Tag Archives: Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder – “Lifetimes”

7 Apr

Way back in 1984, as it was about to reach its burnt marshmallow conclusion, Ghostbusters described a fairly terrifying picture of a forthcoming apocalypse. Religion too has taught for centuries that there are signs to look for that will indicate the end of days. Now, we’re not saying that Oh Wonder are the harbingers of doom, but having had a rigid modus operandi of releasing one track a month for a year, that they have now given us two new songs in seven days is surely an indication that the time of ”dogs and cats living together” is nearly upon us. Thankfully they are giving us some cracking tunes to go out on.

Following on from last month’s week’s “Ultralife”, “Lifetimes” is the second song to be taken from their forthcoming new album, also called Ultralife.

Aside from the head-spinning revision of their release strategy, listening, it’s almost as if they haven’t been away at all. The dual vocals still sound as lovely as ever, the melody is uplifting and dreamy and the hook is as catchy and sing-along as ever.

In essence, “Lifetimes” sounds very much like Oh Wonder while sounding not like Oh Wonder at all. All the elements are there but the beat is bigger and there is a piano line that to our (extremely odd) mind makes us think of late 80’s New York based business based movies (we’re thinking Trading Places and Working Girl, that sort of thing). It even features Anthony showing off his flow and getting his rap game on.

That it sounds more overtly hip-hop influenced than previous releases shouldn’t really be that surprising though, there were always undercurrents within their debut album and anyone who has seen them live will have heard how those undercurrents are made more prominent and energetic. It also continues to show off the pair’s social conscience (something that was very evident on their eponymous debut album) as it looks at climate change, its impact and even its deniers.

Oh Wonder are back and it’s brilliant. Now excuse us while we sing along happily while checking outside to see if the dead have started rising from their graves.

Oh Wonder’s new album ‘Ultralife’ is due for release on 16 June via Island Records and can be pre-ordered here

Get to know Oh Wonder: Website / Facebook / Twitter

2015 Review: Acts of the Year

6 Jan

Acts of the Year

#1 – Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder

This is the first year we’ve ever annointed an ‘act of the year’ and we thought it was high time we did so. Like many of our choices this past few days, the answer seemed pretty obvious to us as soon as we started to think about it. Oh Wonder have just had an absolutely incredible 12 months and really, to us, they feel like the only choice.

Certainly, as we mentioned when announcing their debut record as being our favourite album of 2015, they are the band we have listened to more than any other and their live show was just fantastic. That is all the more incredible when you consider that they hadn’t played a live show as a band before the autumn. Now though they are selling out shows around the world and further enhancing their reputation as lovely people and a wonderful band.

This time last year the Oh Wonder juggernaut was just starting to pick up speed. Their early tracks were racking up the plays and regularly looking down on everyone else from the Hype Machine summit. They played a session for Radio One and then the album came out and their stratospheric trajectory spiked even higher.

Oh Wonder reached 26 in the UK charts and their music was heard by 6million listeners on Spotify in 2015 and, according to Hype Machine, they were the third most blogged about band in the UK. Not bad for a pair who started out just writing some tunes together to see what happened.

Unquestionably, 2015 belonged to Oh Wonder.

#2 – Black Honey

Black Honey

Another band to have an absolutely storming 12 months was blog favourite, Black Honey. Like Oh Wonder they have done nothing but enhance their reputation and gain a legion of fans in 2015.

We love everything they have done and seemingly, so do a hell of a lot of other people. Their music was played by 750,000 listeners on Spotify and they were the most blogged about band in the UK. They are an incredibly exciting young band with a raw, passionate energy in their music that sets them apart from other bands of a similar ilk.

They are exciting and people are excited by them. We finally got to see them play live at the Norwich Sound and Vision festival and in the lead up to the gig, Black Honey was the name on everyone’s lips. They were the band most people were talking about, the one they most wanted to see and the one that everyone knew. Those of us who were lucky enough to squeeze into the Mash Tun for their show were not disappointed as they let fly with an incendiary set that damn near took the roof off.

2015 was an amazing year for them and, if there is an album on the way, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Black Honey dominate 2016.

#3 – The Japanese House


This time last year no-one had heard of The Japanese House. Yet by the time the calendar page ticked over to 2016, Amber Bain was one of the most talked about new artists around. In just a few short months she debuted with a Zane Lowe premiere, a place on the Dirty Hit roster and The 1975 on production duties, and left with two highly acclaimed EPs, Pools to Bathe In and Clean, under her belt.

Her music is magical and multi layered with melodies and her beguiling androgynous vocal enchanting and entrancing. She was second on the Blog Sound of 2016 poll as well as on the Tipping Point’s Tips of the Year and if weren’t for the likelihood of an album being released next year, we’d expect her to be on the BBC Sound of 2017 poll.

2015 Review: Albums of the Year

2 Jan

Albums of the Year

#1: Oh Wonder – Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder

Without question our most played album of the year (it’s pretty much been on repeat in the car since it came out) the debut release by Oh Wonder was also our favourite. While some may have questioned the practice of having all but two of the album’s tracks up online well in advance of its release, saying it would have a negative effect on enjoyment and interest in the album, Oh Wonder instead had a sense of instant accessibility and sing-along-ability. Rather than putting us off, it just kept pulling us back in.

The album is full of warmth and emotion and of hope in the face of despair. It’s beautiful, melodic and enticing. It works as a collection of gorgeously moving songs and as a single, whole entity. The catchy synthpop sensibilities blend with subtle hip-hop influences and gorgeous harmonies to make a simply wonderful record. It can build up when you are feeling low or just hold your hand and let you know it will all be ok.

Most of all, it is just great to listen to, to enjoy, to sing along with and to come back to again and again and again.

Buy Oh Wonder from: ohwondermusic.com

#2: All We Are – All We Are


Released back at the start of February, the eponymous debut album from Liverpool based, but very international, All We Are is one we’ve come back to time and time again over the last 12 months, and it never stops sounding amazing.

Their laid back psychedelic grooves grind along with effortless and sublime ease. There are moments of celestial beauty, of contemplative meditation and post disco boogie wonderland-ing. It swirls and sways, dances with funky grace and exudes Fonzie levels of cool. If we were an album, we’d want to be All We Are.

Buy All We Are from: Double Six Records

#3: Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

PSB The Race For Space

Following on from their critically acclaimed and official chart bothering debut, Inform – Educate – Entertain was always going to be challenging for Public Service Broadcasting but we’d say they surpassed it (and not just in chart position).

Echoing the single theme narrative of their remarkable The War Room EP, The Race for Space deals with one specific period of the past (which they make come to life). Here the pair delves into the rich history of the American-Soviet space programmes and delivers (amongst others) moments of intense drama (“The Other Side”) excitement (“Go”) and stupidly funky fun (“Gagarin”).

Buy The Race For Space from: publicservicebroadcasting.net/

Others We’ve Loved

In no particular order…

Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs
John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
Lonelady – Hinterland
Gems – Kill the One You Love
Tove Lo – Queen of the Clouds
Empress Of – Me
Lanterns on the Lake – Beings
Brooke Annibale – The Simple Fear
C Duncan – Architect

Oh Wonder – “Heart Hope”

3 Sep

Oh Wonder

Where oh where has the year gone? It what seems like the blink of an eye, 12 months have passed and the once mysterious Oh Wonder have become one of the most talked about, blogged about and exciting bands around. 12 months, 13 tracks and (tomorrow) one album, their rise has been remarkable and with sold out shows in the weeks to come it should continue. They’ve already recorded a live session for Radio1 and no doubt there is much more to come.

So what of the last of their monthly releases, “Heart Hope”? It is, as you would expect, delightful, emotive and enchanting. While the vocals, melody and well, everything, is as wonderful as you would expect, while it can just wash over you like a pleasant warm summer rain, there is (as ever) a subtle, probing undercurrent.

There is a threat of hurt embedded deep within the opening piano, something more than heartbreak in the vocals. It’s an ache of the soul, a wistful, forlorn despair or wish for something else, a simpler time maybe. It’s the silent torment of watching a child’s letter to Father Christmas go unread on the mantel, the threat of a Christmas wish going ungranted, there’s an ache for hope to find its way through the crust of hurt.

Thankfully Oh Wonder have granted many a wish over the last 12 months with their music and, with two songs (“Without You” and “Plans”) yet to be unveiled (and you thought you had heard them all!) on the album, there will be more wishes granted, we’re sure.

Oh Wonder’s eponymous debut album is out on 4 Sept and can be ordered on iTunes or you can get signed CD and vinyl versions direct from the band.

Stalk Oh Wonder: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Oh Wonder – “White Blood”

1 Jun

Oh Wonder - White Blood

Context in music is incredibly important. It might seem like an obvious and odd statement to make when opening a blog post but it’s true and worth remembering. The intention, the subject matter, the inspiration are all vital components when experiencing music and allowing it to affect you. For example, the likes of David Guetta make music for people to dance to, to jump up and down and have carefree fun to. It’s not the sort of thing you would expect to be played during a funeral or mass and doing so would feel incongruous to the artist’s intentions.

We mention this as while listening to the new Oh Wonder song today we found ourselves profoundly moved. In isolation “White Blood” is a beautiful and elegantly simple track that entrances the listener. Listening with knowledge of the context of its origin and inspiration is something else entirely.

As explained by the band, this is the context:

”Earlier this year we had the pleasure of meeting Steven and Wendi, our fans – and now friends, from the US. They are both remarkable people – generous, warm-hearted and so spirited. Steven is a doctoral student at MIT, and after a voluntary academic scan he discovered a baseball-sized cancerous brain tumour, which was successfully removed after a 10-hour awake brain surgery. We are humbled to have collaborated with Steven on the artwork for our forthcoming single, ‘White Blood’. The image is a very zoomed-in image of part of his brain tumour, photographed under a microscope by the man himself!

We wrote ‘White Blood’ to explore the idea of needing immunity from disease, sadness, hopelessness or fear, not only in the physical form of white blood cells, but also with simple human love and support. This song is for you, Steven and Wendi, and for anyone else out there that is dealing with difficult physical or mental health circumstances. We are all here for each other.”

Having read that statement, we pressed play and were immediately lost. Lost in emotion, in a heady world of pain, anguish, heartache, hope, despair and love. There were goosebumps, there were tears and we were quite literally rendered motionless as we just sat and listened. Then we listened again, and again. Not once did the feeling diminish, not once did our eyes cease to wobble as we sought to hold back the trickle down our cheek.

The spaces in the piano arrangement are as potent as the notes themselves, the lyrics evocative and heartfelt. The feelings within us rise as the soft vocals reach out like a hand to be held, and then there is the echo. That quiet wave beneath the surface that sounds like a shell held to the ear, a sound that would usually provide happy memories of childhood games and summer on the beach. Here though context takes us on a different journey and that echo sounds instead like something clinical, like mechanical ventilation and those feelings that were on the rise overflow in a torrent.

We’ve spoken before, a number of times, about the power of music, about its capacity to change and affect your state of mind and outlook on life, but we’ve been quiet about the importance of context. Sometimes though, context is everything and right now, alongside this remarkably emotive and powerful song from two incredible songwriters, it has brought us to our knees.

More context about the song can be found at ohwondermusic.com and you can read more Steven himself at www.stevenkeating.info.

Artwork photo credit: Steven Keating, Dr. Choi-Fong Cho, and Dr. Sean Lawler. Surgery completed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Stalk Oh Wonder: Website / Facebook / Twitter