Every week Signal Committee present an Eclectic Picks playlist. All tracks are selected from the full inbox of 200 tracks that are submitted each week to Fresh On The Net. This week all the credit goes to our special guest curator, Tom Robinson.
WHAT DO WE LOOK FOR?
Our playlists are orientated to the alternative music fan. Lyrics are not essential, abstract ideas are embraced and the fusing of different genres is encouraged. If you used to write band names on your pencil case at school, you’ll probably like our playlists.
INTRODUCING TOM ROBINSON
This man needs no introduction.
ARTISTS SELECTED THIS WEEK
- AMY HOLLINRAKE – Swallow’s Tune
- ANGUS POWELL – Black Water – Angus Powell
- AUGUST HALL – Leaving Arizona feat. Emma Bucknor [Bossa Nova Remix]
- CAPTAIN OF THE LOST WAVES – Animals on an Island
- DA GIBBERISH PEDLAR – Duck
- DAWKS – Champagne
- FEATHER HOUSE – The Swimmers
- FHUR – loops
- FOREIGN AFFAIRS – Maybe He Already Knows
- FURIO – SEÑOR SLAP
- GABRIEL MORENO – Growing Old
- GARLEN LO – Lover’s Lover
- HAPPY WEiRDO – WE ARE ON A ROLL
- HOLYSSEUES FLY – Within The Water
- JOHN DREDGE & THE BALCONY SHIRTS BAND – Double Agent, Working Alone
- KEV MINNEY – The Seasons
- KING HERON – Stasis (ft. Andrew Neil Hayes)
- LAST OF THE FREE – Boats On The Shore Beasts On The Hill
- LEMONGEL – The Other Side
- MIRI – Shake On It
- OSLO TWINS – Breath
- SIMMERDOWN – mottled
- SLEEP OF THE BIRDS – Fear And Worries Overwhelm You
- STATE OF STATTA – Find a Way
- TEMPER STATE – Heat Of The Sun
- THE ALASKA TRAP – Far Too Long
- THE FANTOM MAN – Transcend feat. St3v3L33
- THE KITE SOCIETY – Powder Keg Love
- TIRED TRACE – Blood! (feat. Yes Plant)
- TUMBLEDRYER BABIES – I Want To Open For Gina Birch
- TOOJIM – Ask The Dust
- WILL RIDING – Mrs Wickam’s Driveway
A FEW WORDS FROM TOM ROBINSON
Signal Committee’s Eclectic Picks playlist has become a massively important addition to Fresh On The Net, increasing our reach and usefulness in supporting independent music. We get sent 150-200 tracks every week yet we can only ever include 25 on our listening post. The Eclectic Picks are a chance to shine a light on the many gems nestling among the remaining 175.
AMY HOLLINRAKE – Swallow’s Tune
4.33 A lovely pastoral soundscape to immerse yourself in. Harmonically there’s so much more going on here than immediately meets the ear – with hints and nuances of South Asian intonation. Not only in the hypnotic drone but the occasional shock of a quarter tone note in both the backing and in Amy’s lovely vocal trllls.
ANGUS POWELL – Black Water
3.02 A poised composition song with deep, richly atmospheric production to match. The acoustic guitar opening is surprisingly lo-fi by comparison and makes me wonder if this might have been a remote production job. Sometimes an artist will email home demo stems of an outstanding song like this to a producer who then builds up a finished track around them. A new vocal will then be sung to complete the recording. The vocoder section at 1.39 comes as a total surprise but works perfectly.
