Tag Archives: Juan Zelada

Huh? Juan Zelada covers… Muse.

1 Nov

Here at Alphabet Towers we have a giant, humungous even, filing cabinet with countless tracks and artists allocated to a variety of headings. Filed under ‘This Really Shouldn’t Work… But It Does” is this bonkers but really rather fun cover of the hyperactive Muse track “Hysteria”, by Radio 2’s favourite funked up smoothster, Juan Zelada.

Anyone who has seen a Juan Zelada live show will know that he not only likes to get his groove on but is also something of a rocker, but we never ever thought he would do something like this. It does sound really good though, its the horn section that does it.


Read More
’Z’ is for Juan Zelada / This Charming Man – Interview with Juan Zelada part one / This Charming Man – Interview with Juan Zelada part two / High Ceilings and Collarbones – Review

What have you done for me lately? Alphabet Bands Update September 2012

21 Sep

This week has been all about the latest addition to our Alphabet Bands family, Mahoney & The Moment, with a feature and two sessions posted on the site in the last few days. That doesn’t mean that we have fallen out of love with our other featured artists, far from it in fact. So we thought, why not catch up with them all and find out what they have been up to? So here we are, all the latest updates from our Alphabet Bands.

And the Giraffe
Josh and Nick haven’t let their long distance musical relationship prevent them from building on their excellent debut album, Something for Someone. The clan has grown as well, with two new members (Malcolm Martin and Robert Edmonson) joining the band and together they have been pulling album number two together. Recorded in Josh’s basement, friend’s houses and various studios in Nashville, Tennessee over two months, Creature Collector is due out on 2 November. We’ll have new tracks from the band for you as soon as we get them.

Read More: ’A’ is for And The Giraffe


Rebecca Brandt
A recent addition to the family, composer/pianist Rebecca Brandt has already released her album Number & Shapes but that isn’t going to stop her having a CD launch show. Should you be in the Brooklyn area tonight (21 September) then head on down to Galapagos and indulge in some ”soaring cinematic soundscapes, delicate piano melodies and percussion that will get under your skin”.

Read More: ’B’ is for Rebecca Brandt


Cutback
Things have been a little quiet for the Norwich rockers of late. They’ve had a couple of gigs in and around the city recently, but we are hoping to hear some new material soon.

Read More: ’C’ is for Cutback


Jack Robert Hardman
Jack’s eponymous debut album came out earlier this year and as well as getting some good radio play recently, he also took his show on the road for a BBC Introducing gig in August. At the moment, he is giving away a free track to new mailing list subscribers (click here if you are interested) and, we hope, prepping for some more gigs later in the year.

Read More: ’H’ is for Jack Robert Hardman


Look, Stranger!
As well as providing us with an exclusive remix of the latest single from stablemates (and perennial Alphabet Bands favourite) Kites (which you can stream below), the guys are getting ready to release their new single “Ithaca” in October. They are also hosting their latest Stranger Danger evening at 93 Feet East in London tonight (21 September) and touring the country over the coming weeks,

Tour Dates:
September
21 – 93 Feet East – LONDON
25 – King’s College University – LONDON
27 – Christ Church University – CANTERBURY
28 – University of Wales – CARMARTHEN
30 – University of Glamorgan – GLAMORGAN

October
06 – O2 Academy – BIRMINGHAM
12 – The Hub – DARLINGTON
14 – The Wheelbarrow – LONDON
20 – Oxjam Festival – LONDON (Details soon)

Read More: ’L’ is for Look, Stranger!


Mahoney and the Moment
Emily and Steve will be working on their second album this autumn, as well as taking their new full band line-up out on the road.

Tour Dates:
September
22 – The Three Wishes, Harrow

October
12 – The Albion, London
21 – Old Queen’s Head, London

November
1 – Ort Cafe, Birmingham
4 – Stamps Bar, Liverpool
17 – The Drawing Room, Chesham

Read More: ’M’ is for Mahoney & The Moment


…Of Diamonds
The girls have been busy releasing a couple of new videos in the last few weeks, check them out below.



