Tag Archives: Rhye

2013 Albums of the Year: The Full List, and a little extra…

21 Dec

2013 Albums of the Year The Full List

Just as we did with our other lists this month, EPs of the Year and Tracks of the Year, we have decided to put all ten of our favourite albums of 2013 into one easy to read list. And, as with our 2014 Preview series, we have also added some honourable mentions of albums that we loved but didn’t quite make it into our final ten.

Every year when we sit down to work out our albums of the year, we always end up surprising ourselves in some way or other. This year was no different and one thing that caught our attention, though probably means very little, was the geographical make up of the list, with seven of the ten albums coming from the USA and only three from the UK, and how many (eight) were debut albums. Evidently we like new things from overseas very much.

Anyway, here you go, all in one place, our favourite albums of the year. Just click on the album title to be taken to the original post and to read more about each one.

Enjoy and see you next week for some regular blog posts and festive fun as well.


#10: Superhumanoids – Exhibitionists

”All throughout Exhibitionists, melodies swoop and swoon, flying to the sun and melting into considered and analytical lyrics. Light and dark meet, mix and leave hand-in-hand, carried off on the marbled tide of heady and vibrant synth-pop and more downtempo and icy soundscapes. The Los Angeles based band has created sounds that dance, sway and float in equal measure and the result is an absolute delight.”

#9: Valerie June – Pushin’ Against A Stone

”Her vocals, so distinctive and unlike almost anything else you’ve ever heard, slip seamlessly from style to style. Warmth and frost, steel like determination and vulnerable insecurity, world weary wisdom and wide-eyed naivety; all feature and all feel entirely natural. She has paid her dues, taken her licks and learnt her lessons. This education, her talent and the fact that she probably bleeds music and Memphis has all come together in a glorious whole and the result is a fantastically varied and captivating album.”

#8: Caveman – Caveman

”Like a sprawling desert, Caveman is broad and spread out as far as the eye can see. Blissfully dreamy guitars wash away the world on lullabies of shimmering heat haze reverb, while the vocals of Matthew Iwanusa float wistfully through your mind and off to the distant horizon.”

#7: Rhye – Woman

”The songs are rich and smooth like a vintage red wine in the company of good friends. Robin Hannibal’s arrangements are deft, delicate and subtle, awash with a languid sophistication, offering glimpses into the intimacy of love, be it full and joyous or pained, private and profound.”

#6: London Grammar – If You Wait

”It is a groundswell of emotion, rising up to the sky and stirring the soul, sending shivers down spines and ripples of Goosebumps across arms. Particularly during moments of quiet, haunting breaths, like those that give way to a compelling, crashing rhythm on “Stay Awake”, or the simple piano intro to “Sights”.”

#5: Day Joy – Go To Sleep, Mess

” Songs trickle gently along, rippling before they unexpectedly swell and rise; lifting you high and carrying you away on a beautiful tide of delicate emotion. Their spectral melodies create a sense of blurriness, like the world seen through rain speckled glasses. Your mind is distorted and made fuzzy by the echoing, swirling sounds and vocals as they shimmer and float on the breeze.”

#4: Young Hunting – Hazel

”There is no urgency to Hazel, it is staid, serene like a lake with not a ripple on its surface but amongst the gorgeous and woozy instrumentals, there is darkness. It is dream-pop but laced with foreboding, a feeling that something is about to upset this idyllic scenario. This sense of unease is perhaps best represented by “Baby’s First Steps”, a track that sounds like a late drive along a 1950’s mountain road, loved one in the passenger seat after a pleasant evening with friends. The night is clear and the road is empty, but the audience knows all is not right.”

#3: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

”It is far too easy to get lost in the perceived gimmick of Public Service Broadcasting and to our mind that misses the point. The samples are critical of course, but the beauty and enjoyment comes from how they are used and woven into complimentary sounds to convey a narrative, emotion, excitement and energy.”

#2: Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

” Chvrches are exciting. Martin Doherty and Iain Cook wield sonic weapons like a pair of skittish electro-ninjas; flipping, kicking and letting loose shurikens of rapid beats and synth lines with deadly precision while Lauren Mayberry’s sweet emotive vocals rise up above them as if summoned by some mystical enchantress.”

#1: John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

”Here Grant plays with genres more than before as well. Stark electronic melodies and rough synths are juxtaposed with soft, mellifluous harmonies with the guesting (and understated wonderfulness of) Sinead O’Connor and his floating, winsome vocals. But this variety of styles embraced within the album could be seen as representation of the tumultuous variety of emotions and mood swings one undergoes when experiencing and coming to terms with heartbreak. For this is undeniably a break-up album. An album of a man who has been knifed in the heart by a shattered relationship and is coming to terms with the anger, depression, desire and love that remains in his soul.”


Honourable Mentions…

Vuvuvultures – Push / Pull

VVV-Strikethrough

There is a sense of foreboding, of death and of something much bigger than us, of something beyond our comprehension that is prevalent throughout. Be it the portentous, doom laden drum beats and bass sounds that awake “The Professional” or the foot-stomping bluesy sleaze of “Your Thoughts Are A Plague”, cataclysmic events are only moments away. Vuvuvultures have brought the end of this world with them and its noise is addictive.

Guitars shudder and grind, basslines throb and groove, drumbeats pound and scatter and above it all, vocals soar and caress. And within, sometimes buried, sometimes bursting forth beyond these instruments are the electronics, the ghosts in the machine that are desperate to break out. Little glitchy moments here, synthy wails there, digital flourishes that embellish and enhance. On “Tell No One” especially, the machines are coming and the electronics give it an extra feeling of danger, of despair and of impending menace.

Peppered within the album too are fleeting moments where they have taken over entirely, the A.I finding a way to circumvent its masters and the machines talk to one another. They appear at the end of the “Whatever You Will” and the slower undulations of the snake like “Empurrar/Puxar” (Push/Pull in Portuguese) which close the album give way to a minute or so of digital whirring and twitching, calling out to its brothers and signalling perhaps the next stage of Vuvuvultures evolution.

“Push/Pull” is on Energy Snake Records / Cadiz and can be ordered here.



Ms Mr – Secondhand Rapture

MS MR Secondhand Rapture

MS MR resides in a world of the macabre, a world of glitchy electronics, incessant rhythms, swirling strings and deliciously gloomy vocal harmonies. ”We really get off and thrive on a certain level of uneasiness and suspense” Lizzy told us, and that is apparent throughout Secondhand Rapture. Be it the upbeat, clap-happy fun of “Salty Sweet” or the slower melancholy of “Twenty Seven” and “This Isn’t Control”, there is always a sense of disquiet and drama within. It’s just how pop should be, full of big, majestic melodies and hooks big enough to catch a whale. The brilliantly brooding “BTSK” even contains a synth line that is oddly reminiscent of some unnecessarily successful 90s euro-dance, it sounds amazing.

There are so many highlights within; it is almost like a greatest hit compilation. Picking the next single is more taxing than trying a Rubik’s cube while drunk but our money would be on “No Trace”. It’s a beautiful and brutally theatrical piece of noir-pop, full of attitude and sass as well as trademark MS MR rhythms and striking film score-esque strings that urgently harry and batter the listener into sublime submission.

MS MR have been hitting home runs since they came out swinging last year and after the success and acclaim of their previous singles, videos and EP, with Secondhand Rapture they may well have just hit a grand slam.

Secondhand Rapture is available digitally from iTunes.



Little Tybee – For Distant Viewing

Little Tybee

After opening with some delightful, occasional tropical sounding, jazzy folk sounds, we are treated to four minutes of swooshing instrumentalism, laced with gentle prog-rock sensibilities on “Fantastic Planet”. “Herman” drips with aquatic, almost sonar style elements that complement the rich string orchestration before, seemingly out of no-where, dropping in a surprising moment of grinding reverb. It is as unexpected as it is perfect, but it remains the only fleeting moment of rough with the otherwise very smooth.

For Distant Viewing inculcates a care free attitude in its listener. Soothing, heavenly strings entwine with Brock Scott’s rich and slightly sweet vocals as they lick flame like around the rat-a-tat of percussion and the light twang of guitar. It feels fresh at every listen, as if it has just been conceived, improvised, jammed. It is an album that will make you smile, make you sway and hell, maybe even kick off your shoes and have a little shuffle.

Named after an island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the music of Little Tybee has a sun kissed feel, not bleached out and surf swept, but bright and breezy. Part Vampire Weekend, part Simon and Garfunkel, perhaps even part Juan Zelada (for they have his charm in their song writing), it is like a glorious summer’s day, it is to be revelled in.

’For Distant Viewing’ is out on Paper Garden Records and can be ordered here.



Cherokee Red – Cherokee Red

Cheroke Red

When you start swaying softly as soon as you start listening to an album, you know you are in for a treat, and so it is with the eponymous debut album of Pennsylvania’s Cherokee Red. It begins with the mellifluous gorgeousness of “Veya Con Dios” and closes with the so-soft-and-delicate-it-could-actually-be-a-lullaby “Blissful Blows”. In between are 9 more tracks of wistful and swoonsome beauty.

“Veya Con Dios” for example, is so pretty you could stick a crown on it and it would win pageants. It’s so beautiful you could frame it and hang it in the Louvre; it’s so … you get the idea, it’s gorgeous. The guitar strums softly as the melody floats like the proverbial wave lapping against the shore; there’s not a cloud in the sky as the sun glistens above you on this deserted beach. It is pure calm and relaxation, Christiana Bartolini’s vocals, from the opening ‘do do, do-do-do-do-do-do-do’, massages away your cares and worries. It’s dreamy, but not in a dreampop way, more a teenage girl describing the High School hunk kind of way.

Bartolini’s vocals are a spoonful of sugar that could make the worst news in the world seem utterly delightful and the arrangements are elegant and divine. Even “Heavy Soul”, with its momentary seconds of comparative angularity and wobbliness, is a tender piece of melody that culminates in the sounds of crickets chirping, preparing the quiet night time for the aforementioned lullaby of “Blissful Blows” which follows.

It caresses the brain and brings about a state of tranquillity in the listener. So laid back and luxuriantly relaxing is it that you may find yourself drifting off into a blissful slumber as you listen. It is the musical equivalent of The Little Book of Calm, except it actually works.

Cherokee Red is available to buy here.



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2013 Albums of the Year #7: Rhye – Woman

17 Dec

Rhye - Woman

The creators of our seventh favourite album of the year were also responsible for one of our most enduring memories of the year. Rhye’s performance, mostly of tracks from the sublime Woman, in a candlelit St. Giles in the Fields Church was just gorgeous, the setting perfect for the late night feel of the album.

Singles “Open” and “The Fall” offer a warm and familiar beginning but there is no need to be eased in gently. Across its ten tracks, Woman caresses and soothes our mind with its smooth R’n’B flavours and sensual orchestral arrangements. Subtle electronic grooves, such as those found on “Last Dance” melt alongside the late night sexiness of tracks like “3 Days”.

In fact “3 Days” is more like one romantic evening in musical form; the cascading harp strings is your lights down low, drinks and meal moments, before the beat gradually and delicately sexes it up for some smoochy dancing and, well you know the rest.

Woman is beautiful but in an understated fashion. It is unquestionably sexy but not overtly so or brash. Mike Milosh’s silky androgynous vocals are equal parts haunting and beautiful. He sings with a breathy melancholy (“One Of Those Summer Days”) and a swoonsome sensuality. The songs are rich and smooth like a vintage red wine in the company of good friends. Robin Hannibal’s arrangements are deft, delicate and subtle, awash with a languid sophistication, offering glimpses into the intimacy of love, be it full and joyous or pained, private and profound.

It is an ode to love and one that will no doubt be sound-tracking a fair amount of it in the months to come as well.

Woman is out on Polydor and available digitally or on CD and Vinyl.


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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.


Watch: Rhye – “3 Days”

8 Aug

Rhye - 3 Days

One of our undoubted musical highlights this year was getting to see the wonderful Rhye perform by candlelight in a church. It truly was a magical evening of beautiful sounds in a beautiful setting performed by a superb band, which even featured some brilliant lyrical ad-libbing in the face of potential amp-crackling disaster.

The inventiveness of the Rhye gents isn’t limited to improvisation in a live setting mind you, their videos, for “Open” (both videos) and “The Fall”, are also very clever and fit the songs wonderfully well. Now they are back with another video, for “3 Days”, and this time they have forgone the narrative angle in favour of a ‘found footage’ approach.

When reviewing their album Woman, we called “3 Days” a ”romantic evening in musical form; the cascading harp strings is your lights down low, drinks and meal moments, before the beat gradually and delicately sexes it up for some smoochy dancing…”. It is the latter that the video focuses on with a bevy of old fashioned, black and white ladies cavorting in cabaret and burlesque shows.

While the dancing may not always be in time with the music, just like our own then, it sits perfectly under the smooth, sultriness of the sounds. Take a watch for yourself below but you may want to exercise some discretion about where you do as your boss may not appreciate the bras and the butt jiggling, etc.

Rhye’s debut album, ’Woman’, is out now on Polydor and available digitally or on CD and Vinyl.


via pitchforktv

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Review: Rhye – Woman

4 Mar

Rhye - Woman

Thirteen short months have passed since Rhye released their debut EP, Open. Since then there have been three videos, one further EP, an abundance of speculation and a legion of bewitched listeners. Today the now-not-so-secretive duo releases their debut album and while it hasn’t taken them long, it feels like we have been waiting for ages.

Singles “Open” and “The Fall” offer a warm and familiar beginning (we can’t hear “The Fall” without wanting to dance like the opening to the video) but there is no need to be eased in gently. Across its ten tracks, Woman caresses and soothes our mind with its smooth R’n’B flavours and sensual orchestral arrangements. Subtle electronic grooves, such as those found on “Last Dance” melt alongside the late night sexiness of tracks like “3 Days”.

In fact “3 Days” is more like one romantic evening in musical form; the cascading harp strings is your lights down low, drinks and meal moments, before the beat gradually and delicately sexes it up for some smoochy dancing and, well you know the rest.

Woman is beautiful but in an understated fashion. It is unquestionably sexy but not overtly so or brash. Mike Milosh’s silky androgynous vocals are equal parts haunting and beautiful. He sings with a breathy melancholy (“One Of Those Summer Days”) and a swoonsome sensuality. The songs are rich and smooth like a vintage red wine in the company of good friends. Robin Hannibal’s arrangements are deft, delicate and subtle, awash with a languid sophistication, offering glimpses into the intimacy of love, be it full and joyous or pained, private and profound.

It is an ode to love and one that will no doubt be sound-tracking a fair amount of it in the months to come as well.

Woman is out now on Polydor and available digitally or on CD and Vinyl.


Stalk Rhye: Website / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud