Sunday, 31 October 2010

OMD @ Brighton Dome

With the renaissance of 80’s influenced electronic pop music over the last few years, one name seems to have been referenced above all others – that of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. So now seems an opportune moment for the original synth pop duo to be releasing a new album – History of Modern – and taking it out on the road.

With the band being recognised as a keyboard act the first few seconds of this show are surprising in that a grunge-like, guttural guitar sound announces the arrival of the group as they charge into New Babies : New Toys. However, from thereon in things are exactly as you would expect. It’s a crowd pleasing, hit laden show with a number of songs from the new record. Main vocalist Andy McCluskey is an energetically impressive showman, prancing, pulling shapes, rock star poses and playing air keyboard with his hands like a brilliantly drunk uncle at a wedding, willing the crowd to join in at every opportunity – which they do. Paul Humphreys meanwhile is more composed, both behind the keyboard and when he takes his turn at the front to perform vocals on Forever Live and Die – whereupon someone from the audience throws a rather sizeable bra onto the stage, much to the duo’s amusement. No longer a spring chicken it’s noticeable that McCluskey's physical work takes its toll; covered in sweat he has to sit down on one of the monitors during Talking Loud and Clear to catch his breath, but to give credit his effort is huge.

Being the first night of the tour, there are a few technical hitches – the screens behind the group not displaying all the visuals that they were meant to, but nobody except the band seems to care. This is pop music that means something to people. Brighton Dome resembles the video for Queen’s Radio Ga Ga - hands clapping in unison - during the weighty and beautifully restrained Maid of Orleans. Current electronic pop connoisseurs Hurts would kill for a song like this. New single Sister Marie Says is trademark OMD, full of melody and hooky danceable keyboard riffs, whilst the title track from the new album has a middle section that bears a remarkable similarity to the vocal melody of Ring the Bells by James. During So In Love the band pull out the classic 80’s sax solo and somehow pull it off without it seeming cheesy. But it’s left to Enola Gay and the closing Electricity to inspire the maddest moments of dancing from the audience. OMD sound as fine now as they did back in the day.

Footnote : If you're a fan of OMD why not treat yourself to a free download of their new single Sister Marie Says remixed by electro-disco new boys Monarchy, which you can find on the player below, just click the little downward arrow.

OMD Sister Marie Says Monarchy's Twin Galaxies Remix by bangonpr

Friday, 29 October 2010

The Retrospective Soundtrack Players - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Yee-ha! Country boys and gals, it’s your turn today. Just over twenty four hours ago we witnessed the first ever gig of The Retrospective Soundtrack Players. The band was fourth on a bill of four, but the house virtually full to see them play.

Why? Well the reality is that this group of fine banjo, guitar and trumpet wielding farm boys, dressed in muddied t-shirts are not exactly new on the scene. Their debut single Real Cool Hand, which streams below, recently cropped up on a split 7” single with acoustic punk troubadour Frank Turner. It followed Turner’s request for bands to record something at home and send it in to him, the best songs being included as double A sides on his next release. Rumour has it that Turner liked the song the band sent him, reminding him a little of another group he had championed – The Dawn Chorus. One quick phone call to The Dawn Chorus informing them that there was another bunch of lads that sounded quite a lot like them out there led to the confession – The Retrospective Soundtrack Players are a Dawn Chorus side project.

The trouble with side projects is that they often disappear up their own back passage. However The Retrospective Soundtrack Players don’t. They have a concept, which sounds anal, but bear with us for it’s good – they are making original soundtracks to their favourite films or books. Their first goal was to tackle the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke, in a country style. An album of songs was written in a week. The results are excellent – from gentle country strums about prison life to high jigging hoedowns capped with euphoric trumpet and lead singer Kyle’s slightly mournful vocal.You won't find any lyrics of the likes of "Oo baby baby take me to the dancefloor," here for sure. Listen to the single and another track A Man Can’t Eat Fifty Eggs below and if you're in London tonight you can catch their next gig at Club Fandango at the Bull & Gate in good old Kentish Town. They also have shows in Bristol and Portsmouth lined up this winter.

The Retrospective Soundtrack Players may be from the south coast of England, but they’ve dipped their toes in the heritage of Nashville and come up trumps.

The Retrospective Soundtrack Players - Real Cool Hand by Breaking More Waves

The Retrospective Soundtrack Players - A Man Can't Eat Fifty Eggs by Breaking More Waves

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Why Not Being Amazing Is OK

A few days ago Rawkblog, in anticipation of the deluge of end of year lists that will start late November and continue all through December (and yes, it will include our now customary annual Ones To Watch 2011 and Albums of 2010) published a somewhat controversial list of bands that it suggested were 2010 Bands You Can Ignore. The list included some that we have loved this year (Active Child, Zola Jesus, Glasser) and some that we’re so-so with (Yeasayer, Broken Bells) as well as a some that do nothing for us yet (Free Energy, Dom)

David Greenwald the author then produced a follow up post to explain that “These are bands I don’t like. I’m not going to write about them,” and continued “you don’t need to listen to everything. Most of these bands don’t have much to offer. Even the best of them….sound like pale imitations of better bands.”

