Welcome to Edition 47 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
July 2020 has been an interesting month. Edition 6 of Trust The Doc TV seems to have been universally rated the best so far. I was fortunate to have so much great content to base the show around. Edition 5 had also seen the Trust The Doc TV YouTube channel pass 100 subscriptions which meant being able to have a proper URL, making it easier to find. Hopefully people will keep subscribing. It’s free after all.
New music continued to pour into my different in-boxes. Another 800 tracks to Fresh on the Net. That platform is now closed for the summer and we will reopen on 7th September. Tracks also continued to come into my Trust The Doc in-box from artists, pluggers, PR folks, labels, agents and managers. It is great to have so much cool new music coming at me although it does present a dilemma because I only have limited airtime to accommodate people within. So I am trying to play as many as I can but also having to turn a few down which I don’t like doing but there has to be an element of quality control.
TRUST THE DOC RADIO SHOW
The Trust The Doc Radio Show continues to grow its audience. It goes out at 5PM (UK/BST) every Saturday on Exile FM. I always play a mix of new and emerging artists, current tracks by more established artists and a few older tracks linked to specific features. It has also become a popular gathering point for a large chunk of the independent music community. There are messages and shout-outs throughout the show, a Track of the Week poll, other weekly features and plenty of banter. The fact that I am being approached by more and bigger pluggers, PR companies, labels and agents looking for airplay for their artists is a good sign. Hopefully the show’s reputation will continue to spread. The official listening figures certainly say that is exactly what is happening. It is a joy to present the show and interact with so many lovely fans and purveyors of cool new music. If you miss the live shows you always have 7 days to catch them here.
TRUST THE DOC EXTRA
The Trust The Doc Extra pre-recorded midweek podcast increasingly allows me to play more tracks that I have not been able to get onto the playlist for the live Saturday show. But it is also developing its own individual character as a fast-paced show with less chat, more music that allows me to test out a lot of previously unheard material by new artists. Audience stats show it is gaining more listeners every week which I am really grateful for.
PART TWO: REVIEWS OF NEW MUSIC
Birmingham band Sugarcane call their music Caribbean Indie which is both an intriguing concept and a great way to announce their breezy summery take on Pop. Brainchild of accomplished scriptwriter and top session Bass Guitarist Robin French (Kanye West/Amy Winehouse/The Police), this is the second time I have blogged about them here.
Featuring once again the rising star of film and TV Antonia Thomas on vocals, this track does indeed does have a lilting Caribbean aura with sweet tune, organic instrumental backdrop and cool harmonies. Antonia’s agile and appealing voice provides the perfect lead. A tune to swoon to on a warm summer evening. One you can groove to or just lie back and enjoy.
Ngoni hails from Toronto in Canada and makes refreshing music that mixes a Neo Soul sensibility with some seriously classic Spy Movie Pop undertones. On You kill slowly the sharpness (in focal terms, not a comment on his intonation!) of his unique voice cuts through superbly as the arrangement swirls around him. You half expect to wake up and realise you are watching him on a big screen as credits roll on some sixties spy drama. His Soundcloud page compares him to Nina Simone which is more accurate than you might expect. This boy can sing.
I have blogged before about Worcester’s Loveday and she is back with another top tune in I can’t dance. No it’s not the Genesis track! This is a track driven along by a syncopated undercurrent and spacious production. Vocally she is on good form and the hook will burrow into your brain. So be warned!
London-based Thailahmakes her second appearance in this blog with another striking piece of Pop with urban undertones on One Thing. It is another track on which the combination of purposeful beat, sustained synth chords and laid back groove allow us to hear Thailah deliver a dynamic vocal performance that is shuddering at times, soothing at others. It’s catchy throughout too.
Belfast artist Quinn has been building a reputation and has been the recipient of some generous reviews. I can see why as her distinct voice and fine songwriting skills are fully in evidence on Trespasser. She has a soft quality that sits nicely over quiet piano chords and even quieter beat but, as the song develops, we hear her ability to turn on the aching melancholy and yearning qualities. The melody is quite lovely as are the unexpected chord changes and harmonies that kick in when the chorus arrives. A real gem.
