This guy is going to be somebody, that’s what we said when we featured Oliver Rudge in session for us earlier this year and nothing has occurred to change that opinion. In fact, he might well end up being someone as part of a band as well as a solo artist. For, when he’s not singer songwriting ”a sound, different to anything [Emma Howe of the Tipping Point has] heard in the last ten years”, he is part of an exciting new trio from Birmingham, Eyes In Istanbull.
Their first official single, available as a free download from the player below, is “Tenkawa Jinja”. Named after a traditional Shinto Shrine in the Yoshino Mountains in Japan which is home to two water deities, the song encapsulates that air of ancient mysticism through the clattering drums with which it opens. The gentle plucking of the guitar chimes out a prayer while Ollie’s vocal levitates the track along, gliding above the river as the rain mists its way down, water joining water as the spiritual elements flow with the tide.
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Recently, amongst our 2014 Preview posts and beyond, we have posted a fair bit of music that embraces the winter cold and thrives amongst the silence and stillness of a snow covered landscape. Sometimes though, you need something just a tiny bit warmer to keep you going and that’s exactly where The Other Tribe come in.
We last featured them way back in March when, even then, summer sun and warmth seemed a distant dream. They blasted our senses then with the infectious antipodean infused heat of “We Should Be Dancing” and they are back to roast our chestnuts (not a euphemism) with the equally searing “Nobody Else”.
It opens up like a bubble popping, captured in slow motion so you can see all the energy releasing as the song bursts out into a million flecks of colour and energy. It’s sharp and dazzling, like a shattered rainbow, shards of vibrancy scattered all over as the tribal percussion cascades and tumbles around it. It’s funky, groovy and danceable fun that’ll thaw out even the coldest of toes.
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Having lulled us into a moment of relative calm and blissful beauty with the divine “Further Still”, Curxes have brought back the blitz and are attacking our senses from all angles.
Trailed with a series of short videos of the duo in massive Budgie heads (no, really), “Avant Guarded” has been wowing and bombarding live audiences for a while but now it gets a release of its own and none of that live energy or rawness has been lost, and it’s even more infectious.
It’s fast paced and frenetic, like a jump to hyperspace straight into the chaos of a full on space battle with lasers flying here there and everywhere. Evasive action is taken as alarms blare out, control panels flash and beep like their life depends on it, and our ship whirls, dives and barrels out of the frying pan and into the fire and off again. It’s not so much a trap as intergalactic civil war and as good as John Williams is, we can’t help but imagine this would make a fantastic soundtrack to the new Star Wars films.
As well as the frenticism and glorious cacophony of pop that is coming at us from all sides, there are some decidedly delicious moments that we can’t help but love. A little tonal change here or there to channel the band’s inner Oakey for some very Human League-esque vocals in the background, Roberta’s lead vocals still sounding like she could take down a city’s walls should she wish to; the blistering pace of the beat and electronic rhythm that doesn’t let up for a second. The whole thing is just fantastic and we can’t wait to see how it translates to a video (the concept for which you can probably guess if you watched the track preview vids).
It’s industrial and edgy but there’s still more than enough pop brilliance in there to get your groove on to and that will get stuck in your head. We’ve been whistling the tune for the last few days now, much to the delight (?) of all around us. That, perhaps, is an underrated element of Curxes music, the outright catchiness of it all, we’re yet to hear a song of theirs that didn’t get stuck in our heads and pop back up again randomly a few days later, probably in a meeting where our sudden humming of “Haunted Gold” isn’t as appreciated as much as we would have expected.
We can’t wait to see the look on people’s faces when “Avant Guarded” makes its inevitable appearance at the next all staff gathering.
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Typical isn’t it? Just days after noting that Spring Offensive have had a reasonably quiet 2013 (in our 2013 previews round-up), the Oxfordshire five-piece released a brand new track to the internet. We’d call them a bunch of bastards but as always the tune is just fantastic so we feel inclined to forgive them.
They excel at gently building drama and emotion throughout their songs through the use of harmonies, layered and quickened sounds and stirring, tension fuelled lyrics; ”If you want to find your lover / I suggest you slide into the river / like the rat that you are” goes the chorus, not without menace.
They are also a little bit obsessed with water it would appear, as “The River” follows our 2012 Track of the Year, “Not Drowning But Waving”. It’s entirely appropriate though, you can feel the weight of emotion in the vocal like swimming against the current, its heavy and dangerous pulling you into the murky depths of despair under the water. It feels tough too. Physically tough, the aural equivalent of a quiet show of unified strength, of people silently standing in unison behind the one man hitherto prepared to stand up against injustice.
It’s like a movement, but then so are Spring Offensive and once you join there’s no leaving. Not in a Hotel California kind of way, you actually won’t want to.
”The River” will feature on debut Spring Offensive album, ‘Young Animal Hearts’, which was fully funded within 10 days of a very impressive Pledge Music campaign, but don’t let that stop you pledging anyway.
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All good things, as they say, must come to an end and so it is with the series of free downloads that Strangers have offered on the first of each of the last five months. Now, on the first of month six they offer the final freebie, “Divine”.
Featuring the additional vocal talents of Lou Bird, “Divine” could well be the best of the lot. It starts gently with atmospheric, harmonic vocals before it crackles and pops with electro fizzes and beats. It’s an aerial acrobat of a track, looping, diving and spinning against a glittered backdrop of synths and drums. It dares to pause momentarily and hang on by a single word as breath is caught, then swinging up to grab the trapeze hook of the song with both hands, swinging through the air under its own energy before back-flipping to a stop, hand raised aloft in triumph.
It is the last of freebies but that doesn’t mean the guys are taking a breather, far from it. On 10 December they will release the Close EP which collates all six free downloads as well as some exclusive remixes and alternate versions. Remixes such as the gorgeously soothing version of “Something New” that our own ‘H’ artist Jack Robert Hardman has put together, which brings the previously hidden backing vocal from Crystal Fighters’ Ellie Fletcher to the fore (you can hear that below as well, think of it as a little bonus from us). Then, in the New Year sometime there will be a brand new EP of brand new songs as well. No rest for the wicked and Strangers are most certainly ‘wicked’.
“Divine” is available as a free download from strangersmusic.co.uk
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