Friday, 29 January 2010

Warpaint - Elephants

Warpaint are a group that we first introduced here in November. Subsequently at the start of this month they released a video for their song Elephants taken from their Exquisite Corpse EP. Today we’re playing catch up with the film.

With hints of paganism in their attire and a set full of dry ice, the band try to blow the listener away (as well as themselves in this rather breezy video) with their hypnotic guitar repetition that drips and trickles like raindrops on a window.

The band are playing dates with Yeasayer and Akron/ Family Stateside in the next couple of months, and we hope for a possible return to the UK later in the year when their debut album is complete and ready to go.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Beach House - Teen Dream

This time last year the critics and writers were salivating over what many considered to the first great album of 2009 - Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective. You could almost imagine them setting up files entitled 'Albums of the Year' and typing the groups name into their new blank spreadsheet. Now, we’re only a few weeks into 2010 and yet already it seems to be happening again. Teen Dream by Beach House is being lapped up by those in the know. “An absolutely magical record,” babbled the NME. “Innocent wide-eyed brilliance,” said the The Fly. “A band truly finding its own voice,” raved the BBC. There seems to be a lot of dreamy love for Teen Dream. Yet having spent a significant portion of time delving into to its weary lullaby sound we have come away finding it rather underwhelming and insubstantial, rather like its nondescript cover (above). Although it’s a bolder progression than their previous work Devotion, and a number of songs - Norway and Walk In The Park - are hazily and lazily beautiful, it’s a recording that washes over us and then cascades away down the middle of the road rather than sinking in.

Recorded in a converted church, the album mixes soft piano, vintage organ, dulled drums and the slightly blurred near masculine vocals of Victoria Legrand to create something that is pleasant, consistent in its sound, and full of temperate atmospherics. However rather than becoming victorious through its subtleties and polite arrangements Teen Dream ends up drifting smoke-like away, with no heat from the remaining embers. Take a song such as 10 Mile Stereo which tries to build the gap by enveloping the listener with a simple plodding drum sound and intertwining quartz-like shimmering guitar that gradually elevates into something a little shoe gaze. In theory it sounds rather magical and special. In practice the song shrugs its shoulders afterwards and walks away. Maybe we sound a little harsh here, Teen Dream is certainly not a poor album, but many of the songs blend and mould into each other in a way that leaves a fogged and empty feeling.

We don’t have one of those album of the year spreadsheets, but if we did, we wouldn’t be typing Teen Dream into it. If this review is a reaction to all the reviews of praise, then so be it, but in all honesty Teen Dream fails to move us and is mainly forgotten once we press eject on our player.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Marina And The Diamonds - Hollywood ( Estonian Pop ! )

It seems a long time ago that we first posted about Marina and the Diamonds way back in 2008 here. Since then her star has continued to rise. The new single Hollywood is due for release next week and is currently A listed on the Radio 1 play list. With a growing dedicated fan base that are prepared to pay over £100 for her demo CD Mermaid vs. Sailor on Ebay, Marina appears to be developing a strong sense of loyalty, verging on obsession, amongst some of her followers. Next week will be the first true indicator of if her talent and hard work over the last couple of years has engaged with the public. At Breaking More Waves we will be holding our breath and listening to the Top 40 singles with a degree of trepidation.

But before that there is another video of Hollywood. According to Neon Gold Records blog it is ‘just found’ footage of Marina and the Diamonds playing on Estonia’s premier music revue program Pop ! Together with Gonzales, Marina performs a substantial string laden version of the song which should please fans immensely.

How genuine that Pop ! even exists as a program, we’re not so sure. The knowing winks, the claim that the video has been ‘found’, the poor clarity of the visuals complete with rolling screen effect and the crimped euro hair-do that Marina sports all suggest that this is an amusing set up. There are points when as Marina hams it up she looks like she is about to burst into hysterical laughter. Add to this the absurd facial expressions that the white gloved Gonzales pulls to develop a further layer of hilarity to the whole thing. Mind you, as far as we can tell following a quick raid on an Estonian to English internet translator, the subtitles are for real.

There are now are trio of videos for Hollywood, the other two which you can watch here and here. Furthermore this Gonzales version of the song is being given away as a free download from the Neon Gold blog get it by clicking here ! Here's the video.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Skeletons

When The White Stripes, The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs strode purposefully into our consciousness in the low end of the noughties, it was difficult to envisage that all three would still be releasing material in 2010. These exciting bands seemed too cool, too arty, too fashionable to survive. Yet here we are, right here, right now with a new video from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Good music won out.

We’ve always found some of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs slowest songs their most perfect. From the powerful and beguiling Maps to one of the standout tracks from the bands 2009 release - It’s Blitz - the song Skeletons. With this tune the Yeah Yeah Yeahs take the less is more approach, stripping things back to the bones. There’s an almost complete single syllable simplicity to Skeletons. “Love, my name. Love, left dry. Frost or flame. Skeleton me.” The words construct their own frame which enables the glacial pulsing synthtopia to find something to wrap itself around, before layers of gigantic icy pulsing electronics and call to arms percussion build the piece to a misty mountain peak.

Skeletons will be released as a digital bundle single on the 1st February together with a new acoustic version of the song. Do yourself a favour today, stay in, don’t go down the pub, and use the money you save to buy this wonderful work instead.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Donkeyboy - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

There’s something about Scandinavian countries - they know how to do radio friendly pop music. From Abba to Alphabeat from The Cardigans to The Concretes. And here’s another act to add to that list -Donkeyboy .

The name Donkeyboy may not sound the hippest tag to give a group, but at least this Norwegian five piece don’t suffer from being hidden to Google, unlike other Breaking More Waves favourites such as Mirrors or Giantess before they changed their name to Yes Giantess. In fact lack of prominence is not something that Donkeyboy have suffered from at all in their home country, being the first band ever to occupy both the number one and number two slots in Norway’s singles charts with their songs Sometimes and Ambitions respectively. Ambitions has since gone on to still be kicking around almost six months later.

It is easy to see why Ambitions was a hit in Norway and could easily replicate in the UK and worldwide. It has the eighties soft rock swoon of Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, a song and a sound which has recently been sitting in the UK Top 10. Then it pushes in Never Ending Story-esque burbling bubblegum electro noises most recently revived by The Sound Of Arrows to give the track an even bigger throwback synth vibe. It’s all smothered off with a sugar glazed vocal and a soaring chorus. We’re thinking Hall and Oates here or maybe Cutting Crew. Ask your parents if you’ve never heard of them.

Ambitions comes from the Donkeyboy album Caught In A Life which was released in Norway last year and also hit the top spot, going platinum. The success of Donkeyboy led to the band supporting fellow Norwegians A-Ha at the back end of last year both in Norway and the UK.

The bands press release states “Somehow we think it will take more than penicillin to make this band go away. And for that we are truly proud and grateful.” Our opinion ? We wish Alexander Flemming had taken a little bit more time and upped the dosage, but there is no denying that Donkeyboy are highly contagious and infectious. You have been warned, Donkeyboy may make you sick.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Nedry - A42

Last October we introduced the dark sparse beats of Nedry (here), a trio that make a sound that we described as the ‘soundtrack of modern day dreams and nightmares.’ Since then Nedry have increased their profile with dates in Japan, a live session with Huw Stephens on BBC Radio One and very recently have been featured as New Band of the Day on the Guardian website. Now the good news is that Nedry are about to re-release their album Condors in a physical format through Monotreme Records on February 8th. The band are also due to play a full UK tour supporting new label mates 65daysofstatic in May and we very much hope to bring you a review of one of those shows.

Prior to all of this Nedry have issued a new video for album track A42. It’s a primitive midnight seduction where jittering hop-scotch beats, dirty head-music bass sounds and Ayu’s astral Bjork-like vocal mesh together to create a beautiful yet macabre modernism. The video was created by Juzz Media in an abandoned Polish warehouse late last year and suits the bands innovative sound perfectly. Right now there seems to be a rising of a new vanguard of artists who are taking the evil beats / dubstep / down-tempo template but manipulating and warping it into their own sonic shape. The XX , Esben and The Witch and Worried About Satan are just three other acts who are developing this progression with success, and Nedry are certainly another to add to this exciting list. Here is A42 by Nedry.

Nedry - A42 HD from monotreme records on Vimeo.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

It Hurts Good

The picture above shows the heavyweight slabs of vinyl that form the Hurts 12-inch picture discs. If we were Fearne Cotton of BBC Radio 1 we'd probably describe them as 'awesome'. But instead let's just say they are astonishingly classy.

You can order one here. It's a wonderful life.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Lanterns On The Lake - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Lanterns On The Lake spin out spectral, slow songs that suit the name of the band perfectly. Their music has a flat-out loveliness that blissfully and gradually warms the ears with its countryesque twang, folkish gentleness and moments of transcendent beauty. Slow burning. Flecked with darkness and shadow. It really is rather special.

The group are an unsigned six piece from Newcastle. And whilst the town may have an image as being the ‘lads with shirts off go fighting after drinking’ city of the north, Lanterns On The Lake are as far removed from this as is humanly possible. Theirs is a sound of subtle fragility.

Formed out of another band called Greenspace around 2007, Lanterns On The Lake make haunting pieces that glide snake like into your brain; but when they reach the spot they kiss rather than bite. The band bring multi-instrumentation of banjo, piano, drums, harmonica, guitar, cello, bass, violin, and mandolin all topped off with the dreamy ethereal vocals, both male and female. However, rather than being just another folk band, Lanterns On The Lake have a sound that pulls strands of influence from post-rock, ambient and even acoustic pop.

With two self released EP’s, Starlight and Misfortunes & Minor Victories available to buy directly here, support from BBC Radio including Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson as well as a recent live slot with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Lanterns On The Lake are gradually building a name for themselves. Their profile is not constructed on fashionable blog or media hype, but instead built out of something that could easily become a lasting musical romance that touches the heart. Unforced, tranquil and humbly beautiful.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Delphic + Mirrors @ Brighton Audio

If there was any question about how music fashion has evolved over the last couple of years, the answers could be found at Brighton Audio. Rather than bands formed out of scruffy lager swilling lads in skinny jeans who think that the world revolves around The Libertines, The Strokes and Oasis, this sold out gig featured two bands bringing a smarter, overtly pompous attire to the stage. Support band Mirrors look more like actors or models with their dark shirts, suit jackets, ties and cooler than thou haircuts. Meanwhile Delphic (pictured) are like scissor sharp cool geography teachers in clean white collars, who only speak to the audience to announce the bands name and to say thank you at the end. Rather like overpriced sparkling mineral water these groups are pretentious perhaps, but refreshing at the same time.

The lack of rock ‘n’ roll styling also applied to the audience behaviour, which seemed somewhat subdued for Delphic. After all, this is a band that seem to promise the possibility of giddying plateaus of euphoric abandon with their focussed mix of electronic preciseness and taught guitars. However, maybe because of the venues slightly cramped low claustrophobic stage, or just the fact that it’s a dreary Tuesday night, Delphic were not able to deliver that big hands in the air moment. The band tick all the right boxes – strobes that suck your eyeballs, sharp near perfect looped instrumentation, beats that blend seamlessly from song to song, glacial cataclysmic rocket ship washes of sound, all of these things bring the band so close to taking off, but they never quite do.

Delphic have a cool unaffected manner on stage – even when a sampler gets knocked over onto the floor it doesn’t seem to phase them – but that manner seems to somehow translate into the music tonight. Delphic obviously understand electronic music and can structure a song perfectly; Red Lights, Doubt and the closing instrumental Acolyte all demonstrating well executed peaks and troughs , but there’s a lack of passion that leaves most of the audience nodding and bobbing rather than pumping and bouncing. If this show had been a sexual liaison it was a perfect gentle kiss with intentions of going further rather than the full deal of a delirious orgasmic rush.

We’ve reviewed Mirrors live shows before here and here and tonight as support act some of their visual aesthetic is lost. The screen on which their minimalist visuals are displayed is tucked to the side behind Delphic’s fluorescent tube lighting, and the masses of keyboards are forced to congregate around Delphic’s drum kit, rather than lining up in a deliberately regimented formation. If anything Mirrors show more humanity and emotion than Delphic though, with the lead singer attempting some fey indie kid meets drunk-uncle at a wedding dancing and attempting to speak to the audience. Attempt is the best description here though. For example Search In The Wilderness is introduced as being “About searching in the wilderness.” Hardly informative or inspiring communication really. The bands music – the sound of the bastard child of OMD and Depeche Mode artificially inseminated through a Juno 60 is at times dark and luxurious whilst on other songs such as Into The Heart displays more than just a knowing wink to the 80’s. In fact Mirrors are so 80’s influenced that they run the risk of just being seen as a parody band – this could be a negative criticism but then we could have said the same of La Roux 18 months ago, and look what happened to them.

Despite these reservations - that for Delphic the gig never really kicked to a higher level, and for Mirrors that they verge on the side of ambience that becomes pastiche - both bands provided incredibly competent musicianship, well structured songs and a synthy seriousness that makes The Libertines et al seem but a distant memory for now.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed

Well here we go again, ruining our one blog a day rule - again. This is becoming a bad (or good) habit, depending on your perspective.

There’s been so much talk, maybe too much talk about Ellie Goulding that it’s becoming difficult to find anything particularly new about her to say. Expectation is high and there is probably no way that Ellie can reach the summits some expect her to climb. Ultimately, after all the tipsters tips and the listers lists, all that really counts is the music.