AUGUST HALL – Leaving Arizona (Ft EMMA BUCKNOR)
3.50 An immaculate Bossa groove, with guitar, drums and double bass parts all smack dab in the pocket courtesy of Brazilian remixer Rafael Naine. Emma Bucknor’s Instagram decribes her as a “Future Popstar” and on this showing that might be about right. Her vocal beautifully pitched – emotionally as well as sonically. The whole thing sounds effortless, authentic and convincing apart from the mundane lyric about Arizona – maybe it was inspired by a US holiday? But surely a song about leaving Aberystwyth behind would have been ten times more original and interesting…
CAPTAIN OF THE LOST WAVES – Animals On An Island
5.22 The Cap’n is one of those rare artists who actually live up to their own publicity: “a troubadour, storyteller and free thinking renegade, whose musical offerings are inspired by the great songwriters and philosophers of yesteryear.” Even a casual listen reveals that a mindboggling amount of thought, time, care and creativity has gone into the making of this record. There were many Reasons To Be Cheerful in this particular inbox. The fact that maverick artists like this are still turning out longform leftfield pop songs of this quality is one of them. https://captainofthelostwaves.com
DA GIBBERISH PEDLAR – Duck
1.55 Well this is just great. A funky, cheerfully mashed-together sound collage. Lyrically and coneptually it could almost be a whole different captain, the late Don Van Vliet – reincarnated into today’s laptop age rather than relying on his Magic Band. Except that Beefheart’s wildly original delivery never carried the precision of these tightly sung block harmony vocals. This is honestly more of an oddity than a fully formed song, but at this length, who cares? It gets in, slaps us around the ears and rapidly gets out again, leaving us reaching for the “play again” button.
DAWKS – Champagne
3.19 Before finding a voice of their own, most recording stars start out trying to imitate the music they grew up with. For the Beatles it was Chuck Berry – for the Stones it was Muddy Waters. For Hartlepool songwriter Luke Dawkins it’s clearly the kind of guitar music that ruled the airwaves in the noughties, and came to be known as “landfill indie”. The genre refuses to die – we all know how powerful it can still be when delivered by a tight band in front of a live audience. I wish Dawks well and hope this record will do well for him. But even if it doesnt, there are already hints here that he’s capable of far more exciting and original work, once he’s got the indie bug out of his system…
FEATHER HOUSE – The Swimmers
2.20 The reidiculously prolific Pete Guy uses his Feather House studio to paint pictures in music and words, and his sonic canvases invariably repay investigation. The Swimmers drew me in with its driving, deeply immersive atmosphere and recurrent harmonic surprises. It also says what it has to say in 140 seconds flat: like all Pete’s work, it seldom outstays its welcome. If someone waved a magic wand and allocated me enough airtime to play any music I liked as often as I liked, Feather House would feature on my playlists most months of the year.
FHUR – Loops
2.37 What a great record. When so many singles slap us with snare hits, Melodyne their melodies to death, Declaim spoken obscenities at the world, and generally try to get in our faces, “Loops” makes a refreshing change. FHUR almost wilfully swallows her words, withholding lines and making us work for the meanings instead of spelling them out. Hats off – it takes real artistic assurance to make a record as low-key and understated as this and still hit the bullseye.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS – Maybe He Already Knows
3.06 Deep rich smooth acoustic 6/8 pop with a strong, if slightly mannered vocal. It’s an expertly written song even though (for my personal taste) the production is a little smooth, a tad glossy, a little bit calculating. It would be interesting to hear a solo acoustic performance of this song in front of a live audience – my guess is that it would reveal the real deal. A song this good doesn’t need the sonic sugar coating.
FURIO – Señor Slap
2.21 Irresistible electro madness – sharp as a tack. The Furio who made this is the London DJ & producer (as opposed to the North East artist of the same name) and comes from a forthcoming debut EP called Slanky. It’ll be on the Subtle Energy label who uploaded the track from their own Soundcloud account .
GABRIEL MORENO – Growing Old
3.11 Any singer-songwriter who lifts their opening line from TS Eliot is okay in my book. Gabriel has a fine line in rapid Spanish guitar fingerpicking reminiscent of a latterday Leonard Cohen. Here though he’s accompanied by a full band – a brave step away from his more established territory, which deserves a wider audience.
