Monday, 30 September 2013

Shivum Sharma - New Waves

One press of play on Shivum Sharma’s bedroom demo of Flicker will explain why there’s been some blog buzz about this Londoner recently. Even although Flicker’s not a nagging earworm of a song, there’s a compelling haunting minimalism present and evidence of a developing talent. ‘Bedroom demo’ seems entirely appropriate in this case, Flicker is a tune to draw the curtains across the window and crawl under the sheets to.

“My main inspirations are Aphex Twin, Amy Winehouse, Fever Ray, Minnie Riperton, Anne Briggs, Erykah Badu, Antony & the Johnsons, Björk, André 3000 & Low,” he says. We’re never sure when an artist states that they are inspired by someone if they actually mean imitation rather than inspiration but we can certainly hear the influence of Antony Hegarty’s sweet vocal intonation on this song (as well as an earlier demo called Untouched which also features on his Soundcloud) combined with Aphex Twin’s more classically based piano pieces such as Avril 14th (here) and the intimacy of Perfume Genius.

With a list of reference points as interesting as Sharma has quoted we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears ready for further releases from this eighteen year old.

Shivum Sharma - Flicker (Demo)

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Laura Groves - Easy Way Out

Our love affair with Laura Groves (once known as Blue Roses) and the music she makes continues today with the release of her Thinking About Thinking EP. You may remember we streamed the delightful Pale Shadows just a couple of weeks ago, and now here’s another song from the EP - the celestial Easy Way Out. With its warm sounding electronics, beats and even some 80’s styled soft focus late night sax it’s a preciously pretty tune commanded of course by Laura’s pure and entrancing voice. What more can we say? This EP is on repeat and it gets better every time.

Whilst you’re thinking about buying the Thinking About Thinking EP, let us make it a little easier for you. It’s released today, it’s gorgeous and it costs less than most UK pubs charge for a pint of beer. Plus it will give you much more long term satisfaction than a drink. So click on this link to Laura’s Bandcamp and get your credit card at the ready.

Laura Groves - Easy Way Out

Yumi and the Weather - New Waves

The name Yumi and the Weather may sound like some sort of kiddie candy-pop band for toddlers, but this (initially) solo project of Brighton’s Ruby Taylor (previously the singer of a ska, reggae and soul band called Tin Roots) provides for something with far more depth and maturity.

Having started in 2012 Ruby has picked up decent on line attention with the menagerie of atmospheric indie rock, distant ghostly vocals and subtle beats that makes up debut track Must I Wait and the experimental pop from follow up Not Again. However it’s new song All We Can, taken from the forthcoming debut EP that shows the boldest step forward. Smoother than previous work it’s sophisticated and smouldering, with fingertip beats, light pulsing electronics and little flourishes of guitar all setting the pace before warm brass swims in and builds the track into something that you could keep looping over and over way into the night. In fact it's very much late pm music, not exactly lazy or sleepy but certainly chilled and unhurried.

Whilst Yumi and the Weather is still a project that is clearly developing in sound and style with each new song recorded, All We Can puts down an important marker. There's a confidence in its reserve.

Now with a drummer and bassist recruited to form a full band gigs are beginning to happen. If you’re in the UK you can catch Yumi and the Weather at Above Audio in Brighton on October 2nd before they play their first London show at Notting Hill Arts Club on the 3rd. The debut EP is released on XVI Records on October 21st. 

Yumi and the Weather - All We Can

Yumi and the Weather - Must I Wait (Video)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Public Service Broadcasting - Night Mail (Video)

One of the great independent musical success stories of the year in the UK is that of Public Service Broadcasting. Let’s be clear that when we state success we mean both artistically (their debut album Inform Educate Entertain is innovative, unique and has a sense of being beyond fashion) and commercially (it managed to find itself in the UK Top 40 on release, which for a relatively ‘small’ band is some achievement).

Yet despite their accomplishments Public Service Broadcasting haven’t sat back on their laurels. No, this duo have spent what seems like the whole year on the road and it doesn’t stop yet, having just played some shows with the Manic Street Preachers before they set out on yet another headline tour of their own.

Public Service Broadcasting is a lesson to every band who spends more time p*ssing around on the internet trying to get Facebook likes than writing, recording or performing.  The learning point is simple - Facebook likes are undemanding to give and utterly transient. Real fans invest in a band by coming to shows and buying the band’s music and by telling other people about what they’re missing out on. If as an artist you’re not growing that real tangible fan base, you’re doing something wrong. Public Service Broadcasting have developed real fans by concentrating on the writing, recording and performing – the promotion and social media then almost becomes organic. In the old days they called it word of mouth.

With the endless gigs comes the release of another song from Inform Educate Entertain. Night Mail combines words from a 1936 documentary and a W.H Arden poem, meshing them seamlessly to the Public Service Broadcasting mix of guitars and electronics that pulse and rock creating a tune to lose yourself in. You really don’t need the video for Night Mail – shut your eyes and the soundtrack places you in one of those carriages steaming along, taking the letters and bags of mail all over the country, but it's nice to see J. Willgoose and Wrigglesworth make an appearance in their own video for once.

All stand clear – here comes Public Service Broadcasting.

