Tag Archives: Marika Hackman

Marika Hackman – “Before I Sleep”

15 Jan

Marika Hackman

Marika Hackman’s debut album, We Slept At Last was already on our ‘can’t wait – must hear’ list for 2015 and with every new snippet she releases, our anticipation just grows further. Having already released three superb and critically adored EPs, you’d think we would have already heard just about everything that is going to be on the album, except that none of the 13 tracks on those EPs will feature. It’s going to be all new material and if it is all as good as new tracks “Before I Sleep” and the previously unveiled “Drown” and “Animal Fear”, it looks like our expectations will be exceeded.

Her arrangements, along with her vocals, are exquisite and “Before I Sleep” is no exception. It’s soft and subdued but builds gradually, almost imperceptibly before a piercing, but enticing synthy, whistle brings it to a close. It’s like unknowingly wandering off the path in a dark forest, coming to a clearing and catching a fleeting glimpse of otherworldly magic taking place before it vanishes, leaving just the darkness around you and a sense of amazement and wonder in your heart.

It’s slightly off-kilter, slightly unusual and unnerving but entirely, wholly beautiful.

’We Slept At Last’ is due out on 16 February and is available to pre-order on iTunes, Vinyl and CD now.

Stalk Marika Hackman: Website / Facebook / Twitter

UK Blog Sound 2014: The Winner

2 Jan

Blog Sound Of 2014

After making some not so serious predictions about what 2014 might have in store yesterday, it’s time to get a little bit more professional and talk about artists who may have a big influence on what the next 12 months look like.

You may recall that we, alongside 58 other blogs, voted for new acts whose music we love and who we want to do well in 2014. Back in December we revealed the longlist of the 16 most voted for acts and today we are delighted, and we mean delighted to reveal the Top 3 and of course, the winner.


The Result

banks and marika hackman

Congratulations go to the wonderful Marika Hackman and the much talked about Banks who tie as joint winners. It’s not the first time they have been so close, Marika was the 8th most blogged about artist by UK listed Hype Machine blogs in 2013, and Banks was the 9th.

We also offer our congratulations to our own personal top tip for 2014, Sivu who placed as runner up just one vote behind the joint winners.


The Tunes





The Opinion

To be honest, we weren’t overly optimistic about this year’s poll after seeing the longlist. While there was fewer synergies with the BBC Sound of Poll than last year, there were still a few acts that felt to us like they were more hype than substance. Still, despite our misgivings we are absolutely delighted with the result.

Marika Hackman is an artist we really love but have only recently started blogging about, shame on us, so we are made up to see her at the top of this particular tree. We adore her slightly off-kilter vocal and the lyrical intricacy and subtly she crafts atop wondrous melodies and sophisticated and engaging arrangements. It’s folky in essence but there is so much more to her music and the gorgeous elegance of her sound. Yeah, we are very happy that Marika is a joint winner of the poll.

Banks is someone who, despite the amount of blog support she received last year, we know much less about. Her electronic R&B influenced pop is nice enough but we haven’t really heard that much of it to get excited. We are not, in all honesty, surprised to find her at the top of this list, nor would we be surprised to see her near or at the top of the BBC poll next week. She has a very large online fanbase, though that is (we understand) yet to translate to sell out shows, and a lot of industry support.

As for Sivu, well we probably don’t need to say too much do we? Anyone who reads this site even semi-regularly will know we adore his music and expect big things for next year. His music is a heady mix of instantly accessible, light sounding folk popness, and dark themes born out of heartache and despair. We were very pleasantly surprised indeed to see him place as the runner-up and, at only one vote behind the winners, so close to coming top.


The Facts

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 is a poll of 59 UK based music bloggers. It asked them to each vote for their three favourite emerging artists. This is the third year the poll has taken place and for the first time two artists have tied for equal first place, each receiving an identical number of votes. Congratulations to Marika Hackman and Banks. Singer songwriter Sivu came third.

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 is a poll designed to complement the BBC Sound Of poll and is voted for only by UK music blogs. This year 139 acts received at least 1 vote from the 59 participating blogs, the vast majority of the 139 receiving just 1 solitary vote. Of the 15 acts on the BBC Sound of list 7 of them failed to secure a single vote from UK Blog Sound voters.


The Participating Blogs

17 Seconds / A Pocket Full Of Seeds / All Noise / Alphabet Bands / Beat Surrender / Both Bars On / Brapscallions / Breaking More Waves / Brighton Music Blog / Cat From Japan / Daisy Digital / Details Of My Life So Far / Don’t Watch Me Dancing / Dots And Dashes / Drunken Werewolf / Eaten By Monsters / Echoes and Dust / Electronic Rumors / Faded Glamour / God Is In The TV / Gold Flake Paint / Hearty Vibes / I Love Pie / In Love Not Limbo / Just Music That I Like / Killing Moon / Like 1999 / Little Indie Blogs / Love Music : Love Life / Music Broke My Bones / Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt / My Bands Better Than Your Band / My Day By Day Music / Not Many Experts / Peenko / Pop Dodger / Repeat Button / Scientists of Sound / Scottish Fiction / Skeletory / Sleep In Music / Some Of It Is True / Sound Influx / Sounds Good To Me Too / Sounds Of Now Music / Sweeping The Nation / The Blue Walrus / The Devil Has The Best Tuna / The Electricity Club / The Evening’s Empire / The Mad Mackerel / The Metaphorical Boat / The Sound Of Confusion / The Underclassed / This Must Be Pop / The Von Pip Musical Express / Thoughts On Music / When The Gramophone Rings

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.

UK Blog Sound of 2014 Longlist Revealed

3 Dec

Blog Sound Of 2014

You may have noticed, it was hard to miss frankly as Twitter was all of a flurry, that yesterday (2 Dec) the BBC released their Sound of 2014 Longlist. As with the last couple of years, we bloggers have responded to the internal question we often ask (why should they have all the fun?) and produced our own list of artists we, collectively, love and have high hopes for next year.

We’ve bolded ‘love’ there, because that is the most important word. When asked to vote, the onus was put on upcoming artists we adore, not specifically ones we think could be massive. Perhaps the list would more closely resemble the BBC’s had we done so, but we doubt it this year. There is such a wide range of fantastic music spanning so many genres right now that forming any kind of consensus is going to be difficult. Indeed, over 100 acts were nominated by 59 blogs, with the majority getting just the one vote each. So anyone who thinks we all just like and post the same stuff as each other can think again.

Now, you might not agree with the list, only one of our top 3 made the Longlist and only four of our own Longlist of 15 (some are still to be revealed so you can have fun guessing who the remaining ones are) are included. So, while we have no fundamental disagreements with those who are listed below, we think you’ll agree there are a couple of surprises in there.

Before we get to the list, here’s some quick background from organisers Robin and Andy of Breaking More Waves and The Von Pip Musical Express respectively.

The Blog Sound Poll was first published in 2011. The concept of the poll wasn’t to criticise the established BBC Sound of list, but simply an experiment to see if UK music bloggers could come up with its own list of emerging artists that was more representative of their community and give the artists that were nominated some extra publicity. Indeed the idea was to compliment the BBC list in many ways by providing an alternative to compare and contrast.

The 2011 list contained some interesting alternatives to the BBC list including Mercury Prize winners Alt-J and Bastille who have found huge commercial success in the UK in 2013. The 2012 list was more similar to the BBC list with Haim being the runaway winners, followed closely by Chvrches.

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 poll is the biggest yet with 59 blogs each nominating their 3 favourite emerging artists. It has been retitled to give emphasis to the fact that it is a list created by UK bloggers, although the choices of music can come from around the world.

The Top 3 will be revealed on 2 January, but for now here are the 16 acts that made the longlist.

The Nominated Artists For The UK Blog Sound Of 2014

Banks – Sultry electronic music with a hint of soul from Los Angeles.


Embers – Cinematic and vast indie rock from Manchester


George Ezra – Singer songwriter with a bluesy voice

Hella Better Dancer – Dark and fiery indie rock band


Hockeysmith – Genre hopping sister duo from Cornwall


Honeyblood – Raw d-i-y indie rock two piece from Glasgow


Iyes – Edgy sweetly melodic pop duo from Brighton


Khushi – Endearing East London singer who sits somewhere between pop, indie and folk


Lyla Foy – Previously known as Wall, creator of delicate, brooding, intimate pop


Marika Hackman – Singer songwriter with haunting folk references


Mt Wolf – Dreamy sounding band that combine electronics, acoustic music and ambient atmospherics with near operatic vocals.


