Fresh Faves: Batch 444

She's In Parties

Artists at a glance

BEIJA FLO
BL BEX
CEITHRE CINN
FRITILLARIES
ISHMAEL ENSEMBLE
MULES
SHE'S IN PARTIES
STERLING PRESS
SUNFLOWER THIEVES
THE MIGHTY ORCHID KING

These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Steve Harris this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.

BEIJA FLO – Waiting For The Sun

When Waiting For The Sun starts, with its gentle piano and strings, weary vocals and noises off, you might think you’ve got its number. Listen carefully though, and things aren’t quite as they seem — there’s a bit of an edge to her voice, the soundtrack seems a little restless — and then suddenly it explodes. Now it’s a firestorm, burning bright as a supernova, until almost just as quickly its fuel is spent and it’s back to a sigh.

It might be both figuratively and literally true to say that Essex-born Liverpool-based Beija Flo is a bit of a character — the live show for the release of her 2019 album, Nudes, featured herself performing solo as the support act, then herself on piano as the main support act, and finally a headline version of herself with a full band. The way this track pivots so effortlessly from one mood to another is probably an indication of just how well she could pull that off. She’s also quite fond of a leotard.

Waiting For The Sun topped our Listening Post this week, and is available now on Bandcamp and Spotify. She’ll next be appearing at Focus Wales in Wrexham this coming Friday, 9 May.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

BL BEX – Ooo La La (The Star And Mouse)

It’s hard not to smile as soon as Ooh La La (The Star And Mouse) by BL Bex electro-swings its way into your ears, and it seems only right to hear this now — it’s the 20s, we’re living in the shadow of a pandemic, and the next world war is brewing in Eastern Europe. So dance! Portent of doom aside, this track is just so perfectly formed. It gets right in there, grabs your attention, and holds it throughout with its cheeky lyrics and infectious groove.

“B for Ben, L for Lexie, and Bex for both”. Lexie Green is an Americana singer / songwriter with family roots in California, and Ben Cozens is a music producer and sound designer. They met in a record shop where Lexie was performing. Ben was looking for a specific sound for an upcoming film score, and approached Lexie to see if they could collaborate. They did, and had so many musical ideas they decided to continue working together, and so BL Bex began.

Ooh La La (The Star And Mouse) will be released on Friday, 6 May.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

CEITHRE CINN – True Love

Ceithre Cinn is Suzanne Savage, Ciaran Lavery, Matt McGinn, and Finnian Kelleher, who were funded by Ireland’s Music Industry Stimulus Package to meet up at Black Mountain Studios in Ireland for three days between lockdowns last year, with True Love the first release to come from the music created during that time.

True Love was created “while the members reflected over loved ones lost, through the pandemic and before. It soon became clear that it was not the massive moments shared that they missed the most, but the simple ones… like sitting on the sofa, cuddled up… watching TV”. It’s a heartfelt tune, and I find it really affecting the way their voices come in and out.

True Love was released on all download and streaming platforms on April 25 2022. The band doesn’t have its own online presence as far as I can see, but you can find each of the artists’ websites and socials below.

Suzanne Savage: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
Matt McGinn: Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
Ciaran Lavery: Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
Finnian Kelleher: Official | Instagram | Facebook

FRITILLARIES – Unearthing

Fritillaries describe their sound as “Americana instrumentation, folksy rootedness and a pop song sensibility,” which is a good hint that despite the twang, they’re actually more West Country than Wild West, hailing from Exeter, and now based in Bristol. Gabriel Wynne and Hannah Pawson have been playing together since childhood, and that is evident in just how tight this sounds.

Unearthing — the first single to be taken from their upcoming debut album — is a sentimental, warm-sounding folk song with an interesting story behind it. Based on a poem by Hannah’s mother, its line “now I sow Fritillaries” also inspired the duo’s name.

Unearthing is available to download from Bandcamp now, and that debut album is set to be released on 15 July. You can catch them at various venues across Bristol this month, and around the country at festivals and venues for the rest of the year.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Bandcamp

ISHMAEL ENSEMBLE – Wax Werk (Grove Version)

Wax Werk is very hard to put in a box. To my ears, it’s a thrilling, modern, experimental jazz track… eventually. It actually starts out as quite a minimal electro dance track, with a pulsating bassline and snappy beats, but then it builds and builds until a sax and some rambunctious live drums crash in like all hell breaking loose, and it’s utterly transformed. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a track go from one place to another so effortlessly or compellingly as this.

Ishmael Ensemble is a Bristol-based collective led by saxophonist and producer Pete Cunningham, and if you listen to 6 Music enough, chances are you are already familiar with them. Following the release of their 2019 album A State Of Flow, they did Maida Vale sessions for both Gilles Peterson and Tom Ravenscroft, and have received oodles of love from Mary Anne Hobbs too.

If you’re going to Glastonbury, catch them at Arcadia alongside the likes of Jon Hopkins, Nia Archives, and Four Tet, and they’re also appearing at a number of festivals across the UK over the summer months.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

MULES – The Things We Learn In Books

“The things we learn in books don’t teach us about heartbreak,” yell Mules. I’m far too busy doomscrolling the news to read every book ever written to check, so I’m just going to take their word for it on that, and focus instead on how big and fantastic this sounds, with that driving bassline, wailing guitars, and the dark spoken word lyrics.

Mules are a “a heavy Post-Punk band from Brighton” and this is their first time on our Fresh Faves, having previously appeared on our Listening Post and the Eclectic Picks with their excellent track Clapping For Carers. You can catch them around the South Coast over the next couple of months, including St Leonards on 8 May, Hove on 12 May, Brighton on 16 June, and then the Shacklewell Arms on 23 July as part of the Garageland All Dayer. The Things We Learn In Books is available on Bandcamp now.

Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Bandcamp

SHE’S IN PARTIES – Angelic

I was immediately captivated by the floaty, dreamy quality in Angelic, and while I am loathe to make comparisons, I love the Cranberries-esque melancholy in the guitars, and maybe it’s a little Cocteau-ish too, with those sweet, sweet vocals.

Indeed, it’s so perfectly put together that I thought She’s In Parties (great name!) must’ve been around a very long time, and I’d somehow completely missed them, but thankfully not. The song itself is rather more grounded than it sounds, in that it’s all about that disjoint between how women are treated, and how they should be.


While the five-piece band is based in Colchester, singer Katie Dillon was apparently born in Ireland, so that does help explain a few things, and speaking of Colchester, they were played by 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq on his New Music Fix show. Angelic is available to stream now.

Instagram | Facebook

STERLING PRESS – Plastic Bag

Sterling Press make their Fresh Faves debut here with Plastic Bag. Catchy, lively, a touch anthemic, very well played — tight! — with a sound that is perhaps a tad familiar to anyone over 40, but hey, you’re not, right? No, didn’t think so. Neither am I!

Sterling Press is Ed Higgins (guitar, vocals), Greg Smith (guitar, vocals), Marlon Reynier (bass, vocals) and Lucien Ismael (drums) who grew up together in London, and are now based in Liverpool. While they have all played together before in various guises, this band formed in the spring of 2020, right as the pandemic hit, which gave them plenty of time for writing and recording.

Plastic Bag was actually released last October and appears to be their second single, after Very Fun Times, and a debut album is on the way. Having just performed at Sound City, you can catch them in Leeds on 11 May supporting Spinn, Manchester on 16 May supporting Laundry Day, in Liverpool supporting The Goa Express on 17 May, and at the Sonic Wave festival in Birmingham on 4 June.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

SUNFLOWER THIEVES – Grown Out Of You

As soon as I heard it, I knew Grown Out Of You would make our Fresh Faves this week. Gently poppy and somewhat catchy, with sweet vocal harmonies, a nice subtle build, and a bittersweet sentiment, it’s expertly crafted, and really charms you.

Sunflower Thieves is Amy Illingworth and Lily Sturt-Bolshawa, and this is far from the first time this Leeds-based duo have been on our Fresh Faves. Grown Out Of You is taken from their debut EP, Someone To Be There For, released on 22 April and available on Bandcamp now. Catch them playing the Long Division festival in Wakefield in early June.

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

THE MIGHTY ORCHID KING – Two Trees Tangled Together

I have quite a soft spot for The Mighty Orchid King, they consistently send us songs that I find fun and delightful, and even though there is often a more serious message within, it’s always delivered with flair.

This track, we’re told, was released to mark Earth Day last month, and is “a meditation on the transcendent power of nature, with lyrics inspired by Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain.”

But see, that makes it sound like it would be calm, reflective, and painted in delicate pastel hues. But no! It is an absolute riot of colour, with guitars, horns, percussion, drums and vocals to the max. The band themselves call it “carnivalesque” and I can almost imagine all the animals singing and playing along, Jungle Book-style, it’s that lively.

Two Trees Tangled Together is the first track to be taken from their forthcoming second album Mycelium Music, and is available to stream now.

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

The Mighty Orchid King

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.

The Mighty Orchard King photo by Lucian Rich

Steve Harris

Steve Harris is an independent app developer living in Swansea, Wales. A passionate music lover, his hobbies include not working and pretending to understand science. Find him on Twitter: @steveharris. Read more about Steve.

5 Comments

  1. Good job sir. Great to see the Sunflower Thieves on here!

  2. Great reviews Steve. And well done to all the artists. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for having us on the faves this week and for your wonderful review Steve! We really appreciate it.

  4. Once again, such a strong Listening Post – therefore: massive Congrats ALL!!
    Excellent music & ace artists!
    Brilliant reviews & superb additional info & details!

    …and another shout out for Tom Robinson Band tour with support slots by Mixtape/BBC Introducing acts — how cool is that!?!

    Leo Slayer (string-bender for Junkyard of Silenced Poets)

  5. Many thanks for including ‘True Love’ Steve, and for the kinds words. It’s very much appreciated. Matt

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