TRUST-THE-DOC: MUSICAL MUSINGS

by Neil March (Edition 16, 16th December 2018)

Welcome to Edition 16 of Trust The Doc. Christmas looms large now and festive sounds scream at us from every corner. But the new music keeps coming too. Ed 16 sees me try to summarise this wide spectrum of cool new tracks condensed into one half-monthly blog. So here goes.

✦ OKKYUNG LEE: Ambient Sound Art & Mindspinning Techniques

✦ VANISHING POINT: Operation Lightfoot; Rookery; Neil March

✦ LINEAR OBSESSIONAL: Apocalypse Jazz; Fari B; Handäoline; FluxHaus

✦ MAKAYA MCCRAVEN: Teaming up with Shabaka & other Jazz giants

✦ JOUSKA: Psychedelic Prog Jazz ‘scoundrels’ from Leicester

✦ DAKAR AUDIO CLUB: A piece of West Africa in the UK West Country

✦ NGONI BA: Life affirming melody & harmony fresh out of Mali

✦ CAFé SPICE: Three part harmonies to blow the mind and soothe the soul

✦ STRAW BEAR: Folkrock from the wilds of Cambridgeshire & elsewhere

✦ LINDEN TREE-BAND: Refreshing Folk Rock & Country Vibes

✦ MURIEL & BLAZQUEZ: Stunning Pop & Classical influenced sounds

✦ CHLOË MARCH: New Winter Track by unique singer-composer

✦ THE YADA YADA YADAS: Loud, psych Indie Rock with knobs on!

✦ EVI VINE: Dark noisy ambient Alt Rock from London’s Underground

✦ MORNING MYTH: Yet another dreamy ethereal track from TTD favourites

✦ CLOTH: More engaging new sounds from the Last Night from Glasgow label

✦ JOSIE CLAYTON: Soulful vibes from a serious UK talent

✦ OMNIVI3E: Fresh and Funky vibes in a Disco Nation

✦ JAY DIZZLA: Brit Hop laced with humour North West style

✦ MATT CHURCHILL: Watford Singer-Songwriter making epic Pop tunes

✦ FETHERSTONE: Singer-Songwriter launches her cool Pop project

✦ MAAIKE SIEGERIST: Another fine new track from classy Pop chanteuse

✦ RACHAEL JEAN HARRIS: Stirring, sophisticated & smoking hot Pop

✦ LUNA KELLER: Young singer-songwriter ready to make her mark

CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD

One of many excellent editions of Late Junction (BBC Radio 3), this one presented by the amazing Verity Sharp, introduced me to the composer Okkyung Lee (https://soundcloud.com/user-413389238) whose use of the lesser heard timbres of the Cello on the ambient sound piece The Dark Pull is breathtaking in its originality and makes for compelling listening. Equally compelling though quite different is her experimental chamber piece Yeo-Neun #1 with its striking chords and sparse soundscape.

Okkyung Lee is a South Korean Cellist, Improviser and Composer who has been based in the USA since the early nineties. Her Wikipedia page lists a mouthwatering array of impressive names of who she has collaborated with including Laurie Anderson, Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke and many more. Clearly she is someone whose music I want to get to know more about. Maybe you will too.

Thursday 6th December saw the last Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House of 2018 and we had a fantastic night. I (https://www.soundcloud.com/neilmarch) opened proceedings with a rare set of my contemporary classical works (my first since I played the BBC Introducing Stage at Latitude in 2017). I was fortunate to have two talented young friends, Dilara (Piano), usually singer-poet and my fellow member of Environmental Sound Foundation (https://www.soundcloud.com/e-s-foundation) and Clara Yang (Flute). I played synth and laptop but mainly conducted. The audience response was stunning and Dilara and I are now wondering whether we need to incorporate some of our classical influences into the Electronic Genre Mash-Up of ESF.

Next up we had Crystal Palace-based experimental, improv and spoken word collective Rookery (https://soundcloud.com/worldofsurprises) whose mouthwatering collection of instruments (including Omnichord, Melodica etc.) was matched by the eclectic and experimental nature of their music. It was a gripping, hypnotic set and very impressive. The breadth of their musical influences and ideas was refreshing and they retained a compelling aura with their musical and actual personalities.

