Words by Rob Ball.
It’s the end of our school year here at FOTN, and Team Freshnet (AKA the FreshMods), having listened to over 6500 tracks over the past year, are off on their annual and well deserved August break.
However, before packing their buckets and spades and making for the seaside, the ‘mods were asked to nominate their favourite track from the past year and write a few words. A few were so excited at this prospect that they offered two tracks – either that or they are just indecisive – and as it was the end of term we decided to bend the rules a little.
The mods’ choices will be staggered over the next few weeks; below you will find part one, with parts two and beyond appearing over the next week.
The following playlist demonstrates not only the very high quality we are lucky enough to be offered for each week, but also the extremely wide variety of genres we hear. I hope it also shows that we are an eclectic bunch; the selections throughout the playlists range from Acapella to Hip Hop through Folk, Indie, Pop and Rock. The one firm thread throughout is they are all really great tracks.
If you enjoy FOTN or have benefited from its work, please do let your friends know about the site with all its excellent resources designed to help new acts.
P.S. During the summer we will also have a few playlists by individual moderators for you to listen to, so do look in.
FreshMod: Benji Tranter
Fave: IVOR GAME – Water and Wine (Faves 243)
Benji says: Smooth, soothing melancholia from the curious London singer/songwriter. This already feels like a classic to me, and has the beautiful eeriness of 10cc’s I’m Not In Love. Ivor has toured for prolifically in recent years, honing his craft as he goes. Of touring, he adds “it always rains and the roads seem to go on forever!”
I can’t wait to hear whatever is around the next bend of the road for Ivor.
FreshMod: Bobby Colcombe
Fave: BILLIONAIRE – Reasons To Be Fearful (Faves 230)
Bobby says: BILLIONAIRE (aka John Sterry) was the first name to leap to mind when I had to think about my fave fave of the past year. I discovered him on my very first review for Fresh Net and he’s been releasing absolute bangers ever since. What I love the most about this cut is Sterry’s trademark observational lyrics and lo-fi sound. Here he reels off a shopping list of media scare stories that make him want to hide away from the world, get high and watch space documentaries. Pure and wonderful escapism. Reasons… is taken from his recently released EP Cheap Credit!
FreshMod: Derval McCloat
Fave #1: TINY ARROWS – The Antidote (Faves 235)
“I was a compass point without a star”
Derv Says: For me, music is and always has been about emotion. Ever since I was a child, I have allowed it to reach deep inside and seek out my emotions at will. I genuinely believe that both music and nature are the greatest gifts ever to have been bestowed on humankind. Like nature, music has the power to gladden, sadden and madden – to overwhelm like a vast Atlantic wave, sweeping us willingly into a myriad realms.
Music has the power to transcend and elevate, or subdue and soothe. Somewhere betwixt those two states lies The Antidote, a song which is at once both uplifting and soporific.
The heady vapours of its melodic haze are as intoxicating as the single malt warmth of its beguiling vocals, which like a precocious ingénue, slip their tiny hand in yours, while giving you a knowing look, before leading you away into some promising horizon.
The Antidote is a song of two halves: the first floats like a bird on the wing while the second wakes you from an hypnotic slumber with a vibrant burst of guitar-fuelled fireworks.
“I’m a bird, we’re the stars
and we feel everything with a beating heart”
A kaleidoscope of textures and moods course through the veins of this song, all guided by and drawn to its compelling percussive heartbeat. Tiny Arrows have injected just the right amount of static in the guitar lines and earthiness in the drums to weigh down The Antidote and keep it from blowing away into Neverland.
Tiny Arrows hover between Barcelona and a particularly lovely and ‘cliffy’ part of south-west England. Their vocalist (and I suspect drummer) is one of the most talented multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriters I know. Their brand of ethereal indie is a gift they need to keep on giving. It’s not every day that two musical spheres collide with such special results.
This song hit me in the heart. That’s why I’ve chosen it as my fave Fave.
Fave #2: THE TRUSTED – Sunlight (LP 242)
Derv says: It wouldn’t be a Derv fave if it didn’t have a full on guitararama indie-rock fuzzing things up. Until the day I slip off my Toms with a view to settling down for an everlasting snooze in a haze of wonk and gaze, I’ll forever fly the psychedelic hued flag for guitartastic indie music.
The Trusted are a band of young lads from Southend, banging out great tunes and doing everything they can to get themselves that all important break. I love their enthusiasm, their positivity, their verve and most of all I am completely besotted with their sound. It’s sunny side up, mellow side down. Charismatic vocals, enough guitar grit to ignite but not grate, dynamic rhythms, a constant turnover of tempo and style, and a good line in lyrical patter keep The Trusted’s music fresh.
Sunlight is a devastatingly good song. It balances a fine line between heartbreak and serenity. With melodies as golden and vocals as warm as the sunlight of its name, this song shimmers and glows, but when those guitars slide and soar, oh man, its iridescent gleam is just magical.
FreshMod: Angry Baby
Fave: KATE DIMBLEBY – Musical Boxes (Inbox 224)
Flo says: Kate Dimbleby’s Musical Boxes was the first song that came to mind when I was asked to name my “Fave of Faves” for the past year, so I was surprised to see that it didn’t actually make it to the Listening Post when it appeared in the inbox back in January. There’s a lesson here – the uploader tends to get rammed with songs just after our holiday breaks, so even exceptional tracks can get overlooked.
But it didn’t miss out for long. Tom included it in his Mixtape and he’s also interviewed Kate on his BBC Radio 6 Music programme. And I reviewed the entire album Songbird for Fresh On The Net too – take a look and a listen here.
Why is it so special? In a word, it’s fearless. From the technical mastery that takes looping and layering to a whole new level, and which Kate reproduces (with a practical acceptance of the potential for chaos) in her live performances, through the embracing of a capella which, let’s face it, isn’t the coolest of vocal choices, to the content of the songs in which – as Kate says – we hear “everything laid bare”. The result is genius. Take a listen and see if you agree.
It’s also a proud testament to the creativity of women of the music industry that the album was produced by Lauren Deakin Davies and released through Helen Meissner’s Folkstock Records. Sisters are doing it for themselves, and for each other, and a mighty fine job they are making of it.
FreshMod: Jim Craigen
Fave #1: SUPER BEST FRIENDS CLUB – Humans (Faves 211)
Jim says: There’s so much fantastic new music from emerging artists submitted to us here that to pick out a few favourites from the past year was asking the impossible. However, I decided eventually that ‘shaking your stuff’ should be one of my key decision making indicators. Therefore this infectious and psychedelic mix of guitars, percussion, and keyboards from London 5-piece Super Best Friends Club wins through. A crazy madcap masterpiece!
Fave #2: ELOISE – California (Faves 242)
Jim says: The first time I heard California in the inbox it caught my ear, and so I added it to my weekly longlist.
By the third time it was obvious it would be my main pick that week, and it went on to receive enough public votes to make the Fresh Faves in May. The melody, vocals, and production then grew on me more and more each time I heard it, to the point where it’s now one of my favourite tracks of the year!
Not bad for a song that, as Eloise sings, is “about as exciting as tap water”.
FreshMod: Johnno Casson
Fave #1: FAITH ELIOTT – Pyrite Ammonite (Faves 213)
Johnno says: Beautiful outsider art conceived in Minneapolis and moulded in Edinburgh.
Tune in next week for more faves from the year gone by…