Friday, 31 May 2013

Giant Fang - Aqualung (Prides Remix)

Having introduced you to Giant Fang, (possibly) Scotland’s answer to M83 earlier this week and synth pop princes in waiting Prides back in April, now someone has had the sweet idea of putting the two together for some remix action. The results will make you swoon.

If you want to know where summer has gone, we suggest that Prides / Giant Fang have stolen it all and magicked it into this. Chilled to perfection this glorious cocktail will lift you gracefully upwards with its course set for the sun until you burst in euphoria. This is synth warmth from the northern third of Great Britain; a place that seems to be delivering quality electropop with extreme regularity these days.

Dare we say it but it might even be better than the original? OK we just did.

Giant Fang - Aqualung (Prides Mix)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Laura Welsh - Cold Front

“Is this the new Jessie Ware single?” was the usual reaction to Laura Welsh’s rather excellent single Unravel. The chances are that newbie Cold Front will get similar comparisons. The mellow grooves are serpentine smooth, the beats subtle, spacious and of the moment and Laura’s voice sounds like she could knock this stuff out without even trying. So OK it’s not taking music in any new direction but this track is so slick that we guarantee natural underwear removal of any lady / man you’re interested in by the end of its 3 minutes 22 seconds once they’ve heard it. It’s certainly a long way from her early Laura and the Tears days.

If you want to see Laura live but are concerned about possible bra and knicker seduction, take your chastity belt to London’s Africa Centre in Covent Garden on the 15th July, the same day that Cold Front is released.

Laura Welsh - Cold Front

Outfit - I Want What's Best

Remember Outfit? You’re forgiven if you don’t, because we’d pretty much forgotten about them as well, even though we’d named them as Ones to Watch for 2012 on Breaking More Waves and they cropped up on the Blog Sound of 2012 long list. Yet since all that ‘they’re going to be big’ nonsense that us overly excitable music blogs like to do rather too often, all we've had that is big is (nearly) a big fat nothing. Which is no good to anyone is it?

Then suddenly out of the blue the band turns up this February supporting Everything Everything on tour and there’s talk of not only new material but a completed album called Performance due mid August.

So here’s the first new material from that record. I Want What’s Best kicks off with a rhythm similar to Grace Jones’ Pull Up To The Bumper before getting into an groove that sits safely alongside quirky indie groups like Django Django or The Beta Band whilst the downbeat repeated vocal and mellow danceability brings to mind Hot Chip. Essentially this means it’s one of those tracks for people that don’t dance to dance to (unless drunk), or at least sagely nod their heads and stroke their beards* in that slightly knowing and cooler than thou way.

*This of course makes the dangerous assumption that it is only men that don’t dance as generally it is men that have beards. And even the embracing of that idea could be wrong – apologies to any bearded ladies out there.

Outfit - I Want What's Best

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Giant Fang - New Waves

A band’s name can often give a good clue to the type of music they make. Metallica were never going to be a glossy synth pop band were they? Soul II Soul told you exactly what they were doing from the start. Explosions In The Sky weren’t going to be a sneaky whisper of a group. And the terribly named Pigeon Detectives reflect their shit name by making shit music.

So what type of music would you expect an act called Giant Fang to make? We were expecting some sort of cold aggressive Norweigan post-rock with muscular cinematic power chords. Yet our presumptions had to take a back seat when we saw that the Giant Fang single Aqualung was coming out on a new label called POP unLTD, which is run by two ladies called Jen and Jessica who know their pop music as intimately as we know the lyrics to every Nicola Roberts b-side. (That’s quite a bit).

For Aqualung is pop, but not pop in the sense that we could imagine it being a song that The Saturdays or Olly Murs would cover (thankfully). This is pop from a world of paradise and elegance. It’s pop that’s that owes a kinship with rock music in its structure and sonic dynamic. It’s pop that doesn’t tire after a few listens. It’s pop that aims for the heavens. It’s pop that’s very good indeed.

So who is making this music? Giant Fang is rather disappointingly not some hairy leather clad Norweigan but Glasgow musician and producer Douglas Wilson. Having spent a number of years on the ropes as a tour manager and session musician Giant Fang is his own sweet baby. Aqualung was recorded with Sky Larkin drummer Nestor Matthews at Chem 19 studios in Glasgow and comes equipped with a couple of remixes from two other rather top notch artists that have featured on Breaking More Waves in their own right – Prides and Unicorn Kid. Giant Fang play Glasgow Art School on June 20th. If it wasn't quite so far away we'd be there like a shot. Scottish readers - put it in your diary now.

 Giant Fang - Aqualung

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Chvrches - Gun

You know that strange butterflies in the stomach feeling you get at the start of a relationship? How all you long for is your next encounter with this new exciting person in your life? Your mind is consumed by when you’ll see each other next and the fact is that absolutely nothing else in the world matters?

It’s like that with Breaking More Waves and the music of Chvrches. Is this like teenage infatuation or is it real true love?

Time to take a deep breath….

Consider, pause and think about things rationally. Let’s look for some little niggles, or maybe something that in our exuberant joy we’ve missed. 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce and we’re pretty sure there’s a whole bunch of records and CD’s that once we felt something for that don’t just quite go for the long term.

Breathe again…..

No. F*ck it. This is L-O-V-E. This is perfect pop. This is life affirming. This is wonderful. Why doubt?

