Tag Archives: Nicole Atkins

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 5

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 5

#5 Nicole Atkins – Slow Phaser

Our fifth favourite album of 2014 is one that contains our favourite song of 2013. “Red Ropes” features on Nicole Atkins third album, Slow Phaser and while it remains a standout, the rest of the record is still fantastic. Being the exact right length for our walk to work, Slow Phaser got a lot of repeat play earlier this year but it was more than just duration that kept bringing us back. There is so much on offer that you will want to pour over it, devour and savour each morsel of this musical feast.

There are styles aplenty, themes and emotions a go go but most of all, throughout the entire album there is an overwhelming sense of creativity, of imagination and of deep shadowy undercurrents. Woven within each aspect there is always sadness, heartache, melancholy and despair. Even on lead single “Girl You Look Amazing”, which is a disco fuelled dance floor filling lightshow of a song, there is the sadness of a wasted life laid bare for all to see.

There’s pop music, indie, folk, disco, a show tune and even a hymn of sorts; each one sounding as confident and as accomplished as the last. It’s quality songwriting, musicianship and storytelling. It’s dark and twisted, light and breezy and mesmeric. It’s Nicole at her best and is well worth listening to again and again and again.


Nicole Atkins – Slow Phaser (album review)

28 Apr

Nicole Atkins Slow Phaser

Recently, during our 24 hour charity blogathon in fact, Nicole Atkins’ latest album, Slow Phaser, was streaming in its entirety online. Despite a strong urge, we had to resist the temptation to just sit and listen to it. We knew that if we did, the blogathon would be detrimentally affected as we’d just want to hear it again and again, and as such our writing would dry up. It was a tough choice but one we’re glad we made as not only did we raise a fair chunk of change for Cancer Research but it meant that we could come back to Nicole at a later date and give Slow Phaser the care and attention it deserved.

Now, having spent a few weeks with the album in the lead up to its UK release we know we made the right choice. The ease with which our finger has slipped to repeat and the CD has been left to simply re-start justifies our decision to wait until the Blogathon was complete before listening properly. There is so much on offer in Atkins third full length release that you will want to pour over it, devour and savour each morsel of this feast of musical tapas.

There are styles aplenty, themes and emotions a go go but most of all, throughout the entire album there is an overwhelming sense of creativity, of imagination and of deep shadowy undercurrents. Woven within each aspect there is always sadness, heartache, melancholy and despair. Even on lead single “Girl You Look Amazing”, which is a disco fuelled dance floor filling lightshow of a song, there is the sadness of a wasted life laid bare for all to see.

There’s pop music, indie, folk, disco, a show tune and even a hymn of sorts; each one sounding as confident and as accomplished as the last. “Cool People” and “We Wait Too Long” in particular are infectious little indie-pop numbers, our favourite (still) “Red Ropes” is a film noir and “It’s Only Chemistry” an alt-folk sing-along anthem.

It’s quality song writing, musicianship and storytelling. It’s dark and twisted, light and breezy and mesmeric. It’s Nicole at her best and it’s right up there with the albums of the year so far.

‘Slow Phaser’ is now out in the UK and available to buy on iTunes.


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Nicole Atkins – “Girl You Look Amazing” (video)

26 Mar

Nicole Atkins Hangover

When we fell completely in love with the grand Lynchian bluesy pop sound of Nicole Atkins’ “Red Ropes” (our favourite track of 2013), we knew immediately that this was someone special. When we saw her play a solo live set a few nights later, we knew with absolute certainty that we were right. What we hadn’t appreciated though, was how funky she could get. Now we’ve heard “Girl You Look Amazing”, there’s no doubting her prowess there either.

Taken from her latest album, Slow Phaser (out in the States already, it gets a UK release at the end of April), “Girl You Look Amazing” is, well, amazing. She says that the song came to her in a dream, being sung by David Byrne in a big dance club and clearly dreams come true (except the David Byrne bit) as there is a glorious nightclub, disco vibe to it.

As the bassline struts along and the guitar jangles like a film noir Nile Rogers (oh yes, there is still some darkness here, but we’ll get to that) you are invited to put on your glad rags, oil up those joints and get your groove on. An infectious and danceable beat behoves your attention and your shoulders, feet and hips will not be able to resist. It’s cutting choreographed shapes on an illuminated dancefloor, it’s busting moves in the centre of an enthusiastic crowd, swinging arms, rolling shoulders, bouncing feet and clapping hands. It’s fantastically compulsive; just the kind of song to get you funny looks from fellow travellers as you vibe along on the train. Trust us, we know.

But yes, there is darkness here too, a shadow cast over the discotheque that is imperceptible to all but this amazing looking girl. For, as glorious and bright, as infectious and funky as it sounds, it hides a secret. As Nicole has explained, it’s actually about a girl whose life is a mess. She has got s caught up in the party that she now uses it to hide from the real world. She’s missed so much in her life giving it all to the clubs and glitzy events that she can’t go back and she never never never wants to go home.

Take a watch of the video for a brilliantly tongue in cheek look at exactly what it is she is missing.

”Girl You Look Amazing” will be released on 5 May and ‘Slow Phaser’ gets its UK release on 28 April.


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Blogathon: Nicole Atkins – “The Worst Hangover”

31 Jan

Nicole Atkins Hangover

Ahh, we’ve just discovered a flaw in our plan to write write write, all night long. The fantastic Nicole Atkins, creator of our favourite song of last year is streaming her brand new album, Slow Phaser in full. Must. Not. Listen. To. Whole. Thing. Again. And. Again. All. Night. Long.

Ok, enough Kirk-speak. No, we are not going to listen to the whole thing just yet, but we have done a quick skim of one or two tracks and its sounding pretty fantastic so far. There are some amazing track names as well, like “Gasoline Bride” and “Who Killed The Moonlight” for example. Another brilliantly titled tune, and the one we have chosen to share with you, is “The Worst Hangover”.

We’re not going to lie, we chose this one because in all honesty, that is how we expect to feel tomorrow morning when this 24 hour charity blogathon is finished; like we have the worst hangover in the world (heck, we’re only halfway and we already feel pretty ropey).

As well as being a premonition, “The Worst Hangover” is a damn fine song, as we’d expect. Part show tune (well, it’s a bit Rocky Horror in places we think – though that could be the tiredness setting in), part quirky Tori Amos ballad, all upbeat and fun it makes nearly dying sound like a great thing to do.

Atkins has said that the album is ”a dark, desert disco rock album made during a year of wandering about in city alleys, broken shores and snowy Viking lands”..

Must. Not. Listen. To. The. Whole. Album. Right. Now…

’Slow Phaser’ is due for release on 4 February (that’s next week!) via Thirty Tigers/ Oh Mercy! And can be pre-ordered here.


This post was written as part of a 24 Hour Sponsored Blogathon for Cancer Research. If you liked this post or just want to help support an important charity, please sponsor us. Just £1 can help make a difference. You can sponsor us here or by clicking the big button below. Thank you for your support.



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2013 Tracks Of The Year – #5 – 1

11 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 5-1

It’s the final countdown, as some wise men once sang, as today we reach the Top 5, and therefore the pinnacle, of our Tracks of the Year feature. When we started the list on Monday, we noted that ” 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”, and you’ll see from the list below that we weren’t joking. All five tracks were released in the first half of the year and three of them before March was over.

Often tracks from the beginning of a year can get forgotten, overtaken by newer, shinier songs that are fresh in the mind and ears. But these five have remained fresh in our ears because their quality is so high, we haven’t really stopped listening to them since they came out.

Before we tell you what they are, here’s a quick link-a-thon to the other Tracks of the Year posts and the previous 20 of our favourite songs of 2013.

Part One – Tracks #25 – 21
Part Two – Tracks #20 – 16
Part Three – Tracks #15 – 11
Part Four – Tracks #10 – 6

Now then, here we go with our Top 5 favourite tracks of 2013. Enjoy.


#5 Sivu – “Better Man Than He”

The debut track of our number one artist to Listen Out For in 2014, Sivu’s “Better Man Than He” probably resonates and touches us more now, nearly a whole year after it was released, than it did when we first heard it. Brimming with elegance and sophistication, it is blessed with the kind of understated beauty that can take your breath away. It sounds so simple but the sounds have been deftly woven by a skilled craftsman to disguise their intricacy as well as their intimacy. It was written for a friend who was battling depression, offering them hope and a light ahead in the form of delicate and enchanting melodies, and it is this poignancy and heartfelt emotion that helps set it apart even from his most recent and spectacular tunes.


#4 Young Hunting – “Annabelle”

One of the greatest pieces of musical storytelling we heard all year came from Los Angeles quintet, Young Hunting. The standout track of a wondrously understated and gorgeous debut album, “Annabelle” might just be one of the most heartwrenchingly beautiful things we’ve ever heard. There are no extraneous flourishes; no flamboyances and each detail augments the narrative of the lyrics and aural caresses of the musical arrangements. The drumbeat acts as harbinger of the woe to come, a slowed down take on the drums that would precede an execution, and the trumpets which join as denouement is reached are a mournful lament for the loss experienced. It sounds divine, gentle melodies and almost imperceptible nuances within that stir your soul and send your heartstrings reverberating like crazy.



#3 Chvrches – “Gun”

Choosing our favourite Chvrches track is a bit like trying to choose which superpower you would have. They are all so damn good and exciting that one just isn’t enough. But, we made the rule of one track per artist so here we are, having to make Lauren’s choice. We’ve gone for the uplifting and kaleidoscopic “Gun”, not least because we’ve choreographed a pretty amazing firework display to it in our head. The beat crashes and explodes with 808 style drums, cymbals and handclaps splashing like aforementioned fireworks. The synths shoot across the night sky entwined with Lauren’s so-sweet, sometimes breathy and occasionally almost demure vocals, dancing into the drums before the track quietens down as the display looks to be ending, only to fire off one last great crescendo of light and sound.



#2 Curxes – “Further Still”

Despite having a relatively quiet 2013, over the last 12 months Curxes have become one of our favourite young bands around. So much so that we invited them to play on our stage at Norwich Sound and Vision this year. Much of this love was stirred when they released the amazingly dark and refined sounds of “Further Still”. Beginning with some sinister and uneasy sounding operatics, the kind you’d have coming out over the PA during morning exercise at a Stepford holiday camp, all pastel shades and rictus grins, “Further Still” soon steps into an eerily still backroom. Roberta’s vocals take over and blend with the suddenly more liquid sound of Curxes before that too starts to evolve and solidify into head-nod-making beats. Dark, emotional and subtle, it whispers where you might expect a roar, even as the drama is ramped up it tip-toes through the sterile rooms behind the bright primary colours of the camp outside, scalpel in hand as it comes to slice into our ears and implant itself there for evermore.



#1 Nicole Atkins – “Red Ropes”

We knew when we first heard “Red Ropes” that it was something special and we knew it would most likely feature in the upper echelons of our end of year list. Then we played it again and again and again. We played it when we went on Amazing Radio for the first time, we played it to anyone who would listen and we loved it more and more each time we did. It’s a slow burning track, full of gentle drama at first before taking on an altogether more dense and powerful conclusion with the addition of choral backing vocals as Nicole Atkins‘ soft vocals reach up with increasing force. It is cinematic in feel, Lynchian almost (but less confusing) with that sort of retro-noir style to it that Tarantino can do so well too. Sun-bleached images of a damsel not in distress but with a will of iron and capable of outwitting all around her are evoked as it swells and soars. The influence of her co-writer, Mr. Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman/The Bad Seeds) is apparent in its darkness, its rawness, honesty and power. We adore it and as we began to put this list together, with all the jostling and re-positioning that went on as we considered all the tracks (and others), not once did it move from the top spot.



So there you have it, our favourite tracks of the year.
We’ll post a full list at the weekend with a playlist of all the tracks for your delectation but tell us what you think. What did we miss and what would make your list?