TV Girl – “Natalie Wood”

23 Jun

TV Girl

We spend a fair bit of time here at Alphabet Bands thinking about how best describe music, how it makes us feel or what we think when a song gets into our head. We use imagery, hyperbole, metaphors and similes like they are half price at poundland and we’ve got a fiver burning a hole in our pocket. Sometimes we read something that has been written elsewhere and think ‘yep, that’s it. Bang on”. Usually this in an article or blog post but the other week we saw a tweet from the lovely people at Tympanogram that perfectly summed up how we felt when one of our favourite bands released a couple of new tunes.

Succinct, to the point and exactly how we felt when we opened an email from Bandcamp notifying us that TV Girl had just shared two new songs. Clearly metaphors and the like are not always required. We still love using them though…

A stand alone pre-curser to a forthcoming album, “Natalie Wood” and “Like We Planned” are perfectly, wonderfully TV Girl. There are those gorgeously throwback, distressed melodies that we love so much and the lyrics are brimming with malcontent, glamour, sex and black humour. “Natalie Wood” in particular (given its subject matter) sits as a perfect companion to the fabulous <i>Lonely Women</i> EP. It is, as we’d expect, just fantastic and as long as they keep making music, we will keep being happy to hear it.

”Natalie Wood” and “Like We Planned” are out now via the TV Girl Bandcamp page and you can soon catch the band on their forthcoming World (USA and Canada) Tour.

Stalk TV Girl: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

Superhumanoids – “Anxious In Venice”

19 Jun

Superhumanoids

It’s always exciting for us when a band we love announces a new album. It is especially true when they do so by sharing a fantastic new tune that showcases a totally new sound and feel for the band. Given that Superhumanoids debut album was one that we had been eagerly anticipating, that it placed in our top 10 of 2013 and that their subsequent singles have been superb, you can appreciate that we were extremely happy to hear there is a follow up album on the way.

Do You Feel Ok? is due for release on 11 September and if lead single, “Anxious In Venice” is anything to go by, we are in for a treat. A dark, brooding and beautiful treat.

Reminiscent of Goldfrapp’s evolution from purveyors of gorgeously relaxing melodies and floating melodies and vocals into glam rock influenced disco pop lovers; “Anxious In Venice” sees Superhumanoids donning cape and mask and delving into the world of darkness.

The 80’s influences are still there, the bassline is very Airwolf, but the synths come not from a place of fun and frolics, but a seedier, darker underbelly. Sarah’s vocals are enticing, hypnotic and laced with a seductive menace, like a kiss with poisoned lips leaving you dizzy and vulnerable. It’s furtive, clandestine and dangerous. There are neon lights but most of the bulbs have blown, casting a skittering melodic shadow over mysterious figures on their way to an underground club.

Listening to “Anxious In Venice” makes us want to join them.

’Do You Feel OK’ is due for release on 11 September and US residents can pre-order it now from iTunes and get “Anxious In Venice” immediately.


Stalk Superhumanoids: Website / Facebook / Twitter

nvdes – “Before The Weekend Comes”

17 Jun

nvdes

We’re not sure what it has been like where you are, but here in the east of England, summer doesn’t yet feel like it’s got going. Sure we’ve had a few days of warm weather and bright sunshine but we’ve also had a fair few that were cold, wet and miserable. The weather is one reason it doesn’t yet feel like summer has kicked off properly, another is the kids are still in school and another, most importantly, is that we are yet to hear a proper uber summer tune.

Thankfully, the latter has been taken care of thanks to US based nvdes and his debut track, “Before The Weekend Comes”.

Sun-kissed and laidback, it feels like those ubiquitous summer anthems of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. We’re thinking Spiller and Modjo in particular. Gorgeous chilled out vibes mix with a pool party ready beat and a sweet falsetto that shines like the glare on your sunglasses.

It feels like summer, hell, it tastes like summer and listening to it makes us long for a pina colada by the pool with friends as the dj soundtracks our carefree holiday. It is a song that goes with good times and has the potential to be your tune of the coming months.

”Before The Weekend Comes” is available as a free download here.


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Aminata – “Love Injected”

12 Jun

Aminata

Normally when we we hear a new track for the first time it is after a late night soundcloud rummage or inbox trawl. The track often has only a handful of plays or may even be in single digits. It is not usual for us to hear a song for the first time as part of a shared experience with tens of millions of people across a nearly 50 different countries.

That is exactly what happened the other week though as we settled down to watch the Eurovision Song Contest and, like the majority of the audience, heard a whole host of songs for the first time. Aside from hand wringing power ballads apparently being quite popular across Europe, the UK entry sinking to new depths of disappointment and a blatant disregard for fire safety regulations, we learnt that Latvia has damn fine taste.

Of course, being the home country of Southampton legend Marian Pahars, we already knew Latvia is clearly an awesome country. We hadn’t been aware of their musical excellence, not until we sat down with Europe and first heard Aminata.

While we expect to have been in the majority of people watching who had not heard of her before, some had and the track she performed, “Love Injected”, had even had a couple of appearances on Hype Machine registred blogs before the competition. What is surprising to us is that she hasn’t had more since.

You see, “Love Injected” is not only a fabulous piece of dark and twisted yet remarkably mainstream friendly electro-pop, it is also exactly the sort of song we bloggers have been all over in recent months and years.

On the night, Graham Norton kept calling her the Latvian Sia (which should have been enough to get blogs interested) but there is also a fair bit of FKA Twigs in there as well, and we all know how blogs feel about FKA Twigs. It’s not as R&B influenced but it has this deliciously dark sensuality. It simmers seductively with mummering electronics before boiling over into a grand and passionate chorus.

It’s quite probably the best thing to come out of Latvia since a certain babyfaced striker helped save Saints from relegation back in 1999.

”Love Injected” is taken from Aminata’s album, ‘Inner Voice’, which you can stream on soundcloud.

Stalk Aminata: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Oh Wonder – “White Blood”

1 Jun

Oh Wonder - White Blood

Context in music is incredibly important. It might seem like an obvious and odd statement to make when opening a blog post but it’s true and worth remembering. The intention, the subject matter, the inspiration are all vital components when experiencing music and allowing it to affect you. For example, the likes of David Guetta make music for people to dance to, to jump up and down and have carefree fun to. It’s not the sort of thing you would expect to be played during a funeral or mass and doing so would feel incongruous to the artist’s intentions.

We mention this as while listening to the new Oh Wonder song today we found ourselves profoundly moved. In isolation “White Blood” is a beautiful and elegantly simple track that entrances the listener. Listening with knowledge of the context of its origin and inspiration is something else entirely.

As explained by the band, this is the context:

”Earlier this year we had the pleasure of meeting Steven and Wendi, our fans – and now friends, from the US. They are both remarkable people – generous, warm-hearted and so spirited. Steven is a doctoral student at MIT, and after a voluntary academic scan he discovered a baseball-sized cancerous brain tumour, which was successfully removed after a 10-hour awake brain surgery. We are humbled to have collaborated with Steven on the artwork for our forthcoming single, ‘White Blood’. The image is a very zoomed-in image of part of his brain tumour, photographed under a microscope by the man himself!

We wrote ‘White Blood’ to explore the idea of needing immunity from disease, sadness, hopelessness or fear, not only in the physical form of white blood cells, but also with simple human love and support. This song is for you, Steven and Wendi, and for anyone else out there that is dealing with difficult physical or mental health circumstances. We are all here for each other.”

Having read that statement, we pressed play and were immediately lost. Lost in emotion, in a heady world of pain, anguish, heartache, hope, despair and love. There were goosebumps, there were tears and we were quite literally rendered motionless as we just sat and listened. Then we listened again, and again. Not once did the feeling diminish, not once did our eyes cease to wobble as we sought to hold back the trickle down our cheek.

The spaces in the piano arrangement are as potent as the notes themselves, the lyrics evocative and heartfelt. The feelings within us rise as the soft vocals reach out like a hand to be held, and then there is the echo. That quiet wave beneath the surface that sounds like a shell held to the ear, a sound that would usually provide happy memories of childhood games and summer on the beach. Here though context takes us on a different journey and that echo sounds instead like something clinical, like mechanical ventilation and those feelings that were on the rise overflow in a torrent.

We’ve spoken before, a number of times, about the power of music, about its capacity to change and affect your state of mind and outlook on life, but we’ve been quiet about the importance of context. Sometimes though, context is everything and right now, alongside this remarkably emotive and powerful song from two incredible songwriters, it has brought us to our knees.

More context about the song can be found at ohwondermusic.com and you can read more Steven himself at www.stevenkeating.info.

Artwork photo credit: Steven Keating, Dr. Choi-Fong Cho, and Dr. Sean Lawler. Surgery completed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


Stalk Oh Wonder: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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