Another year is almost over, and yet the fantastic contributions to FOTN have not dried up! Nay, indeed the flow of creativity from our contributors, even through the darkest of months, is as strong as ever. And the pick of this week’s crop, as chosen by our readers, is reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Benji Tranter. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
Furthermore as we build up to Christmas, we have received a number of festive-themed tunes, which can all be found here.
ALBERT MAN – I Feel Like Dancing
The year’s penultimate set of faves opens with a familiar face at FOTN – that of Albert Man. Previous appearances here and elsewhere have rightly heralded comparisons with piano maestros including Billy Joel and Ben Folds, as well as Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
But let’s face the facts, this, AM’s third appearance in the Fresh Faves here with track I Feel Like Dancing, is the result of a highly professional quality of songwriting that, given the publicity, would easily scale the charts. Its universal potential is born of its abandon of rules, expectations and reality. We all need to escape sometimes, and just dance to our favourite record.
The Manchester-born, half-German singer-songwriter plays regularly on the London circuit both solo and with his band. Catch him next year at St. Pancras Old Church on Wednesday 8th February.
BIRDYHOP – Blossom Tree
Blossom Tree starts off nice n’ simple like – a drum machine and a pared back, jagged, rhythm guitar. Enter a jangly guitar melody. Jangly guitar exit stage right. It is neat. It pleases my obsessions, and my compulsions, in that order. (Put that back!)
Our singers sing of a lost love, a familiar story of a protagonist who knew not what they had until it was gone. It is now gone. Luckily, as is so often the case, our protagonist’s pain has inspired a beautiful song!
What confounds me about this song is how it slips so seamlessly from ‘neat n punchy’ to ‘big n stadiumy’ with no fanfare needed. I prefer the neat n punchy, but that transition is nicely done for sure! Covert style.
BirdyHop is the music project of brothers James and Chris Goldsmith, who live together in South West London. They’ve been releasing music together for two years, including this year’s WORK EP. This track appears to be their first offering in the nine months which have passed since that release.
ELISA ZOOT – Alabama
Elisa Zoot, self-proclaimed “singer & producer from North London” has also appeared among our Fresh Faves in days gone by, with her band Black Casino and the Ghost, and even more recently in her collaboration with The Mouth Of Ghosts. She has kept up her good form, with her popularity among this week’s voters cemeting her place.
And rightly so – this song rewards with each subsequent listen and has more hooks that a fishing-rod convention, not to mention an abundance of stomp and sass, backed up with a searing vocal.
By the looks of Elisa Zoot’s soundcloud, and apparent lack of other social media presence, this appears to be her first solo foray, adding another string to her already impressive bow of projects. Long may it continue!
HAULA – Good To You ft. VRS.US
It is said (by the wizards) that if you really want to have a hit, you need to listen to the chart day in day out and hear what’s actually popular.
Haula has certainly been studying in her field.
Good To You, in fact, is so accompolished, effective and chart/club ready that I really have to question whether this isn’t in fact an acid test before it is released by Rihanna. Haula might have something to say about that though…
The powerful vocalist appears to have big aspirations, but is currently seeking management to take her career to the next level, and is keeping her cards close to her chest. All I can say is that on this evidence, she is already walking and talking the walk n’ talk, and certainly has the songwriting chops and production on her side. You could say it’s only a matter of time! You heard it here first…
HEMAN SHEMAN – Luvva
Heman Sheman, who describe themselves brilliantly as “brewed in Manchester, bottled in London”, should be purely funky nostalgia by rights. But somehow in Luvva, they have made fermented their own original brew from familiar ingredients, including a tasty dollop of Young Americans era Bowie!
The troupe, now based in Dalston, have experience under their belts, having played “3 hour sets as resident band on a cruise liner, for ageing holiday-goers” during their formative years as a band, and have since been featured by the Guardian and played by Lauren Laverne on BBC6 Music.
They’re finishing off their 2016 with a show at The Monarch, Chalk Farm, tonight!
HONEYMILK – The Nothing New
I could make comparisons to The Strokes… I could probably also put the Mystery Jets in there… There’s a lovely hint of Beach Boys in the introduction…
But let me not be lazy this fine day!
Stockholm-based band Honeymilk (Marcus Admund and Nikki Nyberg) have written a totally sunshiney, feel-good piece of wonderpop here. And ironically the theme is boredom and fatigue – “I see another face that’s got nothing new to say” – with existence. But what wonderful emotions these are when, if you see nothing worth seeing, they bring about the itch to create something worth seeing!
Now then, let’s see, more comparisons… oooh ABBA were Swedish so I can definitely put them in there……
Ahem. Anyway keep an eye on their Facebook page as the video for The Nothing New comes out later today (14/12/16).
P.O.P.E – Tick Tock
[When this track was voted for, it was available only as a demo – this is the subsequently released album version]
James Y Hothersall, AKA P.O.P.E is a rap/spoken-word musician and poet from Huddersfield.
You don’t have to listen too closely to this one to hear that Hothersall is angry about more than one thing, and I think those things in question may have not a little to do with politics this year. Examples include mention of “our parasitic population”, and the instruction “all hope is lost, get out while you can.”
While there may be some vagueness here, it is an important role that P.O.P.E is playing. While year upon year, much of the music industry seems more institutionalised than ever, and the subject matter of chart material ever more inoffensive and irrelevant (not so with the current #1 Rockabye), Hothersall is here using his art as counterculture in its true meaning.
SERF SCHOOL – Council Rage
For some reason Serf School is impossible to research online. Their/his soundcloud info section says, and I quote: “Tell the world a little bit about yourself, the shorter the better.” I think he’s taken the advice on shortness to extremes.
However, judging by the accent and the image accompanying the track, our protagonist hails from the local government area known as Gwynedd in the north-west of Wales. Or he may have simply received a parking ticket there. One thing is for sure – he ain’t happy about it.
Essentially that’s all I can give you on the matter. If regional rap, with feelings of anger regarding a parking ticket is your bag, get stuck in!
THE WATANABES – Tonight
The Watanabes are living my dream. I hate them for it. I also love this track so I will let them off.
The brothers (2nd pair of this week’s faves!) live, write and perform in Tokyo, Japan. Their track Tonight has a Crosby (who is a fan, apparently), Stills, Nash & Young aesthetic about it, with fingerpicking guitar to boot. Latterly (what is this, the shipping forecast?) the chorus opens into a great big shuffling thing of beauty. It’s like getting a hug from the honeymonster, I imagine. Their material ranges between this and Belle & Sebastian type whimsy, with an occasional helping of The Smithsesqueness in here and there.
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling out there for Christmas, the boys have some upcoming shows as a duo and with their band, which includes Ayumi Sato on bass, and Tomoyuki Yamada on drums. Find out more at their official website below. Also they have a myspace! Yeah!!
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.