Friday, 30 November 2012

Colour the Atlas - New Waves

Today we’re introducing a ‘new’ group that we’ve already featured on the blog back in November 2011. Then they were named The Jess Hall Band, for the obvious reasons that the lead singer and general leader was (and still is) called Jess Hall. Obvious really. But now one year on they’re called Colour The Atlas, which is arguably a better and more interesting name, certainly suggesting global ambitions, or a childlike love of felt tips, Crayola and geography lessons. Yet fear not because Jess Hall is still in the centre, singing beautifully, like a subtly soulful version of Breaking More Waves mainstay (and now hit single artist) Gabrielle Aplin, but there’s also some male accompaniment in places, particularly on the bizarrely over auto-tuned song The Maker (listen here). We say bizarrely because certainly neither voice needs auto-tuning to get it singing anything more than spot on – it seems to have been used in the same way that Bon Iver uses it on a song like Woods – as some sort of artistic of-the-moment ideal or concept.

When we first wrote about The Jess Hall Band they had just released their debut (now sole) EP which contained a pop sensibility with a radio friendly acoustic deftness. At the time we expected a whole bunch of bloggers who weren’t concerned with being fashionably cool or underground to jump on board with the Jess Hall Band. If we were a record label we’d have probably signed them up immediately. Sure they weren’t being particularly innovative but songs like Play Shy were melodic, hooky and full of breezy acoustic pop delights. Alas the blog world was probably too busy posting Lana Del Rey mixes and the only Hype Machine listed entry for The Jess Hall Band refers back to this blog.

So now let’s look forward. With a name change in place and a new EP released to the world, our opinion of The Jess Hall Band Colour the Atlas hasn’t changed.  They have the ability to pen a really well crafted, well sung and well played song. Yes, Colour the Atlas possess talent, a word that the X-Factor, with its two minute cover versions has managed to turn into a dirty word; but in this case this talent shouldn’t be mocked, it should be celebrated. The EP also shows a progression for the band with some electronic beats, subtle strings and rich quality that suggests they are maturing in all the right ways. If we were a record label, we'd still sign them up. Oh hold on, it seems that since last November that's exactly what has happened. Check out the clicking and rubbery beats of Snow below which sounds vaguely like something from the first Ellie Goulding record with a bigger horizon and see what we mean.

Colour The Atlas - Snow

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Other Tribe - Sing With Your Feet

Mixing house flavours with tribal and carnival beats, Sing With Your Feet may be some sort of dance floor ode to Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo for all we know, but whatever it is this marimba based groove from The Other Tribe scores for us. Alas the internet tells us that Sing With Your Feet is absolutely nothing to do with football / soccer but instead an Aztec expression for dancing, as the Aztecs didn’t have a word for jiggling their feet and hips around. We have no idea if the internet is being truthful with us here, but on the basis that this isn’t journalism and we’re not at all professional in this regard we can just throw these facts up on line without checking or double checking our facts, can’t we?

The Other Tribe will be getting their face paint and dad dancing moves (a good thing – there’s nothing better than a groovy dad or drunk uncle busting some shapes) out again in December for a UK tour playing alongside Swiss Lips and a variety of other selected acts on a number of dates which you can find here. 

The Other Tribe - Sing With Your Feet

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

IYES - New Waves

Here’s a confession. This is only the fourth blog post we’ve written in over two and a half weeks. Yes, we know it looked like we’ve been posting our Ones to Watch 2013 series daily, but the reality is that they were written about a month ago with some minor tweaking closer to the date as events changed; damn you Gabrielle Aplin for unexpectedly announcing and then releasing The Power of Love and double-damn you Saving Grace for changing your name to Chasing Grace just a day or so before your feature was scheduled to upload.

However despite our lack of spontaneous posting, we do believe there’s something to be said for being instinctive. Yes, there’s a strong argument that it’s better to give careful consideration and time to the music before posting about it, to ensure the quality remains high and that the content of the blog post is well thought out / researched, rather like going out with someone for six months before deciding that they were ‘right’ enough to have sex with. (Regular readers please note, that was our first sex / relationship to music analogy on the blog for half a month. We've been slacking / losing our touch.)

But there’s also something pretty damn exciting about some kid in his bedroom, hearing something on his laptop, falling in love with it and immediately posting it on his blog. It’s like meeting someone on a night out and before the evening is over some hot rampant coitus is occurring. Sure it may not last, but in reality how many relationships (music or people) really last? The here and now is just as important as the future. That's the essence of much great pop music - if it's all over-intellectualised it ends up being a bit like most jazz - wanky and up its own arse.

So here’s a track that we heard about twenty minutes ago and now we’re writing about it. But because of the way this blog works with not too many posts each day and the posts scheduled (unless we get really carried away with excitement) for standard pre-set times, what you’re seeing / hearing here was produced quite a few days after we first got fired up about it. But ultimately you don't care about the process of how the music gets to you do you ? You just want good music.

This is a new band called IYES. We know this much about them.

1. IYES are a duo called Josh and Melis from Brighton, UK, just down the road from where Breaking More Waves is based.

2. We assume their name is pronounced ‘eyes’ rather than ‘I yes’ but stand to be corrected.

3. They played their first ever gig at Brighton’s The Haunt supporting Citizens! just a few days ago.

4. We’re not sure if their name is IYES or Iyes but we think IYES looks better, don’t you?

5. They describe themselves as indie-electronic.

6. Their debut song Lighthouse sounds very indebted to The XX with some slightly blissful, slightly wonky but more than slightly spellbinding electronic sounds layered over the top.

7. Even though it sounds a lot like The XX (a good thing) Lighthouse sounds very good on its own merits as well.

8. There’s some lyrics about the sea, the ocean and the water which is nearly always a winner with Breaking More Waves.

9. They really are very very new having birthed themselves just a few weeks ago.

Fancy some musical coitus anyone ? Well on our first date we’d say yes to IYES.

IYES - Lighthouse

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Good Natured - 5-HT

The transition from blog crush to fully formed recording artist with a record label and an album can sometimes seem to take a very long time. Certainly it seems that way with The Good Natured who first cropped up in March 2009 on Breaking More Waves and have been sporadically releasing songs ever since.

However it seems that finally an album is on the way and the first taster of what that record might sound like is in the form of 5-HT. Sarah says of the song “5-HT is a chemical within the human body which helps to release serotonin in our brains. The song explores the contrast between love and pain, and the notion that love is a drug.”

Certainly 5-HT reminds us of drugs. Kids remember – we are in no way condoning drugs, certainly not illegal ones.  Instead we are merely imagining that if for example we had been at some sort of late 80’s / early 90’s warehouse rave, dressed in flares and an acid smiley face t-shirt, gurning like a loon and if we had by chance consumed some not quite legal substances and had perhaps heard some bouncy, full on hardcore tracks such as Injected With A Poison by Praga Khan or Bombscare by 2 Bad Mice we might have stored those songs in our head. Then with said tracks filed away we could have waited over 20 years and then taken those ‘top one, nice one, sorted’ influences and applied them to the rather fantastically massive hands in the air chorus of this song, which is frankly epic, mental and brilliant.

Music – one of the most brilliant chemical rushes to the brain. Who needs drugs?

The Good Natured - 5-HT

Wall - Something On Your Mind

Karen Dalton, known as the folk singer’s answer to Billie Holliday may have struggled with drugs and alcohol before her death but she left some beautifully raw music. “Maybe another day you’ll want to feel another way, you can’t stop crying, you haven’t got a thing to say, you feel you want to run away,” she sang on the melancholy tune that is Something On Your Mind and now Wall pay tribute with their own version.

Like everything that Wall has produced so far Lyla Foy’s vocals and the sparse backing give the song a sense of personal intimacy that’s almost too close, like feeling the breath of a stranger on your neck. But it’s that breath, dangerously near as it is, that is quietly thrilling.