On the 11th February 2009 we first posted about the Heredfordshire lass here . Almost one year on and here is Ellie Goulding with Starry Eyed, released as her first UK major label single on the 22nd February, with her album Lights following a week later. Today the video was released. Here it is. We pass no further comment for now. For once we are not giving an opinion. Just a question. Is the modern electronic pop production that Ellie Goulding is being given right for her voice, or would she be better suited to simple less populist folk arrangements that we first heard on her Myspace a year ago and can be seen by clicking here ?

Tinashe - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Regular readers will know that when we were compiling our ten ones to watch list for this year in December, we started with far more artists than we could fit in. We chopped some acts such as The Drums by decreeing that their mini album disqualified them, and we kicked the fantastic Marina and the Diamonds into touch as we had featured her in our 2008 list. But this new wave Tinashe was a much more difficult one to decide on. Ultimately our choice came down to almost the flip of a coin and the vague thought that we didn't want our list to be so heavily pop - so Holly Miranda got the vote rather than Tinashe. So here he is now.

Tinashe is a 25 year old singer songwriter originally from Zimbabwe via Hackney. He’s been floating around the music industry for some time now, having originally worked with Sony. Things didn’t work out there but he is now signed to Virgin and has a single called Mayday ready for release on 1st March with an album to follow later in the year.

Tinashe takes a varied mix of influences to his music that could loosely be described as urban modern pop. From the obvious Vampire Weekend referencing A-Liar with its shouts of “Aye aye aye,” and lyrics about his ex kissing his best friend, to the raw soulful ride of Saved - the kind of song that Bernard Butler would love to get his hands on to produce. Another track Mr Presumption brings Jamie T-esque snappy scrappy guitars, wired energy and clattering sticks to demonstrate clearly that Tinashe is no one trick pony. It’s also the only song we’ve heard for a while that has the words “Diddly-squat,” in it. Now that’s a turn of phrase that we should all use more.

The single itself Mayday has a much more modern contemporary pop production to it - and yes, that means there’s even a bit of dreaded auto-tune at the beginning. Is auto-tune going to be the sound that defines this current era of pop music, in the way that the saxophone was synonymous with the eighties or the baggy funky drummer beat became part of the early nineties Madchester sound ? Quite likely we suspect. Irrespective of this though, don’t let this put you off, it’s a good track and Tinashe has a warm strong and uplifting voice to carry it. Also check out the So Shifty remix which is even better, bringing the chorus and the jiggling hip wriggling beat to the fore. Rather like Ellie Goulding another acoustic guitar singer songwriter who has embraced modern production and pop values, Tinashe may have had some gloss applied to his songs, but beneath the shine are fully formed tunes that would stand tall on their own right. Have a look at this simple version of A-Liar (below) to see what we mean.

If you live in London keep an eye out for Tinashe over the next two months as he pops up at various venues including Notting Hill Arts Club, Proud Galleries and the Lock Tavern for gigs. He’s one to watch. (Almost).

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy - Guilty Pleasure #3

This (very) occasional series may be called Guilty Pleasures, but we’re beginning to wonder if it should actually be called ‘Classic Pop We Love.’ Whilst our previous two choices (t.A.T.u and Kylie ) could quite possibly fit into the former category, there is a school of thought that says that Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat is not a song to feel guilty about at all. So, let’s put this in a cultural context. In 1984 being gay was still something that a person could feel easily stigmatised about - it was, in a way, something that was a guilty pleasure to be. Of course the prejudice and ignorance regarding homosexuality that Jimmy Sommerville sang about in his song Disenchanted with his later band The Communards now seems like a distant memory. Just a blot on the receding landscape. Doesn’t it ? Oh, actually hello Jan Moir, maybe we’re not there yet.

But in the mid 80’s the debut single from Bronski Beat seemed like a revelation. They were one of the first glad to be gay pop bands. Here were fresh, honest, politicised young men playing disco danceable electronic pop music. Smalltown Boy was one of their defining moments, telling a tale of discovery - a young man leaving the parental nest because the “Answers you seek will never be found at home.” It’s accompanying video saw three men cruising for boys in a swimming pool. It was so openly gay that in the 80’s it was quite remarkable. With this single Bronski Beat brought gay men and their feelings to the mainstream and with it formed the way for a lava flow of hot gay danceable pop that started with Culture Club and Soft Cell and continued with amongst many others including Dead Or Alive and Erasure.

Looking back now, this openness of sexuality in pop seems to have almost regressed. How many mainstream outwardly gay bands are there in the UK charts right now ? How many flamboyantly honest and unique acts are there ? Will Young anyone ? Doesn't quite fit the bill does he ? As lead singer Sommerville says in the sleeve notes to his Very Best Of compilation “Culturally we’ve become so homogenised. We have a new generation of pop stars, of artists; except they’re not artists, they’re just fodder for production teams and stylists. They come from stage school and they can dance, they can hold a note, they can act a bit, they look nice - but they don’t have anything that goes ‘bang!’ I can still enjoy some trashy pop, but once upon a time it shared a stage with other stuff, it didn’t dominate. Now it dominates because it’s a safe bet, and that’s sad.”

Smalltown Boy is a lonely moving song with a beautiful melody set to a wonderful electronic rhythm. It hit number 3 in the charts and the album Age Of Consent reached number 4. Sommerville himself went on to have considerable success with his next band The Communards, as well as solo.

Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy - The funniest home videos are here

Monday, 18 January 2010

When Popstars Haircuts Go Bad

Those who have followed Breaking More Waves in its younger forms before it became just another music blog on the internet, will know of our obsession for all things Kate Nash. Yes, we fully understand that there are as many haters of The Nash as there are lovers, but we have been firmly seated in the ‘We Heart Nash’ camp. We’ll even go as far as admitting that we wiped a small tear away when we heard that she had gotten all cosy and hugged up with Ryan out of The Cribs. You know, the one that once declared “The mainstream attitude of indie bands today is a bigger problem than global warming.” Just try telling that to a polar bear.

However with news beginning to spread that The Nashers second album is being readied for release ( and no we are still referring to Kate here rather than a band - although if you live in London you can see Kate play in a real band - a side project called The Receeders - tonight in Hoxton), a wave of panic has set in. Why ? Because the once sweet and charming Nash, all vintage clothes like your granny used to wear and just-got-out of-bed-but-I-still-look-kind-of-sexy red hair has been replaced by a look that we can only describe as robo-indie meets child of Satan. It’s not good. We celebrate change, as creative complacency is dull, but it has to be good change. Just to make it clear. This. Change. Is. Not. Good. Full. Stop.

In the recently taken picture above not only is Kate committing the cardinal sin of wearing a tee-shirt of her boyfriends band, but she sports a haircut that is really not befitting of her.

Which leads us to ponder a hypothesis. When good artists (assuming that you think Nash is a good artist) change their hair, do they go bad ?

