Fresh Faves: Batch 290

Lauran Hibberd

Artists at a glance


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

I don’t know if we’ve the heatwave to thank or the constant influx of increasingly ridiculous news, but this week’s Fresh Faves seem about as disparate as they can get. At one end, we have the punks, raging against the system, the inadequacies, the inequalities, but still having fun amid the absurdity. At the other, the soulful artists who’ve decided to look inwards for their subjects, not outwards. Altogether it makes for a genre-spanning musical menagerie, and one of our most interesting Fresh Fave lineups yet. Shall we get into it then?


There’s something completely unique about a track which starts with a definite, unrelenting riff which then continues throughout the song, defining it and adapting. It does something hypnotic, traps you within its aural walls. That’s what Colchester based alternative rockers Animal Noise have succeeded in doing. Within the conventional confines of an Indie rock track (fans of Echo and the Bunnymen will definitely be into this), the three piece manages to create something more like an angry soundscape, building to an instrumental crescendo around the middle eight the aural equivalent of a firecracker. Initially you doubt the track’s ability to go further; before you know it you’re the one trapped in the keening, impassioned vocal and that riff. A top, top track.

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Based solely on their descriptions of themselves, Cockwomble may be my new favourite band. The describe themselves as “the best/worst band you’ve never heard of” who “sound like all your favourite bands from when you were young that eventually broke up because they weren’t successful enough and all hated each other”. Huh. For further context, the artwork for Henchmen is Theresa May with a bandanna simply reading “cockwomble” across her eyes. I say all of this, because I think this sums up their track. Good-humoured, sarcastic but with a damn blunt edge, Sussex and Brighton based three-piece Cockwomble (named after David Cameron was referred to by the same endearing term – they just dropped the “ham faced” bit) have managed to make a song that’s political punk right down to its core, but which still feels fresh.

Taking the best of Sleaford Mods, IDLES and even Art Brut, the lyrics are more like intricate poetry spat/gobbed all over a beat than lyrics written for music. I’m also OBSESSED with the bassline. If you want one line to sum up the track, how’s this: “I didn’t realise I was working on the Deathstar – I thought it was a theme park, I was mostly at the bar!” Perceptive, pithy and to the point. That seems to be Cockwomble all over. (In other news, I’ll never tire of writing that name).

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Curt Junior, also known on actual forms and whatnot as Curt Faulkner is a multi-genre led producer and artist with an actual degree in music production. If you’ve listened to Lazy Life, this won’t surprise you. The track is a beaming, polished gem, taking light in from soul, funk, with a tasty dash of jazz and a smidge of R&B and beaming rainbows back out. Seriously, some of those guitar parts are just *makes over-the-top Dolmio style hand from mouth kissing motion*.

Then there’s the voice. Rochdale born, Leeds based Curt has a voice that could make Leon Bridges or Chance The Rapper do a second-take. Alternating between capable, heartwarming heights and the sumptuous gravel of a soulful baritone, I could honestly listen to this song all day. It’s wonderfully cocky too. The chorus – stupidly catchy, so beware – simply says “why would I want to leave a world that’s fit for a king like me?” I wish I was inclined to disagree, but I’m just not. If he’s got more tracks like this in the bag, there’s a kingdom waiting for Curt.

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FUTURE WAR – Cheesed

Now this is an interesting track. I’m not a musician and would never claim to be remotely close (my ability lies somewhere between hitting a triangle just about on time and tapping on my knees in a passable rhythm), but I do have a lot of musician friends. Never have I seen ears prick and eyes light up quite so fast as with this track from Future War. Delving deep into salsa-funk, the musicianship is beyond belief and seems to channel the complicated artistry of folks like the legendary Dave Weckl. The Essex five-piece have brought their experience and knowledge from time spent in other outfits and used that to create something of a jazz odyssey, sliding sinuously from one movement into another, the brass working as the narrative voice gliding over the top. Truly impressive.

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With a wisdom and a gravel in her tone which sounds well beyond her seemingly quite young years, London’s Gemma Rogers has taken social media and the technological age firmly to task in Stop, a pithy manifesto of a track. Describing her sound as “musical storytelling with a twist”, the musician/playwright (she’s recently had her one-woman folk-musical selected to perform at both Latitude and Wilderness) takes her clearly natural story-telling ability and puts it to good use by explaining the logic behind her big piece of advice; “just stop”. The constant barrage of lyrics in the verses nicely contrasts with the simple stand-alone nature of the hook, which impressively helps to reiterate the message of the song too. Sometimes, we do just need to stop. Smell those roses people.

