Climbing out of the rabbit hole: Unexpected musical returns

3 Jun

rabbit hole

Musical returns are nothing new, bands and artists have oft disappeared for years at a time only to return unexpectedly and triumphantly. Recent years have seen seemingly unlikely reconciliations and re-emergences from the likes of Blur, Suede and many others. Nostalgia TV shows and gigs have proved successful and paved the way for many an act to comeback, even when no-one was calling for it. In these cases there will always be some that are more surprising than others, and some that are more welcome too.

2016, and the last few weeks in particular, seems to have been overloaded with such returns. Some clamoured for, some not; some very exciting, some not so much. For example, Radiohead reappeared with a new album, as well as their now customary reduction of music critics into jibbering messes, forced as they are to live blog a first play just to deliver the hits that keep the advertisers happy. The often rumoured and dreamed of Stone Roses reunion also actually happened, though the decidedly marmite “All For One” may not have been all that was hoped for.

In the last few days in particular there have been three returns that have garnered varying levels of coverage and excitement across the blog world and beyond. These three returns have piqued our interest more than most and have us excited to see what comes next. So we thought we’d take a look at them in a little more detail.


Pixie Geldof

Pixie

One return we hadn’t expected to see but are absolutely delighted has come about, is that of Pixie Geldof. She’s not been heard musically since early 2013 when she released the utterly divine demo of ”Where The Wild Things Grow” with her band Violet.

It was a remarkable track; gorgeous, stunning and various other superlatives tripped off our tongue while describing it. It made our end of year list and then, nothing. Personal tragedy occurred and while Pixie evidently never stopped writing, retiring from the public eye was to be expected. Now though there is a double A-side set for release this month and a debut solo album, I’m Yours to follow in September.

One of the two tracks shared (both are wonderful) “So Strong”, has bewitched us entirely. Pixie’s vocal sounds in part cold and disinterested and in part sweet and seductive, it glides sublimely over the delicate string arrangement. The melody hangs low, an early morning mist across a bluebell laden forest floor. A barefoot rhythm walking carefully, almost imperceptibly through as the world gently wakes.

It is fragile and beguiling, tender and loving whilst detached and aloof. It is an heavenly return from an artist we are genuinely thrilled to see return. So Young is shaping up to be a must-buy already, not least because the press info also hints at a re-worked “Where The Wild Things Grow” appearing on it.

Pixie’s double A-side single “So Strong” and “Escape Route” will be released on 17 June and ‘So Young’ is due out on 16 September. Both via Stranger Records.


Stalk Pixie Geldof: Twitter


The Avalanches

Avalanches

The return that has unquestionably received the most buzz and media coverage this week has come from the much loved and missed The Avalanches. Their debut LP, Since I Left You, is revered and near worshipped in some circles. Some have even questioned if it was too good to follow up. As the years have gone by, a possible follow-up has taken on near mythological status. Like Dre’s Detox it has frequently been rumoured, excitedly whispered about and anticipated but never realised. Until now.

While only two of the original line-up are still involved, “Frankie Sinatra”, the first track to be taken from the fabled second album Wildflower, is brilliantly Avalanchesy. Crazy samples abound as the beat bounces like an oompah band on a trampoline while the guest vocals evoke (appropriately enough) early 2000’s Beastie Boys or Eminem.

The reaction to the track has been largely positive, though there are some who have bemoaned its Gorillaz like playfulness and its supposed lack of ‘relevance’ to 2016. As if a band that people love making music that sounds like the music they made before, that people loved, is a bad thing. Still, we expect these same people decried Daft Punk for not making exactly the same kind of music as before when they came back with Random Access Memories. There’s just no pleasing some people.

We are pleased with it though. It is fun, it is playful, and bouncy and a bit silly but not all music has to be serious and meaningful (we do like that kind of music too). It is worth remembering that “Frontier Psychiatrist” was a bit silly and playful as well and that Since I Left You was still, is still a remarkable triumph.

We are really looking forward to hearing Wildflower and seeing just how good it is.


Stalk The Avalanches: Website / Facebook / Twitter


Mononoke

Mononoke

It was only a few weeks ago that we found ourselves asking, whatever happened to Mononoke? Named after the fabled Studio Ghibli princess, she appeared shrouded in mystery in late 2013 and instantly won the hearts and minds of many a music fan with her magical, ethereal “Alice”.

This was followed up by two more tracks in 2014, “Bones and Glory” and “Barefoot and Broken”, promise was being realised and then, like Pixie, there was nothing. Seemingly, there was no wonder left in paradise as her tracks were removed from Soundcloud and this mysterious girl vanished back down the rabbit hole from whence she came.

In truth, she simply took a step back, feeling she wasn’t ready to move forward and wanting to take her time to get everything right and ready. Now she has returned, “Alice” is alive once more and now with a video (or ‘cinema graph’) and promise of a new EP.

While it is a little disappointing that Mononoke (we can see her face in the videos but we’re still not allowed to share [redacted]’s name) hasn’t immediately come back with the new music; “Alice” has lost none of it’s magic or charm. Tragically beautiful and beguiling it drifts, lilts and delights in equal measure.

