Fresh Faves: Batch 367

SAER

Artists at a glance

AL MITCHELL & THE NEW BORN SINNERS
DAYLA
DECO
DIGITAL RESISTANCE
GALILEO'S FAN
JEREMY TUPLIN
KILLDREN
SAER
SIMMERDOWN
THIS ELEGANT GULL

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.

So here we are again. Following another outstanding haul of tracks at the Listening Post and in the week when a certain Mr Robinson turns 70 years young, we present our own ‘Will of the people’ based on your votes. Electronic ones, not postal. Ten top tracks and the good news is you won’t need to drive 260 miles across country to hear them. Nor will you need an impromptu eye test to read them!

AL MITCHELL & THE NEW BORN SINNERS – Rubber For Cars

Al Mitchell has quite a career behind him, having been the creative driving force behind the likes of Baby Goliath and Somnians. According to his Facebook page he ‘singlehandedly’ built an underground scene in his native Hastings. Now active with a new project The New Born Sinners, he is bringing together influences from past and present, citing a combination of “…dirty guitars with beautiful synthesisers and a passion for live drum sounds”.

Rubber For Cars has a buoyant feel that brings to mind Beck, a sprinkling of Justice and (musical) screenplay by a socially distancing Field Music. The octave-apart vocals enhance an agreeable melody. Synths dominate the accompaniment, boosted by a resonant snare drum and subtle keyboard counter-melodies. It sounds like the dirty guitars were given the day off but there is more than enough going on in the mix to keep it interesting. Accordingly the production is clean enough to trump any thoughts of Dettol injection. Music that makes me feel good inside.

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

DAYLA – Lighthouse

Dayla hails from Hackney in East London and has been proactive about getting her music out to supportive radio shows including the likes of Amazing Radio and bagging write-ups and interviews too. She has also been helping raise funds for food banks through donating royalties from sales, consistent with an ethos based on strong principles. Her Twitter feed definitely won’t ingratiate her with certain men in white houses!

Lighthouse is laidback and ethereal, a quiet beat mixing it with enigmatic synth chords and sounds that drift in and out of focus. Vocally it sits part of the time in an earthier lower (alto) register that is very clear, broadly in Julia Holter or Lana Del Rey territory before rising up into a striking soprano range that strangely reminds me a little of Ariana Grande in a jam with Angel Olsen. Expressive, enigmatic and engaging throughout.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

DECO – Real Life

London duo Deco have been around since 2014 and say their music traverses “… the line between timeless 80s synth-pop and contemporary discernment”. There is a pic on their Facebook page which, if it is the audience at one of their own shows, is pretty impressive. Their pre-lockdown live itinerary certainly demonstrates that they were getting around the entire UK as far as Aberdeen in the far North East of Scotland and no doubt will be again.

Real Life is an upbeat, synth-driven pop anthem that has the word ‘epic’ stamped in big letters on the tin. It roars out of the speakers with more front wheel drive than a Durham-bound dadmobile. The melody is major key and catchy, male vocals punching out the hook while synths shimmer and echo in the enormous production space. A proper party choon.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

DIGITAL RESISTANCE – Oligarchical Collectivism

Digital Resistance are a band from Cardiff formed by leftwing academics as a platform for a wide-ranging sociopolitical agenda. They are, however, keen to point out that the seriousness of the issues they address does not prevent them having a great laugh too. Identities appear to be a closely guarded secret and it is hard to tell whether they have gigged before or not.

Oligarchical Collectivism is spoken word set against an electro-rock backdrop of dance-oriented beat, fuzzy quasi-Metal guitar riff and electronic outer shell. No casual car cruise to the castle required when you have a fortress of sound this mighty. There is a chaotic solo in the middle of it all that is more manic than crotch-thrusting (obviously).

The little changes that occur as the track develops hold the interest and there is an energy and intensity that never lets up. Everything about it works. The production is bang on for the track and, as the vocal suddenly turns frantic in the dying stages, so the beat stops and the guitar sags, echoing into the (social) distance. A great end to a fine track.

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

GALILEO’S FAN – In Truth

I had to go searching for social media and other links since there are currently none on the Soundcloud page. In so doing I discovered Galileo’s Fan are a duo from the Scottish Highlands who describe their music as Indie/Pop while their accompanying blurb points to a “… full-bodied Indie-band sound that incorporates subtle electronic themes and textures. Owed to their Highland roots, writers and siblings, Martin and Fi Vass compose anthemic melodies that are undoubtedly of the north”. Their events list shows they were gigging around the Nairn area prior to lockdown.

In Truth, a title to bring some politicians out in a cold sweat, is a slow-burning piece that begins softly with a floating feeling, sustained synth tones supporting the weight of Fi Vass’s striking, warm alto voice. As the beat comes and goes, we get resonant guitar figures, more sustained and echoing synths and a Folk-tinged song that adds harmonies to a quite lovely melody. References are hard to pinpoint but there are hints of Cat Power, Andrea Corr, maybe Regina Spektor too. Lovingly crafted Folk Pop.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

JEREMY TUPLIN – Space Magic

Hailing from Wanstrow in Somerset (in the English West Country for those who may not know), Jeremy Tuplin appears to be quite the snappy dresser. Now based in London his blurb tells us that his style mixes Indie, Indie-Pop, Alt-Folk and Space Folk. So a composite might be slightly trippy Indie Folk. I can’t find any details of live shows so I am not sure whether that is something he plans to address further down the track.

