Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Saturday Surf #1

Welcome to our new regular Saturday feature titled The Saturday Surf. Every week we listen to a lot of new music. Only a tiny fraction of it makes it onto the blog. The Saturday Surf is a weekly sweep up of some of the best of the rest - a gentle skim of a number of songs that didn’t quite get their own individual post.

For this regular column we’ll never post too many tracks in any one week so as to not take up too much of your time – 5 will be the maximum - and much like the rest of Breaking More Waves the music chosen will not be from any particular genre. So expect our usual mix of folk, electronica, pop, indie, maybe even some hip hop or experimental oddness from time to time.

The only criteria will be that each and every piece of music gets our approval and is 100% amazing. The weekend really does start here.

First up is indie-electro-dance-pop (that’s a fair few bases covered) group Strange Talk from Melbourne, Australia, whose song Climbing Walls has been kicking around for some time now, being one of the highlights on the 2010 Kitsuné Maison Compilation 10. The track is now being given a further release through Neon Gold on the labels first ever vinyl and CD release. It’s got choppy guitars, cascading synth stabs and plenty of rhythmic synergy. If you haven’t heard Climbing Walls yet, and enjoy the likes of Friendly Fires, Phoenix and French Horn Rebellion, now is the time to fully acquaint yourself.

Climbing Walls by Strange Talk

Next comes something from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Way back in December 2009 we named Beth Jeans Houghton, the Geordie lass who was making oddball Celtic folk music, as one of our Ones to Watch for 2010. Since then there’s been diddly squat from her except for a tour with Stornoway and a few festival appearances, although we should have taken notice when she sang "I will return." Finally she’s secured a deal with Mute and a Ben Hillier (Blur, Doves, Elbow) produced album is readying itself for release, although you will still have to wait until autumn to get that. Dodecahedron is the first slice of multi-sided folk-pop to be released from it and is available as a free download by clicking on the arrow on the player below.

Beth Jeans Houghton - Dodecahedron by Mute UK

We featured Picture Book as a new wave at the start of the year and now a new demo has surfaced from the Liverpool based three-piece. “Can I kiss you tonight?” lead singer Greta asks before leading us to the dance floor and musically sticking her tongue down our throat, which is absolutely fine with us. Take us home now please. Musical underwear may be coming off soon.

Satellites (demo) by Picture Book

Finally, we leave the best to last. Canada’s Austra is another act that first featured on Breaking More Waves back in January before a Hype Machine frenzy gradually grew through February and into March with this track – the groups signature tune - Lose It. Music bloggers can often get too wrapped up into being ‘the first to post’ about a particular song. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the most important ingredient of music is time. So, we’re swinging the spotlight back onto Austra slowly, confident that after a couple of months of listening their Zola-meets-Florence-operatic-electronica is 100% worthy of the buzz. Lose It elevates Austra above cult status, even if it does sound a little like the the Lloyds TSB For The Journey advert (here).

Austra - Lose It by DominoRecordCo

More surfing next week. Same time, same place ?

Friday, 29 April 2011

Monarchy - Gold In The Eternal Fire

Look, there really is only one possible track we can post today. We suspect we won’t be the only blog doing this. Apparently there’s a wedding happening somewhere.

We could post some thoughtful debate discussing how society has lost its innocence and how the public perception of the UK monarchy has changed over the decades, from the halcyon days of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation into today’s celebrity, media and greed obsessed culture, and how this culture has influenced the UK’s thinking on the royal wedding.

We could also debate how William and Kate have a chance in the future to create a new royal family fit for today’s streamlined fast moving communities. How they have the intelligence and modern substance to do it, with Kate being the first royal bride to have a university education and being the first to live with her husband before marriage.

However this is a music blog, not a commentator on today’s society, so instead here’s something very appropriate for the day. Monarchy have the right name and in a side-step of near tribute have recorded a version of The Bangles No.1 hit single Eternal Flame and mixed it up with their own song Gold In The Fire. Will and Kate, this one’s for you. When you sign those contracts of love, make sure you read the small print. We hope that your fire for each other is eternal.

Gold In The Eternal Fire from Monarchy is a right royal free download for you below.

Gold In The Eternal Fire by Monarchy

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Holly Miranda - Covers

Whilst we’re waiting for the follow up to Holly Miranda’s sleepy and sensuous debut long player The Magician’s Private Library the ex-Jealous Girlfriends singer and former Breaking More Waves One to Watch has decided to keep fans entertained with a number of cover versions that she’s recently uploaded to her Soundcloud account. “I am always recording covers, for fun, for favours, for weddings. These are just a few of the covers I’ve recorded in the last year or so,” she announced on her blog a week or so ago, before adding further songs a couple of days later.

Whilst you can hear all of the covers by clicking here, we’ve picked our personal favourites to stream below. First is her version of The XX’s Crystalized featuring Glowhearts and Timmy Mislock, which takes the song to even deeper levels of hushed cheerlessness. This is followed by Holly’s version of Breathe from the classic Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon – a languidly atmospheric comedown if ever there was one.

Now hurry up Holly and let’s have another album out of you, although judging by your previous work and these songs, you’re probably not the sort of person for rushing anything.

