Tag Archives: alphabet bands

‘P’ is for Pikoe

26 Jan

Here at Alphabet Bands, the start of every New Year means the start of a new Alphabet, and we have something rather special to open up our Class of 2018. Showcasing bright indie-pop and dark, sinewy electronica, Pikoe is a act to get excited about and take note of in 2018.

Originally beginning as a solo project for Hunting Stories Rafael Sanchez, Pikoe was never intended to be anything more than a personal project to explore a different sound. Such was the reaction to early demos posted online last year however that Rafeal soon realised it could be much more. A quick recruitment of his younger brother Jose (who has been playing in bands with his older brother since they were little) as well as music college friends Ben Marino and Michael Summer and Pikoe quickly became a four-strong band. With production coming from Patrick Taylor (of Trash Panda fame), Rafeal was ready to go to work.

Their latest release is “Suydam”, a dark echoey presence that twists and shudders hypnotically as it twists and contracts around a deliciously infectious pop hook. As the track builds it vibrates; warped electronics reach out into your mind and soul, probing and electrifying before the whole thing breaks down into a stark, thudding electro-hip-hop finale. It’s Oh Wonder meets Hezen meets Harry Edwards and it is just incredible.

“Suydam” is the second track to be taken from Pikoe’s forthcoming Songs to Dance Alone To EP, following on from the dazzlingly bright and Arcade Fire-y “Fall-N-Out”. A veritable hookapalooza, it’s big and vibrant, hugely danceable and an effortlessly fun tune that belie the heartfelt emotions contained within. It’s pretty much everything good pop music should be.

The video for “Fall-N-Out’ was made as part of the Dance Alone Film Project, an idea that will see each of the four songs on the EP have videos made by different local directors from the Bushwick, Brooklyn area. Director Mark Sylvester and producer Maggie Miller put together the video you can see below (using just an iPhone X) and “Suydam” will soon have a one-shot video from Dan Stebbins and choreographer Margaret Jones to accompany it.

This is just the beginning of what promises to be a pretty good year for Pikoe, with not only Songs To Dance Alone To due out soon, but also a second EP, Mourners/Murmurs pencilled in for late 2018. Keep an ear and an eye out for them, big things are surely ahead of them and we are absolutely delighted to kick that all off by inducting them as the first entrant to the Alphabet Bands Class of 2018.

“Suydam” is out now and available to buy from iTunes. “Suydam” is taken from the ‘Songs To Dance Alone To’ EP which is due for release on 2 March.

Get to know Pikoe: Website / Facebook / Instagram

‘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.

Five years on; so what now?

12 Sep


Five years ago, to this very day, the already named but somewhat silent Alphabet Bands was born and began to take its first steps to becoming the website that it is today. A largely silent blog.

Yes, it is somewhat ironic that while we celebrate five years of blogging, it comes after our most extended period of non-writing in that whole time. The length of our silence was not intentional, we knew there would be holidays where we wouldn’t write and that the Euro football tournament would distract us. We hadn’t appreciated that the distractions would continue though, that so many TV shows and evening activities would get in the way, that trying to improve our overall health and fitness (yes, really) would take time and so much energy that we would lack the motivation to put fingers to keyboard.

There was plenty of music we enjoyed and loved in that period, yet we still didn’t write. So we find ourselves at something of a crossroads. What do we do now?

We don’t want to end the site. Listening to and sharing music is still fun, talking about it and getting all hyperbolic and metaphorical is still rewarding and the buzz we get when bands get in touch to thank us and tell us how much it has helped is still incredible. Writing this blog has opened so many doors for us we still find it hard to believe. The number and the brilliance of the people we have met across all aspects of the industry has been amazing. The opportunities to meet, spend time with, speak to and even (to a degree) influence artists we love is one we are forever grateful for.

We have been able to film intimate acoustic sessions with some wonderful artists and we’ve managed to put on a couple of gigs – bringing some of our absolute favourites out to the wilds of Norwich to perform. We’ve even, sort of, got a record label (and people who want to work with us on it), something that could never have happened without Alphabet Bands. Most importantly, we were able to use the site, with our good buddy Breaking More Waves to raise over £1,500 for Cancer Research.

Yet we are at this crossroads. What happens next?

We’ve considered writing less (yes, we know, we’re writing nothing at all at the mo, how can we do less?) and trying to focus more on the quality than the quantity. Yet all that has done has effectively given us an excuse not to write at all.

We’ve thought about expanding out to other forms of media as well. Maybe doing long recorded interviews with artists, really getting into who they are, what and why they do what they do and finding out what makes them tick. If we did though, how should that be presented? Every man, woman and their dog has a podcast these days, do we want to just add to the noise there? Would people even want to listen?

Should we just keep doing what we have been doing? Tracks, videos and the occasional album review thrown in? Maybe try and record more sessions again? Write long-form interviews? More random features on people or labels? Random thoughts on older music, music that means something to us for various reasons perhaps?

We’re open to ideas. What do people want from a music blog these days? And when I say we, I mean me. Adam H. Should I even just start writing in the first person again? I’ve always thought that there was something more professional in using the royal we, distancing myself slightly and speaking with (hopefully) a more authoritative voice. Does that work? Do people care?

All suggestions are welcome. As I said, five years on and Alphabet Bands stands at something of a crossroads.

Which path do we take?

Here’s a wonderful tune from Penny Bridges to listen to while you think and hopefully comment with suggestions.

Thank you.