Saturday, 31 October 2015

Le Grind - Pillow Talk

Whilst Adele is grabbing all the attention through her use of an old school flip-phone rather than the normal cash grabbing approach of getting a product placement deal in her video, we’d like to draw your attention to another non-modern phone, albeit this one’s neon lit. It features on Pillow Talk by Le Grind, and if there was any justice in the world, this tune would be all over the radio. Pillow Talk is the ultimate 80’s disco diva pop banger, an It’s Raining Men reinvented for this decade, and the most fun every girl (and quite a few guys) will have on the dancefloor this year* 

And the video? It was shot in Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and features some brilliant learn-the-dance-moves choreography, including the band’s own 'Tinder swipe move'. Come on everyone – we want this played at the office Christmas party this year. “ I just feel like, what, I just feel like, what, I just feel like, GIVE ME THAT BASS.” A.M.A.Z.I.N.G

* (That is if we discount Baby Love by Petite Meller from the equation)

Le Grind - Pillow Talk

Friday, 30 October 2015

Glass - New Waves

This may be an introducing post on ‘pop hip-op crance’ newcomers Glass, but it’s the second time we’ve mentioned the London based duo on Breaking More Waves, having alerted you to their existence a couple of months ago in a preview of  Portsmouth’s Dials Festival. At the time there was no material released to the world, but now, just in time for Halloween, Glass have released their debut video; a bloody piece of disco vampirism that accompanies the bands take on warped electro / piano pop.

That ‘hip-op’ reference isn’t some sort of trendily smug Shoreditch clever tag trying to create a scene out of something that doesn’t exist. It in fact refers to the fact that lead singer Jessica (who was once described by the Guardian as ‘Julie Andrews, not on a mountain top, but in hell’) struggled with a congenital dislocation of the hips from birth. There’s nothing out of place with the music from Glass though, irrespective of problems Jessica might have experienced with her body in the past. What It Is To Believe is a dreamy and succinct pop song, matching Jessica’s sweet vocal delivery with elegant keyboard twinkles and electronics. It does the whole simple but effective thing very well. 

If you’re in London, Glass play the Kluster Rooms, 566 Cable Street tonight and The Old Blue Last on the 9th December. Early reports suggest they're a band who even at this early stage, put on quite a show, but remember, if you go along and Jessica invites you to the toilets with her, take warning from this video.

Glass - What It Is To Believe

Thursday, 29 October 2015

RIVRS - The Chain

It wasn’t that many years ago when to be young and to admit to liking Fleetwood Mac was seen as deeply unfashionable, but fashion being what it is means that what was once out eventually becomes in again, and the last few years have found not only the return of the Mac themselves (albeit with a largely older audience at their shows), but a number of young bands showing clear influence from their sound as well a slew of artists covering their songs.

The latest bunch to pin their colours to the mast is electronic trio RIVRS, who you may remember from an earlier introducing piece we ran in March (here). Since that time there hasn’t been much output from Charlotte, Fin and Fred (except for a remix of Charli XCX’s arm-waving banger Famous), but as the London three piece are now confirmed as having signed to Atlantic records and have been in the studio with producer Mark Ralph (Years & Years) we can surely expect more to come in the next year.

First up from the band (who include amongst their number the son of Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet) is a version of The Chain, which ditches the big guitar solo and instead paints the tune with modernity via a sparse, sullen, silky, synth treatment. It works surprisingly well, but then that shouldn’t be surprising – the band already show great taste by quoting the likes of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Purity Ring and The XX as inspirations.

RIVRS - The Chain

Friday, 23 October 2015

Tempesst - New Waves

Today is the last post on Breaking More Waves. Not forever (of course), just for a few days whilst we have a bit of a holiday. 

Whilst we’re away we’d like to introduce you to another new act, and they’re called Tempesst. They’re one of those bad spelling but Google searchable bands that you are all by now very familiar with (if you're not, where the f*ck have you been?) and are formed around a nucleus of  Aussie born but UK based twins Toma and Andy Banjanin with Eric Weber and Jesse Hutchence completing the line-up. Their debut single, Tidal Wave, is a glorious good to be alive piece of guitar driven pop that swirls with colour and a hint of psychedelia. It rather oddly reminds us of Roddy Frame / Aztec Camera vocally; listen to the bit where “someone take me back to her” is sung and see if you agree. 

And if you have no idea who Roddy Frame or Aztec Camera are, give yourself a musical education – start with High Land Hard Rain but also try Love and Stray, three wonderful records that should be in every collection. They’re on tour in November (that’s Tempesst not Aztec Camera) with Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes and we think that this song is rather excellent, which frankly is the key of this blog. Isn’t it? See you in a few days time.

Tempesst - Tidal Wave

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Laura Welsh - Sex & Violence

Here we go again. 

Time to add another musician to the ever growing list of pop stars in the bath. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, it started on this post (click here) and since then has become a bit of a ‘thing’ on Breaking More Waves. It’s almost as if musicians are reading our crappy little blog and thinking “f*ck me, I’m not a proper musician yet, I haven’t done the ‘classic’ bath promo shot.”

