Artists at a glance
FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR
GEORGIA & THE VINTAGE YOUTH
THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS
ACCÜ – Did You Count Your Eyes
Blasting us off like a psychedelic space mission this week is Cardiff-based Accü. It begins like any rocket launch with a countdown, created by a steady drum beat and squelchy synths. Accü’s reverb-heavy vocals sound like she’s reading from a story book and must admit I do feel like I’ve just sat down in psych-class and she is about to begin the best lesson. Her curriculum for Did You Count Your Eyes? certainly ticks all the boxes: quirky lyrics, Tomorrow Never Knows-style drumming and plenty fuzz and phaser. Box ticking aside, Accü manages to remain a distinctive songwriter whose appetite for curious examination of the mind is at the forefront of her psych-pop sound.
A hazy dream with magic carpet qualities for fans of Nico and Melody’s Echo Chamber.
BADA DOOM – I Am Loved And I Need To Be Human
I’ll be honest; I feared the worst when I saw this reversed lyric from How Soon Is Now?. “Please not another band pretending to be The Smiths” I cried (internally). Thankfully, this debut from Bada Doom is anything but. It’s energetic, it’s busy – thanks to some quite excellent drumming, it’s BIG. Interjections of brass bring a subtle yet powerful dynamic, all the while the top line vocal sounds are persistent and willing. It reminds me of early Everything Everything; no fear and electrifying bombastic inquisitiveness. One of the most exciting debuts this writer has heard in recent times.
The track is available to buy here with all donations going to Musicians Supporting the Homeless and Phoenix Homes Colchester.
DARCIE – Litter
“My playlists are littered with you” Darcie singer Zigi Porter repeats on the chorus of Litter. It’s a personal confession that forcefully hits the nail on the head for this great pop song. Magnetic vocals combined with smooth electronic backing make this a big emotive hitter. Tom Donaldson completes this Manchester-based duo that has something about them, I believe, to connect with people through their brand of wistful lo-fi soul. Porter comes across as a confident songstress with elusive swagger reminiscent of AlunaGeorge. “You make me put my phone down” – a line that speaks volumes in today’s society is one of many instances of Porter attempting to make connections but then falls down with the repeated final lines “Don’t know what we’re doing”.
With an EP due out later this year, we’re very keen here at Team Freshnet to see where these two talented so-and-so’s can go.
FORMULA TWO – Pressing Me
This is pure pop fun from Rochdale in the form of duo Formula Two. Singer Vikki Carden has a great contemporary voice with shimmering harmonies with stalwart guitarist John Blackburn who knows how to write a great solo and impresses as a counter-melody king.
For an act that, looking at their social media, plays predominantly covers this is very encouraging. I do hope that they manage to squeeze their own material into their live sets as these are songs that need to be heard.
The duo has over 15 gigs scheduled in for the rest of the year, mainly in and around Lancashire as well as dipping into West Yorkshire.
FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR – Chasing Amy
Four Thieves Vinegar, according to Wikipedia, is “a vinegar concoction…that was believed to protect users from the plague.” After one listen to Chasing Amy you begin to understand that this name makes complete sense. These are observations of one man’s journey of companionship, philosophy, ambition and that all is not that it seems. This is poetry, touching the zeitgeist – “Nothing to do, everything to say”. As sombre as the lowly guitar accompaniment is, the words are powerful and poignant and say that self-reflection is the key to move forward, to protect from the plague of daily life.
Not too much to find online about Four Thieves Vinegar. As frustrating as it is for me not to able to dig deeper about their background, in a way it makes one more intrigued. An EP will be released on 4 June this year on the conveniently named Ambiguous Records.
GEORGIA & THE VINTAGE YOUTH – Sing To You
Bouncy Ska/Soul feels and impressive vocals next from Georgia & The Vintage Youth. Sing To You describes the singer meeting somebody new who she is unsure of their sexuality, unsubtly announced with the line “thought you were gay”. This song feels like Georgia trying to make sense of this meeting and the story they share over the course of a blossoming relationship. I was reminded of Nancy Wilson – Georgia has the same ability to tell a story with flow and grace.
Name checked by Pixie Lott and Jools Holland, there’s no denying the Amy Winehouse vibes and voice but that’s no bad thing as, for a change, that comparison is fully worthy. Essex-born Georgia dropped out of Drama School to pursue a career in songwriter. I think it’s safe to say, based on this wonderful song, that she made a great choice.
SHARON LAZIBYRD – Half Shame and Half Glory
This is quite simply put, gorgeous folk music. Sharon Lazibyrd’s vocals sing a kindly and melodic line, interspersed with a lovely counter-melody on the viola (which she also plays). Backed with picked acoustic guitar and sultry piano the mood really warms you like the sunshine on your face.
Lazibyrd has featured already on the BBC Introducing Mixtape with previous track “What Time Is Later?”. Half Shame And Half Glory is the title track from her upcoming album to be released in June this year. Sharon was also half of the South West Music Awards best folk act in 2013 and she was also invited to take part in a BBC Introducing folk residential in 2014.
SLOWLINES – This Feels Like The End
Taken from their second EP of the same name, Slowlines (formerly known as Slowlights) signify their new sound. That sound is lofty and ambitious. No doubt will they will draw comparisons of Coldplay and Amber Run (whom guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook plays in) with sights set on stadium-filled Indie Rock. They have the talent to back this up with catchy guitar hooks, a sing-a-long chorus and crystal production on This Feels Like The End. For Slowlines, this feels like the beginning.
They recently played their first gig as Slowlines last week at The Old Blue Last in London.
THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS – Retro Is Nouveau
“Nothing is original anymore” harp East Midlands’ The Happy Somethings. It sounds like the start of every jaded and cynical music fans’ rant about modern pop music. Whilst that’s merely people projecting their inability to connect with new music, The Happy Somethings, as their name suggests, are quite positive about the whole the thing. I mean, it may well be tongue-in-cheek but a song this good transcends the bitterness. The joyous backing vocals in the Doo-Wop-style and male spoken word give a B-52’s edge in between the repeated hook “Retro is Nouveau!”. Are we happy yet?
Their debut album Playing with Dolls is out this week.
YOUNG CUB – I’ll Say
Returning to the Fresh Faves is Young Cub, who last appeared back in October last year. Young Cub is Thomas Roche and Adam Gulley from Keighley, West Yorkshire, but with still relatively little on the web, perhaps we should let the music do the talking. Impressive production skills and quiet confidence in the feel of I’ll Say everywhere you listen. Slick guitar licks and stomping brass-hits underneath slightly electronically tinged vocals just ooze swagger; the perfect song to sashay down the street to.
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.