Artists at a glance
JACK ELLIS MUSIC
MARTHA HILL MUSIC
APPLE OF MY EYE – Gone To Ground
Cellos, chant, harmonies, harmonicas and all things rustic kick start this week’s proceedings.
Apple of My Eye is a band of ‘brothers’ who make “‘new old’ songs of love, loss, transformation and damnations.” Arran Glass, Kit Massey, Chris Rusbridge, Alex Scott, Phil Cornwell, Jo Silverston and Dan Rusbridge are the cohort of musicians who make up this septet, and their instruments range from mandolin to bazouki, and violin to double bass and beyond. *Note, the photos show only five musicians, and isn’t there a female vocal in here? So, I’m open to correction!
Whoever the lead is on Gone to Ground (and it’s possibly Arran Glass) then the choice couldn’t be more apt. For that’s exactly where their vocal is… gone to ground. No deeper a baritone has been heard since the glory days (and dusty nights) of the Welsh collieries.
This is a folk song that follows the traditional formula of allowing each instrument to have its voice heard. The dominant lead vocal is backgrounded by a rich blend of harmonies, although in this particular case, those harmonies take on something of a ghostly quality, echoing the stark sentiments of the song, which was written, albeit unintentionally, about the Grenfell disaster. Pretty apt timing really, given the release dates proximity with the first anniversary of that appalling tragedy.
Sad, wistful music picks up the depth of emotion that weighs heavily on the lyrical tone: the emotion isn’t overdone, the delivery is understated, and the plain lyrics are unfussy and on-point. Perfectly arranged and beautifully played, Gone to Ground is a raw tribute to those who perished in the most terrible of circumstances.
You’re invited to join Apple of My Eye at their single launch on June 23rd at the Gresham Centre – all proceeds to the Grenfell United campaign.
AUSTEL – Lost At Home
London based solo artist Austel, has just dropped a new single, Anaesthesia, but as our cut-off came ahead of its release, her chosen upload is previous single, Lost at Home.
Austel, named after the Cornish town of St. Austell, is Devon born artist Annie Rew Shaw. With a background in classical/indie she has, over time, forged her own idiosyncratic line in sound – a marriage of shadowy electronic and twilit melancholia.
Lost at Home, she says, was written “during a really difficult time. I was feeling disconnected, my relationship was slowly disintegrating and I was struggling to find my identity and self.” That stark sense of inner disorientation is at the heart of a raw, evocative vocal that pushes through a chassis of electronica and haunting harmonies.
As already mentioned, Austel’s latest Anaesthesia single is out now. Her upcoming debut EP entitled Unfold will launch on 23rd July at The Finsbury (London N4) – full details on Austel’s Facebook page.
EMERGER – Hindsight
And after the darkness comes the light, and that’s what Emerger’s Hindsight evokes – Summer sun, fizzing energy, and a lorra happy clappiness. This is chromatic poparama at its shimmery, summery, multi-layered best.
Emerger is Emma de Goede and Gerrit Matthee, whose names give a very clear indication of their South African nationality. Having met at uni in Cape Town where they both studied music, de Goede and Matthee worked their way through several music projects – it’s good to diversify – before finally realising their own debut Emerger EP entitled Bloom.
Bloom, which morphed into a 7-track compilation (aka a mini album), was mastered in Abbey Road Studios and went on release earlier this month. The debut single from the album entitled Break and Fall dropped in late May but curiously, isn’t their Fresh On The Net upload. Instead, they chose album opener Hindsight in which lush 80’s shiny electronica dances around dazzling rays of honeyed vocal delight.
Everything about this track glistens and gleams, with beats and keys imagining the en-pointe pas de deux of perfectly synced spinning tops while pure, unspoilt vocal delivery is the cream on this very sweet and satiating Summer pudding.
A festoon of pop brilliance that offers the most wonderful rush of happiness, Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing!
HIZZLEMUSIC – Ohana
Google Ohana and your screen will be flooded with images of a cute little blue, big-eared mouse crossed with a bunny, in various poses. You’ll also pull up several scrolls bedecked with the words, “Ohana means family. Family means no-one gets left behind or forgotten”. Very “awh” in a sweet, sentimental kind of cuddly-toy way.
I’m not one for these insta-slogans of the day, or indeed for hip hop/rap. I could reach within and without for a week and never be able to give a track like Ohana the type of review it deserves. So for that, Hizzle, I apologise.
I have no idea who the dude is that put the hizzle into Hizzlemusic. I can’t find any hizzle-shaped holes on t’internet. So I’ll just have to wing this I’m afraid.
Ohana appears to be about getting through life with the help of one’s friends and family, the everyday heroes that help us pull through, and give our days meaning. Basically, this is an hip-hop ode to the artist’s nearest and dearest; a musical thank you, a ‘rapcognition’.
It’s easy on the ear, flowing on a fluid monotone interspersed with interludes of harmony courtesy of the aforementioned blue creature. Driven by honest gratitude, it’s less feel-good and more real-life narrative.
For what it’s worth, I rarely score hip hop highly. But, after a couple of listens, this found its groove and made its mark. More background/artist info would be good to set the scene.
HORRIBLE DOLPHINS – Peacetime Riots
Okay, so let me preface this by setting out my stall – Rottenesque punk isn’t my gig. It wasn’t back in the day, and it isn’t now. However, I shall put my objective head on and see what I can glean from Horrible Dolphins’ (there is nothing horrible about dolphins) Peacetime Riots.
Horrible Dolphins is the Essex-based duo of Lily Hopkins and Aaron Smith. They are of a generation “weaker than their grandads’” and peddle their frustration via a single guitar and drum kit. On Peacetime Riots they sing about being the generation with “nothing left to fight for” and I couldn’t disagree more. For one, you’ve got Brexit to fight over – and if that isn’t worth taking the fight to the powers that shouldn’t be then I don’t know what is!
While this isn’t exactly my cup of Soya Chai Latte (tongue poking firmly into cheek), I can still appreciate the raw, guttural power of a two-person, dressed down punk song, ravaged with incandescence and gnarly attitude. And while this doesn’t exactly have the fiery flare of John Lydon, it does carry its own weight in indignant energy.
The probably not so ‘horrible’ Dolphins hail from Colchester, so there’s a likely chance they have run into our mod Johnno Snippet Cuts Casson from time to time. Although, I don’t think they’d be top of the option list for his Warm and Toasty club afternoons.
Horrible Dolphins released their eponymous album last year and you can hop some dosh at it here on Bandcamp. They’re playing the Bassment, Chelmsford this Friday 22nd and/or you can catch their ‘in-session’, live with BBC Introducing Essex on Saturday 23rd from 8pm.
ISSIMO – Shackles
Okeydokey then! Don’t know about you, but I’m vibing a Johnny Vegas Benidorm remix of Ghost Town! Seriously, I jest you not. Shackles is redolent of the Solana house DJ running The Special’s chart-topper through a blaze of brassy Costa Blancan glory.
Shackles is performed by ISSIMO (all caps) which centres around duo Abi Uttley and Marc Otway and their band of ‘Issimites’. I get the feeling that ISSIMO is one of those ‘must see live’ outfits; everything screams verve, fandango and theatre, dahling.
Accessorised with Spag Western, ‘High Noon’ style vibes, Shackles is high-octane centred by a ska-pulse and the golden hues of its brassed-up Issimites. A laconic vocal idles its way through glorious sunrises and easy sunsets, as the track ups and then downs the ante before crossing the bridge of Rasta and reaching its final destination.
Tier 1 purveyors of a souped up blend of Ska, Latino and high-drama, ISSIMO are lined up to play several festival slots over the next few weeks. More interestingly, they are set to play a full band Debut Album Release gig on 27th July, in Bradford. Entitled ‘The Adventures of ISSIMO’ one can well imagine that a night out with this vivacious bunch would indeed be an adventure, and then some.
JACK ELLIS MUSIC – Pocket Of Lint
Beguiling little teaser this one, for Pocket Of Lint is not all that it seems. Don’t be fooled by the one man and his acoustic guitar intro, for world-weary folk this is not. Wade out into the deep of this song and you’ll find yourself immersed in a Jimi Hendrix style sear that will have you wishing you’d made it to the original Woodstock.
Jack Ellis resides in my third home, Cardiff, and hails to the likes of Ben Howard, Jeff Buckley and Half Moon Run (while the other half walks). He peddles his alt-rock sounds solo but gets a band on-board for go-lives. This year has seen him gigging heavily and you’ll catch him hanging at several summer festivals, including Cardiff’s WelshFest (27-29th July).
Pocket Of Lint, would you believe, is actually Jack Ellis’s debut release, first hitting the airwaves back in 2014. This, and subsequent singles, saw him airplayed by the Beeb and Dermot O’Leary in particular. There seems to be something of a pattern emerging here this week, as once again, an artist has eschewed their current single release – in this case the track Small Change – for a different title.
The idea of a Pocket Of Lint made me laugh, recalling many’s a long pre-payday night when all that stood between me and nothing at all, was in fact a few bits of lint (and fluff – I find fluff pops up in the darkest depths without prior warning or any explanation!).
