Monday, 31 May 2010

Powerlifter - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

What kind of parties do you go to ? The ones we go to always seem to involve debates about social stratification, the abandonment of culture or the use of Farrow and Ball paints on Victorian plaster. This is why you can usually find us lurking in the corner planning a new excuse to leave early.

We want our parties to be the kind that Powerlifter throw - full on nerdy geekcore rampages where getting naked and pouring beer down your throat faster than you can drink it is just for starters. Like an episode of Skins but with real people. Unless of course they are just some bad hipster joke. Make your own mind up by watching the video for Buffalo below - a punkish chip tune riot designed for those moments when the idea of a discussion about social stratification seems worse than suicide.

We suggest chip tune but Powerlifter deny that. “Don’t call it chip tune, and this ain’t Pixel Punk. To put it bluntly, this is just some badass f*cking party music,” they shout. Whatever it is it’s the sound of a Gameboy getting angry, with screaming rock metal vocals and heavy 8 bit arpeggios. Full of power pill shoutiness and console-rape noise, Powerlifter are low on high artistic merit, but high on ear crushing, ball blasting, bleep busting energy. Sometimes you’ve got to forget about quality control, just get drunk and free your inhibitions.

Powerlifter are giving away their whole album as a free download. Possibly because no one would actually buy it. Go grab it here and then attempt to sit through the whole thing in one sitting. More fun than the Farrow and Ball paint discussion ? Hell, it's the weekend, let's grab a beer, get naked and decide together.

POWERLIFTER - "BUFFALO" MUSIC VIDEO from Kevin Wildt on Vimeo.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Friends Electric - Wall Of Arms

Just a few days ago we introduced Friends Electric to the blog and rather like waiting for a bus, here’s another one coming along in quick succession.

It’s Friday, and working you up for the weekend we are featuring the new video for the groups single Wall Of Arms. As we stated before, the Friends Electric sound is very much in the Delphic / Fenech-Soler mode, but even if it isn’t the most imaginative or innovative piece of synth-dance dynamite, there’s still enough here to make us explode a little and go a tiny bit super rave crazy. In fact the more we listen to Wall Of Arms the more we want to jump up on the podium, put our hands in the air, feel the sweat on our backs and dance ourselves into oblivion. Are you with us ?

Oh, and any lead singer in a neat pair of glasses is always going to get the yes vote as far as we‘re concerned.

Wall of Arms by Friends Electric is due for release on the 14th June 2010 via Self Raising Records, a label run by Rod Thomas of Bright Light Bright Light.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Charli XCX - ??????

We have a real love / hate relationship going on for Charli XCX. Last November we explained some of the reasons why here, and still this tempestuous affair continues. Silly spoilt ninja hipster brat ? Or fantastically sassy sexy singer dripping with street style, glitter, glamour and gold ? We simply can’t make our mind up.

We’re being slowly drip fed hints of what Charli XCX may or may not offer in terms of musical potential, to help resolve this internal dilemma. The subtle hooky premier-pop Do It Well has gone from her Myspace and has been replaced with just a clip of demo of another song Machines, as well as two short videos displaying her debut performance at Koko in London, which show plenty of on stage confidence.

Now two You Tube videos entitled I Am Not An Angry Person and Hyperactive So Fantastic thrust the fizz bomb energy of youth into our faces and leave us feeling as confused as we were before. Like the disobedient girl in class that’s going to lead us badly astray, we know we shouldn’t go anywhere near her, but there is something about her riot in a sweetshop zest that makes us want to climb out of the bedroom window late at night and go raving with her, whatever the consequences.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Unthanks @ Brighton St George's Church

The term new folk is now so overused that it has almost lost its meaning; any young musician with an acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle or ukulele is inevitably branded as belonging to the genre. Yet the beguiling music of The Unthanks is irrefutably not part of new folk. Rachel and Becky Unthank, the two sisters who front the group may have youth on their side, but their bewitching songs and stories have been handed down through the generations, forming part of a Northumbrian tradition. More old folk than new folk it would seem.

The Unthanks are an extraordinary talent - a group to be treasured. The heady summer warmth and stillness of the space at Brighton’s St George’s Church amplifies just how beautifully important this 10 piece’s music is. From the opening exacting piano and strings of Annachie Gordon, Becky’s voice wraps around the songs in a way that is sensuous and velvety; Rachel’s voice complimenting by being girlish, charming and full of clarity. Their tandem harmonies are knee-weakening in their loveliness. The tunes performed are often downbeat and melancholic, every instrument - a mix of violins, ukulele, trumpet, piano and percussion – perfectly played. It gets even better when the band exits the stage and the two sisters take to the floor of the church to sing without amplification – the only sound you can hear besides their spellbinding Geordie harmonies is that of hairs standing up on the backs of necks. The songs may be heavy in their subject material - the incredibly poignant The Testimony Of Patience Kershaw for example deals with the plight of a young woman working in the coal mines in the 19th century - but the music is so exquisite and evocative that the audience can only be left with the most uplifting of feelings.

Rachel and Becky have warm personalities made from amiable and often comical stage banter. Becky tells of purchasing gold shoes last time they were in Brighton – a fashion that is completely out of place in their homeland of Northumbria where their nearest neighbour is a shepherd. Shoe themes are continued with snatches of clog dancing during some of the songs, including the upbeat end-of-pier-music-hall jig of Betsy Belle which adds a whoop ’n’ hollerin’ stampede of energy to the end of the set. However, the moments of fun never trivialise the subject matter of the songs or the bands ability to deliver superbly emotive pieces - not in a false X factor ‘big moment’ way, but through meticulous instrumentation awash with subtlety. It is an exceptional live performance by an exceptional band.

As Jesus looks down from a cross above the stage, he must be thinking that he can hear heaven. And if he could speak he would probably be whispering that The Unthanks are the best live folk band in Britain.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Klaxons - Flashover

A flashover is what happens when the radiant heat from a single fire source in an enclosed space ignites all other gases from other heated combustible sources in that enclosure. That’s the scientific explanation.

Putting it another way, a flashover is when the fire goes boom !

The non-scientific, but very musical explanation is that it is also the first fiery new material from the Klaxons since Myths of the Near Future. It also goes boom.

Yes, the Klaxons. Remember them ? New rave was all the rage. Klaxons were an electric, but amateur blast of MDMA-amazing full-force energy that somehow went on to deliver a mind-blowing Mercury winning album. The bad joke turned good.

After possibly the longest wait for a follow up album since Guns and Roses, Klaxons return with a new album ready to go, tentatively called Surfing The Void. Apparently the cover has a 'cats in space' theme. Honestly. Flashover sees the Klaxons get viscerally noisy with a heavy, violent, muscular, angry, squealing brute of a song, but it’s still recognisably the Klaxons - their manic spirit remains intact and underneath the riot of sound there’s still a vocal melody in the chorus. Listen for when the beast leaves and a singular piano sound and almost camp choir boy vocals take over, before the track tries to punch its way through a wall with riotous determination - showing that the band are still prepared to experiment and go off at angles.

Whatever you think of Flashover, you can’t accuse the Klaxons of selling out and being overtly commercial. We await further material with interest.

