Tag Archives: HAIM

Listen Out For – 2013 Previews Roundup

27 Nov

Listen Out for... 2013 Previews Round Up

Last year we stuck our neck on the proverbial line and named 15 acts that we loved and thought would go on to do something in 2013. We didn’t say unequivocally that these bands were going to go on and rule the music world or anything, not even we could be that bold, but we think they were certainly talented to step up a level and do even better than they already were.

Some did just that, a couple – not so much. Before we start to look at acts we love who we think/hope will continue to grow and become bigger in 2014, let’s take a look back at those fabled 15 and have a squizz at what they got up to in the last 12 months.


15. Polaroid 85

Polaroid 85 Escapist

If asked, and we have been (albeit by ourselves) to judge the year Polaroid 85 had, we’d say it had been a quietly successful one. A few live session videos helped whet the appetite for their second EP release, Escapist which came out on Reel Me Records and of which we said, ”layers of sound entwine and dance together as one; orchestral arrangements, jazz flourishes, drum and bass, glitchy electronica, breakbeats, trip-hop; all live a symbiotic existence to produce cool, swirling marbled soundscapes.” and there was radio play aplenty as well. Next up, an album? Here’s hoping.



14. Waylayers

waylayers2

Waylayers are, in our humble opinion, poised for something big next year. A lot, and we mean a lot, of ground work was done in 2013 with the band performing at 20 or so festivals, including an appearance headlining our stage at Norwich Sound and Vision, travelling all over the country and across the world, picking up critical acclaim and big name support along the way. Their Fault Lines EP, was a minor success here in the UK but hit the Billboard Top 100 and the iTunes Top 50 in the US. Unsurprisingly there is likely to be a reasonable amount of focus on America in the Waylayers camp next year but their infectious and properly atmospheric synth pop should see their fellow Brits catching on to them soon enough as well.



13. Kites

kites3

Errr, yeah. We’re not sure what happened here to be honest. 2012 started strongly and Kites seemed on the precipice of breaking through, then nothing happened. We’ve heard whispers that there could be news on the horizon so we’ll see what’s next, but the almost total disappearance of Kites in 2013 was not something we predicted at all.



12. Vuvuvultures

VVV Deaf - Thoughts

Not only did the VVV gang play the debut Alphabet Bands Presents… show back in July (which was no doubt the highlight of their year – ahem) but they also saw their profile rise and rise across the months. The year is culminating with the release of “Your Thoughts Are A Plague” and “Deaf Epic” on a double A-side 7”, a new video for “Empurrar/Puxar” and a headline UK tour. Before that there was radio play coming out of their Appliance, the creation of their own imprint which meant they finally got to use Energy Snake as a name for something, and of course, a fantastic debut album that perfectly showcased the analogue meets digital world they inhabit, with brilliantly catchy tunes and dark themes.



11. Paper Crows

Paper Crows

2013 was a quiet-ish year for Paper Crows but one that could be leading to a big 2014. There were gigs and guest spots and one fantastic free download, “White Noise”, but more exciting was the release online of “Anomaly”. A dark and menacing track overflowing with strength and the overwhelming sense of a coming evil from below, it will be their first single release of 2014 and one we hope will signal the start of some very big things indeed for the duo.



10. Rhye

Rhye - Woman

Undoubtedly, one of our high points of 2013 was watching Rhye play in the candlelit surroundings of St. Giles in the Fields Church. A performance that not only captivated all those in attendance with its subtlety and elegance, but that also provided the best improvised lyrical response to faulty sound kit we heard all year. This followed the release of a gorgeous debut album that will probably feature on number of end of year lists and preceded a number of festival performances, even more critical acclaim and even a solo album from the androgynously voiced Mike Milosh.



9. Spring Offensive

Spring Offensive1

Another band who have had an openly quiet-ish year, but whose feet have no doubt been swishing crazy swan like under the water. There were a couple of singles, the fantastic and innovative video for ”No Assets” and a bunch of shows, but as the year draws to a close, it is clearly all about 2014 and the release of the debut Spring Offensive album, Young Animal Hearts. An album that was fully funded within 10 days of a very impressive Pledge Music campaign and that we are very very much looking forward to.



8. Alice Jemima

Alice Jemima1

Another of our tipped artists who went on to have a quiet year, Alice started it with a BBC Radio 1 session (that was recorded in 2012) and then put up a fantastic cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. There were support slots with the likes of Valerie June but also a lot of silence; silence with good reason though as we have heard on the grapevine that things continue to look up in Miss Jemima’s world and that we should start to hear more from her ( a lot more we think) in 2014.



7. Daughter

Daughter

The trio of Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella released their debut album, If You Leave in March and watched it hit the UK Top 20 and receive much critical acclaim. There have been sold out shows a-plenty and an unexpected (and unwarranted) overlooking from the Mercury Music Prize judges as Daughter have continued on their steady upward trend. There is a UK tour to end the year and then perhaps some new songs to come in 2014.



6. Haim

Haim Days Gone By

It was a fairly quiet year for the three sisters from LA with not much happening or being achieved really. Just topping both the BBC and Blog Sound of 2013 polls, releasing a couple of great EPs, a Number one album, sold out tours across the globe, bassface becoming a phenomenon and festival appearances all over summer including Glastonbury. Yep, fairly quiet all things considered.



5. Seasfire

Seasfire1

After a storming end to 2012, which included a rapid rise to the top of the Hype Machine chart and a plethora of blog love, the Seasfire gents had a relatively calm and quiet 2013. There were a couple of singles and a few shows but generally speaking they were quite reclusive. Here’s hoping it’s in readiness for a big 2014.



4. Florrie

Florrie1

After telling us she was ready to sign with a major label in Spring last year, we were getting ready for a full-on Florrie assault on the music world in 2013, sadly (apart from the Sony sponsored “Live A Little” in April) it didn’t quite materialise but there are reasons for optimism the coming months. Work is continuing on her debut album and the new tracks she debuted at her headline KOKO show proved our excitement is not misplaced. Blending the best of pop’s heritage with her Xenomania education, the likes of “Stupid Boy” are sounding like her best work yet. Maybe we just went a year too soon, maybe 2014 will be the year of Florrie after all.



3. Ms Mr

MS MR Hurricane

Seeing Ms Mr blow the roof off the Norwich Waterfront was one of our gig highlights of the year and gave us a sneak peek of the delights that their debut album would provide later in the year. Purveyors of the finest tumblr-glitch-pop around, we love the Addams Family of brilliantly dark and danceable tunes and our excitement for the last season of Game Of Thrones was accentuated further when the trailer commenced with the opening moments of “Bones”. A perfect sync if ever there was one. Lizzy and Max have had a stellar year, achieved a truck load and will no doubt be ready and raring to kick on and knock 2014 for a loop as well. Oh, and we got to go see them play in Norwich again this week as well. Good times.



2. The Good Natured

The Good Natured Lovers

2013 wasn’t kind to The Good Natured. A reasonable start with quality singles and an album on the way soon fell apart when they got dropped from their label and lost all their music. They explained at the time:

A few months ago we were dropped from our record label. Our album has been shelved. Over this time we have been trying to get our masters back so that we can release Prism, however, it has not been possible.

To say we are devastated is an understatement. Believe us when we say we have tried everything possible to get our album to you. Sometimes life gives you lemons and you gotta make lemonade. When one door closes another opens.
You have to pick yourself up, be bigger, be stronger. For The Good Natured it is the end of the road, but it’s safe to say there is something better around the corner.

Evidently they are working hard on new material and teaching themselves more about production etc to maintain greater control over their own music and direction. Fingers crossed we get to hear something new from them in 2014.



1. Public Service Broadcasting

PSB Night Mail Video

What a year it’s been for the esteemed gentlemen of Public Service Broadcasting. As we’ve noted numerous times, they never seem to stop and are certainly reaping the rewards from such a diligent work ethic. There’s been a couple of singles, one Record Store Day exclusive, videos (one which actually featured the guys themselves) a free download here and there, two tracks in Dutch to celebrate the world’s largest ice skating race (because why not right?), tea-towels, a superb album, two AIM award nominations, a never-ending tour across every corner of the UK and beyond that sold out pretty much everywhere, including the Forum up London (and from the pictures we’ve seen the new live set looks gorgeous as well) AND they played out the end of year highlights package on the BBC’s Formula One coverage with a fabulous hybrid of “Signal 30” and “Everest”. Not too shabby for a couple of guys in corduroy.


