Artists at a glance
I SEE RIVERS
THE COLOR STUDY
THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by broadcaster, musician and Fresh On The Net founder Tom Robinson this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALEX SEEL – Quietus
You can tell quite literally within the first five seconds of “Quietus” that we’re in the presence of a master guitarist – on this exquisite, understated solo instrumental by Alex Seel. No flashy noodling up and down the fretboard is needed: from Bert Jansch and Davy Graham through to Richard Thompson and Richard Durrant, guitarists of this calibre have nothing to prove. For the true musician playing is a means of communication, not an end in itself. There’s nothing more to say about this track that you can’t hear for yourself. Apart from the fact that its the final track on Alex’s newly released album Spell On A Tin Drum – which also includes vocals, drums and plenty of musical surprises. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
GOLDEN FABLE – Finery
We first encountered Golden Fable‘s founding duo back in 2008 as members of Tim And Sam’s Tim And The Sam Band With Tim And Sam – though at the time Tim McIver’s imaginary friend Sam got higher billing than his multi-instrumentalist bandmate Rebecca Palin. Their hypnotic brand of acoustic pop earned the band multiple BBC sessions with Bethan Elfyn on Radio 1 and the Marc Riley show on BBC 6 Music. Fast forward to June 2019 where the rechristened Rebecca Joy and Tim Joy (augmented by Jonathan Guy) are about to release their fourth album as Golden Fable – Alchemy – this Friday. While my total knowledge of Dreampop would probably fit on the back of a postage stamp, I do know what I like – and to me, this new single “Finery” with its rich orchestral arrangements underpinning Rebecca’s ethereal vocals sounds simply gorgeous. Their extensive back catalogue can be explored at fullofjoyrecords.bandcamp.com
I SEE RIVERS – Helios
The Norwegian trio of Lill Scheie, Goril Nilsen and Eline Brun travelled to Pembrokeshire two years ago to record, fell in love with the place and ended up settling in Tenby. Their single “Give Up” was a Fresh Fave here last year and featured on my BBC Introducing Mixtape in May 2018 – and they ended the year once again on tour in Europe as special guests of Cosmo Sheldrake. With help from the PRS For Music “Women Make Music” fund they’ve been recording a full length album and that beautifully produced single “Helios” is a first foretaste, managing to combine – Kate Bush style – a driving energy with immaculate floating vocals. Currently on tour back home in Norway, they’ll be back to play Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach on June 28th…
JOSH SAVAGE – Citizen Of The World
This is what you would have to call a “cri de coeur“. Having grown up in Winchester with Anglo-French parentage, Josh Savage has indeed travelled the globe as one of the hardest working DIY artists to emerge from the UK in the past ten years. For an artist who’s equally at home in two languages on either side of the Channel, the political upheaval currently shaking our country to its foundations must be unbearably traumatic.
Instead of pointing the finger of blame at others on the far side of that divide, he’s opted for the more effective approach of an intimate, confessional ballad performed with utter simplicity at a real, acoustic piano. “I’ve seen kindness without borders… from strangers in my deepest waters”. Of all the songs in this week’s batch, “Citizen Of The World” is the one I still repeatedly catch myself humming in odd moments.
And, gentle reader, should you happen to find yourself hankering for a taste of Josh Savage’s Apple Blossom Honey (easy, Tiger!) you can buy yourself a jarful in his online shop.
LAZYBOY – Dead Close
Picked by moderators Derval McCloat and Russ Jeanes from our inbox and voted into this week’s Fresh Faves by our readers, that’s “Dead Close” by Norwich musicians Olly O’Neill, Laurence Withero, Tom Harper and Robbie Tribe. Under the band name Lazyboy they released their topically-titled EP “Made Up Facts” in April this year and proclaim – tongues firmly in cheeks – that their Dream is to “get famous without any lawsuits involving bands with the same name or sofa companies”. Alas they may have a point.
On the one hand they’re probably safe from the La-Z-Boy furniture firm. On the other, Lazyboy is indeed the name under which Rob Da Bank and Dan Carey made their landmark album Penguin Rock with Lee “Scratch” Perry among others. And as if that wasn’t enough, Lazyboy is also the name under which Soren Nystrom Rasted had a worldwide hit with the 2004 classic “Underwear Goes Inside the Pants” – thus causing the two projects to be confusingly treated as the same band on Spotify. Worse, Soren’s latest Lazyboy single “Kill Me” came out in April 2019 – the same month as “Made Up Facts”
But I digress… The Norwich Lazyboy have genuine promise – all six tunes on their EP are shot through with a savage impish humour, while Olly O’Neill’s convincing vocal delivery completely carries “Dead Close”. From the sound of it, this is a frontman you can absolutely believe in.
As for achieving the “get famous” part of their Dream, my best tip would be to make a shorter radio edit of the song – maybe leaving out the F-bomb at 2:11 – and then actually upload it to BBC Introducing.
MAJOR RUSE – Berlin
It was my good fortune to be reviewing the Fresh Faves last time Major Ruse elbowed their way onto our playlist – when their gobsmacking 2018 single Paradigm immediately became my personal record of the week (“by a country mile” as I wrote at the time). With the recent success of The Comet Is Coming, the time is surely ripe for the virtuoso trio of Marcus Joseph (sax) Jamie Sykes (drums) and Joe Egan (guitar) to enjoy a major UK breakthrough. Without an effects pedal in earshot their new single “Berlin” delivers the kind of massive punch that’s only achievable by three musicians when the playing is so telepathically tight you couldn’t fit a sonic Rizla between them. As a first taster from their forthcoming debut album it’s launched with a hometown gig at Nottingham’s Jam Café this Thursday, June 13th, promising a night of “dancing, community, great beers and wonderful music”.
NUUXS – Safe
“Safe” was my favourite pick from the inbox this week, so it’s especially gratifying to find our readers agreeing with me. Nuuxs [pronounced ‘Nooks’] has a family heritage from Laos and France but has been making her way on the London music scene for a while now. Her trajectory has taken her from indie rock to acoustic open mic nights through to the finely poised electropop of her present sound. Nuuxs combines poetic songwriting and expert production with a vocal delivery of rare purity – free from both soul histrionics and the robotic tyranny of autotune. At a perfect pop length of just over three minutes, “Safe” represents a gifted artist finally coming into her own.
THE COLOR STUDY – Without
The Color Study is the project of U.S. songwriter, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Scott Oliphant. As the proprietor of Parkway Sounds in Bend, Oregon he previously spennt 15 years in Texas as an engineer and musician on the vibrant Austin music scene – much of it at the Ohm Recording Facility. So it’s no wonder that the soundscape on “Without” is so distinctively original – catching the ears and imaginations of many visitors to our Listening Post this weekend.
The Color Study’s eponymous three track EP was released last August, and Scott’s live lineup is augmented by Matt Jackson on bass and Andy Jacobs on drums among others. Released as a single on Spotify at the end of last month, this rootsy widescreen epic “Without” is a first taster from a debut album expected this Summer.
THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS – Stuck Let Go
The clear, open, energetic optimism of The Happy Somethings arrives at this point in our playlist like a small palate-cleansing scoop of delicious lemon sorbet. Not that we haven’t enjoyed the other tracks so far, but compared to the lightness of touch to be heard in “Stuck Let Go” almost everything else suddenly sounds a bit earnest and intense by comparison.
It’s a first teaser from their forthcoming second album, expected later this year – while their debut Playing With Dolls was strongly supported by Dean Jackson at BBC Introducing In The East Midlands and is still available through links below. “We’re still a jangly, fuzzy guitar band and we’re still hanging around the Derbyshire/Notts border being happy” say band members Happy, Jolly and Joy.
Long may that state of affairs continue.
TRAGIC SASHA – Cake
I can’t think of a better way to conclude this week’s Faves than “Cake”. Since we first encountered Sasha Gurney’s single “Picking Flowers” two years ago, she has changed her artist name from Sasha to the infinitely more memorable (and Googleable) Tragic Sasha. She and her musical partner in groove Scott Colcombe have also further upped their game on this first new single of 2019. On arrival in our inbox it proved an overwhelming favourite – first with our moderators – and then with visitors to the Listening Post. But then it seems we’re quite late to the party.
“Cake” has already been acclaimed across the blogosphere and played by Huw Stephens on Radio 1 – and no wonder. Props are due to the artist and producer alike… Sasha has put an unbelievable amount of work into honing these lyrics and delivering a pin-perfect performance with a twinkle in her eye. And that in turn is underpinned by Scott‘s sharp, sassy production – which grooves without apparent effort and keeps the surprises coming.
It’s a hit, I tell you, a papable hit.
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.