Tag Archives: Kites

Premiere: Kites – “Orwell Knows”

1 Dec

Kites

Back in the early days of Alphabet Bands, one of the emerging artists we championed was London based electro-fop-pop combo, Kites. And by championed, we mean featured fairly extensively at the time. By the end of 2011 they were gathering good momentum and despite a quietish 2012 they kept on growing their fanbase, improving their live act and increasing their blog coverage. It got to the stage where the firework had been lit and we were all waiting for the big, colourful explosion of light and sound that would make us go ‘ooooooooooh’. We even included them in our tips for 2013, everything was set and then…

…nothing.

The firework fizzled out and, as we were all taught, everyone walked away from it, including, it seemed, the band members themselves.

Silence was in abundance where once there had been delightfully erudite, lyrically dextrous and danceable pop music.

Until now.

Yep, after nearly two long years of tumbleweed the Kites ensemble have dusted off their performing clothes, pulled the keyboard out from its box at the back of the garage and shared a new song.

Except, this isn’t really a new song and this isn’t really a return. To paraphrase revered philosopher LL Cool J, we can’t call this a comeback, because it isn’t one. It’s the thing Kites never got to say when they vanished, goodbye.

For those of us who had wondered where they went and what happened, for those of us who wanted closure, Kites have returned to put the lid properly on the box and bid us adieu.

Evidently the real world stepped out of the shadows, swept them up into its dark embrace and took them with it. Fortunately they have escaped its clutches just long enough to re-master what they had planned to be their first single of 2013 and instead has become their final single of ever, “Orwell Knows”.

Its four and a half minutes represents everything that made us love Kites in the first place. Infectious and upbeat in sound, Matthew sings like a performance poet, rhymes skipping off his tongue like a Wildean travelling salesman, exciting us with his patter and drawing us in enraptured by whatever he has to say. What he is saying, literally, is goodbye and it is, alas, what we too must say.

So, goodbye Kites, we know it can never be, but at least we got to share these last moments together, and we’ll always have the Scala.


Stalk Kites: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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.


2013 Preview: Listen Out For – Kites

21 Nov

In what is fast becoming a theme in our look at bands to listen out for in 2013, the last year has been quiet for Kites in terms of music released. Only one single, “This Jumped Up Boy In Livery”, has been made available and even that was originally posted online back at the end of 2011. What was new this year was the video to accompany the track (which you can watch below) and some cracking remixes.

What Kites have done in 2012 though is display shrewd judgement and a little bit of genius, all without the need for new tunes. Like their music, the approach has one that blends retro methodologies with modern technology. They have introduced themselves to a new audience through their gigs, both headline and well considered support slots, then interacted with and hoovered them up as new fans on social media.

The genius part has been the association with the Huffington Post and lead singer Matthew’s regular blog about anything. Again, it is profile raising, building a new audience using his considerable skill as a wordsmith to connect with people who otherwise wouldn’t have heard of them, getting them interested in him and driving them to seek out Kites’ eloquent and entertaining electro-pop.

All this fan-hoarding should reap its rewards in 2013 with more shows on the horizon, the release of “Orwell Knows” (their first new track since signing a publishing deal with Eagle-i-Music), a remix of a the new Maximo Park track and even a new member joining the band. It feels very much like the ground-work has been done in 2012 and the assault will begin in 2013.







“This Jumped Up Boy In Livery” is available now from iTunes

Stalk Kites: Online / On Facebook / On Twitter / On Soundcloud

Read More: Gig Review: Kites, Scala, 02/10/2012 / Exclusive Stream: Look, Stranger! Remixes Kites / On an upward trajectory – Interview with Kites’ Matthew Phillips

Gig Review: Kites, Scala, 02/10/2012.

3 Oct

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Winning over a crowd that is almost exclusively in attendance to watch another performer may not have been one of the 12 labours of Hercules, heck it wasn’t even one of the 12 tasks of Asterix, but nonetheless its difficulty should not be underestimated. Tonight at the Scala in North London, it is a task that Kites are to undertake as they seek to entertain and seduce fans of X-Factor contestant, Aiden Grimshaw.

It is not an entirely alien crowd mind you and a few friendly whoops and hollers greet the band as they walk on stage. Then come the drums, pounding out across the floor, filling the venue and counting down the arrival of singer Matthew Phillips. The crowd may not know him now, but they soon will. A perpetual motion machine, he fiddles and moves, dances and skips and struts about the stage. It may well be home to another later this evening, but for now it is his and he is making himself comfortable.

There is a heavier feel to their live set, though that may be due to sound issues that seem to be drowning the keys, and there is something darker too. Matthew’s baritone provides a hitherto unheralded gothic quality to their synth-pop, like a disco Sisters of Mercy. It remains as infectious as ever and the crowd feels it too, warming to the band quick smart. Lively for a Tuesday they may be, but like Matthew, they are all in for some midweek revelry. The whoops are getting louder, the dancing more pronounced, the clap-along’s more enthusiastic and the floor is filling with each song.

On the home stretch now and the task is all but complete. The crowd belongs to Kites, to Matthew and his non-stop energy and charm. Nothing is left on stage as they steam through “Art Tastes Better Blind” and “History”, the crowd dancing, clapping and, as set finale “This Jumped Up Boy In Livery” reaches its crescendo, singing along with almost as much gusto as Matthew himself.

Their show draws to close and as he imparts his thank you’s and goodnight’s the near capacity crowd roars back to Matthew their appreciation. They may not have known who Kites were at the start of the evening but they certainly do now.



“This Jumped Up Boy In Livery” is available now from iTunes

Stalk Kites
Online / On Facebook / On Twitter / On Soundcloud

Read More
Watch: Kites – “This Jumped Up Boy In Livery”/ Exclusive Stream: Look, Stranger! Remixes Kites / On an upward trajectory – Interview with Kites’ Matthew Phillips

Photo Credit: Adam Shoesmith. Taken at Cargo, May 2012.

Watch: Kites – “This Jumped Up Boy In Livery”

13 Sep

When watching the new video for Kites latest single, “This Jumped Up Boy In Livery”, our initial and overriding thought was, ‘it’s very Matthew isn’t it?’. The Charlie Chaplin inspired routine, directed and choreographed by actor Christian Roe, fits singer Matthew Phillip’s dandy sensibilities like a favoured smoking jacket.

It is an astute choice of cinematic history to pay homage to, acting, as it does, as the perfect visual embodiment of the song’s wonderfully decadent self-indulgence. The putting on of the character before the desperate to please performance in front of an unmoved audience brings life to lyrics conceived following a period of self doubt. While Matthew’s introspection may have lead him to question the likelihood of his own success, “This Jumped Up Boy In Livery” leaves us in no doubt that it must only be just around the corner.

Following on from previous single, “Brother”, “This Jumped Up Boy…” continues the bands record of producing fiercely intelligent and entertaining electro-pop, which of itself should be enough to guarantee success. Add in the essential je ne sais quoi of their eloquent and engaging English gent of a frontman, and surely it won’t be long before Matthew is singing songs of celebration, not self-deprecation.

“This Jumped Up Boy In Livery” is due for release on 1 October, in the meantime, check out the video below.


Read More
In Pictures: Kites at Cargo, London/ Exclusive Stream: Look, Stranger! Remixes Kites / Kites Release New Track: “This Jumped-Up Boy In Livery” / On an upward trajectory – Interview with Kites’ Matthew Phillips / Listen: Kites Debut Single – “Brother”