Fresh Faves: Batch 360

The Greeners

Artists at a glance

BL BEX
CHOLLY
COURTEOUS THIEF
GRACE MONACO
KOYO
M3ON
OH!NO?OK.
SIDES
THE GREENERS
THE RAMISCO MAKI MAKI ROCKING HORSE

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

BL BEX – There’s The Way

BL Bex are Ben Cozens and Lexie Green, based in Cambridge. He (Ben) is a former club DJ who cut his teeth in the 90s Dance Music boom and now works as a professional Sound Designer. She (Lexie) is a well-respected Country Music artist who has been supported by BBC Radio 2 presenter and legendary Whistle Test host Bob Harris. They met when Ben saw Lexie perform in a record shop and persuaded her to collaborate on a film score.

Wind the clock on and we have There’s The Way, a mid-tempo track with a slightly funky beat and plenty of state-of-the-art sounds swirling about in the background as Lexie’s subtly Country-edged twang is put to imaginative use within the context of a track that is taken a long way from that world and into electronic pop territory. The minor key and the main melody bring a melancholy edge to the table too, timely as we seek to make the best of current social restrictions. Full marks for originality of vision and for taking us to another world for a little while.

Official | Soundcloud | Twitter | YouTube

CHOLLY – Sky High

High Wycombe-based with roots mainly in the West Country, Cholly (aka Chloe Tennant) is no stranger to Fresh On The Net, this being her fourth time as a fresh fave in little more than a year. During that time she has performed at the inaugural Fresh On The Net Live festival in Highgate, played two other festivals and nearly completed her first tour (albeit the last two dates were axed due to COVID 19). 2019 also saw the release of her Ruminations EP on Demerara Records. Live she performs with guitarist Conor, himself a former fresh fave as A Motion For Control.

Cholly’s music is best described as cinematic electronic pop though Sky High sits at the poppier, more upbeat end of that spectrum. Driven along by a buoyant beat and warm synths, the mix is spacious allowing Chloe’s haunting, rangey voice and trademark harmonies to take centre stage. The tune drills into your consciousness and refuses to budge, bringing some social distancing cheer to the day.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

COURTEOUS THIEF – I Love The Way

Courteous Thief is the son of a fisherman from North Wales, specifically based in the attractive seaside town of Llandudno. He has been gigging around North Wales and Cheshire in recent times and has had support from BBC Introducing in Wales. His influences are varied and include Damien Rice, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons and Snow Patrol. His Facebook page describes his music as Indie-Folk, which broadly it is.

I Love The Way is, however, more of an acoustic ballad, based around simple strumming guitar which is quickly adorned by some royally rich vocal harmonies and sensitive singing. His voice is strong but agile too, allowing him to wrap his warm tones confidently around the song as it develops into a three-time Folk Waltz in the final stretch of the track. All very nicely done. Sweet music to stay in with during these unusual times.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

GRACE MONACO – Pedigree

Grace Monaco is the performing alias of Grace Dawson who says she grew up in a jet-setting lifestyle before running away from her ‘exclusive’ finishing school to “…pursue her dreams of making DIY Bedroom Pop and playing her music to the Hoi Polloi”. Finding anything else out required a major search operation which, through a foreign link, led me eventually to her Facebook page. That told me she is from Lancaster and, with video footage of her playing live with a band and a number of comments from fans, the evidence is she is an impressive performer who sings and plays piano. I also found a review on Brighter Sound which confirms she is a 19 year old singer-songwriter.

What I can tell you for sure is Grace has wasted no time in setting out her stall as a purveyor of stylish pop that, in some senses, harks back to classic material in a lineage stretching from the likes of Nancy Sinatra and Bobbie Gentry via Vanessa Paradis and latter works of Kylie Minogue through to Billie Eilish. That’s not to say that Grace sounds particularly like any of those artists. Her voice is distinct and full of character and she has a good ear for a pop melody. “You’re the kind of boy I’d take home for tea” she croons while complaining that “When I’m getting naked, you’ll just look away”. She is not looking for Mr Safe! But at 19, she is looking at a potentially bright future. Right decision leaving that finishing school and going after her dreams then. Post-lockdown, expect to see her out there agitating for wider attention.

