Fresh Faves: Batch 395

Anna McLuckie

Artists at a glance

A LESSER VERSION
ANNA MCLUCKIE
BEN MORGAN-BROWN
BUFFET LUNCH
DAKAR AUDIO CLUB
JUNKYARD OF SILENCED POETS
KIMBO NICE
MADI
PUSHPIN
WORLDWIDE WELSHMAN

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

A LESSER VERSION – Sylvia

A Lesser Version hail from Liverpool, but further information is elusive, with only the triple oblique /// appearing in their band bio and the promise of an album Excess coming soon.

Actually, the words triple oblique will do nicely to describe their sound, which our Listening Post commenters compared variously to My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Dinosaur Jr. The band bowl a googly from the outset with an electro experimental intro suggesting something along the lines of Aphex Twin, immediately replaced by ambient guitar hum heralding the wide open mind rock of the song proper. There follows sweet laconic vocals with cryptic lyrics leading into a soaring instrumental guitar refrain.

The most obvious Sylvia I can think of is Sylvia Plath and the song definitely fits the life and tragedy of the troubled poet, but beyond the title firm signposts in the lyrics remain… triple oblique.

It will be interesting to see what A Lesser Version choose to reveal on the way to their upcoming album launch, and how much mystique they continue to cultivate.

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ANNA MCLUCKIE – To Be Still

Manchester-based Anna McLuckie last graced our Fresh Faves in Batch 340 with her band Diving Station, she now returns with a track from her debut solo album Today, Everyday, released this month. Still in her twenties, the Edinburgh native has been a Will.i.am-mentored contestant on The Voice, leads projects across Manchester, and is a senior lecturer in harp at the Leeds Conservatoire.

To Be Still matches her trademark clarsach with flamenco rhythms and some tasty string arrangements, beautifully captured by producer Tim Thomas. The acoustic sound is rich and sonorous with every part perfectly placed, McLuckie’s expressive, confident vocal sitting with authority at the centre of it all. This is a track to play on repeat, each listening reveals something new.

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BEN MORGAN-BROWN – Bat

Another acoustic instrument virtuoso, Ben Morgan-Brown is the presenter of the Acoustic Review website and YouTube channel, giving authoritative reviews of acoustic guitar equipment backed up with professional demonstrations of the instruments under consideration. As an artist he was the winner of Purdeck Rising 2019 and was shortlisted for their song of the year.

“I won’t lie, I wanted to make this quickly,” he says of Moments, the solo acoustic album from which Bat is taken. “It is imperfect. You can hear my chair creak; you can hear the world outside my window; you can hear my dog move in his bed; you can hear my daughter making dinner.”

This is raw home recording of the kind that marks seriously confident playing chops and in depth knowledge of the instrumental sound desired. No slapdash bootleg this, the performance is precise, assured and tells a story exactly as if you were sat before the guitarist live, likely with a cosy ale in hand. In an era that so often demands studio polish and editing ahead of in the moment recording, it is a valuable prize indeed to be able to deliver old-school.

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BUFFET LUNCH – Snap!

Edinburgh quartet Buffet Lunch (with a reported 5th member they apparently Facetime mid-set after he emigrated to Toronto) bring bizarro post-punk energy along the lines of Devo and Gang of Four. Snap is the title track from their six-track EP released by London indie label Permanent Slump, described as “a brief pause at the side of the road on the way to the hotel at the end of the universe”. “I need your hands to work to help my friend give birth,” they implore over a swirling maelstrom of staccato guitars and low-fi goodness, complete with a colourful video combining reverse face painting, paper plates and dad dancing.

“A perfect 2-minute stomper,” opined Matt Colbeck in our listening post comments.

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DAKAR AUDIO CLUB – Lines In The Deserte

Exeter-based Afrofusion collective Dakar Audio Club are Fresh Faves veterans with past appearances going all the way back to 2015. Their distinctive sound blends driving percussion with cool, understated guitar and vocals to hypnotic effect. The best fusion bands are the ones that can confidently locate the centre of the Venn diagram of disparate influences to find their unique sound, DAC know their voice and they know what to do with it.

Lines In The Desert is taken from their second studio album B+W, out now on So Let’s Talk, and refines and delivers everything we love about the group. Catchy singalong refrains, mesmerising djembe rhythms and a sage moral (“Don’t give away your power”), feelgood stuff.

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JUNKYARD OF SILENCED POETS – Profane Disco

“If you close your eyes and turn off the volume, it’s like listening to paint dry… with your eyes closed.” So says the Twitter bio of cerebral art-rock soundscapers Junkyard of Silenced Poets, whose YouTube channel in particular reveals a deep dive of macabre artwork, philosophical writings and dark wit with apparent links to New York underground writer Rob Plath. They have a guitarist (“loathsome guitar strangler”) named Leo Slayer, who left some lovely reviews of his own on our Listening Post, something we always appreciate at FOTN. He doesn’t appear to be working alone (collective pronouns are used throughout their track descriptions), but in true underground fashion their full line-up remains as mysterious as their location.

Profane Disco is described by FOTN’s Tobi as “sonic shards scorch the dissident soundscape”, shifting like desert sand from gothic guitar riffs to Red Snapper-esque breakbeats, death valley disco beats, Ministry vocal distortion and mournful saxophone underpinning a plaintive violining solo from the aforementioned Mr Slayer.

What does it all mean? The YouTube track is matched with a written piece by Pablo Vision (published in MungBeing magazine “a lifetime ago”) concluding with the line “The attempt to instil meaning into that which has no meaning, is no more than a shallow, contrived, and ultimately, unfulfilling word game.” So there.

Twitter | YouTube

KIMBO NICE – Wimbledon

“A tall glass of lemonade on a sunny afternoon, the maple syrup on top of your pancakes,” declares the Spotify bio of Bristol quartet Kimbo Nice, who since forming in 2018 have developed their initial blues influences into a quirky, occasionally jangly alt rock sound rich in laconic melancholy.

Wimbledon launches with cool Blur-esque sneer breaking down into a swinging outro refrain – “Am I a sight for sore eyes or am I giving you sore eyes?” wonders singer Ali over some nice bell tremolo guitars.

Anyone for tennis?

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MADI – Mama, Will You Hear Me?

Welsh wonder MADI is another Fresh Faves veteran, in fact she was among the first batch of reviews I did for this site back in 2018. Since then she’s continued to develop her piledriving brand of quirky electronica and mad visuals with a burgeoning YouTube channel and recent collaboration with former Toyah bassist and R.E.M. producer Charlie Francis.

Mama, Will You Hear Me? is a mature, progressive piece of work with shades of Kate Bush building to an epic blast of searing vocals, pounding beats and fierce guitar work.

“Move over break-up songs,” she declares. “This is about the constant undercurrent of fear of losing those you love, and wondering whether you should feel lucky that you care about anyone at all.”

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PUSHPIN – Folds

Pushpin hail from South London, listing a range of influences including early Pink Floyd, MGMT, Frank Ocean and Sonic Youth. Folds kicks off with a funky guitar and bass interplay with found percussion clanks underplaying a driving rhythmic vocal, before giving way to a swirling, trancey adventure of vintage synth chords, looping cross rhythms, sweeps and lurking soundscapes.

Quite a journey to fit into three and a half minutes, but they manage it with style.

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WORLDWIDE WELSHMAN – 我喜欢你的头发 Wǒ Xǐ Huān Nǐ De Tóu Fà (I Like Your Hair)

Worldwide Welshman Liam Rickard is a man on a mission to save the world – from what isn’t made clear, but he means to include all of it, collaborating with musicians from all corners of the globe in a range of multi-lingual fusions celebrating diversity of language and culture with a healthy dose of madcap humour.

Wǒ Xǐ Huān Nǐ De Tóu Fà features Muqi Li’s Chinese guzheng shifting into rollicking folk rock to trade with Giusy Cancellara’s fiddle as Rickard deadpans the vocal in between, shifting into English to confess, “All I know in Mandarin is how to chat you up, now I have got nothing more to say.”

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Kimbo Nice

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.

Kerry JK

“Musician Misfit” Kerry JK lives to make strange music for interesting and interested people and to help others do likewise. His third album Tales of Addictive Games and Exotic Pets is out now.

7 Comments

  1. It’s about time we stuck Leo & his Junkyard of Silenced Poets on here, I’m fed up of having to include him on the Eclectic Picks each week. With a 3 month behind me I can finally have some peace. Although, at the rate they churn music out there’ll be an avalanche of music queued up for when they’re allowed back. Perhaps they may treat us to a full album in 3 months? (a concept album no doubt).

    Seriously though – where are they from? Actually, don’t tell us Leo. Keep it mysterious like Kerry says.

    Parky, Signal Committee

  2. Good job Kerry. Eloquent and informative as always. 🙂

  3. Diolch, Kerry! Great reviews. Nice to learn a bit about all these exciting acts from around the UK. And thank you everyone for your kind mentions on the listening post. Absolutely chuffed to be included in this top notch list! I do love performing this bit of bonkers Chinese-Celtic fusion that I wronte in uni years ago and performed with my old band, Timestealers…they will find this quite amusing.

    P.S. Saving the world from climate change 😉 and from madness…via the Centre For Alternative Technology
    x

  4. We are incredibly pleased & bowled over to be included here! Tons of thanks for this & for the great comments on the Listening Post – each one very much appreciated.

    Brilliant review Kerry – I’ll echo Neil’s ‘eloquent & informative’ & if we ever find the need of a Private Investigator we will look no further!! Brilliant research & very fine writing!

    Remarkable songs (as always!) in these Faves & remarkable songs in the Listening Post.

    … & Parky, enjoy your three month reprieve!!!

    Massive thanks to everyone – Leo Slayer (on behalf of Junkyard of Silenced Poets )

  5. Love love love this review, thank you Kerry. 💋

  6. Enjoyed the music and the reviews.

  7. Great job Kerry! Congrats to all who made the listening post!

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