Archive | alphabetbands RSS feed for this section

‘D’ is for… Ginny Dix

22 Jun

The second entrant into our Alphabet Bands class of 2017 is something of a special moment for us. Special because it involves someone who has become a big friend of the site over the last couple of years, someone we have seen evolve and improve exponentially and someone who we believe is just so incredibly talented.

Our first encounter with Ginny Dix came about when the indie-rock band she was fronting at the time, Freyr, reached the final of Norwich’s Next Big Thing competition. It was clear then that she was good and the band put on a cracking show to much acclaim. Guitar based thrashing out was not to be in her future though and her Freyr tenure would soon end.

From then on she has set out to find herself as a solo artist. Collaborations and study have followed and in the last 18months or so it feels like the real Ginny is coming through. Not only that, but each new release, each new show, everything is showing her development, her growing confidence and improvement. Her latest track, “Grow”, is a further example of how damn exciting and accomplished she is becoming.

The soft, ebbing electronics and the beautiful, heartfelt vocals entwine to create a gorgeous, mellifluous track that is both soothing and deeply emotive. There is a Shura-esque vibe to the 80s influenced synth lines and heartfelt vocals that is simply divine and as the bassline kicks in you will want to sway gently in time. It’s delicately infectious, with a melody and chorus that will run through your head for days. It’s accompanying coming of age – kids in the 80s going on an adventure – video is absolutely note perfect for the song.

Elsewhere “Woman” further showcases the heart and depth of Ginny’s songwriting as well as the emotive and delicate soulfulness of her vocal. It is so fragile yet so beautiful, it is exactly the sort of thing that filmmakers should be using to underscore any majorly emotional moment. It’s the sort of song that tears flow to. Similarly, the elegant piano arrangement of “Run Away” and Ginny’s vocal make it an eyes-closed-head-swaying listen.

Her voice is beautiful, her songwriting is heartfelt and sincere, her compositions and arrangements are gorgeous. Her development over the last couple of years has been incredible and if she keeps going there is no limit to what she could achieve. Keep your ears and eyes open, Ginny Dix could well be a name you hear a lot more of in the future. For now, we are delighted to welcome her as a member of the Alphabet Bands class of 2017.

”Grow” is out now and available to buy on iTunes.

Get to know Ginny Dix: Facebook / Twitter

‘H’ is for… HEZEN

6 Jan


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

New Year, time for a new start…

1 Jan


It’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s funny how time drifts away when you stop paying attention. Having made a sort of commitment to get back on the horse and start writing regularly again after the internal reflection that was our 5th anniversary, we did very little.

Well, we wrote eight posts and then all of a sudden three months passed by, Christmas has come and gone and a New Year is suddenly upon us. We had a lot of plans for those last three months too, not just here at Alphabet Bands but beyond. In the end an unexpected but positive change in personal circumstances and a very busy day job effectively took our time and nothing came to fruition. We owe a few people some apologetic emails as a result and will be dealing with those as a priority.

While the day job remains very busy and fairly stressful, our personal life has settled down brilliantly and now seems as good a time as any to kick back into gear and get going again.

As the New Year signals a time of reflection, we decided to look again at what prompted us to consider the future back in September and think about what we wanted to do with the site.

One thing that struck us was just how much like practically every other site out there we had become. Despite starting out with something that, theoretically, would set us apart (our Alphabet) we never really focused on it and it soon became just a dusty page on the site that we never looked at. So, in the spirit of starting again, the Alphabet has been taken off the shelf, cleared out and the (now) blank pages readied for adding new bands too. As of now we will aim to make the Alphabet an annually updated list, starting with the Class of 2017. So that will mean 26 brand new acts per year, on top of all the other posts, thoughts, interviews (hopefully) that we will continue to churn out.

There will be other changes too, an intention to focus more on long-form writing and getting some in-depth interviews recorded (yes, recorded) with artists we have long admired.

That’s the idea at least and we’ve made a start. Our first new Alphabet Band will appear in the coming days and we’ve been listening to a lot of new acts over the festive period to find the best to share with you. First off, later today, we will have a quick look at some of our favourite tracks from the last 12 months.

As we love you all so much, there are a couple of last minute crackers that some of our blog favourites released at the end of 2016 embedded below for you to enjoy.

It’s good to be back.

Review: Garnets – Towns EP

12 Aug

Garnets Towns

It seems to be that, for whatever reason, when we come to write about Garnets, it is usually a few months (at least) after we originally intended to. So it is that here we are in August, talking about their debut studio EP, Towns, which came out in May. As is always the case with Garnets though, the quality of the music is so high that frankly it doesn’t matter when you get to them, just as long as you do.

We begin with previous single “Fruit”. Five minutes of fragile beauty, with Sam J Delves’ ethereal vocal floating like a feather on the breeze over delicate piano strokes and hushed electronic murmurings. Made from the finest and thinnest porcelain, were you to try and hold it, it would shatter in your hands. The simple toy-box-sounding piano outro is sublime, so effortless and evocative it feels like a flash of colour in a monochrome world.

“Mother and the Daughter” too blends muted piano with haunting, minimalist melodies that brush over the beatless rhythm like snow being blown across the arctic plains. Here the vocals take greater prominence, giving the track an ever-so-slightly more traditional pop song feel, but still they float and swirl within the misty music.

“Arches” on the other hand is a couple of minutes of barely-there-fragility. Sporadic keys dwell amongst almost imperceptible sounds of static, or ocean waves and the occasional sound of doors opening and closing. This is juxtaposed with the altogether more explosive finale of the title track.

Of each of the four tracks “Towns” feels the most like a pop song. The vocals act as much more of a focal point, an anchor for the melody which is then raised as the ship sets sail for more vibrant waters. These waters are of very real, very energetic guitar riffs which swell and crash against the rocky shores of drums and cymbals. It is entirely unlike anything else on the EP, splashing life and realism into an otherwise mystical world of aural fantasy and splendour.

That is Garnets though, able to blend the most delicate of sounds with the most raw. On Towns they give us wistful, elegant beauty, both intimate and expansive, but they also allow us a moment to rock out and get our juices going. Almost as if they want to stir our body as well as our mind.

’Towns’ is out now and available either digitally or on limited edition CD from the Garnets bandcamp site.

Stalk Garnets: Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr / YouTube

‘U’ is for Us Baby Bear Bones

24 Jul

Us Baby Bear Bones

You don’t need us to tell you (but we will anyway) that these days, with the continued expansion of online streaming services and social media added to the traditional methods of yore, ways in which we can discover new music are legion. Gone are the days of relying on the music press to give away a free tape or CD alongside rave reviews of bands you’d hitherto never heard of; or listening to the likes of John Peel, or Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley, to hear samples of new and exciting bands. Nope, nowadays you can just jump online and people are there, ready and waiting to give you as much music as you can handle of any style or genre.

Being a blog, we don’t even have to go looking for new music anymore if we’d prefer not to as people just send us mail after mail asking that we take a listen and perhaps feature their track, album, video, EP etc. So it is all the more special when we do discover something organically, especially when it is completely by chance and really rather amazing. Which is exactly how we first heard Us Baby Bear Bones, by chance in a pub in Norwich and they blew us away.

Doing some research after the gig we wondered how we had not heard of this Brighton trio before as they have not been without blog support, but so it was as we trundled into the Birdcage pub on a Friday evening primarily to support a local label and promoter, Barefeet Records, who was putting on the show, with no clue of what to expect.

What we got was an evening of high quality banter and even higher quality music. Cool synths and electronica wash over compulsive beats, Puff and Daisy’s intertwining vocals and harmonies are ice sculptures atop a sonic glacier bathed in shadow. Yes, for while the tracks are beautiful and can be soothing on the ear, they are swathed in darkness as well. The well of the macabre has been visited and drawn from, as is especially evidenced by the amazing new and somewhat gruesome video for “Sun”.

Performing live they are somehow able to add more to a sound that is already multi facetted and has more layers than Mr Skinny in winter. Not that they believe in making life easy for themselves. Being multi-instrumentalists with such a range of sounds in their music means there can be a lot to do on stage, particularly for poor Luke who appears to be a blur as he moves from guitar to his electronic beats and glockenspiel. At least Daisy (bass synth, casio, omnichord and samples) and Puff (vocals, loops, drums and clarinet) get to stand in largely the same place.

Us Baby Bear Bones Shadow

It is this setting though that allows them to expand still further and tracks like “Swamp” and “You” (the studio versions of which sound gorgeous) seem to swell and fill the surroundings. The demure vocal stylings take on a new edge and energy without ever losing the beauty of the song. The secret appears to be that in amongst the layers of sound, the spiralling electronic and rhythms, the world of ice and the creeping shadows, damn fine pop songs are to be found. They are emotional and evocative as well as being catchy and very easy on the ear. It’s hard to choose a standout but “You” in particular is swirly like a galaxy, magnificent and seemingly infinite, growling and bursting with each note and vocal. It is simply stunning.

If there is a moral to this tale, and we are not sure there is, it is that music isn’t just on the internet and that taking a chance on a live show now and then can pay dividends. More importantly it is that Us Baby Bear Bones is undeniably quite a special young act at work and one which we should be hearing much more of in the coming months and years. For now though we are delighted to induct them into the hallowed halls of Alphabet Bands and look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Us Baby Bear Bones’ debut EP, What Starts With A U Ends With An I, is out now and available in a number of packages from their Bandcamp page.

Stalk Us Baby Bear Bones: Website / Facebook / Twitter