Artists at a glance
CHROME OF DEFTEX
SWEET DEALS ON SURGERY
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by musician, broadcaster and Fresh On The Net founder Tom Robinson this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
So here we are at the end of 2018 with our final set of Fresh Faves as democratically elected by over forty of our readers this weekend. Huge thanks to the dedicated team of volunteers who make up our moderation team here at Fresh On The Net. And likewise to all of you who’ve taken the time to show up and vote on our Listening Post during the year, helping many of the more interesting artists get a little more of the recognition they deserve.
This weekend we had a very strong batch of tunes to choose from. Although our Fresh Faves review only has room for ten songs, please do visit the full list here and check out all 25 contenders – especially NIA WYN, MIKE, FISTYMUFFS, COLEBY, DEFINITION and MIM RASOULI.
Meanwhile here’s wishing all our readers a Cool Yule and a peaceful 2019
BABii – Phantom
Phantom – the debut single from new Margate-based artist BABii – has caused quite a stir on the music blogs, including Fresh On The Net this weekend. Among the comments on our Listening Post, artist & DJ Matt Black commented on the quality of the production and no wonder.
It turns out that a major catalyst for the whole project was the artist’s dad Adrian Sherwood who, she tells us, “jumped iin on thiis song and made iit sound biigger and wiilder.” Bigger and wilder is right – and all the dynamic surprises, widescreen SFX and mad steel pan samples serve to enhance BABii’s otherworldy – and at time somewhat disturbing – vocals: “I lost my tongue, when I used my lungs”
Her debut album HiiDE is due out in 2019 on Death Waltz Originals.
BED. – Mallory
After all this time it’s safe to say the Portland duo bed. are Fresh On The Net regulars. After all since we first heard from them in February 2014 this is the 9th time their unique flavour of “slow-fi” alt-rock has featured in our Fresh Faves. The husband and wife team of Sierra and Alex Haager actually began recording their debut LP Replay in late 2015 with producer Larry Crane and drummer Devon Shirley.
But early the following year the Haagers found out they were expecting a child and put their music careers on hold in order to raise their son. But last Friday (Dec 14th) they finally released that long-awaited debut album Replay on Bug Hunt records, and sent us Mallory as a taster. And it’s well worth the wait: you can hear the whole album for yourselves on their Bandcamp page.
And, get this: if you decide to click “buy” all proceeds will go to support the USA’s beleaguered Immigrant Legal Resource Center in its struggles with the Trump administration.
CHLOË MARCH – Snow Bird
As chance would have it Chloë March also first featured in our Fresh Faves back in 2014 – in fact the very same week as bed. when she got a resounding thumbs-up from guest reviewer Shell Zenner for her stripped down piano ballad Embers.
At a perfect radio length of 2.36 Snow Bird is of an entirely fresh level of sophistication and has already proved a hit with Melita Dennett from BBC Introducing: The South, who forwarded it to me at the BBC Introducing Mixtape last week.
As fellow moderator Neil March (no relation) commented this weekend “Snow Bird rounds off an extraordinary year for Chloë with more enigmatic, harmonically sophisticated and otherworldly backdrop for her haunting, beautiful vocals.”
CHROME – Dopamine Hit
Def Tex was a UK Hip Hop crew formed in Norwich in 1986 with an original line up of Sure Delight, Roxki and Chrome (Mike Walkeden). As an advertisement for Chrome’s forthcoming solo album Dopamine Hit on B-Line Records, the title track pretty much smashes all competition aside.
Its sharp, canny arrangements – and whipcrack precision groove – lay the perfect foundation for his machinegun delivery and irresistible hooklines. It’s oldschool hiphop reimagined for the 21st Century. As with Adrian Sherwood’s contributions to the BABii record, it’s great to hear another eighties veteran making music that earns its place on the playlist by the sheer quality of what comes out of the speakers – rather than leaning on past glories.
As reader Paul Cook commented, Dopamine Hit has “the energy of Jurassic 5 and the fun of A Tribe Called Quest. Track of the week for me.” You and me both, Paul.
CLOTH – Old Bear
Alphabetical order, five tracks in, and we’re still only on the C’s – with Cloth. And once again, they deliver a record that sells itself effortlessly: an exquisite recording of an exquisite song. It’s the kind of crisp, sparkling perfection that used to be achievable only by the likes of Steely Dan or Paul Simon burning their way through tens of thousands of dollars in studio time.
Our new friends Cloth declare themselves to be fans of Cocteau Twins, Warpaint, Pavement and Sleater-Kinney. But – I’m sorry – to my ears this is a far better sounding record than that lot ever released in their entire careers. Understated, poised, immaculately written, performed and produced… Old Bear marks a new highpoint from an already exceptional band.
