Artists at a glance
EX LIBRAS – City Kids Grow Never Seeing The Stars
Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, you should never judge a track by its opening bars. Fortunately, the start of Ex Libras’s City Kids Grow Never Seeing The Stars contains enough hints that this is no piano ballad, although nothing could adequately foretell the explosion of fireworks that is to come, and while it soon simmers down again, the calm doesn’t last for long.
I’ve heard plenty of tracks try to pull something like this off, few successfully, but Ex Libras have nailed it. Amit Sharma’s voice is impressively strong, and he can really hold a note, but with a lightness that is so often lacking in these situations. He deserves credit for his shredding too, along with the other band members, Kieran Nagi (Keyboards / Bass) and Ross Kenning (Drums), for both their skill and relative restraint when required. This is a trio that really sounds like they know what they’re doing.
City Kids Grow Never Seeing The Stars is available now as a free download on their Bandcamp page.
FEWTRIO – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Creating a jazz cover of an iconic rock song — and not just any iconic rock song, but Generation X’s MOST SACRED iconic rock song — needs careful handling. Get it wrong and it’ll end up in Mike Flowers Pops territory. Get it right, and you’ve got FEWtrio’s cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
It may not smell quite so much like teen spirit now, more bourbon on the rocks, but it really showcases the free-flowing melody and structure of a track that originally, to some people’s ears, may have sounded like a right old racket. I also like that — after they’ve paid homage — they then go off and do their own thing, including a fittingly ominous-sounding outro.
FEWtrio is Paul Eldridge on piano, Julie Walkington on double bass and Julian Fenton on drums, who’ve either known each other, or known of each other for a decade or more, and in 2015 found themselves jamming and playing together. Following a year-long residency at Black and Blue in Waterloo, which helped the band develop and distill their ideas, they’ve now started recording covers of songs from David Bowie, The Beatles, Kate Bush, Queen, ELO, Radiohead and The Beach Boys. Smells Like Teen Spirit was one of the first tracks completed, with more coming to their YouTube channel soon.
JEREMY TUPLIN – Albert Einstein Song
Science nerd that I am, it was with a little dread that I began listening to Albert Einstein Song by Jeremy Tuplin, lest I hear something I disagreed with, and end up forced to suppress my pedantry in the name of art, or something.
This track takes its time getting to the vocals, and so it was ultimately a huge relief to hear a beautiful and unexpected twist, in which Jeremy applies the law of the conservation of energy (which can neither be created nor destroyed) to the passing of David Bowie. “If his energy must go somewhere, well we don’t know where it goes”, he sings, before leading the track to an enchanting end.
Timing matters, of course. We lost another great physicist last week, Stephen Hawking, who became famous in part for his work on something Einstein’s theory of General Relativity predicted, but which Einstein himself wasn’t sure could be true — black holes. Hawking died the same day Einstein was born, albeit 139 years later.
Albert Einstein Song is taken from the album I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut, which is out now on Folkwit Records, and available on Jeremy’s Bandcamp page. Catch him performing in Brighton, Colchester, and London over the next few weeks.
LEAVING ATLANTIS – Strange New World
Very popular with our readers this week is Strange New World by Leaving Atlantis. I must express a special fondness for the electro bleeps and whooshing noises (still waiting for that music journalism award!) that appear throughout. These, along with the horns that open the track, effortlessly conjure futuristic visuals. The melody is pretty too, it’s got a nicely chilled vibe and crystal clear vocals. Leaving Atlantis cite Zero 7 as an inspiration in their bio, and that fits well here. If I was to criticise, I would say it’s possibly a bit too long, and would benefit from the radio edit treatment, but it’s certainly a very pleasant place to be held up, all the same.
Leaving Atlantis is Vesa Haapanen and Signe Gry Thorup, who (I think) are based between London and Copenhagen, and if you’re anywhere near the latter, you can catch them doing a gig with some other artists on May 5.
OCTOBER DRIFT – All Broken Down
October Drift remain something of an enigma, says the bio on their very own web site. With support from BBC Introducing, Steve Lamacq at 6 Music, Bethan Elfyn at BBC Radio Wales, Danielle Perry at Absolute Radio, and the beautiful John Kennedy on Radio X, plus favourable reviews in the music press and blogs, October Drift have been around since 2015, but to my ears the impressive All Broken Down, with its fuzzy, purposeful, gazey guitars, makes it sound like they’ve been doing this a very long time, and will do terrible things to your eardrums in a live environment.
They’ve recently been supporting Editors, which sounds like a good match, and you can see them play / lose your hearing at Southhampton, London, Leicester, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Cambridge next month. All Broken Down is released on May 4.
OF EMPIRES – Waist Up In Gold
You can trust Fresh On The Net for all your musical needs. For example, if you’re planning on experiencing an acid trip any time soon, or even an acid trip flashback, Big Lebowski-style, then Of Empire’s trippy psych-rock, with its surf-tinged guitars and reverb-drenched-to-the-point-of-drowning vocals, punctuated by occasional yelps and whoops, will provide the perfect soundtrack. Don’t ask me what it’s about, maybe ask the cosmos instead.
You can get your next fix from this Brighton band at Soma Fest in London in April, and other festivals throughout the season. Waist Up In Gold is out now in all the usual places.
RARE COLOURS – Born In Love
I could try to say something about not having favourites, and loving all the tracks the same, blah blah blah, but as you’ve probably already guessed, dammit, Born In Love really does it for me, and the more I listen to it, the more it does it for me.
Unfortunately, this puts me in the awkward position where I have to make some sense of my feelings. Is it those distorted Eastern-tinged keys? The wailing Kate Bush-like vocals that appear out of nowhere? That insistently pounding electro bass line? The melody? The sentiment? Yep, it’s all the things, I can’t fault it.
Unfortunately I can tell you absolutely zilch about Rare Colours, apart from “London”, and they have some enticingly enigmatic artwork on their Facebook / Instagram. Normally a lack of biographical info when writing these reviews is infuriating, but on this occasion I’m so giddy in love that I really don’t mind at all, I just hope we hear more from them in future. I’ll be waiting by the phone until they call.
VIOLET CONTOURS – Hold On
“Did you see the smoke go up today, when they lost it all? … I could feel the heat from far away…” Hold On begins, so there’s clearly a story there, and with a later mention of a tower block, whether it’s inspired or prompted by Grenfell, I can’t be sure, but it’s clear there’s more to it than that, and it almost feels wrong to pry. What’s undeniable is that there is plenty of raw emotion here, along with guitars and vocals that almost cry with pain at times, but never go so far that it all becomes overwhelming. Again, this is a track that rewards repeated listens.
Violet Contours is a four-piece band from York, with support from BBC Introducing in North Yorkshire, and you can catch them live at the Basement in York on March 24. Hold On is out now on all the major platforms.
WORK – Control
Sonically, Control by Work is pretty retro, with the kind of warbling 80s synths that wouldn’t be out of place on a Human League track, topped with Big Brother-tinged, almost robotically spoken lyrics worthy of Kraftwerk, but bang up-to-date, which suggest that technology is now both monitoring and controlling our lives. Who knew?!! The delivery is spot on, and the production pin sharp.
I can tell you absolutely nothing about Work, except that the only other track on their Soundcloud page, It’s The Right Time, is quite a bit madder — all incessant drums, mangled vocals and wonky guitar. Check it out, particularly if you need your brain mashed — you won’t regret it!
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.