These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and are reviewed by resident genius/techspert, Fresh On The Net’s Steve Harris this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
Last week the world lost a true musical genius. It’s amazing how many people, from those whose lives revolve around music to those who usually aren’t that interested, were touched by Prince’s work and recognise his extraordinary talent. He always made really good, really interesting music, and best of all, seemed to do it all on his own terms.
Prince was also generous with his limelight, lifting up new talent that he admired. Here, we collectively attempt do a little of that ourselves…
ATLAS EYES – Laura
Opening our Fresh Faves this week is Laura by Atlas Eyes. It starts gently enough with cautionary advice about guys only out for one thing, before bursting into life with sparkling synths, urgent guitars and that advice turned into a far more pointed question.
Laura holds your attention, never drifting off, getting bogged down or trying your patience. First it whispers, then shouts, then launches into a frenzied dance; the boy / girl vocals — something that, when done badly, can really grate on me — work beautifully here, and the whole thing feels supple and lively, perfectly matching its youthful theme. It’s superb.
So who are these indie pop musical geniuses? Atlas Eyes are a quintet from Liverpool who’ve been around since 2014, and first appeared on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape back in November of that year. Now earning rave reviews for their live show from Get Into This and with their debut EP coming out this Friday, we hope to be hearing a lot more of them in the future.
You can catch their EP launch party on Friday, 8pm at Heebie Jeebies in Liverpool.
FOXTALES – Spider
Mandolins, carefully woven harmonies, thumping toms and sentences that make your skin crawl all feature heavily in Spider by Foxtales. I’m not usually one for videos, but there is a great video for Spider that really brings home the song’s message, I think, and although they’re not performing per se, gives you a good feel for the band.
From Manchester, Foxtales are Amy, Cassie, Angela, Briony and Scoon, their eponymous EP is due for release on June 10th, with an EP Launch Party at the Soup Kitchen in Manchester on July 9th.
I AM NIAMH – Wait Until The Morning Comes
We’ve heard a few submissions from I Am Niamh over the last couple of years, so I was surprised to find that Wait Until The Morning Comes is the first to reach our Fresh Faves. This usually means a distinctive artist has hit a sweet spot where they capture the hearts and ears of a sizeable chunk of our moderators and listeners, whose tastes are, let’s be honest, all over the place.
In Wait Until The Morning Comes, you’re first struck by that clear, strong voice. Sure enough, Dublin-based solo artist, Niamh Parkinson is a classically trained singer and multi-instrumentalist putting her talents and skills to good use here, with vocals, cello, piano and percussion all played and looped by Niamh. Fortunately there is restraint too, so while Wait Until The Morning Comes builds gloriously, it doesn’t overdo it.
Wait Until The Morning Comes is taken from her debut album, Wonderland, which is available now on iTunes.
IRAH – Into Dimensions
Some bands seem to arrive fully formed, and Copenhagen’s Irah are a perfect example, with their debut single, Into Dimensions, apparently the result of a 60 minute jam at Berlin’s Funkhaus, the former home of the East German broadcasting corporation (see our very own Derv’s post on Ja Ja Ja for that tidbit and more info). Clearly this is a coming together of talented musicians, because it is exquisitely done: Stine Grøn’s dreamy vocals glide over gentle synths and soft, almost imperceptible percussion.
Into Dimensions was released on March 18 on the wonderfully named Tambourhinoceros label, and a new single, Mirroring, followed last Friday.
LÁNRE – Human
Despite a penchant for things that sound like a washing machine being thrown down an escalator, African vocal melodies are catnip to this reviewer, so Human had me at “Oooh”. With Lánre’s beautiful voice cutting across that chanted backing, so clear and strong, I was completely sold, and just when you think you’ve heard it all, Human opens up. “Let there be light!” she sings, and out come the guitars, handclaps and sunshine.
Human is about the difficulty of trying to live up to the unattainably high standards that people set themselves and others, apparently inspired by something Leonard Cohen once said: “There’s a crack in everything, it’s how the light gets in.”
Lánre is a London-based artist whose track, Má Gbàgbé, was played on Tom’s show back in 2012. Human strikes me as a far more slick and modern affair, and is taken from her EP of the same name, which will be out on Friday.
Now, hold on as we make a Wayne’s World transition to another time…
NICE PLACE – Her Face
Aware that comparisons to other artists are a lazy crutch for music reviewers, I would normally try to sneak past the elephant in the room and not mention Suede or The La’s, but when Nice Place’s own bio namechecks Brett Anderson and the latter, it seems pointless to resist.
