Fresh Faves: Batch 311

Freya Beer

Artists at a glance

DILETTANTE
FAODAIL
FREYA BEER
HEAVY HEART
HEMINGWAYOFFICIAL
JOHNNY GREYSTOKE
MAKE FRIENDS
SPOTLIGHTKIDTRACKS
THE CHEAP THRILLS
TWIST HELIX

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

DILETTANTE – (Cry For Me) John

‘John’ done the girl wrong … and she’s letting the world know about it, in true woman-scorned style. 

Who the actual John is we don’t know, we can only surmise that he’s someone who cheated on the girl – Francesca Pidgeon – in either her real or imaginary world. 

A slinky, jazzed-up affair, ‘(Cry For Me) John’ is a piano-based, finger-wagging narrative of the afore-mentioned scurrilous John, and his wicked, “b**tardly” ways. For shame, John! Have you no scruples? 

An output of Ms. Pidgeon’s collaboration with Aaron Collins-Wood and Jack Mee under the Dilettante moniker, it is a riot of swing, jazz, and indie, a jamboree of brass, riffs, and cymbals. Bish bosh drums, loud and proud horns, and low-lying, furtive basslines meld with tinkling ivories, and a melee of squiggles to serve up what has to be the most unique of the numbers on this week’s playlist. 

A little bit eccentric along the lines of Kate Bush (who knocks on your aural door when the vocal kicks in), and a lot ‘quirky jazz’ in the mould Norwegian outfit, Broen, ‘John’ is not a song that will go gently into that good night.  

Francesca’s previous musical adventures were with indie-jazz quartet Kumiko, and it’s clear that in that fusion of forward-facing indie and retro-vibing jazz is where she’s at her most comfortable. The trio hail from the North and cite St. Vincent and David Byrne amongst their musical influence. The latter’s influence can be clearly heard in the idiosyncratic, left-of-centre grooves of this not so romantic tale, in which revenge is a song best-served triumphant. 

This is their first single and for it to strike FOTN gold says a lot about the impact the newly formed Dilettante made on this week’s listenership. There’ll be only tears of joy here methinks.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Bandcamp

FAODAIL – Northbound

One late Summer evening back in 2015, I sat entranced as my mind walked across a stark Icelandic wasteland, the bleakness of which was perfectly captured by the desolate strains of the Olafur Arnalds, Alice Sara Ott instrumental, ‘Eyes Shut’. 

That piece still sends shivers down my spine. 

The opening moments of ‘Northbound’ are, in a way, redolent of ‘Eyes Shut’. The listener is led with the same hushed footsteps, across the horizon of a dreamy landscape. There’s the same fragility, as delicate piano chords drop like rain through a cloud of ethereal synth sounds.  

I’d love to know what the inspiration for this track was; what images conjured this slow walk down a path lined with instrumental shadows? 

This is ambience the like of which I haven’t heard since Will Samson released his ‘Ground Luminosity’ album back in 2015 (obviously a good vintage for ambient music!), and is the type of piece that could easily soundtrack the TV adaptation of a classic novel.  

Producer, composer, and obviously talented instrumentalist Faodail is the name behind this exquisite piece of downtempo chill. Hailing from Scotland, he’s been releasing music online since 2016. Given that he has arrived at this level of composition in such a short time, one can only predict that this young composer is on an upward trajectory to bigger and brighter things.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

FREYA BEER – Six Months

With hint of a tint of ‘80s punk Goddess Siouxsie Sioux, and more than passing nod to her erstwhile horde of Banshees, say hello the Freya Beer track, ‘Six Months’. 

Too young to have heard of Siouxsie and the Banshees? A quick rummage around You Tube will deliver up the most delightful dishes including a scrumptious rendition of the Beatle’s ‘Dear Prudence’.  

Back to ‘Six Months’, soz! 

Inspired by Rosetti’s painting of the mythological goddess Proserpine, this is a flavoursome soupcon of guitar driven, drum pummelled angst. A quasi-manic study in ‘bleeding hearts’ for 2019 if you will. With a voice full of attitude sliced with a smidge of youthful pathos, Freya Beer knows how to deliver love songs for a fraught 21st century. 

The Southampton based artist, whose influences include Patti Smith, PJ Harvey (no surprise there) and Serge Gainsbourg (for those too lazy to Google, mega-chops French songsmith of the 60s and 70s), has a deep love of poetry and art, both of which have shaped her songwriting. 

Freya has been invited to record a Live Lounge sesh with Steph at BBC Intro Solent, which is pretty wow for an artist only two singles in. The session will be aired in February, keep your nose to the news.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

HEAVY HEART – Bed Bug

One of the. more mainstream indie-pop tracks to be featured on this week’s playlist is ‘Bed Bug’, the latest single from London four-piece Heavy Heart, of whom I’m a fan. 

‘Bed Bug’ is music for adults. Exquisite, after-dark lush-pop, the type that slowly wraps its sultry arms around you, and you never want it to let go. One of a trio of songs co-produced and mixed by Gabe Wax of Fleet Foxes fame, it explores the darker, seedier, and more obsessive sides of love and lust.  

The track moves nonchalantly, like a louche lover lingering after a close encounter of the carnal kind. Front woman Anna Vincent’s ice-cool vocal – which harks back to the ‘LoveFool’ heydays of Nina Persson’s Cardigans – wafts luxuriously across a haze of fuzz drenched in a treacle of reverb, while a swell of synth bursts through the FX adding to the track’s sensual glow. Heavy stuff, from Heavy Heart, that’ll have you panting for more. 

There are some upcoming gigs, including a slot at London’s, The Shacklewell Arms, on 30th January, see socials for more details.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Bandcamp

HEMINGWAY – Statuesque

Opening with a prolonged riff that would bring blood to the fingers of the most calloused of guitar hands, ‘Statuesque’ is a rock track in the classic sense of the word. Intense guitar sequences, insistent, punchy drums, and a grizzled vocal are all there in spades. 

‘Statuesque’ is the new single from Norwich band, Hemingway, who describe their sound as “soft focus’, cite Elvis as an inspo, and identify with household names such as The National and Suede. Now, the former I can get, yeah, but the latter, not so much. And I’ve seen Brett shake his meat to the beat enough times to know my Britpop from my soft rock. 

Hemingway aren’t exactly new to the scene, having formed a decade ago. Notwithstanding their longevity, they have still to release an album, something which seems to have been at the forefront of their collective minds in recent months, so much so, that they might just have done something about it. Cue their appearance on BBC Introducing Norfolk to debut a snatch from said forthcoming album, entitled ‘The End’. 

Anyway, getting back to ‘Statuesque’, this is the type of gnarly rock fanfare that will appeal equally to lovers of The Editors, Fleet Foxes, and the Killers, as well as fans of old school rockers like Quo and Scorpions. It’s got it all; sharp riffs, dramatic lead and bass fusion, dynamic drumming, Mumford-esque vocals melds, and de rigeur scotch and smoke tinted lead vocals. 

Heminway have played at the recent London Paralympics, been featured on Hollyoaks, and nominated for a Norfolk Arts Award. Not bad for a band who’ve yet to release their debut album.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

JOHNNY GREYSTOKE – Maid Of Tarzan
(Nu Shotgate Soul Mix)

So, the last time I saw the words Johnny, Greystoke, and Tarzan in the same sentence was, well, a very long ‘Black and White’ time ago. For those of you not in the know, here’s the facts –  

  • Johnny – Weissmuller, starred in the lead role in the six Tarzan movies 
  • Greystoke – The Legend of Tarzan, a 1984 filmic fiasco 
  • Maid of Tarzan – aka Jane, played by Ireland’s own, flame-haired Maureen O’Sullivan 

Now you’re as up to speed as I am. 

Cue, Johnny Greystoke and his chimp-infused rap, ‘Maid of Tarzan’. Think Barry White meets Will Smith for a primate moonlight serenade, with a side of sistas doing some vocal gymnastics to boot. 

