The temporary hiatus in the Fresh On The Net Listening Post has presented an opportunity to shine the spotlight on some seriously talented emerging artists. Many of these are artists who have come to my attention thanks to my having the privilege of being a moderator for FOTN. Others have come onto my radar primarily through listening to so much new music and niche radio. So Emerging From The Mist will, for now at least, be a one-off blog in four weekly parts. Each part will have a slightly different focus; the aim being to cover a wide spectrum of new music. Part One is essentially about Pop music and homes in on five aspiring bands and artists who I believe are deserving of wider recognition. You can read more of my thoughts on new music in my bi-monthly blog Trust The Doc.
My five are Lincolnshire’s Princess of Pop Chloey Rose; Hull’s Northern Grime and Brit Hop original Chiedu Oraka; Leeds teenage Indie firecrackers Backspace; Welsh Avant-Pop experimentalists Half Hour at the Hilton and Glasgow’s Electronic Dream Pop purveyors L-Space.
Chloey Rose is a young singer-songwriter from Lincolnshire with a distinct, rangey voice and powerful soulful Pop repertoire. She also has both an astonishing work ethic and a seemingly endless supply of positivity. Barely a day passes when she isn’t tweeting pics of herself appearing on stage at a gig, being featured on a local radio station, singing in a shopping centre, appearing at an awards ceremony or attending some other event. Her latest single LUNGS is catchy and well-produced. Chloey gradually turns up the dial marked emotional power and unveils more of her pitch and dynamic range as the song progresses. True Love has a slow-burning intensity, her voice rising from a semi-whisper to a soaring fortissimo and various stops in-between.
Chloey has already had strong support from BBC Introducing in Lincolnshire and, unusually in today’s identikit [Global] pop radio culture, from local commercial stations too. With her busy live schedule she has already conquered her area of the English East Midlands. Now she needs the opportunity of national exposure to take her to where she deserves to be.
Just across the Humber Bridge from Chloey’s Lincolnshire Chiedu Oraka is one of the most exciting artists currently making waves in the UK City of Culture, Hull. Chiedu has injected Grime and Brit Hop with a refreshingly Northern and personal style both in terms of his dialect and his humour which is both harsh and tongue-in-cheek as evidenced on the excellent Won’t Get Along and 21st Kid. The potentially anthemic NHE (North Hull Estate) spells out his background and how he arrived at the person he has become. All this is wrapped up in minimalistic synth and beat backdrop that provides both a great contrast and the wide space for his rapid-fire vocal delivery.
More recently Chiedu has teamed up with his regular producer Deezkid on a track called Grown Up which pits Chiedu’s ferocious delivery and extremely clever lyric against a stonking beat, (almost) rock guitar, cool synth parts and a great echo effect in the chorus (if chorus is the right term here). It’s further evidence that Chiedu has the stand-out distinctiveness and star quality that cry out for him to be placed on a national platform with a big audience. So if you’re reading this, Radio 1, 1Xtra & 6 Music, this boy needs the chance to shine. BBC 6 Music Festival would be perfect.
Chiedu has created a sound and style that is unique, entertaining and highly relevant. Time to take the boy out of Hull (but definitely not Hull out of the boy) and across as many territories as possible.
So from Hull we head a little way West across Yorkshire to Leeds. Backspace will need no introduction for keen followers of the Listening Post. But many of those who have heard their upbeat energetic Alt-Pop might be surprised to learn that they consist of four thirteen year olds and one fifteen year old. That surprise might be further exacerbated when looking at the band’s live itinerary which takes in local sponsorship events, festivals and promotions mostly around West Yorkshire but beginning to spread further afield. They are winning the respect and love of other bands too as their social media demonstrates. And young they may be but they are confident. Rosie sings in unabashed West Yorks accent and the four boys crackle and pop around her with guitars, bass, drums and BVs. They make smart use of their vocal harmonies as the climatic ending of Letting Go amply showcases.
The quintet have released an eponymously titled EP which kicks off with the excellent Don’t Stunt Your Growth in which they attack the magazine culture that puts pressure on young girls to be obsessively underweight. Letting Go has a more funky undercurrent while Stone Bank is reflective and underlines their maturity as writers. Crucially, as well as having talent, confidence and a rapidly expanding experience of the live scene, Backspace have first class parental support. Their ages need not be a barrier to early success. With the right management and guidance, all the ingredients are in place for that to happen. Watch this space.
HALF HOUR AT THE HILTON
So from the North of England we hit the South of Wales. Half Hour at the Hilton are so unique it is virtually impossible to stick a convenient label on what they do. They are genuine music and art experimentalists with strongly avantgarde leanings but also with an obvious interest in Eastern music, elements of contemporary art music and at least a few toes in the waters of Sound Art. What is especially fascinating about HHATH is that, amid the ametrical rhythms, incomprehensible lyrics, incomplete phrases and mind-boggling loops, they display a real penchant for stunning harmonies which are further reflected in rich chords and glissandi. Sphere has all these characteristics in large measure and is compelling listening for the individual who wants something more adventurous than will be found around the pop mainstream.
Welcome to my house is locked in a barely decipherable structural cycle that is enigmatic but atmospheric and bristling with energy and invention. Meat Yale is hardly Ed Sheeran but is arguably poppier by comparison with an intriguing backwards beat, more gongs (and these guys like their gongs!) and vocal harmonies throughout. Flying Kites to China is heavier and has a very Eastern feel courtesy of open fifths and associated structural elements.
When I last spoke with the band they were gearing up for some live dates (as well as being in talks with a US-based label). If they make it to the London area, I will consider seeing them live to be a must.
Our final leg of this musical journey takes us all the way to the West(ish) of Scotland. L-Space are a Glasgow-based quartet (50/50 female & male) who make ethereal, swirling and futuristic Dream Pop. That’s the new model of Dream Pop of course. While they may have taken subtle influences from the likes of Lush, Slowdive and more clearly Cocteau Twins, their sound is a million miles from the guitar-driven shoegazing bands of the 1990s. L-Space are part of the mightily impressive Last Night From Glasgow stable. The Glasgow indie is building a very clever and original business model which enables it to produce limited vinyl runs with an almost guaranteed audience ready to pay for the goods.
L-Space recently stormed the FOTN Listening Post with the dreamy synth and layers of echoing female vocals that make up Old Machines. By happy coincidence it was a week when it was my turn to write up the reviews of the Fresh Faves. Incredibly Last Night From Glasgow had two bands not merely make it to the Listening Post that week but voted into the Fresh Faves, the excellent Cloth being the other. Since then L-Space have made an imaginative and appropriately arthouse video for their 2018 single Suneaters. The band continues to get out and about on the live scene. Expect to hear more about L-Space over the next year and beyond.