The track sidles into a slow, dreamy one minute opening groove; a weave of finger-picked guitar chords and washes of falsetto oohs, but just before you nod off, the hammer blow of a drum beat kicks your languor into touch. It then rolls into a busier second wave, as punchy rock-guitar is added to the fray, whilst staying immersed in Americana flavours. It isn’t until we hit the third and final phase of the song that Jack Ellis shows his true depths as a musician. Cue the afore-mentioned Hendrix and a wodge of psychedelia’s finest. Pleasant vocals, canny lyrics, adept musicianship, it’s all here.
Jack Ellis plays Looped 2018 this coming Thursday 21st in the Nos Da Bar, Cardiff. For more gig info, checkout his FB page.
MARTHA HILL MUSIC – Spiders
Why do I feel like I’ve heard this song before? In truth I can’t have, as Spiders is Martha Hill’s debut single, and with a recent release date of 8th June, it seems unlikely I’ve happened across it before now. Still though, my memory is reaching for something. It’ll come to me, some night, around 3am when I can’t sleep.
Newcastle based multi-instrumentalist Martha Hill originally hails from Scotland, plays with firm fixture Ceitidh Mac, and possibly some other musicians from time to time. She doesn’t play shit pop, and lists Tom Waits, Janis Joplin, Bjork and Laura Marling amongst her music artist likes. The full list, and it’s a long one, says a lot about Ms Hill – that she doesn’t do being boxed in and labels don’t exist in her world. This is a gal who likes to explore, for whom diversity means having more than three strings to her bow.
Her first single Spiders is scarily apathetic in tone and disquieting in theme. An introspective of sorts, it lurches along a bridge built of sparse drum beats and stark guitar chords; those straggly guitar lines emulating the scattering of spiders across the protagonists mind. The mood tenses and atmosphere darkens through the build of an edgy guitar solo, before Hill counts the track to a stop.
One of the strongest tracks on this week’s playlist, Spiders sets the scene for a more than promising career for Ms. Hill.
ORGANISED SCUM – Basic
First Horrible Dolphins, now Organised Scum! Why, oh why, oh why, do you give yourselves these names? I see Organised Scum and my auto-instinct is to skip onto the next track!
Organised Scum is a London-based trio that has a website that tells me virtually nothing about them either as individuals or as a band. With pretty much non-existent socials, these lads need to be less scum and more organised! All I can glean, is that they are Tom Duggins, Sean Canty (good Cork name) and Tom Williams, that they released their well-received debut EP in 2016, and that they purvey off-kilter music topped off with “jazzy-pop stylings.”
Basic hails from that wave of Summery beach-slacker pysch that was all the Nordic rage about two years ago. Fused with elements of late 70’s NYC jazz-blues, it plays like a Beach Boys/Dooby Brothers collaboration. The instrumental pace is semi-static, providing the perfect vehicle for an unhurried retro vocal and woozy harmonies.
If you like your wonk drip-fed with slacker ease and carefree couth, then notwithstanding what is says on the tin, Organised Scum’s brand of skew will appeal. Basic is out now. There are possibly upcoming gigs in the mix, but no details to hand. Hint, Hint.
WILL SAMSON – Faroleiro
Well this is serendipitous!! I couldn’t have picked a more wonderful artist and appropriate piece of music to bow out on! Yup, this gal is laying down her reviewing quill for now.
Will Samson should really need little or no introduction to anyone who knows anything about experimental ambient instrumental music. An especially gifted musician and genius composer, the multi-talented Englishman is on a par with the likes of Olafur Arnalds and A Winged Victory for the Sullen.
The track Faroleiro, is lifted from his A Baleia mini-album (you’ll find it on Bandcamp).
A twenty-two minute album of “tape manipulated soundscapes” A Baleia, which is Portuguese for The Whale, is a journey through sea-soaked ambience, inspired by time Samson spent in a flotation tank. Faroleiro marks four minutes of that journey; four minutes spent floating on a stillness of mindful tranquillity in which currents of electro-ambience are flecked with sighs of heartfelt violin and ripples of experimentation.
Like a wave of translucence filled with positive emotions, or a beautiful, shimmering bubble surrounding our physical body, Faroleiro is at once calming and healing. Evocative and breathtakingly beautiful, magnificent in its understatement and with those healing powers so often found in instrumental music, Faroleiro is the epitome of spacious ambience. A composer of great grace and finesse, Will Samson is to be lauded for the ever shape-shifting, innovative ways in which he has elevated ambient music to previously unheard of levels.
Will Samson will be touring Europe later this Autumn. A full list of dates and venues, as well as links to his music including his last album, Welcome Oxygen, can be found on his website.
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.