Public Service Broadcasting - Night Mail (Video)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Charli XCX - SuperLove (Video)

Some stuff about Charli XCX:

1. She wears amazing shoes.

2. There are a lot of fan accounts for Charli XCX on twitter. 

3. If we were a young woman (we’re not) we’d quite fancy being Charli XCX. Being Charli XCX looks like it would be a lot of fun.

4. Her debut album is one of our favourite pop albums of the year (but not our absolute favourite)

5. Even although she only released the album this year, she’s already written plenty of songs for the 2nd one.

6. SuperLove is the first of those songs from that 2nd album.

7. SuperLove makes us ask this question: How long will it be before Charli XCX actually has a hit on her own? (Rather than another Icona Pop style collaboration or a big-on-the-blogs underground pop hit like everything from Stay Away onwards)

8. SuperLove (which sounds like a retro video game in places) makes us think that the answer to the above question is not that long (although maybe not quite yet). This one isn't as edgy as previous efforts and therefore probably won't find quite as much favour with the bloggers (Google search correction - we were wrong).

9. “This is my most favourite video i've ever worked on. Me and Ryan Andrews (the director of SuperLove) ran around Japan for 36 hours straight shooting everything. Everyone was so delirious. The scene with the bike gang was amazing. When they all turned up there was so much roaring from all their engines it was like I was in Akira. They were all super cool with loads of tattoos and killer bikes. The whole thing was such a whirlwind, I got to dance with robots and ride a motorbike which was kinda cool,” says Charli XCX of the video.

10. Well done Charli XCX. In the game of good pop bad pop you win again.

Charli XCX - SuperLove (Video)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jon Hopkins - Breathe This Air feat. Purity Ring (Video)

Right now wherever we look it seems that house music and slow-mo r’n’b jams are dominating the world of electronic dance music, the likes of techno and ambient hardly getting a look in. Thankfully Jon HopkinsImmunity has managed to stick its head through the cobwebs of consensus and rightly grab some attention. The Mercury Prize nominated record is a wonderfully paced soundtrack, from the glitchy stumbling opener of We Disappear to its incredibly tender ten minute sunrise / sunset closing title track – a piece of music we’ve put at the end of every single compilation CD recorded for friends and family this year.

Immunity will inevitably feature on many of the more discerning end of year lists - we’d put it close to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 in terms of overall listening brilliance from records of this genre. What are its chances of winning the Mercury? Probably zero, but we’d be incredibly happy if it did, it would suddenly make the whole thing seem worthwhile.

From Immunity comes a reworked version of Breathe This Air, which features added vocals from Purity Ring’s Megan James. Yesterday Hopkins released the Anthony Dickensen directed video for the song, which features two people both pursuing what they believe to be very solitary activities yet for just a split second their existences intersect. A quick word of warning, the video contains a small amount of nudity, so if you’re offended by that sort of thing (or are at work and think colleagues will be) don’t press play.

Jon Hopkins - Breathe This Air feat. Purity Ring (Video)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Giant Fang - Golden Age

We fairly confident that the idea of a localised music scene is a fairly outdated one these days, only used by the likes of the often horrendously out of date NME (the B-Town scene for example) magazine as they desperately try to create the next big indie guitar thing out of a bunch of bands from the same town.

If scenes still exist they’re more likely to be formed by similar genres across the information superhighway. As soon as one smart kid / band has uploaded something mind bogglingly brilliant to the internet, you can be pretty sure that inspiration and imitation will flood across the world wide web quicker than you can say “now that’s what I call music.”

So now let’s contradict our theories a little and say that right now there’s a hell of a lot of good electronic music coming out of Scotland and in particular Glasgow. Is it a scene? Or just a coincidence? Or is it that right now there’s a lot of good electronic music coating the world all over, like a synthtopian dream? But for a city that’s historically hasn’t been known for championing computer based tuneage, it’s doing a rather good job right now. From Hudson Mohawke to  Koreless to Prides and of course not forgetting the mighty Chvrches, Glasgow is dancing on its keyboards.

So let’s add Douglas Wilson aka Giant Fang to that list. You may remember his M83-esque tune Aqualung from back here? Now he’s following that up with Golden Age, another beast of a pop song, released through fledgling credible pop label POP unLTD on October 20th. Epic and expansive Golden Age doesn’t hold back in reaching for the skies; it’s the musical version of jumping at airplanes in a synth rock stadium. Open your mind and feel this. Thank you Glasgow. (Again)

Giant Fang - Golden Age

MØ - Never Wanna Know

Whilst Danish pop singer has been wowing the blogs for some time now, we’ve had one nagging doubt. It’s this; whilst her booming future-pop jams stand out from the crowd, there hasn’t been a huge amount of variation in the style of the tunes so far. As individual tracks everything MØ has done has fully justified why UK music bloggers voted her onto the Blog Sound of2013 poll long list (is she maybe a contender for the BBC Sound of 2014 poll perhaps?), but we’ve been wondering if come the album, will sticking to one musical style detract?

Yesterday MØ released Never Wanna Know to the web and firmly cast any doubts aside. A nostalgic piece of bruised chamber pop that takes reference from 50’s torch songs, 60’s girl bands, Phil Spector production, Lana Del Ray, and even country ballads it most reminds us of the recent work of Ren Harvieu. Never Wanna Know is a sumptuous song that has left us open mouthed and full of wonder, suddenly that MØ album seems a very tantalising prospect.

