Fresh Faves: Batch 358

Artists at a glance

AIMÉE STEVEN
BLOKEACOLA
EDWARD RANDELL
ELLIE DIXON
FØNX
JOE CANG
MICHAEL BAKER
THE HIDEAWAYS
THE POWDERED EARTH
VEIILA

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Rob Ball this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

I decided to take no part in the initial modding or the final voting this week as I thought I would see things from the perspective of a newcomer. I have to give a big thanks to the rest of the modding team and our listeners as we have a cracker of playlist for your ears.

AIMÉE STEVEN – Hell Is A Teenage Girl

Wow, what a start to the playlist. It’s boss this is. Hell Is A Teenage Girl was a very popular choice this weekend, and you can see why. Aimée Steven obviously has an ear for a cracking tune when you listen to not only this, but also her previous tracks. I do like a track that gets my attention straight away, and this one starts with three striking lone guitar chords that transported me back to Mersey Beat — the whole track does have slightly retro feel. What struck me was that it wasn’t overly fussy, it’s damn catchy, the chorus is ear-worm material (you have been warned), and Aimée’s vocals are strong, confident and direct.

Aimée is from my birthplace Walton in Liverpool and has already been picked up as “one of Liverpool’s most exciting emerging artists”. She came to playing music later than many. Whilst she has been a music lover all her life, a regular gig-goer and reviewer, she has only been writing songs for three years. Aimée was spotted by Jon Withnall (6 Grammys, Elbow, Rihanna, etc) from a few Facebook postings and had never played live until debuting at Sound City last year. She is joined by bandmates James, Martin and Robyn with whom Aimée likes to take a collaborative approach to arrangements.

Aimée sits very comfortably amongst an up-and-coming extremely strong group of indie female guitarist songwriters like Zuzu, Jerry Williams, Jade Bird, and Lauren Hibberd. Definitely one to catch when you can. She is due to play The Zanzibar on Thursday, but who knows! Should there be live music in the summer she is sure to pick up many offers of festival bookings.

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BLOKEACOLA – Make It On Your Own

I gather that “Little is known about Blokeacola the person other than he is Welsh and apparently likes wearing a bright orange helmet. What is known about his music is it is a beguiling brand of psychedelic indie pop.” Apparently it’s an alter-ego or side project, and he is from Newport. He’s had support from BBC introducing and Make It Your Own is a very cool synthy electro track. Influences of psych Beatles era here to my old ears. It’s a short track of two very different halves. The first half is underpinned by a pretty cool repeating bass riff, whilst the second half is far more staccato style with Blokeacola being very self-reflective, apologetic and particularly hard on himself, unable to “find the peace of time”. Let’s hope that making the track, and the very positive feedback it is getting, is cathartic. No events listed anywhere, and I suspect he doesn’t have plans to go play live in his Blokeacola ego, which on listening to this first track, sounds like it would be a shame.

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EDWARD RANDELL – Eastward

Oh, this has a slight retro feel to it too. I have this image of it as the backing to a scene in a late 60s or early 70s film as the main characters head peacefully across a beautiful beach into the sunset, or gallop along a luscious valley next to a bubbling river. It’s a really nice track, and I mean that in a good way. It’s gentle with a beautiful string introduction before the rich-toned soft vocals of Edward take us on peaceful journey. Lovely.

It turns out that the image I had was similar to what Edward had in his head when writing the track. If so then “Chapeau Sir”. One of the great things about music is that it often allows us to be transported to another place. No bad thing at the moment. It doesn’t really matter if that matches the place the composer had, but it’s pretty cool when it does.

Edward is a London-based singer, songwriter and arranger and a member of The Swingles. The strings came from the Bregensen String Quartet and Easter is the lead track from Edward’s recently launched first EP Mapmaker. There are no live events listed. Oh, and Edward appeared as a wizard and friend of Harry Potter in the second Harry Potter film.

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ELLIE DIXON – Ugly

Right then, enough of this retro malarkey, let’s get into the here and now. Ugly is very “on point”. It is a perfectly formed pop/R&B track complete in radio edit listing mode, coming in at a good 3:20 minutes, maybe 3:00 next time to get a complete 10/10? It stops and starts, sways from a bit of rapping, a bit of pure R&B with a Latino vibe, a bit of a drop here and there, and has a great groove. It’s all about empowerment and self-love and has a very positive vibe. It quickly had me nodding at the beginning and positively dad-style seat bopping and tapping my feet by the end.

Ellie Dixon proved popular both times she has uploaded to Listening Post, with her track Pressure appearing as a Fresh Fave in Batch 343, and has clearly got great pop songwriting as well performing ability. She is currently a third year Mathematics student at Warwick who’s decided to have a post-degree “gap” year and go into music full-time. She has bedroom-produced all her titles to date, and either performs with a band or on her own with a full loop set up.

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FØNX – Difficult

Well I never, two true pop R&B tracks together. This is out-and-out funky groove with the smooth vocals of FØNX over the catchy slick guitar hooks, and we even get a nowadays rarely-sighted guitar solo thrown in. Totally lush and yet more seat-bopping here.

FØNX is no stranger to the Fresh Faves and this is his third track to feature following Without You Girl in Batch 322 and Come On Over in Batch 294. He is another bedroom producer who writes, develops and produces everything himself.

FØNX is from East Sussex and is a Brit-school graduate. He has received well-deserved support from Shell Zenner at Amazing Radio, BBC Introducing in the South, Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, and our own Tom Robinson on 6 Music, of course.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

JOE CANG – Drug Habits

What a week for soul songs, we seem to have gone through the spectrum from neo soul, through groove, and landed at old-style bluesy jazzy soul. It is a pleasant landing, that is for sure. Starting with a very uncluttered blues style the chorus moves us into a more luscious soulful gentle sound. There is some lovely brass backing, which adds to the richness of Joe’s sweet vocals. I am even gifted a very chilled guitar solo. Lovely Jubbly, thank you Joe, I am nicely chilled out.

London-based Joe Cang has what I would say is quite a bit of “previous” in this music making thingy. Having been a guitarist in his youth he morphed into a “feisty” full-time bassist with the likes of Scritti Politti and playing live with Ian Dury and Desmond Decker. He then added songwriting to his CV where he has enjoyed working with a venerable series of A-listers, and now combines those skills with being a singer too.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

MICHAEL BAKER – Big Moon

Big Moon is a really good C&W / American / Folk influenced track. It’s got all the components of a good tune, a bit of angst and smooth vocals. Some nice violin accompaniment, and it all gently builds up to a crescendo where Michael Baker is joined by a group of backing singers for the final verse. It’s another very soothing track, which is no bad thing for me in my current state of mind.

Michael is from “the South of England”. He has spent a good few years honing his trade as a troubadour across Europe. Living and travelling from day to day, surviving on the monetary feedback he has gained busking on the streets. He is very talented and can both write and deliver a great song. I hope to hear more of him soon.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

THE HIDEAWAYS — Luminescence

Careful with your volume control here. Luminescence hits you straight between the eyes from the off. It’s a full-frontal attack with one hell of a repeat hard riff. It reminds me of Firestarter. It’s right up my street. Frontman Danny Pugh says “I reckon Luminescence is a spot-on example of what we’re about musically. When we’re writing we always try to stick a few left turns in tunes that might catch people off guard a bit. That’s what we wanted to get from mixing the psychedelic, eerie choruses with all the snarl and noise in the verses. Then for the outro we just wanted something massive that’d give everyone a proper melodic smack in the face.” That outro is a lovely soaring guitar solo, I am being spoilt this week.

The Hideaways are from Bristol, and were out in New York last week where they managed to do a couple of sets before the remaining shows were cancelled. They have been steadily building a strong following with gigs up and down the country and have supported the likes of Shaun Ryder and The Little Comets.

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THE POWDERED EARTH – Blossom

Blossom is something completely different, and something we rarely get uploaded to Listening Post. It is a beautifully spoken poem overlaying a gentle piano and cello melody. The poem tells of a man purposely seeking specific blossoms that he can put into crystalware around his house. One doesn’t know exactly why, but there are hints that maybe it is to remind him of a loved one. It’s a lovely piece.

The Powdered Earth are duo George Moorey and Shane Young, based in Gloucester, and joined by Alice White on the cello for this track. George’s past work has focussed on community music projects and Shane’s past includes drumming for the likes of Nick Lowe and touring with Jools Holland and Squeeze. Nowadays he teaches drums and photography. George and Shane have known each other for years and it appears that The Powdered Earth is a recent partnership. In their words. “We have both brought considerable experience and limited skills as music makers and songwriters to this project and we have done so with love, care, craft and attention.” They really should take more care when proofreading they have got an extra word in there. Their skills as music makers and writers are far from limited.

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VEIILA – Farewell

How apt for the final track of the week to be called Farewell. How would I describe it? It’s an ambient trip-hop soothing electro track with haunting vocals. It’s over 7 minutes long and normally I would say that’s too long, but here it works. This is the sort of track you want playing in the background as you sip a cold drink and watch the waves gently lapping from the relaxing chair in a beach bar. Bliss.

Veiila are a duo from Saint Petersburg who say they produce “music for introverts” and that they themselves are hugely introverted. Farewell is from their recently released first album.

All that is left for me to say is… Farewell.

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Veiila

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.

Oldie Rob

Oldierob – Is not a musician and has a long-time love of new music. He can often be seen in his natural habitat of a small music venue – or a small festival – in a red hat, yellow glasses and clutching a pint of beer. Read more about Rob.

7 Comments

  1. Hi Rob – thanks for the lovely review – absolutely chuffed that we made the faves list! Just a quick note – please can you edit my surname to Moorey not Mooney!

  2. Great reviews as always Rob and I share your desire to see Blokeacola go out live with his music. Spot on with your comments about Veiila. 7 minutes might try the patience in other circumstances but not on Farewell. :)

  3. So pleased that Edward Randell’s track made the faves list too. Reminiscent of several great well known artists and music I enjoy listening to.

  4. oldierob

    HI George and Neil, Many thanks.

    Apologies for the typo George. Our fantastic Ed has been in and sorted things

  5. Louise Toal

    Brilliant work Rob! X

  6. Thanks Rob for the kind words and thanks to all who voted! It’s a real honour to make the list alongside such a brilliant set of tracks.

  7. Great reviews! Cool set of tracks too!

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