The reaction to his post was considerable, with comments ranging between variants of ‘you’re right,’ to angrier ‘you’re wrongs.’ The internet is a place of free expression and everybody, both author and respondents were engaging in that right of dialogue. This was good stuff – debate is essential to help move things along and shape the future.

The paragraph that interested us most in David’s post was his final one. “I think this points to a larger cultural issue in 2010, which is: bloggers are always looking for content. If you post a song every day, or five songs every day, some of those are going to be better than others and inevitably, some of them are just not going to be very good. There is almost no negative writing on blogs, because it’s generally not very productive — I’d rather spend my time writing about why I think a band is great and worthy of your time than doing the opposite, which seems pointless, and why I chose to do a list like this rather than write something on every single one of these bands — so its very existence, almost regardless of what bands I chose, inspires backlash. Why? I guess it’s seen as a threat — to taste, to other blogs, to something.”

Here David seems to be suggesting that every band posted on his blog is great, (they’re not - but some are, but hey that’s just opinion for you and at least he is being true to himself and his tastes) and that there is no room for something that he considers is just average. Yet if this is the case, and every blog follows this model, it also creates a possible long term issue – that of digital media constructing an unsustainable culture of over expectation, part of which is being fuelled by bloggers, with their constant over-excited turnover of fabulous new artists.

Some of the greatest and largest bands in the world didn’t start out being brilliant. Radiohead’s first album, with a couple of songs excepted, was in most people’s opinion merely average. REM was pretty piss poor for a number of records. Although U2’s early records Boy and October had their moments of charm, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby were far superior and touched the masses. These bands gradually grew and evolved before becoming brilliant. Early support from the likes of fanzines (the pre-internet version of blogs) and the non-mainstream press helped give developing bands the chance of an initial audience.

Whilst Rawkblog’s list is just one persons opinion and has, as the author suggests, partly been concocted to “piss people off and get mad hits,” it does concern us that if music blogs are only looking for bands that are absolutely brilliant already, that the Radiohead’s and REM’s of this world may never exist again. Great blogs have a vital role in not only posting about acts who are already incredible, but ones that they consider to have the potential to flower. It helps the band gather support and build a base to grow from.

If you’re a regular reader you will know that this is partly our philosophy – sure, we post artists and songs that we instantly fall in love with, artists that are or become buzz bands - but we won’t necessarily pass something over if it’s not fully there yet but we can sniff potential. Recent examples of artists we have featured that display that potential include Sophie Rose, Kyla La Grange, Dems and Alpines all of whom you won’t find cluttering up Hype Machine with huge numbers of posts yet. Maybe some of these artists we will never post on again – lost to the ether of the internet – that’s sometimes how life works. However, maybe one or more of them will develop into something brilliant.

Here’s another new act – we’ve posted about them before, but they’re not a buzz band as such, although a remix they did for The Naked and Famous went a bit supernova on Hype Machine. Irrespective of if you think they sound brilliantly amazing, average or useless we can hear some potential – fans of The Killers and catchy synth pop hooks (which we are) will possibly enjoy this – this is Remember Me by DEKADE. Maybe one day they’ll fly high.

Remember Me - Dekade by litendark

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Kid Adrift - A4 In Ecstasy

Put a boxing video with a modern rock / pop track and you’re just asking for a whole load of puns. ‘It’s a hit.’ ‘A knockout track.’ ‘Kid Adrift punches hard.’ It’s just too damn easy. However that’s what we’ve got for the new Kid Adrift single A4 in Ecstasy.

With beats that sound like they’ve escaped from some kind of crazy robot ruled bunker wired up with laptops, A4 in Ecstasy is the follow up to the Oxytocin EP. The video was filmed with help from the Lochend Amateur Boxing Club and Kid Adrift (aka Iain Campbell) has explained the brutal video with the following words “A4 in Ecstasy is a song I initially started writing from my flat in a pretty rough area of Glasgow, so a torn-up Scottish boxing club seemed very fitting for the video. We put sweat, blood and tears into this song so we needed similar commitment from the video cast. They gave it in the most literal sense.”

We first wrote about Kid Adrift way back in August 2009 (here) and although it's taken a while since then, we understand an album is on its way.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Lykke Li - Get Some

If the internet was your partner for a night on a blind date it would have gotten your knickers off and have had you at least five times in a variety of positions on the park bench, against a wall and in the car before you’d even asked if it wanted to come back for coffee –it’s that fast.

So pity us, the one-man-band-sole-editor-blogger, with a real life non-music related day job, family, kids and social life, because these things slow down our opportunities for being sprawled and buggered with zest by the world wide web. Sometimes we have to accept that we’ll always be at the back of the queue, being the internet’s sloppy seconds whilst the cool, fashionable, good looking and (most importantly) time-spare blogs and pro-websites get all the initial sweet smelling pleasure. Sometimes the only way we’re going to have a band or song's virginity thrust upon us is to discover them first before the industry (which is effectively the pimp for its musical prostitutes) gets its sweaty hands all over them. Not that grabbing that musical virginity is necessarily what we want. Call us low and dirty, but sometimes we don’t mind being sloppy seconds, as long as we’re getting some.

