Artists at a glance
AVA DE BARA
Welcome back to another week of fabulous new music poured into a sparkling glass of the best bubbles your money can buy. Cover your bed in rose petals, invest in an M&S “Love Sausage” — it will be 50% off today now after all — lubricate your listening flaps, and enjoy this week’s top ten. It’s as they say, a right doozy.
ALEXANDER TELLER – Ultramodern
Set down to a subtle, delicate production with piano, toms and guitar, which whispers in an electric sensual undercurrent, over which we hear the lovely voice of Alexander Teller, our romeo of this piece, singing in his warm timbrous tones. It’s a voice I admire, solid as an oak-made ship, and it carries his lyrics across the band’s soundscape in a sure fashion. The words drawn out slowly as poison, critique our “Ultramodern” society and as the YouTube video mentions:
“Are you eclipsed by hulking prowess of internet personalities?”
“Perhaps you are emasculated by follower counts of your contemporaries?”
All in all a very delicious tune with a savvy grip on the zeitgeist of today’s social media world, a world currently being paralleled and torn to shreds on screens in your laps and hands on a daily basis. The point of this song firmly encapsulates this ideal and what’s more sets us down at the end with a reminder, really, that it is all anxiety-driven, online and not real in the first place. Armed with that knowledge, we can continue safely in our journey across the universe. Thanks Alexander Teller.
AVA DE BARA – Fame
I love this artist’s name, sounding Euro-trash, faux aristocratic whilst conjuring up images of masquerade balls and nipples covered in hot wax. Rawwwrrrr. Which is how this track makes me feel as she implores “You’re my ship on the deep dark ocean” or in the refrain “I love you fame, I love you in the moonshine. I love you fame, I love you day and night time. Giving me the sunrise”. Fame, a capricious beast at the best of times and represented here as some kind of Greek Minotaur. Willing artists into a battle where they inevitably get lost and killed in the labyrinth of fame’s design. Fame, a drug you want to get hooked upon, a lover you always want to conquer. Set to a backdrop of dramatic strings, electricity and bass with subtle drops punctuating a very lovely song. Ava De Bara is signed to TCBYML and they have a good stable of fellow artists worth checking out. Fame is Ava’s new single so we expect some great things to happen from here. Keeping tabs for sure…
BROKEN BEAR – Bleach It
This track begins in sinister fashion with a hard throbbing power chord breakdown set to the words “I found my beast, in the middle of a war. Smashed through the ceiling, which was also a floor”. I mean, come, on. This is the first 30 seconds or so and we are contemplating where heaven and hell lies, who we are as beings, the purpose of dark and light, the inner conflicts of our souls. Heady stuff by this glorious two piece from Epsom who cite their influence John Lennon on their page thus: “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives”. Broken Bear also mention Jimi Hendrix, White Stripes and Raconteurs as influences which all seep through upon several listens to what is rage-filled and powerful without sounding angry at any point. In itself that takes talent and eloquence. Job done.
BUTTERJUNK – Little Alien
A track called Aliens with artwork depicting an alien crash landing, lizards and wee green men sat atop someone’s head could have some running for the hills. Not me! Hahahaha. I am already building a base on the moon and inviting Butterjunk to do the first gig up there, no need to be covid-free when the only atmosphere is the ambient dreamscapes created by this otherworldly bunch. Elements of shoe gaze, trip-out indie and alt pop spring to mind, and they describe themselves as ethereal and on a road trip with no destination. This band from Newcastle will be a great act to go see live. This stuff needs to rip over waves of spangling bobbing revellers. In the meantime, it will be just me in my living room. But am sure once you revisit this and turn it up you will agree.
EMERGER – Round We Go
Set in a perfect biosphere of 3 min 24 secs, nothing feels wasted here. I adore Emma de Goethe’s voice; her vocals fall like warm rain the moment just before your instinct tells you where to look and find a rainbow. There is a beautiful magic at play when the planets align and you get caught in up in higher powers beyond your control. Round We Go by Emerger does that, then explains why “looking for an afterglow, beyond the unknown. This is what it feels like, losing control when I am locked inside my mind. Round and round we go”. This kind of music and honest-to-goodness quality is what makes you smile at strangers and appreciate just how green the grass looks on a warm day in Spring. Nice one for voting this onto our top ten folks.
