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Anemo Stentorian [album] Hazelle Woodhurst [interview] Pray [single]

Anemo: Stentorian “The fabulous Anemo returns with a
 
brilliant new album, Stentorian, that
  is jam-packed with even more musical
  goodies from this Brighton-based
  band...


AN EAGERLY-ANTICIPATED ALBUM, Stentorian is currently waiting in the wings to be released on 13 October (2008) by the South Coast's fantastic rock-pop band Anemo. And it's not before time. It is the second studio album from the band and it follows Anemo's critically-acclaimed 2006 UK debut album Slowburn.

Anemo's strength and originality lies in the band's ear for melody and musical diversity. Stentorian rides a more energetic and aggressive rock edge than its predecessor, with such well turned out tracks as Fives And Sixes that was recently featured on the UK Fireworks cover mount CD.

HazelleWhen the first single from Stentorian was released in October 2007 — the rock anthem Pray — it was so phenomenal that it was difficult to believe that Anemo could successfully follow something so special. Pray is indeed a magnificent tribute — not only to BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, whose brush with 'friendly fire' during the Iraq war inspired the song, but also to music.

With its unusual Arabic overcast and tremendous vocals, Pray is outstanding — but Stentorian's eleven tracks are all very different and creditable in their own right and a second single, MusicBox, will also be released to coincide with the album. MusicBox is an irresistible, melodic jaunt of musical notes with gorgeous vocals wrapped around them — among the best of rock-pop.

Beautiful vocal delivery with great lyrics and terrific beats meld to make up the racy She's Not Me. Exhilarating rock comes with dashing guitar work and subtle drumming — that's Filthy Figure Skater, with its neat vocal treatment and odd title.

Anemo is fantastic and vocalist Hazelle Woodhurst is a knock-out; with a gutsy vocal presentation that switches itself in a second to complement every single track on Stentorian, including the attractive Anyway with its splendid folk-rock sound that lulls you with its gentle undulating melody and the great Shipping News.

The final thoughts of a condemned murderess may seem like a strange subject for a song, but Heaven Is Waiting? is interesting, poignant, creative and beautifully done. Stentorian finishes on the evocative Still with its haunting melody — pure genius.

ErikaThe name Stentorian comes from Stentor, a legendary Greek herald in the Trojan War. According to the Iliad, his voice was as loud as that of fifty men — and Hazelle certainly gives it all she's got!

The Anemo line-up alongside Hazelle is her sister Erika (backing vocals); Kingsley Sage (keyboards); Matt Palmer (guitars); Dan Partington (bass guitar); and Mike Kelly (drums).

When a classically-trained pianist and established producer, a rock guitarist and front woman Hazelle Woodhurst — whose vocal gymnastics range from crystal-clear to crowd commanding — put their creative resources together the results are always going to be interesting. Creem magazine came closest to pigeonholing the band when they described Anemo as "Swirlin' around like a tornado tossed three-way between Eurythmics, Pretenders and Portishead". Sounds good enough.

The band's slogan should be "Remember the Anemo!" How could you forget…

Anemo's second studio album Stentorian is released on 13 October (2008) on New York independent label City Canyons Records. Distribution in the UK is by Pebble Beach Music through Pennacle.

Tracklisting

1 Pray | 2 MusicBox | 3 She's Not Me | 4 Filthy Figure Skater | 5 Anyway | 6 Shipping News | 7 Fives And Sixes | 8 Throw It Away | 9 Heaven Is Waiting? | 10 Another Side To The Story | 11 Still

Check out anemo.co.uk, myspace.com/anemomusic and citycanyons.com.

"A little bit rock, a little bit goth but a whole lotta good!" — Metal4life.com

"Anemo is fantastic and vocalist Hazelle Woodhurst is a knock-out; with a gutsy vocal presentation that switches itself in a second to complement every single track on the amazing Stentorian…" — MotorBar

Anemo

About Anemo

Anemo began life in September 2002 when Kingsley Sage was auditioning singers for a songwriting and recording project. The results had been universally disappointing but at the eleventh hour a former actress and talented vocalist called Hazelle Woodhurst entered the picture.

