Artists at a glance
HERE'S THE STEEPLE
JAMILA X LUCA!
WOJTEK THE BEAR
Hey everyone, another fantastic week from the Inbox through to the Listening Post to the Faves!
Thanks everyone for submitting.
My show on Islington Radio is still going, and you’re more than welcome to send me a track if you wish — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with an MP3 and bio, and I’ll consider it!
At the moment, I’m chugging lemon herbal tea, just because it’s not the season for orange hot chocolate yet, but I’m being naughty and having some shortbread.
AirPods charged? Oui.
Shortbread on the plate? Si.
Lemon tea hot? Ja.
Four lit and in the green.
ALEXANDRA LEAVING – Conversation Killer
This launches at a fair whack with big heavy toms, this a rock track for the ages… I played this on the show this weekend and had a feeling it would be a winner with our readers — it certainly was. The chorus is epic, and the vocals reflect this. I love the riffing at 2:17 when everything drops back to just the guitars and drums – it’s a beautiful moment. Then the wordless ad libs from 2:28 is atmospheric, and builds back up to a huge climax, it just makes you want to jump around in a rainy field at 2pm with thousands of people with the same idea. It ends on a dead stop which is really cool!
You just don’t know what hit you. And that works for me.
Alexandra Leaving is named after a Leonard Cohen song – there’s nothing even remotely Leonard Cohen about this style of music, but Alex Layne has honed this to a great standard. This was produced by her longterm collaborator Jack O’Shea, and her previous singles this year have had support from BBC Radio, John Kennedy on Radio X and playlist support from Apple Music.
CHENG² DUO – Racing Horses
If anyone tells me that Fresh On The Net isn’t versatile enough I’d tell them they need to get their ears checked. This is a classical piece of music. We’ve gone from rock to classical. Let me say that again. ROCK TO CLASSICAL. You can almost see the horses charging – this could be used in a battle scene if percussion was added, but I reckon this could be used to soundtrack a chase scene through a forest…
This is beautiful. Heart stirring stuff!
One of my favourite tracks in the Inbox and the Listening Post overall.
Cheng² Duo are siblings, and between them they have quite a lot of achievements under their belt. Cellist Bryan Cheng is the recipient of the 2022 Queen Elisabeth Competition and Verbier Festival’s coveted Prix Yves Paternot, and pianist Silvie Cheng was the 2022-23 Cecilia Concerts Musician-in-Residence and National Arts Club Artist Fellow. They have been making music for nearly their entire lives. There is so much about them and this is only part of the story.
This is my one to watch!
CRUUSH – As She Grows
To Manchester we go with this next one, and it starts off ethereal before kicking into a rock beat in…
The effects and combination of vocals on the second verse sung in a round makes this a very interesting listen. From 1:14 is where it happens and amongst that big wall of sound it just works really well.
Cruush call their sound a gormless attempt at music… a band from Manchester who specialise in alt indie and shoegaze vibes. It’s so much more than that though!
DELAC – Arms Of Another
A bit of synth pop now, with bleeps blops and boops. This gives me garage vibes with the beat, which sound-wise is very slick and digital, but this has the distinct house synth sound. It works so well. Lyrically this song talks about contemplating being taken back after a break up, and how to move on. It’s that feeling of what to do next…
The bleeps and bloops sold it to me. Great track!
Delac is James McAdam and Stephen Dooley, an electronic duo from Hackney London.
HERE’S THE STEEPLE – Brambles
Now this one is in 6/8, and it’s gorgeous. The combination of woodwind and brass to fill out the place of a synth or piano is such an inspired choice. This song is about growing up, I like the way Ed is talking about the simple things – looking at the lyrics he’s talking about picking berries, and getting dirty. This is classic folk stuff, great story telling, all about real experience.
For the arrangement of the woodwinds and brass…
Here’s The Steeple is the musical handle of Dan Walters. Moving to Huddersfield in 2011, Dan became a mainstay of the local music scene with a reputation for powerful performances and rich, soulful vocals.
HILANG CHILD – Picture Hanging
I recognised Hilang Child’s name right off the bat because I reviewed him back in Fresh Faves 426, and I was impressed even, and I still am now.
