Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Preview / Recommendations (Friday)

No messing, no commentary on the event (you can find that on yesterday’s post), I’m just going straight in with 5 music makers that are on my list of possible (venue capacities permitting) acts to see at this year’s Great Escape festival, which takes place in Brighton city centre at a variety of venues between 19th and 21st May. Then I finish by tossing up a link to a recommendation for a band on the Alt Escape line up as well.

Here are my choices from the Friday line-up. (You can find Thursday's choices on this link here) If you’re going you can see all these 5 selections with no clashes (unfortunately my Alt Escape bonus pick does clash). If you’re a regular reader of Breaking More Waves none of these choices will in any way surprise you.

Note: You should also go and see Have You Ever Seen The JaneFonda Aerobic VHS? On Friday at the Queens Hotel at 14:30 because with a name like that and being from Finland they can be nothing but incredible. Also in between Black Honey and Declan McKenna at Wagner Hall  there’s Loyal, an act that is very much loved by the blogosphere, so they’re going to be worth sticking around for. Don’t go to the bar instead.

Xylaroo 13:00 The Pop-Up Stage

If singing sisters are a thing (and the evidence suggests they are – The Staves, First Aid Kit, Haim…er…..The Nolan Sisters) then these sisters, one of two acts we’re recommending from the Sunday Best stable are another name to add to the list. I tipped Xylaroo as One to Watch for 2016 last year on the blog, so go on, take my advice and watch them.

Pleasure Beach 15.30 Spiegeltent

I’ve seen (and maybe in some cases written) words about Northern Ireland’s Pleasure Beach that compare them to Arcade Fire, War On Drugs and Bruce Springsteen. This is the point where I should say ‘but that’s just lazy journalism’. But it isn’t – because those comparisons have some basis of truth. It’s not lazy journalism – it’s accurate journalism. Lazy journalists are the ones who work for a couple of hours in a day and then call it quits to go down the pub / watch TV. Anyway, I digress. I have no idea what Pleasure Beach are like live, but if they sound anything like their recorded material they should be pretty marvellous.

Alice Jemima 19.00 Jubilee Gardens

The unsigned artist that I’ve posted the most about in the history of Breaking More Waves, but now she’s signed to Sunday Best. She recently released a rather clever tune called Liquorice. It went top 10 on the Hype Machine. She’s playing BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend. It’s all very exciting. This is why you should catch Alice Jemima at Great Escape. If you see a man explode like a bomb in front of you – that’s me. The excitement got too much.

Black Honey 20:30 Wagner Hall

The band most likely to 'do a Wolf Alice' over the next year or so. Need I say any more? Rock ‘n’ roll with a nostalgic twangy cinematic twist. Breaking More Waves regulars.They’re the real deal and genuine contenders. If you haven't seen them yet, make Black Honey a must. 

Declan McKenna 22:30 Wagner Hall

The winner of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition in 2015. Two fascinating, unusual and assured singles in the form of Brazil and Paracetamol. Another of Breaking More Waves’ Ones To Watch 2016. A young but rare talent doing something different in a crowded field of the singer songwriters. For once someone that isn't Ed Sheeran-like or r'n'b influenced pop

Alt Escape Bonus Pick: Majik 19.15 North Laine Brewhouse 

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Preview / Recommendations (Thursday)

‘Festival season’ in the UK doesn’t really exist now – with the exception of Christmas week it’s possible to go to a music festival, be it in a field camping in the summer or a multi-venue event in a city centres or holiday camp, all year round. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry is organising a music festival. Hell, in the last year even I’ve been part of a small team that has organised two of the things - Dials, a multi-venue event in Portsmouth replacing Southsea Fest whilst it took a year out and the follow up Dials Days, a two room-one venue bargain bucket festival which charged just £10 to see the likes of Fear Of Men, Champs, Femme, Avec Sans, Estrons and about ten more.

However, probably the most established and popular of the multi-venue festivals is Brighton’s Great Escape. Why? Because, whilst many festivals fill their bills with new music, Great Escape does it on a colossal scale. Over 3 days around 30 venues in Brighton pay host to 450 emerging artists from all over the world. On top of that there’s the Alt. Escape, the festival’s sister event which puts on many more showcases, free to Great Escape wristband holders and most of which admit the general public for free or a small fee.

Great Escape is the must go to event of the year for new music fans; I usually manage to see somewhere between 35 and 40 full performances over 3 full days. Also for those who are interested or part of the music industry side of things there’s a very full conference for which you can buy a delegate ticket, but frankly I’d rather get into the thick of the action and just gulp down as much live music as I possibly can.

Over the years at Great Escape I’ve seen the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Foals, Haim, Chvrches and London Grammar taking their first baby footsteps into the world of popular music, playing sets to small intimate crowds before they became household names. Of course the festival still markets itself partly on ‘discovery’ but with the advent of streaming and playlists (the Great Escape has its own comprehensive playlist on Spotify ) the idea of ‘discovery’ has changed from hearing a band for the first time, to discovering if the artist can actually cut it live.

However, in case you’re going and haven’t had the time to run through all the bands playing, I’ve done the job for you, and so over the course of the next 3 blog posts I’m going to be recommending five acts from the official bill (and a link to 1 bonus act from the Alt Escape) that are, if nothing else, on my list of ‘possibles’ to see.

Let’s start with Thursday:

Vallis Alps (Komedia 12:15) (Also playing at Brighthelm 22:30)

The Komedia is the place to be get your Great Escape off to a fantastic start. A showcase of varied high quality Australian artists kicks off with an act that I first introduced to the blog in January 2015. Parissa Tossif and David Ansari are Vallis Alps and will appeal to those who want to be slowly teased into the weekend with a drowsy blend of pop that tugs on the heartstrings.

Northeast Party House (Komedia 15:35) (Also playing Coalition 00:15 Saturday)

At the other end of the showcase that Vallis Alps open are Northeast Party House. Remember Friendly Fires? Well Northeast Party House bring that same level energy in their songs. This is four-to-the-floor hands in the air celebration music but with a rougher rockier edge. Like Foals going dancing.

Let’s Eat Grandma (The Haunt 20:30) (Also playing Latest Music Bar 01:00-01:45 Saturday)

Already well covered on Breaking More Waves since summer last year, Let’s Eat Grandma are two teenage girls who produce music and a live show that’s like experimental jazz in a scrappy multi-instrumental pop format. Not everything they do works, but even when it doesn’t it’s more than intriguing.

Jones (Paganini Ballroom 22:15) (Also playing Wagner Hall 16.30 and 21:00)

Another act that I first featured some time ago (September 2014). At the time I described Jones' music as ‘breezy electronic soul pop’. Since that time she’s appeared on Later with Jools and has wowed many with her song Hoops.

Anteros (Paganini Ballroom 23:15)

Anteros have at least 2 killer songs in their bag. The first is recent single Breakfast which has a really fun video (including a pop star in the bath moment for all pop star in the bath followers) of fashion), the other is the song from which their name also derives. Already touted as Ones to Watch for 2016 by plenty of tastemakers, Great Escape will be many people's first opportunity to witness what else they have to offer. Here's hoping the rest isn't filler.

Alt Escape Bonus Pick: Wyldest (The Globe 21:05)

Thursday, 28 April 2016

New Music: Blaenavon - I Will Be The World (Video)

Gosh was it really 4 years since I first wrote about Blaenavon on Breaking More Waves? It was.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about the band in that time:

1. Their lead singer dances on stage like he needs a wee and is holding it in. Maybe he is. If so he should really learn to go before the gig. Mind you I once saw Duke Special play a show at Southampton Joiners, where he stopped halfway through so he could go to the loo. It put a whole new meaning on the idea of a ‘toilet venue’. Mind you, not as much as when I saw Thomas Truax play there, when he performed inside a women’s lavatory (or wash room as my lovely American friends would call it). Yes, I know this is getting a bit off the point, but if you just want to know what the music sounds like you can just press play can’t you? (Discuss: Traditional ‘reviews’ in music writing are dead.)

2. The process of playing more and more shows has made Blaenavon a better and better band.

3. They’re probably not going to be picked up by any trendy high street stores such as Urban Outfitters for a new season fashion campaign – despite their resolutely indie appeal which you would think UO would like – unlike the last band and label mates that I posted about (Let’s Eat Grandma) who are currently propping up some of the stores' promotional work.

4. They're not afraid of a big old noisily screaming guitar orgasm work-out, as you will see during the video for I Will Be The World, the first track from their forthcoming debut album. Take a listen below. Words like powerful and quirky probably apply.

5. The dog in the picture doesn't play anything in the group. I've yet to confirm if it is part of Blaenavon's songwriting team.

Blaenavon - I Will Be The World (Video)

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

New Music: Let's Eat Grandma - Eat Shiitake Mushrooms

Here’s a picture of Let’s Eat Grandma laying down.

An obvious thing to say perhaps, but I've often wondered why music bloggers don’t comment on musicians’ promo pictures very often. For example, take the growing fashion for sitting in the bath, sometimes naked, sometimes clothed (just Google Pop Stars In The Bath if you don't believe me). This to me seems a pretty bonkers / strange thing to do and yet whilst many bloggers write beautiful wordy dig-out-the-thesaurus pieces about the music, they fail to comment on the absurdity of the thing that’s staring them right in the face when they post the bath pic. Surely it's worth mentioning? 

