Artists at a glance
DRESSED LIKE WOLVES
HERE'S THE STEEPLE
THE HANNAH BARBERAS
TOM MOUSE SMITH
WOJTEK THE BEAR
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
COSMIC NINJA – Sympathy
This song starts with a strong instrumental chorus in which I think they use a very catchy synth line that stays in your mind, and could easily be used in a commercial for a fast car, for example. While other bands use guitar riffs as the dominant part in their choruses, Cosmic Ninja mainly uses synthesizer hooks, which gives their music a spacey vibe. They have an eclectic musical style that consists of a diverse range of rock and electronic music genres.
Sympathy is an up-tempo track with a tight drum groove that gives it a lot of energy. It sounds like a track of today, while the high synth note gives it an eighties feel. Combined with the strong vocals by Tamsin Cullem and Jonny Angenlini, it’s a song you can physically feel, as if you were launched into space. However, you can’t sit still while listening to it and will want to listen to it again.
Cosmic Ninja are an electronic rock band from Bristol with Tamsin Cullum (lead vocals), Jonny Angelini (vocals, guitar), Robin De Wandelaer (Bass) and drummer Ellie Daymond joining in May 2018. Three of their singles were featured on BBC Introducing In The West, including Sympathy, and they’ve played live at a packed Glastonbury Calling. On May 10th they will release their self-titled EP and will play live at Mr Wolfs in Bristol (May 10), Salisbury Live Festival (Jun 1), and Home Farm Fest (June 7).
DRESSED LIKE WOLVES – 4 am, Vinovia
According to the title, this song by Dressed Like Wolves was written around 4 o’clock in the morning. It is this early hour which gives the recording such an intimate feeling. It also shows how powerful a song can be with just an acoustic guitar and voice, and it’s not until the last part that some effects are added to the mix. Pay close attention while listening and it’s almost like you’re in the same room with the singer.
Dressed Like Wolves are singer songwriter Rick Dobbing from Thornaby, Middlesbrough and his friends Paul, Az and Dan from Spooker Rekkids. They were Fresh Faves in 2017 with their song Tiny Ides, and were played on the BBC Introducing Mixtape, where Tom Robinson described them as “a band in the tradition of great British eccentrics.”
The band was once described as a new glow of imperfection, but I would say that it’s the purity of their music that’s so attractive, especially the voice of Rick Dobbing, which really contributes to that integrity. 4am, Vinovia is part of their album All Hallows Forever (Demos, Oldies and That) released in 2018. As they say themselves: “A bunch of songs recorded between 2009-2018 on cassette tapes, reel-to-reel machines, phones and an old IBM Think Pad that they used in outer space.” You can listen on Bandcamp.
HANNAH SCOTT – Walk A Wire
Hannah Scott is a well-known contributor to Fresh On The Net, having been featured on the Fresh Faves over the last couple of years. Hannah draws inspiration from her affinity with Italy and works with her creative partner Stefano Della Casa who she met in London. Their musical journey has proved fruitful with previous releases supported by Bob Harris and Dermot O’Leary on BBC Radio 2. In 2018 Hannah’s music was played on the BBC Introducing Mixtape, and she has opened for artists like Seth Lakeman and 10cc.
The song Walk A Wire follows the sound of her album Pieces Of The Night from 2018, but with a lot more warmth, power and electronic feel. The song begins with her wonderful voice accompanied by a subtle acoustic guitar, and grows into something bigger supported by a strong and groovy house beat. I think this is the kind of song you want to hear in a large theatre or stadium. However, it can still be intimate as Hannah shows in a video on her Facebook page.
Funny enough, the chorus of Walk A Wire reminds me of Coldplay’s hit song Clocks. It just would be really great if Chris Martin could have a duet with Hannah. I think their voices would fit perfectly. You can see Hannah live in the Kontra Roots CLub in Northampton on the 10th of May and also on the Lechlade Festival 2019.
HERE’S THE STEEPLE – Spoons
There’s not much information about Here’s The Steeple (formerly Run The River), the Indie Folk project of Daniel Walters. Dan is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and formed the band with many talented friends from North England. It’s pretty impressive how many instruments they use, such as bass guitar, drums, (bass) clarinets, trumpets, violins, viola and cello. And in 2017 they released their first music and EP titled Run The River.
Here’s The Steeple’s song Spoons is part of their album High Hopes, which they released this year. Spoons is a gentle song with vocals, woodwinds and soft drum brushes. It gives you the feel of a jazz song in the form of a pop song. The wonderful vocal harmonies and melodies remind me of Bon Iver and Elbow, but the band translates that vibe into an almost orchestral setting. It’s one of the shortest songs on this Fresh Faves list — just under 2 minutes — but that doesn’t really matter, as you just want to hear it again.
JODIE ABACUS – Rescue Me
Jodie Abacus is a well known musician from Lewisham in South East London. His musical styles includes R&B, soul, electronic and funk. Jodie had his first big success with his single I’ll Be That Friend in 2013. He got over 100,000 plays on his Soundcloud, and in 2016 he even supported Corinne Bailey Rae on her UK tour. His follow-up single Good Feeling was premiered by MistaJam on BBC Radio 1Xtra in 2015 and also received airplay from Tom Ravenscroft on BBC Radio 6 Music, and by Trevor Nelson on BBC Radio 2.
Rescue Me is the latest single by Jodie Abacus and is the follow-up to his album Take This And Grow Flowers released last year. Rescue Me has the feeling of a feelgood song although the theme is pretty serious. The song has everything you want, from funk, to R&B, to soul, to rock, and even a sixties vibe. Of course Lenny Kravitz comes to mind, but I can also hear influences from the Beach Boys and the Beatles. This tells us that Jodie broadened his music style into more pop music, which promises a lot for the future.
Rescue Me has been featured on various Spotify playlists and you can see Jodie Abacus live on Thursday 9 May 2019 at the Jazz Cafe in London with DJ Premier!
JOE DOLMAN – Drag You Down
Joe Dolman is a 21 year old singer songwriter from Leamington Spa, England and already has a large following on Twitter — more than 21 thousand followers — and I can hear why. When I listened to Drag You Down for the first time it immediately got to me. Not only by the professional recording, but more so by the amazing voice of Joe himself. His way of singing and changing pitch perfectly about 8 times in just a few words reminded me of Justin Bieber recording in the studio of hit song producer Max Martin. Justin sings in a higher register, but Joe has this same quality in his voice, and is a real natural talent with a bright future in my opinion.
Joe released two EPs independently, which landed in the top 10 in the UK and US iTunes charts, and already has the support of Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Introducing, who says “The show he puts on is phenomenal” and Clash Magazine stating “There’s a sense of unforced innocence to his work.” Music by Joe is also featured on Apple Music’s Best of The Week and Spotify’s Autumn Acoustic playlists.
His first stage appearance was at Hyde Park back in 2014. Since then he has taken his music not only around the UK but also overseas, including festival appearances at Reeperbahn in Hamburg and house concert tours across America. For fans of James Bay, Passenger, Lewis Watson, Gavin James and Damien Rice. Joe Dolman is absolutely an artist to remember.
RIA PLAYS – Girl Interrupted
UK band Ria Plays are newcomers to Fresh On The Net. Their song Girls Interrupted is one of those tracks that really stood out for me when listening to this week’s full inbox. A proper rock band with vocalist, songwriter and visual artist Rita Parfitt accompanied by Justin Seeger on bass and keyboards and Jonah Webb on drums. From the start the song has a very energetic vibe with full-on drums, sharp bass chords and riff, and the very strong vocals of Ria. It’s her distinctive voice that really contributes to the band’s own sound. It’s raw, it’s musical and it’s groovy. Just a perfect combination.
Their first single Postcard, released in July 2018, has received a lot of radio play on Radio Wigwam and on stations in the US. The accompanying video was picked by The Devil Has The Best Tuna as video of the week. Two more tracks – Volcano and Good Luck With Love – followed in November 2018 and Ria appeared in Wild Spiritz magazine in January 2019. Girls Interrupted is part of their five-song debut EP Jar Of Fishes, which was released on the 1st of May and you can hear it on all platforms.
Ria Plays is currently booking gigs all over the UK. They recently opened for Colorado rockers The Velveteers and played a well-received show at The Fleece in Bristol. The band describe their sound as ‘unashamedly pop punk’ with ‘songs for the strange’ and it’s this kind of band you want to see live in a dark, sweaty club, with just some lights and a smoke machine. There are no upcoming shows scheduled, but do visit their website to stay up to date.
THE HANNAH BARBERAS – I Like You In Blue
The Hannah Barberas are a 4-piece band who last appeared in the Fresh On The Net Christmas Crackers 2018 list with their song Oh Santa Claus! and consists of Damien, Lucy, Doug and Matthew. I Like You In Blue is taken from their latest album Get Physical, which was released on the 3rd of May. It’s an album with 11 tracks and really resembles the up-tempo, almost Ska-like happy music of their latest single. Their Twitter bio describes them as DIY Pop Partisans, and they recorded all the album’s songs on an 8-track recorder.
Whether listening to their single and album, this is a band that don’t take themselves too seriously and have a lot of fun making music — which is, of course, what music making is all about — and the fun really shows, resulting in very catchy indie pop with an almost Ska-like feel that makes it hard to sit still.
The Hannah Barberas got some great airplay on various indie radio stations and their new album has been reviewed on various indie music blogs. Besides their own promotion, they are really supportive of other artists on social media , which is something you don’t see very often. I truly think I will wake up tomorrow with the sentence I Like You In Blue in my head, and I’m curious to know what The Hannah Barberas will come up with next.
TOM MOUSE SMITH – Morbid Curiosity
Tom Mouse Smith is a singer-songwriter who just celebrated his 15th birthday. Despite his young age, he’s already supported James Bay, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Shed Seven and The Charlatans. Besides being busy making music, Tom is also a radio presenter of Spark Local Music.
As I said on Twitter this week, Tom Mouse Smith’s music is very impressive, not only in his arrangement, but also in the lyrics. It’s the reflection in his words that’s so special for such a young boy. Just imagine what kind of music he will be playing when he’s 18 or 21. Watching Tom play live on his videos on Twitter, I’m surprised by the total devotion he gives to his singing, and the great harmonies he plays on on the guitar. It’s a combination of talent you don’t encounter very often. Even his list of festival appearances is impressive: he’s already played The Great Escape, Kendal Calling, Glastonbury, Live At Leeds, Liverpool Sound City, Lindisfarne and many more.
Tom’s music has already been played on BBC 6 Music and BBC Introducing, he already has twenty thousand Facebook fans, and he’s even performed on BBC Newsround. As fellow Fresh On The Net moderator Bobby mentioned on the Fresh Faves of December 2018, Tom Mouse Smith plays a mixture of originals and mainly covers, but it’s great to hear him releasing more original material like this song Morbid Curiosity. And I agree with Bobby, Tom Mouse Smith is getting better and better. Keep an eye on his website for upcoming shows.
WOJTEK THE BEAR – Tonic Youth
Last but not least, Wojtek The Bear surprises with their song Tonic Youth and they were very popular on this week votes for the Listening Post. Wojtek The Bear is a 4-piece band from Glasgow, Scotland with members Graham, Martin, Paul and Tam. They also appeared in our Fresh Faves last May and in May 2016, and have had some airplay on BBC Radio Scotland and indie radio stations.
They describe their new song Tonic Youth in a recent interview with The Fountian as upbeat melancholy, and with a tempo that doesn’t reflect the nature of the song. The song is based on Tam’s experience of meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet until you’re a little older and expanding your circle of friends. It’s something we all do and often results in new friendships, but you’re always going to come across people who’ve had such a different upbringing and view of life that friendship is never going to grow beyond the initial meet.
Tonic Youth is the most recent release from Wojtek The Bear, following their well-received LP titled A Talent For Being Unreasonable, which was released via Scottish Fiction in 2018. Being popular on this week’s Fresh On The Net Listening Post is no surprise, as they have a large fanbase and quite a busy tour schedule. You can catch the band live at the Green Room in Perth at the 10th of May, at the The Georgian Theatre in Stockton at the 18th of May or at The Castle Hotel in Manchester on the 1st of June.
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.