Read More: ’O’ is for …Of Diamonds


Polaroid 85
The seven piece orchestral electronic ensemble that blew our tiny little mind earlier this year have a few shows lined up, starting tonight (21 September). London residents are strongly encouraged to get to Elysian Project in Islington for what promises to be a great night.

Tour Dates:
September
21 – Elysian Project, Islington, London
28 – Hootananny, Brixton, London

October
26 – The Blind Tiger, Brighton

Read More: ’P’ is for Polaroid85


Ronika
Supporting and remixing Little Boots was just a couple of things that have been keeping the wonderful Ronika busy over the last few months. She’s been playing some shows as well, the next one is in Warsaw tomorrow night (22 September).

Read More: ’R’ is for Ronika


SUNBEARS!
The last six months have seen something of a change in lifestyle for our sunny chums with the arrival of a little Suncub. The new baby didn’t prevent the gang from performing live on TV last month as well as doing a few gigs. We hope the little Suncub is sleeping through!

Read More: ’S’ is for SUNBEARS!


Juan Zelada
Our favourite Spanish smoothie has been a busy bee over the summer, appearing at countless festivals and releasing a new video “Open My Eyes” in August (which you can watch below). He’s also off on another UK tour this winter.

Tour Dates.
November
19 – O2 Academy, Birmingham
20 – The Harley, Sheffield
21 – The Cluny, Newcastle upon Tyne
22 – Brudenell Social Club
23 – King Tuts, Glasgow
24 – The Deaf Institute, Manchester
26 – Louisiana, Bristol
27 – The Jericho, Oxford
28 – Komedia, Brighton
29 – Scala, London

Read More: ’Z’ is for Juan Zelada


So that’s the latest from our Alphabet Bands, f you want to, you can follow all of them on Twitter using this handy list we made.

As you can see we still have a few letters left to fill. Which letter would you like to see featured next and do you have any suggestions for who you would like us to profile? Let us know below and we’ll take a listen.

Watch: Juan Zelada – “Barman”

16 Apr

“Radio 2 exec’s wet dream” Juan Zelada is currently funking his way around the country on his Good Times Tour but that hasn’t stopped him from making a new video for our delectation.

Unsurprisingly, given the title of the song is “Barman”, the video is set in a bar. Even less of a surprise is the fact that it includes footage of Juan playing live in said bar, to a crowd of attractive young women. He really is a smooth son of a gun.

Obviously we cannot condone the level of drinking going on in this video, especially at such an early hour of the evening, and any suggestion that we may have ever partaken of such activities in our lifetime will be strongly ignored, in the hope that they go away. All the same its a fun little vid for one of the many highlights on his debut album, High Ceilings and Collarbones. Just remember, everyone loves the Barman.

Read More:
’Z’ is for Juan Zelada
This Charming Man – Interview with Juan Zelada part one
This Charming Man – Interview with Juan Zelada part two
High Ceilings and Collarbones – Review

In Review: Juan Zelada – High Ceilings & Collarbones

3 Feb

It’s been a long time since we made London based, and inspired, Spanish singer-songwriter Juan Zelada our very first Alphabet Band, way back in November 2010 in fact. Since that time he has broken out and achieved heavy rotation and support from the likes of Radio 2. His blend of mellow but engaging pop-funk has been warmly embraced by the nation’s most loved radio station and each of his three most recent singles have been made record of the week. Now, with momentum and a major label behind him, he is releasing his debut album, High Ceilings & Collarbones and is set to charm us all.

1. The Blues Remain
2. Breakfast In Spitalfields
3. Baby Be Mine
4. Elsewhere
5. What Do I Know
6. Barman
7. The Boy With The Television On
8. Open Up My Eyes
9. Satisfied
10. Four Days
11. I Can’t Love
12. Don’t You Hold Me Down (Live)

As a kid, there was always this mindset that an artist would stick their best known single towards the end of an album to get you to listen to the whole thing. Artists who chose to lead off the album with what was nominally their strongest song were always seen as brave, stupid or brilliant; occasionally all three.

By that logic, choosing to lead off his debut album with both of his best known songs, the ones with the most radio play and which have been mainstays in his live set for well over a year, could mean Zelada is utterly fearless or entirely mad. Of course, the logic of childhood is often found to be flawed as one matures, and so it is that Zelada’s potentialy bold gambit is nothing more than a mark of confidence and assurance. As the keys tinkle their solo introduction to “The Blues Remain” you already feel at ease and eager for what is to come. By the time the horns have added their rich, warm sound, you feel as cosy as if you were settled by a roaring log fire as winter rages silently out your window.

That it all feels rather effortless is testament to the quality of the craft on show. The arrangements are intelligent, with sounds swelling and falling naturally, in perfect harmony with one another. The lyrics move seamlessly from wide eyed innocence to giving a knowing wink, with the kind of cheek that only someone so damned charming could get away with.

Practically every song is a gem but the stand out track is “Elsewhere”. It’s a bass hungry tale of confusion, remorse and the shattering of a relationship that adds a soupçon of drama to proceedings. Then it is back to the brass and the groove with latest single “What Do I Know” and “Barman”, a funked up jam calling out for ‘one more for the road’.

Zelada is an engaging and captivating performer and this pleasant amiability translates well to his recorded work. It may not convey the vibrancy of his live show, but there are toe-tapping sing-a-long-a moments a-plenty to be found and more often than not, a smile will have made its way to your face without you even realising. This is an album of affection and of James Bond level smoothness and the sumptuous blend of blues, funk, soul and pop makes for a very easy and enjoyable listen.

High Ceilings & Collarbones is released on Monday 6 February on Decca, and can be pre-ordered via Amazon or iTunes.

See also:
Juan Zelada interview – Part one
Juan Zelada interview – Part two
Juan Zelada Announces UK Tour

This Charming Man – Juan Zelada Interview Part Two. Expectations, mystique and the importance of a good brandy.

2 Feb

If it wasn’t already, life is about to get very interesting indeed for Juan Zelada. Yesterday we heard about the hard work and good fortune that has brought him to the eve of the release of his debut album, High Ceilings & Collarbones, which drops next week.

In the run up to Christmas, life was getting a little hectic for Juan with last minute recording sessions being booked in around a nationwide tour that meant he had to travel to and from London from across the country. He showed no signs of fatigue when we met up with him in the midst of all the hullaballoo, though he did confess to looking forward to a rest with the family at home in Spain for a while. Since his return, the pace has picked up even more with promo appearance after promo appearance, gig after gig and another nationwide tour booked in for the spring. To top it all off, he even managed to come down with a bout of laryngitis during his break.

Luckily, the recovery is in full effect when we catch up with him, most probably due in part to the restorative powers of his favoured medicinal Greek brandy, Metaxa. In fact, it could almost be classed as a secret ingredient in his success, playing a significant role in the recording process, “(it was) very key, for the night vocal sessions that were going on,” he admits.

“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Juan is his usual charming, gregarious self, as he prepares for both a radio showcase in the afternoon and headline show in the evening. He seems very happy and relaxed, with no outward signs of being under pressure. So everything is good post-Christmas and all set for the album launch? ”Everyone’s come back in really good spirits, and the band is sounding as fresh as ever so, yeah. I’m looking forward to it.”

So, brandy consumption apart, what was the recording process like? He alluded to pressure from the label when we met at the end of 2011, had they wanted to change much? ”No, to be fair to Decca, they’ve been really, really acceptable with us. They took in a project which was very near finishing in terms of all the songs that had been recorded and they really liked everything we’d done.
“So it was a case of like, if it ain’t broke, you know, don’t fix it.”

So what about these additional recording sessions? How had they come about so late in the day, and were they cause for concern? Thankfully not. “It’s just a case that throughout the year I’ve been writing other tunes, and there was like three that I had to squeeze into the album cause they were just making the album better. The manic thing about that was it was all between the touring schedule before Christmas that we had so we were trying to record three songs, mix and master them and edit them and so on whilst we were on the road and just making up whatever days we could to make up in London.”

