Artists at a glance
LIZ CIRELLI & PLES JONES
PIZZA DELIVERY GUYS
THOSE FUCKING SNOWFLAKES
TOKYO TEA ROOM
ALEX HIGHTON – I Can’t Feel And I Don’t Know Why
If funky pop thrum trimmed with some modern day psychedelia is your thing then “scouse with a voice” Alex Highton is your man.
Signed to BB Island, home to former Fresh Fave Gris de Lin, Alex released his third album Welcome to Happiness last year. A treasure trove of musical bagatelles and diary entries its tracklist features world-weary, everyman titles such as I Don’t Have a Clue How to Fill Your Cup and Love Kills.
An ebullient bop, his latest follow-up single I Can’t Feel and I Don’t Know Why, was one of the most popular tracks on this week’s playlist; probably because of its lively drive and compelling attitude, conversational vocals and playful melody, all of which are an antidote to its downbeat theme.
You’re in for disappointment if you’re planning on going to an AH gig anytime soon. Unsurprisingly, the man with more band members than Arcade Fire doesn’t play live – probably because it’d take three tour buses to get them to the venue, and only then would an arena stage be big enough to fit his footie-team sized troupe.
I Can’t Feel and I Don’t Know Why is out now on the BB Island imprint.
FOXGLUVV – Rumour
This is a track, whether you like it or not, that is going to drag you (possibly kicking and screaming) back to 80’s louche-land. A time of analogue synths, blue eye shadow, suffocating disco schmoke and badly-applied hair gel.
And while Alan Wilder playing merry hell on his Emulator 1 it is not, Foxgluvv’s Rumour is a nostalgic blend of undiluted synth pop, girly lyrics, and coquettish vocals. A confection of electronic tease and vocal high jinks, the songs attraction lies in its sheer simplicity. Pure pop, 80s retro style.
Foxgluvv (no real name supplied) hails from Brum and styles herself as a purveyor of ‘hungover pop’. Her single Rumour is the latest in a string of colourful releases and will no doubt be a firm fave with lovers of all things vintage and spangle pop.
LIZ CIRELLI & PLES JONES – Rise
Liz Cirelli’s petal-soft voice rises over the horizon, before panning across the sparse analogue landscape of this track, aptly titled Rise.
The penultimate track on her 2018 album Awakening, Rise is a quasi-R&B cum lounge skip through an evocative dream. Little is more, as Cirelli allows her lyrics to hang in soft spaces between the electronic infrastructure propping it up.
Liz’s vocal isn’t unlike that of Irah’s Stine Gron – a delicate, almost mystical affair. The kind of voice you’d expect Arwen of TLOTR to have.
She cites Jon Hopkins, Lo Fang, and Bonobo as influences, and making wine and chocolate as interests – girl I’m free for tasting any time! Music, with which she has had a lifelong love affair, is Liz’s sanctuary. She also produces her own Daydream Believers podcast exploring life and meditation.
Ambient electro-dream Rise is a collaboration with music producer Ples Jones. Currently, Liz seems to be running a Patreon project (web patronage type thing) with another collaborator Minski, from which a couple of singles have been released – you can check them out on her FB page.
LOW ISLAND – Long Answer
What is in the water in Oxford that it keeps producing such freakingly good alt-rock bands! Radiohead, Foals, now these chaps – Low Island, who it must be said, sound as if they’ve had more than a rub off the shoulders of their fellow shiremen.
Foals-esque in aspect, Long Answer is compulsive listening with its Latino beat mix and jazzy bass shuffle scuffed with the tightest of guitar grit n grizzle, all topped off with the pleasantest of hypnotic vocals. In other words, this total ear-pleaser is the most perfect alt-rock single you’ll get this side of My Number.
Low Island is “the collaboration between DJ/Producers Jamie Jay & Carlos Posada, bassist Jacob Lively, and jazz drummer Felix Higginbottom.” Hah – see!! I knew there was a latino ‘influenco’ in there n’est-ce-pas (yes I know that’s French but I don’t speak Spanish). In an inspired move, they’ve produced their own video bio in conjunction with DIY mag. Watch it here.
Having just completed their EU tour (seemingly Dublin is not in the EU anymore, sighs), Low Island are about to embark on an autumnal Shut Out the Sun UK tour kicking off in Leeds on 31st October, taking in London, Cardiff, York & more, and wrapping early December in their hometown of Oxford.
Whether or not you want my honest opinion, I’m going to give it to you. Low Island is a bl**dy great band, and like their fellow emerging Brits – Marsicans, Pumarosa and The Howl And The Hum, they’re ones not just to watch, but to get behind, full, square. Don’t say we didn’t tell you.
PALE FIRE – Various Witches
Pale Fire are from Glasgow and are followed on social media by the magnificent Kathryn Joseph, which is probably one of the best nods any Scottish music artist could get.
Their line in patter is a bit Celtic folk rock fused with a line of indie, and this song, Various Witches is the teaser single from their upcoming second album Husbands (no release date published). Big into teasing, they’ve released a twelve second snippet of the track’s accompanying video – sleepy man gets woken by weirdo in kiddies mask – you can watch it here.
Various Witches is the first release since the band’s self-titled debut in 2015. Where have you been lads? That’s one helluva Radioheadesque holiday you’ve been on!
There are six in Pale Fires, a former bedroom band from Airdrie who dabble in Scottish Alt-indie pop and sing about unfashionable topics like “the demands of adulthood”. In Various Witches those banal demands are lost love and bedsheets.
There’s quite the menagerie of sounds going on here – golden bursts of brass, short snappy swatches of fiddle, bursts of joyous piano, and a melee of guitar and military style drumming. The vocal, which is one of restrained resolve, has that infectious Scottish tang, that warm quality which draws listeners in and envelops them.
It’s quite the joyous riot for a song that’s supposed to be about loss. A Celtic cacophony of pluck and earthiness, this spirited song is a breath of fresh air in a world too full of stagnant sameness.
PIZZA DELIVERY GUYS – I Wanna Buy New Clothes But I Got No Money
I wanna write a review but I got no idea … where to start.
Pizza Delivery Guys appears to be some form of quasi-art pop collaborative. They remind me of Broen when they started out first – all homemade tee shirts, protest songs and bongos. Except I don’t know what PDG look like, and there aren’t any bongos.
The song is what one might call ‘eclectic’ – meaning, it’s a bit left-field, a bit right-field, and a bit odd. It’s a slow walk through a blurry tunnel lined with hip hop, electro hum and a meld of female and distorted vocals. It’s possibly anti-materialistic and a two fingers to the ‘snowflakes’ of today for whom only bling n ting are good enough. But who am I to auto-translate the thoughts of ones so profound?
Anyway, here’s the video of their song. It features Victoria Beckham when she was still seen as a Gucci chav.
SIOBHAN MCCRUDDEN – A Sin Nonetheless
This has such an Irish feel and is so redolent of the young Mary Black it gave me all the feels.
Alas, Siobhan McCrudden isn’t Irish. Rather she is London-born of Scottish and Irish parents. These days, Siobhan is based in Cardiff, a city which it would seem has been pretty kind to her and supportive of her music. BBC Wales take a bow.
There’s more than a hint of Blue Grass flavouring this delightful folksy air. A sparse and very understated acoustic guitar piece, its only decoration being McCrudden’s doleful, lilting voice, A Sin Nonetheless is balm for the world-weary soul.
The final track on her debut album Icarus Girl, it is as haunting as it is delightful. Simply constructed, perfectly arranged, and beautifully delivered, A Sin Nonetheless is as fine a folk song as they come.
Siobhan appears to have finished touring but if you want to hear more you can hop over to her Bandcamp page or track upcoming events on FB. There’s plenty of promise here – folkies keep your eyes peeled.
THOSE FUCKING SNOWFLAKES – Stop Being Dickheads to Each Other
Next up we’ve a band who are doubtless fans of Idles, Sleaford Mods, and erm, snowflakes.
I’ll preface this by saying anything shouty that plays above a certain decibel level really isn’t to my liking. And no, I’m not a big girl’s blouse. I just don’t like expletive-laden noise. It reminds me of having to suffer Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath during the metal section of the dish-co way back in pre-Snowflake, keyboard warrior free days.
“Those Fucking Snowflakes are a vibrant clash of political punk, hardcore rock and math rock” or so it’s said. I have no idea what math rock is. What I do know is that this cacophony of sounds is the kind of frantic punk slash death metal that a combo of The Damned, Jason Williamson, and Animal might throw together on a dark night in Armageddon.
What I do get though is the message behind the noise. Pro-tolerance, anti-social media bullying, less materialistic vanity fair, more thoughtful, altruistic humanity. I get it. I do. And if a message that’s as stark and hard-hitting just happens to come backdropped by a downpour of thrang and a few x-bombs, then so be it.
As Those Fucking Snowflakes would say – ‘get over it’.
TFS shall be on ice until 22nd October when they’ll play The Waterloo Music Bar, Blackpool. This will be followed by a stint at The Spinning Top on 20th December. Happy Fucking Christmas to you too.
TOKYO TEA ROOM – Things Are Changing
Things are Changing is like a slow amble down a dimly lit city street in the early morning. Slow-paced, chilled, a little tired, a little woozy, and a lot blurry. Like a late night reveller on their way home, it slips in and out of shadows, under a glow of fading neon and dimming lights.
The song flows on a slow current of lo-fi electro-drone that sweeps bluesy guitar, sexy slacker drum beats, and chiffon-light vocals along in its hazy wake. Manna from dream pop heaven.
Tokyo Tea Room is Beth Plumb, Daniel Elliott, Ben Marshall, Sam Teather, Graham Nunn, and Ryan Debling. Hailing from Canterbury they say they purvey psych-pop blending hypnotic riffs with dreamy synths, and yes they do, and very well at that.
Things are Changing was Abbie McCarthy’s Record of the Week at BBC Intro in Kent, Track of the Day at Clash Mag and has been added to Spotify’s Fresh Finds Playlist. And now it’s here, on Fresh Faves!
No upcoming events – looks like they’re all gigged out. So, instead, you can watch Tokyo Tea Rooms do their psyched-out video thing here.
WEDNESDAY’S WOLVES – Beast
Wednesday’s Wolves is Ysabelle Durant on percussion and Chrissy Renker on guitar and piano, with both on vocal duties. “A female contemporary folk duo” like their fellow Faves Low Island, they also hail from the Oxford talentpool.
Their latest single Beast veers more in the direction of indie-folk with its blend of hazy synths and mellow guitars held together by minimalist percussion (feat the cajon). What makes this song stand out is not its compelling melodic rise and fall or hypnotic rhythms, but rather the host of vocal harmonies that dance intertwine throughout. This is a vocal dance performed with grace and nuance, perfectly choreographed, skilfully executed.
Beast has received airplay from the likes of BBC Intro in Oxford and there’s a glorious psych-silhouette visual to accompany it which you can watch here.
No dates in the diary, so if you want to see WW in the flesh, you’ll have to follow them on socials.
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.
Low Island photo by Dan Kendall
Tokyo Tea Room photo by John Boy Jones