Tag Archives: Avec Sans

Avec Sans – “We Are”

4 Mar


There are few certainties in life, death and taxes are two but we’d add ‘Alphabet Bands loving everything Avec Sans do’ into the mix. We’ve talked about how much we love them, loads and after years of waiting for it, their debut album made our records of the year list for 2016. Mind you, even we were intrigued when they announced that they would be releasing a re-work of album track “We Are” as their next single. What a decision it was though.

Alongside their usual producer, the super talented Benbrick, Alice and Jack enlisted Max Dingel and Mandy Parnell (who, between them, have worked with everyone who is anyone and made them all sound amazing) for additional mixing and mastering duties.

The result is a version of a much loved album track that is as bright and effervescent as its accompanying video.

Now starting with the proud exclamation of ”We are”, the track dives headfirst into the chorus and a sea of rich, vibrant colours and textures. A warm neon rainbow of melody, electronic flourishes and sharp danceable beats washes over you as the compulsion to groove takes over. It feels bigger, bolder and more confident than its predecessor. It’s Avec Sans turned up to 11, and we love it.

”We Are” is released via Beverly Martel Records on 3 April and a limited edition cd release is available to pre-order now.

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2016 Albums of the Year

2 Jan


After listing our favourite tracks of 2016 yesterday logic dictates that today be the turn of our favourite albums. In all honesty, we’ve not listened to as many albums as we have done in past years and somehow we have always managed to have a(n unintentional) blindspot for those that usually feature on major publications end of year list. That said, our choices this year are probably more ‘on point’ than previously, while still being quite different.

Confused? So are we. Let’s get to it.

So, in Alphabetical order, here are our five favourite albums of 2016.

Avec Sans – Heartbreak Hi


After years of waiting, years of promise and quality single after quality single, blog favourites Avec Sans finally released their debut album. We’ve written extensively of our love for the electro-pop duo and theirs was probably the album we were most looking forward to. That expectation also came with some trepidation though, what if after all that build up and wait, it wasn’t that good? Thankfully, it was everything we hoped it would be and then some.

Pop banger follows pop banger as Jack’s deliciously retro-futuristic electronics and Alice’s melting ice vocal create a light show of danceable, singable and oh-so enjoyable songs. Each one is single release worthy and the whole album is a repeat listen delight, and repeat listen we did. Possibly more than any other, this was the album that got played again and again and again.

Daughter – Not to Disappear


A few listens in, not long after its release in January, we thought to ourselves ‘if Not to Disappear is not in our end of year list, it will have been an incredible year for music’. As it turned out, 2016 was a pretty decent year for new music releases but Daughter’s second album remained a high, and powerful, point.

“Doing the Right Thing” continues to provoke tears when listening. Its anguished take on dementia, told from a sufferer’s point of view, not so much tugging at heartstrings as wrenching them out by the handful while making you chop onions for hours. It is one of the saddest, most emotive tracks we’ve heard in years and its power does not diminish the more familiar you are with it.

By contrast “No Care” is powered by a visceral dissection of a less than pleasant sexual liaison. Here there is anger and disgust but the rawness and honesty remains. Indeed, Not to Disappear is startling in its openness, poignancy, accessibility and beauty. For our money it shows a real evolution and maturity from a band who have always sounded gorgeous, and now seem to have a lot more to say within it.

Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini


That Let’s Eat Grandma’s debut album I, Gemini should feature on our favourites of the year list should come as no surprise to regular readers. We’ve been fans and supporters since way back when and their appearance on Jools Holland was one of our personal music highlights of 2016.

Their music isn’t for everyone but the best thing is, we really don’t think they care. In fact, we’d wager that all the critics, bloggers and armchair opinioners take it all a lot more seriously than Rosa and Jenny do. Their sound is inventive, imaginative and entirely different to pretty much anything else out there right now. They make music for themselves, please themselves and to entertain themselves. It’s not really commercial – it’s not pop by numbers, it’s not landfill indie, it’s not even punk (though some will say it is) – it is simply the imagination and musicality of two incredibly talented teenagers left to run wild, and the results are magnificent.

Many of the tunes are pretty much the same as they were a couple of years ago, before the industry was aware of them and before their debut Latitude appearance (on the tiny Inbetweeners stage) became a thing of legend. A tip of the hat to Transgressive then for letting the pair be themselves and not trying to add significant amounts of polish or control to a sound that is at its best when it is left to just be whatever the girls want it to be.

Shura – Nothing’s Real


Rivalling Avec Sans for our most played album of the year was Shura’s debut, Nothing’s Real. Relentless in its catchiness, its warmth and its tenderness, each track is sing-a-long golddust. Like with Avec Sans, 80s influences are worn on the sleeve and like Avec Sans the results are pure pop delight.

It’s openness and empathy are a thing to behold. Unrequited love, relationships gone bad, the one that got away; we’ve all experienced it yet so often in pop music it becomes something melodramatic and unreal. Here Shura effectively opens her diary for us all to read and its charming, self-effacing and so incredibly danceable.

There’s not a weak track to be found and even the segues are sweet and delightful. It’s about as good a modern take on 80s pop as you will hear and one of the most relatable albums in years. Any by jingo you can sing the crap out of it as you drive.

Starwalker – Starwalker


Chilled and dreamy electronica is entirely our thing and the full debut album from Starwalker served up both in abundance. A perfect soundtrack for a warm evening stargazing, the self-titled release from Air’s Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Bardi Johannsson of Bang Gang is as elegant as it is mellifluous as it is enchanting, yet still with a touch of drama and edge moulded within.

It is in part a vast expanse of cinematic electronica, a bit Moon Safari in places, a bit Virgin Suicides in others. It is not just a clever Air rehash mind you (though fans will love it) it is also close, intimate, warm and infectious. “Holiday”, for example, steps out of the cool and into the bright light of the summer sun, frivolous and warm, it skips along joyously.

Elsewhere, the likes of “Losers Can Win” and “Get Me” drift and melt glacially and the whole album is a gorgeously relaxed, cool breeze of sophisticated melodies and electronica.

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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Avec Sans – “Heartbreak Hi”

2 Mar

Avec Sans

February may be done but it certainly left its mark with two very important and very welcome pieces of news. First was an announcement we weren’t waiting for as we never thought it would happen, Belly were reforming, touring and making new music (swoon). After that came the one we have been waiting years to hear and were beginning to worry would never happen. To paraphrase The Rock…

Rock Avec Sans

It’s true, it’s damn true. Our favourite retro-tastic electro-pop duo Avec Sans are at last releasing an album, this coming June, and we couldn’t be happier. Alice and Jack have been delighting us and others for the last few years with consistently fantastic pop music. They’ve been on our list of artists to listen out for in the coming year, twice, and they even made us a fabulous mixtape as part of our Blogathon. In short, we are massive fans.

To celebrate the forthcoming moment when they bestow this great gift of an album upon us, they have gone full circle and re-released their first ever original tune, “Heartbreak Hi”. Though this is a re-worked, beefed up and brilliant new version.

It begins quietly, a feeling of the fantastical imbued within the synthline as if we are about to enter The Grid or cross the dark side of the moon. The world that opens up in front of us is much brighter though. It is one of soft neon lines, of hazy sunshine and retro-future computer graphics.

Lyrically clever, Alice’s vocals are soft and alluring while singing of her heartbreak. There are no jagged edges, just the smooth glory of this polished and fabulous duo doing what they do best, making fantastic pop.

It feels like we’ve been waiting an eternity but at last an Avec Sans album is almost with us. Well done February, you were a good month. June looks like it’ll be even better though…

Avec Sans debut album will be released on 3 June (Wooo-Hooo!) and is available to pre-order here.

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2016 Preview: Artists to Listen out for Part Four

11 Dec

Listen Out For... (3)

We continue our look ahead to next year with three more acts we are particularly excited to hear more from in 2016. This part of the countdown actually includes a couple of acts we’ve got all excited about before, but then they went and hid for a year or so, so with new music just released or on the horizon, we’ve allowed ourselves a little indulgence and a lot of giddiness in writing about them again.

Don’t forget, you can also look back and see who else is getting us hot under the musical collar for next year in the previous parts of our 2016 Preview.

Part One (here)
Part Two (here)
Part Three (here)

#6 – Avec Sans

Avec Sans

After a storming and highly enjoyable 2013, Avec Sans found their way onto our 2014 preview. At the time we, and Popjustice, were jumping up and down on the bed in anticipation of their debut album. Sadly the album didn’t arrive but the pair have been in the studio recently so we are allowing our hopes to get up for 2016.

The reason we are so excited, as we pointed out back then (and it still holds true now) is because we absolutely adore their 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.

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#5 – Embers


Another band we included on our 2014 preview list was Manchester based Embers. They too had a great 2013 after bursting on the scene in explosive fashion at the end of 2012 with the remarkable “Hollow Cage”. They released a couple more tunes, played some incredible live shows (including one we saw at The Great Escape that nearly melted our face off) and then, with the world waiting with baited breath for them to own 2014, they vanished.

While that was disappointing for all us fans, the good news is that they are back, once again bursting into life as the year ends with a fantastic new tune (“The Bitten Tongue) and this time there is the promise of much more. Tunes have been written and, we hope, are ready to go. Expectation levels are high once again but we’re sure these guys can more than meet them. It might be a couple of years later than we thought, but this could be the year of Embers.

Stalk Embers: Website / Facebook / Twitter

#4 – The Japanese House


With a Zane Lowe premiered debut track a place on the Dirty Hit roster and The 1975 on production duties, The Japanese House appeared in 2015 feeling fully formed and sounding beautiful. Her two highly acclaimed EPs, Pools to Bathe In and Clean took us on magical journeys of gorgeous emotional highs and lows, all set to wondrously intricate electronic compositions.

Amber Bain dazzled us with her multi layered melodies and beguiling androgynous vocal. Icy production freezes crisp digital beats and hearts before melting away in the warmth of the synth lines and those near distorted harmonies. It is utterly gorgeous stuff and no wonder that she has appeared on many a list this year, including the Blog Sound of 2016.

Expect to see her on more before the year is out and with rumours of an album to come next year, expect to find her on many a Best Of… list in 12 months time as well.

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