Hazelle and Kingsley immediately hit it off. They shared a love of different styles of music and, of course, a good English cup of tea! The two set to work on penning a number of songs that would later become the basis of the Anemo's first album. They decided that the project needed a rock edge, and to that end guitarist Matt Palmer was added to the mix.

After countless evenings at the band's basement studio in Brighton, the three had amassed an impressive collection of pop-meets-rock-meets-electronica tracks. At this point, the group took on the name Anemo (from the Greek word Anemos meaning 'changing forms') to reflect the blend of styles and influences that was brought to the music.

The strong vocal melodies and distinctive style caught the attention of Trevor Lloyd, CEO of New York-based independent record label City Canyons. In summer 2005 Anemo signed a three-album record contract with City Canyons.

The trio's debut album Slowburn was met with critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic — gaining rave reviews and returning top ten positions on US college radio. In the UK, the band were championed by BBC6 music as "one to watch" on the Bruce Dickinson (of Iron Maiden fame) Rock Show and Slowburn was named "one of the albums of the year" by shakenstir.co.uk. The Anemo live band has toured throughout the UK and was recognised for its energetic live performances by winning a Classic Rock Society Best Live Band award in 2006.

Anemo's second studio album, Stentorian, is more focussed towards the energy and aggression of the band's live performances and the first single from it is Pray, a song inspired by a news report by BBC war journalist John Simpson. Pray was originally released in October 2007, partnered by a dance mix by former Skint Records artiste Indian Ropeman. The new album's second single, MusicBox, will be released shortly.

Pray has been featured on Bruce Dickinson's BBC rock show and on the BBC Asian Network for DJ Nihal, who also did a feature interview with the band for his Music With A Message.

Hazelle Woodhurst “Hazelle is bright and breezy, sounding
  relaxed and enthusiastic as she talks
  about herself and her role as lead
  vocalist with Anemo. You wonder how
  she can sit still for the time we speak as
  she is so unstoppable on stage!”


ANEMO (from the Greek word Anemos, meaning changing forms) is a talented Brighton-based band and Hazelle — who is also a very accomplished songwriter — is telling me about the background to their brilliantly innovative single release Pray.

The band is justifiably proud of Pray. They have taken a very direct approach to the sounds they were determined to create with this song — a song that draws attention to the realities of war. Enter Kingsley Sage, a keyboard genius and technical wizard who really is, says Hazelle, a wise and intelligent sage. Not only is he passionate about music, but he is equally enthusiastic about science and applies it to his life!

Kingsley, says Hazelle, is quite a character. A former public schoolboy, he absorbs everything like a sponge and is always one step ahead of everyone else. His brain is active 24/7 and he has the most amazing diplomatic skills — useful when dealing with a band made up of very different, strong-minded characters who are gifted and artistic. It can be difficult to find common ground, even when they are all heading in the same direction.

Very eccentric and with a dry sense of humour, Kingsley is the second youngest of four brothers. He's a one-off. Everyday things don't work for him, but he's clever enough to turn things to his advantage. He plagued his parents for a piano and they bought him a keyboard first — the piano came later. He is great, says Hazelle, when it comes to negotiating or fine tuning. He knows exactly what to say and to whom he needs to talk.

It was Kingsley's suggestion that Anemo should produce a song about John Simpson, the BBC World Affairs Editor who was mistakenly bombed by a US airplane in 2003 while accompanying a convoy of US Special Forces and Kurdish fighters.

Totally professional, John Simpson ignored his cuts and bruises and shock and got up to carry on with his job. Pray is a tribute to war correspondents and also addresses the moral issues of the human sacrifice of war. "People have become desensitised to it," remarks Hazelle. "There were huge civilian casualties at that time and it's still happening. It is difficult to imagine what it must be like in such a volatile situation."