Holly Miranda - Crystalized (XX cover) Featuring Glowhearts and Timmy Mislock by holly miranda

Holly Miranda - Breathe (pink floyd cover) by holly miranda

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Lightwaves - New Waves

Who remembers Yes Giantess? Way back in 2008, when this blog was in its infancy, we put the Boston Massachusetts electronic four-piece, then known as just Giantess in our Ones to Watch for 2009 list. Then as 2009 developed, they put the yes at the front of synthpop and got booked to play the NME Radar tour in the UK alongside the likes of Marina and the Diamonds and Local Natives. In terms of big electro thrills at least three of the bands songs, the heart melting / love making Tuff N Stuff, the dirty flutters of The Ruins and the hot-blooded When The Sun Gets Low defined the period from 2009-2010 in these quarters.

However despite these head for the stars pop thrills the Yes Giantess album Siren never got a big release, quietly sneaking out on I-Tunes and the spaceship never lifted off.

Now we’re pleased and excited to see that the music continues. Lightwaves is the new DJ / production project from Jan Rosenfeld, the vocalist of Yes Giantess. His debut single follows remix work for the likes of Freelance Waves and Savoir Adore and it’s a funky piece of vocoder / robot work-out entitled Working All Day. There’s still a hint of the Yes Giantess sound in so far as this song has a euphoric drop and build, but Working All Day has an even more bound for the disco Daft Punk funkiness that delights in all the right places, namely the hips and the feet.

Lightwaves - Working All Day by lightwavesmusic

Jess Mills - A Forest

The last time The Cure’s A Forest was given a moodily great electronic re-work was on the bands own Mixed Up remix project. At the time their imaginatively (?) named Tree Mix gave the song a 7 minute extended treatment that didn’t stray too far from the original to upset Robert Smith aficionados, but was enough to get shoulders frugging on the dance floor.

Now ex His Girl Friday singer Jess Mills has joined up with Breakage to provide her own take on the song as a bonus track on her Vultures single (which we featured here). As you would expect from Breakage layers of mystery and menace are added bringing the track bang up to date. It’s tremendous stuff.

The Cure are scheduled to play their only scheduled show of the year at Bestival on the Isle of Wight and Jess and Breakage will also be there. Maybe Robert might take a sneaky peak at Jess’s performance? And if you do Robert, why not check out Breaking More Waves very own DJ side project – The Sunday Best Forum Allstars – who will also be playing in the Big Top on the opening night of the festival , last year we dropped a Cure remix into the end of our set! Maybe this year we'll play this one?

Jess Mills - A Forest (Breakage Remix)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Real Fur - New Waves

Cross-pollinating the worlds of indie and the jit of Zimbabwean afropop, London / Walsall three piece Real Fur’s debut single Animal is a jaunty and joyful song that flirts with the feet. It’s highly dexterous and damn danceable. Yet beyond its up-tempo tropical slice of tunefulness, it’s the bands gigs that have been turning heads, for Real Fur have stepped away from the sweat and beer of indie toilet venues and instead embraced the smells of soap powder and warm washing by playing in laundrettes.

The last time that the UK public got excited about laundrettes was back in the 80’s when Nick Kamen stripped off his jeans and gave them a spin in an advert for Levi 501’s. Whilst the members of Real Fur are very much keeping their clothes on, the group are using washeterias to perform in as a bid to do something a little different. Bassist Matt McGough told the Evening Standard last year “People dance on the machines and are really excited by the venue –it’s great.”

We’re not sure if this unlikely use of such buildings is some deep well thought out manifesto from the band highlighting how the rise of the domestic washing machine has reduced laundrette numbers in the UK from around 12,000 in the early 80’s to around 3,000 now or simply a gimmicky way of grabbing media attention, but either way its working, with Real Fur creating a smouldering buzz that will probably grow.

Of course playing unusual spaces is nothing new – bands have played gigs in libraries, museums, castles and even caves – but ultimately these gigs succeed or fail in the same ways that gigs in traditional venues do. If the acoustics, atmosphere and music isn’t good enough the space you’re playing is almost irrelevant. The excitement of the new – rather like a first date – soon wears off if the moment can’t deliver. Laundrettes certainly have some limitations – traditional ones tend to be designed as an architecturally narrow space which can mean a cramped audience and poor acoustics. Yet thankfully from the songs we’ve heard such as the taught riffed cowbell laden Birds, which has a funky whiff of Talking Heads about it and the aforementioned carnival good times groove of Animal there’s every chance that Real Fur could clean up wherever they play.

If you want to catch Real Fur in a Laundrette their Safari Funk tour hits Birmingham, Southsea (about 10 minutes walk from Breaking More Waves HQ in the laundrette pictured above), Brighton, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh this May. Check here for full details.

Animal by Real Fur

Birds by Real Fur

Monday, 25 April 2011

Music That Made Me #17 - Lone Justice - I Found Love

Do you remember Maria McKee? She was the girl with the rasping Tammy Wynette gone rockabilly voice who had a solo number 1 with a tune from some god awful Tom Cruise movie . But Maria’s musical path had started much earlier than that as the lead singer of the band Lone Justice.

I first came across Lone Justice at (still) the best concert I have ever been to in my life: U2 at Wembley Stadium in 1987. But more of U2 another day.

Lone Justice was the first support band. I remember them walking onstage and thinking “Uh-oh.” A bunch of bad-shaggy-hair muso types from the States who looked lost in the huge football stadium. Then something changed.

A simple drumbeat announced the arrival of their lead singer. Looking about half the age of the rest of the band Maria McKee ricocheted on as if she owned the place, bounding round the stage with a defiant punkish energy and attractive confidence. Then she opened her mouth. A bawling bourbon soaked country voice belted out across the stadium and a chord had been struck with me. She sung the crap out of every song she performed. I’d never particularly liked country music before, but this was different. It was raw, it was edgy, it was lift up my petticoats and see what’s underneath sexy and I was hooked.

Lone Justice was never a huge commercial success. When they split Maria went solo and had that number 1 before retreating into relative obscurity recording a number of non-commercial albums including Life Is Sweet a record of tortured crashing guitars and screwed up lyrics to match. It sold very badly and led to the parting of ways with her record label, yet it remains one of my favourite albums of the 90’s. Sometimes art and commerce just don’t mix. I’m not the only one who loved the album either. Someone has written a blog solely dedicated to the record, with posts on every song (here).

But in terms of the music that made me my most heightened memory of Lone Justice and Maria McKee was the song they started their set with at Wembley. Cue drums.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Stop / Pause / Unwind

We’re bundling up our I Pod and heading abroad. It’s time for a pause. Breaking More Waves is on holiday. The next post will be on Monday the 25 April with another chapter in Music That Made Me, then regular posting will commence later that week.

In the meantime we’ll leave you with this beautiful piece of folk music, especially chosen to represent the country we are visiting. It’s from the ethereal and fragile beauty of Arborea, from Maine, United States. It seems absolutely perfect to unwind to. Enjoy.

Spain by Arborea

Black Light Dinner Party - Older Together (Video)

With just one song and a small handful of blog loving, Black Light Dinner Party are finding welcoming ears with their song Older Together, a hooky computerised groove that could have easily been the hidden track on Passion Pit’s Chunk of Change EP. It’s the kind of song that just screams out for a boutique electro-pop label like Neon Gold or Kitsune to pick up on it with its steely backwash of electronica, plinky plonk keyboard notes and growing euphoric build.

For those who want to know more about the band, there’s still very little out there, apart from the few facts we gleaned and reported on when we first posted about the group last month (here). Now there's this new video for the song. It was shot by Dreambear with a little bit of help from Lomography. Enjoy.

Black Light Dinner Party "Older Together" from dreambear on Vimeo.

Clare Maguire - The Shield And The Sword

Right now we’re feeling a bit sorry for Clare Maguire. Her album has not been particularly well received by the press, in fact some of the reviews were pretty damning. We will always defend the right of critics to give an objective and well informed review, but if you’re on the receiving end of the criticism it must feel pretty demoralising, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into something over a number of years. Artists may say they create something for themselves and if anyone else likes it then that’s a bonus, but if that’s really the case, if they only really want to create it for themselves, then why put it out in the public domain at all? It’s like this blog. If we just wrote it for ourselves we wouldn’t need to publish it. But we do, because we want others to enjoy or be entertained by it and the music that we feature. Somewhere in the public artists psyche there’s a want to be loved.

So today we’re going to shine a ray of light over Clare. Because The Shield And The Sword is her new single and it’s categorically the best song on her album. It’s mighty, passionate and let’s Clare do what she does best – belt out a tune with that big voice of hers. There’s even more sunshine though, because with a video that features near naked muscular gold men, blonde wigs, a swan and our favourite woman’s dress of the year (pictured above) in which she looks amazing, The Shield And The Sword is her best video to date. This is our little way of an internet hug to Clare Maguire. The critics aren’t everything after all.

Clare Maguire – The Shield And The Sword by UniversalMusicPublishing

Emily & The Woods - New Waves

During our recent coverage of the 2011 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition we mentioned one particular act that during the live final in Pilton mesmerised us with her hypnotically beautiful folk music. And although we use the term ‘folk’ there are greater depths to what Emily of Emily and the Woods does. There’s a smouldering seductive jazz tinge to some of her songs, a hint of the blues and in her performance there’s a bucket load of confidence mixed up with just a touch of endearing quirkiness. We pretty much fell in love with her music that night, correction, we did fall in love with her music that night, and we promised you that we would be posting on her again at some point.

We’ve been holding back for that moment until today, when Emily’s new video for her song Steal His Heart, the second song on her new EP Eye To Eye is released. Keeping the music very much a family affair the song features Patrick and Benedict Wood (her father and brother) on musical duties together with Ted Dwane (Mumford & Sons) on double bass and drummer Roy Dodds (Fairground Attraction, Eddi Reader). Steal His Heart is more uplifting than some of her sadder acoustic work, an example of which - I Can’t – a song released in memory of her friend who died – also streams below.

The video is a chase between a postman and Emily from London to Brighton beach.

To celebrate the release of the EP on May 4th Emily & The Woods are having a launch party at The North London Tavern, Kilburn High Road, London. If you can make it prepare to feel goosebumps.

