Edition 42: 29th February 2020: A blog by Neil March
Welcome to Edition 42 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
What a month it has been not just in the wonderful world of new music but in the crazy unpredictable world of Trust The Doc Live, Vanishing Point and my Operation New Music project! This month’s edition sees the blog divided into two distinct parts, the first being brief reports of stuff I have been involved with or invited to, the second being reviews of new music divided into genres (no Jazz this time though which, hopefully, is a one-off situation).
PART ONE: THE MONTH IN BRIEF
GRASS ROOTS MUSIC NETWORK
On the day of publication of Edition 41 (31st January), my close friend and ally Sue Oreszczyn and I gave a presentation at the Royal Society for the Arts Manufactures & Commerce (RSA), an organisation we are both ‘fellows’ of. It was based on the Independent Music Conversation concept which I have written about in past editions of this blog as well as on Fresh on the Net. Sue and I have been working on developing this idea for a year and have made our central focus the formation of a network within the RSA but open to fellows and non-fellows alike. Its purpose is to bring together people with a wide spectrum of interests and expertise in the independent music sector to explore ways we can work collaboratively and to innovate to help all parties be successful with grass roots music being the winner.
We could not have imagined how well it would go and what an impressive group of individuals would come and get involved. There are too many to mention but special props have to be given to podcaster and website builder extraordinaire Pete Cogle, the hugely experienced Peter Clitheroe and to RSA intern Rachel Godin who has enabled it to all come together and is now looking to get involved with some of my work as a promoter too!
We have been meeting with a range of people and already our fledgling network is taking on an encouragingly diverse character in terms of age, gender, ethnicity etc. And everyone has such cool and original ideas. We have plans including a conference and regular sessions. So, as I so often love to say, WATCH THIS SPACE …..
FAREWELL IVY HOUSE: HELLO AMP STUDIOS !!!
The month got off to a sad [if bittersweet] start with the last ever Vanishing Point at the beautiful Ivy House. The very sudden decision by the management committee to bump all external promoters onto a Tuesday was bad enough. But I was prepared to suck it up and at least give moving to the first Tuesday of the month a try. But, to cut a long story short, their prevarication and indecision over threats to implement what would have been a thoroughly unrealistic hire policy left me with no choice but to look elsewhere. And when I was directly approached by AMP Studios at the more favourable location of Old Kent Road, despite the risks involved with trying to build a brand new venue, everything about it felt right.
I had already posted extensively that 6th February would therefore be the final Vanishing Point @ The Ivy House. Indeed their PR people had shared my posts and commented on how sad it was to see me go. Then an hour before the gig I was contacted by the venue with the ‘good news’ that they were happy for me to move to the Tuesday on the same deal I had for the Thursday. Too little much much too late guys. If they had told me this even a week earlier I might still be there trying to make a Tuesday night a success in a frankly remote and difficult location. But I can’t run my business on the basis of last minute decisions. So I had moved on already. Ironically the gig was rammed. But then it usually is.
The Ivy House committee needs to learn from this as they have lost a committed and successful promoter. Not only that but I had been growing the venue’s reputation across social media and the internet as a key home of new music. Not anymore though. Just Folk, Trad Jazz, weddings, funerals and corporate hire. What a waste! None of this is a reflection on their excellent events manager Tom who was the voice of reason in this episode. I look forward to putting his own band on at AMP Studio and other venues in the near future.
Yes it is sad after a year and a half of building something so special there. But now I look forward to building something even more special at a new venue run by people who love new music. It kicks off on 2nd April with a sizzling line-up of Jaffro; Punkdisco; Northwest and Tigersonic. I hope to see lots of you there. Tickets for £6 here.
JOSIE & CHOLLY ON TOUR
As reported in Edition 41 the Josie & Cholly mini-tour of London, South & Midlands kicked off with the last Vanishing Point before heading off to the Phoenix Bar in High Wycombe. HOL (formerly Hollie Findlay), who had joined us for the Ivy House gig, also joined us for this one along with In The Forest who will also join us at the Oddfellows in Hemel Hempstead.
Ludicrously exaggerated scaremongering about Storm Dennis cost us in attendance figures. That was a shame because those who braved the weather and came along were treated to four fantastic sets in a lovely venue.