New music is coming as well, while another of her previous tracks, “Barefeet and Broken” will appear on the Silence For You EP, so too will a title track and “Graceland”. If they are anywhere near as sublime and gorgeous as their predecessors, this could be a first step on a road to a wonderful adventure for Mononoke.



Stalk Mononoke: Facebook / Twitter

Header image via notevenathing flickr

Avec Sans – “Perth”

2 Jun

Avec Sans Perth

In recent years we’ve adopted a couple of basic rules here at Alphabet Bands. Included in these is that, generally speaking, we don’t go in for cover versions or remixes. Of course, that doesn’t mean we never post them, there will always be exceptions and frankly Avec Sans are exceptional.

As the release of their debut album, Heartbreak Hi, draws ever closer (just over a month to go people!) they have returned to the first tune they ever shared. It was their cover version of Bon Iver’s “Perth” that grabbed people’s attention, that shot into the Hype Machine chart, that blogs far and wide got excited about and that made Alice and Jack realise they should probably give this being a band lark a proper go.

Now, four years later and as they sit on the cusp of something amazing (we’ve heard the album, trust us on this) we have a re-worked and exuberant “Perth” to bring us full circle.

The opening is deliciously, fantastically pop and Alice’s ice crystal pure vocal conveys the emotion of the original beautifully. Elsewhere Pet Shop Boys esque crashes and laser light synth lines dazzle and delight, urging you to shake off the heaviness of your world and dance with delight.

It’s vibrant and infectious, everything we’ve come to love from Avec Sans and then some.

As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the band are heading out on tour in June, supporting Ladyhawke and playing their own headline shows. Shows that include an ‘Alphabet Bands presents…’ night on 25 June at the Waterfront Studio. Tickets are £6 (bargain) and available to buy here. See you down the front.

Avec Sans debut album ‘Heartbreak Hi’ is released on 15 July via Beverly Martel and can be pre-ordered here.


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Weirdo – “Armanio”

6 May

Weirdo

It’s been glorious sunshine and warmth here in the UK this week and while Berlin based mystery artist Weirdo may not have been here to enjoy it, he’s provided the soundtrack with the blisteringly bright “Armanio”.

Following on from the funky-soft (or should that be melty?) sounds of “Butter”, “Armanio” is a dance pop tune that requires sunglasses when listening. Bright synth sounds and hazy melodies mix with an absolutely glorious fuzzy whine of guitar to create a heady concoction of neon colours and summer party vibes, even though the subject matter is a little less upbeat.

Infact, it’s a little ironic that a song about being trapped in a relationship with the wrong person should sound so light and carefree. Melodically it’s like roller skating along the seafront.

There’s a familiarity to it that makes it instantly accessible and that chorus is as infectious as you could wish for. The beats are toe-tappingly delicious, vocals sweet and soulful and the production is smooth as you like.

This week has felt like summer and thanks to Weirdo, it’s been sounding like it as well.


Stalk Weirdo: Website

Vérité – “Gesture”

29 Apr

Verite

We’re fast running out of superlatives for Vérité. The New York based popstar has been rocking our world for the last couple of years with her intelligent, emotional and infectious pop. The Echo and Sentiment EPs were outstanding and her forthcoming Living EP is another brilliant collection of cracking songs.

We’ve already had the fabulous ”Underdressed” and “Constant Crush” and today Vérité is sharing “Gesture”. Like a once famous ambassador, she is really spoiling us.

Lyrically evocative we see her sitting amongst the debris of a night before, bedsheets strewn and scattered as she sings. “Gesture” is a bit more stripped back than its predecessors, reflecting the exposed emotion within, focusing more on the rhythm than the melody. The vocal, as ever, is gorgeous as she sings amidst this scene of relationship disrepair. It is, like Vérité herself, fantastic.

”Gesture” is taken from the forthcoming “Living” EP which is due out on 6 May and will be available fromiTunes.

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Alice Jemima – “Liquorice”

27 Apr

Alice Jemima

If it seems like an absolute age since we last featured Alice Jemima (when we tipped her for big things in 2013) that’s because it is. Back then she was coming off a fairly prolific 2012 when she released an EP, recorded a Radio1 session and was about to blow up on Soundcloud with her Blackstreet cover.

Since then it has been near silence from the lady with the sugar sweet vocals, and with good reason, she’s been working crazy hard. Now signed to the esteemed Sunday Best label, Alice has just been announced as appearing at the forthcoming Radio1 Big Weekend in Exeter. More importantly, she has been working on music. There’s an EP due in June and an album to follow and at last, we have a new tune to indulge in.

And indulge is the right word. It may be that cookies are a sometimes food but Alice’s “Liquorice” (the title track of the aforementioned EP) is an always listen. That simple but compelling bassline blended with the piano is head noddingly lovely and Alice’s intricate wordplay sets the tongue tingling.

She’s explained that “Liquorice” is “a song about trying to please other people, and then drifting off into this imaginary world to try and please yourself. With a tooth as sweet as ours and a sound as delicious as Alice’s, we’re escaping to this imaginary world with her.

The ‘Liquorice’ EP is due out on 17 June via Sunday Best Recordings and is available to pre-order here.


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