Fresh Faves: Batch 496

Astrid & Alexander

Artists at a glance


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.

ANT THOMAZ – Magpies (feat. Craig Weir & Frances Knows)

We open our Faves this week with the enchanting Magpies by Glasgow-based Ant Thomaz. Magpies is taken from 5:20, Ant’s first solo EP, and he is joined here by piper Craig Weir and Frances Knows. Magpies is a strong track that conjures some beautiful imagery, and is very well produced.

While this is Ant’s first time on our Fresh Faves as a solo artist, you may also recognise him as frontman of DopeSickFly, who appeared in Faves 470 at the end of last year, collaborating with comedian Karen Dunbar.

Catch him performing live to launch this EP in Edinburgh and Glasgow this coming weekend, as well as the Mugstock Festival Strathallan and Aberdeen Fringe in August, returning to Glasgow for an EP showcase on 26th August.

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ASTRID & ALEXANDER – I Am A Businessman

I count myself among the many listeners who fell hard for I Am A Businessman by Astrid & Alexander this week, which according to them is “a torrid tale of money making and desire, power and crime”, or possibly about someone who used to play a businessman on a TV show that went on to become president, which reminds me of a bad dream I had once. Every night. For four years.

Anyway, the fact this track was so strong actually sent your faithful correspondent into detective mode, asking questions such as who are these people, really? How can this be their debut single? Is it secretly a cover version of something I’ve missed?! Translated from French? Based on a novel?! It’s that good.

The truth is that this brilliant track is their debut, brand new, and completely original. However, while that may be true, the two artists involved have form. Astrid Rostaing is from Paris (via Berlin) and the voice of the well-received Europop album Hard Feelings by Soft Regime, while London-based Alexander Mayor also releases music under the nom de plume Alexander’s Festival Hall.

This track is the first taken from their debut album, [romantic music plays loudly] which is due out later this year, and is available to stream and buy on Bandcamp now.

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JOY DOC – Been Here Before

Expertly crafted D’n’B now. Been Here Before has everything you would want, with sweeping strings and crisp synths propelled forward by intricate beats and that dark undercurrent of a bassline. The lyrics pack some punch too, recalling episodes of destructive behaviour and explaining how “there’s only so much I can endure”.

One of the things I love about drum and bass is how it can be so transportive, so you can dance to it, you can chill to it, or fly away somewhere else and forget all your worries to it. Been Here Before does all that, and is a bit of a grower too.

Joy Doc is a songwriter, producer, vocalist and pianist from New Barnet, London, and while this is not her first single, she’s yet to release an EP, album, or start performing live, but she’s hoping to release more tracks over the rest of the year. Been Here Before is available to stream now.

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LOCKS – Jars

Ah yes, a dark and haunting folk song about creepy gothic murders, this is what we want! Jars, which sounds like a Victorian monster that constructed itself from nasty things lying around dark alleyways, rewards each listen with some new gruesome detail.

“We’ve got sharp claws, pitches and forks,
We’ll burn down your house and then we’ll kill you for sport,
And we’ve got pots and pans and knives to cut off hands,
And jars to keep them all safe.”

From London, and no stranger to this fine blog, Tom’s BBC Introducing Mixtape, and indeed listeners of BBC Radio 6 Music, LOCKS describe themselves as a “Junkyard Folk & Skeletal Blues group carving their way through music’s underbelly with a rusty pitch fork.”

Jars is taken from the EP, Tall Tales, which is available to stream and buy on Bandcamp now.

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MAY PAYNE – I Hate It When You Touch Me

At first listen, I Hate It When You Touch Me is a delicate track by May Payne about being uncomfortable with intimacy, and wanting to gain trust “with someone I could grow to like”, but the overwhelming sense of pain and fear suggests there’s more to it.

On Facebook, May explains that she is a victim of sexual assault, and wrote this song in her first year of uni after being assaulted by someone she knew. “I never ever thought I’d release it, but after playing it at an open mic and seeing the reaction of people in the audience I felt like it was important to put it out there […] I really haven’t ever before heard someone else speak about this, and I know how much it would’ve meant to me if I had.”

The track was recorded in a single take, with May singing and playing the piano at the same time, “because anything else would’ve felt insincere.”

May Payne is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter and pianist based in Manchester, this track is available to stream or buy on Bandcamp now.

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Ah, this is special. Like This Before is the new single from London-based musician Muca, and features bossa nova pioneer and legend, Roberto Menescal on acoustic guitar, with Celeste Caramanna on vocals. As well as being beautifully melodic, Like This Before sounds so incredibly fresh and light, it could surely brighten the darkest of days.

To create this track, Muca flew to Rio to record with Menescal, after meeting him at Pizza Live Express Live in London. There he also saw Celeste for the first time, when she made a special appearance to sing a track with Menescal. Both Muca and Menescal agreed she was the only one who should sing on this. Celeste worked on the lyrics and recorded the vocals with Muca in London.

Celeste Caramanna is a young singer who lives in London. Celeste collaborates with a lot of songwriters and musicians and also composes her own material. She has performed across the world from Brazil to Italy, as well as France, Ireland, Holland, Portugal, accompanied by her band, but London in particular has taken her to its heart, and she’s performed in all its top jazz venues.

Muca (Murillo Sguillaro) runs his own music production studio, The Secret Warehouse of Sound, in Hackney Central. He has been surrounded by music since he was young, playing in several bands and projects, and working in different studios in São Paulo, Brazil, where he learned from some of the best. As a producer and engineer, his credits include L.A. Salami, Anoushka Shankar, Randolph Matthews, Declan Welsh & The Decadent West, Los Bitchos, The Dead Pirates, Tiger & The Homertons and others.

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Roberto Menescal:
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Celeste Caramanna:
Official | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube


Following on wonderfully from the last track, NX Panther collaborates here with singer Bgbgb and producer K-Wolf on the sultry, cinematic Resonate.

NX Panther (Alia Pathan) has an interesting story, which you can read more about in the interview Del did with her earlier this year. She studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent, where she did music “in secret” with her friend Ben, where he would play Ragtime songs and she would sing jazz over the top. In university, she also learned to make video art, and to record and mix soundscapes and music to make the scores.

When studying for her master’s degree in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, she was interviewed for the Red Mansion Art Prize residency in Beijing, where Curator Anne Duffau asked whether she’d ever thought about making music as its own thing. She was selected for the prize and so did the residency in China, where the influx of Black American culture being imported into China unlocked all the influences of her childhood, prompting her to start rapping again.

All that has clearly paid off — NX Panther has had support from BBC Introducing Solent with Steph Nieuwenhuys, has naturally appeared on the BBC Introducing Mixtape, and now (to top them all!) our Fresh Faves. She’s clearly a rising star, and one to keep your eye on.

Resonate is available to stream and download now.

Official | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Bandcamp

PECQ – Block The Noise

London art-pop duo pecq have always sent us interesting music, but the last track that appeared in Faves 482, Left Behind, was about the tragedy of losing a friend to suicide. Block The Noise is taken from the same EP, Amnesia’s Ritual — “an unflinching portrayal of loss and the incomprehensible array of emotions that accompany it”. According to the band, this song is about PTSD, and “follows a cycle of repression, escapism and release, the time-old practice of exorcising trauma and memory with euphoria, music and movement”.

pecq is multi-instrumentalist duo Niko O’Brien and Hannah Jacobs who, having spent years as engineers, producers and songwriters for other people, found themselves with an empty studio and time to focus on their own music during the pandemic. Amnesia’s Ritual is available to stream and buy from Bandcamp now.

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SILVERKITE – Blue Spider Blood

Silverkite is South East London-based songwriter Jon Murphy, and Blue Spider Blood is a quiet, gentle track with guitars, trumpet, strings and drums that almost make it sound like the world is moving in slow motion.

Blue Spider Blood is taken from the EP of the same name, which is available to stream, or buy on Bandcamp. According to the album’s blurb, this second EP “explores heart-wrenching melancholia” where the songs “shift from a sense of vulnerability to a sense of power, reflecting a need to find avenues of resistance and expression in an increasingly hostile world.”

Blue Spider Blood is available to stream or buy on Bandcamp now.

Facebook | Bandcamp


The Scribes are a hip hop three-piece from Bristol, working here with producer Vice Beats and Donnie Numeric. Focus just leapt out of the speakers at me this week with its energy, incredible flow, and above all else a great sense of fun. This track is taken from The Totem Trilogy Part 2, which is out now.

Looking at their web site, if you’re going to a festival this summer, there’s a good chance they’ll be there. For starters, you can catch them at Latitude, the Yarty Party Festival (Axminster), Chalfest (Stroud), and Leopallooza (Bude) over the next week, and then frankly far too many places to mention for pretty much the rest of the year — check the Tour page on their web site for a full list.

Our Del has interviewed them twice — in 2021, and 2022, for his own blog, where you can read, as the above might suggest, that they’re doing well and kinda… busy.

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The Scribes

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.

Steve Harris

Steve Harris is an independent app developer living in Swansea, Wales. A passionate music lover, his hobbies include not working and pretending to understand science. Find him on Twitter: @steveharris. Read more about Steve.


  1. LOCKS

    Woohoo, thanks Steve and Tom 🖤🖤🖤🖤

  2. Ah great reviews as always Steve. Ha ha a bad dream, every night … for 4 years! I wonder what that could be referring to!! Hopefully one that isn’t set to recur. Great to see PECQ (whose Lexington gig I reviewed for Fresh on the Net and our own Tom Robinson has worked with at a songwriting workshop) in there once again. Likewise NX Panther. And jeez, what a talent May Payne is. That song blew me away on first listen and inspired me to explore more of her amazing catalogue. Well done to all the artists. Another fine faves list. 🙂

  3. oldierob

    What a great playlist and a great write up as ever Steve

  4. Well done everyone! And fab job Steve! Yeah that dream for years… wow what a headache! 😂

  5. Louise Toal

    Excellent work, Steve and all the artists too! ❤️

  6. Enjoyed reading and listening.

  7. Guys, thank you SO MUCH for this. It made my day! Also, so many other great music. Great to be part of this.

  8. Ant Thomaz

    Music to my ears! I am so grateful to be added this playlist. Just listened to all the tracks and they are all beautiful- this is a brilliant platform to discover and enjoy New Sounds. Thank You! Antz

  9. JAY

    Hi Steve, Ive submitted a track by Secret Rivals called ‘Hate’ can i make sure its reaching the team? (im a a bit aparanoid my laptop is fucking me in the arse!)

    Great write up’s as usual!

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