I Can't by Emily and The Woods

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Alessi's Ark - Maybe I Know

Was it really 2008 when we put Alessi’s Ark in our Ones To Watch for 2009 alongside what became big hitters such as Florence & The Machine, La Roux, Mumford & Sons, Marina & The Diamonds and er…. Skint & Demoralised? Ok, well not all big hitters, but that’s not the point of the Ones To Watch list in the first place. But yes, it was 2008 and you know what they say about time and fun and flying and the like. So here we are in 2011 and next week sees the release of the second album from Alessi, entitled Time Travel. In preparation for this Alessi tackles the 60's pop classic by Leslie Gore - Maybe I Know. The song was one of two hits that Gore had in the UK, the other being her most well-known song It’s My Party which went top 10 in the UK and was a number 1 in the US.

As with everything that Alessi does the song is initially musically sweet and charming, but here the lyrics offer a sadder side – the character in the song is with a love rat and he’s cheating on her. “My friends are telling me that he's no good. He isn't treating me the way he should. He really loves me that's all I can say. Before my tears fall I just walk away.”

Keeping the 60’s style of the song Alessi and her band of minstrels intertwine the tune with her folk roots to create probably the most poppy and overtly commercial thing she’s released to date.

Alessi's Ark - "Maybe I Know" by Yep Roc Music Group

Alessi's Ark- Maybe I Know from Bella Union on Vimeo.

Ghostpoet - Survive It

There’s a school of thought that argues that when compared to US rap music, UK rap music just doesn’t work. We’re not sure if this is true. This argument is like comparing a James Cameron film with a Mike Leigh film – they’re both very different and almost beyond comparison. The Cameron film will reach a wider audience and get greater recognition, but for some people the Mike Leigh film will be more engaging than any blockbuster could. It’s really a case of listen with your mind and ears open and see what grabs you.

Something from the UK that has made our ears prick up is Obaro Ejimiwe, better known as Ghostpoet, who now resides in London but was previously from Coventry. His laptop created album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam is an addictive late night languid listen and has already picked up praise comparing it with the impact the debut album from The Streets had. Obaro’s slow spliffy sounding raps are about as far away from US stars such as Jay Z and Eminem as imaginable but show that the UK can produce something as important creatively as anything from the US. We’re taking a punt here but it really wouldn’t surprise us if Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam picked up a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize later this year. There’s also a fair chance it’s going to crop up in our own end of year Top 10.

Next month Ghostpoet will release the second single from the album – Survive It – and it’s likely to gain the album even more attention. It’s a sparse and muffled Walk on the Wild Side flow, finding some optimism despite its downbeat melancholic melody. It taps perfectly into British thinking – stiff upper lip and keep going. “Shrug your shoulders and carry on,” Obaro raps. Exceptional stuff – one of our songs of the year.

Ghostpoet - Survive It

Monday, 18 April 2011

Music That Made Me #16 - The Wombles - Remember You're A Womble

This series wouldn’t be complete unless I included my first single purchase. It’s an important nostalgic landmark that every music fan can remember, in a similar way to the first ever album you bought. I’m not so sure if the first track you ever downloaded seems so important or memorable.

I’d love to claim that as a child of the 70’s and 80’s the first time I stepped out of a record shop clutching a 7” vinyl single and rushed eagerly home to play it on our old record player that sat inside my mum and dads Brazilian Chestnut cabinet in their living room, my selection was something cool and enlightened. White Riot by The Clash, I Feel Love by Donna Summer or Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie and the Banshees perhaps. But it wasn’t. In fact my first ever single wasn’t even bought in a record shop.

I was 5 years old and was in Army & Navy, a department store in Camberley. Somewhere towards the back of the store was a box. A crumpled and worn box of records. I don’t even particularly remember the shop having records on display, but I do remember the box – stuffed full of vinyl singles, some with their original cover missing, covered only in a plain white paper sleeve. I think they may have been sale items, for certainly over the years there was an odd selection of hits and misses and I remember that they were very cheap. Every weekend or so, whilst my mum completed her weekly shopping I’d rummage through this box, finding bargains galore for 10p each.

I’d buy them with my pocket money – enough change left over for sweets and a comic too. Often I’d never heard the song before – but I’d like the sound of the title, or the picture on the sleeve and choose on that basis. This habit would die with the age of the download. It led me to develop at a very early age an eclectic and slightly odd record collection. Somewhere along the line, from this box I’d pick up ELO’s Don’t Bring Me Down, XTC’s Senses Working Overtime and some early Queen singles. Oh and Shakin’ Stevens as well.

But before all that, the first ever single I bought was Remember You’re A Womble by The Wombles; the pointy nosed, Wimbledon Common living kids TV program creatures turned pop group. It wasn’t the coolest of choices, but when you’re 5 years old all you want is a catchy song ‘sung’ by your favourite stop motion TV characters. What was extraordinary about The Wombles was that they were no novelty one hit wonders. In the 70’s they clocked up a hit after hit, with 4 Top 10’s and a further 4 in the Top 20. They also managed to have 4 Top 40 albums, one of which stayed in the UK charts for more than half a year. Let’s put that in perspective – they were more commercially successful than the likes of Arcade Fire in the UK. In defence of The Wombles their TV motto was “Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish,” which with its green ideology was way ahead of its time. The record itself came in a plain paper sleeve and I took it home, traced some pictures of the Wombles from my Womble Annual and designed and coloured in my own cover art – just like D-I-Y indie records years later.

Incredibly, this year sees the return of The Wombles, where they will be ‘playing’ the Avalon Stage at the Glastonbury Festival. It goes without saying, that if you’re going, I’ll be right down the front dancing like a lunatic. It’s going to be Womble-Mania all over again. Remember you’re a Womble.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Substatic - New Waves

When does a new band stop being a new band? We ask the question because we feature Substatic under the title New Waves, yet this pumped-up electro 3-piece have been out there playing shows for just over 3 years and have already released a debut EP called Days Go On last summer. So whilst they’re hardly new – having supported the likes of Fenech-Soler, Handsome Furs, Unicorn Kid, You Love Her Coz She’s Dead and Crystal Fighters – they’re probably not on enough people’s radars to be considered established as yet.

Substatic make pounding full-on electronic dance pop that’s full of hands-in-the air euphoria and fisting-pumping joy. It’s the kind of music that demands to be played loud on sweat drenched dancefloors. We can imagine the likes of master of the weekend Pete Tong approving of them and apparently we’d be spot on, Mr ‘We Continue’ having already championed the bands remixes.

The track we’re featuring is a new demo - Gold -and it’s the best thing they’ve done yet. It bludgeons with enough forceful rave pulse and commanding female vocal to make you lose your sh*t on the dancefloor, the dirty sexy electronica engaging those hips to thrust and those arms to reach to the sky.

The music that Substatic do may not be incredibly original – there was a lot of this stuff blasting out in the clubs and on the radio in the mid 90’s post-madchester era, but in terms of sweeping you off your feet on a Friday or Saturday night and making you feel alive Gold achieves its objectives.

Gold (demo) by SUBSTATIC

Saturday, 16 April 2011

How We Run A Music Blog - All Is Not What It Seems

Besides the “How do I get my music featured on your blog?” question, which we answered here, the other most common question we’re asked is this one. “How do you keep the blog running with such regular efficiency?”

As we’ve alluded to before, Breaking More Waves is very much a ‘hobby’ blog. Some blogs are effectively side projects of those who work in the music industry, others are those of authors who are attempting to showcase their journalistic or web design skills as part of their CV for eventually finding a job in the media, for others it’s a tool to network themselves into new possibilities within the music industry, but many, like us, simply blog to convey their unending passion for music – be it pop, rock, folk, electronica, hip-hop, experimental or any other genre or cross-genre with no other end vision.

This passion means that whenever there is spare time in between the pressures of the ‘real’ non-internet world – career, family, domestic and social lives, we’re probably listening to, watching and discovering new music.

So let’s throw open a secret of how we work. First, unlike many blogs we don’t write something daily – the busy life we lead doesn’t allow us to. It’s not because we’re not organised – far from it – just that we’re extremely busy. Count up the number of regular solo ‘hobby’ music bloggers that continue to run their blog with a family of 2 children and a full time professional job and you’ll see they are significantly less than those without. It probably explains why even the best ‘hobby’ blogs only last about 4 or 5 years. When bigger responsibilities come the author’s way they find it difficult to keep on top of a music blog as well.

Instead of writing daily we pre-write a number of blogs, usually early on a Saturday morning, whilst the rest of the world is sleeping and schedule them for uploading for the rest of the week, to make it appear as if we’re writing daily. Yes basically we’re one big cheat. Then amongst these pre-writes we drop in the odd piece that we write during the week, often in our lunch hour at work, to keep the blog relatively fresh and on the pace – the internet after all is a very fast moving monster.

Yet this weekend the very astute amongst you may have noticed that we’re posting significantly more blogs than we normally post at the weekend, at various points throughout the day. This is because we’re having a spring clean. We’re shortly going to be taking a short break from the blog for a family holiday and before we do so there are a number of bands / artists that we had wanted to post on that we hadn’t quite got round to. So to avoid them slipping away off our radar by the time we get back, we’re throwing out a number of blogs this Saturday, which by the power of the internet magic appear to be written at different times but of course they weren’t – we’ve been cheating again.

So now that we’ve explained what a sham this blog actually is, we’re finishing off our spring cleaning. These artists have been sitting on the ‘really must write a blog about them’ pile for quite a while now and it’s never happened. So instead we’ve bunched them together on this final Saturday post – there’s still a couple more posts to go after this but then we shut down for a bit.

First there’s Braids, the Canadian four-piece who produce slightly experimental dream-pop. Key track right now is Lemonade, a song that slowly wriggles its way out of its cocoon before gently flying away like a butterfly.

Braids- Lemonade

Second there’s the somewhat noisier Mammal Club, another band from the North East of the UK, an area that seems rich and vibrant with talent at the moment. We’ve already been smitten by the likes of Lanterns On The Lake, The Unthanks, Polarsets, Let’s Buy Happiness and Brilliant Mind and now it seems that we can add Mammal Club to that list. There’s a similarity to Everything Everything in places but there’s more structure and the vocals are a little less silly than the Manchester band.

Mammal Club - Otter

Finally with another shelf almost cleared have a listen to something far removed from the other two bands in this post, and probably our favourite. High For This by The Weeknd (yes the e is purposefully missing) is an incredibly dark moody piece of club come-down music laced with space, crisp beats and immaculate slow-core r ‘n’ b production.

The Weeknd - High For This

There, that was kind of fun. Maybe we should round up every week with awesome tracks we haven’t had time to blog properly like this every week after our return? Now there’s a thought blossoming. All we need is a feature name. We’d probably do it on a Friday. Any ideas?