Chvrches - Gun

Monday, 27 May 2013

Curxes - Further Still (Avec Sans Remix)

If you love silky smooth electronic remixes, here’s something to make you feel a little moist. Remember London duo Avec Sans? We mentioned them less than 48 hours ago on the blog as we wrote about how following a succession of perfectly defined internet approved electro pop tunes such as Heartbreak Hi and The Answer, we’d heard very little from them since naming them as Ones to Watch for 2013. Now as we sit at the musical bus stop, patiently waiting for something to come along, here they are hand in hand with Curxes, another one of our Ones to Watch for 2013 and they’re ready to take you on a ride to heaven. No ticket required.

This beautiful astral computer trip is like all of our dreams coming true in one glittering, shimmering pot of liquid haunted gold.

You can download this remix for free from here and while you are at it, if you haven’t done so already, grab the emotional dazzler that is the original of Further Still for free at  Curxes' Bandcamp as well.

Earlier in the year Curxes got together with yet another one of our Ones to Watch 2013 Chvrches to produce a hard hitting what the f*ck remix of the song Recover which you can find on Chvrches EP. Now we’re looking at that Ones to Watch list from last year and wondering who is going to remix who next? All we need is Chvrches to do Avec Sans, the triangle would be completed and we could die happy. Here's the blissful beats and pulse of Curxes vs Avec Sans.

Curxes - Further Still (Avec Sans Remix)

MMX - New Waves

MMX is 2010 in Roman numerals. We have no idea if that year has any relevance to this new Oxford band who have adopted those three letters as their name, but what we do know is that their songs sound fully formed, polished and as if they’ve already been doing this for years. No still trying to work it out de-tuned indie scrappiness or mess here.

There’s a reason for that of course; MMX have been doing it for years, or at least a few. Because they’re a rebirthed version of the band Francesqa, who you may remember from between 2009 and 2011. MMX aren’t the new kids on the block; rather like White Lies who rebranded and developed stronger songs than their previous outfit Fear of Flying, MMX seem to have found a sound that says ‘we know what we’re doing.’

MMX are just be about to set off on a tour of the beer sodden toilet venues and pubs of the UK (tickets and dates are here should you fancy it) but we imagine that they’ve already got their sights set on arenas, for their sleek rock, full of atmospheric synths, chiming guitars and huge hitting drums makes up what Mike Scott of The Waterboys once called the big music. Listen to the star straddling Mercy below (and wonder does the vocal melody at the start of the song sound a little like Radiohead’s No Surprises?) plus watch the monochrome video of the epic Ritual, both taken from the band’s recent Child EP.

If rock songs that soar skywards are your thing, then welcome to your new favourite band. Catch them soon before those bigger venues call.

MMX - Mercy



MMX - Ritual (Video)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Laurel - Mankind

Self proclaimed as London's last sweetheart, songstress Laurel wowed us with the Hype Machine conquering Blue Blood as well as debut track Next Time and now we have chapter 3. With everyone (including us) comparing Blue Blood to Lana Del Rey our slight concern was that what we could end up with over time is just Lana Del Lite. Thankfully new song Mankind takes all kinds of other reference points and although there’s a hint of Lizzie Grant, we also hear a big similarity in the spoken word delivery to Black Box Recorder. This is a very good thing.

Mankind also features our favourite lyric of the week : “Birthday sex, you were the best.” We wouldn’t disagree - it quite possibly is (it’s a shame that unless you’re the Queen you only get one birthday a year) although if your stomach is bloated full of birthday cake and celebratory champagne it can be a little uncomfortable with all that bouncing around.

Showing that Laurel isn’t a one trick pony, knows a musical trick or two (she wrote and produced the song herself) and probably has sex at least once a year, Mankind excavates the kind of simple but well-crafted adult pop that we crave for. That's 3 out of 3 from Laurel now.

Mankind - Laurel 

Matt Corby - Resolution

Every year since Breaking More Waves inception in 2008, come November or December we publish a list (in the form of a series of blog posts) of relatively new artists that we think are ones to watch for the following year. As with any forecast for the year ahead, 12 months on we are sometimes left scratching our heads thinking ‘why did we pick them?’ and with other artists we give ourselves a pat on the back for inspired crystal ball gazing. Then sometimes those ‘why did we pick them?’ moments actually turn good a few years further on, whereas others don’t. Such is the unpredictability of pop.

Looking back at our list from 2012 the likes of Laura Mvula, Savages, Valerie June and Gabrielle Aplin have all released albums that to a greater or lesser extent justified their inclusion on the list, whilst the likes of Chvrches, and Haim are looking grand for later this year.

Other acts have been a little slower of the mark; Independent d-i-y singer songwriter Alice Jemima had a prolific year last year but with the exception of her Kavinsky cover has released absolutely nothing in 2013. Is this a case of artist lethargy setting in or behind the scenes music business involvement slowing the output for the time being? Time will tell. Certainly her name has started to show up on a few festival bills recently including Dot to Dot, Beach Break Live and Larmer Tree Festival.

Then there’s the ‘where are they?’ bands. What has happened to our tips The Night and Avec Sans? There hasn’t been any musical output at all, hardly justifying them as ones to watch. Well the good news is that The Night are about to step out of the shadows and release their debut EP Still Thinking Of You and Avec Sans are also beginning to wind things up, playing a few live shows with a single on its way.

