Tag Archives: Laura Nyro

2013 Tracks Of The Year – #25 – 21

9 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 25-21

After spending the last week or so looking ahead in excitement at our top 15 artists to Listen Out For in 2014 (21 artists if you include the honourable mentions as well), it is now time to take a look back at some of the brilliant music we’ve enjoyed in the last 12 months. As is now the norm at Alphabet Bands, we will be looking at our favourite tracks, EPs and Albums of the year. This week will be Tracks (starting right now) and EPs, next week we’ll do albums.

So, we start our countdown of our 25 favourite tracks right here and now with numbers 25 – 21, but what exactly do we mean by a track, does it have to be a single? Well no, no it doesn’t. That may seem a bit of a cheat, but there’s a reason behind it. We have purposefully used quite a loose definition of ‘tracks’. We are not looking at singles only but tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months. Though we should note, if a track was released online this year but will become a single next, then it won’t be included (“Anomaly” by Paper Crows fell foul of this rule for example). The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

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.

We hope you like them and hopefully even find some you hadn’t heard before.

#25 All We Are – “Utmost Good”

We don’t know where Liverpool’s All We Are had been hanging out before making “Utmost Good”, but we figure it involved time travelling to a disco-funk club in the seventies where the lights are as low as the ceilings and a slightly-sweet smelling smoky haze sits motionless above the patrons. It grooves like the coolest hepcat in the coolest part of the city, with not a care in the world. It’s a white-suited John Travolta walking down the street at half-speed with a bassline that exudes cool and a beat that nudges your shoulders from side to side while the trio sing lovely falsetto shapes. The whole thing makes for quite a superb piece of dreamy psychedelic laid back funk that’ll make you want to break out the lava lamps, joss sticks and giant yin yang tapestries.

#24 A Weekend At The Feelies – “Lowly Buzzard”

We’ve been big fans of Jordan Campbell’s musical alter ego, A Weekend At The Feelies, since the moment we heard the level of depth and consideration within his debut single, “Lowly Buzzard”. It’s gloriously languid in style and almost shoegazy, dreamy and intangible, smoke like almost. Smooth vocals dissipate into its eerie chasm of sonic wistfulness. There are gentle depths and rises, twists, turns and dark corners of sound hidden away, waiting to be discovered. It’s a bit like looking into the mouth of a cave; dare to go in and the song will reward you with the echoey beauty of fragile synth highs and caressing bass lows, like aural ancient stalagmites meeting mystical stalactites.

#23 Marika Hackman – “Bath Is Black”

We did say, when reviewing Marika Hackman’s recent collaboration with Sivu, that while we’d never blogged about her, we are fans and thoroughly enjoyed her That Iron Taste EP and especially the wonderfully quirky and enchanting “Bath Is Black”. Showcasing Marika’s delightful way with words with playful yet heartfelt lyrics, “Bath Is Black” is a catchy and upbeat gem, and incidentally at times, vocally, she even sounds like Jem (remember her? Not of the holograms). It’s a fantastically visual track, more like a novel or short story layered over a sumptuously intricate musical arrangement. It’s gorgeous and one of those rare tracks you find that you just don’t skip and always listen to all the way through.

#22 Horse Party – “Back To Mono”

The first song ever played at an Alphabet Bands presents… gig, we’d already heard and loved the catchiness of Horse Party’s debut track, “Back To Mono”, and found it stuck in our heads for an eternity afterwards. It’s the simplicity of the beat and the opening riff, the repetition that just gets under your skin and won’t come out. Also, it kinda rocks. The pound of the drum, the crash of cymbal, the grind of guitar and the slight element of challenge in the vocal, a smidge of attitude that is almost defiant. Perfectly, it conjures up images of three people rocking out on stage, nothing fancy, just three people having a great time playing their tunes, which is exactly what Horse Party are doing. It’s not the most complicated song you’ll ever hear but frankly, when it is this good and this enjoyable, who the fuck cares?

