Artists at a glance
TÊTES DE POIS
ÚNA QUINN WITH NEIL CAMPBELL
My my, what a few days! Earth Day colliding with the start of Fashion Revolution Week, which has Beatle-baby Stella McCartney at its helm #gogreen #saynotoplastic. And, speaking of babies, congratulations Royals on the birth of Bonny Prince Charlie (or whatever the Little Prince is called).
On a more solemn note, we can’t move forward this week without paying our final respects to former mod, and long-term friend and collaborator of Fresh On The Net founder Tom Robinson, Raphael Doyle, who was sadly laid to rest last Friday. May he rest in peace. He has been and will continue to be much missed, especially by those to whom he was closest.
AAYUSHI – Diamond Child
Indie folk singer-songwriter Aayushi Jain hails from Birmingham. Citing Bon Iver and Daughter as influences, and Bright Eyes and Neutral Milk Hotel as inspos, she pairs low-fi ambience with poetic allegory.
Her song Diamond Child opens this week’s playlist like a gentle breeze on an Autumn morn. Like an unhurried caress or a tender smile tinged with a hint of melancholy, Diamond Child tells whatever story you want it to tell. For me, that story is very personal; so much of the lyrical content resonated. Maybe that’s because those carefully chosen words spoke to me, as they say.
“But did you know, like all the rest, we keep our memories in a safe?
And all the inside is full of writing, like a ticket you saved.”
The vocal is soft, idiosyncratic, the vibe eclectic, a little folky, a little country. On first listen, Julia Jacklin sprang to mind: Jacklin is mistress of opaque poesy and restrained emosh layered against a ‘black-mountain backdrop’. But there was something else. The lighter than light, almost childish vocal – it grigged me no end until it came to me. Christy Hennessy (RIP). Hennessy was a mighty fine lyricist, musician and singer who had the uncanny ability to transport a song into a fairy-like realm.
And that’s what Aayushi has done here. She’s taken a beautifully written poem and pinned it to the sparsest of instrumental emotion. Then, by giving it an elfin-like vocal delivery, has turned the notion of an old ticket, and the memories it harbours, into something wonderfully magical and timeless.
FOUNDLINGS – Misery
London/Brighton four-piece Foundlings is comprised of Amber, Bryan, Matthew and Oliver. They classify their groove as guitar-driven indie; I wouldn’t!
Unless Misery is an anomaly their sound is more ‘new wave with an anarchic vocal curve’ than indie (as we know it Jim). Misery is a bit of a punky-mosh of galloping chords and jagged rock twist surrounded by a PIL-powered energy field. And like PIL frontman John Lydon, Amber Foundlings languorously drags her vocal and drops bum notes with potent effect.
But this isn’t harshness a la Rotten; this is Blondie (c. Hanging on the Telephone) swaggers around 21st century England. Blondie doing its finest ‘guitaryist’,left-field new wave with skyscraper attitude.
Foundlings appear to be new to the scene. They’re ex Goldsmiths, have uploaded two tracks onto Soundcloud, and are currently gigging. But other than that they have little to nothing to say about themselves on their About/Bio; something which they need to address ASAP, yeah?
If Blondie/PIL fusion is your thang, Foundlings R4U.
LUVIA — For You
Somewhere in a parallel universe there’s a singer whose sound is a confluence of Charlotte Church, Dolores O’Riordan and Anne Lise Frokedal.
On planet Earth 2018, that singer is Brighton teenager Luvia, whose debut single, For You was one of the most popular tracks on our Listening Post this week.
With a commanding vocal form that is for the best part seriously downplayed, Luvia leads you through an homage to acoustic Americana with all the confidence of a singer twice her age. Collected and charming, serene and sublime, Luvia’s delivery is pitched at just the right level of tender emotion to capture the listener without smothering them with gush.
Musically, For You leans towards warm minimalism. Spacious and acoustically clean, the instruments sound as if they were mic’d up a la Phil Brown/Mark Hollis during the recording of the iconic Laughing Stock. The production is a clever trompe l’oreille – a sonic paradox of faraway instrumentation and so close vocals, the resultant effect of which is one of ethereal atmospherics.
