Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Regular readers of Breaking More Waves will have probably realised by now that there’s nothing we like more than turning pop music into a league table. “But music is art, not sport,” shout the naysayers. Yes, we hear you and understand you, but we’re sorry, it’s built into our very core and no amount of laying back on the shrink’s couch pouring out our innermost fears, or long intellectual argument and reasoning is going to change us.
What has all of this got to do with Chløë Black you may be asking? Well cast your mind back to late last year and you might remember that Chløë’s name appeared on the UK blogger’s version of a new music league table – the Blog Sound of 2015 poll, alongside the likes of eventual winner Låpsley, runners up Fickle Friends and the likes of Deers (now Hinds), Soak and Black Honey. She also appeared on our own 10 Ones to Watch list. Of all the names on the Blog Sound list Chløë's was probably one of the more surprising, having released very little material at that stage. Yet certain blogs (we’ll put our hands up and admit that Breaking More Waves was one of them) had seen / heard enough to think ‘big potential’ and voted for her.
Today Chløë releases a new tune. It’s called Cruel Intentions and to use a sporting analogy it finds her climbing from non-league status to challenging for promotion from Division 2. “All good things come to an end, there’s nothing good about me,” she sings. We’d disagree on the second part of that lyric, for if nothing else Chløë knows how to make an epic valley straddling pop song. We also have it on good authority from somebody that met Chløë recently at a gig that she was 'very nice indeed.' And let’s remember, that whilst any talented sod can rise up to the premiere league of pop, when relegation occurs it’s the nice ones that people keep supporting. Nobody likes a dick.
Take a listen to Cruel Intentions from Chløë’s forthcoming EP and feel her power. Warning - keep a wide berth around you, you might want to punch the air when the big drums kick in. This one hits the back of the net.
Chløë Black - Cruel Intentions
Monday, 30 March 2015
By now, if you have any passing interest in pop music and pop culture you’ll probably know that Daphne and Celeste have returned. You’ll also probably fall into 1 of 4 camps.
1. The excited ‘YES!!!’ camp.
2. The not so excited ‘NO’ camp.
3. The camp of ‘who the f*ck are Daphne and Celeste?’
4. The bemused and questioning 'why are Daphne and Celeste getting so much on line exposure?' camp.
This short post is for those of you in that last camp who are shrugging their shoulders and looking puzzled.
If you’re in the ‘who the f*ck’ camp, that is what Google was invented for.
We’re going to have a stab at explaining why we think there was a little bit of commotion yesterday about the duo’s ‘unexpected’ comeback with Daphne and Celeste and in particular why they were featured on sites such as Pitchfork, NME and Drowned In Sound, who you wouldn’t normally expect to cover such pop artists.
We use the word unexpected in inverted commas because we’re not that surprised about this comeback; after all Celeste put out a song with Kent Odessa back in 2013 (listen here). Therefore the chances of a reunion was always a possibility - pop hadn’t been completely shunned by the two women.
If you're one of today's internet generation who has a really short attention span, then we've made this post easy for you - all you really need to do is read the 4 headings below.
1. Nostalgia and the desire for more individuality in pop. (Individuality is easier to write about).
Right now a lot of people are pretty tired of the homogeneity of pop music. As Bob Stanley wrote in his thoroughly excellent book The Story Of Modern Pop: “The first flush of the pick ‘n’ mix digital era has led to many of pop’s biggest names appearing on each other’s records: Rihanna and Coldplay; JLS and Tinie Tempah; Katy Perry and Kanye West: David Guetta and Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj. Whilst the possibilities of merging R&B, hip hop, eurobeat and rave had seemed thrilling, the results have largely been a generic blur of unchallenging rhythms and predictable song structures – the Top 40 has never sounded more samey…”
It’s because of that tiredness that when a band from the past (be it an indie rock group like Sleater Kinney or a pop duo like Daphne and Celeste) make some sort of comeback, people who remember them get very excited, because they represent a time when pop music sounded more individualistic, both musically and also lyrically.
We now live in an age of political correctness where most people are highly aware of the way that their comments and opinions might affect others, particularly when published online. The consequence of this is that musicians have become too scared to sing about anything that isn’t safe and therefore potentially career damaging. It’s why we get a lot of songs about being ‘in da club’ and other such beige lyrics, typically along the lines of 'girl I want you...'. Daphne and Celeste come from a different era, when there was no fear in singing a song like U.G.L.Y “You're so fat and ugly with a belly full of flab, when you wear a yellow coat people shout out cab,” they yelped with glee. Unpolitically correct and hurtful? Yep – but with those sort of songs and their reputation for doing crazy stupid interviews that compared to today’s media trained pop bores seemed off the hook and ridiculously career damaging, it’s no wonder that on their return websites want to feature them, because they make good copy.
2. Their Reading Festival bottling legitimised Daphne and Celeste as having some sort of cool. Therefore it's OK for Pitchfork to write about them.
Daphne and Celeste were an anomaly in the world of manufactured pop. Somehow they got themselves on the bill of Reading Festival 2000 (apparently because they wanted to meet Eminem) and got bottled, which was unsurprising at that time given the partisan nature of the Reading crowd, a few years later they did the same to 50 Cent, giving rise to debate on if those who participated were sexist and racist. Although in no way was there same amount of debate that would probably occur if this happened now. If you’ve never seen the footage of Daphne and Celeste powering their way through the bottles do take a look here. This perseverance gave them some sort of credibility with the music press. Here were two young women standing up to a barrage of abuse from a bunch of (mainly) neanderthal men and not giving in. This indie credibility carried through to the end of 2000. The now defunct Melody Maker put Daphne and Celeste’s album in their end of year top 50 – higher in the top 50 in fact than the likes of Sleater Kinney.
