Tag Archives: Blood Orange

2013 Tracks Of The Year – #15 – 11

10 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 15-11

Hello and welcome to part three of our countdown of the 25 tracks this year that we loved more than any other. Parts one and two (where we listed the tracks that took the number 25 – 16) are here and here, and below we reveal who made it into the Top 15 and came oh so close to breaking the Top10.

But before that, as is customary, here’s a quick reminder of the random rules we have imposed upon ourselves. Feel free to skip this bit if you have already read it on the other posts.

The song doesn’t have to be an actual single and while that may seem a bit of a cheat, there’s a good reason behind it. We are looking at tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months so that amazing album tracks will also be considered. We must note though, if a track was released online this year but will become a single next, then it won’t be included. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

Ok, let’s crack on with songs 15 – 11. Enjoy.

#15 Velvet Two Stripes – “Fire”

While it may seem that the majority of the music we have loved this year has been floaty light and dreamy or full on bright coloured electro-pop, we have still been prone to the odd moment of rocking, and that’s where the ladies of Swiss trio Velvet Two Stripes come in. “Fire” could, we said, be the soundtrack to a Jason Statham starring actioner, all cut scenes and bad-ass walking while the track (and numerous incidental items in the background) explodes around him. Sara wields her guitar like a weapon of mass destruction, letting fly with grinding, wailing licks that could bring a city to its knees and “Fire” is a bluesy riff driven slice of ka-boom that will stir heart, mind and anywhere else that could do with some life injecting into it.

#14 Violet – “Where The Wild Things Grow”

Back in February, we fell hard for a demo from Pixie Geldof’s Violet, properly hard. So much so that the haunting and delicate string arrangement and deep, languid vocals of “Where The Wild Things Grow” has lingered on rotation ever since. While we continue to wait patiently for a fully mastered version that thus far hasn’t come, we remain bewitched by the demo’s rich, soaring beauty and more Lana than Lana sensibilities. It is simply gorgeous.

#13 Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

In the Kindness directed video for “Chamakay”, the lead single from the second Blood Orange album, Cupid Deluxe, Dev Hynes can be seen busting out some old school Michael Jackson-esque moves in a variety of locations. We totally get why. It’s hard to listen to the smooth, soulful melodies without feeling compelled to indulge in a little armography and leg flickering yourself. Featuring the sultry voice of Caroline Polachek from Chairlift, “Chamakay” channels Terence Trent D’arby, D’Angelo and “Liberian Girl” crooning MJ into slow jam R’n’B grooves as a sexy sax sound disguises the heaviness of emotion within. Like Polachek’s vocal, the track is alluring and exotic, like the silhouette of a belly dancer seen across a smoky room, undulating and mesmerising all who are lucky enough to cast their eyes upon her.

#12 Ms Mr – “Fantasy”

Featuring Lizzie’s now trademark husky vocals, “Fantasy” saw MS MR embark on something bigger and more vibrant than their previous tracks. Painting from a broader palette, the result is a wonderful explosion of pop sound and colour; it’s effervescent and infectious. The drums are incessant, driving pulsating rhythms that evoke memories of Florence and the Machine but while never losing any of that glorious MS MR darkness and intrigue. “Fantasy” is a tune that should be sung loudly while dancing to wildly.

#11 Dancing Years – “Here’s To My Old Friends”

Our first exposure to Leeds based five-piece Dancing Years came in the form of soaring orchestral beauty and watercolours of emotion and sentiment. Their debut single, “Here’s To My Old Friends” plucks at the heartstrings, especially of those older listeners whose friends are no longer seen as often as they might like. Like reading an old diary or looking through an old photo album, it’s full of warm remorse, happy memories that bring a smile to your face and a tear to the eye. Like watching the sun set on the last day of summer, it’s plaintive and beautiful and as the sun finally falls, the violins rise and let out a mournful, yearning cry for a time that is gone but will never be forgotten.

Later on today we’ll reveal who made it into the Top 10 and then tomorrow, it’s the Top 5 and our favourite track of the year!