Next up The White Swan, Aylesbury (13th March) which is FREE ENTRY followed by Oddfellows, Hemel Hempstead (19th March), More Coffee Live, Melton Mowbray (28th March) and the Trust The Doc Festival on 4th April. For details click here.
TRUST THE DOC FESTIVAL @ THE AMERSHAM ARMS
It is only five weeks until South East London’s first ever live festival of new music. Yes folks, I am talking about the Trust The Doc Festival 2020. And I am offering two insanely good value specials. One is an early bird booking price of just £7.00 if you buy a ticket before midnight on 15th March. £7 for 17 bands and artists on 2 stages!! Yeah I know. It’s crazy!
Even crazier is my offer of a £12 ticket admitting you to both the festival AND the first Vanishing Point at the new venue. I must be out of my mind, right? Well maybe you should buy it before I come to my senses and change my mind! Find both these offers here.
JOSIE @ CAFFE NERO, TERMINAL 2, HEATHROW AIRPORT
Josie and her musical partner-in-crime Dina Konradsen played multiple short sets at the biggest Caffe Nero store in Europe on Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 on Saturday 8th February (from about 10.30AM – 2.30PM). It was a massive success. Not only did we sell a shed load of Josie CD EPs but she has now been invited to play more dates there. A great result and a very pleasant time. And I was still able to make it back in time to present my live and interactive radio show on the wonderful Exile FM.
TRUST THE DOC RADIO SHOW, EXILE FM
I have now presented 7 editions of my Trust The Doc Radio Show on Exile FM and it has snowballed so fast in terms of listening figures and following. And when I had to pre-record the show on the day of the High Wycombe gig it felt so wrong that I have committed to broadcasting live from More Coffee and the Trust The Doc Festival.
The show has 3 regular features including an interactive Track of the Week poll and the interaction with listeners during the show and afterwards on social media has been overwhelming (as has the volume of tracks I am being sent by artists seeking airplay!). 50% of all content is by new & emerging artists and a further 30% is new tracks by more well-known ones. And the old tracks have specific roles in the programme.
Highlights include interviews on the show with Kongo Dia Ntotila and Legpuppy (today in fact!). If you haven’t checked the show out, come and join its rapidly growing community at Exile FM from 5 – 7PM every Saturday or for 7 days afterwards by podcast.
MY NEW ROLE WITH THE AMERSHAM ARMS
I am now spending one half day a week (6 hours in fact) helping the wonderful Andy Palmer, manager of the iconic Amersham Arms and fellow musician, to book gigs, attract promoters and set up regular events. So if you think you could put a night [or nights] on there and get a decent crowd in, get in touch. You can email me (email@example.com) or find me on Twitter or Facebook.
LINEAR OBSESSIONAL @ THE DIRTY SOUTH, 23rd FEBRUARY 2020
I attended the second Linear Obsessional at its new home in the back room of The Dirty South on Lee High Road. After the issues with the stage being en route to the toilets, Richard [Sanderson] moved the stage to the other side of the room and it definitely worked better.
We were treated to four sets. First up was a trio called The Remote Viewers with two saxes and Double Bass. The saxes switched between a variety of roles, sometimes individual and going off at tangents, other times providing a harmonic pivot offset by the most full-on ravaging of a Double Bass I have ever experienced. The overall impact was exciting, full of invention and achieved a kind of deliciously dystopian deconstruction of contemporary jazz with various elements, especially modal harmony, thrown into the melting pot.
Next up was Charlotte Law who informed us that she fancied herself as a story teller before reeling off the lengthy itinerary of her personal book collection to a backdrop of intriguing prepared guitar which was ambient and understated for the most part before building notably in intensity over the final stretch of her set.
David Bloor (who recently played Vanishing Point as Dirch Blewn) and Lia Mazzari were next. Lia played Cello, her use of various contemporary techniques in repetition and gradual build-up contrasted by David’s application of various electronically realised sounds. Double stops, extensive glissandi and drones emanated from the Cello against bells, bleeps, squeals, crackles and pops creating an atmospheric soundscape.