3. They had a cheesy bubblegum pop sound that has become oddly hip over the last few years.
Daphne and Celeste’s songs U.G.L.Y and Ooh Stick You hit one of the most important buttons of pop on the head; they’re utterly memorable. Good or bad – that’s for your taste to decide, but you only have to hear the songs once for them to stick. But they were more than that. They set a template for a number of other pop acts with their cartoon sound.
Some of you will probably remember Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud - we got very excited about her debut album. Take a listen to the chorus of her song Beat Of My Drum. At the time we named it one of our singles of the year and stated “It’s both gleefully cool with its reference points (Justice, Diplo) yet unashamedly cheesy at the same time (Daphne and Celeste).” We weren’t the only ones to love the N-Robz. Even the likes of Sean Adams from Drowned In Sound spouted off about what a good record her album was. Now in the last 12 months we’ve had the chipmunk sound of Hey QT via PC Music (a record we’re not fond of) and the brilliance of Petite Meller’s Baby Love (with its lo-fi Lady Gaga does Children In Need video) both of which have some elements of the near childlike wonky playfulness that Daphne and Celeste displayed. Of course these records may not have been in any way influenced by Daphne and Celeste but there’s been plenty of discussion on websites (not just the pop websites, but the indie ones as well) about those records, so why shouldn’t Daphne and Celeste be subject to the same discussion?
4. Clever marketing – a Sunday release / embargo
But here’s what we think the main reason is. There was a clever bit of promo going on here. First their song is recorded with Max Tundra, his first production to surface for around seven years. In fact this is really a Max Tundra project featuring guest vocals from Daphne and Celeste. Second, it’s a half decent tune – very different from Daphne and Celeste of old. (We particularly like the footsteps beat). It's a bit artier and has no whiff of naffness. Next, the parties involved were all very willing to talk to the press about the song (keep in mind what we said about individuality being easier to write about). But most importantly, there appeared to be an embargo in place for releasing the song / interviews and that was for a Sunday - a day when hit hungry websites have very little new content.
Sunday is a very quiet day for hit hungry new content music websites – we probably get 20 or 30 emails on a Sunday about new music releases compared with the 150-250 / day we get on Monday to Friday. If this song had been pushed out on a Tuesday afternoon we suspect it would have only picked up coverage from pure pop websites. Timing for this release was everything.
Daphne And Celeste - You And I Alone
Saturday, 28 March 2015
Samm Henshaw is one of those artists that you’re probably going to find the words ‘classic soul’ lobbed at quite a bit. Because Samm (full name Iniabasi Samuel Henshaw) oozes the stuff. Even when he’s covering One Direction (honestly) and making it sound unrecognisable (in a good way - listen using this link) there’s a heartiness and warmth to both his voice and music that makes us want to start trotting out references like Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye. OK, that’s probably a bit over excitable, but this guy is cast from the stuff that defines talent. If we were the betting sort, we’d be putting money on him appearing on Later... with Jools Holland within the year.
Take a listen to his song Only Wanna Be With You (a free download) and remember his name. Is it too early to be starting our Ones to Watch for 2016 list yet? Maybe, but here’s a name that could be on it.
Samm Henshaw - Only Wanna Be With You
There were quite a few Banks comparisons floating around after Australian singer Adria released her debut song Pull Me Under. However, now she shows a more diverse sonic palette with a beautiful piano driven ballad called Falling. Feelings are shaken that bit more with the addition of stirring strings that take the song from its air of intimacy to something more grandiose and cinematic. We can imagine Adria singing this one standing under a simple spotlight, arms outstretched, wrapped up in the emotion of it all. Prepare yourself to feel that little bit more vulnerable and little bit lost. It’s not easy to combine both power and tenderness in a song without making a mess of it, but Adria gets it right.
Falling is taken from Adria’s debut Shell EP, due next week.
Adria - Falling
Friday, 27 March 2015
In 2014 Fickle Friends was the 6th most blogged act by UK based Hype Machine listed bloggers. Of the five acts that finished ahead of them, three of the others (Marika Hackman, Banks and Wolf Alice) had featured in the Blog Sound of 2014 longlist (the music bloggers version of the BBC Sound of list), one was the already well established (Caribou) and the other (Låpsley) topped the Blog Sound of 2015 longlist. You can see the full list on this link here.
Up until now the acts who came 2nd, 3rd etc in the Blog Sound of 2015 poll hadn't been announced, but we can now reveal that Fickle Friends was a clear second. There was a direct correlation between artists that UK bloggers had featured the most on their blogs and who they voted for as their favourites. It’s probably no surprise to learn of that relationship but at least it shows that bloggers aren’t as…. fickle (sorry) in their tastes as some would make out.
