Artists at a glance
ADVANCED BEATS FEAT TIPPA IRIE
DEL OWUSU AKA PLATINUM MIND
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Poppy Bristow this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
32 TENS – This Just Aint My Year
This week’s Fresh Faves are off to a lively start with this refreshing blast of indie rock, courtesy of Warrington band 32 Tens. The backing bounces along like an expertly skimmed stone, but lead singer Max Vickers’ sweetly ragged vocals bring out the resignation running through the lyrics without dulling the tune’s abundant optimism.
32 Tens name Jamie T, Jack White, and the Arctic Monkeys among their influences, and while This Just Ain’t My Year has echoes of all three, more than anything else it’s as much a pick-me-up for luckless days as it is a guaranteed gig crowd-pleaser. By their own admission, the boys are also ‘obsessed’ with retro video games – what’s not to like?
ADVANCED BEATS FEAT TIPPA IRIE – Soundman
Well, this is a real treat. Not only is Soundman a dub-tastic genre mashup as sonically crystal clear as you’d hope from the title and lyrics, but they’ve got Brixton singjay legend Tippa Irie in on vocal duties!
With Tippa’s unmistakably nimble flow detailing the expertise of the titular Soundman, it’s no mean feat to meet his abilities musically, but production duo Advanced Beats rise to the challenge to stunning effect. There could be no better tribute to the engineers that make dub, reggae, and electronic music the forces they are, and it’s best played on the biggest sound system you can find.
BERRIES – Control
If you’re looking for something darker and spikier, London garage rockers Berries are here to deliver the goods. The angular guitars of Control veer between dissonant and melodic as they jostle for space, but the resulting track is anything but messy. Everything hangs together perfectly to express the song’s soul-searching sentiments, resulting in a moodily alluring track which lands somewhere between goth, emo, and a slightly metal-tinged take on Television’s classic album Marquee Moon.
According to the band, ‘Control is about channelling inner strength to survive the inevitable dark moments of life. To take control and push on with meaning, or to spiral into nothingness’. Would a segue with Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control be in order? Maybe, but through finding their own Control, Berries have found their own sound too.
CHINWE – Come We Fly
Should anyone out there still need proof that electronic music can have soul, Come We Fly sees East London’s Chinwe putting those doubts to rest once and for all. The comfortable, spacious backdrop is lent a dash of urgency by some drum-and-bass skittering, the contrast providing the ideal setting for Chinwe’s warm, relaxing vocals.
Chinwe tells us that ‘Come We Fly is about ignoring warning signs and holding onto a relationship despite knowing it’s not good for you. You keep clinging onto the idea that if you could just go someplace else, somewhere new or literally fly away, everything could be fixed – but it never really works out like that.’ The message may be raw, but the irresistible production sugars this particular pill with panache.
DEL OWUSU AKA PLATINUM MIND – Journey Of The Drum
Over to Fresh On The Net’s own Del Owusu now for this majestic offering. Journey Of The Drum is a masterwork of booming drums and gleaming guitar, and who better to tell us about it than Del himself? He says:
‘I recorded it with my mum during lockdown 2020. I wanted to release it for Black History Month that year. I wrote the lyrics in English and then we worked together to translate it to Twi and this is what she’s saying:
“Kofi (Me) you come from a royal household (my grandfather was a chief) the drums play an important part in telling our history. The drums give the heart strength and peace, it is important you know this. Tell your children and tell them to pass it on. God bless you now and forever more. Amen.”’
The result is expansive and original, fusing the personal to the truly epic in style. It’s a song to listen to again and again.
DRELLA – Divide
The political bleakness of our contemporary age affects almost everyone in some way, but it can sometimes be easy to feel that nobody else sees it. Enter Drella, an alternative rock trio from Bradford who, with Divide, are here to give voice to that fury and show us that we’re together in our isolation.
As vocalist Jonny Whyatt rasps a litany of accusations at the rich and powerful over snarling bass and metallic lead guitar, he takes the pessimism it’s so easy to succumb to and turns it into raging courage. Even when there’s no visible way out, where there’s the will to sing, there’s a way to fight.
HENS BENS – Please Can Hens Bens Support Devo
Strap yourself in! Please Can Hens Bens Support Devo is a plea from irrepressible Scottish electro-rockers Hens Bens to everyone’s favourite spuds, barrelling along at a speed which leaves you feeling like you’ve been whacked with a mallet. It’s so speaker-warpingly brilliantly that if Devo don’t take them on after this I don’t know what they’re doing.
In the words of the Bens themselves, ‘the lyrics are to be taken 100% literally. DEVO have announced some UK dates later this year. Within about three hours of the Edinburgh show’s announcement, this song was written, recorded and distributed to the band’s members, management and other associated personnel in a bid for HENS BENS to be chosen as support band’. So if you’re Mark Mothersbaugh, then get on it. Are they not men?
(And if you’re not Mark Mothersbaugh, check the links below to see how you can help the cause…)
KID APOLLO – Long Time Coming
I’ve got plenty of time for the slyly endearing, reflective pop of Derry singer-songwriter Kid Apollo. If you like a lyric edged with hangdog humour and set to an indomitably catchy tune, his work might float your boat too.
We find the Kid in a peppy frame of mind on Long Time Coming, which sees him mounting a lyrical meditation on homecoming against a backing which fizzes with air-punching vitality and youth. It’s not so much a contradiction as an ideal complement, inviting the listener to consider their place in life with a carefree dance as much as a rueful smile. In Kid Apollo, it looks like we might have found the perfect heir to Harry Nilsson.
LAURA REZNECK – Open Season
If you need something a bit calmer after that little lot, Open Season by Vancouver singer-songwriter Laura Rezneck will do nicely. With a lilting melody rendered in intimate vocals that sit on the softer side of keening, set over almost jazzy drums and piano chords, the song carves out a gentle path that builds to a climax which is all the stronger for its relative restraint.
The lyrics suggest a heartbreak which is mirrored in the melancholic music, but on the whole the song is as soothing as it’s sad-eyed. Listening to it feels like watching rain from your window, and it goes down like a nice warming cup of tea on a cold day.
PALOOKA 5 – Feech La Manna
This is a fun one! Feech La Manna sees cult popsters Palooka 5 twanging into action with all guitars (and organs) blazing. Being named for a minor villain in The Sopranos, the song boasts an appropriately cinematic sound – although maybe ‘movie-ish’ is a better adjective for this delightfully kitsch, catchy fusion of surf and garage rock. You may well be humming it all day.
Describing their own sound, Palooka 5 say ‘think B52s with a “bad vibrations” modern twist’. It’s a great synopsis – hooky, pop-cultured fun that’s pleasingly scuzzy round the edges. If you ask me, it’s the sound of the summer.
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.