Mega Emotion – OK Maybe OK

17 Jan

Mega Emotion

After what feels like an absolute age (two years) Norwich electro-noisemakers extraordinaire Mega Emotion are back, and this time they’ve brought a cowbell. And a baby.

That’s right.

A cowbell.

Not only is it a cowbell, but it is a cowbell on which is played a maddeningly catchy rhythm. One is surprisingly tricky to recreate using just your mouth when in an open plan office surrounded by colleagues who have no clue about what the hell you are trying to do. So we’re told.

The baby, aka the cutest Run DMC tribute act we’ve ever seen, features in the video below and is getting her rock on to the fuzzy caterwaul and grind of guitars, stomping driving beats and PiL era Lydon vocals. It’s a frenzied howl at the moon of a track, cacophonous and fervent while at the same time, pulsating and danceable. The electronics whir into life like the beginning of the robot uprising and the whole things just crashes headlong into you as your ears and soul are shaken and shuddered into submission.

With a whole new guttural layer to their chaos-pop sound, Mega Emotion are back and resistence is futile.

”OK Maybe OK” is taken from the forthcoming debut Mega Emotion album, ‘Move, Motherfucker’ and is a available now as a single from iTunes.



Get to know Mega Emotion: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Hydra Lerna – “HYDRA”

16 Jan

hydra-lerna

We’re big fans of musical evolution and reinvention here at Alphabet Bands and the debut of Hydra Lerna is a wonderful example of both as it is the new nom de plume for Norwich’s Abigail Blake. Her first song under her new moniker, “Hydra”, sees Blake move away from the twinklestep genre she showcased last year with the brilliant Birdcage EP, and even further away from the singer-songwriter sound that she emerged with on her debut EP, Etch.

The quality of her writing is as good as it has ever been and the pop leanings and production are in there as well, but this is something new, something wonderful. There were elements of Birdcage that dealt with a darker side to humanity, the duplicitous nature of friendships for one, but as Hydra Lerna, Blake is going deeper and darker than before.

Her vocal is as beautiful, smooth and innocent sounding as ever, there is a wonderful vulnerability to her voice. Now though her words are harder, making the point that they can do so much damage, striking with a deadly venom and no matter how strong you are, you cannot defend against it. Her electronics too delve into murkier waters but with an incredibly infectious pop sound that deftly walks the tightrope of mainstream accessibility (there are elements of Katy Perry in there amongst others) and a sophisticated left of centre sound.

As big fans of Abigail and bigs fans of darker leaning pop-electronica, Hydra Lerna is something we are looking forward to hearing a lot more of in the future.


Get to know Hydra Lerna: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Doing something different: Introducing – Morpheme Records (again)

12 Jan

A couple of years ago, having toyed with an idea for some time, we decided to give in to temptation and start a record label. The label was designed to be about artist development and support more than anything and as such the plan for our artists is to hopefully move quickly on to bigger and better things. We launched Morpheme Records at the start of 2015 with two incredibly talented artists, Harry Edwards and MK Grands, and sure enough it wasn’t long before Harry was snapped up and MK Grands was remixing and guesting for some pretty big and acclaimed acts.

It was always in the back of our mind to restart the label, but we wouldn’t do it just for the sake of it or just with any old artist. It had to be people we loved, were extremely talented and who would continue to get better and better. Enter blog favourite and one of our former “Artists to look out for…”

Treasureseason

treasureseason-press-shot

We first encountered Treasureseason completely by chance when 50% of their number, producer Dave (Powell) worked the door at our Sound & Vision Showcase. We’ve been fans ever since, regularly sharing their tracks and buying their EPs. When the other 50%, Jess (Bartlet) got in touch to ask if we’d be interested in working with them, we knew it was time and Morpheme was alive once more.

Their new EP, X/Y, is out on Thursday 19 January and the first track to be taken from it is “The Rush”.

Deliciously infectious, the pair are embarking on a new synthpop journey with a subtle, dark undercurrent. Intricate melodic lines skip along while Jess’ chilled vocal washes over it. It’s fantastic.

We’ll not go on about it too much as we’re sure you’re keen to get listening yourselves, but it has already had some great write-ups from the likes of The Line of Best Fit (song of the day no less) The Most Radicalist, Earmilk and I Heart Moosiq amongst many others.

”The Rush” is out now and available to buy from iTunes. Treasureseason’s new EP ‘X/Y” will be released on 19 January.


Get to know Treasureseason:Facebook / Twitter

‘H’ is for… HEZEN

6 Jan

hezen-1

Welcome to the first artist to feature in our newly rebooted Alphabet. While there are many superb new acts out there, just waiting to be profiled, in reality there was only ever going to be one artist we’d choose to start with. As we noted in our tracks of year countdown, the debut song from HEZEN came out of nowhere to knock our socks off. They’re still not on.

Flashes of her talent had been showcased on her previous work with Icicle and some solo tracks (that are now hard to find, though not impossible) but with “The Girl You Want”, London-based French producer and songwriter Sarah Hezen served notice that she is something special. There is danger and ominous portent dripping off the smouldering electronic melody; sultry and seductive it is an intoxicating concoction of dark magic.

There is more stillness and a softer sensuality to her follow up, “Oil Fire”, though the subject is equally dark and personal. Sarah’s voice is a shaft of light illuminating the marbled swirl of melodic despair, a beam of resilience against the inky black persecution.

Listening we find ourselves lost in this world of HEZEN, this near monochromatic underworld of lust, love and loss. There is a subtle power to her music, evocative and raw within the deft and fragile production. Her vocals twist against the undulating electronics, heady with emotion and buffeted by the quiet force of her rhythms. Snakelike they all slide and squeeze together, strong, dangerous, beautiful and mesmeric.

We’ve been lucky enough to hear some demos of future tracks and our excitement is reaching dangerous levels. “Smoke and Mirrors”, for example, is an eerie wisp of ethereal vocals, heartbeat rhythms, warped electronics, strings and a delicate horror-movie-esque piano line. It’s devilishly dark and delicious where “Try Me” opens with a Stranger Things style retro synth line before a battlefield bass drum brings the tension, a tension which mounts as the track progresses before easing against that gorgeous, icy voice.

HEZEN is due to release her debut EP later this year and it is already shaping up to be one of the must listens of the year. We couldn’t think of a better act to open the Class of 2017.



Get to know HEZEN: Facebook / Twitter

2016 Albums of the Year

2 Jan

albums-of-the-year

After listing our favourite tracks of 2016 yesterday logic dictates that today be the turn of our favourite albums. In all honesty, we’ve not listened to as many albums as we have done in past years and somehow we have always managed to have a(n unintentional) blindspot for those that usually feature on major publications end of year list. That said, our choices this year are probably more ‘on point’ than previously, while still being quite different.

Confused? So are we. Let’s get to it.

So, in Alphabetical order, here are our five favourite albums of 2016.


Avec Sans – Heartbreak Hi

heartbreak-hi

After years of waiting, years of promise and quality single after quality single, blog favourites Avec Sans finally released their debut album. We’ve written extensively of our love for the electro-pop duo and theirs was probably the album we were most looking forward to. That expectation also came with some trepidation though, what if after all that build up and wait, it wasn’t that good? Thankfully, it was everything we hoped it would be and then some.

Pop banger follows pop banger as Jack’s deliciously retro-futuristic electronics and Alice’s melting ice vocal create a light show of danceable, singable and oh-so enjoyable songs. Each one is single release worthy and the whole album is a repeat listen delight, and repeat listen we did. Possibly more than any other, this was the album that got played again and again and again.


Daughter – Not to Disappear

daughter

A few listens in, not long after its release in January, we thought to ourselves ‘if Not to Disappear is not in our end of year list, it will have been an incredible year for music’. As it turned out, 2016 was a pretty decent year for new music releases but Daughter’s second album remained a high, and powerful, point.

“Doing the Right Thing” continues to provoke tears when listening. Its anguished take on dementia, told from a sufferer’s point of view, not so much tugging at heartstrings as wrenching them out by the handful while making you chop onions for hours. It is one of the saddest, most emotive tracks we’ve heard in years and its power does not diminish the more familiar you are with it.

By contrast “No Care” is powered by a visceral dissection of a less than pleasant sexual liaison. Here there is anger and disgust but the rawness and honesty remains. Indeed, Not to Disappear is startling in its openness, poignancy, accessibility and beauty. For our money it shows a real evolution and maturity from a band who have always sounded gorgeous, and now seem to have a lot more to say within it.


Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini

i-gemini

That Let’s Eat Grandma’s debut album I, Gemini should feature on our favourites of the year list should come as no surprise to regular readers. We’ve been fans and supporters since way back when and their appearance on Jools Holland was one of our personal music highlights of 2016.

Their music isn’t for everyone but the best thing is, we really don’t think they care. In fact, we’d wager that all the critics, bloggers and armchair opinioners take it all a lot more seriously than Rosa and Jenny do. Their sound is inventive, imaginative and entirely different to pretty much anything else out there right now. They make music for themselves, please themselves and to entertain themselves. It’s not really commercial – it’s not pop by numbers, it’s not landfill indie, it’s not even punk (though some will say it is) – it is simply the imagination and musicality of two incredibly talented teenagers left to run wild, and the results are magnificent.

Many of the tunes are pretty much the same as they were a couple of years ago, before the industry was aware of them and before their debut Latitude appearance (on the tiny Inbetweeners stage) became a thing of legend. A tip of the hat to Transgressive then for letting the pair be themselves and not trying to add significant amounts of polish or control to a sound that is at its best when it is left to just be whatever the girls want it to be.


Shura – Nothing’s Real

shura

Rivalling Avec Sans for our most played album of the year was Shura’s debut, Nothing’s Real. Relentless in its catchiness, its warmth and its tenderness, each track is sing-a-long golddust. Like with Avec Sans, 80s influences are worn on the sleeve and like Avec Sans the results are pure pop delight.

It’s openness and empathy are a thing to behold. Unrequited love, relationships gone bad, the one that got away; we’ve all experienced it yet so often in pop music it becomes something melodramatic and unreal. Here Shura effectively opens her diary for us all to read and its charming, self-effacing and so incredibly danceable.

There’s not a weak track to be found and even the segues are sweet and delightful. It’s about as good a modern take on 80s pop as you will hear and one of the most relatable albums in years. Any by jingo you can sing the crap out of it as you drive.


Starwalker – Starwalker

starwalker

Chilled and dreamy electronica is entirely our thing and the full debut album from Starwalker served up both in abundance. A perfect soundtrack for a warm evening stargazing, the self-titled release from Air’s Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Bardi Johannsson of Bang Gang is as elegant as it is mellifluous as it is enchanting, yet still with a touch of drama and edge moulded within.

It is in part a vast expanse of cinematic electronica, a bit Moon Safari in places, a bit Virgin Suicides in others. It is not just a clever Air rehash mind you (though fans will love it) it is also close, intimate, warm and infectious. “Holiday”, for example, steps out of the cool and into the bright light of the summer sun, frivolous and warm, it skips along joyously.

Elsewhere, the likes of “Losers Can Win” and “Get Me” drift and melt glacially and the whole album is a gorgeously relaxed, cool breeze of sophisticated melodies and electronica.