Tag Archives: Further Still

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?

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.


Stalk Curxes: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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

Free Download – Curxes – “Further Still”

30 Mar

Curxes

Showcasing their softer side, blog world favourites Curxes have kicked off their 2013 with something of a surprise. Having earned something of a reputation for their excitingly angular and industrial blitz-pop, all metallic and grindy like loads of blacksmiths at work at once, they have returned with a track that has seemingly stepped out of the forge and into the daylight. Well, not entirely.

“Further Still” begins with some operatics, but Andrea Bocelli this is not. It is more like the kind of slightly sinister opera sounds you’d have coming out over the PA during morning exercise at a Stepford holiday camp. Rictus smiles and unnecessarily bright and scary colours all around you. This lasts but a moment though before Roberta’s vocals take over and blend with the suddenly more liquid sound of Curxes. Dark, emotional and subtle, it whispers where you might expect a roar, even as the drama is ramped up it tip-toes. It is scalpel rather than sledgehammer to the walnut of our ears.

“Further Still” is available for free download here.


Stalk Curxes: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud