Edition 41: 31st January 2020: A blog by Neil March
Welcome to Edition 41 of Trust The Doc. It is the first of the new decade. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
And with Christmas and New Year done and dusted for another year the world of new music has begun to return to something akin to normality. Of course one might reasonably argue that normality and new music are not comfortable bedfellows. Maybe not. But this month’s issue sees a wider spectrum of genres in the spotlight compared to Ed. 40.
VANISHING POINT @ THE IVY HOUSE: UK TOUR OPENER !!!
First some news about what is happening on the live music front and this coming Thursday (6th February) sees Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House in Nunhead hosting the opening night of a short UK tour involving two artists I manage; Josie and Cholly. And they will be joined for this and two other dates (15th February @ Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe and 4th April @ Trust The Doc Festival) by TTD favourite HOL (formerly known as Hollie Findlay) and also at this date by Talentbanq artist Eddy Smith playing a solo set. Tickets, as usual, are £6 advance or £8 on the door. Buy them and listen to tracks by these artists here.
JOSIE & CHOLLY ON TOUR !!!
The tour itself takes in the following dates with the two artists taking it in turns to headline:
Thur 6th February: Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House, Nunhead
Sat. 15th February: Trust The Doc Live @ Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe
Fri. 13th March: Live Music @ The White Swan, Aylesbuy
Thur 19th March: Trust The Doc Live @ Oddfellows, Hemel Hempstead
Sat. 28th March: More Coffee Live @ More Coffee, Melton Mowbray
Sat. 4th April: Trust The Doc Festival @ Amersham Arms, New Cross
Not only will HOL be involved on three of these dates but Hemel Hempstead’s superb Indie-Folk-Rock band In The Forest will also be joining Cholly and Josie for the gigs in High Wycombe and Hemel Hempstead.
Josie will also be playing at the largest Caffe Nero in Europe on Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport on Saturday 8th February, the first in a series of performance she is giving at Caffe Nero stores.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
The last time I blogged about Mathieu Karsenti it was when the London-based composer had submitted some breathtaking guitar music to Fresh on the Net. Now he is back with a lovely piece for strings and piano called Envoleés. The harmonic language is quite conventional but it is the clever use of sustained, crescendoing chords, piano figures and contrasts of register and key that make this such compelling listening.
There is also a hint of Eastern influence with the nods to Raga scales and Pentatonic here and there whilst, at times, the music becomes more chord-based with gentle counterpoint and a more modal approach ensues. These are, for me, the most interesting elements. It is that craft and emphasis on timbres that lifts this from being a piece open to criticism for its reliance on a pre-war approach to harmony. In other words the ambience he achieves makes this a much more contemporary work.
The New Year also meant new music on the ever-reliable Freak Zone with Stuart Maconie on BBC Radio 6 Music. I was particularly taken with Spectral Bazaar‘s homage to Gustav Holst‘s The Planets. Rather than recreate the original, they have composed an alternative and thoroughly contemporary version which, if the ethereal and futuristic modality and sonic adventurousness of Neptune is any indication, is an album worth checking out in greater detail.
Their Soundcloud blurb explains, in relation to the duo’s response to the centenary of the original: ‘100 years later whilst listening to the Holst suite, Spectral Bazaar decided to embark on recreating the Holst psyche within new electro acoustic pieces based on the original concepts but different track order. The result is seven unique compositions collectively titled The Planets‘. The sounds mix a surprisingly traditional but mystical use of woodwinds and percussion against swirling, swooping waves of electronic sound. It is simultaneously calming and exciting.
I don’t have a great deal of information about Spectral Bazaar other than they are a duo from Manchester. I hope to spend more time exploring this imaginative and intriguing duo. Maybe you should too!
JAZZ & INTERNATIONAL FLAVAS
Also on the Freak Zone was a track called Rise by Animal Society. At the forefront of the new wave of Scottish Jazz, the quintet play a hard-hitting proggy form of Jazzrock that blends inventive composing, heavy riffing and instinctive musicianship. Led by guitarist and composer Joe Williamson the band has two keyboardists whose contrasting styles and registers add another layer to their driving sound while the bass and drums are fluid, tough and continuously shifting. Animal Society are touring the UK in March 2020. Look out for details as they sound like a band who are awesome live.
Evan Anderson is a young man with a sweet tenor voice and strong falsetto range. He also has a penchant for penning a radio-friendly pop ballad which, with the right people behind it, could take him to the fringes of the mainstream. Love another day is in broadly Ed Sheehan/Charlie Puth territory, soft and soulful pop that would sound as much at home on Heart as on BBC Radio 1. And that kind of broad appeal is definitely an asset. I imagine he is already building that Instagram following, getting his vids up on YouTube and gathering up the streams. If not, he should be.
London artist Azu Yeché has been knocking out some soulful pop chops over recent times. The latest is Sons and Daughters. It starts off with just guitar and Azu’s appealing voice before more layers are added including quasi-gospel harmony vocals in the chorus. The song is catchy, organic and places a sweet melody over a repeating four-chord figure. Comparisons are hard to make but perhaps elements of Bill Withers and Tunde of the Lighthouse Family in a jam with Shawn Mendes. Probably best just to give it a spin.
ALT ROCK & INDIE
Tom John Hall, on the strength of Axis of destruction, makes jaunty Alt Pop with eighties-inflected synth playing against rockier guitar and bouncy Pop-Jangle groove. He also pens an infectious tune both vocally (delivered in almost deadpan baritone range) and in terms of the guitar and synth figures that play off against the vocals. Reference points are difficult to pin down even though it reminds me of lots of others. Hints of Metronomy in a jam with Bombay Bicycle Club while attending an eighties night with A-Ha and New Order. Something like that anyway!
Tom hails from Derby and now lives in London. I look forward to hearing more of his intriguing epic pop.
This Elegant Gull is back with a new track Fire on at me. The prodigious 12 year old from Kent once again defies age stereotypes with a mature, sophisticated slice of Alt Pop. It starts off by sampling Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade! This is followed by a male crooner before TEG takes over. The track is built around a chord pattern that fits to a semi-tone descent in the bass. The arrangement is quite opaque and synth-filled while her lyrics continue on the theme of environmental destruction and complacency that were prominent in Stop giving us the poison. Impressive as ever.
WOL make inventive, multi-faceted Alt Pop nodding towards the cinematic and a little towards prog in its detail and contrast. It’s a funny time to lose bears these hallmarks …..
Kate & The Kicks are back with another hard-hitting guitar-driven post-Grunge anthem entitled …
REGGAE & DANCEHALL
D-Lings are from Hertfordhire (as am I originally). Their new track Out for days – eight.ears is one of those tracks that could sit comfortably in this [Club Culture] section, Pop Noodles or Urban Flavas. Female voices deliver a soulful laid back choon with cool harmonies over a funky deep bass groove and jazzy keys. It sounds like a summer floor filler even though it is January. Full of clever effects and nuances, this is radio and club friendly Soul-Disco leaning towards House of a refreshingly contemporary kind helped by booming bass, crisp beat and classy vocals.
FOLK & COUNTRY
Samantha Whates is a singer-songwriter who has teamed up with M G Boulter on a lovely and unusual track entitled Agatha Christie. It starts off with a very minimalistic soundscape of Samantha’s voice and what sounds like tuned percussion.
Hull’s Alice Clayton has a jaunty new triplet-time Indie-Folk shuffler called Magpie. Lyrically it is quite a sustained attack on someone (or thing depending whether the ‘she’ in the song is metaphorical) who is clearly less than transparent in terms of intentions and claims. This is offset by a surprisingly happy melody cast in upbeat organic surroundings. What you most need to know is it is also very enjoyable.
EPIC & CINEMATIC
Brodie Smith is a young singer-songwriter with an unusual but very striking voice and a musical vision that is simultaneously fresh and retro. His epic melancholy track Ancheron ….
ELECTRONIC & AMBIENT
AND FINALLY …….