Trust The Doc Edition 44

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Edition 44: 30th April 2020: A blog by Neil March

Welcome to Edition 44 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

PART ONE: THE MONTH IN BRIEF

Staying in is still the new going out folks so we may as well try to enjoy listening to even more music! Despite Fresh on the Net closing for a fortnight over Easter, I have still managed to be inundated with new music coming at me from one avenue or another! I am not complaining though. And it means plenty to write about in this blog although not the bumper issue I put out last month! No contemporary classical (for the first time since the blog began over two years ago) or Jazz in this issue as I just haven’t had time to listen to either. I will aim to put that right in the May edition. In the meantime, news on my TV and Radio shows and plenty of new music to get your teeth into. 21 acts in total.

TRUST THE DOC TV !!!

The big news of the month for me has been the development of Trust The Doc TV. This happened very quickly despite actually proving quite a challenge. Originally it was going to be broadcast by DiscovrTV but, following a trial run of the show in early April, we were not able to entirely agree on how to move forward although it is still the intention that I will work with them in some capacity.

In the meantime, using what technology I had and could handle, I have pieced together a 1 hour show to go out twice a month that mixes recordings of artists playing live in their social distancing locations with videos, interviews (by split screen), news and chat. It goes out live on YouTube and is available thereafter as a video, Audience members have the option to contribute to a crowdfunder should they wish to. First edition streams live on Tuesday 5th May at 8PM.

TRUST THE DOC RADIO SHOW

The radio show just seems to grow and grow audience-wise at the moment with fantastic live interaction throughout the two hours and great participation in the weekly Track of the Week poll. If you are yet to tune in, it goes out live at 5PM every Saturday on https://exilefm.com and, if you miss the live show, you can catch the podcast for up to 7 days afterwards. 50% of content is by new and emerging bands and artists and about another 30% consists of the best current tracks by more familiar names too. And there are several cool regular features including my Then & Now which compares an old track to a new one and my Trust The Doc classic that hails an overlooked classic. It’s all about context you see! Anyway come and join the social distancing party that celebrates the best in new music.

TRUST THE DOC EXTRA

So successful is the radio show that we have agreed that there will now be an additional pre-recorded show (podcast) called Trust The Doc Extra which will be broadcast at 8PM on a Wednesday night and available by podcast for 7 days. It will consist of highlights from the Saturday show plus some tracks that didn’t get onto that playlist. I hope you will tune in for that too. A chance to play yet more new and emerging bands and artists as the number of submissions I receive has gone up so much.

PART TWO: REVIEWS OF NEW MUSIC

Pop Noodles

The irrepressible Logan J Parker is one busy bee. Last month I reviewed her jaunty jazz-tinged Pop track Cry Cry Cry and now she is back with a new single and video. We’ll be gone is Logan’s anthem for lockdown, its dark lyric set against a slow triplet time Soul choon in which, on both the track and in the video, it is just Logan and her guitar; a stark contrast to the last video in which her band features throughout. Shades of Amy Winehouse and Billie Holliday are clearly heard. It is simple but beautifully delivered in her rangy powerful voice. Check out the video here.

A new name to me is Only Total but my ears pricked up when I heard the track After Dark. Again there is a lack of information or links on his Soundcloud page but he appears to be a solo artist. He has a distinct high tenor range voice that has an appealing fragility despite its powerful delivery. The melody is melancholy and catchy, accompanied by programmed beat and keyboard chords. A radio track if it could get some exposure to production staff. Let’s hope it does.

Alt Rock & Indie

It is always a joy to see a new track from KAIROS and Louisa and co have not let us down with the latest one. Falling Apart springs forth from the speakers instantly with trademark double-stopping guitar in jagged funk-edged style, loud production and striking vocals. This is a masterclass in how to get the f*** on with a track and, in the process, immediately blow everything around you out of the water.

Being in lockdown must be like pulling teeth for a hyperactive talent like Louisa McClure. The bass playing writer and driving force behind KAIROS would usually be [not literally] flying between East Grinstead and Leeds, working two jobs so she can keep this amazing band going. And they are a bundle of energy on stage too as their live footage shows. Prior to lockdown I was set to have them performing for me at Vanishing Point. Hopefully that can still happen at some later point.

2020 should have been an opportunity for them to get out and about, winning new fans far and wide. Perhaps it still will be. But I predict that, even if we have to wait until 2021 to see it happen, KAIROS are going to start making some significant breakthroughs. A band cannot be this good and not find people competing for the right to say they discovered them! Funky Alt Rock with a sound so distinct and unusual you simply have to hear it for yourself. The single is available to buy from Bandcamp by the way. Just saying!

Sheffield band Polyhymns have been consistently submitting great tunes to Fresh on the Net. So I was pleased that, when I put their track Down with the kids up for the Track of the Week vote on my radio show, it won the vote. Imagine The Divine Comedy at their most reflective in a mash with Teenage Fanclub and Blur. Resonant strumming guitar, melodic bass, laid back drums, decorative lead playing and a soft baritone-range vocal with harmonies as needed. A sweet song emerging out of the haze of a quiet summer evening.