Right now it’s our time to Get Some although there's a high chance you've had it already - it's been all over the blogs in the last 24 hours. The ever refreshing Lykke Li, who produced one of our top albums of 2008 is grinding her way back into our conciousness with her new single. “Don’t pull your pants before I go down, don’t turn away this is my time,” Lykke Li opens before adding later “Like the shotgun needs an outcome, I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some.” Brace yourselves for the ride, better late than never - 24 hours is a long time on the world wide web. Download Get Some below.

Lykke Li - Get Some by radarmaker

Monday, 25 October 2010

Starsmith - We Leave Tonight

Fin Dow-Smith aka Starsmith has established himself as one of the most sought after producers on the block, and since the unveiling of his Ritchie Family sampling single Give Me A Break is emerging from behind the mixing desk and stepping into the spotlight. The single threw a spanner into the works, it’s French disco sound being far removed from the highly polished gargantuan synth pop epics he’s better known for in his production and remix work, but there was no denying it was a call to the dance floor and a great debut proper.

What his album, released next year, will eventually sound like is anyone’s guess, but one thing that seems to be certain is that Starsmith will be providing some vocals of his own, as well as guest singers that are likely to include Ellie Goulding and a few as yet undisclosed newer acts.

Just a couple of days ago one small clue as to where the Starsmith sound may be heading appeared on line. He’s placed an instrumental piece called We Leave Tonight on his Soundcloud account. “Just something I was mucking about with, thought I'd let you all just have it. Why the hell not,” the tall man of electronic pop says. It’s a simple and rather beautiful mellow piano and synth flow – now get to it and download it below.

We Leave Tonight by Starsmith

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Perfume Genius @ Brighton The Hope

Watching Perfume Genius play live is like uncomfortable voyeurism in silence. Brighton’s Hope is so quiet that when a member of the bar staff rattles an ice bucket during a song it breaks the hushed, respectful stillness with a jolt. This is a gig that feels like you really shouldn’t be watching, really shouldn’t be listening, it’s so brilliantly intimate and direct in its delivery.

Mike Hadreas cuts a gaunt, almost ill looking figure at his keyboard. His face twitches and contorts awkwardly and emotionally. During his first song he has to pause halfway through to cough limply, which he describes as a “murder ballad burp.” Set five feet aside from him is a monastic looking backing singer and keyboard player who stares at Hadreas like a doleful puppy unaware that anyone else is in the room; it’s either true love or admiration.

Sparse piano arrangements and the tremulous cracked vocals create an atmosphere akin to a creepy lullaby soundtrack; it’s incredible, heart in the mouth stuff that leaves you feeling sad and raw - but in a very good way. The lyrics are fragile and confessional and are almost too uncomfortable to take in, such as the high school suicide drama of Mr Peterson – “He let me smoke weed in his truck, if I could convince him I loved him enough,” Hadreas warbles before adding “He made me a tape of Joy Division, he told there was a part of him missing, when I was sixteen, he jumped off a building.” If the audience was naked it’s a guarantee that you would see goose bumps over every single body.

This may be an upstairs room in a pub where outside on the street boozy lads and hen nights menace the night, but Perfume Genius creates a place so different to this. Awkwardly mesmerising and very special – one of our favourite gigs of the year.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Kyla La Grange - Update

Do you ever bother reading the text on a music blog? Or do you just press the scroll down button and head straight for the audio content hoping to scavenge more free downloads? Well if you do that’s cool with us, but just consider you might miss something. OK, we admit, we’ve done it as well. Sometimes we go straight to the music and then if we like it we go back to the text. If the music’s rubbish then normally it’s “goodbye blog”.

So whatever way you’ve arrived here, either buy clicking play and then scrolling up or slowly working your way down to the bottom, we thank you. We won’t keep you long, just some basic facts.

The artist below is Kyla La Grange. We wrote about her last spring here and here. Ninety per cent of what you need to know is there. The other ten is next. It’s a mini update.

If you’re going (or have been) to see Sting’s lass I Blame Cocco on her October / November dates then Kyla La Grange is the support act. Make sure if you're going you get there early because (controversially) we think she’s much better. Kyla has a rather excellent new song – Courage – up on her Myspace – a dark brooding layered folk number with subtle sixties Phil Spector styled rumbling drums. ‘It's about wanting to be brave enough to walk away from someone because you know they don't love you as much as you love them,’ Kyla told Zeitgeist blog. Since our earlier posts Kyla has been playing more gigs and continues to record. Hopefully we will hear more new material soon. That’s it for now. Kyla’s star is slowly rising. Here’s the other (older) track currently on her Myspace, it’s called Lambs. Thank you for reading. Now if you haven't done so already do the inevitable and press play.

01 Lambs by Kyla La Grange

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friends Electric - Golden Blood

Fans of hip waggling arms in the air brit-synth pop will probably find much satisfaction from welsh stargazing dance floor fillers Friends Electric. Having remixed the likes of Breaking More Waves favourites Ellie Goulding and Bright Light Bright Light (which we remind you of below) their new single Golden Blood is the follow up to Wall of Arms, which we featured here and is released towards the end of November. It’s a blissful nugget of pop carefully wrapped by four men and their computers, that sounds both effortlessly cool and uplifting in its musicality, if that makes any sense.

To quote a certain Mr Pete Tong, as we hit Friday, this is the official start to the weekend. We hope you’re asking, because we’re dancing. The video of the track can be found below.

