Artists at a glance
ECKHARDT AND THE HOUSE
AKA GEORGE – I Want You
Firstly, as of July 14th, AKA George is the artist formerly known as George Barnett formerly known as AKA George-and-is-now-again George Barnett. Welcome to the Fresh Faves, George.
I Want You, written at the school of “How to write bangerz in 2020”, starts with a pumping BASS heavy minimalist intro, I genuinely expected Billie Eilish to start singing (‘tis a compliment, readers). Such is the polish and shine of this production, it would not feel out of place on any mainstream radio.
Lyrically, the song doesn’t fall too far from the adolescent tree, focused around desire, and the commitment to not thinking beyond the moment (“tomorrow means nothing to me, I just want you tonight”).
Aside from the Muppets’-style Mahna-Mahna backing vocals, this track is the absolute shit. The hook is crunchy and will remain in your head all week.
Boasting a Facebook following of over 32K, which is more than some of my favorite noughties indie bands still battling on in their old age, suggests Georgie boy is already on the way to stardom. Tabs on this guy everyone.
B-AHWE – Cruise
If you listen to Bethany Herrington aka B-ahwe enough, it’s easy to see that her vocals are the standout instrument on everything she does. Take nothing away from her accompaniment, all jazz, neo-soul and hip-hop influences flying around. A word about the backing… whoa. From the production to timbre, this track is all about balance underneath swirling top line vocals that has a distinct southern sound to it. The progression is nuanced and the band move with B-ahwe’s every inflection and jump in dynamics. They move as one, a unit. What I want to say is; a bunch of clever bastards.
Stick around for the bass coda section as it’s simply beautiful. The balance of the wavy bass and subtle string arrangement brings this cut to a close in gentle fashion. It left this writer feeling calm, reflective and wanting to hear more.
Cruise is taken from the debut EP Nuance which is out now on Bandcamp (link below) and other platforms. Buy it guys.
CALM – Something’s Changing
Stepping out from an 80s time machine are CALM (styled in caps is a really uncomfortable juxtaposition guys) with their synth infusion pop-splendorous track Something’s Changing.
Initially, the synths lead the way, even when they’re just doing counter-melody, but during the breakdown they give way to the rest of the band, who play like they’ve been waiting to get to this moment for a while. Props to managing to squeeze in a fuzz bass on a pop cut like this, you might feel it feels out of place, but I like it. It gives a much needed kick in the arse to a pop sound that is in much need of a boot to the bum. CALM manage to avoid sinking into the banal with great energy and a knack for keeping things interesting – see that breakdown and glorious coda section.
Leaves me wondering what their live game would be like.
They need more listens – do the honours below.
ECKHARDT AND THE HOUSE – We’re All Wood
I hope you’ve loosened your neck muscles before this, because you’ll be doing the pigeon head thrust all throughout We’re All Wood. Delivered by, as his label describes, “producer, singer, drummer, dramatist (I don’t know what that is) and actor (a dramatist?) Rik Elstgeest” or as we know him Eckhardt And The House.
This cut is driven by a Double-Bass line that makes you bite your bottom lip and go “Ooooooh”. The introduction of some jungle percussion only adds to the interesting timbre, and you genuinely don’t know where the track is going to go some points. It reminds me a bit of Gorillaz, if they were from the Holland.
JOE EGAN – Soft Shoe
It’s excellent to see an instrumental make it through to the Fresh Faves this week. Just another bit of evidence that you don’t need to craft a pop banger to get through to the majority.
Joe Egan is the master craftsman of this cut. Soft Shoe is his first dabble into solo life as he is usual part of hip-hop influenced jazz trio, Major Ruse. This track displays not only Egan’s ability as an guitarist but as a composer. Soft Shoe flits between transitions and melodic lines with subtle brilliance. The melody does feel as if it was born out of improvisation, and it shows with natural flow and rhythm of the track. The trumpet (wonderfully played by Hugh Pascall), which sounds almost breathy, is the perfect partner to Egan’s guitar.
Watch out for this on your next Spotify Chill to Trumpet playlist.
A little bonus for fans of this track – head over to Joe’s Facebook (link below) to see a special solo version complete with tabs!
PIMLICAN – Give Me A Sign
Well, well… a house track in the Fresh Faves. Pointy fingers in the air! This tidy radio edit of Pimlican’s Give Me A Sign (original edit over 6 minutes long), keeps the energy fresh and ensures we don’t get bored. The lush Euro-style vocals are straight out of the 90s, and are a perfect fit for a track like this.
Light glitterings of synth dotted throughout, balance well over the pure-house bassline. And the hi-hat goes round and round and round and round…
SORICAH – Back To Him
I found Back To Him a grower of a song. There is so much going on musically and lyrically, and I didn’t take it all in on my first listen. Further listens highlight the exact craft and care that has gone into this creation. A wonderful blend of cultural influences appear throughout, perhaps taken from Soricah’s exposure to a rich cultural surrounding during her upbringing – she is of Irish/Mauritian decent and has resided in Ireland, Africa, Mauritius and London.
Lyrically, there are so many great lines in this track. The main theme running through is a feeling of unrequited love or a lover taking advantage of your devotion to them – “Waiting in vain for your love, but forgiving you all the while”.
Back To Him is taken from Soricah’s new EP Let The Fire Burn Free and is out now on all platforms.
TOMMY ASHBY – Blood Wolf Moon
Indie Folk! Indie Folk! Indie Folk! Step right up! Step right up! We’ve got picky acoustic guitars, hand claps, banjos, falsetto swirling and blissful harmonies that would make your Boomer stepdad cry tears of joy. Move over Justin Vernon, Tommy Ashby has arrived. The captivating Blood Wolf Moon is his second single this year and will feature on upcoming EP Everywhere Is Home.
This cut does what indie folk does best; whisks us, albeit briefly, off to another world. The world of the songwriter and the landscapers they provide are always beautiful, fragile, vast and emotional. Lyrically, Ashby avoids falling into the murky depths of tweeness (despite the subject matter being two people falling in love), by carefully and delicately delivering key moments in the story. These moments dictate the song’s direction (“She is so shy, scared of the sunrise, only calm by noon, and he is a wallflower, scared of the fallout, of speaking too soon”) into gradual progression. Helped by the heart-beating bass-drum and playful percussion.
Ashby has collaborated with Ben Howard producer Chris Bond, so there’s a distinct sound and direction we can see Ashby possibly taking.
Denim jackets with sheep’s wool lining at the ready.
VIOLENT VICKIE – The Blame
Minimalist fuzz. Sounds like a cocktail. It’s also one way to describe The Blame by LA’s Violent Vickie. Feels like she’s trying to relinquish a shitty relationship – “I’ll take all your pain” and “I’ll take all the blame” – over a dirty drum machine and sludgy bass synth. So much sludge. So much synth – the synth is constantly at the forefront and balances really well with VV’s harmonised vocals. To me, it sounds like The Cardigans at their peak (that’s another compliment, readers).
The addition of distant, distorted guitar adds to the wall of noise and gives the track gravitas, before VV shouts the main lines again and you begin to feel that pain/blame. Emotion rides hide and climatizes with the synths losing their shit in glorious fashion.
Pre-order LP Division on her Bandcamp – The Blame is the third single taken from this record.
WALKEN400 – Crazy Times
The contrasting clash of the bassline and the melody will either drive you mad or, like me, you’ll love for emphasizing the delicate delivery, nature of the vocals and subject matter. I’m reminded of Moby in his prime years, with music that captivated our gentler side.
I can’t figure out if Walken400 is using the term ‘crazy’ as a way to describe current events or defining our mental state. ‘Crazy’ has slowly begun to fall out of use as sensitivity to those with mental health problems has grown. Maybe it’s a bit of both? Either way, it’s great and refreshing to see an artist commenting on the issue of mental health and how prevalent it is for all of us. We take the good with the bad, and still we plough on. Crazy Times is a wonderful reminder that we should all try to be present, taking stock of yourself and your control (or lack of) over that situation. Absolutely inspiring.
Less inspiring is the social media presence, or is that the point?!
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.