So well done Laura Welsh, you’re in the club now. It’s taken you a bloody long time mind you. But better late than never. 

Laura chose the safe clothes no water option, which we consider to be the pointless option (the other options are the sensible / practical no clothes with water option, the bonkers clothes with water option and the total exhibitionist naked no water option). There are of course a few other options on these options such as filling the bath with something else (balloons, bubble bath, mud) but for the purposes of this post, let's keep things simple.

Now we’re wondering which Breaking More Waves approved artist will be next to jump in the tub?

We’d quite like to see Hurts have a go, with deadly serious faces, maybe naked, except for ties, holding glasses of champagne. Or maybe Adele could return with her new album, sitting in the biggest, most massive f*ck off bath you’ve ever seen in your life, so big that in the centre of it there’s a plush throne on which Adele occasionally sits, with a crown atop her head, the new queen of the world. 

For now however Laura Welsh will do nicely thank you. It's a very small bath. Just as well she's a solo act, otherwise it would be a right old squeeze.

Oh, we almost forgot to mention in all the bath excitement, Laura’s not just sitting in the bath for no reason. She’s got a new song out you see. It’s called Sex & Violence. Now of course, we could be all wordy and eloquent and express our deep feelings for the song like a ‘serious’ music blog / fan. But frankly we’d rather talk about baths. Every blog has to have a unique selling point doesn't it? Maybe we've discovered ours. 

If you come across any other musicians peddling new songs by way of jumping in the bath, let us know on Twitter. (@BMWavesBlog)

Hear the tune below and go and find a 'serious' music blog if you want to read emotive words to go with it.

Laura Welsh - Sex & Violence

Pumarosa - Priestess (Video)

The 7 minutes plus of bliss that is Priestess by Pumarosa has already won over the blogosphere (including us - we wrote about it here) with its heady mesmeric indie grooves and gothic swagger. 

Having played the song to death at Breaking More Waves HQ we had the whole visual treatment for the song already fully imagined. It was going to include a lot of swirling mists, trippy abstract patterns, epileptic fit inducing strobe lighting and just the occasional shot of the band or their instruments before they were engulfed by kaleidoscopic patterns. Alas we were wrong, but still, this interpretation (which takes the “and you dance you dance you dance” lyrics to oblivion and back) makes perfect sense as well. Still an incredible tune.

Pumarosa - Priestess (Video)

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Nao - Bad Blood

Having already impressed with her 2 previous EPs, the vocals on one of the tunes of the year (Firefly by Mura Masa) as well as some excellent live shows (she bowled us over not only with her singing but huge smile and moves at this year’s Great Escape festival) Nao returns with new tune Bad Blood. There’s no connection to Bastille or Taylor Swift with this one except for the title; Nao makes this totally her own. Taking a low down dirty and funky R n B groove to accompany the tale of two people falling apart from childhood friendship, the heaviness of Bad Blood juxtaposes Nao's near helium fuelled voice perfectly. Its mid-tempo pace will inevitably lead to some dancing in clubs that will remind you of your uncle, drunk at your cousins wedding, thinking he’s a bit of a sex machine, but if you can avoid that, you’ve got a very slick, very funky jam in your ears.

Nao’s out on tour in December. Catch her in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds or if you’re on the south coast like us come and join us in Brighton at the Green Door Store on the 8th. We'll be the one doing the uncle dancing.

Nao - Bad Blood

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Anne-Marie - New Waves

In the UK it seems that if you have even half an inclination to have a chart-topping solo pop career the simplest way to do it is to get a leg up by having your vocals on either a Disclosure or Rudimental track. Sam Smith, AlunaGeorge, John Newman, Ella Eyre and Emeli Sande are just some of squad Dismental after all. Now we’re wondering if Anne-Marie will be the next wonderkid to climb the pop ladder in the same way? 

With four guest vocal spots on the latest Rudimental record, plus a stint doing backing vocals for Magnetic Man and her Karate EP released earlier this year, Anne-Marie already comes with some pedigree, but where she’s really stepped up her pop game is with new tune Boy. Like a soulful Lily Allen singing over a classic Janet Jackson track (what an album 1986’s Control was – wasn’t it?), Boy clatters along with all sorts of funk and instrumental hooks that will probably have you slinking over to the dancefloor, hips swinging, ready to pull, which is kind of appropriate given the lyrics of the song, which finds Anne-Marie giving her take on dating.

One to Watch for 2016? Almost certainly. Maybe even before. Boy is 100% pleasure principle pop.

Anne-Marie plays the Oslo venue in London tomorrow and it’s already sold out.

Anne-Marie - Boy

Monday, 19 October 2015

Arctic Lake - For Us

“On For Us we wanted to try something with slightly more energy than our past two singles, venturing slightly out of our comfort zone, while still trying to preserve a sense of sincerity and emotion,” Arctic Lake recently told Line of Best Fit website. On reading that statement your thought patterns may well have worked in the same way as ours and wouldn’t have been forgiven for expecting some sort of adrenalin spouting livewire rock and roll banger. However, it seems that Arctic Lake’s version of energy is the same as a layabout who thinks that getting out of bed, walking ten minutes to post a letter at the post office and having a coffee with a friend is a very busy day.

