Friday, 30 April 2010

The Good Natured - Your Body Is A Machine

Let’s face it, comparison is inevitable. Writers are sometimes criticised by those who don’t write for so called ‘lazy journalism’ when they use comparisons to describe new artists or acts. There’s no laziness in this, it’s a natural and effective way to communicate and ultimately that’s what someone who writes is trying to do. A picture paints a thousand words, and a musical comparison is the equivalent of that very picture.

So we make no apology for drawing in some comparisons against The Good Natured. We started over a year ago when we first featured Sarah McIntosh here. At the time we mentioned a slightly flatter sounding Rose Elinor Dougall and Kate Nash. We’re sticking with the Dougall reference in terms of vocals, but now want to add some more.

Those who have been following the blog for sometime may have gradually gleaned the recurring themes that we often return to and will continue to return to. Fashion and pop music is one of those themes. The two are intrinsically linked. They come in waves, then eventually the wave breaks and is replaced by something else. Right now the wave we’re riding is still one of glamour and dressing up. Lady Ga Ga, Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Little Boots and Bat For Lashes for example have all brought colour and a sense that performance should be about far more than just the music.

These are the comparisons that right now we are touching The Good Natured with. For the imagery, fashion and make up used in the new video for Your Body Is A Machine follow this glamorous path, but with a darker, more gothic style. It may have been created on a relatively small budget but Sarah looks impressively fantastic in it.

And the music ? Your Body Is A Machine is a re-recorded and glossier version of the song that was originally track two on The Good Natured limited edition hand packaged EP released last year. It has also recently appeared in remixed form on the Kitsune Maison 9 album. A sophisticated and achingly cool piece of electro-pop, it’s completely of the moment but also has a gentle warmth to it that is endearing.

Your Body Is A Machine

THE GOOD NATURED | MySpace Music Videos

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Hurts - Better Than Love

Finally the video for Better Than Love by Hurts arrives. As we've blogged elsewhere Better Than Love is an above average electronic pop song, reincarnated from their days as the band Daggers, but not their best work. From their other material we've heard Better Than Love is possibly a little bit of a curveball as many of their other songs are slower grandoise ballads.

The video is exactly what you would expect of Hurts. Filmed in Romania it's stylish, chic, subtly sexy, artfully moody with ultimately not a lot happening. Hurts are with doubt the best looking band in the UK right now. And if anyone thinks that it's not the place of a music blog to comment on how a band looks, then all we can say is sorry, pop music is as much about style, image, looks and god damn sexiness as it is about the music. From Elvis Presley to The Spice Girls, pop has always been as much about image as it has been the songs. And Hurts look amazing. No, A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

Hurts have spoken about the fact that it is harder to hold your breath than it is to breathe, and this video seems to follow this minimalist approach both in the colour hues and the storyline, even if lead singer Theo's vocal has a vague reminiscence to the pompous and brilliantly over the top Jim Kerr from Simple Minds in this song. The band are currently out on the NME Radar Tour following their selective shows in churches and music halls earlier this year which we described here.

Nedry + Worship @ Reading Oakford Social Club

As a live experience visual stimulation can often be the downfall of laptop wielding bands, particularly in small venues. Unable to hide behind banks of hypnotic lighting or multi-media visuals, all that is often left is the spectacle of watching some vacant looking individuals twiddling knobs.

Nedry (pictured) overcome these problems with their secret weapon – their Japanese born singer Ayu. Like a small child she dances and skips around the stage with a complete lack of self-consciousness, clawing at the air like a cat. She is strangely compelling to watch. Her voice is a ghostly wail, reminiscent of a more spectral Bjork, echoing and looping through effects pedals. The two male members of Nedry also give it their all, heads and bodies bobbing in unity, wrestling with their technology - a synchronised downtempo-dub-step-glitch-rock-trip-hop groove machine. Nedry are a complex mix of experimental noises, beats and riffs that challenge the ears, and despite the computerised base from which much of their sound emanates it never feels anything less than organic and loose, jetting off in different directions at any given moment. Scattered is full of evil rampaging blasts of fuck-you-backwards guitar anger, whilst Apples & Pears is more graceful - a fusion of simpler soft guitar work, clipped beats and low-end frequencies. Innovative, progressive and visually engaging, Nedry defy the idea that geektronica doesn’t work without the camouflage of additional imagery or videos to distract.

Support band Worship are a little more familiar sounding - there’s a sense of new-seriousness about their Radiohead-esque songs. Like Nedry they are driven by laptop based instrumentation but this time with a more traditional guitar sound. Lead singer Tim has a brooding, soul-stirring vocal that floats over the Berkshire bands atmospheric music. Worship may not yet be fully formed – not every one of their songs being fully captivating, but they’re weightily polished. It probably explains why despite their infancy they were recently invited to play a live session on BBC Radio One, despite not having yet released a single. There’s a sense that Worship are a band who are still discovering themselves in terms of audience engagement in live performance; despite a chirpy hello and an announcement that this is their last show for a while, watching them feels invasive and voyeuristic. It’s almost as if they are in the recording studio and the audience have been invited to peep through the keyhole to preclude their shyness. There is no doubt however they are highly competent and have a good deal of substance in their music – the staggeringly good In Our Blood being a deft pulsing example. As we said before, file in the drawer marked ones to watch.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Rose Elinor Dougall - Find Me Out

It’s been nine months since we last featured Rose Elinor Dougall at Breaking More Waves, but with the release of her new single Find Me Out on the 3rd May through Dance To The Radio it really is time to do so again. For Find Me Out is without doubt Rose’s finest moment to date. Sounding like she has stepped out of the Kill Bill Vol 1 soundtrack, Rose takes the drugged stillness of a whistle last heard on Twisted Nerve by Bernard Herrmann and combines it with the melancholy mood of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Nancy Sinatra. Subtly layered to this are moments of soft jazzy percussion and weary sparse guitar to create a quiet restrained piece of loveliness.

Rose has written that the song may seem a strange choice of single to some people; but not so here. Find Me Out makes perfect sense, giving a whole new dimension to Rose’s output, surely putting the final nail in The Pipettes coffin. With a forthcoming album Without Why ready for release, and Rose also playing a part in the new Mark Ronson project, there’s plenty to get excited about in the Dougall camp. You can listen to the new single which is streamed below.

Rose Elinor Dougall - Find Me Out by dancetotheradio

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hurts - Better Than Love (Trailer)

No text. Just a trailer. Hurts. Better Than Love. Better than your average boy band. Even if all we see here are girls. Almost. Embrace Hurts or hate Hurts. The lines are being drawn.

Wild Palms @ Brighton Jam

Lou Hill, lead singer of Wild Palms has a big mouth. It’s a physical chasm - wide, gaping almost yawning to the floor as he sings. As it opens the sound that surges out suits the bands music perfectly, sometimes soaring, yet at other times twisting and turning into a snappy angry howl.

The bands layered atmospheric indie also fits the dark basement architecture of Jam. Threatening distorted tribal rhythms - sometimes played out on an electronic drum pad - play out over soaring buzz guitars that veer in style from noise doom to jerky angular post rock. Dry ice and overtly dramatic stroboscopic lighting add weighty menace to the bands sonic assault. There may not always be obvious melodies within Wild Palms song structures but there is still plenty of merit.