Friends Electric - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

With a name like Friends Electric it’s not very likely that this Welsh four-piece are going to be playing trad folk or heavy rock. Ever since they sneaked into a Soulwax show in 2006 the band realised that it was time to drop the guitars and embrace the synth. Which is why in 2010 we find Friends Electric forming a highly contemporary sound that occupies a similar stable to bands such as Delphic and Fenech-Soler. Friends Electric may not be plugging in to anything particularly innovative or new, but their track Wall Of Arms pulls the best bits of chanted pop, euphoric rave and accomplished dance-floor friendliness together in a coherent flow. Likewise another song Hours has enough sensually determined fluttering electronic loops to provide a giddy moment of pleasure at a strobe lit club.

Besides their own songs Friends Electric have already remixed tracks for Ellie Goulding, The Noisettes, Kelis and Penguin Prison and have supported Example. Electronic music is often criticised for lacking warmth and a more human side, something which Friends Electric challenge, stating that they want to “put personality back into dance music.” Time will tell if these Neath lads can deliver on their promise. Wall of Arms streams below.

WALL OF ARMS by Friendselectric

Monday, 24 May 2010

Silver Columns - Yes, And Dance

Pop music is about fantasy. Fantasy is about sex. Sex is about imagination. So in the minds eye the hip wiggling, Bronski Beat referencing, glitterball Hi-NRG disco stormer Brow Beaten by Silver Columns provides the hedonistic dream of rubber clad boys cruising for action on the dance floor.

Silver Columns provide this non-reality and many other illusions on their debut album Yes, And Dance – a collection of electro-groove pop songs not far removed from Hot Chip – another band who like Silver Columns released their debut album through Moshi Moshi records. Laced with dance floor pulses and sequenced bass lines to get things moving, Silver Columns add quirky studio trickery and effects over the top to make Yes, And Dance as much fun sitting on the sofa as out in the club. There’s enough variation from heady disco numbers to more plaintive tunes to provide a full listening experience.

So you get a rubbery Blue Monday era New Order on Always On, the lonely spaced-out choirboy groove of Columns, the sound of robots copulating with arcade machines for a minute and a half on It Is Still You and the sharp travelling rhythms and beats of Cavalier - a song that conjures images of speeding train journeys. Each track is a little disco fantasy created by androids with a heart.

Of course this is all just reverie. The reality is that Silver Columns are Adem Ilhan from Fridge and folk chap Johnny “Pictish Trail” Lynch – two regular(ish) musicians who have built Yes, And Dance out of studio bound computerisation. They are not alas, as far as is known, a musical version of C-3PO or in the case of Brow Beaten a greased up gang of cock thrusting electro-queers. However sometimes the reality is better than the fantasy – and whatever visions Yes, And Dance creates, it’s a solid, sometimes eccentric piece of dancefloor fun.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Clock Opera - A Piece Of String

Last month we posted about the new Clock Opera single A Piece of String and presented a teaser video for it. Now you can listen to the whole track from the stream below. With A Piece of String Clock Opera have created a complex piece of music formed out of tiny spits of agitated sound and rhythm. It loops, clatters and skips around madly, but lead singer Guy Connelly caresses it all with his soft and amicably warm vocal; it’s a piece of music that is both innovative and engrossing. Much has been made of the term Guy Connelly coined himself to describe his production technique known as chop-pop, where he cuts and splices samples and instrumentation together, but this term makes his music sound rather mechanical and industrial sounding. The reality is that with songs such as A Piece of String Clock Opera are forming miniature sonic symphonies that sound incredibly human.

At the end of last year we named Clock Opera as one of our Ones to Watch, stating that whilst they were not the sort of band that would be found storming the charts, they did have the potential to create inspiring sublime tunes that could provide long term satisfaction. A Piece of String is exactly that - a sensationally splintered song that you will return to again and again.

A Piece of String will be released on 7th June 2010 and the 7" vinyl can be pre-ordered here.

A Piece of String (Radio Edit) - Clock Opera by Breaking More Waves

Family Friendly Festivals

UK music festivals have developed considerably over the last decade or so and none more so than family friendly festivals. For some the thought of a festival where the whole family can enjoy themselves is a living nightmare. However many people who became festival junkies when the market for such events began to explode in the early 90’s now find themselves as parents, but they are still addicted to the community spirit, freedom and unadulterated joy that the best festivals can bring. This addiction leads them to seek out new family friendly events where mum and dad can immerse themselves in the pleasures of live music in the open air, but the kids can have a grand old time as well. The best family festivals provide so much more than some duff bands and a tokenistic ‘kids area’ tucked away in a corner somewhere with a face painter as the main attraction - instead they provide a magical experience which may include circus, crafts, dance, theatre, art and even the odd childrens star ‘personality’. One of the most surreal sights at last years Camp Bestival was thousands of tots singing along to Mr Tumble. It certainly wasn't My Bloody Valentine or Motorhead.

Of course when you’re a single twenty year old you probably may think the idea of a load of under 10’s running amok in a field is living hell, but ask yourself this - when you get older and if you have kids, what will you do ? Just give up settle into a life of mediocrity?

Of course a family friendly festival is different in many ways to something like Reading or V Festival. You can certainly expect to feel a lot safer. The chance of someone setting fire to the portaloos is virtually nil and they will be a lot cleaner - it seems that kids can use the things better than drunk adults. You’ll also almost undoubtedly get a better nights sleep on the campsite. And during the day the influence of so many children can actually have a charming and calming effect on non-parent adults as well as parents. But they’re not for everyone. Some parents will find the whole thing too daunting, whilst other non-parents will simply become annoyed by the fundamentally different lifestyles of families. As someone posted on last years Camp Bestival forum “There were far too many children there.” A child posted back that they found that insulting “I thought there were too many adults.” Some may find them a little bit too ‘tame’ and not rock n roll enough. Ultimately it depends on what perspective you come from.

Here at Breaking More Waves we’re pretty seasoned music festival goers having attended nearly fifty of the things from the huge (Glastonbury) to the small (Blissfields), and so have our children. This year we’ll be reporting back from at least two family friendly festivals and whilst our main focus in our posts will be on the music, we’ll be sure to be sampling everything from The House of Fairy Tales at Camp Bestival to the Roald Dahl Museum and Children’s Literary Festival at Wychwood.

But the music is vital. Never forget that. There seems to be an assumption by some that once you become a parent your interest in music stops. Music is for life, not just for youth - an analogy would be telling someone they can only go to the cinema until they have children and then they have to stop.

It’s imperative that the family friendly festivals we choose have to have some great new music as well as nostalgic acts. This is why Camp Bestival comes up trumps with the likes of Breaking More Waves favourites Stornoway, Hurts, Ellie Goulding, Gold Panda, Unicorn Kid and Summer Camp alongside Madness, The Human League and Billy Bragg. Wychwood too has Beth Jeans Houghton, Goldheart Assembly and the soon to be announced BBC Introducing Stage which will have a host of new and exciting bands alongside The Happy Mondays, The Levellers and Seth Lakeman.

The best family-friendly festivals don’t just wallow in musical nostalgia, but provide a broad range of artists, as well as a huge plethora of activities for young and old alike. We’ll probably still be going to them as grandparents.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Revere - We Won't Be Here Tomorrow

Revere is a big small band. Big in so far as there are a lot of members (eight), and they make a sound befitting of their size. Small only in terms of the number of units they have so far shifted.

Yet whilst Revere may not have achieved U2 sized commercial success they certainly deserve to be massive and their new single We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow fully justifies their case. A blast of throw your head back shout along magnificence, it’s a call for renewed beginnings. “Unchain everything, find new words to sing, no time for sorrow, we won’t be here tomorrow,” commands lead singer Stephen Ellis, whilst the propulsive mix of instrumentation which includes guitars, drums, bass, brass and piano heads for the heavens like the energised cousin of Arcade Fire. We're sure we felt the sweat of the drummer touch us as we listened to this song, he hits them so hard.

Revere have already received praise from Tom Robinson of 6 Music, The Times and The Guardian, who called them “one of the best bands you’ve never heard of.” We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow now gets our approval as well. You can catch the band at a variety of summer festivals in the UK in 2010 including Secret Garden Party, Standon Calling and the one street rampage that is Southsea Fest, where we first noticed the band here last year.

We Won't Be Here Tomorrow is streaming for your pleasure below.

Revere - We Won't Be Here Tomorrow by Breaking More Waves

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hurts Better Than Love - Live Version

As seems to be the way these days, one pop video for a song simply isn’t good enough. It seems you have to have a three course meal with the teaser video for starter, the main course and then an alternative or live version for dessert. We love Hurts for their dramatically magnificent electronic pop songs and their carefully contrived visual aesthetic. Yet for all of their differences to a typical pop band, they have also chosen the multi-video route for new single Better Than Love. Here’s the latest instalment, which is entitled the live version.

Notice the comical way that pianist Adam does basically nothing during the song. He’s just there to look amazing and add the vital and necessary ingredient of poseurish cool. Adam Anderson = the new Chris Lowe from the Pet Shop Boys.

Great Escape 2010 @ Brighton - Review ( Day 3 )

“After this you are not going to be normal,” announce Jaakko and Jay as the third and final day of the Great Escape 2010 gets underway under the brick arches of the Life nightclub. Hangovers, sleep deprivation and sunstroke for at least some here could very well mean they are right. The Finnish duo thrash out disorientating blasts of d-i-y acoustic punk reminiscent of an insane Frank Turner with hand bandaged speed drumming of the fastest order. With off the wall songs about parents, thinking outside the box and fingers, yes fingers, they also bring peculiar in between song banter. “The next song is about lighters and flags and how combining them you create more free space. Remember that,” is one such quote. They also talk about cover versions of songs and ask “Can you cover a painting or a book?” It must be the lack of winter daylight in their home country that turns them out that way.

In direct contrast to the Nordic shouters, brother and sister Muchuu play fairytale candyfloss-twee electro-pop with occasional auto-tune. It’s fluffy, starry and so squeaky clean cute that it wouldn’t surprise if the audience was made up of dancing teddy bears and other toys from the nursery. It’s not all infinitely sweet though – a blast of unwanted feedback manages to displace dust from the ventilation ductwork, something that Jaakko and Jay, despite their pummelling sound, couldn’t manage. As the dust falls it wouldn’t be a shock if Muchuu’s sound made it turn into fairy dust, but this is saved for Somebody Tell Me when singer Milky throws a handful of glitter into the air.

The musical diversity continues in Life with Grovesnor, also known as Rob Smoughton, drummer for Hot Chip. The unturned stone of Donald Fagen, Hall and Oates, Billy Joel and Christopher Cross are just some of the references that Grovesnor appear to have discovered, with a sense of joy that seems to lack any knowing irony in cutting slices from the cheeseboard. Grovesnor like the boogie, Eric Clapton styled guitar riffs, cowbells and even the leaning back sax solo. The new millennium Baker Street anyone? It’s hard to throw off musical prejudices, but in doing so the admission is that Grovesnor are the best funky soft rock groove machine we’ve ever heard since our dad stuck on his Lionel Ritchie album.

In the busy streets of the North Laines the Komedia plays host to four bands that all incorporate some element of acoustic or folk base. Australian Sarah Blasko (pictured) draws a large crowd for an opening act. “I miss you Sarah,” shouts one of them. “Sounds like my Aunty,” jokes Sarah. A kooky choirgirl in a white and black smock Sarah runs on the spot and skips light-footed to her pure simple songs. We Won’t Run is punctuated by heavy loose drumming, whilst All I Want has a new age mysticism about it. “This is my first time in Brighton - I like it so far. Don’t spoil it,” she jests and with the crowd on her side by the time she reaches the jazzy elephant stomp of No Turning Back there’s no chance of that.

Erland and the Carnival have had some favourable reviews, but this isn’t one of them. There’s something very old fashioned about their blend of worn fuzzy folk-tinged rock which is played with exceptional competence, but there’s no sense of adventure, charisma or the soul being stirred by their live performance. Admirable but not intriguing.

It takes some balls to have had two of your songs nominated for Ivor Novello awards but only play one of them. Save It For Someone Who Cares is a gleeful twittering and gliding beauty of a song though, so The Leisure Society could be forgiven if they only played that one and nothing else. In their live form The Leisure Society (who incorporate members of The Miserable Rich seen yesterday) have an additional robustness that their eloquent recorded music sometimes loses; strings, harmonies, guitars and keyboards providing an illustrious sweeping romanticism.

Tunng finish the evening at the Komedia with their rhythmic experimental folk, their lead singers warm voice wrapping itself over the audience like a soft blanket, with subtle grooves slowly charming until they wig out at the end and announce “I’m going to do the Motley Crue tour in 2011.” We’re not quite sure what ‘The Crue’ would make about that.

From the traditionalist bearded folk at the Komedia, The Concorde holds a significantly younger, vibrantly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom have probably never even heard of Jean Michel Jarre. Which is just as well as the lush repetitive spacey synth tunes of Chateau Marmont seem like direct descendants of their pioneering French cousin. Bathed in blue light and dry ice the band themselves focus on instrumentation rather than any stage heroics, the audience enjoying the trip to galaxies far away where a space rave is just commencing.

It’s left to the much blogged Sleigh Bells to finish the crowd off and that’s exactly what they do. A riot of hardcore post-industrial guitar noise and beats combined with charged cocky nursery rhyme female vocals, any cynical concerns about over-hyped next big thing status is kicked way into touch with the Brooklyn duo’s live performance that is full of energy, passion and savage momentum. Visually comparisons with Crystal Castles are the order of the day, but their music is from a different place - the likening of an extreme noise-hop version of M.I.A being a good one. Managing to invoke a mini stage invasion during Crown On The Ground, Sleigh Bells create a little bit of havoc and get the pulses racing for a final time before The Great Escape festival 2010 is over.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Great Escape 2010 @ Brighton - Review (Day 2)

With the promise of more sun by the seaside, spending the whole day in dark nightclubs, pubs and other such venues is not such an attractive proposition. Thankfully The Great Escape provides for a number of outdoor gigs.

A carport forms an amateur makeshift d-i-y stage in the ray-drenched courtyard of Shipwrights Yard, where the Republic of Music and Skint Records present a varied showcase of artists. Yet there’s nothing amateur about The Miserable Rich. They have a beautiful elegance, grace and composure in their songs that often reference substance abuse. “They call me a pisshead, but what do they know, there’s more love in this head, than these eyes can show,” sings lead vocalist James as their cellist downs a can of Scrumpy Jack. Violin, acoustic guitar, hand bells and the aforementioned cello combine to create warm, affecting and highly charismatic songs.