Not that we’re complaining though, the serene languidness that seems to course through everything that Arctic Lake do is still beautifully compelling. Emma Foster’s lustrous vocals have a breathy soulful air to them whilst the guitar and beats create a quilted coat of loveliness, meaning that those London Grammar comparisons are inevitably going stick for a while longer. A lovely piece of tempered and mild-mannered ambient pop.

Arctic Lake - For Us

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Jack Garratt - Breathe Life (Video)

If you’re a regular reader of Breaking More Waves, or if you’ve seen a few of our tweets, it’s likely that it will have come to your attention that we’re fascinated by the concept of pop stars in the bath. There’s an awful lot of them at it, and we don’t just mean for cleaning themselves. No, instead these water loving musicians are using the bath as an integral part of a campaign to sell some music. Some of them even forget to take their clothes off when they get among the suds, which is odd, but then pop music is an odd choice of career. In fact (aside from possibly acting, another strange career choice) it’s probably the only job we can think of where its seen as perfectly acceptable to believe that having video footage or pictures of yourself in the bath shown to the world is an acceptable way to market your product (except perhaps for bath product manufacturers themselves). As far as we can recall we’ve never seen an architect, a lawyer or a carpenter promote what they do by having a good soak.

Former British Junior Eurovision finalist and multi-instrumentalist Jack Garratt hasn’t quite jumped in the bath. But his new video for new song Breathe Life does find him floating around in a body of water fully clothed. So a similar bonkers concept really. He couldn’t have done the bath if he wanted to though, as there’s a whole bunch of synchronised swimmers with him who would have made a good old fashioned tub a little overcrowded.

We’re not quite sure where we are with Jack Garratt. He’s been around for a while now, but is probably still considered a ‘new’ artist. He’s just announced his biggest show yet, at Brixton Academy, but has yet to release his debut album (Phase comes out next February). He could be a potential star of this year’s BBC Sound of 2016 list, possibly even a potential winner or top 5 place, but he might get forgotten about if the voters don’t consider him new anymore (the timespan of newness on the internet now being approximately 0.02 seconds). 

What we are sure about however, is that Breathe Life is one of our favourite songs of his yet. It combines pop, electronica, R & B and even a few tiny jazz twinkles, and adds one of those bubbly ‘woah-oh-oh-oh-oh’ lines that nearly everyone from Bastille to Oh Wonder to Chvrches has used in some way over the last couple of years to ensure maximum hook factor. It’s certainly reeled us in. Thumbs up, very good, well done Jack etc.

Jack Garratt - Breathe Life (Video)

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Ingrid Witt - New Waves

If you’re the sort of person that likes intoxicating studio based electronic dance pop music that artists like Robyn or (sometimes) Kylie Minogue produce, the sort of stuff that channels some of the more sophisticated areas of the discotheque but remembers that the exciting throb and pulse of the strobe needs to be matched with a good song, and if you’re the sort of person who is inclined to believe that Scandinavia does pop music better than any other part of the world right now, then we guarantee that you’re going to like, possibly even love  Stockholm’s Ingrid Witt

For Ingrid’s debut tune Make Up is a tune to bring us all together, forever in electric dreams. It has a bubbly disco immediacy, lyrics about being naked on the living room floor and a chorus that will take you through the night into the next morning. In the ongoing conflict between good pop and bad pop this one is very much on the good side. Don't ever sleep, just dance.

Ingrid Witt - Make Up

Friday, 16 October 2015

Chloe Black - Wild At Heart (Video)

A couple of weeks ago Breaking More Waves had the pleasure of bringing rising star Chloe Black down to our home city of Portsmouth to play Dials, a festival that we helped curate. Some things we learnt about Chloe that weekend were:

1. She prefers a burrito over a pie.

2. She has some of the best in between song banter we’ve heard from a musician on stage for some time. If the music career doesn't work out we reckon there's a job in comedy waiting for her.

3. She has good taste in films and David Lynch is clearly one of her inspirations.

There’s further evidence of 3 (you’ll have to take our word about the banter and burrito / pie conflict) with her new song and colourful video Wild At Heart, where she sings of ‘watching Twin Peaks whilst we make love’ with some surreal bloodied imagery going on.

The song itself is also a bit of an earworm,with the anthem of a chorus being a definite wave the arms in the air from side to side moment.

If you want to catch Chloe live (and you really should – this girl can sing your pants off) she’s out on tour supporting Lauren Aquilina in the UK this autumn.

