Artists at a glance
CONSCIOUS ROUTE & SUPERMANN ON DA BEAT
PETER AND KERRY
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.
ADAM KIDD – Idiom
This week’s Fresh Faves begin with Brighton’s Adam Kidd, who describes himself as a ‘singer, songwriter, storyteller’. Much like Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul’s Ceci N’est Pas Un Cliché, the lyrics of Idiom string together familiar phrases and set them afresh, suggesting a weary overtone which never obscures the song’s homemade happiness.
When a bouncy 60s pop-styled rhythm kicks in at the chorus and a charming, woodsy instrumental hook comes with it, we get the dream soundtrack for a frolic through the fallen leaves. Idiom appears on Adam’s debut solo album, Seven Years of Bad Luck, which came out the day before I wrote this. Going by this song, it looks like the next seven will have much better things in store for him.
BELLZA – Happiness
The mood of rustic relaxation continues with Happiness by Bellza, similarly defining herself as a ‘songer-singwriter from Hastings’. Sung in warmly intimate vocals which mirror the lovely, lilting piano melody and anchored by a loping drumbeat, Bellza’s lyrics may contain no traditional idioms, but they offer us a couple of vivid similes. ‘Like a dog who isn’t trained,’ she sings, ‘she will love you without a name’.
Despite the title, the mood of Happiness is more wistful than outright merry, but the words and music suggest a hopeful reaching towards contentment which stirs the heart with measured grace. As the nights continue to draw in, it’s an irresistible comfort blanket of a song, able to soothe jangled nerves while leaving plenty of room for your own reflections.
CONSCIOUS ROUTE & SUPERMANN ON DA BEAT – Jazz Unsung Ft P Caso & Bridget Quinn
Our next serving of piano comes in a jazzier mode, with Supermann on da Beat dancing up and down scales with dexterity. On Jazz Unsung, he creates the ideal bed for Bridget Quinn’s soulful, haunting vocal and P Caso and Conscious Route’s self-assured rap verses. This is a true collaboration, each artist letting their skills shine to the benefit of the other to showcase what Scotland’s hip hop scene has up its sleeve.
Supermann on da Beat is a passionate promoter of new music himself and a dedicated supporter of disabled artists and art lovers, recently leading a campaign for full accessibility at gig venues. It makes sense that someone who has produced such confident and cooperative work should understand what musicians can achieve in the spirit of togetherness.
DAVOLI – Notes For A New Year
2024 may be a few months off yet, but Davoli has already given us a warm, wry toast to our uncertain futures. Notes For A New Year is an acoustic pop gem replete with rich imagery over a satisfying folky bassline reminiscent of the Beatles. The whole thing gives way to a singalong chorus accented with pedal steel guitar which may well stick in your head for days.
Nottingham resident Davoli has been a friend of Fresh on the Net ever since he released his first single, Sleep Deprived, back in 2022. Notes For A New Year continues his knack for catchy and spring-water-clear jangle pop, rolling along with a minimum of difficulty and a maximum of resigned, sparkling wit.
MEZANMI – To You, My Friends
Mezanmi is the new project of London-based Fran O’Hanlon. With Fran’s gentle voice augmented by delicate piano and swells of strings, To You, My Friends is a direct and touching ballad reminiscent of Father John Misty but far more open-hearted.
Fran says, ‘To You, My Friends is an account of the importance of migration. It’s about the simple fact that we all benefit from being part of an open, welcoming society – and also that we cannot survive without people from all over the world. It is in dedication to my colleagues in the health service, without whom our public services would collapse’.
Profits from the song will go to Choose Love and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). Check the links below for your chance to help.
NEEDSHES – Just Be Around
It’s a pleasure to be once again reviewing something by Uzbekistan’s brilliant Otabek Salamov, who is back again as NEEDSHES. Otabek made the Fresh Faves back in June under his own name with Bahor, an explosion of bubbling technicolour folk-funk. Just Be Around keeps his distinctive and original style, distinguished by lush sonic depth and an indomitably bright and hopeful array of instrumentation, but operates in a rather different genre.
Here, he turns his abundant talents to easy-going reggae-pop, citing Bob Marley as a major inspiration as well as Laid Back’s 1982 hit Sunshine Reggae. With a breathy pan flute hook bringing Otabek’s unmistakable touch to the production alongside delicious hints of organ and brass and a cheerfully chugging bassline, it’s as feel-good as it sounds.
PAULFCOOK – Sorrento Lemon
It’s time now for a delightful instrumental lullaby from another Fresh Faves familiar face. The ever-eclectic paulfcook states on his Bandcamp page that he ‘writes, produces & remixes using acoustic and electronic instruments & field recordings’.
Sorrento Lemon is a small thing of beauty, wafting by like a three-minute, lemon-scented spring breeze. It’s ripe with atmosphere, reflecting Paul’s inspirations: ‘the warm sound of the thumb piano, the colour of Sorrento lemons, the intense midday heat and the sparkle of sunlight on the Bay of Naples’. The circular central melody is just the ticket to transport you away to the Italy of Paul’s memories, leaving your cares behind.
PETER AND KERRY – All I’ve Got Are My Dreams
The London duo Peter and Kerry have been around for a while, with the Guardian having profiled them back in 2012. As the airy bounce of this latest release shows, they’re still putting out light, fluffy indie pop matched by bright, clever lyrics. All I’ve Got Are My Dreams sees them giving voice to the resurgent ideal of simple living, the dream life of many a young person hemmed in by urban life, post-lockdown ennui, and the demands of contemporary capitalism.
The duo achieve this with an endearingly understated British answer to the alternative American Dreams of Bruce Springsteen’s heartland rock. ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees, but if we live off the land it will be obsolete,’ they sing. Born to Run by way of The Good Life? Yes please.
VENUS GRRRLS – Liar Liar
Something a little heavier now, with Leeds’ VENUS GRRRLS getting our circulations going with a shot of powerful anger. Lead singer Grace Kelly enunciates the lyrics in a defiant wail somewhere between metal and gothic rock, allowing the message to come across with bold clarity.
Grace says, ‘The idea was that the “narrator” of the song has become aware of the dynamic of another relationship, and that it isn’t necessarily a good dynamic. Spotting patterns of emotional manipulation and abuse, the narrator seeks not only to empower the victim but to let the perpetrator know that they’ve figured out what’s happening despite the “games”’. Despite the potential darkness of the subject matter, punchy drums and soaring synths whip it up into a thing of much-needed empowering joy.
WINACHI – Smoulder Ft Natalie Wilde
Bringing this week’s Fresh Faves to a close are Warrington funkmongers WINACHI, who describe their sound as ‘swaggering northern tenacity spliced with smooth Californian G Funk soul’. Both elements are in dazzling evidence on Smoulder, with the lead singer’s Shaun Ryder-esque sneer the perfect topping for tight nagging guitar and a bassline recalling Parliament’s indelible Flash Light.
The concoction that results is near-impossible to sit still to, with the music taking as much delight in the world as the lyrics suggest. Appropriately enough, the new album from which this comes is called Sympathy For The Future, and Smoulder is the sound of a band facing the years ahead with the biggest of grins.
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.