Headlining the gig were the stunning Liverpool-based collective Operation Lightfoot (https://soundcloud.com/operation-lightfoot). Brainchild of the busy and versatile Luke Moore (https://soundcloud.com/lukemooremusic) and singer Julia aka Dorothy Bird (https://soundcloud.com/dorothy-bird), they performed a set of the most beautiful exotic, touching music including two Dorothy Bird solo tracks. With Luke’s trademark Cello and an excellent violinist they continued the classically-infused theme of the evening. Their set was more song-based than the other two acts and the quality of their writing (and indeed an unexpected Goldfrapp cover) and arranging was demonstrable. A great climax to a special night.

We are back on 7th February 2019 when we will have the legendary Rothko (https://soundcloud.com/user-646013394) supported by Environmental Sound Foundation and one other to be confirmed. Check in on demerararecords.com/vanishing-point for details of these gigs.

I was also delighted to attend the last Linear Obsessional (https://www.linearobsessional.org/) gig of 2018, curated and compered by the wonderful Richard Sanderson (https://soundcloud.com/bagrec1). Linear Obsessional is the live manifestation of Richard’s long-established experimental music label of the same name. On the bill were four acts.

First up we had a fascinating collaboration between another friend David Little. who records under the name Smallhaus (https://soundcloud.com/smallhaus) and was recently featured on Freak Zone, and the amazing Kassia Flux (https://soundcloud.com/user-686518918). Accordingly they appeared as FluxHaus which happens to be a pretty cool name! They took no time at all to have a packed crowd in the lovely Arts Cafe (Manor Park, Lewisham) enthralled as Kassia treated us to her haunting vocal aspects, fascinating use of the different timbres of an electric violin and other sounds while David focused on producing a steady stream of electronic and found sounds. The ambience they achieved and the degree of sheer inventiveness were genuinely gripping. A great set and good reason to continue with this collaboration in the near future too.

Next up were Handäoline, the latest project to involve Freya Hellier (https://soundcloud.com/user-543707785) and her husband Steve Hellier (https://soundcloud.com/steve-hellier) based on a fascinating back story about Steve’s great uncle who was sent to fight in the second world war and took with him a Melodion which he used to play and notate music for. With Steve focusing on the electronic elements and Freya playing her trademark Accordion they achieved a lovely combination of ambient sound art and engaging harmonic language (in particular climaxing with a figure based around a minor seven chord and the major six chord a tone below it). I managed to have a chat with Freya afterwards after four years of speaking by email and social media DMs! Hopefully we will have her playing at a Vanishing Point gig at the Ivy House in the new year.

The penultimate act was Fari B (https://soundcloud.com/farib) who treated us to a compelling performance of two tracks, one sung in English and one in Sanskrit, preceded by her explanation of how her time spent in India had led her to study the Raga scales and incorporate this mystical musical culture into her own compositions. Her agile and appealing voice and the soothing hypnotic aura of the Harmonium filled the room and prompted my [Indian] friend to comment afterwards that she felt like she was ‘back in the temple meditating’. It was a very welcome departure from any artist I have seen live this year and very impressive.

Last but not least we had the Apocalypse Jazz Unit, the fluid Jazz Punk collective led by Rick Jensen (https://soundcloud.com/rick-jensen-445176748) who many of you will know as the promoter of Skronk and Skronktronic. Rick explained that there can be anywhere between three and eighteen band members at any one gig depending upon who is available but on this occasion there were eight and boy, did they make some noise!! Mixing saxes, clarinets, trumpet, trombone, strings and percussion, they played a mostly improv-based but clearly structured and rehearsed [to some extent] epic of atonal and free contrapuntal Jazz Punk and Avant Garde music in which the various timbres rose and reduced in volume, register and extremes of sound, sometimes simultaneously dropping in volume or playing in unison before flying off into mass fluid polyrhythm again. It was exciting, musical and another great contrast rounding off an excellent afternoon in which all four acts were quite distinct and enjoyable to hear.

Incidentally Dilara and I will be playing as Environmental Sound Foundation (https://soundcloud.com/e-s-foundation) at the next Linear Obsessional on Sunday 13th January (3PM, Arts Cafe, Manor Park) and also at Skronktronic on Wednesday 13th February (7PM, Riverside Studio, Finsbury Park) so look out for news and hope some of you might come along. We will also be supporting Rothko at Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House (7.45PM, Thursday 7th February) and supporting Cholly at Vanishing Point Solo @ Cafe of Good Hope, Place Ladywell, Lewisham (7.30PM, Thursday 7th March). So it is already shaping up to be a busy new year for us on the live circuit.

JAZZ JOURNEYS

I seem to be writing a lot these days about the amazing Shabaka Hutchings (https://soundcloud.com/shabakahutchings) who is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and field-leading musicians in contemporary music. Alongside the likes of Moses Boyd, he is taking the notion of UK Jazz off into new territories both through his amazing projects like Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming but also via his collaborations such as the one played recently on Late Junction with Makaya McCraven (https://soundcloud.com/makaya-mccraven), the American Jazz Drummer and Beat Scientist. The track I heard was Atlantic Black (from Universal Beings) and it also involves a number of other accomplished players including Nubya Garcia, Jeff Parker etc. Fast-paced, hypnotic and gradually evolving, it is Jazz Futurism of a unique kind. Add Maya McCraven to the list of artists I need to make time to explore.

Jouska (https://soundcloud.com/jouska-639528532) describe themselves as ‘three scoundrels of pysch post punk from the depths of Leicester West End (The Narb). Tracks that'll remind you of the time you fell asleep at a house party and woke at 4am to see someone trying to smoke an air freshener’. Judging by the mind-spinning Pyschedelic Jazz-Prog instrumental Lunapark with its tight rhythmic configurations, stunning musicianship and shifts between contrasting short sections, that is pretty accurate. Even more so perhaps on the frantic Digital Charlie which would definitely freak you out if you woke up to it in a strange place at 4AM! This is one highly original and genre-defying band who I look forward to hearing more of soon.

WORLD IN MOTION

I have written about Dakar Audio Club (https://soundcloud.com/dakar-audio-club) both for Trust The Doc and Fresh on the Net this year and their latest track Cherie has been picked up by BBC Introducing (West) and is a joyous slice of lilting, infectious party music. The band whose members hail from Senegal (i.e. Dakar where they met), Congo, Mali and Zimbabwe have lived in Exeter in the South West of England for about seven years and have fashioned a thoroughly unique sound that is almost low-fi and yet perfectly encapsulates the lilting, colourful and intricate music of the vast West/SouthWest African region and its fusion with influences from other parts of the world. And these guys know how to write an engaging tune.

The amazing Ngoni Ba (http://bassekoukouyate.com/) is the band led by Malian musician and composer Bassekou Kouyate and it was great to hear their track Deli on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6 Music Saturday Night Show. Its uptempo syncopated Afro-Funk Jazz groove was topped off by sweet harmonies and infectious melody. It also prompted me to check out more of their life-affirming music including his many collaborations with artists as diverse as Yossou N’Dour, Kronos Quartet, Ali Farka Toure and Damon Albarn. With so much wonderful music emanating from that West African region that includes Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, it is exciting to see the steady growth in the audience for and interest in contemporary African music.

FOLK FINDINGS

I am not necessarily that easy to impress on a grand scale but I was knocked for six when I heard Café Spice (https://soundcloud.com/cafespiceband) and their stunning track Lauren. The moment it starts the close and interweaving vocal harmonies take centre stage. Indeed the three young women from Manchester describe their music as ‘Singing Three-Part Harmony Adventures’ and that is bang on. Their voices gel apparently effortlessly over mystical picking upper register guitar while the song itself is cleverly crafted and builds to a swirling climax, all lasting just over two minutes.

At the moment there is only the one track on their Soundcloud page but their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cafespiceband) has a video of them singing a live (in the street) a capella rendition of Silent Night which is the best version I have heard of that song. I look forward to hearing more from Café Spice in the very near future.

I am very taken with the music of Straw Bear (https://soundcloud.com/straw-bear), a Folkrock band whose origins are in Cambridgeshire but who have found themselves spread across the South East of England. Their track Be Prepared is a buoyant slice of Folk-Pop with an infectious melody, strong vocal harmonies and tightly interlocked playing that produces some lovely textures.

I ran into a local (and long successful) live Folk music promoter recently at the Ivy House (where we promote our bi-monthly Vanishing Point gigs) and I was actually sat at the table next to him moderating tracks for Fresh on the Net via laptop and headphones (ahead of a meeting there) when this track landed in the in-box so I asked him if he was aware of a band called Straw Bear. “Oh yes” he replied. “Great band”. Judging by this evidence and other fine tracks on their Soundcloud page such as the darker more mystical Venetian Gothic and the gorgeously melodic and free flowing All you need is an Electric Guitar he is not wrong.

Linden Tree-Band (https://soundcloud.com/user-695346459) are an interesting new band whose Starlight Coast Express was something of a surprise discovery in the FOTN in-box. It begins like a pleasant but very retro pilgrimage taking in a bunch of locations including but not limited to the Californian West Coast, Nashville, Georgia, Arkansas, Cambridge, Canterbury and the Brecon Beacons. But it then begins to become clear that the strength of the songwriting, the breezy Country-Folk-Rock feel of the instrumental arrangement and the organic feel of the harmonies combine to take this to a level that deserves more than to be written off as pastiche. It has shades of Gram Parsons, Buffalo Springfield, REM and others who could be very generically grouped under the broad heading of Americana. Yet it is curiously British too, perhaps bringing to mind the likes of Richard Thompson and The Horslips. Yes, I know these are all very different from one another but that is the point. This track draws on such a long tradition of Country, Folk and Americana that it is difficult to pinpoint clear influences.

POP SCENE

As promised in Edition 15, this section is now broken down into appropriate sub-sections since it covers such a multitude of genres and scenes.

Unclassifiable & Ethereal

I genuinely don’t know how to adequately categorise the stunning otherworldly music of Leeds duo Muriel & Blazquez (https://soundcloud.com/murielblazquez). Two women whose classical music backgrounds blend beautifully with their Pop sensibilities to produce the kind of unclassifiable hybrids that some of us more mature music lovers might associate with the likes of Virginia Astley and maybe Dead Can Dance (Lisa Gerrard) although I appreciate they are two very different ends of that spectrum.

Their new single Skin/Veil me pt. 2 arrived in my Fresh on the Net in-box earlier this month and made the Fresh Faves the week it was my turn to write up the reviews. I could hardly hide the fact that it was my clear favourite track in what had actually been a very strong week. The moment I heard the modally-influenced piano chords and sumptuous dissonances, I knew it was going to be a bit special and when the vocals came in, clear as a bell, that was quickly reinforced. Beautiful harmonies, an unusual melody and unconventional song structure also contributed to this sense of being carried away to another plane.

This experience inevitably drew me to their Soundcloud page whereupon I discovered there was a full length version of Skin/Veil me which revealed an opening with simpler minor-major chords and a Kate Bush/Julia Holter-like vocal before the piano chords begin to become darker and richer as the song begins to change mood. The lines Can you feel/The touch I give is dead/We’re not real/We live inside my head are emphasised by stops and long chords. The piano figure that sees chords placed atop an open-fifth bassline suddenly stretch out as does the left hand accompaniment and those dissonances begin to appear. Then we are into Part Two with haunting vocal, made all the more so by the harmonies and the generally higher register. Harmonies overlap with harmonies, swathed in reverb. It is a very powerful way to end the piece. It seems amazing that the entire track just deploys acoustic piano and two voices. At times the ‘live in the room’ recording quality is a bit lo-fi. I am not sure whether that is the intention though as other tracks on their Soundcloud page are not like that.

Dolls and Bamboo uses human voice as a form of beatbox alongside just piano, occasional ambient sound and voices. This sparse minimal backdrop works though and presumably makes performing live easier too. Austria gets straight on with the modal harmony and striking chords. It’s another extraordinary track. Muriel & Blazquez offer an absolutely unique alternative to, well pretty much everything at the moment!. I really hope they get some support from the BBC and others. They deserve to be heard by a much wider audience.

Staying on the subject of semi-classical and beautifully ethereal Pop music, TTD favourite and, as I always feel obliged to point out, no relation Chloë March (https://soundcloud.com/chloe-march) rounds off what has been quite some year with  winter tune entitled Snow Bird. So I was delighted to receive her email telling me about the track. It finds her voice floating in otherworldly space between swirling synth patterns and cool ambience. Chloë has recently released an album of collaborations with US producer Todd Tobias (which included the extraordinary single Lallulow) and earlier in the year her single Wild Cherries with its haunting melancholy and eerie atmosphere became one of my singles of 2018 and remains so. In fact, I have selected as my Fresh on the Net track submission of the year which tells you just how much I love it. Snow Bird is less eerie but just as atmospheric and characteristically unique. There is a parallel universe somewhere in which Chloë is an international star. At least there should be.

Indie Rock & Alt Pop

It shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary to see an all-female Rock band in 2018 but the fact that it is means two things. One is that there is still some way to go before we have genuine equality in popular music. The other is that it is still a cause for excitement when one comes along that is also this good. I refer to London-based Concrete Bones (https://soundcloud.com/concretebones) whose Cinema is driving, heavy, melodic, intense and bristling with passion and energy, all the more impressive considering the band has no bass player, just two guitars, drums and vocals. Formed at Women Rock London in May 2017, an event set up to enable women and non-binary folk to develop their ideas in a safe space, they performed their first song the weekend they met and are now regularly gigging across London. This is all explained at their website https://www.concretebonesband.com/.

This all led me to their Soundcloud page where I discovered the equally intense and power-driven Thicker Skin and the energetic and tuneful Miss Liberty with its infectious chorus. These three tracks plus a clean edit of the title track constitute Concrete Bones’ Thicker Skin EP. I hope we will be hearing more from this intriguing quartet soon. In the meantime I recommend checking these tracks out if you like driving post-Grunge with strong melodies, cool harmonies and instrumental play that serves the songs. Shades of The Breeders, Kim Gordon and maybe even a touch of Belly about them but at the same time with an unmistakably British aura.

The Yada Yada Yadas (https://soundcloud.com/yadayadayadas), on the other hand, are boys who make loud, fuzzy and joyous noise laced with melodic flair in a tradition that has shades of the Jesus & Mary Chain and maybe a bit of Ash too. Their track Human Emotion crashed into the FOTN in-box like a rally car gatecrashing the dodgems. The impact was immediate but I knew within a few bars that I was going to love it. Trashy (in a good way obviously) vocals a la [kind of] Joey Ramone meets Liam Gallagher battle for supremacy with wall-of-noise guitars, bass and drums. Guitar melodies and cleverly contrasting and friendly chords on keyboard or guitar (depending where in the track) add to the rich recipe and, with everything turned to 11, it is just one long joyride through classic Indie, Psych & Grunge territories. Fantastic.

The band like the song so much they’ve put three versions of it on their Soundcloud page but, if you feared it might be a fluke, check out Seven Years which starts off lighter but immediately tuneful and built around attractive guitar chords before the band kicks in and we get a welcome contrast between punchy verses and full-tilt bridge and chorus. This is proof that the Yada Yada Yadas can pen a tune, put down a cool harmony and deliver a crunching energetic and attractive arrangement to boot. There are more tracks too. So plenty to acquaint yourselves with.