Luvia is due to play Focus Wales 2018, Sound City in Liverpool and The Great Escape – get thee to the nearest one to your abode – methinks one will not be disappointed!
Luvia has dropped one heck of a debut single – here’s hoping the follow-ons will be equally stirring.
MICHAEL BAKER – Half My Love
Stranger to neither Fresh On The Net mods nor the Faves reviews, Mike Baker returns with his latest indie-folk composition, Half My Love.
A choir of acoustic guitars and Winwood-esque organ carries Baker’s pleasing vocal across a rich landscape of love, romance and “truth or dare”.
Michael Baker is a 28 year old Franco-Anglo with a serious talent for creating songs that soothe and beguile. Pacificity is his stock in trade. Here is an artist who understands that simplicity can oft wield the greatest power, and on Half My Love Mike Baker uses raw minimalism to startling effect. If his compelling sensitivity doesn’t get you, his touchingly honest vocal will.
London-based Baker has recently been busy playing a select handful of live shows across the continent; May however, will see him move closer to home when he takes to the stage at Plenty Alt Escape in his hometown of Brighton (details on his FB page).
As it would appear that Mr Baker is currently living in a VAN, I would strongly urge you all to show some financial support by way of buying his musical wares and/and going to see his gigs.
MOLTENO – 1000 Moons
Close your eyes, open your mind and let Jess Molteno Murray take you to the mesmerising lunar landscape of 1000 Moons.
The chant-like quality of 1000 Moons is bewitching. Quasi-hymnal, it’s like a prayer to the heavens set against a backdrop of twinkling stars. Listen, intently, and you’ll be transfixed. It’s utterly magical.
Just as you enter this bewitched state, the scene changes and the tempo shifts. Gone are the scratchy strings and shimmering synths, replaced by brooding keys, lush guitar-lines and jungle drums underscored by the most divine string sequence.
The track then closes on a lament of desolate strings; shivers of strings that send tingles up the spine.
Jess Molteno’s vocal is as cool as it is pearlescent. Clear, controlled and evocative, it hovers over the shifting landscapes like the moon which it seeks out.
Jess crafts her intergalactic dreamscapes in the comfort of her own London home studio. In charge of vocals, guitar and production, she dabbles in “atmospheric dream pop, with flavours of folk and trip hop”. 1000 Moons has only just been released and if you like what you hear and you’ve an empty mid-Summer diary, you can catch Molteno live at the Isle of Wight Festival 21-24 June.
NIGHTJJAR – The King Of Insincere
That chord – that rotating chord on loop! My musical cache is screaming Radiohead (have a wander around Kid A) but when the vocal kicks in my vintage ears shout Neil Finn (Crowded House). Not a natural pairing you say? I beg to differ – ever heard of 7 Worlds Collide? Hah.
The King of Insincere is the ‘kool kid’ of this week’s playlist. Eclectic flavoured indie-folk fusion with a large dollop of clever innovation, a glorious revolution of looping and a desire to go beyond normal sonic boundaries. Don’t even get me started on the percussion which is cut straight from the heart of 90s breakbeat hardcore/house (think Bizarre Inc, or google them if you’re not yet using anti-wrinkle cream – I was trendy once!)
I’d be dishonest if I didn’t confess to the Nightjjar track being my favourite of all the very worthy tracks on this week’s playlist. You can take the girl outta the ’90s… !
Nightjar is Aden Pearce, a Reading-based songwriter whose move into loop stations and laptops has seen his music explore more expansive and colourful territories. A songwriter with a proven knack for creating high-quality songs that combine irresistible melodies with meticulous lyrical detail, Aden Pearce is a talent that should be taken seriously.
It’s unclear if Nightjjar is going to be playing any lives in the upcoming weeks and months, but if you’re a ‘sincere’ Radiohead, Crowded House music fan, this is one artist whose trajectory you need to follow.
TÊTES DE POIS – Cut To The Chase (Feat. Jack Davis)
Cue Afro-influenced Jazz-Blues instrumental! Four minutes twenty of beats driven bluesorama, the cheeky bass of which would put jazz improv kingpin Charles Mingus to shame.
A colourful carnivale of brass, strings, and Buddy Rich meets Tony ‘Fela Kuti’ Allen sticks, Cut to the Chase is at once traditional and modern, afrobeat and jazz.