Which brings us (finally) to another one of our Ones to Watch 2013 and the reason for this post; say hello again to Australian dude Matt Corby. Like his year so far this song may be a little slow out of the blocks, but as the acoustic guitar and percussion builds adding piano and gospel style backing vocals, it’s on its way to the summit. “So don't you worry, you will be my resolution, characters of no illusion, you will be my resolution,” sings Matt. Sometimes the good things are worth waiting for. For those (like us) in the UK who are wanting to see Matt Live, he’ll be playing a host of festivals this summer including Glastonbury Festival, Barn On The Farm, Blissfields, Latitude,Wilderness and supporting Lianne La Havas on July 13th at Somerset House. Hopefully some solo shows will be announced to coincide with these outdoor dates.

Matt Corby - Resolution

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Charli XCX - Take My Hand (Video)

5 things about Charli XCX and her new video for Take My Hand.

1. Take My Hand is taken from Charli’s debut album True Romance, which all in all is very good. In fact we’d take that very good a little further and say it’s nearly amazing. Not quite, but nearly. It’s certainly up there with Little Boots’ Nocturnes as one of the pop albums of the year so far. Little Boots’ work is in places more melancholy and has dashes of sodium lit late night minimalism whilst Charli’s is more late night rainbow coloured hyperactivity but with plenty of streaks of inky gothic black running through it as well. But they're both very good nearly amazing.

2. Take My Hand is Charli’s pill popping night out on the town losing control dance anthem. (Warning: Drugs are not good). “Can you feel the neon lights? It's like the Milky Way. I’ve swallowed something stupid it’s making me stay awake,” she vocalises. Of course maybe she isn’t referring to a naughty little drug and actually the “like the milky way” lyrics are referring to another similar chocolate product – maybe a Fudge or Mars perhaps? (Warning: Too much chocolate is also not good, it really can keep you awake.)

3. Three years ago we wrote more about confectionery and Charli XCX : “There is something about her riot in a sweetshop zest that makes us want to climb out of the bedroom window late at night and go raving with her, whatever the consequences.” This video is that going raving with her moment, paying homage to Charli’s early electroclash roots in a raw (but noticeably unsweaty) club. The club in question is Corsica Studios at Elephant And Castle in London.

4. We’ve seen Charli XCX being referenced as “Tumblr pop” in certain places. Let’s be clear about this, Tumblr may be an internet platform but it isn’t a genre of music. After all who would be a Wordpress band ? Grizzly Bear perhaps? And what about an old school Blogspot band like the platform this blog is on? Maybe Suede? No, it’s all wrong. Very wrong. But this song is very right. 

5. Let’s dance. It's the weekend and this is great pop music.

Charli XCX - Take My Hand (Video)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Clare Maguire - Changing Faces

Just imagine for a moment that music was actually served in a restaurant, its performers being your dinner date for the evening. Imagine also that on this particular night that your companion was Clare Maguire, her songs the feast for the ears.

Starters would involve some stripped down demos. The likes of the Johnny Cash meets soul diva sound of Burn, the Celtic connection of Butcher Boy and an early raw and powerful version of Strangest Thing, all delicious and just building anticipation for mains.

Main course takes a while to arrive but when it does its an absolutely huge dish. For some it's over cooked and just too much, for others it's a powerfully underrated. That’s taste for you, the chef is never going to be able to satisfy everybody with a debut album.

Now at this point we're not sure if we’re onto dessert or if we’ve actually swapped eateries. For in many ways this feels like starters all over again. We’ve already had the quickly sneaked out then removed wild-west blues of Happy Anniversary (released under the name Maggie), followed by a cover version of Joni Mitchell’s The Last Time I Saw Richard, plus a guest vocal appearance on Limitless by Burns. Now we get another demo entitled Changing Faces and it’s as tasty as something from a Michelin starred chef. Clare’s voice is full of depth, restraint and maturity on this piano ballad. It feels (and we use the word feels rather than sounds because music is as much about emotions and making you feel something inside as it is about the technicalities of sound) that Clare Maguire is cooking up the goods again. We look forward to see what comes out of her musical kitchen next.

Clare Maguire - Changing Faces (Demo)



Thursday, 23 May 2013

Bushstock 2013 - Preview

With London’s Camden Crawl taking a holiday (moving to Dublin but bizarrely retaining its Camden Crawl name) there’s a possible gap in the market for other multi-venue festivals in the UK’s capital. One such event is Communion Record’s one day event Bushstock which returns for its third year on June 1st.

Bushstock doesn’t sprawl itself over the city like other multi-venue events do, instead it keeps things compact with just four venues in South-West London three of which, St Stephen’s Church,  The Defectors Weld and Ginglik return from last year plus new addition Bush Hall replacing Shepherds Bar. All venues are within a short walking distance of each other.

Being a Communion Records event it’s unsurprising to find that Bushstock leans heavily in a folky / singer songwriter direction although this year’s line-up also includes a good smattering of indie guitar bands. Playing this year you’ll find the likes of Willy Mason, Theme Park, Dutch Uncles, Marika Hackman, Ethan Johns, Post War Years, Josh Weller, Thumpers and George Ezra. If synth pop and electronica is your only thing it's probably best avoided though.

Today we’re giving our recommendations of five of the lesser known acts on the bill that if you’re going it may well worth be giving your consideration to.

Young War

Manchester’s Young War will be providing a slice of acoustic soul at Bushstock. With just two demos (Rose Gold and Say That It’s Love) on line this very new act has been described by Rockfeedback as Prince meets Ryan Adams. He's also garnered the twitter thumbs up treatment from Theo Hutchcraft of Hurts. Now we’re doing the same.