London-based artist Iolais an intriguing one who I have not come across previously but if My only home is an indication she has a distinct and unusual voice that gets quickly inside the brain as she delivers a thoughtful ballad over reverberant piano. Her accent is very appealing and the tracked vocal parts work really well in the chorus, contrasting the resonant single voiced verses. In a sense this has a retro element that recalls names like Judee Sill and Janis Ian. But then there is a distinctly contemporary feel about the chorus that is closer to Ellie Goulding territory. Engaging and full of ideas, as witnessed when the string synth arrives near the end.
One of those artists who is hard to comfortably categorise Tyneytells us she is a tiny person playing guitar although clearly she plays Ukulele too. And while DRIP is an enigmatic instrumental track it is the song You can’t deny that grabbed my attention when it landed in my in-box. The way it kicks off with strummed Uke, slow beat and Tyney’s distinct voice dominating, made my ears pricked up. The tune is unusual and striking. Her voice has shades of Tori Amos in a mash with Natalie Imbruglia while Laura Marling officiates! Organic, minimal and fresh, a really strong performance all round.
Moonwax are a duo of producers from North East England and their sound is essentially Pop with a large dose of funkiness and urban sensibilities. The pair are Billy Smith (Guitar/Vocals) and Robb Maynard (Bass/Drums) and they say they are ‘rooted in Soul and Jazz’. That is certainly reflected by Sayonara which is sassy and cool with an infectious hook, a great balance of sounds and a dance-driven undercurrent. Production is pristine too.
Brighton artist Lucy Felizhas her own Soundcloud page (using this first link) but also records for OK Pal Records. It is on their Soundcloud page that you will find her excellent single Last Laugh. A downtempo slice of semi-cinematic pop, it finds Lucy in warm alto voice, resonantly produced over arpeggio guitar and laid back synth. The song, which has an autobiographical lyric, is beautifully produced with space for Lucy to showcase her effortless dynamic range and penchant for a half-haunting, half-nagging melody that gets inside the head. At the time of writing it is a candidate in the next Track of the Week poll on my radio show.
Alt Rock & Indie
From St Albans The Mighty Orchid King have delivered an intriguing and inventive piece of trippy post-psych Alt Rock entitled I woke early to dial in to some sacred frequency. The band say they take inspiration from King Gizard & The Wizard Lizard. But there is enough individuality here for them to rise beyond being too much in deference to anyone else. From the outset, the unusual rhythmic configurations, driving bass and keyboard chords and cleverly nuanced drums play off against contrasting male vocals and imaginative melody writing.
It is, in many ways, reminiscent of the best of the early Canterbury Prog Rock bands in the way that it has a subtly folky Englishness but is placed amid lovingly crafted Rock music. The changes are fluid and the musicianship is impressive. If Caravan and Arcade Fire were to have a love child perhaps? Well either way this is a band I want to hear more from. One of the stand-out tracks of the month.
I have blogged previously about Swansea’s Geraint Rhysand he is back with another driving energetic slice of melodic Alt Rock with Welsh Language lyric in the form of Diwedd (Y Byd). The tune is immediate and the backing vocal harmonies add a lovely edge. Beneath the layers of vocal, the guitar snarls and the bass and drums keep the engine running. I am delighted to say the video for this track was featured in Edition 6 of my Trust The Doc TV on 21st July and you can find his original video on YouTube here.
Queen Of Uncool is also known as Judy Fights Back and says she is a genre-fluid London girl surviving the hell out of life. In her latest offering Grim she mixes a bawdy punkiness with cool syncopated rhythmic structures and contrasts of sounds and textures to create an almost futuristic modification of Punk perfect for the new age. Bristling with energy and alight with firepower, this will wake you out of your sleepy state!
I could have made the case for reviewing Nottingham’s Nactus Kunan‘s Johnny Wilkes in the Epic & Cinematic section as it has such a big but slightly melancholy chorus over descending chords. But it is essentially a gorgeous slice of Alt Pop that acknowledges classic influences from The Beatles to The Big Moon; from The Kinks to The Kooks. Well okay, you get the point! These guys can pen a choon and surround it with thoughtful instrumental play. Worth getting to know.
