Artists at a glance
THE CHEAP THRILLS
THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS
ANDREW HEATH – With Iron (South) Pt. 3
Andrew Heath is a veteran soundscape artist and composer from Stroud. Since starting out in 1995 as one half of the duo Aqueous, he created site-specific sound installations, video projects and other collaborations before finally getting around to his first solo album in 2015. He’s now on his fourth.
The sparse, chillout ambience of Heath’s music conceals a fractal-like attention to detail in the sound fragments he builds from. With Iron (South) features Rhodes and guitar improvisations in a style reminiscent of Gilmour-led Pink Floyd, but rather than using the soundscapes as a vehicle to show off, the instrumental parts are more like a guide path meandering through the detailed collage of found sounds and electronica on display.
BETHLEHEM CASUALS – Change
The Bethlehem Casuals hail from “The Back End of Manchester”, irreverently claiming to make “music Jesus would listen to”. It turns out that the Son of Man is partial to jangly progressive pop featuring a diverse fusion of world music influences, a quirky sense of humour married to Zappa-level musical confidence and some very tasty composition and orchestration from the 7-piece. Earworming chorus? Space disco interlude with Blockheads-esque sax harmonies? Afro bass and percussion? It’s all here, and more besides.
Maybe heaven has some decent tunes after all.
DANNY STARR – Hello 2063
London singer-songwriter Danny Starr has just turned 20, having already amassed plays on BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio and appearances at the Great Escape Festival, Cambden’s Roundhouse and ReverbNation’s Discover Nights. Hello 2063 delivers a confident atmospheric and conceptual production with Starr’s ghostly processed and autotuned vocal sitting atop a hypnotic groove building on padding organ chords and percussion with spot on guitar soloing and electronic interest to match the eerie sci-fi prophecy of the lyric.
GALILEO’S FAN – I Won’t Be Found
Galileo’s Fan are brother and sister duo Martin and Fi Vass, hailing from Nairn in the Scottish Highlands. I Wont Be Found is evocative melodic pop carried along by sweeping vocal harmonies, Celtic openness and harmonic interest deployed at exactly the right time. This is music to travel to, whether you do so literally or within your mind in the comfort of your own home. I hear big skies, clear air and the sun rising through morning mist on the way to parts unknown.
IDOLISING NOVA – Party Through The Night
Peterborough indie popsters Idolising Nova had their first gig just 3 years ago, since when they have toured European festivals and been featured on Radio 2, Radio X, BBC Wales and Introducing Cambs. Their CV also features the strange juxtaposition of Kerrang! Radio and This Morning with Phillip Schofield. If pop music is eclectic by nature, these guys are all in.
Party Through The Night has everything you could ask for from a pop anthem. Instant singalong hooks develop into a catchy chorus with an open tabla and fingersnap supported groove.
NINA HARRIES – Lose Yourself
Double bassist and vocalist Nina Harries is the daughter of Earthworks and Steeleye Span bassist Tim Harries, who supports her in her live band along with her brother Joel. Nina is a graduate of the Royal College of Music where she studied Western Classical Music under Professor Enno Senft.
Lose Yourself builds a lush groove around double bass and electronica loops to support assertive feminist spoken word riffing on the cold expression-crushing reality of formal professional musicianhood (preach), giving way to a bittersweet contrasting sung chorus hook.
PIT PONY – Week To Week
Newcastle’s Pit Pony are a recent arrival on the scene, but have already cracked the BBC Radio 6 Music playlist with their single Osaka. Week To Week develops their self-defined “fuzzy garage rock”, incorporating Hawkwind-esque space rock sweeps, a powerful vocal sitting somewhere between Siouxsie Sioux and Little Queen-era Heart and pounding guitars.
Very satisfying rock and roll.
ROB LEWIS – Lungs
London’s Rob Lewis is a soundtrack composer with television credits on Channel 4 and BBC 3 documentaries and numerous adverts, alongside with commissioned work on live installations.
One such installation was Google’s Room 98, produced by the tech giant in a Los Angeles hangar as part of their anniversary celebrations. Lewis composed an extended work in three twenty minute chapters, with each track exploring a different part of the mind and body. Lungs uses reverb laden strings and woodwind slowly pulsating and undulating, pushing and dispersing sound like the breath of life.
THE CHEAP THRILLS – Time Waster
The moment when I really got The Cheap Thrills is when I saw their video for Time Waster. The band consists of four lifelong friends from Liverpool who are seen in various locations playing football and basketball, enjoying a pint or just generally mucking about in front of an augmented reality backdrop of tumbling colourful planets. The whole thing just feels so real and unpretentious (even the augmented reality parts) – this is a band dynamic that has been cynically manufactured and marketed by everyone from The Monkees to McFly, but seen in a natural setting away from big money impressarios and monolithic media concerns it is what everyone wants their favourite band to be like: fun, good natured and in it for the music.
The song is uplifting indie rock with a Gallagher sneer and some well placed guitar and synth hooks, that gets in your head and improves with every listen.
THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS – More Birds More Bees
“Hanging around the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border”, toy-loving trio The Happy Somethings have been a welcome and positive presence in independent music circles for a while now, as well as Fresh Faves alumni – our dear leader Tom Robinson compared them to “a small palate-cleansing scoop of delicious lemon sorbet”.
Here they turn their Happy Sound to a more serious topic – the destruction of our planet’s ecology. They do so with a healthy slice of well natured British eccentricity, jangling piano, sitar-like guitar lines and tasty singalong vocal harmonies. All together now:
“More birds, more bees, more butterflies please / Hollyhocks, foxtrots, poppy seeds”.
Who says environmentalism can’t be fun?
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.