Artists at a glance
CHRISTINA ALDEN & ALEX PATTERSON
SIDDHARTHA SAYS FEATURING RYAN BOYLAND
We zig zag back and forth across the UK with this 400th edition of Fresh Faves, a true mix/representation of the music that comes to FOTN via the inbox each week, so many genres on display for your delight, I fail to see how you cannot to be entertained by this unique playlist. Strap yourself in, turn up your ear furniture and away we go.
ARWEN – I Dont Want To
Arwen is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham, UK. Her music is a unique blend of brit pop, hip hop and alternative styles. She’s been supported by BBC Introducing and has previously made it onto the FOTN Fresh Faves playlist. Hardly surprising really, as Arwen performs with a style that’s all her own, with a very distinctive voice you can’t fail to engage with. The rhythm of this track throbs and beats its way straight in to your heart, a delightfully honest delivery. The YouTube video of I Don’t Want To is painfully raw, especially when Arwen looks straight down the barrel of the camera. We have all felt the agony of starting a conversation we wish we hadn’t, I certainly have, then felt the pain of reflecting endlessly on who said what when and how… Arwen reminds us, movingly, of those conversations we wish we’d never started.
CHRISTINA ALDEN & ALEX PATTERSON – My Boy
Christina Alden & Alex Patterson are a duo from Norwich. They write songs and tunes on guitar, fiddle, tenor guitar and shruti box, and have been playing and singing together for the last seven years. They have toured the UK and Europe extensively including a 23-date tour with Show Of Hands, a show at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for Celtic Connections, and main stage performances at some of the UK’s most prestigious folk festivals. My Boy, released March 2021, is the incredible true story of an Indonesian lamplighter who was was swept out to sea when a storm knocked his floating wooden hut from its mooring. Christine’s warm, appealing, soothingly tender voice tells us of his plight. This track caught my attention immediately, drew me in, made me make it my favourite of the week, I’m happy that the FOTN listeners loved it too and voted it into this 400th edition of Fresh Faves.
CODEWALKERS – The Way We Go
Codewalkers is fronted by Nigerian-born Seun Babatola and consists of musicians from all over Wales with a vibrant fusion of cultures, ideas and styles. The Cardiff-based band play a mix of rock, hip hop, reggae and electronica, and were selected for the BBC Horizons scheme for 2019/20. Released 26th March 2021, The Way We Go was written remotely during lockdown and inspired by the circumstances; the band say it’s a wink and a nod to the many people in the music industry who’ve given them helpful advice, and reminded them to focus on making music. That’s exactly what they should do as their music is strong, pulsating and addictive. When things get back to normal, which they will, Codewalkers should be on your list of live gigs to go to.
GIZELLE SMITH – King Of The Mountain
Released 5th March 2021, this is the first single from Gizelle’s upcoming album, Revealing. Born to a Seychellois mother and an American father, Gizelle was raised in Manchester, UK with a multicultural upbringing steeped in soulful music. Now based in London working as a Vocalist, Songwriter, Composer and Radio DJ. King Of The Mountain is a funky (do people still say that?), soulful interpretation of the Kate Bush track, and my oh my what a cover! It isn’t unheard of, although it is rare, for a cover to make the Fresh Faves, but you only have to listen to hear how, why, in what way did this catch the attention of so many FOTN moderators, Gizelle is most certainly the Queen of this standout version. Should I say it? Oh, go on then, it’s better than the original, there it’s out there now, it’s only my opinion, tell me I’m wrong…
PROJECT BLACKBIRD – I Name My Mind And Throw It Treats, Hoping It Will Become Tractable
Project Blackbird comprises four UK-based musicians: vocalist Ming Nagel (originally from the USA), guitarist Alan Roberts, and multi-instrumentalists Jamie Varley and Jon Read. In their own words “Robust gigging across the UK and Europe, and writing new material together, helped to hone internal partnerships which has crafted an increasingly confident and immersive sound.” Unsurprisingly they have already gained the attention of Tom Robinson and played as part of the inaugural Fresh On The Net festival.
Project Blackbird released this track on 11th March 2021. You don’t have to listen to the lyrics of a track — some lyrics wash over you, unnoticed — but this track demands you listen to the lyrical raging turmoil, and the beat, repetitive, absorbing, although before you to settle into a deliciously trance-like state the trumpet strides in, confident, sublime and what an instrumental it is, soaring into your frontal lobe.
SARA WOLFF – Hands
Hands is the second track from the EP When You Left The Room, and was released on 16th March 2021. Sara Wolff, a Liverpool-based songwriter/musician from Norway, writes lyrically-focused alt-folk. Both creative and talented, Sara composed/co-produced the track and directed the accompanying video where, if you take a look, lights play upon her face like tears. Hands embodies a world on hold, watching the seasons turn through a window, while we, couped up inside, look outward, longing for something kinder, something softer, something easier. Instead all we have are endless sleepless nights wondering where we went wrong. Of course, I could be mistaken about the context of this song, but it seems to me, the sandpaper-like relationship between the former lovers in Hands chafe until the ache becomes too much for either to bear — no one is winning here, it’s lose lose, except for us, the listener, who get a superbly crafted track.
SIDDHARTHA SAYS FEATURING RYAN BOYLAND – Stars
Siddhartha Says is a musician and producer based in the West Country, UK who makes house music with tech, deep and progressive flavours. His tracks are consistent grooves with hypnotic basslines, evolving acid, and meaningful spoken word. His aim is to make music that sounds and feels good. He has gained support on several platforms, including BBC Introducing and Fresh On The Net. Stars, released March 2021, is part of a two-track EP that debuts on Bonzai Progressive, and features poet Ryan Boyland.
The track opens with a drip drip dripping of sound earworming its way into your brain, magnetic, rhythmic, and if that’s not enough, we are then treated to the poetic words of Ryan Boyland, who adds another star-studded dimension. There’s both hope and sadness in his words. Find your own starlit sky gazing truth, listen to the words, listen to the beat and repeat. Spellbinding indeed.
SKI LIFT – Portal
Ski Lift started life in late 2018, as the writing and recording project of Welsh songwriter Benji Tranter. He is joined on bass by Ailsa Tully and on drums by Jovis Lane. Since their inception the trio have honed their craft around London including at renowned venue The Windmill, Brixton. Portal, released in early March 2021, is the first of a trio of singles. The track is already receiving attention and Ski Lift were made the face of Spotify’s official Fresh Finds: Rock playlist this week. Portal is bright, breezy, enjoyable and will charm your homemade knitted socks off, while you jump around the place moving between whatever portal/doorway you happen to dance past/through. Enjoy the ride, it’s fun, fast and pop/rock with a bounce. If they haven’t already, I hope that Ski Lift get to see as much of the world as they can, for real, very very soon.
THE CLEAR – Gaslighting
Released 21st March 2021, Gaslighting is the latest track by The Clear, a trio from Sheffield who write classic West Coast and cinematic widescreen dream pop. The band’s members are Chris Damms, Jules Buffey and Bryan Day. Highlighting mental health issues, made worse still by the lockdown, the track tells of manipulation and emotional turmoil, albeit in a marvellously melodic vocally exquisite film score way. It is a stunning track, evocative of an earlier time, sending me swirling back to the early 70s. Yes, I do vaguely remember those days, although the subject matter — mental health — brings us right smack bang up to date. Thankfully, the lyrics inform us that the exploiter has been revealed, and the track moves from the dark into the light. Already receiving attention, having been given its first spin by Gary Crowley on BBC Radio London, it must be set for many more radio plays.
THE RABBITTS – Pull Me Close
The Rabbitts are indie folk duo Odhran and Lucy. They have received support from BBC Introducing Norfolk and other East Anglia-based BBC Radio shows, including Stephen Bumfrey, so it leads me to believe they are based in Norwich, Norfolk, although they describe themselves as “two travellers with a passion for music” and they have certainly travelled, so they could be anywhere right now, current lockdown restrictions permitting.
With well over 5000 listeners on Spotify, their music is undoubtedly popular and listening to just the first few notes you can see why. Pull Me Closer, released 28th February 2021, is a delightfully evocative, passionate track which makes you feel like doing just that, pulling someone closer. I know the simplicity of touch is a world away for some, but don’t let that stop you — close your eyes let your imagination flow and simply drift away. I loved this track from the first listen.
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.
Ski Lift collage by Cameron JL West