Purity Ring - New Waves

Blogpop. It’s a term we referenced a few days back – slightly quirky, off-kilter pop music, usually birthed out of some sort of electronic base with beats and a floaty or slightly hazy atmosphere to it. There’s a lot of this stuff out there, partly because these days it’s so easy to do. Teenage boys and girls can do it in their bedrooms with ease, instead of other mischief that teenage boys and girls usually do upstairs when the parents are out. Then once the kids have made their musical babies, a swift bit of work on the internet and hey-ho with a bit of luck, you’re out there on the blogs.

The trouble is though, there’s far too much of this blogpop and much of it is very very average. Thankfully Purity Ring seem to have taken their name to heart and concentrated on making their bedroom based glitchy computerisations worthy of listening rather than getting on with anything more sordid. As a result blogs are picking up on them left, right and centre and at the risk of following the crowd we’re doing exactly the same, because Purity Ring very much fall into our category of fresh, cute, oddball, synthtopia with a twist in its tale that actually makes us want to go and make babies.

Purity Ring is Corin Roddick (music) and Meghan James (vocals). Check out the tracks below. Ungirthed will be released as a single on Monday, together with Lofticries as its B-Side through Transparent. There’s also a heaving and heavy remix from Manchester’s latest purveyors of cold-rave - Christian Aids - who despite owning the mystery / enigma band tag, we are led to believe contain amongst their number an ex-member of another Breaking More Waves kooky electro pop favourites - Run Toto Run who alas seem to have called it a day for now.

Ungirthed by PURITY RING

Lofticries by PURITY RING

Purity Ring - Ungirthed (Christian AIDS remix) by TransparentRecs

Other Lives - New Waves

If you’re a fan of the likes of The National and Fleet Foxes, but also enjoy the widescreen soundscapes of bands like Sigur Ros, then Other Lives are about to make you fall completely under their spell. Welcome to, quite possibly, your new favourite band.

We’ve labelled Other Lives as a ‘New Wave’ but that’s not strictly true, for this five-piece from Stillwater, Oklahoma have been around for a while. Having formed from the ashes of another band – Kunek – they put out their debut long player back in 2009. Later this year they’re due to release their second album Tamer Animals and we can confirm that it’s a flawlessly subtle piece of work that becomes even more giddying and beautiful with every listen. Tamer Animals sounds like a labour of love where the band has ensured that every detail, every moment is perfectly formed. With lush strings, horns, pianos and organic instrumentation combining with calm harmonies there’s a rich and deep seam of masterful drama created through what Other Lives do. It’s a record of superior quality that deserves to be owned in its entirety – no buzz band one song free downloads and multiple remixes by cooler than thou producers are required here. Other Lives are not about blog hype overload based on one or two songs, but of slow-burn breakthrough. Those who give their songs the most important ingredient of all - time - will find themselves caressed and coaxed into some sort of oblivion of wonder with this record.

If you become a fan, you’ll be in good company. Thom Yorke of Radiohead has already singled out the band for attention via Radiohead’s Dead Air Space blog and the band have just set out on a series of dates with The National, The Decemberists and S.Carey (Bon Iver). We also hear that the group should be playing some low key shows and festivals in the UK later this year. We’ll see you down the front for one of those.

This is our first post about Other Lives. We suspect there will be many more. Get ready to own them before they own you.

Other Lives - For 12

Vanbot - Update

Vanbot will probably be getting a little tired of all the Robyn comparisons by now, but her fizzy, bubbly, high-octane soda pop tunes do in many places sound undeniably similar. Thankfully if we’re going to compare we have in at least one of the songs below a second reference point.

But first have a listen to Ringing, taken from the Vanbot album, which has now been released on her own label Lisch Recordings. Complementing the song we posted the other day - Lost Without You - it probably draws to mind the girl who claimed that ‘Fembots have feelings too’ again. But then there’s the minimal Bad Day, a duet featuring Sebastian Forslund. On this song another fellow Swede comes to mind – Nina Persson of The Cardigans – as Ester (who is Vanbot) croons sadly of heartbreak and loss. “And the worst thing is that you left me when I was wounded,” she laments. Unless you’re incredibly cynical and think the whole thing is just a little clichéd then all you will want to do is to hold her and tell her everything will be OK in the end, but that’s kind of hard with just a download. But maybe downloads have feelings too?

If you fancy listening to the album in full, then why not click here.

Bad Day by Vanbot

Ringing by Vanbot

Esben & The Witch - Chorea

Here’s a new video of Chorea from Brighton’s best gloom ghouls and Breaking More Waves regulars Esben and the Witch. Shot on a cliff in Seaford, Sussex the black and white video features crazy screwed up dancing, backwards waves and the apparent zombie-lemming like procession to suicide as repeated lyrics ring out of watching people “dance themselves to death.” This is not for the faint-hearted. The track is being released on 12” for Record Store Day, together with a remix of Eumenides by Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai.

