Edition 40: 31st December 2019: A blog by Neil March
Welcome to Edition 40 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.
So it is the last day of the decade! A time for reflection? Nah! This blog is all about what’s new and emerging in music. So as ever the focus is on this month’s highlights from the tracks I was fortunate enough to receive or hear through some avenue or other plus one or two live shows and news about what’s happening in 2020.
TRUST THE DOC RADIO SHOW: IT’S REALLY HAPPENING !!!
The radio show Trust The Doc will launch on Saturday 18th January 2020 on Exile FM. Presented by yours truly, the show will go out from 5PM to 7PM every Saturday and will be available as a podcast for 7 days after each edition. A minimum of 50% of content will be by new and emerging music artists across a wide spectrum of genres. So it will reflect this blog, the Trust The Doc Live and Festival content and my New Music Playlist. Tune in using this link.
Also, in a reflection of this blog, the show will have three features one of which will be the Trust The Doc Classic although, unlike the blog which is monthly, I will need to come up with 52 examples per year! Other features will include a listeners’ vote for my Trust The Doc Track of the Week (from a choice of three contrasting tracks from different parts of the UK) and Then & Now where I compare an old classic with a recent track by a current artist.
OPERATION NEW MUSIC
My Arts Council and National Lottery supported project Operation New Music officially kicked off on 15th December. The project is a year long and consists of:
a minimum of 15 London and 6 non-London gigs
a brand new festival in South East London
a weekly radio show on Exile FM (see above)
a fund to help bring non-London acts to play in London
exposure for artists restricted by mental health and mobility issues through the radio show, the new music playlist that plays at all live events, this blog etc.
The first event took place on Friday 20th December at the iconic Amersham Arms in New Cross where I had four characteristically contrasting acts on the bill with Satin Beige; SLATER (Unplugged); Anthony Osborne and Boubakiki.
Boubakiki (aka Rosie Bergonzi on Handpan and Joe Steele on Saxophone) played a captivating set that possibly even outshone their stunning performance at November’s Vanishing Point. My good friend and fellow musician Dave Stephens (of Another Venus) remarked that their music sounded like it came from the future. I had been thinking just the same thing. They are a unique duo and their blend of improv, jazz, classical and international flavours is winning new fans every time they perform. It would be wonderful and life-affirming to see such a refreshingly individual but inventive act gather some serious momentum in 2020.
Anthony Osborne is a saxophonist with the insanely brilliant Apocalypse Jazz Unit but his solo set is a combination of sound art and improvised sax and the build-up of unusual sounds interspersed with Anthony’s hypnotic sax mosaics was a real joy to hear.
Young Harry Slater played a rare solo acoustic set; a complete contrast to his band’s hard rocking style. Engaging the audience and insisting they come to the front and get involved, he delivered a refreshing set of acoustic rock with some raw personal lyrics and great inter-song banter.
Satin Beige blew the Vanishing Point audience away at the Ivy House in September and she and her trio were on top form again. Flanked by two serious talents in her younger sister Elodie on Violin and Luke Moore of the awesome Operation Lightfoot on guitar, the ‘chick with the cello’ gave us a stunning mix of urban acoustic pop, soul, indie and even a rendition of Kylie’s Santa Baby for which she insisted the audience sang along or she would play it all night!!
Satin is a serious talent who has all the elements – beautiful soulful voice; great songs; a thoroughly unique approach and instrumental line-up plus bags of charisma. She also has the support of two superb musicians. She has already attracted the attention of BBC Introducing in Merseyside where she is based and has been on Tom Robinson‘s radar too and has been played on his BBC Radio 6 Music show. 2020 ought to be a big year for her if there is any justice.
VANISHING POINT NEW YEAR PARTY @ THE IVY HOUSE
If you have not already done so, there is still time to save £2 a ticket for Thursday’s Vanishing Point New Year Party gig at The Ivy House in Nunhead, S.E. London on 2nd January 2020. I have curated a typically eclectic line-up of exciting new music acts featuring Bloom De Wilde (Alt Pop); Billy Brown (legendary Friends of Gavin frontman plays acoustic solo set); Gagarin (Pere Ubu member plays composed Electronica) and Dirch Blewn (Leftfield Music & Sound Art). Get tickets using the above link and follow the event, which takes place on the first Thursday of every month, on Twitter. And remember your money is supporting new music.