What’s In the Box? – #3 – Album Review Special

26 Oct

Whats In The Box Album Review Special

The last few weeks at Alphabet Towers have been pretty much relentless. With much of our focus and energies being diverted to a hugely successful Norwich Sound and Vision Festival, our intended writings didn’t quite pan out as we meant them to.

There were loads of amazing albums released in September and October that we wanted to cover but time never allowed us to get round to. But we still wanted to say something about them so we happened upon a great idea (so we think anyway), why not break open the occasional What’s In The Box feature, and post a series of mini-reviews? To make things harder for ourselves (because where’s the fun in easy right?) we gave ourselves a word limit for each one.

So we have, and here it is, one post containing five 100 word reviews of albums we have enjoyed over the last few weeks, starting with an absolute cracker…


ChvrchesThe Bones Of What You Believe

CHVRCHES - TBOWYB

Standing toe to toe with anything we’ve heard in the last 12 months, The Bones Of What You Believe is one of the most accomplished debut albums of recent years. Martin Doherty and Iain Cook wield sonic weapons like a pair of skittish electro-ninjas; flipping, kicking and letting loose shurikens of rapid beats and synth lines with deadly precision while Lauren Mayberry’s sweet emotive vocals rise up above them as if summoned by some mystical enchantress. As equally moving as it is energetic and fun, Chvrches have delivered an album that is, as they say, all killer and no filler.


Buy The Bones Of What You Believe

Stalk Chvrches: Website / Facebook / Twitter


HaimDays Are Gone

Haim Days Gone By

With Days Are Gone, BBC and Blog Sound of 2013 poll winners Haim easily maintained the high standards set by each preceding single. It’s a gleaming broach encrusted with gems of musical genres gone by. Highly polished stones of 90’s R&B, 80’s guitar bands and 70’s pop sparkle alongside one another. Given the amount of work that has clearly gone into making it, Days Are Gone sounds remarkably effortless and light, tracks dance along gleefully, not least the Jessie Ware penned title track which is one of many highlights, and everyone is welcome to jump on board and join in.


Buy Days Are Gone

Stalk Haim: Facebook / Twitter /SoundCloud /Website


Summer CampSummer Camp

summer-camp summer-camp

Sophomore albums are supposed to be tricky and potentially career threatening. As they drive away from Condale, Summer Camp has plotted a route that avoids any pitfalls or hazards and has instead taken a picturesque journey to success. Filled with delicious indie-pop songs, emotional and entertaining tales of love and life, this is a showcase of increased confidence within the duo as they widen their already colourful palette. There is greater variety in musical style while never sacrificing the charm or infectiousness of their debut. Melodious, danceable, warm and fantastic; Summer Camp proves second albums don’t have to be difficult.


Buy Summer Camp

Stalk Summer Camp: Website / Facebook / Twitter


MorcheebaHead Up High

Morcheeba Head Up High

They may not be hitting the heights of the sublime Big Calm these days, but their second album since the return of vocalist Skye Edwards sees Morcheeba embrace a willingness to experiment. The mainstream friendly darlings of the 90’s trip-hop scene, the trio have spread their wings and flown to new worlds in their latest release, Head Up High. Collaborations and disparate musical genres flow through the 12 tracks like rivers coming together to join the sea. Chali 2na, Rizzle Kicks and White Denim’s James Petralli are amongst the guests on a solid offering that long term fans will enjoy.


Buy Head Up High

Stalk Morcheeba: Website / Facebook / Twitter


Children Of PopFiesta/Drift

Children of Pop Fiesta Drift

Music consumption has changed dramatically with the Skynet-like rise of the digital format meaning listeners often focus only on a single track rather than a body of work. It’s reassuring to know that there are still people out there making music the old fashioned way and with the liquid psychedelica of Fiesta/Drift, Houston’s Children Of Pop have done just that. Comprised of two distinct sides (one energetic and vibrant, one languid and restful) this long awaited debut swirls with melodies of marbled colours and smoke like vocals, but also jumps with groovy guitar lines and funked up beats, it’s fantastic.


Buy Fiesta/Drift

Stalk Children Of Pop: Facebook / Twitter / Website / Tumblr


Listen: Haim – “Falling”

14 Feb

Haim - Falling

Can anyone stop Haim? More to the point, why would anyone want to? The three sisters from LA have been tearing it up in the last few months, topping both the Blog Sound Of 2013 and BBC Sound Of 2013 polls, as well as featuring on our own Tracks of 2012, EPs of 2012 and Artists to Listen Out For lists.

They show no sign of slowing down either and their latest track, “Falling”, is another infectious and funky blend of R’n’B, Pop and Rock. We could jabber on about the 80’s influences or we could bore you to tears with more mentions of just how brilliantly they bounce their vocals off one another. We could even talk about the little piano notes that tumble sporadically in the background, and how it is these minor but oh-so important details that help set the girls apart from other acts.

But we won’t, because this is Haim and you already know all of this. Instead we will concentrate on just one element of the song in particular, the totally killer bassline that pulsates along at the start of the track like an electrocardiogram, before exploding into some Dev Hynes-esque funk.

Take a listen below and we dare you not to get your groove on, can’t be done can it?

”Falling” is available now on iTunes and will be released on ltd edition pink 10” vinyl on 1 April.


Stalk Haim: Facebook / Twitter /SoundCloud /Website

Blog Sound of 2013 – The Top 5

3 Jan

blogsound2013 LOGO

The year is barely a few days old and already the hills are alive with the sound of new music. The BBC are in the process of revealing the Top Five acts in their annual “Sound of…” poll and today we can reveal the Top Five in this year’s The Blog Sound of 2013 Poll. You no doubt recall that we, alongside 48 other UK Blogs, voted for acts we think will blow up in 2013 and the longlist of 15 acts was announced back on 3 Dec.

So, without further ado, the Top five are…

5th The Neighbourhood

3rd= Savages

3rd= Pins

2nd Chvrches

1st Haim

HAIM - Dont Save Me2

Keep reading for some details about the poll as well as a handy playlist of tracks from each of the Top five (courtesy of the lovely Robin at Breaking More Waves), first though some of our thoughts.

Our Thoughts
We were not surprised to see Haim top the list. While they didn’t make it into our personal top five, they were on our own long list and we have loved their super-infectious pop, rock and r‘n’b hybrid sound (the more we hear “Don’t Tell Me”, the more we dance).

Haim were the only ones of our own personal long list to make it into the top five and while we don’t have a problem with that at all, some people decried the long list for feeling a bit too safe. It’s understandable but easily explained. The poll was bigger than ever this year with 49 blogs taking part. Getting any kind of consensus from a small group of people is never easy, getting it from 49 bloggers each with diverse and eclectic tastes is going to be nigh on impossible. As a result it will always be the acts that appear most often, though not necessarily at number one, on bloggers lists that will rise to the top and the three sisters from California have been one of the most talked about bands of the last few months and were the second most blogged act by UK Hype Machine listed bloggers in 2012. Not too shabby we think you will agree and a good indication of why they have topped this poll.

The result may not be a slew of artists you have never heard of, or artists from way out in left field but it is a good list of quality acts nonetheless and again includes some that have not featured on the BBC list at all. Also, if you feel like these are safe choices, what about the inclusion of the already extremely successful and established The Weeknd on the BBC poll? Now that is a safe choice. Anyway, we think this is a good list of bands who will do well this year and who knows, may even contain another Mercury award winner?

The Tunes

The Facts
The Blog Sound poll was run by Robin Seamer from Breaking More Waves and Andy Von Pip from The Von Pip Express asking 49 UK music bloggers what emerging acts they were particularly excited about. The poll wasn’t intended to criticise the BBC’s Sound of list, but to simply represent the tastes of the voting bloggers.

The 2013 Blog Sound long list contained 7 acts that were also then revealed to be on the BBC Sound of List (AlunaGeorge, Chvrches, Haim, Laura Mvula, Palma Violets, Savages and Tom Odell) and 8 that weren’t (Curxes, Daughter, Mo, Pins, Randolph’s Leap, Rhye, Seasfire and The Neighbourhood).

In total just over 170 acts received at least 1 vote in the poll, but Haim and Chvrches were way ahead of the chasing pack when it came to the final count. Pins and Savages, tied for third place with The Neighbourhood, the second US act on the list after Haim in fifth.

Of the five most voted for acts all of them are bands and four of them have lead female vocalists. Two of the bands (Haim and The Neighbourhood) are from the US.

The Participating Blogs in alphabetical order:
A New Band A Day / A Pocket Full Of Seeds / All Noise / Alphabet Bands / Both Bars On / Brapscallions / Breaking More Waves / Brighton Music Blog / Details Of My Life So Far / Don’t Watch Me Dancing / Dots And Dashes / Drunken Werewolf / Eaten By Monsters / Electronic Rumors / Faded Glamour / Folly Of Youth / Flying With Anna / God Is In The TV / Harder Blogger Faster / Howl / In Love Not Limbo / Just Music That I Like / Killing Moon / Kowalskiy / Love Music : Love Life / Mudkiss / Music Broke My Bones / Music Fans Mic / Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt / My Bands Better Than Your Band / Not Many Experts / Peenko / Real Horrorshow / Scottish Fiction / Skeletory / Song By Toad / Sounds Good To Me Too / Storm’s Brewing / Sweeping The Nation / The Blue Walrus / The Electricity Club / The Mad Mackerel / The Metaphorical Boat / The Music Hoarder / The Recommender / This Must Be Pop / Von Pip Musical Express / 17 Seconds

2012 EPs of the Year

11 Dec

2012 EPs of the Year

Yesterday we started the big 2012 review-a-thon with a look at our 20 favourite tracks of the year, and if you thought that was an eclectic bunch of unexpected delights, wait until you see the album list later in the week!

For now though, enjoy this list of our favourite EPs from the last 12 months. You may or not agree, but here at Alphabet Bands HQ we feel that 2012 was particularly strong for EPs with a number of new and established artists choosing to release some amazing music this way rather than as part of a full album. It’s not stopped yet either, just this week the likes of Katy B and Bastille have released new EPs to rave reviews, so we’ll be checking those out in due course.

Quite a few of our choices have been featured on the site in one form or another recently so they may not surprise you as much as the tracks list, but that doesn’t mean they are not great EPs, far from it, each of them are excellent. It might be worth noting at this time that no science was harmed in the creation of this list, it is all opinion based on nothing more on how much we enjoyed the music.

10. Haim – Forever

Haim_Forever

Like an awful lot of the blogging world, we love Haim, and with good reason. They make us want to dance, and we never dance! Their fusion of classic rock, modern R’n’B and pop is infectious and prompts uncontrollable bouts of 80’s style side-to-side dance shuffling. The Forever EP is a blast of smilerific tuneage, all funky and fun.


Buy it from: Amazon

9. San Zhi – Ice Light

San Zhi

Ice is not just limited to the title of this debut EP from boy/girl duo, San Zhi. The four tracks, two original and two amazing covers, are cooler than the arctic wastelands. Ice Light is all faraway, wistful vocals and dreamy, hazy melodies. It may be seen as a cop out, choosing an EP that only actually contains two original songs, but their minimalist covers of dance classic, “Show Me Love” and Lauryn Hill’s crestfallen lament to love, “Ex-Factor” are stunning and worthy of recognition on their own.


Buy it from: San Zhi or on ltd 10” vinyl from Rough Trade

8. Alice Jemima – All The Boyfriends

Alice Jemima

All The Boyfriends is an EP of charm, grace and cuteness in abundance. Each of the four songs are enchanting, embracing a simple but effective elegance that is easy to fall for. She is quite the rare talent, singing with a sweetness and sincerity that is utterly bewitching and managing to convey a youthful innocence and optimism in her gentle pop music yet without any feeling of naiveté.


Buy it from: Amazon or on CD directly from Alice.

7. MS MR – Candy Bar Creep Show

MS MR Candy Bar Creep Show

In Candy Bar Creep Show, MS MR carry us off to a macabre world of glitchy electronics, incessant rhythms, swirling strings and deliciously gloomy vocal harmonies. Yet despite the sometimes ghoulish and sinister subject matter, this is not an EP of sparse, plodding despair. Rather it is a vibrant, energetic concoction of dark and light that can be sung along with just as readily as it can be listened to by the light of a single candle. Tracks are vast, voluminous affairs, with layer upon layer of sound crafting aches, pains and heartbreak within their ample arrangements.


Buy it from: Amazon

6. Ricky Eat Acid & Arrange – sketches

arrange

Originally intended as an album, the collaboration on sketches between Sam Ray (Ricky Eat Acid) and Malcolm Lacey (Arrange) has given us four tracks of ambient melancholy are simply breathtaking.

Lacey’s otherworldly vocals skilfully combine with the often glacial synths and percussion that somehow manages to be both fragile and sharp at once. The result is an EP that is consistently wonderful, haunting at times, but always beautiful. If you ever needed an antidote to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this is it. It’s ‘close your eyes and let the sounds take you places’ music. Music you don’t just listen to but experience, let it float around you like a dream and carry you off into your imagination, you may never want to come back.


Buy it from: Bandcamp for as little or as much as you like.

5. Milly Hirst – Milly Hirst

milly hirst ep

Blessed with a voice that is rich and emotive, Milly Hirst has the capacity to melt hearts with her beguiling folk songs. The minimalist nature of the arrangements belies their complex musical dexterity, complementing the tone and content of each song. On “Tides” the backing vocals murmur and hum like the sea caressing the beach and gently fading away once more. Each track has been considered, crafted with real care and attention so each brush on a drum, pluck of guitar string or draw of bow on violin is done so to add meaning and emotion.


Buy it from: Milly Hirst

4. Paper Crows – Grey Skies

Paper Crows EP

The music of this London based duo is dark and ominous, Choruses are immense affairs, cathedral like in their grandiose, gothic sensibilities. The haunting vocals of Emma Panas intertwine and merge with the deeper new-romantic styling’s of Duncan McDougall to create vast, tumultuous soundscapes.

Grey Skies captures the fantastical fragility of Kate Bush and Bjork, the wit and eloquence of Tori Amos, the dense layers of Massive Attack and particularly the sense of grand occasion so embraced by Hurts and Florence. All of which is perfectly blended with precision electronics, sharp beats and the overwhelming feeling that this is pop music at its brooding best.


Buy it from: Paper Crows, for free!

3. Solange – True

Solange

It only came out a couple of weeks ago but the debut EP from soon-to-be-huge Solange is fantastic. Her symbiotic relationship with the exceptionally talented Dev Hynes (who, lest we forget, came within a torn leather jacket sleeve of hitting top spot on our album list last year) has brought about seven tracks that take his seedy, low-fi Blood Orange sounds and build them up with great pop and R’n’B sounds. There are elements of Madonna in her 80’s pomp seep through from Solange’s dextrous vocals, along with Aaliyah and even Mariah Carey. The tracks saunter along, soft and soulful yet still with enough grooveabiilty to make you want to sway, bop and sing along. It’s quite brilliant.


Buy it from: iTunes

2. Vuvuvultures – VVV

VVV

Suffering from acute Schizophrenia, “Ctrl Alt Mexicans” sets the tone for the multi-stylistic VVVEP from the amazing Vuvuvulturesperfectly. Guitars fuzz, wail and scuttle about while the beat pounds, pounds, pounds relentlessly underneath and the bassline growls. It has one of the most compulsive pop hooks we’ve heard this year and kicks things off brilliantly. The schizophrenic feeling remains constant and contradiction is once again embraced with “Pills Week”, a hyperactive, psychotic synth heavy, indie anthem and closer “I’ll Cut You”, a slow burning, grinding howl of a song. In just four songs VVV manages to cram in more ideas and styles than most full lengths releases these days.


Buy it from: Vuvuvultures

1. Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room

Public Service Broadcasting

We said at the time of its release that The War Room by Public Service Broadcasting could well end up atop our EP of the year list, and so it has.

Aside from the fantastic music on show, what really sets The War Room apart from other releases is the strength and depth of its narrative and the range of emotions it manages to convey. It is stoic, defiant, optimistic, euphoric, heartbreaking and poignant. The EP tells the full story of war, never losing sight of its true horror and the price that must be paid, even when in its most upbeat and danceable moments. It is a complete and comprehensive piece of work that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best albums of the year, let alone other EPs.


Buy it from: Public Service Broadcasting or on vinyl from Rough Trade

So that’s the EPs of the year, well done to Public Service Broadcasting for topping the list. Now it is your turn, what were your favourites?