Fresh Faves: Batch 284

Claudia Montero

Artists at a glance

AFRICALI
BARE TRAPS
CHLOË MARCH
CLAUDIA MONTERO
DEAR JAPAN
HONEYMOAN
JOHN LAWRENCE
LAURENCE MADE ME CRY
SKINNY RODGERS
TV SCREENS

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.

AFRICALI – Daughters Of The Sun Mothers Of The Brave

Opening our Fresh Faves in style this week is Africali’s Daughters Of The Sun Mothers Of The Brave. Africali was founded by Nico Georis, Shaun Elley and MC Eyezon in 2010. Tokyo Dawn Records describes them as Afrobeat with a Californian street swagger, and it’s hard to come up with a better description. In this track, you can somehow hear the blazing African sunshine funnelled through the mishmash of old and new buildings on the streets of San Francisco.

Daughters Of The Sun Mothers Of The Brave is taken from their latest EP, Taught Of A Culture, which is available now on Bandcamp and all the usual places.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

BARE TRAPS – Inside (2018 Version)

For modern indie-pop bands, the road is strewn with peril, not least because it’s a road well travelled, and yet there are constraints on how far you can veer from the straight and narrow path, particularly when starting out. Play it too safe and you’ll be overlooked, but overdo it and you risk getting raked over the coals for trying to be clever.

Bare Traps somehow avoid falling into these, er, traps. Inside is perfectly put together without leaving you cold, free of gimmicks, catchy without being annoying, energetic and yet reassuringly understated. This four-piece from London has received support and plays from BBC Introducing, Radio X, and Clash magazine. Inside is released alongside their latest single Take Your Time, available to stream or buy on Bandcamp and all the usual places.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

CHLOË MARCH – Wild Cherries

Keeping it understated, but with a sound so immersive you could be underwater, is Wild Cherries by Chloë March. Ostensibly about a dress, but probably about quite a lot more, Wild Cherries beguiles with dreamy lyrics and thoughtful key changes. I especially admire how it ends so abruptly, leaving you wanting more.

Chloë March is no stranger to Fresh On The Net or Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape, having appeared on both more or less since the outset, but no matter how the instrumentation and styles may have changed over the years, she’s always been consistent in those assured, velvety smooth vocals and seductively irresistible songs that have claimed the hearts of our listeners and reviewers alike.

Wild Cherries is taken from her fourth album Blood-Red Spark, available now on Bandcamp and pretty much everywhere.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

CLAUDIA MONTERO – Luces y Sombras

Wow! I should warn you right now that I’m not going to be able to do much justice to Luces y Sombras (Light and Shadows), because I lack the knowledge and skill, but I will tell you this: there is drama and intrigue, it’s thrilling, restless and invigorating, moving from one scene to the next with effortless aplomb.

This is the third movement of Claudia Montero’s Concert For Guitar And Strings commissioned by CulturArts in Valencia as a tribute to composer Manuel Palau. It was premiered at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, and has now been recorded with Isabel Siewers on guitar and Lucia Zicos conducting The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. You can hear the other movements on her Soundcloud page.

Argentinean-born Claudia Montero has won the Latin Grammy award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition twice, and teaches composition at the Conservatorio Superior de Música Joaquín Rodrigo in Valencia. Lucky students!

Official | Soundcloud | Twitter | YouTube

DEAR JAPAN – Kushiro

Little is known about Dear Japan, it seems, other than “Dear Japan is a new formation from Hamburg and California”. Their debut track, Kushiro (also the name of a city in Hokkaido), is steeped in both melancholy and a touch of menace — certainly lines such as “you’d rather leave me slaughtered” speak of something dark, and the fragile vocals, slow synths, electro chirps and actual birdsong all conjure a haunting atmosphere, but there is tenderness and a yearning for comfort too.

You can stream Kushiro on Soundcloud and Spotify now.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

HONEYMOAN – We

Honeymoan is a five-piece band from Cape Town, and We is their debut, part of a double A-side physical and digital release that also features the far more shoegazey </3.

Impressive in its restraint, We opens with funky bass and drums, slowly adding guitar, vocals and keys without losing that initial sense of sparseness. Around the halfway mark the track goes into a kind of bridge and distorted guitar solo, and things get a bit trippy for a while, but it’s so confidently understated that even at full power it never overwhelms.

The band has been formed from a number of other local bands, which helps explain both the surefooted-ness and mixture of styles. Currently their singer lives in Amsterdam, but the hope is that Honeymoan will play a few gigs in Cape Town when all the members can get together. Their music is available now in all the usual places.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Bandcamp

JOHN LAWRENCE – Imbolc

Who’d have thought jazz fusion would be a thing people are getting very excited about in this age? Well, here we present jazz fusion from Snowdownia by John Lawrence (one of the founding members of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci). Now based in Capel Curig in North Wales, where he runs his own recording studio amongst other things, John singlehandedly performed and produced this track.

On first listen Imbloc seems pretty mad, with duelling sax and trumpet, Spanish guitar, trombones, wailed vocals, and even a recorder thrown into the mix. The more you listen, the more it makes sense, but I say that with the caveat that everything is relative!

There is also a very impressive video, partly filmed with a drone on a mountain in front of the frozen Llyn Ogwen, in which there are capes and other strange outfits, trumpets being played simultaneously, dancing, and so on, that will almost certainly enhance your appreciation of this track and the artist behind it.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

LAURENCE MADE ME CRY – For Scott

It was incredibly sad to hear about the death of Frightened Rabbit singer, Scott Hutchison, and Glasgow artist Jo Whitby, aka Laurence Made Me Cry, opens up about her own difficulties with depression in the track notes of this moving tribute to him:

I’ve struggled to put into words the impact of Scott Hutchison’s passing and I don’t even think this comes close. I just needed to get something out. As someone still battling depression with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis this isn’t the happiest of songs… I’m going to suggest that you need to be kind to yourself and only listen to this if you feel up to it. So much love to everyone.

It should be no surprise that this track went to the top of our poll this week, and I think the music speaks for itself. While you can download this track for free from Bandcamp, Jo says that if you decide to pay then all funds will go to the charity Help Musicians UK.

The latest Laurence Made Me Cry album, Tesserae, was released last month and is also on Bandcamp now.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

SKINNY RODGERS – Home Run

Home Run is an impressive debut by Skinny Rodgers. The layered guitars and relentless beat could easily soundtrack a driving scene in a movie. Indeed, if you play this over the opening scene to David Lynch’s Lost Highway, it works as a perfect replacement for David Bowie’s I’m Deranged, wonderful though that is.

From Halesworth, I can’t tell you much else about Skinny Rogers, except that he appears to be a solo artist, and that Home Run has already been played by BBC Introducing in Suffolk. If this debut is anything to go by, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more in the future.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

TV SCREENS – Magic Bones

TV Screens (formerly known as City of Salt) is a band formed in Provo, Utah in 2015 who, according to their bio, fuse their folk roots with genres like grunge, rock, pop, and electronica to create something more experimental.

I can hear that. Certainly it’s an unmistakably American-sounding record, with a touch of country in that guitar, the hint of a grungy bassline, and an organ quietly humming away in the background. These tracks are reviewed alphabetically, but it also seems a very fitting end to this playlist.

You can download Magic Bones on Bandcamp now, and it’s available on all the usual streaming services.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

Skinny Rodgers

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.

5 Comments

  1. 0ldierob

    Nice reviews of a great and eclectic playlist

  2. Honored, to be selected, my first time, enjoying a lot to share my music with all these artists, Thanks, and have a great week, I begin mine full of happiness!!! Thanks Steve for your comments!!

  3. Great reviews as always Steve. I thought we had a really diverse and interesting 25 at the LP this week (despite some moans) and this Top Ten is a reflection of that with Claudia Montero’s Latin-flavoured Classical work, Chloe March’s moving melancholic ethereal dream-pop, Africali’s irresistable groove with that echoing guitar chord occurring throughout plus some driving Indie Rock, modern Jazziness and other flavours all brilliantly summarised and brought to life for our benefit by your outstanding reviews. Jeez, I’ve got weeks of consistently superb reviews to try to live up to next Monday. :)

  4. Elia

    Great reviews and a lovely selection!

  5. Kay

    I am delighted to see you introducing Claudia Montero to new listeners. I am a classical music lover, and from hearing Claudia’s first few bars, two years ago, I became a devotee!
    We were at the World Premier of Claudia’s Piano Concerto, Blanco y Negro, last July at the Galway International Arts Festival – the audience were thrilled by every movement. There is so much of Claudia’s music to discover and be enthralled by the journey of each composition.

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