FREE GIG ALERT: TRUST THE DOC @ The AMERSHAM ARMS
As I seek to spread the Trust The Doc name across live new music I am putting on a special FREE ENTRY event at the iconic Amersham Arms opposite New Cross Station on Thursday 16th January. It will be a characteristically eclectic line-up featuring the madcap but brilliant Electronic Alt Rock of Reading’s Pink Diamond Revue; Brighton’s TTD favourites and Indie Rockers Fragile Creatures; fantastic Leftfield Experimental artist Lou Barnell and one other to be confirmed.
It should be a great night and it’s free so what’s not to love? Hope to see some of you there. Book your free tickets here.
THE MONTH’S HOTTEST NEW MUSIC
It was, inevitably perhaps, a quieter month than usual for new tracks by new and emerging artists with the last two weeks of the Fresh on the Net year seeing barely 130 tracks per week compared to our usual 200. But there was still plenty to shout about. As I am always saying New Music never sleeps!
Alt Rock & Indie
The Lake District is not necessarily the first place that comes to mind when thinking about what’s cutting edge in new music but Kendal band Def Robot have been consistently submitting good quality tracks including Northern Lights which is a heavy and slightly trippy piece that combines daunting spoken word male vocal with some seriously inventive playing and mouth watering musicianship. If Punk and Prog had managed to settle their differences, this might have been their lovechild. Nick Cave in a jam with Mark E Smith and Yes!
Talking of lakes I would love to tell you all about Black Lakes but there is no information and there are no links either on their Soundcloud page. Shame because Ghosts (of our memories) is a refreshing slice of intense Alt Rock in triplet time in which more laid back verses lead, via a crescendoing bridge, into a shuddering power-driven chorus in broadly Nirvana meet Queens of the Stone Age territory while the mid-section adds another layer of invention. The musicianship is excellent, complete with simple but perfect harmonies, an appealingly ‘live’ drum sound and loads of contrast. Lots to shout about. So come on guys, do some shouting! 🙂
London trio Kyoto, on the other hand, bring us the softer, more reflective side of Alternative Pop with the melancholy downtempo track The Light in which gorgeous piano and synth chords accompany a soulful tenor voice while the rest of the band provides a robust powerful backdrop cast in a less is more approach to arrangement. Touchingly fragile and appealing pop.
Baltimore‘s Soundcloud page does not state a location but the song Bubble with its lilting open fifth guitar figure, driving drums and bass, understated jangle and appealing male vocal grabbed my interest. So, with some digging, I discovered they are from Molenbeersel in Belgium and number among their influences Tame Impala (who the vocals definitely remind me of), DIIV, Ty Segall and the Beatles among others. Actually that group of names should give you a pretty accurate picture of their musical vision based on this excellent track.
Hull is a city with a proud tradition of producing fine bands and one of the latest in that lineage is Radars. The quartet are influenced by Two Door Cinema Club, Foals and The Vaccines, all of which explains their powerful but poppy sound, adorned by pretty guitar figures contrasting a deep driven rhythm section. The male vocal has an epic quality. Climatic, clever and lifted a notch by those vital nuances that the band has taken time to infuse it with, this is a cracking choon.
Aylesbury’s The Vespertine Kind is, in fact, the recording monicker of Graham Iddon who manages the new music-supporting venue The White Swan. And, as the slow-burning stunner Ignition demonstrates, he is a talented songwriter who possesses a beautiful, clear and melancholic tenor voice. Soft piano chords carry the song forward as the arrangement fills out and achieves grand dynamic highs. The tune is minor key and pulls at the heart strings, aided and abetted by the soft poetry of the lyrics. Shades of Tame Impala in a mash with Noel Gallagher while James Blake gets in the mix maybe. Really lovely.
R’n’B & Soul
A new name to me but one I am very pleased to hear is Nottinghamshire’s Daisy Godfrey whose track Many Shades reveals a singer whose Soundcloud page is bang on when comparing her to Corinne Bailey-Rae and Sade whilst I could throw Jill Scott, Anita Baker and various others into that melting pot. Jazzy, sophisticated Soul sung with all the self-assured agility and dynamic range of a top class artist. One we must surely be hearing more from in 2020.
The Natural Curve (feat. Nena F) describe On my skin simply as Electronic but the beat and the sustained mystical jazz-tinged synth chords place this in Drum’n’Bass territory. Tough beat driving it forward, the chords are funky and a little Acid Jazz-edged while Nena F’s vocal is soulful and dexterous, adding a melodic edge to TNC’s lovingly produced ambient backdrop. A track that sends me into an agreeably dreamlike state!