Royal Blood – Brighton duo that play gritty lo-fi rock with attitude


Rhodes – Stripped back acoustic singer songwriter


Sivu – Idiosyncratic singer songwriter


Sophie Jamieson – Calm, atmospheric folk musician


Wolf Alice – Edgy rock band who take references from grunge and indie.


The final shortlist of three and the overall winner will be announced on 2 January. See you back here for that.


The Participating Blogs

Also in alphabetical order:

17 Seconds / A Pocket Full Of Seeds / All Noise / Alphabet Bands / Beat Surrender / Both Bars On / Brapscallions / Breaking More Waves / Brighton Music Blog / Cat From Japan / Daisy Digital / Details Of My Life So Far / Don’t Watch Me Dancing / Dots And Dashes / Drunken Werewolf / Eaten By Monsters / Echoes and Dust / Electronic Rumors / Faded Glamour / God Is In The TV / Gold Flake Paint / Hearty Vibes / I Love Pie / In Love Not Limbo / Just Music That I Like / Killing Moon / Like 1999 / Little Indie Blogs / Love Music : Love Life / Music Broke My Bones / Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt / My Bands Better Than Your Band / My Day By Day Music / Not Many Experts / Peenko / Pop Dodger / Repeat Button / Scientists of Sound / Scottish Fiction / Skeletory / Sleep In Music / Some Of It Is True / Sound Influx / Sounds Good To Me Too / Sounds Of Now Music / Sweeping The Nation / The Blue Walrus / The Devil Has The Best Tuna / The Electricity Club / The Evening’s Empire / The Mad Mackerel / The Metaphorical Boat / The Sound Of Confusion / The Underclassed / This Must Be Pop / The Von Pip Musical Express / Thoughts On Music / When The Gramophone Rings

Free Download: Sivu & Marika Hackman – “I Hold”

30 Nov

Sivu - Marika

We’ve posted about Sivu once or twice this year (and will no doubt be posting about him a couple more times before December is done as well), so our admiration and enjoyment of his music should come as no surprise to regular readers. What is probably less known is how much we love the music of Marika Hackman. We have, for no good reason at all, never got round to blogging about her before but ever since we heard her That Iron Taste EP (which, incidentally, spent a lot of time being played in our car stereo over the summer) we’ve been completely enamoured.

Since the pair announced they would be embarking on a join mini-tour of the UK in December we’ve been trying to work out the logistics of a jaunt to Cambridge in the middle of a full on work party/kids nativity/Norwich gigfest week (we’re gonna try and make it). The idea of them both playing the same evening was pretty enticing but then they went and announced a shared tape release, with each writing a song for the other to feature on, which they will give away free at each gig and should lead to live duets each night (we hope).

The first of the two AA tracks to find its way online (and as a free download – which you can get from the player below) is the Sivu penned “I Hold”.

It’s been described as a bit of a departure in style for both artists but to our untrained ear it sounds like a perfect meeting in the middle of their two styles. It’s delicate and mechanical; the carefully methodical guitar plucks rise before the vocal like winding up a steadfast clockwork tin solider. Whirring gently as he tries to woo the beautifully unattainable ballerina; Hackman’s softly melancholic vocal twirls gently, dancing together with Sivu’s, but just out of reach. Then the clockwork slows and winds down, ceasing as the track slowly dies, waiting, hoping to be wound once more so they can dance together again.

It’s a delightful collaboration and one that makes us even more excited for their tour (dates below) and the forthcoming, Marika Hackman written, “Skin”.


Sivu and Marika Hackman on tour:

10 December – Brighton, The Hope
11 December – London, The Lexington
12 December – Cambridge, Portland Arms
13 December – Manchester, Gullivers
14 December – Bristol, The Birdcage

Stalk Sivu: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Stalk Marika Hackman: Website / Facebook / Twitter