Quite where Wild Palms fit in the indie rock family tree is a little unclear. The goth Friendly Fires ? A warmer post-punk collective sitting between Gang of Four and a fuzzier Joy Division ? There’s certainly a sullen undercurrent to their songs, yet despite the gloom Wild Palms blast out their industrial new wave to form something that seems almost joyous. By the time they hit new single Deep Dive they have a number of the crowd moving to their taught cutting and gliding sound.

Wild Palms may look like your typical pale faced indie lads, but their music has a wider, artier aesthetic. Whilst in their current form they are never going to challenge for high profile commercial success, their Brighton show still had a dense and substantial impact.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Stornoway - Beachcomber's Windowsill

Just as last year certain journalists lambasted Mumford & Sons debut on the basis that they were posh boys who had discovered folk, Stornoway could also find themselves as sitting targets. Such class-conscious criticism is of course provocatively pathetic; yet if it does come, it is likely to go hand in hand with the fact that the music Stornoway make is unerringly 'nice'. Songs such as Fuel Up with its opening lines of “Curled up in the back of the car, nine years old you don’t know where you are,” share a sentimentality that verges on sickly sweet, reminiscent of the one hit wonder JCB Song by Nizlopi. Just the sort of thing hardened rock journalists like to get their teeth into.

Let’s however for a moment put the words 'niceness' and 'sweetness' aside and instead use words such as romantic, heartfelt, dreamy, delightful and charming. For this is the sound of Beachcomber’s Windowsill, an album packed to the brim with devastatingly wonderful songs. The kind of songs that make you want to embrace a stranger and realise that actually, the world is quite a glorious place if only we opened our eyes a little. From the so-good-it-just-had-to-be-re-released travel themed love song Zorbing to the bewitching gentleness of The End of the Movie, Beachcomber’s Windowsill is an album that comes cooing and petting to you, ready to nestle into your soul.

Although comparisons with Mumford & Sons are inevitable, due to the bands ability to pen a good tune from an acoustic folk tradition and gradual building buzz, Stornoway are camped in a different field. Whereas Mumford & Sons glory has come from elements of hoedown, musical up-swelling and climaxes, songs designed to be sung by the masses, Stornoway are more like a gentle whisper in bed, climbing in to sweet-talk the listener with soft admiration. It’s only on the more ebullient sounding Watching Birds where Duane Eddy guitars chug, drums rattle and lead singer Brian makes-out a little more aggressively that Stornoway display some characteristics of humping dirty vintage rock n roll. It’s the one moment that jars a little, but at least shows the band are also prepared to try other styles.

The core of Beachcomber’s Windowsill is engulfed in lyrical beauty and the songs to match. Turns of phrase like “The storm has broken, heavens open, so electrifying, I’m nearly flying, lost my heart between the sheets of lightening,” are passionately wonderful in their simplicity. Acoustic instrumentation is to the fore, with lead singer Brian Briggs producing clear, precise vocals hinting at the tones of Tim Booth from James. You can hear it on the pop melodies of I Saw You Blink, where the songs title is allegedly percussively transmitted via morse code using a guiro, to the sea shanty banjo beauty that is We Are the Battery Human - a deep thinking four part harmony led song about how our species was “was born to be free range.” One of the highlights is Boats and Trains a fluid mellow musical journey that sings of the fear of unrequited love. We dare you to play it and not offer a little sigh of affection.

In a digital age where every aspect of our life is heavily influenced by electronics and computers, it seems ironic that some of the best albums of this year are being created by young musicians following very traditional paths. I Speak Because I Can by Laura Marling was one example. Beachcomber's Windowsill by Stornoway is another. Quite simply an album of near perfect songs.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Apples - Theo

Hereford 5 piece Apples have been bobbing around for a while now, their debut single Reason 45 picking up attention last July with its summery harmonies and pretty pop aesthetic. It even managed to argue with indie protocol by placing alongside spiked Haircut 100 guitars the now neglected de rigueur instrument of the 80’s - a saxophone.

At the end of this month Apples are back with a new song - Theo. Another jaunty crispy fruit bowl full of very English pop chants and tropical rhythms it has a colourful irresistibility about it that can be filed under headings such as 'toe-tapping', 'agreeably hooky,' or for the bad pun fans out there 'golden delicious.' Apples certainly don't unleash any sort of hardcore punk noise. Their world is one of clean cut, distinctly sprightly songs. Fresh, youthful and playfully fun. They do a neat line in smart casual.

Also highly worthy of your attention is the B-Side. Back in the 80’s, before Paul Heaton formed The Beautiful South and then left to save the great British pub and Norman Cook left to become Beats International then Fatboy Slim, they were members of The Housemartins. The Housemartins had a number one single with an acapella cover version of Isley Jasper Isley’s Caravan Of Love. It alienated many of their original fans but brought them huge commercial success. Now Apples have covered the cover, and it's available for download below. It seems the band are big fans of barbershop singing, having also had a very good go at The Flying Pickets (here). They may not pick up many indie rock cred points - it's hardly Sonic Youth, but at least they are doing something different, something that they believe in. And that surely is credible on its own.

Grab them now, and keep the music doctor away. You can purchase the single, which comes as a bundle with a 7" and CD here.

Blindeye | Films - Apples 'Theo' from Blindeye | Films on Vimeo.

02 Caravan of Love (Acappella) by Popular Recordings

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Clock Opera - A Piece of String (Teaser)

In our recent Camden Crawl preview we mentioned that chop pop specialists Clock Opera were due to release a new single - A Piece Of String - at the beginning of June. Before this, with every sharp popster from Hurts to Kylie Minogue to iamamiwhoami releasing ‘teasers’ of their new releases, Clock Opera do the same. As the new single is called A Piece Of String, this string art trailer is rather obviously suited. Watch the forty five second video below where veneer pins are stringed up to create the pattern / logo - the real thing must have taken considerably longer.

Clock Opera 'A Piece of String' (Teaser) [released 07th June 2010] from Clock Opera on Vimeo.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Dekade - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Just a few days ago we wrote a blog entitled Whatever Happened To The Modern ? If you haven’t read it yet we suggest you do so. Because originally the piece was due to have a different ending, one which suggested that we had unearthed a band that sounded so similar to The Modern that we suspected that they were the same people, once again re-branded under a new guise of Dekade. Or rather we understand that to be fully correct we should be writing their name in the following way D E K A D E. Yet a little digging has confirmed that Dekade are most certainly not The Modern / Matinee Club under a new guise.

Dekade have had previous incarnations though. Until very recently they were called Nitevisions. A clip of one of their songs Fire generated some interest last autumn. You can hear it here. And if once you’ve clicked here on their Myspace you find that their sound is deliberately and obviously plagiarising 1982-84, then it may not shock you to learn that they are direct relatives of members of Duran Duran. Fact. It seems that musical styles run in the blood. Lets us not forget that one of Duran's greatest hits releases was also called Decade.

