Artists at a glance
CATTLE & CANE
THE BROKEN ORCHESTRA
TROPICAL BOYFRIEND CATALOGUE
Welcome to our final Fresh Faves for a couple of weeks as we take a break for the long Easter bank holiday weekend. What is a bank holiday? Why do we need them? How are they different from any other day? These are all good questions, and right now nobody has the answers.
Obviously musicians are amongst those whose livelihoods have taken a nasty hit lately, with all gigs and tours cancelled or postponed, and little hope for the festival season. When we write these reviews, we always try to mention upcoming shows, where you can buy and stream the music, and where to find more info about the artists online.
In lieu of gigs, many artists are live-streaming performances, so if you’re especially fond of any of these tracks, please check out the artists’ socials to see if they’ve got anything going on, buy their music if you can (buying direct or from Bandcamp will typically give artists the highest margin; streaming virtually nothing), and like, share, etc their posts. From this week we’re including Instagram accounts in our list of links too. The artists we feature will always benefit from any help you can give them.
Also, if you are an artist who would like to do some live-streaming, our moderator and resident Mastering Engineer Tobi has put together a whole load of helpful tips covering everything from sound quality with a single mic setup to lighting and dressing rooms for better acoustics.
Our inbox will reopen for submissions on Monday, 20th April.
AL MOSES – He Truly Is The Son Of God
Before hitting play, you may have wondered, with yesterday being Palm Sunday and Easter coming up, whether this was a worship song. Well it is, in a sense, although in this case the titular messiah is a fictional band’s frontman who’ll “make a disciple of you.”
Al Moses apparently has two frontmen, Jack Shephard (aka Jack Vill), and Daf Thomas, backed by Jarvis Morgan on bass, and Raychi Bryant on drums. They’re from South Wales (obviously, with names like that), and look every inch like they sound, which is to say young, lively, and with the potential to inadvertently father many, many children somewhere down the line. And of course, this track has already been played at least twice by Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales.
At this point, especially with a track as blistering as this, I would normally say “I bet Al Moses are an absolute riot live”, but like a lot of artists their tour has been postponed, so in the meantime they’re putting out unplugged videos of their new material on social media over the next few weeks. He Truly Is The Son Of God is out now to buy or stream pretty much everywhere.
CATTLE & CANE – Lonely Room
The late-80s / early-90s pop ballad vibes are strong on Lonely Room, with close harmonies, summery synths, pads, and even a sax solo; indeed about the only thing absent is a Phil Collins-style drum break, but y’know, probably for the best. It’s so perfectly put together, and the killer part for me is that, for all of its sunny feel and spotless production, it’s actually quite a sad song. I love it.
Cattle & Cane is siblings Joe and Helen Hammill from Middlesborough who’ve been featured in our Fresh Faves and on the BBC Introducing Mixtape plenty of times over the years, and seem to rise to a new level of excellence each time. The sax solo on this track is by Nik Carter, who’s worked with all sorts from Lily Allen to Beverly Knight, Ed Sheeran to The Maccabbes. Lonely Room is taken from their latest LP Navigator which is out now both digitally and physically on their web site and Bandcamp, and to buy or stream from all other good music outlets.
EDBL – Twentynineteen
Daddy, do you remember 2019? Yes, child. People would walk the streets without a care in the world! We could go out, sit on the beach or walk in the park, and nobody would die as a result! Not one!
It all seems so long ago now. Fortunately, EDBL’s infectiously jaunty (can I say that? Oh, I am the editor! Thanks Steve! Don’t mention it Steve!) Twentynineteen may not have been named after the year, or originally have been intended to evoke rose-tinted memories of better days, but I strongly suspect that’s how it topped our Listening Post this week, which isn’t to say it wouldn’t have done equally well at any other time. It sounds fantastic, grabs and holds your attention from the outset, and at a mere 2:26 in no way risks outstaying its welcome.
From Brixton, EDBL (Ed Black) has support from Amazing Radio, and Jess Iszat at BBC Introducing in London, where he recently did a 10-minute mix for the show. Twentynineteen is taken from the album “edbl beats vol. 1”, which can be heard in full on Soundcloud and purchased on iTunes or as a cassette, of all things.
GECKO – Breathe
According to Gecko, Breathe is “an upbeat song about dealing with the endless barrage of negative information that we are hit with on a daily basis. It finds hope in the simplicity and grounding of breathing.” A song for our times, then.
Ironically, the video for this track might actually take your breath away, because it’s all backwards. Gecko lip-synchs the words perfectly, even says some out loud, but he’s jumping out of (i.e. into) shot, running backwards up (i.e. forwards down) steps, and everyone and everything in the background is moving in reverse too.
