Monday, 29 August 2016

New Music: Bon Iver - 33 "God"

In 2008 Bon Iver released For Emma, Forever Ago and it became my favourite album of the year. It’s one that has also very much stood the test of time and regularly finds a place on my listening device of choice. Since that time Justin Vernon’s status has continued to increase with many a music aficionado, but for me nothing has got close to that record. With a new album imminent however, new song 33 “God”, released today, gets close.

Starting with a piano refrain that sounds like the intro to a Tom Odell song, 33 "God" soon diverts into more experimental territory, but (and here’s the important thing for me) underneath the raw electronics and weird effects there’s still a beautiful tune. “I find god and religion too, staying at the Ace Hotel,” he croons in falsetto. Well at least it’s not at the Travelodge. One to lose yourself in.

Bon Iver - 33 "God"

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Playlist: Monthly Catch Up With Breaking More Waves Blog

Whilst I continue to upload around 20 posts a month on Breaking More Waves and whilst I’m aware that I do have a few regular daily readers, most people frequent my little blog far less often. Shame on you!

This means that you miss an awful lot – not only my witty, thoughtful and sometimes hilarious (!!) commentary but a whole bunch of good tunes.

For that reason, here's your chance to catch up, without the need to even see the written crap that I bash out, by way of a Spotify playlist. It features virtually everything I’ve posted on the blog in the previous 30 odd days and is fully refreshed around the end of each month – providing I remember to do so. This month’s is available now and can be found by clicking here or below.

Not quite everything I’ve posted on the blog is on the list, either because the artist is so new they only have demos on line, for example this month the fantastic Jade Bird, a major talent who I recommend you investigate by clicking here, or the artist isn’t streaming the song on Spotify yet. Two great examples from this month are the rather hard to watch video from Indiana for her song Caroline, and the absurdly good Deathproof by Breaking More Waves favourite and all round top woman Chløë Black, which is only on Soundcloud.

So take a listen, maybe follow the list and see what you’ve missed. But most of all – enjoy.

Breaking More Waves Latest Playlist

Saturday, 27 August 2016

A Summary Of The Recent Articles On Music Streaming And Where It Needs To Go From Here

This week there have been a few attention grabbing articles about music streaming services. If you are at all interested in the ongoing conversation about how these services work and how they are developing, then they are all must reads.

The first is called Why Apple Music Exclusives Are Good For Artists which is written by a former Apple employee Sean Glass. The title might sound like a defence of exclusives – but Sean is keen to point out that he is not in favour of exclusives, but he is ‘in favour of the work and value Apple is putting into music right now.’ Read it by clicking here.

The second article, from Music Ally provides some balanced commentary on the first article and how it shows the best and worst of Apple as an organisation – click here.

Then there’s another article from Music Ally on how Spotify is continuing to do well in converting its free users to paid for subscribers – click here.

With Spotify coming out and saying it was against exclusives, several news items (like this one on The Verge – click here) reported on how it is dealing with artists who give exclusives to other services.

Finally, Sean Glass posted some follow up thoughts to his original article. (Click here)

If you have the time and interest it’s worth reading all the pieces.

Here's my one simple thought, the key issue as I see it right now. It may be over simplistic, but I believe it's vitally important. 

More and more people are using streaming and more and more people are paying for it. From the industry and artist perspective that’s a good thing. But, and there’s a big but here, for every big artist that puts their album out as an exclusive there’s a huge number of illegal downloads. This week it was reported that Frank Ocean’s Blonde was downloaded illegally over 750,000 times and there have been similar issues with exclusive albums from Kanye West, Beyoncé etc. 

It might be a simple conclusion to draw, but it seems that whilst streaming could be the answer to reducing illegal downloading (one of the reasons it was developed in the first place after Napster’s creation threatened to destroy the industry completely) by clawing back some money into the industry, album exclusives through one streaming platform are the equivalent of the music industry shooting itself in the foot. Let’s hope for artists, the industry and the consumer the business can sort itself out. 

My view is that the industry needs to ditch exclusives and work together to make things work for everyone. If it continues down the exclusives route, especially if smaller acts start doing deals for album exclusives, it will become a bigger and bigger mess. I've seen a similar thing happen with music blogs, where now virtually every single two bit music blog is offering an 'exclusive premiere' of some tiny little artist and therefore actually restricting the chances of that artists music being heard, even if those exclusives are only in the short term before a wider release. In my opinion it's people thinking too selfishly and not about the bigger picture.

Come on Apple, Spotify, Tidal etc – all get in the room together and sort this out. There’s enough room for all of you, you just need to make it work.

What did Kanye West say? Oh yeah: “Let the kids have the music.”

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

New Music: Hazel English - I'm Fine

New Hazel English tune alert! I’m very much enjoying what Hazel is doing. If she had a fan club I'd probably join. (Old people amongst you might remember fan clubs – I was a member of the 80’s synth pop ‘wizard’ Howard Jones' fan club and through it received badges, newsletters, flexi discs and even several handwritten letters from HoJo’s mum. You probably wouldn’t get that these days with The 1975 or Rita Ora) 

Her new tune is called I’m Fine and it sounds pretty er….fine. Damn fine even.  

Here’s a multiple choice question for you. First take a listen to the song. Then ask yourself about its sound. Do you think it sounds as if it is

A Caked in Californian sunshine

B Straight from the heart of a London Art School

C A pleasing indie pop song

D Two people sticking their tongues down each other’s throats in the back of a taxi after a night out clubbing?

If you answered A you’re probably her PR representative. If you chose B you’re probably me. If you chose C you’re probably accurate but a bit boring. And anyone that chose D - you’re probably drunk.

The reason I think I’m Fine sounds particularly British is those very OMD inspired synth noises combined with the concept of the song which Hazel has explained is about “struggling with something nobody else can see and trying to act like everything's fine, when it's really not,” something the Brits with their supposed ‘stiff upper lip’ are known for.

I’m Fine is the final track on Hazel’s forthcoming EP, with further tracks arriving in the next few weeks. You can pre-order the EP by clicking here.

Regular readers will also probably have already realised my continued health and safety concerns for Hazel as once again we find her sitting on a rock in a quite possibly dangerous location with no harness or safety rope attached* Newbies, you can catch up by clicking here*

*Footnote 1 - If you want ‘serious’ music criticism please go elsewhere. If you want the really important issues that everyone else ignores, stick with Breaking More Waves.

**Footnote 2 - This song has a number of little woah-oh's. It might explain why I like it, after all HoJo was a fan of the woah-oh as well (here)

Hazel English - I'm Fine