Space Magic is mid-tempo and indeed does have elements of Indie and Folk with pleasant tinges of The Divine Comedy and Gary Clark mixing it with Margaret Glaspy and Laura Marling. Strummed guitar in an ascending figure sets the scene, trippy synths catapult into the mix in the middle of it all while Jeremy’s voice has a slight aura of China Crisis’s Gary Daly tone-wise although the style is not similar. It is an appealing voice too, laced with a spoonful or two of melancholy for good measure. With songwriting skill as effortless as this he won’t need a 30 mile drive to road test it. A song you can stay home and enjoy on a pleasant late Spring evening.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

KILLDREN – Expect A Crimewave

Killdren call themselves “… a two-bit rave punk band who pen politically charged slapstick anthems”. With an album entitled Dismembers of Parliament, their humour is clear to see. A glance at their website reveals an astonishing live work ethic prior to lockdown with more gigs than a President can shake a signed statute at not just in the UK but across Europe too.

Expect A Crimewave is satirical shouty and energetic, with alternating female and male vocals that have hints of early Chumbawamba (if, like me, you’re old enough to remember Revolution getting played on the Peel Show!). The ethic and attitude are explicitly Punk-influenced but the backdrop is actually quite electronic with wonky sounds that spin like musical coils over a solid beat. If Crass had been a post-digital electronic act, this might have been what they would have sounded like! Only maybe not as much fun as Killdren.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

SAER – Start A Fire

SAER is a writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham with an extraordinary vocal range that houses a strong and haunting falsetto. Influences include classic songwriters like Nick Drake and Tim Buckley as well as more contemporary ones like Imogen Heap. And since he does it all himself — label, management, PR etc — he won’t need a contract tracing app (owch)! Click play and enjoy.

Start A Fire keeps things very minimal, just a series of long but interesting piano chords for background to a single-tracked and loudly produced vocal that is spine-tinglingly dynamic and full of expression. His voice is unique, immediate and impossible to ignore and when he rises into his falsetto range it is shuddering at times. You need serious self-confidence to put a track out with just your voice (not even multi-tracked) and some piano chords. What a talent he is.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

SIMMERDOWN – Rose-tinted

The name Simmerdown might suggest Reggae but actually she is a Cornwall-based producer who describes herself as “influenced by Hip Hop” although that is not really in evidence on Rose-Tinted. She has a good few releases already available via Bandcamp and her most recent Instagram post depicts a laptop on what looks like a sofa and it appears to be running some form of recording software. So hopefully she is making productive (no pun intended, owch!) use of her time in lockdown.

The title Rose-Tinted could describe any number of scenarios from gilded memories of days gone by to selective versions of long road trips and excursions to castles. Only she will know which! The track builds in layers, sometimes breaking down to allow single repetitive sounds to dominate. The beat is actually more Fatboy Slim than P Diddy and the long enigmatic synth chords that sweep across the mix remind me a little of Floating Points. It is the kind of warm, fluid electronica that Mary Anne Hobbs grabs every opportunity to include in her radio shows. Inventive and enjoyable.

Instagram | Bandcamp

THIS ELEGANT GULL – The Raven’s Come

Despite there being no links on their Soundcloud page, DD Shine’s daughter and dad duo are well known to regular readers who have repeatedly voted them into the faves. Hailing from Kent, This Elegant Gull have also appeared several times on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape, often delivering remarkably mature statements on the environment and social media world despite DD still only being 12 years old. These two certainly know whether they are Cummings or going!

The Raven’s Come represents a departure from recent tracks which have been uptempo quirky Alt Pop. This is more laid back, synth dominated electronic pop with a striking unusual melody and subtle harmonies. It also demonstrates how DD’s voice continues to mature, her dynamic and tonal range in full force over evocative keys and translucent soundscape. Another example of intelligent songwriting and production.

Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

And that’s all folks. Just time to say Happy 70th birthday Tom. Till next time x

This Elegant Gull

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.

15 Comments

  1. Louise Toal

    Nice job Neil!! 😊 x

  2. Thanks Louise x

  3. Thank you for your hard work in writing such eloquent reviews to us and all the bands this week :-)
    It’s lovely to see the essence of our song captured so well :-)

  4. Thank you for such kind words. It’s an honour to be allowed to review such great music on this amazing platform and on Tom’s birthday too. :)

  5. Loved reading this, some awesome tunes as well, great review Neil!

  6. Very nicely done, Neil! So lovely insight into the composition/arrangements – very enjoyable to read.

  7. Thanks Sofia and Tobi for your kind words. It was a lovely set of tracks to review. :)

  8. Anna

    All great but that SAER one is unbelievable. His voice is stunning. Sounds like something you’d hear scoring a film or dramatic series.

  9. I agree with both statements Anna. All great and SAER is a real talent. It was a very enjoyable ten tracks to review this week. :)

  10. Davey

    Jeremy Tuplin. Great pick!

  11. One of ten great ‘picks’ all of whom were chosen democratically by our discerning Listening Post readers.

  12. Sue

    Fab reviews as always Neil! :)

  13. Thanks Sue. Very kind x

  14. Cannot thank you enough for this review, the platform and the time you give to new music. Made my day to be part of such a great bunch of tracks. Take care. Simon (SAER)

  15. You’re very welcome Simon. Thanks for your kind words. :)

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