Thursday, 29 June 2017

New Music: The National - Guilty Party (Video)

This weekend just gone The National played The Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. I’m a huge fan of the band and for me this should have been one of their crowning moments, but I'm sorry to say it felt like a wasted opportunity. Too many new songs left the audience where I was standing losing interest and the band’s mood, whilst humble, felt a little downbeat which didn’t really capture the atmosphere on site, which was positively upbeat. 

Menacing closer and new song Turtleneck felt wrongly positioned in the set, particularly with its rather abrupt ending. “So is that it?” seemed to be the shoulder shrug response of those by me after they finished. When Matt Berninger showed his phone to the crowd to ask them to call a US politician and stop a controversial healthcare bill in the US, it was an admirable thing to do, but felt misplaced given the band was playing in the UK which has its own very pressing political issues right now. It was all in all a little disappointing, especially after Katy Perry (who I've never particularly liked) put on a exuberant show immediately before them and became one of my (many) surprising highlights of the weekend.

That’s not to say there weren’t highlights though. An early appearance of Fake Empire captured my heart and England swelled with huge emotion as well, but it wasn't enough from a band that have previously moved me nearly to tears.

However, not every artist can be perfect every time you see them – it’s one of the realities of being a fan and seeing a band a number of times; some shows will always be better than others. Not to admit that is living a false reality.

However, all is forgiven when listening to the second rather gorgeous but sad song to be released from the forthcoming album Sleep Well Beast. It's called Guilty Party.

"It's nobody's fault. No guilty party. We just got nothing, nothing left to say" sings Matt, capturing exactly how many break ups feel. If you’re going through a tough time with a relationship ending right now, this song will probably feel like it’s written for you. Hopefully that might help with things a little. 

The National - Guilty Party (Video)

New Music: Confidence Man - Boyfriend (Repeat) (Video)

Australia’s Confidence Man is a band I’ve been banging on about a lot this year. In fact they’re my favourite new pop group of 2017. 

There’s a whole bunch of reasons for this. 

First the live shows; hyperactive danceageddon gigs with sassy don’t fuck with us attitude and a compulsive energy that's guaranteed to leave you with biggest smile on your face, even although the band themselves apply stern Paddington Bear (RIP Michael Bond) hard stares throughout. 

Then there’s the whole concept of the band; from the cartoonish names (Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild, and Clarence McGuffie) to their strong visual identity – netting over the drummer and keyboard players faces to obscure their faces, overly tight pants and baby doll dresses. Confidence Man look like pop stars from the get go. 

Then there’s the songs - high energy relentless volcano pop that bubbles and explodes with dangerous regularity. Their whole reason for existence is to make you want to get high whilst getting down. They teach you how to feel alive.

As yet not many of these songs have made it online. So far there’s the delirious Bubblegum and the party time electro funk of Boyfriend (Repeat), which are out there on all the usual streaming services. 

Whilst we wait for more Boyfriend (Repeat) now has a video and it perfectly captures the essence of the song with a disturbingly funny idea that takes a bunch Kens (some dressed in ways you’ve probably never seen Ken dressed before) and subjects them to treatment by microwave, blender, saw, barbeque and pink plastic mallet to name just a few. Men be warned. When your girlfriend says: “My boyfriend wants to talk, my boyfriend talks to much,” this could be your fate if you don’t shut up.

Confidence Man - Boyfriend (Repeat) (Video)

Monday, 26 June 2017

New Music: Joy Crookes - Power

Earlier this month I made my annual pilgrimage to West London from the south coast for Bushstock Festival, a review of which you’ll find here. The highlight of the event came in the mid-afternoon in a Library Bar that forms part of the Bush Theatre. In amongst the books, on the tiniest of stages, London lass Joy Crookes wowed the packed silent room with a jazzy charm that had me getting a little bit hyperbolic on Twitter muttering names like Amy Winehouse and Billie Holliday. OK maybe I went a little too far, but it wasn’t so far from the truth. Crookes was utterly dazzling - the sort of artist that makes the roll of the dice of music discovery come up double 6.

One of the tunes from Joy’s rapturously received set that day was this new one, which she uploaded to the world wide web recently. Despite it's classic laid-back sound Power is no pushover over of a song.  There’s a strong message here, which needs no explanation, the words clearly speak for themselves: “You’re a man on a mission, but you seem to forget, you came here through a woman, show some fucking respect.” Then there's this one: “Melanin is not your enemy.” It’s Crookes who has the authority here. This is quality. 

Joy Crookes - Power

Friday, 23 June 2017

Breaking More Waves Is 9 Years Old Today - Here's A Blog Post To Celebrate

9 years old today. 9 bloody years I’ve been doing this thing. This blog. This record of some of the stuff I’ve been listening to. 

It’s fascinating to look back over that time and see some of the artists that I’ve introduced. Some of them have gone on to be a huge creative and commercial success. Others, absolutely nothing. 

Here are a handful of examples. Look at the picture below. Recognise her? That’s Charli XCX back in 2009 when I first wrote about her. At the time she was flaunting a bunch of songs like Neon Fashion & Glowstix and Francheskaar and I concluded that although her music appealed to me I found it hard to see any long term appeal. 8 years on and she seems to be doing OK. Her first 2 albums proper ended up being some of my favourites of 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Here’s another one. Recognise them? No, me neither. But apparently, they were a band called Look Stranger! I featured them on the blog once and that was all. I can’t remember anything about what they sounded like now, even having re-read my original blog post. I never heard of them again.

And here’s one more. This was Skint & Demoralised. I named him as one to watch many years ago. His music never set the world alight (albeit listening back to it now I still really enjoy it) but years on Matt Abbott the singer cropped up on this TV advert (click here), showing that he was one to watch, just not in the way I originally thought.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that in 9 years of music blogging what I’ve learnt is that anyone who tells you that they are a tastemaker and can predict the success of any artist is talking out of their arse*. Some acts make it, some don’t. Nobody has the perfect crystal ball. Every time someone tells you about how they were one of the first to discover a particular successful artist, ask them how many others they discovered that never went on to light up the world. By the law of averages, the more artists a site writes about, the more chance there is that some of them will go on to be massively commercially or artistically successful. 

All I can do, and all any blog worth their salt can do is bring you some new music and new artists I like. The rest is unknown.

Breaking More Waves is 9 years old today. Right now I’m celebrating that fact somewhere in a field in Somerset at Glastonbury Festival, probably with a cider / wine / gin and tonic in hand. Maybe all 3. 

I always said at some point the blog will end and when it does I’ll make a definite point about it. There will be no gradually fading away. But a big full stop. But not yet. I’ve got a little bit more fuel in the tank yet. Maybe not a lot, but it's not time for ending quite yet. 

Thanks for reading guys, without you it would be fairly pointless.

*Footnote. Some other things I've learnt whilst writing this blog are:

1. When times are bad (death / illness etc) music can be a salvation. In fact this blog has been a real help for me during those bad times - the last year in particular.

2. I also run a twitter account associated with the blog. Twitter is a very odd place - a weird bubble where people reinforce their own views with others like them and castigate those who do things differently to their world view - with little or no nuanced discussion. (How can you in 140 characters?). 

3. There's only so much you can say about music before you start repeating yourself. 

4. Musicians are weird and like to promote their art by sitting in the bath.