Artists at a glance
MG BOULTER & SAMANTHA WHATES
THIS ELEGANT GULL
WE WERE STRANGERS
Wow! Welcome to 2020 and a proper bonanza week of new music flooding into our inbox. I have been on board now since Batch 250 so there is a lovely symmetry at play here today. I want to take my opportunity and thank all my fellow moderators past and present who do a sterling job behind the scenes, especially Steve Harris who moderates, micro manages the website, fact checks, posts, creates artwork and helps boost our new live events. Go on our About page and do some research — folks there are some real good people at work here willing to help, give them a boost and follow them on their socials.
Before I crack on, did you know on this day Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the USA in 2009? Ah those halcyon days, where did I leave my rose-tinted spectacles…
AZU YECHÉ – Sons And Daughters
In alphabetical order here be Azu Zeché and their track Sons and Daughters. I say “they”, but this all really the work of one man and he artfully incorporates subtle folk and African influences into a pop soul palette with singer-songwriter sensibilities.
His online game is strong, his vocals are lush and it is no surprise to find out he has had major plays on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 alongside supports with Lemar and Gabrielle.
Regulars to our site will know we are suckers for vocals, and you will find on here some real lovely, crystal clear waterfall in purity, gospel in undertone, and it strikes you right at your core. If this song was an animal it would feature in our Kerry’s Love Zoo where he keeps all the best tunes in a harmonious den of wonder. “Feel good gospel-tinged soul, a worthy love letter to the Thin White Duke”.
There is no higher praise I can give this track!
BIRDMAN CULT – Janet
Any track that opens with the lines “Bullshit artist, bullshit artist” laid on top of a chaise longue of grinding guitar and phat bass is a keeper (yes, I used PHAT). I wanna meet Janet, she sounds like half the beautiful crazy people I know already and I’d hazard a guess she could walk straight onto the set of cult TV show Carnival. You also need to know that Birdman Cult’s tune was upvoted by our very own Guru Nanak, Mr Tom Robinson. Props. I’d hazard, if I was a gambling man that he, like me, loves the fine vocal construction and the seedy elements of a song written from raw experience from a place of knowledge.
What’s your name and where do you come from game show contestants? In this case these beasts are from the woodland range known as Easter Island — half man, half bird whose role is to protect the birds on the island. Well that is the etymology of their nomiker anyways, they reside across Bristol and Newcastle spreading their vaudeville poetry and showmanship nationwide. Give them a follow.
ELECTRIC SHORE – Breathe
I immediately noticed, glancing down the extensive list of LP voters this week that this tune was up voted by many of our own familiars Sue, Oldie Rob, Sweet P, Graeme Wey, regular contributor and artist Glen Maltman AND Neil March, who also by the way voted 5 of the top ten acts. The man is a seer.
Much like the ancient Scottish wizard and prophet Brahan Seer, this track resonates wonderful Celtic soul. It whispers in tongues, it shouts names in the hail, it urges us to breathe the universe and thank the stars. Electric Shore hail from Ratoath a small town in County Meath in Ireland, humbly a small band with a big sound. Already in possession of a fine anthemic sound, I hope their manager gets them on the circuit and boosts them up a few bills. These lads deserve the bigger stage.
FAWN – Burden
Two things always impress me on the Listening Post. One is artists voting for one another, urging camaraderie and pushing one another’s talents. The other is my fellow moderators leaving helpful comments I can share, such as our Tobi: “Quietly graceful with perfectly judged instrumentation. Wonderful pacing throughout and a slide guitar (I’m a sucker for a slide guitar)”.
Nice one Tobi, because I am also sucker for a slide guitar and every time I hear one it reminds me of George Harrison’s Cheer Down, which is where this song segues for me. Not an immediate comparison perhaps, but this classic co-written with Tom Petty has similar themes of burdens, sharing emotions, being strong and of course sexy slide.
Fawn hails from York and Liverpool, so hoping we can book her for a live show, and if she gets the vote of Faultress she certainly gets mine.
JEKYLL – I Do What I Can
“I do what I can to cancel lies” is a flag-planter of a statement. A pendant of power and truth, which in an age of news speak, double think, Alexa, fake news and blatant election rigging, I for one like to hear.
***Gazes wistfully out the window, whilst cupping chin with both hands***
Tell me more, well I will dear reader. Hold your hats and think of early Kaizer Chiefs, but better, more angry, more socially aware and well better actually. Shoegaze, alternative rock and edgy indie are all hooks to hang this coat on. A better comparison might be Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode or INXS. Now there it is. Whilst the singer here sends chills in my spine, something calls Michael Hutchence and THAT SONG. MYSTIFY. Jekyll for me are capturing some of that and they need to bottle it now and get rubbing the funk on it.
Bursting out from Blackpool. Go seek and ye shall find.
KNITTING GROOVES – Wrong Kind
Now I was instantly taken by this. Take note contributors, an intro makes or breaks submissions (for me anyway) and with upwards of 200 tracks to listen to you want to get that bit nailed, which is what happens here. I am captured, beholden and thinking of artists like Tricky and his album Maxinquaye, Sleaford Mods or Dizraeli. You bet your bottom dollar (skating on a banana skin of a cliché) that Knitting Grooves are excellent live. I want to see them, book them, implore you to like and share their music.
I know lots of the wrong kind and in my experience the real people are the scarred, broken and haunted souls who turn these valuable negatives into gold. Gold which sounds like “I wish I could feel what love really is”. “Long distance doodle, banana drama crap tags fat bags me myself and I. Three times goodbye. Lonely pot noodles, a quiet diet”. Tight and so right. Pass the sachet of soy sauce. A real bare knuckle punch up of a tune, like Connor McGregor killing it in 40 seconds and beyond. This tune looks like Brad Pitt in Fight Club with a lazy fag hanging out his chops.
From Wakefield and on it, like a tramp’s dog on chips.
LØE – Once And For All
Another intro nailed to the mast. The guitars greet you in a wave, which if you survive you find yourself drifting onto a sample. “The police aren’t there to create disorder. The police are there to preserve disorder.” The voting public must have been feeling the discordant social vibes this week, because like our friends Jekyll this tune really wants to remind us of social injustice. It has echoes of The Great Dictator, which if you like you can see here.
Power and peace, solid set piece soundscapes and am reliably informed a live show worth seeing, which I will ASAP. LØE are based in Leeds but on tour round the north, you might want to get to grips with their cinematic experience of popular culture. Real art challenging real issues. Now that is vinegar for my chips.
MG BOULTER & SAMANTHA WHATES – Agatha Christie
This is a real wee earworm of a track. Layered for folky warmth against the cold winter nights. From the roaring flames I scent a sweet bassline, tick-tocking bells, wonderful vocal harmonies, nicely finger picked acoustic parts, and of course very good lyrics. What a treat.
“It’s a game that’s played, it’s a game for you, it’s a game that’s made to lose, I just don’t understand, how others seem to land”. Life is like as Forrest Gump didn’t say, a boxer’s punch. “Everybody has a plan til you get punched in the face”. Working with MG Boulter who also plays in the Lucky Strikes, Samantha Whates has crafted a lovely folky gem, which does pose a lot of awkward questions. Kind of like a Grimm Faerie tale in music form.
I wish to bear comparison and see the influence (in my mind anyway) of artists like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Laura Marling and coming in under three minutes a perfectly-fit-for-radio song in socialist lullaby form.
THIS ELEGANT GULL – Fire On At Me
Now listeners and readers “of a certain age” yes sorry, clang, clang, dropped a cliché with my butter fingers. Sorry not sorry, the intro to This Elegant Gull’s Fire On At Me IS TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED. Lazy, somehow sexy, demure, a little bit spanky, a little 1920s which as apt as we step into the 2020s [sorry to be a swot, but it’s actually Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller — Ed]. If you have seen a show called Babylon Berlin you might recall the set piece club scene with singers in a jazz club cabaret setting. Hold on. Sounds bad Chris, I hear you say. No. Sheer class. Which is what this tune has. Absolute class.
Then it leaps in a time machine, drum loops give it a one-up, female vocals up tempo, swinging round my room on a trapeze via my speakers. THEN. They syth it up. Such a good tune. Now am just sat laughing at the sheer ridiculousness who have leapt time spans, taken me from ballroom, to jazz and dance and disco. SOOOOOO good.
Am hearing Air, am feeling Zero 7, am getting a zesty whiff of La Roux and her track Bulletproof, but mostly am thinking Goldfrapp smashed on toast made from bread culled from the wheatsheaf of Ladyhawke’s back catalogue. Get that into you for breakfast.
WE WERE STRANGERS – One By One
If you take a wee roll down the rosta on our LP this past weekend you would be hard pressed to miss how many folk voted this track, myself included.
A perfect hypnotic song which drew me in instantly. One with energy, confidence, power and in this at around the three minute mark I am totally beholden by the female singers voice. Joined just after for the build which implores “One by one we fall, out to the other side”. The absolute anthemic qualities built expertly in the mix and just simply set this on a journey where it can only end up, as the end song on a huge festival stage this summer.
It’s comparison o’clock and whilst I’m here I’m busting out Morcheeba and Massive Attack as well as, surely, a pointed reference to the Joy Division anthology of short stories titled We Were Strangers. A book dedicated to 10 tracks on the debut album by Joy Division Unknown Pleasures. I fine comparison for any band based in Manchester.
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.