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Indie/Indie Rock New Wave Pop/Indie Pop Uncategorized Why We Love

Why We Love: The Orielles

Evoking space-age dreams with their bright bops, The Orielles are a funky fresh band that you absolutely need to be listening to. In fact, scrap that. I’d say the word ‘experiencing’ is far more apt than simply ‘listening’ as their tracks are so engrossing, they’re a vessel for escaping reality…

Taking you on an adventure through the decades they stop off in the bright psychedelic 60s, have a boogie in the 70s and even a cheeky trip to explore 90s acid house, as well as blasting forward into another time and dimension with their futuristic synth sounds.

It’s no wonder that Heavenly Recordings; the same label boasting talent we love from Saint Etienne to Working Men’s Club, have these guys added to their fantastic roster. The Orielles boast the sweetest sounding melodies since Sarah Cracknell and a perfect balance of modern and classic just like WMC, whilst keeping everything uniquely their own; ticking all of the boxes for another Heavenly band destined for greatness.

The group consists of sisters Esmé Dee Hand-Halford on lead vocals/ bass and Sidonie B Hand-Halford on drums alongside friends Alex Stephens on Keys and Henry Carlyle Wade on guitar and backing vocals (providing a deeper undertone to Esmé’s gentle singing approach). Hailing from Yorkshire, they’ve been putting out singles since 2015 which really helped them to gauge direction before releasing debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ in 2018.

Vibrant and charming, their first LP stands out in the sea of standard indie. Their key to doing so appears to be teasing you with that familiar formula we’re so accustomed to hearing but giving it a twist; thus subverting your expectations. Take Sunflower Seeds, for example, kicking off with a strong and cheery riff followed by thumping drum beats, it instantly captures your attention (in a way that almost seems too good to be true). However, it doesn’t stay linear and instead fades into a slow psychedelic squish that bands like Post Animal would be proud of, flipping the happy-go-lucky intro on its head. 

They further prove their capability of making their mark on things by not only giving you brit-pop dreams like Mango but also more mellow notes in the laid back Liminal Spaces. As well as this, they also display great lyricism inspired by life, literature and philosophy on their tracks, with an abundance of stand-out lines on Henry’s Pocket. A song about trying to start afresh but being trapped by the past, it features vivid lines like “Trying to eat a moment and regurgitate it back up like you used to. We just hang in a web connecting us to past, present and future”.

Silver Dollar isn’t all that The Orielles have to offer either; displaying a real growth in confidence upon the release of their second album ‘Disco Volador’ put out earlier this year. Although I’d never bore of hearing Esmé’s melodies complimenting their funky sound the bands first record doesn’t quite boast the greatest exploration in tone. However, their follow up puts this point to bed with more variance in the delivery of lyrics and exploding instrumentals. Each track truly comes to life, all effortlessly cool with an airy quality. Further deviating from the mainstream sound produced by many current bands there’s a real retro essence at its core, layered with a forward-thinking distortion to create their own vibrant universe.

The album starts with Come Down On Jupiter, a song starting with a hint of Pulp’s darker records à la ‘This Is Hardcore’ that’s then perfectly juxtaposed by the soft melodies introduced into the mix. Sneakily, they then go on to build the track until you find yourself listening to a pop song that still maintains an edge with strutting guitars and more assertive vocals. Continuing to defy your initial anticipations, Memoirs of Miso’s simple lyrics of ’Falling in love’ float around as you drift away into a technicolour vortex. You’re then caressed by a gentle rhythm and drifting saxophone before it bursts back, bringing you into the room, ready to dance again.

Speaking of dancing, Memoirs certainly isn’t alone as single Bobbi’s Second World is bound to have you on your feet; delivering a groovy strut with its bopping bassline, throwing in some fun backing vocals and a sprinkle of sound effects. It’s a tale of turning a blind eye to reality and getting lost in your own head; something I often find myself doing in general but even more so to The Orielles tracks which are pure fuel for the imagination. Summarising Disco Volador is its own ‘theme’ Space Samba which captures the essence of the whole album; beaming and euphoric with a bit of sass to ensure that you don’t fall too far into the dreams induced.

Not only are the band ahead of their time with their indie evolution, but they also look like they truly have a gift for seeing into the future with the line ‘Isolation, room for creation’ being repeated on Sugar Tastes Like Salt; their single released back in 2017. The song that originally caught my attention, ‘Sugar’ not only predicted our 2020 life but also hits with attitude. Featuring upbeat punches, trippy guitar and sinister beats it’s an 8-minute exploration that showcases their capabilities in producing cosmic soundscapes and is a great introduction to the group.

With every one of The Orielles tunes encapsulating a little bit of celestial magic, I’m more than keen to see what else they have coming our way. Sadly, I don’t appear to have their seeming power to do so but based on merit have great faith that it will be something special, so watch this space.

Listen to The Orielles on Spotify

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Pop/Indie Pop Why We Love

Why We Love: Saint Etienne

Sitting and listening to Saint Etienne, you may believe you’ve just discovered an exciting 60’s French pop band, but these incredible three with their totally addictive tunes are born and bred Londoners and are still writing fantastic songs today.

Their groovy TR-909 backbeats revive a classic club culture sound from the ’60s which they merge with elements of 80’s dance music and a pinch of rock, soul and whatever they’re listening to at the time to form an extremely energizing and nostalgic mesh of character. Their upbeat tunes certainly bring light to even the gloomiest days, which is why now is a perfect time to let yourself fall deep into their phenomenal back catalogue.

In 1990, childhood friends Bob Stanley, at the time an NME music writer, and Pete Wiggs, a journalist and DJ, set about to create a band which would have no lead singer, but instead a host of guests supplying voices for their club, synthpop and dance tracks.

As children, Bob and Pete together would create mixtapes of the many artists who would later inspire their music.

They moved to Camden and recorded their debut album ‘Foxbase Alpha’ which has since become a hit record in the underground world, featuring tracks such as ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart,’ a house-tinged cover of Neil Young’s classic hit, as well as many original tracks each as great as the next.

Some tracks on the album, especially the trippy ‘Wilson,’ use voice samples in place of a vocalist, looped sentences spoken by older women and children create a slightly eerie but also trance-inducing feel.

Very soon, Sarah Cracknell, who featured as a singer on the bands hit track ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’, became a permanent member and vocalist for the band and went on to sing all of their later releases, touring with them extensively.

Since their debut album first propelled them beyond the success of many artists which Bob and Pete had written about in NME and other papers, they quit their jobs to focus on the band full time and have been extremely prolific in their output. The quality of their tunes has never seemed to falter, with years of experience in their roles as music journalists, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs certainly know a thing or two about how to make a great song, and they keep on amazing us today.

Their recent 8th and 9th studio albums ‘Words and Music by Saint Etienne’ (2012) and ‘Home Counties’ (2017) have started to explore different and more experimental avenues, with new production techniques being implemented, the band are very much starting to play around with their sound.

In an interview on the 25th anniversary of their third studio album ‘Tiger Bay’, songwriter Pete Wiggs said: “Most Saint Etienne albums are a product of whatever we’re listening to at the time.” Commenting on their third album he said, “At the time we were listening to folk music and techno at the same time.” A method which certainly gives each album its own character.

I’ve featured a lot of their music videos in this article because although I discovered them many years ago, Saint Etienne are just one of those bands who simply do not make a bad song.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the band since their last album in 2017, over lockdown many artists have been writing and writing hard, and we’re super eager for them to spill the beans about anything new they may be working on.

On Twitter last month, the band uploaded a picture of a cassette with ‘Tiger Bay Unreleased’ written on the cover, something which has excited fans intrigued to see what may be around the corner.

It looks as if we may have to wait a while for these three to treat us to new music, but until then we may have some unreleased content to hear!

Something we were also given this year was an awesome mixtape released by the band titled ‘Songs For The Fountain Coffee Room,’ a compilation album by Sarah, Bob and Pete featuring some of their favourite tracks which they describe as “fit for a bar in mid-70;s Los Angeles.”

The mixtape is available now on CD from ACE Records.

It’s great to see them work on a project which echos the roots of founding musicians Bob and Pete, and their days of compiling mixtapes together as children long before the band. This almost seems a special hommage to their long-lasting partnership and a reflection of how far they’ve come.

Listen to Foxbase Alpha now – it’s not an instruction, it’s a demand, thank me later!