I want ’em live in session on my radio show as soon as bloomin’ possible, if that Marc Riley hasn’t already beaten me to it. Because – let’s face it – once their debut abum comes out next year, Radio DJs are going to be all over it like wasps around a picnic.
LUVIA – Love Lust
Our Listening Post each weekend isn’t intended as some kind of competition to decide who’s “best”… it’s meant as more of a barometer for artists. A way of trying out new material on an audience of strangers who know nothing about you or your music.
Nonetheless it’s worth noting that Love Lust by the Brighton artist LUVIA attracted more votes at the weekend than any other tune on the playlist, even though to be honest it wasn’t my personal cup of tea. But that puts me very much in the minority because everyone else absolutely adored her voice. “A fantastic pop vocal” (Kerry JK) “the vocalist is amazing – I could make a Number One with her” (DJ Matt Black).
The strongest endorsement of all came once again from Neil March: “another teenage talent from End of the Trail’s impressive roster (ref: Sam Eagle, Pip Hall etc). This song places her striking, unusual voice against a punchy Pop backing track that leans towards Indie Rock.” And you can’t say fairer than that.
MAEWEN – Bal Des Ombres
Brest-born, Hannover-based pianist Maewen Forest is a composer and music producer, as you might guess from the cinematic tone of Bal Des Ombres. Its accordion-led melody could – as Paul Cook commented – easily have come from the soundtrack of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film.
What you might not necessarily guess is that she’s also a sound designer and remixer, which is why this track from her album Le Petit Jardin is more of a romantic afterthought than typical of the record as a whole. Tagged as #musiques de films its eight tracks also embrace deep electro, ambient, classical and dance beats – demonstrating the width and range of her abilities.
Think Nils Frahm dancing with Max Richter in a Berlin nightclub with Matthew Herbert on the record decks and you won’t go far wrong.
NEIL CAMPBELL – Fields Within Fields
Oh my goodness. Now this is music of serious quality and distinction. The moment Fields Within Fields hit my ears in our inbox last week it went straight on my shortlist for the BBC Introducing Mixtape without me having (shamefully) the smallest idea of who Neil Campbell might be.
He turns out to be a Scottish-born, Liverpool-based musician and composer with a huge body of work to his name. Not only a vitruoso guitarist but a leading figure in the UK’s post-punk avant-garde undergound music scene. A serial collaborator who cites influences from Mike Oldfield, Robert Fripp and Art of Noise to Philip Glass, Max Richter and Porcupine Tree – to name but a few. His Wikipedia page lists 178 separate solo and collaborative releases from 1984 to the present day – many of them distrubuted in true DIY fashion on cassettes or CD-Rs.
You can hear 18 of them in full on Neil’s Bandcamp page. This track is taken from his 2015 album eMErgence – though there are four further albums leading up to this summer’s band release After The Flood with Marty Snape, Roger Gardiner and Viktor Nordberg. Merseysiders can catch them live next month at Sound Basement on January 18th and then at the Liverpool International Jazz Festival in February.
ROVES – Beneath My Skin
Roves formed in Reading around the musical partnership of vocalist Ethan Morgan and guitarist Connor Coutts – gradually expanding to a full four piece with Ethan’s brother Ellis Morgan on bass plus Matt Jamieson on drums. They uploaded an early demo of Beneath My Skin to BBC Introducing in April 2017 and the contrast shows just how far they’ve grown and progressed in the last 20 months.
This release sounds so rich and sophisticated that listening to it feels like swimming in expensive chocolate – Lindt, probably, with 85% cocoa content. Clearly a great many of our readers agreed, with Ethan’s vocal delivery and lyrics coming in for particular praise. It’s taken from their debut EP A Strung Out Pilot, due for release in February 2019.
Live shows coming up include this Wednesday 19 December at the Boileroom in Guildford and a hometown show at Reading’s Purple Turtle on Thursday week, December 27th.
SWEET DEALS ON SURGERY – Hidden Djinns
I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve played Rob Allen’s various projects – and Sweet Deals On Surgery in particular – on the BBC Introducing Mixtape over the years. They’re one of the funniest, most inventive indie bands the general public has never heard of, with song titles such as Speed Date Yr Way To Fame and Elvis Costello Is A Wanker.
This week Hidden Djinns elbowed its way fair and square into our Fresh Faves on votes by – surprise surprise – people who’d never heard of them. So, a little background. Back in October 2014 we were introduced to bassist Alec Splatt, guitarist/singer Robot Alien and drummer Timble D as “three men from the north of England who play catchy/shouty/indie/punk and drink too much.”
Hidden Djinns comes from their new, selftitled EP which features their last two singles and the band’s strongest, most adventurous work to date. I’d say it bristles with fun, energy, mischief and tight powerful playing. They’d say it’s short, snappy, stupidly-titled, noise-pop. Take your pick and enjoy.
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.