BILLIONAIRE – Reasons To Be Fearful
London based BILLIONAIRE last appeared on my debut here on Fresh Net in March 2016 with the brilliant ‘Next Year’s Model’. I’ve kept a watchful eye on his activity since then and it gives me great pleasure to be able to write another review of this talented musician’s fine work.
Reasons To Be Fearful is a slow and steady affair. From a subtle opening of simple organ and drum machine, the mood and feel never really rises above a simmer – delicate guitars and bass layer gradually throughout.
BILLIONAIRE (real name John J. Sterry) describes himself as ‘minimalist/lo-fi’ and that’s certainly apt for this track BUT it’s by no means boring. The mood is nuanced by his observational lyrics, which are fast becoming Sterry’s trademark, as he sings out a shopping list of current scares in the media, though, by the chorus we find that all these fears are OK as long as he can ‘get high at my girlfriend’s place’ and ‘go all-inclusive once a year’.
Check out the video for this track, released by Blue Mary Records. There’s really no need to fear the future as long as BILLIONAIRE keeps making tunes like this.
GLASS PEAKS – Speak And Spell
Speak And Spell is a broody beast that roars a great noise of gloomy guitar riffs, fuzzy bass and driving drum beats. Combine that with hallowed and melodic vocals floating up above, and we have an overall sound that takes inspiration from the likes of Foals and a bit of the Maccabees. That sound is Glass Peaks.
Since their debut single Your Eyes, which was released back in 2016, they’ve been championed by Huw Stephens and BBC Introducing Kent, they could easily be the next big indie band, perhaps of 2017. The riffs are catchy, the sound is well produced and the lyrics are melancholic. Lead singer Lewis’ message is that of how we’re stuck on a continuous loop. Thus they have created a beautifully dark and bleak track but with a beating substance that’s bound to propel this exciting band even higher.
Check out their tour dates here.
HORSEFLIES – Cake Delivery
Here’s a bit of alternative punk up next, in the form of Portsmouth’s Horseflies. They proclaim that they write “riffs that make you want to dance your ass off” and Cake Delivery is no exception. As you might expect it’s upbeat and aggressive in its energy and words – “I took a beating on Friday”. There is a slight sense of fragility in the lyrics also with the lines “You come apart at the seams”. There’s hints of Fugazi lying underneath, with dancing lead guitars and choral vocals in the coda that give this blistering cut an ending of positivity.
They play the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth on March 11th. Be there or miss a night of guaranteed sweat and blood.
JAKE HOULSBY – Howl
My, my. What a wonderful track this is. Straight from the get-go finger picked guitars feather-bed a sultry humming, and already we’re being whisked away on Jake Houlsby’s musical cloud. His poetic vocals entice us with a gentle “This is the calm before the storm”. That’s about four spine-tingly moments right there. Caressed percussion calmly keep the song balanced, and the textures of strings become more layered as we venture further on this journey of true tenderness. A subtle howl can be heard just as the song becomes its end. The man from Newcastle’s new single Howl certainly has a lot to live to; His debut EP Yannina, released in 2015, tallied up over a MILLION plays on Spotify. A bloody million!
LITTLE BROTHER ELI – Oceans
This ‘often bearded’ band from Oxford brings us Oceans, which is the opening track from their new album Cold Tales. It is a well-crafted pop-rock tune with a bite to the chorus, plucked straight from the noughties Americana-era. Little Brother Eli certainly display a talent for writing a catchy chorus and the chord progression feels like old skool Silverchair. I’ve enjoyed this as an introduction and I’m intrigued as to where they can take this act, as it’s full of potential. Check out the video also.
The band has a handful of live dates coming up including a date at London’s Hoxton Square Bar on March 17th.
LITTLECOMETS – Common Things
This is turning into a good week for Newcastle, with Little Comets gracing our presence. The track opens with singer Rob Coles reminiscing about a meeting “On a park bench in Walsall”, over some sunny syncopated guitars and (slightly annoying) bird calls, car alarms and whatever else. The chorus is slightly disjointed with a complicated hook that still manages to be catchy.
Coles gives the song a little narrative as he sings about the joys in the little things which we do as couples, lovers and friends. It’s a wonderful cut of indie-pop that’s quite fitting for this time of year as we creep ever closer to the warmer months of Spring; a fresh lamb of a track… mint!
Little Comets has a wee tour coming up in March starting in London and ending in Manchester at the Club Academy on March 19th. Their new album Worhead is available for pre-order from their official website below.
