Fresh Faves: Batch 375

Dakar Audio Club playing live

Artists at a glance

DAKAR AUDIO CLUB
ELLIE DIXON
HYBRID KID
JOSHUA BURNSIDE
MAIGRET JNR
ROE
STANLEY ODD
TOM HOUSTON
TROPICAL BOYFRIEND CATALOGUE
YSTYR

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

DAKAR AUDIO CLUB – Dancing The Moonlight

This feels like happiness, this feels like escapism, this feels like just the tonic.

In a world full of grimness we need the sunshine bringers, we need to hold them close and use them in moments of worry and moments when we think humans could do better, Dakar Audio Club are just one of those to let the light in.

This is their own blend of Afro-beat that this seven-piece call Afro Fusion, with members coming from afar afield as the UK, Senegal, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Ireland. I bet that makes the challenge of getting everyone in the same room for a rehearsal interesting to say the least!

I don’t need to know what the song is about for it to move me – melody, groove and feeling are always big draws for me. With mentions in the lyrics of Dancing The Moonlight, Once In A Lifetime, Back To The Future, Kayne, traffic jams and frying pans, I can’t quite place what the song is about, other than the simple pleasure of dancing in the moonlight of course – and does it need to be about something more? No, of course it doesn’t! It’s brilliantly played joy for radio, for stereograms and the internet and at times like the ones we live in we need Dakar Audio Club in our lives more than ever.

Did you get an inkling from my words? Yep, I love this song.

Dancing The Moonlight is the first single from Dakar Audio Club’s upcoming second album, B+W, which is produced by Mark Tucker. The musicianship and production on this song are plenty strong, beefy and full of nourishment. Normally I’d say go and watch one of their shows, but that was a BC thing so just go find them out and bring Dakar Audio Club into your life.

Dancing The Moonlight is out now.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

ELLIE DIXON – Space Out

Oh kiss my cosmic teflon glove! This is all shades of wonderful!

This stands out not just for its astral paradise vibe, but for the excellent musicianship and deft vocal talents on show. ‘ow kid Russ Jeanes picked this as his fave before I had a chance to grab it, the blighter 😉 Man has good taste I tell thee.

That bass sound in the intro, with the minimal percussion shows straight away that Ellie Dixon has a very deft ability around a groove from the very off. I confess the said intro to Space Out! had me doing all kinds of space age DEFCON 1 dance moves from the kitchen area to the living room (a small section of travel corridor for people without horizons, but with amazing dance ability). 

The music choices Ellie makes are excellent and shouts large that everything you find here is indeed ‘stellar and good in her head’. Ellie is an amazingly talented lady, this track was self-produced during lockdown, and is an excellent example of using an active imagination for good.  When our brains are overrun with constant negative noise, this track proves how someone can overcome the static and let the light in.

Ellie is from Cambridge and she is an award winning independent artist who has been making music since she was 15 and Space Out! does feel like what the American’s call a breakout pop moment, I like how Ellie comes from the leftfield with her surprisingly lovely musical moves, sure there’s a good splash of humour here, but it’s backed with an excellent range of vocal chops and musicianship that many a mainstream artist would be proud of. 

Ellie has been supported by BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Look East, ITV News and Glamour Magazine’s YouTube channel and thanks to your votes dear readers/listeners we can add Fresh On The Net to that list. Continued luck on the journey Ellie – it’s reaching!

I’m not sure if Space Out! is available to purchase yet but it’s on Spotify.

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HYBRID KID – Dropped

Ooh great guitar shapes. Hybrid Kid are an indie-rock guitar from Brighton and Dropped is from their latest album The Minor Escapes.

I’ll confess that I don’t head for indie rock sounds straight away these days, as I’ve eaten so much of it in my time, and I have been a bit full. Dropped, however, is a canny little song, the guitars, bass and drums are all played great and are arranged in good slots, the vocals are very much on point, and it feels like this is the best I’ve heard from the band yet. And damn! They are just a three-piece delivering such a big sound. 

After two plays I find my toes are tapping to this song, after three listens my whole feet seem to want to move, God knows what is going to happen eight plays in. That is a great guitar lick BTW.

Echoes of Blur / Graham Coxon, Nirvana and even moments of The Kinks, all old reference points, but no less true, and Hybrid Kid have found a way to create a lane all their own.

I bet they kick up a right dust when playing live. 