#21 TV Girl – “Laura”

Taken from TV Girl’s excellent Lonely Women EP, “Laura” is a fantastically vibrant piece of throwback pop music, infectious and melodious throughout. Often mistaken for a song about a current or ex-girlfriend, it was actually written for and about late singer Laura Nyro, whose track “Lonely Women” also provided the name of the EP. It’s an upbeat and summery affair and ridiculously catchy with a danceable hip-hop style beat entwined with cascading piano melodies and twinkling xylophonic sounds. On an EP of fantastic tunes, “Laura” stands out, and that is saying something.

Check back later today for the tracks that reached numbers 20 – 16.

Review: TV Girl – Lonely Women EP

9 Aug

TV Girl Lonely Women

Loneliness, depression, feelings of worthlessness; these subjects are often dealt with in music, usually communicated by a heartfelt or stirring ballad, an emotionally overwrought tune dripping in self indulgence and melodramatic melancholia. It needn’t be this way though as evidenced in TV Girl’s third EP, Lonely Women, five tracks full of wry humour and warmth for their subjects.

The EP feels a little Ben Folds-ian in nature (but better) with lyrics that are whimsical but real, observational, humorous but touching. You may recall back in 2009/10 Folds worked with author Nick Hornby, releasing an album together, Lonely Avenue, that was full of sardonic observations of life and the world around them. Had Folds chosen to work with someone like Dave Eggers and focus on women of the world instead of ‘avenues’, then thrown in some fuzzy guitars and hip-hop infused beats, then he may well have come up with something closer to the Lonely Women EP.

Each of the five tracks introduces us to a different lonely woman and their various idiosyncrasies and foibles. Lead single “She Smokes In Bed” is a fantastically upbeat piece of throwback indie-pop, just perfect for summer with its lo-fi sounds. It sounds so upbeat and even jolly that chances are you may miss the fact that the focus of its narrative, Mary, is about to inadvertently set fire to her house due to the lack of self regard she has for herself.

“Laura” sounds like it is about a loved one which is kind of true, but this Laura is an object of affection that has been appreciated from afar. It was written for and about late singer Laura Nyro, whose track “Lonely Women” also provided the name of the EP. It too is an upbeat and summery affair and possibly the most catchy and accessible of all five tracks, with a danceable hip-hop style beat entwined with cascading piano melodies and twinkling xylophonic sounds. After such a vibrant and bright start, the tone does shift slightly thereon in.

“My Girlfriend” might the most understatedly poignant, subtle and deceptively beautiful track of the year. Telling the tale of a girlfriend overwhelmed by depression from the point of view of her boyfriend and the eggshells he walks around on. Musically the tone is more downbeat than predecessors, “She Smokes In Bed” and “Laura””, but it’s all relative. The beat skips along at a reasonable rate while the sounds of a glockenspiel dance around above it, all while the narrator conveys affection and love for his afflicted partner. Even though she always leaves a mess, comes home drunk or just doesn’t bother to get dressed during the day. The narrative is so simple but utterly real and evocative, the images of the scenarios come so readily and easily that it’s almost like reading a book. The tune itself is soft, warm and manages to touch the listener, bring a tear to the eye and chuckle to your lips.

“Easier to Cry” picks the pace up a little more but the narrative tone shifts down further still, moving from depression to suicide considering overwhelming sense of loneliness. That the duo are able to wrap such a dark package up in such bright and catchy paper without ever losing the song’s meaning and depth is testament to their evolving and improving songwriting.

The EP closes with “Melanie”, a track about a girl we have all known or known of. The ‘life and soul’ as it were but whose effervescent bubbliness and willingness to live and love everything and everyone is born from a crippling insecurity.

The EP sounds fantastic, as have all TV Girl EPs so far, and they really are an act that are growing and improving with every release. With Lonely Women TV Girl has given us a gloriously sardonic and enjoyable look at the darker side of human emotion that they have deftly crafted with humanity and affection, and there isn’t an ounce of melodrama to be found anywhere.

The ‘Lonely Women’ EP is out now and can be bought from theTV Girl Bandcamp page. You can even get it on a limited edition (only 150) cassette if you so wish as well as picking up a very smart looking t-shirt as well.

Stalk TV Girl: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp