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FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: TRUST JESSE


This week I ‘are mostly been listening to new music. When I can’t think of a ready route into this weekly column, I am prone to paraphrasing one of my heroes from The Fast Show so thank you Jesse aka actor Mark Williams, or Ron Weasley’s dad, for the prompt. Indeed, I do have new music coming out of my ears as I am into my fifth week as a Moderator for Tom Robinson’s Fresh On The Net and am also working through my batch of entries to this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition.


Launched by BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Tom Robinson in 2009, Fresh On The Net is a great place for aspiring independent musicians to try out their music on an open-minded, informed audience. It has developed into an active and supportive community for grassroots musicians, and gives rise to a regular stream of great new music. I often say I would not have necessarily heard it without Fresh On The Net and that certainly applies to several of today’s new music choices.

Photo of Coming Up Roses by Emily Machan

 

We begin with a band formed in Singapore in 2018, starting life as the indie-folk project of Emily Sera (bass, vocals) and Darius Oon (guitar) before expanding to a four-piece with the addition of a second guitar and drums, leading it down more of a rock-oriented road. Now London-based, Coming Up Roses take its name from the positivity phrase ‘Everything's Coming Up Roses’ actually coined by Stephen Sondheim for the 1959 musical Gypsy, yet one that seems to have been with us for far longer. The band's move to London marked a change in personnel with Charlie Wilson (guitar) and Caleb Blake (drums) joining in early 2023.

With two EPs already behind them, Coming Up Roses is working towards a third self-titled effort due on 5 April. “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” is the first single from it and a song which found favour with Fresh On The Net listeners, voted a Fresh Fave two weeks ago. I got Coldplay chills the first time I heard it from the chord progressions and the uplift you get from such a bright mid-tempo sound. The balance of fuzztone and resonant guitars gives the song a dynamic presence yet Emily’s soothing vocal applies balm in the verses and takes command in the choruses, aided by some choice harmonies. Lyrically the song calls for loved ones to put troubles behind, hinting at turmoil yet offering reassurance. I can already picture this band in festival fields and the marvellous live version on video only adds to this impression.

Move on a week and we find our next Fresh On The Net Fresh Fave. Formerly one half of Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth, described as ‘queens of post-punk dark disco’, Wymondham resident Gemma Cullingford has stepped away from the dance world to revisit some songs co-written with her friend Liam Capper-Starr in 2012, which she recorded and produced in her home studio. They have been dusted off and sympathetically produced anew to form an EP due for release on vinyl only for Record Store Day on 20 April and on digital platforms a week later. The EP is also a soundtrack to Home, Gemma’s first foray into film making beyond shooting music videos on her phone, inspired by her family’s Super 8 footage.

Opening the forthcoming EP is “Early Hours”, a beautifully sensuous ballad which immediately gave me an Episode 14 moment. I could just imagine it soundtracking one of those pivotal scenes in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks set in The Roadhouse, as it was known in the first two series. There are shades of the late Julee Cruise in Gemma’s gossamer vocal and of composer Angelo Badalamenti in the song’s intuitive modulations. The melancholy felt at the end of a relationship is balanced by a sensuality betrayed by longing. As a lullaby for lovers and leavers, “Early Hours” is simply perfect and I look forward to featuring more of the EP and accompanying film in the run-up to its formal release.

Photo of DAVIDD by Dave Snocken

 

We last encountered DAVIDD last autumn via his single, “Fallen Apart”. Back then he worked under the aegis of Chvrli Blvck, a name that undoubtedly played havoc in the realms of predictive text and AI driven searches. He has swopped the v’s for a d and is back now as DAVIDD; the extra d might still cause the odd bit of confusion but the London-born New Forest resident has kept his trademark raw and emotive style as a singer and songwriter. He continues to be candid about his music reflecting personal struggles with mental health which will surely resonate with anyone similarly incumbered.

DAVIDD’s first release under the new ID is “Conical Shell”, a song which carries echoes of the confessional style of past masters, the late Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. His bittersweet musings are couched in poetic imagery and phrases which conjure up a kind of knowing acceptance of his lot, finding a metaphorical home inside the titular conical shell. He employs an arching, aching vocal against a gentle acoustic guitar backdrop that lulls and comforts while turning meditative reflections into something therapeutic. It’s as lovely as it is salve for the soul.

Now to South London songstress, Hannah Lloyd aka Hallworth who charmed me last month when I heard her Fresh On The Net entry, the short bittersweet “Places You Are”. Hannah grew up playing classical music yet always gravitated towards pop, beginning to write songs from the tender age of 9. She has just come off the back of a short UK tour and is currently spending some time in Nashville, TN working on new music. Her debut EP The Songs That Ache is due out on 1 March and meanwhile she has released a second single from it, “I do love her, so”.

“I do love her, so” reads like a diary entry and in this respect the song I feel is akin to those of (Emma) Denney. It tells the tale of a bad break up and the experience of trying to let the person go and so to reconnect with herself. The emphasis seems to be more on working through this situation rather than imagining a bout of stalking. Beginning in classic singer-songwriter territory, it soon breaks out into a more uptempo pop vibe, supercharged by stabbing rhythms. Hannah’s vocal is smooth and assured yet can comfortably command the song’s emotive peaks. A really impressive song with sparkling production helmed by Amy Sergeant.    

The Birmingham-based singer-songwriter Katherine Priddy has been a favourite of mine since I encountered her 2021 debut album The Eternal Rocks Beneath. I was fortunate enough to see her perform on Glastonbury’s Acoustic Stage the following year accompanied by guitarist George Boomsma who we featured in his solo capacity a fortnight ago. The mesmeric quality of Katherine’s voice made it a standout set on the day. She has now returned with a second LP, The Pendulum Swing, released today. It is a rich and beautifully nuanced anthology exploring the comforting familiarity of home versus the contrary desire to up sticks and embrace change.

Released as a single three months ago, “First House on the Left” remains in Katherine’s words ‘the cornerstone around which the album and its themes orbit’ and, while positioned as track 3, provides a perfect lead in to her world. The intensely personal nature of home – how it can mean so much to those who live in it yet be just bricks and mortar to a passer-by – is exquisitely voiced by Katherine’s soft whisper in which every syllable seems to take on a life of its own. The questioning choruses are finely balanced by the pull of home in the verses that offer memories to cherish and reassure. Katherine has a headline UK tour planned for May and should be a must see for any aficionado of music that can transport and delight in equal measure.

Photo of Nev Cottee by David Gleave

 

Finally new to me, let us conclude with one of those you-might-also-like gems thrown in by the Spotify algorithm when you reach the end of a Playlist. I confess that I had never heard of Mancunian Nev Cottee but rapid research revealed that he has been active since debuting in 2013 with Stations, a collection of lo-fi psyche inspired songs. We spin forward to album #5 for this particular track, "A Million Years” “, which is taken from his latest (2022) work, Madrid, chronicling the ‘chaotic charms of the Spanish capital where Nev has recently relocated.’ Referring back to his Manchester roots, Nev’s voice, sensibility and charm makes him a kind of cross-Pennines cousin of Sheffield’s Richard Hawley.



Comments


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.

 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Sun 21 Apr: Jewelia, The Lexington, London N1

Tue 23 Apr: Silk Cinema + Maya Lane, The Half Moon, Putney, London SW15

Thu 2 May: Andrew Maxwell Morris + Hallworth + Paper Anthem, The Bedford, Balham

Sat 11 May: Emily Barker, Banquet Records, Kingston upon Thames

Fri 17 May: Katharine Priddy, Union Chapel, London N1

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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