Tag Archives: free download

Free Download: Rae Morris – “Skin”

13 Jan

Rae Morris

Rae Morris could be a name you are already familiar with, she has already released a reasonable amount of solo material and toured with some fairly large and well known acts. Despite this, hers was not a name we were familiar with until she suddenly seemed to be the subject of many an online and twitter conversation. The reason was her involvement with the returning Bombay Bicycle Club, specifically providing vocals for their latest track, “Luna”. With her name now known, we were intrigued when a new solo track popped up on our Soundcloud profile, and even more interested when we sat back and pressed play on “Skin”.

The simple piano intro immediately sparked a childhood memory but while it wasn’t a fantastical chocolate factory that Morris was taking us to, the journey was still one steeped in wonder and powerful emotion. Taken from her forthcoming solo album, “Skin” sounds like the exploration of a deserted city at night, a familiar place made magical as the lights shine down on us and the shadows spark the imagination into a world of mystery, passion and heartbreak.

Her Marina-esque vocal through the chorus offers familiarity but there is more magic to be found as she takes us by the hand through the quiet streets to a world of swirling string arrangements and crystal piano lines, all while the clock tick-tock’s the daybreak ever nearer. As the night draws to a close Rae slips off into the distance, like a folk-pop Cinderella, and just like that our far too short time in the world of “Skin” is ended.

Thank goodness for the repeat button.


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Listen: Strangers (Feat. Lou Bird) – “Divine”

1 Dec

Strangers Divine

All good things, as they say, must come to an end and so it is with the series of free downloads that Strangers have offered on the first of each of the last five months. Now, on the first of month six they offer the final freebie, “Divine”.

Featuring the additional vocal talents of Lou Bird, “Divine” could well be the best of the lot. It starts gently with atmospheric, harmonic vocals before it crackles and pops with electro fizzes and beats. It’s an aerial acrobat of a track, looping, diving and spinning against a glittered backdrop of synths and drums. It dares to pause momentarily and hang on by a single word as breath is caught, then swinging up to grab the trapeze hook of the song with both hands, swinging through the air under its own energy before back-flipping to a stop, hand raised aloft in triumph.

It is the last of freebies but that doesn’t mean the guys are taking a breather, far from it. On 10 December they will release the Close EP which collates all six free downloads as well as some exclusive remixes and alternate versions. Remixes such as the gorgeously soothing version of “Something New” that our own ‘H’ artist Jack Robert Hardman has put together, which brings the previously hidden backing vocal from Crystal Fighters’ Ellie Fletcher to the fore (you can hear that below as well, think of it as a little bonus from us). Then, in the New Year sometime there will be a brand new EP of brand new songs as well. No rest for the wicked and Strangers are most certainly ‘wicked’.

“Divine” is available as a free download from strangersmusic.co.uk



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Free Download: Sivu & Marika Hackman – “I Hold”

30 Nov

Sivu - Marika

We’ve posted about Sivu once or twice this year (and will no doubt be posting about him a couple more times before December is done as well), so our admiration and enjoyment of his music should come as no surprise to regular readers. What is probably less known is how much we love the music of Marika Hackman. We have, for no good reason at all, never got round to blogging about her before but ever since we heard her That Iron Taste EP (which, incidentally, spent a lot of time being played in our car stereo over the summer) we’ve been completely enamoured.

Since the pair announced they would be embarking on a join mini-tour of the UK in December we’ve been trying to work out the logistics of a jaunt to Cambridge in the middle of a full on work party/kids nativity/Norwich gigfest week (we’re gonna try and make it). The idea of them both playing the same evening was pretty enticing but then they went and announced a shared tape release, with each writing a song for the other to feature on, which they will give away free at each gig and should lead to live duets each night (we hope).

The first of the two AA tracks to find its way online (and as a free download – which you can get from the player below) is the Sivu penned “I Hold”.

It’s been described as a bit of a departure in style for both artists but to our untrained ear it sounds like a perfect meeting in the middle of their two styles. It’s delicate and mechanical; the carefully methodical guitar plucks rise before the vocal like winding up a steadfast clockwork tin solider. Whirring gently as he tries to woo the beautifully unattainable ballerina; Hackman’s softly melancholic vocal twirls gently, dancing together with Sivu’s, but just out of reach. Then the clockwork slows and winds down, ceasing as the track slowly dies, waiting, hoping to be wound once more so they can dance together again.

It’s a delightful collaboration and one that makes us even more excited for their tour (dates below) and the forthcoming, Marika Hackman written, “Skin”.


Sivu and Marika Hackman on tour:

10 December – Brighton, The Hope
11 December – London, The Lexington
12 December – Cambridge, Portland Arms
13 December – Manchester, Gullivers
14 December – Bristol, The Birdcage

Stalk Sivu: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Stalk Marika Hackman: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Walking in a freebie wonderland – Strangers interview.

4 Nov

Strangers London Lights

As 2013 gently drifts towards its close and Christmas looms ever more large, the distant jingling of bells that the high street has been desperate for us to hear since August is beginning to get louder and louder. Children’s eyes are widening as tales of watchful little elves fill them with wonder, excitement and (momentarily at least) a willingness to behave. Lists are being made, money is being counted and left over wrapping paper is being fished out from the back of a cupboard. But thanks to London’s electro-pop-stars in waiting, Strangers, it’s been a little bit like Christmas for the last few months or at least since July, when they started giving away a free download on the first of every month.

Their latest is “London Lights” (which you can stream below) a melodious love letter to our capitol city brimming with pulsing synthy string sounds, an emotive 90’s piano and scalpel sharp electronic beats. The vocals rise up like the ever-increasing number of sky-scrapers, like watching a symphony of people and cars unfold through rain covered windows. Less urgent than previous offerings, it is no less vibrant and infectious; the hook catches you from atop the Shard and reels you into a vast boardroom of R&B and dance infused synth-pop.

They are clearly on a roll and hours before they will play a storming set at the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival for us, we take a seat outside the Arts Centre with two-thirds of the trio, David Maddox-Jones and Piers Sherwood-Roberts, with questions to ask. The pair is in good spirits, despite the almost rain that threatens above and will soon begin to fall, and with beer in hand they laugh as they explain the concept, finishing each other’s sentences and talking over one another like a married couple.

The plan had been, they explain, to use their not insubstantial library of unreleased tracks, re-work and re-tool a few of them and then release them one at a time each month. Four old songs and two new ones in six months they thought; it shouldn’t be too onerous a task to complete. That’s not what actually happened of course; “every month there’s been a new one”, explains David. They’ve got in the zone, used it as an exercise in good discipline and ”it’s making [them] a lot more creative”. They’ve not yet had any writers block and even if they did, they explain, with three of them in the band there is always one who can spark the others if the process were to slow down.

The creativity and order they have instilled has been a by-product of what was a very simple thought process suggests Piers, ”we just wanted to get our music out there, instead of just having it sitting around…” as his sentence runs into David’s ”keep the momentum going… Keep people talking about us”, and back again ”it keeps us inspired well, when we get good feedback, obviously it keeps us happy, and we have had good feedback off the singles”.

And it has been good, each and every month. We’ve featured each of the singles and been positive in our usual hyperbolic manner, but we’re not the only ones. Each month a small army of sites have been posting and eulogising about their latest offering and radio plays have been on the increase as well. Not bad when you consider, as they explain, they’ve had no press or radio team. Their success thus far has been built on the back of quality tracks and their own hard work.

It’s helped in other ways David says when talking about the likelihood of an album release in 2014. ”We all felt like we were ready six months ago, now we have done these songs and it’s like actually, we weren’t ready”. It’s helped them learn more about themselves and their own capabilities, ”there’s better stuff to come”, he says enthusiastically.

While an album may still be some time away, videos are not and their latest offering, for “No Longer Lost” had some heavyweight directorial/cinematography and production talent behind it. Leo Neelands, Jim Parsons and Mark Curl have collectively worked on mega-movies including 28 Days Later, Harry Potter and Zero Dark Thirty and on hearing the song, decided they wanted to make their first ever music video. ”That’s the best video we’ve got”, smiles Piers, and it came about completely by chance. “We met them at the pub,” laughs David. ”We realised we lived opposite them and they are really talented and that was an amazing experience just to work with them, you know they are huge”. “And now we really want to do another video!” exclaims Piers. Though the next one will be very different, DIY they say.

But with Christmas just around the corner there is only one more track to go, so what’s next? Another bright idea while they work on an album? “Let’s put three out a week!” they both laugh. We’re pretty sure they’re joking, but with Strangers you can never be completely sure.


“London Lights” is available as a free download from strangersmusic.co.uk

Stalk Strangers: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

Listen: Strangers – “Fires”

2 Oct

Strangers Fires

Happy October everyone. With Norwich Sound and Vision just a couple of weeks away it is gearing up to be a huge month for us at Alphabet Bands and what better way to kick things off than with another free download from one of the bands playing our stage, Strangers.

The fourth in their series of six free downloads (one per month until Christmas), new track “Fires” continues their ascent towards the top of the synth-pop mountain. Seemingly written with the intent that it be sung back by a crowd of thousands, it is appropriately big, hook heavy and very easy on the ear. It’s less abrasive than predecessor, “Don’t Lie To Me”, less in-your-face and more euphoric-arm-round-the-shoulder-as-you-bounce-and-sing-joyously, but still defiant, proud and ambitious.

There’s always been a hint of the shoulder-bopping-boyband-pop to Strangers but this is a bit more grown up, Las Vegas rather than Blackpool, all lights and pizazz and then some. Their ‘oh oh a whoa’ sing-along moments are cooler, more brooding-older-brother-like than anything the New Kids on The Block had done while they were hangin’ tough. Cool synths and harmonies, beats and big choruses and all without standing up for the key change and fist clenching, it’s what man-band electro-pop ought to sound like.

Don’t forget, Strangers will be playing the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival on Sat 12 October on the amazingly wonderful and exciting Alphabet Bands Stage. We can’t wait, see you there.


“Fires” continues Strangers’ super six-month giveaway of free downloads and is available from Strangersmusic.co.uk. Previous freebies were; “No Longer Lost”, ”Sense Of Liberty” and ”Don’t Lie To Me.

Stalk Strangers: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud

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