Chloe Black - Wild At Heart (Video)

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Frances - I Care featuring Pomo

Whilst (arguably) the forthcoming BBC Sound of 2016 poll (OK, we’re a bit early on this, but trust us, it won’t be long) is the widest open for a number of years, as there doesn’t appear, at this stage at least, to be any obvious clear cut winners or runners up like Years & Years and James Bay last year, one artist that must at least stand a small chance of getting her name on the list is Frances. That is, if voters decide they want to go for another Radio 1 / Radio 2 piano ballad crossover type person like Rae Morris. Which of course they might not do. 

However, for now we’ll have to forget about tip lists and concentrate on what really matters – the music. So here it is. Taken from Let It Out, the new EP released 16th October comes I Care, a song recorded with Montreal based producer Pomo. It finds Frances stepping out from a small town into the city, with endless possibilities ahead of her. “Let’s make it come true-oo-oo,” she sings sounding even more like the aforementioned Morris than Morris herself. With some neat little production flourishes and electronics added that never becoming overbearing, Frances has made another piece of mature mellow pop for us to enjoy.

Frances - I Care featuring Pomo

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Staves - I'm On Fire

Listening to Bruce Springsteen has always been a bit awkward in Breaking More Waves HQ, what with much of the space we existed in during our teenage years being infiltrated by his booming voice, and not through our choice. However, we will admit that his album The Ghost Of Tom Joad is a deeply absorbing listen and his song I’m On Fire, from the Born In The USA album, is a track that, through its simplicity, works on many levels. It’s probably that simplicity that makes it so often covered. Does anyone remember Electrelane’s propulsive krautrock /new wave version? It was so nearly great if the vocals hadn’t let it down so badly.

Now we have a new take on the tune, from Breaking More Waves favourites The Staves.  Emily, Jessica and Camilla have added some new songs to their second LP If I Was; two original songs called Hopeless and Train Tracks, live versions of No Me, No You, No More and Damn It All from Wiltons Music Hall, London, plus their take on The Boss’s classic which we're streaming below. If there was any justice in the world (there probably won’t be) If I Was will feature on the forthcoming Mercury Music Prize shortlist and plenty of end of year lists. In terms of where this version of the song features on the 'Best Cover Version Of I’m On Fire' list, it certainly gets a place as one of the prettiest – and vocally outweighs Electrelane’s version 1000%. 

If you haven't heard If I Was yet put it at the top of your things to do list.

The Staves - I'm On Fire

Mura Masa - Love For That (featuring Shura)

Are you prepared for this? Mura Masa is undeniably one of the men of the moment, his internet popularity turning into real life physical demand - at this year’s Bestival his Invaders of the Future set was one of the busiest on that stage of the weekend for a new artist. Of course the trouble with living in the moment is that the moment passes – 'now' eventually becomes yesterday. But let’s not worry about that at this point, because sometimes artists have the ability (if they want it) to create more than just one 'now'.

If you like what Mura Masa has done so far then new track, Love For That is everything you could possibly ask for and even more. The more comes in the form of Shura, an artist that has managed to create her fair share of moments so far, from her original 'night folk' sounds, first featured on Breaking More Waves back in 2011, through to her more soft-rocking electronic disco pop that got the blogs quivering with excitement and a place on the last BBC Sound Of list. If you were a musical cook then the Mura Masa / Shura recipe (let’s call them Shura Masa) would surely be the signature dish at your latest on the money restaurant - just listen to it; there are strings, there’s Shura’s beautiful calming vocal, there’s groove, there’s even a call to see those lighters. Tasty.

Mura Masa - Love For That (featuring Shura)

Monday, 12 October 2015

Golden Fable - The Crossing

Buffalo aren’t the sort of creatures that you’ll find cropping up in the modern world of pop culture that often, but this new song from Golden Fable brings the hairy beasts back into focus, possibly the first time since U2 used footage of them in one of the three videos they shot for their song One.

This new song, The Crossing, was inspired by a 1960’s novel Butcher's Crossing by John Williams, a tale which focuses on the expedition of four men on the trail of buffalo in the early 1870s in Kansas and Colorado. Starting with a solitary keyboard refrain the song slowly builds, with Rebecca’s beguiling otherworldly voice singing of the wilderness and extreme situation the men find themselves in; bodies in disarray, the beating heat and ‘this poisoning that we’re breathing in.’ It’s beautifully composed, initially mellow and temperate before there’s an aggressive injection of soaring post-rock guitar as the song builds to its heady climax. We’re not quite sure if there’s anyone sounding quite like this right now, which makes the song all the more special.

The Crossing is the first release from Golden Fable that follows Oh Wonder’s recent successful method of online distribution, namely writing, recording and then releasing a song each month (in this case on the first Monday), allowing the band to increase the spontaneity and excitement about what they do rather than wait months before releasing an album. The Crossing is out there now, together with a cover of The Lemonheads It’s A Shame About Ray. Go and get it from their Bandcamp (here).

Golden Fable - The Crossing

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Has Streaming Changed The Way We Listen To Albums?

Over this weekend, conversation, as it often does with us, turned to music, and the fact we’re getting towards the end of the year, which means the inevitable best of / favourite lists that those of us who like to obsess over such things will be compiling and comparing.

