Artists at a glance
JUNKYARD OF SILENCED POETS
AZU YECHÉ – Back Of Me
Opening our Fresh Faves beautifully this week is London-based singer, songwriter and performer Azu Yeché with Back Of Me. With its slick production and lyrics, this effortlessly blends pop and soul into something that instantly sounds like a classic. This is Azu Yeché’s third appearance on our Faves, and they’ve all been superb, but this feels like the most polished to date.
Back of Me is available to stream now in all the usual places, and you can catch Azu performing to promote his forthcoming EP, Soul Afrikanah, from which this track is taken, at Green Note in Camden on the 23rd of February.
CATBEAR – I Choose Love
CATBEAR is the “synth-heavy, indie alt pop project” of Londoners Zoe Konez and Sarah Smith who, according to them, are best friends “transforming their deep life-chats into vibrant, upbeat songs as they process growing older (and becoming a bit too tired to go out on a weeknight).” Just wait until that turns into “every week”, “more than twice a month”, or indeed “more than twice a year”.
In the retro-tinged sonics of I Chose Love, you hear echoes of 80s jangle pop, some Joy Division in those jagged guitars, all propelled forwards by the aforementioned synths and relentless drum machine. Where things take a more modern slant is in the sophisticated production and layered vocals, shaded both light and dark. Clearly this track appealed to a wide range of listeners this week as it topped our poll. You can buy I Choose Love on Bandcamp now, and stream it from all the usual places.
DANIEL ETHERTON – Mona Lisa
Daniel Etherton is a singer-songwriter based in London, and Mona Lisa delivers the kind of sound that could fill arenas, which is impressive, because while it’s not his very first release, Mona Lisa is the first track to be taken from Daniel’s forthcoming debut EP.
Daniel has already garnered support from BBC Introducing in Kent and Amazing Radio, amongst others, and you can stream Mona Lisa now on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and other streaming platforms now.
FREYA LILY – Loop Hands
Freya Lily makes her second appearance on our Fresh Faves with Loop Hands — an expertly played and layered instrumental that loops and blends piano and electronic sounds to make something truly beguiling. As well as her solo work, Freya Lily is part of Sylvan Weekends, who appeared in a recent-ish Listening Post, and will be touring with Stables in early May, during which they’ll also perform their own gig in Brighton on the 10th of May. You can stream Loop Hands on all the usual platforms now.
JUNKYARD OF SILENCED POETS – Weird? No!
Despite its 1:26 duration, there is plenty to admire in Junkyard of Silenced Poets’ Weird? No!, not least the title, because if you’re going to send this track anywhere, then it really should be to Fresh On The Net. So it’s quick, fun, funky, and got a groove going on. I was a little surprised by the fade at the end — I was expecting the track to crash to a halt, but instead it saunters away, probably to keep going forever.
Junkyard Of Silenced Poets have appeared on our Fresh Faves three times before, as well as on the BBC Introducing Mixtape, and — I had to count — in sixteen (!!!) Eclectic Picks, which probably says a lot. Despite that, I can’t actually tell you much about them, except that one of their number is regular Listening Post voter and self-described “loathsome guitar strangler” Leo Slayer. Thanks for all the votes and notes on the tracks, Leo! A fun anecdote from their Soundcloud bio that I enjoyed: “We got thrown off TikTok because the 52 second runtime of our track Big Band Theory was quite correctly perceived as being of ‘prog-rock dinosaur proportions’; chastened by this, we are now here instead.”
MAROULI – When You’re Afraid
Making their Fresh Faves debut is Marouli with When You’re Afraid. With its smoky vocals, piano, sax and muted cymbals, this really sounds like it could feature in a movie, but is actually taken from an album that pays homage to Billy Connolly’s storytelling style. Songwriter Graham McCusker and keyboard player Alex Hill met when they were postgraduate students at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2018, and completed the lineup for Marouli with the addition of three college friends.
Their first album, Tall Tales From A Distant Uncle was released last year after Graham beat leukaemia. Graham wanted each song on the album to be “a ‘tall tale’, as Billy Connolly would say, so a little miniature moment of time and tale being told in each song.” You can buy When You’re Afraid (and indeed the whole album) on Bandcamp now. The band have just finished recording their second album in Wales, so expect to hear more from them in 2023.
SAY ANISE – Hurry Honeypie
Making another Fresh On The Net debut this week is Say Anise, aka Emily Barnett, with Hurry Honeypie, a beautifully crafted song that, according to Emily, was “written almost exactly a year ago, at a time when I was feeling a bit fed up, feeling like everything (work, life) was a bit of a struggle, and the song is a sort of call to the universe to bring something new and good into my life. And as I sit here writing this, at the start of 2023, I am realising that a lot has changed in the past year, and I am in a very different, and much better position now. So maybe the song worked!”
I’d say so. You can buy Hurry Honeypie on Bandcamp now, and stream it on Spotify. Catch Say Anise performing at an artist showcase at Piano Smithfield in London on the 12th of April.
SILVERLAKE – Missing
It takes over a minute for the vocals to start on Missing, which would normally be a bit of a turn off for me, but not here. Indeed, if this track was an instrumental much like that opening minute and what follows, it would still make for a fine listen, but the vocals top it out beautifully, gliding along with succinct lines such as “You are missing, even when you’re here.”
The band says about the track “there’s a kind of madness that infects you sometimes – you miss someone too much and you know that they don’t feel the same. The obsession warps time and reality.”
Silverlake is an “art-pop three piece playing dance and indie inspired electronica”, citing influences as diverse as “Human League and Led Zeppelin, Jungle and Goldfrapp, Curved Air and Dream Wife, Unloved and George Clinton.” I don’t know exactly where they’re from, and with the trip hop vibes, I was wondering whether it might be Bristol or the South West, but they have support from BBC Introducing in Hereford & Worcester, so close enough. Missing is taken from their second album, Jim Rockford’s Smile, available on Bandcamp and elsewhere now.
SPACEACRE – MoMo
From the outset MoMo by SpaceAcre grabs you by the hand and plunges you into its world, which swirls and shifts around such that it’s quite difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is. The opening, almost acapella vocals briefly lead to something more conventional and melodic, before it escalates and eventually gets so big and showy it probably needs fireworks and flames shooting into the air.
SpaceAcre is duo Phoebe Little and Jas Scott, making their Fresh Faves debut this week, and “MoMo” refers to the fact that Jas is an identical twin (a “Monoamniotic-Monochorionic” twin, thanks Wikipedia) with her sister Sarai. The bio on their website confirms they’re not exactly going for subtle: “SpaceAcre makes music that is so boundless and evocative that it’ll leave you crying on the train as you stare out of the window, transported into the lead role of your own tragic melodrama.”
With support from Honor Morrison at BBC Introducing in Beds, Herts & Bucks and oodles of blog love, things look very promising for SpaceAcre, so I expect we’ll be hearing more from them in the future.
THE RODIANS – I’m The Ogre
In Star Wars, Rodians are the ones that look like a cross between a mouse and a reptile, with big dark eyes, snouts, and suckers on the ends of their fingers. The Rodians, meanwhile, are a Cornish band based in Newquay, and while their artwork is a little bug-eyed, it’s possibly a little more hungover, and there is no evidence of the sucker-tipped fingers, which is probably for the best, as they play guitars, and that could get messy.
I’m The Ogre starts out an understated guitar track, but soon builds into something rather more psyche-tinged and epic, clocking in at an almighty 7 minutes and 23 seconds, so I’m guessing they’re not on TikTok either (see above). Supported by BBC Introducing South & West, and KEXP in Seattle no less, The Rodians are clearly making their mark. I’m The Ogre is taken from their debut EP, Melt, which is available 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.