Tag Archives: Curxes

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

15 Oct


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 3 – Gig Preview

12 Oct

So here we are, the final day of what has already been an amazing festival of new music across our Fine City. This year’s Norwich Sound and Vision Festival has already surpassed itself and honestly, the best is yet to come as tonight’s gig bill is stacked. Deciding where to go and who to see won’t be easy tonight as there is so much going on, hopefully our final gig preview will make things a little easier.

NSV13 Saturday Alphabet Bands

Day 3 – Saturday
The last day of the festival is quite frankly an absolute doozy with blog favourites and white-hot acts everywhere you look. Not least at our own Alphabet Bands Showcase at Olives where Curxes (19:45), Strangers (20:30) and Waylayers (21:20) will be bringing the electro-heavy, synthy goodness for everyone to fall in love with. Non-festival attendees can come join in the fantasticness for a mere £3 on the door by the way, that’s £1 per band which is just an unbeatable bargain really. Just saying.

NSV13 Saturday1

If we weren’t at Olives on Saturday we would be spoilt for choice for what else to attend and would quite probably spontaneously combust while trying to work out where to go. Ok, so strictly speaking that isn’t true as we would most likely be at Open for most of the night as The Line of Best Fit and ASL Records have combined to put on the second best bill of the entire festival (after our own of course). Fabienne (20:00) will get things started before Crushed Beaks (20:45), the wonderful and enchanting Pawws (21:30) and the brilliant (and going to be big next year, mark our words) Sivu (22:15) ramp things up still further. If that wasn’t enough, Clare Maguire (23:00) will be playing her first gig in two years as well. Pretty great line-up isn’t it?

That’s not all though, down at the Waterfront the super exciting AlunaGeorge will be playing with support from one of our favourite live acts this year, (times tbc). We saw MØ play at The Great Escape earlier this year and were taken aback by the quality of her live show, we highly recommend it (but only if you’re not coming to our showcase, obviously).

Saturday night at The Birdcage sees the turn of Norwich’s own Gravy Records as curators and they will be hosting our new favourite local band, Mega Emotion (19:30) as well as Shrines (20:15), Bad Grammar (21:00), the currently-gathering-lots-of-attention Jake Hart (21:45) and Sisters (22:30).

Over at the Arts Centre, the spiritual drawing of the festival curtain will occur when Foxes (23:00) finishes her headline set having been preceded by Big Deal (22:00) and the former Kabeedies, Keep Up (21:00). In the bar, those infectious music lovers from The Rider podcast are playing host to plethora of great acts including Baltic Fleet and Tom Robinson, yes, that Tom Robinson.

We say spiritual curtain by the way because the music doesn’t actually stop there and over at Epic a night of DJ magnificence will be topped off by the fantastic DJ Cheeba whom we have seen before and who was just amazing. If you have any energy left at this point, it’s worth heading over to catch his set.

Where we’ll be:
A total no-brainer this one as we will obviously be at Olives hosting the best three-act bill of the festival with Curxes< Strangers and Waylayers. We hope you can come and join us for what promises to be a superb evening during which, incidentally, Waylayers will be debuting a brand new song, “242”. Come along and be the first to hear it.

After that, if there is time, we will try and catch some of Foxes at the Arts Centre, and while we like to think we would have the stamina to make it to Epic for DJ Cheeba, we will concede that it might not happen.

Tracks of the Day

Sunday will be for sleeping and resting.

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.

Blog Birthday, bands and a big announcement.

12 Sep

Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us, etc etc.

Here we are again, now celebrating two years to the day of blogging goodness and fun as the Alphabet Bands you know and love. It’s been a cracking year and (we hope you agree) the blog keeps getting better and better. Certainly we are having a lot of fun writing it and things have certainly changed a heck of a lot in the last twelve months. We’ve certainly come a long way from posting random news stories and getting excited about getting 5 whole email submissions a day.

Forgive us this moment of blatant self indulgence but let’s have a quick canter through some of those changes before we get on to the really good stuff.

