Artists at a glance
BORN AGAIN VIRGIN
LINES OF FLIGHT
THE NEW CUT
BACKSPACE – Come Round
Leeds band BACKSPACE have been sending us tracks since 2018, but while they’ve made plenty of Listening Posts this is their first time on our Faves. Back then they were a very young band, and still are, as some of their original line-up are now away at university. Come Round is the kind of tight-sounding indie pop you can imagine being enjoyed at a venue near you; the band say it was written during lockdown, and is about missing your friends.
With support from Jericho Keys at BBC Introducing in York and North Yorkshire, Amazing Radio, John Kennedy at Radio X, it’s great to see BACKSPACE making their mark. Catch them with The Kites at The Key Club in Leeds on 29th April, and buy Come Around now from Bandcamp.
BARBARA – Enduring Love
Barbara — Brighton brothers Henry and John Tydeman — say they make “fabulous syrupy progressive pop” and don’t exactly hide the fact it’s all a bit retro, so just as it’s there in the name and the knitwear, it’s there in the sweet vocal harmonies, song structure and richly layered instrumentation. Whether or not that is your thing, you’ve got to hand it to them, they make a really good job of it, and if you watch them performing this live, you can be in no doubt just how talented they are. Enduring Love is a beautifully put together, joyous affair inspired by the 1997 novel of the same name by Ian McEwan.
You can stream Enduring Love on Spotify now, find other works on Bandcamp, and support them via Patreon. Speaking of supporters, Melita Dennett at BBC Introducing in Sussex and Surrey is one, and that’s a name you can trust.
BORN AGAIN VIRGIN – This Town Isn’t Shit Without You
From the title you might think this was a breakup song, but it isn’t, and I think that’s best discovered by listening and experiencing it for yourself. I love how wistful this is — clearly from the heart — and it’s subtly, but cleverly atmospheric too, really capturing that feeling of physically wandering around, feeling emotionally lost.
Born Again Virgin is Austin, Texas-born songwriter Anna Roenigk, who now resides in London, and can buy This Town Isn’t Shit Without You on Bandcamp now, and stream it in all the usual places.
DEADWAX – Northern Behaviour
DeadWax describe themselves as “alternative grime rock”, and yeah, that fits. I try to avoid comparisons, but listening to Northern Behaviour I am reminded of bands that don’t fit neatly in boxes, but gain a much larger fanbase as a result — so fans of Rage In The Machine and Deftones may feel at home here, but also there’s a kind of angry hip hop vibe along the lines of Public Enemy, except that it’s properly British and modern. I really like it!
DeadWax, who are from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, just made their debut London performance at The Macbeth of Hoxton, and you can catch them at Corporation in Sheffield on 29th April, The Old Cold Store in Nottingham the day after, and The Fulford Arms in York on 13th May. Northern Behaviour is available to stream now.
HODGES – #SayNoToDeteriorationOfImmigrationLaw
You think you know someone! Hodges have been submitting tracks to us for as long as I can remember, reliably delivering comfortingly fuzzy Japanese rock, so this took me completely by surprise. I must confess that, as much as I try to keep up with the news out there in the world, the issues around Japan’s immigration law had passed me by, perhaps because here in the UK it’s also a similarly hot button topic that tends to dominate the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
#SayNoToDeteriorationOfImmigrationLaw is pure protest — angry lyrics (translation available on the Soundcloud page), layered vocals, tambourines and, apparently, buckets. I think it’s an excellent and original protest song that you can enjoy just for how good it sounds.
Hodges are from Ichikawa, just outside Tokyo in Japan, and I don’t actually know anything else about them, except that they frequently show up on our Listening Post to support other artists — thanks for that!
JAMES SAYER – Cherry
Also taking us for a trip in the time machine this week is James Sayer with Cherry. James has appeared on Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape before now, but this is his first time on our Fresh Faves, and his biography is pretty fascinating — citing early inspiration in the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and Billy Joel, James moved to London and started performing almost every night in piano bars, clubs and pubs, eventually meeting Alan Glass (Earth Wind and Fire, Aretha Franklin), and together they began working on James’s debut material. James subsequently went on tour in the US with Ruen Brothers, during which time they supported George Ezra, played Coachella, and did a live recording session with Rick Rubin, no less.
Back at home, he’s been played on BBC Three Counties, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 Music, and seems popular in the Netherlands too, having been playlisted on the Dutch Radio 2, with shows planned there for next month. Here in the UK you can catch him at Jam House in Birmingham on 4th May, and Pizza Express in London on the 18th May. Cherry is available to stream now in all the usual places.
LINES OF FLIGHT – Becoming Bear
From Leeds, Lines of Flight are Matthew Henderson and Helen Whale, who joined forces remotely during lockdown in 2020 to create their first EP, as they explained in an interview with Del back then. Becoming Bear is taken from their forthcoming EP, More Than Human. Where their first EP, Signs Of Life, was very much inspired by lockdown, More Than Human “begins the process of looking forward” to confront what lies ahead: “Lines of Flight explore what humans do to each other and why they do it; what we they do to other animals we share the world with; and what humans do to the planet.”
You can get this track from Bandcamp now and stream it on Spotify — More Than Human will be released on 5th May.
PHOEBE COCO – Earth Dream
London-based, Welsh-born Phoebe Coco has long caught our attention for being a very interesting artist. Currently, she’s writing and performing songs for the environment, “most specifically trees”, in a project titled Tree Song. A musical “Tree Song Tree Trail” is installed across green spaces of London, where her songs can be heard.
Which brings us to Earth Dream, which moves through its structure so fluidly it took me a while to realise that structure was actually there, and for the coda it, appropriately enough, blossoms into something quite wonderful. I love how it’s topped and tailed with a prominent heartbeat rhythm. Phoebe’s voice is smooth as silk, but with plenty of substance.
Her acclaimed debut album, My White Horse & I, achieved “local, national and global radio play”, from the likes of 6 Music and Radio Wigwam, where she was nominated for their best female artist of the year. More recently, her writings and performances with trees have been aired by Robert Macfarlane on BBC 4 Front Row. Phoebe’s music is available to stream and buy on Bandcamp now.
THE ILFORDS – Winlaton
Another lockdown-related and great-sounding track from The Ilfords who, it’s important to note, are not from Essex, but from Ilford Road, Newcastle upon Tyne. About the track, named after a village in Gateshead, David from the band says “Winlaton was written during deep lockdown. Nothing was open and late-night running was the only space I had to myself. I suppose it reflects on what methods you can try to use when you feel lost. On one late night trek however, I realised I wasn’t just lost mentally at that time but geographically, as I’d managed to run all the way to Winlaton.” Deep, I love it.
Winalton is available now to buy on Bandcamp now and stream in all the usual places. With support from Nick Roberts at BBC Introducing Newcastle, John Kennedy on Radio X, Planet Rock, Amazing Radio, ourselves and apparently a spot on the South Shields FC stadium playlist, The Ilfords are clearly making a big impression, and indeed the band are performing a sold out gig tonight (24th April) at Hoxton Underbelly in London as part of the Isle Of Wight festival’s New Blood Competition quarter final, so all the best with that!
THE NEW CUT – The Family Business
As far as I can tell, The Family Business from Bristol-based The New Cut has been around in demo form since the end of 2021. However, this studio version comes from their 2023 EP Merrywood, released 12th April. It’s about a conversation about making money from making music — the lyrics are great, it’s stylish, got attitude and bags of energy, and apparently goes down a real treat live.
To get that live experience for yourself, you can catch them at Exchange in Bristol on 30th April (this Sunday), where they will be performing this and other tracks from the EP, including their recent singles Stephen Gerrard Is My Dad, and Reclamation, which are all available to stream 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.