Watched by both Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim and Egyptian Hip Hop the odd ball quirkiness, blonde mop top, vacant stare and warbling Syd Barret-esque psychedelic weirdness of Connan Mockasin is an acquired taste but receives love from a significant number of the audience. Childlike, almost a joke gone wrong, the songs he plays are dreamy, hazy and just one joint away from being utterly surreal.

“This is our first gig in the sunshine, we’re not usually of a very sunny disposition,” suggest Mirrors (pictured) as the rhythmic pulse of Fear of Drowning rings out over the courtyard. Certainly their angst-ridden ambient electro pop shouldn’t work in the daylight and the addition of sharp suits, dark shirts, ties and attempt of using a strobe in broad daylight should fail dramatically, but it doesn’t. With their vocalist adding some skinny boy camp robot dancing it seems that Mirrors emergence into the light is a good thing.

As the ever expanding audience enjoy the weather there are two things that strike immediately about Tigs, the lead singer of Chew Lips. First that she exudes self confidence, pulling shapes and chatting to the audience as if they were her new best friends, the second that she carries a superb vocal - a soulful Karen O singing perfectly over layered digital pop. This girl can really sing, without seeming to ever try too hard. Slick, with its plentiful bounty of beeps and builds is particularly gilt-edged. The Great Escape may be an indoor festival, but sometimes dancing in the afternoon sun is the top-drawer way to go.

As evening slowly approaches The Futureheads play a not so secret ‘secret’ show on the porch roof of the entrance to Audio. The set is punchy, urgent and short, the band appearing to be somewhat befuddled by the unusual setting of the gig which sees them raised up significantly higher than the crowd and surrounded by palm trees. “This is very strange isn’t it? You can probably see right up my nose into my brain,” jokes lead singer Barry. As second wave indie brit rock / landfill indie has died a death it’s important to note that The Futureheads remain a going concern. It’s easy to be complacent about their concise new wave sound, but they are still a sharp and impassioned band. Still not afraid to give the punters what they want they end with their cover of Hounds of Love (see video below) and skip away into the sunset.

Coalition welcomes the space drums, synth washes and robot vocals of Polish three piece Kamp! Heading for planet future-retro pop their danceable grooves hint at French house and colder German electronica. It slowly draws people in to the darkness and dancing.

Dancing is something that you might expect from an audience watching Gold Panda. Or at least some significant head nodding. Yet Life is so oppressively rammed that even the chopped samples and loops of You cannot make people move - probably because they can’t. Nine months ago Gold Panda played in Brighton (here) and about forty people were there to witness it. How times have changed.

Back in Coalition Wolf Gang brings a menagerie of influences and mixes them all up to give a modern pop context - hints of David Byrne, eccentric indie pop and possibly even first album MGMT can be heard. Standing infront of an illuminated white cube with his name on it, a white scarf draped around his neck, Wolf Gang (real name Max McElligott ) is at his best when he’s creating big sing-a-long pop songs such as The King And All Of His Men, which despite being a hit track on many of the hip blogs has a mainstream sensibility written all over it that suggests it wouldn’t be out of place on BBC Radio 2.

As the night continues its time for Hurts. For the third time this year they overwhelm us with their melodramatic theatrical brilliance. Opera singer. Check. Theo Hutchcraft staring moodily at the floor. Check. Affected use of the hand in pocket. Check. Vampire cheekbones. Check. Almost Nazi-esque outstretched hand. Check. Sensuously fingering the microphone stand. Check. Slicked hair and suits. Check. Yet aside from the image, all of the calculated pretension, all of the things that make Hurts visually so appealing to some and annoy the hell out of others, they have a collection of grandly brilliant pop songs. And at the Great Escape, unlike the NME tour where at some venues Hurts found some punters drifting away as they played, the band have the audience in their hands, or rather most of them - Drowned in Sound in an entirely predictable way tweeted that Hurts were gut sucking. By the time Better Than Love blasts in in a wave of strobe light euphoria, Hurts are riding the crest of the wave. Theo even has a wry smile on his face. He knows this is vindication. “Do you ever feel emptiness, are you scared it’s going to last forever?” Theo questions at the start of Happiness. Despite what some have been suggesting, the sound of Hurts is not empty at all. This is how all great pop music should be. Triumphant.

Still in Coalition Kid Adrift have a difficult job to follow and unfortunately suffer serious technical difficulties. They only have stage monitors for two songs, half their rig cuts out and one drunken member of the audience feels it necessary to shout abuse at them. Yet the band persevere and ultimately deliver with waves of beats, complex crescendos of piano and extreme bombastic rock sounds. Imagine Muse suddenly discovering processed heavy beats on a laptop, and you would be somewhere close with Kid Adrift. There’s an element of prog-rock pomposity to what Kid Adrift do, but there’s a magnificence to their pomp that is refreshingly exciting.

Great Escape 2010 @ Brighton - Review ( Day 1 )

The three day music convention / shin-dig that is the Great Escape in Brighton is the biggest event of its kind in the UK. With a host of conferences, parties, gigs and fringe events, it has become an important date for both the music industry and fans of new music. This year the event saw beautiful sunny weather hit the coastal town, an expanded line up of daytime gigs, more quality fringe events and a significant number of highlights.

The Music Nova Scotia showcase in the Queens Hotel brings the first music of the day. Ghost Bees are twins - Romi and Sari Lightman - who play meandering harmony led songs covering unusual subject matter such as witches and shared wombs, with their medieval vocal interplay binding well. Their kooky ambling banter about desecrating a statue of Anubis is amusingly charming but the flashing lights either side of the stage seem rather incongruous to their sparse acoustic playing, which is quiet and at best rather basic. Flashing lights suit Rich Aucoin (pictured) much better as he brings colourful high energy electronic jams to a motionless audience that he is determined to get dancing. Syncing his music with childhood films Aucoin is a celebratory white-clad high-fiving high-energy entertainer, who encourages those watching to get down on one knee and then jump skywards in a manner reminiscent to the Spike Jonze directed video for Praise You by Fatboy Slim. With skew-whiff Daft Punk referencing grooves and numerous excursions into the crowd Aucoin achieves his mission of making it as sunny inside the building as it is outside and feet moving.

“It may be Thursday afternoon and this may be a clothes shop, but now is the time that everyone should clap their hands,” announces The Agitator from a mezzanine balcony overlooking vintage boutique Beyond Retro. With a raw king of the jungle authority, The Agitator’s shoulder twitching, hip thrusting, hollering Elvis styled delivery hoo-ha’s its way to the soul with just the stripped back elements of drums and vocals. “Enjoy your shopping,” he announces as he finishes. Several shoppers look slightly confused.

The signs either side of the stage stating “Hearing protection must be worn,” at The Basement are a worrying omen for the audience of Let’s Buy Happiness. Let’s Buy Happiness have already produced one of Breaking More Waves songs of the year in Better On Paper, so their early evening slot has a lot to live up to and hearing protection is not on the agenda. They don’t quite meet the expectation, although there is undoubtedly still significant potential. Shimmering guitars compliment lead singer Sarah’s vocal which bears a close resemblance to Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays, but the beauty of the bands sound is crushed a little by the loudness of the drums and Sarah’s nonchalant appearance, chewing gum whilst she sings.

Back at the Queens Hotel flame haired chanteuse Gabby Young sings jazzy, acoustic based songs that hint at French music hall and the vaudeville. Explaining that normally her band is an eight piece hence the name Gabby Young and Other Animals, today she just has one such animal. Her voice is undoubtedly superb - full and captivating, yet her measured songs sometimes seem nothing more than something to be admired from afar. Likewise Dan Smith a keyboard based singer songwriter who uses vocal looping and classical cascading waterfall pianos instrumentation on his best song Alchemy to good effect without ever stunning.

