Artists at a glance
THE COLOR STUDY
THE DORMAN LONG
ALEX JAYNE – Messy
Kicking off our Fresh Faves this week is Messy by Alex Jayne. There’s certainly nothing messy about the production on this track; it’s immaculately put together, and as crisp as a winter morning. Glossy synths and a sultry baseline, topped by Alex Jayne’s strong (and ethereal backing) vocals make for perfect dream pop. If this was the 80s, the dry ice machine would be turned up to eleven.
Alas, I can’t tell you much about about Alex Jayne, except “London”, but given that Messy also got a spin on BBC Introducing in Shropshire recently, then also… “Shropshire”.
Messy is out now to buy or stream in all the usual places.
CONCHÚR WHITE – Daisies
Following on beautifully is Daisies, a cleverly woven track that manages to sound lighter than its darker undertones and heavy instrumentation would normally allow. At least some of that is down to the twisted playfulness of its lyrics, but probably also because nothing seems overdone. And, at three and a half minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome either.
I’ve heard many tracks in the same sonic ballpark as Daisies that show great potential, but ultimately mess it up – sometimes they just end up sounding pretentious, or the crescendo is snatched away too soon, or they go on far too long, or you never quite feel they deliver on the promise of their opening bars, but this gets everything right, and that is actually refreshing.
Conchúr White is from Portadown, Northern Ireland, and I believe Daises is his solo debut. If so, this is a very strong start. Daisies can be streamed or purchased now.
CORUJA JONES – The Crossing
The Crossing is a delicate but warm sounding track, with piano, guitars, double bass and understated drums all complementing Manchester singer / songwriter Coruja Jones’s tender vocals beautifully. It sounds especially good on this dark November day, wrapping itself around you like a cosy blanket.
You can get The Crossing now on Bandcamp, and Coruja Jones will be performing at The Rose & Monkey Hotel in Manchester on December 11, and The Whiskey Jar on January 21.
HEALTHY JUNKIES – All Talk
The first word I came up with for All Talk by the Healthy Junkies was “uncomplicated”, and indeed its track notes state “I rant about all the lies and bullshit that is constantly being fed to us”, which is exactly what comes out the speakers. This is how punk rock tracks with a message should be: like a flaming arrow that hits its target right in the bullseye.
The London-based Healthy Junkies is fronted by Nina Courson who formed the band in 2007 with guitarist Phil-Honey-Jones, and now also includes full-time members Dave Whitmore on bass and Pumpy (great name!) on drums. The band has an extensive backstory on their Facebook page, which explains their name is “a reaction to the numbing and dumbing down of western society” due to “the overuse of pharmaceutical meds such as Prozac, Fluoxetine and OxyContin”. Victims of the US opioid epidemic are testament to how prescient that turned out to be.
HOLLIE FINDLAY – Love U Hate U
Blackpool-based Hollie Findlay was born in Athens, Greece and grew up between there and the island of Kefalonia. Only 16 years old (which is actually mentioned in the lyrics), this is not her first appearance on Fresh On The Net, having appeared in Fresh Faves 326 last June with her track Querencia. Radio X’s John Kennedy and BBC Music Introducing in Lancashire have both supported Hollie so far, with the latter putting her on stage at the Highest Point Festival last May.
In Love U Hate U, Hollie sings about “a love/hate relationship, where you can’t bear to be with someone yet can’t be apart from them.” Nobody could accuse this track of being upbeat, with its slow synths and harmonies, it’s definitely for anyone who wants to wallow in the wretchedness of it all.
Go to Hollie’s web site to learn more about her story, and if you enjoyed Love U Hate U, you can stream it and more of her music on Spotify or her Soundcloud page.
MAITA – Can’t Blame a Kid
Upping the tempo is MAITA with Can’t Blame A Kid. MAITA is Maria Maita-Keppeler from Portland, Oregon, and Can’t Blame a Kid certainly sounds like a track with that region’s DNA in its bloodstream, what with that grungy bass-line and its lively guitar lead. Coming in at just over two minutes, it packs an incredible punch without leaving you feeling shortchanged.
This track is taken from MAITA’S debut album, Best Wishes, which is available for pre-order on Bandcamp now, and is set to be released on April 3rd.
NEVERLANDER – Cut The Rope
Neverlander’s deliciously dark Cut The Rope swirls around as menacingly as the waters that threaten to drown its subject. Stark vocals cut across a muted piano and soft synths, which create an atmosphere so rich, it could easily soundtrack a critical scene in some grim Netflix original. And yet for all that cinematic feel, its poetic lyrics relate a kind of truth, of finding your dreams shattered, being haunted by disappointment, depression and loss. It ends with a plea, and perhaps a glimmer of light, but largely unresolved. The more I listen, the more I think it’s something a masterpiece, actually.
Neverlander is London producer and multi-instrumentalist Sam Hammond, and even more interestingly, the rest of Sam’s catalogue sounds precisely nothing like this at all — quite hard to categorise, but I’m going with “punky techno bangers” if that’s alright.
You can buy or stream Cut The Rope now in all the usual outlets, and I’d recommend checking out the rest of his work on Spotify or YouTube, etc if, like me, punky techno bangers are your thing.
THE COLOR STUDY – Dead Leaves
Back to Oregon now, although this time Bend (home of the last remaining Blockbuster Video, fact fans), and The Color Study with Dead Leaves. Dead Leaves’ vocal harmonies and understated folksy instrumentation paint quite a seasonally-appropriate autumnal scene of too much time passing, good things ending, uncertainty and doubt.
The Color Study is a 6-piece (and growing, apparently) band that began as the studio project of Scott Oliphan. Dead Leaves is taken from the band’s debut, self-titled album, due for release next February. You can purchase their debut EP, which includes this track, on Bandcamp now.
THE DORMAN LONG – Chorlton Water Park
Chorlton Water Park by The Dorman Long is about what sounds like some long and deep conversations at said water park (and nature reserve). Pristine vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars help paint the scene beautifully.
The Dorman Long is Teeside songwriting duo “exiled to Manchester”, Sam Marshall and Ash Watson, and Cholton Water Park is taken from their debut EP, By The River, which is available now to buy and stream. Having launched their EP in Chorlton last week, you can next catch them live at the Westgarth Social Club in Middlesborough on December 22nd for the EP’s Teeside launch.
WALDO’S GIFT – Vordhosbn
Premiered by Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC Radio 6 Music last week to wide acclaim from 6 Music listeners, Waldo’s Gift present a superb rework of Aphex Twin’s bonkers Vordhosbn that apparently has the thumbs up from Richard D James himself.
There is always a risk with an endeavour like this that the rough edges will be smoothed away, but the band do a stunning job of recreating the haphazard glitchy energy of the original in a way that stays true to their instruments. It probably helps that the track was recorded live in a single take, with no overdubs or samples.
From Bristol, Waldo’s Gift is Alun Elliott-Williams (guitar), Harry Stoneham (bass), and James Vine (drums). Catch them at The Gallimaufry in Bristol this Wednesday 27th, and then in Stroud on December 21st. You can buy Vordhosbn and the band’s Improvisations album from Bandcamp now.
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.