LO! Then I look up Têtes de Pois and what do I find? Seven Leeds natives with a penchant for ‘genre-bending instrumentation’ and a female bari-sax player!
Together since May 2016, Tétes de Pois (which might possibly mean Pea Heads if my French is anything to go by!) have gained quite the following and are amassing renowned festival kudos like others amass blue M&Ms. Lined up to play several Summer Festivals including JazzLeeds and World Island, this northern jazzy septet seem to have garnered quite a reputation, and deservedly so.
Cut To The Chase is real soulfood; impassioned, inspired and alive. World fusion music brought to life by seven extremely talented musicians gelling sax with keys, guitar and bass with diverse percussion to produce a rainbow of sounds with feelgood in abundance. I can’t even begin to imagine how wild these guys must be performing live.
If this doesn’t put pep in your step check for a pulse!
THE BREAKS – Masquerade
The Breaks are the Arctic Monkeys meets The Strokes for a jam and then some.
Masquerade is my other fave from this current batch of musical goodies. Forceful, moody, cocky and edgy this has both bark and bite in equal measure. There’s a swagger on the guitar riffs that together with some seriously sexy bass grooves scream self-assuredness in a Turner-esque kinda way.
Mister lead singer channels his inner rock-God, throwing down the vocal gauntlet and daring you, dear listener, not to fall for his smouldering charms. Resistance is futile my dear.
Spliced with scuzz, rife with hooks and resplendent with attitude, this is a no-nonsense rock record taken to another level by oil-slick production.
In a generation awash with hip hopping grimers, it’s refreshing to have finally found a band that could actually be worthy successors to the AM throne.
An indie band from Burnley these Northerners have just released their Trap Door EP from which Masquerade is the lead single. There appears to be five Breaks – this can be confirmed or denied when they get their finger out and update their bio/about on FB, right lads?
There’s a beer swilling, fag smokin’, weirdy footage vid for Masquerade featuring two of the aforementioned Breaks, which you can watch here.
THE HARLERS – Heart Of Gold
Not to be confused with Neil Young’s iconic 70s lament, Heart of Gold by Swindon three-piece alt-rockers The Harlers is more glam-growl than bell-bottomed ballad.
Strident guitars lead quite the insistent fray into the underbelly of a dark, thrumming vibe that has all the qualities usually associated with rock’s vintage vanguard but with a modern twist in the mould of Royal Blood.
Masterful vocals refuse to be brow-beaten by a dominant instrumental line and combined they result in a tour-de-force that both demands and commands your attention.
The Harlers released their debut EP entitled Morning Light in Autumn 2017. Since then, they’ve played a plethora of lives and released Heart of Gold as a single. They’ve also released a live video for the track which you can watch here.
No further info available (at time of going to press) but if potent guitarology is to your liking, you might do worse than give them a follow on socials.
ÚNA QUINN WITH NEIL CAMPBELL – Sin é (Scam)
For those of you wondering what lingo Sin é is in and what it means, well it’s Irish and it means “that’s it”. See! All those years reading Peig has stood me in good stead!
Sin é is the fruit of a collaboration between Liverpool based Úna Quinn and Neil Campbell. Úna plays in a musical co-operative of sorts known as Threds; what’s not clear is if Campbell is a party to this or the current collab is a side-project. What is clear is that this obviously successful and synergetic Quinn-Campbell musical union has been on the go for some time as Sin é isn’t their first single release.
Úna Quinn’s performance on this track is redolent of the more theatrical and folksy side of a Kate Bush vocal delivery (I’m reminded of the Bush tracks that featured her brother Paddy).
A modern reinvention of classic folk brought to life through many diverse, coloured textures – there’s a myriad levels of instrumentation used in the creation of this eclectic storybook. And that’s exactly what this feels like – story telling – animated story telling delivered with lively gesticulation and dramatic nuance, in a light and airy, engaging voice.
There’s more than a touch of the Irish to this musical seanchaí – I don’t know her background but with a name like Úna Quinn it’s not hard to guess her ancestral DNA.
Lively, charming, full of devilment and drama, Sin é makes for quite the unique and unusual song to bookend this week’s playlist.
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.