Monday, 31 January 2011

Music That Made Me #5 - Roads - Portishead

Long term love is more than just the rush of lightning through your veins. It’s something that’s embedded much deeper and is less frantic - constructed from feelings of security, affection, confidence and the sense of history that has brought two people together.

In 1998 my girlfriend and I went to the Glastonbury Festival. It was my fourth Glastonbury and her first. The rain turned the place into a disgusting brown quagmire and as we stumbled through the sea of mud, holding onto each other for fear of slipping, her qualities of resilience shone through. Pregnant and being battered by the weather, her quiet inner strength – never complaining and just getting on with things – kept us going all weekend. Last year at another festival – Camp Bestival – we discovered that her mum had died, but I’m sure many who met her that day were unaware of how sad she was inside or what had happened. In a world where it seems that many people have become so self-absorbed and melodramatic, wailing and complaining on Twitter and Facebook about the most trivial aspects of everyday life, turning every event into a trauma, my girlfriend is a world apart.

People talk about Glastonbury ‘moments’ – an often over hyped concept put together by the media – but in 1998 we shared one of those moments. Having endured a terribly dull set by Cornershop on the Jazz World Stage, we waited for the headlining act – Portishead. We clasped a hot chocolate with a drop of brandy in it between us, trying to keep ourselves warm against the cold and wet. When the band didn’t appear on time – they had got stuck in the mud getting to the stage - the temptation was to give up – standing all day in the mud when you’re pregnant is hard work. A lay down in the tent would have been a treat; but my girlfriend was determined to stay – Portishead were one of her favourite bands and she desperately wanted to see them. Finally they arrived and absolutely everything - the heaviness of our legs, the coldness of our bodies, the state of our dirty clothes - was forgotten. As lightning forked behind the stage the band played one of the most beautifully intense sets I have ever seen, suiting the weather perfectly – it was utterly captivating. My favourite Portishead song is Roads and when they played it - lead singer Beth Gibbons hunched over the microphone stand, cigarette in hand, head bobbing slowly as if in a trance - it sent shivers down the spine that weren't from the cold.

The version in the video below is from a live album and DVD they released. I bought it for my girlfriend in Christmas 1998 and it is still one of her most played albums.

In 2003 we returned to Glastonbury. The sun beat down, we had our two daughters with us and it was a much more pleasurable experience than in 1998. Yet we never felt the lightning running through our veins for any one band that weekend like we did with Portishead.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Trophy Wife - The Quiet Earth / White Horses

This coming week Brighton’s dark soundscape magicians Esben & The Witch release their debut album Violet Cries which should you be quick and order from Rough Trade you will also receive a bonus 4 track CD. The three-piece are also about to go out on tour to promote the album. Expect skulls, lanterns and to be uncomfortably spooked if you’re in attendance at one of their shows. We’ll be catching their biggest headlining gig to date in their home city later this week.

Supporting them on the first leg of the tour are a band who we featured on the blog back last AugustTrophy Wife. Since then the Oxford group have supported Foals and released their debut single Microlite through Moshi Moshi. They’re about to follow it up with another Moshi Moshi release – The Quiet Earth and it’s backed with the song White Horses.

The Quiet Earth continues the same laidback indie grooves that their debut demonstrated – in fact from what we’ve seen of the band live, pretty much all of their material follows this pattern. Subtle guitar riffs, quietly charming male vocals and just enough beats to get the feet moving a little.

They’re odd bedfellows Esben &The Witch and Trophy Wife, but when you put them under the sheets Esben & The Witch strip the beat naked and just leave sinister-strings and screwed up vocals that build towards a druggy messed-up climax that never actually happens. You can hear it all in the remix of White Horses below, together with the originals of both sides of the single which is released on 7” and digital download on February 28.

Trophy Wife - The Quiet Earth by trophywifeband

Trophy Wife - White Horses by trophywifeband

Trophy Wife - White Horses (Esben and the Witch Remix) by trophywifeband

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Jessie J - Price Tag

So what’s your take on Jessie J? Inevitably after coming top of the BBC Sound of 2011 poll the singer has come under immense security – and opinions are much divided. There’s no argument that Jessie J can sing – even when she was 15 she was picking up awards for her vocal talent - she won best young pop singer at the Prodigy of the Year Awards. A couple of weeks ago we witnessed her live ourselves at a packed club show and can confirm that her voice is as strong as they get – even if she is prone to the odd moment of Mariah Carey over-elaborate vocal gymnastics. There’s also no argument than she can string a hook and a melody together into something very commercial and contemporary sounding – Do It Like A Dude was a slow burner of a single that tested her label Universal’s new 'on air on sale' policy, being released in November and finally hitting number 2 in January. The question that remains with Jessie J is can she now maintain a longer term career? Even in the world of commercial pop, talent isn’t the only factor that counts.

On Monday she follows up Do It Like A Dude with Price Tag featuring B.o.B, it’s the opening track from her debut album Who You Are which is due for release at the end of March. Streaming below are a couple of remixes of the song and an alternate version she recorded with Devlin.

Jessie J - Price Tag ft Devlin by PurplePR

Jessie J - Price Tag (Benny Page Remix) by PurplePR

Jessie J - Price Tag (Shux Remix) by PurplePR

Friday, 28 January 2011

Clare Maguire - Last Dance (Chase & Status Remix)

If you’re a regular reader of Breaking More Waves you will know that when it comes to Clare Maguire we are definitely in the higher echelons of major league fan-boy territory. From her simple Celtic soul sister beginnings a couple of years back to the sexual burlesque influenced performer with the colossal and emotive pop songs of now, we love everything that Clare has produced to date. The defining ingredient is of course her voice, so huge and thunderous that when we saw her perform earlier this week at London’s Bush Hall and she asked people to sing along to one song, it felt uncomfortably wrong, so dwarfed was the audience by her gutsy bellow.

So whilst Breaking More Waves is probably not the blog to come to for multitudes of remixes, when it comes to our favourite artists, and right now Clare is one of those, we’re happy to post whatever new material comes our way. So here is the Chase and Status remix of Clare’s forthcoming single Last Dance. It’s a relatively restrained piece for the drum ‘n’ bass chart bound producers whose album No More Idols is released next week. Maguire’s album follows on February 28, which on paper looks a very impressive month for new releases.

The track streams and is also available for download below.

Clare Maguire - Last Dance (Chase & Status Remix) by Radar Maker

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Milk - (All I Wanted Was) Danger

“The band of 2011 mark my words,” Huey Morgan on BBC 6 Music announced the other day, and we hope he’s right, for The Milk are a band that have been filling our life with joy for the last few months. Having named the Essex four-piece in our annual Ones To Watch list last December, the band are limbering up for their first release, the Motown and Stax influenced stomper (All I Wanted Was) Danger – a song that makes the best use of brackets we’ve seen since Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).

With their emotional melodies, hooky instrumentation and infused with a multitude of references such as Sam Cooke, The Style Council, The Ronettes, Cee Lo Green and Fine Young Cannibals, The Milk are punching white-soul back into the ring with some style. Believe us, The Milk make stir-crazy grooves designed to get even your granny whirling on the dance floor.

The band are from just outside Chelmsford, Essex – Wickford to be exact - birthplace of Alvin Stardust and Chantelle Houghton of ‘Big Brother’ fame, although we suggest they keep quiet about that one. They spent their wasted youth as a punk band before deciding on re-invention, which led to them almost naming themselves Nigel Winterbottom and the Flat Back Four, until they finally settled with the name of The Milk and this classic sound.

This is just the start. Are you up for them? We’re with Huey. (All I Wanted Was) Danger drops on March 28. It streams below together with the B-Side Dynamite and their cover of 54-46 Was My Number which you can download for free.

Get ready. Press play. Get your dancing shoes on. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Visions of Trees - No Flag vs No Scrubs

Music blogs are written by and large by geeky male fan boys aren’t they? Usually the kind of fan boy that thinks his nerdy obsession with music is cool and probably uses words like ‘awesome’ and ‘incredible’ rather a lot, but the reality is that whilst he’s sitting at home playing laptop hipster the rest of the world is just getting on with business as usual, not giving a damn about his ‘amazing’ blog, Hype Machine love, numbers of hits and his internet ‘friends’ that actually he’s never met. We’re not like that at all though. Are we?

So here’s Tuesday’s episode of high fiving super love from some fairly new cats on the block. It’s kind of awesome, kind of incredible and we’ve featured this band quite a lot on our amazing blog recently; but not because we’re geeky, but because we are ON THE CASE. Feel our pain because we’re so hip it hurts. It’s Visions of Trees and their mash up of TLC’S No Scrubs with their own track No Flag which we featured just a few days ago here – and yes, we were the first ones to get it on Hype Machine, because we’re that cool. OK, we’re the only blog to get it on Hype Machine so far, but that’s because we don’t follow the in crowd, because we’re like unique – yeah? In fact we’re so rad (we just love using that word it’s just so super awesome) that we named Visions of Trees in our Ones to Watch for 2011, because dudes, they’re just like, gonna take off, like a spaceship, they’re so hot. And we should know, because it takes one to know one. You know what we’re saying, right? Because you read this blog you know too.

So we’re done here now. We’re off to stroke our hard drive. Mmmm sexy. Who needs a girlfriend? Geeky? Breaking More Waves? No way dude, we’re like tres cool…… aren’t we? Aren’t we? Somebody? Please tell us. Anybody? Please……..

NO FLAG v NO SCRUBS by Visions of Trees

Monday, 24 January 2011

Why It's OK To Be Brit

The BRIT’s Performing Arts & Technology School, set up by the record industry in Croydon at the beginning of the 1990s has often been the subject of negativity from indie snobs. It’s easy to look down your nose at the college that has tutored the likes of Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua, Spark, the frontman of The Kooks, Katy B and worst of all the dreaded Dane Bowers. Who can forget the highly embarrassing interview that Simon Amstell carried out with two of The Kooks a few years ago where the band tried to initially deny their BRIT ‘stage school’ education? Indie credibility was seemingly something the band were conscious of, but their denial ultimately made them appear shallow and false. The perception of BRIT School by many has been that it is some sort of ‘kids from fame’ academy and has nothing to do with making great art. It’s easy to believe that those who attend are not far removed from the world of Simon Cowell led X-Factor hopefuls – desperate for fame at any price – selling their soul to the devil over their art. Other criticisms are that stars cannot be ‘taught’ but are ‘born’ and that attempts by BRIT to groom and manufacture pop stars is contrived and not authentic.

Yet last week Adele’s new single Rolling In The Deep was released in the UK. It went straight into the charts at no.2 and has been widely acclaimed by both pop writers and rock reviewers. There are very few claims that Adele is not ‘for real’ or that the song is ‘manufactured’ and yet Adele is a product of BRIT School.

There’s a very simple reason why nobody is taking shots at Rolling In The Deep - because it’s is a great song performed with real guts and soul – a raw gospel pop tune that gets better with every listen. So right now nobody except the harshest cynic cares if Adele came from BRIT or not. For all those concepts that so called music lovers get so wrapped up in – if an artist is ‘for real’, whether they have ‘integrity’ and how ‘manufactured’ can be thrown out of the window – because this time it seems that, maybe because this is Adele's second album, all that counts is the music.

And maybe, just maybe, because of BRIT Adele will earn some money from her art; whereas in the past pop stars may have had talent, they were often terribly naïve or unwilling to engage in the business side of the music industry (it’s called an industry for a reason) and ended up getting ripped off. BRIT teaches artists skills they need to survive and earn a living from their talent. Of course, there will always be an argument that great art and commerce don’t mix, that it isn’t in the spirit of punk or rock ‘n’ roll – but maybe if BRIT gives the artists that come out of it the skills and knowledge to survive in the business they won’t have to end up advertising butter on TV adverts like a certain Johnny Rotten did.

Back in November 2010 we featured a new act – Rizzle Kicks. This Brighton based duo make hooky, sample filled hip-hop not far removed from the likes of De La Soul. We really like what they do – yet once again they’re BRIT alumni. Their sound is witty, fun and just a little cheeky. We can’t imagine that they’ve been groomed or manufactured artistically in any way – Rizzle Kicks are, we’re absolutely sure, doing exactly what they want to do.

You can catch their video in our previous post about them here, and listen to both the brilliantly scampish Down With The Trumpets and Miss Cigarette below. Rather like Adele they’re another reason why it’s 100% ok to be BRIT. It's not where you're from, it's where you're at.

Down With The Trumpets by Rizzle Kicks

Miss Cigarette by Rizzle Kicks

Music That Made Me #4 - What Is Love - Howard Jones

Our fourth episode in a series of fifty two blogs on musical memories that draw back the curtains on the more personal side of Breaking More Waves.

Like any typical teenager, my musical tastes started to be formed in the school yard. My senior school was a pretty straightforward place in a relatively straightforward town, about 35 miles south-west of London. The town’s biggest claim to fame was a mention in the 1963 film adaptation of Lord of the Flies, but one of my most vivid memories in my early years was an eccentric weather worn old lady known as Camberley Kate who dedicated her life to rescuing stray dogs. We’d often see her around town, pushing a worn green cart with tens of dogs in tow, yelping, barking and clamouring for her attention. Probably these days Kate would be seen as an outcast and the public would call for the authorities to take control, but in the 1970’s Kate was a largely much-loved personality, the police supporting her in her selfless self-imposed duties.

The school populace was full of your usual characters – the cool kids, the bullies, the picked-upon, the brainboxes, all slowly finding their place in life. I wasn’t particularly interested in education in my teens – I couldn’t see relevance to the outside world, but once I left and started work as a trainee surveyor I began to build qualifications. Now I have more letters after my name than in it. Amongst the characters I had some good friends and slowly we found music. At one point in time the most popular band in school wasn’t The Smiths, The Cure or Talking Heads, but Level 42. I realised at that point that just following the peer group wasn’t for me.

My record collection was beginning to grow. Like many kids in the 80’s it was full of pop, electronic and new wave music. In 1984 a debut album by a spikey haired singer songwriter - Humans Lib by Howard Jones - resonated deeply. It was a synth pop record in the vein of Thomas Dolby or The Thomson Twins but it had a deeper heart than most pop – it was full of honest thought provoking lyrics that struck a chord with me as a young person still finding his place in the world; those lyrics and some of the philosophies in the record have stayed throughout my adult life and helped form the person I am. “I don't wanna be hip and cool, I don't wanna play by the rules,” sang Jones on his debut hit New Song, summing up exactly how I felt then and how I still feel now. Unlike the cool bands and artists of the time, Jones didn’t wallow in self-loathing and misery; instead he took a questioning but positive and upbeat approach to life. He didn’t blame others but took responsibility for himself. “Look in better places, gonna look inside,” he sang on Hunt the Self, before surging on with the line “nothing in my way now nothing can bring me down.”

If this is the Music That Made Me, then Howard Jones is most certainly a part of it - not only for the songs, but for the positive ideology that connected with me. Last year I appeared on stage in the literary tent at the Camp Bestival music festival telling a story of how Howard Jones had taken me on a musical journey – to this day that journey continues. There are so many Howard Jones songs I could pick to play, but I’ll choose one of his most well-known - What Is Love? A possible answer is in the song “Maybe love is letting people be just what they want to be.” Synth pop that looked at the human condition. It’s music that made me.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Palpitations - Milk It

Back in November 2009 The Palpitations gave some much needed muscle to the argument that indie guitar rock wasn’t dead with the enticing and evocative Tears in the Rain - a spectral and emotive piece of drama if ever we heard one. At the time we suggested that it’s edgy darkness and beauty was the perfect antidote to the likes of bands such as The Kooks and Razorlight. Listening back now Tears in the Rain seems even better placed today than it did in 2009 – or maybe it’s because ultimately a good song will always stand the test of time irrespective of fashion. We wonder how many people are still listening to Eddie’s Gun these days?

Since Tears in the Rain we have heard absolutely nothing from The Palpitations – until now. Because on the fourteenth February 2011 Danielle, Davey, Nicolas and William return with their follow up release – Milk It – following an enforced hiatus due to university commitments.

Milk It is a ferocious and energetic piece of indie punk – the kind of song that MUST be played loud. Don’t play it through your crappy tiny laptop speakers, that’s not going to work – this is music that deserves to be played through a big f*ck off sound system in a dark room, with the volume turned up five notches too many and your ear pressed up right against it. It’s a sound that will make you want to pogo violently and shake in sweaty lost-it-all-oblivion.

Then once you’ve calmed down a little, wrench yourself up again a grab the free download of another new song – Shirley Valentine and remind yourself of the glory of Tears in the Rain as well. It’s good to have them back, let’s hope they don’t leave it quite so long till the next release.

The Palpitations - Milk It by clubthemammoth

The Palpitations - Shirley Valentine [FREE DOWNLOAD] by clubthemammoth

Tears In The Rain by thepalpitations

Friday, 21 January 2011

Esben & The Witch - Warpath

Our last blog of the week is a short heads up for the new Esben & The Witch video – Warpath. The band has come a long way since we first saw them supporting Fight Like Apes in an empty basement back in November 2008 and their debut appearance on the blog in July 2009. Their placement on the BBC Sound of 2011 long-list was utter justification for the list – where else would you get that level of mass media exposure for a group who make such an uneasy, chilling, scouring but not necessarily disagreeable racket?

In that first write up of the band in 2009 we described them as ‘like a cobweb covered Portishead’ and whilst Warpath is far more guitar laden than anything Portishead ever did, it has that same unsettling atmosphere and let’s give ourselves a pat on the back here - the band themselves are covered in cobwebs in the video! Ker-ching.

The band hail from Breaking More Waves neighbouring city Brighton – a place probably better known for indie and dance influenced bands than something as gothic and disturbing as Esben & The Witch. Yet it shows that despite the city having had a number of music venue closures over the last few years, its musical output remains healthy in terms of creativity and diversity.

The band will play an album launch show in Brighton on the 1st February and whilst this blog no longer carries live reviews, we’ll do our best to tweet about the gig whilst we’re there. Follow us here if you like that kind of thing.

Austra - New Waves

Give us a brooding pulsing synth line and vocals out of the Florence / Zola Jesus school of big hitters and there’s a pretty high chance that if such a sound is coupled with a degree of pop sensibility, we’ll be punching the air and shouting “Yes!” This may well explain the hole in our ceiling today, because Austra made us do exactly that – despite having a name that sounds like a model of a car.

Austra is the product of one Katie Stelmanis who has created a series of stately pop-noir electronic dance tunes that give us shivers of delight and fear in equal measures. It's not a 100% solo project though - she's being helped out by a number of others including two further female vocalists. Despite being from Canada, the references Austra take seem to be very eighties European – we could imagine them being popular in eastern Europe particularly – although the “ah-ah” vocal sound used on parts of the debut single Beat & The Pulse are not dissimilar to Laurie Anderson’s Oh Superman – and she was American. Having recently supported Hercules & Love Affair in the UK, Austra are due to release this single in February and we’re streaming it below together with the mechanical- turbo-throb-rhythm of Young & Gay. If you’ve enjoyed the likes of Labyrinth Ear and Mirrors who we’ve posted about before, we’re pretty sure that once you’ve had an earful of Austra you’ll be putting holes in your ceiling as well.

Austra - Beat & The Pulse (Radio Edit) by DominoRecordCo

Austra - Young & Gay by DominoRecordCo

Austra - Beat & The Pulse (Extended Version) by DominoRecordCo

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Calendar

Laura Marling fans who are waiting for her third album could pass that time very happily with this.

On the 31 January Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo release their new single Calendar, taken from the groups new album Almanac which follows on the 7 February. The album is completely self-financed, with Emily having launched a campaign on to raise funds for the release. The pledge reached its target within 5 weeks, showing that where there is a willing and loyal fan base people are still prepared to pay for music when they feel they have a personal attachment to it. Other bands currently looking for finance on the site include The Subways and Cornershop.

Calendar is the follow up single to Little Deaths, which received plenty of support from BBC 6 Music. “Will we draw a curtain across the sky and count down all our days?” sings Emily over an uplifting backing that draws on folk, roots and country musicianship before adding a more positive dimension “no, let’s sing us a song ‘til all the seas become calm.” Calendar sounds free, earthy and joyously organic – the perfect music for stepping out into the countryside, dancing in the sunlight and celebrating the planet - because the theme of this song is very much about the destruction of the earth and remembering what we can do to save it.

Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo are touring the UK in February and visit Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth on the 11 February, with further dates in Leicester, Bournemouth, Exeter, Brighton, Norwich, Halifax, Manchester, Blackpool, Stockton, Glasgow, Leith, London, Cambridge and Nottingham. We’re a little gutted that the day of our home town show, we’re elsewhere watching another band we blogged earlier this month, such is the life of the hardest gig going blogger in Portsmouth, however we can console ourselves that they will also be in session with Cerys Matthews on BBC 6 Music on the 23rd January 2010 - a date for your diary.

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Calendar by Breaking More Waves

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Visions of Trees - No Flag

A date for your diary, if you’re the kind of person who keeps a diary that is; 7th February. For that is when Visions of Trees – the band who create ambient flotation tank spaced-out pop nuggets of brilliance release Sometimes It Kills through Moshi Moshi.

We’ve been supporting Visions of Trees for quite a while now, naming them as one of our more way out choices in our Ones to Watch list for 2011, describing their music as the kind of thing that will make you want to “slowly sway-dance in the mists, or possibly make love in a forest.” However, when you’re not frolicking naked to heavenly climax amongst the dappled leaves you can hear Sometimes It Kills at the Ones to Watch 2011 post (link above) – it’s erotic synthy sex music – you have been warned. Below we’re streaming the B side of the single No Flag, which drips calm electronic wonder all over your spent body.

The band are out on tour late January and February, the dates of which they have announced via this short film clip.

No Flag by Visions of Trees

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Admiral Fallow - New Waves

The secret ingredient in much great new music is time. Not every music blog can be first past the post with every artist in the world. Sometimes things have to slowly develop and grow organically.

Here’s a band that in terms of our listening experience have done just that. They are relatively new to us although they originally formed in 2007 under the name Brother Louis Collective. They have already released an album entitled Boots Met My Face in 2010 in Scotland and are now gearing up to give the record a full UK re-release in March 2011. There’s a very good chance that this release will gain this band - Admiral Fallow - a whole new army of fans.

A six piece consisting of Louis Abbott, Sarah Hayes, Joe Rattray, Kevin Brolly, Philip Hague and Craig Grant, the bands rousing, evocative tunes mix guitars, flute, clarinet, strings and double bass to create indie folk rock songs that stand head and shoulders above many of the peer group. In fact we’d go as far to say that they are quite possibly our new favourite band. Take one listen to Subbuteo below, where lead singer Louis’ voice gently narrates the song through “bangers in the wheely bins, lazer pens shone through the glass” and missing “rain on the roof, pit stop paths and whistling streams,” until the whole thing explodes in a fanfare of trumpets and crashing drums and you’ll see why. The other track we’re streaming is Delivered – a sweet narrative about the end of life. “Cameras in your blood stream and heartbeats from your batteries and limited reserve,” sings Louis with his restrained warm Scots accent until an almost prog rock ending shows that the band have bags full of variety in their repertoire.

Listen to Admiral Fallow below, and if you’re not touched then check your pulse because you’re probably dead.

The band will release a new single Squealing Pigs in March, followed by the album. They also play SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Both of the tracks streaming below can be downloaded for free from the Admiral Fallow bandcamp. These songs are why music is such a wonderful thing.

Admiral Fallow - Subbuteo by Breaking More Waves

Admiral Fallow - Delivered (Alt Version) by Breaking More Waves

Monday, 17 January 2011

Music That Made Me #3 - The Book Lovers - Broadcast

Music That Made Me is our weekly post and is published every Monday throughout this year. It steps away from new music and takes a nostalgic look back at some of our musical influences and the memories that are attached. This week our planned article has been re-scheduled for next week, and instead we pay our own personal tribute to Trish Keenan, lead singer of Broadcast, who died last Friday.

When I first read that Trish Keenan of the band Broadcast was in intensive care in hospital with pneumonia it was a little startling - she was virtually the same age as me. A day later I sat watching a scrolling feed on Twitter that suggested that she had died. At first these 140 character unconfirmed tweets left me feeling numb, but then as links to an official statement from her record company appeared I couldn't help but shed a few tears. This is not my normal pattern of behaviour when a musician dies. The whole concept of feeling deep emotional sadness for someone you’ve never met is pretty alien to me, and as I become older I’m more and more cynical of overblown celebrity culture where X-Factor styled popstars sell their personalities and personal lives and the music is just a by-product.

Yet Trish Keenan and her band Broadcast were far removed from this world and for me there was a personal connection – I saw the band play live for the first time at the ill-fated Phoenix Festival at Long Marston airfield in Stratford upon Avon in the mid to late 90's, when they were releasing their early singles collection Work and Non Work. It was one of those classic summer festival finds – wandering into a half empty tent in the middle of the day and within minutes becoming utterly beguiled by their mix of 60’s ghost-pop, retro-futurism and Trish’s mellow deadpan feminine vocal. A few weeks later I was asked by a new fashion magazine called Noise Crash if I could lend a hand with a regular musical feature in their magazine. The editor wanted recommendations for new up and coming bands, and my immediate suggestion was Broadcast. Before I knew it an interview had been arranged and I was chatting to Trish about her band and their music - it was the first ever time a musician, and thankfully Trish made the job really easy.

