"If Dusty Springfield were alive today and obsessed with quiet electronics, then she might sound a little like H Bird. Conceived by pop aficionado Aug Stone and voiced by Scarlet’s Well keyboard player Kate, H Bird are equal parts St Etienne, Lucky Soul, and perfect heartbreak." – How Does It Feel To Be Loved?
"...filled with bitter sweet, perfect pop tunes of the kind that haven’t been heard since the likes of St. Etienne graced the stage. And it’s music that is deserving of your time, an album whose subtleties and eloquence are revealed more fully if it’s given your full attention. Pour a Martini, don a smoking jacket (or a cat suit, possibly both) and experience the literate bitter sweet pop that is ‘Operation Fascination’." - Von Pip Musical Express
"...to put it simply this single is perfect, one of those songs which you simply couldn’t improve if you tried. It’s beautiful pop music, beautifully written and beautifully sung. It’s a warm feeling in your heart. It’s achingly sweet without being nauseating or saccharine and from the second that piano riff hits you and the words “Your eyes meet mine…” coyly fall into view you’ll be hooked and pretty much a sitting duck to the drums and killer keyboard line." - Pow Pow Pow
"‘Operation: Fascination’ is a wonderful epitaph to a short-lived band that sparkled briefly, yet brightly." - PennyBlackMusic
"At its best, it’s very good indeed – witness the delightful Spector-ish Northern Soul of ‘1000 Lights’, or the perky synth-pop of ‘Violet’, which hides an achingly wistful chorus, effortlessly ticking that happy-sad perfect pop box that the likes of Dusty and the Pet Shop Boys have understood all too well." - CMU
released January 11, 2011
H Bird is: Kate Dornan, Kasia Middleton, & Aug Stone
Thanks to Ian Catt, Alex Sarll, Belinda Darling, Alex Potterill, Pippa Ashton, Gemma Cossins, and anyone who ever came to a gig or gave a listen.
All songs recorded by Ian Catt except 'Violet' recorded by Boothnavy and Ian Catt.
CD design by Pippa Alice. Cover photo by Gemma Cossins.
Original Press Release:
H Bird release debut album ‘Operation: Fascination’ on 10 January 2011 – an eleven part pop victory that trails through a party, from tender, misty-eyed love and accidental romance, to heartbroken comedowns, wistful nostalgia and brighter tomorrows dancing under the stars.
Opener ‘Violet’ is the first and only Dornan and Stone collaboration, a three minute frolic through a make-believe world of pop that celebrates life in the face of death. “It contains the perfect mixture of joy and melancholy that all the best songs have,” says Aug. ‘1000 Lights,’ written by Kate, quickly became a live favourite. “It’s a twist of good old English grumpiness to zest the cocktail of sunny American optimism; and a reminder to celebrate falling out of love as heartily as falling in,” she says. “C’mon, dry your eyes, you’ll water down your drink that way,” dead-pans the female narrator of ‘Sour Martinis’ – stolen from the title to Chapter 14 of Ian Fleming’s Thunderball – as she whisks her heartbroken best friend off on a cocktail- fuelled afternoon. Determined not to let the good stuff go to waste, she boldly lets him know what's really going on: "Push that glass to the side, my lips are waiting to take its place.” ‘Danger Makers’ is the title of an episode of The Avengers and is a nod to the fast-paced, stylish, fantasy world of the cult TV show. “H Bird would never have existed if it weren’t for Mrs Peel and John Steed,” says Aug. “Even the album title, ‘Operation: Fascination’ came from an episode called What The Butler Saw.” ‘First Kiss Lips,’ arguably the first H Bird song, begins as pure pop but mutates into Italo disco with space-age synth slides and spiraling cosmic howls. “I demoed the music in my first flat in London,” says Aug. “I’ve always said that there’s something about a really great pop song that’s akin to the feeling you have after you’ve kissed someone you’ve really fancied for quite a while.” ‘Pink Lights & Champagne’ is a dreamy lounge jewel, first released on Dogbox Records in ‘06. “It’s another one courtesy of Ian Fleming,” says Aug. “Chapter 8 of Casino Royale. I remember a very pleasant Sunday afternoon quaffing Guinness in a big comfy chair at The Pineapple in Kentish Town reading the last Darcy Dancer book by JP Donleavy. By the time I’d left I had all the lyrics scribbled down on my bookmark.” The Gainsbourg-esque ‘Lumières Des Belgique’ transports us to a snowy Belgian street scene; hidden in the shadows, we witness the final moments of a bitter break-up between two lovers. The record closes with the twinkling melancholy of ‘Allodynia’: “These empty glasses sing, of naïve toasts of yesteryear and all they failed to bring.” We follow the singer leaving a shattered relationship, on to where the clouds are now lined with silver, no longer "cigarette-smoke grey". “This is the last H Bird song to be written,” says Aug. “I wrote it in a tiny room in Queen’s Park after having once again become obsessed with Suede’s ‘Dog Man Star’ for the millionth time.”
It was late autumn 2003 and Aug was walking down Portobello Road when he stopped at a shop window and peered in at two polka dot patterned tea cups; one was blue and green, the other red and pink. After a brief pause, he continued home, where he slipped Dusty Springfield’s ‘Stay Awhile’ onto the turntable. Right there and then, he knew he had to form a band that sounded like his afternoon.
Two years later, he bumped into Kate and Kasia in a second hand record shop – all three were poised to clinch the one available 12” of Yazoo's ‘Upstairs at Eric's.’ Concluding that the last thing any of them wanted was a public bloodbath, Aug waved his copies of Dusty’s ‘A Girl Called Dusty’ and Saint Etienne’s ‘Tiger Bay’ aloft, like war-ravaged white flags. A cool détente whistled down the musty aisle and fighting fists were dropped.
Aug then recognised Kate from the bands Fosca and Scarlet’s Well, who he was a big fan of, buying their imports back when he lived in America. Kate introduced him to Kasia, a close friend since university, who was a dab hand with a synth, cello, and pretty much anything else she could accrue. They opted instead to go for a cup of tea and H Bird was born. It was a meeting of pop magic.
A gig at the How Does It Feel Club snowballed into shows across London every other week, from The Betsey Trotwood, to supporting Lucky Soul at Kilburn’s The Good Ship, and headline shows at Fierce Panda parties, H Bird’s cool, nonchalant New-Pop was packing in the kids. During this summer of madness, singles label Dogbox Records witnessed the trio’s musical manifesto. A gin-soaked evening ensued; by the break of dawn, H Bird had signed on the dotted line and ‘Pink Lights & Champagne’ was to be their debut single.
Since, the guys have played all around London, slowly building a devoted fan-base, but that’s not all. Kate has been busy in bands including The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra and 18 Carat Love Affair, Kasia made a move to LA to pen film scores, and Aug has been making music with David Shah (Luxembourg, The Melting Ice Caps) as The Soft Close-Ups, as well as releasing under a variety of other guises. But now, H Bird are reunited and armed with an album of perfect pop.
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