Listen: Blood Orange – “You’re Not Good Enough”

31 Oct

Blood Orange You're Not Good Enough

Halloween is great for a number of reasons. Obviously the increased sweet eating allowance is one, as is carving the pumpkins and watching scary movies, but Halloween also serves as a great milestone of where we are in the year and more importantly what is left to come. Usually Halloween means that bonfire night is just around the corner and then Christmas will be upon us in next to no time. But this year there is an additional event of great significance between bonfire night and Christmas that the arrival of Halloween means we are ever closer to; the release of the new Blood Orange album on 18 November.

Another marker in the sand for the forthcoming album is the release online of the second single from it, “You’re Not Good Enough”. A crushingly honest appraisal of a previous relationship, the protagonist’s own shortcomings and self-doubt as well as the perceived failings of his lover, all set to trademark Dev Hynes grooves that immediately evoke Prince in his 80’s pomp.

Featuring his current squeeze, Samantha Urbani, on husky soulful backing vocals, the track is lyrical oil poured on funked out water and the result is a spectacular, glorious rainbow. It’s beautiful to behold as the light catches it, but at the end of the day, someone has to clean up the mess or things will only get worse, friendships will suffer, self loathing will increase and people will keep getting hurt.

It is, as ever with Mr. Hynes, a fantastic piece of R&B infused, groovy pop with a killer bass line, disco-funk riffs and a sweet keyboard solo. “You’re Not Good Enough” is full of such beautiful, danceable gloom; a poisoning of the purity of love with the reality of life to create a wonderfully translucent heartache.

’Cupid Deluxe’ is due for release on 18 November and can be pre-ordered here.

Read more about: Blood Orange

Stalk Blood Orange: Facebook / Tumblr

Watch: Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

16 Sep

Blood Orange Chamakay

Last week, on our blog birthday no less, the world was treated to an eagerly awaited new track from the musical Chameleon that is Dev Hynes. We like to think it was a little birthday present for us here at Alphabet Bands, but obviously we know the truth.

Continuing in his most recent incarnation as Blood Orange, Dev has somehow found time amongst all the writing and producing he does for a legion of other musicians to record a new album, Cupid Deluxe, which, if it is half as good as Coastal Grooves, could well end up as one of the year’s best.

“Chamakay” features the sultry voice of Caroline Polachek from Chairlift which combine and cavort with Dev’s own which here channel Terence Trent D’arby, D’Angelo and “Liberian Girl” crooning MJ.

Smooth, soulful melodies, slow jam R’n’B grooves and a sexy sax sound disguise the heaviness of emotion within. It’s a bit like a solo walk by a contemplative moonlit lake seen from a distance; a beautiful voyeuristic peep into the uneasy realisation that the rose tinted memory of the one that got away still haunts the heart.

Like Polachek’s vocal, the track is alluring and exotic, like the silhouette of a belly dancer seen across a smoky room, no doubt performing some of the smooth moves Dev himself is seen busting out in the video (which was directed by Adam Bainbridge, aka Kindness, and which you can see below).

”Chamakay” is out now on iTunes and ‘Cupid Deluxe’ is, according to Dev, coming soon.

Stalk Blood Orange: Facebook / Tumblr

Free Download: Phoenix – “Entertainment (Blood Orange Remix)”

28 Mar


If it is true that careers can have purple patches, then Dev Hynes must currently be in the midst of a patch so purple it has been classified as the most purple thing in the world by President Purplely Purple of Purple Land. So purple is it that Prince has been heard to exclaim ‘damn, that’s purple’ and Quality Street are thinking of rebranding their Big Purple One chocolate as it cannot compete. What we are trying to say is that he is at the top of his game right now and everything he touches turns to purple gold.

He has always been crazy talented and always been equally prolific, but with under his Blood Orange guise he has reached new heights and seemingly new levels of productivity. As well as crafting his own amazing album, propelling Solange to near-superstardom by co-writing/producing/working on funky choreography, working with and writing for artists such as Sky Ferreira and Diana Vickers, he is now working with the Origibabes, or Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan as they are officially known.

He also remixes.

Sorry we should say, he also remixes brilliantly. With the vocal assistance of the Origibabes he has taken the explosion of colour and sound that was the clarion call of Phoenix’s return from the wildnerness, slowed it the funk down and sexed that groove up to 11. “Entertainment” is now full of the trademark Blood Orange bass vibes, the slightly sleazy undertones and harmonies a-go-go. We know the rest of the world has already blogged this but you know what, we don’t care. It’s worth shouting about.

Listen and download for free below.

Phoenix release their new album, Bankrupt!, on 22 April on Atlantic / Glassnote and play a special one-off (and sold out) London show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on the same day.

Albums Of The Year – Part 2, The Full List

16 Dec

Well folks here we are, the end of another year. So far Adam S and I have looked at our favourite tracks (part one & part two), gigs and EPs of the year.

Yesterday we started the countdown of our 50 favourite albums of 2011 and now, today, right here on Alphabet Bands, we will complete the countdown with one big list and the unveiling of the Top 5.

It’s been a cracking year for music and we are already extremely excited for what 2012 has in store. Business will return to normal next week with a couple of reviews etc and then it will all kick off again in January with more additions to the Alphabet Bands family, new videos, sounds and interviews, as well as the odd focus on deserving artists. We can’t wait; hope you are looking forward to it as well.

For now though, let’s finish our look back at 2011 with a big old list of some of the very best albums of the year. These are my personal choices of albums that I have really loved this year, nothing more than that.

To the list.

50. Young The GiantYoung The Giant
49. The Civil WarsBarton Hollow
48. Lamb5
47. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes
46. Wolf Gang Suego Faults
45. St. Vincent Strange Mercy
44. Lanterns On The Lake Gracious Tide, Take Me Home
43. Iron & Wine Kiss Each Other Clean
42. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi
41. Blouse Blouse
40. Hercules & Love Affair Blue Songs
39. Danger Mouse & Danielle Lupi Rome
38. Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
37. Washed Out Within and Without
36. WU-LYF Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
35. The Decemberists The King is Dead
34. Raekwon Shaolin VS Wu-Tang
33. Radiohead The King of Limbs
32. Braids Native Speaker
31. Cashier No.9 To The Death Of Fun
30. Twin Sister In Heaven
29. Treelight For Sunlight A Dream Before Sleep
28. The Phoenix FoundationBuffalo
27. EnnuiFormation Of Tide
26. DestroyerKaputt
25. Friendly Fires Pala
24. Fenech-Soler Fenech-Soler
23. Nerves Junior As Bright As Your Night Light
22. Cults Cults
21. Arctic Monkeys Suck It And See
20. Nicola RobertsCinderella’s Eyes
19. Apparat The Devil’s Walk
18. White Denim D
17. SBTRKT Sbtrkt
16. Mara Carlyle Floreat
15. Yuck Yuck
14. Talib Kweli Gutter Rainbows
13. Youth LagoonThe Year Of Hibernation
12. Kyle AndrewsRobert Learn Love
11. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
10. Ladytron Gravity The Seducer
9. Caveman Coco Beware
8. Joan As Policewoman The Deep Field
7. Summer Camp Welcome to Condale
6. Metronomy The English Riviera

And now, the final five. Enjoy…

5. Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Panther Sounds

Embracing the old and drawing influence from artists of yesteryear is not the most difficult thing to do in music; the real trick is making it sound entirely new and unique. With Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Christopher Owens et al have done just that. We‘re not talking about the kind of ‘making this sound your own’ that Louis Walsh bellows at every karaoke performer he sees on a Saturday night. No, we’re talking about the heartache tinged sadness of a prog-rock guitar solo, the jaunty pop sounds of a mainstream head bobber, the grind of early nineties Seattle based bands, all thrown together with delicate and emotionally raw lyrics and vocals. This is an album so carefully and beautifully crafted, with such exquisite melodies and musicality. Girls have truly established themselves as one of the most exciting bands around and in Father… they have produced an album that will remain on stereos long into 2012 and beyond.

Get the album here

4. Cut / Copy Zonoscope
Modular Recordings

Make no mistake, Zonoscope is an exquisitely crafted record. Embracing a multitude of styles and influences, Cut Copy produced something very much of the time, yet quite retro feeling, something that is unmistakably antipodean, yet that infuses an energy and sounds from across the globe. From the beginning, in “Need You Now”, we are treated to over minute of a simple, yet infectious, repetitive beat that behooves the listener to nod away in time. Already you’re hooked, enthralled in its trance. When Whitford’s vocals kick in (which are perfectly suited to this form of pop music) it is like the hypnotist whispering instructions and like that, you’re gone, whisked off to a vast metropolis, bursting with skyscrapers spinning all around you as you run, searching for your loved one amongst the madness as the whole album opens out in front of you like an electro-funk labyrinth, waiting to be explored. This is a superb piece of tropical, tribal and groove-tastic synth-pop. Get it and enjoy it.

Get the album here

3. Cocknbullkid Adulthood
Island/Moshi Moshi

Anita Blay is blessed with the kind of voice that made millions fall in love with Sade and then Skye Edwards all those years ago. It is heavenly and her songs are like ambrosia, uplifting and revitalizing, even when the subject matter is dark and melancholy. Dealing with her spiritually confusing upbringing and teenage depression, it is never an album that feels self-indulgent or melancholy. It is bright, colourful and, quite simply, this is a stunning album of pure pop delight and should be heard by as many people as possible.

Get the album here

2. Blood Orange Coastal Grooves
Domino Records

Given our well publicised love for Devonté Hynes, it should come as no real surprise to anyone that he features on this end of year list. Nor, really, should it come as a surprise that it is for an album recorded under yet another moniker and showcasing a further step in his musical evolution. Hynes is unquestionably an incredibly talented guy. He’s not quite 26 and is already onto his third musical incarnation, following on from previous efforts with Test Icicles and as Lightspeed Champion. Each manifestation too has seen a stylistic jump, he has retained little of his indie-pop sound and instead dived headfirst into an altogether seedier, late 80’s, funk inspired world. Each of the ten songs are a triumph, with exquisite electric guitar patterns and riffs coupled with Hynes’ customary lyrical expertise, he has channelled his inner-Prince to dazzling effect. Coastal Grooves is Hynes’ most complete and accomplished album and on any other year, would probably have sat comfortably atop this list.

Get the album here

1. Kuedo Severant
Planet Mu Records

There is no point wasting anyone’s time, this album is stunning. It’s as simple as that. Severant, as you will soon hear, is heavily influenced by Blade Runner and the sublime beauty of the Vangelis soundtrack that accompanied it. ” I wanted to capture a really futurist sentiment, kind of melancholy and grand luminescent, so I used the instrument that most evokes that for me – that sweeping Vangelis brass sound”, explained Jamie Teasdale (a.k.a. Kuedo). He nailed it. Like the staccato drums, the brass is almost ubiquitous throughout, swirling and swooping through your ears.

You cannot listen to Severant without being transported to some dark, dystopian future. It consumes you, close your eyes and you can see the spacecraft cruising above the gargantuan, neon encrusted skyscrapers, all while the rain teems down around you. Vangelis may be the predominant influence, but there are others. Jazz, hip-hop, drum and bass, UK road rap; all have been taken in, broken down and reconstructed to create dazzling, multi-layered soundscapes. When you’re not staring at this wondrous megalopolis you have been transported to, your head will be nodding, the beat taking you round the corner to the next delight.

There is a lot of synth music in the UK right now, there is a lot of dubstep in the UK as well; none of it sounds like this. Nothing even comes close to sounding as intelligent or as complete as this. You could quite easily find yourself lost in Kuedo’s world for quite some time; it’s a great place to be.

Get the album here

So there you have it, my favourite albums of the year. Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think and any that you think I’ve missed.