Artists at a glance
THE HELMHOLTZ RESONATORS
THE LITTLE UNSAID
ANNA PANCALDI – No More Make Believe
“This song speaks of the physical and mental yearning of reaching towards someone no longer reachable. Loss morphs us anew carrying the weight of those now gone. This is a song for all those we love and have lost.”
Anna Pancaldi’s own words introduce us to her emotive vocals and the first track of the playlist this week.
This track is all about the vocals. Her voice alternately wavers and soars with impressive range and control. Accompaniment is kept to a minimum, just providing rhythmic support to allow her the space to perform.
This was a very popular choice amongst both the Moderators and voters this week, possibly because the song connects on such a deeply personal level to the individual, stirring different emotions and reactions in those who listen. Having experienced a rather tough year personally, It certainly brought tears to my eyes upon listening to it a couple of times.
Anna has been steadily building her reputation over the past few years, touring in both the UK, Europe and the US. She’s performed on TV in the States and has received airplay on Radio 1, 2, BBC 6 Music and BBC Introducing as well as over 2.5 million streams on Spotify.
CHIMA ANYA – Trolls
Revisiting old classic stories from the past seems to be a recurring theme of late on the Faves – We’ve recently had Katherine Priddy’s beautiful interpretation of Greek mythology, and now Chima Anya’s album Modern Fairytales re-examines the age of the Brothers Grimm and how those monsters and morals of old compare in the modern world today.
This week it’s the turn of those loveable old Trolls, who it seems have adapted successfully to modern life and found a new place to thrive – lurking amongst the postings of social media and the internet- “Their ancestors lived under bridges and ate people, the new breed are more vicious and hate people.”
Ah, we’ve all met them and probably unwittingly fed them which is why they continue to be so prolific.
There’s a classic vintage (as a middle-aged man I’m not allowed to use the term Old Skool) West Coast feel to the underlying track, provided by Hip Hop veteran producer Soulchef, that helps the flow of the lyrics without ever becoming intrusive.
Chima is in the enviable position of having both the letters GP AND MC in his title – yes, he’s a practising medical doctor who just also happens to be an accomplished emcee too. A fact which make me very happy just thinking about him rapping out his diagnoses to patients (which probably doesn’t happen as, unlike me, he’s a professional and an adult).
FEZ – Summer Rain
Formed in January 2019, London-based FEZ play, in their own words “a blend of psychedelia and progressive rock that doesn’t simply embrace nostalgia for a bygone era of music, but reinterprets their essence through a modern lens”.
And that pretty well sums up Summer Rain, which hints at all those classic moments of Floydian guitars and swirling Moody Blues keys, presenting us with a track that, whilst proudly displaying its influences, is neither plagiaristic or uninventive. And you know what? These fellas can really play! The tightness of the interplay is what you’d expect from a band that had honed their collective craft after a decade of riding the tour bus together across the dustbowl of America, not a fledgling band that’s only played together for two years. The track is perfectly paced, allowing the musicianship to shine, from the soaring guitar to the almost ecclesiastical keyboards.
The core of the band met whilst studying in Bristol and drafted in the remaining members by tempting them outside gigs with cigarettes (that may not have been EXACTLY how it happened).
They started recording their album in 2019, locked away in an isolated cabin in the Lake District, followed by sessions at Invada in Bristol and studios in Devon and Wales.
Summer Rain is one of two singles available now and you can catch them playing at Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney, London on Friday Oct 22nd.
MICHAEL DONOGHUE – Aequorea IV
Aequore IV picks up the tempo for the playlist as we head down the stairs into the basement, quickly lured by the deep and dirty pulsating bass line. You’ve been down here before. The strobe is too bright, the corners too dark, the floor too sticky and the walls are running with condensed sweat – the perfect surroundings to enjoy this sqwonky head nodder* (*The title of my next playlist). Revolving loops of synths, ambient glitches swirl around as that all important bass continues to drive the track until it just simply disappears… leaving you standing back out in the cold air of the early morning, minus your T-Shirt and wearing someone else’s shoes.
Michael Donoghue is a Rotherham-born, Jersey-based independent electronic artist, composing left-field electronica which draws influences from several genres, including ambient electro, downtempo, techno, and IDM. He’s already featured in the Fresh Faves back in December of last year.
PHOENIX RISE – Pride & Prejudice (Feat. KING Marv)
Phoenix Rise (aka Susannah Gale) has already made quite an impression on us, bursting into the Fresh Faves list last November with her potent Punk wordsmithery. If you’re expecting Pride & Prejudice to be a demure number based on the words of Jane Austen you may be in for a surprise, because although this is a slight departure in style from her previous tracks, there’s certainly no tempering of her disgust at the current political landscape. Phoenix Rise pulls no punches in rallying against racial, social and sexual inequality that has become so obviously disproportionate in this climate of government incompetence and pandemic. The contempt is underpinned by the heavy riffing industrial metal guitars that add weight, and the rapping of guest vocalist KING Marv adds an authentic grit that complements perfectly with Susannah’s slightly softer vocal delivery on this one.