From Ladbroke Grove in West London Amey St Cyr is described as a singer-songwriter and I suspect she traverses a range of genres in her work but there is also evidence that dance-orientated music is a forte of hers and that is demonstrated on the Disco-House poppy EDM of Dancefloor of Freedom. Four-to-the-floor kick drum and sub-bass playing in fifths accompany her powerful soprano soul vocals. Catchy, funky, sassy and uplifting, a floorfiller to get into the groove to.
Electronic & Ambient
I have reviewed the music of Matthew Jameson previously in TTD and his new track The Journey//time rolls on .. offers more enigmatic and inventive synth, electronic and ambient sound. The harmonic language is diatonic but there are mild dissonances, usually where the clash is between the melody note and corresponding chord, creating the brief senses of suspended or extended harmony. He also likes to have contrasting timbres interweaving around the repeating chord pattern, appended by evocations of sirens and other sounds.
There is still almost no information on his Soundcloud page and the only link is to Bandcamp making it hard to dig much information out about Matthew Jameson. However I did find a contact page there so he will hopefully know about this review by the time it is published.
Matthew’s music certainly blurs the boundaries between ambient synth electronica and contemporary classical. I hope we will see his social media footprint grow in 2020 and links on his Soundcloud page so that more people can discover his impressive work.
Similarly Monogulo has no details about his identity nor where he lives or is from on his Soundcloud or other social media but he does provide plenty of biog about how he came to love music. He is both a keyboardist and a DJ. His latest track Dreams of Summer arrives poignantly as the winter sets in and offers warm electro-ambience in instrumental form. Smartly produced and decorated with an array of subtle sounds, it is a track to lose yourself in whether on the dancefloor or at home in your headphones.
Folk & Country
UK Folk artist Lizzy Hardingham has delivered the goods again with an imaginative and emotionally-charged track called Berries. Accompanied by a mixture of skillful picking guitar, clever use of harmonics and some sumptuous chord play, the song really showcases her goose-bumpingly powerful and versatile voice. At times the sharpness of her delivery (in effect not intonation!) and scything fortissimo elements send butterflies through my stomach. This is really quite beautiful and you should check it out.
The ever-consistent Essex singer-songwriter S.J. Denney is back with a mid-tempo shuffle-groove Indie-Folk track entitled (Feels like I’m) Hearing Things which provides another strong demonstration of his fine voice and writing skills. The chorus is infectiously catchy topped off by some fresh harmonies and guitar-dominated chord arrangement. A great way to round off what has been a productive year for him.
Trust The Doc Classic
This month’s choice of TTD Classic, unusually, is not particularly inspired by any of the current tracks reviewed here. I have decided to delve back into my collection of nineteen eighties Reggae and Lovers’ singles and pick out one of the many that never achieved the recognition I felt it merited. The track in question is Sugar Minott‘s gorgeous cover of Never my love, a song written and originally released as part of an unusual medley by Smokey Robinson.
The Sugar Minott version appeared on the 1981 album Good Thing Going and was the follow-up to the title track which had given him a n unexpected Top 5 UK chart hit.
Never my love placed Smokey’s original in a new context as a [no pun intended] sugary slice of Lovers’ Rock which, more than almost any Lovers’ track I can think of, encapsulated that sub-genre’s marriage of Reggae and Soul, highlighting all the positives of the relationship, carried along by a punchy arrangement and Sugar Minott’s premium quality vocal.
The song sadly did not receive the attention and airtime that its predecessor had and subsequently only made the lower echelons of the Top 50. So, for me, it remains one of the unsung classics of its era. It also played a key part in establishing Sugar Minott as one of my favourite Reggae artists and one of my all-time favourite singers in any genre.
And Finally …
Well Christmas has come and gone. I hope you had a good one or enjoyed whatever you celebrate, don’t celebrate or simply do over the Yuletide period! But we can all look forward to 2020 being a better year than 2019 [unless of course 2019 was a fantastic year for you personally].
Thanks for reading and I hope, if you are able to be in the South East London area, I might see you at The Ivy House on 2nd January and The Amersham Arms on 16th January. Last but not least, don’t forget to tune into my new radio show on 18th January and hopefully every Saturday thereafter. Together let’s keep supporting new music. xxxx