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The best kept secret in music


"Trinity College gig"

So anyhow, while Stone Ocean et al continue to dredge up that which has already been dredged up (and more effectively) by the Frames, headliners Alphastates fly "light years ahead of their peers", according to recent reviews of debut album "Made From Sand". And from the opening number "Addicted", I'm addicted. Residing somewhere between urbane electronica and buoyant indie-pop, the Alphastates sound is rich with the heavenly noises coming from the telecaster of Gerry Horan, while cemented by the rhythmic backbone of bassist Stevie Kavanagh and drummer Mick O'Dowd. The luminous vocal talent of lead singer Catherine Dowling breathes icily over fluid, cool backing tracks, echoing the funkier moments of the Cocteau Twins.

Dowling oscillates wildly, vocally and physically, dressed from head to toe in blue. Her voice and presence possess the oddball edge that finds Gemma Hayes and Nina Hynes lacking. During Kiss Me, her croaksome jazz-voicings are an icy rasp of oozing sophistication, yet loaded still with all the understated erotic agony we recall in Beth Gibbons. Indeed, a Portishead-like suspense haunts Dowling's hushed intimacies during the set, which is in fitting contrast to Horan's expansive My Bloody Valentine fortissimos. This line-up of Alphastates has only existed for less than a year, yet the entire band's connection - rhythmic, musical and personal - is obvious even in this limited, ill-equipped venue (I highly recommend their next Dublin gig at Crawdaddy on November 25th). Happily brimming with talent and seemingly oblivious to their comparatively mundane surroundings, all four are refreshingly unselfconscious onstage and clearly revel in a gig opportunity. This flexibility allows for a rendition of Kraftwerk's "The Model" to work swimmingly with the Alphastates style, despite the relatively obscure choice.

Perhaps if we put Stellastarr in the fridge for a couple of hours, or gave the Cardigans a soul, we would end up with Alphastates. But then again, to reduce this band's sound to a merely digestible indie-pop stereotype is to cheapen and gravely underestimate one of the most potent undercurrents in the country's alternative music scene. This music is stylishly etherealised without sounding removed, and at no point alienates the listener. I look around and their audience are transfixed. Tonight, the Buttery was plucked from the armpit of
stale indie bedwet and propelled skywards toward the lofty creative
peaks of a band who I am convinced are poised to record something truly special. - Trinity News

"Kilkenny gig"

If you missed out on Alphastate’s blistering gig in the Annaconda last Saturday night you have my deepest sympathies. Led by Catherine Dowling, an extraordinary vocal talent, the band make the most ethereal-sounding, spirit-melting music this side of the Cocteau Twins.

Promoting their excellent debut album, Made From Sand, the group thundered through all of its choicest cuts including Top of the World, Last Day of Summer, Kiss Me, the single, Sometimes, and the fantastic album opener, Round Here. Dowling swirls from side to side as if calling on invisible entities to massage her as her majestic voice soars over the drum tracks, keys and the discordant guitar theatrics of Gerry Horan who, at times, resembles Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood - except with a slightly better haircut.

Those who were there to see the band made sure to stand their ground at the end of the bar; though many of those there just for a casual Saturday night drink were drawn towards the magic in front of them and probably converted. A smashing cover of Kraftwerk’s The Model sounded strangely in place amongst the bands own electro flirtations. I’m sure there were those that were sceptical at first, probably expecting yet another twee, cutesy-cutesy girl-led group making offensively summery sounds, but on hearing the dark, layered poetics of Dowling’s lyrics, they were left standing.

Alphastates are a very special thing indeed, buy the album, go see them and, for pity’s sake, don’t let them swan off to obscurity like so many other great bands of the past. In country a where the likes of Dido and The Frames can headline outdoor concerts, this band will manage to reassure you that there’s still urgency, passion, and art left in music. - Kilkenny People, By Pius Meagher

"Waterford gig"

That Waterford has a new club that can attract such a fine and knowledgeable audience is good news too, the plush futurism of 10 serving as a particularly appropriate backdrop for the full-on indie rock assault of Alphastates. In Catherine Dowling they have a singer born to live on stage, her WW11 vamp-waitress persona and honeydripping voice pulling them in from the bar from the off.

The seductively bluesy "Kiss Me" revealed her voice at its most expressive before it built into an exciting guitar wig-out. The martial "Sometime" and the funkyish "Angel Kiss" showed a band keen to blow the electricity budget. "Round Here", with its "she likes kissing girls" is vaguely Vega-ish and "Last Day of Summer" is sombrely majestic and brimful of chunky guitars and that voice again.

All told, a night that scored an appropriate ten out of Ten. - Hot Press

"Made From Sand Review"

While nobody was looking, a silent revolution happened in the Irish music scene. Out of the singer-songwriter pact and shoegazing electronic posse, a cross breed sprang up, and among these wonderful mongrels are Cane 141, Random, The Tycho Brahe and Automata. At the centre of this accident of cross-fertilisation were Alphastates, a prototype of sorts.
Despite their healthy live presence, a rather unjust fate had befallen Alphastates, where success has seemed to be always just around the corner, slightly out of reach. They have been on the edge of the action for quite some time, eliciting neither feverish acclaim nor big advances. All that looks set to change. Buckle up kids, and get ready to embrace your new favourite band.
The first string to their well-crafted bow is the startlingly unique vocal style of Catherine Dowling. Delivered in a strangely emotional and engaging, yet nonchalant way, Dowlings vocals are breathy, catching in her throat as she delivers knowing and worldly tales about kissing girls and the like. It's as sexy as fuck.
Add to that a multi-layered, delicately creative and innovative musical backdrop, and we're really talking about something special. Addicted and Sometimes are both prime slices of accessible, lovingly crafted indie pop, and Good Stuff, as all great songs are wont to do, sticks in the head long after you've switched off the stereo.
One small step for Catherine Dowling and her cohorts, then ... one giant leap - in the right direction - into a new dawn for the Dublin music scene. - Hot Press

"Good Stuff Review (Single of the Fortnight)"

The first thing you notice about Alphastates' Good Stuff EP is the attention to detail. Every sound has been meticulously, lovingly crafted; every twist, turn, modulation and crescendo plotted with extreme precision, and, in places, to startling effect (namely the sultry "Good Stuff", punctuated by spiky guitars and light, airy vocal harmonies). ...none short of brilliant. - Hot Press

"Belfast gig"

You know it's gonna be a great gig when the hairs are standing up on the back of your neck and the band hasn't even started playing. This is only the second time that Dublin band Alphastates (formerly Babelfish) has played in Belfast. It's a shame because, for my money, Alphastates is probably one of the most innovative and creative bands in the country. Singer Catherine Dowling has a voice like melted chocolate, perfect for their first single Sometimes, which is beautiful in its simplicity. Then they play Addicted. It's a sleazy and sinister song that fuses drum loops and samples with traditional song- writing values - it sounds absolutely stunning. As the rest of the band gaze at their shoes, the frontwoman looks like a total star, belting out one great song after another. They even throw in a cover of Kraftwerk's The Model for good measure. Catherine tells the crowd that Alphastates' first album is released in February next year. It could be the record of the year. - Belfast Telegraph

"Dublin Olympia gig"

Alison Curtis announced Alphastates as one of the hardest working bands in the country. Indeed the penultimate act of the evening are established and respected nationwide. It’s almost a year since the release of their debut album “Made of Sand”. Over the last twelve months the band have been gigging constantly all over the country stating their case as a force to be reckoned with. It was clear that Alphastates had a dedicated support among the audience. Lead singer Catherine Dowling has an endearing quality on stage that gently leads the crowd along. As Alphastates played their own brand of catchy popular rock melodies, the crowd became focused. The eclectic pop rock flavour of the songs wrapped them around the audience. Personal musical taste aside, there is no doubt these guys are at ease with a large audience normally associated with acts on a much larger scale. “Dry Your Eyes” was perhaps my favourite song of the set. It’s a clever mixture of choppy guitar and pop vocals that borders slightly on college rock while still maintaining the stature of a serious tune. - Roadhouse Magazine

"Made from Sand Review 2"