Now laying down may not seem that odd. But that’s my point. Let’s Eat Grandma are a pretty bonkers band. The sort of group you’d really expect to see doing an in the bath promo pic. Maybe that will come with the album promotion. I imagine them sitting in a bath of glitter paint, dressed in robes, maybe with some pot plants around them as well. The album incidentally is called I, Gemini and will be released on the 17th June via Transgressive Records.

So back to that picture. It seems that Let’s Eat Grandma are pretty fond of a lay down. I recently caught their debut headline London gig, which found them playing a multitude of instruments including keyboard, xylophone, recorder, guitar, drums, saxophone and ukulele in one of the most off-kilter pop shows I’ve seen for a long time. But most importantly, during the gig, in the middle of a song, they laid down and had a nap on stage.

Oh, I almost forgot to comment on the new song. That’s what I’m meant to do isn’t it, as a *serious* music blogger? It’s called Eat Shiitake Mushrooms, which is certainly a better title than One Dance, Work or Love Yourself (feel free to add your own Top 40 single title here xxxxxxxxxxx – most of them are incredibly bland). It’s over six minutes long, and includes a near 3-minute instrumental intro, some rapping, some singing and a weird keyboard groove. Yet despite its d-i-y experimental oddness, it works. 

There’s no doubt the album is going to be one of the more out-there pop releases of 2016.

Phew, after that I need a lay down myself.

Let's Eat Grandma - Eat Shiitake Mushrooms

Saturday, 23 April 2016

New Music: Billie Marten - Milk & Honey

Ah Billie Marten. From pretty humble beginnings Billie’s music has been finding an audience, and whilst ‘success’ in music isn’t necessarily the most important thing, from my perspective as a new music blogger, I relish the idea that there are other people out there who hear what I hear and feel what I feel when they listen to something I’ve posted. Falling in love isn’t always easy, but Billie’s music makes the whole process that much easier. 

Billie’s new song Milk & Honey, the follow up to Bird, continues to create all sorts of wonderful feelings. It’s just….perfect. It’s tenderly soft for sure, but never dainty; a heartfelt and rewarding listen that touches on the concepts of greed and commercialism. It’s no wonder she found herself on plenty of those end of year tip lists last year (including mine – here); and this is another example to justify her inclusion on them.

Billie Marten - Milk & Honey

Thursday, 21 April 2016

New Music: Alice Jemima - Liquorice

When I started writing a new music blog, I didn’t really think why I was writing it, I just did it. I had no aspirations to become an A&R man in the music industry or a music journalist. I had no desire to be considered cool or for my blog to be ‘successful’ whatever that means – except perhaps unless success means enjoying what you do – in which case I have every desire to be that and am by my own definition successful. 

I just set up a blog and wrote it. 

I never thought about some of the wonderful opportunities it could bring me, or how it would allow me to meet many brilliant people from all aspects of life.

This is very much the case with Alice Jemima. I first wrote about her way back in 2011, when she was a seventeen year old, just recording songs in her bedroom. Since that first post about Alice, I have, in a very small way, been part of her journey. It’s a journey that has found me getting to know her a little. From our first taste of marmalade vodka under a setting sun in Dorset, to attending a Radio 1 Maida Vale session with her (truly one of the highlights of my life) to drunk dancing to sixties music in my hometown of Portsmouth with Alice screaming “I could dance all night,” as we dragged her away from the dancefloor to get some sleep. All because I wrote some words about her on the internet.

It’s been incredible to see Alice go from having just a handful of plays on her Soundcloud, to her cover version of No Diggity clocking up nearly 3 million listens. It’s been exceptionally gratifying to see her develop slowly and naturally, from a nervous but engaging performer to the person she is now; more confident, assured and knowing what she wants to do. But maybe the most exciting thing of all was finding out that Alice had been signed to one of my favourite independent record labels; Sunday Best. It's a label that's released the likes of Lucky Elephant, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Valerie June, Kate Tempest's early project Sound of Rum and more recently Xylaroo; all favourites of mine. It's a label that seems to focus on quality and originality rather than whatever is flavour of the month. Then of course then there’s Bestival, the festival that sprung from Sunday Best, which is one of the highlights of my year – I’ve even got to perform there myself several times as a DJ, once to a huge and rammed Big Top. I’ve missed just 1 Bestival since it started in 2004, and Alice has also become a regular there – way before she was signed.