  • Since we posted our Blog Manifesto on our first birthday (the tenants of which still hold true btw) we have posted another 278 articles for you to enjoy.
  • We were (randomly and alongside many others) nominated for Blog of the Year at the Record of the Day awards.
  • We have appeared on Amazing Radio (and will be back – hopefully – on a regular basis) and Future Radio a couple of times.
  • We started a successful and (we think) hugely entertaining feature called Tracks of my Teens.
  • We put on our first ever Alphabet Bands Presents… evening, with help from the wonderful crews at Planet of Sound and Open Norwich and featuring blog crushes Vuvuvultures as well as local acts Box of Light (for their first ever live show) and Horse Party.
  • Not bad really, not massive but a reasonable amount we think you will agree. Actually, there is a little more to tell you about and that is something that is coming up, something we are extremely excited about.

    Last October we attended the annual Norwich Sound and Vision Festival and loved every minute of it. As well as all the fun we had, we came away thinking how much we’d love to be a part of the festival in the future.

    Well, we can now reveal (announcement klaxon) that this year, we are!

    That’s right. At this year’s Norwich Sound and Vision Festival, on Saturday 12 October at Olives to be exact, there will be an Alphabet Bands Stage and we couldn’t be happier with the line-up we’ve got playing. All three acts have featured on the blog and we adore each of them like they were bands we really really love. Wanna know who they are? Here’s a poster:

    NSV Poster 4

    We say we are excited but really that is an understatement, especially when you consider just how amazing the bands are and how amazing this year’s festival as a whole looks. We’ll preview it in more detail nearer the time but just go and see who else has been confirmed to play. Ghostpoet, Drenge, Foxes, Pawws, Sivu, No Ceremony, Superfood, AlunaGeorge, the list goes on and on.

    We heartily recommend picking up a festival wristband so you can see as many of the acts across the three days as possible. Do that and entry to our gig will be free, or alternatively you can rock up to Olives on the night and just pay £3 on the door!

    We’ll leave you with a taste of each of our featured bands and look forward to see you on 12 October.

    Stalk Waylayers: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

    Stalk Strangers: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

    Stalk Curxes: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

    What’s In the Box? – #2

    1 Jun

    Whats In The Box

    It’s Saturday, no school today, so what you going to do?

    Peruse and enjoy a bunch of tracks taken from the Alphabet Bands inbox of course! We tried this a few weeks ago and it seemed to go over quite well so we thought we’d have another bash. Here’s the premise.

    Like every other blog, we are inundated with emails from bands and PR companies on a daily basis, asking us to feature their music in some form or another. While this is great and we love hearing as much as we can of what comes in, we just don’t have enough time to feature everything, no matter how late we stay up writing (and believe us, it can get quite late). We really want to bring you as much of it as possible so from time to time will produce this occasional feature that will showcase some of the submissions that we have enjoyed in the past week or so. While we won’t be as verbose in our descriptions of each one, we figured some words were better than none. At least this way you get to hear them too right? And that’s the main thing.

    So sit back, relax, get your ears ready and enjoy some remixes, videos and new tracks as we rummage around and find out ‘What’s In The Box?’.

    Curxes – “Further Still (Avec Sans Remix)”

    We loved “Further Still” to pieces when it came out (and still regularly play it in the car on the way to and from work) and this remix is pretty darn amazing as well. It got a fair amount of love from the blog world at the start of the week but seemed to get washed away by the Chvrches tidal wave that engulfed us all. So we thought we’d start this week’s round up by showing it some love and bringing it back to you attention. It’s much more swirly and ethereal than the original, taking its tone and using some sweet science to give it a dry ice sensation. It deserves to be listened to a lot, and it’s available as a free download too.

    Daughter – “Love (Will Bloomfield Remix)”

    Another remix and another free download to enjoy now, this time from Mr. Will Bloomfield, who has recently started to share his burgeoning remixing talent with us all on Soundcloud. As the main man of Norwich’s own Port Isla (who will be playing Glastonbury this year don’t forget) we don’t know how he has the time, but after stellar remixes of Phoenix, Lana Del Rey and Alphabet Band, The Disraeli Gears, he has turned his attention to Daughter.

    “Love” was already a wonderfully sedate piece of melancholia but Will has somehow managed to turn it down still further, add just the right amount of shimmer and a delicate but forceful electronic beat underneath.

    Listen to more of Will’s remixes on SoundCloud

    Flash Bang Band – “If You’re Driving”

    Something new from Brighton next that our good friends at Someofitistrue sent our way this week. “If You’re Driving” is the debut single from Flash Bang Band, a trio of young indie rockers who appear to have a thing for feet as well as jangly riffs and jump-a-longa choruses. The guys are signed to At The Helm Records and as well as releasing “If You’re Driving” on Monday, their debut album will be out on 29 July.

