Welcome back to our Fresh Faves, following our Glastonbury break. Since we last met? Absolutely nothing has happened. On an unrelated note, it’s Independence Day in the USA today, so with no hint of irony, I’d like to wish the USA a very happy 240th birthday. So glad your union worked out.
BAD FIT – Strong Forever
I was a little wrong-footed by that low slung, alt-rock intro, expecting a J Mascis impersonator to open vocal proceedings with a suitably slacker-esque grunt, but no, the vocals are female and light, there are harmonies, and sonically things are far more upbeat, even if the sentiment isn’t.
With love from BBC Radio Ulster, the ever prescient Little Indie Blogs, our very own Christopher McBride’s The Metaphorical Boat and plenty more, it’s no wonder Bad Fit turned out to be a very good fit for our Fresh Faves this week.
Bad Fit chose to release the video for this track on June 24, because (as they pointed out) nothing else was dominating the news that day, and in fact played their very first gig in their hometown of Belfast the day before (again, nothing else was happening). I can’t see any more gigs planned at the moment, but hopefully they won’t coincide with the end of civilisation as we know it, and we’ll hear plenty more from Bad Fit in the future.
CHERRYADE – Fractured Fairytales
I summed up my initial thoughts on this track in one word: mental. It sounds like all the alarms are going off in your house at once. Clearly this a very deliberate, well crafted and purposeful kind of madness, one of grit and determination. I love all the noises screaming for attention, that irresistible beat and the mischievous lyrics. For example, there are a couple of lines where the words that are censored and the ones that aren’t make you think about the morality of those words and the absurdities of censorship.
Sadly, there isn’t much info about Cherryade out there. The best I can glean is that they are London-based long-time friends Ella and Alex, and this is the only track on their Soundcloud page. Spotify featured Fractured Fairytales on their New Music Friday playlist last week, which is well deserved and a very promising start.
DUTCH CRIMINAL RECORD – On The Fence
For starters, Dutch Criminal Record wins our Band Name Of The Week award, although only just. What I like most about this unashamedly indie quartet from Chichester is the way they get right in there and get on with it. There’s no intro to build it up, and it stays faithful to its opening bars throughout, apart from an instrumental bridge about two-thirds of the way through, exactly where you’d expect. It’s two and a half minutes of quintessentially indie pop. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but at least it’s sincere.
On The Fence was featured by Spotify in their Fresh Finds playlist (how do we feel about that name?) last Friday, and although I can’t see any gigs planned, they frequently play around Southsea and Chichester with a few London gigs now and then. Their music is available to buy on iTunes and Amazon.
LEESUN – Oh My Love
One of the best things about working for Fresh On The Net (apart from free entrance to Tom Robinson gigs, obvs) is seeing artists grow. Last time LeeSun made our Fresh Faves, it was in November 2015, with a track called We’re All Made Of Stars. As good as that clearly was, to my ears this is in a different league; the arrangement is richer and more intricate, the vocals more assured, and lyrically it’s reaching much deeper. “‘I’ve learned and I’ve grown,” she sings, and she’s not kidding.
I love the way it ebbs and flows with mournful regret and pleas for mercy. For all that I’ve made it sound like everything’s been turned up a notch, Oh My Love shows considerable restraint. Those horns could overpower, the strings swell too climactically, and those cymbals clash like fury, but they don’t. It’s sublime.
LeeSun was born in Seoul, then moved to Canada, and has now settled in Leeds. In her bio (worth checking out) she says that “creating and producing music is vital to my sanity and being.” I would also say it is her calling. This track, and indeed all her music, is available now on Bandcamp.
NATIVE PEOPLE – Call Me
I don’t like comparing a track from an upcoming band to something better known unless it’s unavoidable, but if I wanted to do that here, I’d be comparing Call Me to… well, that’s the problem. It pains me to say it, but I feel like I’ve heard this track a thousand times before, by countless artists who seem to come and go just as often.
For me those guitars and synths, that structure, with the *doof* break into a finger-clicking quiet bit, the bassline and even the vocal style may have once been a groove, but are now a rut. As a band Native People sound very accomplished, and the production on this is slicker than a seal in an oil spill, but it’s far too generic and contrived for my tastes.
Hey, what do I know? Our readers voted for it, BBC Introducing Kent and Amazing Radio are big fans too, the band have played Koko for NME and loads of festivals, with plenty more dates through the summer. You can listen to the track and judge for yourself.
NRVS LVRS – Sundowning
“I’m not going anywhere, even if it hurts.” Sundowning by NRVS LVRS is relentless and insistent, a single groove adorned with a pitch bending synth, distant wailing guitars, shouting, and all sorts of other ominous noises, plus that line, repeated over and over. You can’t fail to get the message.
Sadly I can’t tell you a great deal about NRVS LVRS. They’re based in San Francisco and there are five of them. The men all have beards, but the two women don’t. I should stop there, probably. They have a lot of music available on Bandcamp.
PLAYING HOUSE – Grapefruit
Here’s a band that I think sound great recorded, and suspect would go down an absolute treat live. Grapefruit is arresting, quirky and original, it simmers then boils, building a simple bassline and those fantastic vocals with guitars and harmonies into something very endearing, without ever overcooking it. Not that you cook grapefruits.
Playing House is a London-based trio who’ve appeared in our Fresh Faves before and on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape last April. You can check them out in upcoming performances at the Streatham Festival and Seabright Arms this weekend, and The Black Heart in Camden next month, after which they’re apparently heading back into the studio. We look forward to hearing the results!
SIMPLE MACHINES – Enouément
Play me downtempo electronica fused with real instruments, and I’m usually cast away to some balmy island watching the sun set while emptying a pitcher of something deliciously deadly. The influences of Simple Machines are as clear as day here, so fans of Bonobo or Lapalux will love this, and Gilles Peterson should be all over it. Count me amongst their number.
Interesting, then, that Enouément is the work of a single person, Vancouver-based Amine Bouzaher, who live-loops classical guitar, violin, bass and keyboard on top of those intricate, understated beats. Gigs-wise, lots in Canada at the moment, but there are a few more tracks on his Soundcloud page should this have whetted your appetite.
SNAIL COLLECTORS – Conversations At Work
Opening with ominous guitar over a plodding synth bassline, I was afraid Conversations At Work might take a turn for the Muse at some point, but no, this grows into a somewhat contradictory proclamation of intent: “Let me steer this ship, but know this, I will abandon it”. I love the way it builds, with frustrated yearning, and more than a whiff of menace.
Snail Collectors is an experimental art / rock project set up by Glasgow-based Nick Scroggie, and last appeared in our Faves over a year ago now with the far more guitar-led Bears On The Moon. I think this experiment paid off.
TEMPLES OF YOUTH – Churches
Temples Of Youth were previously known as Shallows (I think the new name suits them), and are already well known around these parts, having appeared on our Fresh Faves last year and with fans on the team, along with praise from Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 6 Music and Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1.
Churches shows off Jo Carson’s rich voice, and despite describing themselves as electronic musicians, the piano and plaintive guitar parts dominate the understated synths and percussion here in a way that I think works beautifully. This is quality.
From Winchester, Temples Of Youth are a duo of Jo Carson and Paul Gumma, and Churches is their fourth single, available on Bandcamp now. The band have a some gigs lined up over the next few weeks in London and the south of England, including one with Weaves in Winchester this coming Friday.
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.