Artists at a glance
RENEGADE BRASS BAND
VILLAGE CUTS & MULELE MATONDO AFRIKA
WARRIORS OF THE DYSTOTHEQUE FT ABBY OLIVEIRA
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Neil March this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
Spring is well and truly here folks and what a bright selection of tracks our readers have voted into this week’s Fresh Faves. With The Great Escape about to take place, I am reminded of an event I had the privilege of being a speaker and panellist at in 2019 that was linked to that festival. On that occasion I had to take issue with the guy who booked the acts for a very well-known festival after he suggested there was a lack of new music talent coming through! But actually what he said was not such a surprise. I have heard similar sentiments expressed by people in a variety of scenarios. In every case the simple reason has been that the individuals didn’t know where to look. Naturally the first place I have directed them is Fresh On The Net. We are blessed to have so many talented artists sharing their music. And we are blessed to have a great group of readers voting, commenting and delivering the Fresh Faves each week. As I often say, new music never sleeps. The following ten tracks are ample evidence.
CAR BOOT SALE – Odoyewu
London band Car Boot Sale have been maintaining a busy live schedule that takes them well beyond the capital. Clearly they are doing something right because, with over 4K Spotify listeners per month and sell-out gigs, the signs are that their following is on the rise. Promising times ahead by all accounts.
Odeywu is a mid-tempo track with a lilting funk-infused groove. Resonant synth tones, light-textured guitar, and some syncopated bass and drums drive matters along while the male vocal has an earthy soulfulness. The song has a retro feel that recalls the likes of Cameo and Phil Fearon (Galaxy, Kandidate, Hi Tension etc.) but there is also a bright reverberant freshness, and the melody is cool and catchy. Perfect for the hazy warm May weather we are currently experiencing.
CHERRYADE – Underdogs
This is the second review I have written about this track in the past week, and I noted in the first one (published later this month) that Cherryade always make strikingly original and distinctive music. The London-area duo were childhood friends, which perhaps partly explains their unique chemistry. They continue to collect the media plaudits in spades. Track of the day in Dreaminisfree, “feisty and confident” in the words of Listen With Monger, rave review in Iggy Magazine, plus my review to come and that’s just the past fortnight! They have Fresh Faves pedigree stretching back to 2016, and have been supported by BBC Introducing at local and national level.
Underdogs skips into the room like a kangaroo on acid, Alex’s synth nodding to the Doctor Who theme, the Deila Derbyshire reference being pertinent possibly to the track’s topic. The triplet rhythm and crisp beat plays against big buzzy synths while Ella’s semi-rap vocals exude energy like Charli XCX in a mash with The Go! Team while (early) Billie Piper adds spices. The lyrics deal with misogyny and homophobia, the hook hammering out the words “It’s time for the underdogs” with joyous intent. This may be Cherryade, but any sweetness comes with a serious kick. It’s big, it’s brash, and it’s a barnstormer of a track.
DICTATOR – Rubik’s Cube
Edinburgh’s “genre hopping chameleons” Dictator are on a roll right now. Headlining at St Luke’s, getting support from BBC Radio Scotland, and playing gigs stretching from the East of Scotland to the English North West, they are not hanging about when it comes to growing their reputation. They describe their sound as Indietronica, and their Soundcloud blurb cites a range of influences that include Gorillaz, Alt-J, Primal Scream, The XX, and London Grammar.
Rubik’s Cube has a sassy funky feel coupled with an engaging edginess. Slightly phased sounding guitar chords dominate the mix while the beat is punchy and tight. Shades of Pottery in a jam with Shame. The sounds on this track are perfectly picked and recorded; the tune drills into my brain and refuses to depart.
HANA LILI – Burden
Hailing from “a small town in South Wales” Hana Lili has been quietly gathering the plaudits as a singer-songwriter and now has an astonishing 41K monthly listeners on Spotify. She has had support from BBC Introducing in Wales this very week, and has been on our very own Tom Robinson’s BBC Music Introducing Mixtape too. Huw Stephens has also picked her out as an exciting artist and she will play at Castell Caerdydd (Cardiff Castle) in June.
Burden actually has a driving Alt Pop feel that reminds me a little of Beabadoobee in a jam with Arlo Parks while Phoebe Bridgers adds chops. The guitar is the primary driver. Hana’s chord play is energetic but crystal clear, and her voice has a yearning softness, but is powerful and compelling too. The appealing melody is the icing on a very enjoyable cake.
LEXIE CARROLL – The Sky Looked Nice Today
Lexie Carroll has been on my radar for some time. The London-based 17 year old has been gathering a reputation for the maturity of her songwriting. Pop Passion Blog called her “incredibly talented” in a recent feature, BBC Radio London made her a featured artist, I have also written and raved about her in my own blog and she was both a Fresh Fave and made Tom’s BBC Music Introducing Mixtape in November.
Sung in Lexie’s familiar soft, fragmented but distinct voice, the verses seem to float along atop a combination of folky guitar and long synth tones (no drums). When she adds an additional harmony voice, the track settles into a descending chord figure, and the picking guitar is contrasted by Lexie’s agile, expressive performance. It is a touching and rather beautiful combination of good songwriting, smart arranging and Lexie’s unique and quietly powerful voice.
RENEGADE BRASS BAND – Maybe Tomorrow
The excellently named Renegade Brass Band hail from Sheffield and mix eight brass players with two percussionists and a scratch DJ and MC. That information alone would be incentive enough to check them out! Recipients this very day (at time of writing anyway) of support from Christian Carey on BBC Introducing in Sheffield, and from Sheffield Live earlier in the week. They have a new EP out called Bottle This Fire from which Maybe Tomorrow is taken, and you can even get their very own brand of gluten-free Vegan hot sauce with the EP! When they’re not tearing up the radio, they are “stalwarts of the Sheffield live music scene” too. At national level they have played a session for Craig Charles on the BBC 6 Music Funk and Soul Show, and have performed at Glastonbury as well as venues across the UK.
Maybe Tomorrow begins almost like a Ska and Hip Hop hybrid with brass stabs and swirl accompanying a punchy semi-rap spoken word vocal. The scratching adds an edge to the groove while the fluid instrumental play, switching of the beat into Drum’n’Bass territory, and sumptuous chords add to the intensity. Exciting, exhilarating and full of instinctive, organic inventiveness.
SOPHIE FETOKAKI – Bist Du Bei Mir
Sophie Fetokaki is an artist who I have been so impressed by this year. Reimagining classical works and traversing the (needless) boundaries between contemporary classical, folk and experimental music, she has the kind of resolutely individual approach that has made artists as diverse as Anna Meredith, Esperanza Spalding and Polly Harvey so intriguing. She is picking up international media interest including radio stations in Europe, USA and Australia as well as BBC Radio 3 and others here in the UK. Radio 3s Sara Moir-Pietsch described her last album as one of her favourites of 2021.
Bist Du Bei Mir is Sophie’s unique reimagining of a J.S. Bach song (“Bist du bei mir, geh ich mir freuden”, which translates as “If you are with me, I go with joy”). It sits somewhere between ambient classical and contemporary folk. Warm semi-percussive synths and legato organ play against tracked soft but assertive vocals, eventually expanding into looped, overlapping harmonies. It is both stirring and soothing and she makes a tricky task sound easy; transforming Bach’s Baroque era harmonic language into something modern, dynamic and thoroughly engaging.
TAYLOR LALLY – You Were Right About Me
Hailing from Belfast, Taylor Lally is a busy singer-songwriter whose recent gigs have included Ards International Guitar Festival, Belfast’s American Bar and events in Donegal and Bangor. She has had recent support from BBC Radio Ulster. Taylor comes from a small town in County Down, and grew up listening to classic songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley and James Taylor. After studying at BIMM, she has developed a guitar style that has drawn comparisons with Rikki Lee Jones and John Martyn.
Latest track You Were Right About Me has a bluesy folkiness both in the picking guitar riff, and the earthy lead and harmony vocals. I can hear the Rikki Lee Jones comparison and I might add maybe a hint of Haim in a mash up with Margaret Glaspy. Taylor’s voice is rangy and dexterous and there is a Country tinge too. Refreshingly organic and full of individual character.
VILLAGE CUTS & MULELE MATONDO AFRIKA – Banzutu
Mulele Matondo is both a good friend of mine and one of the most phenomenally talented musicians I know. He is also the bass guitarist and leader of the much-loved (not least by Fresh On The Net readers and various BBC Radio shows) Kongo Dia Ntotila. However Village Cuts are a new name to me. They are “a dynamic duo” of London-based DJs, producers and artists drawing on a truly international mix of genres for inspiration. They are clearly impressing the right people, because they have been picked to play Glastonbury in 2022. They are also performing around London, and were recently featured on Soho Radio.
Banzutu finds Village Cuts providing a backdrop of Afrobeat-infused funkiness with staccato guitar figure, busy beat and multi-tracked chanting dominated by Mulele’s instantly recognizable voice. Then we get some delightful guitar play with a lilting arpeggio-like African vibe that repeats while the vocals veer between quieter spoken word reflection and lively chants that feature call and response. When this gives way to melody and responding harmonies, it is quite exquisite. A track that is packed with ideas while retaining its relentlessly dance-inducing groove.
WARRIORS OF THE DYSTOTHEQUE FT ABBY OLIVEIRA – Fear Of An Equal Planet
In today’s global music environment where it is more possible than ever to collaborate across oceans and continents, the cleverly named Warriors Of The Dystotheque are a collaborative collective of musicians from Ireland, France and the USA. They are united by a shared love of lo-fi sounds, left-field DJs, experimental beats, jazz, downtempo and various strands of EDM and related vibes. They have had funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and support from BBC Radio 6 Music, Jazz FM and others, including club music legend Laurent Garnier.
Fear Of An Equal Planet, referencing Public Enemy in its title, sees the Warriors team up with Northern Irish artist Abi Olivera (or Abby Olivera according to her Twitter page). The style is a long way from Old Skool Rap though. Abby delivers a slightly otherworldly sounding spoken word over a laid back groove with shuffling beat and gorgeous jazz-tinged chords. Guitar and synth provide melodies and nuances while spacey sounds and watery echoes add to the ethereal aura of the track. A haunting hazy slice of dreamy downtempo sophistication. A fittingly futuristic and fulfilling finale to a strong week of fine Faves.
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.