Artists at a glance
WORLDWIDE WELSHMAN AND THE FAIRYTALE CELLIST
These Fresh Faves were picked by our readers over the weekend – and reviewed by Fresh On The Net’s Steve Harris this week. You can hear all these tracks in a single Soundcloud playlist here.
ALEX HALL – Take You Back
Alex Hall opens our Fresh Faves with Take You Back, a youthful, but thoughtfully written and carefully crafted song about dealing with a difficult breakup and the anguish of a possible reunion. Its muted synths and gentle vocals really give that sense of someone navigating those swirling inner thoughts. While he’s appears very modest, Alex does enjoy blowing his own trumpet in the very literal sense, and it’s good to hear a little of that come in at the end, adding some light to an otherwise dimly lit scene — perhaps as he reaches an untold decision.
Alex Hall is from New Forest, Hampshire, and it’s great to see he’ll be playing Glastonbury this year, for the second year running. Listening Post regular Tony Hardy of fifty3.net is a judge for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, and is quoted as saying that Alex is “a genre-crossing songwriter with a fine gift for story telling”, and I’d be inclined to agree. Stream Take You Back in all the usual places now.
ANDA – Either Way
Either Way by Anda really caught my ear this week both for its stripped-back jazzy bass and percussion backing and its sharply pointed lyrics. Anda says, it’s “about the rather sour ending / or turbulence of a relationship — love relationship, friendship or even family ties. It lets the other person know that that wasn’t OK, and If you didn’t love them, it would have gone a whole other way.”
Making her Fresh Faves debut this week, Anda is “a singer/songwriter from London, originally from Latvia”, and Either Way is her first single, which she’s produced herself. According to her bio, making her own music is something Anda has returned to after losing both her grandmother and mother within two years of each other, having grown up in school choirs, attended music school, and subsequently worked in music management with emerging talent. Sounds like the right move to me! You can stream Either Way in all the usual places now, or buy it on iTunes.
CHARLOTTE CARPENTER – Spinning Plates
With Spinning Plates, Charlotte Carpenter gives a masterclass in how a track can really surprise you in the way it progresses. After its solid opening and initial chorus, things begin to meander, until it finds its feet again, before becoming contemplative once more, and concluding with surefooted confidence. Crucially, of course, all this fits, both with the lyrics, and the fact that despite its big sound, this is the work of a solo artist, and so singer and instruments all move as one.
Spinning Plates — apparently four years in the making — is Charlotte Carpenter’s first release since 2019, and her first appearance on our Fresh Faves. From Birmingham, she’s supported by BBC Introducing both in Northampton and the East Midlands, and Spinning Plates proved very popular with moderators and voters alike this week. You can stream the track in all the usual places now, and buy it on iTunes or Bandcamp.
CODEWALKERS – Nothing 4 Free
Cardiff-based Codewalkers return to our Fresh Faves with Nothing 4 Free which, according to the band, is about “dysfunctional relationships, in this case a guy who is threatened by the partner of a female friend. He’s not interested in her, and he’s not interested in getting beaten up because of her.”
I love the way this sounds so foreboding, with its sung choruses, powerful blend of guitars, proper live drums, and additional vocals from Becky Winfield. If you like this, you can also check out a really good live performance on YouTube. Nothing 4 Free will be released on 9th June.
FLAMINGODS – Dreams (On The Strip)
With Dreams (On The Strip), London quartet and “international psych explorers” Flamingods have released their first new music since their fourth studio album Levitation in 2019. Recorded in Atlanta with Grammy award-winning producer Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, M.I.A), this track was premiered last week by no less than Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music, with nice words from The Times and Clash too.
This track is available to stream and buy now, and you can catch them at the Isle of Wight’s Vintner Fringe festival in July 21, followed by Latitude on July 22, and at the Manchester Psych Festival in September.
