Friday, 30 January 2015

Albums of 2015 - Our End Of Year List !

Towards the end of 2014, like every blog / website / music fan that likes to make sense of the musical year and document things for future reference, we published our end of year album list. It’s what Bob Stanley in his epic tome The History of Modern Pop would describe as ‘competition, excitement in league table form, pop music as a sport’. As Bob suggests, charts are very British thing, ‘fuel for a nation obsessed with train numbers and cricket statistics’.

However, our end of year list wasn’t just one short rushed blog post decided on the spur of the moment but a reasonably weighty series of posts (see here). The positions of each album was simply but carefully calculated based on the number of times we’d played the album that year, the results being modified to account for the number of months since the album first reached our ears. The idea was simple - our favourite must be the one we had played the most.

Yes, we were sad and geeky enough to record our listening history over 365 days, with all the complications that brings; multiple listens to one CD on a car journey and forgetting how many times we played it, part plays of albums etc.

We’ll be doing something similar at the end of 2015, but quite clearly our end of year list is an ongoing project. So what does it look like after nearly one month? The graph above shows the results. As you can see we’ve listened to Charli XCX’s Sucker a lot. Full disclosure: Charli’s album isn’t released in the UK yet but we imported it from the U.S via Amazon where it’s already out. Also The Staves and The Shires records are advance copies from their respective labels, they're not due for public consumption for a few more weeks.

So there you have it, our Albums of 2015 list (work in progress). Will any of those make it through to December? Time will tell.

This is our last post on Breaking More Waves for a week whilst we take a short break. Normal posting will resume sometime around the 9th of February (edit - we'll be coming back a bit earlier on the 7th). We'll still be posting on Twitter (here) though.

Plastic Mermaids - Playing In Your Mind (Video)

Inhale The Universe EP from Isle of Wight psychedelic folk types Plastic Mermaids is the follow up to their debut Drømtorp . From it comes Playing In Your Mind a song that manages to capture the more tender feathery moments of Blur’s output alongside the mystic swirls of the Flaming Lips; this is no bad thing.

It’s got lines about “wandering through the pastures, looking back at our disasters,” or at least we think that's what is sung. Or is it past years not pastures? We’re not sure, so we’re saying it’s pastures, because that sounds weirder and therefore more fun, even though past years makes more sense. Then there’s spacey electronic noises that go oo-ee-oo-ee-oo, acoustic strums that sound giddily romantic and the most gloriously bonkers video you’ll see all week. Here you’ll find mannequins galore, upward ‘falling’ ticker tape, facial parts on drums, masks, journey’s into the mouth, stop motion a plenty and a rainbow of colourfully absurd ideas. Someone give them a decent budget so that they can build some of this vision into a live show of equal merit please. 

Inhale The Universe is released on the 9th March on Cross Keys Records. For now enjoy Playing In Your Mind’s beautiful oddball magnificence.

Plastic Mermaids - Playing In Your Mind (Video)

Emily Burns - Homewrecker

“Lord I’m a homewrecker,” Emily Burns sings on her new spicy not-giving-a-damn pop jam and for a moment you can’t be anything but a little bit taken back. After all Emily sounds such a nice person and yet here she is getting all lusty about someone that she probably really shouldn’t. She knows it as well: “I don’t want to be a homewrecker, I just can’t seem to get over ya.” It will all end in tears we can assure you.

Whatever naughtiness Emily has been up to, we’re immorally glad she has though, as this one grinds and grooves in all the right places, armed with of the moment r’n’b flavours and an earworm of a chorus. On the evidence of the material she’s released to date, we think it’s time someone gave Emily Burns a record deal. Come on music industry.

Emily Burns - Homewrecker

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Laura Doggett - Old Faces (Video)

Laura Doggett has started 2015 in a way that many new artists can only dream of. Her song Old Faces has had national exposure in the UK thanks to featuring on the trailer for popular TV series Broadchurch and found its way on to BBC Radio 1 via the In New Music We Trust part of the playlist. Then there was her stunning concert by candlelight in the intimate setting of the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse in London, a breathtakingly beautiful Jacobean style galleried theatre space. We were lucky enough to catch the show. Not only did it show off Laura’s incredible deep-set vocal talent (keep an ear out for Beautiful Undone, which if the studio version is anything like the live take will have you physically and emotionally melting), but also her charmingly sweet personality that almost seemed at odds with her singing voice. 

So a good start to our #1 One to Watch for 2015.

Whilst there has already been a studio performance film for Old Faces, yesterday saw the release of the fully choreographed video proper, a simple but stylish black and white piece which finds Laura in almost goddess like form. We’re streaming that below.

If you want to go and see Laura, various opportunities are cropping up, including this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton, supporting BBC Sound of winners Years & Years in London in March and most importantly her own mini homecoming headline tour of the west of England, supported by none other than an artist who we’ve championed almost to excess over the last few years – Alice Jemima. Alice may have nearly disappeared of the musical scene over the last year, (whilst hitting over 2 million plays on her Soundcloud) but keep an eye and ear out for her in 2015, as things are just beginning to bubble. Tickets for the mini tour can be found here.

Laura Doggett - Old Faces (Video)

How Much Do You Spend On Recorded Music?

Last year on Breaking More Waves we conducted a project to record exactly (down to the penny) how much we spent on live music; not only the amount we paid for tickets, but associated costs such as travel, drinks, merchandise and accommodation. (You can find it here). The project was well received and so for 2015 we thought we’d try something similar and document everything we spend on recorded music. 

