Tag Archives: TV Girl

2016 Tracks of the Year

1 Jan


Over the last few years we have shown complete disdain for the idea of consistency in how we approach end of year listing. We’ve done a brief synopsis of a collection of our favourites, single posts per entry and even a mega one year in review round-up post. So it should come as no surprise to learn that once again we are mixing it up, focusing just on our favourite tracks and albums, nothing more.

This post will list our nine (top tens are so passé) favourite tracks (in no particular order). These are the ones we’ve loved the most, played the most, sung along with, nodded our head to, air drummed to, inflicted on our friends and colleagues and generally embraced and indulged in the most over the last year.

We’ll be back later with our fave five albums and after that, it will be on with the new Alphabet and posts a-go-go as we set out to make 2017 our personal musical love slave. Or something.

We’ll stick to our top ten tracks of 2016 for now though.

The one that came out of nowhere to knock our socks off

HEZEN – “The Girl You Want”

There were a lot of tracks from acts old and new last year that were incredible but without doubt, the one that just completely blew us away was the formal debut from Sarah Hezen. Even now, listening again, it still hits us smack between the eyes with its intricate, entwining melody and rhythms. It is utterly, stunningly beautiful whilst at the same time viscerally dark and menacing. Her soft vocal is intoxicating as it envelops this sense of foreboding as a dark spirit wisps around its prey seductively.

We could go on and on, and we did when we wrote about “The Girl You Want’ previously. Trust us though, you’ll be hearing a lot more from HEZEN in the future, not least because we will be waxing lyrical about her again very shortly.

The one that reaffirmed the thought that this guy is incredible and deserves to be a huge success

Rag’N’Bone Man – “Human”

The release of “Human” felt like something of a watershed moment for Rag’N’Bone Man last year. He was already critically acclaimed, selling out shows here there and everywhere with a growing legion of fans and blog support – he has featured on ours and others pages many, many times. Yet it is “Human”, its video and the announcement of an album later this year that looks set to send him to the heights we all anticipated he’d be reaching.

The beat behooves movement, the lyrics demand crowd accompaniment and Rory’s vocal is as powerful as it has ever been. It’s no wonder that an appearance on Jools Holland came about, or that it was number one in Germany for weeks and weeks, or that it was chosen as a contestant’s song on The X Factor. In fact, the only surprise is that it didn’t quite grab the Christmas Number One slot, finishing second. With the critics choice Brit already been bagged and a top 5 slot in the BBC Sound of poll assured, “Human” will stand as the final piece in the puzzle for Rag’N’Bone Man. Global success is surely on the way now.

The one that makes you swear inappropriately loudly when singing along

The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk – “Starboy”

Confession time. Despite all the buzz and hype a few years back, The Weeknd was never really an artist we’d paid too much attention too. There is only so much time in the day after all and not everything gets listened too, no matter how much we’d like to. When a lot of our friends started going doolally over “Starboy” though we thought we should check it out. When we heard it was a collaboration with Daft Punk we resolved to get on it and soon enough we were telling everyone and anyone who would listen (and a fair few who wouldn’t) that we were a motherfuckin’ Starboy.

It’s been said elsewhere, and in more accomplished ways, but this does almost feel like a reanimation of a late 80’s MJ given a devilish electronic twist. Infectious doesn’t even begin to describe how ridiculously catchy this tune is, especially the chorus, and it has been a real job to not play this to total and utter death (or around the kids). Like organised crime, every time we think we are out, we hear it again and are pulled back in. It’s everything modern pop should be and it’s such a shame the rest of the album doesn’t really live up to it. Still, we’ll always be a motherfuckin’ Starboy.

The one with the incredible Nixon sample

TV Girl – “Taking What’s Not Yours”

We’ve said it a number of times, but we don’t think there will ever come a time when we don’t like TV Girl or get excited for new music from them. 2016 was the same with the release of Who Really Cares and the brilliant lead single, “Taking What’s Not Yours”.

We said it before, but it’s worth re-stating, ”“Taking What’s Not Yours” is everything we love about TV Girl. Deliciously, ridiculously infectious, it is bright and playful while dealing with a lesser spoken consequence of a failed relationship.

The whole track is just wonderful, there’s a Nixon sample in there that is so deft you might miss it but it is genius, trust us. It is lyrically dry, sardonic and clever. It is completely and utterly perfectly TV Girl.”

The one that could be an anthem for a teenage uprising

Transviolet – “New Bohemia”

Another act we’ve loved and predicted great things for since first hearing them is Transviolet. Technically “New Bohemia” was released in 2015 but the video came out in February and that is more than enough justification for us to include it in this list.

We still can’t hear the military drumbeat towards the end of the track without thinking of Les Mis, without imagining an uprising and revolution against the rising tide of hate and fearmongering, something we need more than ever.

It remains rousing and invigorating, a movement in song form. Conveying power, emotion, defiance and attitude. It is a superb piece of anthemic pop that still gets played to death at Alphabet Bands HQ.

The one that could be an anthem for teenage indestructibility and hedonism

Chløë Black – “Death Proof”

The flip side to “New Bohemia” came from the brilliant and effortlessly cool Chløë Black and “Death Proof”. Another piece of fabulous, socially aware and catchy as all hell, dark pop; it’s a teen anthem for the hedonistic, indestructible youth and their ‘give no fucks’ attitude.

It’s pounding beat is relentless, a reckless death march into the future while a warped guitar line grinds in the background. Chløë’s gorgeously intoxicating voice melts over the attitude and swagger of the melody making you love it even more.

It’s play it again and again and again fantastic and but for all the swears would surely have been everywhere in the late summer months. Seriously, someone give this woman a deal and get an album out pronto.

The one that gives us goosebumps AKA The one we wish they’d done on Jools Holland

Let’s Eat Grandma – “Rapunzel”

It doesn’t matter how many times we hear it, the opening piano line of “Rapunzel” always sends a shiver down our neck and brings goosebumps to our arm. That this moment of innocence, of purity and of calm beauty then gives way to a cold and dark lyrical reality only serves to make it even more poignant.

Based in part on a true story and in part on a well loved fairytale, “Rapunzel” is (for our money) the most remarkable track on an incredible debut album. It perfectly encapsulates everything about them, the creativity, the musicality, the marbling of reality and imagination and the intricate and intelligence of their composition and lyricism.

It is also surprisingly easy to sing along with, even if you do have some explaining to do when your kids randomly start singing it in public.

The one that we always sing along to and that makes us happy

Shura – “What’s It Gonna Be?”

Possibly the most earworm-tastic tune of the whole year, Shura’s “What’s It Gonna Be?” was superb 80s inspired pop fare – channelling her inner Madonna and mixing it with a dash of SAW era Kylie. Then the video came out.

It’s hard to say if it is the brilliance of the song that makes us love the video so much, or vice versa, but it is safe to say this combination of audio and visual is one of the best and most enjoyable seen in 2016. Certainly this track was one of the most played on our summer holiday in France and most sung along to by the kids as we drove around the countryside.

Sentimental, heartfelt, bittersweet and oh-so danceable and catchy, “What’s It Gonna Be?” is a dazzlingly warm and wonderful piece of retro-modern pop music.

The one that made us realise we’d been wrong all along

Birds of Hell – “Astronomy Programmes”

Back in April we held our hands up and said, yep, we were wrong. Birds of Hell had always been an act that we’ve just never got, and then he released “Astronomy Programmes” and our mind was changed. It is, as we said so eloquently at the time, ”quite frankly, fucking brilliant”.

A little more evocatively, we also said it is “A swirling, cosmic spirituality as well as a wonderful lyrical dexterity are on show. It is utterly charming and really rather beautiful. This electronic, galaxial mist of sound drifts and caresses while Pete Murdoch’s light gravelly voice bounces off the softer swoon of producer Iain Lowery’s backing vocal. The beat snaps and skips gently as shooting stars of melody sweep by above and the lyrics ponder the great unknowns and reminisce for a simpler time”.

It still sounds as swirlsomely gorgeous now.