Golden Blood from Friends Electric on Vimeo.

Ellie Goulding - The Writer (Friends Electric Remix) by Friendselectric

Bright Light Bright Light : A New Word To Say (Friends Electric Got Love Mix) by Friendselectric

GOLDEN BLOOD by Friendselectric

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Chad Valley - Ensoniq Funk

Chad Valley aka Hugo Manuel from Oxford makes the kind of music that, if this site was a hip Americanised blog, we would probably be describing as ‘chilled summer jams’, ‘mellow joints’ and ‘next level sh*t,’ but we’re not. In fact we don’t even feel comfortable using the word sh*t which in our minds is still something brown, smelly and unpleasant, not a term of something rather splendid. However whatever terminology is used to describe his work, and despite his press release suggesting it’s “the sound of innocence won back" and that "geometric rainbow synths skitter over layers of future R&B and lush atmospherics, radiating endless bliss and a world of pleasure,” which frankly sounds like the PR company* has taken a load of verbal laxatives - something which we have also done when getting all little over worked and excited about music - we are rather enjoying his floaty balaeric / ambient tunes.

We never thought we would see a day when we posted a track that featured the sound (or sampled sound) of pan-pipes, but today is that day. More washed out than Washed Out, Chad Valley adds himself to another of the mightily impressive number of acts coming from Oxford these days including Foals, Pet Moon, Stornoway, Trophy Wife and Fixers. Oxford, the new Brooklyn? Well, maybe not but there’s something going on there for sure. You can download the new Chad Valley track Ensoniq Funk below. Chad Valley is ‘killing the game with a minor stroke of awesomeness.’ Nope sorry, that sounds wrong. Chad Valley - rather pleasant indeed. That’s better. Enjoy.

*Or possibly 1 man / woman band who is helping out with PR !

Chad Valley - EP - 04 Ensoniq Funk by CASCINE

Marina & The Diamonds @ Portsmouth Pyramids

“Welcome to the family jewels,” crooned Marina Diamandis in the darkness against a background of plain piano chords on the opening song of the opening night of her Burger Queen tour at Portsmouth Pyramids – probably the only concert arena to have a wave machine and dragon slide splash zone.

The last time Marina was in Portsmouth everything ended in tears (see here) but thankfully with this show Marina was in fine health, belting out songs from her debut LP with a gutsy theatricality. Marina has always been a strong performer, but with a bigger stage and the confidence of a year of gigs under her belt, she took her showmanship to the next level. Costume changes a plenty, ticker tape explosions, balloons and a fearless stage presence – that’s before the songs have even been taken into consideration – and they were pop stimulants of A+ class.

Shampain was an uplifting Pat Benatar-esque romp, Guilty a haunting piano lament that transcended into something Mount Everest-epic and new song Jealousy showed that the hits are likely to keep coming. “Is there anybody who can help me feel better?” Marina asked after explaining how she hated the feeling of jealousy. Unsurprisingly there was a significant show of arms in the air. By the time she encored with Hollywood holding a huge plastic burger in each hand, it wasn’t only fast-food that she had in her palms – the audience were eating out of them as well. “We’ll be back next year,” she gleefully announced at the end. Portsmouth will be looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cloud Control - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Cloud Control are probably not a band that should be featuring under the title New Waves, as this Australian quartet has been kicking round for a number of years in their homeland. Whilst the internet is global, Breaking More Waves is very much a British blog – and it’s only now that the band is readying itself for a full Brit attack. The group inked a deal with Infectious records a few months back (home of fellow Antipodean’s The Temper Trap and U.S. alt folk/rock rhythmic masters Local Natives) and will soon be releasing their debut UK single Meditation Song #2 on November 22. It’s a wonderful psych-folk workout full of cartoon chanting reminiscent of Dave Newman’s top ten seventies hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight which was given a camp chart conquering makeover in the eighties by Tight Fit with its famous “wimoweh wimoweh” hook, although this time the line is “wayohway wayohway”. Hear it once and it’s buried in the brain.

That’s not to say that Cloud Control sound anything like Dave Newman or Tight Fit. If you want comparisons then we would suggest that the previously mentioned Local Natives would be the best, sharing similarities in terms of outlandish vocal harmonies and organic experimentation – they’re also out on tour with them in the UK this winter following the small bunch of dates they played back in July.

The bands album Bliss Release, due for March arrival in the UK has already done exceptionally well in their own country, having picked up 2 Jagermeister Independent Music Awards for Best Independent Album category as well as Breakthrough Independent Artist. They’ve also been nominated for two ARIA awards, for Best Rock Album and Breakthrough Artist. Weathered with uplifting hooks, clapped rhythms and a keen collection of acoustic and rock guitar work, Cloud Control will banish the rain and give rise to a summery spring in the step of the UK soon. We’ll be catching the band in our home town of Portsmouth when they touch down in November, so expect us to bring more of them to you then.

Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why) by Cloud Control by infectiousmusicuk

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sunday Girl - Stop Hey

Back in the summer we wrote some lies about Sunday Girl. It was our attempt to make some points about arguments put forward by the band Yeasayer concerning the concept of lazy journalism. Read it by clicking here, it makes more sense. Of course the concept of lazy musicians playing the same songs in the same order night after night at gigs is not something we're going to mention. Oh, whoops. But before we get too critical let’s move on with some more facts about the subject of this blog.