In a completely unscientific piece of research (carried out over a 48 hour period with the assistance of Popjustice - see here) the results show a clear correlation. For instance take Bono. Ok, his haircut has always been bad, but as the mullet gave way to long lankness and then baldness set in the music got gradually worse. The Human League were unarguably at their best during the period of Phil Oakey’s asymmetrical haircut and the Dare album, but once he had shaved it all off it went horribly downhill. Another synth pop wizard Howard Jones had a string of Top 20 hits with a spiked up eighties hairdo, then the hair went flat and so did his music. Alanis Morissette cut her hair off, and her record sales plummeted. And of course when Deborah Harry went brown it really was the end. Blondie ? Pah. However sometimes the shift to blonde doesn’t really work either in terms of musical output or commercial success. Just ask Sophie Ellis-Bextor or Shirley Manson from Garbage.

So the evidence does not bode well for Nash. Of course we would never be so shallow to go off someone just because of their haircut, although there is no doubt that the haircut in pop music is part of the package. From punk to pop, from new wave to new folk, the haircut of a musician says something about the character.

We’d never just judge a book by a cover, and will always open up and read inside, but as fans of The Nash, right now we are very concerned about what she is going to deliver in 2010. We shall be watching and listening with interest.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sarah Blasko - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Sarah Blasko is a singer songwriter from Australia who reminds us very much of another Breaking More Waves approved Australian -Lisa Mitchell . Or rather, what we should be saying is that Lisa Mitchell very much reminds us of Sarah Blasko, as the thirty three year old has released three albums, so is some way ahead of the younger Mitchell in terms of a back catalogue.

In her native Australia Blasko is a multi-platinum selling and award winning star who has performed at the closing ceremony of Sydney’s Commonwealth Games, but in Europe she remains virtually unknown. However, in April Sarah will be raising her profile in the UK with the release of the Bjorn Yttling (Peter, Bjorn and John) produced As Day Follows Night. It’s an album of carefully arranged pop songs full of elegant melodies and uncluttered organic sounds, recorded in the same studio that Abba once used. The tunes flit between genres but combine as a whole to provide a solid and consistent album. There’s the midnight folk sounds of All I Want, the stomping jazz of No Turning Back which bizarrely has the scent of The White Stripes stomp painted over it, to the unaffected percussive earthiness of We Won’t Run, a soulful song about accepting things and letting go. It is the simplicity of Blasko’s work, combined with her clear fragile voice that engage the most, irrespective of the style of music she plays.

With As Day Follows Night Blasko says that her aim was to make a classic pop album. “I wanted pure, elemental songs played on acoustic instruments. I didn’t want to hide the lyrics behind electronics or effects pedals.” Blasko has also recently been involved in writing a score for the Bell Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet, in which she also performed. “Being involved in Hamlet at the same time was a big influence - when I wasn’t performing, I would sit backstage at the piano and write my own songs. Even though I hadn’t played much piano in the past, it’s my favourite instrument and I found the loneliness of its sound inspiring. It suited Hamlet and it suited my state of mind at the time.”

Blasko will release We Won’t Run as a single at the end of the March in the UK, followed by the album in April. For the time being, here’s All I Want from the album.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Small Black - Despicable Dogs

Since we posted in November about the woozy warmth of Washed Out (here) and the hazy ice-mist celestial electronics of Active Child in December (here) we’ve found ourselves listening to a number of artists that hang eerie downbeat chilled lo-fi matched with moody melodies to their core. The song Despicable Dogs by Small Black is one of our most played songs of that ilk. Telling the way like a lo fi version of James Chapman’s Maps, Despicable Dogs is a song that we’ve fallen in love with. Clattering drum patterns, and mucked up instrumentation bring a translucent sound from Brooklyn, New York via the wire to the waves of our south coast city, UK.

Released last September, there are two reasons for posting about this song now. First to bring to your attention the original tune (video below which stars vocalist Josh Kolenik's uncle Matt) and secondly to highlight the fact that on the 26th January Small Black and Washed Out will be releasing a dual A side 7” single where Washed Out give the remix treatment to Despicable Dogs and Small Black repay the compliment to You’ll See It by Washed Out. You can buy the single here. The remix clarifies things by slowing it down and synthing it up, turning it into something new, pulsing and luxurious. Here's the original with a simple sharply shot film, that shows that to make a creative and interesting film you don't need hundred of special effects.

Small Black: Despicable Dogs from Yoonha Park on Vimeo.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Chew Lips - Play Together

Here’s a strange fact. When recently viewing the latest single by Chew Lips - Play Together - on You Tube, our laptop suggested that The Climb by Joe McElderry was the most related video. This goes to show that you simply cannot believe everything you read on the internet, unless of course you happen to equally love Chew Lips and the Cowell puppet, in which case we congratulate you for your somewhat eclectic, although not necessarily consistently good taste.

The new single from the south London electro bleep pop trio (that’s Chew Lips, not Joe McElderry, just in case we confused you there) is released on the 18th January and sees Tigs and the boys contorting themselves around some more playful and deeply danceable technological grooves. Play Together has a vocal melody which is more half full than half empty and sets the stall for the bands forthcoming album Unicorn. Comparisons with acts such as La Roux and Crystal Castles will inevitably continue, but Tigs brings a stronger almost soulful Karen-O like vocal to the track rather than any high pitched shriek.

Last time we featured Chew Lips in July 2009 the disco jury was still out, and it seems that the case is a complex one for we are still sitting on the fence. Some would say that Chew Lips are very contemporary, others could twist the same word to suggest that they were very derivative of the whole synth pop explosion. Play Together works on the dance floor, but it isn’t the heavyweight digital pop beast that we would love it to be. Still, it’s better than the Cowell puppet, even if his video has had thirty times as many views as Chew Lips have.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Dawn Chorus - The Guilt

Having already featured one UK south coast band this week here, now here’s another -The Dawn Chorus, a group we've previously written about from the live environment when playing with other bands, but never in their own right until today.

The Dawn Chorus describe themselves as being a “six piece (often seven-piece) musical collective from nowhere in particular, Hampshire, England.” It’s a pretty vague description but then if we described their music as being indie-folk-country-pop (which it is) then that would be pretty vague as well. Not that there is anything uncertain about the stance of the bands musical clout which veers between glorious rabble rousing chants that are never pretentious or overblown, to softer almost maudlin Bright Eyes-esque sounding acoustic balladry. With a debut album The Big Adventure released in 2008, 2010 finds the band returning with their second album The Carnival Leaves Town. For this release The Dawn Chorus widen their sights in terms of instrumentation with banjo, accordion and melodica being added to the mix. There is also a guest appearance from one of the most hard gigging men out there - Frank Turner on the song Carnivalesque. We’ll be bringing a full review of the album at the start of February.

For the meantime here is a video that the band have recently uploaded for one of the lead tracks from the album. The song is called The Guilt. The Guilt finds The Dawn Chorus musing on infidelity, maturity and wanting to letting yourself go, whilst a raucous shout-a-long tub-thumping blast of musical authenticity muscles the song home. Then just as it’s all getting a little too hectic, lead singer Kyle Evans pauses for reflection and sings mournfully “So here I go, I’ve just got to find something to compensate for my lack of drugs and rock n roll. Heaven knows, I‘m not proud of it.” The good boy can still do bad then.

They may be on a small independent label, but with this song The Dawn Chorus sound like a band who are prepared to fight with the big boys.

Run Toto Run - Catch My Breath

Only a few days ago we posted a demo video of a new Run Toto Run song. Now we can’t stop. Here is more of the finest unsigned act from Manchester but this time things are perkily precise musically and agreeably accomplished visually. It's the bands current single and brand new video for Catch My Breath.

Here’s a question. What would the mouth of hell smell like ? Acrid burning flesh ? Possibly. Sulphurous decay? Almost certainly. Foul stinking vomit ? Maybe. Whatever it would smell of we’re pretty sure we wouldn’t want to catch its breath. Yet here we see Rachael the lead singer of Run Toto Run being consumed by a huge evil rubbery tentacle laden mouth and for the most part seeming quite relaxed about the whole thing. Maybe the mouth uses Listerine.

Catch My Breath is an essential piece of fidgety disjointed robo-pop with strepsil smooth feminine vocals that convince us that Rachael can only have breath that smells of flowers, peppermint and fairytales. We love the line in this song “Out of marmite no kiss goodbye.” It’s a little odd, a little quirky and makes us want to shout “House” at the Breaking More Waves unsigned band bingo parlour. Because we have a winner.

If you see a big bad malevolent looking mouth walking down your street, please can you shove your fingers down its throat. Hopefully it will gag and Run Toto Run will get their lead singer back. Thanks.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hurts - Blood, Tears And Gold

Since we put Hurts on our Ones To Watch list at #2 (here) everything seems to have gone just a little crazy in terms of increased media coverage for the duo. Not of course because of our humble blog, but because of their fourth place position on the BBC Sound of 2010 list. Suddenly music forums are alive with discussion about the band and the word ‘hype’ is being used significantly as well as the words ‘David Sneddon’ - not two phrases you will have seen together for a long time, if ever (see here and scroll down to the second last paragraph to find out why ). To our view ‘hype’ simply equates to expectation and the BBC Sound of list raises that expectation, especially with a band like Hurts who seem to have appeared from nowhere. Of course the reality is that that Hurts have done a lot of work in the background. Just google these words “Hurts Daggers” and you’ll see what we mean. Alternatively just click here and you will find the article that first brought Hurts to our attention back in spring last year.

In these world wide web days we want everything now. More consumer products, more TV, instant food, better sex. Instant gratification is the name of the game and up until now Hurts haven’t been playing. We suspect that Hurts have one of those big office year planners on their studio wall and each month of the year has been carefully colour coded, referenced and annotated; except their colour coding is in various shades of grey. On that wall planner the week commencing 10th January is marked “Release new video to You Tube, take old one for Wonderful Life down, then maintain silence.” So here it is, a new song from Hurts entitled Blood, Tears and Gold. We understand the song isn’t a single, but at least it lets the public think that Hurts are finally wanting to play. As Popjustice so wisely and brilliantly wrote Hurts are “Desolate and full of joy, like a bouncy castle in a B & Q car park.” With their Johnny Hates Jazz meets Curiosity Killed The Cat fashion combined with their Pet Shop Boys earnest and aloof demeanour plus their nineties boyband meets eighties electronic lushness we think that Hurts are probably and possibly a quite brilliant pop band. They make a potentially mainstream pop sound just that little bit cool again, stealing it back from the Cowell-monster. With Blood, Tears and Gold they're like Westlife come good.

If this blog has just added to the hype we talked of, then so be it. Sometimes the roller-coaster ride of expectation is an exciting ride to experience.

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Hall Of Mirrors - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Here is a band that we have already given a brief mention to back in September, in our review of Southsea Fest 2009 here. The group in question are called The Hall Of Mirrors a Portsmouth via London based band, fronted by the twenty one year old singer, songwriter, ex-dancer and pianist Jessica Spencer. Still in their infancy, The Hall Of Mirrors feature seven musicians that include guitar, bass, drums and strings. They are however, very much the product of the emotional highs and lows of the fertile imagination of Spencer herself. That imagination brings a haunting sepia tinted sixties styled pop that reminds us of cult French films, Burt Bacharach and rainy days in bohemian Paris coffee shops. It is a sound that right now for a new band, is pretty damn unique.

Spencer found the piano at a very young age, being fascinated with its sound from the age of two. Since birth the singer struggled with congenital dislocation of the hips, with much of her early life played out in a hospital bed often unable to move from the waist down. With a permanent bar fixed across the base of her back, her legs were pulled out into the splits meaning that one of the only objects she could sit on was a humble piano stool. So it came to pass that she discovered piano from that perch, her mother sitting her there all day as she struck each key to discover its sound.

Spencer suggests her influences are as wide ranging as The Carpenters to The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ella Fitzgerald to Barrett era Pink Floyd, but probably the most profound is Franz Liszt. It is the passion, romance and fury of Liszt that appears to have inspired Jessica, and it is with this diary of emotions that The Hall Of Mirrors capture the listener. “I fall in love with everyone / everything so a lot of my songs are about love and then also what happens when I quickly fall out of love,” Jessica explains.

Jessica describes the sound of The Hall Of Mirrors as being “Like early spring, when the sun starts to come out. Then some clouds appear and you hear some gentle rain against the window. Then the rain gets heavier and the clouds grow darker, suddenly big booms of thunder echo through the once peaceful morning. The thunder storm passes and you are left with glistening pavements and dew on the grass.” We would also describe the bands music as a soft focus sixties string laden affair where Julie Andrews pulls some heart strings. It’s music of another time and a ridiculously dreamy place.

Although the band have yet to formerly release any material you can hear songs such as the subtly sexy French pop of A Gift From Cupid and the sweet floaty Love Obscure on their Myspace (link via bands name at the top of the post). The band are also playing a variety of gigs and hope to release some material in a physical form at some point in the year. The Hall Of Mirrors are a group who are romantic, sensual, arty without being pretentious, trippy and hazily beautiful. Go look them up.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Delphic - Acolyte

In the late 80’s and early 90’s when indie guitar music was hugely influenced by ecstasy and the acid house phenomenon, the Madchester scene was born. Pale indie indie boys with floppy fringes suddenly got all loved up and baggy whilst the sounds of 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald, The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and The Charlatans sound tracked a moment. Indie dance was born. Suddenly it was okay for bands to play dance beats, loops and shimmering electronic sounds. Acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Underworld became loved not only by hedonistic clubbers but by indie kids as well. Tribes merged. The blissed out party went super nova.

Manchester three piece Delphic continue the tradition of that scene, but bring it into a modern context with their debut album Acolyte. It’s a solid indie dance album that subtly pulses and grows out of ambient looped electronica that often references the previously mentioned Orbital, particularly the Brown second album and occasionally New Order. Then amongst the meticulous technology Delphic add in carefully placed moments of rush to the head euphoria. In terms of structure Delphic score high.

The trouble with much indie dance is that it can often fall into one of two categories. First, too frostily cool for its own good and therefore not engaging emotionally with the listener. Or second, it can be too celebratory, feeling lightweight, a quick high for the student disco and a drunken one night stand. Delphic have got the balance right in this respect. Acolyte is an album that can be taken seriously, but make you high. However through its subtleties - the perfectly placed beats, the pleasant but never stretching vocals, the flowing loops, it loses something in its overall gut ripping potential. It’s not an album that we could ever love. Like yes, admire certainly, but it wouldn’t be an album that we would want to take to the grave.

However in the context of the indie disco or a late night festival appearance many of the tracks on Acolyte could take on a whole new meaning. Counterpoint with its slamming driving bass and repeated “Nothing, nothing,” refrain that elevates and builds could lead to couples creating babies on the dance floor in a moment of joyous passion. Likewise the twilight zone repetition and dramatic soundscape of opener Clarion Call could act as an exploding call to the dance floor. But on a more intimate listening experience in the context of a home or on the headphones Acolyte is more an album to regard with a degree of esteem for its quality, consistency and clearness of vision than one to worship.

Acolyte is released tomorrow, the 11th January.

DELPHIC - Counterpoint from Jean Demery / on Vimeo.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Run Toto Run - Fall Back

If you are a new band trying to make a name for yourselves how do you start ? The predominant school of thought seems to be that ever since Myspace enabled bands to self promote a few years back, exposure and engaging with your audience is everything. It is not enough these days to simply play a few live shows and put out the odd record. We live in an exposed age where audiences demand so much more from an artist and independent artists have to work hard at making it happen for themselves. Blogs such as Fresh On The Net and IndieLab provide a great resource for independent bands. A common theme on both blogs in developing a profile is on line exposure. As Fresh On The Net suggests “on line exposure is the new air play.”

Of course for every rule there is a rule breaker who also succeeds. One recent example is Breaking More Waves current favourite Hurts from Manchester, who have managed to sign a major label record deal and get significant exposure by simply filming one video, putting a song up on their Myspace and having never played a live show. Or at least that is how it appears to outside eyes.

Another band from the same town, also a Breaking More Waves favourite are Run Toto Run. Run Toto Run are very much following the exposure and engagement concept. Grabbing gigs wherever they can get them, uploading new songs then giving away them away in exchange for a new fans email address and using You Tube to show off demo versions are just some of the ways that Run Toto Run are engaging with their audience to build their profile. There may not be anything unique about their methods, but their timely and unusual cover version of Sleepyhead by Passion Pit, complete with fiddling and acoustic guitar playing animals (here) has now received nearly 90,000 views on You Tube. Prior to the internet such exposure for a relatively small band would have been virtually impossible. Now Run Toto Run are picking up gigs such as ones presented by BBC Radio’s Bethan Elfyn and with the likes of Manchester bands such as Delphic, Egyptian Hip Hop and Everything Everything getting significant exposure, Run Toto Run can capitalise on this new media attention on Manchester music makers. The group are already lined up for a festival in Manchester at the end of this month that sees some other growing profile bands playing.

So here’s an example of what Run Toto Run are doing, bringing you into their world, giving deeper access through the use of the internet. The video below is a demo version of a new song the band posted a couple of days back. The band dedicate the song to an unknown benefactor known only as Duncan who bestowed the band with a PA system, even though he has never met the band. See, the world has some nice people in it really. Fall Back shows how far Run Toto Run have evolved from their twee schoolyard folk of old, now delivering quirky, twitching, awkward sounding d-i-y electronica blessed with melodies and the engaging vocal of lead singer Rachael.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Is Tropical - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

When men wear masks in pop bands - Altern 8 and Slipknot immediately come to mind - we question why they wish to remain anonymous. Is it because they are so cocksure of their songs that they believe instant success will shower them with recognition that they don’t want ? Is it some arty statement on pop celebrity ? After they’ve finished their video or photo shoot are they about to rob a bank ? Are they just a talking point for publicity ? Or are they just damn ugly ? Is Tropical are the masked buccaneers that we’re talking about in this case, but for the moment the question remains unanswered. So instead we’ll just concentrate on the bands music.

Is Tropical are a trio who have an escapist indie pop sensibility about them, but it is coated with a simple raw electronic sound. Everything they do features a certain squalid lo-fi ambience that on South Pacific reminds us of OMD (Messages or Electricity for example), and on the instrumental Seasick Mutiny a common wonkiness displayed by bands such as Hot Chip and more particularly Metronomy is brought to the fore. The debut single from Is Tropical is When O When and will be released on the 18th January on limited edition seven inch and download through Hit Club, exclusively through Pure Groove records. The band are also stepping out on tour with the much praised Egyptian Hip Hop very soon. Be one of the first twenty through the door and get yourself an exclusive free CD.

When O When is a devious little number starting with accordions, a simple electronic loop and cowboy like acoustic strum before after a minute and a half it crashes in with something a little heavier to rattle the bones. It certainly shows some promise but we think the band will have to ditch the masks soon or they will be mocked for just being a gimmicky band. Here it is.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Marina And The Diamonds - Hollywood Acoustic

So as to not annoy readers with too many posts, we try to keep to an objective of one blog maximum a day. Sometimes however something crops up that we have to share immediately. Today is one of those days.

As the BBC Sound Of 2010 finally reaches number one tomorrow, we’re pleased to see that Marina and the Diamonds, an artist we’ve been writing about since pretty much the inception of this blog back in 2008 when we first picked up her original demo CD has come as runner up. We’re therefore guessing that Ellie Goulding will take the number one spot, although we are slightly concerned that the limp and pathetic Owl City may sneak in there. Let the good music gods speak wisely please.

In celebration of Marina getting number two, which effectively recognises the work she has put in over the last year or so in building her profile, as well as her undoubted talent as a singer, performer and songwriter, here is a new video version of her current single. Hollywood played acoustic by Marina and the Diamonds. Superb stuff.

Vampire Weekend - Contra

When Vampire Weekend first hopped and skipped jauntily into the public consciousness with their re-awakening of African pop rhythms, their style of music hadn’t graced western radio stations, stereo’s and personal music players since Paul Simon’s Graceland in the mid 80’s. Vampire Weekend produced a record that was smart, fun, a little oddball and one of our favourites of the year. They successfully managed to demonstrate that it was still possible for indie guitar bands to pull a rabbit out of the hat and create something a little inventive.

Now step forward version two. For Contra is very much version two of the previous template, but with many a twist and surprising complication. Those who didn’t like the debut will not like this. Simple as that. There are still afrobeat rhythms a plenty, baskets of frisky frolicsomeness, and intellectual bags full of ideas. However, with these ideas the band has expanded their repertoire with hints of other musical forms such as reggae, classical and electronica. They even dare to slow things down to produce a slightly emotionally warped atmospheric ballad on I Think Ur A Contra.

The musical madness that Vampire Weekend bring is best displayed on the two and a half minutes of the indecipherable California English where violins, choir like backing vocals and Ezra Koenig’s almost unintelligible chopped up echo vocal is balanced precariously against the background of a tropical carnival stomp. The single Cousins is probably the most easily digested song on first listen, even if it flies along at such a rate of knots it almost falls over itself. There’s a lot of beats per minute on that one. Giving Up The Gun on the other hand seems almost passive with Koeg sounding downbeat as he sighs a chorus of “ Your swords grown old and rusty,” and restrained synth sounds and female backing vocals layer on top of the chugging bass and tribal marching drums.

Ultimately Contra is not as immediate as Vampire Weekend’s debut. There’s no instantly memorable Oxford Comma or A-Punk here so cross over potential may be lower, but it is so full of ideas that it becomes a more rewarding listen with each play. Back at the end of 2008 we questioned how the band could follow up their debut, suggesting that the groups chirpy sound may wear thin after a short burst. Quite brilliantly rather than Contra wearing thin quickly, it beefs things up. The band have managed to carry forward the sound from their debut and reinvent it at the same time. Clever.

Contra is released on the 11th January 2010.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Daisy Dares You - Number One Enemy

With all the excitement of this weeks BBC Sound Of 2010 Top 5 being revealed (well, we are excited anyway) we thought it was time to throw up (and we use those last two words with reason) one of the nominations on the long list; the new Daisy Dares You single Number One Enemy, which also for probably quite commercial reasons, features Chipmunk.

Now let’s get this straight. We normally only bring new artists that we like to these pages, but as a warped internet version of a public service we feel that very occasionally we have to put out a warning. We did it before here. So be alert for Daisy Dares You. Her music displays the inevitable yet dispiriting lack of originality that is sometimes brought to you by major record labels. Daisy Dares You is a homogenised repackaged version of teen blandness. The look ? Duffy meets Pixie Lott. The sound ? Avril Lavigne meets Pink, all watered down for the kids. With auto-tune.

However, we also want to be positive, so for good measure we will point out that this video has its moments of interest. First we quite like the fact that Daisy gets trapped by a huge cup cake. She’ll have to eat her way out of that one. You can see it best at around 1.54. Then for anyone in the UK who has been to Latitude Festival, it seems that Daisy is looking after the coloured sheep for winter at around 2.18. So that’s where they go when they’re not gallivanting in a field in Suffolk. Then not so much of interest, but of annoyance, is a second later at 2.19 when Chipmunk does that silly ‘C’ symbol with his hand. Mind you, that is probably why Arctic Monkeys last album wasn’t very good. They haven’t got an ‘A’ and ‘M’ symbol. Maybe.

Anyway, Daisy should think herself lucky she was only crushed by a cup cake. If it had been a Christmas pudding she’d be stuck there forever; a just punishment for this crime against pop. She may only be sixteen, but this is no excuse. With this song she is our new number one enemy indeed. Fail.

Normal quality music be it pop, dance, folk, indie or something else resumes tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

We Are The World - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Forget about reading this text. Just go straight to the video below and press play. Then if you like what you see and hear come back to learn more.

The music you have just heard was created by We Are The World. Hailing from Los Angeles these artists are as far as we are aware nothing to do with the travesty that was the U.S follow up to Band Aid and Do They Know It’s Christmas. Instead this four piece are as much a dance outfit as a traditional group, bringing mechanistic masked concepts, tribal heaviness and undiluted energy to the stage. The closest we can think of is a Fever Ray live show. It’s brutal, disturbing, exciting and very rewarding. So much so that they were recently invited to support another exciting live act -The Gossip - stateside. We reckon they would have easily given Beth Ditto a run for her money. Apparently the groups stage design is created by the same people who did Daft Punks pyramid. That on its own is surely enough of a recommendation. Another fact, and a bizarre one at that is that one of their number is called Robbie Williams. But not that Robbie Williams. Take That, UFO’s, and Let Me Entertain You are not words that mean anything here, although We Are The World are incredibly entertaining as a visual spectacle.

Clay Stones is the groups debut single in the UK. A pounding piece of art techno it thumps hard at the skull like the ultimate fuck music. Dark, heavy and pagan, it is a scintillating piece of minimalism. If you still haven’t pressed play, we recommend you do so now. Other tracks that the band have created are just as good. From the scattergun electronica and heavy bass of Fight Song to the slightly scary nightmarish Piggy Bastard, which creeps and crawls through smoky ghostly computerisation. We Are The World may not have featured in any of this years UK ones to watch lists. But we recommend that you do just that, especially if like us you are UK locked down and We Are The World ever make it over to our fair European isle to perform.

We Are The World release Clay Stones through IAmSound records on the 17th January 2009 in the UK. We’ll be first in the queue. See you there.

Monday, 4 January 2010

BBC Sound Of 2010 Shortlist - Where's The Rock Music ?

This week sees the publication of the BBC Sound of 2010 shortlist / top 5, with the eventual number one being revealed at the end of the week. We will be watching the shortlist with interest to see how the two acts we voted for (Stornoway and Ellie Goulding) that got on the list do. We expect Ellie Goulding to crop up there. We would be delighted but much more surprised if Stornoway made it. At the end of 2009 we posted a blog here about the BBC Sound of 2010 list and in the discussion attempted to explain our voting rationale for the artists we chose. (In essence we said there was no point for voting for an artist that very few voters had heard of as the artist would stand no chance of getting on the list and the vote would be wasted. Likewise we didn't want to vote for just bands we liked that we were sure would get on the list such as Marina and the Diamonds - we'd rather give our vote to a band who had a slight chance of getting on the list but would need every vote, such as Stornoway.) We thought it may be an interesting article for those who are interested or excited by the list, but are not involved in the voting. If you are such a person you may also like to take a look here at an article we wrote this time last year about the BBC Sound Of List and our reaction to cynics who rubbish it. Call it part of this blogs manifesto if you like.

Amongst the comments we received on our blog about the BBC list one person asked why was there no rock music featured. We have to admit in the vast array of artists that we considered voting for from indie to hip-hop, from electronic dance to folk, from pop to soul, there was not one rock band that we thought of. And it would seem that we weren’t the only voter to think this way.

So why does the BBC Sound of 2010 list feature an absence of rock bands? We would suggest that the main reason is that because currently rock music is seen by those who focus on new music as being unfashionable. Music and fashion go hand in hand. Fashion doesn’t ‘wear out’ it ‘goes out’, and arguably at this moment in time rock music has gone out for an extended lunch break. Music, rather like a mobile phone or a computer, is a luxury item that has to undergo stylistic change in order to renew itself to its market. It is reliant on a constant change and development to excite its audience through a high mass media profile. Right now rock music does not have that profile. It has, and has always had a hardcore fan base, but beyond that rock exists on the periphery. Fashion is intrinsically linked to exposure. If a genre of music is considered deeply unfashionable, the media are unlikely to provide significant coverage. If a genre of music is getting little exposure due to its lack of fashionableness it is unlikely to feature in lists such as the BBC Sound of 2010. This would also explain why sometimes an act that makes it onto the BBC Sound of list, in hindsight looks like a poor judgement. Fashion moves on, music moves on, hand in hand.