    Swimming Lessons – “Double”

    Ben Lewis is a guy whose stock appears to well and truly on the up. Performing as Swimming Lessons, this 24 year old from Leeds has recently been found playing with Blue Hawaii, Chad Valley and Grimes, amongst others. On his latest track, “Double”, Lewis has given us a world of dreamy late night electronica. This is what you play when you get in from a night out and you’re not quite ready for it to end. Soothing and revitalising, it’s the sort of thing that soundtracks a look out across the city skyline in that magical time as the hours become small but before the birds have woken.

    Blue & Gold – “Ghost Man”

    From Leeds to Brooklyn now as we move from dreamy, atmospheric electronic to something altogether more raw and dirty. “Ghost Man” has all the hallmarks of good old fashioned rock with sharp riffs overlaying cacophonous drums and vocals dripping with bluesy swagger. They say they like the White Stripes, and Led Zeppelin, and Cream and Hendrix and countless others. It shows. Blue & Gold have got it going on and we can’t help but indulge our inner rocker and get down with them.

    “Ghost Man” is available to buy on iTunes.

    Starkeeper – “Elle”

    Evidently, “Elle” by Belgium’s <bStarkeeper has been floating around for a little while now (certainly the video appears to have been online for ages) but it was just this week that the guys popped it into our inbox and we sat up and took notice.

    Taken from their debut EP, Find Desire, “Elle” is a hauntingly downbeat piece of pop music. Echoes of Mazzy Star and William Orbit era Madonna filter out from within, as do tinges of electro-folk and melancholic orchestral pop. Songwriting duo Ivy Smits and Dieter Meeuwis share vocals as well as creativity and the duet is sweet and touching. The video is pretty cool as well.

    Balah Resort – “Emily Again”

    You know how we said that “Double” by Swimming Lessons should be listened to late at night?
    Well the same can be said of the debut Balah Resort album, Days In Commonwealth. It was difficult to choose a track to showcase as they are all beautifully relaxed and becalming, but we have gone for the Vangellis tinged “Emily Again”. It’s so delicate it borders on being brittle, you’d be worried that turning it up too loud would actually break the soundwaves, but this isn’t music to be played loudly, this is music that brings about tranquillity. Listen to this and you’ll be inclined to turn off the lights and unplug the phone, not for sexy times mind you, just to unwind and let the weariness and stress of the world wash away from you.

    Days In Commonwealth is out now and can be bought via the Balah Resort Bandcamp page.

    Wan Light – “Space Canaries”

    If you’re anything like us, you are already listening to this for no other reason than its called “Space Canaries”. It’s ok to admit it, we did it too. For those of you who want some words as well, this is the title track from the latest album by Stockholm based duo, Wan Light. As well as an awesome title, it has a very Pet Shop Boys feel to both the synthy, poppy sound (there are flecks of ambient indie in there too) and the vocals as well. All of which makes for a very enjoyable listen. And it has the best title of a song we’ve seen all year…

    That’s all for this week, see you soon for more inbox related aural pleasure.

    Watch – Curxes – “Further Still”

    10 Apr

    Curxes Owl Chum

    In our original post about the otherworldly soft beauty of Curxes latest, “Further Sill”, we remarked on its subtlety, saying “It is scalpel rather than sledgehammer to the walnut of our ears”.

    It turns out that we are kind of maybe Mystic Megs over here as look what’s right there in the accompanying video. Yep, scalpels! Ok, it also features taxidermy a-go-go which we didn’t mention, nor did we refer in any way to the truck load of creepy stuffed animals or the ‘Curxes as installation piece’ ending. And yes, we did talk about brightly coloured stepford-esque holiday camps which don’t feature, but cut us some slack, prophecy is not an exact science. One out of many is still pretty good right?

    Ok fine, it’s rubbish and was entirely by accident but let’s not detract too much from what is an understatedly creepy video of simple beauty that perfectly matches the track. Dark without being overt and oppressive, emotional without being clumsy or hackneyed, “Further Still” is instead considered and wistful. Curxes are certainly bringing their A-game at the moment and the more we hear it, the more we love it. We can’t wait for more.

    “Further Still” is available for free download here.

    Stalk Curxes: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud