Forgive me for I have sinned. It’s been ten Fresh Faves since my last review. What a lovely week to return too! Nine pure peaches to observe, hailing from all the way across the Atlantic to Cardiff via the Isle of Wight and France. It’s all voted for by you, the public so, head first we go and discover this week’s delights…
ANIMALI – Who?
French outfit Animali kick things off for us this week with a delicious slice of enticing psychedelic pop – so friendly to radio they might as well be bunk mates. There are going to be comparisons to MGMT, particularly in the vocals. Personally, I think the lead singer and keyboardist Julien Jussey (there’s four of them who sing!) sounds like a French Neil Tennant. Subtle Americanisms in his annunciation work well over the rest of the instrumentation, which is vast; droning keys, layered with arpeggiated guitar set the dreamy tones. And what psych song would be complete without a triiiiiipy synth solo!?
No UK tour dates announced yet but watch this space – this band could be huge… Listen out for the screams.
Keyboard, Vocal: Julien Jussey
Guitar, Vocal: Benjamin Richardier
Guitar, Vocal: Sylvain Hernandez
Drums, Vocal: Hadrien Santos Dasilva
Bass Guitar: Nicolas Mieral
FORTNIGHT IN FLORIDA – It’s Alright
The intro to this song dangerously flirts with a slow disco vibe (I actually thought it was Daft Punk), however, when singer Simon Middleton settles us down with a simple gesture of ‘It’s alright’, the song finds direction with subtle, ambient synths keeping the groove flowing accompanied but some excellent fills and progression by drummer Andrew Gallop (great name for a drummer).
The introduction of Piano in the final section brings the song home nicely, adding to the timbre and keeping the attention of the listener until the end.
There are no planned live dates currently, but they did make the Glastonbury 2016 Emerging Talent Longlist and have also supported Ms Dynamite (teehee). Fortnight In Florida have already featured on Tom’s 6music mixtape and Fresh On The Net last year, with another great track Cameo taken from forthcoming EP of the same name. It’s fair to say that they’re marching on the right path. And yes, their name is a quote from Alan Partridge.
KATE VARGAS – Second Skin
Described on her twitter bio as ‘Outlaw Americana’, NYC based Kate Vargas welcomes us to her own brand of Brooklyn country music. Second Skin is her latest single, released in April, and it proved to be a popular one amongst the modding team this week. Right from the off this track hits us with some bluegrass beats from backing band The Reckless Daughters, occasionally stripping back to just acoustic guitar which allows her raspy, Macy Gray-esque vocals to take centre stage and keep our ears entertained. What a voice. Vargas already has one album under her belt; 2014’s Down to my soul and has started this year on a high note. Those stateside can catch Vargas at the Mansion on O Street in Washington DC on June 12th. You can also watch her video for ‘Second Skin’ here.
MADDIE JONES – Soon
Next up Maddie Jones hailing from fair Wales – llongyfarchiadau Maddie! Soon is a a snippet from her 2014 debut album Vita Brevis which is Latin for ‘life is short’. The album itself is an eclectic journey tipping its hat to a handful of different genres.
There’s so much beauty in this track, it’s a little overbearing at times – too much loveliness. From the wonderful ambient whisping acoustic guitar and later, gentle piano provides a perfect accompaniment to the rich and luscious harmonies and melody that Jones provides. Truly captivating at times. It’s a definite album closer, one that sticks in the memory.
Jones has since released another EP – Colour Me In – in October last year, which produces the same result of unpredictable jumps in genre and mood. One thing that is predictable, consistent even is her fantastic and distinct voice.
Jones will be playing ten plus gigs this summer, all in Wales. Be sure to check out her tour page.
MAGNUS P.I – Search It Out
Ready to catch the beat?! This track by Magnus P.I. feels like it’s being spun by an Afro-Jazz DJ at the end of a three day bender. Some excellent rhythm contrasts going on here, right from the off but the one that has the most impact is when the vocals kick in and the rhythm section take off in a completely different direction; a kind of ‘two distant lands, take both my hands’ moment being played on a marimba fashioned by skulls and bones. If you’re looking for something a bit different then you’ve found it. The genius behind this wondrous piece is multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Magnus Mehta. He apparently has ‘extensive knowledge of musical cultures and traditions’ and you can tell just from this one track. This track was released via On The Corner records.
RAMISCO MAKI MAKI ROCKING HORSE – The 456
Without a shadow of a doubt, the winner of this week’s best named act goes to Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse. Another artist to return to the ranks of Fresh Faves having previously made it through way back in 2013 with Danger Danger and onto the Introducing Mixtape in 2015 with And We Will Dance. Still describing himself as ‘Alternative Indie-Folk/Americana’ and still from the Scottish Highlands, the horse aka Ray McCartney, cites Beck, Violent Femmes, O’Death and Hank Williams amongst his influences.
For me it sounds like Super Furry Animals took The Hives out on a date, and ended up at Tom Vek’s house. Clocking in at 1:12 this really should be longer! I only just got going.
RMMRHorse will be playing XpoNorth which takes place on 8th-9th June 2016.
RHAIN – Humdrum Drivel
Oh, my. Three seconds in you can tell that Rhain is from outer space; it’s certainly not of this earth. An amazing alien. I suppose the immediate comparison would be that of Johanna Newsom, but only in voice. Rhain is far more accessible whilst somehow whilst keeping us at arm’s length. The intro is sparse and builds gently to a tsunami of beautifully layered instrumentation. Structure to the song is really ‘mon plaisir’, with jumps in dynamic as a tool that she wields like waving a wand. And, well, such a voice. A precocious muse. No live dates announced but keep an eye out and an ear to the ground as apparently her live shows are something to behold.
SERE TROUBLE – Headphones
Anyone remember Cold War Kids?? Well in Sere Trouble we have low end rock, straight from the noughties and, by the sounds of it, a pure front woman in the making (I know Cold War Kids are all men by the way).
I love the raw energy and spirit of this song. Sere sings with such passion and transparency, especially in the chorus with the wavering ‘ooohs’ supporting her desperate cries of confusion and longing. Very little else out there to know about this talent, she remains elusive, which adds to the intrigue.
Sere will play at The Islington in London on May 26th and her new EP Burning Milk is due out soon.
THE HUBBARDS – Born To Fly
‘I’ll be careful how I play this – Jesus on your necklace. Elvis on your playlist’. Absolutely loving the lyrics on this track. Sultry sounding guitars support driving drums under these words of poet and singer Reuben Driver in the verses. Stomp the overdrive pedals in the chorus and you’ve got the peak of what sounds like a classic indie tune.
Hailing from Hull, where there’s seemingly nothing else to do but make good music, Reuben is joined by Alex Green, Ronan Burns and Joe Orlowski. Together they released their debut EP Cold Cut earlier this month. The Hubbards have supported the likes of Spector and The Pidgeon Detectives already and you can just tell from the lushness of the production that they’re well on their way to greater things, and they have the confidence to take them there.
No live activity again, but they’ve just finished playing a few live dates so let’s hope for something in the summertime.