You’ll find Pride & Prejudice on the Duality Album, released at the end of September. It’s available on the usual streaming platforms, but why not visit Bandcamp to purchase your copy and help actually support the artist herself, rather than boosting the revenues of greedy asset management companies.
THE B-ROADS – Anything There?
The B-Roads are a new name to me, but my ears instantly pricked up when I heard the hypnotic looping of the strummed guitar, reminiscent of the more mellow moments of Ben Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance. There’s a melancholic serenity to this track, a slight air of resignation in the tenderness of its gently repeated refrain that washes over you and subtly draws you in, leaving you wishing the track was a lot longer than the 2 minutes we’re teased with.
The B–Roads is the song-based alias of multi-instrumentalist John Paul Turner, who having played a part in the Northern Post-Rock scene moved to London to front several groups before turning his attention to a more acoustic-based output. He’s kept something of a low profile it seems so there’s not too much information to be found online, but he does have a Bandcamp page and several videos of him performing on YouTube.
THE HELMHOLTZ RESONATORS – Automaton (TOE Remix)
This isn’t a new Automaton, having been designed some seven years ago (it featured on the BBC Introducing Mixtape back in 2014) and we all know how quickly things age now – this is actually an antique by Apple standards. Thankfully it’s had its firmware completely updated to V2.1 by TOE (possibly an acronym for some giant futuristic Tech corp?), who rewired the mainframe and increased the RAM with some funky primate influenced beats and bleeps, resulting in a very accessible and infectious little piece of coding. This is one of those songs that has you reaching for the repeat button and hoping there’s an extended mix on the flip side. There’s obvious comparisons to Beta Band and particularly Gorillaz with that infectious NahNahNah chorus… and that’s very good company to be keeping. I’m hoping this is a path they decide to explore some more in the future… or is that the past for them? Hmmm…
The Helmholtz Resonators prefer the element of mystery when it comes to information, describing themselves as musical time travelling audio scientists, which might possibly explain the gaps in their recording output. I’ve ascertained that they base themselves in Hackney when not exploring the space and time continuum, and have already released an album and several singles. The TOE remix of Automaton is due for release on 22nd October, although I’m slightly concerned, nay disturbed by the photo of Noseybonk that accompanies the release announcement on their Facebook page – that’s one (disturbing) memory definitely best left in the past for me.
THE LITTLE UNSAID – Act Of Vengeance
Act Of Vengeance is lifted from The Little Unsaid’s Lick The Future’s Lips album, jubilantly recorded in one week after months spent apart in isolation, and released in July of this year.
You can hear the exuberance of musicians finally reunited in this track, band leader John Elliot literally whooping with joy as he realises he’s still alive after months of solitary confinement.
I’m reminded of the so-tight-it’s-loose snarling energy of “It’s Alright Ma”-era Bobness or his greatest imitators/acolytes, Mouse & The Traps, in the slightly overdriven vocal delivery, live sound and structure, which falls apart in a controlled but deliciously chaotic fashion towards the end of the track, instantly ingratiating it to me in a truly positive way.
The Little Unsaid are a diverse four-piece, fronted by award-winning composer, songwriter and producer John Elliott. Their loyal following has been boosted by regular plays on BBC 6 Music by the likes of Guy Garvey, Iggy Pop and a certain Mr Tom Robinson (otherwise known as The Chief in these here parts). You can find them touring at a venue near you in late October/ November.
THE RABBITTS – Blue Echo (Reimagined)
I can’t explain why, but there’s a very antipodean feel to the sound of this track, and upon reading the biography of the duo it turns out they spent a good amount of time recording and touring across Canada, so it’s possible I’m hearing the subconscious influences of their travels in the song. I was just a few thousand miles off and in totally the wrong hemisphere. This is probably why my geography teacher and I were never the best of friends.
Blue Echo is a reimagined version of a track they released last year, adding more weight and depth in the beats and punching up the sound with a more polished production, but not veering dramatically from the original template of the dual yearning vocals.
The Rabbitts are individually known as Odhran and Lucy and are currently based in Norwich. They have featured on BBC Radio Norfolk as well as receiving regular support from folk shows on the BBC in both Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.
WITH SUN – The Waiting Room
This week’s playlist concludes as it began – with a truly unique and tender lone female voice, this time provided by singer-songwriter and poet Alice Hale.
The Waiting Room is a particularly bittersweet tale, written by Alice when she was struggling with depression having fallen victim to the grand ennui. Her performance is touching, you can sense her vulnerability and uncertainty as she withdraws from the outside world, curling into a sonic metaphorical ball. Her vocals are haunted by the ghosts of the great singer-songwriters who came before her, the brooding weariness of Dalton and the purity of Denny. The track has been released to mark World Mental Health Day, with all proceeds going to the Samaritans.
Alice performs under the name of With Sun. The daughter of songwriter Keith Hale (Toyah/Hawkwind), Alice has been writing her own music for over 20 years now. Her last single, Night and Day, was a Fresh On The Net Fresh Fave, and was included on BBC 6 Music’s Introducing Mixtape.
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.