Edition 48: 30th September 2020: A blog by Neil March
Welcome to Edition 48 of Trust The Doc. Please visit and ‘like’ the Trust The Doc Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.There was no edition on 31st August due to severe technical problems with WordPress. Even now these are far from fully rectified. Hence the text being messy as WordPress’s justify shortcut does not actually work!! But new music never sleeps and this is a show that must go on.
HOT NEWS: LIVE MUSIC BACK IN S.E. LONDON !!!!
We are BACK!!! After seven months of lockdown, Thursday 15th October sees the return of Trust The Doc Live @ The Amersham Arms, New Cross (opposite New Cross Station on National Rail & London Overground). The gig will take place under strict COVID 19 rules, all seated with table service, and tickets are £6.00 (using the above link). We have a fantastic line-up of Alt Rock, Indie and Epic Pop. Here’s the poster. Thanks once again to the amazing PaulFCook for the art and design work.
PART ONE: THE LAST TWO MONTHS IN BRIEF
August 2020 may have seen Fresh on the Net take a much-needed six-week break from moderating new tracks. But for Trust The Doc Media it was business as usual. Edition 7 of Trust The Doc TV landed in two parts (due to some technical issues) on our YouTube Channel at 8PM on Tuesday 4th August to a great reception and an even greater one seemed to greet Edition 8 on 18th August. Another two editions have landed since then with a range of fantastic live performances, videos and interviews including two live tracks from Tabitha Jade (pictured above and reviewed in the Urban Flavas Section). Check them out using the above link. Next one will be Edition 11 at 8PM on Tuesday 6th October with an unbelievable line-up.
August also saw the release of the Tiny Band in the middle of the Rainforestcompilation album. The album, released as a pay-what-you-like sampler on Bandcamp, sees all proceeds going to support child refugees fleeing wartorn West Papua. And I am privileged to have my Environmental Sound Foundation track Tibet from 2018’s Disunited Nations EP (originally featured on Tom Robinson’s Mixtape and Saturday Night shows on BBC Radio 6 Music) on the album. All the more so since it sits alongside tracks by some serious talents like Mulele Matondo; Birikiti’s Kitchen; Tigersonic; Montague-Armstrong; Bettina Schroeder and others. It’s a remarkable collection of music with a genuinely international cast so do check it out if you haven’t already done so.
September saw the return of Fresh on the Net and I had the privilege of writing the reviews of the first fresh faves of the new season. You can read them here. I also wrote an article for the platform about the current state of popular music radio in the UK, a precursor perhaps to my book on the history and evolution of popular music radio in the UK which will be published soon. You can read the article here
TRUST THE DOC RADIO SHOW
The Trust The Doc Radio Show is always inundated with new tracks these days! But I’m not complaining. September saw the total listeners to the podcast reach nearly 10,000, meaning it is now the second most listened to of all Exile FM‘s shows despite being just 8 months old. Not that it is a competition but it is a measure of the show’s popularity. Over 100 listen live every Saturday and many interact with me and with one another during the show. Another 400 listen to the podcast between live shows. Clearly New Music is more in demand than some would have us believe!
The show 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 too. 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 show is also enjoying a rapid increase with over 2600 accessing the podcast in just over 4 months and an increasing number listening at the time of broadcast. Obviously it doesn’t offer the opportunity for interaction, shout-outs, votes etc. But it does mean, with more music and less talk, I can cram 18 tracks into a 1-hour show (where the Saturday show sees about 23 in 2 hours!).
It also allows me to play tracks that I have not been able to get onto the playlist for the live Saturday show. That means I can 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. It feels like people have got used to the two shows being very different in character but being united by the amount of music by new and emerging acts alongside the best current tracks by more established ones and the odd classic. It’s a format that works.
PART TWO: REVIEWS OF NEW MUSIC
In an earlier edition of Trust The Doc TV I interviewed talented young artist Emma Kelly. Now the singer-songwriter from Surrey is back with a new single called Lifeboats. It’s an uptempo, punchy pop stomper with an unapologetically in-yer-face lyric and a big catchy chorus adorned with cool harmonies and loud, spacious production. The song showcases Emma’s appealing, rangey voice and her skill for writing lithe loose-limbed melodies and killa hooks. I picked this to be my Vanishing Point track on Ming & Jon’s Monday Night Ride Out on Exile FM earlier in the month before duly playing it on both my shows. It deserves some serious airplay. Hopefully BBC Introducing in Surrey & Sussex will get behind Emma. In the meantime you can see her perform live with her band at my Trust The Doc Live gig at the Amersham Arms, New Cross in South East London on Thursday 15th October.
Staying on the subject of talented young singer-songwriters who have played my live events, HOL had a new track out called Sunset Kids. It signals a shift in direction for Hollie towards a more guitar-based Alt Pop influenced style. As ever it is irresistably catchy though and I have not stopped singing it for days! Since then she has had more tracks out including the infectious Never be the same.
Congratulations are due too as she has bagged a place at BIMM in Manchester where her writing and performing skills will be nicely honed. All looking good for the 17 year old.
A new name to me is the duo Moon Wax. Judging by the single Sayonara, they play catchy pop with a dance sensibility at its core but with elements of Disco, Soul and Pop. In some ways the style is quite retro but the sounds and production are contemporary. The two male voices blend easily and offer a smooth finish on their bubbly Dance-Pop sound.
Alt Rock & Indie
It is always a joy to receive new material by The Happy Somethings. So I was pleased that the trio from the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire borders brought out the third piece of what is going to be at least a quartet of similarly named works in the form of their EP Thinking is free (Part 3). Not only does it contain three excellent and fittingly contrasting new tracks in the form of The Weather, my particular favourite Blue Skies and Weak Love Blues but also their previous Fresh on the Net triumph, the amazing Stuck let go with its driving riff, clever [Beatles-referencing] lyric and killa melody.
In a recent edition of this blog I reported on the terrible news that the guitarist and singer with Man Eat Grass had been in a serious road accident. Fortunately he has been making a fighting recovery after being seriously laid low for a while and this month has seen the release of new material including the excellent driving Alt Rock of Song and subsequently Motifwhich is agreeably dark and characteristically loud and energetic. The video will be on Edition 12 of Trust The Doc TV
The amazing Nick Woodgate, aka The JoJo Man Band, never seems to pause for breath and August saw another new track in the form of the fast-paced Dr No. Nick’s trademark filtered vocal sound rides atop a high tempo canter through what might best be described as Psychedelic Alt Pop meets Spy Movie chic. Sparks fly as these juxtaposed positions clash, providing a delightful and energetic shower of pop pyrotechnics. An explosion of dark pop energy. Since then we have had more typically thoughtful Psych Pop from Nick in the form of tracks like Time; Holy Ape; All in and Cash in hand.
Bristol’s Shoun Shoun are vocalist Annette Berlin and a band of musicians all of whom, including Annette, have previous with accomplished groups. Their Soundcloud page says they mix Dream Pop and Garage Rock with ‘the ennui of Dietrich and the Velvets’. Not sure whether they mean Nico and the Velvets but either way we get the point. This is energetic, slightly sardonic Alt Pop with a large twist of chic – the style, not the band!
On Stuck, Annette’s vocal, semi-spoken, plays off against jaunty uptempo but spacious Alt Pop with shades of The Ting Tings in a jam with Sorry. There are echoes from a lineage much as their blurb describes but their sound is very contemporary and puts them on the same page as the likes of the aforementioned Sorry and others like Public Practice and Pozi. Stuck has all these qualities. The electronic bleeps and synth motifs round off a fine track.
Glasgow’s Carla J Easton has managed to get the amazing Honeyblood to appear on her new single. Weirdocrackles with energy throughout, Carla’s distinct vocals bubbling and sometimes yelping while Honeyblood enters the mix early in a call and response motif. The production is reverberant, spacious and epic, suiting the dynamism of the track. Anna Calvi in a jam with Fuzzbox while Shirley Manson and Clare Grogan mediate. A track to lift the spirits.
American artists do not get that much coverage in this blog but in Ed 48’s Urban Flavas section we are kicking off with the Harlem-born and bred Hip Hop veteran John O whose single Old Thing Back topped one of the closest and highest turn-out Track Of The Week polls I have had on my radio show. Mixing a decidedly old skool vibe, shades of Fresh Prince and Melle Mel, with a thoroughly contemporary R’n’B backdrop, its lilting feel and soulful undertones grabbed the attention of enough listeners to push it over the line despite being up against some tough opposition.
London rapper and singer Stratz is signed to the amazing Mayfield label run by my very good friend Dominic Elton from his Mayfield Studios in Portsmouth. He was one of the highlights of a recent edition of my Trust The Doc TV series with his video for the lyrically thoughtful and musically soulful and touching Signpost. He raps with intelligence and sensitivity and has a sugary but strong singing voice to match his melodic flair. The boy has some serious potential.
So too does Liverpool’s Tabitha Jade who also starred in a recent edition of the TV show as well as impressing listeners to my radio show with her excellent new single FYI. Her dexterous, expressive voice is put to work on some cool vocal acrobatics, close harmonies and dynamic contrasts set to an intense R’n’B backdrop. She is an impressive talent. Congratulations are due to Tabi too for being in the list of people receiving awards from Help Musicians UK and MOBO. Exciting times ahead for her.
My attendance online at a workshop which was part of an unsuccessful attempt to secure some work with the University of Bath Spa did have the happy consequence of my getting to know Rosie Patton and her excellent young band Jealous Tina. The Bath-based act make seriously sensuous Soul music infused with Jazz, Funk and other elements. Sweet guitar chords introduce the song Kaleidoscope, which opens their new EP She who leaves her guard down before Rosie’s laid back, slightly smoky alto voice takes the lead with gorgeous little Rhodes piano flourishes and cool bass and drum foundation. The EP is excellent, five contrasting tracks including the irresistible Interim and the climatic closer Sweet Eyes with Steely Dan-esque chords and highly accomplished musicianship all round. If the likes of Gilles Peterson and Eddie Piller cotton onto Jealous Tina, expect to see them fly.
Cache Cache are an experimental writing and production collaboration from Newcastle Upon Tyne. And they have got off to a strong start with the sardonic lyrics, catchy hooks and funky soul style of She’s got a lion with featured artist Pete Skeen. If it is possible to be both sinister and tongue-in-cheek then She’s got a lion strikes that balance and does so with a large dose of style.
I am particularly excited that the awesome soulful House supremo Pimlican, who also happens to be a friend and supporter of my radio show on which he is regularly featured, has teamed up with an artist I manage, Josie. Josie, usually a purveyor of organic, semi-acoustic pop, has shown another side to her writing talents, inspired by the fantastic track Pimlican created for her. The result is Temptation and it is out in October on Belgrave Road Records. Soulful, intense and driven by cool unusual riff and crunching beat, it allows Josie to stretch out vocally and add trademark harmonies. This is what a great collaboration should sound like.
Rezzonator returned this month with another floor filla EDM track called Trust. Less in Techno territory than his last one, this is a sort of hybrid of House and Electronica with a slightly filmic quality to the bouncing, descending and ascending synth melody and accompanying buzz. Interesting and engaging.
It is honestly a coincidence that two singer-songwriters who have blown me away this month share my name! But none of us are related! The ever-consistent Chloë March returned and stormed into the fresh faves with the haunting melancholy of To a place. Like all her best songs, it has an otherworldly quality with swirling synths and Chloë’s fantastic alto voice delivering a melody that cuts my emotions to ribbons. I duly chose it to be my Vanishing Point track on Ming & Jon’s Monday Night Ride Out show on Exile FM. Opinion from all those who commented was unanimous on the song’s unique beauty.
March has also been on my radar for a while and she returned with a stunning track called For the world which I also picked as a Vanishing Point track. We had the luxury of her performing it live in lockdown with just guitar and voice for Trust The Doc TV while being able to play the full production version on my radio show. The live version underlined the quality of her vocals and was compelling to watch and listen to. Look it up on Edition 9 of the TV show if you have not already done so. Then the single showed what could be done with such a well-written song, brooding and building from minimal start before hitting with a kind of coda at the end that is butterflies-inducing. March is currently studying at the amazing Institute of Contemporary Music Practice where I am likely to be delivering some lectures in the new future. She is in the right place for her considerable talent to be guided in a positive direction.
Last but never least word in this section goes to the wonderful Nic Evennett whose album Waiting for the leaves is just stunning. Nic’s unmistakable voice and skillful, versatile songwriting skills are continuously in evidence on a set of lovingly crafted songs with reflective, compassionate lyrics, often at one with the wonders of nature (and birdsong is heard periodically on certain tracks). She also delivers some nice surprises like the jaunty triplet time of Strange Wild and the almost traditional folkiness of Broken Boat.
It is always hard to draw comparisons with Nic’s writing but I hear perhaps distant echoes of Nick Drake, Mary Black, Janis Ian, Julia Holter, even a little of Liz Fraser. But these things can be very much in the ears of the beholder. She has a distinct style that has impressed such luminaries as Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse who have used her music in the new series Gone Fishing. Music legend and BBC 6 Music broadcaster Tom Robinson, also our spiritual leader at Fresh on the Net, called Strange WIld her most outstanding work yet when commenting at the Listening Post where it topped the fresh faves poll and received a lovely review from my good friend Chris Ingram. It is no coincidence that every time I play Nic on my show (and Ming and Jon have the same thing on theirs), the love just pours in. Check the album out. It is a thing of beauty.
Epic & Cinematic
I am never quite sure what category to review Machina X in but they have been teasing us for a while with tracks from their Future Imperfect EP so it is great to see the 5-tracker arrive and be available on Bandcamp. The duo of Annie (Sheffield) and Cyrus (Burma) are proof that being based on different continents and in separate time zones need not be a bar to collaborating on exciting, original music. From the opening bars of Ortus with its characteristically dystopian message and crossover between futuristic electronic pop and frantic Drum’n’Bass, this could not be any other band. Cyrus’s meticulous soundtracks are the perfect foil to Annie’s distinct and expressive, sometimes melancholy voice. Imagine, if you will, what it might sound like if you mixed the vocals of Ailbhe Reddy, Sarah Blackwood (Dubstar) and Theresa Wayman (Warpaint) and then brought in Four Tet, Anna Meredith and Goldie to provide the backing track. Hmmmm, well maybe that isn’t quite right but it gets you somewhere close to imagining Machina X. A better idea is to check them out for yourself.
Stranger Times (while I breathe I hope) continues the quicker tempo with Annie’s tracked vocals in the chorus a particular high point while the slower Awakening uses hypnotic chant, long deep synth tones and enigmatic echoing ambient notes and noises. W.A.Y has a dancier beat and a riff with an Eastern leaning. The backdrop is electronic and minimal while Annie’s voice takes centre stage. Finally we have Secretswhich kicks off with light, echoing synth motifs and long notes from Annie but builds in layers of sounds, notes, buzzes and vocal harmonies. It is dark and brooding, broken up by moments where the synth echoes almost in solitude. Shades of Bjork creep into the spacious mix and long-note melodies. It is a clever and compelling climax to a really accomplished, original and fresh work. Machina X deserve to be heard by a much wider audience. If there is any justice …..
An artist who is well-known to me because, well, I am her manager (!) is the uniquely talented Cholly. She brought out a new single and video entitled Good Angel which flew into the fresh faves in our first week back from summer break despite the intensity of the competition. It has her chief qualities of haunting vocals, atmospheric harmonies and a cool combination of synth and electronic sounds. Cholly’s music is cinematic and ambitious and she has a voice so pure it is almost ghostly at times (in a good way obviously). Beautifully unsettling, thoroughly original and crackling with emotional energy. Another belter. Cholly will be playing more live dates, including hopefully one or two of the venues that were on her mini-tour which was scuppered at the end by lockdown, in the new year so look out for more news on that front. She is also putting a lot of amazing material on Spotify and picking up playlist adds and airplay too.
Electronic & Ambient
Bristol-based Jamie Jamal has hit us with an intriguing take on Electro Disco with his Flux – Handbag Punk which references Giorgo Moroder’s iconic synth figure from Donna Summer’s I feel love coupled with a vocal that could almost be Blancmange’s Neil Arthur. Fun, filled with dramatic chants and frantic vibrato synth lines, this should put a smile on your face.
Simon Horsefield is better known these days as The Evolving 9th Hour and he has become a regular both in this blog and on my radio show because he keeps signing off these lovely evocative soundscapes named after places of significance to him such as The Benfleet Glen on which he applies a slow-burning synth and accompanying ambience that gradually morphs into a sunny impressionist image, wavering in the sun and using colours with subtlety and imagination. The album is going to be excellent.
Contemporary Classical & Sound Art
I am not egotistical or narcissistic enough to review my own work but I will mention that, if anyone is curious, I have recorded, mixed and mastered my first new EP in two years. It continues on my specialism of utilising recordings of actual environmental noise (construction machinery, sirens, alarms, cafe equipment, traffic engines, leaf blowers etc.) from which I am able to derive pitch and create harmony. I then juxtapose these against notated instrumental and sometimes vocal parts. One track is actually composed entirely from environmental sound. So it is essentially a Sound Art track. Anyway you can check them out if you like at soundcloud.com/trust-the-doc where they are in a playlist entitled Alternatives To Despair.
The unique talent that is my former fellow postgraduate student Harry Perry aka rryrry is back with a track called 07/09/20 which follows Minimalist principles of repeating a note pattern with gradual alterations but also leans towards electronica given the sounds that increasingly enter the fray. It is atmospheric and skillfully done, holding my attention throughout four and a half minutes in which it involves in layers and then deconstructs in the final half a minute. Another fine piece from Harry.
The extraordinary Kate Carr has a new album which was released in early September entitled Splinters which sees her utilising a vast array of evocative, atmospheric sounds to create her unique and intriguing sound world. There is an almost aggressive feel about the way some of the sounds leap out at you such as on second track It’s a steep climb to the freeway underpass. On Abraded the initial sense is of high pitched sounds in a sort of staccato figure that is slightly unsettling but then a spacy drone brings a more enigmatic, ethereal quality. But there are surprises throughout such as the honky tonk piano and crowd noise on A single turnstile moment followed by the crackles and drones on Pebble Dash Static. As ever it is a work of considerable contrasts and clever manipulation of the familiar and the otherworldly.
Jazz & Internationalist Journeys
One of the most heartwarming pieces of news I have had in recent times was when an excited Birikiti, manager of Kongo Dia Ntotila and talented artist in her own right, rang me with the news that Help Musicians UK and MOBO had included the super talented Mulele Matondo in the select group who are receiving awards from them under the MOBO Help Musicians Fund. I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient with all the amazing creative projects Mulele is involved in and all the help and support he gives to other musicians. I was pleased to have provided a reference but blushing to see how much credit they were giving me when this is down to their awesome talents and energy. I am excited that Birikiti has also promised me exclusive plays for some new tracks on my radio show. Exciting times ahead.
Folk & Country
It has been a good month for Folk-influenced tracks including the heartbreaking song Annie (Many Moons Ago) by Matt McGinn. Matt, from Newry though billed as being in Belfast these days, sings this matter-of-fact tale of emotional tragedy with the kind of sensitive yet almost past-caring air that makes it all the more difficult not to be moved by. This is accompanied by delicate and skillful acoustic guitar and a less is more arrangement that allows us to focus on his lovely voice and beautifully honest lyrics.
One prolific singer-songwriter in Folk territory is Tom Houston from Tillcoultry in mid-Scotland. Tom has been releasing singles every month so there is no shortage of tracks but I have been particularly taken with the lilting ethereal sensibilities of I am the river and the earthy melodic strength of Righteous. Both have received airplay on my show and the video for I am the river will appear in the next but one edition of the TV show in mid-October so look out for that.
Completing the Celtic dominance of this section the aforementioned Chris Ingram may be a ‘wee Scots poet’ but he is based in North Wales and is part of the excellent band Vulpes Urbana whose blend of Welsh language lyrics sung beautifully to a backdrop of almost psychedelic folk with a distinctly futuristic edge is evidenced on the outstanding Gobraith which is double A-sided with the more intense spoken word of Speaky. They are a band with a lot of strings to their bow and a determination to plough their own rich furrow. I look forward to hearing what they do next.
AND FINALLY …….
Once again there has been a huge amount of inspiring new music coming at me from different directions. I feel very privileged to have the opportunities of being a Fresh on the Net moderator and a presenter on the amazing Exile FM. And finally, I am promoting some of these amazing new and emerging artists in a live music setting again. So I hope some of you will get tickets for the gig on 15th October and also I hope the planned return of Vanishing Point at AMP Studios will happen on 5th November so look out for news about that in Edition 49.
So just leaves me to say take care and thanks as ever for reading and supporting this blog. Till next time. Neil xxxx