Artists at a glance
AMALIE BRYDE – Lay Down
The first review of the year for me has the accolade of instantly going straight into my ‘whistling’ playlist (yes, I have a whistling playlist. You don’t have to say it, I know…)
Lay Down is a breezy slice of Jazzy pop with a serious message at its heart. It’s Amalie’s observations about the everyday gender inequalities still faced by women in the modern world and their struggle not to just lay down, both in the sexual context and in general.
Amalie’s vocals are alluringly coy and confident. She takes charge of the song with affirmed control, requiring only the minimal instrumentation of a simple bassline and beat, some fat horns and that infectious whistle to accompany her. A delicious, seemingly simple song that reveals far more upon repeated listens.
Amalie Bryde, also known as Kool Kat is a Danish artist who decided to just up and move to London in 2018 with only her microphone and laptop for company. She’s broken through onto the music scene through her own sheer tenacity and talent.
You’ll find her on the usual social media pages.
BANJI – Listen
Banji blast in from the lowlands, sounding more Venice Beach perhaps than Scheveningen with their polished bouncy energy. Their web page (which is instantly appealing in its interactiveness) describes them as the “musical embodiment of dangling necklaces, loose fit dungarees, 8-bit arcade and ironic thrift shop finds”, which instantly makes me jealous of their unbridled youthfulness, primarily because I just look ridiculous in dungarees.
Listen instantly makes you err… listen with its Scott Pilgrim style squalling introduction and catchy hooks. This is textbook Indie Pop, the sonic equivalent of an amusement arcade packed full of the latest addictive video games, all vying for your attention. It’s loud, shiny and great fun.
This is the impressive first single from this Dutch band and hopefully is an indicator of what to expect from them in the future.
You’ll find Banji on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or send them a message on their fun Website.
BARBARA – BRB
Barbara’s claim to fame is that they’re probably the first band in the Fresh Faves to have a song inspired by an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror – BRB or Be Right Back is the tale of a woman who uploads her deceased partner’s character, based upon his social media feeds, into an android that is an exact physical replica of him
BRB is the type of mini opera beloved by those supergroups of the seventies such as ELO and 10CC, clever time changes and acrobatic harmonies dominate, with a solid ‘do do do’ chorus thrown in for good measure so we can all sing along (most of the track is too complex for my limited vocal talents). This is a staggering achievement as a first release, an extremely intelligent and involved piece of songcraft that manages to range from Vaudeville to punchy powerpop in less than four minutes, with a nod to the luscious psychedelic orchestration of the later period Beatles and Beachboys on route. It’s so well-realised in fact that I had to check some of my classic gatefold LPs to make sure I didn’t already have it, previously recorded by Graham Gouldman or the like.
Barbara consists of two brothers from Hove, Henry & John Tydeman. There’s not too much information available about them but they do have a Facebook and Twitter page. I imagine however that we’re going to learn a lot more about them soon on the back of this enchanting release.
BLEACH LAB – Old Ways
Old Ways is the second track released off of South London based Bleach Lab’s forthcoming EP, A Calm Sense of Surrounding, due out in March.
Old Ways revels in reverb drenched Marr-esque guitar lines and introspective lyrics, exploring the damage and anguish inflicted by a failed relationship. Vocalist Jenna Kyle is earnest in her delivery, her voice quivering with contained anger and disappointment. There have been obvious comparisons to Mazzy Star and the Cocteau Twins, but Bleach Lab have absorbed elements of shoegaze and dream pop along with the jangling sounds of The Smiths to produce something more delicate and melodic.
Bleach Lab have already had airplay from Steve Lamacq and Shaun Keaveny on BBC Radio 6 Music, as well as making the playlists on both Spotify and Apple Music.
DEAD ANYWAY – The Now
Dead Anyway are Kate Arnold (lyrics/vocals) and Marc Symonds (beats/instruments). Both are from Gloucestershire UK and started working together in 2019 after a chance meeting at a gig. They’ve already graced the Fresh Faves back in the autumn of 2020 and have been incredibly industrious during Lockdown, recording 5 EPs and an album over the past year, with the vocals all amazingly being recorded in one take into a mobile phone.
The Now is driven by the urgent eastern influenced guitar, drums and tabla loops with Kate’s spoken word creating an unsettling air of almost paranoid claustrophobia over the electronic soundscape beneath. It’s definitely a piece of art that has captured the inner city feel of a society struggling with the mental and social effects of the pandemic.
DEAN OWENS – New Mexico (ft Joey Burns & John Convertino)
As if it wasn’t enough of a personal treat to have Orkesta Mendoza in the Fresh Faves a couple of weeks ago, Sergio Mendes crops up again here, this time with the rest of his Calexico bandmates, intriguingly acting as the backing band for Scottish singer/songwriter Dean Owens.
The intrigue soon dissipates when you realise Dean was the recipient of the UK Song of the Year award at the 2019 AmericanFest UK awards and already has seven acclaimed albums of his unique Celtic folk brand of Americana in his back catalogue.
It turns out Owens met Calexico’s Joey Burns by chance when touring in Tucson in 2019 and this resulted in an invitation to visit and ultimately record with the Mexicali legends at the Wavelab Studios.
New Mexico is a taster of a complete album, Sinners Shrine, due out later this year and is also the lead single from the Desert Trilogy, 3 Eps available to order now via Dean’s Crowdfunder page.
New Mexico is a classic slice of Desert Noir with Calexicos trademark low slung gunslinger guitars, lonesome Mariachi Horns and Morricone sonic vistas. Dean’s vocals have a Dead Man walking hauntedness to them that fit the tone of the track perfectly, instantly transporting you to a dusty bordertown full of ghosts of the wild west.
I can’t wait for the album!
You can follow Dean via his excellent informative website and on Twitter, Instagram and Bandcamp, and also help him with his new EP release via his crowdfund page.
GU-RU – Teach Me
Time to shake off those Lockdown Blues and reach for the lasers! Gu‑Ru frontman Lee Spreadbury updates the blissful 90s Weatherall vibe of the original version of Teach Me by upping the dosage and turning it into a euphoric foaming-at-the-mouth psychedelic Techno monster.
Teach Me received the Toal Techno seal of approval this week and it’s easy to see why. The hypnotic Synth draws you in as the bass beat burbles its way up from below and commands you to move as the track locks into an insistent groove. There’s layers of cascading, shimmering synths, flute loops and vocals that build and build in urgency until it rapidly fades, leaving us wanting and hoping there’s an extended full pharmacists mix out there just waiting to drop.
Leicester based trio Gu-Ru are regular Fresh Faves with their cosmic EDM raves that encompass Disco, Prog and Acid House, injecting a sense of retro psychedelic playfulness into their music which is as instantly uplifting as it is vibrant. The band has individually and collectively worked with members of Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Pink Fairies (Twink), Alabama 3, Purson and Trembling Bells. This wealth of experience has helped to influence and shape GU-RU’s sound into the colourful ball of energy that it is.
You can find and follow Gu-Ru on Facebook and Bandcamp.
JESSICA LUISE – Nice Try
Nice try instantly evokes the classic 70s FM friendly sound of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac with its breezy melodic sound, recalling warm summers spent with friends, Beach BBQs and garden parties – remember those days??
Chiming guitars and a steady drumbeat draw us into this bittersweet song of the oh so familiar tale of relationships built upon bad choices with Jessica Luise admitting she’s still weak at the knees for her Beau, despite the fact she knows she’s going to get hurt. Hopefully for her sake she’ll make some better choices… as long as it doesn’t compromise her songwriting! This is a great slice of luscious dream pop!
Although relatively new to the music industry, Jessica has become a familiar face on her local scene in Warrington and has already received airplay from BBC introducing Merseyside and Co-Op Radio. Nice try looks like it may gain her a much wider audience.
KIT SEBASTIAN – Ennui
My personal favourite this week out of the numerous excellent tracks submitted as it instantly appealed to my lounge lizard sensibility.
Ennui is a technicolor open top road trip along the Mediterreanean riviera, courtesy of the considerable talents of Kit Martin and Merve Erdem, incorporating kaleidoscopic elements of Brazilian Tropicalia and Antolian psych alongside the 60’s soundtrack groove. Unsurprisingly, Kit Sebastian are signed to the Mr Bongo label, specialists in glorious exotic sounds from across the globe.
There’s a gorgeous melancholic vibe to Ennui, drenched in vacuum tubed reverb and jarring minor chords that give it its unique character. Merve’s dreamy vocals are reminiscent of French chanteuse idols such as Bardot and Francoise Hardy with their soft vulnerability. It may be titled Ennui, but there’s nothing to find boring or dissatisfactory about this track.
Kit Martin is a musician who lives between London and France. He has been an active musician since the age of 12 years old and, with his teenage band, released his first LP when he was just 15. Kit went on to study at the Guildhall School Of Music & Drama, composing music for films. Having spent 4-years playing with Charles Howl, Kit left to focus on his collaboration with Merve Erdem. He now produces in his analogue studio in Surrey.
Merve Erdem, born in Istanbul, studied film in Rome, lived and worked in the US and the UK. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, now based in London. Merve has worked with several film-video production companies and participated in various artistic projects in the US, UK, Italy and Turkey. She writes lyrics, sings and produces multi-media visuals for this project, formed with Kit Martin in 2018.
You can find Kit Sebastian on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.
NADEDJA – Unfold
Nadedla says Unfold “evolved during lockdown, and channels a lot of uncertainty and solitude. But a song that started from a sad beginning ended up being much brighter. Halfway through writing the lyrics, I realised that I was actually talking about resilience, and holding on to the connections you build with others. It ended up being about transformation, self-acceptance and movement.”
Our very own Neil March summed up Nadedja’s talents perfectly on his wonderful Trust the Doc show: “She has a soulful and dexterous voice and a sound that is thoroughly contemporary with programmed beats, vocal harmonies that could be The Staves, a melody that could be Solange and a folky Alt Pop sensibility that could be Arlo Parks. Mostly though, it is classy, dynamic and impressive. A real talent.”
Nadedja launched her solo UK career in 2018 having swapped her native North East Brazil for North East England. She’s already performed at Latitude festival and has recorded several live sessions for BBC Introducing. Unfold should see her becoming a regular name in the music press.
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.
Bleach Lab photo by Isy Townsend