She adds: "Kingsley was so passionate about it. Once he'd infected us with his enthusiasm he just looked and me and said: 'Over to you, Hazelle!' And that was that.

"We wanted everyone who heard Pray to see through the eyes of the soldiers and through the eyes of John Simpson. We wanted it to sound as if you were actually there. You can imagine — the troops scattered, utter chaos and cries for help. You don't have to have a conventional God to pray to in such a situation. You just pray."

Hearing the emotion in her voice, it is easy to understand the reasons why this uplifting, powerful and passionate song works so well. It is excellent music that also has a message — and a very poignant one at that — and it comes from a band who believe the world should know how they feel about war. Hazelle speaks out against war, which she refers to in her song as a "widow machine".

A born singer, Hazelle has music in her blood: her great-grandmother was an opera singer. No surprise then that she was singing in the school choir at six and already playing in a band by the time she was 15. In her late teens she became a drummer but, with a degree in theatre studies, she decided to try acting. Hazelle signed with 2020 Casting in London as an extra and appeared on television in Invasion Earth as a member of a team of scientists [where was Kingsley? Ed], The Bill and Soldier, Soldier. She has also appeared in the films Shakes-peare in Love and Eyes Wide Shut. Singing is her first love although, she says, she'd rather like to act again at some time. She owes her slim and supple body to kickboxing workouts which has stood her in good stead for her on-stage gymnastics!

Musically, Hazelle's biggest influence was her father — an R 'n' B guitarist who played with Heinz and also Johnnie Kidd and The Pirates. When Hazelle was 18, her mother had a heart attack and died, aged just 42. The high standards Hazelle works to are, in part, because she wanted her mother, as well as her father, to be proud of her.

Hazelle's father was a very inspirational part of her music education and she grew up listening to rock 'n' roll and original blues. Artistes such as Nazareth, Zeppelin, Robert Cray, Jeff Healey, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Wonder, Maggie Bell, Janis Joplin and The Black Crowes have all been major influences on her work. She believes that "albums should take you on a journey" and she loves the raw kind of music that she describes as being "like reining in a tiger; wild and powerful, haunting yet melodic". Not many female vocalists are singing proper rock, Hazelle points out, and Anemo's brand of rock-ballad-folk-blues-influenced music is quite unique.

Four years ago Hazelle's flatmate was going for interviews with bands and he suggested that she should ring Kingsley Sage, who was looking for a female vocalist and songwriter. Her twenty-minute interview turned into three hours — and twelve months later Anemo was born.

Having worked with other musicians whom, she says, "were not singing from the same page", it is all the more important to Hazelle that the band members are so compatible.

Anemo has been hard at work, producing their latest album which they hope to get finished and released by March (2008). "Our music," says Hazelle, "has lots of electronica and loops. It's quite rootsy and raw, with a live sound — very exposed, very vulnerable and unique in its style with double bass and cello influences."

Anemo has been signed for two years now but, says Hazelle, "with fame comes pressure — you have to deliver; have to write songs. You can't be complacent. We are particularly well received in America, where they love indie bands."

Hazelle and Kingsley were also interviewed by DJ Nehal on the Music With A Message section of BBC Radio Asian Network in October and Anemo has filmed their first music video (produced by Fractured Films) for Pray. "It's very raw," says Hazelle, "with a definitive narrative. We had free rein and have been quite indulgent. Although we have to con-form, we don't have to conform too much. It is an interesting journey for us."

Hazelle admits that she wants everything to happen yesterday and she can be blunt if she thinks she's not being listened to. Things can get a bit fraught within the band. Guitarist Matt Palmer, a rock fan and surfer from Devon who is very much part of the writing team, can be "a bit sparky" and nerves can be frazzled. Then Kingsley comes into his own with his calm, diplomatic way of sorting things out.

Two years ago, Hazelle's sister Erika joined Anemo on backing vocals. Before that Hazelle did pre-recorded loops and harmonies because she couldn't sing both those and lead vocals live. Erika works hard at The Home Office and it's her release to get up on stage. At 27, she is six years younger than Hazelle and she's a fantastic manager, says Hazelle. "Sometimes bossy, sometimes calm; but always passionate.

"Our drummer, Mike Kelly," she laughs, "is very verbal and full on. He's one of the best drummers I've ever worked with and he's extremely visual."

They have, she tells me, great fun on the road. Sparks sometimes fly but they take it all in their stride. They once got a flat tyre when they hit the petrol pump kerb in a garage. One of them tried to jump ship as he only lived a short walk away, but as they follow the motto 'the band that plays together, stays together' they refused to let him leave!

Another time, they got caught in heavy traffic on their way to a gig and, in the true spirit of rock 'n' roll, switched on the overhead lights of their former motorway maintenance van to drive a short way down the hard shoulder to their turn-off. "Needs must," quips Hazelle, "as the devil drives." But she insists they would never make a habit of it.

Hazelle also told me that they once tried to board an easyJet flight to Prague — although easyJet didn't fly to Prague — and then had great difficulty trying to retrieve their luggage!

And the future? Hot favourite for a second single release from their first album (Slowburn) is 5s and 6s, which is about drug addiction, but Hazelle is also keen on Fall Out Renegade.

Anemo will soon be announcing the dates of their forthcoming tour in the States. Watch this space!

Pray was released on 15 October 2007.

Check out anemo.co.uk, myspace.com/anemomusic and citycanyons.com.

Anemo: PrayFantastically evocative — that was the
  first thing that came into my head
  listening to rock band Anemo’s Pray...


INSTANTLY YOU THINK OF EASTERN countries and the spiritual awakening of the mu
'addin calling the faithful for prayer. But it is also reminiscent of a Sixties rock sound; with remarkable vocals and delightful melodies. All of this, and an indulgent, sparkling new sound thrown in for good measure.

If that sounds confusing, it really is something you have to listen to in order to appreciate this uplifting, emotional, powerful and passionate song that was inspired by the true story of John Simpson — the BBC World Affairs Editor who was accompanying a convoy of US Special Forces and Kurdish fighters when they were mistakenly bombed by the Americans in 2003.

The energy of the rock anthem Pray bursts through the speakers, instantly making an impact. Anemo has endowed their music with the special qualities that reflect the song as a tribute to all those who have died reporting the reality of war — when you are in a war zone in a strange country and away from all that is familiar to you, even atheists might find themselves praying to God.

Pray raises questions about war, morality and sacrifice. Front woman Hazelle Woodhurst sings: "Is this what democracy means" and "Now I just point the camera where people want to see, as war takes centre stage as a widow machine" — and she sings with surprising empathy given that she is only able to imagine what John Simpson must have seen that day.

Brighton-based Anemo plays live as a seven-piece rock band, fronted by two dynamic and imposing female vocalists: lead singer Hazelle and sister Erika on backing vocals. Ameno is anything but an average band — and that becomes clear when you learn that band members are made up of a kick boxer, actress, sky diver, motor cyclist, surfer, Doctor of Oceanography and a Doctor of Artificial Intelligence!

As mentioned, the word Anemo derives from the Greek word Anemos, meaning changing forms. And that is exactly what has happened since the release of their first, critically-acclaimed, City Canyons-released album Slowburn. The distorted bass, driving drum beat and grinding guitars of Pray set the tone for the rest of the album, which has a darker sound than Anemo's previous release. "With this record we wanted a sound that was more focused towards the energy and aggression of our live set," said keyboard player Kingsley Sage.

Inspired rock band Anemo are back: their new single Pray (released on 15 October 2007) on independent New York-based international label Canyons Records, pays tribute to the people who died while bringing to the world the news from the front line.

"Anemo are one to watch" — Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) BBC6 Music

"Great vocals, a driving beat and wonderful hooks" — Getreadytorock.com

"Beautiful melodies and wonderful tuneful vocals. Anemo create an original, fresh
sound" — Ultimateguitar.com

Check out anemo.co.uk, myspace.com/anemomusic and citycanyons.com.