Soundcloud | Facebook

KOYO – You Said It

Koyo hail from Leeds, a city with a seemingly bottomless pool of new music talent these days. According to their Soundcloud page they “… create sonic spectacles through soaring layers of sound. Songs become extended improvisations, spontaneous expressions of emotion”. Over the past five years they have become a significant part of the city’s impressive live music scene and, once released from current COVID-made restrictions, no doubt will be out there winning more new fans.

You Said It builds from a syncopated rhythmic figure with double stops in the Bass and a crisp beat. It expands into a brooding cinematic slice of melodic Alt Pop with overlapping vocal theme and plenty of power. Synths swoop and snarl around the constant bass and drums while guitars interject with short bursts like musical woodpeckers that give way to some life-affirming suspended and extended chords. As the arrangement fills out we lose ourselves in their epic soundscape and pop sensibilities. The minimal ending with syncopated stabs of guitar rounds off a great track simply sizzling with creativity.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

M3ON – Strange Vibes

I first came across the high quality music of M3ON about a year ago when I selected one of his tracks for a radio show I have a feature on. He is the enigmatic figure of musician and producer Tim Young from Brighton (on the subject of places with a bottomless pool of new music talent). Artistically he has been self-isolating to some extent long before COVID-19 emerged, working out of his studio a stone’s throw from the Hove seafront. Tim is also the former Synth player with UNKLE. His live performances are fairly scarce but he has released an album and has composed a lot of music for film and TV which will not surprise you when you listen to Strange Vibes.

This is high quality contemporary Cinematic Jazz verging on library music with some sumptuous chords, funky syncopated rhythmic configurations, fluid changes of mood and musicianship to swoon to. It sits somewhere between the kind of instrumental exploration one might hear on a classic Jazz Fusion album (i.e. Larry Carlton/Herbie Hancock/Grover Washington Jnr etc.) and a cool classic movie soundtrack with some unsettling voice samples thrown in for good measure. The choice of sounds and samples brings it bang into the present though in case you were wondering. Premium quality and a further demonstration of the diversity in this week’s faves.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

OH!NO?OK. – Wheel Of Fortune

Oh!no?ok are a quartet from Salt Lake City in Utah (USA) who say they play the “… kind of music you’d hear blasting forth from a suburban garage in the height of the alt-rock boom of the 1990s” but updated in terms of sounds and production values. They also infuse their direct Rock style with some experimental tendencies too. The lack of any links on their Soundcloud page, along with the variations in spelling, made it hard to unearth much information initially but I did eventually find them on social media pages. There isn’t a lot of info there either but they appear to have played a couple of gigs in February so, subject to lockdown lift-off, I imagine they will be straight out there playing live again.

Wheel Of Fortune is a driving Alt Rock tune with male voices in unison an octave apart accompanied by riffing guitars over solid rhythm backdrop. It emits a persistent rhyming style with distant echoes of Faith No More in a mash-up with Robert Palmer refereed by Blink 182. That said they are correct in claiming to have brought that nineties Alt Rock sound into a contemporary remake mould. Wheel of fortune thus speeds energetically along with melodic intent.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

SIDES – Too Long

SIDES is the artist formerly known as Leeveye (real name Ryan). He is a South East London-based artist and producer who I have blogged about on more than one past occasion. So I am delighted to see him getting recognition from our awesome readers. He has been diligently turning out inventive, original EDM tracks that utilise unusual sounds and samples; usually on self-imposed lockdown in his South East London studio while seeking vocalists to write and record with.

Too Long sees SIDES working with a female vocalist whose soulful soprano tones enhance a strong melody while his own synth melody is catchy too. This is poppier than some of his recent material and underlines both his ability and his willingness to cross over into more mainstream territory. As with all his music, the production is pristine and the sounds combine punchy beats with spacious translucent synths. Another great track from a talented and likeable young artist.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

THE GREENERS – Crowd

London-based trio The Greeners are a truly intriguing band. Utilising a mouth watering range of acoustic instruments and mixing up a bunch of stylistic influences, their roots are in Folk, Bluegrass and Pop though, if Crowd is any indication, we can definitely throw Jazz into the melting pot too. Their Twitter page calls their music Alt Folk and Folk Radio recently described them as ‘refreshingly original on (sic) every sense of the word’. I must whole-heartedly concur.