Sivu

What do musicians do to actually make money these days? It seems that Sivu works in a call centre in Waterloo, which is a shame because with such magical songs such as Better Man Than He Sivu really should be making and performing songs full time. Sounding a little like Wild Beasts duelling gently with Alt-J, it can’t be long before Sivu jumps ship from the monotony of the scripted phone conversation.



Fyfe

Not to be confused with Fyfe Dangerfield, lead singer of the Guillemots, Fyfe is Paul Dixon, previously known as David’s Lyre between 2010 and 2012. With a new name and new musical project he’s already had huge Hype Machine / online hits with the songs Solace, St Tropez and Lies. Fyfe is one of those acts that makes the undercard of this festival even more intriguing than the bigger names. St Tropez (streaming below) is the tastiest peach of a tune.



Rosie Carney

Rosie Carney is a 16 year old singer songwriter from Donegal, Ireland (although she originally hails from Breaking More Waves very own English county of Hampshire). She follows the ever growing number of young types who seem more at home picking up an acoustic guitar than an electric one, being more Marling than Muse. Her acoustic songs such as What You Have Been Looking For (below) and When You Stole A Kiss are exceptionally lovely.



Kimberley Anne

Kimberley Anne plays accessible acoustic pop and declares that “I’m left handed like Hendrix but can’t play like him.” Kimberley Anne is getting her name in all the right places, having recently played both Great Escape and Live at Leeds as well as supporting Lewis Watson. Her sound is like a confident easy on the ear Tracy Chapman with heartfelt lyrics.



Breaking More Waves will be reviewing Bushstock in our usual here's some things we learnt style very soon after the event.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tom Odell - Best Of Friends

Cover versions are quite environmentally friendly aren’t they? They're music’s version of recycling. Why waste valuable human resource writing something new when you can just take someone’s good idea, put your own stamp on it and be done with it – you don’t even have to go the bin or recycling station to put the previously used one away.

So here’s Tom Odell’s bit for the environment – a cover version of indie rockers Palma Violets Best of Friends taken from the Daytrotter Recordings, a limited 12" vinyl EP of live covers recorded for Record Store Day. Of course vinyl itself is arguably more environmentally friendly than disposable media forms such as CD’s, with vinyl being seen as more collectable and therefore less likely to be discarded into landfill and even when it is dumped at the tip the material itself is easier to recycle.

However, we digress, this blog isn’t an advert for sustainability, it’s about music.

So take a listen to Odell’s cover. Just his voice and a piano, the simplicity of this recording is more effective than when he’s bashing it out in the middle of the road with a band. Having won the Brits Critics Choice Award earlier this year, featured in the BBC Sound of 2013 poll and not forgetting that he was named as one of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch back in November 2012, Odell finally releases his album on June 24th.

Tom Odell - Best of Friends

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wilsen - Oblivion

Music blogs are time capsules of history, a diary of the author’s romances, loves and passions for sound on public display for strangers to read. Yet in this world sometimes the first rushes of lustful excitement make us deaf; we think we hear the good, but as time goes on the bubble bursts. “It wasn’t you it was us” we can hear ourselves saying to the artist in question. We’ve changed. We’ve moved on. We’ve found someone else. We can still be friends, we just can’t love you anymore. We got it wrong.

So when we first pressed play on this song we were slightly concerned. In January we introduced our new flame Wilsen. Last year we got hot under the computer bed with Grimes and ended up naming her album Visions as our second favourite of the year. So when we saw that Wilsen had covered Grimes’ Oblivion for the b-side of their excellent new single Dusk there was the opportunity for all sorts of horrendous repercussions. Were we prepared for this coming together? Would we feel the same about both artists afterwards?

The answer was found by pressing play. Wilsen’s version of Oblivion is the sound of magic taken from a box of electronic tricks and transferred to a new world, but one that can coexist in polygamous musical harmony. No need to burst that bubble today then, and instead just use words like captivating, mesmerising, sweet and gorgeous. Oh god are we going to regret all this later? Let’s check back in 2014 to see how we feel about things then, but we’re confident we’ll still all be lovers.

Wilsen - Oblivion

Monday, 20 May 2013

London Grammar - Wasting My Young Years (Video)

After nearly three and a half thousand words over the last three days on the blog, today deserves a rather shorter post as we suffer the inevitable post Great Escape comedown.

Here’s the perfect video to start that comedown with. Undoubtedly one of our highlights of Brighton's new music festival, London Grammar’s performance in a beautiful high vaulted church was as lofty, dignified and inspiring as the building itself and the closest we came to tears and goosebumps all weekend. So here's something to rekindle those emotions; whilst we were soaking up the music the band released a video for the song Wasting My Young Years

Is it pop ? Is it soul ? Is it folk ? We really couldn't care, all we know is that everything about this song is insanely beautiful.

London Grammar - Wasting My Young Years (Video)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Great Escape Festival 2013 - Review (Day 3)

With 20 things already learnt about 2013’s Great Escape in Brighton, (see review’s here and here) Saturday found Breaking More Waves dodging the drunk hen and stag parties, townie clubbers and Morris Men (!) to find more new live music.

10 Facts We Learnt About Great Escape 2013 (Saturday).

1. Discovery at Great Escape isn’t what it used to be.

Great Escape is partly seen as a festival of discovery of new music. One of the concepts of the event is to stumble randomly over tomorrow’s unknown stars in tiny venues playing to small audiences. However, in our wireless web world this idea is probably a little far from the truth. The success of The Great Escape means that nearly every venue is packed (the days of watching Adele playing in a less than 100 capacity coffee shop third out of four on the bill as we did in 2007 are probably long gone) and with the continual development and expansion of Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify and online press including new music blogs, most of the ‘discovery’ for many punters is complete before they’ve stepped out the door at home -even the festival's website had links to every bands music and a complete Spotify playlist. Yet most people are still not prepared to wager £5 to go and see three bands they’ve never heard of on a whim on a rainy Monday night in a pub in their hometown - they prefer the greater 'experience' of an event rather than a solitary gig. Great Escape packages the concept of ‘discovery’ into something different and judging by the rammed venues, people like it.

2. Chvrches may be a ‘buzz band’ but they are such because they have A.M.A.Z.I.N.G songs.

As we predicted yesterday their set at seafront club Digital was massively over-subscribed. Those who did get in witnessed a band taking a myriad of classic influences (Prince, Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk) and turning them into a glossy synth dream fit for 2013 fully justifying their position as our no.1 one to watch for 2013. With a bandaged hand Lauren providing the sweetest of vocal melodies on future pop classics like Now Is Not The Time and Science & Vision, Chvrches put an electronic bullet to the slogan ‘don’t believe the hype.’

3. Girls Aloud are now cool and kitsch enough for a Brighton club DJ to drop Sound of the Underground into a mainly hip hop and r’n’b influenced set.

This actually happened. We danced a lot.

4. The UK has its own very accessible version of Arcade Fire.

Eliza & The Bear’s afternoon set at the cave like Haunt was another packed out show, the band showing a dynamic stomping enthusiasm with their joyously uplifting set. Guitars, trumpet, keyboards, mass chants and big sing-a-long tunes that bind so tightly together that it makes you wonder why they’re not already playing arenas, alongside Embers they’re one of the best new guitar based bands we see all weekend. Euphoric is an understatement.

5. The Great Escape has many imitators but it’s still the most impressive.

With pretty much every large city in the UK now having its own multi-venue festival, the Great Escape still leads by a country mile. One of the reasons for this is that its still one of the best managed. With so many venues running its critical for stages to run to time in order for punters to be able to see what they’ve chosen to see and with very few exceptions every venue at Great Escape runs bang on, with impressively quick set up times by the artists themselves.

6. It was a good night for Denmark.

Around the same time that Emmelie de Forest was winning Eurovision for Denmark with Only Teardrops, another Danish chanteuse was pulling musical blows with punchy youthful attitude and winning Brighton over at Great Escape. Sassy pony-tailed singer Karen Marie Ørsted, performed as if she was dancing on hot coals and her life depended on it. Pilgrim glistened with sweaty, brassy, electronic grooves and whilst ’s tunes may not have quite enough pop hookiness to take her into the mainstream, those who like their electronic music that little bit edgier will find a lot to love about MØ. 

7. Lulu James has good shoes (and an incredible set of pipes)

The award for best costume of the festival has to go to rising 21 year old Geordie soul-pop star Lulu James. With a pair of shoes that were covered in paper flowers and a combination of leotard and webbed effect prince charming pantomime jacket James looked stunning. Despite suffering technical problems on stage her club bound soul grooves sounded perfect out front. Britain’s answer to Beyonce? Well maybe not quite, but certainly she might be giving Katy B and Jessie Ware a run for their money by the time the year’s out.

8. There’s still a problem with free gigs.

Running alongside the Great Escape is the Alt. Escape, a series of free gigs, showcases and parties that anyone can attend irrespective of if they have a Great Escape ticket or not. In some respects this is a brilliant opportunity for bands and those who want to put on a show; with Brighton being so busy over Great Escape weekend it virtually guarantees a decent sized crowd. Yet as folk singer Rhodes discovered on Saturday afternoon at The Mesmerist, a large audience who haven’t paid to get in doesn’t equate to silent attentive listeners. The levels of chat in the room were almost unbearable – maybe he would have been better playing to a small crowd of paying customers who were actually interested?

9. In real life Moko dances just like she does in THAT video.

She really does. (Hear her below)

10. The Great Escape is still great.

The Great Escape unquestionably remains the biggest and the best new music multi-venue urban festival in the UK. Go there and fall in love with live new music all over again.

Moko - Homesick

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Great Escape Festival 2013 - Review (Day 2)

Day two of Brighton’s Great Escape Festival brings more music than you could possibly cram into any day. But we tried.

Following our review of Thursday’s proceedings, here are 10 more things we learnt about the Great Escape 2013.

1 .Finding time to eat at Great Escape can be a problem.

Unlike some outdoor music festivals where the biggest queues can often be found by either the toilets or the food vendors stalls, being an urban festival there’s plenty of choices of places to eat. Yet if you want to see as much music as possible at Great Escape, taking an hour out to grab some food seems like a horrid waste of time. Thankfully there’s a downtime period between about 5pm and 6.30pm each day, so our tip is eat a humongous breakfast, grab a quick sandwich on the go at lunch and then use that downtime wisely in the evening.

2. Embers don’t do things in small doses.

All things considered Manchester band Embers’ set at Above Audio shouldn’t work. It’s ridiculously early for rock music (12.30), the venues layout is appalling, far longer than it is deep, with the band separated from the crowd by a five feet high wall and no proper stage as such. Yet Embers blow both minds and ears. Their huge cinematic soundscapes are mountainously impressive, as if Sigur Ros has become a fully-fledged rock band. This is big music. With the addition of a violinist their unblinking fervour sonically references Chichester’s Hope of the States in so far as their sound is enormously expansive and dramatic. It is undoubtedly one of the best things we hear all day. New single Part of the Echoes (streaming below) packs punch after punch and afterwards we’re left stunned and numbed.

3. Sometimes going to see a band ‘just to pass time’ isn’t a good idea. Especially when you could be enjoying a coffee and cake.

Whilst Great Escape’s downtime should mean a chance to recover and refuel, for those who never want the music to stop, the outdoor Hub stage (a converted airstream caravan) keeps going all day. Unfortunately Poland’s Enchanted Hunters make us realise we should have followed our own tip in 1 above. Imagine a twee Bjork in a bad dream playing alt. folk and with flutes. They have a song about being dumb and walking in a forest. That says it all really. A sit down and an expensive frothy latte may have been less rock n roll, but would have been far more enjoyable.

4. A girl and a guitar still pulls a crowd.

Marika Hackman was sweetly overwhelmed by the size of her audience in the Unitarian Church, telling the at capacity crowd she expected about three people. Despite her rather serious face whilst playing (which she joked about) she displayed a neat line in comedy if the music doesn’t work out. “Sorry I’m such an awkward tuner. Not like the fish.” Her meanderingly polite songs are almost medieval in their sound and the longer she plays the more appealing her sparse plaintive tunes become.

5. We might have just seen a future star in Josef Salvat.

Is it too early to start talking about the BBC Sound of 2014 or Blog Sound of 2014 list? If it isn’t then we’d like to mark the card of Josef Salvat as an early contender. Dressed in a pastel blue suit, like the Miami Vice version of Hurts (without shoulder pads), his self-assured and lyrically uncomfortable atmospheric pop songs sound like what Theo and Adam should have been doing in 2013 if they hadn’t decided to try and become a stadium rock band. The man looks like a star and performs with the sneer and venom of a star. One to watch.

6. There’s still hope for the Klaxons.

After their appalling second album, Klaxons returned to the live scene at Great Escape in the aircraft hangar sized Corn Exchange. With a set that was heavy on first album hits and some new songs as well, the new songs sounded less aggressive, more electronic and appeared to have a semblance of a hook and a tune. 

7. Sometimes astral ethereal electronic floatiness is hard to find in a stuffy scuzzy upstairs room in a pub.

Lorely Rodriguez (Empress Of) was clearly excited to be in Brighton for her debut UK show and maybe it was this excitement that translated into a performance that was much rawer and less full of the celestial loveliness of her recorded work. A rammed room seemed to adore her, but we’d have liked less bounce and more beauty. On record Empress Of might sound like The Cocteau Twins vs Grimes but in reality there's still some way to go to meet those dizzy dreamy heights.

8. Brolin could join Marika Hackman to do a stand-up routine.

The minimal soul and beats of Brolin may sound magical and mysterious and he may keep his identity hidden by sporting a menacing silver crucifix adorned mask, but strip this away and in terms of a live show there’s quite a character that seems at odds with the gentle coy beauty of hush gems like NYC “I am smiling under this mask, the trouble is when I smile I look like I’ve had a seizure,” he jokes. Later he apologises for the size of his miniature keyboard, which he says has shrunk. Unlike most bedroom / laptop producer types Brolin really seems to be able to pull it off live. Accompanied by a drummer / electronic beat maker he shadow boxes the air and takes himself right up to the crowd, even getting the tiny packed room to sing along at one point.

9. San Zhi make very pretty pop music.

They just do. Lovely little melodies that get under the skin.

10. Queues at great escape are inevitable. But you don’t have to be part of them. (We didn't really learn this, we already knew it, but lots of people are still learning)

Yesterday we heard rumours and grumblings on twitter of many venues being at capacity as the evening wore on, with lengthy queues and many one in one out situations occurring, even for delegate badge holders. Somehow Breaking More Waves missed all of this. Our tip: If there’s someone you really want to see, arrive very early and as the evening goes on limit your venue hopping. Over the last 48 hours we’ve seen 28 bands and haven’t stood in a queue once. It’s all about planning in advance and arriving early. 

(Top Tip: If you’re reading this before Saturday evening and are planning to see Chvrches at Digital tonight we recommend you arrive before doors open. It’s going to be one of the hottest tickets of the weekend).

Embers - Part of the Echoes

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Great Escape Festival 2013 - Review (Day 1)

With the stars of tomorrow, the wannabe stars of tomorrow and the ones just doing it for the love of music irrespective of stardom or what happens tomorrow strumming, bashing, plucking and pressing their musical wares in every pub, club and gig venue down by the sea in Brighton over the course of three days it can only mean one thing. Yes, it’s the Great Escape Music festival; Brighton’s answer to SXSW and the UK’s largest and most established multi-venue new music festival.

Now in its eighth year Great Escape has grown rapidly. Whereas once there was a handful of poorly attended daytime gigs and a bunch of official night time shows, now there’s a rammed programme of events from lunch time through to the early hours of the morning, plus for music industry types a full blown conference as well.