A Beast With Three Backs ended the night with Mark Pringle on guitar, Adam Brett on lap pedal steel and Laura Hills on electric piano. They created a bizarrely Western aura, like an avant garde jam in a bar in Tennessee or perhaps a modally inflected improv session in the desert! Mark’s mock antics with the guitar were amusing while his playing was an aggressive antidote to the ethereal quality of the pedal steel. In the middle of these detached but duelling guitars, Laura’s piano was thoughtful, inventive and expertly played. An enjoyable climax to an entertaining and carefully curated evening of experimental music and sound.
NB: Linear Obsessional regulars Richard Sanderson; Smallhaus & Portia Winters are all appearing at the Trust The Doc Festival on 4th April and Tigersonic is playing at Vanishing Point on 2nd April. Details & tickets here.
PART TWO: REVIEWS OF NEW MUSIC
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL & LEFTFIELD
Luca Luciano‘s Divertimento #13 for Clarinet Trio is a snapshot of an impressive repertoire from this Italian composer and virtuoso clarinettist. Sparse, dynamic and making such intricate use of the different timbres and registral flashpoints of the instrument, it enables what is, in language terms, a relatively conventional piece to achieve a more contemporary and individual style. Both the writing and playing is highly skilled which makes a massive difference.
The ever reliable North East English composer and pianist Paul Tayloris back with a simply beautiful piece of light-textured, harmonically subtle and superbly played piano music entitled Planare. Paul manages to carefully craft his music so that it is thoughtfully composed in terms of key thematic material and harmonic language but allows him the space to improvise and elaborate. He never over-eggs the pudding though and his deftness of touch adds to the magic of his music. There are few composers around whose mastery of the piano is so well represented. A Chopin of the contemporary art era.
FOLK & COUNTRY
Swansea’s Eleri Angharad is becoming a bit of a regular in this blog but that is because she consistently delivers lovely songs in her Country-tinged Folk style and striking, emotionally affecting voice. Sunburn rides along with trademark energy and a tough beat, great guitar parts and a killer chorus. It has a pop sensibility too.
Eliza Shaddadis the daughter of Scottish and Sudanese parents and has lived across Europe before settling in London. It might be a bit crass to suggest this international background has necessarily shaped her sound and style. But Same as you certainly brings some unusual influences together, soulful and brooding on one level, jangly and Alt Poppish on another and with a vaguely Eastern undercurrent in the chord sequence and the melodic scales that repeat throughout. She also has a distinct and appealing voice that dominates this slightly hypnotic pop gem. Try getting this out of your head once you have listened to it once!
Caiine has been making quite a name for herself over the past year and is now signed with Kelly Munro’s End of the Trail Creative. I believe I am right in saying that Kelly has also got her onto the bill for SXSW in Texas this summer. Disengage delivers lovely wobbly electric piano chords and great registral contrasts between her deep Alto range in verses and a higher, dynamic chorus with infectious hook. All this is underpinned by a cool crisp programmed beat. Another winner.
Kahlla‘sSense of Selfhas a laid back mid-tempo feel and a vocal that reminds me a little of Natalie Imbruglia with shades of Lily Allen. She is actually German artist Freya Volk although her voice sounds very English. Anyway she makes appealingly yearning Pop with soulful undercurrents. Well worth checking out.
Fellow German artist Kileza has come up with one of the month’s most interesting tracks in the form of Homegirl. It pits a soulful urban feel against some cool ambient noise. She describes the track as electronic which it is, I guess, but it also has a dark Trip Hop aura and a catchy chorus regardless of how much electronic sound threatens to engulf the filtered, reverberant vocal harmonies. A great deal of thought has clearly gone into creating this outstanding track, all of which is topped by her striking alto range vocals. I need to play this on my radio show.
ALTERNATIVE ROCK & INDIE
I agonised over which section to review this track in but Telford-based duo (originally from Leeds and Dartford respectively) The Bad Bands are Banned Band have hit the spot big time with the track Supernova. It rocks with serious Post-Punk menace and has shades of bands like Garbage and Warpaint about it. Yet they describe it as electronic and I can see why since it is packed with electronic sounds and has an almost level-busting murkiness that might leave radio production folk scratching their heads wondering whether it breaks mastering boundaries. Not me though. I will happily play it on my show. A giant of a track.
What a glorious name is Thunderous Jonesand their track Home goes some way to living up to such a promising name. This is energetic Alt Rock emanating from the Midlands. Tuneful, loud and boisterous, the icing on the cake is a cool and quite unexpected mid-section which underlines the desire for detail and inventiveness. A song that happily refuses to settle for second best.