1. Sunday Girl actually got her name because on every other Sunday bloggers line up outside her flat dressed as members of the band Blondie and are taken roughly by the lady herself in a variety of sexual positions. They never come back for more, but come Monday you can guarantee there will be some new Sunday Girl blogs out on the interweb.

2. She wishes she was better at knitting.

3. Her favourite meal is a pork loin joint from Lidl.

4. She will be out on tour in the UK with Ellie Goulding and Bright Light Bright Light in late October and November which promises to be a poptastic evening of fun.

Two of these facts are currently not 100% confirmed and were probably made up by a lazy blogger for a cheap laugh.

So here’s the obligatory paragraph where we talk about the new single Stop Hey by Sunday Girl and tell you what we think of it, because that’s part of the reason this blog exists - it's a vehicle for us to arrogantly and forcefully push our opinions out into the world, like it or not. We really are very evil aren't we ?

The phrase that best comes to mind is “Not bad.” Jade’s voice is quite seductive, like a husky Ellie Goulding. There’s a bit around 2.19 where the track breaks down and seems to imitate the All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers vocally. It sounds very much of the moment, in terms of high value production female fronted synth pop, with a certain classy girl next door charm. We don’t really understand the umbrellas or the step-ladders, but then with pop music and videos do we really need to analyse and understand everything? Sometimes it’s just enough for a video to look good – and this certainly achieves that objective. Watch and listen yourself below. Indie / rock / folk / fans or those who do not like pop can click close now.

James Blake - Limit To Your Love

Two interesting conversations.

Conversation #1 “I really like your blog, because you’re a bit more wordy than many and it shows that you’re really into the music .”

Conversation #2 “I look at your blog occasionally but to be honest, you write too much.”

This post is for conversation #2. Today you win.

It’s been out there for a few days ago, but we love this so much we have to post it properly after tweeting it when it first came out. Just in case you haven’t heard it. James Blake is promising so so much. Simply beautiful. Who needs words? There is no limit to our love.

James Blake - Limit To Your Love from James Blake on Vimeo.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Some Thoughts On Music Blogging

Amongst the industry conferences / debates at Manchester’s In the City there was one whose brief was to discuss the difference between UK and US blogs. The brief went a little astray at times as the discussion veered towards the wider aspects of new music blogging with a panel consisting of Pitchfork’s Ryan Schreiber, Hype Machine’s Dev Sherlock, My Band’s Better Than Your Band’s Oliver Clueit, David Greenwald from Rawkblog and Drowned In Sound’s Sean Adams. The first part of the discussion is not on the recording, but the remaining fifty minutes you can catch below. Sean Adams arrives part of the way through, having been stuck in traffic.

Some of the discussion revolves around what the invited panel considered to be a decent blog with the consensus being that good blogs have their own personality and put the effort in – they don’t just post the latest Lady Ga Ga remix to generate hits – content is everything.

However, there are elements of the discussion that we’re not so comfortable with. The idea that the best blogs post only niche material as suggested by one panel member smacks to us as indie snobbery – our love of music is broader than that. We wholeheartedly agree with blogs acting with integrity and not just posting a ‘big-name’ track to get high hit count from ‘readers’, free goodies, guest list passes or the like from PR companies. However if a blog posts a Lady Ga Ga remix MP3 we feel there’s nothing wrong with that providing that it truly represents the taste of the blog author and that they have some genuine quality content linked to the MP3. (And the MP3 has consent from the record company / artist / PR company to post!)

The MP3 blog market is over saturated and blogs that have a unique selling point such as great content in the writing or a different way of doing things are more likely to survive – if only because their author is showing a degree of commitment. However one issue that is quickly touched on (when Skatterbrain is mentioned) but that isn’t discussed within the conversations is how many blogs have a limited shelf life, often being written by students / the unemployed / those trying to get a job in music journalism or the music industry at large and those without other commitments such as families. As these authors personal commitments increase often their blog activity lessens particularly if their blog isn't monetised or linked to their day job in some way. Skatterbrain for example has only posted about ten times since the end of July. We’ve seen a number of other blogs all but disappear as their authors find the pressures of adult life leaving them less time to write their blogs.

Breaking More Waves is lucky in that with a family, professional career a long way from music and an already busy life before we started the blog. We have managed to time manage our real life pressures to ensure that we can continue to deliver regular content. Hopefully with our more discursive articles (such as this) we also occasionally offer up something a little different that the regular MP3 blogs don’t offer. We’ve never aimed to be a ‘big name’ blog – our blog is very much a hobby (but a hobby with a strong enthusiasm for its subject) – but are happy that with a growing readership, ONE that has doubled in the last eight months, we’re doing things along what we consider to be the right lines, and hopefully our regular readers agree –otherwise they wouldn’t be regular.

Now here’s that Lady Ga Ga remix. Only joking. Instead we feature something a little more ‘niche’ to help our indie snob points – a of track that we’ve posted about before and would like to give a little more exposure to. Enjoy Film Noir by Portsmouth’s The B of the Bang as well as the whole debate courtesy of Rawkblog.

