty powerful, and while it has its softer side when she hits the top of her reach, her vocal is to singing what Caitlin Moran is to wording: ballsy.
The clangourous guitar chords on Help Yourself fairly kick it but it’s the lyrics that are the big hitter on this track. “Loving you won’t make it better”, she sings, mixing elements of pain and cynical determination. Tinged with remorse, bolstered with energised positivity, this is a pretty fierce, condemnatory monologue, to which Bryde gives a dynamic if slightly tense delivery.
New to the scene, an unbelievable six months ‘new’, ingénue Bryde is my kinda rock chick and Help Yourself my kinda song. Think a rockin’ indie version of ‘I Will Survive’ with all the fiery sassiness of Blondie, but all the hypnotic femininity of Debbie Harry.
Bryde is playing more live dates across England and Wales over the next few weeks, check out her FB page, and her eponymous EP is available to pre-order now. The vinyl ed is decked out in yummy contrasting hues of blue. Allez les Bleus!
EERA – Drive With Fear
The first time I heard this song it rendered me speechless, a feat not oft managed, to which Steve Harris will attest. It still gives me tingles listening to it now as I write this.
EERA is Anna Lena Bruland formerly of Anna Lena and the Orchids, who since moving from the salty air of the fishing port of Drøbak, Norway, to the big arid smoke of London, has not only found her true metier with the electric guitar, has also honed her song-writing skills to the point where she is more than comfortable with her craft. With a range that spans from dusk to dawn, EERA’s vocal delivery is capable both of immense fragility and sultry majesty, whilst her instrumental accompaniment is elegant, minimalist grunge.
Drive with Fear, with its vivid colours and almost tangible images of natural settings, is carried by a looping driving percussive beat with enough earthiness to anchor EERA’s delicate, airy vocals. Plaintive, evocative, restrained, intense, her delivery here is both beguiling and haunting as it switches from husky to otherworldly. This is a patchwork of sketches sown together, a solemn fusion of flourishes of synth, menacing elongations of bass and funereal organ sequences, given texture and warmth by the addition of horns. It’s a standout track charged with spine tingling atmosphere on which EERA gives an utterly captivating performance.
EERA has just released her debut EP via House Arrest and is lined up to play several festivals over the course of the Summer, including Great Escape in May, details on her FB page.
GITTA DE RIDDER – Lie With Me
“In art we expose ourselves, In music we bare our souls”. So says, Londoner Gitta de Ridder on a wee Lie with Me vid she’s put up on her YT channel, more of which later!
Her FB page says she is a vocalist who performs with guitar, “a bunch of toy instruments and percussion-y things” so we know she’s got a good sense of humour then. Probably, one of the most popular of this weeks tracks, although I must admit it is not really my cup of Twinings [other brands are available, Ed.], Lie with Me is an acoustic ballad, a gentle love song, delivered with a genuine vocal as delicate as the petals on a spring crocus.
One woman and her guitar produce a song that had our voters queuing up to sprinkle sparkling praise, but I can’t help wondering if the males of the species had espied another YouTube viddy wherein our heroine is performing “al fresco”, or as Terry Pratchett would have said, “in the nud”. Nevertheless, this is good if acoustic folk is your thing. It’s not mine, but the masses have spoken and that’s why it’s here!
‘Lie with Me’ was released into the digital world only a week ago and you can find it over on Bandcamp as well as the usual webby hidey holes.
As usual, if you like what you hear, I would encourage you to like ‘n’ love on Facebook, to keep up with Ms. De Ridder’s future escapades.
JAMES EDGE & THE MINDSTEP – On A Red Horse
More acoustic guitar balladry here from alt-indie-folkster, James Edge & The Mindstep, although this piece has a lot of bite, texture and colour, given the diversity of instruments used to produce this score. Acoustic guitars, double bass, violin (or is it viola?) and is there cello in here, cos my ears are telling me there is? In fact, is there a string quartet playing on this by any chance?
On A Red Horse starts off simply enough. Gentle washes of melancholic acoustica soldier on under war themed lyrics! (I’m going for a pun hat-trick so keep your eyes peeled). But a few marches in, this turns into a crazy strings fusion that goes completely and clamorously bonkers. It takes a lot of skilled musicianship to produce musical mania like this, never mind the sky high imagination required to conceive of the idea in the first instance.
I am going to presume that the frenzied strings sequences are to denote the madness of war, ditto the tumultuous percussive driven melange towards the end.
This really is a clever, nah, genius arrangement, of exquisite segments of strings fantasia, played by exceptionally skilled musicians. I doff my hats sires; what could have turned into a hey nonny, nonny nightmare, was magically transformed into a mesmerising cacophony of symphonic brilliance.
James Edge & Co have a video up on YouTube worth a view. On A Red Horse will be released on 16th April via Folkstock records. Check in on Facebook, Twitter and the usual social hangouts.
JAY FRASER – The Dark Wood
Hmm, not sure where to start with this one! While I’m none too informed in the matter of Blues, the whole concept of Roots is completely alien to me.
Jay Fraser’s quivering, high pitched vocal reminds me of the late Christy Hennessy and thus is completely at variance with the jungle-dark atmosphere created here by moody, insistent guitar strumming. Intermittent bleak trumpet calls and random slices of Americana riffs, give this a kind of Deep South meets Heart of Darkness vibe. Maybe it’s my only-child imagination going ‘wild in the country’ but I keep visualising a lone gun-slinging cowboy riding slowly into a black, swampy nightmare landscape.