Another Fresh Faves and BBC Introducing Mixtape regular, London-based Gecko is an experienced “singer-storyteller” who, if you missed it, also wrote a very enlightening guest post for us about how he managed to perform ten times at Glastonbury last year. Well worth a read.
HANNAH ASHCROFT – Under The Static
Under The Static is about living in the shadows, unheard and unseen, and suitably understated to match, with a compelling mixture of featherlight vocals and grungy guitars. It saunters along with its hands in its pockets, occasionally picking up the pace or taking a pause, but never breaking a sweat. Such restraint is always admirable in my book, as is lyrical mastery, which we also find here (check out the track’s Soundcloud page to read them all).
Indie folk artist Hannah Ashcroft is from Manchester, and accompanied here by Sam Quinn (The Travelling Band, Lissie) and Adam Dawson (BC Camplight), has support from our erstwhile moderator Shell Zenner at BBC Introducing in Manchester, and love from Mary Anne Hobbs on her 6 Music Recommends show.
Under The Static is available to stream and buy now in all the usual places. Hannah has also been live streaming performances from her living room, so keep an eye on her socials for more.
HOME COUNTIES – Redevelopment
Oh, so this is what the home counties sounds like! I must move there. The angular guitars on this are sublime, like two lovers who ostensibly want the same thing, but can’t help pulling apart and coming back together like some bizarre animal courting ritual. And yes, there are two guitarists, and you can see them duelling away in matching shades in their Facebook live video from a couple of weeks ago.
Redevelopment is pretty much about just that — urban decay and redevelopment, gentrification, NIMBYs and nostalgia. I’m wondering if any of the band members have an architecture or civil engineering degree, or if this is part of some cunning scheme to get planning permission for a microbrewery shaped like a tankard.
Actually from Bristol, Home Counties appear to be five people, none of whose names I can tell you, and this is their extremely strong debut single, out now. I expect we’ll be hearing plenty more from them in future.
JOSH SAVAGE – Golden Days
With just vocals and a guitar, Golden Days is a sad and delicate song about loss and holding onto the memory of better times. “How I miss being foolish, I was so naive then…” Josh pines. Anyone who’s had their bubble burst will know all about it.
Josh Savage is based between Winchester and Paris, and is no stranger to these pages — we’ve been featuring him more or less since the outset, precisely because you, our readers, voted his music into our Fresh Faves every single time, and it’s easy to see why.
Golden Days is taken from his debut album The Long Way Round, available to stream or buy just about everywhere now. Josh has done livestream performances on Facebook, and is running a Patreon scheme that promises all kinds of new material, bonuses and treats.
KATHLEEN FRANCES – Define
A dark and almost forbidding track, Define is (and I’m going to quote directly here lest I redefine it) “inspired by the need to question the social constructs of love and romance. It’s an exploration in taking control and defining your own expectations of relationships and realising sometimes love just isn’t enough.”
From Bristol, Kathleen Frances has a soulful and distinctive voice that matches the downtempo nature of this track perfectly, and the kind of voice you can submerge yourself in. Define is her debut single that she’s written, produced and mixed herself, with piano, pulsating beats, and what I can only describe as other swirly noises. Stream it now on Spotify.
THE BROKEN ORCHESTRA – Someone Just Pressed Pause Feat. TinB
We’ve had a few lockdown / isolation-inspired tracks submitted over the last couple of weeks, and The Broken Orchestra deliver a positive take on that here — someone’s pressed pause on life and these are all the things people might do should they suddenly find themselves with time on their hands, as narrated by spoken word artist TinB.
Both five-piece trip-hop band The Broken Orchestra, and TinB hail from Hull, and you can grab this radio edit of Someone Just Pressed Pause, along with a seven minute full version, on The Broken Orchestra’s Bandcamp page now.
TROPICAL BOYFRIEND CATALOGUE – Dinner Party
I’m always handing out well-deserved gold stars to artists that don’t mess about at the start of their tracks, and Tropical Boyfriend Catalogue’s Dinner Party begins with vocals and instruments the millisecond you press play, so I’m putting extra glitter and twinkly bits on this one.
I may hesitate before including a return address when I pop it in the post though. Dinner Party is about loneliness and the frustration of losing your friends after university, fantasising about killing them, and then sitting with their corpses while hosting a dinner party. We get sent songs like this all the time! The accompanying video features people getting chased across the countryside by the singer brandishing various household implements of torture and death.
The just as original and brilliantly-named Tropical Boyfriend Catalogue is Kami Ivanova (vocals) Zak Lyons (guitar, keys, mixing) and Tom Monk (bass and drums), and I think they are based in Manchester, but who knows, they may now be on the run. You can buy Dinner Party on Bandcamp now, and stream it in all the usual places.
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.