Having won the International Song Writing competition in 2009 for Love Lust there is already justification that the flamboyant King Charles is a stunning tunesmith. “I’m a sensitive soul” he mumbles with a glint in his eye before proceeding to whip the small partisan crowd into a frenzy with his blustering psychedelic Hendrix meets Kravitz riffs. With his big lapelled suit, shirt open to the midriff and beehive hairdo King Charles looks the debonair dandy and with songs infused with royal majesty such as Time For Eternity he can do no wrong. The adventurous folk-pomp of the aforementioned Love Lust promotes a wildly energetic stomp, his reworked version of We Didn't Start The Fire a romp, and chaotic scenes emerge as he climbs the drum riser and shoves his head through the ceiling of the venue. Performance of the day.

As Brighton seafront begins to take the strain of wired up indie kids the late night / early morning show at Digital features the much hyped Egyptian Hip Hop and Fenech-Soler. The spotty low fringed Egyptian Hip Hop have a mash of indie grooves, riffs and ideas but like a man with a map in the fog have not yet any clear definition of where they are going. Fenech-Soler are exactly the opposite. Like the thinking mans credible Calvin Harris Fenech Soler are the ultimate synthesis of rave pop in glittery shirts. Perfectly constructed, clearly defined and hedonistically danceable they provide the perfect arms aloft climax to the end of the first day of the Great Escape 2010. Even when the stage lighting fails and it’s left to the dance floor strobes above the audience to sustain the spirit, party-vibes are omnipresent till the very end when the band roll out Stop and Stare and leave victorious. Guaranteed to tear up the summer festivals this year, Fenech-Soler were vigorously fun.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Villa Nah - Running On

At the end of last year we hinted in our Ones To Watch list that this could be the year of the synth pop boys. At the moment this suggestion remains just that, with the tongue-in-cheek new seriousness and sharp suits of our tip Hurts travelling the country on the NME Radar Tour (reviewed here) promoting new single Better Than Love. The other tip in our list of ten - Mirrors - have signed a deal with Skint records and toured with Delphic but have yet to set the world on fire. Further vintage keyboard promise has come from DEKADE, Active Child and Chateau Marmont, and now we’re adding another to this roll call of icy analogue bubble bath boys - Villa Nah.

Juho Paalosmaa and Tomi Hyyppa are Villa Nah. They come from Finland, where Juho writes and sings whilst Tomi creates the bands retro-cool minimalist dance pop. They describe their sound as being “Music about dreams and time,” and this week have released their debut single in the UK though the Moshi Moshi singles club - Running On. The Villa Nah sound is reminiscent of early OMD, Depeche Mode and Yazoo - it’s sparse classic synth pop full of crystal beats, calm electronics and earnestly melancholic vocals.

Over the last few days Villa Nah have been playing a few shows in the UK and later this year are playing the Flow Festival in Helsinki and Bestival in the UK. Here's Villa Nah performing Running On for a TV show in Finland.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Silver Columns - Cavalier

Take one repetitive line of danceable robotic conveyor belt synth, some electromotive whirling sounds and some call and response vocals and voila you have the new single from electro-pop boys Silver Columns. It's called Cavalier. With a rhythm that, rather like Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, conjures up images of long journeys it’s no surprise that the video for Cavalier features significant footage of roads, although the word autobahn sounds so much sexier than roads don’t you think?

The duo’s debut album Yes, And Dance is due for release soon and as we rage down into festival season Silver Columns are cropping up for you to cop off to a significant number of times. Catch their squiggly quirky double shuffle at Great Escape in Brighton, Dot to Dot, Lounge On The Farm, Isle of Wight, Lovebox, Green Man and Breaking More Waves favourite end of summer hoe down - Bestival. Line up clashes permitting we’ll see you down the front for at least one of those. Are you dancing? We’re asking.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Nedry @ Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

After reviewing Nedry live just a few days ago, it’s time to revisit the fusion of sounds that forms their three-piece collage, but this time in a beefier, darker rock venue in Portsmouth; this time as support act to 65 Days of Static.

The Nedry blend of glitchy beats, dubstep wobbles and ambient bliss for the post-rock generation provides for a well matched support slot, the band also sharing the same record label. Lead singer Ayu sports a 65 Days t-shirt whilst she skips and bobs around the stage with an ingenuousness that is charming, her wailing floaty vocal creating soaring melodies, the words unimportant, her voice used as another instrument amongst the mix of hyperdub twitches. Behind her the two male members of the band caress laptops, electronic drum pads and all manner of knobs and dials like two epileptic office IT technicians on a big night out. It’s not all geeky electronics and effects though; to give variation on tracks such as Condors electric guitars are pulled out and used to create pummelling angry repetitive riffs, reminiscent of Death In Vegas. It’s reasonably experimental but always interesting and never disengaging.

So where do Nedry fit as a band ? They straddle so many genres that they simply cannot be pigeonholed easily - a good thing. Songs such as the sorrowful sounding Apples and Pears have sounds that glide effortlessly between gentle folkish guitar and twisted heavier 4am sub-bass. Their music veers off in different directions yet never feels or sounds unnatural or forced. It’s as if they have taken a map, cut it up, glued it all back together wrongly and yet still get to the end of the journey without anyone noticing how the roads weren’t in the right place.

Third on the bill at a slowly filling venue is always a difficult place to be but there’s a confident sense of pick and mix with what Nedry do in the live environment. Combined with Ayu’s vocal (the Bjork comparison is inevitable) and her innocent stage presence, they convince a few 65 Days of Static fans that it’s time to raid the piggy bank to buy a new album.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Teenagers In Tokyo - End It Tonight (Worship Remix)

We’re not in a habit of posting about remixes. Not that we don’t like a good remix - the best are an art form in themselves, defining songs in a whole new way, but the blogosphere is so full of the things, that readers are well catered for elsewhere.

One of our favourite approaches to the movement is the Aphex Twin method - a man who released a compilation of remixes called Twenty Six Mixes for Cash. It’s brutal, but at least Aphex Twin was honest enough to admit that producing the remix was all about the money. In an artistic sense however, what we love about Aphex Twin was that he had no respect for the original artists work, often stripping a song back to virtually nothing and then rebuilding. Once when asked by a record company to remix a Lemonheads track he reportedly gave the record company one of his own pieces of music, masquerading it under the guise of a remix and allegedly received a significant payment for it.

End It Tonight is the second single to be taken from the Teenagers In Tokyo album Sacrifice, which is due on the 24th May 2010. The original track is a reasonably competent but hardly ground breaking piece of indie rock. Then Worship get their hands on it.

We’ve already featured Worship (lead singer Tim pictured above) a couple of times here and here, and now in quick succession they are back again. Worship adopt a route similar to Aphex Twin with their remix, deconstructing the original and turning it into something else completely. End It Tonight now becomes a dark electronic ghost march of ambient menace as it builds into something that borders on the colossal. There’s no attempt to just throw a dance beat and a few effects over the original song here, instead Worship create a fluttering, pulsing, night-cloaked beast.