For those who are concerned for the safety of the actors in this film - fear not. We have living proof that no humans were harmed during the making of the video as we have spoken to one of the dancers as she worked behind a bar in a gig venue in Brighton just a couple of days ago. We’re sorry if we destroy the theatre of the piece, but she actually seemed like quite a nice normal girl, not some sort of spooky incorporeal being at all. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Kites - EP KIT0003

Matthew Phillips, lead singer of Kites is a self-consciously melodramatic entertainer if ever there was one. Just take a peek at the blog he types on behalf of his band. “I write this entry as a witless nincompoop, unworthy of sympathy or misguided admiration,” he starts on one particular post entitled A Dedicated Follower Of Death – A Tale Of Mindless Stupidity. Later he vents frustration over what he sees as the countries army of cloned bibliophiles, all reading the same books on the tube; Stieg Larsson, Dan Brown and the latest Vampire-inspired trilogy. We think we can safely say that Matthew is unlikely to ever become a one-dimensional "I love my fans" pop star, but a fascinating pantomime pop poet he could be.

Matthew takes his sense of theatre into his groups music as well. You can hear it on their new 4 track demo EP KIT0003, unleashed to the world just a few days ago. The Disappearance of Becky Sharp, which we mentioned in a previous blog about the band is the stand out track, placing itself musically amongst the likes of The Human League, Heaven 17 and Depeche Mode, with an obvious New Romantic seriousness. Another song Art Tastes Better Blind, which also streams below, is a stately piece of black celebration synth-pop that delves deep into the UK music scene’s eccentric pop heritage.

The way that Kites project themselves is almost ludicrous, in the same way that when Hurts started releasing material they managed to wind people up with their elaborately camp pretension. This, we believe, is a good thing. Pop music needs to outrage, it needs stars with personality, it needs to shine with dazzling peculiarity, for otherwise all we’ll be left with is the likes of Westlife and The Saturdays. And nobody wants that do they? Now here's the music.

Art Tastes Better Blind by Kites

The Disappearance of Becky Sharp by Kites

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Starlight

Ask pretty much anyone (except Sophie Ellis-Bextor fans) to name another Sophie Ellis-Bextor song besides Murder On The Dancefloor and they’ll probably struggle, which is a real shame because over the years Sophie has produced some pop classics. Let’s remind ourselves. Take Me Home (A Girl Like Me), a number 2 UK hit single, Get Over You (no.3), Mixed Up World (no.7), Music Gets The Best Of Me (no.14) and of course her track with Spiller – Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) a bona fide number 1 hit single that stayed in the charts for nearly half a year.

And even before that there was ‘indie Sophie’ with her band Theaudience (the no gap between the two words was important for artily cool points) and songs with titles that have never been repeated since – If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young When Can You Do It ? and A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed.

There was and is a Sophie Ellis-Bextor song for everyone (ok well not hip hop dudes or hairy metal kids perhaps) and now the woman who shimmies like we have seen no other woman shimmy on stage is back, with a reasonably blissful piece of dance pop entitled Starlight, that whilst not being quite on a par with all of the songs just mentioned is still pleasant enough and because it’s Sophie and because Breaking More Waves has a big place in its heart for pop and Sophie, we’re streaming it for your listening pleasure so you can make your own mind up. Irrespective of the (we suspect) lack of chart success and radio play this song will bring Sophie, we’ll love her till the end, because pop music isn’t just about brilliant songs it’s about brilliant people.

The new Sophie Ellis-Bextor album Make A Scene is out on June 6 and finds Sophie working with the likes of The Freemasons, Greg Kurstin, Calvin Harris, Cathy Dennis, Metronomy, Richard X and Armin Van Buuren. That's a date for our diary at least.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Starlight

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Delta Maid - Under Cover Of Darkness

A few hours ago in the UK Dolly Parton was trending on twitter, so this post seems (even if we say so ourselves) very well timed. Take a musical blender, press the buttons marked The Strokes, country, blues and of course good old Dolly herself and the results will be the musical smoothie that is Liverpool chanteuse Delta Maid. She’s recently recorded a version of Julian & Co’s boogie tune Under Cover Of Darkness and as you listen you’ll see that she has very much put her stamp on it.

Delta Maid could be accused of plain imitation – her American reference points are so obvious, but in the UK where these days it seems that every young boy or girl that has discovered folk and roots music and can play acoustic guitar is jumping on the bandwagon driven by the likes of Marling and Mumford, it’s nice to see someone doing something a little bit different with it.

As we mentioned in our previous post (here) on Delta Maid, her album is due May 9.

Delta Maid - Under Cover of Darkness - Strokes Cover by Delta Maid

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Charli XCX - Stay Away (Salem Remix)

Hyperactive saucy pop starlet in the making Charli XCX first featured on Breaking More Waves way back in November 2009 (here) and since then the wheels of industry have been turning. A few days ago a clip of her future dark-pop single Stay Away cropped up on Soundcloud and her Myspace (listen here) and now she’s formed an unlikely but sexy coupling with Salem who have managed to achieve what to date nobody else has managed to do – to slow down Charli XCX’s vivacious spirit to something that crawls musically in a manner that is bleak, unsettling and brilliantly energumenical.

Following fashion magazine appearances, low key festival slots and now hip druggy remixes it seems that it’s almost time for Charli XCX to be fully revealed to the world. If you haven’t caught her live yet (read our review of her here) you can catch her in the UK at Gold Dust at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London on the 20 April and a late night showcase at Coalition in Brighton at the 2011Great Escape.

