Artists at a glance
Ooh is it my turn again? Looks like luck is on my side then because wow what a superb list of tracks. It was also a strong week for the Fresh On The Net in-box which made it agonisingly tough to choose our favourites and a lot of seriously good tracks didn’t make it to the Listening Post. If yours was one of them, don’t be downhearted. The standard of competition was so strong and the margins of difference between those receiving our final votes and those not are wafer thin. Congratulations then to the ten who have emerged as Fresh Faves from such a competitive week.
ALESSI’S ARK – Devant Moi
Alessi Laurent-Marke started writing and recording aged 16 in Omaha, Nebraska when she recorded her debut album Notes From The Treehouse. She was signed to Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union label who released an EP and two albums by her as Alessi’s Ark between 2009 and 2013. However she has more recently handled her own music career from her base in London. 2017 saw the release of her fourth album Love Is The Currency produced by Maccabees producer Jago Jago. She continues to wow audiences at festivals and put tours together making her a positive example of a successful and popular independent artist.
Devant Moi (which translates as ‘in front of me’) sees Alessi singing in French. So given my feeble failure to grasp learning languages at school it means she could be singing “I want to strangle your pet rabbit”. But hey, if she is, it’s done with an impeccable sense of style! Alessi delivers a track that sways between Acoustic Guitar-based Pop with an electronic ambient undercurrent and Parisian Waltz (or is it Post-Minuet Pop?). There are comparisons with the likes of Edith Piaf and Monique Serf but then when the mid-section veers off into electronic note patterns the mood changes markedly and remains darker even with the return of the main theme. It is impressive that she packs so many musical ideas into such a compact piece. If you crave originality and character in contemporary Pop, this is most definitely for you.
CHLOE FOY – Asylum
Chloe Foy’s Soundcloud page places her in Manchester, but her website tells us she is actually from Gloucestershire. She has also been invited to perform at South by South West in Texas which tells you she is on a very productive path. She is a classically trained musician who benefitted from being in the County’s music education system from an early age. Her career has already seen her selected to collaborate with Beth Orton and played by Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music. There is also a video for Asylum which can be downloaded at her website and her Facebook page is regularly updated with live dates that show she is playing gigs around the UK.
Chloe Foy’s Facebook page also compares her melodic Folk-influenced Pop epics to Laura Marling and Sharon Von Etten. Her voice drifts effortlessly between breathy folkiness and a more full-throated alto depth that is powerful and distinct. In my opinion the term Indie-Folk does not adequately capture her sound which is much bigger, added to by layers as the track builds with strings and keyboards taking the palette from translucent to opaque, highlighting the fullness and strength of her vocals. Asylum has a memorable hook too. This I can confirm because it was on repeat play in my brain for a good long time afterwards!
CHOLLY – One A Day
Cholly has been quietly creating a unique brand of Alternative Pop with one foot in the experimental camp for a few years and is really only just emerging from the shadows, a fact underlined by this being the third recent week that a track she features on has been at the Listening Post. It is the second time she has been in the Fresh Faves (albeit last time it was as a guest vocalist for A Motion For Control) and the week before she missed out by a single vote. Having been performing as a band member for composer-multi-instrumentalist Jon Samsworth, Cholly recently took her own unique songs out live in Southampton and is planning to up her profile in the new year with gigs in London and around the Three Counties area.
Now based in High Wycombe after a family life that has seen her have to move multiple times, including abroad, the nearest she has to an allegiance to any part of the UK is to Swindon where she spent some of her formative years. She uses her multi-instrumental talents to build tracks that have an organic element – violin, piano etc. – and are equally part-electronic. This hybrid is an important facet of her style as is her preference for interweaving vocal parts that can be mid-register and forceful one moment, then high and delicate the next. Reviewing her music recently in Trust The Doc I said it reminded me, in different ways, of This Mortal Coil, Black and Dead Can Dance. One A Day is dark and melancholy but it is also stunning in its fragility and originality which includes everything from the high drum sounds and crackling electronic noises to the multiple voices and nuances that appear and disappear throughout.
EMERGER – Urban Wilderness
Emerger have made the Fresh Faves as recently as Batch 287 (June). The South African duo describe their brand as “soundscapes of dreamy, synth-driven melodies, cinematic progressions, powerhouse pop vocals, and punchy hip-hop inspired beats” which seems pretty accurate. Emma de Goede and Gerrit Matthee are former music students and alumni of the University of Cape Town, widely seen as one of South Africa’s chief creative hubs. Interestingly Emma pursued Jazz while Gerrit pursued classical composition which gives a clue about the harmonic language and expansive ambition in their music. That ambition extends to their use of Abbey Road studio to put the finishing touches to their work.
Urban Wilderness is immediately striking for the combination of Emma’s rich voice, the unusual and engaging quality of the vocal melody and the dreamy textures appearing around it. They paint their ideas in vivid musical brushstrokes and then erect firm foundations beneath the main themes, a measure of their arranging skills. Those University studies were not wasted! This is really good Pop music perfectly executed and the individual character in the vocals, the melodic style and their epic Pop vision are there to be heard.
FOXGLUVV – Fries
Foxgluvv is a London-based singer with the kind of feisty but fun persona that makes her a definite contender for mainstream success. A quick delve into her recent history reveals a media tale of her DIY social media PR mini-triumph with the ‘pity party’ video for her previous single Not Cute. She writes quirky but catchy pop tunes and injects them with a refreshing humour that is endearing and entertaining.
Fries is a song that lives up to that billing. Sparky, modern and fun with a lyrical theme that people will relate to, the wordier verse giving way to a chorus of “It’s gonna be alright/I drank your soda and you ate my fries”. Is that a euphemism? Well maybe I won’t analyse it too deeply! Anyway it’s a simple but effective formula of loud, deep drumbeat, resonant synth and dominant vocal track. Foxgluvv also has sufficient attitude in her voice to carry it off. She has already had some BBC Introducing interest and this track is eminently radio-friendly.
GODDAMMIT JEREMIAH – I Fell In Love With The Speaking Clock
You have to warm to a band whose latest Soundcloud post is a new track called Am I Turning Into A Dickhead? Goddammit Jeremiah’s Bandcamp page reveals more quirky titles like Santa Baby Must Die as well as a little rant about how few young people vote in elections while their Facebook page tells us they play “sweary, jerky punk about love and hate, pterodactyls and taxidermy” and, I mean, who doesn’t? The band hail from Cambridge and clearly have found the ability to be disgusted about the dreadful state of society and politics while retaining their sense of humour all the same.
This is driving Punk-Pop with a female vocalist whose delivery is something akin to Ari Up meets Lily Allen while the guitars play absolutely straight bar chords; not a seventh in earshot! The lyrics? Well, she’s singing about falling in love with the speaking clock [when slightly the worse for wear] and bemoaning the speaking clock woman’s refusal to acknowledge her! Not a great deal of analysis to be had but we can all feel her pain. In true prototype Punk fashion, the whole thing lasts 41 seconds! Energetic, entertaining and leaves the listener wanting more.
HANNAH TRIGWELL – Taboo
We often hear artists described as coming from the streets but in Hannah Trigwell’s case that rings true. She started her career as a busker in Leeds and patiently built her following, somehow leading to international touring and culminating in a bunch of chart-topping tracks in Asia. Her blurb also claims she has achieved an astonishing 120 million YouTube views! 120 million? Crikey!
Taboo certainly showcases her striking, dexterous voice over a cleverly produced track that sounds like it is gradually emerging from underwater before settling into a thunderous groove broken up nicely with snippets of guitar; then more phasing of sounds in and out of focus as all the while the voice sits firmly in the forefront. The hook is insistent too. With decent radio support, it could be time to replicate some of her success here in the UK this time.
MARTHA HILL – Wallflower
Newcastle-based Scottish Alt Pop artist Martha Hill has had a busy year and it’s getting busier right now as she heads off on a series of tour dates across October and November taking in London, the North East, Cumbria and Scotland. She is accompanied by her regular partner in crime Ceilidh Mac and a fluid band membership. She also seems slightly surprised by how far she has come as an artist stating that 2018 has been “… proper mad” and that “… it’s almost like you could say I’m a proper musician”. Modest she may be but there is nothing modest about her talent which shines through in her neatly constructed songs.
Wallflower is her latest single and pits her rangy distinct vocal against what starts as a fairly minimal backdrop before the instrumental arrangement expands. The verses are sparse until she rises up the register for the bridge into a bluesy guitar riff and chants of “hey”. It’s a simple but effective format with a warmth about its organic translation of traditional ideas into something fresh and edgy.
POCKET SUN – Tightly
Pocket Sun, as well as having a great name (if you pause to consider the concept of a pocket sun!), hail from Bristol and describe their music as Cosmic Soul, Synth-Pop and Disco. They are three women and two men who, on the evidence in front of us, are all fine musicians citing a list of fascinating influences which include Thundercat, Washed Out, Little Dragon and others all of which explains their preference for sophisticated arrangements, jazz-inflected chords and close harmony.
Tightly certainly fits into the first two of their trio of genre definitions but actually those only tell a small part of the story. This is a song swathed in spine-tingling chords, sweet harmonies and an enviable supply of great melody lines. The vocals are strong, soulful and penetrating and the chorus is climatic and powerful. The extent of the thought and invention which has clearly gone into this single track underlines the band’s commitment to setting and maintaining high standards. All in all it is a big friendly monster of a track that makes me want to seek out more of their music.
SINNOBER – Successful
Frome in Somerset continues to be a town that surprises whether it’s due to its music and art scene or because of its history of defiant local political protest. So it should be no surprise that it is also home to a Jazz-tinged Smooth Pop duo like Sinnober. They are Natalie and Seb Brice (though I am not sure whether they are married or siblings or just coincidentally have the same surname! Oh come on, in Frome anything is possible!). Their origins are described as “… via Denmark and Persia”. Natalie sings and plays Piano and Bass. Seb plays guitar and also sings, and I am reliably informed that the ‘Flumpet’ is played by Dan Reid.
From the first blast of breezy flumpet it’s clear we are in for a treat. The chords are lovely and some of the changes (such as the way it shifts up a semitone in the chorus) are quite unexpected and exquisite. Natalie sings in a strong deep alto voice and adds subtle harmonies and adeptly understated flourishes as she scales the upper register too. Successful is taken from their latest album Projection (released on 1st October). If this is the appetiser you should definitely want to experience the main course.
Well that’s it for another week, folks. Thanks for reading. I’m off to prepare for the next batch of new track submissions. Maybe yours will be among them. To quote 1980s Disco legends Yarborough & People, Don’t Stop The Music. xx
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.