Tag Archives: Abi Wade

2014 Preview – Listen Out For – The Full List, and a little extra…

7 Dec

2014 Previews The Full List

So, after a week and a half and 15 individual posts, our countdown of artists we think you should Listen Out For in 2014 is complete. Before we crack on (next week) with our end of year lists, for those amongst you who are lazy/busy/just like things all in one place (delete as applicable), we have collated the full selection of artists below with a handy soundcloud playlist of all 15 for your enjoyment. Should you wish to read more about each, just click on their name to see the full article.

AND, as if that wasn’t enough, we even have a little bonus below the playlist of the acts who almost made the 15 but who we felt were too good to leave off entirely. Some honourable mentions if you will.

#15 – Mega Emotion

”Full of big brash sounds, riffage and booming beats it also features soothing vocals and retro-sensibilities. It’s raw and powerful but calm and quiet too, like a circus muscle man cuddling a poodle or something.”

#14 – Mononoke

”What we do know is that she is blessed with quite a voice and, judging by her debut track “Alice”, song writing talent. With her tragically beautiful lament to a little girl trapped in a grown up world, a life of lost love, apathy and melancholy, she has set the bar very high.”

#13 – Port Isla

“As well as being super talented, they are the kind of lovely people that you just want to do well. They make such enthusiastic and warm music that you can’t help but like them.”

#12 – NONONO

”“Pumpin Blood” is the track that has broken out everywhere, with its ‘gets under your skin’ whistle. You may not know it, but you would probably recognise it. Big and brash, vibrant and frenetic, it’s the seven dwarves whistling while they work having dropped some acid and taken speed.”

#11 – Fractures

”…the gorgeous dreamy electro sounds of “Twisted”, complete with soft, soulful falsetto vocals that would stop a rhino’s heart, and the evocative crescendos of atmospheric folksiness on “Embers” were soon joined by the fabulous “Cadence” and “Tizer”.”

#10 – Embers

”They played two sets at The Great Escape, one in a grand high-ceilinged venue that allowed their music to spread and soar, the other in the cramped space of the Mesmerist pub where their sound exploded out at the audience, pummelling them with intensity and energy as veins bulged and sinews strained. It was one of the most intense, in your face performances we saw all year and we loved it.”

#9 –

”She is an artist that creates genuine excitement and a buzz of anticipation whenever she is about to perform. She even had the audacity to upstage the headlining AlunaGeorge on her recent UK tour and won many more fans in so doing.”

#8 – Pale

”It’s synth pop but ice cold, too cold even for Van Damme as it slides along stealthily like a glacier, taking you in its cool hand off to a world of desolate beauty. A world where the stark surroundings, the bleakness and desolation carry a majestic splendour, it’s not a world of disrepair but one that has been lovingly tended and cultured.”

#7 – Pawws

”Our love for the music of Pawws was immediate and full on, an infatuation. Her music is instantly accessible and enjoyable with influences from the likes of Robyn, Annie and Madonna and vocals that are beautifully sweet and heartfelt. She can do big vibrant rainbows of sound, all danceable and bright and she can do genteel and calm as well.”

#6 – Gems

”The vocals are sweet and breathless, a whispered caress on a smooth gossamer breeze of synths and electronic beats. Weightless and elegant, like moments of purity handed down from above, unsullied and unspoiled for us to enjoy and bathe in their beauty.”

#5 – Iyes

”They make pop music, but it’s not homogenised pre-packaged pop, it’s edgy and different but with enough accessibility to transcend the blogosphere and break the mainstream consciousness. Like Chvrches but without as many 80’s reference points and fewer lasers.”

#4 – Lyla Foy

”The songs are reflective and the arrangements offer an intimacy to the listener, a closeness brought from the instrumentation, the emotion and purity of the music and lyrics. It’s delicate, like the frayed edges of a heart whose thread could be pulled at any moment, and it’s utterly gorgeous.”

#3 – Avec Sans

”What they do so well, and what we absolutely adore, is make fantastically upbeat and danceable tunes. Electro sparkles and beats flash and pulse like a grand firework display against a night sky of synths and melody. Choruses are made to be sung along to while your feet tap and shuffle, heads nod, arms twist and bodies convulse in rhythmical movement; sprung into life by the infectious and compelling sounds.”

#2 – Empress Of

”Her music is addictive and tingle making, high art meets pop accessibility in the most gorgeous manner. Seductive tones, swirling melodies that draw you in and buffet you gently along as the beats take synths by the hand and swoon and sway along like cavorting partners, clinging to each other in the low light of a slow dance.”

#1 – Sivu

”He is a beguiling artist, telling tales born in the shadows of anguish, or inspired by theology in a rousing and heartswelling manner. Acoustic sounds marble with electronic embellishments, strings ebb and flow with the tide and all the while, introspections and observations pour out like nectar for our soul. It is entirely possible, ironically, to lose yourself in his lightly rasping voice and warm melodies. Even when singing “Coldhands” is like a walk across a warm yellow corn field on a calm day, fingers running over the tops of the long stems as they are rustled by a gentle breeze.”


Honourable Mentions…

Curxes

Curxes

If you’re wondering what that massive kaboom sound was just then, it was your senses under attack and your brain screaming out for more. Portsmouth/Brighton pair Curxes make blitz-pop and there’s no escape from its aural magnificence and energy. Last year they were one of the most blogged about artists in the UK (despite having no PR or representation) and while 2013 has been comparatively quiet, the new songs they played for us at Norwich Sound and Vision in October are sounding amazing and could take them to a whole new level in 2014.


Strangers

Strangers London Lights

We’ve been championing the case for this London trio for some time now and with their debut EP on the way, and a follow up scheduled for the new year it could well be that the breakthrough they’ve threatened for so long could be about to happen. Their dark hued electro pop is common cold level catchy but immensely enjoyable and danceable. And while you can get your groove on whilst sneezing your face inside out, we wouldn’t recommend it. Get down to some Strangers instead, it’s much more fun.


Jack Robert Hardman

jack_robert_hardman

Our main man Jack. As our ‘H’ artist we have been following the fortunes of Mr Hardman for a while now and we feel that bigger and better things are just around the corner. His debut album made our end of year list in 2012 and while this year has been more about remixing and a charming little video (below), 2014 should be all about JRH. There’s a new EP on the way, with guest vocalists and artists a-go-go and judging by the unfinished demos we heard a couple of months back, it’s going to be a beauty.


Abi Wade

Abi Wade

One woman, one cello, two foot pedals and an array of sound, melody, rhythms and innovation. Yes, she is a pair of cymbals between her knees away from full-on-market-square-one-man-band-status, but while that shark remains unjumped she is an incredible live performer and musician. She’s got the songs to back it up as well, beautiful and soothing but also full of drama and emotion when they need to be. She’s been writing recently so hopefully that means an album could be on the way in 2014.


Leon Else

Leon Else

Be it fantastical and mystical or very much down to earth and even carnal, Leon Else can and will deliver a tune and half with the deep but light rumbling vocal at its heart. He sees the world slightly differently from most of us but that just makes his music all the more interesting and captivating. With radio play from the likes of Radio 1 and Amazing Radio already under his belt, 2014 could well see his proclamation that the future is


Laura Welsh

Laura Welsh

Laura’s sophisticated, R&B infused pop has passed through our inbox on the odd occasion over the last few months and while we always very much enjoyed it, other commitments meant we never quite got round to writing about it (despite intending to). On seeing her supporting London Grammar recently, we were instantly filled with regret that said posts never made it out of our heads and onto the page. She was fantastic. Big danceable sounds were offset with a deceptively big and powerful vocal and softer, gentler moments were treated with care and affection. 2014 should be a big one for Laura and we won’t be making the mistake of not writing about her again, trust us.


Don’t you wonder sometimes? Norwich Sound and Vision Festival review

15 Oct

NSV13

It’s been a couple of days now and frankly we are still buzzing. This year’s Norwich Sound and Vision festival ended on a rather ridiculous high for the Alphabet Bands crew as we put on a ”stellar line up” (as described to us by 6Music’s Tom Robinson) that featured fantastic performances from Curxes, Strangers and Waylayers. We’ll talk about that some more later, but there was more to our festival experience than just our own showcase, so, to borrow a review style from our good friends at Breaking More Waves, here are four things we learnt at this year’s festival.

Conferencing isn’t just for the industry.
The conference side is a big part of Sound and Vision, bigger actually this year than ever before with new sectors covered across a number of venues. For the first time ever some of the panels were also live-streamed online thanks to taking part in a former Anglia TV studio to help reach an even wider audience. But that doesn’t mean they were just for people in the industry, far from it. The music panels alone contained lots of useful information for up and coming bands, like what not to put in your music videos (swimming pools and boat-lounging are particular no-no’s apparently), how to and how not to approach interviews, how to get radio play and many others. There was also a rather inspirational talk by Jamal Edwards, who is so subtly charismatic that it’s almost no wonder he is so successful, and panels for budding comedy writers, Dr. Who enthusiasts, game and interactive software developers, workshops for young musicians etc etc. The list goes on and all were enjoyed and appreciated by those in attendance, very few of whom were industry representatives.

There are unexpected gems to be found everywhere.
They didn’t even have to be playing as was the case with one of our favourite new discoveries of the festival, Treasureseason. One half of this Norwich based chilled-out-dreampop duo had volunteered to help out this year and was assigned to assist at our showcase and 24hours later, we had bought and downloaded their latest EP. We’ll be featuring more from them in the coming weeks, have no doubt about that.


You could also find some exceptional music being performed in a quiet corner somewhere, and we’re pleased to say we did at the very first show we saw. Even though we had heard Abi Wade’s music, nothing quite prepared us for the show that was to come as she sat, resplendent in her silver/grey jumpsuit/onesie and captivated the entire audience. Plucking, strumming and bowing her cello wasn’t enough as she simultaneously played two more percussive elements with her feet, sang and tapped out multi-tonal beats on the cello shell (the shello?), all at the same time. A bit like a one-man-band but without the shambolic connotations and just brilliant instead. She wasn’t even fazed when a connection failed mid-song, she just did a quick straw poll of the audience (all while still playing) and carried on with a democratically chosen acoustic version. Her songs were bloody good too, beautiful and soothing but also full of drama and emotion when they needed to be. After seeing a set of such varied and impressive musical-multi-tasking we had to ask her one vital question and we can confirm that yes, Abi can pat her head and rub her tummy at the same time.


People still want to rock out.
Once again this year, perhaps more so than in the recent past, there have been claims that the oft heralded return of guitar music is in full swing and cannot be denied. However, there can be no question that in reality it has been pop, synths and electronics that have once again dominated in 2013 and that the guitars haven’t quite broken back through. Despite this, people quite clearly still want to rock out to some rawkus guitars, big riffs and thunderous drums, as was evidenced by Drenge and Pins being the sweatiest (from the crowd) shows we saw. Special mention must go to the Pins ladies who were sipping red wine in between driving the audience crazy with their energy laden tunes. Class and quality, a heady combination.

Festivals are better when you have your own show.
NSV Poster 4We mentioned it before but understandably, the Alphabet Bands showcase was the highlight of our entire festival featuring, as it did, three bands we really, really wanted to see play live. Taking place at Olives, which was all low ceiling and lower lighting, the trio of Curxes, Strangers and Waylayers nearly blew the windows out with performances of energy and excitement that had the crowd on their feet and more than one audience member’s jaw on the floor in amazement.

Curxes especially were astounding, showcasing some new material (one loud, one soft, both fantastic) amongst older favourites (“Haunted Gold” has been stuck in our head ever since) as Roberta came out onto the floor to dance and sing, Macaulay rocked out on guitar and Strangers’ Raife (on double-duty) brought the electro-beats with panache.

Strangers brought the boogie as their infectious-you-like-darkness–infused electro-pop caused many a reveller to push to the front for a dance while the crowd-singing along to “Safe/Pain” was a goosbumps moment. Like Roberta, David came out to the floor to sing, literally bringing the songs to the crowd who lapped it up and called out for more as all too quickly the boys with the Timberlake-meets-The-Cure sound finished their set. Time flies when you’re having fun.

It went quickly for the Waylayers crew as well as they filled the room with their vast, atmospheric synths sounds. Hearing tunes that are so clearly suited for giant fields with huge crowds all singing them back in such a tight space made the night feel even more special. It’s little wonder they are beginning to make an impact in the States and is surely only a matter of time before chart recognition comes from these shores as well. As they drew their set, and the evening, to a close with the magnificent “Magnets” (which we enjoyed a sing-a-long to ourselves) the crowd left satisfied and excited, which is exactly how we felt but with added pride chuffed-ness.


We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make the night happen. Adrian, Jenny and Rosie from NS&V, Ian and Access to Music, Matt, Chris and Luke for the kit and the sound, Andie from Sessions Productions for promotion and all round assistance, Geoff at Olives for the best rum and coke we had all weekend and Treasureseason’s Dave for working the door. Oh, and Mr. Tom Robinson of course, for putting a rather wonderful cherry on top of a very special cake.

See you next year.

Norwich Sound & Vision: Day 1 – Gig Preview

10 Oct

It’s a chilly Thursday morning in October here in Norwich and we are as excited as a child at Christmas. Why? Because it is the first day of our favourite holiday, the three day Norwich Sound and Vision Festival. As promised yesterday, here is the first of our daily gig previews. We’ll see you there.

NSV13 Thursday

Day 1 – Thursday
The honour of effectively opening the festival (well, they are the first band to play according to the latest timetable we have seen) fittingly goes to a Norwich band, though this year is a little bit different. The Neutrinos kick things off with one of eight scheduled performances over the festival, all taking place in their house. Because why not right? Obviously attendance at these shows must be booked in advance.

Over in more traditional venues the quality is there from the start with likes of Box Of Light (with whom we shall forever be intrinsically linked) headlining the Access To Music stage at Olives, ably supported by Eyes In Istanbull who feature the outstanding Ollie Rudge in their number (times tbc). There is also the fantastically named Let’s Eat Grandma on the Young People’s Stage over at The Garage. We’ve never heard of them but are sorely tempted based on their name alone.

Over at The Birdcage rising stars Abi Wade (20:45) and George Ezra (21:30) – a man our good friends at Breaking More Waves have been getting a bit googly over (though they do have a worrying fascination with his lips – precede the highly anticipated Lady Lamb The Beekeeper (22:00).

Our good friends at Open are getting a little bit Oh-la-la for the evening as they host the French Export Showcase with the likes of Mesparrow (19:30), Brns (20:30) and We Were Evergreen (22:30) bringing a bit of European flair to proceedings.

The wonderful guys and gals of Artrocker have returned to the festival once again and once again have taken over the Hog and Armour for the duration. Thursday night sees them start as they mean to go on with local favourites There’s Someone In The Pond (20:00), the superb and much loved (as well as being critical darlings) Pins (21:40) and then the bonkersly brilliant Comanechi.

Finally for Thursday, the festival’s home, the Norwich Arts Centre, will be playing host to two exciting showcases. In the bar Norwich’s finest, Wombat Wombat, will be hosting some storming up and coming acts including The Mondegreens (21:00) and DOE (21:50) before closing with another of our favourites (and technically speaking, the first band we ever put on ourselves), Horse Party (23:00). Meanwhile, in the main room PRS will host No Ceremony (21:15) and Ghostpoet (22:00). Get down early for that one we reckon.

Where we’ll be:
With even more venues being used this year, we expect a number of people may well be tempted to bed down in one location and stay for the evening, especially when the headliner will be one the de-facto big names of the festival. Not us of course, with so much fantastic new music on the go, we will be hotfooting it from one venue to another, hoping to see as much as possible (but probably missing quite a lot too).

So, our first entirely unachievable plan will see us variously at Olives for Eyes in Istanbull and The Birdcage for Abi Wade and George Ezra. Though, no offence George, we’ll be leaving sharpish to catch some, if not all, of the Pins set at the Hog and Armour before heading to the Arts Centre for No Ceremony, Ghostpoet and Horse Party.

Tracks of the Day






For more information on the festival as a whole and a full list of performers and a programme of gigs, visit the Norwich Sound and Vision website.