Fresh Faves: Batch 276

Ex Libras

Artists at a glance

EX LIBRAS
FEWTRIO
JEREMY TUPLIN
LEAVING ATLANTIS
OCTOBER DRIFT
OF EMPIRES
RARE COLOURS
VIOLET CONTOURS
WORK

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

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.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

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.

Official | Soundcloud | YouTube

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.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

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.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

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.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

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.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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!

Soundcloud

Leaving Atlantis

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.

Steve Harris

Steve Harris is an independent app developer living in Swansea, Wales. A passionate music lover, his hobbies include not working and pretending to understand science. Find him on Twitter: @steveharris. Read more about Steve.

7 Comments

  1. Derv

    Beyond excellent reviews Steve. Best I’ve read in a long time. You’re in depth without snore, funny without sark, and self-depreciating with oodles of charm. Bravo boyo.

  2. First class reviews Steve. Your ability to get to the heart of what really makes a track is really impressive. I’ll definitely re-read them later when I can have the benefit of listening to the tracks again as I read.

  3. Great reviews Steve – it’s going my turn next week, and this is going to be a hard act to follow.

    The whole anonymity/no web presence syndrome – represented this week by the artist(s) known as WORK – is baffling. Why do certain artists put this much time, trouble and talent into creating tunes people will like – and no effort at all into helping new people discover them? Good luck trying to find a song called “Control” by a band called “WORK” on Google – and they haven’t uploaded it to BBC Introducing either.

    Makes me wish I’d given my vote at the weekend to LUXE – Hotlove instead: https://soundcloud.com/iamluxemusic/hotlove

  4. Elia

    Luxe’s Hotlove is the one that got away. I was very surprised it didn’t get through.

    Excellent reviews, Steve.

  5. Thanks SO much to everyone who’s contributed to having us, Leaving Atlantis, in the final batch. So much great music out there!

    And thanks for all the lovely comments.
    A minor correction, gig is the 5th of May and not the 8th, to anyone who happens to be in Copenhagen at that time. Also this gig will be with my danish backing band this time.
    Hopefully we will have some shows coming up in London soon but since we’re a cross border collaboration, it can be quite a challenge to find the resources for gigging.

    Bonus info: We have 20 plus new songs just waiting for final mix and master and if someone fancy a sneak listen, we have a private playlist on SC. Let us now and we’ll send you a link.

    Best, Signe

  6. Steve Harris

    Sorry about that Signe, I have corrected the date.

    Thanks to everyone else for the kind words, etc. I really enjoyed reviewing these tunes!

  7. Hi Steve. No worries at all. Hey is there anyway to see the listening post for batch 276 somewhere ? Looks like link doesn’t work anymore ?
    Cheers and happy Easter :)
    Signe

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