I remember her being a little taken aback when I asked her if she wanted fame and she replied that she would be pleased to be known for her music, but would never want to be like a famous pop star. Looking back it seems that Trish achieved her ambition. Broadcast have been a quietly influential band, and as time went on evolved from a late night sideshow curio liked by people like myself to a highly regarded and respected musical outfit – primarily because their art was always their own vision and always interesting - haunting experimental pop music.

Central to the critical success Broadcast achieved was always Trish’s voice – dreamy, subtle and almost nonchalantly elegant. It’s a cliché I know, but Trish’s death really will be a loss to music.

There have of course been many other young or relatively young musicians of higher profile than Trish who have passed away, but none of them have meant as much as Trish Keenan did to me. Trish’s death last Friday was awful news and my thoughts are with her family and friends.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Is This The Beginning Of The End For Dubstep ?

If you’re interested in the chronicles of pop music then take note of this moment. Since dubstep has now fully crossed over and has started to become the default setting, it’s now becoming dangerously ubiquitous. From the breakdown on Britney’s new single to this; the collaboration between Example, the cringe-worthy hair-gelled lad who came good with the dance-your-ass off feelgood pop-banger Kickstarts and Skream, the dude who created the first potent mainstream dubstep influenced remix on La Roux’s In For The Kill. It’s a heavily throbbing beast of a tune, designed for turning the base boost to the maximum, a hot-blooded killer even – but we ask you, is it also the moment when dubstep becomes the norm, the mainstream, the can’t get away from it on UK-radio moment and what follows is a raft of second rate dubstep influenced artists, loved by ordinary lads out on the town on a Friday night, getting pissed, pulling girls and getting in fights? As good as this track is, is it the beginning of the end for dubstep?

Of course dubstep forums have been asking this question for years now, and there’s no sign of its weighty momentum slowing, but in terms of creativity of this genre and with BBC Radio 1heavily locked into its sound, can we soon expect dubstep to become known as landfill dubstep ? Fashion and pop music go hand in hand, and history shows that eventually they go out. Or will the genre evolve and morph and become the main influence of musical style this decade ? According to this the only way is up!

Away from this debate a quick mention for the video of this song – shot in Brighton, just down the road from our hometown of Portsmouth, much of the action is set in Audio, a venue that Breaking More Waves has spent many hours watching bands play in. The video is the classic boy out on the lash, forgets girlfriend tale, but watch it for the ‘twist’ at the end – it’s a mini soap opera in just under four minutes.

Skream and Example - Shot Yourself In The Foot Again by Ministry of Sound

Friday, 14 January 2011

Labyrinth Ear - Navy Light (4am remix)

We’ve supported and posted a number of times on the ice-disco sounds of Labyrinth Ear – and in this (for us) relatively short post we wanted to flag up a new remix they’ve just released to the world. The track Navy Light we featured last year, but this 4am remix is not (we assume) a late night relation to the gossip-gone toxic 3am girls of the Mirror but instead a deftly cool piece of repetitively pulsing computer love. It’s the sound of robots with a heart, or humans with an internal circuit board and was actually created by the band themselves, rather than pushing it out to somebody else. You can download it below.

Since we last featured Labyrinth Ear the London duo have also created remixes for Morning Parade and Alex Winston, which you’ll also find below. Enjoy their very European sound.

Navy Light (4am Mix) by Labyrinth Ear

Morning Parade - Under the Stars (Labyrinth Ear Remix) by Labyrinth Ear

Alex Winston - Choice Notes (Labyrinth Ear Remix) by Labyrinth Ear

Let's Buy Happiness - Devil Show (Acoustic)

Rather like sexual partners there are some bands that are great for a night of passion with, but when you wake up the next day you’d rather not see them again. Then there are others that you could happily wake up with every morning forever. Let’s Buy Happiness are very much the later.

Last week we posted the bands new single Fast Fast, and were once again smitten. As odd as it may be it seems that stadium superstars Coldplay have also recently given approval to the band, having posted lead singer Sarah’s wonderfully creative homemade video for previous single Six Wolves on their website.

Today we’re bringing you another slice of the bands delicate magic. Devil Show first cropped up on the band’s debut release the No Hot Ashes EP last year and now they’ve recorded an acoustic version of the song that oozes gentle sleepy fragility – a sound that transfixes. The bands next gig is in London at The Macbeth, Hoxton on January 27. If you’re in that neck of town, why not treat yourself that Thursday night?

Devil Show (acoustic) by letsbuyhappiness

Starlings - New Waves

If you’re on Twitter, here’s a band to tweet about – they’re called Starlings. That thankfully is the only bird-pun joke we’re making about this group, because their Balaeric blend of synthy-Fenech-Soleristic-indie-dance will probably make you smile anyway. Hailing from Sheffield, Starlings follow the trajectory set by residents past of the steel city. Its music scene has produced a great number of electronic acts, from the techno of Warp Records and Autechre, the industrial sounds of Cabaret Voltaire to the pop of The Human League and Heaven 17. It’s the dance-house-pop territory that Starlings sit in, their debut single Weight in Gold having caught our attention, and then being bolstered by the rather excellent Starkey Remix which takes the song to heavier, dirtier levels.

Having worked with former Grid man Richard Norris (anyone remember bonkers-banjo-rave-up top 5 smash Swamp Thing or their gun-pumping Texas Cowboy?) Starlings are very much on a mission to the dance floor – their music is full of hot-blooded synth riffs designed to inject a little adrenalin into your life – it may not be startlingly original (even Starlingly original) or life changing, but ask yourself, how much music truly is these days? There’s a danger in intellectualising too much about music and wanting everything to be groundbreaking - it would be like asking your partner to come up with a new sexual position every night of your life. Sometimes as long as the music produces an emotion – to smile, to laugh, to cry, to dance or takes you somewhere, that’s enough. Oh, and we already mentioned Fenech-Soler once but it’s fair to say that if you like them, you will almost certainly get off to Starlings as well.

Having featured on BBC Radio 1’s Kissy Sell Out ‘San City High Tour’ the bands next planned live excursions are 3 gigs in London, with one planned each month – check their Myspace for details. Now here’s some listening for you - c'mon gang it's hands in the air time again ! Synthtastic-indie-dance for fun time Fridays.

Starlings - Weight in Gold (Radio Edit) by STARLINGS


Starlings - Weight in Gold (Starkey Remix) by STARLINGS

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Creep - Days

Featuring the vocal caress of The XX’s Romy the debut single by the duo Creep sounds darkly soothing and very of the moment – all clipped beats and menacing dark electro flourishes – there’s references here to Depeche Mode, Zola Jesus (yes it's the second time we've mentioned her as a reference point today - see our previous post on Creatures Of Love) and of course The XX themselves. These XX links explain why Days is being released by Young Turks – the label that first revealed The XX to the world.

As the majority of mainstream chart pop music becomes ever more airbrushed and insubstantial it seems that the more underground movement towards the darkness and minimalism continues to grow – from the heaviness of dubstep to the horror headf*cks of the witch house movement, contemporary music finally seems to be finding a sound, if not yet a voice to represent these sour times and these references are heading slap bang into the mainstream - even Britney's new single gives it some dubstep wobble.

Creep are New Yorkers Lauren Dillard and Lauren Flax and have been collaborating with Warren Fischer of Fischerspooner on an incredibly atmospheric video for the song, yet to be officially released, which takes gothic undertones and adds creative use of colour to make something that seems pretty special. You can watch Warren talking about the video here.

Days is released on the 25 January.

CREEP / Days by Young Turks

Creatures Of Love - New Waves

London three piece Creatures of Love make dark, edgy pop music laced with an ambience of whispered darkness and near operatic female vocals. Listen to their songs and you’ll find mysterious textural sounds and a sense of haunting warlike vastness – a British cousin of Zola Jesus perhaps? They occupy the same claustrophobic and cinematic musical space. Formed in Kentish Town, London in 2009 the group consist of Bonita Mckinney, Chris Willsher and Ben Gardner. It wouldn’t surprise us if when they aren’t making their doomy transcendent music they are practicing witchcraft somewhere – maybe conjuring another seismic tune of spellbound perfection.

Having released an EP, some tracks of which are available for free from the bands Myspace, they are now gearing up for a number of dates in London, including a support slot with The Joy Formidable at the Borderline on the 29 January. The gig has already sold out though, so if you are London based your other opportunities to see the band are at the Bullet Bar on the 26 January and then the Macbeth on the 11 March. Their stand out track so far is Barbitos (which may be a future single) - a mix of shadowy guitar flicks, ominous creepy synths and Bonita’s authoritative vocal which gradually grows into a cacophony of fractured majesty. Listen to it below and fall under their spell.

Barbitos (Demo) by creaturesoflove

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Delta Maid - The Changes Made

How does the best music affect you? Is it just entertainment? Is it something to fill the air when there’s nothing else there? Or is it something that stirs an emotion and connects with you in some way? The Changes Made by Delta Maid is most certainly the later in our case. It’s a beautiful, humble sounding piece of work, fashioned from soft acoustic guitar and the sweetest of voices that owes great debt to American country and blues music. Listen for just a few seconds and you can hear tones of Jewel and Stevie Nicks, even though Delta Maid is from Liverpool, UK. This may not be the most fashionable sound, but as we’ve said before fashion is transient, the cool of today is tomorrows naff – better to play and listen to music that speaks to you, irrespective of genre, time or place. Delta Maid’s music is not the stuff of Hype Machine listings (although by virtue of this blog her music will be present there) or Pitchfork credibility, but it’s a special crop all of its own.

We first featured Delta Maid last July and since then she has been out on tour supporting Seth Lakeman. Now bizarrely she is about to support every mothers favourite Gary Barlow at Shepherds Bush Empire, London for his special fortieth birthday charity gig. The audience will be made up of invited guests, plus 1,200 Gary Barlow and Take That fans who entered a special lottery to buy tickets. We’re not quite sure how she’ll go down at that, for songs like The Changes Made need utter stillness and a perfectly silent audience to be fully appreciated. So before you click the play button and listen to this song make sure everything is quiet and that you won’t be disturbed. Then close your eyes, sit back and immerse yourself in her radiantly sublime sound - make a connection.

An album called Outside Looking In is due in March. Download the song from here.

Delta Maid - The Changes Made by Delta Maid

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2011

Yesterday Glastonbury Festival opened its online gates for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition which gives new, unsigned artists from the UK and Ireland the chance to compete for a main stage slot at this year's Festival. Past entrants have included two Breaking More Waves favourites Stornoway and Let’s Buy Happiness as well as The Subways, We Have Band, Ellen and the Escapades and even Scouting For Girls.

The entry process is very straightforward with bands simply having to supply a link to a web page where their music can be heard and name one song / track that the judges should listen to. This year the job of whittling the bands down from the thousands of entries to a longlist of 120 acts has been bestowed upon a selection of UK music bloggers, of which Breaking More Waves is one. From this long list a shortlist of 10 will be selected by judges including the organisers of Glastonbury themselves – Michael and Emily Eavis, before live finals in April determine the winning act. It’s basically like X-Factor with a lot more credibility (after all it’s purely about the music) and less tears. So basically Michael Eavis is a warped Somerset version of Simon Cowell and Emily is Cheryl Cole who knows about milking cows.

So, with the usual disclaimer that these are the opinions of this author only and do not represent any other blogger on the judging panel or Glastonbury itself, here’s a few tips if you're a band and about to submit an entry.

1. Myspace is now totally redundant – the player is shockingly bad and so slow, so don’t send a link to your Myspace page. It has the potential to wind up the judge who is listening to your music before they’ve even started. Instead use something like Bandcamp or Soundcloud which are far simpler and have arguably better sound quality. Also these players are easily embedded onto a web page, so this gives the blogger judge the opportunity to potentially embed your track on their blog if they like your music, so even if you don't get through to the long list or short list, you may still get a feature on a blog, and some of the blogs on the voting panel are quite high profile and well respected. Realistically does your band even need that Myspace these days? It’s a graveyard and nobody looks at it. Maybe time to re-think how you promote yourself?

2. If your link is for a Facebook site that has music on it, make sure the site is open to all. The judge won’t have time to befriend you and may not even be on Facebook.

3. Make sure your music is in a player – the judge doesn’t want to waste time having to download it - remember a pissed off judge is less likely to vote for you, irrespective of how good your music is - it is unfortunately human nature.

4. Don’t bother sending emails to the judges trying to influence them – it won’t work – we have integrity.

5. Likewise don’t expect to follow a judge on twitter and that they in return will follow you back. Our own blog twitter only follows other music bloggers, promoters, DJ’s, selected bands that we have grown to love over time and a few personal friends that are interested in music.

6. Make sure you’re free in April if in the (unlikely) event you get selected to play in the final, and make sure you’re well-rehearsed.

7. Remember that bloggers listen to a lot of new music, so make sure that your selected song kills from the word go. Personally we will do our best to listen to every song we get sent links to, but if we’re halfway through it and not enjoying it we’re not going to wait till that killer guitar solo near the end.

8. Be utterly amazing. No, A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Because if you’re not, frankly you don’t stand a chance. Quite good is not acceptable.

Good luck everyone, and we’ll see you in a field this summer. Maybe. Here's the link (here) for the entry form, you have till 5pm on the 17th January to get your entry in, but we suggest you do it before that 'just in case'.

Now here's some lovely tuneage from last years winners - Ellen and the Escapades.

*Update - if you're reading this once the competition has closed try the links below for some of the entries that are in our judging cluster that we've been enjoying whilst judging.

Cloud Castle Lake and Leaving Atlantis

Lizzie & The Yes Men and Shadow Orchestra

Codes and Anchor & The Wolf

Red Shoe Diaries & Temper The Wolves

Without You by Ellen and the Escapades

Coming Back Home by Ellen and the Escapades

This Ace I've Burned by Ellen and the Escapades

Star Slinger - New Waves

Can musical bedroom laptop production be sexy? The answer is a resounding yes when Star Slinger is in town, because he makes music that could quite easily get you shimmying out of your clothes, naked and grinding very quickly.

Star Slinger is rapidly becoming one of the most blogged artists around and it’s easy to see why. His chopped and spliced samples of old soul, r&b and hip-hop may be the kind of thing that hundreds of wannabe bedroom producers aspire to – but Star Slinger does it incredibly well. From the horny jams of Do It Myself a track that ends with the sounds of a girl in the throes of sexual climax, to the fidgety fractures of Word – a piece not dissimilar to the work of Gold Panda -Star Slinger has the grooves. In fact he already has a bucketful of them on line and an album entitled Volume 1 available to download. Volume 1 samples everything from child-fronted reggae bands (Musical Youth) on Dutchie Courage to funk (Parliament) to 90’s soul (Mint Condition), to 80’s bagpipe guitar rock (Big Country) plus more and it’s this musical mish-mash that reminds us very much of The Avalanches (whatever happened to them?). It’s as good to listen to at home as it is to attempt to dance to, or at least nod your head to.

Star Slinger is one Darren Williams from Manchester, formerly from a small village in Nottinghamshire. He suggests that he likes the eighties, Sweden, dusty records, synthesisers, hip-hop, Henry Rollins, curvy exotic women and solitary animals, which sounds fine to us. Enjoy a sample of his glitchily seductive tunes below. Star Slinger is touring the U.S and Canada this February with Baths and Braids. We only hope that with him giving so much free music away he actually finds a way to make it pay.

Star Slinger - Do It Myself (NSFW) by Star Slinger

Star Slinger - Word by Star Slinger

STAR SLINGER - SLOW 'N' WET by Star Slinger

Star Slinger - Dutchie Courage by Star Slinger