What we’re interested in is not just the amount, but the forms we consume music in and where we purchase from. Are we the great saviour of independent record shops, an iTunes whore or has Spotify killed our music purchasing dead? Is it all just stream, stream, stream? Or is there just so much free music out there that we don’t need to spend at all? What do you spend on music a month? Do you believe it is important to part with cash for music or do you think it no longer has any value in the recorded form?

With the live music project we provided a monthly report, however, for this project we’ll be posting a little more intermittently, with maybe 4 or 5 blog posts during the course of the year.

We’re really not sure what we’ll find out or conclude at this stage, but here are the statistics taken from our lovingly created spreadsheet as we near the end of the first month. The data is for up to midnight on the 28th January (see also the notes at the bottom of this post).

Recorded Music Spend 2015

Number of LPs purchased:  5

Number of EPs purchased: 3

Number of singles purchased: 0

Total % spend on formats

Where the money was spent 

As you can see in January we haven't spent a penny in record stores, all of our spending has been on line, most of it with Amazon. 

Some music nerds might suggest that buying from Amazon and not from an independent record store somehow makes us less of a 'true music fan', there's an implied lack of effort from just buying from Amazon as well as the moral issue of supporting your local business or a global one. On the other hand we could argue that spending £15 on vinyl LP a month from an indie store makes you less of a music fan than someone who buys multiple records and spends a vast amount more in doing so from Amazon. We'll leave that debate for you to ponder on - maybe that debate is a pointless one anyway? Does anyone care how big a fan you are? 

As far as what retailers we've used, we suspect that as the year goes on this will change, but it will be interesting to see what the final split on spending is and what our underlying reasons for choosing that method of purchase are. 

And now the all important figure..... 

The total spend for January 2015 was £85.76

We'd be interested to hear roughly how much you spend, what format you choose and where you buy your music from. Feel free to comment below, or as seems to be the preferred method these days, let us know on Twitter.

Notes (for those of you like us who like to know the geeky detail)

*We’ve included records that we’ve pre-ordered this month, even if they’ve yet to be received or released.

**Where a record comes in a bundled package such as CD + Download or Vinyl + Download we’ve counted the physical item rather than the download.

*** Where ordering online (in this case all purchases) we’ve included the cost of postage and packing.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Kate Tempest - Bad Place For A Good Time

It was a joy to listen to Kate Tempest being interviewed about her Mercury prize nomination last year. There was a refreshing positivity to Kate’s words and expression, thankful for the fact that people were understanding the intention of her record that she described as ‘a ridiculous album that we were so excited about.’ Now with a UK tour just around the corner, starting in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth, there’s a new non-album track, Bad Place For A Good Time, out for your listening pleasure.

Once more it’s Kate’s love of words that comes across immediately, creating evocative imagery of the city over a solemn piano, buzzy electronics and beats. “There must be more to life than pixels,” Kate raps and initially it seems to be a down and world weary track, but then Kate finds hope: “There’s always some small bit of peace to be found,” she concludes. 

Kate Tempest is pretty damn special.

Kate Tempest - Bad Place For A Good Time

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Slow Club - Tears Of Joy (Video)

What would it be like to be on tour? If your brain operates in any way similar to ours and you’re not a musician or part of their team you’ll probably have pondered this question at some point in your life.*

It seems to us that bands can spend an awful lot of time sitting in a tour bus / van / car doing nothing of any real value. Some of the possible options to fill that time seem to be:

1. The tired / lazy option: Basically sleeping and not a lot else.

2. The rock n roll option : This probably involves lots of booze, lots of drugs and lots of sex with people that you probably wouldn’t be having sex with if it wasn’t for the fact that you are in a band. This option is probably less realistic in the car or van scenario unless you have very open minded band mates and is more likely in the bus scenario. Basically the larger the band the greater opportunity for bad behavior.

3. The keeping yourself busy with stuff that is designed to keep yourself busy option: Video games, books, films, listening to music, facebook, twitter or inventing your own entertainment such as playing noughts and crosses on misted up windows or a jolly game of charades / I spy etc.

4. The writing new music option: We once heard a rumour that David Guetta writes a new track on his laptop every time he takes a flight. This would explain a lot. 

5. The business option: Everything from sorting out your accounts to doing radio interviews over the phone. Fundamentally everything else that is associated with the music business that isn’t about creating music. This is the efficient band's option of choice.

6. The annoying option: Fundamentally stemming from being bored and not being able to do any of the above, this option involves doing anything that annoys your travel partners, often when they’re trying to do something else. 

7. The filming the dreaded ‘tour highlights’ video option: Which will involve you staring out of the window looking thoughtful, you getting up to some high 'comedy jinx' and quite possibly you strumming an acoustic guitar.

Here’s a new video for Slow Club’s Tears of Joy from one of our most played records of 2014, Complete Surrender. It’s THAT dreaded tour highlights film, in which we see the group ticking off a number of the above including the tired / lazy option and the keeping themselves busy option (noughts and crosses feature). Thankfully there's none of the sexy druggy rock ‘n’ roll option. 

There’s also a model railway, which is nice. And some previously unseen footage of Charles ‘keeping it real’ and doing some ironing. You wouldn’t get that from Lady Gaga would you?

*Footnote: If any bands that we like would like to invite us on tour for a week, we’d be more than happy to oblige. We’re pretty clean, well behaved and easy to get on with, so we wouldn’t be any bother. We could probably write a blog about it and make you world famous. Possibly. Thanks.

Slow Club - Tears Of Joy (Video)

Arctic Lake - New Waves

It’s difficult when you’re in the middle of something to see how it looks from the outside, but we’re taking a stab that when people look back at pop music from the last few years they’ll probably view artists such as The XX and James Blake as defining the agenda. For many bands and solo artists that have followed seem to have relinquished the idea of youth culture and pop being something that bangs with energy and chaos and instead redefined it with minimalism and a certain languid style of delivery. From chart stars like London Grammar to newcomers such as Låpsley, young musicians are adopting an unhurried and mellow approach to music.

So new North London three piece Arctic Lake fit very nicely with the zeitgeist. Their song Limits is full of slow warm digital sighs and just the simplest of beats. Those comparisons with London Grammar have already started and to that we’d like to add another Breaking More Waves favourite - Aquilo. If you want music that sounds like it’s up for a fight, Limits isn’t it. But if you want something that’s chilled to perfection and beautifully executed, you've come to the right place.

Arctic Lake - Limits

Monday, 26 January 2015

Stornoway - The Road You Didn't Take (Video)

If there’s one thing that makes Stornoway such a good band (besides good songs obviously) it’s that they are the antithesis of the In Da Club / Do What We Want Without Giving A Shit culture that has grown up around pop music over the last few years. They’re a group with a wider perspective on the world and a real sense of identity and character. Imagine if Jessie J / Rita Ora / Nicki Minaj etc became Dr’s of Ornithology and titled their albums after a Hebridean seabird stating that they  “wanted to feel more connected to the outdoors “ and “wanted to feel small,” as they moved to wilder corner of Britain. Of course it couldn’t be guaranteed to make their homogenous pop music any more interesting, but maybe at least they’d be singing about something a little less inane than: “Bang bang into the room, I know you want it, bang bang all over you, I'll let you have it,” or whatever nonsense they’re yelping about this time.

So here’s Stornoway’s latest; The Road You Didn’t Take. It’s a gentle piece of pastoral folk pop that has an airy and weightless sound to it. You’ll never hear this one in da club thankfully although if you do, let us know and we'll come and have a little sway around with you on the dancefloor. 

Stornoway release their third album Bonxie (it’s that seabird we mentioned, also known as a great skua) on the 13th April via Cooking Vinyl. Bizarrely the album was produced by Gil Norton, better known for his production work with rockers such as Pixies, Foo Fighters and Twin Atlantic.

Stornoway -The Road You Didn't Take (Video)

Archis - New Waves

Coming our way today via Neon Gold we’re introducing Archis, the project of Dia Frampton (you may remember her from Meg & Dia days) and Joseph Trapanese. Their song Blood is so vast, so wide screen, so infinitely monumental that calling it pop seems to do the song a disservice. But pop it is, albeit pop that has broader shoulders than anything we’ve heard for quite a while. Take a listen and once you have heard the tune's luscious composition it will come as no surprise to learn that Trapanese has experience working on film scores; for this is as cinematic as you can get. There’s strings, there’s big military drums and yet there’s also moments of softness as warm keys embrace Dia’s entry into the arena, before Blood rises up with its ‘let’s go for blood’ clarion call and slays everything in its wake. Stunning.

Archis release their debut EP on February 23rd via Nettwerk. 

Archis - Blood

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lilla Vargen - New Waves

If you look at the various online profiles for Lilla Vargen you’ll find that right now there as many music blogs / writers following her as anyone else. This comes as no surprise; after all one of the main reasons why people visit new music blogs is to discover new talent and so bloggers have to keep up to date if their blogs are to be of any value. And Vargen is very new. Her debut song This Is Love has only been on line less than a week and currently has under 4,000 plays on Soundcloud. 

What surprises and intrigues us about this little bit of blog buzz is why so many bloggers have gone for this song. Not because it isn’t good, far from it, it’s an exquisitely crafted and beautifully sad piece of work. But This Is Love is a rather old fashioned and classic piano ballad far from the usual Hype Machine number 1 chasing flavour of the month pop music. It’s lack of trendiness is almost staggering. So well done the blogosphere for being able to recognise quality over everything else.

If you’ve read anything about Lilla on the blogs (and most of them don't tell you very much) you’ll probably know that she’s from Belfast. What many of them won’t have told you is that despite the title of the song, This Is Love is not a joyously romantic tune. Sung from the soul Lilla confesses how love can be blind, even when things aren’t going well anymore. “I wanted to believe we were right,” she croons before describing the “endless hours spent late at night, wondering how you could act this way, wondering how you could say the things that you say.” It’s a song of sadness and heartache, with a wish to turn the clock back: “I wish I’d known you before, because now it seems like a chore to see me.” 

A powerful and emotionally arresting ballad. Lilla has our blog heart won already.

Lilla Vargen - This Is Love

Friday, 23 January 2015

Greta Isaac - Down By The Water

Sometimes in this age of technology and modern production it’s easy to forget the value of the simple things. With the title track of her debut EP Down By The Water (not a cover of arguably one of the best PJ Harvey songs ever) Welsh singer songwriter Greta Isaac reminds us of how simplicity can bring the greatest of beauties. On this song you'll find pretty harmonies, a gentle old fashioned lullaby of a melody and a hint of camp fire Americana within its homespun loveliness. If you’re a fan of the likes of The Staves and First Aid Kit Down By The Water is almost guaranteed to be your new favourite acoustic thing. 

Greta's EP was originally released last October, but its recent full emergence on Soundcloud was the impetus for a post on Breaking More Waves, although it’s not the first time she’s appeared here, with one previous post way back in November 2011. 

Greta Isaac - Down By The Water

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Allie X - Catch (Video)

Allie X stirred up quite a bit of online buzz last year with the songs Catch, Prime and Bitch (all of which were featured on Breaking More Waves) and then things went a little quiet. Now she’s back with an announcement of a new release. CollXtion I will feature all three of those 2014 songs plus four new ones (Hello, Tumor, Good and Sanctuary) and will be available from the 7th April.

It seems that CollXtion I is the first of a series of releases planned for the coming months and according to her people will be some sort of full multimedia experience. “CollXtion I will allow participants to gather songs, videos, digital installations, and other media that begin to fashion the world of a protagonist known as "X."  Designed as both a multimedia, narrative and collaborative experience, CollXtion I will be accompanied by a variety of features, including X's notorious spinning GIFs, some of the raw components used by X to create her striking work such as song stems and photo layers, and a comic which will reveal the first chapter in the Story of X. Items will be released gradually to allow participants to "collect" the ever-growing CollXtion,” is what we’ve been told.

Prior to all that there’s a new video for Catch, which seems to take that spinning GIF video inspiration that Allie X has used before 1 stage further, with its stylish, jerky, motion sickness inducing visuals that seem to have connection with art, science and architecture, taking on a variety of sculptural forms that explore sex, death and sedation. There’s an uneasy alien coldness to the whole piece, but it's weirdly intriguing nonetheless.

Allie X - Catch (Video)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Petite Meller - Baby Love (Video)

One of the brightest things about pop music is its occasional ability to dazzle by throwing in the unexpected and for it all to make sense and be utterly brilliant. Such is the new video and song from French singer Petite Meller, who up to now has been skirting around the edges but never hitting the bullseye. That all changes with new tune Baby Love which throws in giraffes, big hats, flamingo impressions, dancing and saxophone playing children and music that hits the ‘it’s good to be alive’ button with some force.

If you watch this and don’t feel deliriously happy afterwards then something is seriously wrong. We're handing the award for best pop video January 2015 to Petite Meller right now. 

Petite Meller - Baby Love (Video)

GØSPEL - Empr (Video)

Bd spllng fns w hve a trt fr y tdy. Fllwng thr dbt trck Dsstrs Rnnng Wld, whch w ftrd lst yr th bnd GØSPEL hv rtrnd wth a nw sng clld Empr. It pts a whl nw mning n th nm GØSPEL whch w wll nw frvr thnk of as “Go Spell,” whch is rlly wht w nd t g and lrn t d rselvs. Pls xcse th brvty f ths pst bt tpng lk ths s cnfsng th brn, s it mst b hrtng yrs rdng t. Jst wtch th vd nd njy th sng OK?

GØSPEL - Empr (Video)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Rae Morris - Love Again

Watching the development of Rae Morris over the last few years has been a little bit like watching a baby bird slowly stumble out of the nest, grow and take flight. No more so does that flight occur than on single Under The Shadows and this track Love Again, a newly minted gem taken from her debut album Unguarded which sees the light of day next week. Whilst Rae’s songs may have a soft intimacy to them, Love Again is bold and open musically –it would probably work with something you wouldn’t necessarily associate Rae’s music with - a banging dance remix.

Rae Morris - Love Again

Monday, 19 January 2015

Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2015

For the last 3 years Breaking More Waves has assisted in the judging of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and will be doing so again in 2015. Entry for this year’s competition is now open.

The competition gives new acts based in the UK and Ireland the chance to compete for a slot on one of the main stages at the festival as well as a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize, to help take their songwriting and performing to the next level. Two runners-up will also each be awarded a £2,500 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize. 

Acts from any musical genre can enter the competition for one week only until 5pm Monday 26th January 2015. Previous artists that have either won or featured on either the long or short lists of the competition include Stornoway,The Subways, Bridie Jackson & The Arbour, Scouting For Girls, Treetop Flyers, M+A (last year's winners), Slaves (on this year's BBC Sound of list) and Laura Doggett (way back in 2011 – Laura is now signed to a major record label).

To enter, acts will need to supply a link to one original song on SoundCloud, plus a link to a video of themselves performing live (even if it’s only recorded in a bedroom). 

Once the thousands of entries are in, a panel of 40 music writers (including Breaking More Waves) will help compile a longlist of 120 acts. The longlist will then be whittled down to a shortlist of 8 artists by judges including Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis, before the live finals at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April decide the winning act. Last year one of Breaking More Waves 3 choices Gibson Bull made it through to the live final and then secured several slots on smaller stages at the festival. Rumour has it that Gibson Bull was also the firm favourite of none other than Michael Eavis.

If you’re a band or artist and fancy your chances then don’t delay and enter using this link. Hopefully we’ll see you on a stage in Somerset this summer.

The Unthanks - Flutter (Video)

As The Unthanks new album Mount The Air draws ever nearer to being with us, the band has released Flutter, a new single. Flutter drifts from the group's original template of covering traditional Northumbrian folk songs to something that we’d very loosely term as soothing orchestral jazz pop. Co-written by Becky Unthank and Adrian McNally of the band it not only marks a shift in sound but demonstrates how the ownership of The Unthanks has changed from when it appeared from the outside to be very much Rachel Unthank’s project, even taking the name Rachel Unthank & The Winterset. Whilst Rachel is still key to what The Unthanks do, here she takes a backseat and passes over all of the vocals to her sister. We’re not sure how many singers could leave their egos at the door and do something like this for a lead single off an album, but maybe the family bonds between the two sisters (and Adrian being Rachel’s husband) make these things easier. Or maybe (as we suspect is the case) they're all just a really nice and ego free bunch of people.

The Unthanks - Flutter (Video)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Shires - Friday Night (Video)

Country music often gets a fair amount of bad press. Often this is deservedly so, the ‘bro country’ movement and its associated misogyny cannot be ignored, but like any genre of music there are good and bad performers and songwriters. It’s why last November Breaking More Waves named UK based duo The Shires as one of its Ones To Watch for 2015. The main reason was very simple – good songs, but also it seems that there is a bigger degree of acceptance of country music in the UK than ever before right now. Dolly Parton at Glastonbury seemed to push the boat along a bit and Taylor Swift’s current all-conquering-can-do-no-wrong stream of popularity (albeit partly because of her newer pop sound rather than her country roots) has generated even more interest. It seems the perfect time for new talent from the country scene to come forward and The Shires, with their addictive tunes, seem perfectly poised.

The band has recently released a new video for their song Friday Night, a rousing and infectious country pop ode to having a few drinks after the 9 to 5 drudgery of the week. Shot in LA it features actor Mark Boone Junior from Sons of Anarchy, as well as a group of US championship skateboarders. Uplifting and joyous sounding it will make you look forward to next weekend already. 

The Shires are out on tour in the UK this Spring (dates on their website here) to promote their forthcoming debut album Brave, including a show in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth as well as London's Union Chapel. If you’re going to the Portsmouth date, we’ll see you down the front for that one.

The Shires - Friday Night (Video)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Tor Miller - New Waves

Sometimes a song just stands out. Hold The Phone by relative newcomer Tor Miller is one of those. It’s a ballad that goes places. First there’s the vocal. It’s that little bit different. When it stretches it has a gravel like scratchiness to it that enhances its emotional punch with rawness. Then there’s the piano, an instrument that seemed to belong to some of the older greats like Elton John and Billy Joel before Tom Odell had a decent go at bringing it back. On Hold The Phone Miller takes flight with the instrument. It’s potent stuff, old fashioned for sure, but undeniably impressive. We could imagine this New Yorker singing in the corner of a dimly lit late night café, or even more likely, a church backed by a big gospel choir. OK, actually we've already seen him play in a church (here last June - a brief mention in the comments section then) just without the choir. There's also a sense of theatricality about his voice - maybe one day he'll end up doing musicals.

His other two songs on his Soundcloud, Headlights and Go, have already picked up online attention, including some blog love, and his iPhone-recorded version of Hold The Phone has been featured as a Next Hype track on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show last year. He releases an EP on February 2nd. Until then, be wowed by his music on Breaking More Waves.

Tor Miller - Hold The Phone

Friday, 16 January 2015

BEA - Filthy Believer (Video)

The first time we featured BEA on Breaking More Waves she was sitting in the bath showing us what went on under the skin whilst remaining fully clothed. She joined the multitude (ok – over exaggeration - a few) pop stars who like to sit in the bath and document it by the use of video or photography (here)

Now she’s back and this time we have a video that on the face of it looks a bit sh*t. It’s just a one-take piece with her dancing around a bit and everything’s very pink. Then some petals fall down. 

When Noisey premiered the video (for premiere you can insert the words 'was given it by the PR company earlier than anyone else' if you want, but that doesn't make the site sound as important) earlier today they interviewed BEA and asked the following question: “Hiya BEA so what’s going on in this video then?” It seems a bit of a silly question to us. If this was twitter we'd probably put a sarcastic #journalism after that question. After all it’s pretty clear. Unsurprisingly BEA’s answer was, “it’s BEA in a pink environment dancing around and eventually pink rose petals start falling down around her and it’s shot in one take with a handycam.” 

So whilst this doesn’t sound like the deepest of artistic concepts, it works. Just. We like BEA’s dancing. It’s like she’s slowly losing herself to the music, either that or she’s on drugs. It's more interesting to watch than the standard roll shoulder - roll head - roll other shoulder - grind -repeat pop star dancing that seems to be de rigueur today. Take a view below. If you think we’re wrong and in fact it is a bit shit, please let us know. Thanks.

BEA plays her first UK show on March 4th at Notting Hill Arts Club for New Shapes. Filthy Believer is taken from her debut EP which is called Good Thinking, out now.

BEA - Filthy Believer (Video)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Silk Cinema - New Waves

Here’s a track from a new solo artist that landed in our in box a few days ago and at that stage the artist in question didn’t even have a name. Correction - obviously she did have a name, but at that stage she didn’t have a pop star name. Of course some people are just born pop stars; Madonna and Prince for example just use their real names – hell, why would you change if you’re already called Prince? But even the likes of David Bowie took on a pop star name (David Jones didn’t really cut the mustard) and these days in the age of the Google search your pop star i.d has to be built for search engine optimisation as much as anything else. It’s why bad spelling and random words that make no obvious sense together have become far and far more popular over the last few years.

So we bring you Silk Cinema, a name that makes no sense and hence is a suitable moniker ripe for the internet. Of course there’s probably some deeply ridiculous justification to the name about the singer’s silky tones and film-star beauty or something like that, but we’re pretty sure it’s really just for Google. Although when we searched, we did find this, which we quite like, but it’s sold out. 

Hope, Silk Cinema's debut song, was released yesterday (on her birthday) and adopts a gentle groove, some twiddly electronics and a touch of soul ready to send you shimmying to the dancefloor. It’s dance music for sophisticated parties; the sort where you spill expensive white wine on the carpet rather than cheap lager. The kind of party we aspire to. Invites accepted with thanks. Anyone?

Silk Cinema - Hope

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Clarence Clarity - Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash

If you’ve been following Clarence Clarity from his earliest releases such as The Gospel Truth and 4GODSLUV (or even before that in other earlier incarnations) through to more recent offerings such as Bloodbarf, you’ll probably be starting to get a sense of what he’s doing by now. We’re still trying to capture it in just a few words, but there's such a melee of sounds it's pretty complex. “Electronic circus freak zone,” was our very first attempt on our introducing post back in 2013 and that still seems reasonably accurate, although maybe we’d add in the words mangled, warped and funked to describe the music of this strange scientist of sound.

Anyway, however we define the noise he makes, Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash is more of it. “Hollywood at the witchhouse with reptiles and the catholics,” he chants meaningfully, even though we have no idea what he's on about. But then does all art have to have meaning? Can’t it just sound (or look) good?

Clarence Clarity unleashes himself live this year as he goes out on tour supporting Jungle. For what is essentially a very studio based sound, it will be fascinating to see if he can pull it off live. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed as we’ll be letting you know the answer to that question at the first date of that tour in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth. Clarence Clarity’s album No Now (which is rumoured to go the whole shebang at 20 tracks long) is released in March.

Clarence Clarity - Meadow Hopping, Traffic Stopping, Death Splash

Eva Stone - I Don't Miss You At All

Every November, before all the big guns roll out their tips for the year ahead Breaking More Waves goes early and publishes its own Ones to Watch list for the forthcoming year, which consists of 10 or 15 artists. Cast your mind back to 2013 and our 10 Ones to Watch 2014 included a few acts who have gone on to be reasonably commercially successful in the UK (Jungle, George Ezra, Banks) as well as some who have grown steadily so that come the start of 2015 they are still appearing on others' Ones to Watch lists (Wolf Alice, Iyes). But there were also a couple who in terms of releases haven’t been particularly forthcoming. 

First up was Katie Taylor aka Mononoke who did at least put out some songs at the start of the year, but then seemed to go pretty much silent with the exception of some pictures posted on her Facebook page including one that stated “I died, R.I.P me,” in December 2014. Oh dear. 

Second was Eva Stone, who has yet to get a proper single release out. However, a quick look at Eva’s Facebook page reveals that perhaps we were just a tad too early with our One to Watch tip, 2014 hasn’t been a fully unproductive year, with some of her highlights being supporting Vance Joy, Paolo Nutini, Nitin Sawhney and most importantly from a musical perspective “ recording some of the best material I've written in a while with a friend in a wee bedroom in Sunderland.” Maybe Eva will crop on somone’s One to Watch for 2016 or even 2017 list? Who knows.

However, towards the end of 2014 there was a release of sorts. For Daisy Digital’s It’s Coming On Christmas 2014 charity LP, Eva recorded a beautiful cover of the Norah Jones song Don’t Miss You At All (which she’s added a sneaky 'I' onto the title). Yesterday Eva uploaded it to her Soundcloud. Whilst the song evokes all the atmosphere of a Christmas song (snow falling down, children playing) it fits any melancholy winter day and so we think it's worth another listen now. If you missed it on the Christmas compilation, take a gentle moment out to soak up its tenderness and grace.

Eva Stone - I Don't Miss You At All

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Liu Bei - Fields (ft Rachel Goswell)

Last year’s Slowdive reformation made a fair few shoegaze / post-rave comedown fans particularly happy and the Oxford / Reading ‘Thames Valley’ / ‘Scene That Celebrates Itself’ revival shows no signs of abating yet with Ride being the next band to get back together. We’re taking odds on Thousand Yard Stare, Revolver, Lush, Curve, Pale Saints and Chapterhouse all yanking out their guitars soon.

For those who are relatively new to Slowdive however, may we also recommend what Rachel and Neil from the band did next, namely Mojave 3’s album Ask Me Tomorrow and particularly the songs Love Songs On The Radio and Candle Song 3 as well as Rachel Goswell’s solo effort Waves Are Universal and in particular the song Warm Summer Sun.

Which brings us up to date with London five piece Liu Bei, who impressed with their expansive tune Infatuation last May and do so again with new track Fields, which features the guest vocal of Rachel Goswell somewhere in the distance. Fields is a stop everything and listen moment; ambient, nuanced and full of beatless beauty. Let it drift over you and take you somewhere else. As the lyrics say, “I can’t wait to leave this place.”

Liu Bei - Fields (ft Rachel Goswell)

Purity Ring - Begin Again

Whilst there doesn’t appear to be any radical change in direction in their musical style, Begin Again, the second track from Purity Ring’s new album Another Eternity (released in March via 4AD) bodes well for a quality follow up. Even BBC Radio 1 have recently / finally got on board with the duo, B-playlisting previous tune Push Pull

Mountainous slow spacey rave synths feature prominently on this one, bringing a sense of impending doom or joy depending on your mood. Then there's Megan’s pretty nursery rhyme style of vocal intonation that has a strange sense of creepiness as well as beauty. “You be the moon, I’ll be the earth, and when we burst, start over oh darling, begin again,” she sings as we head towards the explosion.

Apparently Purity Ring’s debut Shrines was pieced together while the two lived separately in Halifax and Montreal, whilst for Another Eternity marks the first time Purity Room was able to record while in the same room. Can you tell the difference? Probably not, but it’s something extra to add onto the press release isn’t it?

Purity Ring - Begin Again

Monday, 12 January 2015

Laura Groves - Dream Story

If there’s one return to music that we’ve been more excited about than any else (we’re still wishing with the mildest glimmer of hope for that reunion / reappearance of The Sundays) then it’s that of Laura Groves. For Laura’s 2009 Blue Roses LP through XL remains one of our favourite works of the last 10 years.

Laura’s new material has its own special charm and this song Dream Story, released today, is probably the most beguiling track she’s offered post Blue Roses. With warm sounding keys that have a soft glow similar to Donald Fagen's music circa 1982’s Nightfly  LP and Laura’s impeccable vocal, this one takes its title from a 1926 novella by Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler, a tale which deals with sexual dreams and their blurring with reality. The song takes similar lyrical themes and is an exquisite piece of subtle pop.

Dream Story features on Groves' upcoming Committed Language EP, released by DEEK Recordings on the 16th February.

Laura Groves - Dream Story

Florrie - Too Young To Remember (Video)

Florrie’s choppy new pop song Too Young To Remember probably isn’t about how long she’s been tipped as One To Watch by the people of the internet; but let’s face it, it’s been some time now. In fact it’s nearly 5 years since she put her first record out.

Thankfully with its sharp hook and lyrical retro references that include video games (Super Mario), movies (Karate Kid) and even song titles (Madonna’s Justify My Love and EMF’s Unbelievable – good choices Florrie) as well as some MØ like ‘heys’ after the main hook, Florrie can remain on that One to Watch list, because this one’s the pop equivalent of a snappy dresser.

The simple video, which features a colour palette that’s like a softer version of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass finds even more retro references - Frankie Goes To Hollywood T-Shirts rebranded as Florrie ones, slinkys, floppy disks, cassettes, a rather oddly coloured Rubik’s cube and big hair. Yet despite all the nostalgia here Too Young To Remember sounds likely a relatively modern pop song. 

The oddest thing about this video? It was ‘premiered’ about half an hour ago today by of all people – fashion retailer H&M. (#HMLovesMusic they tweeted). What’s odd about this? First, because we watched the video yesterday on a Japanese website, so we’re a bit confused about this premier stuff and what it actually means. Second because, well, it’s H&M. (But don’t forget folks #HMLovesMusic). But never mind all that, its the music that's important not who hosts it and Too Young To Remember is a solid piece of toe tapping pop.

Florrie - Too Young To Remember (Video)

Friday, 9 January 2015

Years & Years Win The BBC Sound of 2015 - Our Thoughts

A few minutes ago Years and Years were announced as the winners of this year’s BBC Sound of 2015 list by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. It was probably no surprise to most people who follow new music and the music industry, especially as the results got leaked on Twitter two days ago.

If you’re a regular reader of Breaking More Waves you’ll know that we’re fascinated with these ‘tip’ lists and chart rankings / order. There must be something in certain peoples’ psyche (like us) that likes to make music a little bit like sport, with charts, positions, statistics and the like to discuss and analyse. It’s one of the reasons why we enjoy compiling The Blog Sound of poll, the bloggers version of the BBC list and even now always take a peek at the top 75 singles and albums charts every week.

This year’s BBC poll-topper announcement will no doubt provide the usual round of discussion. We’re expecting to see a lot of articles covering the following points today:

1. It’s the first all male Top 5 since 2005 (The Bravery won that year with Bloc Party, Kano, The Game and Kaiser Chiefs) taking 2nd to 5th.

2. Years and Years are only the 4th group to win the Sound of Poll, previous ones being Haim, The Bravery and Keane, since the polls small scale inception in 2003.

3. Possibly something about the fact that in a year when male vocalists have dominated the albums big sellers in 2014 in the UK, this list suggests this trend may continue. (In fact the BBC Sound of list has always been more favourable to male vocalists, with just less than 30% of previous nominees being female vocalists - it will be interesting to see if any of the articles mention that.)

4. Something about silly hats being big in pop in 2015.

But what we’re interested in (and we’re probably going over old ground with this as we wrote something similar a few years ago) is public perception of the poll and the likely reality. After the BBC list has been published ever year we hear people say, “yeah Years & Years (or whatever act has won)  are the band the BBC say are going to be big this year.”

This isn't actually correct.

So just in case you're one of those people, here are the key points:

1. The BBC runs the poll. But many of the people who vote (the vast majority) do not work for the BBC. The pundits are chosen from a mix that includes journalists and other people involved in music media. Sadly no bloggers this year, but we have already discussed that in a previous post.

2. The voters aren’t asked ‘who will be big’. They’re asked to choose their favourite new act. Subtle difference. Although BBC presenters do a terrible job in explaining this, often saying themselves that the poll is about 'who will be massive in 2015' which leads to the public misconception. 

3. Based on our experience of the Blog Sound poll that we run, the chances are that although Years and Years have ended up winners, not everyone asked to vote will have nominated them. If the spread of votes is anything similar to the Blog Sound poll Years & Years will have picked up votes from between 10 and 20% of the voters, which is in the region of 20 of the 139 voting panel. A relatively small amount.

So if when reading about the BBC Sound of  you’re thinking ‘that’s who the BBC think will be big in 2015’ maybe you should be thinking ‘that’s who a small handful of people who work in the music industry like.’ Because that is what the poll is. 

Here’s Years and Years. We're not fans, but neither do we dislike them, but new song King's reasonable(ish) isn't it? We can hear / see / feel why people would like it, even if it's not likely to be our Sound of 2015.

Years & Years - King

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Charli XCX - Doing It ft Rita Ora

Are you like Breaking More Waves and thought that when over 400 people complained about Rita Ora’s appearance on BBC’S The One Show it was probably because she’d sung a song rather than because she’d worn a very slightly cleavage revealing tuxedo jacket? It would seem a fair complaint to us if it had been the former.

And are you like us and think that Charli XCX is arguably one of the best pop stars out there at the moment? Her trashy, bubblegum, hair swaying, punk-punch cheerleader inspired aesthetic and tunes could have Ora’s out cold in the first round of a musical boxing match.

If so, the news that Charlotte has teamed up with Rita for a new song called Doing It creates all sorts of questions, but mainly. WHY OH WHY?

The answer (to us at least) is that whilst in the U.S Charli is doing very well thank you, in the UK, she’s lagging a bit. Break The Rules sounded to our ears like a massive pop banger and hit, but maybe because Charli was spending most of her time doing promo in the U.S it didn’t really happen here, stiffing at number 35 in the UK combined sales / streaming charts and dropping off pretty quickly after that. So whilst Charli’s album is out in the U.S, in the UK it’s been put back a bit to have another shot at a hit. So rolling in Rita Ora, who inexplicably seems very popular and is just about to increase her visibility further by being one of the Judges on the new season of BBC1’s The Voice, is the solution. It’s all about exposure (music rather than the cleavage that is).

So what’s the song like? 

Doing It is produced by Ariel Rechtshaid who has produced the likes of Vampire Weekend, Sky Ferreira and Haim and you can hear his touch here – there’s a bit of a Haim does electronic pop vibe to it. It’s less ballsy and fiery than Break The Rules, in fact its positively frothy, but what it shows is that whatever style Charli adopts she has a knack for melody and hooks, and do you know what? By third listen you might have even forgotten that Rita Ora’s present. 

Come on UK, make this one a hit. Let Charli’s journey, which we’ve been chronicling since we wrongly stated, “we still find it difficult to see anything particularly long term with her,” way back in 2009 (here) take another step forwards and upwards. Then she can kick Rita Ora in to touch.

Charli XCX - Doing It ft Rita Ora

Vallis Alps - New Waves

If you put all (well some) of the more mellow / melancholy pop music that we’ve featured (and therefore enjoyed) on Breaking More Waves over the last few years into a pot and stirred it around, slowly letting all the flavours, tears and heartbreak melt into one, the result would quite possibly be lunar valley referencing duo Vallis Alps. Think Broods, London Grammar, The XX. Think bloody gorgeous. Think sadness. Think pop that sounds utterly modern but is tinged with an exquisite world weariness. Think music that just when you’ve got the gist of it throws in some wonky electronic dance references and oddball synth parts (take a listen to their song Thru for that). Think something that sounds cosily familiar and yet still manages to surprise. 

The stand out song on this debut EP is Young, which opens the whole thing (streaming below). Young takes the crown for our favourite tune of the year so far. Ok, there hasn’t been a huge amount of competition, we’re only 8 days in, but who said we had to wait until February or any other time?

Vallis Alps is Parissa Tossif and David Ansari from Canberra, Australia. Hats off to them for not playing the dirty tease and just slipping out one song whilst shrouding themselves in mystery, which seems to be the standard boring music industry practice these days. Instead, straight away, bang, you have a whole EP, and know who they are. You could even follow both of them on Twitter if you wanted. An impressive start. Grab the EP here.

Vallis Alps - Young

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Robyn Sherwell - Pale Lung

“It’s a guilty heart that beats for you,” croons Robyn Sherwell and we’re going into that dodgy territory of the forbidden; getting lusty over someone that you either shouldn’t or can’t really be getting hot under the collar about. Nothing dodgy about the music though, which is smouldering, soothing and seductive. Yet unlike much of the R ‘n’ B influenced pop that seems to be everywhere at the moment (particularly on the blogs) this one isn’t just about glossy electronic production, instead Pale Lung sounds more natural and organic. Dare we say it but it’s possibly the sort of r ‘n’ b influenced pop that the REAL MUSIC bores could appreciate, as well as the laptop kids.

Robyn Sherwell plays the Sebright Arms in London tomorrow (the 8th Jan) for those of you who fancy a bit of a swoon-along to her music. Tickets are here.

Robyn Sherwell - Pale Lung

The Staves - Steady

Mention Midge Ure to most people and they’d probably think of Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas or the 80’s classic Vienna. Less people would probably shout that he was also the guy that had his own solo number 1 with If I Was. Why do we mention this? All because of a dodgy shoe-horn in to The Staves, who in 2015 will be releasing their second album, also titled If I Was on the 23rd March. Maybe they're fans of Midge? The record was recorded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and produced by Mr Bon Iver himself (Justin Vernon). We’re expecting it to ooze quality, emotion and general loveliness.

From that album comes new song Steady, which slowly unfurls itself like one of those beautiful timelapse videos of a flower opening, revealing just more and more beauty. It’s classic Staves, don’t worry they haven’t decided to go grime. Maybe that will be album 3? Until that Wiley collaboration, here’s where you’ll find exquisite harmonies, melodies that melt the heart and a wintery acoustic sound that delivers shivers. 

The Staves are on tour soon. (Dates here) If you're in Devon treat your partner to the best Valentine's evening ever.

The Staves - Steady