End It Tonight by Teenagers In Tokyo (Worship Remix) by Worship

NME Radar Tour @ Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

Over the last few years the NME Radar Tour, formerly known as the New Noise Tour has established a reasonably high hit count of bands that have gone on to bigger and better things – La Roux, Crystal Castles, White Lies, Maximo Park, Friendly Fires and Marina and the Diamonds all being some of the alumni who have trodden the boards. As the latest chapter of the tour calls into Portsmouth it brings three variations of indie guitar sounds and one blast of self-important pop for judgement. The headline pop act produces the goods to suggest that it has the most chance of following other successful graduates to a wider audience.

Local group The Strange Death of Liberal England have a lost-in-their-own-world shouty intensity that forms a substantial racket. Performing mainly new songs they’re like a melodramatic cartoon rock band, each member formed with a different hairstyle (a cleaners mop of frizzy ginger, bald, long black) and moving in different ways on stage (jittery leg twitching, focussed haughtiness, head slamming energy). Calling them cartoon is a disservice though for there is no humour or gag with Strange Death of Liberal England - they obviously mean everything they do. Even though they sometimes lack in melodic edge they make up for it in passion - guitar riffs fight against each other to become victorious. Older song A Day Another Day is their best moment, with its chiming xylophone introduction and thrashing climax. The Strange Death of Liberal England sound is invigorating but the absence of a commercial edge means that they are unlikely to step their public profile up further than where they are now

“You guys came here to see a show,” announces curly haired New Yorker Darwin Deez, and so a show is what Portsmouth gets. Albeit this is a geeky, wacky kind of show with amateur choreographed dance routines in between songs to a variety of cheesy backing tracks such as Walk Like An Egyptian and Do The Bartman. It’s fun, but only in the same way as watching a Butlins holiday camp cabaret performed by the redcoats. When the skinny Deez and his band are not pulling shapes they knock out medleys of their poor mans Weezer / Strokes referencing songs and go down a storm with the crowd, but ultimately Darwin Deez are nothing more than a hipsters bad joke. With the exception of the chirpy and aptly named Radar Detector they simply don’t have the tunes to match the humorous performance.

The last time hotly tipped Manchester art rock band Everything Everything played in Portsmouth was just over a year ago, in a small pub just a few hundred metres from the Wedgewood Rooms. (Reviewed here) Boosted by a significantly more substantial sound system than that night they are taught, tight and deliver their tunes without gimmick. Songs such as the percussive whistle topped groove of Schoolin’ and the warped harmonies and rhythms of Photoshop Handsome are complex and not immediately accessible, but verge just on the right side of eccentricity.

Hurts (pictured) may be a rather mismatched booking for the NME Radar tour - a number of the audience drift away into the night before they’ve even played a note - but their grandiose 90’s influenced electronic pop is the best thing on stage all evening. Lead singer Theo has star quality written all over him, every action and move full of restrained emotion and aloof composure - his eyes piercing, his slicked back hair and face handsome. Suited in the style of Berlin alternative meets English gent coolness he caresses the lapel of his jacket before bowing his head and staring intently at the floor, placing one hand behind his back. If his minimalist performance is for real or carefully constructed and acted out matters not one jot - it’s mesmerising to watch.

Of course it wouldn’t matter how carefully constructed this visual aesthetic was if the music was poor, but Hurts have the songs. Big bombastic ballads such as Illuminated and Stay are incredibly portentous - like Vienna by Ultravox for a new worshipful generation. Lyrics such as “We don’t need your cheap salvation,” hint at power and arrogance, yet after new single Better Than Love ends in a frenzy of strobe lights Theo quietly and humbly thanks the crowd with the words “Thank you Portsmouth, the pleasure was all ours.” It’s the only sentence he says all night but it dispels any question of contemptuousness. Yet whilst Hurts dazzle it seems that the public at large may not yet be ready to engage with the band. Someone in the crowd shouts a few swear words of abuse at them and other punters stand arms folded looking somewhat puzzled. It may be that Hurts will find a niche audience who adore them, but that the average man on the street passes them by.

The previous time we saw Hurts was in a decrepit East End Music Hall (review here), and whilst The Wedgewood Rooms may not quite match up in terms of a sense of occasion, Hurts managed, for some, to transform the place into something heroically romantic for half an hour on a Sunday night.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Georgia Ruth - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

The first time we heard Ocean by Georgia Ruth we had to stop what we were doing, sit down and listen over and over; we were utterly spellbound. The 21 year olds beguiling music hook-grabbed us immediately. And it’s not only Ocean that is completely intoxicating - another track, the magical Anna has a gorgeous soothing and melancholy quality - we could imagine it being used as the backdrop to the sad lonely moment in a movie.

The music of Georgia Ruth (full name Georgia Ruth Williams) is unlikely to appeal to those who are only concerned with the latest hip fashion or blog buzz band - her sound and instrumentation is rooted in tradition, her main tool besides her haunting soulful / folk voice being her harp. Yet the harp has undergone something of a renaissance in the last few years; Joanna Newsom has been instrumental in raising its profile and Florence and the Machine has brought its sound to a wider mainstream audience with its use on Lungs. Georgia Ruth is unlikely to be following Florence into the pop charts, but with her songs of love, loss and seaside living she could enchant those who get the possibility to hear her.

Georgia is from Aberystwth in Wales and sings both in English and Welsh. Having studied at Cambridge University she recently released her own self titled EP and will be enchanting new fans with her devastatingly beautiful songs at this years Greenman Festival.

Friday, 7 May 2010

King Charles - We Didn't Start The Fire

So with the UK election voting finished, here’s a brand new roughed up little gem mined by King Charles, who we featured a number of times on the blog last year, and finally caught live earlier this year. We Didn't Start The Fire was originally a top ten hit in the UK for Billy Joel back in 1989, but King Charles has updated the tune, keeping the melody and revamping the lyrics. So now instead of name checking Richard Nixon, children of thalidomide, Malcolm X and Dylan we get Obama, climate change, David Beckham and Laura Marling in a much more British take on the song. Ironically in the Billy Joel version of the song he sings “England’s got a new queen,” and in the King Charles video we see her again, just not quite as new looking as she once was.

“Labour government you’ve embarrassed us all,” King Charles sings, and a nation finishes voting. If you’re in the UK we hope you exercised your democratic right, if you didn't get locked out in a queue.

King Charles is playing a variety of gigs and festivals over the summer, where this reworked cover could get a pretty great reaction.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Great Escape 2010 - Preview