“What are your favourite albums of 2015 so far?” we asked.

“Probably the Sleater-Kinney and Julia Holter records,” our friend stated, before adding “mind you I’ve only heard each one twice, so I might change my mind.”

It was the moment we jolted and knocked our cup of coffee over in shock.

“Twice? TWICE? How can you even make a judgement that they come anywhere near being your favourite if you’ve only heard them twice?”

“Well, put it this way, what are your favourite films of 2015?”

“Erm, possibly Selma, or The Theory of Everything, wait…was that even 2015. We quite enjoyed Unfriended as well - not that that's going to be on any end of year lists. ”

“And how many times have you seen them?”

“Just once, at the cinema.”

“Exactly, you’ve only seen them once but you know they are your favourites, so the same applies to albums.”

It’s a strong argument, but it left a nagging feeling with us. Why do we feel so cross that someone can define an album as being one of their favourites having spent so little time with it and yet it’s fine for us to do exactly the same with a film? It’s something we’re struggling with. It might be something to do with a film having a narrative that once known has a lesser impact on subsequent views, whereas generally albums don’t, although interestingly small children love to read the same book over and over even though they know what’s going to happen. Also, it would be very expensive to see the same newly released film many times at the cinema, because unlike albums we have to pay per play.

In the pre-streaming age and assuming you weren’t illegally downloading, it wasn’t possible to listen to every album ever released. In any one year we might buy and listen to maybe 30 albums (far more than most of the people we knew) and hear a few more from friends. But with each purchase, we’d play it many times, even the duff ones. Why? Because we’d invested money in these things, so we were bloody well going to try and find something we liked – even if it was the fact that the NWA record had a LOT of swearing in it and therefore offended our parents.

But now there’s streaming. Spotify has changed everything. Every album, anyplace, anytime; and if it’s no good we can just move on. This sounds amazing! This is awesome! Our listening can diversify like we never imagined! In fact screw albums, now we can just listen to playlists created by curators with supposedly great taste and skip the crap completely. Maybe 2015 will be the year when nobody publishes a favourite albums list and everyone just publishes their top 10 playlists? 

Except we still find this all a little bit sad. Because with listeners jumping from one thing to the next, not spending time with anything, there’s no deeper emotional investment. Everything has turned into a series of musical one night stands and emotionless sonic fucks, with everyone comparing notes at the end of the year about which was the best. 

So what about us?

We’ve analysed our own listening habits:

When we’ve published our own end of year album list on the blog in the past we’ve tried to quantify what we think a ‘favourite’ is. That is, rather than just a qualitative decision made at one snapshot in time, we’ve defined it as being the records we’ve listened to the most in that year. To ensure accuracy we’ve kept a tally of how many times we’ve played albums released in that particular year. 

Now we fully understand the arguments that if you call a record your favourite you don’t have to have played it the most – sometimes you reserve things for special moments.  One of our favourite drinks is a great glass of red wine, but we drink far more water than wine. Although that’s a silly analogy really, because if red wine didn’t give us a hangover we might well drink more of it. 

However, our point is that if just like any relationship, if you like something a lot, you’ll probably want to spend a lot of time with it. 

And as we’ve geekily noted down and added up virtually every single album we listen to (including part plays), and since we now listen to more music through streaming than any other form, we’ve come to the following conclusions:

1. We still spend about the same amount of time listening to music that we always have done. We also still listen to mainly albums. Playlists are something we dive into a little, but we still prefer radio for that additional human element when mixing different artists together, in particular to give context and information. We find playlist a little dry.

2. Although we spend about the same amount of time, we listen to a greater variety of music than ever before. The internet can enable you to bury down amongst your own narrow tunnnels or it can enable you to expand and experience the widest of scopes, We've chosen the second route.

3.. By virtue of 1 and 2 above this means we are listening to many records far fewer times than we used to. In fact there are a multitude of albums this year that we’ve only played once. If they didn’t grab us first time we moved on. There’s always something else demanding to be heard and Spotify allows us to do that. It’s a bit like Tinder with music. First impressions count more than ever.

You’d think that increasing our diversity of listening has made life even better, but here's the killer - it doesn’t. It makes us feel like a musical slag, constantly with our knickers down, allowing anybody and anyone to penetrate us. There's less love. Less depth. Less connection. This is a pretty sorry state of affairs. 

After all the first time we heard Radiohead’s brilliant OK Computer (pre-streaming) we just thought it was OK-ish. But not as good as The Bends. Or even Pablo Honey. But because we’d purchased it and that was all we could afford to buy for a while, we stuck with it, immersed ourselves in it and slowly realised its staggering power. If we’d heard it for the first time now, we’d have probably moved on and never returned.

Having said that, we’re still listening to a lot of records a lot of times. It’s why we think they’re our favourites. You want stats? OK here’s some examples. The Staves released their record If I Was in January. We’ve listened to that 42 times this year so far. Public Service Broadcasting’s Race For Space 38.33 times. Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon (released just a few weeks ago) 15 times. So whilst Spotify has enabled us to listen to more and more, we’re still valuing that complete listening experience – those records that given the time you can find more and more in. But inevitably, with this new way of listening some that don’t grab us instantly will be lost, and that’s a big shame.