Londoners Tugboat Captain also seem to have a penchant for taking classic influences and creating big melancholic tunes over descending chords. They also love a textural contrast too, solo piano seventies-style one moment, full on band the next. No Plans (for this year) is epic and ambitious with shades of Electric Light Orchestra, Paul McCartney and Blur mixing it up with Flaming Lips. Well something like that anyway!
Manchester band Tragicomics describe their sound as English Americana which is not a bad shout. On Tru Luv the strumming guitars, big harmonies and driving energy have elements of Teenage Fanclub in a mash with Wilco while Ryan Adams officiates. Music to lift your spirits.
Exeter’s The Daylight Orangemake appealing Alt Pop with powerful tenor range vocals, close harmonies and shimmering guitars as showcased on Salt Water. They describe their sparkling Indie-Psych sound as ‘Analog Digital Psychedelic Stoner Pop’. Okay, well that sums it up pretty neatly.
12omo grabbed my instant intention with the track Words off my chest, a heartbreaking tale of loss, struggle and resolve. The track kicks off with some spoken word samples and choir before the beat kicks in and 12omo gets straight to it with a rapid-fire vocal that tells his story with raw honesty while the musical backdrop is haunting, churchy and minor key. The breakz and double-ups are cleverly applied. It is Grime that invites a bunch of other flavas into the mix. You will find a bunch of tracks on his Soundcloud page, all of them intelligent, emotionally charged and superbly arranged. 12omo is an artist we will be hearing a good deal from in the near future. At least he certainly ought to be.
London-based Welsh artist Nia Wynhas a voice that could cut glass! But in a good way you understand. And she is back with an edgy three-time Soul track called Atlantis. Lyrically she pulls no punches, talking about royalties paying f***-all, family reunions being boring and generally letting us know that she is not satisfied with how things are, hence the need to whisk her lover off to Atlantis! Shades of Amy Winehouse in a mash with Billie Holliday and Erma Franklin while Paloma Faith looks on. Gets better with each listen too.
One of my favourite recent discoveries is the Ghanaian artist SBeirgwhose single and video for Street Anthem landed in my in-box in early July. The video has since featured on Trust The Doc TV and the single has had quite a few plays on my radio show too. SBeirg mixes emotionally-charged R’n’B with big echoing beats and sounds with bursts of rapping. His voice is strong, distinct and soulful and he takes full command of centre stage from the outset. The song is catchy, cool and powerful. I hope 2021 will see him continue to impress on an international stage. A real talent.
Brighton just keeps producing cool new music and writer-producer Lucas Gilis the latest to grab my attention with the thoughtful House track Escape. Deploying a range of sounds that snap, crackle and pop (for those of us old enough to recognise that reference!), he spins a web of cool sounds and solid beat that fills the floor of my imagined club. Get those smoke machines pumping and everybody get down!
I know I have reviewed the ever-consistent Amey St Cyr‘s Wild World previously and indeed the video was in the opening edition of Trust The Doc TV and her latest video was in Edition 5. But this is a remix by Zaflon that takes the soulful House original and gives it a beefed up power and fullness that is even better than the original radio edit. It also perfectly complements Amey’s fullsome rangey and soulful voice which rightly dominates. So I had to give it a mention. Amey has been quite a regular on my TV and Radio shows of late and long may that continue.
Producer and keyboardist Coracleis described as from the North of England. His Soundcloud page shows Lancashire, Leeds and Tokyo as being his bases so we cannot tell which side he would be on in the War of the Roses from that information! Anyway he has delivered an appealing piece of instrumental House in the form of Departure that recalls some of those great piano-dominated Dance anthems of the late nineties but with the benefit of up-to-date sounds. Another post-lockdown floor filla if heard in the right places.
BATMstands for Boodas and the Mayne and they are an Electronic music duo from London. Their track Do your thing has the consistent beat of a club choon but mixes some unusual and exotic flavas to create something that nods both to Europe and to Latin America. Definitely one of the most original EDM tracks (if you can call it EDM) this month.
Hailing from Hull Emma King has already had an amazing journey including to Nashville and back. When you hear her dynamic, beautifully edgy vocals on the epic Words I miss the most that will come as no surprise. Imagine Leann Rimes in a jam with Barbara Streisand refereed by Natalie Merchant and you might get somewhere close. This is epic Country-tinged power balladry. And amid the lush arrangement Emma’s voice soars and shines, showing off her full registral and dynamic ranges. Uplifting and highly accomplished.
Epic & Cinematic
Somasu is an artist who doesn’t obviously slot into any neat category. On The Outside he begins with some enigmatic synth chords, a slow beat and laid back lower range vocal. If there is such a thing as Urban Psychedelia, that might get close to describing this refreshingly original sound. The vocal stretches out while liquidy chords provide a lovely contrast to the repeating synth figure. Somasu knows all about light and shade and he has constructed a unique, engaging and ethereal sound world that I want to experience more of. So it is great that it is part of a 4 track EP entitled 8 Years A which offers four sides of his inventive enterprising output. Somasu is a bright, unique talent who deserves a bigger platform. Let’s hope that is coming soon.
Debris Discsaka James from Derbyshire is becoming a regular in this blog as well as on my Trust The Doc TV show where, from 7th July, you were able to see the video for No Fear. It is another epic slice of synth-soaked cinematic Pop in which James’s dexterous tenor range vocals soar and swoop over a lush arrangement topped by a cracking melody.
It is difficult to know what section to review a trio like Survibers in. Katrina, Francis and Aniff are back with another slick, slightly ethereal downtempo groover called Always which has a foot in the club scene but is too laid back and psychedelic to be EDM. Katrina’s appealing voice floats and flutters effortlessly over swirling synths, consisten beat and fluid sounds. Music you can chill to or get up and groove to. Works either way.
Electronic & Ambient
The always consistent Sad Manis back with another braintwisting journey through electronic avenues on Sleeper. The Birmingham-based artist gives us a Pandora’s Box of buzzing, burrowing, burning sonic states while a mechanised but funky beat and swirling quality plays off against fuzzy melodies and watery chords. The track drives forward through a continuously fluid sequence of mini-movements, never losing the momentum or the track’s intensity. If there is a club that is futuristic enough to apply this as a floor filla, I would love to be there. Disco Dystopia.
Norwich artist Imo is Imogen Sears and it looks like she is quite diverse style-wise with some Hip Hop and other stuff on her Soundcloud page. But the track that landed in my in-box was the electronic instrumental Ghost Waves (The Nxt Steps) which sees a piano chord-based theme become variously surrounded by synth and ambient sounds, sometimes in a wash of colour, other times quite minimal. It is an engaging and imaginative track that suggests more to come from this side of her musical personality.
Regular readers will not be surprised to see another track by my close friend PaulFCook. Paul is actually a highly skilled and accomplished guitarist and one half of the [broadly] Indie-Folk duo Fenco but lately he has been putting out some brooding, inventive electronic tracks. Osculation finds him in that territory once again. A mid-tempo beat sits beneath an evolving soundscape of deep drone synth over which the piano plays minor seventh chords alternating by a semi-tone while a melody switches between sounds, culminating in an echoing overlapping figure just involving synth. According to Paul it is inspired by his long-standing love of nineties Trip Hop although this might be a tad heavy for a Tricky album!
Also on his Soundcloud page you will find Paul’s excellent mix of Nelson Can‘s I used to sleep through everything, a sizzling slice of EDM with ethereal harmony voices coming in and out of focus over a tough beat and an interesting array of synth-dominated timbres. My understanding is that it will appear as part of a series of albums by Nelson Can showcasing the best mixes by other artists. It is well worth checking out.
In the past 24 hours I was hit with news of a new album by Transmission 13 on Vanguardista Records. Guiding Light sees Mozz deliver nine new tracks of carefully crafted Electronic Ambience. It is an accomplished work in which we are carried off into an alternative universe of sumptous synths and effects, rich chords, some clustered and slowly building atmospheres.
I particularly like Offshore Transmissionswith its combination of bleeps, squeals and buzzes and Convergence which has a warm unfolding ambience. There’s a little surprise in the final section of penultimate track Atlantic when it suddenly picks up tempo and sounds swirl around in semi-EDM territory before final track Sheskinmore takes us on one final slow-building ambient trip filled with trademark rich chords and enigmatic clusters. All in all a fine album and well worth checking out.
A new name to me is Worry Party whose 3-track EP Magenta Carta reveals an experimental edge which veers between a certain tranquility and an occasional tendency to throw a curve ball into their calm ambience. Interestingly the band, a quartet described enigmatically as from ‘the North of England’, name as influences the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Death Cab For Cutie, Four Tet, Modest Mouse, ARCA and, perhaps more surprisingly, Bright Eyes. All good reference points though and there is enough individualism about how they stoke their melting pot of ideas.
All three tracks are laid back and slow tempo-wise. There are some agreeably watery and ambiguous soundscapes. Middle track No Kings is arguably my favourite but it’s a very enjoyable EP and, having listened to their previous work, something of a marked departure too.
Contemporary Classical & Leftfield
I am always pleased to hear new music by the Yorkshire-based Polish composer and artist Ola Szmidt; also a one-time Fresh on the Net moderator. Her track Rooted was played on the wonderful Elizabeth Alker‘s Unclassified show on BBC Radio 3. Blending some exotically dissonant use of semi-contrapuntal vocal layering with electro-classical ambience and elements of Polish Folk music, it is a captivating and hypnotic piece. Elizabeth described it rather aptly as ‘like a conversation between the past and the future’. Original, beguiling and clever, it is another reminder of Ola’s unique talents.
Similar sentiments apply to the collaboration between the Portland, Oregon-based duo Visible Cloaks and Japanese artists Yoshio Ojimaand Satsuki Shibano on the track Stratum. Hypnotic repetition of a sort of call and response figure between the two vocalists plays off against resonant but sparse piano and quiet ambience. The effect is both haunting and soothing, creating a harmonic language that is beautifully ambiguous and an uncluttered space within which these timbral contrasts interact as if by accident. Inventive and invigorating.
Jazz & World Journeys
It has been a while since I received any new material from Dakar Audio Club so it was great to welcome them back. Dancing The Moonlight clearly struck a chord with both the Fresh on the Net moderators and our readers as it sailed into the final Fresh Faves of the season. The multi-national Afro-Fusion warriors are on fine form, blending their usual sun-soaked understated [South] West African lilt with an enigmatic late night quality. Like stumbling upon a cool club in a timber cavern in the middle of a dark forest. Except of course this is Dakar Audio Club so the club in question is likely to be in a quiet tranquil corner of South Devon. Great to have them back.
Folk & Country
It’s hard to decide under which heading to review the latest offering from the wonderful Birikiti’s Kitchen. For Grenfell is described on her Soundcloud page as Rock which is definitely not what I would call it! The super talented manager of Kongo Dia Ntotila often has to be nagged to find time to make her own music. But when she does it is always worth the wait.
For Grenfell carries a quietly powerful lyric questioning the motivation of the privileged in relation to a tragedy we will all be haunted by for many years to come. Birikiti approaches this with trademark quiet resolve and soulful voice while the accompaniment is dominated by gorgeous acoustic guitar that mixes picking and chord play. Something tells me a certain Mulele Matondo is more than a little involved here! It is hard to listen to but for the right reasons; its lyrical theme still so raw. There is a cool acoustic guitar solo and some lovely layered harmonies that add to its haunting intensity too.
Our Man in the Fieldis the brainchild of singer-songwriter Alexander Ellis who has roots in the Middlesbrough area but is currently residing somewhere in London. The song Thin (I used to be bullet proof) was brought to me by a reliable source and went down a storm when I played it on Trust The Doc Radio. The pedal steel guitar and upper register vocals are stunning while the song has a melancholy Country-Americana feel. Strummed guitar, strong harmonies, understated bass and plenty of room for the pedal steel to work its magic. It is only when paying additional attention that I realise there are no drums. A drummer might be tempted to take this from half time to double the tempo (in essence). And that would definitely not be necessary.
AND FINALLY ……..
Well that’s it for another month folks. In the meantime, I hope you can enjoy a socially distanced summer. Mine will no doubt see me immersed in music. Maybe you will join me for the radio show on Saturday as a starter. Otherwise, till next time. Neil xxxx