GRICE – The Cage (Birdcage Mix)
We leap straight into the loving lap of wondrous harmonious voices that is GRICE. Deliciously done and instantly winding us around their fingers we are drawn into their evocative world where, in just 20 seconds, we are treated to a pleasantly and surprising Beatlesesque breakdown. I clicked repeat on this part multiple times and enjoyed it more each time, because they introduce an electro violin being picked and plucked better than a Sunday chicken. It sets up the loving refrain “And when it all falls down. I was meant for me. To climb to mountain tops. Is something I believe”. The structure and its execution are perfect. I fell in love, well I thought I had, but hey, the romantic in me is essentially a tart. So on the 1 min 22 mark they bring on the trumpets! What! It’s like the perfect storm, a 21 gun salute and the drop in Beta Bands celebrated track Dry The Rain. Blown away.
This track is taken from the band’s album Propeller on Hungersleep Records with a lovely mention for the late Raphael Ravenscroft. So what are you waiting for? Get involved and like and support.
HODGES – Cotton
Hey! Hodges from Japan! How are you doing? Fans of these guys reply below and give me some lyrical translations. Being a poet and songwriter from Scotland I am sad to say my Japanese isn’t too hot to trot. I have had the absolute pleasure of reviewing these guys in the past and they were lovely to interact with so expect a transcript asap. Til then. Well the song opens up in a punk 70s style so reminiscent of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life that it could be a map of his after party track marks. Just as you are getting over that, they chuck in some xylophone! It’s like Iggy was on the floor wasted and you just remembered you had to wake him up cos he is hosting a children’s party in half an hour. So we sobered him up, made him drink loads of water, brushed his teeth. He welcomes the kids in AND slopes off. Leaving you blowing up balloons that resemble the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes and The Libertines. What a cross mix of genres with some great ties to the past. I only wish they were real because links took me to a page with the legend HODGES IS A VIRTUAL BAND. I really wanted to see a frontman with the iconic hair of John Cooper Clark. Oh well. This tunes still ace, so are you. Nice.
KID JUPITER – Tennis Eyes
As Kid Jupiter themselves say “five London indie-poppers meandering through melody and modes of masculinity”. Some big boy chat right there as a statement, which is thoroughly reflected in their considered approach to detail and songwriting, in my humble. I love a good lyrical analogy and Tennis Eyes plays upon its source material with love. “Just attend the second serve. And I know you’re never backing down. There’s no time to swerve”. It’s subtle and yet not passive aggressive. The second serve is the last chance to score points, so the duplicity of no safety net versus the fight to battle on in a relationship gauges where the points are scored.
I noticed further into the song on the 1 min 40 mark a vague passing of sound which recalled the Beach Boys’ fine track Wouldn’t It Be Nice, and I hope the band take it as a compliment because it felt positive and reaffirming when it kicked in. I’d say this is overall a gentle and lovely rollick as the title suggests, and if you happen to be in Australia right now whilst their open is on, pour a Pimms and turn on this wee delicacy.
PAO PESTANA – Culebras (Ft Jackson Mathod)
Time to recall Salma Hayek from Dusk Til Dawn and seek out CW Stoneking to do a remix with our man Mark Ronson because this is banger central. One of those tracks which could be mixed and sampled to death and still fill dance floors across the world.
Culebras being Spanish for snakes and representing the corruption of politics in her home country Venezuela. I also discovered culebras is the name of a famous cigar brand, another signpost for vanity, power, phallic symbolism and wealth. This latin, funk, R&B number by Pao Pestana exudes pure vitality, power, sex, rage and pride in its heritage.
I loved this track and I hope you do too. Get on the socials and give her a follow and a tweet. Based in London so fingers crossed for some form of live show soon!
ST JASPER – Birds
Folk singer and songwriter St Jasper doesn’t mess around here with a great example of alt-indie and folk magic. After the rugby on Saturday I sat with my partner Claire (big music fan) and good friend Andy (a well-known Welsh artist), and in our wee bubble had a listening party. This was one of the only tracks we all agreed upon. It’s vital and throbbing with vibrations which take time to grow. Each beat, word and note settling on the hull of your soul as your ship glides through the estuary St Jasper creates here.
The two-minute breakdown was for us a call back to recent successes like Alt-J, bands built on great vocals, words which strike the soul, and beats which make you somehow feel part of a new brighter future and plan. I suppose, like watching a murmuration of Starlings, you celebrate them, you join them, you in a small moment realise that those wee birds are as much your family as the rest of the creatures on this earth. Wonderful.
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.