Artists at a glance
JIM SANGER & NIC EVENNETT
THERE IS NO NEW INFORMATION
ANNIE BOOTH – Nowhere
Annie Booth topped our Listening Post on the weekend with Nowhere. Sometimes you get songs where music and vocals are beautifully juxtaposed (more on that later), but this is a case of everything moving as one. It’s dark and angsty; sometimes the vocals come out in such a rush I can hardly make out the words, later on phrases are repeated in exasperated shorthand. It’s a tightly knotted scribble of a song.
Nowhere is Annie Booth’s third single from the album Lazybody, which was mostly written before the pandemic. As it happens, the last time Annie Booth made our Fresh Faves I was doing the reviews, and remarked on how that track, Cocoon, with its themes of isolation and healing really fit the mood of the time. This one feels more like the flip side to that track, stylistically. Where Cocoon was clear and controlled, Nowhere is almost untamed — you feel it more than hear it.
Nowhere is out now on Last Night From Glasgow, and as mentioned, taken from Annie’s debut album Lazybody.
DOUBLE HELIX – Rat Rave
Rat Rave (great name!) is a storming techno track with the most delicious live drums, a sprinkling of chopped up vocals, and jagged synths fed directly into your brain. It’d be impossible not to dance to this in the correct environment. Frankly, it’s very hard to keep still as I write this in entirely the wrong environment.
I can’t tell you much about Double Helix, apart from that they’re a London-based duo, Rat Rave is their debut single (released on Slow Dance), and they do, I have to say, look the part. That’s not just a superficial observation; clearly the visuals are important to Double Helix, as you’ll see if you check out the video for Rat Rave — a sped-up night out in reverse.
That video complements the music perfectly, and feels like a statement — this is who we and what we’re about — and that takes me to a place I haven’t been in a very long time, of thinking damn that’s cool, and wanting to be in that moment, flickering with the strobe lights, glowing in the ultraviolet, dancing between the projections, caring about nothing else. Pure escapism.
I love Rat Rave, it’s ridiculously good, and Double Helix deserve to be hyuuuuuge!
FRANCES MISTRY – Live The Life I’d Never Have
Frances Mistry really caught my ear this week. Live The Life I’d Never Have is a pretty track with a melancholic lilt that really hooks you in. This one falls into the category of sad songs that sound happy. Well, kinda. It’s not especially sad, but it does comment on how life can be a challenge at times with a bittersweet, dreamy quality; a wistful sigh set to lively guitars. I love listening to it, and have done so far more times than was necessary to write this review.
Frances Mistry is a 20 year old singer/songwriter and producer from Brighton, and this very accomplished track marks her first time on our Fresh Faves. Frances is supported by BBC Introducing In The South, and if this is anything to go by, then I reckon she’s got a very bright future ahead. Buy or stream Live The Life I’d Never Have on Bandcamp and Spotify now.
JESSIE REID – Madrigal
Shropshire’s Jessie Reid returns to our Fresh Faves with the captivatingly pretty Madrigal, a collaboration with JJ Draper. With its gentle guitars, soothing vocals and oodles of atmosphere, the lyrics and refrains of “it’s all alright” / “is that alright?” / “was that alright?” it conjures happy times in enjoyable company, out in nature, in the dark, in the woods, around a campfire.
Madrigal is out now on AntiFragile Records, as indeed is Jessie’s latest single, Other Hand, which was released last Friday.
JIM SANGER & NIC EVENNETT – Cloud Nine
Nic Evennett is an accomplished and talented singer songwriter from Kent, who will be very familiar to Fresh On The Net regulars and BBC Introducing Mixtape listeners alike, but this is Jim Sanger’s first appearance on our Fresh Faves, so who he?
Well, Jim apparently started out as a guitarist in rock and indie bands, but now mostly writes music for film (“when they let me”), and indeed Cloud Nine has that filmic quality about it. It’s delicate, poised, beautiful, and got all The Feels.
I can’t see that this track is part of some kind of larger collaboration between Jim and Nic, it just seems to stand alone, but it’s a very successful collaboration nonetheless!
POLAR STATES – So Much Happened Since You Came
So Much Happened Since You Came is a hooky modern shoegaze-tinged indie track by Liverpool four-piece Polar States. I think it won the hearts of our listeners this week because it’s big sounding and nicely melodic with sweet vocals; there is a good flow through the peaks and dips, such that it doesn’t lose its momentum, but still builds satisfyingly from verse to chorus and beyond.
Polar States have been around a few years now, and indeed first appeared on our Faves in 2018 (where reviewer Louis Barabbas confessed to being entirely the wrong demographic to enjoy it), but to my ears they have refined and matured their sound since then, and may have shifted from festival crowd pleasers (that 2018 track was about sitting in a field, getting high, and listening to Lana Del Rey) to appeal to the more discerning listener (I’m being kind to Louis here).
In any case, with their appearance here and support from Dave Monks on BBC Music Introducing in Merseyside, looks like it’s working out nicely. Polar States did a tour of the UK last autumn, and have got a few more dates lined up in Bradford, Preston, and Stockton-on-Tees through March, Portsmouth and Salisbury in May, and are booked for the Sonic Wave and Y-Not festivals over the summer.
PROJECT BLACKBIRD – Let Love
For the first two minutes, Let Love is just singer Ming’s vocals and that plucked guitar, in what could actually have been an entire song in itself, but then it bursts into colour with a (still restrained) bass and drums accompaniment. Soon Ming’s vocals start to soar, and clarinet and trombone break through like sunlight. It’s very cleverly done, because throughout, and despite these shifts, the track holds onto its core essence of being as gentle and beautiful as its subject.
Once again, Project Blackbird — vocalist Ming Nagel, guitarist Alan Roberts, and multi-instrumentalists Jamie Varley and Jon Read — will be familiar to FOTN regulars, having appeared here many times for good reason, as well as being co-founders of ExileFM. On Let Love they are joined by Dave Tidmarsh on drums, Su Robinson on clarinet and Russ Coleman on trombone. Let Love is the last track on the album If This Is the End, which was released last March and can be bought or streamed on Bandcamp now.
SPANGLED – Headspace
Headspace is a rambunctious indie track with jangly guitars by Manchester band Spangled. I tend to avoid making direct band comparisons, but suffice to say the Manc force is strongly evident here. Even so, Spangled still manage to sound like they’re doing their own thing.
It turns out Headspace is a few months old and not taken from the band’s debut EP, Chasing Nebulas, which is due to land on the 4th of March, and you can catch them over the next couple of months in Leeds, Edinburgh, and back home in Manchester.
THERE IS NO NEW INFORMATION – Congratulations On The Numbers
Congratulations On The Numbers burst out of the speakers sounding like nothing else in last weekend’s Listening Post, or indeed the whole batch, and I know was one of Tom Robinson’s favourites, as he will be putting it on next week’s BBC Introducing Mixtape. This ranks very highly for me too — I love the strange noises, the cut-up lyrical style, the pauses — as if he’s lost his place — and of course, the organ.
With a bio that reads “Horror-Pop for Replicants. Radiohead with Muppets. Shinji Ikari’s hospital ceiling dream” (let your geek flag fly!), and a location of “Cincinnati / Nottingham” (OK!) we are left little the wiser as to the identity of There Is No New Information, but all that does pretty much ring true, and what else do you need to know, really? Listen to it, it’ll make you smile. Congratulations On The Numbers is available to buy from Bandcamp now.
WALDO’S GIFT – Flowerbed
The last track I reviewed by Waldo’s Gift in Faves 345 was a completely mental Aphex Twin cover / rework that I think will always stay with me. Flowerbed is a somewhat calmer, smoother affair (frankly, what wouldn’t be), but is still as busy and restless as an army of ants. Perhaps in keeping with that cover and their improvisational style, the blurb says “the whole song was written backwards in a way, starting with the outro”. I can’t even get my head around how you’d do that, but I like the idea, and I really like this track for the way it doesn’t stand still, and holds your interest until the very end… or beginning… whichever it is.
Waldo’s Gift is a trio from Bristol who I think could really go places, and probably already are, as I keep hearing their name. Gilles Peterson is a fan, and I think I’ve heard them pop up elsewhere on 6 Music too, along with Mo Ayoub on Radio 1, and of course BBC Introducing In The West. Flowerbed is available to stream and buy on Bandcamp now.
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.
Annie Booth photo by by Brian Sweeney