Following on from our recent coverage of the 2010 Camden Crawl our attention now turns to the UK’s south coast and the Great Escape, another multi-venue, multi-gig, urban festival held in Brighton. The Great Escape is currently Breaking More Waves favourite event of this nature in the UK, for a number of reasons:
  • The event is three days long, rather than one or two like other similar festivals, enabling you to catch an even greater number of artists, many of whom perform twice at different venues and times.
  • There is a significant emphasis on new music. Even many of the headline acts are still in their relative infancy.
  • It is excellent value for money, particularly if you buy an early-bird ticket several months in advance, which this year was a snip at thirty-five pounds plus the obligatory booking fee for three days of musical frolics.
  • Besides the main gigs there’s a full programme of parties, conferences and fringe events, although some of these do require you to purchase the significantly more expensive delegates pass. (eighty pounds early bird or one hundred and fifty pounds now excluding booking fees)
  • The timetable is all published on line well in advance, giving punters the opportunity plenty of time to plan in advance, although remember that many venues are small and so capacity may be reached early, so make sure that if there is someone you particularly want to see you get there early, particularly if they are a more well known or 'buzz' act playing a smaller venue.
  • The event operates a text message service which gives updates on which venues are full plus updates on secret gigs that take place. In past years we've seen Ida Maria sing on the outside balcony of the Theatre Royal, Peggy Sue playing in a toy and model museum and We Are Scientists perform a blistering set on a flat roof outside Audio Bar with traffic racing by behind them, all by using the text alert service.
  • There are a variety of ticket options including day tickets and Friday / Saturday 2 day tickets. Our experience is that traditionally Thursday is a little quieter than the other two days in terms of numbers of punters.
  • It’s in Brighton, which means that besides the event itself you can spend time lazing on the beach (weather permitting); many of the venues being located on the seafront. There are also two great record shops (Resident and Rounder) that are worth a visit, a number of quirky specialist shops in the North Laines, and of course the pier for funfair fun combined with the Horatios venue which this year will see the likes of Cold Cave, Warpaint and Darwin Deez performing there. And if it's warm enough, and you’re drunk enough, after everything has finished for the night you can go skinnydipping to cool off ! Just make sure you can actually swim first though.
So once you’ve grabbed your wristband, which bands to see? With such a fantastic line up of new music it’s simply not going to be possible to catch everything. Below we recommend ten acts for your viewing and listening pleasure. We hope to catch at least some of these ourselves.

Click on the artists name to go to their Myspace page.

“If you took a big raft of overblown pompous rock and set it off through a computer, mashed in some dubstep beats, a layer of distortion and gave the whole thing a post-apocalyptic shove of electronica you would probably be lurking off the same shores as Kid Adrift,” we wrote back last August. Since then this Glaswegian boy wonder and his band have signed to Island records, recorded a Radio 1 session with Vic Galloway and had their song Red Green and Blue named as “Record of the Year 2009” by Record of the Day. A new EP is to follow this summer and Kid Adrift is currently recording an album. A must see.

A five piece from the North East of England, Let’s Buy Happiness have already created one of our favourite songs of the last twelve months with Works Better On Paper and have been signed up to play the John Peel Stage at this years Glastonbury Festival after they got through to the final round of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. Fronted by the ethereal sounding Sarah Hall the band create beautiful dreamy indie guitar soundscapes that remind us of The Sundays and The Cocteau Twins. In February we suggested that “Let’s Buy Happiness are about to make you fall in love.” Go to the Great Escape, experience Let’s Buy Happiness and that statement may come true.

Twins Romi and Sari Lightman are two Canadian Twins who are Ghost Bees. Like an alt.folk version of Joanna Newsom, their unsettling ghostly songs are formed out of glockenspiel, viola, acoustic guitars and antique mandolins. With girlish creepily beautiful voices their songs cover tales of past great empires and Greek mythology.

So loud is the buzz surrounding Egyptian Hip Hop that we are sure that a wasps nest is just around the corner. It all started when the Manchester four piece released their debut single Rad Pitt last year and it hasn’t really stopped since. There seems to be so much talk about Egyptian Hip Hop and yet very few people are pinning their colours to the mast to fully define the bands sound. Much of this is because it is too early to do so, with only a handful of demos and songs available and the four members of the band only being in their mid to late teens. So for the record we say that the bands style is loose, occasionally groovy indie. But the only real way to find out if Egyptian Hip Hop can live up to the hype is to go see them yourself and form your own opinion.

With his knotted bee-hive, near death experiences and psychedelic folk riffs King Charles really is like nothing else. Expect pagan chanting, romping guitars and songs about Polar Bears and Crocodiles. King Charles has also stated that he’s going to get married by the end of the year, although he has yet to find the right girl, so if any ladies fancy becoming a queen, here’s your chance. His song Love Lust is soppy, philosophical and stupidly brilliant.

Along with the many national and international bands on the bill of the Great Escape there are also a significant number of local acts playing, and Brighton’s own Esben and the Witch are without doubt one of the best. Fresh off a tour with The Big Pink the group will be bringing their spectral transcendentally disturbed tunes and dark yet beautiful tales to the Great Escape. A three piece formed out of Rachel Davies (vocals), Daniel Copeman (electronics, guitars) and Thomas Fisher (guitars, keyboards) the band are known to decorate their stage with porcelain owls, Victorian lamposts, skulls and minimal lighting. Reminiscent of the edgier experimental side of Portishead, or Bat For Lashes they share a kindred spirit with bands such as The XX in terms of the darkness of their sound.

One of our Ones To Watch for 2010. The bleepy, 8 bit madness of Unicorn Kid has been a sound that Breaking More Waves has been celebrating since summer of 2009. For those who think his sound deserves arrest by the music police, well sorry but those very same music police are actually raving behind the bike sheds to the likes of Dream Catcher and Animal City; manic, frantic, bassy, games console dance tunes. He's also knocked out big remixes for Gorillaz and The Pet Shop Boys. Quite possibly the music of the future.

Another band we listed as one of our Ones To Watch for 2010, Stornoway are due to release their debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill at the end of this month. Our recent review called it “Quite simply an album of near perfect songs,” and in terms of live performance their humble intelligence charms and delights every time. Catch I Saw You Blink, Zorbing, The End Of The Movie and The Coldharbour Road as the bands status continues to grow.

“It’s as if Bon Iver left his acoustic guitar in his log cabin and created a new wave electronic suite of chamber-like beauty that lays somewhere between the sonic architecture of Ultravox’s Vienna and OMD’s Jean of Arc (Maid of Orleans),” is how we described the music of Active Child last year. We wouldn’t go back on that statement at all. Beautifully cool electronic pop symphonies with new-wave synth-drums and pads, heavenly vocals and bags of class are coming to Brighton this May courtesy of one Pat Grossi who is Active Child.

Marina and the Diamonds may be a rather obvious choice, but the reason is that this is probably your last chance to see Marina in a relatively small venue before she steps up the game later this year, returning to Brighton on November the 15th to play the Corn Exchange. By now you’ll probably be familiar with Hollywood, I Am Not A Robot and other tracks from her debut album. What you may not be familiar with if you haven’t seen her live yet is her theatrical stage presence combined with an underlying vulnerability that endears.

If you haven't got your ticket yet and want to come you can buy them by clicking here. We'll be bringing a day by day review of the event the week after it finishes, and if you sign up to our Twitter you'll also find us tweeting our way around the event.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Camden Crawl 2010 - Review Day 2

As the indie kids of London wake themselves from bleary hangovers Breaking More Waves is already back on the Camden Crawl 2010 for day 2. Treana Morris is the first of two acts that we catch at the start of a showcase put together by Andy Ross (the man who signed Blur) at the Spread Eagle pub. Blessed with a powerfully clear soul soothing voice and passionate acoustic guitar playing, the warm applause she receives from the small crowd is entirely warranted. Looking a little like Quentin Tarantino, singer songwriter John Drake adds a touch of big voiced masculine stadium rock to his acoustic platter, his singing reminiscent of Bono and Kelly Jones.