MARSICANS – Friends
Another contender for Indie band of the week! Marsicans are indie sunshiners who have been mates since school and are no strangers to the Leeds live circuit.
Friends is a bouncy pop poker about millennials and their tumultuous friendships with one another as they grow up. The opening vocals, reminiscent of Imogen Heap, grab you by the school tie and throw you onto the merry-go-round. Bright-spark guitars provide the bounce and, surprisingly, finish heavily with pace, and some excellent drumming to match.
These lads are an exciting prospect and there’s too much talent for this not to work. Marsicans have several dates this year including a night at the intimate City Screen Basement, in York, on April 27th. The Basement is also home to our very own moderator, Ola Szmidt, and her open mic night.
PENNY POLICE – No Horizons
After three years of absence, Penny Police aka Marie Fjeldsted returns to the music scene with this blisteringly beautiful track No Horizons via Antiphonics. Fjeldsted’s vocals are at the forefront for the entirety, backed with distant drums and soft, beating synths.
The music is befitting the touching subject matter of humanity and respect as Fjeldsted describes how unwelcoming people don’t value other human life -referring, it seems, to the crowded boats crossing the Mediterranean in recent times. Fjeldsted’s soft and young vocals educes an honesty and openness which emotionally connects the listener deeper still. It’s a wonderfully emotive performance and the wait for Penny Police’s return has certainly been worth it.
SAM BARNETT – Suite Part 3: Maiden Flight
Well, here’s a refreshing change… a hefty slice of jazz. Taking the lead in this piece on the sultry sax is Sam Barnett; a 16 (SIXTEEN!) year old wunderkind from London. Barnett is the proud owner of two EMI Music Sound Foundation Awards and attends The Royal Academy of Music Junior Jazz. His style is much like that of John Coltrane – an extremely gifted performer, Barnett plays with a maturity that would befit a wise old jazz owl. Not just technically but with feeling too. This 8-minute-plus epic is never a dull affair beginning with a taunting opening of piano and drums. Barnett’s Sax and an attendant trumpet gather around with the double bass letting the listener settle. Over the course of the next couple of minutes Barnett is let loose, ever so gently at first, but the scales become wilder and the squeaks more frequent. After a brief solo modulation passage from Barnett, the band re-enter adding menace to the once calm mood. A smart percussive solo beats the menace away briefly, only to allow the rest of the band to return with one final taunting passage. As we return to the opening notes again, the Sam-train shuffles to a halt. Eight immersive minutes have come and gone.
His new album New York Album Suite has just been released, grab a copy from his website below.
VASSALS – SoHo
SoHo is the latest track to appear from Brooklyn trio Vassals. My knowledge of Brooklyn is mainly based around Andy Samberg’s netflix success Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so I think it’s fair to say I’m prettttty au fait with the area. I can also tell you that the band consist of Shay Spence, Jonathan Smith and Jeff Fettig.
SoHo begins with a drunken, swirling electric guitar, and propa nice punchy kick ‘n’ snare. It then stumbles into some pumpin’ bass before inviting some big, tasty, crunchy chords into the fray. The slurred vocals walk a fine line which could end up feeling try hard. But they don’t – they come off cool yet down to earth. Nice.
For me, it’s one of those songs that gives you faith in the future of rock ‘n’ roll. NME would have a field day.
Vassal’s next EP, Halogen Days, is out April 7 on Post-Fun. [BT]
WHITE KITE – Swans
This week’s final group is White Kite, a London based 4-piece o lads, namely Louis, Tom, Will and Andrew. Their debut single is a stripped down, intriguing, bubbling pot of melodic synths. It goes by the name of Swans. The aesthetic of the group, visually, is alternative rock band, something like The Drums, with a hint of London ‘intelligent house’ hipster, but the audio aesthetic is far more akin to ’90s/’00s boy bands. Modern pop production, the likes of which pop powerhouses Stargate and Timbaland have been pedalling in years gone by, only backs this up.
What sets this record apart from their previous efforts, such as Curtain Call, is the stronger sense of melody and a heavier reliance on chord structures, while still maintaining a groove based core, the beat ‘n’ hook formula which serves their chart residing counterparts so well. Having listened through their output so far, I would say these boys are only getting better at this stage. Long may it continue!
They have upcoming shows during March, check Songkick for details. [BT]
This article originally appeared on Fresh on the Net
Benji Tranter [BT] contributed to this artilce