Whereas the biggest worry for punters at most UK festivals is what will the weather be like, will the tent get washed away and how deep will the mud be, the question on most minds at Great Escape is how long will venue queues be and will they end up spending their time stood outside on the street listening to the dull thud of a drum being hit inside to the couple of hundred people who planned better than they did and arrived super early to queue for the latest buzz / tastemaker endorsed band?

Breaking More Waves has been in the thick of it of course, turning up at gigs super early to avoid the queues and catching as much new music as we possibly could. From the latest hype band to the virtually unknown, we cast our net wide. The results are our Great Escape 2013 review, brought to you in bit sized chunks each day, starting with yesterday (Thursday) or as we like to call it:

10 Things We Learnt About The Great Escape 2013 (A Review Of Sorts)

Thursday

1. Brighton wouldn’t be Brighton without a trip along the pier. But the Great Escape can do without it.

The romantic vision of ice creams, tacky amusement machines, the funfair and saucy seaside postcard images might be a holiday makers gaudy dream but the reality was that Horatio’s, a karaoke bar on the pier, which in previous years had been used as one of the locations for Great Escape, made a terrible venue. The unique concept that the bar was on a pier didn’t compensate for a low stage, poor sound and lack of atmosphere. Thankfully in 2013 organisers seemed to have realised this and Horatio’s was no longer part of The Great Escape. Good riddance to it.

2. Churches are the new rock ‘n’ roll.

We’re not talking about Chvrches the band (although like a Mr Kipling cake they are part of the exceedingly good set of synth pop bands out there) but the buildings. Rock ‘n’ roll is officially invading the house of god with the Great Escape using four such buildings for gigs.

3. Churches might be the new rock ‘n’ roll, but their ambience still ensures good behaviour.

The high vaulted grandeur of St Barthomew’s church (pictured above) may have had a bar selling alcohol but the audience for each of the bands playing there (Ruen Brothers, Milo Greene, London Grammar and Tom Odell) still sat in silent and polite admiration. And there was a lot to be admired. 

The Ruen Brothers might sound like they’ve stepped straight out of the 50’s but their retro rock ‘n’ roll brimmed with a jubilant energy. The instrument swapping, every-member-of-the-band’s-a-vocalist LA quintet Milo Greene’s (streaming below) folk-pop added sun-smothered harmonies and was so perfect you couldn’t help but wonder if the whole thing was actually on tape. America’s got talent. Buzz band of the moment London Grammar showed exactly why so many people have been falling over themselves to sing the bands praises. Hannah Reid’s soulful vocals were nothing short of sensational, the band’s music so rich and full of calm beauty, they fully lived up to the hype. The only question is that their set mainly contained songs that they have already released. Will they be able to maintain the quality for a full length long player? Tom Odell, the new king of floppy fringed soft MOR completed the evening, providing moments of tender intimacy at his piano during the likes of Sense as well as stauncher rockier numbers accompanied by his band including a cover of The Beatles’ Oh! Darling. Odell may not have the emotional weight or multi-dimensional greatness of some of the singer songwriters he appears to emulate, but his set was greeted with (polite) enthusiasm from the St Bartholomew’s audience.

4.If churches are the new rock and roll then sometimes the old rock ‘n’ roll needs to take lessons.

Down at seafront nightclub Coalition we saw a rather different sort of audience, particularly for Chicago / Minneapolis synth / guitar three piece On an On, who formed from the ashes of Scattered Trees. Here’s a question. If you’re going to a gig and going to position yourself in the front rows of the audience why stand with your back to the band for 80% of the set chatting to your friends? Ah, we see, you’re drunk and you're acting like an idiot.

5. Somebody in Brighton must smell.

A well-known men’s shower gel / deodorant company that rhymes with stinks seemed to be everywhere giving out free samples at Great Escape. Thankfully though the event has yet to turn into the horrendous gluttony-fest that by all accounts SXSW is where ‘getting free stuff’ has almost become as important as the music. 

6. Even at urban festivals the weather and time of day affect things.

Witness the razorblade vocals and intense guitar sonics of Holy Esque. Unquestionably an impressive alternative rock band, their set seemed mismatched at 3.30pm in a dark studio theatre room when the sun was shining outside. Maybe a late night audience buoyed with a little alcohol would have helped a little more on this occasion? Meanwhile half an hour later, under warm sunny skies at a point in time when much of the festival programme was taking a half-time nap the outdoor Hub Stage was packed for We Were Evergreen who brought innocent French abandon to the masses. Suddenly summer seemed just around the corner.

7. The Other Tribe are fun to dance to.

And why wasn’t Skirts a huge summer smash last year? Re-release this summer please.

8. We love Scottish girls. A lot. Maybe too much.

With cowboy tassels, big eyelashes and sultry sad pop noire tunes Laura St Jude’s remarkably calm and poised songs hit from the first note. Add to that two lasses by the name of Honeyblood who look super cute and hippyish but throw out brash music that's raucous and rocked with fuzzy glee and it’s fair to say that we’re ready to declare proposals of musical marriage to Scotland.

9. No Ceremony /// are no longer a mystery.

They may have started as an anonymous Mancunian online enigma, but No Ceremony /// is actually formed of real people, not robots; normal nice looking people. In fact the sort of people that we'd happily take home and introduce to the parents. There are no masks or screens to hide their identity and the three piece make no attempt to shroud the lead female vocals with effects and auto-tune as on record (although the male ones are). Live they take the thud of the clubs and transport it to some brooding otherworldly place with an underlying sense of paranoia. Equal parts melancholic and euphoric No Ceremony /// proved they don’t need to hide themselves away.

10. Urban festivals are so much easier than camping festivals.

Short walks between stages, no drunk idiots chatting outside your tent at night, a refreshing warm shower (with no queue) first thing in the morning, coffee shops on every corner, really it makes us question why we all bother hiking off to a field in the middle of nowhere every summer.

Bands We Saw On Thursday (+Wednesday’s Alt Escape Warm Up Shows)

Warsaw Radio, Simonne & The Dark Stars, Chasing Grace, Laura St Jude, Honeyblood, Holy Esque, We Were Evergreen, Big Wave Riders, Ruen Brothers, Milo Greene, London Grammar, Tom Odell, On An On, No Ceremony ///, The Other Tribe

Milo Greene - Perfectly Aligned

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ruen Brothers - Walk Like A Man

For the next three days, Brighton will be welcoming 16,000 music fans and industry delegates to its seaside environs for the biggest ever Great Escape Festival. Breaking More Waves will of course be in the thick of it and we’ll be reporting back via the blog with our thoughts, reviews and discoveries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (Expect our reports to be a little later than our usual 8.30am postings.) We'll also be tweeting from the event here.

One of the interesting changes to this year’s portfolio of venues at the Great Escape is the increased use of churches, with four such buildings being used as part of the core programme, including for the first time ever St Bartholomew’s Church, which according to festival director Kat Morris is “absolutely stunning.”

So it seems appropriate to feature a new song by a band that not only play the Great Escape today but will be the first band to play in St Bartholomew’s. For those expecting a quiet hushed acoustic reverie though, be surprised, be very surprised. For the Ruen Brothers, a band we first introduced as a new wave back in February with their song Aces will be slamming into St Bartholomew’s with their sharp shoes and devilish take on clattering retro 50’s rock ‘n’ roll. Tipping its hat to the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song, Walk Like A Man storms along with a clattering edge that frankly sounds completely out of place in today’s world of modern electronic bedroom producers, hip r’n’b grooves and scuzzy indie bands that have forgotten how to write a tune, and it’s probably all the better for it.

Ruen Brothers - Walk Like A Man

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Moko - Hand On Heart (Video)

When we go to the barber’s there’s usually a look of fear in our eyes because of our undying concern that we’re going to be trapped into that conversation with the hairdresser about where we’re going on our holiday this summer. Maybe our hairdresser should take a tip from the new video from Moko and put a crazy dancing lady singing like Shara Nelson over a modern soulful r ‘n’b backing in the room? We’d pay extra for that and it would hopefully keep the man with the scissors quiet.

Moko - Hand On Heart (Video)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Indiana - Smoking Gun (Video)

Girls, here’s a word of warning. You’ve met the man of your dreams, he’s charming, good looking, attentive to your every need and seems pretty much perfect. This is great,  but listen to those alarm bells when he admits to you that he quite likes playing video games.

Because fast forward a year on and Indiana’s new video for her single Smoking Gun, starring Andrew Shim (who many of you will recognise as Milky from the acclaimed This Is England series by Shane Meadows) could be your life. You’ve moved in with each other to find that the reality of being a cosy romantic couple actually equals him permanently fixed to the sofa, drinking, eating takeaways and being more attentive to the games console than you. Just a warning.

The song itself is once again awash with Indiana’s dark pop atmospheres and haunting emotion. “I have to close my eyes because if you see them you might find I’m trying to hide a smoking gun, and I could crucify myself, sometimes I want to kiss and tell,” sings Indiana and we get all sorts of goosebumps. 

Powerful stuff - and a nice visual touch with the Shim and Indiana character choices at the start of the video game.

Indiana - Smoking Gun (Video)

Lorde - Royals (Video)

Look. Let’s get this straight. If you’re searching for one of the best pop songs of 2013 so far, then this blog post features it. It’s Royals by New Zealand songstress Lorde.

Of course we’ve already featured the song in a New Waves post a few months back and it's been all over the blogosphere, but now there’s a video. So as it’s one of the best songs of 2013 it would be a crime not to feature the film as well.

Yet it seems that quite a few people don’t know what to make of the video because

1. Lorde doesn’t appear very much in it.

2. There’s no sultry dance routine. 

3. Not a lot happens.

There seems to be quite a lot of discussion on the You Tube comments about this. It seems that whilst the song is musically restrained and deals with concepts of living a normal life (“I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh”) when it comes to a visual treatment some people find this difficult to deal with. We think this is because ultimately pop for many people is an art form of visual fantasy. It's why the likes of Beyonce and Lady Gaga become our idols; because people want to escape their hum drum, very routine, very beige lives and the colour and unreality of pop music offers an outlet to do this. 

However thankfully someone seems to ‘get it’ with Royals in the You Tube comments. This is what they say:

"(...) a lot of people think teenagers live in this world like ‘skins’ every weekend or whatever, but truth is, half the time we aren’t doing anything cooler than playing with lighters, or waiting at some shitty stop. That’s why this had to be real. And I’m at that particular train station every week. Those boys are my friends.”

So watch, enjoy and accept that sometimes not a lot happening is a beautiful thing.

Plus listen out at the end of the video. Is that a preview of an as yet unreleased track perhaps?

Lorde - Royals (Video)