Talking of loud guitar-driven music and wall-of-noise production check out London’s Evi Vine (https://soundcloud.com/evi-vine) whose intense Alt Rock firecracker Sabbath (ft. Simon Gallup) slowly fills the room with spike-edged guitars, thundering undercurrents and more white noise than one can shake the proverbial stick at. Her vocal style is almost passive-aggressive in the sense that she never really needs to let rip since the intent and intensity are never in doubt. It makes for essential listening and is one of those happy times when any ensuing assault on my eardrums is a truly enjoyable experience.

Drone begins teasingly with ambient, well, drones actually and very reverberant guitar effects that are loud and dynamic in the way they build. A slow beat begins to appear from the mist and there’s a distinctly Eastern feel to the open harmonics and bendy guitar figure. When her voice eventually joins the fray it is instantly dynamic, her spooky vibrato and general light and shade dominating as the enigmatic harmonic language of the instruments continues to swirl about behind her. The result is a sort of semi-oriental Psych Rock that never really takes off in the conventional sense but is atmospheric and engaging all the same. And there’s plenty more on her Soundcloud page including a creditable cover of Joy Division’s Dead Souls.

TTD favourites Morning Myth (https://soundcloud.com/morningmyth) are back with a new single entitled All rivers flow to the ocean. It is up there with their best material too; Aimee’s vocal harmonies floating atop Ross’s resonant guitars and a sea of dreamy jangle. It is their most overtly Cocteau Twins influenced track to date and, of course, the Cocteaus happen to be one of my absolute favourite bands so that can only be a good thing. There’s a Mazzy Star-like aura to it too but what you most need to know is that the song is quite exquisite. All the melodic themes are striking and their juxtaposition onto the accompanying Dream-Pop-Psych instrumental play is spine-tingling. Talk about ending the year on a high.

Another band I have reviewed previously is the excellent Cloth (https://soundcloud.com/cloth-302227722). One of a number of fine bands on the amazing Last Night From Glasgow (http://www.lastnightfromglasgow.com/) label; the world’s first crowdfunded not-for-profit label which has been making big wide and appealing waves over the past year or two. The new single finds them on fine form, a cool bassline and punchy drumbeat setting the tone for picking guitar notes and short choppy chords accompanying ethereal female voices. The chorus, if I can call it that, is quite lovely as is the way the track builds as more sounds enter the mix and the arrangement fills out with harmonics and legato notes while voices overlap. As I finalise this edition of TTD, the track has not only made the Fresh on the Net Listening Post but BBC Radio 1’s new music guru Huw Stephens has played it on his Introducing Show. Exciting times for Cloth.

Urban & Dance Flavas

If you like Soul-influenced Pop with jazz-infused chords and sweet harmony you should appreciate Jodie Clayton (https://soundcloud.com/jodieclayton1) whose Jay Jay Musika produced Meditate is catchy, classy and provides a great showcase for Jodie’s distinct and dexterous voice. HYD finds her in Hip Hop territory as guest vocalist for rapper Gus, again her soulful, agile voice so striking and soothing against the harsher surrounds.

On the Louis Aura produced Favourite One I am simultaneously reminded of a young Deniece Williams and other R’n’B greats like Aaliyah and Ashanti, maybe a touch of Jill Scott too. Again her stunning voice is swathed in cool chords, swirling synth, ethereal electric piano and simple beats. Likewise the more melancholy Bed  (ft. Hayreezy). Jodie Clayton is one serious talent who deserves the chance to be heard by a much bigger audience. Like Salliefoyeh (see Ed. 14) she is part of an exciting new generation of UK Soul artists waiting for their chance to shine.

The excellent Dance-Pop-Urban act Omnivi3e (https://soundcloud.com/omnivi3e) have new tracks out produced, as usual, by the amazing Andy Whitmore of Greystokes Studios (https://greystokestudio.com/) who has worked with the likes of Elton John, Diana Ross, Atomic Kitten, Blue etc. Disco Nation features singer Henrietta Adewole and sees Omnivi3e in party mood mixing classic Disco vibes and gloriously funky guitar with a spacious modern production sound. It’s sassy, catchy and provides a great showcase for Henrietta’s soulful voice. Check out the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=AbO6x_fMDYM) on YouTube.