Hooky and jangly, with a narrative style and that break in the middle, none of it would’ve been out of place in the 90s, when Brett was writhing around on Top Of The Pops in lace and leather. But hey, it sounds great, doesn’t it?
This track was premiered on BBC Introducing in London by Gary Crowley last Saturday, and Nice Place will be playing at The Windmill in London tomorrow (Tuesday, 26 April), and are booked to play at the Tim Burgess-curated Tim Peek’s Diner at Festival No. 6 in the summer. In good company, then!
Normally we do these reviews alphabetically, but the Wayne’s World dissolve can be a little unreliable, so let’s stay in the 90s for now lest we get stuck here forever…
SHINERS – 19 Again
Fucking hell, the female subject of this song is not the only one who’s feeling 19 again, as I was when Parklife thrust Blur into the mainstream, with Stephen Street pulling the musical strings and Damon Albarn experiencing sudden onset pansexuality, while eying up Brett across the TOTP studio. Lots of music sounds like something anchored in another time, and that’s fine, but it’s a little ironic when the originals were already something of a pastiche, and so very, very contrived.
Once again, I could’ve held back from getting into this, but when a band label themselves as “Britwave” it’s hard not to, particularly when the song is about an older woman who leaves the kids at home, then goes out with the aim of pulling young men and taking them back — reminiscent of the kitchen sink style so prevalent when Britpop was at its marketing-driven height, and I was rotting my teeth on alcopops.
To be fair, Shiners look the part and go at it with conviction: the vocals are strong, the whole tune swaggers around waving a lad mag, and that organ is as jaunty and confident as can be. So, is that a bad thing? Well, if you like it then no, not at all, and Fresh On The Net readers clearly enjoyed it, or it wouldn’t be here.
Shiners will be playing The Social in London on Wednesday, April 27, and hopefully won’t give me a shiner should our paths ever cross.
Right, get us outta here!
PANAMA PAPERS – Burned A Book
Back to right here, right now to an almost ridiculous degree with a debut track from Panama Papers, a pop-up band name if ever I saw one. There was something familiar about this though, and further research indicates this is the new musical project of Elia Rulli of Elia And The Low Tears, who are very well known to us, having appeared in various Faves and Mixtapes over the years. The style is still electro, but punchier, and there are some great lyrics to go with the bouncing beats and bleeps.
Burning a book is probably one of the most subversive things you can do, but despite that, Panama Papers tell us they’re book obsessives and a book will feature in every song — plenty of authors appear in this one alone. They also assure us they have “No offshore business.”
THE ISABELLES – Permanent Rewind
This is the sort of garage band racket I can really get behind: voices cracking, fingers bleeding, and the kind of frenetic energy that conjures the image of some dark, sweaty venue that you never, ever want to see with the lights on. And no matter what you think, at 2 mins 24 secs it doesn’t waste your time: it gets in, does its thing perfectly, then gets out again. I like the idea too, of always going back and analysing, because “you’re permanently on my mind”.
The Isabelles are Joel, Johnny, Josh, and the unfortunately non-alliterative Morgan from Falmouth, and will be playing the Bristol Psyche Fest on May 21 where, I suspect, the complimentary earplugs won’t save you.
THE KING’S PARADE – Gathering The Pieces Of A Broken Heart
From the rough to the very smooth sound of The King’s Parade. The last track we had from them, Silhouette, I also reviewed last September, where I mentioned that the band formed after playing as a house band on a Hawaiian cruise liner for 40 hours a week (not a bad gig), and made enough money to move to London and start touring the UK. Gathering The Pieces Of A Broken Heart is not a dramatic shift away from Silhouette, but it does feel more bluesy, and perhaps less cruise shippy. This single was released last Friday, and they played a full house at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen last Thursday to launch it. They’ll next be playing as part of Camden Rocks on June 4.
TVAM – Gas & Air
I must admit I’d already plonked down my hard-earned for Gas & Air a few weeks ago, after either Tom Ravenscroft or Lauren Laverne played it on one of their 6 Music Recommends shows (now I see it’s a free download, cheers). I love the fuzzy, distorted sound as it drills its way into your head, like dream pop that’s turned to the Dark Side. What is he saying? I can kinda make it out, but I don’t think it’s important. The fact it sounds like pretty much nothing else is a winner for me. TVAM is Wigan-based Joe Oxley, and one of the nominees for the 2016 GIT Awards, to be held on May 14. Good luck, Joe!
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.