Fresh Faves: Batch 206

Foggy City Orphan

Artists at a glance


These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s resident launderette enthusiast Benji Tranter this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

BEST BOY GRIP – Fukushima

First up is Fukushima, a slick, cool pop-rock track seemingly chronicling a first hand account of the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster in the city of the same name. The result of the track’s many combined, disparate elements, is a total success, not least the purposed, deadened vocals.

Based in Derry, Best Boy Grip are a four-piece made up of the following four pieces: Eoin O’Callaghan – Vocals, Piano; Liam Craig – Bass; Jay Dickson – Drums; Shane McCaul – BV’s. Eoin will be playing a solo gig supporting Tom Robinson on 11th August at Smalltown America, Derry.

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Often I speak to artists who have come up against writer’s block, citing one reason or another, and my advice, for what that’s worth is always ‘be someone else for a while!’ And here, within the first two songs we have two successful examples of that. The Bookshop Band, however, are bonafide experts in this field, their back catalogue made up entirely of songs based on books!

We Are The Foxes is inspired by Ned Beauman’s third novel, GLOW, which I must confess to having not read. But sneaking a peek at the first chapter – it begins at a nightclub based in launderette (y) with two friends taking a new drug comprised of speed, MSG and an experimental dog social anxiety drug(!)

Their instrumentation is simple, almost childish (and therefore ever so slightly twee). But it needs to be economical enough to be feasibly transportable between all their bookshop commitments – which are many! They will be playing three bookshops in Paris from the 25th before touring the UK this Autumn – details here.

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1) Contours is the project of musician, producer and DJ Tom Burford. Born in Cumbria and based in Manchester.
2) Collocutor are a 7-piece modal jazz ensemble begun by saxophonist Tamar Osborn. Also based in Manchester!
3) This is Contours’ reworking of a Collocutor track as part of the latters’ ‘Instead’ project via On The Corner records.

I really enjoyed listening to this track – it’s the sort of thing I would end up picking up while working at London’s Indie Label Market. But saying that, it’s also the kind of thing I would find very hard to really describe, but let’s say this is a healthy melange of House, Jazz and Afro-Beat.

As a result of this being two artists both on the On The Corner imprint, I have linked to the label as opposed to the artists below.

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DARLA AND THE BLONDE – In Admiration Of The Female Spy

Darla and the Blonde, in their second visit to FOTN, are carrying on their themes of feminism and recognition of female achievement – last time out we heard the story of Eugenia Falleni, who society wouldn’t accept as a man. This time it’s the story of a ‘female agent [who] looks at her life after the death of her sweetheart’.

The result is their characteristically moody indie rock, and the sound is undoubtedly theirs. This reviewer would love to hear a tad more variation in their tonality and instrumentation though – and I think they could afford it, their delivery being so idiomatic that it wouldn’t suddenly become disparate from what has gone before.

I look forward to hearing the next phase of Darla and The Blonde’s output, wherever it may lead…

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I love the Lou Reed-y, Marc Bolan-y swagger to the intro of this song, before the song really kicks in. A super-tight rhythm section and the speak-singing of the lead singer make up this track’s strength. It’s a simple, get-up-n-go motivator, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Foggy City Orphan are a family affair – ‘Martin and John McLinden are brothers, Paul McLinden is their cousin and Stephen Sweeney is an anagram of Seen Nephews Yet, so we’re working on that…’ – from Glasgow, and their name is ingeniously taken from the Chinese translation of Oliver Twist.

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GIZMO VARILLAS – Give A Little Love

Gizmo Varillas’ latest release Give A Little Love is taken from his upcoming album El Dorado (The Golden One). The track is infectiously relaxing and chilled out, with the continental, summery appeal of Spanish language interjections. I particularly the love call & response sections within the song, and the constant, smoothe rhythmic waves mean that when the song ends I do invariably find myself reaching for the repeat button.

Born in Santander (the town not the bank) and having grown up in Bilbao, Varillas has recently supported Jack Savoretti on 15th of July at Somerset House. He will be announcing more London shows via his website soon.

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I spent the weekend at a tiny festival in my native Herefordshire this weekend [Woodburner at The Yoke, for the those interested] and the evening finished with us all sat around the campfire while traditional folk songs were sung acapella! While it’s not always entirely my thing, the experience was nevertheless intoxicating, and Kitty MacFarlane’s opening to this song was very evocative of that experience.

There’s a clear ecological message for the listener here – all the more important that these messages are kept at the fore in the wake of the recent scrapping of the Department for Climate Change and Energy.

Kitty has made waves in the folk world, having reached the semi-final of the BBC Young Folk Musician awards last year, and will no doubt go on to make an even bigger impact in years to come.

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SEAWAVES – 1960’s

This makes for pretty pleasant morning listening from Manchester duo Seawaves. The instrumental is so complete in itself that honestly I felt the entry of the vocal completely unnecessary, but harmless nonetheless. It’s all sun-soaked and would feel right at home on a holiday driving playlist or some such.

Seawaves are Si Van Brussel and Daniel Benjamin, and between them they’ve managed to have their music featured in adverts by a number of major corporations. I wish them the best of luck!

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SNAILS – Jennifer Jones

Snails, from Bristol, describe their sound as ‘suburban guitar pop reverie for lonely people walking to the shops’. Their penchant for the prosaic is probably evident in their track name, Jennifer Jones – the song is about a girl who is eternally having a bad day.

Considering their fascinating, lilting portrait of the woman, plus the fantastically simple baroque pop arrangement, I’m getting part Belle & Sebastian and part Misty’s Big Adventure, with a hint of psychedelia in there too… It’s a compellingly mundane combination.

Watch out for this track appearing very soon on 7” vinyl apparently…

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SYKOYA – The Wolf

This dark, pensive offering, entitled The Wolf, is the latest output from London trio Sykoya, self-proclaimed purveyors of dream-pop/indie-electronic. The band, fronted by Anna Marcella, featuring Curtis ElVidge and Joe Cross, are seemingly in the midst of their second wave of releases following their noted EP Strange Night last year.

The zeitgeist favours this kind of fresh electro-pop at the moment, and with the likes of London Grammar and Oh Wonder in their company, it ain’t a bad place to be. If this is your kind of jam, catch them at The Old Queen’s Head in London next month. For more shows as and when they’re added, see here.

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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.


Benji Tranter is a South-East London based songwriter, performer, promoter, bedwetter and all-round well adjusted individual. Thanks to three years at Goldsmiths University, he is a bachelor of popular music and so, as is only appropriate, spends his time listening to records and attending live gigs – anything else would be an abuse of his undeniable authority on the subject. He can also be found helping out at the Indie Label Market in Old Spitalfields Market.

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