So now it’s time for some new Fickle Friends material, the first song to be taken from the band’s forthcoming Velvet EP, due 25th May via Killing Moon Records in the UK and B3SCI Records in the US. It would be hard not to instantly recognise Could Be Wrong as anything but Fickle Friends. The song has that delightfully danceable indie-pop mix of synths and guitars and Natassja’s charming coo of a voice that creates the bands signature sound. It’s pop music for indie kids that don’t like pop, indie music for dance heads who don’t like indie and dance music for pop kids who don’t like dance. Basically it’s music for everyone. OK, maybe if you’re only into metalcore you’re probably not going to like it, but then we could be wrong (sorry again).
Fickle Friends are out on tour in the UK in early summer. Dates can be found on this link here.
Fickle Friends - Could Be Wrong
Who would have thought it?
Florence & The Machine’s St Jude is the antithesis of her previous bombast. A gentle heart beat, a vulnerable vocal delivery that shows that emotion doesn’t have to contain over-played drama and a beautifully shot video with a gorgeous colour palette. St Jude “the patron saint of the lost causes, we were lost before she started,” doesn’t sound like a single, but bodes very well for Florence’s third album being something much more than a collection of radio hits. This is the sort of song we’d take to bed with us. Gorgeous.
Florence & The Machine - St Jude (Video)
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Tonight Charli XCX plays Brighton, UK. We’ll be there. Based on the previous six gigs we’ve seen her play we’ll probably need a lie down and time to recover afterwards. So for that reason we’re taking just a tiny holiday away from the blog, but normal posting will resume towards the end of the week.
In the meantime here’s the new Eric Wareheim directed video for Famous, which will be Charli’s next single. The video deals with the juxtaposition between reality and social media dependence – complete with selfie sticks, a gimmick that surely in 10 years we’ll all look back at and go ‘do you remember those?’
Famous is set for release on June 1st via Asylum Records. It’s taken from Charli’s album Sucker which currently stands as our most listened to album of 2015. Does this make it our favourite so far? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. We live in age where 'favourite' has become quantified – from clicking the the little star on tweets, to Facebook likes, to You Tube or Hype Machine hearts. Yet there’s also an argument that just because you don’t play a record so many times it can still be a favourite - quantity isn't everything. A lot depends on your listening style and strategy.
Does that last sentence sound a bit theoretical and university thesis like? Yeah, of course it does, but hey sometimes here at Breaking More Waves we like to delve a little bit deeper. It’s not all just ‘here’s a good pop song blah blah blah.’ Although Famous is a really good pop song. Blah blah blah.
So to keep it simple here’s the theory:
If you’re what Huron (2002) described as either an Emotional Listener or an Ecstatic Listener you’re much more likely to define your favourite as something that connects in an emotional way – even if you only listen a few times.
Does the Charli XCX album connect with us on some deep emotional level? Does it give us goosebumps? No. But it does make us want to bounce round the room and do crazy air punches. For the theorists that’s a fair amount of us being a Kinesthetic listener. Sucker isn’t about contemplation, it’s about motivation, and this record gets us fired up.
So next time someone laughs at you for saying that one of your favourite records of the year is some trashy pop album, rather than the new Sufjan Stevens record; ignore them. They’ve just got a different listening style to you, it's that as much as anything else that defines their taste. It doesn’t make you or them any more or less of a music fan.
We linked to Huron’s explanation of listening styles and strategies a few posts ago, but here it is again in case you missed it (click here).
We'll be back soon.
Charli XCX - Famous (Video)
Monday, 23 March 2015
Right now there’s one band leading the charge from Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth and that is Kassassin Street. New song To Be Young is a fine example of why. A propulsive piece of indie rock that has become a staple part of the band’s live set, To Be Young goes at it like two lustful lovers who haven’t seen each other for months and doesn’t let up until it has climaxed after a glorious three minutes and forty seconds. “We could have been someone, oh to be young, to be young,” sings Rowan Bastable, looking back with just a hint of regret. No regrets about Kassassin Street being featured on this blog again though; To Be Young is a relentlessly formidable tune.
Kassassin Street - To Be Young
The martial arts generally get short shrift in pop music. Of course there was Kung Fu Fighting, a number 1 hit single in the UK for Carl Douglas back in the 70’s as well as The Beatles Hey Judo (chortle, sorry it’s the best we could do) but other than that we’re struggling to think of any black-belt combat related tunes or groups. That is until today, as we introduce Sweden’s I Am Karate. The Stockholm based duo have been picking up a small amount of blog coverage over the last few days due to their bewilderingly good Rae Morris channelling song Bloom, which mixes piano keys, soft electronic hues and beats to create something you might just go a bit head over heels for. However, don’t immediately pigeon hole Erika Soldh Ahlström and Marta Pettersson, who are I Am Karate, as just Morris copyists; because their debut EP has more diversity than that, displaying different aspects of their contemporary pop sound. There's vast pop-noir in the form of Moment and another track Starts With A Hit sounds like if it was given to Rihanna and beefed up with some glossy studio production would be exactly what it says in the title.
Alongside their music I Am Karate are presenting themselves in a way that at first might seem a bit odd especially if you’re one of the boring ‘real music’ gang who doesn't get the concept that pop is as much about visual representation as it is the songs. For here we find I Am Karate having a dip in the swimming pool. But those of you well versed in everything aquatic will know that there’s been a long history of pop stars taking the plunge, whether it is in the bath (see here) or in the swimming pool (see here). We can only guess that with all these sporting references, I Am Karate are not only providing good musical health for the ears, but reminding us to keep the rest of our bodies in check as well.