So to the music. It’s been 4 years since her self-released debut EP. That’s a hell of a long gap before releasing your second. But like with all good cooking, you need great ingredients and time. Alice has both. Now she’s ready. There’s an EP due in June. There will be an album as well. But for now, here’s Liquorice. If you've heard Alice's older self-released material (pretty much of all of which has feature on this blog), you're in for a surprise. Liquorice is unlike anything she’s done before. It’s the one that when I first heard it in her live set it made me go ‘WTF’ and then by the end I was grinning from ear to ear. It’s a sweetshop extravaganza. It's a very clever and utterly unique pop song. It shows how far Alice Jemima has come. It's probably not like anything else on her album. It's bubbling with goodness.

Let’s take those flying saucers right up to Mars. What a journey.

Alice Jemima - Liquorice

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

New Music: Introducing - Minque

Hailing from my very own sunny south coast home of Southsea, Portsmouth comes Minque, aka 18 year old Dani Uziel, a brand new artist who uploaded her debut track Bones to the internet just a few days ago.

Like many new acts she’s not giving away too much about herself right now; the statement ‘rhymes with think and sink’ probably doesn’t tell you a lot, so for now let’s focus on the music.

Bones is a stately piece of electronic pop music, full of night time synths that throb in a way that sounds more melancholy than they do hedonistic, with a gentle chorus that oozes into your head. Even towards the end when for a moment it sounds like the track is going to morph into some sort of building nasty banger and spoil it all, it restrains itself, reverting back to a point of understated calmness. A very promising start.

Minque - Bones

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

New Music: Pleasure Beach - Magic Mountain

Belfast band Pleasure Beach made their way onto the Blog Sound of 2016 poll longlist, a survey I’ve helped run for the last few years, although I’ll be taking a backseat for 2017, then nearly clambered onto the shortlist top 5 (1 more vote would have done it). It’s therefore no surprise to learn that as I write this a number of blogs have already picked up on their new song Magic Mountain, a thunder horse of a song, full of musical punch the air jubilance. It’s one of those burly rock tunes that makes the non-musicians amongst us air drum like no is watching, or mime into a hairbrush microphone whilst pulling shapes and doing rock star slides on our knees. It’s a song that goes POW! It’s a song that goes BAM!  It’s a song that you need in your life right now.

Magic Mountain will be released on April 22nd via Faction Records. 

Pleasure Beach have two confirmed shows at The Great Escape in Brighton in May. You’ll almost certainly find me at one of them.

Pleasure Beach - Magic Mountain

Monday, 18 April 2016

New Music: Introducing - Paradisia

As someone who was brought up on a strict diet of Bruce Springsteen (and Neil Diamond) by my mother I have a love / hate relationship with The Boss. I really don’t care for the length of his 4 hour plus concerts, his obsessive fans who swear that he changed their life, or even some of his so called classic songs. Sorry, I just don't get The River at all. However, I will admit to being hugely fond of his Ghost of Tom Joad album and like the fact that he’s always stuck to what he believes in - he seems like a decent and principled man.

But here comes a Bruce Springsteen song I can get behind very easily. An absolutely heavenly cover version of his 80’s MTV winner Dancing In The Dark (you know, the one where he grabs the girl out of the audience and in turn gave Bono a whole bunch of ideas) played and sung to perfection. It's by a band with a rather great name - Paradisia. No, I’d never heard of them until just now either. The vocals possess a significant similarity to those from the band The Night VI….. oh hold on…there’s a reason for that. Paradisia are the three female members of The Night VI. 

Move over Bruce, it’s time for something beautiful.

Paradisia - Dancing In The Dark

Saturday, 16 April 2016

New Music: Jerry Williams - Mother

If I had to pick one band that I would desperately love to reform it would be 90's indie darlings The Sundays. Their three albums, and in particular their debut Reading Writing and Arithmetic probably helped shaped my future musical taste and listening more than pretty much anything else, and Harriet Wheeler remains one of my favourite vocalists of all time. Back in 2014 there was exclusive news (bizarrely via American Airlines' inflight magazine) that having stepped away from the limelight nearly 20 years ago to raise a family, Harriet and her partner David were writing again and that maybe, just maybe there would be some new songs. However at this stage we can't be sure. (See what I did there, see? you here)

Why do I mention all of this? Simply because after pressing play on Mother, the snappy two and a half minutes worth of tuneage from Portsmouth's Jerry Williams, the first thing that hit me was the similarity in the vocal delivery to Harriet Wheeler, especially during the verses. At this point it's pretty fair to say that unless the song was a steaming lump of turd, it was always going to become my new best friend of a song. Musically buoyant, but lyrically a little down in the dumps, it marks a slight shift in Jerry’s sound from when I first featured her to a more indie pop style. Expect your postman to be whistling this one down your street soon.

Jerry plays a free home town gig this Sunday at Little Johnny Russell's in Southsea, Portsmouth (get there early because she's on stage just after 8) followed by London gigs at The Finsbury (19th) and Birthdays (25th). According to Record of the Day (who also compared Jerry's vocal to Harriet Wheeler - they're not wrong) Jerry has been working alongside Dan Carey (Rae Morris, Kate Tempest, Bat For Lashes)' Nick Atkinson (Gabrielle Aplin) and most impressively Slow Club, a band that Jerry has often expressed her love for.

Jerry Williams - Mother

Thursday, 14 April 2016

New Music: Xylaroo - I'm On My Way

Here’s my new favourite lyric to holler along to: “If sex is the reason, then I guess we’re all f*cked, ‘cos we’re all getting closer, but I wouldn’t call it love.” It’s from acoustic-country-folk-pop duo Xylaroo and their new song On My Way. A jaunty little number that celebrates drinking, lying and finding freedom through doing what you want.“I’m on my way, I’m on way on my way to hell,” they sing with those lovely harmonies. I’ve probably said it before but I’ll say it again, they’re like the UK’s version of First Aid Kit, and that’s bloody marvellous isn’t it? And was that a reference to Aleister Crowley the notorious recreational drug experimenter and bisexual? I think it was. If anything was ever going to make me grab a bottle of hard liquor and learn line dancing, this would be it. 

Xylaroo - I'm On My Way

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

New Music: Introducing - Basement Revolver

I first came across Basement Revolver when Chris from The Metaphorical Boat posted about them a few days ago and gave the almost inevitable comparison to the band Alvvays. 

Johnny, the debut effort from this Ontario based trio is all about rough distorted guitars that sound like they're being struck with almost nonchalant anger and a pretty pop melody over the top. I'll always be a sucker for a hooky tune, so this one grabbed me immediately.

Once again the process of songwriting is used here in a cathartic form, the lyrics dealing with a past relationship. What would writers do without them? Maybe I should try it with this blog and write about some ex-girlfriends. How about ‘Ex-Girlfriends and the music they liked?’ There would be quite a few records by The Smiths in that feature. In fact the chorus of this song sounds exactly like the sort of thing those ex-girlfriends might love, as it wallows about in angst. "It's a really bad time right now'" lead vocalist Chrisy Hurn tells us. It's another opportunity to enjoy other people's misery.

Oh, and talking of misery, look at those poor plants in that picture. They could do with some water.

Basement Revolver - Johnny

Monday, 11 April 2016

Why Do I (And Maybe You) Love New Music?

At the back end of last year I posted about some changes on the blog, which in summary amounted to making Breaking More Waves more personal, dropping the royal ‘we’ and using the word ‘I’ in my posts, plus losing the focus on new music and writing about whatever the hell I wanted. 

Truth be told, I’d got a little bored, not with new music, but writing about it constantly. I felt that I was repeating myself over and over again. Not only that, but some of the more conceptual ideas that I used as a loose and occasional thread running through the blog (such as my argument that rock music had become like folk music and reached middle age in terms of new ideas, or my over use of the word ‘sexy’ all the time to demonstrate just actually how unsexy ‘sexiness’ could be when there was too much of it) had run out of steam and were often ignored or misunderstood by readers.

Now here I am nearly halfway through April, and a quick review of this years' posts and my promise of ‘less posts, with more variation in what they cover’ has only half delivered. There were less posts. A few were more personal in tone, but in terms of output, new music still makes up 95% of what I’m writing about. Of course ultimately this blog is my personal baby, so I can do what the f*ck I want with it, and if new music is grabbing me hard right now, then that’s what I’ll cover.

But my question (and the point of this unedited waffle) is….why do so many blogs (including mine) post about new music?

Why is ‘discovery’ such an attraction for people like me who write about music on the internet? 

After all, it really isn’t for the average person on the street. Joe Average would rather listen to Adele or Coldplay again than some new-fangled singer they’d never heard of. They'd prefer go to 1 gig a year at the O2 for £75 rather than risk paying £10 to see 3 new acts in a small club venue. I've seen enough evidence of that over the years to believe that to be true. 

But I’m not like that. I saw Coldplay in front of just over 100 people at the Joiners Arms in Southampton where they were second on the bill (supporting Terris) - they were great. I told my girlfriend after that I'd eat my hat if they weren't selling out stadiums in a few years time. I still have the hat. Ditto Adele – for £5 in a pub in Brighton. At Coldplay I really struggled to find anyone to come along with me. “Nah, never heard of ‘em Robin,” was the response.

And why does it have to be discovery of the latest thing rather than say personal discoveries of older records? Is it because writing about new music is actually easier and less time consuming, as there’s less context and history to consider, and in these hyper-speed days of the web nobody wants to spend too much time on any one thing in case they’re missing out on something else? Certainly the state of professional journalism would suggest so. Today I read an article on the NME website that was 100% copied and pasted from the press release. I know because I received the press release as well. If that's the state of journalism, why do we even need journalists? But I digress...

Or is it because music bloggers are like adulterers, constantly unsatisfied with what they’ve already got or had, constantly seeking out new thrills from something they haven’t had before? Even better if nobody else got there first?

I’m still trying to work this out. My brain seems to be wired differently to Joe Average. For me the new is often more thrilling than the old. But I’m still not sure why that is and if it’s a good or bad thing.

I guess the only way to find out is write more about the old and see how I feel after that.

New Music: Pumarosa - Cecile

Photo credit: Hollie Fernando

If you type the words Ones to Watch 2016 and Pumarosa into Google the chances are you'll come up with a whole bunch of UK based websites that had this East London quintet down as tips for this year. Breaking More Waves was among them of course; in fact in terms of bloggers bragging rights, my tip was probably the first of those year end lists - all on the back of a couple of demos I wrote about in February 2015 and the mighty 7 minute epic Priestess released last September.

Whilst I've been on holiday Pumarosa have unveiled a new tune and so there was absolutely no chance of me being an annoying smug faced blogger laying a claim to being first this time. Also rather thankfully Cecile isn't a second rate copy of Priestess. The hypnotic-goth-trance sound of that previous song has been ditched for something else completely. A torrent of drums give way to an indie groove before the song relinquishes itself to the delirious power of the sax - which I'm reliably informed by others sounds a 'bit like Spear of Destiny'. Go ask your dad about them kids, and get him to listen to this at the same time. I'm confident he'll like it and after all there's nothing better to raise a smile than a bit of dad dancing.

Pumarosa - Cecile

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2016 - Live Final

Last night I attended a superb night of live music at Pilton Working Men’s Club in Somerset for the final of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. The winning act was Merseyside based psych-pop four piece She Drew The Gun, (pictured above) a band that I recently featured on the blog back in March because of their song Poem – a song for our times that is both thought provoking and goosebump invoking. She Drew The Gun played the song last night and as Neil Meads, music blogger from the long established Music Like Dirt tweeted at the event “She Drew The Gun may have just stolen the @Glastofest “ETC2016 competition live final with this ‘Poem’”.  He was right.

That’s not to say that the other 7 acts on the bill weren’t all very good. Glasgow’s R ‘n’ B part dudes Bossy Love deserved their second place just because of the sheer fun they brought to the room and third placed Hattie Whitehead delivered soothing high quality musicianship.

She Drew The Gun's prize is a slot on one of the festival’s main stages, plus a £5,000 talent development award from PRS Foundation, whilst the second and third acts get £2,500 from PRS. Because of the high quality of the acts and performances, all 8 finalists have been given a slot somewhere at the festival.

The judges for the live final included Michael and Emily Eavis from Glastonbury and a variety of music industry professionals. I was personally involved in the first round of the competition, being one of the 40 music writer judges who whittled down the 5,000+ entrants to a long list of 120. Congratulations to Rory Gibb from The Quietus for selecting She Drew The Gun from his allocation of all of the original entries.

The Emerging Talent Competition was, once again, a hugely successful event, run with immaculate professionalism, showing that music competitions can be all about highlighting quality music and not about celebrity and fame in the way that shows like X Factor are. 

She Drew The Gun - Poem (Video)

She Drew The Gun - Where I End And You Begin

Saturday, 9 April 2016

New Music: Black Honey - All My Pride

A few weeks ago I went to see Black Honey at Guildford's Boiler Room venue and was pleasantly surprised for the big turn out for the band. Not that I should be surprised - they're a f*cking brilliant live act with a highly charismatic front woman and great musicianship - but I'm so used to turning up to shows in smaller cities and towns outside of London and finding what I consider to be superb bands playing to one man and his dog. It wasn't after all that long ago that I saw Wolf Alice in the same room and there were far less people there than for Black Honey, and yet now Wolf Alice are playing to 1000+ venues outside of London, have mass adoration and even got a nomination for the Mercury Prize. 

In many ways Black Honey's growth feels very similar to Wolf Alice - both have been loved by the blogosphere from the word go, but it's never felt like false hype or buzzy. Because of that each band has been able to take their time, refining their sound, releasing a number of singles and EPs and growing their audience organically, particularly through that good old fashioned route of playing live lots and winning a loyal audience. Current supports with Catfish & The Bottlemen will undoubtedly help as well.

Whilst I was away on holiday Black Honey put out a new track called All My Pride, so just in case you haven't heard it yet it's streaming below. A combination of thrashy indie energy, cocky yet scarred vocals, twangy guitars and a spearing chorus, it's another fine additional to their catalogue. 

All My Pride Is taken from a forthcoming EP called Headspin and judging by the other new songs Black Honey played in Guildford, it is going to be exceptionally good.