In The City: Music Blogging in the USA panel, 10.13.10 by rawkblog

Film Noir - The B of the Bang by Breaking More Waves

D/R/U/G/S - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

After any multi band event, particularly one which showcases new music for industry types, there’s inevitably going to be a swirling whirlpool buzz around a handful of bands, ready to suck them in. This is the case with Manchester’s D/R/U/G/S, a male duo who we caught here at their hometown jaunt of In the City last week, one of a number of well received shows they played. The deal is that D/R/U/G/S wholly deserve the attention they’re getting. D/R/U/G/S conjure up the kind of interstellar spacey electronic dance music that Orbital might have been making if they were still a youthful going concern. It’s good enough to work on the dance floors but just as importantly it’s highly listenable at home. Thumping stomach churning beats and ambient soundscapes that owe a gentle nod to the Witch House movement are the order of the day, putting D/R/U/G/S in a very of the moment place.

Having delivered some damn fine remixes for Egyptian Hip Hop and Crystal Fighters (below) D/R/U/G/S are doing all the right things to get noticed, most importantly by creating incredibly absorbing electronic music. They play a number of shows over the next few months straddling themselves between their hometown and London.

Crystal Fighters - Follow (DRUGS Innergalaxy Mix) by D/R/U/G/S

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Hurts - Stay

Dear Hurts,

Thank you for being a great pop band throughout the year. Thank you for being a duo that has promoted debate and argument on the blogs, in the pub and at gigs. Thank you for bringing pretention and suits into the arena and showing that there are different ways to do things – even if ultimately nearly everything has been done before. Thank you for playing one of our favourite gigs of the year. Thank you for making our grey world seem a little brighter. Thank you for looking amazing. Thank you for making one of our favourite albums of 2010. Thank you for your clear vision and understanding of pop music as an intellectual and emotional concept. Thank you for turning out exactly as we hoped. Thank you Hurts for just being. You gave us Happiness, and sometimes that is all music can do.

Yours emotionally

Breaking More Waves

Stay. New single. November 15th

Saturday, 16 October 2010

In The City 2010 - Review Day 3

Tell anyone that you’ve been to a multi band event or festival and the inevitable question you will be asked is this. “Who was the best?” It’s a question we hate because, like a long term relationship, we prefer to consider the sum of the parts rather than individual moments. The overall consensus from those attending In The City seemed to be that after being out in the wastelands, the 2010 event was fresh, focussed, re-energised and had re-established itself on the map. However, in order to explain why In The City was very good, to get the sum of the parts, it is necessary to review the elements that make up the whole.

We recently suggested that Clock Opera are never likely to write another song as good as Once and For All. On the basis of their In The City show we were wrong. Their last two numbers, the cataclysmic Lesson Number 7 and another tune of unknown title that started as a gentle electronic hymn and then grew into a snarling tempestuous beast were incredible. Lead singer Guy Connelly, dressed in a t-shirt emblazoned with keyboards, sang with leg trembling passion. The rhythmic digits of Piece of String were punctuated with the whole band bashing cans, jugs and other random implements to create an exciting crashing rhythm - it was no surprise to find that they were greeted with a loud cheer by the Roadhouse crowd, who included producer and potential pop king Starsmith. On the basis of the set, when Clock Opera get an album out, it could be a contender for a Mercury prize nomination – intelligent, interesting and unique.

Worship may be less original – there’s an obvious Radiohead comparison to be made, but their clattering drums, moody soundscapes and haunting beats which are defined on Collateral and song Three Wolves are still worthy of attention. Despite the bands surly atmospheric dark technoid-indie-rock sound there was a moment of humour in the set. “How are you?” their lead singer questioned. “How are you?” replied a member of the audience. The singer replied that he was a bit tired – it was a long way from their hometown of Reading. “Stop moaning,” someone else shouted. “I’m not moaning, he asked,” was the response, which raised a small ripple of laughter.

Over in the Mint Lounge Bright Light Bright Light did their very musical best to get cool music industry types dancing. Everyone one of Rod Thomas’s songs was filled with 90’s influenced synth pop joy. He’d probably hate us for saying it but D:Ream sprang to mind. Disco Moment with its Moroder throb and anthemic chorus and the soaring dance floor friendly Cry At Films were screaming for a handbag to shimmy round, bottle of WKD in hand.

A quick run through a couple of rainy, boozy streets found a small crowd watching starlet in the making Spark. In a past review we criticised the lack of emotional impact of Sparks songs, but there’s no doubt that her super confident strutting and striding pop works. Like Marina and the Diamonds raised on a diet of Rhianna, Spark owned the stage, prowling like a caged tiger. “This is a masterpiece,” she belted out. Although masterpiece may be an over exaggeration, she certainly knows how to perform a good pop song.

We first wrote about Glasser back in February 2010 and since then have noticed gradually increasing coverage, particularly on the blogs, about this mystical U.S performer. Glasser was like the new Enya it’s OK to like, or Clannad on dance pills, ghoulishly prowling the dry ice filled stage like a witchdoctor conjuring a spell, as tribal drums and icy Fever Ray styled electronic rhythms floated and ebbed through the room, gradually drawing people in to her lair. There was no in between song banter, just a precise execution of vibey music. Expect her slow build rise to continue.

