‘S’ is for… San Jua

26 Jul

Despite having just three demos available online and with no sign (yet) of an official release to their name, Anglo-Swedish duo San Jua are quickly establishing themselves as an exciting new name in the world of electro-pop. They are also the latest member of the Alphabet Bands Class of 2017.

Their music seems to exist in the space between conscious and subconscious thought. Gently probing and planting ideas like some kind of inception-y ninjas using neuro-linguistic programming or Jedi mind tricks. Their debut track, “Laid To Waste”, is about passing through a city at night, and that is all you can see when you listen. The bass and guitar lines pass by like cars on the street as Mags, whisper soft, sings of buildings and streets and the hidden majesty of urban life. It’s some devilish and dreamy musical onomatopoeic wizardry. Or something.

As you listen, shapes and emotions marble in your mind to form images and sensations as their wondrous electro arrangements drift and swirl.

With that (quite literally) in mind, the nominative determinism of their latest track should come as no surprise. With it’s stunningly evocative soundscape, “Swirls In The Swimming Pool” is a devastatingly dreamy and disarming piece of electro-pop.

And it swirls, and swirls, and swirls. Around and down, deeper into the water.

The piano line opening gives way to deftly pulsating synths that whirlpool around, pulling you under into San Jua’s sub-aquatic playground. Treasures await below, amongst that magical swirl of electronics and vocals that open out before you, a mesmerising undulation of sound and imagery. It’s gloriously catchy, subtly powerful, a little bit dangerous, and utterly gorgeous.

Elsewhere, “Break Your Fall” comes with a feeling of tension and drama woven into the synth-threads and quickening-heartbeat rhythms. There is an urgency that is beautifully juxtaposed with the soft, quivering vocal that evokes confusion and stress whilst remaining dreamy and heartfelt.

They are quite something, a mysterious and marvellous musical duo that seem to reside on a different plane of existence to us mere mortals.



Get to know San Jua: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Advertisements

What’s in the Box? – #15

22 Jul

What's In The Box

Earlier this week, we started a quick series of posts designed to catch us up with some of the fantastic tunes we’ve missed in recent weeks and months.
The first five of the (planned) 25 tracks we’ll be looking back at can be found here and the next five, such is the way a series works, can be found after the snazzy line on the page below.

Enjoy.


Penny Bridges – “For The Things”

Blessed with a gorgeously delicate voice and unconventional pronunciation, it was no surprise that we fell for Penny Bridges last year. Her distinct style and beautifully layered arrangements are soft and enchanting and her latest, “For The Things”, is no different.

Like a cool breeze on a warm summer’s day, Bridge’s vocals drifts over and soothes what ails you. The piano drips enticingly and the melody floats dreamingly and delicately. It’s beautiful, becalming and wonderful. We could, and have, listen to it for hours.

Get to know Penny Bridges: Facebook / Twitter


Yonaka – “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya”

Look to the absolute opposite end of the spectrum to Penny Bridges and you will find Yonaka.

With its immediate and sprawling intensity, “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” is an attitude fuelled kick to the balls. It has the kind of swagger and brooding coolness that makes kids want to learn guitar and be a rock star. Jesus, it makes us want to learn guitar and be a rock star and we’re [age redacted to protect our own sense of wellbeing] and cursed with stubby fingers! Full of frenetic energy, it’s jump up and down and get entirely lost in the moment brilliant.


Get to know Yonaka: Facebook / Twitter


Luca Chesney – “Return”

When we last featured Luca Chesney, the New York based singer was soothing us with the gently beautiful “We Made A Fire”. That was a couple of years ago now and the intervening period has seen Chesney take a turn onto the road marked ‘electronica’.

Her most recent offering from this journey is the wonderfully monochromatic “Return”. A melodic and glitchy piece of electro-pop whose sparseness is perfectly juxtaposed with Chesney’s rich and alluring vocals. As the digital beats spit like a fire in the darkness, the synths purr and growl with a soft vigour to give us something mysterious and magical.

Get to know Luca Chesney: Facebook / Twitter


Painted Heathers – “Party For One”

Having got together in 2015, Norwich based Painted Heathers are now starting to get some well deserved attention thanks to airplay from the likes of Future Radio and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Elastica.

The Elastica nod is especially relevant as they, along with ‘transition period’ Blur (when they began to move away from Madchester and towards what would become brit-pop) appear to be two of the bands biggest influences. “Party For One” for example, showcases the addictiveness of the Frischmann/Matthews guitar sound and effortlessly relatable Albarn vocals. It is a heady wooze of angular mid-nineties riffs and sweet-smoke-thick melodies.

Get to know Painted Heathers: Facebook / Twitter


Ginger and the Ghost – “Kindred Spirits”

If you were to put up a checklist of things that we love to hear in pop music, Australian’s Ginger and the Ghost would hit a fair few of them with their latest, “Kindred Spirits”.

Produced by Avec Sans collaborator, Benbrick (tick) “Kindred Spirits” is a very scandi-pop (tick) song with an undulating melody (tick) that sounds like Robyn (tick) meets Oh Land (tick) meets Niki and the Dove (tick). It reaches up into the sky like a twisted beanstalk of tribal beats (tick) and soaring synths (tick) before swirling and dancing in a kaleidoscope of colour and sound.

Get to know Ginger and the Ghost: Facebook / Twitter


Bang Bang Romeo – “Chemical” (video)

21 Jul

Having wowed us in the past with tracks like “Johannesburg” and “Carnival”, Bang Bang Romeo have just raised our love for them up another notch with the earth-shattering might of “Chemical”. First heard online over a year ago, the Yorkshire based foursome have finally released it as a single and given us some rather superb visuals accompaniment as well.

To say that it’s huge is something of an understatement. “Chemical” has such an intensity and so much power that it could rouse the dead. The expansion of the track, as the opening gives way to the explosion of guitar and rhythm and as Anastasia’s voice grows to its foundation-shaking best, is a literal goosebump moment. Every single time we hear it.

Their sound has always been darkly cinematic and now they have a video to match. Starring the incredible Ralph Ineson and Olivia Roach, it has a wonderfully grandiose feel that perfectly matches the song. In the majestic setting of Rossington Hall, our protagonist (Ineson) appears to go through a Scrooge-like epiphany thanks to the siren-esque visitation of hypnotic spirit (Roach).

They’ve explained that “Chemical” is “about not giving up on someone even when it feels like it’s almost over, not living with regrets and finding that feeling again that was there right at the beginning, it’s love that’s worth fighting for that can’t be explained as something that runs through your veins, it’s something bigger than that.”

With a sound as vast and immense as this, ‘bigger than that’ could be the band motto.

”Chemical” is out now and available to buy on iTunes



Get to know Bang Bang Romeo: Website / Facebook / Twitter

What’s in the Box? – #14

18 Jul

What's In The Box

It has, let’s be honest, been quite some time since we posted with anything approaching regularity. In the weeks and months since our last flurry, many many wonderful songs have been released. A great number of which we thought to ourselves, ‘we’ll write about that’. Time passed and still no writing came. Though we remained determined, ‘we’ll get to them, eventually’ we thought.

Well, it looks like eventually has finally come. There’s no time like the present they say, so here we go with a series of What’s In The Box? specials as we play catch up with some of our favourites from the last few months.


Leon Else – “The City Don’t Care”

First on our look at what we’ve missed is an eighties synth-dream courtesy of Leon Else and Oliver from about four months ago.

It’s been ages since we last featured Else, back when he was looking at the world through broken glass with his dark debut. Now his specs appear to have neon lenses as “The City Don’t Care” is a brightly lit, leather jacket sleeves rolled up, shoulder pads wearing blast of colour, keys and beats. It’s much more poppy and danceable than when we last featured him, and fantastically so. It’s groovy and danceable without ever being brash or overwhelming. It’s a Fab ice-lolly of a track, bright colours, lots of fun and enjoyable enough to make you want another.


Get to know Leon Else: Website / Facebook / Twitter


Transviolet – “The Hamptons”

Next up is possibly the most infectious and catchy tune we’ve heard all year. It is certainly the one we have been entertaining the other occupants of ABHQ with the most by playing it on repeat the last few days.

We’ve loved Transviolet since their debut back in 2015 and they’ve just got better and better ever since. Taken from their latest EP, Kaleidoscopes, “The Hamptons” is a remarkably contagious little pop delight, getting under your skin and giving you a severe case of the ‘hook-hums’ while you find yourself absent-mindedly dancing from side-to-side in the kitchen.



Get to know Transviolet: Facebook / Twitter


Roma Ocean – “About You”

Something altogether more dark and twisted that Leon Else and Transviolet now, courtesy of the debut track from Roma Ocean.

Hailing from the Ukraine, Roma’s obsession with sound and music began at the age of three when he smashed his parent’s fridge because he was hungry and liked the noise it made. “About You” showcases a dark and sinewy electronica that creeps menacingly along. His voice are low and coarse, laced with foreboding and a danger that comes to life as a high pitched, terrified, vocal rears up. The beat continuing its death march atop a twisted synth line, moving stealthily along to its, and your, end.


Get to know Roma Ocean: Website / Facebook / Twitter


SHE Major – “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

The second single from SHE Major was released much more recently, just last week in fact, and already it has us lost in a whirl of soft and sumptuous vocals and mellifluous melodies.

“Je Ne Sais Quoi” is elegant and beautiful. From the piano opening to the subtle insistence of the synth swirl that accompanies it. From the unquantifiably Prince like vocal lines to the utterly compelling and gorgeous use of a bi-lingual chorus. The whole thing is divine. The strings soar and twist to the sky above this stunning monochromatic soundscape that is as majestic as it is picturesque.


Get to know SHE Major: Website / Facebook / Twitter


MXMS – “I Revenge”

Back to the darkness now, a place where we tend to find some of the best pop music, and here, lurking under a lace veil of black is where we find MXMS. It stands for ‘Me and My Shadow’ which is how Ariel and Jeremy see each other as they make music from the twisted underbelly of the soul, or ‘funeral pop’ as they call it.

Their most recent track, “I Revenge”, is a tumultuous storm of drums and piano, throwing the ships of transgressors against the rocks of retribution. It’s a boiling fury in musical form.

Ariel’s voice drifts delightfully between the light and dark, at times siren-esque, floaty and hypnotic but mostly dripping with malice and threat. This is not the voice of someone who will go quietly into the night, this is a voice of strength, of uprising and freedom. It’s rousing and iron-willed, moving from a place of pain to a place of anguished satisfaction.


Get to know MXMS: Website / Facebook / Twitter


Dano – “Your Love”

12 Jul

Over the last couple of years we have expanded our horizons a little, from being a humble blog to also dabbling in gig promotion and running our own label. It is the latter that has our attention and excitement today as we are delighted to announce the release of a debut track by a very exciting new soulful electro-pop artist, Dano, via our very own Morpheme Records.

Listening to the downtempo beats and rich soulful vocals of “Your Love” you won’t be surprised to learn that her influences include Mary J Blige, Amy Winehouse and Nina Simone. There is a fragility and emotion to her lyrics as she recalls a previous relationship, looking back on it with a maturity she admits to lacking at the time.

She is just 20 years old, yet has already managed to undertake a five-year musical journey of sonic experimentation and development as well as gigging everywhere and anywhere to help her confidence. Only now does she feel comfortable enough to share her music with us and what a wonderful starting point she has offered.

A self-taught pianist and singer-songwriter, Dano has teamed up with producer Jack to create a devilishly sinewy and brooding electronic playground for her haunting voice. The beats are hypnotic and the hook is one that’ll creep up on you days later and take over your brain.

It’s dark, emotive and infectious, just the way we like it.

“Your Love” is out now via Morpheme Records and is available to buy on iTunes.


Get to know Dano: Instagram / Twitter