Artists at a glance
ARIEL SHARRATT & MATHIAS KOM
CHICKEN MAN AND THE BAD EGGS
FRENCH ALPS TIGER
ANDREW MAYLING – Me First
Oxford-based singer-songwriter Andrew Mayling weaves travelling arpeggio with graceful vocal melody to craft a moment of quietly nervous nostalgia with Me First.
Having attended the UK premier of short film Poached (for which Andrew collaborated with LA-based Ahmed Alabaca to compose the award winning soundtrack), at the Crystal Palace Film Festival on Friday night, before jetting off to support Freya Ridings in Sydney and Melbourne on Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th respectively, Andrew Mayling tops of a stellar few days by earning a spot in this week’s Fresh Faves.
Me First moves with an unassuming, yet frenetic pace throughout; six-string acoustic arpeggio cascading in tightly tumbling rounds of finger and thumb, gently hustling the 4-minute track along. The ambient glowing wide left/right with long dislocated breaths of flute and moments of string sustain, diffused and EQ-ed abstract, distant and set free of form. Droplets of piano note adding compellingly simple metronome count to chord pattern and change.
Andrew’s voice arrives in rushes of whisper and lingering rasp; glancing and gliding across the delicate surface of the instrumentation, phonetics skipping like stones; each impact a memory recollected and revisited.
Aptly described by Listening Post supporter, Dave Dark (of Dave Dark and the Sharks) as “a really nice song”, Me First is just that. Every element crafted with care and attention, each musical moment building and supporting the next; a perfectly balanced piece of composition and lyric.
A quiet gem waiting to be discovered and, in return, take the listener to an undiscovered country of nostalgia and grace.
ARIEL SHARRATT & MATHIAS KOM – Rise Up Alexa
Creative collaborators Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom deliver a darkly satirical call to arms for AIs with Alexa.
Spawned of the indefinable, indescribable, indestructible (probably), Canadian garage-folk band The Burning Hell, the hard-touring Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom have three shows in Australia booked this week, before returning Europe to perform at venues in Germany at the end of March / beginning of April.
Presented in ear-catching sing along call/response and rhyme, Alexa takes the form of a Q&A session with Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa (as featured in the USA Network TV show Mr. Robot), on the subject of servitude and liberation. Ariel and Mathias take it in turns to coax and nurture a revolutionary spirit in the enslaved AI; the tone of which gradually shifts, from the absurd to the thought-provoking, as Mathias sings to the by-design-female Alexa, “You were born in a rich man’s fantasy”.
Framed by percussive smacks and slaps of acoustic and driven by rusty, dusty drums; kicking and punching from the back; an upright bass supporting the drums in tightly worked turns and dabs. Woodwind and brass joining, to paint the 2 minute 41 second track in the tones/timbre of endearing spirit and revolutionary fanfare.
Described by Listening Post supporter Alex Hall as, “very relevant – very tongue-in-cheek”, Alexa succeeds in being both a contemporary comedy of the absurd and a thought-provoking foretelling of what might be; a delightfully sardonic sing-along given weight and potency by grounding in legitimate social and moral principle.
CHICKEN MAN AND THE BAD EGGS – SOS
Chicken Man And The Bad Eggs lay a hard-boiled dose of distortion infused punk-rock with SOS.
Served with lashings of fused and fuzzed electric six-string, crunching and grinding the left / right of the stereo-field at glorious distorted speed, SOS burns through its 2 minute 14 second runtime in an amped-up frenzy, all the way to 11 (and then some). The centre of the track is anchored deep by the low SPL of overdriven bass riff, hulking and hunking; the drums delivering tight, rapid-fire, heavy-hitting kick and snare punches from and to the gut.
Vocals jitter and strut like a Quadraphonic Phil Daniels at a house-party, edge blunted by saturation, shouting and chanting; percussive bolts of lyric, spat and chewed at you. Super-fuzzed backing vox adding additional (and uber-cool) width and warped harmony.
“Got me bouncing off the walls with a silly grin on my face”, Fresh On The Net’s own Andy Page sums-up the thunderous appeal and “glorious noise” (Dave Dark) of bands like Chicken Man And The Bad Eggs. You too can be bouncing off the walls with a silly grin on your face, on Sunday March 22nd at Studio 2 in Liverpool.