GARLEN LO – Lover’s Lover
5.05 A record that’s attempting something genuinely original and risky as this deserves our attanetion. To be honest it strikes me as a strong idea that’s been executed clumsily – a promising demo that should never have been released into the wild so soon. In its present form it’s a bit of an unrelenting listenm, and goes on for way too long. There’s an interesting plot break around 3.35 but by then the casual listener will already have clicked away. It’s nothing that wouldn’t be cured by gigging the song live for a year – or sending it off for a remote producer to lick into shape.
HAPPY WEIRDO WITH XAN BLACQ + XANTONÉ BLACQ – We Are On A Roll
3.08 Boom! This had me from bar one. Great, optimistic energy – ultra-tight, grooving beats – with cunning breaks every eight bars so that they don’t do your head in. It’s superlative production though the song itself is probably too slight to follow the likes of LCD, Hot Chip and Pharell into the crossover pop charts. But I bet it works great on the dancefloor.
HOLYSSEUS FLY – Within The Water
3.09 Holysseus Fly is the solo project of Holly Wellington from Bristol’s Ishmael Ensemble. This second single features her dreamlike vocal performance over a piano part looped from an improvised session with pianist James Graham.
JOHN DREDGE & THE BALCONY SHIRTS BAND – Double Agent Working Alone
2.10 John Dredge tells me this record’s been played on BBC Radio by both Gary Crowley and Steve Lamacq. See what you think…
KEV MINNEY – The Seasons
3.32 “The Seasons” grabbed me from the get-go and is easily my record of the week. Fine lyrics, guitar and vocals, plus a stunning string arrangement. Musical taste is clearly a highly personal matter – as witness the previous song – and the fact that none of the 14 other moderators last week gave this even a passing mention. But if you happen to share my enthusiasm for this music, there’s good news. Kev’s brand new album Take Comfort Here is released with a big launch in Brighton this Friday (28 April) – see https://kevminney.com/new-page-4
KING HERON – Stasis (feat. Andrew Neil Hayes)
5.54 Bristol trio King Heron teamed up with tenor sax wizard Andrew Neil Hayes for this this one-off single. On their Bandcamp Dev from Idles describes King Heron as “The first jazz/blues/math/prog/dub band I’ve ever seen”. Jacob Houghton’s quicksilver guitar is underpinned by a gobsmackingly tight rhythm section: rock-solid bassist Cerith Evans locked into phenomenal groove monster Cameron Macdougall on drums. What’s not to like…
LAST OF THE FREE – Boats On The Shore, Beasts On The Hill
1.52 Twa brothers fae the Highlands bringing us a properly Celtic piece unlike anything else in the pile last week. An uncredited narrator takes us “back in time to the crofting days of the West Coast of Scotland” when there were indeed still Boats On The Shore and Beasts On The Hill. Backed by a bold ambiguous soundscape: is that the drone of actual bagpipes, or masterful guitar played in the style of the late Stuart Adamson? Whatever it is, it’s blooming brilliant.
LEMONGEL – The Other Side
3.50 Oh yasss – more irresistible grooving electropop with precision rhythmic vocals. Where’s that magic wand with its infinite airtime when you need it? Lemon Gel are the Cardiff duo of Daniel Flor and Duarte Ribeiro who play a hometown show at The Flora this Wednesday (26 April). Needless to say “The Other Side” has already been played on BBC Wales Introducing by Adam Walton – who knows a good thing when he hears it.
MIRI – Shake On It
2.03 Short, sweet and tasty. A tight, catchy little instrumetal with fun breaks – an absolute shoo-in for this week’s eclectic playlist. It’s built around a lovely lttle earworm of a figure. At a frugal 123 second duration it’s long enough for us to to get into the groove, but short enough for the repetitions not to get annoying.
OSLO TWINS – Breath
3.18 Saw the Bristol dreampop outfit Oslo Twins play a memorable hometown show at The Louisiana last year as part of Generator’s “North East By SouthWest” initiative. Core members Eric and Claudia have collaborated with producer Ali Chant to create this dark and unsettling single from their forthcoming debut EP.
SIMMERDOWN – Mottled
4.04 There were 200 track in our inbox last week but this hypnotic house instrumental jumped out, grabbed me by the ears and demanded to be made an Eclectic Pick. This is music so immersive you can almost swim in it, drawn along by the current of those trancelike vocal samples. With constant subtle shift and changes it kept my attention for the ful four minutes.
SLEEP OF BIRDS – Fear And Worries Overwhelm You
5.18 So much care went into crafting the first 47 seconds of this record that it had me in less than a minute. Genres (as Laurie Anderson contemptuously put it) are for bins – a way for record shops to shoehorn musicians’ work into crude, unhelpful categories. But if you held a gun to my head, I’d have to file Sleep Of Birds under “prog”. My personal preference is normally for much shorter songs, but this nonetheless is rich, beautifully produced music we can all afford to immerse ourselves in as part of an Eclectic Picks playlist.
STATE OF SATTA – Find A Way
4.37 A flawless slice of tight, fat motoring reggae that carried me back four decades to the heyday of Rock Agaianst Racism when Steel Pulse, Aswad, Misty In Roots and the mighty Matumbi carried all before them. But then as the track sashayed effortlessly into the rap section we were abruptly and happily back in the 21st century. On reflection “Find A Way” might even sound maybe a tad TOO flawless compared to contemporaries like Aleighcia Scott, Hollie Cook, Hempolics and the ReggaeRoast sound system who add a bit more grit to the oyster. But hey – if this music’s good enough for David Rodigan’s legendary 1Xtra show then definitely good enough for the rest of us.
TEMPER STATE – Heat Of The Sun
2.45 Ha – yessss – a real grower. Although the drum & guitar intro grooved along nicely enough, it was nothing we hadn’t heard before. But 22 seconds in, that echoey vocal announced that here was A Band With A Plan… a collective vision of exactly what it is they want to do, and how they’re going to do it. The whole thing has an absolutely clear sharp, sonic identity, matched by the graphics on their Soundcloud page. This mysterious musical entity hails from Nottingham and needless to say Dean Jackson already played the record on his local BBC Introducing show. Nobody’s heard of Temper State till now, but mark my words: we’ll be hearing more of them from now on.
THE ALASKA TRAP – Far Too Long
2.57 A really, really interesting near-miss. The Alaska Trap are clearly a powerful live band with a great, distinctive vocalist. The first 40 seconds of this record are so inspired they had me hugging myself with glee. But the bridge and chorus that follow are suddenly formulaic and: “You’ve been hanging on far too long…singing the same old song”. Really?? To be fair, we’ve all done it: a jam session leads to an inspired verse which we then wreck by bolting on a substandard chorus just t get the song finished. But watch out for The Alaska Trap. As with Dawks, these are early days for a band with serious talent who have far stronger work ahead of them.
THE FANTOM MAN – Transcend (Ft. St3v3L33)
4.00 Another immersive and atmospheric instrumental from electro wizard The Fantom Man, who’s a veteran of this playlist and regularly reviewed on Neil’s Trust The Doc blog. Here TFM collaborates with St3v3L33 (Worthing musician Steve Peck) in who sounds in places as if he’s channelling whalesong thruogh his tenor sax. Once again, a no-brainer for this week’s Eclectic Picks.
THE KITE SOCIETY – Powder Keg Love
3.08 The Kite Society is Don Campbell from Oxford’s Easter Island Statues, whose music I’ve been following for a while. “Powder Keg Love” closes his newly released 5-track debut EP “AHOY!” – ambitiously aiming to transform Jim Jones’ infamous 1978 ‘Death Tape’ into a harmonious message of peace and love. Don does have a winning way with a melody, and for me this Beck-like collage of acoustic psychedelia was bleakly enjoyable – though your mileage may vary. Tinny samples of a historic monster inciting his disciples to mass suicide isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing listen.