TV Girl – “Taking What’s Not Yours” (video)

13 Apr

TV Girl

When last we featured TV Girl we noted that we will always be happy to hear new music from them. This is both a blessing and a curse in some respects though as when their new album, Who Really Cares, came out, we just listened and enjoyed. Then listened and enjoyed some more, and again, and again. By the time we really should have been writing about it had come and gone, we were still listening and enjoying.

We’re not a blog that lives and dies by posting times though and won’t reject a tune for having been out too long. So it was inevitable that while our productivity may have been low, we were always going to come back to TV Girl; especially the lead single “Taking What’s Not Yours”.

Now accompanied by a simple but fantastic video, featuring LA artist and actress Dasha Nekrasova lip synching to the song, “Taking What’s Not Yours” is everything we love about TV Girl. Deliciously, ridiculously infectious, it is bright and playful while dealing with a lesser spoken consequence of a failed relationship. What happens to the stuff you leave in the other person’s house.

The whole track is just wonderful, there’s a Nixon sample in there that is so deft you might miss it but it is genius, trust us. It is lyrically dry, sardonic and clever. It is completely and utterly perfectly TV Girl. We don’t think we’ll ever tire of hearing new stuff from them.

”Taking What’s Not Yours” is taken from the excellent ‘Who Really Cares’ album which is out now and available from the TV Girl Bandcamp page.

Stalk TV Girl: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

TV Girl – “Natalie Wood”

23 Jun

TV Girl

We spend a fair bit of time here at Alphabet Bands thinking about how best describe music, how it makes us feel or what we think when a song gets into our head. We use imagery, hyperbole, metaphors and similes like they are half price at poundland and we’ve got a fiver burning a hole in our pocket. Sometimes we read something that has been written elsewhere and think ‘yep, that’s it. Bang on”. Usually this in an article or blog post but the other week we saw a tweet from the lovely people at Tympanogram that perfectly summed up how we felt when one of our favourite bands released a couple of new tunes.

Succinct, to the point and exactly how we felt when we opened an email from Bandcamp notifying us that TV Girl had just shared two new songs. Clearly metaphors and the like are not always required. We still love using them though…

A stand alone pre-curser to a forthcoming album, “Natalie Wood” and “Like We Planned” are perfectly, wonderfully TV Girl. There are those gorgeously throwback, distressed melodies that we love so much and the lyrics are brimming with malcontent, glamour, sex and black humour. “Natalie Wood” in particular (given its subject matter) sits as a perfect companion to the fabulous Lonely Women EP. It is, as we’d expect, just fantastic and as long as they keep making music, we will keep being happy to hear it.

”Natalie Wood” and “Like We Planned” are out now via the TV Girl Bandcamp page and you can soon catch the band on their forthcoming World (USA and Canada) Tour.

Stalk TV Girl: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

TV Girl – “Birds Don’t Sing” (video)

13 Aug

TV Girl

We’re going to share something with you today, something personal and real that some of you may find horrifying and some of you may find hilarious. Those of you who know us here at Alphabet Bands through the site will know much about our musical tastes, that we live in Norwich yet support Southampton FC and that we like to visualise and describe music. You will know that we like puns, making jokes; often use hyperbole like it is our first language and can get drawn into the realm of pretention. You will also know that we are partial to the occasional sexy tune from time to time.

Those of you who know us from our writing will know all this and more, but you probably don’t know that we hate, and indeed are a little afraid of, birds. Specifically pigeons but pretty much any flappy unpredictable creature (insert Boris Johnson joke here) puts us on edge. We don’t like them, we don’t trust them and we’d rather not have anything to do with them thank you all the same.

Now, you may scoff at this but just watch the latest video from TV Girl and you might find yourself thinking differently. Taken from their debut album, French Exit, the promo for “Birds Don’t Sing” features an evil, malevolent parrot who has devilishly dark powers of manipulation and mind control. So evil and malicious is this creature that he could well have been the emperor’s parrot in Return of the Jedi (always off-screen naturally – Polly wanna crush the rebellion?).

”Very few music videos have the ability to spook you to your very core. This is one of those videos”, TV Girl announced on their twitter last night. They are right. Lock your doors and windows, draw the blinds and for God’s sake, if you see a parrot, don’t look at it just turn and run, and pray it doesn’t come after you.

Oh, the song is great by the way, but then you’d expect that because if you know us from reading the site, you will know we love TV Girl. Take a watch (you might want to hold someone’s hand while you do) and then go buy the album, it’s fantastic.

”Birds Don’t Sing” is taken from the excellent debut TV Girl album, ‘French Exit’, which you should buy here now.

Stalk TV Girl: Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

2013 EPs of the Year: The Full List

15 Dec

EPs of 2013 - Full List

We know that some of you out there like to have everything in one place so, like we did with our 2014 Previews and Tracks of 2013, we’ve collated our EPs of the Year into one post as well. And there’s a lovely Soundcloud playlist of tracks from each EP at the end as well.

We hope you find something you like.

#10 Wooden Arms – Wooden Arms

”It’s full of gentle, ebbing melodies that drift and glide like birds on a breeze; this eponymous release is often balletic in feel. Ambient sounds; be they deep cello or light violin, music box light or portentous dark piano, ripple and flow like a mountain stream.”

#9 Sivu – I Lost Myself

”[It] is a wonderful collection of elegant, rousing songwriting, sublime melodies and deceptively intricate arrangements. We’ve said it before and will continue to do so until such time as his debut full length is released, we can’t wait for the album.”

#8 White Prism – White Prism

”Her eponymous debut EP is full of cool, futuristic electronica and melodious vocals that float along in a cool reverie of compulsive beats and 80’s inspired synths. It’s soft, subtle, delicate, sultry (in places) and gorgeous.”

#7 MYPET – Reflex

”It is exciting, vibrant and full of life. Sinewy electro noodles wind their way around grand, cacophonic beats as vocals rise up, like an arm bursting forth from the grave, seeking liberty from its earthen prison.”

#6 Garnets – Towns

”Ethereal vocals, barely there percussion, muted piano sounds, hushed and haunting murmurings and melodies are juxtaposed with vibrant and choppy waters of riff based pop and crashing rhythms. Almost as if they want to stir our body as well as our mind.”

#5 Annie – A&R

”The result is just fantastic pop, notably the outstandingly catchy and hook laden sounds of “Back Together” and “Ralph Macchio”. Her vocals sound as lovely and disarming as ever and the result is five tracks of brilliance. If she keeps making pop as good as this, we won’t mind the long waits between releases so much.”

#4 TV Girl – Lonely Women

”Lyrics are whimsical but real, observational, humorous but touching and the tunes are full of throwback indie-pop, lo-fi hip-hop beats and cascading piano melodies. The EP sounds fantastic and stands up to multiple and repeated listening, as have all TV Girl EPs so far, and they really are an act that are growing and improving with every release.”

#3 Us Baby Bear Bones – What Starts With a U Ends With an I

“The trick that they are so adept at pulling off is that in amongst the layers of sound, the spiralling electronic rhythms, the world of ice and the creeping shadows, damn fine pop songs are to be found. They are emotional and evocative as well as being catchy and very easy on the ear. They swirl like a galaxy, magnificent and seemingly infinite, growling and bursting with each note and vocal.

#2 Gems – Medusa

”This is a blissful listen of style, grace and soft focus dreaminess. Their tracks are like billowing lace curtains by an open window with gentle undulations reaching softly into the room, touching your ears like a kiss from a butterfly.”

#1 Brooke Annibale – Words In Your Eyes

”That folky, country background is apparent in her voice; her dreamy, dreamy voice. We could quite easily get lost in her vocals. At times light and breathy, such as on “Tragically Beautiful”, it skips along playfully. At other times it drops, the emotion it conveys is that much deeper, more heartfelt perhaps, but despite this strength of tone, it never loses its warmth or gentleness.

…One of the major elements within the whole EP is the orchestration, the gorgeous, sumptuous orchestration.

We’re suckers for a good string section and Brooke Annibale uses hers fabulously. From small, subtle inflections to big, dramatic emotions, the strings add so much to each of the six tracks on Words In Your Eyes. Violins soar, lifting the melodies high upon their wings while cellos rumble darkly underneath. The emotional resonance of her songs is enhanced exponentially as the strings glide alongside her vocals; undulating with the pitch of her voice and the sentiment of her lyrics.”