Artists at a glance
ROWAN HUDSON'S PASSING SHIPS
BEFORE BREAKFAST – Stand
I reviewed Before Breakfast once before for our batch 326. It makes me smile to see them make the Fresh Faves, once again proving their popularity and resonance with our dear listeners. The first time I listened to them, what struck me was the raw power in Gina Walters voice. Even through that power, Walters manages to bring a vulnerability that you’d find in any Bat For Lashes song. Stand is lyrically endearing (a BB trait), BB’s timbre remains with Walters’ storytelling at the forefront, supported by a stout cello, plodding bass, frolicking piano and drums – the drumming is used wisely, keeping time and driving the song forward when necessary.
Now a two-piece, BB are still out and about gigging, playing The Shakespeare in Sheffield on March 28th, The Local in Doncaster on April 8th and a couple of Sofar Sounds dates mid-April in Manchester and Leeds – expect some nice video coverage from these two gigs.
Keep running against your own clock, I’ll keep listening as long as time allows.
BETHLEHEM CASUALS – The Oki
Well, I wasn’t expecting that thirty seconds in. I was all set to relax, then… Blam! This cut is so, so intriguing and exciting. It never stops, just when you think you can tell what’s round the corner, Bethlehem Casuals flip things on their head, and you’re off in a different direction – with a new instrument playing probably. The Oke (a despicable “scream without a mouth”) is taken from their concept album The Tragedy of Street Dog – which tells the story of a house pet gone rogue. Set in the band’s own hometown, the story follows a canine protagonist “Street Dog” as he embarks on a quest to rediscover the music of Manchester. These self-confessed psychedelic jazz-pop oddballs certainly know how to fuck with your head. Certainly makes one want to hear the rest of the concept (out next month).
Bags of gigs ahead, I can imagine them to be more mind-bending live.
JAMIE JOHNSON – Old Friend
Old Friend is a sweet story, told with tenderness by acoustic artist Jamie Johnson. A brief encounter sets up a narrative that has Johnson pondering for longer than the actual encounter. An ode to how we can focus on what wasn’t said or when “we have nothing left to say”. Johnson doesn’t give too much away about the friendship? Was it a past relationship? What happened? The melancholy is almost too much towards the end, the apathy and self-reflection. It leaves you pondering.
Sadly, I can’t find anything about him online. Other than another guy with the same name who’s been on The Voice… it’s not him.
LIME – Surf N Turf
I’d never imagined that a great opening gambit would be “I’m sorry, I ate some cheese”… but it is. There’s a distinct surf rock n roll edge to Lime. Ah, they’re from Brighton. Of course. My, it sounds fun down there; all the energy of cheese-eating youth, sarcasm bleeding from the eyeballs, and jangly guitars that are a bit too pleasing to the ears. All these ingredients point to potential success with DIY bands like Peaness, Working Men’s Club and Dream Wife beginning to make names for themselves, Lime could slot right next to these.
Let’s get zesty, baby.
NIA WYN – Castaway
How about that Welsh soul-R’n’B? The very talented Nia Wyn, presents her first body of work, Castaway; a standout track from EP Love I Can’t Ruin. Wyn, who is unapologetically frank with her lyrics, commenting on the current state of the country, expressing to be “tired of Brexit, tired of Boris Johnson’s face” (aren’t we all?). With young, political voices continuing to make their mark in the music industry, now feels like the right time for Nia Wyn to be releasing music. Though it feels sad to hear that her resolution is that “no one’s going to make this country great” – has the youth of today given up?
Check this though – she’s supporting Paul Weller on his upcoming tour in May. Good luck, kiddo.
PRECEPT – Fragments
Breaking up the faves this week is Leeds’ Precept, a producer of some very fine electronic cuts. Fragments is no exception; a dark track that balances a squelchy, droning bass with thinly cut melody line (sounding very close to Neil Tennant). This track blends nicely, with the beats developing over each verse/chorus – it’s not just allllllllll about the beats though, thankfully, the welcome focus is interchanged with the top line keeping it fresh. The bass line becomes the lead instrument for the final minute (MORE BASS) – headphones a must for this one.
Precept’s debut album The Space Around Us is available on all major platforms and has been getting some love on BBC Introducing in Yorkshire.
PUFFI – Succinctly
The 90s revival is continuing. Puffi brings the (retro) party sounding like The Cardigans (if Nina Persson was a man from Lancashire) with string and brass arrangements that Super Furry Animals would be proud of. There’s some serious production happening at every corner of Succinctly, almost as if the storyboard meeting was “how can we make each section sound different?” – Mission accomplished Puffi. Anyway, it’s a bloody pleasure to listen to; I’m still whistling the chorus.
Sadly, Puffi remain slightly ambiguous online. Come on people, there better be big announcements coming.
ROWAN HUDSON’S PASSING SHIPS – Transatlantic
My Fresh Faves writes are beginning to feel like the Mercury Music Prize, where there is always one token jazz entry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for this entry. Pianist Rowan Hudson, who is a prolific musician working with several other acts, here with his five piece Rowan Hudson’s Passing Ships, has released something quite special with the minimalist Transatlantic. A tense opening unfolds with the five-piece progressively interjecting with each other, painting a vivid musical landscape always with Hudson’s pulsing piano sitting underneath, as the driving force. Leaves you with an a heavy exhale, quite something special.
SAIRIE – Winds Of Sirocco
Winds of Sirocco is taken from recently released EP Scarlet and Blue. It sounds to me like a British band playing Americana, and I love it. There’s a definite feel of the band Shivaree surrounding this track, with lonesome vocals (sung tenderly by Emma Morton) fluttering over the bass and guitar, which is where I’m picking up the Americana. All that’s missing to make it full blown are the drums, replaced by simple handclaps, which actually bring a fresh approach to the song.
Sairie are Emma Morton, Jon Griffin and Andy Thomas. They play The Harrison in London April 29th and Sidmouth Folk Festival 2020 in the summer.
SOPHIE MORGAN – Bar To Bar
A lass from the North West, Sophie Morgan brings more perfect pop-induced balladry to round off the faves this week. More Americana too! There’s some pure poetry within the lyrics that has Morgan reminiscing about past events, trying to find a way forward. It could be a short story.
This track showcases Morgan’s storytelling talent, as well as her ability to write a memorable chorus. The bittersweet theme that runs deep gives Bar To Bar a gravitas that makes it stand above your average Radio 1 ballad. So sad, but pure.
Her new EP Marmalade comes out on March 20th.
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.