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GULLS – Flaws

As someone who’s lived by the sea their entire life, I’m more than a touch familiar with the keening scream of the rats from the sky, also known as gulls. Safe to say, Brighton’s self-described “punk-rock-poem-pop” trio Gulls are a lot more palatable, and considerably more welcome. Flaws joins the wave of feminist, anti-establishment punk having a resurgence in the wake of the #MeToo and third wave feminism movements, and makes its own considerable mark. Punk poet Rhi Kavok’s unfettered war cry perfectly slips between a mocking yelp and a commanding punk vocal which drives the points home, while Boe H on guitar and Hicks on drums succeed in creating some Yeah Yeah Yeahs level instrumentals. Packs a punch this one.

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I adore this song. I was tempted to leave it at that, but the artists responsible might feel somewhat short-changed, so I’ll elaborate. To my mind, this is a near perfect song. Completely unhurried, the whole thing feels as though it has simply developed naturally, organically, flowing seamlessly with no concerns over structure or expectation. At every turn the current of the song guides you somewhere unexpected, pulling you into the story of the song which manages to feel like both a threat and a sweet, slightly masochistic promise. Manchester’s Hannah Ashcroft says that she combines “intricate fingerpicking with haunting melodies to explore themes of humanity, mythology and superstition”, and I couldn’t have put it better myself. If I were to stumble across a siren and they sang this to me, I’d follow them into the cold ocean depths without hesitation. Her vocal somehow manages to feel as though it echoes inside the chest cavity somewhere, reverberating in the space beneath the sternum rather than passing through the ears. The harmonies are heartbreaking, the duality of the soft acoustic picking and the hard twangs of the electric guitar beautifully judged. Told ya – I adore this song. Very well done Hannah.

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Do you ever hear a song and know exactly what dance you’d do to it? Lauran Hibberd’s is a Madness style knees up, elbows out sweat-fest if ever there were one. Immaculate production and a keen knack for tight song-writing make this track from Isle of Wight Indie artist Lauran Hibberd frankly exceptional. If you see her on a festival bill this summer (not unlikely, given that she’s played the Bestival main stage for the last two years) then go, just for this track. It has lilos in the air, dance on shoulders lunacy written all over it. Left-field, a bit weird but totally and heart-warmingly honest, this track is a genuine masterclass in exciting and engaging Indie pop, something we don’t see nearly enough of. All hail queen Lauran Hibberd, saving us from the monotony of mainstream Indie one banger at a time.

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THE CHEAP THRILLS – Accident Prone

After hearing The Cheap Thrills, it’s now my definite opinion that there aren’t nearly enough garage/psych pop bands in the world. The Liverpool band rep their heritage with self-proclaimed “Scouse vocals” leading the musical charge on behalf of the Indie-rock/garage element, where the bulk of the music maintains the psychedelic element. The whole thing is beautifully fused – bits which could be pulled right from Catfish & The Bottlemen or even Oasis weave in and out of LSD-trip worthy vocals and synth lines which’d sound right at home in Tame Impala or Unknown Mortal Orchestra tracks. Dripping with summer, gumption and musical ingenuity, I’m now absolutely desperate to see The Cheap Thrills live. I bet they’re a hoot and a half.

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THE VELVET HANDS – Everyone Is Dead

I’m lucky enough to know The Velvet Hands fairly well, and so can vouch what I only think about The Cheap Thrills – The Velvet Hands are an absolute hoot and a lot live, although after hearing Everyone Is Dead I don’t think anyone’d dispute that. Seriously, when did you expect to hear the refrain “everyone is dead” sung with such enthusiasm? Screamed dramatically into a camera maybe, written in blood on a wall in suitably creepy fashion maybe, but sung with a bit of a smile? Not likely. This new quick fire riot provision (it’s only two minutes long) from the rabble-raising Cornish four-piece comes from their astounding debut album The Party’s Over – previously Huw Stephens’ album of the week on Radio 1 – and cements in my mind their position as one of the next great punk-rock breakthroughs. Coming after previous single Gimme Some Time, a more melodic trip down rock’n’roll lane too, Everyone Is Dead showcases their mad adaptability. The world might be going to pot, but The Velvet Hands are determined to “do some living instead”. I’m thinking I might join them there. You in?

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Animal Noise

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.

Sarah Gosling

Sarah Gosling is the presenter of BBC Music Introducing in Devon and Cornwall. She's also written for The Guardian, Clash magazine, and Little White Lies. Read more about Sarah and find her on Twitter @SarahEGosling.


  1. Fantastic reviews Sarah. You’ve captured the essence with every track and got right into the mindsets of the musicians and artists responsible for them. Proper reviews writing all round.

  2. Bang on the money with the reviews Sarah, top dollar reading

    Great music too, I can really hear the Echo and The Bunnymen vibe in the Animal Noise tune – a real grower is that one and the playing on Future War’s ‘Cheesed’ makes me glad to have ears


  3. Joe Holtaway

    nice write up – wonderful songs

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