Cave Painting - New Waves

One of the criticisms of new music blogs is that in their constant search for fresh faced bands and up-to-date music there’s a tendency to get knicker-wettingly over excited about artists on the basis of just one or two songs. Then later when the artist doesn’t live up to initial promise, blogs are kicked for over-hype. But someone has to make the first call. Otherwise we’ll all drown in a sea of James Blunt and Pigeon Detectives new releases.

So we make no apologies for introducing Brighton five-piece Cave Painting on the back of just two songs we’ve heard, one of which – Midnight Love – we’re streaming below. The other Leaf you can download for free from Bandcamp here. This band will probably disappear into the dark chasms known as what-ever-happened-to-them obscurity but for now we’re taking a punt.

With a tribally rhythmic vocal intonation that’s almost African in manner combining with downtempo guitars and drums that hold a weary heaviness on Midnight Love, Cave Painting's indie tunesmithery wields understated atmosphere that after several listens grows into something rather tranquil and persistent.Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this little bit of hype was justified, but if over time it wasn’t, at least we can enjoy this song.

Midnight Love by Cave Painting

Monday, 11 April 2011

Channel Swimmer - New Waves

Channel Swimmer is an artist whose name perfectly reflects his music – it’s warm, lazily good and full of dreamy sunshine coastal vibes. There are whispers to the likes of Washed Out, The Go Team and Gold Panda in what Channel Swimmer creates. It’s a cliché we know, but his music really is perfect for golden days that merge into mellow hazy nights and watching sunsets on the beach with your loved one.

Channel Swimmer is one Mathew Mayes, a 24 year old Welsh DJ, producer and electronic musician who used to go under the name Organ Morgan, creating tracks using his record collection as a starting point. He received a fair amount of blog love at the time and found support from the likes of BBC DJ’s Tom Robinson and Bethan Elfyn.

In 2009 Organ Morgan became Channel Swimmer as Mathew began working towards recording a 26 track album with one track for each letter of the alphabet from A-Z. He’s also constructed a number of remixes including Tin (The Manhole) by Everything Everything and more recently Breaking More Waves favourites Polarsets song Sunshine Eyes, which streams and is available for free downlaod below together with two other works.

Listen to the warm, nostalgic sound of Charade which samples Donald Fagen’s classic tune I.G.Y, turning it into a dreamy, cotton wool wrapped piece of bliss and you’ll know that summer is on its way. Then let the whistles, bongos and chanting of Zulu take over and forget about the return of acts like The Avalanches, instead letting yourself drift into another world with this peachy piece of music.

Channel Swimmer - Charade

Channel Swimmer - Zulu

Sunshine Eyes (Channel Swimmer Mix)

Music That Made Me #15 - Underworld - Born Slippy

Music That Made Me is a weekly personal and autobiographical dip into the ocean of memories and music. Its intention is to look back and celebrate some of the songs that have provided the soundtrack to my life. The picture above is of my eldest daughter, now aged 12, 'catching the sun'.

In 1997, on New Years Eve, or Hogmanay as she would prefer to call it, my girlfriend jumped suspended only by a bungee cord off a high rise platform in Queenstown, New Zealand. Exactly one year later she gave birth to our first daughter.

In life before children I had never given a thought to becoming a father. When we first told people of our impending new arrival the reactions verged from happiness to a state of shock. For those who were used to seeing me at the latest London indie club necking lager and my girlfriend out on the town in the latest trendy Soho bar, cigarette in one hand, bottle of red wine in the other, the idea of the two of us becoming responsible adults seemed near impossible. If truth be told, we found the idea pretty incomprehensible ourselves. The jokes about how long it would be before Social Services were called were probably a bit too close to the truth. It’s 100% true that the day that my daughter was born was the first day I’d ever held a baby.

Yet that day, something changed. As clichéd as it sounds I felt absolute and instant love – a natural rush of chemicals through my body that I’d never experienced before. I remember the midwife passing me the baby and being shocked at how wide her eyes were – I’d been led to believe that babies were born all puffy eyed and red looking – yet here was this beautiful tiny little thing looking up at me with the widest eyes I’d ever seen, staring straight into mine. It didn’t feel at all how I’d expected it to feel; awkward, terrifying, me a useless father. It felt completely natural, exciting and absolutely incredible.

That night I drove the short distance home to our humble 1 bedroomed modern flat in Slough, Berkshire whilst my new family rested in hospital. I was absolutely buzzing and as people scurried down streets, their breaths streaming above them, I was completely unaware that it was New Years Eve. I’d been awake for over 50 hours by this point and should have been sleeping, but my body was still bursting with adrenalin. Eventually I began to drift off and in my slightly addled state of mind heard fireworks in the distance – I honestly thought that they were celebrating the birth of my daughter.

A couple of days later my girlfriend and baby came home. It felt so calm, so relaxed. It wasn’t the hell on earth that everyone had told me it would be. Both of us found that actually, dealing with a new born baby was OK.

Every new parent struggles with sleep to a certain extent, but we found a number of tricks to get our little one to drift off; the vacuum cleaner switched on, the continuous whir of extract fan in the bathroom and to my absolute pleasure – music. Yet rather than sweet nursery lullabies we found the best song to get our daughter to snooze was something that two years before we’d been punching the air to in clubs such as Popscene ‘the dance club for people who like bands’ and Blow Up - the track that the seminal film Trainspotting had made famous -Born Slippy by Underworld.