TIRED TRACE – Blood! (feat. Yes Plant)
2.36 Yes – bring it on – 156 seconds of sinister Mackem muttering over spooky synths and muffled pulsing beats is right up my Strasse. Tired Trace (aka Tyneside musician Jake Anderson) is a member of the Sunderland outfit Yes Plant. While the frontman of Yes Plant (Matthew Jameson) also guests as the featured vocalist on this track. To these ears he sounds like a mysterious and rather more disturbed cousin of Faithful Johannes. Who of course is a near neighbour.
TUMBLEDRYER BABIES – I Want To Open For Gina Birch
1.05 Well there was no way this wouldn’t end up as an Eclectic Pick this week. Tumbledrier Babies is Southend-based one man band and prolific lo-fi genius Andrew Moore. I first encountered his music through BBC Introducing back in 2009 – and even back then he was already working on his third album. This is Andrew on classic form with a 65 second homage to former Raincoats bassist, painter and solo artist Gina Birch. Who happens to have just released her first solo album I Play My Bass Loud (https://ginabirch.bandcamp.com) – so maybe Andrew’s dream will come true this year. It can’t hurt to ask.
TOO JIM – Ask The Dust
2.08 Short and extraordinary – I loved this on so many levels. The extraordinary lyrics (“Fearless in a world of wonder… Nights drunk on whiskey and grief”). The fierce artery-popping energy with which they’re declaimed – as if delivering the message was matter of life and death. And the fact that this music isn’t remotely attempting to ingratiate itself with the cruel gatekeepers of the record industry. Here is a piece of art that sounds the way it does because that’s the way it’s suppposed to sound – the world can take or leave it. Personally, I’ll take music as bold and uncompromising as this every time.
WILL RIDING – Mrs Wickam’s Driveway
3.07 Week after week, Will Riding drops tiny, handcrafted gems like this into our inbox at Fresh On The Net. Will has a very particular and specific thing he does, and he does it to perfection: he’s an acoustic singer-songwriter with a gift for laconic observation. Listen to the pinpoint precision of his fingerpicking – while simultaneously singing smack dab in tune and in time. (Take it from me, these are the kind of chops you only acquire from many long years in the folk clubs, where audiences don’t suffer bluffers gladly.) Above all, he sings and writes in his own voice, not pretending to be anything he isn’t – or to come from anywhere he doesn’t. Will Riding may not be the most obviously attention-grabbing artist in this week’s Eclectic Picks. But he could definitely teach a few of the others a thing or two about authenticity.
STEP 1 – LISTEN
Listen to this weeks Eclectic Picks playlist using your weapon of choice below:
After 7 days, the playlist will be updated with the next batch, and this week’s picks will be added to the 2023 playlists below.
STEP 2 – SPREAD THE WORD
Do you ever think, or hear people say, “there’s no good music any more”? Maybe they aren’t looking in the right places. Prove them wrong:
- Subscribe to the playlist
- Listen in each week
- Tell your friends
- Shout on social media
The more people listen to this playlist, the more exposure unsigned artists receive. So spread the word!
STEP 3 – MUSIC VIDEOS?
Music is great. Music videos are better. Keep the momentum going, send any music videos our way and, if we’re in a good mood, we’ll add the best ones to our music video playlist here.
The playlists above are updated weekly, then added to the playlists below:
We all have ambitions to get on national radio, but in the meantime there are loads of great, independent radio stations that are always looking for new music of the alternative variety. They offer no promises, but the following hosts tell me they that, if you made this list, they’d like you to get in touch to be considered for their show:
- Del Osei-Owusu, aka Platinum Mind and fellow FOTN moderator, is happy to consider submissions for the Songbird Sessions, a 1 hour show for The Songbird HQ on Islington Radio. Just email Del with a bio and MP3 to email@example.com
- Joe Figueira of North Manchester FM, apply with MP3, short bio & twitter handle by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you are are radio presenter/DJ looking for someone to do all the hard work for you in filtering out the more alternative tunes hitting the FOTN inbox each, week, just give Signal Committee a shout!