Our final act of the day was Manchester’s Dutch Uncles. Despite taking the stage to big cheers from a now (drunken?) up for it crowd, and blazing through a fast paced set that included opener Face In, Fragrant and The Ink, the band seemed to have little of the class of any of the other bands seen that evening. Seen it all before writhing indie math pop got the better of us and sent us home to bed, after what had, as a sum of the parts, been an excellent In The City.

Friday, 15 October 2010

In The City 2010 - Review Day 2

One of the ways in which In The City wins hands down against other multi gig urban festivals is in terms of ease and convenience. All of the venues are within a stone’s throw of each other and attendance numbers are such that there didn’t appear to be any queues to get into any shows, meaning that gig-hopping was incredibly simple.

A lunchtime start welcomed a Brilliant Artists Booking Agency showcase at the Night & Day Café – a venue that literally did what it said on the tin, with a total of nine bands gracing its stage during the course of the light and dark hours.

Klaus, formerly known as Klaus Says Buy The Record, was the winner of the Red Stripe Award 2008 and reached the final stages of Channel 4's Orange Unsigned Act in 2009. However it seemed that he may also be auditioning for the Comedy Awards with his in between song jokes. “I’m bored of the miners now they’re mainstream news – I preferred them when they were underground.” He did his best to alienate the small crowd watching. “This song sounds exactly like the last one.” Explaining that this was his first gig in three years without an acoustic guitar, the amplification gave the tunes warmth despite abrupt and scrappy endings.

Next up were The Woe Betides, a straightforward three piece Weezer like alt-rock-pop band who mixed live and programmed drum patterns, low slung bass and fizzy guitar riffs. Rocking it like it was 1996 all over again they were as original as Kerry Katona appearing in a gossip magazine.

With a beard and boater hat Napoleon IIIrd may have looked like he would be better hanging out with the new folk crowd, but the only tip to tradition he paid was by rustling up the quirky, free-spirited inventiveness of eccentric oddball pop. His highly engaging acid karaoke, laptop experimentation and frantic bottle hitting was nearer a psychedelic Beach Boys, Active Child gone crazy and Animal Collective all given a damn good shake up. Napoleon IIIrd was the spark that lit the fire.

The showcase finished with My First Tooth. Despite the name, twee babygrow cuteness was not the order of the day here, instead robust and joyous boy-girl county-folk hoedowns such as Orchards grabbed the audience buy the balls and led them to the drunken village barn dance for a romp in the hay. Or rather they would have done if it hadn’t been four in the afternoon and everyone was sitting drinking coffee.

Crammed into a tiny room on an even tinier stage at the back of The Castle Hotel Brown Brogues were keeping the spirit of raw primal lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll well and truly alive. With a White Stripes school of drumming technique – just two drums hit hard - and a sexy, hip wiggling, fuzz-toned singer coaxing an unholy noise from his guitar, Brown Brogues seemed to understand that an instrument is not just something to play but something to perform with – Mark Vernon thrusted his guitar up against his chin and plunged it forcefully against the amps, wrenching musical entrails from within. This was a band who didn’t give a toss about the audience being able to understand the words – all smothered in distortion and instrument abuse - this was noise sex. “This one’s for the ladies,” Vernon announced. He probably had them up against a wall later.

The sexiness continued with Sophie-Rose and her fine looking stable of men and women bringing a bunch of classy easy on the ear pop songs such as You Killed Summer and the hooky harp fuelled Going Dutch to the Mint Lounge, both of which sounded like hits in the making. Her duet Take Me Where The Roses Grow, written with Will Rees from the Mystery Jets was performed with her bass player on co-vocal duty, a shimmy of country tinged sophistication. Confident and at ease, Sophie-Rose quickly charmed with sassy songs that just scream to be heard by the masses.

From the Mint Lounge to the Ruby Lounge for Breaking More Waves favourites Let’s Buy Happiness; the best thing to come from Newcastle since Alan Shearer. Let’s Buy Happiness continue to grow in confidence with every show they play – lead singer Sarah appeared a little punk rock dressed in denim shorts and ripped tights, but their shimmering textured guitar songs are more celestial than aggressively energised. Recently Guardian journalist Paul Lester called into question Sean Adams of Drowned in Sound website and his description of the band as ‘thrilling’, but Lester missed the point. A band doesn’t have to have a manic energy to set the pulses racing. With Sarah’s gorgeous ethereal vocal and the bands complex tight knit music, Let’s Buy Happiness are utterly thrilling. No question.

“Are you in love?” questioned performance pop chanteuse Smatka (pictured) to a member of the audience in the Soup Kitchen. “That’s beautiful,” she acknowledged when the reply was affirmative. Like a vaguely gothic Cyndi Lauper and Siouxsie Soux, watching Smatka is like being served by a flirty bold eastern European in Lidl. During her show she was the dark priestess in command thwacking two drums either side of her, saucily doubling backwards on her knees and climbing onto a chair off stage, propping herself against the speaker. Visually Smatka is the real deal, and her epic pop structures showed plenty of potential. One to watch. 100%.