The new Omnivi3e single however is the excellent Into Me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EpP472xPsw)  featuring talented young singer Clara Hurtado. This one has a very contemporary vibe with resonant synth chords, a stonking beat and big chorus. Clara Hurtado’s voice is rangey and appealing and Andy’s production allows her all the space she needs to really stretch out. This track is crying out to be played on mainstream radio.

You will also find a host of similarly fine Omnivi3e tracks if you go to their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgpqt7mBOhwanf1KhTIeuoA) and click Play All.

TTD readers will know I am a sucker for Grime and Hip Hop that wears its regional origins on its sleeves and this is certainly true of Jay Dizzla (https://soundcloud.com/jay-dizzla-lad) whose YMYD is engaging Brit Hop, witty and delivered in what sounds like a Mancunian dialect (to these Southern ears). His choice of backing track is excellent too, adding a funky but light-hearted vibe while also offering a subtly soulful undercurrent. At the moment there is scant information about him on line and just the one track on his Soundcloud page. I hope that is a temporary situation because on this evidence he is an artist we should want to know more about.

Singer-Songwriters

Watford’s Matt Churchill (https://soundcloud.com/mattchurchilluk) came to my notice via an epic slice of sophisticated pop entitled Submarines which, as well as offering a veritable kitchen sink arrangement of sounds and dynamics, also demonstrated the undeniable quality of his vocals which achieve an effortlessly satisfying tone simply by virtue of him opening his mouth and allowing sound to be emitted. So the fact that he also has such an impressive range of octaves, timbres and dynamics (including a strong falsetto when used) bodes very well indeed for this talented young man. The strength of his songwriting and the creativity that is clear from the sophisticated and intricate arranging and playing round this off. Matt Churchill has real talent and I hope that talent will soon be shared with the wider world. I wonder whether he is a fellow Hornets fan too. :)

Fetherstone (https://soundcloud.com/fetherstonemusic) are the brainchild of London-based Australian singer-songwriter Briana Cowlishaw and grabbed my attention via the track Ticket to you (Unspoken Stories). They describe their music as Electronic Indie Pop which is pretty accurate but their pop sensibilities, the contrast of female and male vocals and the almost jazz-infused keyboard chords are matched by a seriously strong melodic flair. It is one of those songs in which it is hard to pinpoint the magic ingredient(s) but it is really impressive and Briana’s voice is so appealing.

Maaike Siegerist (https://soundcloud.com/maaikesiegerist) has consistently come up with quality tracks delivered in her fine rangey and beautifully clear voice and her latest offering Paint with the same colours sees the Bristol-based Dutch singer deliver an emotionally charged three-time ballad accompanied by what may be a Cello playing legato beneath picking acoustic guitar. The key changes are exquisite and Maaike’s voice is butterflies-inducing. Really beautiful stuff that deserves to be heard.

A new name to me is Liverpudlian singer-songwriter and guitarist Rachael Jean Harris (https://soundcloud.com/rachaeljeanharris) and wow what an impression her track Carson made on me the moment I heard it. The sumptuous selection of sweet jazz-inflected chords, key changes and syncopated rhythms reminded me of Rikki Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell and even elements of Steely Dan while her dexterous voice and skilled guitar playing iced an already appealing cake. Truly delightful.

Also new to me is Luna Keller (https://soundcloud.com/user-682414180) but after she popped up on my Twitter timeline I was gripped by her song I don’t know where I’m going and accompanying video. Her unusual delivery and distinct twang jump out at me immediately and her intriguing lyrics go well with the thoughtful folky style of her songwriting. The chorus is lifted by harmonies and a strong hook while the guitar is tasteful and nicely executed. Definitely a very promising debut.

And finally …….

Well that’s it not only for Edition 16 but pretty much for 2018. I will aim to put out a special edition to end the year by picking out some of my favourite tracks, albums and moments of the year. Look out too for the Fresh on the Net picks of the year which us moderators have been compiling over the past week or two and which will be published later this month.