Liverpool band Sheepy came to my attention thanks to the wonderful Tim Britton whose TBT Music is a relentless font of cool punky Alt Rock. Balloons is one of several Sheepy tracks Tim alerted me to. Another is She’s taken over. Melodic guitar-driven wall-of-sound Punk Pop that recalls a lineage stretching back to the Buzzcocks and forward to the likes of Foals and the Libertines, a few minutes of real joy.
Reading’s The Pink Diamond Revuerecently headlined my Trust The Doc Live gig at the Amersham Arms and the consensus was that they were fantastic live. Miss Lonely Hearts is therefore a welcome reminder of their energetic guitar-driven, part-electronic sound. Tim Lane is an imaginative writer with an eye for what works visually too although even he could not have invented finding a drummer who could be a double for Henry Rollins! Great band whose instrumental drive and sampled words set them apart from the crowd as this track shows.
The wonderful and enigmatic Lovepoint are back, this time featuring one Indira May on a track entitled Tortoiseshell. With a penchant for reaching way back to the whimsical Pop of the seventies and blending it with contemporary sounds, he has teamed up with Indira on a slow-to-mid tempo duet laced with jazzy chords and tinkling piano. All nicely done as usual.
North Wales band Seazoo make uplifting Indie Pop of which The Pleasure is a strong example. Bristling with energy, strong melodically and lots going on in the mix. An example of why it is always worth the effort to be inventive. The song has an almost Postcard Records-ish guitar jangle that is evident from the outset. But then it heads towards the chorus through a spine-tingling series of chord changes. And it has a great hook to boot.
Glass Violethail from the Gloucestershire area of the English West Country and were originally brought to my attention by a mutual friend. In Over the moor they have come up with a proper epic Alt Rock anthem that bursts forth from the speakers from the outset with big big spacious production, loud mastering and a plethora of guitar rock jangle. The song that ensues lives up to its grand intro and the whole thing is uplifting and joyous like U2 in a mash-up with Bloomers and the Arctic Monkeys. Well something like that anyway!
Gr3ywxlfis churning out the tracks at the moment (though he risks upsetting the Fresh on the Net moderators if he keeps sending tracks within his three month period from his last appearance on the Mixtape!). Save the Cheerleader is one example of his unique sound, his rapping style which is almost semi-strangulated and intense [with shades of Kojey Radical in delivery terms], set against sparse soundset and tough beats.
Cardiff collective Afro Cluster (ft. Ty) wowed the FOTN Listening Post audience with the unashamedly Old Skool vibe of Back into it. It is very much a call to arms; a statement of intent about dealing with all the troubles of our insane modern world and approaching them with positivity and tenacity. This timeless message is fittingly presented in a classic movie-like soundtrack that recalls the glory days of the Furious Five, Eric B & Rakim and others. But the rapping and production are contemporary enough to place this is in 2020. Check out more of their material to hear how they make such smart use of Funk, Hip Hop and other flavas.
Crooked Shadows have also chosen to go with an Old Skool vibe, sampling Deniece Williams’ classic Free on their similarly titled track which has shades of Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince in a mash-up with Naughty by Nature, aided by more modern production values. On the eponymously titled Crooked Shadow the vibe is darker and more contemporary, the rap more rhythmically interesting, set against a spy movie aura backdrop. Lyrically smart and stylishly executed.
The Worst Guys are from Birmingham and mix Hip Hop with R’n’B switching between rapping and soulful singing on a radio-friendly laid back piece that has an aura of dusk falling on a warm summer evening on the streets of Birmingham. They have appealing voices and an ear for a sound combination that sucks you in. I bet they are great live too.
I had to mention Eight Ears & D-Lings‘ So sweet. I don’t usually review the same artist in consecutive editions of TTD but this track is just too good not to mention. Almost a Reggae vibe within a jaunty slice of poppy R’n’B with cheeky lyrics and gorgeous harmonies dominating throughout. Too good to overlook.
SIDESis the new recording monicker of the artist formerly known (not least to TTD regular readers) as Leeveye.Looking for finds the South East London artist and producer on top form, sampling an annoyingly infectious childish voice over a pulsating beat and lovely synth chords with his trademark sprinkling of funky undercurrents. Music to lift the spirits.
