Artists at a glance
CONSCIOUS ROUTE & BIG REBZ
JOHNNY PANIC & THE BIBLE OF DREAMS
PAULFCOOK & THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS
SKINNYBOY TUNES FEAT UNCLE KID
THIS ELEGANT GULL
Aaaaaaand we are back with another fab Fresh Faves. Thank you to everyone who submitted tracks.
If you have a track you’d like me to play on my Songbird Sessions on Islington Radio please drop me an email with an MP3 and bio telling me about yourselves at firstname.lastname@example.org. All genres welcome!
I’m saving my orange hot chocolate, I have to make it last! So, it’s good old Tetley tea, one sugar with nowt taken out.
That’s a throwback.
AirPods charged? Oui.
Tea hot? Si.
Keys in the ignition? Ja.
Four lit and in the green.
BLOKEACOLA – Jupiter Eats Planets
This… is trippy.
I like trippy. It’s in the chord progression, but I guess that’s in keeping with the theme, very 60s/70s especially with the synths in the background.
My favourite part of this is the vocals though, very laid back, they very much follow the same melody all the way through, and it makes for a great track.
Lyric-wise, Blokeacola references Memphis Minnie, a groundbreaking blues singer from the early 20th century, and also his frame of mind while writing this song just by the first couple of lines:
“Forever chemicals, comments about comments
Happenstance ain’t happening
I’ve got a whole damn hive of bees in my bonnet”
I like that line.
Blokeacola is an artist from Newport, and has always had a way with words. This is his third entry on the Faves. Our Tom describes him as a superbly psychedelic artist.
BRAPURPLE – Drawn To You (ft. Gabrielle Sey)
I actually reviewed this a while ago, as Brapurple and Gabrielle Sey sent me an advance copy to play on my show and review for the blog.
To Ghana – the motherland – we go for this, and it’s got the taste of suya, jollof rice and an ice cold Fanta in the summer sun with ice dripping down the sides. In other words this song deserves the chef’s kiss.
Gabrielle Sey and Brapurple join forces on this. Gabrielle bringing the soulful flavours and Brapurple bringing the spice over a beat that hangs low and simple, this has summer banger written over it.
First let’s deal with the beat – the marimbas play gently, along with the guitars kicking in with shakers – you hear Brapurple say his name in the only way he can “Bra-Pur-ple” – this reminds me of Rodney Jerkins tag – “Darkchild”. I love it. The kick comes in with percussion and occasionally you get the snares giving the fills – this is genius.
Brapurple speaks his verse chilled, effortlessly and eloquently switching between English and Twi, and cueing Gabrielle in – she sings her verses with power – it feels like she’s had influences from gospel singers and I can listen to her all day. Her vocals are low and husky, but she can take it high range too, and it’s gorgeous. The lyrics talk of falling for someone, getting close, and not just an instant attraction – it’s both mind body and soul….
Brapurple is a Ghanaian artist who I came across through Fresh On The Net, and has subsequently been played on Neil March’s Trust The Doc radio show.
Gabrielle Sey is a London-based singer-songwriter that has also been on my radar for quite a while. She describes her sound as being like a round trip from London to Accra with with a stop off at a Cali Sunday service. She’s been featured on BBC 6 Music, gained kudos from Tom Robinson and recognised by afropunk and Gal-Dem.
In short, this is a match made in heaven! According to our Neil, the seed for this was when Brapurple heard Gabrielle on his Trust The Doc show (Saturday, 5-7pm exilefm.com). They are both from Ghana, like myself, and it’s great to see them on the Faves!
This, no doubt, is my track of the week.
CONSCIOUS ROUTE & BIG REBZ – Synthetic Light
This track starts off with a horn fanfare that’s put through the processor before dropping back into a really soulful 70s style beat, then Conscious Route and Big Rebz drop their bars. This gives it an an old school feel, and a real bounce. The poetry is very clever here, because while this could be a track born in the underground hip hop scene of the 90s, it turns that on its head because it doesn’t celebrate the “street life”.
I like the wah’d guitars on this, and the subtle nod to reggae towards the end! Love it.
Conscious Route is an Edinburgh-based artist and Big Rebz is from East London, they’ve collaborated on this, a two track release called Broken Utopia, which was produced by battle-rapper and beat-maker, Mackenzie.
Big Rebz is a hip-hop MC based in East London. Rebz started his career on pirate radio and, after taking a short break to concentrate on family, he returned in 2020 with a brand new LP, Watch Your Boy Shine, which is available on all digital download platforms and is produced entirely by London based hip-hop producer MR2.
DEFS – No Worries If Not
Time for it to get rowdy!! As I say on my show turn it up to 11, because you are about to hit with a all of sound, the guitars get rowdy only pausing for breath for the words to be able to peek through. This is shouty.
I like shouty.
You also can’t go wrong with a song that references David Icke in a tracksuit.
My favourite lyric in this song?
“Don’t nice guys finish last?
Well no, not if they’re really fast,
And sometimes you can cut through
Between the house and the jittery paths.”
I love the way there’s a shouty call and response which is revisited toward the end where it’s slowly and quietly brought up in the mix to bring in an epic outro.
Sheffield DEFS’s music is described as catchy pop punk choruses, hammering post hardcore breakdowns, schizophrenic vocals, and psychedelic anthemic mayhem.
There’s a video shot at Pirate Studios where he’s cloned himself playing all the instruments – either that or they are triplets.
I can’t decide.
Either way, this is from the EP Vol Au Vents, available now on Bandcamp.
ELEVEN MAGPIES – Murmuration
When people ask me what it’s like to be a moderator for Fresh On The Net I always say that it’s an experience. You get to listen to up to 200 songs a week, and you can go from laughing to crying to dancing in the space of an hour. I know it’s different for everyone on the team, but for me I’ve just gone from listening to a shouty post punk track shouting along to “NO. WORRIES. IF. NOT” while cranking up my amp to 11 to closing my eyes and listening to a track that’s taken me home. Not literally, but this instrumental makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I went out for an Italian meal over the weekend, and it was in a restaurant just down the road from me, and while it was very quiet in there given the events going on, I could just imagine families gathered in there engaged in lively conversations as this plays – it made me taste that beautiful bolognaise sauce I had with my spag bol, and while this is far away from being influenced by Italian melodies, you can feel the historical folk feel to it.
I felt like I was with old friends and new family, and you can’t bottle that feeling.
Eleven Magpies is a quartet of musicians from Bristol that met while doing theatre:
Alex Vann – Mandolin
Elizabeth Westcott – Violin
Ian Ross – Guitar
James Gow – Cello
Murmuration is the lead single from Eleven Magpies’ forthcoming second album Two For Joy. The single is out now, and the album will be released via Cuculi Records on 14 May 2023.
Right I know magpies and the numbers are significant in terms of superstition, so I just googled what it was and eleven means health.
JOHNNY PANIC & THE BIBLE OF DREAMS – Directions To The Sunlit Uplands
This song’s lyrics are apparently based on a tweet, this song is credited to Jimmy Andrex, and what made me laugh is that this has been life since 2016 pretty much, namechecking things like Brexit and benefits, the NHS, the cost of living, Rees-Mogg gets an honourable mention too. Nothing here is safe!
The video is a good un! I swear that’s Orville making an appearance on the keyboard playing the bassline, and the clever idea of a monkey puppet lip-synching while his operator drinks a pint and nods along is very clever. I had a feeling that this song would do well on the Listening Post, and it’s good to see it here!
Jimmy Andrex is from Wakefield, and according to his Bandcamp bio he performs all over the UK without a clue what he’s doing or why, either with or without music.
Mate, I doubt any of us know what we’re doing we are in the same boat.
He’s also my one to watch.
MARCH – What Does That Make Me?
I love the intro to this, the chord progression especially. I sat and played along with it on keys, which is what I do when something intrigues me enough to figure out what they’re playing, and March did that for me, Eminor Bmajor Cmajor. So simple, but the vocals choose some interesting notes to keep it going.
But… it’s the lyrics, that get me, particularly this part:
“Oh when the wars keep coming, will you be the one to set me free?
When the law means nothing, will you come and rest your soul with me?
I don’t mind I’d do it for love, I’d do it for free
And what does that make me?”
The chord changes over this part are great there’s a little chromatic change up, and it made me go back and listen again.