Dekade continue the growing trend for male synth pop acts that define themselves by a stern, sharp-cut, suited elegance. Their cascading haughty goth-pop gem Haunt You is forty percent Human League, twenty five percent Depeche Mode, twenty percent Gary Numan and fifteen percent The Editors Papillon. Or one hundred percent The Modern. In terms of visual colouring, if Hurts are the beige of new synthtopia and Mirrors the black, then Dekade are grey with sparkle added by the Xenopmania team. The band are currently sculpting their debut album with Flood and are making live appearances at next weeks Camden Crawl. If you are in London you can catch them there, where, as they recently tweeted, they will be ‘in pursuit of excellence in the modern pop arena.’

If the synth-pop bubble hasn’t burst yet, and if as a band Dekade can avoid being quite so self-referencing to the eighties, then they have a real possibility of finding themselves at the front end of the premier league keyboard queue.


Ellie Goulding - Guns and Horses

A warning : One-upmanship and arrogance are both not endearing qualities, which is why this post is written with its tongue pressed firmly in its cheek.

Such is the high speed world of the interweb and the passion of the average new music blogger, that there’s often a need to be first. Or at least in the leading pack. Sometimes we want to stick our tongues out and shout “Nah, nah, nah, we blogged them ages ago,” when an artist goes on to achieve mainstream, commercial or critical success. It boosts the ego and allows others to use words such as “tastemaker blog.” Their choice, not ours we hasten to add. Although we quite like the sound of it.

That’s why over the last couple months we’ve written about artists such as Worship, Kyla La Grange and Let’s Buy Happiness. All acts that we first and foremost like, but secondly think that you may also like. Expect to (probably) see all of those cropping up more here later in the year, irrespective of commercial success or not, although we'd love them to bring in the money.

Yet today we’re lagging behind. The new video for Guns and Horses by Ellie Goulding has been out for a number of days, and we’re only posting it today. We are apologetically slack here. But then let’s face it, we first mentioned this song over a year ago. So “Nah nah nah,” to you.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Yuck - Suicide Policeman

One of the people pictured above is not in the band Yuck. Can you guess which one ?

Since Yuck first appeared on the musical radar with the exquisite torch song Automatic and the manic fuzz-pop of Georgia there has been a small storm brewing around the band, with Breaking More Waves being just one blog getting a tiny bit excited about them (here). Now the group have released a new song, which you can download from the Yuck blog. With Suicide Policeman, Yuck produce a third string to their bow; a soft, wistful tune that has subtle washes of county-pop, Simon & Garfunkel and captures the mood of laid-back indie sounds from The Pastels to earlier Belle and Sebastian. Hushed tender-hearted vocals sing “I just want to let you know I could be your suicide policeman, don’t you go till my eyes have left your face,” and we’re immediately transported to a lazy, cigarette stained Sunday morning. With boy-girl harmonies and a drifting slacker sound its a peaceful moment in the day.

If you want to hear Suicide Policeman live, Yuck are out all over the UK playing gigs with Japandroids and Times New Viking. They also have a number of festival slots including Camden Crawl, Dot To Dot and Latitude lined up. In the meantime click on the link above to take you to the Yuck blog and get the download.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Lissie - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

It’s fair to say that we are absolutely in love with Lissie right now. The freckly blonde from California is producing heart warming country-folk blues, that if we were to guess at influences would immediately make us consider Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow and KT Tunstall. We’d go as far to say that her song In Sleep could quite probably be the secret track off Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours that nobody discovered until now. Yet often we get confused between ‘influences’ and ‘sounds like’. Which is just as well because Lissie lists her influences as pie, cigarettes and porches.

Lissie’s sound is very BBC Radio 2, very adult, very American, but none of that is a negative criticism. The fact is when music is good, music is good, whatever genre, type or character. She’s already been picked up on the ‘celebrity blogger’ front by Perez Hilton who described her voice as “captivating...an exquisite instrument,” and has taken the verging on near obligatory You Tube cover version route to gain exposure - near on 250,000 views of her Lady Ga Ga cover in less than a month (see below). Having played a number of gigs at South by South West and currently finishing off well received support slots with Joshua Radin in the UK, Lissie is finding a whole host of new fans, including Breaking More Waves. With her album Catching A Tiger due for an early summer release, Lissie’s gutsy soulful 70’s vocal styling and superb song writing skills deserve to be taken notice of. So if you haven't done so yet, sit up and listen to the song Little Lovin' below and you'll see what an amazing talent Lissie Maurus is.

Lissie // Little Lovin' by Stayloose

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Bye Bye Blackbird - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

With summer finally around the corner in the UK, the scene that has been dubbed as chillwave begins to take on new meaning. Now idle childlike days on the beach, stoner campfires with friends, skinny dipping and falling in love take on a new fuzzy warm reality. Of course this is all cliché but sometimes its nice to dream that perfect moments do actually last forever.

Bye Bye Blackbird is the latest chillwave act to come across our radar, straight out of San Francisco. The audio obscurity of Bye Bye Blackbird is created by one Mikey S. His Myspace lists his music as sounding like dreams and voices, pots and pans, waves of sound and light, sun hitting your face amidst a cool breeze and coffee-induced scatterbrain comas. Bizarrely this actually seems to sum up his blend of synthy heaven perfectly.

What surprises us is that in a genre that seems to drift lazily along, like the comedown gentleness of ambient house, Bye Bye Blackbird songs are almost devilishly short. It feels almost wrong, like a camper van journey following the sunset that runs out of petrol on the first road. Nevertheless these short tracks are burbling and blissful, from the cover of Float On by Modest Mouse to Happy High, formed from warm eighties sounding synths, floaty distant vocals and dreamy twinkling percussion - a distant cousin of other Breaking More Waves chillwave favourites Active Child and Washed Out perhaps. Other tracks such as the quirky Heartbeat bring owl hoots, sampled noodlings and chunky beats whilst the slowed down piano groove of Ups and Downs has just a hint of Passion Pit about it. Grab them before winter comes and they fly away to warmer climes. Lovely.



Monday, 19 April 2010

Run Toto Run - Hater

Breaking More Waves favourites / regulars Run Toto Run return on May 24th with a brand new single - Hater. The Manchester three piece continue to develop their d-i-y electro vibe with a slow-fidgety sound that is slightly darker and edgier, yet gently smothered with breathy soft feminine vocals. Hater is a bubbling synthetic cauldron, where pop melodies mix with eye of warped bleeptronica, to create a little bit of computerised magic.

For the release of Hater the band ran a remix competition, the winning reworking by TallZombi finding its way onto the release together with mixes by Midi Midis and the band’s explicit alter-ego’s Dance Toto Dance. Run Toto Run are out on the road this summer with a number of dates and some UK festival appearances including slots at the Liverpool Sound City event, Secret Garden Party and Southsea Fest. You can hear the lead track from the Hater single streaming below.

01 Hater - Run Toto Run by Breaking More Waves

Kate Nash - My Best Friend Is You

Poor Kate Nash. We gave her a right old bashing recently (here) and so we approach My Best Friend Is You with a high degree of fear. It wasn’t the riot grrrl influences, the aggressive filth that was spouting from her mouth or the personal politics that worried us. It was the fact that our recent gig experience of Ms Nash was of something so amateur, so lacking in quality, that we half expected to compare this album with the proverbial cat being strangled.