From the Spread Eagle a short trip down Parkway and up Camden High Street finds the Camden Crawl stretching out from the pubs and onto the street where a new ‘Redbull Bedroom Jam’ outdoor arena has been created next to the offices of MTV. Complete with outdoor bars, food stalls and portaloos, this is as close to a typical summer outdoor festival in a field as Camden can create, albeit with tarmac, parking restriction signs and bitterly cold weather. The chill doesn’t stop a big crowd turning out for Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip who are brilliantly entertaining, funny and damn good at what they do. In less skilled hands the delivery of raps with subject matter such as teenage pregnancy could come across as patronizing to a young crowd, but Pip has the wit and intelligence to deliver the words deftly. From the joyous motivational groove of Get Better to the tumbling bleepy beats and commandments of Thou Shalt Always Kill, social awareness and humour are present with every line he drops. Creating his own mini election by getting three kids in the crowd to put on Clegg / Cameron / Brown masks and perfroming a dance off (Clegg wins - to which Pip responds, what did we expect, this is such a liberal festival) he warms hearts and cold bodies; one of the performances of the day.

Things don’t look so good for significantly hyped three piece Is Tropical. Considering the nippy temperatures outside the band seem to have picked a highly inappropriate name. They also fare less well with crowd numbers than Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip. A complete lack of stage presence doesn’t help justify their worth either - the scarves they wear as masks seeming to be a defence mechanism for their shyness rather than some elaborate art statement. Yet in the instrumental Seasick Mutiny they have a quirky gem - like a bonkers cartoon Hot Chip going lo-fi with indie guitars and retro one finger keyboard bleeps. More like that and they could be on to something.

Upstairs at the Lock Tavern it’s rammed to the door, if anyone wanted to leave they probably couldn’t - so packed in are the bodies, necks craning for a view. It’s the The Molotovs who benefit from this sardine like venue, their well crafted indie song-smithery being highly accomplished. Floppy fringes, vests and an occasional falsetto reminiscent of Wild Beasts combine with adept musicianship to suggest that maybe The Moltovs should have been playing a somewhat bigger room.

The Electric Ballroom hosts the 20 strong all female choir / novelty / collective that is Gaggle. Dressed in an assortment of ribbons and odd headdresses they’re like an all female Polyphonic Spree with doomy beats and fierce questioning vocals. They include a cover of Marina and the Diamonds Mowgli’s Road and another song that has a chant of “I like cigarettes,” followed by a response of “But I like nicotine patches more.” Gaggle are bizarre, warped and strangely entertaining. More orthodox is Lightspeed Champion who plays immediately after Gaggle. With a set that covers both old and new material there’s maybe a little bit too much musical virtuoso guitar work than blistering melodies, but overall his melancholic pop workouts are reasonably likeable and go down well with the masses that have arrived to see him. And was that a member of We Are Scientists on the stage? It was indeed.

Fighting past the drunken indie masses littering the Camden streets, just round the corner from the Electric Ballroom, the Underworld plays host to US rock band Surfer Blood who play their first London shows at this event to another busy room. Power riffs combine with more danceable rhythmic jangly sounds to create a strong set. Swim is a bona-fide punch the air anthem in the making, and any band who features a keyboard player with huge afro hair gets our vote.

The last stop of the evening is at the Rock bar where the lo-fi slacker indie sounds of Yuck drench the venue in effects laden reverb, distortion and effects that recall a time when indie didn’t mean the day-glo soundtrack to a Skins episode, but the fuzziness of bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Pavement. The Wall is particularly effervescent, full of simple grunge-like energetic guitar riffs and whining repeated vocals, the four piece delivering on the building buzz about them. And if the keyboard player from Surfer Blood has good hair then the drummer from Yuck has improbably brilliant head foliage - it's like a volcanic electrified mushroom cloud. Their songs are a gloriously noisy racket, which makes for a dirty and scuzzily noble finish to the 2010 Camden Crawl.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Camden Crawl 2010 - Review Day 1

The multi-gig, multi-venue two day extravaganza that is Camden Crawl 2010 is a chance for the less hardy festival goer to indulge themselves in a plethora of new and established acts in the bad smelling bars, clubs, pubs, toilet-venues and concert halls of indie-tastic Camden, yet still get a good nights sleep in their own soft bed at the end of the night. The 2010 line up saw many punters attracted by big names such as the Sugababes, Calvin Harris and Lost Prophets at the Roundhouse venue, but for the new music connoisseur there was a plethora of lesser known delights to be discovered.

Inevitably, there was rain, cider was consumed and line up clashes meant that it wasn’t possible to see everything (The Gold Panda / Chew Lips / DEKADE / Clock Opera / Samuel and the Dragon / Lightspeed Champion six way clash on the second day was particularly disappointing) , but it wouldn’t be a festival without such features. The anticipated lengthy queues to get into venues didn’t materialise for Breaking More Waves (although admittedly on day one we only 'crawled' between two venues) and after watching full sets by seventeen acts over two days, the ticket price seemed like money well spent.

Saturdays Canadian Blast showcase at the Fiddlers Elbow was the perfect way to gently acquaint oneself with the event, and also provided one of the highlights of the weekend. The soft focus, sixties tinged folk harmonies of Wilderness of Manitoba (pictured) are effortlessly warm and wonderful. Understated cellos, banjos, bowl rubbing and child-like acoustic guitar interplay with dreamy male and female vocals to produce something utterly beguiling and beautiful - if no other band had played for the rest of the weekend it would have been worth it. Before this unexpected delight the band also help out as backing group to Octoberman, who covers the Springsteen classic I’m On Fire amongst his own slightly fragile folky tunes. The Polish born Canadian Artur Dyjencinski plays sultry downbeat tunes, his vintage melancholic baritone sounding like something from a black and white movie of old. With a band that includes a guitarist / co-vocalist from Sunderland who sports a brimmed red hat, they’re multi-national, and Artur confuses the issue even further by admitting that he thought that Sunderland was in Germany.

After Canadian Blast a blast of other sorts occurs as rain hammers down on the impractical fashions of the indie kids of London. It’s just as well this isn’t a festival in a field as there’s not a pair of wellies to be seen, ill advised short dresses, skinny jeans, hip hugging shorts and converse shoes being the order of the day. Thrashy electronic duo Kap Bambino makes sure that everyone dries out quickly though by generating heat with their mosh pit inducing blend of hardcore electro. Digital punk princess vocalist Caroline fizzes with energy, jumping into the crowd, screaming into her microphone whilst a barrage of beats and dirty computer noise assaults the ears. The performance is very Crystal Castles-esque - a frenzied blur of a one night stand fun.

Just back from a festival in Norway, the keyboard player of Stornoway sports a most unrock ‘n’ roll of pair of casual red trousers, but even this fashion faux pas cannot stop the band from producing simply charming songs about romance, travel and nature. Unfortunately the big space of Koko does the bands songs no favours, the sound losing intimacy and it’s only their more upbeat songs such as I Saw You Blink, Zorbing and the closing Watching Birds that really grab the audience. Smoke Fairies suffer the same problem. Their medieval blues conjures images of unicorns, misty moss covered forests and pagan dancers and would probably be utterly bewitching in a small attentive room. Unfortunately in the vast heights of Koko with a chattering crowd to battle against something extraordinary is lost.

They can now be filed in the box named ‘classic’, having been around for twenty years, yet Teenage Fanclub fail to ignite and their performance feels a little vacant and cold. Their songs are admirably well crafted and full of harmonies but their performance lacks the venom that is required at this later point in the evening. That is left to Autokratz and their twitching, pulsing spiked electronic jams that get hands in the air and the crowd grooving - a hedonistic end to the first day of the crawl.