The song is taken from MØ’s forthcoming Bikini Daze EP which is released through Chess Club / RCA Victor. Hopefully she’ll sell enough copies of the EP to be able to afford a flannel and some soap, because by the look of the picture above the soles of her feet need a good wash.

MØ - Never Wanna Know

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Pawws - Outside

What were you doing on Valentine’s day? Can you remember? We can. We were listening to the sad confessions of a girl called Lucy. “I guessed it just didn’t work out.” We remember the words pouring from her mouth.

Now it's September the 24th and we’re doing the same again, her voice once again filling our head.

Because Lucy Taylor aka Pawws is back with Outside, the song we first streamed in demo form on the day of love and described as “a track that pulses and throbs as if it has been transported in time from 1980’s synth Britannia days, harnessing a calmly cool version of Madonna singing over the top.” Outside still sounds like this but it’s more fully packed and brighter than its previous outing, which really is what should happen when you go from a demo to a fully realised version of a song, isn’t it?

Pawws is out on tour this autumn. We’ll be there. Will you? Dates are here.

Pawws - Outside

Margaret Berger - Human Race

One of the greatest things about pop music is that you can never quite tell what it’s going to do and you have to throw all of your preconceived ideas out of the window and start again.

For example, take Margaret Berger. First she was on Norwegian Idol (in 2004). Then last year she represented her country on Eurovision. It doesn’t particularly bang at the door of credibility does it? But it was easy to ditch the cynicism once play had been pressed on I Feed You My Love. We went as far as predicting the song would win Eurovision back in February (here). It eventually came fourth, with our predicted runner up winning.  It showed that ultimately it doesn’t matter about context; a good song is a good song, no matter where you hear it.

Now fast forward a further few months and Berger has done it again. “I don’t know where I lost my faith….help me escape the human race,” she sings over a bleepy background of energetic electronic pulses. This might be a sound for the high energy strobe lit dancefloor, but like much of the best pop, irrespective of how uplifting the music is (see also Chvrches debut LP), the lyrics tell a darker tale.

Margaret Berger - Human Race (Lyric Video)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Laura Welsh - Undiscovered (Video)

Fresh from delivering her blend of high-class pop to Camden’s Roundhouse whilst supporting Ellie Goulding at the iTunes festival this weekend Laura Welsh has today released the video for her new single Undiscovered. It seems to be relationship issues again for Laura, this time her partner being a bit of a closed book, as Laura bemoans the fact that she can’t decipher this person. “I can’t get lost in you,” she sings adding lots of sultry oooh oooohs for added ear worm friendly catchiness. Our advice? Take him / her out for a bit of a pub crawl; that wall that holds everything in will soon come tumbling down after a few glasses of wine.

Gathering radio support and with support shows for London Grammar this autumn booked, Laura’s sophisticated tunes are doing rather nicely for themselves; this one adds to that collection.

Laura Welsh - Undiscovered

Isobel Anderson - Gentleman

We’ve always loved a lady that likes her food and so there was a fattening inevitability that Gentleman, the first single to be taken from Isobel Anderson’s forthcoming album In My Garden was going to find admiration in these parts. After all it’s not often you hear the line “load up my scone with some cream”, alongside references to the finest makers of hampers Fortnum & Mason in a song.

So grab a cup of tea, settle down and press play on this lyrically engaging and beautifully melodic tune, where gentle acoustic strums and a lonely violin accompany Isobel’s warm coos about someone that looks like a film star, plays chess at the weekend and has school friends who work in the city.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a refined man Isobel has recently been selling a limited edition Gentleman download seedcard with an unreleased B-side in a stylish tobacco tin. “Good enough for any gentleman dandy about town. You can even grow your own bouquet of flowers by placing the download card in some soil, ready to woo any eligible damsels,” she states on her Facebook. Unfortunately this has now sold out, but you can buy this song from Isobel’s Bandcamp right now.

Isobel Anderson - Gentleman

Saturday, 21 September 2013

VV Brown - The Apple (Video)

The BBC Sound of 2009 list was somewhat of a mixed bag. Lady Gaga, Mumford & Sons and Florence & The Machine all went on to be huge stars in pop music but Dan Black, Frankmusic and VV Brown (remember her?) didn’t hit such commercial peaks.

But here’s a shocker. VV Brown is back. And her new song is great.

After the relative failure of Travelling by the Light (the record crept in and out of the UK album charts at 16) and the even more dismal non-appearance of her second LP Lollipops & Politics, the writing looked to be on the wall for Brown’s musical career.

Yet remarkably she appears to have achieved the musical equivalent of coming from the back of the grid to win the Grand Prix. Her new album, co-produced in the main by The Invisible frontman Dave Okumu is being hailed as a triumph by critics. New single The Apple (streaming below), is a Grace Jones influenced electro-shock-belter that sounds like VV has slapped herself on the arse and grooved and ground her way to the dirty-disco; really it's bloody marvellous. 

Quoting inspiration from the likes of Battles and Factory Floor and having stated that doesn’t want to make colourful pop music, but something that she’s personally proud of irrespective of commercial success or failure, the reinvention of VV Brown appears to be rather exceptional. What a (welcome) surprise.

VV Brown - The Apple

Friday, 20 September 2013

Have We Helped Kill A Music Journalist ?

Earlier this month Berlin Music Week presented a panel discussion called Daft Punk, Jai Paul and the Death of Music Journalism. It was an interesting, sometimes though provoking discussion that raised points about online journalism and how there’s the potential for it to decline into just a lowest common denominator click-bait PR led profession. Thankfully the panellists involved offered an alternative view; that there is still scope for quality editorial and independent thought and writing. You can see the full discussion in the video below.

The difficulty of course for any music website is how to monetise its operations. Right at the end of the discussion you’ll hear John Doran from The Quietus explain his thinking on this with regard to possible future member subscriptions to access certain parts of The Quietus, in the same way some quality broadsheets have done.

From an inward looking view our perspective of the discussion over monetisation is somewhat different. We have no desire to make money from Breaking More Waves, it simply exists as a hobby; an online version of the type of conversations we’d have with friends down the pub, but on a bigger scale. “Have you heard the new tune by so and so yet? It’s astonishing.” “Have you seen the video about the death of music journalism from Berlin Music Week? What did you think?” As you can probably tell a night down the pub with Breaking More Waves is an enthralling night to spend an evening. (Note to self: Must talk about girls and football in the pub more – that’s what we’re meant to do, right?)

Breaking More Waves is a small relatively low traffic blog (compared with large music websites) and we have no motivation to have a huge number of hits. Sure, we’re interested in how many people are reading our posts, and get some satisfaction when something we’ve written gets shared around the web, but we’re not driven by click maximisation / income. We're unfunded and independent and proud of that. We prefer to have a small but regular readership,  that enjoys and sometimes engages with the crap we write whilst helping in a small way to gain exposure to the music we adore.

However, the debate made us think a little about monetary gain from music and music related activity. There’s been a fair amount of argument recently about how much musicians should be paid for their art and work, centralising on discussion around the likes of what Spotify pays. As music becomes more available there’s an ever greater amount of new music to choose from, so as supply increases consumers’ cash is spread more thinly, leading to the inevitable output that many musicians get paid a little less.

It’s the same with journalism. Back in the golden days of journalism, before the internet, there was a limited number of music publications and so those who produced them tended to be paid more. We even ran a paper based amateur fanzine and people paid us real cash to read it.  We never made any profit from it, but payment covered the costs of production. Now with so many music websites and the model for monetisation changing from a ‘pay to read’ to a mainly ‘funded through advertising’ model, not only has the content of much journalism changed, but the amount (if any) writers get paid has - and payments are not going in an upwards direction.

As Doran says in the discussion; if musicians aren’t earning any money then it seems obscene for music journalists to make money. A couple of years ago David Cameron would have called this work for next to nothing approach ‘Big Society’. Remember that?

The point by Doran may have been raised partly in jest (or possibly not) but there’s a serious issue here. Do enough people care about quality professional music journalism to enable it to continue or are blogs and other free sites killing the professionals by 'stealing' the traffic? Looking at other areas of media it seems that there is a large public expectation that on line journalism should be free to read. Whilst arguably not the greatest 'quality' The Sun has recently announced a drop in 60% of its traffic since the introduction of its paywall.

We suspect it's going to take real innovation for music websites to be sustainable in the long term whilst offering high levels of quality and make money - just in the same way as artists are struggling to do so. There will no doubt be some who do it very well, but many others will either fall by the wayside or end up being hit chasers offering nothing but an endless number of low quality '50 Greatest' type lists.

If this is the end result and unfunded blogs are a tiny bit responsible for the murder of a number of paid journalists, we apologise, but whilst the internet continues to provide us this glorious freedom, we're not going to stop doing what we do. 

Daft Punk, Jai Paul and the Death of Music Journalism 

Adna - New Waves

If we were being lazy we could suggest that Adna is basically a tiny bit like the Swedish version of Daughter or Laura Marling in terms of the gentle melancholy of her sound.

If we were being lazy we could also suggest that Sweden not only does the best pop music but the best music, full stop.

If we were being lazy we could suggest that despite still being a teenager Adna sounds way older than her young years.

If we were being lazy we could use the word dreamy to describe her song called Dreamer.

If we were being lazy and just wanted to be constantly updated on the best new fuzzy indie guitar bands and ethereal folk music out there (like Adna) rather than search for it ourselves we could just sit and read the rather excellent Just Music That I Like.

Which we did. That's where we found Adna.

Sometimes being lazy brings rewards. At this rate, we'll be publishing a picture of the cover of a soon to be released album and calling it a news story, or just copying and pasting a list of the 10 Greatest Haircuts in Pop, whilst sneaking a few adverts onto the site and earning a fat load of cash off them as the traffic rolls in.

Adna - Dreamer (Video)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Alex Cheatle - New Waves

Whether she’s putting her own songs over other's tunes or her original compositions Alex Cheatle is the new kid on the block that has got our ears furiously twitching  

With awards under her belt from a very young age (Cheatle became the youngest person ever to win the UK national songwriting competition The Make It Break It Awards, formerly known as The National Youth Rock and Pop Awards back in 2009) there’s already no doubt that she has bags of ability and now you can hear it hitting the internet.

Taking Marlena Shaw's Woman Of The Ghetto (Flume's Jackin House Remix) and Star Slinger's track Mornin', Cheatle has put the icing on the musical cake with her own song Sweet Loving as a vocal top off and created something not so distant from The Avalanches’ Since I Met You – one of the best singles of 2001. It’s blissfully summery, infectiously breezy and sweetly sung; it's a tune to make you feel lifted and light headed. 

It’s not all mash ups and utra-modern production though. Elsewhere on You Tube you’ll find evidence that Alex Cheatle has more than one asset at her disposal – she’s an adept songwriter standing on her own two feet as well. After you've been wowed by Sweet Loving (and downloaded it for free) check out the atmospheric ballad The Woods as well.

Alex Cheatle - Sweet Loving (ft Starslinger and Flume)

Alex Cheatle - The Woods (Video)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Clarence Clarity - Alive In The Septic Tank (Video)

In an alternative universe where pop music is weirdly exotic, experimental and ever so slightly dirty and screwy, Clarence Clarity is number 1 in the charts. This mystery producer / singer / band / thing (delete as appropriate – we really have no idea) released his / her / their /its debut EP Save †Hyself this week. It might be a one off before Clarence disappears never to be heard of again or it just might be the start of something bigger and potentially incredible. Either way Save †Hyself is ridiculously warped, brilliant and out there. It’s pop music for the f*cked up, insane, odd and those of us who want music to do deranged things now and then. Alive In The Septic Tank, taken from the EP achieves that level of madness and then some.

So who is Clarence Clarity ? According to Noisey who premiered the new freaky video for Alive In The Septic Tank yesterday (and we're following today), “keen eared audio entrepreneurs, those who inject themselves with forward-thinking music like jetsetting Mother's digest Elle, should be able to distinguish the guy behind these vocals instantaneously.” We're obviously not that keen eared because we’re clueless. Somebody just tell us who it is please so that we can all just get on and enjoy the music.

Clarence Clarity - Alive In The Septic Tank (Video)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Pylo - New Waves

If you like music that has words like huge and epic embedded in its very core, then you’ll love Pylo, a band from Bath who construct songs that seem to prove that rock can still be a powerful, uplifting and beautiful beast.

Formed in the spring of 2012 Pylo consist of Matthew Aldus, James Scott, Richard Gully, Max Blunos, and Johan Jorgensen. The first song that grabbed our ears was Enemies (streaming below). It's a tune that grows from acoustic strum into full-on throw-your-head-back-and-feel-the-force power riffs in a matter of fifty seconds. Did we mention huge? Well it’s more than that. It’s deliriously colossal. Enemies is the sort of song designed to get 30,000 fists pumping the air at a festival, leaving punters feeling spent and exhilarated afterwards. It’s the type of music and they’re the type of band that’s deeply unfashionable / old fashioned right now, but we get the feeling that Pylo don’t care about that, they’re just writing good songs and that’s all that matters – whatever the genre.

It’s not all gut wrenching riffs though. Their song View (video below) shows a more soothing sound, albeit with guitars that sound like they’re on a mission to find a stadiums. This is the one to get the lighters out to. Rock like this doesn't often find a place on Breaking More Waves, but when a song knocks us for six as Enemies did when we first heard it, it would be churlish not not feature it.

Pylo play a whole host of London dates this October (check their website for full details).

Pylo - Enemies

Pylo - View (Video)

Little Boots - Satellite (Video)

So here’s one of our favourite songs from our favourite Little Boots LP so far. OK there’s only been two Little Boots LPs, but in the world of pop and the ever quicker turnover of the internet where one duff song can not only lead to the curtains being closed on the window of opportunity, but the shutters being pulled shut, locked, and bolted and the key thrown away, releasing two albums is actually quite an achievement, especially when you’ve parted ways with your label. It might have been easier for Little Boots to disappear, rebrand herself and come back under another identity (probably a mysterious one until THE BIG REVEAL) but thankfully Little Boots is still Little Boots and Satellite is still a corker.

Satellite finds the Vickster returning to her home town of Blackpool where she co-directed this video in the towns historic Tower Ballroom Besides the video there's also this rather chilled house remix of the song from remix competition winners MDNGHT.

Little Boots - Satellite (Video)

Little Boots - Satellite (MDNGHT Remix)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Lulu James - Sweetest Thing

For new musicians there’s often a disconnect between being a big buzz on the internet and getting tangible sales of your music and selling tickets for shows. Hype Machine love hearts and Facebook likes are for the casual fan - too easy and too transient to last for more than the split second it takes to press a button, compared with the much more real and longer lasting commitment of a fan getting their arse off the sofa and investing in an artist financially. It’s quite possible (we know, we’ve done it) to turn up to see a band that’s ‘big on the blogs’ and find fifteen people in the audience.

Which brings us to Lulu James; she’s certainly had her fair share of blog love. She has over 8,000 likes on Facebook. Yet she’s certainly not a household name, collecting gold discs or selling out huge venues.

Sweetest Thing could and should be the song to change that a little, propelling her further to the possibility of actually selling some product. You may recognise the tune - it was given an airing on BBC 2’s Later…. With Jools Holland in May - and will be released as a single at the start of November. “Say it again you're my best friend, we’ll be together until the end of time,” sings Lulu soulfully over this lyrically and musically sweet song that burbles along with a relaxed happiness, gently pushing any forthcoming autumnal blues away.

Lulu will be out on the road again soon supporting Ellie Goulding on her forthcoming UK tour alongside Chasing Grace (remember them from our Ones To Watch list last year ?). So get there early and if you like any of the acts, why not actually buy their records afterwards?

Lulu James - Sweetest Thing

Laura Groves - Pale Shadows

If we were ever to write one of those Top 100 Albums You Must Listen To Before You Die lists, there’s absolutely no doubt that Laura Groves aka Blue Roses debut LP, released in 2009, would feature somewhere. It’s a record we named as our favourite of that year and still find deep pleasure from now.

Since the Blue Roses project Laura has been relatively quiet in terms of releases, although her voice could be heard on the work of Nautic last year.

Now she has returned, this time recording under her own name following a move to London from Bradford. With a forthcoming vinyl and digital EP entitled Thinking About Thinking ready for release at the end of this month two songs have surfaced. The first was the tranquil and warm sounding Inky Sea (which you can hear here) which sounds like a natural and unforced progression from her classic and acoustic early days to a more ambient and electronic sound. The second track Pale Shadows (streaming below) makes us swoon even more so. It’s possibly the closest thing to a pop song that Laura that has ever released, albeit a pop song of languid beauty. With gentle floating guitars, light tapping beats and Laura’s wonderful and remarkable voice, the ears will be fully aurally massaged after this.

You can order Thinking About Thinking here.

Laura Groves - Pale Shadows

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Southsea Fest 2013 - Review

Southsea Fest, in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth, has a strangely old-fashioned and shabby charm to it. Maybe it’s because of its setting; one street filled with a curious mix of antique shops, curry houses and quaint boutique stores, with the majority of the acts playing in local boozers within just a few seconds walk of each other. Or maybe it’s because of its independent d-i-y feel; from its out of fashion looking program with muted colours and fonts from the past, to the dearth of corporate sponsorship around the festival. Or maybe it’s because of its lack of acknowledgement of the resurgence in digital and electronic music over the last few years; Southsea Fest’s programming is aimed in the main at guitar acts (dance music really doesn’t get a look in), possibly explaining the slightly older than average audience for this type of multi-venue festival. Or maybe it’s the events occasional disorder as some venues run behind time; but nobody minds because everything is so close together that you can dart into another gig next door whilst you’re waiting and then pop back to see who you intended to see in the first place. 

However, whatever it is it’s a charm that works in Southsea Fest’s favour giving it an autonomous spirit, soul and a sense of not being over sanitised.

Breaking More Waves was on Southsea’s Albert Road from the very kick off of proceedings and in our usual style, here is our review or rather…

10 Things We Learnt At Southsea Fest 2013

1. Southsea Fest may be gaining a reputation as a festival to see ‘the next big thing’ but just as many if not more punters seem to be happy watching local acts they know and love.

Located at the top of a narrow metal spiral staircase, the tiny Atrium bar found George Ezra, a man who played to a packed BBC Introducing Stage at this year’s Glastonbury and has signed a deal with Columbia records, playing to a small handful of listeners. Yet reports informed us that it was a one in one out situation at the same venue for local folk group The Day of the Rabblement a little later. Likewise one of Portsmouth’s better indie rock bands Kassassin Street pulled a big lunchtime crowd at the Wedgewood Rooms, but not so many of them stuck around for London’s Flyte afterwards, another band on an upward trajectory and whose tight musicality, harmonies and natural song writing ability suggested that the ladder they’re climbing is a long one, but they’re more than capable of getting higher than they are now.

2. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially if it’s hype over the band Superfood.

Taste is a funny thing. “The best new band of the year,” we’d read some time ago (here). Yet the guitar based equivalent of a rather bland Findus ready meal left us utterly cold and hungry for something more than a rehash of all of the worst bits of slacker indie meets grunge meets Britpop from the 90’s.

3. You don’t need wellies at Southsea Fest like you might at an outdoor music festival but sensible footwear is still advised.

Eleven hours of gigs = cider coated floors. Particularly at the Wedgewood Rooms.

4. The smells of Southsea Fest are a cocktail of sweat, lager and cider.

One of the most popular venues at Southsea Fest is always the Alcopop! / Big Scary Monsters curated Edge of the Wedge stage, which by early evening has usually turned into something of a clothed rock’n’roll sauna. 2013 was no exception. We saw people falling out of the room coated in sweat but with huge smiles on their faces after The Computers set. Likewise Southsea Social Club (which featured two venues in one building) smelt like a teenage boys bedroom by early evening. Downstairs we caught Curxes throwing aside their synth led dramatic pop for something more punkish, fiery and aggressively finger flicking, whilst upstairs Is Bliss did their very best to wreck ear drums with their mind consuming shoegaze noise, guitar chucking and swaths of reverb. None of this was for the faint-heated or sensitive of nostrils.

5. Not everything at Southsea Fest is as intensive on either the ears or nose.

For those who preferred their rock’n’roll thrills a little more sedate and comfortable, the lavish environs of the Edwardian playhouse Kings Theatre was distinctly more fresh smelling. Of particular highlight there was Sons & Lovers whose widescreen rock / pop reached for the venues heightened ceilings and touched them, songs like Golden and King turning up the knob marked epic. Foy Vance also delighted the audience with heartfelt songs and engaging banter and he left the stage with the crowd singing the chorus of his last song Guiding Light (streaming below).

6. There really should have been a late night chemist nearby.

Just so the Andy Falkous, lead singer of Future Of The Left could buy some throat lozenges after he had howled and snarled his way through a set that was the musical equivalent of a truck collision. "Do people actually enjoy this?" we overheard one slightly bewildered punter question as the band launched into another assault of frantic and abrasive riffs and shouting.

7. Indie rock music is becoming increasingly more revivalist.

Already with a seal of approval from Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher, Kettering band Temples turned in a performance that was highly accomplished, but after they exited the stage there was a nagging doubt that their 12-string tunes and penchant for recreating a psychedelic sound from over 50 years ago was just a little too much. Likewise earlier on the same stage Night Engine played a bunch of songs that as tight and as faultlessly spikey as they were veered perilously close to being like a David Bowie tribute act. Is rock music now tradition or will it eventually find some new ideas and progress again?

8. Every festival should have a catch up break around tea time.

In prior acknowledgement that sometimes things don’t go to plan, particularly when you have over 100 bands playing on one street and a small team to manage them all, some stages at Southsea Fest had catch up breaks. Not only good for the festival, but good for the punters to – a perfect time to grab some food, go to the toilet etc knowing you’re not going miss anything and possibly spotting the member of a spotty leather clad indie rock trio in Ken’s Kebabs.

9. Southsea Fest is probably the best value sweaty rock’n’ roll experience you can have legally for just a few quid.

With an early bird ticket costing a mere £12 Southsea Fest makes a welcome alternative in the increasingly expensive festival market. We watched 14 bands full performances all at a leisurely pace. That’s 86p a band. Now that’s what we call a bargain.

10. After all that learning we drew some conclusions.

With seven years under its belt Southsea Fest continues to put Portsmouth on the musical map. It’s an event that local people feel attached to whilst it slowly increases its status nationally. Roll on Chapter 8 in 2014.

Foy Vance - Guiding Light

FKA Twigs - Papi Pacify (Video)

Tahliah Barnett just can’t make her mind up can she? First she was Twigs Paramour, then just plain old Twigs and now she’s become FKA Twigs. Does this mean that her first name is now FKA? That could be a bit awkward  it if you met her and tried to say her first name.

Taken from her EP2 released through Young Turks here is a new video and song. Don’t adjust the volume after the first few seconds – it’s meant to be silent.

Papi Pacify is another warped roll a spliff slo-mo electronic jam. It sounds slightly stoned, sensual and very late night, as much concerned with creating its own ambient cocoon of sound as it is being a pop tune. It also features a black and white video that depending on your perspective is either weird, beautiful, disturbing, sexual, innovative, artistic or freakily dark.

FKA Twigs - Papi Pacify

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Indiana - Mess Around (Video)

If you clicked on Indiana’s Facebook, Twitter or You Tube accounts you could at first glance believe that she was leaving a trail of spine-chilling pop inspired by the likes of Portishead, The XX, The Weeknd, Radiohead, Kraftwerk and Frank Ocean across the internet without interference. However behind the scenes things are probably pretty different as around the time new single Mess Around was uploaded Indiana was about to have a baby.

Mess Around is the strongest Indiana song we’ve heard since the darkly sexual Bound, and like Bound its lyrics and video are intriguing and unsettling, with Indiana taking the role of some sort of tormenting and haunting ice queen / witch. “You don't know what you've started; you know not what you have done,” she sings and we shudder slightly with sinful excitement.

Indiana - Mess Around (Video)

Friday, 13 September 2013

Lorde - Team

Many conservative rock fans sneer at pop music because they think it’s only for teenagers and they have a low view of the taste of teenagers. Yet to dismiss pop music is like dismissing life itself; because the best pop music can be just as important, just as innovative, just as f*cking brilliant as any other genre of music. Of course there’s good pop and there’s bad pop and what is good and what is bad is always going to be a matter of opinion, but that differentiation should never be based upon the age of the listener or the performer. ABC by The Jackson 5 is a great pop song yet Michael Jackson was just 11 years old when he sang it. The Beatles had thousands of screaming teenage fans.

Which brings us neatly to New Zealand’s Lorde. She may only be 16, but even if she was 66 it wouldn’t matter, because she’s doing perfect pop. It’s the sort of pop that irrespective of if you’re 14 or 44 you should open your ears to. We find it difficult to understand how anyone couldn’t like these swaggering synths, beats and casual hooks.Thank god for pop music.

Lorde - Team (Audio Stream)

Little Daylight - Glitter And Gold (Charli XCX Vs TWIN IDoL Remix)

“Like a neon multi-coloured alcopop-giddy version of Chvrches,” was how we first described Brooklyn trio Little Daylight’s Glitter and Gold earlier this summer. Now considering that Charli XCX has a song hidden deep within her back catalogue called Neon Fashion and Glowstix, she seems like the ideal lady to step up and have a go at remixing the song, together with her production chum TWIN IDoL. Yet for those expecting rainbows, jets of colour and the musical equivalent of pink unicorns dancing all over the place, you’ll be surprised to hear that instead Charli strips things back and slows it down a bit. Who would have thought it?

If you haven’t heard the original yet (where have you been?) then check out the video below where a boy scribbles in a notebook under his sheets and is magically transported to a shape distorted forest. There he meets a silent bare footed girl who shows him the light before things get a bit wet.

Little Daylight will be soon out on the road supporting Bastille in the US. Here’s hoping that fans in our neck of the world (UK) get their bit of Little Daylight soon.

Little Daylight - Glitter And Gold (Charli XCX Vs TWIN IDoL Remix)

Little Daylight - Glitter & Gold (Video)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Caitlin Rose - Pink Rabbits (Video)

Caitlin Rose covering The National? How could we not resist such a combination? So here it is. Caitlin’s version of Pink Rabbits inevitably gives the Trouble Will Find Me track a country make over (we’d be somewhat surprised if Caitlin had decided the tune needed an electro-swing treatment ) and the lyrics “you didn't see me I was falling apart, I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park,” make a lot more sense when sung by a female vocalist than when Matt Berninger rolls out the words. Of course Berninger’s voice has a habit of making everything sound pretty melancholy, whereas here Rose gives the song a lighter lilt, so consider this more a daytime version than one for the dark.

Caitlin Rose - Pink Rabbits (Video)

Flyte - Words Come Easily

Imagine if Roy Orbison was still alive today and started mucking around with synths. How good would that be? Well here’s what he might have sounded like. New kids on the block Flyte (we featured them last month here) are now streaming a second song from their Live EP. With its electronic pulses and gentle croon of a vocal, Words Come Easily is like stroking a soft purring pet cat on your lap in a musical form.

It seems that it’s not only ourselves that like Flyte, with the band having recently receiving daytime Radio 1 play from Fearne Cotton and an evening play on Zane Lowe. The band also play Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth this coming weekend as part of Southsea Fest and then have their own EP launch party at The Waiting Room in London on September 16th. 

Flyte - Words Come Easily

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Mercury Prize 2013 - Our Thoughts

Earlier today the Mercury Prize shortlist was announced. Here is the list of nominations and the peak position that the particular record reached in the UK Top 20 Album Chart.

Laura Mvula– Sing To The Moon (9)
Savages – Silence Yourself(19)
Disclosure – Settle (1)
Rudimental – Home (1)
Jon Hopkins – Immunity (n/a)
Foals – Holy Fire (2)
Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg(1)
Arctic Monkeys – AM(n/a – only released this week)
Villagers – Awayland (16)
Laura Marling – Once I was An Eagle (3)
David Bowie – The Next Day (1)
James Blake– Overgrown(8)

Now on the face of it you can argue that this list is a reasonable selection of the year’s best albums. Sure, we all have different taste and there will be records that all of us would have liked to have seen in the list that didn’t make it, that is if (like us) you actually are interested in the prize itself. For the record we’re pretty disappointed that the albums by Daughter and Public Service Broadcasting were missed, we thought they would be sure fire certs.

However, there’s something that concerns us more here. Let’s take a look at those chart positions. With the exception of the Jon Hopkins album (which we think is a superb piece of work) and the Arctic Monkeys album (which has only been out a few days and will inevitably chart very high this Sunday) every single on the album has made the Top 20.

One of the things we loved about some of the Mercury’s of past is that when the list is revealed, there’s been the oddities, the curios, the token jazz album, the quite obscure folk record that we hadn’t  even of heard of. It’s what made the Mercury fascinating – pitting the underdog against the big guns and giving the underdog some valuable publicity. This year we own 8 of the 12 records on the list and have listened to all 12 before the nominations were announced. It seems that the Mercury list is becoming ever more mainstream, and this is a shame. Where are this year’s Bheki Mseleku’s, Sweet Billy Pilgrim’s, Roller Trio’s or Shusheela Raman’s? These were all previous nominees. Even Jon Hopkins profile is already relatively high having had a previous Mercury nomination with King Creosote and worked with the likes of Coldplay.

This isn’t some indie-centric music snobbery – many of the albums on the list we really like – but we would have preferred the Mercury Prize to open our eyes and ears to something new that we’ve missed. Our ongoing love affair with the band Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (now just The Unthanks) pretty much started with their Mercury nomination, but this year there’s no new love to fall for.

What are the reasons for the lack of oddities? Is it to do with the Mercury’s new TV deal? The price of entering and other associated costs if nominated which prohibit smaller independent acts entering? Or the safe tastes of the judging panel? If it’s the latter maybe the panel needs a few mavericks (music bloggers?) to stir things up a bit. If we’d been on the panel we’d have been championing Georgia Ruth’s Week Of Pines a beautiful part English / part Welsh sung folk album featuring incredible finger picking harp work and a delightful variety of styles and tunes. We're streaming the song Mapping from it below.

So for this year we’re giving the Mercury’s the thumbs down and hoping that come 2014 they regain their ability to embrace more than just chart toppers. At least this year there’s little danger of the winner being an albatross in the style of Speech Debelle, but we think that lack of danger is a shame.

Georgia Ruth - Mapping