March is the current moniker of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kitty O’Neal. Lived human experience, nostalgia, grief, and longing are often what inspire March’s storytelling, which has evolved through the years into a unique pool of sound, transcending the borders between alt-folk and indie.
March cut her teeth on the south coast music scene before relocating to London, and has performed at venues across the UK including multiple slots at Glastonbury and Sofar Sounds.
PAULFCOOK & THE HAPPY SOMETHINGS – Something Happy
A collaboration between The Happy Somethings and Paul F Cook?
Now I’ve known about this collaboration for quite a while, as Paul told me about it, and it was good to hear it come together, there are actually three versions of this song, this the original mix, an acoustic version, and a kitchen disco mix that Paul cooked up (I’m so sorry, that wasn’t intentional I promise).
This song has been getting airplay from Neil March, myself, and Ming and Jon over at Exile FM, and deservedly so because not only is it a fantastic track, the proceeds from sales on Bandcamp go to MIND, a mental health charity that’s close to my heart.
Paul calls the Happys’ music unpolished “jibblety pop”, Tom calls them “optimistic jangle fuzz merchants”.
Me? I call them timey wimey wibbly wobbly… indie pop.
If you get the reference I’ll give you a jelly baby.
Why do I call them that? It’s because they have such a retro, summer of love feel-good vibe to their music, you can place them in the 60s and 70s maybe even early 90s but it doesn’t seem to stick in any era, and this song has a bounce to it that makes me smile.
Paul F Cook describes himself as a polyphonically perverse musician, and he’s also part of Faves alumni Skylon, an artist and designer – a man of many talents and very handy with a guitar.
The Happy Somethings are a trio from the East Midlands, and they describe themselves an independently unpolished band who like to be happy.
SKINNYBOY TUNES FEAT UNCLE KID – As Above, So Below
What a lovely groove! This is so jazzy, I love the way the synth bubbles at the beginning before the drums drop in, and then you have Uncle Kid’s unmistakeable Scottish drawl coming in. He whispers, making it sound like he’s close miked, and I can bet this was recorded late at night because he sounds so chilled.
This collaboration is pretty cool, I’ve heard this a few times now as I was sent a copy for the show, and it was a bit of a hit with the twitter crew for Ming and Jon’s show the Monday Night Ride Out (every Monday night 9-11, exilefm.com).
The thing I like about this track is the big drums, the toms sound big and up in the mix, and there’s a Hammond organ in there too, at least I think it is, you never know… and the guitar solo that wanders in and out.
This track gets my chef’s kiss.
SkinnyBoy Tunes is a Norwich-based producer, and is really handy on the piano. You should check out his instagram videos.
Uncle Kid is a spoken word artist from Edinburgh, Scotland, and describes himself as dark broody understated hip hop with spoken word. Tom describes him as blooming brilliant.
I call him a legend.
Honourable mention to Mark “Boweevil” Howes on guitar.
THIS ELEGANT GULL – I’ll Be A Movie Star
Oh. The information available on this track is delicious…
This is where being a foley artist can really pay off, go out and record sounds, actively listen out for things!
According to the Soundcloud page, the opening sound is the wheels of a suitcase they recorded in a Brussels Eurostar station.
The ticking 8-beat sound is from a pleasing gate in North Wales, which keeps better time than most drummers.
The extra percussive element is from a metal gate recorded on a walk. As you closed the gate it seemed play a chord of the 7th resolving to the tonic! It’s gone through filters so it’s not that obvious.
I mean… what more can I add to this?
It’s the creativity behind it that’s got me and inspired me to go out and record weird sounds and turn them into musical elements, you just don’t know what you can come up with when you set your mind to it!
This Elegant Gull has a really lovely pic of herself and Tom from exactly a year ago today as it goes, shout out to to Lee Griffiths guitarist in Tom’s band for calming her down in soundcheck.
This Elegant Gull is DD Shine and has been known to the team since she was 11.
She plays flute and has been featured on the BBC Introducing Mixtape several times…
She has wise words to close out the Fresh Faves.
“Whatever you’re doing, do it differently.”
I can’t argue with that.
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.
This Elegant Gull photo by Sven Arnstein