Of course to just blame fashion for the lack of exposure rock music has received from critics and so called ‘tastemakers’ is a little simplistic. There are no doubt other reasons to. Certainly the selection of persons voting influences artists chosen. There are very few, if any, rock specialists on the panel of voters, whereas other genres do have representation. For example Tim Westwood was there for a guaranteed hip hop vote on the Sound of 2010.

Another reason links back to our previous blog, where we suggested that to get a nomination in the first place an artist has to have had exposure to a significant number of the voters. Our experience is that rock bands, and particularly indie rock guitar bands are a lot less adventurous - and at the risk of being controversial - often significantly lazier, than other acts in the ways that they market and promote their music. As rock is perhaps now to a large extent based in tradition rather than experimentation, the ways that rock bands promote their music is often through old traditional methods such as playing gigs and trying to gain reviews in music magazines. There is nothing wrong with that, and it certainly helps build a profile, but these days there is a multitude of ways of gaining exposure, and by limiting themselves to such a small amount rock bands are less likely to get noticed. We believe hard work and innovation are the keys here.

Ultimately rock music probably doesn’t need to be featured on lists such as the BBC Sound Of List as much as pop or dance artists do. It has now become a classic, traditional form of music that doesn’t rely on such a high media profile. Those who like rock acts will seek out such music irrespective of what the so called 'tastemakers' think.

The beauty of this thing called music is that somewhere out there is probably an amazing rock band being put together that nobody yet knows about. Maybe four kids on the dole, blasting it out in a garage in Oldham, Cardiff or Inverness. When music fashion changes again, as it inevitably will, that band may be there ready and waiting, fully charged to come in to fashion and gain huge exposure. With the right marketing, some sort of unique selling point and a little bit of luck that rock band may then find themselves with a new willing audience, anxious for something that is once again seen as new and exciting. Maybe the BBC Sound of 2011 will be full of rock bands ? Who knows ? We have no idea. But for now, here’s some old school rock music. Phew.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Delphic - Doubt

Tomorrow Delphic release Doubt. It’s the bands third single and follows a steady build in the groups profile over the last year. With previous songs Counterpoint and This Momentary creating enough buzz to get the band onto most tipsters lists at the end of 2009 including the BBC Sound Of list and our very own Ones To Watch 2010 list, Doubt is the moment where Delphic try to up the ante further. In terms of sales however their biggest problem with both this single and the forthcoming album may be that which faces many new bands today - the illegal download. For their sake let's hope the groups record company have realistic expectations and can maximise income from other revenue streams.

Something that is gnawing and nagging at our brain with Delphic is that their sound is just a little too obvious. Yet as clearly visible as this is (discuss, can music be visible ? ) we like it in a 'reasonably pleasant it doesn't offend us' kind of way. Not everything can be ground-breaking. We refer you back to our post on January 1st here for our further thoughts on this issue. Doubt sounds as if the Manchester trio assembled elements of Klaxons, Friendly Fires, New Order, Electronic and the Art Of Noise together to construct their own stuttering indie dance behemoth. Their record companies strategy of pushing Doubt out in a week where traditionally release schedules are light and single sales are low gives Delphic a reasonable shot at stealing a Top 40 chart position, increased radio play, and the chance for new ears to soak up their sound.

We've shown the video in our previous Ones To Watch post, but here it is again. The album Acolyte follows a week later, and we'll be bringing a review of it at some point around release date. The band are also on tour in the UK and Europe in January and February.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Muchuu - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Heredfordshire is not normally known for the being the hot bed epicentre of musical activity, but maybe such assumptions are about to be proven wrong. First up popped one of our Ones to Watch for 2010 - the Brit award winning / Sound of 2010 nominated Ellie Goulding who we blogged about several times last year and who is now quite possibly chart bound with her next single Starry Eyed come February. Hailing out of the same county skip the brother-sister kooky-kitsch electro-pop duo Muchuu. We certainly wouldn’t put Muchuu in the same excited music industry box as Ellie yet, but we like them all the same. Incidentally, both acts share a similar musical territory in terms of little girlish vocals with the likes of Lykke Li, Clare Grogan and Tatu being references we pick up on listening to this band.

When we first saw their name we thought ‘twee indie pop’ and guess what? We were almost right. But rather than an out and out indie sound this duo bring cute modern floaty electronic tunes on songs such as Coral And Shell, Paint Me Rain and their debut single which was released at the end of November - Somebody Tell Me. In essence they remind us of a modern version of the mid 90’s girl fronted pop of Dubstar combined with a more ethereal cuddlier Ting Tings. Muchuu are probably the kind of band that would appeal to girls who love Hello Kitty and buy cool vintage clothes from quirky seaside boutique stalls. They make songs that sound positively Japanese and if their music was a colour it would be sugar mouse pink. In fact the bands press release describes the groups sound as playfully urging the listener to close the curtains and sneak out the back door to a magical star-lit forest, armed with nothing but a spring in their step and a pocketful of penny chews. Muchuu are either going to make you want to swoon along holding their hands or swing a guitar violently at their heads.

The group consist of 21 year old Milky and her 19 year old brother George. Their musical jewellery box has already been taken home by Huw Stephens and Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 and the band played the Underage Festival in Victoria Park, London last summer. They are due to release an album this year. If neat harmonies, melodies and swirling candyfloss synth pop is your thing, then come with us and spread the Muchuu love.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Breaking More Waves 2010

In February 2009 we first wrote about the lass below (here) Seems like this new year could be her year. We hope 2010 is your year as well. Whoever and wherever you are.

As we head out of the noughties we would love to bring you news of a new sound that is going to change the way we define music. A new instrument, a new drug, a new philosophy that will make everything we currently listen to seem obsolete. But we can’t.

Pop music has reached middle age. Everything references something else. There are only so many notes, so many sounds and so many combinations of the two to form the creative process. Trying to avoid cliché becomes the biggest cliché itself. Better perhaps to just settle for something comfortable, something that is known, not pushing boundaries, but gradually evolving and changing, adding subtle elements of other genres to move the horizon just half a degree off balance.

This is where we find music as we glide into 2010.

Yet despite this lack of radical change, despite music not providing us with the heavy cultural and political change or clout it delivered in previous decades, this thing, these sounds, remain a euphoric emotional force that makes us want to dance, think, sing, love and fill our lives with joy and excitement.

In 2010 we continue to love the music. Let’s break some more waves, with quite a few new ones.