Pharaohz have a track called Structurewhich is essentially instrumental tech house with occasional spoken word in deep slowed down voice. It is a cracking choon too, insistent beat, cool synth chords and pristine production.
After the sultry electronic pop of Sauterelle, Halo Nevahave changed the mood completely with Need you now. This is imaginative EDM with a welcome edginess and typically exotic vocals. A good demonstration of their versatility. Expect to hear more from this talented duo in 2020.
Eddy Hame‘s Take it back is instrumental EDM from Manchester with sampled female voice singing a wordless chant. It has an almost Old Skool vibe that recalls Manchester’s fine heritage and the days of The Hacienda. But the production and sound choices are very much of 2020.
I am a bit of a sucker for a tasty slice of well-executed Euro House and Switzerland’s Highland Sanctuary have hit the spot with Sailing. No it isn’t a cover of the Sutherland Brothers song made famous by Rod Stewart! But it does have loud classic House synth delivering resonant riffs at the centre of the track and a banging beat to boot. Perfect club choon.
And finally some engaging Deep House courtesy of Afterculture and Too Cool with lovely ninth and eleventh synth chords, soothing female vocal hook and cool crisp beat. Too deep and mystical to fit the mantra of banging but a banger nonetheless!
EPIC & CINEMATIC
There isn’t much information on her Soundcloud page but Walt is an artist called Ella whose songs sit somewhere in the midst of Cinematic Pop. Prop 11 is a slow burner that finds her voice split by an octave floating on a soft backdrop of synth chords, picking guitar notes and consistent beat. It is melodic, melancholy and enigmatic. Good too.
L Space are a band I have written a lot about over the past two years and they are about to change their name to Post Coal Prom Queen just in time to headline my Trust The Doc Festival on 4th April. Karoshi is a joyous demonstration of their new direction as they take their duo out on the road. It sits somewhere between synth pop and shoegaze, popping synth riff, crisp beat and dreamy guitar accompanying ethereal vocals. All bodes well for this next chapter in their story.
Ell Ivy is a talented young singer-songwriter from London who performs solo with electric guitar although on Did you love me?there is also quiet percussion and synth in the background. Her voice is delicate but don’t take that to mean it lacks power. It is dynamic too. And more to the point, beautiful to listen to. The song is brooding epic pop with an edge. Ell Ivy (aka Olivia) stormed into the Fresh on the Net faves with this excellent track and I have booked her to play our Fresh on the Net Live 2020 festival on 26th April. It will be exciting to see and hear her play live.
ELECTRONIC & AMBIENT
The Evolving 9th Hour is the recording monicker of London-based artist and producer Simon Horsefield. Magic Garden is slowly building electronic ambience that is both haunting and yet strangely relaxing, evoking vast open landscapes and lonely terrains. I look forward to hearing more where this came from.
The ever-consistent Red-Blue-Connect keeps knocking out thoughtful explorations with looped resonant guitar and synth. Hidden Tiger is another interesting track in lots of distinct sections. Lovingly crafted and played, a definite return to top form.
Bitmapis the current project of the highly accomplished Luke Barwell and its optimistic title Everything lost will be found is reflected by the build-up of tuneful, hopeful synths in a track which forms an almost perfect arc, constructing and deconstructing with mirrored patience while spoken word samples abound here and there.
AND FINALLY ….
I could have written about five times as much as I did in this edition if only time allowed, such is the volume of great tracks now coming my way, especially since the radio show kicked off in mid-January. So if I have yet to cover your track, it may be that I have simply run out of time and might cover it in another edition. In addition I am trying to get as many of these tracks I am receiving from all quarters as possible onto my radio show and to offer intriguing content for the interactive Track of the Week poll.
I do also buy downloads of a number of new tracks every week for the show but inevitably I can’t afford to buy all those I play so I am reliant on artists sending me MP3s (which, to be fair, they have been doing in large numbers). And I play any genre of music if I like it. So if you are seeking airplay please send an MP3 and message with a bit of info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime please buy tickets for my festival and corresponding gigs. That is what enables me to keep supporting new music and your money pays struggling musicians to come and perform for live audiences.
Otherwise thanks as always for reading this edition of my now two year old blog and see you all on 31st March for Edition 43. 🙂 xxxx