Which reminds us, we only listened to that Sleater-Kinney album a couple of times. Maybe it's time to give that another go?

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Petite Meller - Barbaric (Video)

Back in January we (quite rightly) suggested that the video to Baby Love by Petite Meller was the best video of the month. 6 million views and a lot of inanely grinning faces later we’re pretty sure at least a few other members of the human race agree with us. In fact Baby Love is currently in the running for being our favourite video of the year.

Now finally we have the follow up. You’ve probably already heard the song Barbaric (it is after all already on the streaming services and radio) which fundamentally is Baby Love Part 2 with a different lyrical concept; something about repression, particularly of the sexual nature and letting go of your animal instincts, basically just going for it. It's also as insanely catchy as Baby Love. This is your hum on the way to school / college / work song of the day.

But what we’ve really been waiting for is this video. And here it is. These are the basics:

1. This one was filmed in Miami rather than Kenya, so any of the negativity that cropped up here and there about the fetishization of African children won’t be an issue this time.

2. Unlike Baby Love it doesn’t features giraffes. Which is a shame, but it does feature lots of larking around in golf buggies and Petite Meller balancing books on her head, which is very good.

3. It does feature old people and some of them attempt some dancing.

4. It's as colourful as you'd hope.

5. Petite Meller has some amazing hats.

6. At the time of writing it's had less than 300 views. This needs to be rectified, so please watch it at least twice.

Petite Meller plays London’s Heaven later this month (15th Oct). Come and throw off your inhibitions, get barbaric and come dance with her. We will be. No holding back.

Petite Meller - Barbaric (Video)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Fickle Friends - Say No More

Does anyone remember the scene that brought wedge haircuts, pegged trousers and the funk driven bass lines of Level 42 to pop music in the 80’s? Well, Level 42 was never the coolest band on the planet, unless perhaps you were a Pringle cardigan wearing 18 year old in leafy Surrey around that time; but now, if you never have done before, you can prepare to delve deep into the likes of Lessons In Love and Running In The Family, because Fickle Friends new one Say No More brings that Mark King bass-face sound right up to date and it's remarkably good.

Fresh from playing Dials Festival (pictured above), a relatively small 5 venue event that Breaking More Waves helped organise (you can read our thoughts on running a festival using this link), Fickle Friends once again prove that they know how to write a pop song. We suspect this one isn’t just for the trendy pop kids in the know, but the mums and dads as well. Quite possibly our favourite Fickle Friends song since Swim.

Fickle Friends - Say No More

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Future Of Single Track Blogging And Soundcloud

With labels such as Sony having ongoing licensing issues with Soundcloud, removing some of its artists from the platform, and the music industry as a whole moving towards the likes of Spotify and Apple Music to showcase new music, you have to wonder what the future of traditional new music single track blogging will look like. Soundcloud (and to a lesser extent Bandcamp) have been the favourites for many music blogs (including this one) to stream new songs, partly because of its simplicity but also because blog aggregator Hype Machine then picks the song up, enabling potentially hundreds / thousands more plays. Plus as Hype Machine links back to the blogs that post the song, it usual gives the blog that posted the song a tiny bit more traffic as well (albeit a relatively small amount).

If (and it's still a big if - but we can see the potential there) Soundcloud becomes redundant as a platform, what will traditional ‘track blogs’ do? And therefore what will Hype Machine do? 

What would be interesting, certainly in our own country of the UK, would be if Hype Machine picked up single song Spotify embeds. It could potentially mean that a track that is played via Spotify on a blog could, by being ‘loved’ a lot on the Hype Machine Chart, find itself gaining enough plays to reach the official charts (as tracks at the top of the Hype Machine chart get way more plays than others), as the official charts now include streaming. This would provide the possibility for bands like Chvrches or Oh Wonder, both big Breaking More Waves favourites and popular on Hype Machine, to have hit singles on the official UK charts rather than just being 'internet bands'. It would also liven up the chart, given the relatively stale state it has been in recently with very few new entries or high climbers each week. It would also enable completely unsigned self releasing artists to get in the charts via blog success and therefore reach an even wider audience.

For now however, Soundcloud still soldiers on; but unless it can sort out its business side of things and satisfy the music labels it's future is less clear and as yet Hype Machine has made no announcements about using Spotify as one of its sources.

The reason we're talking about this is twofold:

1. How Breaking More Waves could change in the future.

Breaking More Waves is a very old school blog in its presentation and way it does things (a lot of it is traditional single track blogging via Soundcloud). However, we do like to (time permitting) write more than just about the song itself. We like to have wider conversations about music, explore concepts, have discussions. A bit like this post. It’s something that if traditional ‘track blogging’ eventually dies we suspect we will do more and more of. We enjoy doing it and as a bonus we seem to get more readers of our discussion posts than just writing about new songs, often through social media sharing. 