”The vibe within the song is so organic and special.“

It’s no wonder he needed a break then. At no point when we met him in Norwich, or now as we speak, does he complain. The work ethic that has served him so well in the past is still quite clearly there and the three new songs, “Elsewhere” – a dramatic, up-tempo bass driven number which is stunning live, “The Boy With The TV On” – a delicate folk song inspired by a trek in the mountains of Nepal, and “Open Up My Eyes” – a more commercial pop ballad, were important to him as they represent where he and the band are right now musically.

There was another addition as well, as Juan explains, ”I was really glad that they (Decca) would also include a live recording that we did at East Coast studios called “Don’t You Hold Me Down” and that was a great sort of result I reckon because it is basically the band jamming out a song, at the time not really thinking it was going to be part of an album, not really thinking anything, just having a good time.” It’s a great idea, with his live sound being so energetic, even when compared to the radio edits of some songs, it gives audiences the chance to feel what he is all about.

Conversely, it also gives something to those fans who have previously only seen him play live and who may be surprised by the comparative leisurely feel to the album. Something Juan acknowledges, “the vibe within the song is so organic and special and it was worth while sticking in the album because it was a snippet of what we like, and the feelings that people get when they go live. So we could foresee the problem of people seeing us live, going and getting the album and going ‘it’s not quite what we saw live’ so we kind of wanted to answer that.”

It may sound contrite, but it is symptomatic of the genuine affection he seems to have for his audience, certainly when playing live and now also as a recording artist. He is such an amiable person, even when he doesn’t want to answer a question, he still does. Case in point, our conversation turns specifically to the album title, High Ceilings & Collar Bones, and its meaning, but Juan doesn’t want to go there. ”I kind of prefer to keep a little bit of a mystique around it,” he says, “because it is such an open ended kind of a title.” He can’t help himself of course and proceeds to explain precisely where it comes from, thereby ruining the potential for any ‘charming, good looking, young Spanish man adds mystery and intrigued to his repertoire by refusing to reveal details of album title’ style headlines.

We won’t go into much detail as Juan does his best to retain some semblance of ambiguity, stating ”It suggests many different things to me, so I mean, kind of make of it what you will…” but dreams, aspirations and appreciation for the female form make up much of his thinking around it.

” I’m very proud of what we’ve done in terms of the recording side of things.”

Moving away from the title, what about expectations? He has had such success over recent months, with a great deal of national coverage, does he let himself get carried away with what could happen in the next few weeks? How does he expect it all to go? As befits his down to earth personality, his is very much a pragmatic view. ”We’ve got high expectations in terms of what it can do, and what we can do, however, I don’t expect it to be doing amazing results just on the back of the Radio 2 exposure because we’ve always had more of a slow burner approach with things.”

So it will be more of a gradual process then? Not a mad dash for week one chart placement followed by fingers crossed the second week drop off isn’t too bad?

“It comes out on the 6th of Feb and there’s not that big ‘hoorah’ about it, you know? There’s not that big campaign around it, I think it will be in crescendo and gradually, February, March, building up to the time when we’re mostly touring in April and, you know, I think that’s when it will become a bit more.”

“I don’t have the expectations of it blasting the charts or anything anytime soon in February or anything like that, I don’t. As long as we’re (doing) the right things live and, you know, I’m very proud of what we’ve done in terms of the recording side of things so, as long as we’re doing our job right, it should be a bit of a slow burner really, that’s the idea.”

It makes sense when you think about it, a guy whose musical influences are from the 60’s and 70’s, taking a more traditional and measured approach to success and expectation. Despite everything, his feet are still firmly rooted on the ground, his work ethic is unbroken and his humour and charisma remain ever present. We don’t doubt that the album will be a success and that this is just the beginning of some big things for Juan Zelada for, as charming as he undoubtedly is, he has the talent to back it up as well.

High Ceilings & Collarbones is released on Monday 6 February and can be pre-ordered via Amazon or iTunes. Come back tomorrow for our full review.

Pictures: Adam S