Fresh Faves: Batch 303

Bear Paw

Artists at a glance

BEACH RIOT
BEAR PAW
DIDI
ELOÏSE
KIDSMOKE
OLA SZMIDT
RALE
SIMON LYNGE
SWINE TAX
THE DEATH PARTICLE

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

BEACH RIOT – Good To Know (That I’m Still On Your Mind)

Providing the perfect opener for this week’s Fresh Faves, Good To Know (That I’m Still On Your Mind) bursts through the speakers full of vitality, and with an irresistible groove. I love the way it goes a bit surf rock for the two-line chorus and then it’s straight back to business. This is a track that doesn’t mess about.

It’s always fascinating to watch bands and artists evolve and show us what they can do. Beach Riot last appeared in our Fresh Faves 265 in December 2017 (that I also reviewed) with their track She’s A Hurricane, and it kinda sounded like one. Good To Know, while no torch ballad, is much sweeter by comparison. This is a band that can turn it up to eleven when needed, AND create catchy, even poppy tunes that could put a smile on anyone’s face. Or, to put it another way, this is a band who must absolutely tear it up live.

Good To Know is taken from the band’s eponymous debut EP, which will be released on December 7th by Vallance records both digitally and on 10-inch pink, white or black vinyl no less, and you can catch the EP launch at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in their hometown of Brighton on December 3rd.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

BEAR PAW – Santa Maria

Here is a tale of longing, wanderlust, angst, and all the rest of it delivered with impressively poetic lyrics, picked guitars, harmonies, a brief harmonica solo, and mucho poignancy.

With all the imagery this song conjures of flowers, thorns, fishing boats and bus rides to the sea, you’d be forgiven for thinking Bear Paw hailed from somewhere coastal or rural, but you couldn’t be wronger — this is a folk quartet from North London making their Fresh Faves debut today.

Santa Maria is taken from their EP, Something More, which was released a couple of weeks ago, and if you’re in London you can catch them at Biddle Bros on Lower Clapton Rd on November 29th.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

DIDI – Go!

Don’t be deceived by the gentle opening to this track, the exclamation mark in the title is there for a reason, and if you think it all sounds a little menacing, you’d be right. There are some cracking lines to explain it all, such as “The thoughts that keep you sane are the same that keep me awake”. You get the feeling that if this track had a Facebook profile, its relationship status would be permanently set to “It’s complicated”.

Didi, aka Lauren Deakin Davies, is from Hertfordshire, and has worked as musician and producer for years (she is also the daughter of Helen Messier of Folkstock records, but is self-releasing her own work). She’s appeared on Fresh On The Net a few times now, and has been championed on the radio by Chris Hawkins and our very own Tom Robinson.

All that experience shows here; this is a track with plenty of twists, and packs a lot into 3m 50s, but never overdoes it. Go! is available now as part of the Green EP from Bandcamp, and all the usual places.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

ELOÏSE – Girls Like Me

In this dark, electro pop, we hear Eloïse describing nights “running around the city chasing heartbreakers”, and regretting it. I’m not exaggerating about the darkness aspect either — listening to this brutal analysis you’d have a hard time wondering why anyone would put themselves through it, but as the title suggests, plenty do.

It’s a little surprising, then, to learn that Eloise is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who grew up in rural Suffolk, and she’s clearly not afraid to tackle weightier topics, perhaps with tongue slightly in cheek (other tracks have looked at the pressures faced by young people, for example, and celebrity worship), but it’s hard not to hear Girls Like Me as an honest firsthand account, and that’s what makes it so powerful.

Not surprising, then, is that Eloïse has support from BBC Introducing in Suffolk, and love from The Line of Best Fit and The 405, and has previously appeared on our Fresh Faves 281, where reviewer Johnno expressed similar sentiments. Girls Like Me is available now from all the usual places.

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KIDSMOKE – Rising Sun

Featured in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, invited by Robert Smith to support The Joy Formidable when he curated Meltdown festival, and with plaudits aplenty, Wrexham’s Kidsmoke have already made quite a mark on the world, and their debut album isn’t even out yet.

Rising Sun (which is out now) is the lead track from that forthcoming album, which will be the product of a summer spent in the studio with their long-time producer Russ Hayes, and is due out early next year. For this track, we’re told, the band went to West Kirby to record with Bill Ryder-Jones of The Coral fame.

Rising Sun is a great title for a band that, to my ears, excel at creating the kind of sunny indie pop that could brighten the dampest of festivals, and instantly transform dank gig venues into cathedrals of joy.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

OLA SZMIDT – Love Yourself

Sometime Fresh On The Net moderator Ola Szmidt returns to our Fresh Faves with this track, Love Yourself. Ola is a flautist and so, yes, that noise under the track is a flute drone (you don’t get this stuff on those other music blogs, I tell you!). Soon Ola’s voice appears, calling like a siren in the mist, and a sonic journey begins. It’s far better to just immerse yourself in this track than for me to try to explain it — Ola is a musician who works on an intuitive, emotional level.

This single is taken from Ola’s EP2, which is available to pre-order now on 12″ and CD on her Bandcamp page, and the EP will be officially launched at the Everyman Cinema in York on January 28th – again, tickets available on Bandcamp.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

RALE – Looks Like Fire

RALE is a three-piece band from Sheffield, and even before I knew that, I was struck by how much the rich timbre of vocalist Tom O’Hara’s voice reminded me of another Sheffield artist, Phil Oakey of The Human League. Indeed, RALE’s biography says the band nods “to the Steel City’s electronic pioneers of the past”, so I’m guessing the similarities don’t end there.

Looks Like Fire is a very well put together track – it starts sounding like it could be a straightforward verse-chorus number, but its frequent changes in tempo, pitch and intensity packs in enough that it could be three tracks in one, but done in such a way that never feels disjointed.

Picked by BBC Introducing to play Reading & Leeds last year, and with support from BBC Introducing in Sheffield, and airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2, RALE is definitely a band to watch.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

SIMON LYNGE – Paper Thin

“I want to believe in a better reality,” Simon Lynge begins in Paper Thin, just as soon as he musters the courage to get out of bed. It’s a sentiment to which I think we can all relate in recent years. I find this track utterly captivating, and think it’s got it all – great vocals, strong lyrics, beautiful harmonies, emotional fragility and, for all the talk of the cold, real warmth.

Greenlandic-Danish singer songwriter, Simon Lynge, recorded this track, and Deep Snow – the album from which it’s taken — in “the borrowed house of a traveling circus clown” in a secluded cottage in Trallong, in the Brecon Beacons. I’ve driven past Trallong countless times, it looks like it has a population of about ten.

You can catch Simon playing in Greenland and Copenhagen over the next couple of weeks, then he’s in the UK as Simon Lynge & The Martial Hearts starting very close to where he recorded the album in Brecon, then onto Bristol and London, and finishing off the year travelling down the West Coast of the US, with gigs in Washington state, [fire-ravaged] Paradise in Northern California, and finally LA.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

SWINE TAX – Never Ending

We’ve had a few Swine Tax tracks pass through Fresh On The Net now, and to my ears this one seems a little different, more understated. That said, everything’s relative, and this is still a track driven along with considerable intensity. If you’re thinking it, then don’t worry – the track notes quote a For The Rabbits review that says it sounds like the band is either channeling British Sea Power or The Cure at the start of Never Ending — and I think that’s clear to hear, but it doesn’t last long before we’re back in more familiar Swine Tax territory.

The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne trio certainly know how to make a big noise, and must sound incendiary live; if you’re up for a night on the Toon, you can have your eardrums destroyed at a number of gigs in the city over the next few months.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

THE DEATH PARTICLE – Le Voyage Après La Mort (Reprise)

Le Voyage Après La Mort is a special Halloween release from The Death Particle. This reprise is full of drama, and nowhere near as dark as I expected, but the almost seven minute full version is the real journey, and if you enjoyed this, but were left wanting much, much more, then check that out. To my ears, this track has more of a Día de Muertos vibe than its French title suggests – maybe it’s the incredible horns.

The Death Particle is principally Herald P Cattie, who (like Kidsmoke) is also from Wrexham, and the Revolving Door Orchestra handpicked by Cattie to turn ideas into sound. The credits for Le Voyage Après La Mort includes a whole host of musicians –  Adam Betts, Dom Clark, Thiago Dos Santos, Danny Flam, Pierre Malleret, Yoed Nir and Anna Yarbrough.

Le Voyage Après La Mort is available now on The Death Particle’s Bandcamp page.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

RALE

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.

Steve Harris

Steve Harris is an independent app developer living in Swansea, Wales. A passionate music lover, his hobbies include not working and pretending to understand science. Find him on Twitter: @steveharris. Read more about Steve.

9 Comments

  1. Fantastic reviews Steve. Thoughtful and insightful comments and great info too. Good week for Wrexham. :)

  2. Steve Harris

    Thanks Neil! I’m completely biased, but Wales seems to be disproportionately knocking out some incredible acts lately. I expect this is down to things like FOCUS Wales, the BBC Wales and Arts Council’s Horizons / Gorwelion initiative, nationally famous festivals like Swn, Green Man, and Festival No. 6, plus the likes of Huw Stephens, Janice Long and Adam Walton on BBC Radios Wales and Cymru relentlessly championing new music. We’re very fortunate.

  3. Well I’m biased too of course, which is why I’m wearing a Wales RU jacket in my profile pic! We are a nation who punch above our weight in all things artistic, especially music. :)

  4. Sam T

    A couple of good tracks like OLza Szmidt, and Eloise, the rest “Thou shalt not make repetitive generic music” Also I think its slightly unfair that Fresh Faves picks & promotes tracks who already have over 1K of plays. I agree if a track is amazing then pick it regardless of how many plays it already has but it does seem every fresh faves recently always picks an already popular track. I do hope Fresh Net starts promoting unheard of and unsigned tracks like in the past.

  5. Steve Harris

    We have an open door for artists to submit tracks to us, and play counts are not something we usually consider or measure, but tracks with over 1000 plays are typically in the minority.

    Obviously, time has elapsed since we first chose and featured the tracks, and we have no control over the public vote, but at the time of writing, the tracks we received with plays over 1000 over the last few weeks looked like this:

    303: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/inbox303: 8%
    302: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/inbox302 6%
    301: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/inbox301: 4%

    The tracks the moderators chose for the Listening Post over the last three batches with plays over 1000 was this:

    303: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/batch303/s-y9SzO 16%
    302: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/batch302/s-PbDHm 8%
    301: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/batch301/s-4EhWi 4%

    And the tracks that the public then chose from those for the Fresh Faves with plays over 1000 ended up like this:

    303: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/faves303 30%
    302: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/faves302 0%
    301: https://soundcloud.com/freshnet/sets/faves301 0%

    In the end, we base it all on what comes out of the speakers.

    -Steve

  6. Sue

    Repetitive generic music?? – was Sam T actually listening to the same playlist as me?

  7. Top job Steve. Happy New Year ;)

  8. JFlames

    Top reviews Steve… Congratulations to all the artist’s who made it.

  9. The idea that we should penalise artists for achieving over 1K plays is as bizarre as the conspiracy theory that we choose artists according to how many plays they have achieved. We receive a considerable quantity of really good tracks every week and we have to sift out the ones we believe most deserve our votes. Once we have done that and, between us, put 25 tracks forward to the Listening Post, it is then entirely up to the voting public to determine which 10 make the Fresh Faves. It works on a principle generally known as democracy. And by the way, if you think 8 of the tracks in this week’s Fresh Faves constitute ‘… repetitive generic music’, I might suggest it is you, not us or the voting public, who needs to adopt a more open-minded approach to your listening unless, of course, there’s another reason why you are so vexed about it. :)

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