Alphastates have been hanging around the fringes of the Dublin
indie scene for a long time (if you've never heard of them,
it's probably because until recently they were called
With the release of this excellent debut album, their time has
finally come. Disdaining the acoustic introspection of most of
their contemporaries, the youthful quartet specialise in a
cool, brooding electronica that recalls such other
sophisticated female-fronted acts as Dubstar and Saint Etienne.
What really lingers in the memory, however, is the voice of
singer Catherine Dowling - breathy, vulnerable and disarmingly
sexy. Her oblique lyrics mean that you may not know what she's
on about half the time, but one listen to those hushed tones
should be enough to get every red-blooded male trembling at the
knees. Given half a chance, this beguiling album will creep
slowly under your skin and start to dominate your thoughts. Why
not let it? - Entertainment Ireland

"Auntie Annies gig"

When amiable Dublin folks, Alpha States (formerly Babelfish)
take the stage, things initially appear to take on a more
familiar sense of indie-rock safety. As the alterna-boys plug
in their guitars you can almost feel the collective sigh of
relief. It’s like a brick in the face then, when the strange
whir of ambient electronics and stop-start rhythms of
‘6.15’reel around the room. The band’s pop melodies belie their
leftfield inflections, though. The key here is front lady
Catherine Dowling. You can hear the brogue in her voice as it
seductively rises and breaks. It seems she could make even the
dullest song sound sweet and intimate. In between she is
charming and talkative. She already seems too big a star for
the Auntie Annie’s stage. They leave having made new friends,
and promise to be back soon. On this evidence, you’d wager on
it being on a much grander scale - Across the Line

"Made From Sand Review 3"

Alphastates seem to be the indie band, who missed out on the indie revolution, burying their heads in the sand and their instruments until all the melodramatic posing has been finished with. Now it's safe to venture outdoors and spread their picnic of understated, trippy, delicate pop on the lawn and let everyone dig in.

Round Here's gentle hypnotic swing, the shifting tempo of Top of the World and the humdrum danceability of Addicted are all consumed with the same lo-fi pop sensibilities. Catherine Dowling's breathy voice is at times heavenly beautiful and at others, as casual as if she's chatting over a cup of coffee on a rainy bank holiday, which is all part of the joy really. These songs don't always call for vocals that push their way to the front of the crowd, but rather they embody the afterthoughts that hang around in the back of your mind, such as What You Are's recurring doubts or Good Stuff's critical eye.

The latter would be the standout of the album, if not for the hauntingly stripped Kiss Me, or the thrashing rock of closer Angel Kiss which ensures a strong finish. Made from Sand seems to be much more about creating some funky hooks and melodies that are impossible not to be swallowed up by, rather than wallowing in a bedsit crying over spilt milk, or alcohol as the case may be. And sometimes it certainly seems to be the better option, why think about things too much when you can dance? - Eclectic Honey


Top of the World (single)
Top of the World. The Model. More to Come.

Last Day of Summer (single)
Last Day of Summer (single version). Last Day of Rod.
First Day of Autumn.

Made From Sand (album)
Round Here. Sometimes. Addicted. Indian Sky.
Last Day of Summer. Top of the World. (Belvidere).
What You Are. Good Stuff. Kiss Me. Hide. Angel Kiss ...

Good Stuff E.P
Good Stuff. Top of the World (downtempo mix). Freewheelin. Addicted (Chris Agnelli remix).

Conversations With Robots E.P
Addicted. Serenade. Gypsy. Nothing More.

Sometimes E.P
Sometimes. Flowers. 6:15. Song For M.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Alphastates are currently working on their second album, the follow up to 2004's ""Made From Sand"", which was described as “the freshest, most vital Irish release in an age�. Alphastates have played at Witnness twice and to their biggest audience yet when 6000 people packed their tent at the Oxegen festival in 2004. They have shared stages with Throwing Muses, Sinead O’ Connor, Cat Power, The Frames, The Beta Band and Lali Puna. Their music is currently in demand for both TV and Film productions, including Irish drama series “The Big Bow Wow�, and in Irelands national television station RTE's sport advertising campaign. Courtesy of their phenomenal live performances they have built up a strong fanbase around the country. They were recently selected by RTE to perform on the programme “Other Voices – Songs From a Room�, alongside Steve Earle, the Mark Lanegan Band (Queens of the Stone age) and many others. They were also selected from thousands of other bands to have a video made by the prestigious New York Film School of their pulsating single Addicted. Alphastates also won Band of the Year and Best Electronic Song in American Indie website's annual awards for 2006. They spent most of the year at the top of IAC's charts, three of their songs reaching the top spot and staying there for several months.