Tag Archives: Velvet Two Stripes

2013 Tracks Of The Year – #15 – 11

10 Dec

Tracks of 2013 - 15-11

Hello and welcome to part three of our countdown of the 25 tracks this year that we loved more than any other. Parts one and two (where we listed the tracks that took the number 25 – 16) are here and here, and below we reveal who made it into the Top 15 and came oh so close to breaking the Top10.

But before that, as is customary, here’s a quick reminder of the random rules we have imposed upon ourselves. Feel free to skip this bit if you have already read it on the other posts.

The song doesn’t have to be an actual single and while that may seem a bit of a cheat, there’s a good reason behind it. We are looking at tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months so that amazing album tracks will also be considered. We must note though, if a track was released online this year but will become a single next, then it won’t be included. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

Ok, let’s crack on with songs 15 – 11. Enjoy.

#15 Velvet Two Stripes – “Fire”

While it may seem that the majority of the music we have loved this year has been floaty light and dreamy or full on bright coloured electro-pop, we have still been prone to the odd moment of rocking, and that’s where the ladies of Swiss trio Velvet Two Stripes come in. “Fire” could, we said, be the soundtrack to a Jason Statham starring actioner, all cut scenes and bad-ass walking while the track (and numerous incidental items in the background) explodes around him. Sara wields her guitar like a weapon of mass destruction, letting fly with grinding, wailing licks that could bring a city to its knees and “Fire” is a bluesy riff driven slice of ka-boom that will stir heart, mind and anywhere else that could do with some life injecting into it.

#14 Violet – “Where The Wild Things Grow”

Back in February, we fell hard for a demo from Pixie Geldof’s Violet, properly hard. So much so that the haunting and delicate string arrangement and deep, languid vocals of “Where The Wild Things Grow” has lingered on rotation ever since. While we continue to wait patiently for a fully mastered version that thus far hasn’t come, we remain bewitched by the demo’s rich, soaring beauty and more Lana than Lana sensibilities. It is simply gorgeous.

#13 Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

In the Kindness directed video for “Chamakay”, the lead single from the second Blood Orange album, Cupid Deluxe, Dev Hynes can be seen busting out some old school Michael Jackson-esque moves in a variety of locations. We totally get why. It’s hard to listen to the smooth, soulful melodies without feeling compelled to indulge in a little armography and leg flickering yourself. Featuring the sultry voice of Caroline Polachek from Chairlift, “Chamakay” channels Terence Trent D’arby, D’Angelo and “Liberian Girl” crooning MJ into slow jam R’n’B grooves as a sexy sax sound disguises the heaviness of emotion within. Like Polachek’s vocal, the track is alluring and exotic, like the silhouette of a belly dancer seen across a smoky room, undulating and mesmerising all who are lucky enough to cast their eyes upon her.

#12 Ms Mr – “Fantasy”

Featuring Lizzie’s now trademark husky vocals, “Fantasy” saw MS MR embark on something bigger and more vibrant than their previous tracks. Painting from a broader palette, the result is a wonderful explosion of pop sound and colour; it’s effervescent and infectious. The drums are incessant, driving pulsating rhythms that evoke memories of Florence and the Machine but while never losing any of that glorious MS MR darkness and intrigue. “Fantasy” is a tune that should be sung loudly while dancing to wildly.

#11 Dancing Years – “Here’s To My Old Friends”

Our first exposure to Leeds based five-piece Dancing Years came in the form of soaring orchestral beauty and watercolours of emotion and sentiment. Their debut single, “Here’s To My Old Friends” plucks at the heartstrings, especially of those older listeners whose friends are no longer seen as often as they might like. Like reading an old diary or looking through an old photo album, it’s full of warm remorse, happy memories that bring a smile to your face and a tear to the eye. Like watching the sun set on the last day of summer, it’s plaintive and beautiful and as the sun finally falls, the violins rise and let out a mournful, yearning cry for a time that is gone but will never be forgotten.

Later on today we’ll reveal who made it into the Top 10 and then tomorrow, it’s the Top 5 and our favourite track of the year!

We do like to be beside the seaside… The Great Escape 2013

20 May


Over the last few months we have cast covetous looks at twitter as friends and acquaintances have been getting ever more excited as this year’s Great Escape festival in Brighton approached. Knowing that we couldn’t go, we steadfastly tried to avoid looking wistfully at the line up and cursing our absence. Then something magical happened and suddenly Saturday at the festival was happening and a fantastic day we had too.

We may be the only ones, but multi-venue festivals featuring genuinely exciting up-and-coming new bands playing in a more urban environment, are much more appealing than standing up to your knees in mud, in a space where your tent used to be, with the smell from broken toilets filling your nostrils as in the distance an over-hyped band of questionable quality play middling tunes.

So it was that on Saturday, in and amongst the winding lanes of the city and on the occasionally garishly festooned seafront that we attended our first ever Great Escape, and we had a great time.

In just a few hours we were treated to full sets from nine bands and some quality chat with fellow bloggers, all of whom had convened for the day’s entertainment. Our main musical highlights are below but special mention should also go to Blue Hawaii, Eye Emma Jedi and Lulu James, each of whom put on storming sets that were vastly different to one another. The Jedi clan should be particularly commended as theirs was performed at short-notice to replace another act who couldn’t attend, and a few hours before their actual scheduled slot elsewhere later in the evening.

Playing in the tight surroundings of a packed Mesmerist pub, expectation for the much vaunted and blogged about Embers are high, very high indeed. Certainly much higher than the low ceilings that hang over their heads, offering an immediate challenge for a sound that likes room to breathe and expand, to find every nook and cranny in vast expanses and fill them to bursting. That cannot happen here and instead the sound explodes out at an audience so close to the action they are practically on stage, pummelling them with intensity and energy instead. They offer the kind of excitement and energy that NME promised us Palma Violets would offer, and then some. Veins bulge and sinews are strained as “Part of Echoes” (in particular) rises up and threatens to take the floor above with it. They may well be best suited to epic surroundings, but Embers sure can rock the tiny venues to their core as well.

Velvet Two Stripes
Beneath the promenade of cars on the main road, each pootling along the seafront with not a care in the world, something is brewing. Where you would normally expect to find DJ’s, disco and dance, today there is a trio of Swiss ladies, and they have come to rock. As baselines throb, electronics spasm and shudder into life, as vocals shriek out and drums thunder and boom, there is one more element that grabs the audience by its collective nutsack and won’t let go. Leaning slightly forward and staring straight ahead, resplendent in what appears to be a small cowboy hat and wearing the look of someone who knows just how damn good she is, stands Sara. In her hands, a weapon of such potent devastation it could bring Brighton to its knees should she wish it. From this stringed beast comes the sort of grinding, wailing licks that require you to pick your jaw back up from the floor after you’ve heard them. She effortlessly wields her guitar and coaxes from it solos and riffs that appear to conjure up the Ghost of Hendrix to play them. If we could play guitar, we’d want to play it like Velvet Two Stripes’ Sara, we imagine there’s more than one professional out there who thinks the same.

Following a set by the colourful effervescence of Lulu James can’t ever be easy but Danish purveyor of noodle-pop goodness, Karen Marie Ørsted (or MØ as she is better known) more than manages. Dressed in black and with a long plaited ponytail trailing down her back, she walks on stage with a look that parents of teenagers everywhere will know only too well. The challenging ‘yeah, what of it’ look that politicians point to when making statements about Broken Britain. We don’t know if there is an equivalent where MØ is from (Destroyed Denmark perhaps?) but it is a look she has perfected. What follows is a set of surprising and stunning energy and showmanship. She prowls around the stage, her plait whirling as she flings her head around, fists pumping the air and her legs, hips, feet and everything else jerk and thrust as she power dances. Sounds that transmit pleasantly from your stereo are injected with verve and vigour and attitude. She closes with “Pilgrim” which is transformed into something altogether more vibrant, the call of “Holla/Holla/Holla” is no longer a delicate piece of backing, here it is a full on, shout along call to arms. She has won many new followers to her cause tonight, of that there is no doubt, even if she does look like she could pull a knife and demand your wallet at any minute.

Closing the night for us, and our day of musical adventure, is Scottish electro-pop trio, Chvrches. Expectations are high and queues snake outside as excited festival-goers desperately seek entry into what is one of the hottest tickets (or wristbands) of all three days. Those lucky enough to get in are treated to a set that only enhances their reputation as one of the bands to watch out for right now. Not even the proclamation from an injured and bandaged Lauren (wrist) that all the men will die earlier than the women can dampen the audiences enthusiasm, not even the males. We are treated to a set of nine infectious electro-pop songs (with a real and very welcome emphasis on the pop element) that behove movement and that uplift and invigorate. As the air is dissected by green lasers and a tunnel of smoke surrounds Lauren from above, it is clear that there is more to Chvrches than a line of viciously entertaining and amazing tunes and by crikey what tunes they are. Big things are coming for these guys, no question.

Listen: Velvet Two Stripes – “Fire”

29 Apr

Velvet Two Stripes

Mondays are tough aren’t they? Whether you have had a frenetic 48 hours of hedonistic debauchery, or just tried to relax and unwind over the weekend, when that alarm blares out on a Monday morning, you just want to the world to do one and let you crawl back under the duvet.

Or is that just us?

What you, and we, need is a little something to fire up the adrenaline and get us going once again. Enter stage rock, Swiss trio Velvet Two Stripes with the title track for their debut UK EP, Fire.

It could be the soundtrack to a Jason Statham starring actioner (and you can’t get much more adrenaline fueled than that), all cut scenes and bad-ass walking while the track (and numerous incidental items in the background) explodes around him. “Fire” is a bluesy riff driven slice of ka-boom that will stir heart, mind and anywhere else that could do with some life injecting into it. If you were so inclined, you could say it will ‘fire’ you up, but we’re not so let’s ignore that pun entirely. Full of edgy and visceral energy, it has two words for Monday morning lethargy (the first one rhymes with ‘truck’) so get it on, get it loud and get the week by the balls and say ‘you’re mine’. Monday mornings, you’re done.

The ‘Fire’ EP is due for release on 20 May and you can catch the trio at a handful of UK dates in the next few weeks. Details below.

Catch Velvet Two Stripes in the UK
Thursday 2nd May – Good Sex @ Proud Gallery, London.
Thursday 16th May – The Great Escape Festival. Brighton
Thursday16th May – Avondale House, Southampton
Saturday 18th May – The Great Escape Festival. Brighton
Sunday 25th August – Damn Dead Circus Festival, Essex

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