Black Honey - All My Pride

New Music: Introducing - New Portals

I always find it quite amusing when researching a new act before writing about them to find that in some small way the artists concerned have already connected with Breaking More Waves. In this case it seems that New Portals, a husband and wife two piece formed out of the ashes of Northern Irish alt-folk band The Jepettos, already follow the blog on Twitter. They may of course have already sent me information about their music via email, but if they did, I missed it, possibly because of a recent holiday, but more likely because I open only a fraction of everything I receive each day. 

My route to hearing and writing about New Portals was a little more organic than just a regular PR email. In fact I first saw their name cropping up on Twitter via a number of music blogs with similar tastes to mine. Then there was a mention of Chvrches and Oh Wonder as comparisons Paul Lester's Guardian New Band Of The Week column. Now bearing in mind those two bands made my favourite records of 2013 and 2015 respectively, it would be contrary to not investigate further.

There's certainly a hint of Oh Wonder in the use of hand clicks and pretty electronic instrumentation in New Portal's tune Groove Boy and the simultaneous boy girl vocals used on the languidly epic Skyline also find synergy with the way that Anthony and Josephine do things. But before I get carried away and suggest that New Portals are just an Oh Wonder tribute band it's worth a full appraisal of the other songs they have online. Standing Over Here with its lyrics about still being "off your head from last night on the dance floor," is a cleverly neat pop tune and Do It Right is an elegant, near trippy modern groove. Neither sound anything like Oh Wonder. However they do share one further commonality - both duos are good - or even more than that. Take a listen below.

New Portals - Groove Boy (Video)

New Portals - Skyline

New Music: Broods - Free (Video)

Next on a catch up of new tunes whilst I've been away on holiday is something from New Zealand's Broods

Georgia and Caleb's debut album Evergreen didn't have a particularly high profile here in the UK but that didn't stop it being one of my most played of 2014. It's mix of melancholy, euphoria, tenderness and sentimentality combined with hooky and memorable songwriting was hard to beat. If there was any concern that Evergreen was a one off, Broods dispel the worries with this. Free is a song that takes the slightly edgier and darker undercurrent of electronic pop that bands like Depeche Mode and Chvrches do and adds Georgia's biggest vocal performance so far to its industrial polish. The video looks a little like something from the Divergent movie series, playing around with virtual reality, and marks a fine return from the duo.

Broods - Free (Video)

New Music: Chløë Black - Groupie

Back in the sixties and seventies when music, drugs and the pill were liberating young people's sexuality, women began to find freedom by expressing themselves in ways they had never done before. This included the rise of the groupie, fans who spent their time infiltrating the male dominated rock scene and in doing so almost inevitably shared intimacies with members of the bands they were fans of. It's easy for some people to think of these women as sluts, but recently the role of the groupie has been reconsidered and reclaimed, with a number of articles and texts suggesting that in fact the term has been misunderstood and that groupies weren't being used by misogynistic rock and pop stars but were in fact fully liberated women who were respected, treated as equals and did what they do through absolute trust and consent. There's a possible parallel here with the modern pop world and acts like Miley Cyrus in terms of how people view and judge others behaviour.

Now Chløë Black dives into this world, by way of her fantastic new tune, simply called Groupie, which she's described as an anti slut shaming anthem. With sonics that hint at M.I.A's Paper Planes it's a big tune full of lyrics about teenage heroes, backstage passes, tour buses, being with the band, loving someone so much that you want to die together and being able to 'fuck you for life'.

In short it's bloody brilliant.

Chløë Black - Groupie

New Music: Host - State Of Your Soul

Remember the 12" extended remix? I do and London duo HOST's third offering sounds very much like one of those.* The follow up to Heartbeats In The House and All Night Every Night, State Of Your Soul continues the dance floor trajectory with more deep electronic bass lines and into the night majesty. Think the second summer of love and the Hacienda at its most popular.  "All those endless nights I thought we'd never come home, look at the state of your soul, I know you're out of control, you're so far gone," the male vocal sings before the track shoots off on a spaceship destined for a dark planet of groove. This journey takes just over 5 and a half minutes. Enjoy the ride.

* Footnote: Since writing this post I have been informed that the tune is being released on 12" vinyl - so it seems my references were, for once, spot on!

HOST - State Of Your Soul

New Music: RIVRS - Friend Lover (Video)

As I continue with a number of 'stuff I didn't feature earlier because I was on holiday' posts, here's a video that I could have posted in early March,  but I decided to hold back on it until I had finally seen the band live a few days after the video was released, the idea being that I could then add something extra to the post, and write about the show as well as the video. Alas the gig (supporting Foxes at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms) got cancelled due to illness, not just once, but twice, and has been rescheduled for May. By the time all the cancellation shenanigans occurred I had, like a true professional (!?!), forgotten about the video, until I was on holiday last week when I watched it again.

So here it is. Finally. You might have already seen it. But if you haven't here are the IMPORTANT FACTS that you need to know.

1. The song is called Friend Lover. I'm not sure if that's a friend who you also have sex with or a person who loves your friends or something else entirely. Sorry. Maybe if I'd listened to the lyrics more carefully I would know, but I was carefully studying the visuals instead for lots of deep astute analysis which I will cover in point 2 below.

2. There's lots of slow motion in the video which means plenty of opportunity to shoot things that look good in that form, namely flicking long hair and smashing things. Maybe a penalty kick save could have also been added - that's always good in slow mo - but probably not what RIVRS are really going for.

3. Friend Lover is released through Charli XCX's label Vroom Vroom Recordings, which is nice as I've written about Charli XCX a lot on this blog from when she was just a wee babe with some tracks on vintage social networking site Bebo (remember that?) and I've also written about RIVRS a fair bit, which is good as it gives the blog a certain sort of consistency and makes it look like I know what I'm doing. Which in reality I don't.

4. I will finally (all things being well and no further cancellations occurring) get to see RIVRS supporting Foxes at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms on May 10th. No doubt you'll find some sort of 'commentary' on the gig on my Twitter feed which you can find and follow here.

RIVRS - Friend Lover (Video)

New Music: Anteros - Breakfast

Considering how much of our lives we spend eating there's a considerable void of pop songs about the process, compared to say love and relationships. Even worse, there are very few songs about the most important meal of the day; breakfast. Sure Paul Young taught us to 'slip a slice under' with Streetband's Toast, a B-side that became a hit in its own right, and Deep Blue Something became a one hit wonder with their tune Breakfast at Tiffany's, but by and large there haven't been many great songs about the first meal of the day. Thankfully Anteros have changed all that. Well sort of. Because despite the title, this one is still ultimately about a relationship.

This tune, simply titled Breakfast is the ultimate in effortlessly cool indie pop songs. Bright, breezy and mintily refreshing I can imagine it being lined up right now to be the soundtrack to the latest credible summer teen romance film - albeit the part where the girl is sitting on the sofa, late at night, looking bored out of her mind whilst her partner has an outpouring of all of his emotional issues and problems. Then she gets up, walks away, and looks sadly over her shoulder as the lyrics "I'm not the answer and soon you'll see," ring out. 

Does anyone think of The Drums when they hear this? I do. More of this please Anteros. Just next time can you actually sing about croissants and coffee?

Anteros - Breakfast

New Music: Midst - Wake Up, O Sleeper

Whilst I may have been on holiday for the last couple of weeks, that doesn't mean that I've stopped devouring music. In fact, it's the opposite. I've had the privilege to spend a few hours every day gorging myself on the stuff; from listening to classic records from the past with no interruptions such as The Beach Boys Pet Sounds, Primal Scream's Screamadelica, Kate Bush's Hounds of Love and Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life to some not so-classic but of interest to me albums such as The Thompson Twin's Here's To Future Days and Hot Fuss by The Killers ( OK, arguably that one's a classic of sorts) plus the latest new kids on the block and new releases. I even got round to listening to Kanye's latest, which has some surprisingly decent moments on it.

Wallowing self indulgently in this way (something I don't usually get the opportunity to do) has made me realise, more than ever, how easy it would be to run a great music blog or website if I had that all important ingredient - spare time. However, Breaking More Waves will always be just a small scale hobbyist side-project, fitting itself between a busy day job, family and social life. Most music bloggers give up or radically slow down with their blogs when full time work and kids come along. Being a sucker for doing more than is possible I actually started mine at the time when my family was quite young and so the way I run it has always been pretty much the same. It's never going to be the cool hip gunslinger out on tastemaker street, but that's fine - cool is virtually always transient anyway. 

Now, back to those new kids on the block that I've been listening to. Today Breaking More Waves will be playing catch up, with a number of posts on new tracks that I've enjoyed over the last two weeks. I'll be posting one song every hour or so during the course of the day, starting with something quite devine.

I came across Singapore 3 piece Midst via the Spotify Discover Weekly feature, one of the few algorithm playlists that seems to work well for me. It works because it fulfils the basic function of providing music that in the main I haven't heard before and more than any other recommendation service it seems to tune in to my tastes.

Midst has just one EP out, simply titled EP, and it's the song Wake Up, O Sleeper that has me smitten. Part languid hymn, part cinematic sunrise soundtrack, its gentle ambience has shades of both London Grammar and Sigur Rós in it's all encompassing soothing beauty. I don't know how many times I've played this one over the last couple of weeks, but it's still not enough. 

Midst - Wake Up, O Sleeper