The evening finished with Breaking More Waves recently approved electronic pop newbies Labyrinth Ear. With electronic maestro Tom looking like James Yuill’s long lost darker brother and hooded and robed pale-faced singer Emily coaxing out her timid but tender vocal, the boy-girl duo appeared somewhat nervous for what was their first ever show. However their blissfully romantic electro pop was a cool understated pleasure, and given more confidence they could soon be lighting up more than just a handful of music blogs.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

In The City 2010 - Review Day 1

“That that don’t kill me can only make me stronger,” is the slogan that greets visitors to this years In The City website – a positive message for a music industry whose traditions are being attacked from all sides. The internet revolution may not have killed the industry, but it certainly has given a good kicking to certain sectors.

Yet whatever the state the industry is in, artists continue to create – and once industry types are away from the daily conferences and keynote speeches that form the daily backbone of this event that has been running in Manchester since 1992, they can immerse themselves in that creation alongside the public at a number of live gigs and showcases that run into the night. In some quarters In The City has a reputation for being populated by industry types more interested in where their next line of coke is coming from than music, but day one saw no evidence of this – only people who are passionate about music were in attendance; maybe recession and the wireless web attempted knockout have been beneficial in slimming down and focussing the industry on what it should be concentrating on, or maybe it was just the events repositioning in the market as a more public event similar to its now bigger cousins such as Great Escape in Brighton and Camden Crawl in London.

In the past In The City has always been heralded as an opportunity to discover new and unsigned music. However as this year’s programme acknowledges, “the phrase ‘unsigned’ is becoming less and less of an issue in the mind of today’s bands, fans and the industry.” In 2010 the possibility of random discovery is much less, with the advance opportunities via blogs, websites and aggregators such as Hype Machine to find out about up and coming artists. Now In The City is more about showcasing these bands that the internet has been buzzing with than pushing something completely new into your face. To use that old cliché – you can’t beat the live experience

There are a variety of approaches to take with multi-gig multi venue urban festivals. You can zigzag between venues with a programmed or haphazard agenda of bands to see or you can take a more sedate approach and remain in one venue consuming whatever is served. Day one saw Breaking More Waves firmly ensconce itself in The Ruby Lounge, for a varied and sometimes intense evening.

It must be somewhat dispiriting to play to less than twenty people in a near four hundred capacity venue but that is the fate that befell the two girls one boy three piece Pocketknife. Coming on like a kindergarten Hole or early PJ Harvey their throaty, rasping, smashed glass vocals, guttural guitar and bass messily grunged the night up a bit. Brody Dalle would have probably enjoyed herself.

A hype laden geek-lad knob twiddling electronica duo with a pretentious band name does not on paper inspire confidence but with their chest thumping bass beats and cohesive, intelligent compositions that recall the blissed out spirit of rave, D/R/U/G/S (pictured) were mesmerizing. Every time they triggered a sample their hands shot back as if hit by an electric shock, the music chiming throughout the filling venue. Believe the hype, and take some D/R/U/G/S. As their Myspace suggests, drugs do good things.

Three piece Factory Floor bombarded the audience with Post-industrial hypnotic electronic pulses, layered with snatches of ghostly reverb laden vocal, live drumming, noises wrenched from guitar with a bow and an unsettling loudness. Their throbbing uneasy Moroder intensity seemed to want to destroy the sound system as well as heads. They finished their set in total darkness, their nightmare dance sound having created both pleasure and pain at the same time.

The darkness continued with O Children. Graveyard vocals and guitar noise set them firmly in the Sisters of Mercy meets Joy Division meets Interpol camp, yet the songs they played never ascended to those lofty heights in terms of songcraft. Lead singer Tobi’s vocal had resonance with its weight, but for now they remain as a band with potential rather than one to yet become vastly excited about.

It was left to Still Corners to bring the remaining members of the audience out of the gloom. Like a rainy autumnal Thursday or a sixties film-noir Parisian café, Still Corners created a beautiful, ethereal soundtrack. They washed away the dirt with a dreamy slow motion wipe constructed out of intricate guitar work, swirling organ and the sighing tender caress of singer Tessa, who produced a floating in fog vocal, coaxing the audience deep inside, to be lost in its haze. Still Corners set was the perfect comedown – intoxicatingly sleepy, in the best possible way.

Let's Buy Happiness - The Mahogany Sessions

Let’s Buy Happiness may have only released one independent single, with another to follow next week, but they are already becoming firm Breaking More Waves favourites. We've previously posted about Six Wolves which is released on the eighteenth of October and today would like to bring to your attention this tenderly crafted acoustic version of the song the band recorded for a video for The Mahogany Sessions, run by The Mahogany Blog. Listen to the way the guitars weave and snake around each other, yet jigsaw fit perfectly. Then above them painting the whole thing with the sweetest of delicacies there’s lead singer Sarah’s crystalline vocal; it sounds so perfectly natural, with absolutely no contrivance, her Geordie accent giving a charming lilt to the words.

The band recorded a second song Clean Mistake, a gentle piece of beauty that further cements the group in our hearts and convinces us that heaven does exist – it’s just that it’s been renamed Newcastle.

The videos of both songs stream below, together with the original recording of the single. Let’s Buy Happiness are redefining the word gorgeous. We could sit and listen to nothing else all day. Why don’t you?

Let's Buy Happiness 'Six Wolves' by letsbuyhappiness