Artists at a glance
KONGO DIA NTOTILA
L I P S
THE UPPER WORLD
TOKYO TEA ROOM
CALLUM PITT – Forgotten Kids
Tempting to pigeon-hole on first listen, the solid and capable production of relaxed vocals suspended over driving rhythm is as reassuringly familiar as well-worn denim, but under this warm acceptable urgency lies a rogues gallery of modern woe: food banks, rough sleepers, gentrification and hostile council measures – “you’re disappearing out of view through the gaps of wealth and greed and misfortune”. Like the way in which our society brushes so many vulnerable people under the carpet, a cursory glance at this track will neglect some vital hidden depths that were in full view all along.
CHLOE CASTRO – Drunk
It’s always impressive when one encounters a singer that can communicate strength and weakness in the same breath. Each line of this song is by turns a jabbed finger, a two-palmed push, a barely restrained lunge, the listener lyrically harangued against a wall. But Chloe Castro seems to level her tirade as much at herself as the unseen antagonist; there’s a sense of taking oneself in hand as well as the person caught in the cross hairs. A complex double interrogation, both existential and accusatory, wrapped up in an effective catchy bouncing beast of a track.
FISTYMUFFS – Time
My chief disappointment with so many bands is that I am not convinced by them, that all the production cleverness and artistic ornamentation they learn from years of devotion to the previous generation of fakers rarely masks the crumbling dumping ground of secondhand sentiment putrefying within. Fistymuffs, however, possess a genuine zest and unmistakable fury wonderfully at odds with the playfulness of their delivery, like a smile through gritted grinding teeth.
They treat their instruments with a fresh-out-of-the-box unfussy unpretentiousness so in tune with the original attitudes of first wave punk, but with a far more cogent outrage presiding.
KONGO DIA NTOTILA – 360°
The bass steals in over an initially tentative drumbeat, seemingly content to lurk on the margins, before the brass pounces into frame like a cat on the back of an unsuspecting widow, toppling the whole ensemble into a tumble of chaotic musical proficiency. That slight malignity in the low end never leaves us entirely, however much sunshine the lead lines throw about. The melodic interplay is tight yet intuitive, the sequences are conversational (even conspiratorial) with instruments possessing an articulacy that is impressive yet not showy. There is a gorgeous deftness at work here, a lightness of touch countering the big sound and heavy impact – strong as an ox and nimble as a water boatman skipping across an azure pool in deepest Summer.
L I P S – Sunken
Naive yet knowing, with colours drawn from a well-dipped palette, Sunken is a track that will speak to different instincts in different listeners – some jumping up and down to its twinkling bounce, others lying back in some secluded meadow watching shapes form in the clouds, both wrapped up in the whirling momentum of the band. The weightless vocals eddy and skip on the breeze as the rhythm holds tightly to its kite strings before taking off and floating off towards the sun.
MEVANON – Make Something
There is no shortage of songs about grabbing opportunities, grasping the nettle, fulfilling ambitions, but there is a welcome cognisance in Mevanon’s offering, a sense of context, both emotional and geographical, the knowledge that time passes and distances grow and shrink. There’s a definite awareness of contrasting scale – the internal and external, the near and far – the desire to imprint oneself on the world but also to make parents proud. Joy Lynn’s voice is like sunlight on a stream, oddly carefree in this world of ambition, but underneath is the insistent thrum, the synthy undercurrents, a pleasant precision that inches this duo closer to the desired endgame, whatever that may be.
STILLCORNERS – Black Lagoon
A calm timelessness percolates through this little black dress of a song. There’s a nostalgic dystopia to the edgy simplicity, a noirish backward futurism to its insistent digital clockwork. The woozy euphoria of the guiltless damned, this is music to conduct an insouciant killing spree to then deny all knowledge, like a computer pausing in its calculations of casualty stats to imagine why anyone should have blood in them and why anyone should care if it all fell out and trickled down a storm drain in monochrome.
THE UPPER WORLD – It’s Hard To Operate A Zip When You’re Burning
I suspect we might be in the presence of authentic brilliance here (though it’s so hard to tell these days). The vocals creep over the intro like an orphaned folk lay before plunging headfirst into a waking dream sequence of angular sparkling observational moroseness, the music layering up and crashing about kaleidoscopically in the out of focus periphery. There’s a cinematic quality to the progression of the track, a build that is both epic yet concentrated, an exercise in micro framing in a fog of busy distraction, like witnessing someone’s nervous breakdown from within.
TOKYO TEA ROOM – Forever Out Of Time
Another Kent-based outfit, Tokyo Tea Room are less down the rabbit hole and more head in the clouds. The partnership of assured yet relaxed guitar-bass-synth leans at a provocative angle like a young uncle beneath a sunny gazebo whilst Beth Plumb’s vocals wander rapt and absorbed like someone following the course of an escaping balloon as it gets further and further out of reach.
TV COMA – Have A Party
I was beginning to think irony no longer had any place in these warped and unsatirizable times but this playful doom-riddled masterclass in faux triumph is irresistible. There’s a lot going on in this deceptively simple song – anthemic, playful, dramatic with a flagrant wink over the shoulder, it initially feels like a simple piss take but also acts as an effective commentary on so much of the modern experience of lives led in relentless noisy emptiness. Despite the broad chords and laddish chorus, the song is as moving as it is enjoyable. But we’re all still dead inside.
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.