Artists at a glance
DRESSED LIKE WOLVES
GENTLEMAN’S DUB CLUB
MARS DE L'EAU
TEN HANDS HIGH
YSTYR & MR PHORMULA
This week’s Fresh Faves was a blast. Congratulations to all ten acts that made it through, high calibre stuff!
BLÁNID – Fool’s Gold
“I will love you till I’m old… even though it’s fool’s gold…”
Lord, I love this line.
This is a gorgeous song, got a lovely Gaelic feel in the melody, the chords cycling around G major E minor C Major and G… so simple. I sat down and played along on my piano. I love the harmony of the oohs, and how the drums build up… simple beat on the kick and snare. The guitars give it the rhythm, some delay added in there, and that last harmony got me… then it was over. Yum. What a nice thing to listen to just as the sun is going down.
Blánid is a singer-songwriter from Ireland; she combines folk and jazz, and is relatively new on the scene, as she started out in early 2019, and has caused a storm on social media, as well as killing it with radio play.
DRESSED LIKE WOLVES – Big Pool
I’m a sucker for a piano-led song. The fragility of the vocals really work too, you feel the emotions of this. The backing vocals really did it for me too. It gives the song a real indie feel, makes you feel real nice and warm inside. It kind of reminds me of The Streets Dry Your Eyes vocal-wise, but more fragile. It’s very wistful, talking about times gone past. Shout out to the drummer for the shuffling drum beat by the way. The song is essentially a tribute to a live venue, The Westgarth Social Club. I noted this in my previous Fresh Faves. We will live the live life again.
Dressed Like Wolves are Rick Dobbing and members of the label Spooker Rekkids (I had to say that out loud to myself a few times), they are based out of the attic of the Westgarth Social Club in Middlesborough, and this song features some of them on it too. Having met a lot of indie acts through FOTN and through my blog, I’m glad to see an act collaborating like this. Good work.
GENTLEMAN’S DUB CLUB – Down To Earth (Extended Mix)
Ahhh I love the vibe on this! Reggae tune with great percussion, timbales, congas, and a blistering horn section… then the rap! Gentleman’s Dub Club are true to their name with the old school dub feels – breakdowns, cut-outs and cut-ins of the main beat… the rap comes flying at you at 1:13 delivered at breakneck speed. This is the kind of thing I’d be heading down to the beach to this summer when things reopen, and the kind of song you can imagine being played live at sunset when you’re surrounded by your best friends…
Gentleman’s Dub Club are a nine-piece who met as students in Leeds, and this track comes from their fifth album of the same name, available on all platforms.
KASHINOKI – Taxi
This is Drum’n’Bass and transports me back to the 90s; it creeps up on you, and when you’re not ready for it the beat drops. I love that squelchy bassline, makes me want to bop my head. It’s minimal – which I guess is how genre gets its name. The only sentence in the whole song is “How do you feel about cab drivers?”. I need to find out where that’s from, otherwise it’s going to bug me! The drums change tempo and get put through the wringer at 1:40 before slowing down and settling into the groove. Then it kicks up the tempo again! This would work so well in a club setting, last tune of the night… Being a keyboard player myself I like the use of synths here, using it to design the soundscape, and letting the drum beat do its thing. I’ve not had much exposure to D&B in a long time, but I really enjoyed that. I look forward to hearing more from Kashoniki.
There isn’t much info about Kashinoki, but I’m intrigued at what I did find. He goes under many names, it seems (who am I to talk???), but this is the work of Arthur “Junior” Robinson, he has his own label and specialises in minimalism, electronica and D&B.
LEG PUPPY – Your Profile Is Dope
Oh I can identify with this one. You get a lot of this on social media as an artist! “Your profile is dope!” Employing Siri or another voice assistant to read out the comments… love it. Another dance track on the Faves, and it’s four to the floor, where are the flashing lights? Where are the hands in the air in a dark field at 2am somewhere off the M25? You could imagine Siri ringing around the speakers with this. It’s a great dance track, gets you going and I love that filthy sub bass too. That “your profile is dope” is the only thing I’m going to hear every time I see one of those comments on my Instagram now. You get drawn into this track and you get the message behind it – it’s essentially poking fun at those proclaiming to make you internet famous. Well played.
Leg Puppy were on a previous Fresh Faves I did as well (How cool is this??? – Still haven’t got the million pounds yet!😜), Neil March tells me that they’re incredibly entertaining live and has had them at one of his Vanishing Point gigs. Looks like they’ve got gigs lined up this summer too. I hope that they get to play this one!
MARS DE L’EAU – Milk Teeth
A change of tempo here. This is a nice mix of piano and synths. The melody is gorgeous. But this isn’t what sticks out for me. It’s the lyrics:
“I’m living in a house of strangers
‘Cause it’s safer than my own home
Hurts to know that it hurts my mother
But I don’t wanna go
I don’t wanna go
I’m not going to ruin it for you. No spoilers.
These lyrics are raw, and are written with such an honesty, and the person it’s written for, it’s just so poignant. It’s giving a voice to someone that’s not able to speak for themselves. The story behind it is very emotional. It gives you chills just listening to it, and even reading the lyrics on their own… wow. Stellar production by The Nocturns by the way, it didn’t need anything else, just somewhere for the song to be its own person, and for Mars to sing and express herself.
For this reason, I’m awarding Mars De L’eau my song of the week.
While there isn’t much online about Mars De L’eau, she’s active on instagram, she’s performed a version of this accompanying herself on the guitar on the Mahogany Sessions. Beautiful work. Ohhhh one more thing: watch the video for this song, it hits home even more then.
POLLENA – Glitter
Arpeggiated synths. Drum beat that stutters. Got a little bit of a swing. I like that. And then harmonised soulful vocals, this could be a pop record but it really isn’t, it’s a soulful song. I could imagine Timbaland drooling over that beat giving it a bit of a hard edge. Or maybe Missy Elliott. Not that it needs it. It’s perfect. The chord progressions are gorgeous, makes me want to listen to it a few times more. By the way, I love that bass passage at around 2:14!
So who’s Pollena? Well, she’s a singer/songwriter from London, she toured Europe in 2018/2019 with neo soul group Girlhood, and used lockdown to explore and experiment with sounds, she’s working with upcoming producers and is getting a fair amount of airplay. I’m looking forward to hearing more from her.
ROSS KING – The Leaving
Listening to this you’d think it was recorded sometime in the 60s or 70s: 3/4 time, acoustic guitar, with some synth noodling, but no it’s the 2020s, and this is something else — another one that gets me with the gorgeous progressions. It just whisks you off to another place and time. I’m trying to work out where he got that synth sound from… it’s got such an old school quality, which is confirmed by the fact that he’s recorded this on an “old” Yamaha 8-track. I have so many questions. Ross, I feel you on the 8-track, I recorded my first composition on a Yamaha 4-track in 1991. Sometimes that’s all you need to keep it simple! Great result here.
Ross King is a singer songwriter from Chichester who writes dreamlike folk, with warm acoustic tones and a hazy shade of autumnal melancholia. Definitely autumnal. Definitely not melancholy, the melodies don’t give me that. Very cheery melodies. I like that, but we can argue that over an interview sometime Ross. 😜
He’s my one to watch.
TEN HANDS HIGH – Nevermind
The thing I like about this track is how the bass and drums sit in the pocket, no deviation from the beat, it allows the vocals and lyrics to sit there perfectly. The shorthand of the lyrics reflect the times too:
“Cba the strain
Of acting the same in vain
Driving me insane
That no crazy love’s in my brain”
…in the same way “ain’t” has been used in the past.
I like the sound of the guitar on this, I’m no guitarist but I can appreciate a good sounding guitar! The vocals are delivered beautifully and are interrupted briefly by chatter – good use of sound design here! It’s a great tune, and could be a live favourite.
Ten Hands High are from London based but are from Leeeeds (Not a typo). This the second single from their forthcoming EP coming out in May.
YSTYR & MR PHORMULA – Noson Arall Yn Y Ffair (Another Night At The Fair)
Now this is cool! It’s a rap song in Welsh! The beat is slick, DJ scratches over the top of a jazzy groove and would sit comfortably in a mixtape for something completely different, it’s just one of those tracks you can’t help but go back to a few more times for a listen, the flow of Mr Phormula works, and the beat has made me a fan.
Ystyr are a collective from Wales, Mr Phormula has collaborated with some hip hop heavyweights like The Pharcyde, The Jungle Brothers, KRS-One and more, he’s also a seasoned live performer with production, beatboxing and live looping under his belt for skills. Another group I’d like to see live.
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.