A similar vibe can be experienced in Leeds sextet Talkboy‘s track Feel Again although the arrangement is a bit more epic. The band has male and female vocals but it is male vocal taking the lead here while they combine to produce some fine harmonies in a slightly whimsical piece of melodic Alt Pop that recalls some classic influences (Beatles through to The Big Moon). The band’s chemistry allows them to ease between big contrasts of dynamic and texture. All in all a joyous sound.

Regular readers of TTD may recall that Morning Myth from West Sussex are a big favourite of mine. Aimee and Ross have been amassing an impressive catalogue of lovingly crafted Dream Pop that has echoes of Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star and Ruth Radelet in a jam with John Martyn, Lindsey Buckingham and Jeff Buckley. Their latest offering April Song is a slowish triplet time track that builds from opening strummed chords and Aimee’s sumptious alto range before she adds octave-up unison and soft harmonies while Ross expands into picking and suspensions etc. to create a stunning soundscape adorned by easy melodic sensibilities. Try turning this off. In fact try listening just once! Beautiful as ever. Video coming soon too.

Another TTD favourite is the band Become The Sky from North Wales and Merseyside. And they are back with a slow ethereal track called Rain Down which builds gradually, a solid slightly syncopated beat accompanying fluid bass and reverberant guitars while Anne Marie’s distinct alto voice swoops one moment and soars the next. It is semi-psychedelic Dream Pop of a beautiful and evocative kind. Become The Sky make music that is as poetic as the lyrics. Post-lockdown there’s a Welsh Language track on the way too. This will do more than nicely in the meantime.

There is precious little information on the Found Instruments  Soundcloud page but their track Reason to be is a mid-tempo driving Alt Rock choon with dirty fuzz rhythm guitar chugging away throughout while more reverberant lead lines come and go. The vocal is somewhere between Thom Yorke and Black Frances although style-wise it is closer to the latter. Post-Grunge with nagging melody and a simple but perfectly conceived band arrangement.

It is always good to see a new Def Robot track in my in-box and this one, Claim Your Stake, had already come to me in the form of a cool video which I will be featuring soon on Trust The Doc TV. The song is a driving uptempo piece of Alt Rock guest starring synth and delivered in powerful distinct tenor range voice. I love its continuous energy and the open fifths in the guitar and synth that play over the chorus. And it’s a damn good chorus too.

Those inimitable Fistymuffs are back again, this time commenting on the invasion of Leith in Edinburgh by rich property owners and developers. Gentrification of Leith makes its point to a typically  cool edgy backdrop of driving chords and rhythm section accompanying a vocal that is distinct, appealing and gets inside my head very quickly. Another winner.

Urban Flavas

Londoner Shao Dow is one impressive individual. Praised by the likes of Charlie Sloth and Tom Robinson for his talent and work ethic, invited to parliament to talk about grassroots music and voted by AIM as hardest working artist in 2017, he manages to make a full time living from music and merchandise. He has even appeared on Ninja Warrior! He also has a track out called Nani which sits somewhere between Grime and Brit Hop. The lyric is intelligent, the delivery is forthright and the surrounding arrangement is dynamic and clever right down to the repeating hook. It gets better with every listen too.

Mr Ekow is an artist who consistently delivers the Hip Hop goods and he is back with a track called I Am Hip Hop. But if you are thinking this is an arrogant title, you will change your mind when you listen to the lyrics. This is a soul-searching look at the subject of Hip Hop and its existential future and, having concluded that the genre is in good shape, Mr Ekow gives us another banging upbeat slice of  Old Skool-influenced but nonetheless contemporary Urban fare that demands repeat listens.

There is no information on the Soundcloud page for Short Sharp Scratch but, if the track Go Anywhere is any indication, they are a band with male and female leads who remind me a little of Koffee Brown. Style-wise there is a tonne of late eighties Soul-Disco influence happening here. Think Loose Ends, Nu Shooz and Sherrick. Classy, mid-tempo Disco-Funk with jazz-tinged chords, crisp beat and a top-notch vocal arrangement. It’s the kind of track that once poured from the transmitters of classic London pirate radio stations like Kiss, Solar and DBC. They won’t win many points for originality but that doesn’t stop them being a joy to listen to.

Club Culture

Usually I tend to be namechecking Brighton for its exhaustive supply of cool bands but this time it is a writer-producer Luke Nyeke aka El Train who has grabbed my attention. This is specifically on a track called Mad billed as El Train & Kallitechnis. I don’t know whether Kallitechnis is the female singer on the track but it certainly combines a thoroughly contemporary soulful House backdrop of consistent slightly funky beat, sweet keyboard chords and plenty of space with a delightful vocal, aided and abetted by the right amount of reverb and the odd subtle overlap. Beautifully done.