I Am Karate - Bloom
Sunday, 22 March 2015
10 things you need to know about Bully*
1. They’re a band (OK, that’s probably an obvious one, but let’s start with the basics, because you could be mistaken for thinking that's not the case given the photo above.)
2. They have a frenetic punkish energy that is infectious. You’ll be giddy with the rush. They’ll make you feel alive, then sick. But it’s a good sick feeling. Then you’ll feel alive again.
3. Lead singer Alicia Bognanno worked as an intern at Steve Albini’s studio in 2011 and it’s there in after-hours downtime that she started work on what was to become Bully songs.
4. Their track Milkman was first uploaded to Bandcamp last April and has been doing the rounds ever since. It’s brilliant. We particularly like the line about “Spinning around in my underwear.” It’s how the song makes us feel.
5. Milkman (streaming below) clocks in at just over 2 minutes. Another one of their songs, the visceral I Remember is one minutes and forty seven seconds long. We imagine their live shows are short sharp noisy sweaty shocks to the system.
6. They’re the sort of band that in the early 90’s would have been guaranteed a slot on TV show The Word, having just the right mix of indie, alt-power pop and punk. Wouldn't it be good to have a show that featured bands like Bully on mainstream terrestrial TV again? Or does nobody care anymore?
7. They’re coming to the UK in Spring (dates here) and it appears they’re playing the super huge Corn Exchange in Brighton at the Great Escape festival. Our guess is this will be an NME sponsored show.
8. They played quite a few gigs at this year’s SXSW festival, and all the feedback we saw online was positive.
9. As far as we’re aware Milkman is nothing to do with Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In The West (here).
10. They have a drummer called Stewart Copeland. The drummer in The Police was also called Stewart Copeland. We assume they’re not the same person. But if Alicia changes her name to Sting we’ll be suspicious.
*Just in case you don’t know about them yet – as although we’re featuring them in this introducing piece they’ve actually been around since 2013 when they put out an eponymous EP and 7” single).
Bully - Milkman
Big chorus alert. “You’re my S.O.S, B.A.B.Y baby,” chants Femme on this rather thunderous piece of pop. What was it Meghan Trainor said? Oh yes, it’s all about that bass. Well there’s certainly plenty of arse clenching deep stuff on this one – we’re imagining fit young scantily clad men and women up on podiums ‘in da club’ shaking their thing whilst S.O.S crashes hard through a gigantic f*ck off sound system. This is definitely pop music to play loud. Even better, it’s being released by a rejuvenated ZTT, the people who brought some of the most exciting, adventurous pop music to the 80’s with records by the likes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Grace Jones and Propaganda. The only question that still needs answering is why isn’t Femme up there with the big pop guns yet? She should be. As far as bangers go, this one’s a juggernaut.
Femme - S.O.S
Friday, 20 March 2015
RIVRS are the latest bad spelling, search engine optimised, London based electronic trio to crop up on the Breaking More Waves radar, and we’re rather glad they did. Charlotte, Fin and Fred are purveyors of slick sophisticated sultry modern pop, and have managed to cross our path three times now, through their cover of En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go, (under an earlier name) their rather compelling and danceable song Close To You and now with Last Love, a track on the latest Kitsuné New Faces compilation. The eagle eyed among you might also recognise one member of RIVRS, Fred McLaren, as the drummer was previously a member of the band Post War Years.
RIVRS music is the equivalent of champagne - classy and highly enjoyable. Take a listen below and let them hit your taste buds.
RIVRS - Close To You
RIVRS - Last Love
RIVRS music is the equivalent of champagne - classy and highly enjoyable. Take a listen below and let them hit your taste buds.
RIVRS - Close To You
RIVRS - Last Love
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Today our first festival preview for 2015.....
If you’ve looked at any music media this week you could quite easily be mistaken and have been led to believe that there are only two festivals in the world this year, namely Glastonbury and South By Southwest. The Kanye for Glastonbury announcement and the reaction of the conservative ‘real music’ moaners (which we wrote about on Tuesday – here) picked up numerous headlines. And in a similar overload, online music social media has been full of South by Southwest commentary from those there.
Of course the two events are huge beasts and accompanying their scale comes expense; these are festivals that only the privileged can attend. Back in 1990 a ticket for Glastonbury cost £38, in 2004 it was £112. This year it is £220.
However, for those on a cheaper budget there are other options.
One such option is Reading’s Are You Listening? Now in its third year AYL gives you over 60 acts playing in 8 venues on one day in Reading centre. Of course the likes of Kanye and The Foo Fighters won’t be there, but you will find God Damn, who are currently running amok at SXSW, alongside a number of acts who are likely to familiar to you such as Pulled Apart By Horses, Smoke Fairies and DJ John Kennedy from XFM. The price? A tiny £12 (or £10 if you got in early) and if you're London based it's not too difficult to catch a train home and be safely tucked up in bed after. Plus for your £12 you also know that you’re doing some good in the world, as the event supports Reading Mencap, a local charity that supports people with learning disabilities and their families. In the previous two years AYL has raised a fantastic £16,000 for this charity. This is an event with its heart truly in the right place.
Breaking More Waves has been in attendance at each AYL (read our review of last year here – we called it a belter) and once again it will be our Reading festival of choice in 2015 rather than the bigger, nastier, smellier one just down the road. Why not join us there? You can't get much better value for money.
Are You Listening takes place on the 18th April 2015. Grab your multi venue wristband by clicking here and see the full line up here.
Still not convinced? Check out this video which shows footage from last year and has interviews with the organisers.
Of course no festival preview would be complete without some recommendations from Breaking More Waves of acts to catch. Here are 5 playing this year’s event on our must see list (timetable and line up clashes permitting of course!). See you down the front.
Blog Sound of 2014 and 2015 nominee and an often featured artist on Breaking More Waves. Beautifully melancholy and emotional songs that will strike you and make your insides flutter.
Oxford-based electronic project who have been compared to Caribou and Four Tet and are inspired by house and techno but add flourishes of ambient sound and even post-rock guitar to their grooves.
Another artist who has been featured multiple times on Breaking More Waves who makes engaging pop with an attractive openness to it.
BBC Berkshire Introducing demo panel winner Shannon Wardrop brings a bit of grit and raw-heartedness to her guitar driven songs. Quite possibly the cream of this years local / Berkshire acts on the bill.
Hart is London based singer/ songwriter Daniel Pattison who has come from a folk background to create something with a far wider scope, topped off with angelic falsetto vocals not dissimilar to Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow.
Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Here’s a swish, cinematic piece of pop from Black Coast (producer Stan Rapoport). Having already pressed music bloggers buttons with the songs TRNDSTTR and Enough (which we featured here) he returns once again with vocalist M. Maggie in tow. However, despite the fact that this is Black Coast’s third song and each one has featured the same vocalist, Stan has clarified that Black Coast is not a duo. “It has definitely been confusing for everyone to see three songs come out back to back from two collaborators who aren’t in an actual band together. I think Maggie and I are enjoying the freedom to constantly write with other people and be able to switch things up,” Stan told go to blog / website Hilly Dilly earlier today.
Ride is affirmation that Black Coast knows how to put a song together. There’s a hint of Ultravox’s Vienna in those first few seconds (always a good thing) before the tune gradually grows through gentle and considered restraint to something more powerful, without ever being bombastic. If you’re a fan of the more melancholy side of pop music that we post a fair amount of on Breaking More Waves, you’ll like this.
Black Coast - Ride ft M.Maggie
Are you one of those so called ‘music fans’ who believes that the likes of hip-hop, pop, and electronica aren't ‘real types of music’ or even isn’t music at all? Are you one of those rockist bores who has got a bit moany and signed this petition against the fact that Kanye West is headlining Glastonbury, calling his appearance 'an insult to music fans all over the world'? Do you believe the dated and frankly ridiculous philosophy that pretentiousness and ego has no place in modern music?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then we have some good news for you, because today we’re streaming the new video from Rag ‘N Bone Man, and this one’s full of big guitar riffs and firmly masculine vocals. You’ll probably like it. It probably fits your narrowminded f*ckwits view of 'real music' and 'talent' and 'honesty'.
We agree that it's bloody good.
But if you are one of those sad people who seems unable to acknowledge that:
1. You bought a ticket before the line up was announced and therefore need to accept that the line up may not meet your expectations. It’s a bit like an old age pensioner booking a mystery coach tour and then complaining when it ends up in Hull because they were expecting Devon.
2.Glastonbury festival has a multitude of stages – you don’t need to stay at the Pyramid if you don’t like what’s on.
3. The diversity of music and the new stones that it turns over is a beautiful thing.
4. Glastonbury Festival isn't run just for your personal enjoyment.
And if you do think that only rock acts should headline Glastonbury, then you’re probably also the sort of person that thinks that you should only have sex in one position, because ‘that’s the way it should be done’, then we also have news for you.
Because guess what? Rag ‘N’ Bone Man doesn’t just do rock. He does blues, he does soul, he does gospel, he does funk and yes, HE DOES HIP HOP AS WELL.
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man gets it.
Here's his new video. Enjoy Hard Came The Rain, which Rag ‘N’ Bone Man explains as follows: “I came up with the idea of the video half way through the writing process. I was inspired while watching True Romance and seeing the high energy and the tension between the couple. I wanted to convey the frustration of a volatile relationship.”
See you in the fields of Glastonbury (possibly) – a festival that represents all musical types for all the people, not just those who only enjoy the musical equivalent of just the missionary position in Devon.
Rag 'N' Bone Man - Hard Comes The Rain (Video)
Monday, 16 March 2015
It’s amazing what you can do with a body, a bit of muddy grassland and some sheets of plastic. Ok, reality check, there’s probably not a huge amount you can do, but certainly Golden Fable have made a very good effort with this new video for the song Lifeline. This one’s a bit creepy / disturbing in a Truman Show / Under The Dome sort of way (you'll see what we mean as you watch) – just on a much smaller budget.
Lifeline itself isn’t small on a budget of ideas though, with Rebecca’s voice soaring high (quite literally) into the landscape over a softly building blend of acoustic led indie pop and piano keys. It really does make everything seem OK.
Golden Fable hit SXSW, Austin, Texas on the 19th and 20th March where they’ll be doing their bit representing Wales, before returning to the UK for a gig at Sound Control, Manchester on 31st March. Lifeline is taken from Golden Fable's second LP Ancient Blue and is released as a single on the 23rd March through Full Of Joy Records.
Golden Fable - Lifeline (Video)
Sunday, 15 March 2015
When you read music journalism have you ever considered how the writer in question has listened to the music? This might seem like an odd question, but did you know that there are over 20 different ways of doing so? If you enjoy a certain writer's style it may be because you both listen to music in the same sort of way.
For example if you’re a programmatic listener you will catch yourself finding non-musical references in the music, creating images or visualising certain scenes. However if you’re an innovation listener you will attempt to pick out sounds or constructs within the music you haven’t heard before – the novelty aspect will appeal. Or maybe you’re an emotional listener, wanting the music to create a sense of feeling within you – a lump in the throat or a smile. Often we listen in more than way, but we all almost certainly have dominant styles. If you want to see all these styles and identify what ones you most often click this link.
Why do we mention this? The answer is because of The Bird by Kathryn Joseph. It’s an incredibly absorbing tune, created from Kathryn’s eerie wavering vocal and haunting desolate piano keys. If anything it sounds a little creepy, as if it's crawled from the crypt. It gets under the skin; but in a good way.
The Bird stopped us in our tracks the moment we first heard it. There were goosebumps. According to the list of listening styles, this was ecstatic listening, the music creating a physiological response – a frisson. We’d take a guess we probably aren’t the only ones who have had this sensation. Certainly Joseph has already been noticed by some other music blogs such as Scottish Fiction, Just Music I Like and Gold Flake Paint and now somewhat belatedly we’re adding our name to that list.
Kathryn Joseph’s album Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled is out now. You can buy it by clicking here.
Kathryn Joseph - The Bird
Friday, 13 March 2015
Is Huntar still a mystery artist? We only ask because now there’s a new picture of him (above), which if we’re not mistaken looks a bit like this lad (see here). If that’s correct then Wikipedia is also right. And if they’re all correct then our suggestion in a previous blog post from last September that he may have already had some sort of fledgling musical career as an Ed Sheeran / Lewis Watson styled troubadour but decided to try something different and felt it should go under a different name seems to have been pretty bang on.
So with that out of the way let’s get to the music, because this is a music blog not a detective agency.
Love I Know is the first track from Huntar’s next EP which arrives on the 4th May and is distinctly in the camp of the r ‘n’ b key pushers and knob twiddlers that have become common place since the arrival of the likes of James Blake / The Weeknd etc. This one’s no sex sizzler like The Weeknd though. No, this is more relationship gone tits up than anything else. “We’ve been fighting way too long, don’t walk away from me, stepping backwards seems so wrong,” he sings against oppressively tasteful electronic atmospherics before he pleads that he can give all the love he knows in the chorus. But maybe it’s all too late?
Huntar - Love I Know
Thursday, 12 March 2015
A few words about some of the philosophy and idea behind the blog and why we do it. If this navel gazing type of post bores the pants of you, then just skip to the bottom and press play.
Two of the things we’ve always prided ourselves on at Breaking More Waves are being fully independent from both the music industry (yes, there are blogs out there who are written by people who work in the industry, writing about acts that they have a financial interest in, who don’t give full disclosure of the fact) and the critics. In the early days of the blog we carried reviews of albums and attempted to deliver critical analysis of music, but eventually came to the conclusion that we didn’t see the point of spending hours critiquing something and giving it a panning when we weren’t being paid for it – we’d rather spend our spare time being positive about music we like and acting as a ‘fan blog’.
And as a non-industry fan blog this means that we’ll often feature artists that we’re fans of multiple times, irrespective of if they’re signed or unsigned, popular or not. It's a fact that there are certain blogs that won't cover an artist beyond the initial tentative first footsteps of their career. We're not suggesting that this is right or wrong to do so, each blog is the product of its author's mind and should be allowed the freedom to cover what it wants, but it's not our approach to hump and dump every artist we cover. Sometimes we like to be in it for the long haul. True love rather than quickie romance if you will.
Can you guess who the most featured artist is on Breaking More Waves over the years? It’s this lass (click here). We couldn't think of a better act to demonstrate our approach than her - from blog buzz / Sound of predictions through to major label and then going her own independent way - we've written about her all the way.
One other band that has become a blog regular through our fan based approach is The Night VI. That coverage has extended from lead singer Sophie-Rose Harper’s early solo days, through to when we featured them as just The Night through to the addition of the roman numerals to their name. Over that journey we’ve noticed a swell in coverage from other music blogs (hurrah) and whilst popularity on the internet doesn’t always translate into real tangible substance such as music or ticket sales, certainly the couple of times we’ve seen The Night VI they seem to be pulling half decent audiences in.
Today The Night VI release their latest tune to woo a few more lovers into their musical clutches. It’s a song about a love triangle, sung as a duet between lead vocalist Sophie-Rose and vocalist/keys player Kristy – Abba are a point of reference for what the band were going for here in terms of that vocal delivery. Once again the song features all those things that made us fall in love with The Night VI in the first place; smooth harmonies, well-structured songs and musicianship that when you close your eyes takes you somewhere else. It will be interesting to see with this one if The Night VI remain a favourite in the blogosphere or if the fickle bloggers will be off to pastures new, considering the band a bit 'old hat' by now. There's no chance of that with us though. This is delightful. We’re still in the fan club.
Turn Your Light On Me will feature on an EP the band plan to release in September. You can pre-order from this link.
The Night VI - Turn Your Light On Me
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Now here’s a tune. No, it's not a cover of THAT Frozen song.
This one’s a rather infectious piece of beat laden electronic pop from Tamara Schlesinger, formerly an international gymnast, fashion designer and member of 6 Day Riot who now goes under the name of Malka. Believe us, she’s really taking it on with this, quite literally.
“Take ’em on, take on the preachers. Take ‘em on take on the world,” she sings and we guarantee that by the time the fuzzed up electronics, tribal drums and nursery rhyme vocals go bang bang bang inside your head you’ll be begging for more. If Bananarama had been listening to Paper Planes by M.I.A and (most importantly) the much covered New Orleans song Iko Iko and had decided to record a new single we guess it would sound something like this.
What was it Kylie sang? Oh yes, we can’t get this one out our head.
Malka is releasing her forthcoming album Marching To Another Beat via a Pledge campaign, which is already fully funded. Full details can be found on this link.
As we said, now here's a tune.
Malka - Let It Go
Tuesday, 10 March 2015
As much as we sometimes like to rant about the banality of many lyrics in today's pop music (fact: if an artist sings a song that mentions being ‘in da club’ it’s over between them and us, irrespective of who they are) we’re partial to a big woah-oh-oh chorus. Contradictions eh? And there’s a big woah-oh-oh in the new hook littered pop gold nugget New Obsession from West Coast U.S newcomer Frankie. “I don’t want to be your best friend, just let me be your new obsession,” she sings pleading not only to that person who she wants to be something more to but us as an audience as well.
This one’s so catchy you’re going to need some very strong medicine if you don’t want to get it. If you only listen to ‘alternative’ music, you’ll probably hate it, but if you just care for a good tune, this will make your day that much better. Oh and yes, it does sound a bit nu-TS* doesn’t it?
Frankie - New Obsession
Whilst we hang around impatiently waiting for a new Grimes LP, yesterday the lady herself sowed a new seed of musical fertility. Not that this seed is about to sprout an album, because this one is a bit of an old cast off. Even the bad spelling of the title is so 2012/3. But at least it tempers our frustration a little.
“Lost the ableton file, so it’s not mixed or mastered,” Grimes wrote in the description with this video. “I tried to doctor the mp3 into a listenable state, but it was poorly recorded in the first place and never meant to be heard by anyone, so it’s a bit of a mess haha.”
Well this ‘bit of a mess’ sounds fine to us. It could have easily sat quite comfortably on Visions, floating along on a far gentler groove than the more GO-FOR-THE-DROP EDM / Trap influenced Go. What Claire comes up with when the album finally gets a release remains to be seen, but this does the job for now.
Grimes - REALiTi (Video)
Monday, 9 March 2015
What’s this? Surely not a cover of the 1983 Kajagoogoo ‘classic’? Sadly not, but before we go on let’s just pause for a moment and remember….
(Click here for the pause)
The haircuts !!!!
The fact that that was basically a one minute thirty second song extended to three minutes just by repeating the chorus over and over again !!!!
It was a number 1 hit single !!!!
Fast forward three decades and Shura is the next one to bring us 2Shy. There’s a few more words than Kajagoogoo, the haircut’s less silly, but the music’s ravishing, Shura sounding like the girl that’s been left standing on the side of the dancefloor at the 80’s tinged disco whilst the glitterball spins and everything goes a bit soft focus and gooey.
Kajagoogoo your time is up. (Actually it was up by the end of 1984, showing just what a fickle game pop can be.)
Shura - 2Shy
We’re not sure if we’ve ever heard an electronic pop song sung in Welsh before today, but then we hadn’t listened to Hardd by Casi Wyn. Then we did and even although we’ve absolutely no idea what she’s singing about, (let’s hope it’s nothing too rude or controversial) its sound is haunting and seductively lush enough to find us not caring. It’s no wonder that Casi was chosen last year as one of twelve Welsh artists to be part of Horizon, a partnership between BBC Cymru Wales and the Arts Council of Wales, to support and promote emerging Welsh music. You can hear Hardd by clicking here.
Nearly one year on from Casi’s inclusion in that project we get Roads, which finds her growing in confidence as an artist, adding soft R&B beats to her lilting accent and a ghostly otherworldly electronic production. It all makes for a fascinating and rather impressively dreamy concoction from this Bangor singer who is currently studying in London.
Casi - Roads
Friday, 6 March 2015
The Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition gives new and unsigned artists from the UK and Ireland the chance to compete for a slot on one of the main stages at the world’s most famous festival. Today the longlist of 120 acts selected by the first round judges (including Breaking More Waves) was published. This longlist will be cut down into a shortlist of just 8 by another group of judges. The lucky 8 will then be invited to play at a live final in Pilton in April to decide the winner.
It’s the fourth time that Breaking More Waves has been involved in judging the opening round of the competition, which this year had in the region of 7,000 entries. For 2015, for our part, we listened to just over 150 acts from a variety of genres from folk, indie, rock, pop, soul, electronic and more and were asked to choose 3 for the longlist.
Our three choices are:
1st Felix Hagan & The Family
Brilliantly absurd and dandyish musical theatre that will have you dancing on the tables. Our number 1 choice.
Already featured a number of times on Breaking More Waves. Hazy, melancholy, ethereal pop that twinkles and shimmers with loveliness. For fans of Beach House and 80's indie.
A bit of a ‘wild card’ choice perhaps, but this confusing multi-genre embracing alt pop/rock full of hyperactivity stood out for its plethora of ideas.
We’re looking forward to listening to all the acts nominated, and of course seeing who the long list judges choose for the live final. In previous years some of the bands who have made the longlist (but don't necessarily make the shortlist) go on to do well anyway, even if they don't make the final. For example the likes of Circa Waves, Laura Doggett and Slaves have all cropped up on this list and have then gone on to get record deals.
You can see the full longlist for 2015 here and listen to most of the nominated acts here, except for a small handful who didn't supply a public link to the song they entered, including one of our own choices Wyldest (although you can hear their new single above).
Thursday, 5 March 2015
As soon as this new Låpsley video for Brownlow was released yesterday virtually every new music site in our land (and other lands) rushed to post it. A day after, the video still has just around 4,000 views so we figure there’s a hell of a lot of people out there who don’t click play as soon as something new is posted, so a more leisurely and less rushed post is still worth the time.
Here’s the key facts you need to know about Brownlow:
1. The song is taken from her Understudy EP, which is a very good EP. In fact we have a spreadsheet called Favourite EPs of 2015 and it is listed on that spreadsheet. Having said that there are only 2 other EPs listed right now, which suggests we either have very high standards or actually haven’t listened to that many new EPs this year. See if you can guess which it is.
2. There’s a mellow bouncy bass sound in Brownlow which sounds very much like the bouncy bass sounds that bald headed techno brothers Orbital used to make. This is also a good thing. More bouncy bald brother bass please.
3. The video is basically Låpsley riding around in a car a bit and being ‘in da club’. Thankfully she has yet to write a song with lyrics that revolve around her being ‘in da club’ but if she does we may have to reconsider our position on her as that would not be a good thing. This song, as far as we can tell, is about living for the moment and seeing what happens, with lyrics about jumping into a pool and not knowing where the bottom is. Dangerous but exciting. Especially if you can't swim.
4. Låpsley was the winner of the Blog Sound of 2015 poll. This was also a good thing – she was one of our votes.
5. She’s playing some live shows and festivals soon. Dates (here). Another good thing.
In summary Låpsley + music = a good thing.
Låpsley - Brownlow (Video)
Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Remember 27 Club by Chløë Black? It was one of the underground pop tunes of 2014 and garnered Chløë a place on this blog's 10 Ones to Watch 2015 list. Well, the good news is that it’s now getting an official release via an EP which includes the song, a remix by one of our other Ones to Watch (Elderbrook) and another track Cruel Intentions. This also means that there’s a new video for the song. It’s fair to say that this one is a bit slicker and ghoulishly film-noir stylish than the previous one – the message of the film seeming to be that if when eating your tea a flower pops out of your mouth, get ready to say your goodbyes.
In more Ones to Watch news Chløë is also going to be out on the road supporting yet another of the names on our list – Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (it’s almost as if we planned this with some sort of inside knowledge – we didn’t!) with dates in Norwich and Southampton. She also supports Rhodes at Village Underground in London and Kiesza at Shepherds Bush Empire. So if you have tickets to any of these shows do whatever it takes to get there early. Shove a flower violently in your bosses mouth at tea break if he or she won't let you sneak off a bit early to get there in time if you have to.
Just to make things clear – this is a 10/10 pop song and Chløë Black looks like she is a singer of near 10/10 proportions. If you go to see her alongside Rag 'N' Bone Man it's basically going to be like an episode of The Voice, without the swivel chairs and everything that is annoying about the show taken out and extra layers of darkness thrown in.
Chløë Black - 27 Club (New Video)
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
If you follow us on Twitter you might have seen us grumbling recently about ‘premieres.’ It seems to us that music industry protocol decrees that every new song released must have some sort of premiere or exclusive coverage. Whether you’re Arcade Fire premiering your new video on Pitchfork or a lo-fi indie band with your latest slice of dirty noise streaming exclusively on some small scale d-i-y music blog, helping you to sell 50 copies of your latest vinyl release, if you haven’t got one, it seems as if you’re worth nothing in certain sectors.
But frankly we couldn’t give a flying fig about premieres / exclusives. Apologies now to bands and PR companies who offer them to us when they get an email back that says ‘yes this is good and we’re going to post it but we’re not bothered about going first with it, see if you can find someone else who this sort of thing is important to’ response.
There’s a really great post about these things on Song By Toad called Why EXCLUSIVES!!! Make Me Hate Music. It’s kind of funny, kind of rude, but it hits the nail on the head from where we’re coming from. We're glad we're not the only ones who think this way. Basically these things are 99% of the time about desperation and attention. Have a read (and a giggle – we did) here.
Why do we mention this? Because of this new song by a new act that goes by the name of The Japanese House, who according to twitter is actually a singer called Amber Bain. A quick google search of Amber reveals that she may have released some past material under other names, although we’re unable to 100% confirm this.
The Japanese House is due to release a debut EP Pools To Bathe In through Dirty Hit (home of The 1975, Wolf Alice and Marika Hackman) on the 27th April. But here’s the thing; it had its radio premiere on Zane Lowe last night, then its blog premiere on Noisey. So, by the rules of premieres and exclusives it’s already asserted itself as being a moderately important record by industry types.
This of course all sounds rather cynical on our part – but when it comes to the music, we’re not. Why? Because it wins. Still, the first track from The Japanese House fits perfectly in with the zeitgeist, with electronically filtered vocals and chilled studio electronics that are the equivalent of a lush pile carpet. But under all that trickery is the important stuff – a melody, and a rather alluring one at that.
The Japanese House - Still