Reading the bio piece on JG’s Facebook, it would appear that ‘Maid of Tarzan’ is something that developed out of two students having a rap at a bit of Jazzy Jeff craic, with Johnny’s buddy Al ‘Nu Shotgate Soul’ Temper responsible for the mix to which you find yourselves listening on this week’s playlist. 

Personally speaking, I never got this ‘aha … yeah’ thang that rappers go on with. Does it serve any purpose other than acting as some kind of filler?  

I digress. ‘Maid of Tarzan’ comes replete with plenty of soulful beats interspersed with high-altitude, swooning ooo’s, and a smattering of sage ‘aha yeahs’. This hiphop beat-a-licious soul funk provides the backdrop to Johnny’s ‘wordy rappinghood’ account of Tarzan’s journey to find a Maidy-mate, probably the aforementioned Jane! 

And there you have it. College students do hip hop story-telling, rapping Johnny-Greystoke-Weissmuller and his long-suffering Maid-a-Jane into twenty first century college campuses and onto full technicolour streaming services. 

Is this what they call a ‘one hit wonder’ or is there more to follow from Johnny Greystoke? Planet of The Apes, The Primate Returns?

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

MAKE FRIENDS – Drop Naked

This is just a fantastic song, with a fantastic vocal, about which, well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that lead singer Tom sounds like he graduated from the Brian Kennedy school of vocal cool. 

Make Friends is a four-piece made up of Bristolians Tom, Connor, David and Max. They namecheck recently reformed Bombay Bicycle Club and Foals (their new single ‘Exits’ is just ace) in their list of musical likes, which makes sense given their signature sound seems to be a meld of the best of both. There’s a strong infusion of the Foals aesthetic on their track ‘Drop Naked’, a song so steeped in such seriously mature blues-funk that it’s hard to believe it’s their debut single. 

This is well-crafted polish delivered with an ease that belies the brevity of their career – they only formed in 2016. A fusion of intricate guitar riffs and the easy languor of a well-choreographed rhythm section, provides a slick underlay for the golden tones of the front man’s more than appealing vocal. 

As I said, this is fantastic stuff, especially for a first single. Make Friends you are setting the bar high. Long may you continue to release such top-notch songs. 

Make Friends will be hitting the road in March. Their tour is kicking off in Brighton, and taking in several stops along the way including Exeter and Oxford, before wrapping up in Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge on 27th. They’re also lined up to play Liverpool’s Sound City on the May bank holiday weekend. Full details on the band’s Facebook page.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

SPOTLIGHT KID – Shivers

Spoiler Alert – ‘Shivers’ is my out and out favourite track on this week’s playlist.  

If warped, wrangled jangle and reverb twisted vocals are your thing, then ‘Shivers’ is going to be right down your shoegaze rabbit hole. 

Comparisons with MBV and Lush are a given when it comes to music of this genre, but there aren’t many that would fare as well as Spotlight Kids when it comes to being weighed against past masters. 

A five piece from Nottingham, the band is already signed to Saint Marie Records. Katty Heaths takes on vocal duties with Matt Holt on bass, James Taylor on guitar, Rob Mc Cleary on guitars and vocals and Chris Davis on drums. These maestros of the distorted sound have already released two albums, the latest being their 2014 ‘Ten Thousand Hours’ album. 

This track, ‘Shivers’ won’t go on release until 16th February, so I’m assuming that this foray with FOTN is a bit of a toe-dipping exercise. Well, fwiw guys, ‘Shivers’ was one of the most popular tracks of the week!  

A par excellence intense jumble of plaintive riffs, insistent jerky percussion, and vocal distortia, fuzzed up and zoned out. 

For fans of Amber Arcades, Slowdive and Sonic Youth.

Wikipedia | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

THE CHEAP THRILLS – Saint Or Sinner

The Cheap Thrills are redolent of what was great about the early 90’s indie revolution. They have all that musical ‘lightness of being’ championed by the likes of The Lightening Seeds and The Las, both of whom also came from Liverpool. Unpretentious bands that made music that nailed you to the spot. Real bands that wrote real-life songs with canny words that were easily remembered. Not many bands like that these days. 

The Cheap Thrills are Lewis Pike, Anton Eager, Terry Eaves, and Callum Fitzpatrick (there had to be one with an Irish name!) and they reckon that “to classify is to limit,” so we won’t stick the ‘indie’ label of them then, just wave it about as a pointer.  

It would seem that TCT have been gaining a lot of traction recently, with their song ‘Same Old Faces’ cracking 100k plays, airplay on 6Music and Amazing Radio, and a series of headline gigs, more of which anon. 

The track ‘Saint or Sinner’ is an upbeat jangle, with all the pre-requisites for a Top Ten chart hit; warm, inviting vocal, catchy hooks, everyman lyrics, disco-driven beats, youthful, breezy melodies. It’s the ‘90s indie-pop (sorry, labelling again) formula reimagined for the 21st century. Guitar pop perfection from the home of, well, guitar pop. 

The Cheap Thrills go on tour starting 8th February with a stint at the E-Rooms, Skelmersdale. Full details of their England-wide tour can be found on their socials.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

TWIST HELIX – Pulse

‘Pulse’ is taken from the album ‘Ouseburn’ which Newcastle-based three-piece Twist Helix released last October. 

First impression? Bow Wow Wow jungle drums bearing down on Mordor-esque ‘80s synth, while frontwoman Bea takes vocalising to a new level, with a delivery that’s more war-cry than Queen Maedbh leading the Táin Bó Cúailnge. 

Listen to the opening bars of ‘Pulse’ and you’re right back on the turntable with Kids in America, albeit the cry is more Sinead O’Connor than Kim Wilde.  

This is pretty strong stuff, with turgid bass electronics, powerful drum sequences, and dancing keys whirling around one’s musical dashboard, while Bea Garcia’s somewhat euphoric vocal leads the charge into a frantic, musical tornado. 

Bea employs a very clever lyrical delivery, drawing the words out, as if reflecting on what to say next. It draws the listener in, and fixes them, like bait, onto its melodic hook.  

Twist Helix is Bea Garcia (Vox/Keys), Matthew Barron (Bass), and James Walker (Drums). They describe their style as “euphoric goth-pop”, and I guess it is goth-tinged in a way. But for me, it’s more colourful and melodramatic than the label ‘goth’ typically infers (all doom and black kohl!), so I think I’ll opt for post-punk and hope I won’t offend. 

Twist Helix are about to kick off a short European tour, taking in two dates in Spain, and ending in London on 23rd March. For more info on upcoming gigs and links to the music, check out their socials.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

Twist Helix

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 Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape – please wait three months before sending us another track, to give us time to help other deserving artists… For more info see Robinson Has A Good Old Moan.

Derval

Devotee of Music, Books, Art, Fashion & all things cultural. Keen interest in IT/Social media. Currently trying to plug musical gaps. With a special fondess for Nordic music, Derv has written for The Monitors, Ja Ja Ja and The 405, and blogs at DervSwerve.

6 Comments

  1. Excellent reviews, lovely music, its a big win win 🙂

  2. oldierob

    Stunning reviews for a great playlist

  3. Great reviews and a lot of information about the artists. A fitting encapsulation of a really good set of tracks.

  4. SweetP

    Great reviews Derv, I love your writing, great read.

  5. I listened to 25 secs of the first one, Dilletante, which revealed a muddy recording of a plodding little ditty featuring a fem vox so ridicuosly low in the mix as to render it almost inaudible, obviously intentional I suppose cos she can’t sing for toffee…

    Dull, lifeless plodding and old hat to boot.

  6. Pdot

    LdashD – Who hurt you? Great tune, original melodies and thoughtful lyrical content, I’ll take that over your incredibly middle-of-the-road House any day of the week.

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