Thankfully My Best Friend Is You is not the nightmarish wailing banshee turd we expected. Instead it’s a mixed bag, with a few real turkeys, some so-so’s and a handful of highly likeable pop gems. In places it’s a very angry, foul mouthed, even cathartic sounding album. Certainly nobody could accuse Nash of playing it straight and safe, nor being bland. It widens Nash’s musical palette, skipping from breezy, brassy sixties girl group influenced piano pop ( Kiss That Grrrl, Do-Wah-Doo ) through shouty alt. rock ( I Just Love You More ) to lo-fi weary sounding alt folk (You Were So Far Away) and experimental oddness ( Mansion Song, I’ve Got A Secret). There’s nothing here that will find Nash hitting the heights of the upper reaches of the pop charts for as long as she did with Foundations in 2007, but neither is the record career suicide.

The good include the aforementioned sixties girl group pop songs which bring to mind everything from The Supremes and The Shirelles to the more modern context of The Pipettes first album. Also the pounding hooky Later On and the semi-spoken word Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt - a song that even though it doesn’t have a particular melody or chorus is the highlight of the album. Starting simply with some gentle strumming and xylophone it gradually builds with a throw everything into the kitchen sink production, with Nash hyperventilating a monologue that concludes that she likes to be a noisy lass because she’s got something to say.

There are also a number of songs that the skip button was designed for. The coming out of the closet I’ve Got A Secret takes a nursery rhyme melody and repeats the title of the song ad nauseam over simple drumming and grungy sounding guitar. Quality control went out the window here. If anyone wanted ammunition to shoot Nash down with this would be the song. Likewise Take Me To A Higher Plain takes some folksy hoedown sounds with Kate’s vocal providing a juvenile jump-around-your-bedroom-punk-girl-vocal. It was probably a lot of fun to make, but should have then been locked in a safe marked ‘We had a laugh that day in the studio didn’t we,’ rather than being put out for public consumption.

The most divisive track on the album however is the provocative Mansion Song. First previewed way back in October 2008 at a Moshi Moshi records evening (here), it starts with Nash spitting out the words of a groupie hate poem. “I fancy the hip rock ‘n’ roll scenester, I want to be fucked and then rolled over because I’m an independent woman of the 21st century.” Later she continues “I can get fucked like the best of men.” Then just to maximise shock value she adds “Strip, strip, strip and shag. Fuck and get fucked in drag,” before the music jumps into a C30, C60, C90 percussive lo-fi discovery of Bow Wow Wow. It’s certainly hard hitting and will probably be offensive to some. Whatever your opinion of it, all credit to Nash for at least not complying with female stereotypes. If the use of such strong language is entirely appropriate for any singer, male or female, particularly one who has a relatively young fan base who may follow her as a role model is another matter however.

My Best Friend Is You is hardly the album of the year. It is however in places surprising, interesting and passionate; and contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, it isn’t a complete load of toss.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Ellie Goulding @ Brighton Digital

If you’re looking for evidence of how quickly Ellie Goulding has climbed up the pop mountain, arriving half an hour before the venue even opens would give you the answer. There is a queue snaking its way along the Brighton seafront outside Digital containing as many, if not more people, than were in attendance at her show in the same town last September (reviewed here). Yet Ellie isn’t due on stage for another two and a half hours. She’s becoming a popular girl. Goulding has climbed vertically from base camp blog darling to peak the BBC Sound of 2010 / Brit Critics Choice awards (and not forgetting topping our own Ones To Watch list ). Not only that but she has delivered on the hype in sales terms with a number one album and a top five single. There has been the inevitable backlash from critics and a number of bloggers, but the public have voted with their cash.

Goulding’s performance tonight justifies the initial hype and shows why she appeals to punters. She is confident and assured, yet never over the top, a few months of playing shows enabling her to develop to a higher level. Her face contorts with emotional physicality as she sings; her voice pure, sweet and often passionately quivering. She stays mainly centre stage, strumming an acoustic guitar nestled against her sleeveless skeleton print tee shirt, just occasionally shimmying left or right when freed from guitar duties.

Opening with the beautiful Lights which journeys from a piece of minimalist ethereal electro to a full bloodied arms aloft dance-pop tune, her set ranges through her debut album, carefully mixing the studio trickery and electronic gloss with a more organic and honest live sound. She strips back Wish I Stayed to just guitar and piano and a cover version of Roscoe by Midlake gives another tick in the authenticity box. It’s certainly not all about virtuous musicality though - most of this set is high on pop values; good, catchy, easy-on-the-ear, entertaining songs played well to a room full of people with just enough visual engagement to stop the eye wandering. There are screams of delight when she whacks a single drum with some finesse on the synth drenched Salt Skin and these screams continue as she closes, inevitably, with hit single Starry Eyed.

It’s only during Your Biggest Mistake, a more mundane music-by-numbers tune that there is a slight mid set lull, but considering that she only has one album to her name, this brief moment can be forgiven. Ellie Goulding may not engage the sort of people who can only listen to music as a form of intellectual academia, but as the sold out crowd who chant her name for an encore demonstrate, she’s doing something right, and for the most part this live show was appealingly enjoyable and engaging.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Unicorn Kid - Dream Catcher

Last August we first wrote about one Oli Sabin aka Unicorn Kid and then later in December put him into our very special drawer called Ones To Watch 2010. Now is the time to show why this Scottish genius deserves a drawer all of his own.

For Unicorn Kid has a spot on jump-to-the-ceiling contemporary sound. The type of sound that will leave many parents scratching their heads. “That’s not music,” they’ll say. “That’s just a noise, where’s the song? People can't enjoy that can they?” Sorry mum, sorry dad, the answer is a big resounding yes. Unicorn Kid seems to be able to create, without fail, pumped-up perfectly constructed electronic blasts of hyperactive Super Marioness. Our vision is of deranged beautiful youths with massive smiles on their faces, charging round the arcade shouting “Chiptune,” at the top of their voices.

Now signed to Ministry Of Sound, with Dream Catcher Unicorn Kid steps up to the line and fires a bulls eye. Dream Catcher takes his music to another dimension, one where Galaxians and Space Invaders smile and fire orgasmic lasers at the glitchy and bleepy boy wonder. Heavier and dirtier than anything Oli has produced before, Dream Catcher is a bit of an Atari monster. Do your computer a favour, power on up and play this beast. Straight to the centre of the target.

This is the sound of Britain in 2010. Utterly utterly amazing. No, scrap that. U.T.T.E.R.L.Y A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Turn it up loud. This is it.

Unicorn Kid - Dream Catcher by Ministry of Sound

Slow Club - Giving Up On Love

Undeniably our favourite record label, Moshi Moshi are celebrating record store day today by releasing two limited edition 12 inch vinyl records - Coming On Strong, the debut album from Hot Chip and Yeah So, from Slow Club, which will feature specially hand painted artwork. If you live somewhere that is actually lucky enough to have an independent record store, get down there and grab yourself a copy, or one of the many other gems that are being offered up this year. Those at the front of the queue may even be able to bag the new limited edition 7” Blur single. We’re wondering how long it will be before it appears on Ebay for extortionate amounts of money.

