Fresh Faves: Batch 325

Annabel Allum

Artists at a glance

ANNABEL ALLUM
FAMILY FICTION
GLASS PEAKS
LEG PUPPY
MARIE BASHIRU
MITZI IRISH
NICOLAH
SCOWL
THAILAH
THE HOWL & THE HUM

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.

A short note from Team FOTN. Music artists, for the love of marketing and self-promotion, will you please update your socials with a brief bio, some current snaps, and snips of info on any upcoming releases, gigs, radio live sessions etc!! We can only pass on what info is available to us, and in some cases, that’s nada!

ANNABEL ALLUM – You Got It Good

A stalwart contributor to Fresh On The Net and BBC Introducing, Annabel Allum has featured regularly on our playlists, the Introducing Mixtape, and Melita’s BBC Introducing In The South radio show.

Having released her critically well-received Sorry I’m Not Perceptible EP last year, Annabel has been busy perfecting her live performance with sold-out sets at TGE, SXSW and support slots with the likes of Beth Ditto and Nadine Shah. She’s currently on tour with Alex Lahey, and will be playing some festival slots across the Summer. So, no excuses.

You Got It Good is Annabel’s latest offering, the first track to be lifted from her upcoming 6-track Killing Moon EP. “About mental health and seeing clearly for the first time,” it’s a hold-no-punches, straight-talking song from an artist who more than once has been favourably compared to Courtney Barnett.

A mix of alt-rock and dirty grunge, You Got It Good switches from dreamy lo-fi to a scratchy fuzzed up chorus, allowing Allum to repeatedly chant the central hook with increasing feist and energy.

Potent, dynamic, direct, succinct, You Got It Good is typical of an artist who has mastered the art of saying so much, with so few words, in such a powerful way.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

FAMILY FICTION – Mind Made Up

Fresh from their stint at TGE19 and a recent live sesh with BBC Introducing Sussex, Brighton-based four-piece Family Fiction have certainly captured our attention by submitting one of this week’s most easy-breezy tracks.

There’s something ‘just right’ about listening to a laid-back bit of indie on a sunny Summer’s day. The perfect accompaniment to slacker Sunday’s, or any day for that matter, Mind Made Up, the new single from Family Fiction is a relaxed affair, and whilst the tempo is chill, and its attitude upbeat, the underlying tone is a tad bittersweet.

It’s a pleasing fusion of shiny guitar riffs, warm-toned basslines, and mellow drumming with a skew-iff of wonk thrown in for good measure. Singer George McCanna has one of those pleasing voices that manages to remain full of bright optimism even when the arse has fallen out of his trousers.

With its simple hooks, slacker Summer groove, and breezy vibe, Mind Made Up is the perfect pick-me-up that’ll have you humming along in no time.

Alex Cockburn, Dave Harding, and Jack Greenwood make up the rest of the band who I’m sure will buzz off now to update their socials with details of upcoming gigs, right?

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

GLASS PEAKS – Traffic

This song touched me to the core. From the moment its quiet grey dawn broke, a wave of emotion washed over me, leaving me feeling raw and introspective. I’m not being melodramatic I’m just telling it how it was.

Glass Peaks are Jake Cox (guitar), Grant Tugwell (drums), and Alfie Jeffries (vox, bass) a trio from Bexley, Kent who describe their sound as “melancholic alt-pop” and if they had this track in mind when they wrote that, they got it bang on.

Stark and minimalist, this slow-tempoed guitar track is quietly powerful without the need overload on the fuzz. The symmetry between understated guitar playing and nuanced vocal delivery is perfect.

The song’s message is clear. There are days when all we want is to “jump into the traffic”, disappear into a noisy crowd and run away from our problems in the hope they’ll be gone when we return. Running isn’t the answer though, and while a way out might not always seem clear, if we take things slowly, we’ll pull through, each new day at a time.

Traffic is a song that will resonate with many. Understated, mindful, reflective, relatable, its effectiveness lies in its well thought out simplicity and honest delivery.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

LEG PUPPY – Tears (Feat. Voi Vang)

“South London’s Leg Puppy were originally formed deep in the Welsh valleys, amongst a backdrop of bingo callers, haunted rickety hotels, dancing goats and clown worshipers.” – Would that be in Pontllanfraith by any chance?

Leg Puppy, whose name is an enigma in itself, are six including a Booby and a Huge Bamboo. Hugo, sorry. They dig Joy Division, Ladytron, and Gnoomes, but sound like a cross between the Cardigans and Elastica’s alter-ego.

One could be lulled into complacency by the soft tones of Voi Vang’s vocal on their latest single Tears; be warned, a gritty, sardonic edge lies beneath, accented by a persistent sizzle of sinister synth.

Looping nervy guitar and menacing bass are the main musical protagonists, and together they form a fractious and tense central line. Walloping drums are piled on top to help complete the track’s hulking 3-D effect.

Think a kind of twisted ‘NIN’ed-up Amber Arcades on steroids and you’re about half ways there.

An atmospheric and fearless perfect marriage of contrasts, Tears is an intense electro-rock thrum combining warm soft-rock sensibilities with cold, black darkwave undertones. By all accounts, it is one of Leg Puppy’s tamer offerings. For those of you looking for a more Mordor-ian vibe, check out The Gates Of Akakaz.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

MARIE BASHIRU – Exit Signs

Marie Bashiru hails from London, and by the looks of things has been releasing music since at least 2017, when she dropped a four-track EP of demos on which she played all the guitar parts. Other than the fact that she bases her songs on the story of her life, there is little else I can tell you about this dusky-voiced Londoner.

Lifted from Bashiru’s recently released three track Gold EP, Exit Signs is a fabric made up of many strands including folk, soul, r&b, and jazz, with each interlaced thread retaining its own distinctive hue and feel.

“Don’t be shy, I don’t bite, at least I think so,”- isn’t that a cracker of an opening line? Exit Signs mirrors a relationship moving from its fledgling stage into full flight, as hesitant interplay gives way to the joys of “cruising on a high tide” past the “exit signs”, with Bashiru happily declaring “I’m in it for the ride.”

Borne on a rush of genuine emotion, the song lifts the spirits with a soaring chorus bursting with flavoursome layers of strings, piano, and harmonies. Add in the rich quality of Marie Bashiru’s flirtatious vocal, which she works to undulating perfection, and what you get is feelgood music at its most charming best; fun, colourful and engaging.

Soundcloud | Twitter | Bandcamp

MITZI IRISH – Just You Wait (Demo)

We often get youngsters peddling their wares on FOTN; it’s the perfect vehicle for trialling songs and the ideal barometer to gauge audience reaction and elicit feedback.

‘Swiftie’ Mitzi Irish is a 14-year old singer/songwriter from Cornwall, whose already garnered support from our very own Sarah Gosling on her BBC Intro Devon & Cornwall radio show. Currently honing her performing skills by playing live covers, this youngster is also sharpening her songwriting chops by delivering self-penned numbers such as Just You Wait.

A piano-based pop ballad, its message of encouragement and support is a universal trope that’s withstood the test of time and countless music artists. The second-person narrative attempts to persuade an unidentified protagonist to hang tough, “just you wait”, your time will come.

The delivery is as emotive as it is pitch-perfect, but it’s the song’s understated minimalism that is the key to its success. By taking a stripped back approach, Mitzi Irish has underscored the song’s tender sentiment.

There’s a genuine talent here. Where the next few years will bring this young singer/songwriter is anyone’s guess? Hopefully, it’ll be some place good!

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

NICOLAH – Out Of The Pie

London-based singer Nicholah’s sound is a bit Julia Jacklin, a bit Julien Baker, with its indie-pop sensibilities offset by a sprinkle of country seasoning, and like her Australian and American counterparts, her songs focus inward on her life and aspects of her identity – sexuality, faith, etc.

Nicolah casts an unwavering eye on her life experiences through a raw and honest narrative. Her latest offering, Out Of The Pie, is a visceral depiction of discordance balanced by the most melodic of deliveries.

A vigorous bustle of colourful melodies with an irresistible beat and catchy hooks, this is compelling narrative pop in the mould of Taylor Swift, which through her unflinching candour, Nicholah is able to make universal.

With a recent live-session with BBC Introducing under her belt, the Cumbrian native is set to play a headliner at St James Church, Islington on 7th June. Tickets via Eventbrite. Her self-released single Out of the Pie is available here.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

SCOWL – Pink Flowers

Lifted from Scowl’s recently released eponymous debut EP, Pink Flowers is a contradiction in terms. While its title evokes soft, sweet girly innocence, the blackened ‘distortia’ of its pithy punk-edged sound and hormone-fuelled lyrics tell a different story.

The clever trompe l’oreille of an acoustic intro, dupes the listener into thinking this is yet another fingerpicking boy on a stool sings ode to petal strewn romance. It’s not long however, before the track takes a dark and deviant plunge into the dirty pits of manic grunge.

There’s some seriously good guitar playing amidst the contorted chaos, the scruffy, swaggering vibe of which is redolent of Nirvana and early Gold Against The Soul Manics. Vocally, the lead singer holds his own against this cacophony of blistering grunge-rock.

Jack Parker, Sadie Lewcock, and Dom Vian make up this London-based three-piece. There’s little else to tell you other than they’re lined up to play the O2 Academy Islington on 15th June. Does this Gen X dinosaur really have to lecture a trio of digital natives on the importance of social media?

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook

THAILAH – Bad Manners

“Consummate performer Thailah, sings like a canary, [and] dances like the breeze …”

In addition, her modesty knows no bounds!

A rambunctious bounce-fest, Bad Manners is a beat-tastic banger by the seemingly irrepressible Thailah, about whom little is known other than she is a) a Londoner, b) has collaborated with DJ Jayli and producer J.AR.J, c) has released three solo singles (the third ‘Sweet’ goes on release 24th May), and d) aside from her musical exploits, she’s also dipped her toes into acting, vlogging, writing, and dancing.

Bad Manners has all the right ingredients for the perfect tropical Ibiza dance cocktail – pumping bass synth, all mannerisms of hypnotic electronic, a large dash of tropical-popical, and a sassy line in vocal chat. To be fair to Thailah, she does live up to some of her own hype – good voice, strong performer, and I’ll take her word for it on the dancing front.

Infectious, catchy soundtrack to a Saturday night rave-athon. Expect more of the same from the upcoming Sweet.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

THE HOWL & THE HUM – Hall Of Fame

So, we come to the end of this week’s playlist and without doubt, and no disrespect to our other featured artists, we’ve saved the best till last.

The Howl & The Hum are a class act, whose single Hall of Fame is a tumbling, propulsive indie-rock anthem in the mould of The Killers / U2 / Manic Street Preachers / Foals.

Fast, furious, and fraught with desperation, Hall of Fame is a masterclass in how to produce the consummate radio-friendly alt-pop anthem without sacrificing integrity or identity. With its energetic pulse and rousing chorus, this fiery highball will surely ignite the crowds at TH&TH’s renowned live sets.

Long standing favourites of Fresh On The Net’s Tom Robinson, BBC Introducing in York, and BBC 6 Music’s Huw Stephens to name but a few, this York-based four-piece have played BBC’s Biggest Weekend (Swansea), SXSW 2019, and most recently TGE 2019. They’re currently in the studio working on their debut album with Royal Blood producer Jolyon Thomas.

The Howl & The Hum will kick off their eight date 2019 UK&I tour in Glasgow on 23rd September, wrapping in London on 2nd October. Irish fans can salivate in anticipation of their upcoming gig at the Workman’s on 28th September (Really guys? Really? Could you have picked a worse date? Cries into tea!).

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

The Howl & The Hum

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.

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.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much! An honour to be amongst such amazing artists and what a lovely review. We will indeed update socials with upcoming shows. This is such a great opportunity for independent artists and it’s so heartwarming that our song has connected with you all! Thanks to everyone that puts their time, energy and love into this and long may fresh on the net live!

    FAMILY FICTION

  2. Really informative and authoritative reviews Derv. ‘Looping nervy guitar and menacing bass are the main musical protagonists, and together they form a fractious and tense central line. Walloping drums are piled on top to help complete the track’s hulking 3-D effect’. Top-notch reviews writing. :)

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