Isn’t a strange time for the live music scene? Gone overnight and likely one of the last things to come back, I really feel for musicians, bands, technicians, producers, presenters and promoters — so many of my friends lost everything, more or less overnight. We hear this a lot, and I agree with the sentiment of – we need to be kind and support our independent artists. 

I put it in a tweet recently: “The people who create quality songs are craftswomen and craftsmen for our emotions – I think we should cherish them as much as we do other wonderful craftspeople, because if we don’t they just might not be there in the future.”

Well-played Hybrid Kid, your style isn’t my go-to sound, but it is for so many people, and your song won me over. Plus, you did brilliantly (as have all the artists on this list), our lovely team of moderators started by listening to nearly 200 tracks this week and got it down to 25 songs on the listening post and then it’s up to the public, and the public are very much with you Hybrid Kid and voted you into the top 10 of the Fresh Faves, so blooming well done all round.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

JOSHUA BURNSIDE – And You Evade Him/Born In The Blood

This proved very popular on the Listening Post.

Kicking off with an ambient throb and scattered spoken voices (possibly including Albert Finney?) before dropping in with an electric storm to usher in the vocal kicks. This is ambient pagan folk, wildly original and strongly addictive. Overdriven drums and string instruments bash out a mildly disconcerting soundtrack, where parts feel like they are being played backwards and it rolls into the outro with an acoustic vibe of the piece scaled down. Madly dynamic, with excellent use of effects and good production.

I don’t know if it’s the meds I’m taking for a back problem, or listening to this track, but something has spaced the blinking hell out of my brain, I think I should really blame Joshua Burnside. Watching Joshua in a live setting must be a head-blowing experience if this song is anything to go by. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere You Evade Him/Born In The Blood is another powerful piece of original music, brooding, trippy and mysterious. If this is a state of musical intent it’s a very strong one. 

Joshua is based in Belfast and this song has picked up strong support from Phil Taggart on BBC Radio 1, John Barker on Totally Irish 98FM, Clash Magazine, Nialler9, Hot Press Magazine, Folk Radio, GoldenPlec.com, and Music News.

Joshua is also very good at creating more acoustic themed pieces that come across very well – like Sufjan Stevens doing traditional Irish folk, double prizes! Things look to be going well, you know – as good as can be expected coming out of lockdown.

Luck be with you Joshua.

Joshua’s And You Evade Him / Born in the Blood is included on his latest album – Into the Depths of Hell.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

MAIGRET JNR – Losing North

This was on my original shortlist when moderating and listening afresh (post-Listening Post) I can see why you lovely lot out there voted it into the Fresh Faves.
 
Fellow moderator Andy Page described it extremely well when he said “Maigret Jnr gives us glorious Karl Blau / Scott Walkeresque vocals over an almost deep-vibe like beat”, I’ll get my coat then.

For me it’s that voice that wins the day, deep, passionate, almost nordic and it draws you in like a killer whale beckoning you to come and tickle its mouth. There is a real strength here to mix powerful music that is skilfully underplayed alongside that big voice, I salute you. I love the beard action too.

This song feels to me like the story of an out-of-work serial killer who is laid low due to the global pandemic and wants out. By chance he befriends a sarcastic monkey who passes his bedroom window one day, having just escaped the circus, and who himself is looking for a new adventure.

The serial killer, once bitter and twisted, finds himself softening over time as the sarcastic monkey becomes his friend and tells him really bad jokes and shows him magic tricks and general performance skills (you know – voice projection, remembering to smile at key moments, a funny walk, that sort of thing) as they together drink a really strong looking spirit drink, but it’s actually cold tea.

This will all be made as a film – the softening of the serial killer scenes are probably played out on the end of a jetty, with a still water beyond the jetty, and the softening of the serial killer is played out in close-up as his face gradually moves from hardened and ugly, to relaxed and dare I say it – joyful.

There are cutaways to the pair of them sitting on the jetty and gently dipping their feet in the still water and some shots of them doing some basic funny dance steps whilst they chuckle, as Losing North mildly throbs in the background. 

There is also a great scene where the serial killer visits friends in the serial killer club as part of his social bubble post lockdown, he drinks some more disguised as whiskey cold tea with them (at a socially accepted distance) before shocking them with his decision that he is getting out of the serial killer game and going to be starting a new socially sustainable petting zoo with his new partner the sarcastic monkey. 

There’ll probably be a number of hard zoom shots into the absolutely shocked faces of the other serial killers, as they come to terms with his decision to leave the club (also, the treasurer asks if he can bring his subs up to date before leaving) . The film will take the original Karate Kid movie as inspiration but this’ll be more for grown ups and uncertain primates, you know – edgy but not too graphic.

As the beauty and intensity of Losing North plays out, the serial killer leaves the club, jumps onto a really big motorbike (you know – Hells Angels style but family friendly), gives a knowing look to the sarcastic monkey who is on the back and they both head off into the sunset to amazing synthy music made by Maigret Jnr, who compose the whole soundtrack.

That’s a wrap.

Check out Malgret Jnr’s releases over on their Bandcamp page.

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ROE – Marco

Roe describes herself as a 20-year-old multi-instrumentalist grump. To someone with a habit of lows and listening to Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens in the wee small hours, I’d definitely say that grumpiness doesn’t infuse her music negatively, rather it seems to power her on to making excellent songs. Grumpy or not, Roe is very talented, and listening to Marco is a pleasure for my happiness senses.

I’m loving the dark indie pop, I like its wobbling bits, and the guitar lead groove. Roe’s voice is a joy too and provides surprising shades of goodness as the song progresses. Marco is a really well-written song, “On the sidelines, nothing ever changes” and “I’m addicted to disappointment” are great lines. I tell you what though Roe, that Marco bloke isn’t good enough for you, and you are better off without him.

Keep plugging away at your music Roe, it makes a lot of people happy, including me and a good percentage of the public who voted you into the Faves.

Roe’s new EP, Things We Don’t Talk About, will be released on 21st August on the Fictive Kin label.

She has performed on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glasto, been recommended and featured by Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, been the voice of a UK-wide advertising campaign for Derry, and had her music placed on BBC Music NI, ITV’s The Only Way is Essex, Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea and Netflix’s Terrace House. Go Girl! 20 years old! Amazing talent. She also was awarded Best Emerging Artist at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2019, makes total sense to me.

I see Roe as a great example of a great young female music artist, I think Roe will inspire kids to be songwriters and musical peers to up their game and Marco is a great tune, the first of many moments Roe will have. 

You can find her wares on her website.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

STANLEY ODD – FUWSH

This is punky, clever and tooth filling removal-level hip hop from Scotland. Stanley Odd are a six-piece with a killer sound, killer grooves and a deft ability with words. To me Fuwsh sounds wonderfully strong, it sounds brilliant and inventive, it sounds fresh, it sounds banging, and I can hear when listening to the band’s songs how their collective all have a role to play in bringing forth something special. 

They were formed in 2009 and have supported the likes of Arrested Development and have a fine stack of releases to their name. How on earth have I not heard of them before? Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who voted the track into the Fresh Faves, music like this makes my life a bowl of cherries, OK – a bowl of fig rolls. 

Fuwsh is earthy and real, splashed with insightful social content and talks about what Stanley Odd are all about, this is spitting of the highest calibre,  backed by brooding beat and bass, with a great sung vocal refrain. I even love the squeaky gate noise on the track as it makes me keep taking off my headphones thinking the dog is making a funny noise (four times!!).

I’d love to see them in a documentary charting the rise of Scottish hip-hop.

The band’s biog is such a joy to read, I had to share it: “Music for people that get tongue-tied talking to girls; clumsy people that dance awkwardly in their bedrooms; people that are generally uncomfortable in social situations; those for whom fashion-sense is an oxymoron; avid readers of science fiction and comic books; girls who drink tonic wine; anyone who prefers literary figures to viewing figures; disciples and architects of counter-culture. Stay Odd.”

Their Soundcloud page is choc-full of great tracks, you’ve got a new follower here. I’d love to see them playing live, keep an eye on their website for new dates when the virus lifts. 

You can find their albums and merch on their website.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

TOM HOUSTON – I Am The River #33

Oh hello there! This opens like Chris Isaac having a gentle feather dual with Van Morrison, and then fills me with inner joy because Tom Houston is a Scottish singer, putting me in mind of the excellent Blue Rose Code.

I say these things not because they are lazy journalistic ploys, to compare them to other artists for the sake of it. No, it’s because I hear things (many things) that I love about what they are doing, so to me it is a compliment. As a recording artist myself I baulked at the idea of comparisons for years, but I’ve come to realise it’s what most people do, and they do it not to say you are a copy but more to say they like it. It’s all shades of beautiful, it’s a song that could soothe any weary heart at one metres plus and beyond.

Tom has had quite a journey, which he talks of on his website.

There’s a lovely tone to Tom’s voice, songs of this quality will always have a space reserved in my heart, soothing, melodic and moving.  The instrumentation is strong, the piano and cello gorgeous and alongside Tom’s singing, the backing vocals are the gatekeepers to my heart.

If I close my eyes I can transport myself anywhere listening to this, a beautiful deserted beach (not Bournemouth obvs), a quiet field, a tree house of the imagination, sitting beside a lovely river or by a viaduct with views of an amazing county. 

Behind my deeply hard man exterior I am a soft lad who longs to play a game of writing invisible numbers or letters on your loved ones back using nothing but a long piece of grass, for them to guess what you’ve written. That’s the power of a song, the emotional connection it brings, it takes you on a journey, I will be searching out more songs from Mr Tom Houston, thank you Tom for bringing the good into my evening. 

Tom’s fourth solo album Gap In The Fence is available now and includes contributions from Neill MacColl (who also produces the album), Kate St John, Me for Queen, Ben Nicholls, Cathryn and Lucie Robson, and Mattie Foulds.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

TROPICAL BOYFRIEND CATALOGUE – Holding On

Well kiss my cheeks and call me Malcolm! This is rather lovely and breezy, and a fine follow up to Tom Houston’s track above. Tropical Boyfriend Catalogue are a London based four piece, namely Kami Ivanova – vocals, guitar, Zak Lyons – guitar, keys, Adam Thomas – bass and Craig Medlin – guitar.

They appeared in the Fresh Faves in April this year with Dinner Party, which included the line “I killed my friends and now I don’t get lonely, buried their bodies and bought a pack of gum”. I only hope they have other friends (but not that they kill them too of course). 

This is a track to roll down a hill to, it’s a track to jump in puddles to, it’s a track to make you feel pretty good about life.  If Kami can hold on I’m sure all of us can too (Kami hangs on with style throughout this video).  And in a surprising move no friends are killed on this track – result! 

Tropical Boyfriend Catalogue have the flavour of artists who sound like they might have been a little influenced by Afro-beat, Vampire Weekend, jazz and soul, possibly Rozi Plain – all strong styles and artists. Whatever brought them here, I really think they have a great sound and a lovely vibe about them and they have marked out their own lane.

I think they would go down at the IndieTracks festival, well that is if festivals are allowed to come back some time 🙁

They are blooming good musicians all of them and produce a very fine noise, it feels like they are 3 minutes away from their next break. I like their spirit, their humour, and their musicianship. 

They certainly have been busy – four singles and EP have been released by them in 2020

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

YSTYR – Y Clô (The Lock)

Ystyr bring Welsh Beats, Music and Poetry and Y Clô is a lovely explosion of sound sung in Welsh.

There is a great driving groove to Y Clô with a rhythmic patter of blissful vocal aerobics dancing in between the driving bass and drums and beautiful wandering guitar, and those vocal Oohs do things to my sensitive bits in a new and exciting way. I love Welsh music, thanks in recent times to the excellent DJ Adam Walton, Sweet Baboo, Gruff Rhys (both of whom I absolutely adore), Carwyn Ellis, and many more

I remember Ystyr’s recent song Disgwyl am yr Haf, which was a real corker. I never feel songs sung in other languages are lesser because I don’t understand them personally, never being one with an insistence on the use of English, that’s just stupid in my book. Songs in an artist’s mother tongue lends a certain mystique and mystery to them and I use my imagination to think what they might be singing about. This following interpretation is proof why English people should keep away from things they don’t understand.

In my head Ystyr sing about the terrible storm that happened last night and how a great many brave men and women toiled through the night to save a beautiful fisherman’s ship that had hit the rocks after being beckoned to the shore by a mysterious call of a sea siren. 

The ship held within in its hold enough bounty from the sea to see the families of the village through until next spring, so the fishing trip that it was returning from was a vital one for the local village. The video version shows not only the wreck and the rescue attempt, but slowly pans to each villager singing to camera about the struggle and effort needed to save the ship and the men onboard. Each section of the song see’s more villagers singing the lines until there is a mass crescendo of faces and voices, until the struggle and pain is lifted by the ‘oohs’ of 1 min 39 seconds, which are sung by a mysterious friendly sea creature, who with massive tentacles lifts the boat clear from the rocks and onto dry land. The villagers then repeat the rhythmic vocal patter, but this time with faces full of relief, joy and extreme levels of happiness, and at the end they dance with the mysterious friendly sea creature and all have massive lovely orgasms together.

Another version I like to envisage is one of lockdown, of a slight feeling of edginess and separation that is greatly helped by the sweet joy of making music to lessen feelings of worry and stress and escape the noise of the day but my book editor didn’t think that was exciting enough.

This is the kind of indie music I really like, melodic, rhythmic, with wonderful vocals, excellently recorded and even faint echoes of the best of Bon Iver in parts. Actually, every song on their Soundcloud is a lovely piece of work. 

I really rate Ystyr and you gave them a rip roaring level of support with your votes on the Listening Post.

Fellow mod Tobi summed it up very well when he left a comment when he voted for the song: ”Fiercely percussive throughout; the track shuffling & hustling about like records skipping across a lake of sound. Electric-six-strings dive in sequence as riffs twitch and twinkle in ambient and delay. Kick & snare working in tight bursts of rhythm, coxing & teasing the song onwards. Vocals running in beats, lyrical ricochets, jabbing & punching in Gaelic tones. Highly enjoyable and compelling from start to finish. Great work!”

You can find Ystyr’s singles over on Bandcamp.

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So there we go then, that’s us closing up shop for the summer until our inbox reopens on Monday 7th September. Have the best summer you can everyone.

ROE

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.

Roe photo by Ciara McMullan Photography

Johnno Casson

Johnno Casson is a London-born/Colchester-based singer, musician, songwriter and show-off. He also compiles and releases compilations and is a serial supporter of new music. Johnno releases his own music as Snippet ,Old Tramp and also under his own name Johnno Casson.. As far as we know he was the most-played artist ever on Tom's legendary late night Fresh On The Net radio shows on 6 Music - having been featured no less than 18 times and appearing as an interview guest. You can also find Johnno on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube...

13 Comments

  1. Louise Toal

    Great reviews to a Great 10 faves. Roll on September 😃
    Happy Summer break everyone x

  2. Great work! I love all the tracks, my favourite has to be Tom Houston, and and Ellie Dixon is my one to watch. Well done everyone! Can’t wait to see what fire comes in September!

  3. Andy Page

    Superb write up Johnno – you really explore the intricacies of each song in great detail. And who can resist ‘opens like Chris Isaac having a gentle feather dual with Van Morrison’ 🙂
    Have a great summer everyone, let’s do this again soon…

  4. Fantastic reviews Johnno. You really are the master of entertaining, well researched and humorous reviews. A great high note for us to go into the summer break on. 🙂

  5. What a blast reading these reviews. I’ve avoided medication for back problems for years (I can recommend very painful Thai Massage or gentle Cranial work), but those meds you have taken Johnno….give me the recipe!. Honoured to be mixing it with the other folks here, May your ‘staycation’ sandcastles be not too moist and not too dry. And then this music business..what will will all do as it half unravels, half comes back together. I may run away with a gang of mystical monkeys rather than get gobbled up by the big organic algorithim in the sky.

  6. Me G

    Nice reviews Johnno, Have a great summer all

  7. Thanks for the kind (and funny) comments everyone, it was fun to do the reviews.
    It was a joint effort by the mods and most importantly a great list of artists.

    Best wishes to all

    J
    x

  8. Great reviews! Loads of detail in the research that was really a pleasure to read!

  9. Mark Toal

    Great reviews Johnny, I particularly loved the elegant Maigret Jnr review, a track that really struck a chord with me. Have a great break everybody, and stay safe.

    Mark x

  10. Mark Toal

    *Johnno, flipping autocorrect!

  11. Cheers Tobi and Mark, I put a lot of effort in for what was a lovely variety of tunes.
    Though I did get fatigued and run out of road just a tad, but I like to think I gave all artists something useful and it was written with genuine affection for they had created.

    The Maigret Jnr track is great, I can really hear it being in a dark Skandi Noir drama series or something like Hanna or Ozarks type of show.

  12. I aspire to write reviews as interesting and entertaining as Johnno, he has the ability to make me smile, ponder, laugh out loud, of course you will need 10 awesome faves to conjure up the very best insights and that’s exactly what you have here.

  13. Thank you Marina, you are very kind.

    I had a strong (variety) of songs and also…..you write great reviews yourself that I (and many others) thoroughly enjoy

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