Artists at a glance
THE BIRD AND THE MONKEY FT JUSTIN LAVASH
THE LAST DINOSAUR
CHALK HORSE MUSIC – Telling Of The Bees
Led by the journeyed Liz Pearson, formed within Sussex folk clubs and inspired by the county’s mystical landscape and folklore, Chalk Horse Music certainly know how to spin an enchanting tale, with a website that led me down multiple rabbit holes in my research for this review. Telling Of The Bees refers to the ancient beekeeping custom of keeping the insects informed of the goings-on of the keeper’s family, in order to keep them feeling happy and included. The music is lush and pastoral, with a beautiful rhythmic sway supporting rich, hypnotic harmonies and Ms. Pearson’s lilting lead vocal.
The band’s combination of acoustic contemporary folk with deep storytelling makes for a powerful combination, which can be experienced via a full calendar of live dates or Pearson’s monthly Mostly Folk radio show emanating from Halisham FM and available further afield through Mixcloud.
CORASANDEL – Blenefill
Elsewhere in England’s green and pleasant land, Lincolnshire’s Corasandel are a band with a mission statement of “searching for music out in the countryside”, making a point of recording their music “off-grid late at night” with all their equipment powered by the wind. An evocatively described working process for sure, and one that fits their style of indie rock dreamscapes perfectly, with tunings and production decisions inspired by the ambient sounds of their rural recording location. The result is Jagjaguwar-style chorus vocals with semi-acoustic guitar sounds and calming textures, like Kevin Shield’s insomnia-induced spectral cattle, but friendly.
Blenefill is helpfully defined by the band as an obscure English word meaing “kindness is strength”, or as they interpret it, “kindness is the new rebellion/one you can dance to”. Amen to that.
DRANG – One Weird Trick
A return visit to the Fresh Faves for South London duo Drang, who impressed last year with their “bass heavy racous punk-pop” and are now back with (their words) “Songs about diets, TV and pop stars”. One Weird Trick would be the former then, with examples of the clickbait advertising trope of the title delivered in a machine gun deluge over the course of some very well written punchy lyrics over a catchy indie rock groove.
LP commenter Terry Naylor noted the “first sighting of the word ‘spirolina’ in a song that encapsulates a now universal social media experience”. I’d rather not comment on other examples found both in the song and my kitchen cupboard, though I could definitely go for a charcoal matcha tea.
A very satisfying track.
JOY LYNN – Shadow Of Mine
The American half of transatlantic electronica duo Mevanon, Joy Lynn’s solo effort Shadow Of Mine is an atmospheric word painting awash in acoustic textures. An understated woody piano tinkles away in the middle distance, supported by string textures and rich echoey vocal support to create an utterly tranquil and evocative piece that rewards repeated listens.
Both Lynn’s solo work and that of her band appear to have only a recent digital footprint despite having been going since at least 2004. It just goes to show that good things come to those who wait – their travels have yielded a lush, mature, accomplished sound which I very much look forward to hearing more of.
MADI – All Work And No Play
Hailing from Cardiff and purveying self-professed “weirdo pop” with a wonderfully bonkers video to match, MADI is fronted by the multi-talented Maddie Jones with support from origami-headed sidemen Dan Fitzgerald, Chay Lockyer and Rich Welsby. The St. Vincent influence is evident in a strongly delivered vocal with a tasty upper vibrato in the breaks, without taking away from the unique character of the sound supported by hypnotic electronica and impactful mastering.
MADI have been gaining airplay and nice words from the BBC in Wales, it can’t be long before we’ll be heaing them on a national (or international) level too.
SIOBHAN MCCRUDDENN – The Mermaid In Your Glass
Also hailing from the Land Of My Fathers, Siobhan McCrudden cut her teeth on the New York coffee house circuit before returning to hone her style of dark celtic “folk-noir”, taking inspiration from folk tales and superstitions. Her voice is rich and evocative, is ably accompanied and produced by art-rocker GRICE and has gained airplay from BBC Introducing Wales and Cardiff Radio alongside live appearances on both sides of the Atlantic.
Her debut album Icarus Girl is out on Hungersleep Records on 7th December.
THE BIRD AND THE MONKEY FT JUSTIN LAVASH – Blow Out The Candle
Apparently named by our very own Paul Kerr, The Bird and The Monkey are Sarah-Jane Swan and Roger Simian, a duo of Scottish musician-filmmakers whose work has been featured on Radio 1, 6 Music and even as part of a BBC 2 teen drama. Here they have collaborated with Prague-based guitarist and songwriter Justin Lavash, whose fierce slide guitar combines with their cinematic sound to create a dirty, psychedelic blues rock rich in atmosphere and attitude. If the Most Haunted team went looking for the ghost of Captain Beefheart, this is what they’d hear as the lights went out.
THE DESERT – Gone
The Desert are Bristol-based duo Gina Leonard and Tom Fryer, have toured throughout England and gained airplay on BBC Introducing In The West. Gone is a trippy piece of indie pop rock with Portishead-style drum loops, well executed textures, dynamics and orchestration, all headed by Gina’s powerful and expressive vocal. This is one that benefits from repeated listens, with little nuances revealing themselves each time you hear it unfold.
THE LAST DINOSAUR – Me & Magdalena
With a cover of a song written by Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and recorded by The Monkees on their final album, hey hey it’s The Last Dinosaur, who’ve been dinoing around making ultra-creative cinematic acoustic rock for over ten years now, incorporating two very fine and well received albums along the way.
If one measure of a band’s artistry is how they approach their choice of covers, Me & Magdalena delivers in spades. In the Soundcloud notes for the track, TLD’s Jamie Cameron says, “I stumbled across the song a couple of years back and listened to it over and over. There’s something incredibly special about it, this beautiful ode to a love beyond measure”. The band then build on the relaxed West Coast style of the Monkees’ recording with natural ambient soundscapes, their trademark acoustic piano and dynamic orchestration and a passionate and evocative delivery of the lead vocal.
There’s something incredibly special about this, too.
TV ME – Circuits
The first thing that leaps out abut Circuits is its irregular metre (for those that care about such things, either 13/4 or 3/4-3/4-3/4-4/4 depending on your point of view). But on its own a mad time signature does not a great track make – what clinches the deal here is a carefully cultivated and hynotic arrangement and production style reminiscent of late 70s/early 80s prog, replete with swirling analogue synths, phased chorus vocals, processed piano and some decidedly cybernetic lyrical themes.
TV ME is the one-man project of Thomas McConnell and has gained airplay on BBC Introducing Merseyside.
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.