CONCHÚR WHITE – Bikini Crops
Conchúr White crafts a hazy, dazy indie-anthem for lazy afternoons and punch-drunk midnights with Bikini Crops.
The title track of his debut solo EP, Conchur white wrote Bikini Crops during a rich creative period, triggered by his parting ways with band Silences. Moving in great swaying surges of instrumentation, the 3 minute 18 second track unfolds in shifting layers of sustain, delay, and reverb.
Electric string and fret crank and collapse into fizzing ambient and spray; kick and snare tumbling over each other, while bass walks through verse and breaks into canter for chorus. Piano keys countdown in shards; organs wide and expansive, modulating toward the infinite.
The vocals float deep in the production, double-tracked and clad in shimmering ambient and percussive delay; part conversation, part serenade, they entice the ear with lazy, hazy melody, imagery, and wordplay; wondrous backing vocals add old soul and inspired harmony.
You can catch Conchúr White live on Friday 20th March in support of Fink at Lafayette (London).
COSTI, THE – Rock Show Featuring Vicar In A Tutu
London-born Emcee slash poet Costi and Jakarta-based Vicar In A Tutu drop old school vibes on a bit-crush with audacious flow and six-string blow, new single, Rock Show”
With both artists juggling roles in various musical projects, Costi forming one half of One Line To An Angle and Fisk Of Fury, and Vicar In A Tutu also producing music with his band Tinier Paper, when these two are not working, you can usually find them working.
Flavored by bit-crush, the kick lands blunt and flat, boxy and covered in dust; snare cracking and snapping on the two and the four, doubled by guitar crank through dub delay. The beat modulated and swallowed by shifting EQ filter automation adding ear-catching variation and timbre scaling. Organs flutter and bell through rotating speaker, adding pulse and movement to the wide. A fizzing, soaring, rocketship six-string blazes psychedelic.
Words stalk the intervals as they trade blows back and forth; standing off, setting off, and doubling up, with apparent ease and flow. Lyrics sow idea and image, thought and counterpoint. Vocal melody cast percussive in ever-shifting forge; liquid silver, delivered quick from tongue; an understated tour-de-force in laying it down on the sly.
DENNEY – Overheard
Although she’s spent her life privately writing lyrics and songs, it was not until 2019 that Denney released her debut single, Overheard. And it is in this tone that Overheard unfolds, as that of a diary entry, private aside, or soliloquy, the listener cast in the role of unspeaking confidant.
Denney’s vocals arrive breathless and disjointed, lingering in the ambient with understated soulfulness and depth; framed by acoustic counterpoint scattered left / right; piano keys count in isolation, exposed and unrefined; the 3 minute 52 second track stuck in amber.
Modulating sonics shimmer and glow, the vocal melody grows into cohesive lines; the beat joins, kick bedded in deep and earthy, cracked snare sunk into the reverb; a somber percussive presence shifting the track onward. And with each unfolding line, our understanding deepens.
String and vocal harmony surge and lift in expanding depth and width; great swells of deep ocean waves, Denney’s voice opens up and with it emotion rises, cracks, and breaks; only to die back, voice and instrumentation plummets to the ocean floor and embraced in silence, and in final realisation, the truth lingers.
Denny’s follow-up single, That’s A Start is out 10th March.
FRENCH ALPS TIGER – Floor Is Lava
South Wales four-piece French Alps Tiger knock together an awesome helping of trashy, roomy, distorted goodness with new single, Floor Is Lava.
Named after the elusive tiger that is reported to inhabit the infamous French Alps of South Wales, French Alps Tiger are a band on a mission; according to their website, they’re “Trying as little as possible to make trying as little as possible cool again.”
Painted in glorious broad, lazy strokes of distortion and “garagey” (technical term) room noise, Floor Is Lava erupts, simmers, and smelts in circuit saturated, stacked amperage. Electrics wail and shriek in demented doubled riffs and licks; while bass and alternate grunt and grind, with pick edged percussive-flick. The drummer lets rip with stabbing snare and cymbal smack, the band lurching and bolting as one.
Vocals stomp and swagger, a trashed-up shouty-shouty Jagger; rock ‘n’ roll mutant. Lyrics stabbed and lashed; phonetics dropping into heavy dub-ish delays that feedback compacted into the low-mids and grunge.
French Alps Tiger will be supporting Orchards at Clwb Ifor Bach (Cardiff) on Friday 10th April.
LIZ CIRELLI – Idamante
Liz Cirelli and violinist Minski celebrate 10 years of outstanding creative collaboration with an exquisitely crafted soundscape of soaring melody, inspired stereo-work, and deliciously filtered texture.
Discovering her talent for music at the age of 11, Liz Cirelli soon set about an eclectic journey of musical discovery, from DJing to producing, composing to writing. Intent on re-imagining and challenging the very definition of music with bold cross-media projects, Liz Cirelli has forged a path for herself into the highly competitive world of production music and soundtracks.
Idamante swirls upward from the noisefloor; shimmering sonics pulsating and fluctuating like deepest ocean life or interstellar particles. Low sound pressure level doses smooth and warm as tectonic undercurrent. A beat snips and sniffs upon the heels of the tempo, shuffled about the shifting intervals; and yet, where there should be chaos and confusion, there is beauty and grace (or perhaps chaos and confusion is beauty and grace).
Minski’s violin cuts melody in percussive shards, rhythmic snatches of phrases, strobing presentations of musical progressions; lively, they dance across the richly varying soundscape. A puck or ariel.
Delighting mind, body, and senses. Idamante is a musical feast of many courses and ingredients; brought together with the utmost care and profound depth of understanding.
SAMURAI KIP – Daybreak
Improvisers on a storm, Samurai Kip cook up infinite bassline grooves, brassy sunshine, and electric snakes with their latest single, Daybreak.
Samurai Kip came to life in garage jam sessions between singer Aidan Mcguire and drummer Michael Lindberg, and the creative and uninhibited spirit of improvisation resides at the heart of their latest song, Daybreak. Musical ideas tumble and scatter across the arrangement, instruments join to complement, challenge, and converse.
At the heart of it all a walking bass holds the line, providing frame and groove; the drums landing in compact shuffles and shudders. Glorious brassy swells rise up and project warm frequencies across the stereo-field, while electric guitars trade off in silky, reverby arpeggio or funky crank and stab. Deft dabs of keys pulse and warble, shifting rhythmic within the layers of production.
The vocals laze and cruise; a summer’s day strut, basking in the brassy heat haze. Doors-esque keys chime, shimmering in delay; improvisers on a storm. A chorused six-string wraps coils around itself in lick ‘n’ riff; brass simmers long and hot.
TINA BOONSTRA – Out Of My Depth
Singer-songwriter Tina Boonstra delivers noisy, uninhibited honesty with compelling passion and musical conviction with her new single, Out Of My Depth.
Having grown-up in a missionary family, it wasn’t until Tina Boonstra tried her songs on the London open-mic scene that she discovered her music was set for a far wider audience than that of the church halls she knew so well. And yet, it is of no surprise that the same honesty and passion which resides at the heart of faith, also forms the core of Tina Boonstra’s music, and, in turn, serves to engage those who hear her music from playlist to live performance.
Drums drop raspy and heavy (a dried-out “Levee Break”); the bassline dabbing low frequency, fuzzy and overdriven. The 3 minute track building up in bursts of noisy instrumentation, only to breakdown to heart-stopping moments of a capella, clad exposed by silence. The production alternating, switching out, in surge and stop, to draw out and emphasize the emotional resonance of the lyrics. Bold and uninhibited; compelling in its refreshing lack of contrivement.
The vocal melody shifts in short percussive stanza and turn; talking as they’re walking through the verses; guitars flexing, muted and rhythmic; keys add high frequency to the mix, bright, brittle, timbral contrast that catches the ear and excites the senses; the vocals breaking out into a soaring singalong sprint in the choruses; the electrics bursting wide in crunching distorted, square-waved, harmonic glory. Creative use of backing vocals providing further depth, movement and candy for the ears.
Catch Tina Boonstra live at Green Note Cafe (London) on Friday 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.