GOLD SPECTACLES – Man Or Machine
Gold Spectacles is one of the first acts I reviewed for Fresh On The Net nine years ago, and that was their first appearance on our Fresh Faves too. I remember that well, because I found the track unexpectedly challenging to write about. Almost a decade on, I now think I know why: without resorting to gimmicks or (no pun intended) spectacle, they don’t really sound like anyone else, and that kind of originality is rare. Even better, they always sound like themselves.
Man Or Machine is gorgeous, and topped our Listening Post this week. It’s apparently “an ode to the matriarch” — a grandmother who passed away this year — and its spacious arrangement, gentle vocals and sweet melodies make it a very enjoyable listen, and perfect indie pop. It’s taken from the More Heart Than Sense (Pt. 1) EP, which is available to buy or stream now.
ROSIE BERGONZI – Not Just A Hashtag
“I’m not just a hashtag, I was black before you cared,” says Rosie Bergonzi, who seemingly holds little to no hope that the outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 will be sustained in the long term, and from the lyrics I’m guessing this was written around that time. Indeed, the line “I don’t trust you, white folks, to stay woke” only serves to remind me how “woke” has been weaponised to describe a plethora of topics that people of a certain demographic think is wrong with the modern world (basically everything). So yeah, it’s going well.
While the subject is serious and the anger real, this message is delivered with a combination of sarcasm and weary resignation that I find quite disarming.
Rosie’s bio is nuts. So, not only is she a percussionist and poet based in London who studied at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Goldsmiths University of London, but also an educator who leads and facilitates workshops including collaborative songwriting and instrumental pieces, a black belt in Karate (when I said “nuts” I meant unusual and impressive), plays football with her local team “Bend It Like Peckham”, and somehow also finds time to study improvisational comedy AND learn French.
Not Just a Hashtag is taken from her Poems About Race EP, which was released last week and is available on Bandcamp now.
SWIMMERS JACKSON – Borrow Sorrow
Borrow Sorrow is the first track from the second album by Swimmers Jackson, Now Is All, and also appears on its own EP, which features various other, earlier versions. Apparently influenced by some demos Elliott Smith did with producer Jon Brion back in 2000, it’s an enjoyably urgent, pacy track, so I was surprised to read that it originally started out life in 2018 as a slow waltz that is also included on the EP.
Niall “Swimmers” Jackson is from Dublin, and now lives in London. Borrow Sorrow is available on Bandcamp now as part of the EP of the same name or the album Now Is All, which was released last month, and also available on Bandcamp.
TARA FLANAGAN – Just A Memory
With its crisp vocals and sharp, valedictory lyrics, Just A Memory is big sounding, poppy and jazzy all at the same time, and thanks to the joyous demise of the relationship in question, very much summons the sunshine, which is quite fitting for this particular, unusually sunny Bank Holiday Monday.
Tara Flanagan is from Poole, now lives in London, and has received support from BBC Introducing Solent, Spotify’s Fresh Finds, Love Island host Laura Whitmore on 5 Live, and done a number of impressive support slots too. You can stream Just A Memory on Spotify now.
WORLDWIDE WELSHMAN AND THE FAIRYTALE CELLIST – Oes Gafr Eto?
Other Fresh On The Net reviewers will try to tell you that their batch of ten tracks is really strong and has something for everyone, but just ask yourself, does that batch conclude with a song, entirely in Welsh, about goats?
Oes Gafr Eto? translates as “Is there another goat?” and is Worldwide Welshman and The Fairytale Cellist’s take on the “popular Welsh wassailing song” Cyfri’r Geifr (Counting Goats). The new title may also cheekily refer to Worldwide Welshman’s first album, which was called “The World is Like A Crazy Goat”, which itself was a translation of his Spanish song, “El Mundo Está Como Una Cabra”. Try to keep up.
Anyway, Worldwide Welshman is “singer-songwriter, folk singer, producer and comedian from Betws-y-Coed” Liam Rickard, and he’s joined here by The Fairytale Cellist, aka Ailsa Mair Fox, both now residing in Machynlleth, West Wales. Oes Gafr Eto? Is available to buy on The Fairytale Cellist’s Bandcamp page 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.