This is a bouncy bright track, and you can tell Ed Riman is a drummer, because the drums come in hot — big snare is where it gets you. The build of the synth bass calls to mind the roll of thunder as the song really gets started. This happens at 0:31 and it just builds to where the drums come in at 0:33. For me the harmonies and falsetto is what makes the song, as well as that off-kilter drum beat; it’s not conventional, and if you have been paying attention to the Listening Post the last few weeks you know we don’t do conventional.
Hilang Child is the musical project of British-Indonesian singer, songwriter and drummer Ed Riman. Well done Ed!
JAMILA X LUCA! – Keep You Waiting
Lovely acoustic guitar intro! It starts off as a bossa nova rhythm then falls into step as a pop number. The chorus is just dreamy, Luca!’s voice comes in strong on this part, but Jamila’s more chilled out, with her layered harmonies, they complement each other really well. My favourite part is at 2:00 where they sing “I’m falling for you.” Together it’s very short and very sweet, but oh it has the right effect!
The outro beginning at 2:40 is another stunning part where it’s just Jamila’s vocals over the guitar going all wistful again….
Jamila is based in Zurich, a singer-songwriter to whom making space for vulnerability and self-reflection is the whole point of songwriting.
I like that.
luca! is an alternative indie pop / rock singer-songwriter from Zurich with profound lyrics, passionate vocals, and soulful delivery.
That exclamation mark is explosive.
KONTIKI – Brother Chumbo
Years ago I knew a kid in my neighbourhood called Chumbo. His family were from North Africa. I’m not sure exactly where. He was a bright kid, loved his football, and always had a big smile. When he moved, his friends around him were so sad, I never saw him again, and nothing on the internet turns up anything. I wonder what happened to him — I haven’t seen him in something like 37 years.
Anyway, I digress. This is a really expressive piece of afro jazz, the guitar line and drum intro fool you into thinking that this is going to a drum and bass thing. It’s in the hi hats but when the whole thing comes in it’s definitely not, but believe me when the tempo change kicks in you just want to dance! But just when you think the party’s over… it’s not.
No way. Let the bass player lull you into that false sense of security from 2:53, you’d think it’s going to fade out, but the sax is giving you hint this ain’t over till the drummer gets some…
Wait for it…
Waaaaaait for it…
Big grin on my face right now.
Stabs from 3:57…
Hey it’s on the track, that wasn’t me!
I’m not telling you where.
Let the beat hit you.
OH GOD this track.
So naturally it’s my track of the week.
Kontiki are a Leeds / Bradford five-piece that make raucous, dancefloor-destroying, hypnotic afro fusion grooves.
Hey I wonder what Jon and Ming of the Monday Night Ride Out will make of this?
SIOBHÁN WINIFRED – Killers
*Picks himself off the floor*
Now this is a great bit of indie pop, I like the way this starts off with the synth pitch bending in. The guitars strum around three chords, and there’s a stop and start before the song comes in proper.
This is not a gentle love song, in fact it’s brutal on the subject.
“I’ve never met someone like you,
You suck the life out of every room you’re in,
And I want to leave,
But I don’t have the guts to,
So I’ll just make excuses for you,
I wanna tear myself apart,
Your bit hurts just as badly as your bark,
And I want to leave”
I don’t want to intrude too much on the reasons behind this song, but what is implied is the reality for a lot of people in the world, and is still a taboo to be talked about. I hope someone finds solace in hearing this song, and making the next step to change what their world.
Siobhán Winifred is a singer-songwriter from London, and she got cake the day this song hit 10,000 streams.
Where’s my piece please?
WOJTEK THE BEAR – Second Place On Purpose
This band are no strangers to the Fresh Faves — in fact I actually reviewed them back in 2021. They’ve got that swinging groove back again, but this is a lot slower, and slightly pulled back. There’s a trumpet in there too, playing a lovely melody.
The lyrics are curious to me, the writer is playing the nice guy.
“You may not understand,
But you’re going to have to trust us,
For the first time I’m coming
Second place on purpose.”
There’s a great string arrangement on this as well, overall a great way to finish the faves!
Wojtek The Bear were formed in Glasgow in 2016 and have been featured by Lauren Laverne, Tom Robinson (BBC Radio 6 Music), Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), Vic Galloway, Roddy Hart, The Afternoon Show (BBC Radio Scotland), John Kennedy, Gordon Smart (Radio X) and KEXP.
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.
Woktek The Bear photo by by Chris Hogge
Cheng² Duo photo by Andrej Grilc Photography