2. Because sometimes the music industry surprises us.

Yesterday, potential future pop star Grace Mitchell uploaded her rather excellent Raceday EP to Soundcloud. Why was this interesting? Because Grace has for some time had the EP on monetised streaming services such as Spotify as well as You Tube, so the late release to Soundcloud defies normal industry convention. The normal course of events would be to upload a song from the EP to Soundcloud, generate interest through blogs and websites and then release the whole EP to monetised sites as interest increased. This release strategy seems to be going the opposite way. If anyone could explain to us why Grace / her label has done this, we'd love to know the reasoning / logic. Or is it just a case (as often seems to be the way these days) that the music industry has no idea what it's doing?

It seems odd, but we’re pleased all the same, because it gives us the opportunity to remind you that the EP is truly excellent and even more so, Jitter, the best song on the EP, is a 1010% crazy bona-fide explosive pop banger. If you haven't heard it yet, it's time...

Grace Mitchell - Jitter

Monday, 5 October 2015

8 Things We Learnt This Weekend About Running A Music Festival

Whilst Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth is well served for music festivals such as Victorious (a huge outdoor event with some big names and bargain ticket prices) and Icebreaker (local scene multi-venue festival), when it’s longest running new music event, Southsea Fest announced it was taking a year out there was some disappointment locally.

So rather than just moan about it, a bunch of local music enthusiasts, including Breaking More Waves,  got together and decided to run a replacement festival that we called Dials (the name coming loosely from the concept of everyone involved having different tastes / skills - different locations on the dial if you like). Dials was strictly D-I-Y. There was no big corporate sponsor, no advance funding except for digging into our own pockets, and the vast majority of people involved in the team were also balancing busy day jobs and other life commitments that had nothing to do with running a such an event.

Whilst Breaking More Waves’ involvement in the festival was far less than some of the other truly hard working souls who put their names forward, what we did do for Dials (help in booking some of the acts using the contacts that we’d developed from running the blog, putting some money on the table, organising and running the majority of press liaison, and a small amount of marketing and promotion) helped us gain a deeper understanding of just some of the pressures and difficulties festivals are under, some of which don't get talked about very much. 

Here are some of the things we learnt:

1. Cashflow is everything (Part 1 – Punters and tickets)

Stuff doesn’t happen without it being paid for. And when your main source of funding is ticket sales this means that there’s a very difficult balance between what’s going out and what comes in. When you book your ticket for a festival you might think that the money goes straight to the organiser. Not necessarily. Many ticket agencies withhold money they take until after the event has occurred, so that if it is cancelled they can refund easily. So as an organiser your choice of who you sell tickets with is incredibly important for cashflow, as is how you arrange for things to be paid for up front, and as a punter, if money isn't being held back by the ticket agency, buying your ticket early or from local physical retailers can help the festival to overcome the issue of cashflow.

2. Cashflow is everything (Part 2 – Bands)

Dials’ original intention was to pay every band on the bill. However, it quickly became clear after doing the maths and taking all costs into account this wasn’t possible. Quite simply, to put on an event with 45 bands (that’s nearly 200 musicians - roughly a quarter of our total capacity / ticket sales) in small venues, with no big sponsorship and to pay everyone would lead to cancellation before tickets had even started to be sold. Before Dials we’d always thought that musicians should be paid for every show they played, but the practical reality is far more complex. Dials paid every national touring act that performed, and most larger local acts, however some acts, who were generally occupying bottom of the bill slots, playing to just a handful of people for half an hour, weren't offered payment. However we tried to treat these acts as fairly as we could – they were all given a small amount of free drinks and had their festival wristband so they could enjoy the rest of the day watching the music after they had played.

3. Cashflow is everything (Part 3 – Blaggers)

The number of blaggers shocked us. That's blaggers, not bloggers. This wasn’t an expensive festival (£15 early bird / £18 regular / £20 on the door, for an event that ran from 1pm to 11pm + DJs after ) and every band was entitled to a set number of cheap guest tickets at £10 where they arranged them in advance. We also had a number of photographers, press and competition winners who received free tickets.  Yet we were surprised at the numbers of people trying the ‘I’m friends / with such and such a band and I should be on the guest / press list’ approach or people who expected there to be a totally free guest list. Dials wasn’t Glastonbury. It was a small independent festival where every ticket sale counted; not to make money for the organisers, but so that we could pay the people we had agreed to pay; artists, security etc. 

If you went to see a film you wouldn’t expect to get a free ticket from the cinema just because you happened to be mates with one of the actors in it would you? Music festivals are the same. The bottom line is if Dials gave everyone  who thought they were entitled to a free ticket a free ticket, there would be no Dials. 

Likewise the number of bands / their representatives who put down frankly ludicrous requests in their contracts for their riders. If you called a plumber to your house to do a small job that you were paying him say £150 for would you expect the plumber to request a roasted chicken (sliced) and a bottle of spirits in addition to his payment?

4. It’s quite possible to have a festival line up that features as many acts with women in them as men.

Earlier this year you may have seen various articles online asking why UK festivals were dominated by male only bands after Josh at Crack In The Road blog produced a now internet-famous poster showing the acts playing this years Reading / Leeds festivals that contained female musicians. At Dials we were very pleased that nearly half of the acts playing contained female musicians. Several ticket holders commented positively on how great it was to see so many women on stage. It’s sad that they should even have to comment on this, but what we learnt was that: 1. It is very possible to book a festival line-up where women were given as much opportunity as men and  2. That punters will watch music by either sex – all they care about is if the acts are good or not.

5. There’s a lot more to organising a festival than you could possibly imagine. You do need professional help and people with experience.

Despite the D-I-Y approach that Dials had, within the team we had highly professional and experienced people who knew what they were doing. Without these hard working and brilliant people who understand how to run venues, who know the right people to speak to and who understand the stuff that nobody wants to do like financial accounting Dials wouldn’t have happened. These people all put their hearts into Dials for one reason - they wanted a live music event like this in Portsmouth.

6. Successful bands aren’t just good musicians. They go about their jobs professionally.

If you’re a musician and you’re due to play a festival and your stage time is 1.30pm, turning up late or even worse not at all because you’ve been waiting for a taxi / are hungover / didn’t realise what time you were on and not phoning the organisers to let them know is not a way to impress either the festival management or the punters who have decided to come and watch you rather than someone else. To be fair Dials only had a small amount of these instances and they were from local artists lower on the bill who probably lack experience – all of the more well known acts were absolutely professional in their approach. In fact our main headliner was the first band to arrive!

7. Everyone wants their name on the top of the bill.

We suspect this is more to do with bands agents than the bands themselves (who generally don’t seem to care and just want to play) but everyone wants their name nearer the top end of the poster that’s advertising the event. Maybe the way to go is just to list all bands from A-Z, then there is no room for egos, only the alphabet.

8. Being part of running a music festival carries some level of stress, but with the right team, it can be an absolute blast.

To say that we were on an incredible high after the last band had played at Dials is somewhat of an understatement. Seeing bands like Black Honey (one of our choices / bookings for the event) play to a packed sweaty room, watching another of our choices  Alice Jemima, who we have been championing for some time, playing to a warm and attentive crowd and clearly enjoying herself, getting namechecks from stage for the blog from at least 2 of the acts that played and meeting many of the artists that we have written about over the last few years who without exception were lovely, seeing so many positive comments about the festival on social media after it was all finished and just being part of it all  was way more than we could have ever expected when we started this humble music blog back in 2008.

And the thing that we’ve learnt the most? That old cliché about teamwork being the best way to get results. That truly was the way with Dials. 

*This post is the opinion of Breaking More Waves Blog and not necessarily reflective of the opinion of all of the Dials team.

Friday, 2 October 2015

George Cosby - New Waves

Here’s a song to knock your socks off. Ritual Bush by newcomer George Cosby is a tune that really wants to be something. It's absolutely full of grandiose ambition, No, correction, it’s a song that really is something, not just wants to be. One listen will confirm that as it stomps its way in, kicking down every door before it; like great sex it will leave you breathless and wanting more, even although it’s given everything. Unlike great sex it only lasts three minutes and thirty seconds. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine a more indie version of Samuel T Herring  of Future Islands, with added guitars, crooning away with huge gestures.  It’s an undeniably great start.

After working his way round many of the festivals that Breaking More Waves attended this summer (Great Escape, Bushstock, Somersault) Crosby’s debut EP is to follow in November. If it in any way matches up to Ritual Bush it will be the music writers equivalent of a sports commentator yelling 'he's just played an absolute blinder'.

George Cosby - Ritual Bush

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Iris Gold - Color Trip

If big hair was a guarantee of big success (we’re looking at you Rae Morris and Ella Eyre) then Iris Gold would be a dead certainty. Alas the rules of pop are far more complicated than that; although good hair is nearly as important as good songs - there's so many cases of an artist getting a bad haircut and never recovering creatively or commercially. 

However, irrespective of Moby like baldness or her current big afro, and irrespective or commercial potential or not, we’d be writing about Iris Gold’s Color Trip, because it’s one of those slightly chattering, trippy sounding pop tunes that’s just infused with cool. If you’ve ever heard Q-Tee (she rapped on St Etienne’s song Calico from their 1993 LP So Tough and had one minor hit single a few years later with Gimme That Body) or Ms Dynamite (surely she needs no introduction) then you might be inclined to compare the delivery style to one of those. 

Color Trip’s already been picked up by a small handful of blogs and pretty much all of them will have already told you something about the lyrics which mention incense, crystals and flowers in the hair. This is good because we’re often appalled by the lack of attention that blogs pay to lyrics -we wrote about that on this post linked here. Alas in this instance it probably has more to do with the press release feeding this information, but still, at least people are enjoying Iris’s hippie-hop vibe.

Iris Gold - Color Trip