And talking of Slow Club, here for your viewing pleasure is the video for their new single Giving Up On Love which is released on the 24th May. Filmed at Hampton Court it features actor Mackenzie Crook, a big wheel, and that’s about it really. But what else do you need when you’ve got the rollicking skip-a-hoola rush of Giving Up On Love to listen to ? The answer is, nothing.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Hall Of Mirrors @ Portsmouth Fat Fox

For those like us who thought that The Hall of Mirrors represented a soft focus dreamy French café pop collective – think again. From the blood red Spacemen 3 guttural guitar intro to the lead singers female reverb soaked vocal, this is a band that in a live form trade on big alternative rock sounds set to some sort of blurred psychedelic vision. It later transpires that tonight is not the standard Hall of Mirrors line-up, with members of The Confederate Dead – friends of the band, being enlisted to help replace missing players. This explains some of the explosive din coming from the dark strobe-frenzied stage.

The mission tonight appears to be to create some sort of mind-blowing transcendental noise – a velvety Brian Jonestown Massacre perhaps. Lead singer Jessica Spencer takes cover behind her keyboard, one red shoed foot bracing her against the wall. “I see spirits everywhere,” she wails, spreading her arms theatrically wide, her head thrown back, like a young Kate Bush about to climax in some sort of blissful sonic orgasm. Sometimes the vocal is almost lost in the uproar of funeral guitars and drums, but this gig seems to be less about songs and melody - more about dense and sometimes heavy atmospherics. In that respect it works well, the often ineffectual sound system at The Fat Fox coping admirably enough to leave the small audience feeling that their ears have received some kind of beautiful battering.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Hurts - Dragostea (The Making Of)

Hurts, Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2010 and BBC Sound of 2010 nominated group are dividing opinion. Fake, bland, up their own backsides hype-merchants with boy band-lite songs? Or artily cool teasers bringing the highbrow back to the face of pop music? Quality by the designer suit load or Primark styled landfill pop?

The bands ideology, presentation and character are being speedily deconstructed on the internet, and rightly so, because whatever you may think of their music, Hurts (or their record label) have chosen a minimalist (some would say pretentious) method of marketing and promoting their product. We could forget about the image the band present and simply argue that ‘it should be all about the music’, but as a pop band image is hugely important. Would Lady Ga Ga be quite as brilliant if she wore skinny jeans and a grubby polo shirt?

Ultimately there is no way no objective way to assess Hurts. Music, together with the imagery, politics and attitude that surround it can only be judged subjectively. To pretend any other way exists is a lie. There will be those for whom Hurts are the embodiment of all evil. There will be those who think that they are the greatest male pop duo since the Pet Shop Boys. Lines are being drawn. The battle commences.

On May 19th Hurts release their new single Better Than Love. A step away from their more grandiose emotional balladeering, Better Than Love is a better than average electronic pop blast. According to the Popjustice forum the song comes from Hurts previous larger multi-member incarnation Daggers. More upbeat than much of their other material, it isn’t their best song by far, but broadens their scope. As a teaser for the video for the single, Hurts have released this “Making of the video” teaser entitled Dragostea, which means Love in Romanian.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Whatever Happened To The Modern ?

Back in 2005/6, as the word indie was being demolished forever by bands such as Razorlight and The Kaiser Chiefs, the initial battering by Britpop in the 90’s not quite being enough, forward thinking individuals were falling out with much of the music that was to be defined as landfill indie and instead finding satisfaction in other genres. The word synthesiser was, at the time, almost a dirty word. Synth-pop was seen as lacking the authenticity to endear to mass audience. So when a band like The Modern arrived with their debut release Jane Falls Down in 2005 they seemed completely out of place. Lead singer Emma Cooke brought a vamped-up Marilyn Monroe meets Madonna glamour girl goth sexiness, whilst Nathan Cooper and the wonderfully named Chi-Tudor Hart thrust shame upon the skinny jeans copyists with their sharp attire, keyboards and citing their influences as the rainy streets of Berlin. It was a far cry from the turgid jangly mess that was dirtily invading the UK music scene - a monster that thought that a pint of cider in The Hawley Arms in Camden was the height of sophistication.

The chances of The Modern gaining success seemed very slim indeed, yet Jane Falls Down with its Human League big synth riff hooks sneaked into the UK singles chart at number 35. Maybe this is what Little Boots was listening to five years ago? It certainly stood out at the time, synthetic beauty bringing colour and imagination to a music scene that was turning ladishly denim blue, speckled with Strokes / Libertines / Enemy / Oasis football-fan vomit brown. Follow up single Industry looked like it could smash it. A wind of change was behind The Modern.

Then it all went very wrong. Industry sold a spectacular amount of singles in its first week - enough to enter the charts at 13. Yet it never did. The song was banned due to alleged chart rigging. Hundreds of copies of the song had been purchased from different stores using the same credit card. The band later suggested that these purchases had been carried out by an over zealous family member. Even discounting these sales the song would still have charted in the top 30. It was however too late. The wind of change reversed direction again. The Modern were ridiculed by many of their fans and the music industry. By 2006 their record label had dropped them. The Pigeon Detectives Wait For Me album went to number 3 in the UK charts like a warty blow-job behind a bike-shed. Synthtopia went back into hiding.

The band faltered on, signing a deal with a small independent label and releasing the glossy Erasure / Gary Numan-lite Discotheque Francais under a new name The Matinee Club, in an attempt to distance themselves from the chart fixing scandal. By then however, the bands moment of opportunity had passed and by the time their album The Modern LP was released, very few were listening. If it had been 2009 The Modern LP would have been another part of the pop geography jigsaw. In 2006 you needed a map to find it.

What happened to The Modern after that is unclear. Their website and Myspace still exist but seem like abandoned graveyards, their forum a desolate and lonely place where a few lost individuals call for some news, the official videos for Jane Falls Down and Industry deleted from the internet. In 2009 the band surfaced to play a support slot with eighties haircuts gone crazy band A Flock of Seagulls, but other than this The Modern had become a faded near-glory. If it had been 2009/10 things may have been different - certainly their electro-pop sound would have fitted perfectly with the times. Like many others before them and many others after, The Modern can be tagged a ‘nearly’ band.

Yet it seems they are not quite done yet. At Bedsitland, the synth-pop club at The Lexington in London, a band called The Modern are due to take to the stage on July 10th. We’re not even sure if it is the same group, but if it is, and you’re in London, it may be your last opportunity to see one of the great ‘nearly made it’ acts of the last few years.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Camden Crawl 2010 - Preview

Today, a new feature. Besides bringing reviews of all the music festivals we attend this year, we will also be previewing them and selecting five acts for your perusal. First up - Camden Crawl 2010.

Camden Crawl is now one of the many one-wristband-multi-venue-multi-gig events that have sprung up on the UK music calendar. The first was way back in 1995. Back then Camden was an obscene but strangely alluring indie mecca where markets sold cheap jackets, vintage clothes and fashionable junk. Not much has changed in that respect, except the word indie has now become obsolete - we now live in a world where Scouting For Girls are referred to as ‘commercial indie’ and wearing a check shirt and skinny jeans from Top Man appears to define you as ‘indie’.

Breaking More Waves attended its first Camden Crawl in 1996. Back then it was a one day, small scale event with just a handful of bands, limited number of venues, lack of corporate sponsorship and no queues. In 1997 the event expanded to become the Intercity Crawl, and a fifteen pound ticket gave access to six venues, a CD featuring all the bands playing and the pleasure of seeing groups such as The Warm Jets, Vitro and a fresh faced non-stadium indie rocking Snow Patrol. There were also corresponding events in Manchester and Glasgow. Our endearing memory of that year was of passing a gaggle of Kenickie members staggering down Parkway full of glitter and alcohol as well as watching a huge colossus of a man called Tiny from a band called Ultrasound play to a half empty Town & Country Club and being rather glorious.

After 1997 the Crawl laid dormant until resurrection in 2005. Now an annual two day event the bands that help move tickets are no longer alternative acts such as The Wedding Present, Bis, and Scarfo but the hugely commercial Sugababes, Calvin Harris and the Lost Prophets, the whole fracas being sponsored by Gaymers. It’s fair to say that whilst essentially Camden the place hasn’t changed significantly, the Camden Crawl very much has.

Last years crawl was heavily criticised by some reporters, particularly the NME’s Jamie Hodgson who wrote this scathing blog. Other reports we have received suggest that nobody really knew what was going on or where, The Guardian calling it “A riot of miscommunication.” It doesn’t help that one of the main photos on the Camden Crawl website shows punters queuing rather than actually watching and enjoying music. Not a good omen. Like some other multi-gig events in the UK it appears that the art with the Camden Crawl is first to be organised - be prepared to get to the venue for the band you want to see early, and second not to take the name too literally (and by that we don’t mean wear knee pads) instead limiting the amount of crawling you do by minimising your venue swapping. This then lowers the risk of potential queues and missing bands.

We’ll be returning to Camden for our first crawl in thirteen years and reporting back at the start of May. But for now here are five acts appearing at the event that get the Breaking More Waves seal of approval.

Samuel Chase

Samuel Chase first appeared on this blog (here) back in October, although then he was known as Samuel and the Dragon. The dragon has now flown, leaving one of our favourite singles of last year, the beautifully isolated Diamonds on a Boat as a haunting memento. Samuel now continues, with some incredibly soulful, sombre and atmospheric demos on his Myspace. Think of the slo-core melancholy of Japan and Portishead and you’ll be getting somewhere close. An album is due to follow later this year.



Clock Opera

Fresh from supporting Marina and The Diamonds earlier this year, and with one of the more low-key nominations in our Ones to Watch 2010 list, Clock Opera have still played less than twenty live shows. Yet their glorious mash up of home made samples and beats, chopped and repackaged to form crescendos of beauty has us very excited about the band. A new single A Piece Of String is due for release in June, the follow up to their debut White Noise. Lyrically the song explores the relationship between a ventriloquist and his dummy. Last July we said "We love Clock Opera more than our own children." That is because Clock Opera are creating music of the highest order.



Smoke Fairies

Hailing from Chichester, Smoke Fairies are the towns only musical exports of worth since Hope Of The States. They create smoke-laden, sultry, medieval folk-blues songs that sound as if they are from another time and place. Having recorded with Jack White the duo are set to support Laura Marling across the USA immediately after the Camden Crawl 2010.



Stornoway

How could we not mention Stornoway ? The finest band from Oxford since Radiohead, Brian Briggs and his merry men are another one of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2010 and will be releasing their album Beachcombers Windowsill in May. Full of simple acoustic based songs and sung with a clear honesty, Beachombers Windowsill is the sound of stepping outside into a glorious spring day. They may be a little too ‘nice’ for some, but for others they will make hearts flutter.



Silver Columns

Silver Columns are Adem Ilhan and Johnny Lynch. Adem plays bass in post rock / electronic band Fridge whilst Johnny is also known as the Pictish Trail - a folky sounding singer songwriter type. Together as Silver Columns they produce pounding cool disco anthems such as the Breaking More Waves approved Brow Beaten and forthcoming single Cavalier. It’s one of those side projects that actually seems to be better than the mains. Serving it up - groovy.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Razmataz Lorry Excitement - A Year Short on Surprises / Trial and Errors

Described as “Newcastle’s very own one man electro-punk-pop-party,” which sounds like a pretty scary thing if you really think about it, Razmataz Lorry Excitement releases a new double A-sided single on the 3rd May through Fakedream Records. A Year Short on Surprises is a high energy piece of jittering synth mentalism with smooth falsetto vocals, the kind of resonating groove that’s going to make your body jolt and twitch in mad spasms like the final moment before orgasm. It’s a punch-the-air piece of dirty wall to wall electricity and we like it a lot.

The title of the track comes from a Guardian review of Razmataz Lorry Excitement at the Leeds Festival in 2008 where journalist Dave Simpson wrote “In a year short on surprises, the weekend’s most unlikely triumph belongs to a Geordie on the unsigned stage who calls himself Razmataz Lorry Excitement.”

The other track on the single is Trial and Errors. A little more laid back than A Year Short on Surprises it takes some hammering electro-piano sounds and bleepy flows to create an easily danceable piece of electronica, the kind of thing that could float easily over a summery field of sunshine clad ravers, it’s full of minimal mastery.

Razmataz Lorry Excitement is actually one Kev Dosdale. He has recently been on the road with Field Music, touring as an additional synth and guitar player for the band. He has also supported the likes of Klaxons, Shychild and Crystal Castles under his R.L.E name. Below you can find both tracks which are currently available for streaming and in the case of Trial and Errors free legal download. Crack the case.

Razmataz Lorry Excitement - Trial and Errors by Fakedreams

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The B of the Bang + The Dawn Chorus @ Portsmouth Drift In The City Bar

There’s a moment just before The B of the Bang play Lung – their song about dying, where the band pause for a moment to announce that punk svengali Malcolm McLaren has died. It would have been interesting to see what McLaren would have made of this evening. He once proclaimed “It is better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success.” There’s little flamboyancy or failure tonight, although the muddy sounding speakers and sterile interior of the venue do their best attempt to doom both bands performances. Yet neither is the evening a benign success. In fact benign is a word that probably doesn’t sit comfortably with The B of the Bang, evidence being found when singer Christopher Whitear cups his hands around his mouth to yell at the chattering crowd to “Shut up,” during Last Day On Earth, which they play unamplified and acoustic from the venue floor. It makes for an almost angry anti-folk start, the band then marching forward with a rocked up set of songs taken from their debut album Beginning.Middle.End and their new tour only EP Art Deco.

It’s the new songs that impress the most tonight. The fusion of electric guitar riffs and “Ooh La La,” harmonies throughout Film Noir are almost sunny and upbeat until the song descends into an orgy of clattering noise that segues perfectly into Reykjavik 101 - a madcap math-rock workout that jives like a laptop-stripped Prodigy number. The stately First Thought of the Morning is mournful and gentle - it would probably have McLaren turning in his grave when he gets there, so full of anti-energy and downbeat melody.

The B of the Bang style – black t-shirts, ripped jeans - and sound, a mix of folk-rock with uncompromising guitars that display none of the niceness of current new country-folk kings Mumford and Sons - is deeply unfashionable. This though is probably just the way the band like it. It’s the old cliché, but they seem to be playing this for themselves and if anyone else buys into it’s a bonus.

The Dawn Chorus (pictured), who play before, are label mates and from the same musical family as The B of the Bang - distant cousins connected through Whitear playing in both groups. A double drumming, accordion, melodica, and eastern European sounding rabble, McLaren would hate them for their lack of glamour and un-punk attitude - just a bunch of lads standing on stage and playing the songs straight. However, there is something verging on exhilarating when they go hell for leather on Carnivalesque, tower like trumpets and cut-throat guitars battling away, their drummer rasping out the chorus sung on the recorded form by Frank Turner. Ironically it sounds almost gypsy-punk - Romanian Sex Pistols fans would be proud - and there’s a bit of that sentiment towards the end as well, when the whole of The B of the Bang join the stage whilst the groups trumpet player blasts brass from atop the speaker stack. Maybe Malcolm McLaren would have had a smile there.

Gold Panda - You

When the BBC Sound Of 2010 list was published at the beginning of the year, as usual the critical negatives waded in with their usual “What a load of rubbish,” comments. But once the cynics had gone away and you took a step back and looked at the full list of nominations, it was possible to see that not only had it picked up on acts that had a high chance of commercial success such as Ellie Goulding, but had brought attention to some of the most exciting underground musical acts around today. The act who really stood out for Breaking More Waves was Gold Panda, who had caught our ears with his sliced up laptop samples on his mini album Before and his crackling cartoonish Quitters Raga. We’d managed to check him out live (here) and featured him as a new wave (here). His disjointed laptop romancing appealed to our inner geek.

Now Gold Panda is back with a new single entitled You. It very much continues where Quitters Raga left off but with less crackles and mess. If anything it feels taughter, tighter and sharper than Quitters Raga, and whilst that track very much fell into the category of 'dance music for hip beard-strokers that you can’t really dance to', we can almost wiggle and sway a little to You. We’re thinking the word here is “Tune!” Take this one out. You can purchase You here

You by Gold Panda

Friday, 9 April 2010

Kyla La Grange - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Kyla La Grange’s dark windswept songs about breaking up, getting together and death were the highlight of a recent Communion event at Brighton’s Prince Albert, and so today we bring you a little more of this new singer songwriter.

An ex philosophy student from Cambridge, Kyla La Grange was born in Essex to a Zimbabwean father and a South African mother, but grew up in Watford. After graduating from university her demo recordings garnered interest from Rollo from Faithless who introduced her to producer Marky Bates. The three of them have been working together on her debut album Ghosts, which is due to be finished fairly soon..

From the songs we’ve heard, Kyla is blessed with a slightly husky, sensual, smoked-out, nightime voice full of restrained passion. It’s pretty easy to be convinced after just one listen to medieval folk-rock ballad Lambs, where complex clattering live beats mix with heavy heartbeat drums, that Kyla is good. Or even better than good. Then there’s the emotionally chilly Vampire Smile where she sings “Baby you need to leave, ‘cos I’m getting drunk on your noble deeds. It doesn’t matter that they don’t get done, when I feel this cold they’re like the f*cking sun.” You can almost imagine her swigging a wine bottle as she spits out the words in a feisty manner. Such edgy savage lyrics and folk instrumentation could inevitably draw comparisons with artists like Laura Marling and Alessi’s Ark, and certainly if you are a fan of these acts Kyla La Grange may be one to keep your eye out for. Kyla is playing a number of gigs in the next few months including another date with Communion, this time in London at Notting Hill Arts Club, and a support slot at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen towards the end of May with Cibelle and La Shark. You can listen to Vampire Smile below and if you like it you can grab it until it disappears as a free download from her website

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Guestlist Live @ Express FM

Outside of blogging, Breaking More Waves has its musical fingers in a variety of other pies that are filled with delicious sonic fillings. All of these pies are tasty goods, but they all allow us to remain impartial as a blogger - none of them are created for commercial gain. Maybe this is why the BBC called us a ‘tastemaker’ when they asked us to vote on their BBC Sound of List – they’ve sampled our fillings and found them rather flavoursome.

Next week two of these musical flavours join together as our local radio station Express FM present a live show from Portsmouth’s Edge of the Wedge, next door to the infamous Wedgewood Rooms music venue. Our small band of Twitter followers or larger band of regular readers may know that every other week we take a slot on the stations number 1 alternative and new music show The Guestlist. The slot involves us recommending a new band or song under our guise as blogger. Previous tracks we’ve played out include Ellie Goulding, Stornoway, Silver Columns, Mirrors, Dan Mangan, Cults, Run Toto Run, Let’s Buy Happiness and Nedry – a reasonably eclectic spectrum.

Besides our radio banter we also have occasionally acted as a DJ of sorts, under the name DJ Hojo Hits. This DJ act started as a weird, shambolic, comedy alter-ego, which was in tribute to an internet campaign to get 80’s synth pop star Howard Jones booked for the Bestival festival. The campaign at times verged on musical terrorism, but ultimately, after four years, has led to curator Rob da Bank crumbling under the pressure and Jones being booked to play this year. In celebration of this DJ Hojo Hits is also returning to play some tunes, just like he did two years ago. (See here) It’s going to be emotional.

On Wed 14th April we will be acting as both blogger and DJ, as we participate in The Guestlist show live from The Edge of the Wedge. The fun starts from around 7.30pm, with the show going live on air from 8 – 10pm and then continuing off air after. There will be two live bands, other DJ’s (including Southsea ‘legend’ Pete Scathe who has been running one of Portsmouth’s most popular indie / alternative nights for over a decade Connection at Scandals) and entry is completely free. You may even see the worlds most shockingly amateur DJ battle in all of history. We're going to be raising our game for that one.

So, if you fancy biting one of these pies, we’re baking for you now. Get down to The Edge of the Wedge, Wednesday 14th and April and meet the pieminister. You can also listen to the show live on the night using the internet by clicking here, although unfortunately there is no listen again facility.

It’s going to be tasty.

Hooray For Earth - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Bringing laid back fuzzy synths, Beach Boys melodies and reverb smothered vocals to the indie shop-floor Hooray For Earth have developed a neat line in warm, trippy song writing. With songs like Surrounded By Your Friends, Hooray For Earth create ambling sun-decked pop-glories, the kind of eighties meets sixties washed-out joys that almost have us reaching for the drawer marked chill wave, that is until we hear some of their other songs, which take a very different direction. Example ? The all over the place Comfortable, Comparable starts with a wonky distorted piano stutter sounding a little bit like a ghostly early 90’s Italian house track or even the introduction to The Box by Orbital, before wavy hippy styled vocals, a loose groove and warped distorted guitars run amok. We’re not sure what Hooray For Earth are on, but it sounds like fun and if they’re not quite the fully formed deal yet, their sound shows of plenty of potential.

Hooray For Earth are from New York and have recently signed to Dovecote Recordings. Their six track Momo EP will be released on the 1st June 2010, and the band are out on tour with perfect noise-pop saviours The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart in the States throughout June. Catch Surrounded by Your Friends streaming below and skip over here to see their puppet inspired video directed by Johnny Woods.





Wednesday, 7 April 2010

James - The Night Before

Formed in the early 80’s, Manchester band James achieved huge commercial success in the 90’s with songs such as Sit Down, Sound, Born of Frustration and She’s A Star. And although they split in 2001, the group reformed in 2007 to tour and release a new album Hey Ma. The Night Before is the first of two mini-albums the band plan to release in 2010, the second being titled The Morning After, currently expected in July. To record The Night Before the band worked virtually, recording and uploading their music to a ftp site, the whole thing being pulled together by producer Lee ’Muddy’ Baker. Once James have toured this month they intend to spend five days “to capture something spontaneous,” and play and record in a room together once more to create The Morning After.

With The Night Before the group rediscover the sound that put them at the peak of the sales charts in the 90’s. Songs such as Crazy with its chorus of “I’m not cra-a-azy, I’m just laughing at myself,” are top-notch trademark James tracks. Their music may not be particularly relevant now and is unlikely to see the band storming a new popularity, but these melodic songs, that sweep, soar and ebb in all the right places will please long-term fans immensely. No new tricks are present, but the argument is that if the magic was good, the wand is worth a further wave. At this stage in the game, most fans will be quite happy without any massive artistic progression as long as the songs are of quality.

A number of these tracks could quite easily find themselves cohesively sitting on the James album Seven, one of their biggest sellers. For example, Ten Below finds singer Tim Booth reminiscing on his younger years “I’m at the bottom of my bed, headphones on my head, John Peel show, feels ten below,” over a brooding, pummelling indie rock sound that seems designed for larger venues. Porcupine is also vintage James. Starting with a clicking electronic pulse, countryesque guitar underpins Booth's warm and soft voice before the song bursts out of its sleepiness with an arms aloft chorus halfway through. The only track that grates a little is Dr Hellier. Inspired by Booth’s hospitalisation for liver disease it takes a heavy handed approach lyrically comparing his body to Afghanistan and that his doctor said that “We can’t let the Taliban take over and breed.” This lyrical coarseness is a minor criticism though.

For those who loved James in the 90’s, there will be much on this record that will remind of times past and give a cheery rose tinted moment in the present. The only disappointment with The Night Before is that as a mini-album, it doesn’t last long enough.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Forest and the Trees - To The Forest (I Need Some Peace)

We’ve mentioned a couple of times now (most recently here) how various blogs and websites are diversifying into record labels and promotion, and today we continue this topic. The Forest and the Trees are Joel and Linnea Edin, a married couple from Sweden. They are about to release their debut single To The Forest (I Need Some Peace) on Ill Fit Recordings, which is a joint venture between Something In Construction Records ( Memory Tapes, Lonely Dear) and The Line Of Best Fit website. The song is a giddying rush of natural acoustic indie sounds that rattles on at some pace, then drops for a moment to catch its breath as Linnea sings “I cannot focus with all of this noise,” before it jumps on a speeding escalator marked going on up. It ends leaving you wanting to punch the air with a whoop, in much the same way as Arcade Fire’s big constructions do, albeit The Forest and the Trees do it in a gentler, sweeter way.

The band have an album scheduled for release on May 10th, and if their other two songs they have on Myspace are anything to go by it’s one to put on the pre-order shopping list. Mother is a lush, atmospheric, reflective piece full of maturity, melody and grace - the kind of thing Lyyke Li may have produced if she had teamed up with those of a folkier persuasion, whilst Bohemian Boy reminds us a little of yet another singer from Nordic regions - Nina Persson; not from her pop chart days with The Cardigans though, but the debut release from her side project A Camp, as it’s a song full of melancholy, melodies and beauty.

To The Forest (I Need Some Piece) will be available to digitally download from the 19th April. In the meantime you can listen to the stream of the song below.

THE FOREST & THE TREES To The Forest! (I Need Some Peace) by ILL FIT

Monday, 5 April 2010

Kitsune Maison 9

The danger of hitting the skip button on a compilation album is almost inevitable. By their multi-artist nature the likelihood of enjoying every track is incredibly low. Kitsune normally score higher than most with their electro-dance-pop releases and the latest instalment - number 9 in the series - continues this pattern, although with this edition Kitsune seem to be following rather than leading; a significant number of these tracks having already gained exposure elsewhere and there is nothing radically innovative or new about any of the songs on the record. The album is in places a little less full throttle than other Kitsune compilations, the label themselves describing it as ‘snuggly, peaceful and motherly.’ That is if your mother is the type who likes synths, studio trickery and danceable beats.

Diving in there’s the slow-flo jam of Belong by Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, a sleepy-just-waking-up moment of distant lo-fi bass bliss which stretches lazily out over the opening of the album. Also hanging around you can find laptop dudes The Twelves having a tweak of Two Door Cinema Club’s Something Good Can Work, Arthur Baker bringing back his eighties street-sound electro dance clicks and beats to the elegant pop tune Wonderful Life by Hurts and Silver Columns hitting the perfect beat (boy) with their Bronski Beat disco rave-up Brow Beaten. All of these tracks and artists have been out there for sometime now, Kitsune bringing them all together as one happy family.

Elsewhere a number of the songs sound like they’ve jumped shipped from the glossier, funkier end of an early 1980’s Now That’s What I Call Music compilation. Gamble & Burke’s Let’s Go Together (which the Breaking More Waves I Tunes bizarrely names as Gamble & Prison) is a commercial blend of sugary r’n’b flavoured soul synth pop, the kind of song that could easily clog up the Radio 1 play list as it nods its head towards Hall and Oates and Lionel Ritchie. (Go ask your dad kids) Likewise the mellow vibe of The Phoenix Alive by Monarchy is classy piece cut from the cheeseboard of division one dancefloor disco pop.

Cooler Couleur by Crookers featuring Yelle is one track not to press skip on. A hot bassy carnival stomp of a track, it’s the kind of number that makes the so called hip bloggers proclaim phrases such as “This shit is one hot jam,” or other such nonsense, but with its distant sonic relationship to Paper Planes by M.I.A it’s easy to understand why. Elsewhere Berkshire’s The Good Natured seems to have thrown away the battered keyboard borrowed from lead singer Sarah’s grandmother to deliver something electronically sharper. Your Body Is A Machine is the sound of Dubstar partying on an iceberg with its chanting melancholy robopop sound. Mention must also be given to Fenech-Soler whose infectious Calvin Harris-hands-in-the-air jabbing synths on Stop and Stare may lack a little in the originality department, but manage to succeed as a whopping floor filler. If you file your CD's in alphabetical order this one slots neatly near Faithless and Friendly Fires.

With 18 tracks, it’s inevitable that even the most ardent of Kitsune fans will be tempted to hit the skip button a few times, but there’s enough here to keep the average electro-pop connoisseur happy and dancing around their bedroom in just their pants until volume 10 is out. Nothing earth shatteringly original here, but nothing dire either.

Kitsune Maison 9 is released on the 26th April 2010.