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Posts Tagged ‘Synthpop

The seamless and seductively smooth RnB grooves of Jessie Ware, and synthpop spectacle that is – Chromatics

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Chromatics are a four-piece (Ruth Radelet, Johnny Jewel, Adam Miller and Nat Walker) Electronic band from Portland, Oregon who formed in 2001. The band’s fourth studio album ‘Kill For Love’ was released on June 4th, 2012 and has been regularly cited as one of the top five albums of the year to date. I decided to showcase the title track and ‘These Streets Will Never Look the Same’, from the 17-track synthpop spectacle.


The band has just finished a two-week mini tour of the US with Hot Chip and are headed our way for a couple of shows, including The Warehouse Project, Manchester (October 19th, 2012) and Heaven, London (November 6th, 2012).


Jessie Ware is an Electronic and RnB singer-songwriter from Brixton, London whose debut album ‘Devotion’ is set for release on August 20th, 2012. Ware has been described as having a ‘chameleon voice’ and I think that this would be an accurate description of the instrument. She can seamlessly and seductively glide between smooth RnB grooves and razor-sharp emotive pop with an electro edge. Definitely something for all tastes and appetites. Her current single is ‘Wildest Moments’, which has been a regular feature on the playlists of leading UK radio stations this month. I think Ware is definitely one to watch for the future.



To find out more about Jessie Ware and Chromatics, visit: /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

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Pnau’s new album ‘Soft Universe’ is sure to set electro hearts and minds on fire @pnau

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Pnau (pronounced “pah-now”, to rhyme with meow) is an Australian synthpop duo, consisting of musicians Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes.  The duo have enjoyed considerable success in their native country: with award-winning debut album ‘Sambanova’, critically-acclaimed – and top of Elton John’s personal record collection – 2008 release ‘Pnau’ and one of my favourite electropop outfits; breakthrough side-project Empire of the Sun. Indeed, such is Elton’s love for the duo; after hearing ‘Pnau’, he swiftly arranged for them to become his new musical apprentices. A couple of years later and the euphoric delight that is fourth album, ‘Soft Universe’, has finally come to fruition.

I have selected my top 5 of the 10 tracks on offer, kicking off with ‘Epic Fail.


This is probably my favourite track from the album and the most in keeping with Empire of the Sun ‘s sound; sure to set electro hearts and minds on fire when the record is released in the UK in early 2012.

Next up, ‘Everybody.’


This track was the perfect choice to kick off ‘Soft Universe’; Littlemore is also a Cirque du Soleil musical director, a fact not all that surprising when you hear the rousing synth guitar riffs and souring melodies on this track.

And so, on to ‘The Truth.’


Widely regarded to be one of, if not the strongest track on the record, ‘The Truth’ was released in early 2011 as the first single in Australia. I’d describe the track as ‘Solar System rock’; it wouldn’t sound out of place as the backdrop to one of these very quirky, very dumbed down Science documentary series. I use ‘dumbed down’ in an entirely first-person narrative context – it may look pretty and it may be fronted by a quasi-cool man with an indie haircut…but I still don’t get it.

Next up, ‘Something Special.’


This track is just pure electronic bliss; if you like Hurts, you’ll love this. If the album does well in early 2012, we might be treated to some UK festival appearances; if so, this would be a great feel-good show opener.

And finally, ‘Waiting For You.’ This is a serene love song, complete with intoxicating vocals and a melody that can’t help but get in to your head and play on repeat.


shelleyhanveywriter 🙂 / /

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

December 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

The Drums’ new track promises to brighten your day and bolster your bank account

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After premiering on Radio 1 last night, the first single to be taken from The Drums‘ upcoming second album, ‘Portamento‘ (September 12th, 2011) is currently streaming online. The new track, ‘Money‘, promises to brighten your day and bolster your bank account in equal measure; and is officially released on September 5th, 2011.

The Drums are a three-piece synthpop outfit from Brooklyn via Florida, who initially caused a stir in the indie world with their ‘Summertime‘ EP – a collection of beach pop fantasies which would shimmer just nicely against the high-gloss, high-drama backdrop of the Sunshine State. They released their self-titled debut album in June 2010, which has gone on to sell 200,000 copies worldwide, reflecting the band’s universal appeal across the globe. The highly anticipated second album promises to be more autobiographical in its lyrical content and to reflect the band’s sonic expansiveness, whilst remaining true to their emotional coherence and boundless energy.

Portamento‘ is an altogether more complex and ultimately rewarding listen than their debut album. The 12-track record features the following tracks: Book of Revelation / Days / What You Were / Money / Hard to Love / I Don’t Know How To Love / Searching For Heaven / Please Don’t Leave / If He Likes It Let Him Do It / I Need A Doctor / In The Cold / How It Ended.

The band are set to play a couple of festival dates across the summer, including Lovebox Festival in London (July 16th, 2011) and Bestival in the Isle of Wight (September 8th, 2011). Check them out if you’re looking for a hearty side of synthpop with your indie main. / @thedrumsforever


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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56th Ivor Novello awards – nominations just released and common sense has prevailed

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The nominations for the 56th Ivor Novello awards have been released today and common sense appears to have been restored. After Lily Allen’s triple win last year, I found myself uttering my trademark catchphrase of late; “I’m lost, if I’m honest?!” There will no doubt be countless fans of Allen who agreed wholeheartedly with the judges’ choices, but I unfortunately was not one of them.

The Ivors are presented annually:

to celebrate, honour and reward excellence in British music writing. The awards either celebrate artistic excellence in a specific work, exceptional performance figures in the award year or recognise the outstanding achievements of a particular songwriter or composer throughout their career.

There are seven categories in total, as well as a number of special prizes to be announced on the night (May 19th, 2011 at London’s Grosvenor House), that include: ‘International Achievement‘, Ivors Inspiration Award‘, ‘Outstanding Songwriter/s of the Year‘ and ‘Lifetime Achievement.’ The top songwriting gongs are:

Best Song Musically and Lyrically(2010 Winner – Lily Allen, ‘The Fear‘)

The nominations are:

Villagers, ‘Becoming a Jackal‘, written by O’Brien, published by Domino Publishing Company.

Everything Everything, ‘MY KZ, UR BF‘, written by Higgs, Pritchard, Robertshaw and Spearman, published by Universal Music Publishing.

Foals, ‘Spanish Sahara‘, written by Bevan, Congreave, Gervers, Philippakis and Smith, published by Universal Music Publishing.

‘Best Contemporary Song’ (2010 Winner – Bat for Lashes, ‘Daniel‘)

The nominations are:

The xx,Islands‘, written by Croft, Qureshi, Sim and Smith, published by Universal.

Katy B,Katy on a Mission‘, written by Benga, Katy B and Geeneus, published by EMI.

Tinie Tempah, ‘Pass Out‘, written by McKenzie, Okogwu and Williams, published by EMI/Stellar Songs Ltd.

Album Award‘ (2010 Winner – Paolo Nutini, ‘Sunny Side Up‘)

The nominations are:

Bombay Bicycle Club, ‘Flaws, written by Jack Steadman, published by Imagem Music.

Everything Everything, ‘Man Alive‘, written by Higgs, Pritchard, Robertshaw and Spearman, published by Universal.

Plan B, ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks‘, written by Benjamin Drew, published by Universal.

For more information on the other award categories, please visit

I have a  few favourites amongst these and it is very pleasing to see a bit of folk-rock included in the proceedings; Villagers and Bombay Bicycle Club would be my top choices, so I shall have everything crossed for Conor and the boys on the night itself.

That is all 🙂

New tracks I like: Robert Francis, Florence, Johnny & Laura, Hurts

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New tracks that I am loving this week  come from artists including:  Robert Francis, Florence & The Machine, Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling and Hurts.

Florence & the Machine, ‘Heavy In Your Arms’.

This chillingly cool track is taken from the soundtrack to the second ‘Twilight’ feature film installment,  ‘Eclipse. ‘ The track is released as a single on November 15th, 2010 and is sure to set the charts, as well as lovelorn teen hearts everywhere, alight in its dark intensity and just short of  taboo leanings. This is what Florence and her Machine do best, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that  the band are going from strength to strength in America at the moment; with a guest appearance this week on Saturday Night Live. Selfishly so, I just hope that the band don’t get too comfortable over there in their state of adulation and forget where they came from. I can’t see this happening, after all; who appreciates and does brooding and sullen better than the Brits?

Robert Francis, ‘Junebug‘.

Robert Francis is relatively new to the rock singer-songwriter scene in the UK; just about to hit our shores with a couple of live dates in London. ‘Junebug’ is taken from his second album and debut major label record‘Before Nightfall’ which is set for release in the UK on November 29th, 2010. Francis has been compared to Bruce Springsteen; high praise indeed, which I do think is justified when you hear this artist’s vocal skills. Francis’s debut album was the indie release‘One By One’, which at the age of 22 showcases some striking musical moments and a perfect take on classic American rock. Francis has been touring the US with my favourite band of the moment, Noah and the Whale and is about to embark on a series of live dates in the UK and Europe later in the year. If this stand-out track is anything to go by, both the album and the shows are going to be pretty memorable.

Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling, ‘The Water’.

I can’t adequately put in to words my love for both this track and the album from which it was taken. That album being Johnny Flynn’s ‘Been Listening.’ I am a huge fan of both artists, so a duet between nu-folk favourites Johnny and Laura was always going to sit extremely well and comfortably with me. It is a sublime track with some truly special vocal moments courtesy of Laura; I can only dream of a future collaboration between Johnny, Laura and Charlie Fink…hmm, may be waiting a while for that, methinks.

Hurts, ‘Stay’.

One of my favourite bands to emerge in 2010 would have to be Hurts. I think their album ‘Happiness’ is brilliant and I genuinely rate each and every track. After seeing the band perform live a couple of weeks ago, they just go from strength to strength for me and this latest single release also happens to be my favourite track from the album. A simple, yet classically ’80s synthpop sound; I could listen to this epic track on repeat for hours. After selling out their short UK tour in October, the band has just announced a Spring 2011 UK tour; I would definitely recommend that you pop by one night if you’re free. Hutchcraft is a wonder on stage, everything that a showman should be and much more besides.

That’s all folks, 🙂

Hurts, ‘Happiness’ – album review

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Can I really be up to track 10 of 11 and I haven’t skipped once? Wow.

Those of you who have read anything I have written before, will know that my favourite decade for music is the ’80s; the glam outfits, the melodramatic synthpop sounds and the epic electro ballads have always been particularly close to my heart. Imagine my delight therefore, to discover a new band with just such an image and just such tracks, who hail from that great of northern cities, Manchester.

Hurts are singer, Theo Hutchcraft and synth player, Adam Anderson. Finishing fourth on the BBC Sound of 2010 poll, the band released their debut single ‘Better Than Love’ in early 2010, which was followed up recently by their debut album ‘Happiness.’

The eleven-track record is broadly categorised as Synthpop, Electronic and New Wave; however the overall feel is not one of a revival, rather something fresh and exciting; something that bit greater which is built on present-standing greatness. Kicking off with ‘Silver Lining’ and we are given an ample  taste of both the synthetic and vocal wonder that Hurts have to offer. Synthpop as a sub-genre has seen a resurgence, particularly in the UK, in the late 2000s and early 2010, but I don’t feel that the market has become saturated just yet; finding the majority of artists around at the moment rather enjoyable.

Next up is current single ‘Wonderful Life’ and it is at this point that I can imagine the band standing tall alongside the likes of Human League and Heaven 17; Hutchcraft’s tone not being dissimilar to that of Heaven 17 front man Glenn Gregory. Track 3 ‘Blood, Tears and Gold’ is a sweeping electropop ballad, which fans of One Republic or The Killers’ third album ‘Day & Age’ might particularly enjoy. Likewise for ‘Sunday’ and ‘Stay’; the first being an upbeat, majestic number that will have the electro kids dancing wildly in their wet-look leather, whilst the second sees a host of suit-clad, gelled-back gentleman swaying along in the crowd, wiping away a tear as they reminisce about lost love.

‘Evelyn’ takes you on a fantastical journey through fairytale forests and fires, as Hutchcraft pleads with his heroine not to desert him on their quest, as he rides every emotion; fear, anxiety and desire. Kylie Minogue makes an appearance on the record on track 9, ‘Devotion.’ I really like this track and it is classic Kylie; Hutchcraft’s deep and impassioned vocals complementing Kylie’s atmospheric trance-like tone perfectly. Take a listen and see what you think: 

The album concludes with a mood-infused melody entitled ‘The Water’ which speaks about fearing being too close; to the water, to a certain someone, to your own mortality perhaps. It’s not as morose as it sounds I promise and is a fitting end to a whirlwind and a revelation of an album quite frankly. I had dared to fear that I would never get the chance to see a band as good as those around in the ’80s perform my favourite synthesized sounds, but I have been proved wrong it seems with Hurts.

Overall, I would give this album a 9/10 and say that I look forward to the live show!

Upcoming tour dates:


Saturday 2nd – Concorde, Brighton

Sunday 3rd – Cockpit, Leeds

Monday 4th – Oran Mor, Glasgow

Tuesday 5th – Ritz, Manchester

Thursday 7th – The Library, Birmingham

Friday 8th – Trinity Church, Bristol

Saturday 9th – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London.

For more information on the band please visit: and

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

September 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

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