The song starts with unison pizzicato strings accompanying a swinging Peggy Lee-ish bluesy female vocal. The lyrics depict a disturbing story of being at a rally, shouted down and forced to flee before buying a gun and putting paid to her pursuers; a tale that is told ‘every day in The Sun’! One of self-isolation of a different kind! The history behind this episode sounds fascinating if macabre!

As the track develops, solo sax saunters in and out of the song’s centre and there is a lovely lazy feel to the whole thing. It is one of the many aspects I love about Fresh on the Net that not only do we get tracks as individual as this but that our discerning readers vote for them too.

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

THE RAMISCO MAKI MAKI ROCKING HORSE – How To Survive The Coronapocalypse And Not Eat Your Friends

The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse is an indie-folk singer-songwriter from the Scottish Highlands raised mainly on Punk, Country, Bluegrass and Blues but with a subsequent background in Alt Rock and other things too. He is driven by a desire to write about subjects that “… exist solely in his mind” although, given that the topic here is COVID-19, this is one currently occupying most people’s minds! He cites as influences Beck, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Hank Williams which is not a bad shout although there is something about the picking guitar, slightly gruff baritone voice and song structure that reminds me a little of Burl Ives too.

How To Survive The Coronapocalypse And Not Eat Your Friends does, as the title clearly indicates, bring a light-hearted humour to this rather frightening subject as he metes out the same advice we have heard repeatedly over recent weeks to a sparse background of acoustic guitar and additional vocal harmonies. It might be a tad pedantic to point out that you cannot actually eat your friends if you are self-isolating (!) but, apart from that anomaly, the song blends the logic of washing hands, not touching your face, self-isolating etc. with a tongue lodged firmly in cheek.

Official | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

And so that concludes another week’s reviews of our ever-wonderful Fresh Faves. Stay safe everyone and keep supporting new music. xxx

Oh!No?OK.

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.

Neil March

Neil March is a Composer & Artist with a PhD and Masters in music composition from Goldsmiths University, who has pursued careers in the contemporary classical and pop worlds, and has been supported by BBC Introducing, for whom he performed with his live ensemble The Music of Sound at Latitude in 2017. Read more.

13 Comments

  1. Great reviews Neil! And nice work done on researching some background to the artists… always nice to get a sense of where they’re coming from.

  2. Thanks Tobi. Lovely comments. :)

  3. Sue

    Wonderfully eloquent reviews as ever Neil – and a fab playlist of tracks.

  4. Thanks Sue. Lovely comments as always. x

  5. As always Neil a pleasure to read your reviews. Well researched and well written. Cxx

  6. Thanks Chris. That’s really kind of you. x

  7. Louise Toal

    Brilliantly written as always Neil. 😊

  8. Thanks Louise. That’s very kind of you x

  9. Andy Page

    Cracking read as always Neil and a great diverse selection to treat our ears too. What lucky listeners we are!

  10. Thanks Andy. Kind words and I agree about the diverse selection. :)

  11. Barrie Joyce

    7 out of 10 choices are female lead vocal.
    now i know what i need to do….
    how am i gonna break the news he’s out of the band?

  12. … or maybe there were just a lot of great tracks with female vocalists on them. Since the fresh faves are decided by democratic vote any notion of some anti-male singer conspiracy is probably somewhat exaggerated!

  13. @Barrie Joyce. Yes to reiterate what Neil is saying once the moderators choose our weekly top 25 (this is the bit we have influence over so if you want an industry boost this is actually where you get it) EVERYTHING is down to public votes. We have no influence on the top 10 apart from perhaps casting a vote ourselves. From there we review it on a Rota basis so sadly for your band the public didn’t quite like it enough but we certainly did so well done on making it through a field of 200. Hope we helped clear things up for you. Cheers.

Comments are now closed for this article.