Tag Archives: Curxes

Curxes – “What You Want”

30 Apr

Curxes

Earlier this week we spoke about the excitement of finally getting something you’ve been waiting ages for. In that instance it was the exhilarating new single from Avec Sans and we continue the theme today with another blog love, Curxes.

In the interests of full disclosure we haven’t yet got the thing that we have eagerly been anticipating for, well a couple of years now, but it’s almost here. The debut album from the blitz-pop duo (trio? Roberta and Macaulay have a Camille now, she likes to hit things – drums we hope) arrives next week and we are a bit like a kid on Christmas Eve, hyped up and impatient. From the pre-order details we know that Verxes includes old favourites (“Avant Guarded” and “Further Still” for example) and, with the release yesterday of “What You Want”, new delights.

It’s a bit more pop and a bit less blitz than we’ve become accustomed to, a bit more dancey but still edgy. It’s still sharp, and full of flashing laser light electronics and Roberta’s vocals are forceful and determined, backed with an almost defiant chanting of the title that feels part protest, part battle cry.

It’s brash and bold with retro 80s sounds, attitude and a cracking hook. It’s a fantastic appetiser for the main course we’ve been hungrily waiting for and in less than a week, we can all tuck in.

”What You Want” is taken from the debut Curxes album, ‘Verxes’, out on 4 May. You can pre-order the album here.


Stalk Curxes: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Watch: A bunch of video goodies

30 Dec

TV Screen

In the last few days we have returned to our normal style of blogging after the December list-o-mania and we’ve also started to re-visit some stuff that we never got round to whilst racking our brain about our various and numerous favourites (2014 Previews, Tracks, EPs and Albums of the Year). In particular there have been a bunch of new videos that have come out in recent weeks that we’ve really enjoyed and, because we aren’t quite ready to give up listing things just yet, here are four that we particularly loved. Where we have written about the songs before, we have posted links to the original posts as well, for your added enjoyment and information. We are kind like that you see.


Spring Offensive – “The River”

Oxfordshire’s Spring Offensive really seem to love water. After the dark, stirring beauty of “Not Drowning, But Waving” last year, they have released “The River” and for the video, filled a car with water before smashing in the windscreen. Because, why not? The song is fantastic, as we discussed when reviewing it earlier this year, and the video is too. Check it out below.


Read our original post.


Paper Crows – “Anomaly”

For a song that is infused with a sense of barely contained menace, the video for Paper Crows’ “Anomaly” may not be the big budget, explosion laden spectacle that we envisioned, but it still manages to convey a sense of danger. The skittish approach gives off a vibe of malevolence and unease and while we’d have loved a bit more destruction and hellfire raining down from above, it’s still a great video.


Read our original post.


Curxes – “Avant Guarded”

Budgies and pop music. We’re not sure there are many instances of the two becoming entangled in each other’s world but for “Avant Guarded”, Curxes have brought them together in a moment of surreal magnificence.


Read our original post.


Chlöe Howl – “Rumour”

An artist we have heard mentioned a lot, and about whom many people have spoken at length, Chlöe Howl was another of those singers we had somehow managed not to actually hear in 2013. All that changed a couple of days ago though with the release of a new video for the re-released “Rumour”, a hook laden pop attack on the senses. Vibrant and bright, this promo sees Miss Howl taking on and beating a number of hard-nosed chess bastards before ultimately turning over the grand beard at the head of the table. We have no idea what this has to do with rumours, or gossip or trying to work out how to be like oneself, but it looks amazing and the song is a little pop cracker.



2013 Tracks Of The Year – #5 – 1

11 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 5-1

It’s the final countdown, as some wise men once sang, as today we reach the Top 5, and therefore the pinnacle, of our Tracks of the Year feature. When we started the list on Monday, we noted that ” These then are the tracks that really stood out and stayed with us across the year, and we mean the whole year, many of these tracks have been out a number of months and we keep coming back to them time and time again, that’s how good they are”, and you’ll see from the list below that we weren’t joking. All five tracks were released in the first half of the year and three of them before March was over.

Often tracks from the beginning of a year can get forgotten, overtaken by newer, shinier songs that are fresh in the mind and ears. But these five have remained fresh in our ears because their quality is so high, we haven’t really stopped listening to them since they came out.

Before we tell you what they are, here’s a quick link-a-thon to the other Tracks of the Year posts and the previous 20 of our favourite songs of 2013.

Part One – Tracks #25 – 21
Part Two – Tracks #20 – 16
Part Three – Tracks #15 – 11
Part Four – Tracks #10 – 6

Now then, here we go with our Top 5 favourite tracks of 2013. Enjoy.


#5 Sivu – “Better Man Than He”

The debut track of our number one artist to Listen Out For in 2014, Sivu’s “Better Man Than He” probably resonates and touches us more now, nearly a whole year after it was released, than it did when we first heard it. Brimming with elegance and sophistication, it is blessed with the kind of understated beauty that can take your breath away. It sounds so simple but the sounds have been deftly woven by a skilled craftsman to disguise their intricacy as well as their intimacy. It was written for a friend who was battling depression, offering them hope and a light ahead in the form of delicate and enchanting melodies, and it is this poignancy and heartfelt emotion that helps set it apart even from his most recent and spectacular tunes.


#4 Young Hunting – “Annabelle”

One of the greatest pieces of musical storytelling we heard all year came from Los Angeles quintet, Young Hunting. The standout track of a wondrously understated and gorgeous debut album, “Annabelle” might just be one of the most heartwrenchingly beautiful things we’ve ever heard. There are no extraneous flourishes; no flamboyances and each detail augments the narrative of the lyrics and aural caresses of the musical arrangements. The drumbeat acts as harbinger of the woe to come, a slowed down take on the drums that would precede an execution, and the trumpets which join as denouement is reached are a mournful lament for the loss experienced. It sounds divine, gentle melodies and almost imperceptible nuances within that stir your soul and send your heartstrings reverberating like crazy.



#3 Chvrches – “Gun”

Choosing our favourite Chvrches track is a bit like trying to choose which superpower you would have. They are all so damn good and exciting that one just isn’t enough. But, we made the rule of one track per artist so here we are, having to make Lauren’s choice. We’ve gone for the uplifting and kaleidoscopic “Gun”, not least because we’ve choreographed a pretty amazing firework display to it in our head. The beat crashes and explodes with 808 style drums, cymbals and handclaps splashing like aforementioned fireworks. The synths shoot across the night sky entwined with Lauren’s so-sweet, sometimes breathy and occasionally almost demure vocals, dancing into the drums before the track quietens down as the display looks to be ending, only to fire off one last great crescendo of light and sound.



#2 Curxes – “Further Still”

Despite having a relatively quiet 2013, over the last 12 months Curxes have become one of our favourite young bands around. So much so that we invited them to play on our stage at Norwich Sound and Vision this year. Much of this love was stirred when they released the amazingly dark and refined sounds of “Further Still”. Beginning with some sinister and uneasy sounding operatics, the kind you’d have coming out over the PA during morning exercise at a Stepford holiday camp, all pastel shades and rictus grins, “Further Still” soon steps into an eerily still backroom. Roberta’s vocals take over and blend with the suddenly more liquid sound of Curxes before that too starts to evolve and solidify into head-nod-making beats. Dark, emotional and subtle, it whispers where you might expect a roar, even as the drama is ramped up it tip-toes through the sterile rooms behind the bright primary colours of the camp outside, scalpel in hand as it comes to slice into our ears and implant itself there for evermore.



#1 Nicole Atkins – “Red Ropes”

We knew when we first heard “Red Ropes” that it was something special and we knew it would most likely feature in the upper echelons of our end of year list. Then we played it again and again and again. We played it when we went on Amazing Radio for the first time, we played it to anyone who would listen and we loved it more and more each time we did. It’s a slow burning track, full of gentle drama at first before taking on an altogether more dense and powerful conclusion with the addition of choral backing vocals as Nicole Atkins‘ soft vocals reach up with increasing force. It is cinematic in feel, Lynchian almost (but less confusing) with that sort of retro-noir style to it that Tarantino can do so well too. Sun-bleached images of a damsel not in distress but with a will of iron and capable of outwitting all around her are evoked as it swells and soars. The influence of her co-writer, Mr. Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman/The Bad Seeds) is apparent in its darkness, its rawness, honesty and power. We adore it and as we began to put this list together, with all the jostling and re-positioning that went on as we considered all the tracks (and others), not once did it move from the top spot.



So there you have it, our favourite tracks of the year.
We’ll post a full list at the weekend with a playlist of all the tracks for your delectation but tell us what you think. What did we miss and what would make your list?

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.


Listen: Curxes – “Avant Guarded”

5 Dec

Curxes Avant Guarded

Having lulled us into a moment of relative calm and blissful beauty with the divine “Further Still”, Curxes have brought back the blitz and are attacking our senses from all angles.

Trailed with a series of short videos of the duo in massive Budgie heads (no, really), “Avant Guarded” has been wowing and bombarding live audiences for a while but now it gets a release of its own and none of that live energy or rawness has been lost, and it’s even more infectious.

It’s fast paced and frenetic, like a jump to hyperspace straight into the chaos of a full on space battle with lasers flying here there and everywhere. Evasive action is taken as alarms blare out, control panels flash and beep like their life depends on it, and our ship whirls, dives and barrels out of the frying pan and into the fire and off again. It’s not so much a trap as intergalactic civil war and as good as John Williams is, we can’t help but imagine this would make a fantastic soundtrack to the new Star Wars films.

As well as the frenticism and glorious cacophony of pop that is coming at us from all sides, there are some decidedly delicious moments that we can’t help but love. A little tonal change here or there to channel the band’s inner Oakey for some very Human League-esque vocals in the background, Roberta’s lead vocals still sounding like she could take down a city’s walls should she wish to; the blistering pace of the beat and electronic rhythm that doesn’t let up for a second. The whole thing is just fantastic and we can’t wait to see how it translates to a video (the concept for which you can probably guess if you watched the track preview vids).

It’s industrial and edgy but there’s still more than enough pop brilliance in there to get your groove on to and that will get stuck in your head. We’ve been whistling the tune for the last few days now, much to the delight (?) of all around us. That, perhaps, is an underrated element of Curxes music, the outright catchiness of it all, we’re yet to hear a song of theirs that didn’t get stuck in our heads and pop back up again randomly a few days later, probably in a meeting where our sudden humming of “Haunted Gold” isn’t as appreciated as much as we would have expected.

We can’t wait to see the look on people’s faces when “Avant Guarded” makes its inevitable appearance at the next all staff gathering.


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