Artists at a glance
TEST CARD GIRL
22 OCEANS – Home
Producer Mike Guy began releasing music as 22 Oceans with an assortment of collaborators before settling on a permanent alliance with twin sisters Carys & Keeley Hughes. Their haunting twin vocal approach brought forth the icy new wave atmospherics of Drifting, which FOTN contributors Signal Committee selected for Batch 415’s Eclectic Mix. Now they’re back with an altogether warmer offering, setting the twins’ tasteful, reassuring harmonies against a well orchestrated synthscape of big beautiful skies and a sweet harmonic-infused counter line.
“The inspiration came from ideas about returning back to the comfort of your home, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a place, but rather the people who have made a large impact on your life,” the band explain in the track notes. This analogue is neatly explored in the song’s YouTube video, combining images of human encounters and farewells with more literal travel footage. Thomas Wolfe told us we could never go home again, but 22 Oceans provide a very convincing counterargument.
ADERYN – Yearning
Aderyn’s bio reads like Dave Grohl replicated as a Welsh lass: she started out in a grunge band, spent some time cutting her teeth as a drummer-for-hire, then left her drum stool behind to testify rock n’ roll on guitar and vocals. She last made the Listening Post back in Batch 397 with Silver Screen, a smoky retro indie outing that FOTN’s Rob Ball “loved from the first five seconds”.
Yearning finds her in a more chilled acoustic mood, augmented with a nicely filthy Fender Twin counter line, whimsical cello uh-ohs, sweet backing vocals and a satisfying floor tom thump, before the whole kit and caboodle combines and explodes in the third act.
“[I] Thought I could paint with chaos, and make us art,” Aderyn reflects in the second verse. I’d say she accomplished that goal quite nicely with Yearning.
AFTER LONDON – Here, Tonite
“I turned up, then came Armageddon,” declares singer Frank Ward, striding proudly into the wasteland to the suitably apocalyptic grooves of brothers Will and Byron, drummer Jake Palmer and violinist Alex Tiffany.
A good intro will take you far, and Here Tonite by Hampshire’s After London nails it – sixteen bars of perfectly paced development building from a statement guitar riff that reminded me of when Fields of the Nephilim would come on in darkened Leeds basement clubs. The rest of the track is paced just as well and would sit proudly in any playlist alongside gothic rock classics. Apparently the song is a “reminder to self” to “pick up the reins and get off the conveyor”, wise advise indeed.
The band are signed to London indie label Roadkill Records and are currently on tour, with dates in Southampton and Brighton during the remainder of February.
MALIN ANDERSSON – Reef
“Epic in a sensitive kind of way,” said Terry Naylor in the Listening Post comments. Sensitivity is a quality central to the mission statement of Swedish London-based Malin Andersson, whose upcoming album Space To Feel explores her experiences as a “highly sensitive person” looking to diminish negativity to open emotional displays.
Reef sets Andersson’s sweet layered vocal and fingerpicking against a symphonic wash of sweeping strings and guitar overdubs. The acknowledged influence of Joni Mitchell is apparent here – specifically jazz influenced, harmonically adventurous Joni – but Malin Andersson is very much her own artist.
MARCH – A Cloud
“5 minutes of emotionally layered bittersweet lushness,” said this week’s guest mods Minimums. A Cloud is a complex, thoughtful composition which demands to be taken at its own pace, much like watching actual clouds form and shift shapes across the sky.
March is the alias of London multi-instrumentalist Kitty O’Neal, who I reviewed last year in Fresh Faves Batch 412. On that occasion I noted the twists and turns of the arrangement demanding repeated listening; this time she has brought along a fine band of collaborators including the exquisitely recorded string quartet of Mei Fujisato, Katie Mazur, Helena Bartlett and Ariane Zandi, developing those twists and turns still further into something truly special.
MEMES – Second Thought
Glaswegian “Laptop Duo” Memes (cousins John and Paul McLinden) are joined by drummer Martin Johnston for the percussion driven post punk energy of Second Thought. It’s a tasty collaboration, a power trio oozing chemistry – I don’t know if Johnston is now a permanent member or will be joining them on tour, but if not I hope this is not the last time they work together.
The song itself sits in the vein of Gang of Four and ATV, with driving rock and shoutalong choruses interspersed with mad tumbles tightly executed like drunken master kung-fu.
MICHAEL DONOGHUE – Cosmic Whisper (Trevas Remix)
The artist formerly known as Cosmosapien, Jersey’s Michael Donoghue makes his third visit to the Fresh Faves with a progressive trance outing reminiscent of acts like Union Jack and Man With No Name, reworked and remixed by Trevas. On the Listening Post comments Minimums called the track a “really polished slice of electronic goodness”, sOOz found it “mesmerising” and Yogurt Pot’s Parky described the duo of Donoghue and Trevas as a “dream team”, urging us to also check out the (much darker) Bandcamp B-side of Landing (Pulses remix). Good call, go do it. I’ll wait.
Michael Donoghue is a producer who knows how to draw on multiple styles and influences within the electronic almanac, compiling an eclectic and engaging catalogue retaining his own distinctive voice throughout.
MINI HOMER – Jacamar
Boasting the wonderful Soundcloud hashtag of #Bird Pop, Jacamar comes to us from Liverpool art eccentrics Mini Homer and puts me in mind of Thomas Dolby in the best way possible. A hyperactive synth rock opera following a young poser failing to impress people with his titular pet – “It’s a shame that no-one ever really seems like they appreciate a thing” our hero complains after being thrown out with a cry of “take your dang jacamar too”.
I’ve been unable to locate many details about the people behind Mini Homer, who communicate their mission via a series of striking art composites on their Instagram, trippy graphic lyric videos on their YouTube channel and Soundcloud notes introducing the characters in each song. In other words, they let the stories and concepts take centre stage, like a crazed electronic shadow play.
Come for the music, stay for the experience. And for what it’s worth, I think your jacamar is cool.
ROSE BETTS – Driving Myself Home
A charming acoustic ditty from London singer-songwriter Rose Betts, rich in whimsical pathos, catchy internal rhymes and musical monologue. “I wrote it for a bit of a laugh but then it went sort of viral on TikTok,” she explains on her Facebook page, capping off a year which also saw her included in the soundtrack of Zack Snyder’s Justice League with her cover of Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren.
Rose Betts is a seasoned performer with airplay on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2. The confidence, communication and recording quality of Driving Myself Home is a masterclass in how to do the coffee shop singer-songwriter thing to a professional level. Listen and learn, folks.
TEST CARD GIRL – Fly
Test Card Girl — Manchester’s Catherine (Caffs) Burgis — took the plunge into full time performing in 2019, initially finding success as a comedian before setting aside the rubber chicken to focus entirely on her musical endeavours. She last made the Fresh Faves in Batch 408 with the tender acoustica of We’ll Always Be There, which FOTN’s Tobi noted for its “unassuming honesty and inescapable sense of intimacy.”
Fly begins with an arpeggiated synth riff on Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, layered with rhythmic pizzicato strings and Enya-esque choral vocal layers to set up orchestral snares, drum machine grooves, harmonium chords… there are some tracks which set out their stall from the opening bars and never deviate, and then there are sonic road trips like this, with new scenery around every corner.
This is intentionally ironic, as Burgis wrote the song “during the long hot days of lockdown… jealously watching a fly explore the 4 corners of the room and then fly off through the window to freedom.”
“It’s a rallying cry to stand up and walk to nowhere,” she adds.
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.
MEMES photo by Kenny Inglis