Artists at a glance
BIRDS OF HELL
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by broadcaster, songwriter and Fresh On The Net founder, Tom Robinson, this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALFIE CARPENTER – Mother
A graduate of Leeds College Of Music, Alfie Carpenter is an audio visual artist working, he says, “with paint, paper, voices, sounds and words to create songs and scenes” in his native Suffolk. This dreamy, hypnotic track Mother opens his brand new debut album Land Song released at the end of last month and available on Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.
BIRDS OF HELL – Do I Get To Ride On A Unicorn?
Do I Get To Ride On A Unicorn is the new single from by Norwich four piece Birds Of Hell – due out a week on Friday (March 15th) via Science and Nature Recordings. Brimming over with energy and fun, this psychedelic epic finds frontman Pete Murdoch coming on like some shamanic reincarnation of Marc Bolan – and even roping in his own mum as the voice of an imaginary meditation CD. It’s possible that mid-altering substances weren’t involved in the making of this record, but they could well heighten your enjoyment of listening to it. Ideally watching the hilariously bizarre promo video here.
We very rarely play five minute tracks on the BBC Introducing Mixtape – there are so many deserving artists each week and we only get 60 minutes of airtime. But on the other hand Do I Get To Ride On A Unicorn develops, mutates, keeps the surprises coming and is likeably bonkers. So in fact we may well end up dropping a couple of shorter, more normal tunes to make room for it in next week’s show.
COSTI – Donny Youngblood!
This was submitted to Fresh On The Net by poet, rapper and guitarist Costi Panayiodou – one half of London hiphop duo One Line To An Angle – and it’s unclear whether this is a solo recording or a new release by the duo themselves. But what is clear is that this likeable slice of oldschool UK hiphop is named for the notorious Donny Youngblood – Sheriff of Kern County, California which has highest rate of police killings in the USA. I can’t hear any direct reference to Sheriff Youngblood in the lyrics – or to his famous statement that it’s ‘financially better’ to kill suspects than injure them – but perhaps I’m missing something. Top marks to Max Kendall for production on this one.
DARCIE – Mango
Darcie are the Manchester duo of Tom Donaldson and Zigi Porter and it’s no surprise that their surreal earworm Mango has already been played by Nat and Michelle on their local BBC Introducing show. With its sparse, economical arrangement and wonderfully weird lyrics (“I feel like time is custard”) it’s an object lessson in tight, memorable songwriting. And when the main hook kicks in at 1:05 – it suddenly makes you realise how few songs nowadays feature a proper carefully crafted chorus that sounds even more memorable than the verse.
ELECTRIC SHORE – Darkness Of You
England, Wales And Scotland have a combined population of 64 million – and the whole of Ireland only 6.6 million – yet three out ten Fresh Faves this week originate from the Emerald Isle. First up are the youthful County Meath trio Electric Shore – who kick up a monster noise for just three people on this insistent new single Darkness Of You.
Yes of course, on a well-produced modern recording like this we’re hearing more than just three instruments in the mix. Nonetheless I’m willing to bet this song carries the same punch, power and brooding atmophere performed live in a room as it does coming out of your speakers at home. The fact that this is only their second release to date bodes well for the year ahead.
ELKIN – Green Eyes
Just sixteen miles away from Electric Shore’s hometown of Ratoath, Dublin band Elkin couldn’t sound more different. The core duo of Carla Ryan and Ellen O’Mahony is augmented live by Peter and Robert Kelly plus Conor Cunningham to form a working five piece band. You can catch them in action on Tuesday night playing a hometown gig at The Workman’s Club – as part of a cystic fibrosis benefit headlined by Dunluvly. Green Eyes is their latest single produced by Daniel McIntyre and proved a big favourite with readers on our Listening Post this weekend.
MEMES – Blah Blah Blah
Haha – yes, this is right up my street. Memes are a duo from Glasgow who cite Sleaford Mods, Arctic Monkeys, Idles and The Fall as influences, and this single delivers pretty much everything you might expect from that list of names. Its attitude and delivery are spot on, it’s a great noise and above all the record doesn’t outstay its welcome.
As two minutes of slight but vigorous fun, Blah Blah Blah jumps out of the speakers, slaps us round the ears and gets out again quick – leaving us dazed and reaching for the “play again” button. Which is always better than leaving us slightly bored halfway through and reaching for “next track”.
Too many gifted but inexperienced musicians have great song ideas, then end up spreading them too thinly. Memes are wise enough not to take the attention of casual listeners for granted…
NAVINA – Circles
Navina has been acclaimed – rightly – by her many supporters at BBC Radio 1 and Asian Network as a gifted new artist of exceptional promise. Circles is skilfully wrtten, beautifully sung and played, and easly the best sounding record in this entire batch. No wonder our readers voted for it in such large numbers – what’s not to like?
Well I’m probably in a minority of one here, but to me Circles does somewhat outstay its welcome – gorgeous though it is. The lyrics start at 0:27 and end at 3:05 – which means there are only two and a half minutes of actual song – the rest is all arrangement. Or, to put it another way, padding.
If Navina made a three minute single edit of this, and kept back the full length version for her album, it would still stand head and shoulders above every other track on our Listening Post. But it would also double its chances of radio play – there are only 60 minutes in every hour of airtime after all, and the competition out there is bloomin ferocious.
OWEN DENVIR – The Lie That You Think I Am
Belfast multi-instrumentalist Owen Denvir is our third and final artist from Ireland in this week’s Faves. As an orchestral viola player he’s contributed to recordings by local artists such as Rams Pocket Radio and Ciaran Lavery – but he’s also a prolific songwriter and artist in his own right.
Owen has made made extensive and innnovative use of YouTube as a platform for his music – do check out the video for his 2018 single Human Touch… He’s also blended live and animated content to accompany this latest piano driven ballad The Lie That You Think I Am which he’s experienced enough to deliver at the single-friendly length of 2:48.
TILLY VALENTINE – Brick By Brick
When Brit School graduate Tilly Valentine released her debut single Coins last September it wowed our readers who voted it into our Fresh Faves at the time. Reviewer Jflames described it as one of the week’s standout tracks: “a raw, edgy, straight-to-the-point banger of a record”.
The smooth polished soul stylings of her followup single “Brick by Brick” had much the same effect on moderators and readers alike this weekend. The song deals, Tilly tells us, with “seeing things with a new perspective; knocking everything down and starting over.”
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.