The Dark Wood is quite compelling once you allow yourself to slip into its darkly hypnotic groove.
From what I can gather on Facebook, Jay Fraser is Australian and oddly enough this isn’t the first time I’ve come across this dark menacing roots/heavy blues sound coming from the land down under. Jay is signed to Spiritual Records and his current release, as well as a selection of other recordings, is available on iTunes.
MATT STOCKL – High Spirits Club
“Matt Stockl is an unsigned singer-songwriter type from the Scottish highlands, currently based in Windsor” – now you know! Well the folksters are certainly on a roll this week, with Stockl declaring his sound leans towards folk but he cheats a bit by adding electronic sounds into the mix. Okay then!
High Spirits Club – would that be of the temperament or alcoholic kind?
True to his word, there’s a continuous thread of heavy electronic thrumming (that sounds more guitarsy than synth tho’ I stand to be corrected) running through this not so folky track that together with thud-thudding percussion in the mould of native Indian drums, acts as backbone to a body of very lethargic yet inviting vocal.
One gawk at Stockl’s Bandcamp page screams, “personality” and a listen to his quirky lyrics reinforce my supposition. Matt has recently started getting some Radio-play, which is not surprising given his unique, and a little off-the-wall style. Different gets noticed, and his ‘Stockl in trade’ folk with a twist style gives him an edge over vanilla pop and everyday mainstream bills of fare.
If you’re looking for a change of scene, and a style of music that’s just a bit off-centre to draw you in, whilst perky enough to keep you interested, then the music of Matt Stockl might just be for you.
Gigging like a good thing, judging by his social pages, Matt is playing venues near you, me and our extended families right now – check out his Twitter and Facebook pages for details, but this dude is everywhere which for an upcoming artist, is a very on-it thing to do!
RICHARD WALTERS – A.M
I flicked onto Richard Walters Soundcloud page and two words – sitting there staring at me like little black doleful eyes – made me want to run screaming. In his own words, Richard Walters sings, “sad songs”.
For those with a Kleenex [other brands available! Ed.] disposition, A.M is like a musical interpretation of ‘Love Actually’. Unfortunately, I grew out of the ‘crying to songs’ phase after the salt started leaving serious burn marks on my skin.
Be that as it may, Walters has a voice like liquid honey, filled with genuine emotion and honest sincerity. A.M has some lovely romantic couplets and if you were madly in love and a-deux on the dancefloor for the faded memory that was “the slow set”, this was the type of killer track in which a courtin’ couple could completely lose themselves, if you catch my drift.
A spacious piano instrumental gives plenty of leeway to warm waves of synth and gentle touches of guitar giving a delicious lustre and soft texture to an utterly lovely melody. If you think the music is lush, sit and listen to the words – 100% proof, in the heart-rending department. Lyrically, this track is quite exquisite – the sentiments expressed by Walters are so utterly ‘real’, they truly get under the skin and lodge there.
It would seem Walters has found his niche in “sad songs” and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Having said that, I couldn’t listen to an album full of songs like A.M., my nerves couldn’t take it, but for a change to the clamour and clangour of what I have to listen to on a daily basis, this song made a lovely, touching change. If you asked me to put one word on Richard Walters, it would be this – “genuine”.
Another guy gigging like his life depended on it, check it all out on social – usual rules apply – Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and co. See below.
SAM CARTWRIGHT JOHNSON – About A Friend
Oh me oh my… another folksy, bluesy acoustic track! My indie lovin’ self is getting very tetchy at this stage. A whole Decameron of faves, and not a wobble of wonk to be heard amongst them…
“Hold you horses dear” go the lyrics, or even, “Hold your horses here” (my interpretation) as I was thinking to myself. Is that Fleetwood-esque personality filled slow-hand drumming I hear! “‘Tis” I shout with joy!! “Oh be still my beating heart.”
About a Friend plays a long and clever waiting game, much like the theme of the lyrics Sam Cartwright-Johnson is singing. Ambling along, with those delish drums, soothing melody lines and rippling guitar riffs, it’s all very dreamy and laid back – until – just when you think you’re on the outro… Bang!
SPOILER ALERT. Woohoo, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thirty seconds of searing guitar that’d set your heart a-flutter and your pulse a-racing. Sorry to spoil the surprise, but it comes with the territory…
SCJ’s voice reminds me of someone, but in my post instrumental blitzkrieg state I can’t quite put my finger on who, possibly a hint of Paolo Nutini? It’s a good, strong vocal, clear, with just the right amount of intent and emotion to get the message across.
This is a good song in the mould of rock/indie slow songs. It has good instrumental elements, definite, clear vocals and a nice line in lyrics. But it’s that 30-second instrumental power struggle that give this song the bottle I’ve been waiting for all evening.
About a Friend is taken from SCJ’s forthcoming EP, ‘Submerged’ which is due for release on 18th April on AMS records. Do the decent thing, like his FB page and checkpoint regularly for updates.
Until next time! x
PS from TR: if you’d like your tunes considered for the BBC Introducing Mixtape on BBC Radio 6 Music, don’t forget to upload them to BBC Introducing in the first place, via this link. Among the 150-200 tunes that arrive our inbox each week, we hear at least half a dozen great tunes by UK artists that haven’t been uploaded there, and like it says in our guidelines: NO UPLOAD = NO AIRPLAY
If we do feature you in the Fresh Faves or BBC Introducing Mixtape please do us a favour and wait three months before sending another track, so we can help other deserving artists in the meantime… More info here.