Singer-Songwriters

Nottingham’s 17 year old rising star Tilly Greentree is back with a new track called Head Start. It begins as a quiet, sparse song with Tilly’s bluesy voice accompanied by her trademark acoustic guitar picking but, once the vocal harmonies arrive for the first time, the song lifts and soars. Tilly is in fine voice as always and the arrangement and production are a demonstration of her growing confidence and ambition as an artist. Eva Cassidy and India Arie in a mash-up while Adele and Laura Marling look on.

Epic & Cinematic

It is turning into an interesting couple of months for Hazy Sofia. The teenage singer-songwriter’s outstanding slice of ethereal reflective Synth-based Pop On Hold landed in my Fresh in the Net in-box and instantly captivated me. Soft staccato synth bass, rich chords and Hazy Sofia’s multi-tracked vocals combine to create a sound that is already recognisably her own. That is an achievement at any age and to have found that so early in her career bodes very well. The song, which muses upon the lockdown situation with a touching lyric, duly made the Listening Post and missed out on the Fresh Faves by a single vote.

Of course I don’t hear a song this good and this striking without wanting to explore further. This led me to Hazy Sofia’s Soundcloud page where I discovered the similarly ethereal and spacious Leaves which this time not only made our Listening Post but sailed into the fresh faves with the second highest vote of the weekend. That will be playing on my show this coming Saturday (2nd May) too.

There are more great tracks on Hazy Sofia’s Soundcloud page. They include a particularly lovely song called Line with lush extended chords and more staccato basslines. A constant theme with her music is the mix of melancholy, reflective lyrics, otherwordly synths and multi-tracked harmonies highlighting her unique soprano range voice.

We have subsequently been chatting quite a bit online and I picked On Hold to be my Vanishing Point track on Ming & Jon’s Exile FM show The Monday Night Ride Out. Hazy Sofia is biding her time, getting her name and her music out there and looking to amass a following. She is a name you should want to keep an eye on.

Electronic & Ambient

I was very pleased to be contacted by the wonderful Steve Parry aka Hwyl Nofio who told me he had a new album out. The Yorks-based Welshman has been making high quality experimental, leftfield and improv music since he first formed the band in 1997. The new album Isolate arrives appropriately mid-isolation and offers seven tracks of slow-burning ambience, subtle use of a range of sounds and an aura of static events and solitude that fits its title and theme. There are too many tracks to mention individually but I did single out The Road To Duggleby Howe to play on my radio show. The Ghosts of Bognor Regis and Dolphins are two more of the fine examples of Steve’s inventiveness.

A new name who appears to have arisen out of the lockdown scenario is Minimums whose track A solitary journey through empyy streets is an ethereal piece of slow-burning ambience that utilises sounds from social isolation in the course of creating a sparse but evocative soundscape. There is very little information both on Soundcloud and Twitter so I am unable to tell you where Minimums hail from but it is a new project inspired by the current isolation. We are also now in touch on social media so hopefully all will be revealed soon.

In similar territory we find Animat who are described as Sheffield -based composers who are experts in cutting soundtracks but appear to be mainly the brainchild of Mark Daly. The track that la1nded in my in-box is The Virginia Jean (Marconi Union Remix) which begins with enigmatic distant sounding sustained notes and develops through similarly emerging chords and what sounds like electric piano into an engaging soundtrack for vast unpopulated landscapes before fading away through diminishing synths. Sparse but soothing.

Cosmosapien is an artist I have tended to associate with more club-oriented sounds but his latest offering Tripped is firmly in the ambient electronic field. Building slowly from long sustained open synth chords before a singular note melody and syncopated drum programme lift it up a notch. Again it has a sense of solitude. Is this what lockdown is doing to us all? Well anyway it’s another fine track from him.

Folk & Country

Somerset duo (now based in London) The Portraits play thoughtful and contemporary Folk as demonstrated by the song Don’t Worry, their response to the COVID 19 crisis. With a heartwarming and ultimately optimistic lyrical message, the song showcases their blend of striking dexterous vocals, shimmering guitar, rich strings and ability to make Folk music that sounds refreshingly new and energetic. The harmonies in the chorus are lovely too as are the backing vocals that answer certain phrases. Lorraine’s voice, low and wholesome one moment, higher and powerful the next, remind me in parts of Sally Oldfield in a mash with Sandy Denny and Regina Spektor. Jeremy’s guitar work is skillful, deft and imaginative. I look forward to hearing more from

AND FINALLY ……..

That wraps up another month’s blogging. I hope you will tune in on Tuesday 5th May for the first edition of Trust The Doc TV on YouTube and also to the new Trust The Doc Extra podcast which will broadcast for the first time on Wednesday 6th May. Both go out at 8PM BST for one hour. In the meantime the new music keeps coming. Lockdown is proving good for creativity at least. Till next time folks. Neil xxxx

Neil xxxx