Something On Your Mind can be downloaded for free from the Soundcloud player below.

 Wall - Something On Your Mind

Monday, 26 November 2012

Haim - Don't Save Me (Video)

Here is the new video from Haim, released today, for their rather slick new single Don’t Save Me. Here are some thoughts. They may be right or wrong, but without them we'd probably just be writing a boring review of the video.

1. Some people are still getting things wrong, particularly in the UK. Haim is pronounced ‘hyme', but is not to be confused with the word hymen which is a very different thing indeed. We're pretty sure they had that 'joke' a lot when they were at school.

2. If their record label has done its job properly Haim are guaranteed certs for a nomination on this year’s BBC Sound of List. Watch this space next week to see if they also get onto the UK bloggers version of the list - The Blog Sound of 2013. If we were the betting sort we'd put money on a double header there.

3. Haim’s progression from potential hype / buzz band to the real deal has developed quite nicely. In the UK the point where it really kicked off was at this year’s Great Escape in Brighton; the band talked of this when they revisited the town on their recent headlining dates. We’re pretty sure that the first gig they played in Brighton will go down as one of the best shows they ever played in the UK. We’ve seen them twice since, but that first gig really felt like a ‘moment’ and not just because one of their number stripped to her underwear, although that certainly was a ‘moment’ of sorts. And yes, we've talked about that particular 'moment' a number of times on the blog this year. It obviously had a profound effect on us.

4. We’ve already talked about the fact that Don’t Save Me sounds like the glossy soft focus soundtrack to an 80’s teen movie, so instead we’ll talk about how this video reinforces the stereotype that we have in the UK that all Americans are great at basketball, just like we’re pretty sure that every person in the States thinks that after a hard days work at the office us Brits all immediately make our way to the park for a game of kick-a-bout. The reality of course is that the majority of our country sits at home playing FIFA 12 or Pro Evolution Soccer on our X-Boxes whilst slumped on our couches and ever fattening arses.

5. Talking of stereotypes Haim need to be careful that their crude flirtatiousness doesn’t become more talked about than their music, although we think they’re going to find that difficult. After all at their recently streamed iTunes gig Este first announced that “I think everyone’s enjoying the show, everyone clapped, so I guess they are, unless my tampon string is showing and you’re just trying to alert me to it?” Then later she chatted a man in the audience up and gave her mobile number to him (and potentially if it was the real one several thousand people round the world watching).

6. What’s not apparent from a casual listen to Don’t Save Me is how in the live form Haim display a hell of a lot more classic rock influences. This track is probably one of the softer songs in their arsenal.

7. George Ergatoudis head of music at BBC Radio 1 and Andy Roberts programme director at Kiss FM have both gone on record recently to say that ‘guitar music is coming back.’ We assume that they’ve looked out at new bands coming through and decided that there’s enough quality out there to make such a statement, rather than just deciding that they are the god like makers and curators of fashion itself. Haim have positioned themselves nicely whichever way fashion / music goes. If guitars are back then they can rock hard. If not, then there’s enough pop and shine to their songs to ensure they can still capture radio play in the UK.

8. You know how drummers do 'sex faces'? The Haim girls play guitars but they do the best sex faces. Go see them live and stand near the front. It's very entertaining.

Here's the video.

Haim - Don't Save Me (Video)

Embers - Hollow Cage (Live)

Yesterday a small corner of the internet started talking about a band that we had long forgotten. That band was Chichester’s finest; Hope of the States (apologies to The Smoke Fairies and Antony of Antony & The Johnsons who are all certainly up there on the winners rostrum).

The reason? Because of this new song from Manchester’s Embers. Hollow Cage is a grandiose and ear shattering seven minutes worth of drama recorded live in a Manchester monastery. If it wasn’t such a cliché we would be using the words sonic cathedral of sound (oh sh*t we just did) to describe this monumental piece of music. Harvesting the intensity, texture and cinematic soundscapes of Hope of the States at their finest, albeit without the somewhat acquired taste vocals of Sam Herlihy, Embers sweep you up and take you on a journey into oblivion with this, their best work to date. Watch the video below and grab a free download of the live take from the Soundcloud player.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been naming our fifteen Ones to Watch for 2013. If we could sneak in a sixteenth it would be Embers. Have this band not been signed yet? They really should be. They deserve the chance to make a mind blowing album.

Embers - Hollow Cage (Live) (Video)

Embers - Hollow Cage from Embers on Vimeo.

Embers - Hollow Cage (Live) Audio Download

Friday, 23 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - Full List

For the last 15 days we’ve brought you our Ones to Watch for 2013 list. As we noted in our introductory post to the list, new music doesn’t just appear between now and January, it appears all year round and hence many of the acts we featured have appeared on the blog before, but we believe may take a step up in 2013, some commercially, others in terms of quality of new material or live shows. The list represents the styles and tastes of music and contains a mix of unsigned, indie and major label artists that we enjoy at Breaking More Waves. Hopefully you’ve found something of interest amongst the 15 artists we’ve featured.

There’s a certain amount of cynicism about these ‘tip’ lists that floats around certain parts of the internet, but here at Breaking More Waves we don’t subscribe to that. Our inner geek loves end of year lists and so as we get closer to December you’ll find us rolling out some more, most noticeably on December 3rd we’ll be announcing (together with a variety of other UK music bloggers) the long list of the second ever Blog Sound of 2013 poll – a Ones to Watch style list curated and voted for by just under 50 UK based music blogs and then from December 10th our Albums of 2012 list.

We also have a few special early Christmas presents for you near the start of December, so keep an eye (and ear) out for something pretty special around that time.

Until then, in case you missed any, here’s the full list of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2013 with links to the relevant posts. We’ll be back next week as normal before we start our run down to Christmas.

Chvrches (Original post)

Gabrielle Aplin (Original post)

Savages (Original post)

Chasing Grace (Original post)

Tom Odell (Original post)

Sons & Lovers (Original post)

Avec Sans (Original post)

Laura Mvula (Original post)

Curxes (Original post)

Matt Corby (Original post)

The Night (Original post)

Luke Sital-Singh (Original post)

Valerie June (Original post)

Alice Jemima (Original post)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #15 Alice Jemima

Whilst some of the artists in the Breaking More Waves Ones To Watch for 2013 list such as Chvrches and Haim can be associated with the deafening buzz that kicks off every year for a small number of bands and has nearly the whole music industry (and admittedly ourselves) drooling with over expectant anticipation, today’s artist is somewhat different. But just like those first 2 acts we mentioned in our Ones to Watch 2013 posts, our final choice - Alice Jemima - will be a name that is very familiar to regular readers of this blog. Yet her transition from unknown artist to established singer songwriter is gradual and organic.

Spotlights are beginning to turn on Alice since the release of her debut self-produced demo EP All The Boyfriends this September which has touched hearts all over the place, leading to radio plays on the likes of BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio (where the song went into the stations top 10 chart), a session being recorded for Rob Da Bank’s Radio 1 show for future broadcast, quality support slots including a forthcoming show in London as part of the House of St Barnabas Autumn Culture Series with Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and Lulu James (here) and a number of labels and music industry figures showing interest. 19 months after we first featured her on the blog, it’s about time that we named her as One to Watch, even though we've been watching (and listening) all this time.

So what is it about Alice Jemima?

She’s one of only two artists this year to sing something that had such warmth, such tenderness, such beauty, that it made us shed a tear when we stood in a room and watched her play it. She’s also one of the most prolific artists we’ve come across since this blogs inception, being able to create wondrously delicate yet serenely strong pop songs seemingly at the press of a button. So irrespective of record deals or not she's almost bound to continue to push out wonderful new songs. And then there’s that voice; a voice that has a sense of calm sweetness that we could listen to all day.

Alice’s music – a combination of simple restrained Hofner guitars and occasional beats will undoubtedly be our sound of 2013, but we strongly suspect we’ll still be playing her songs in 2023 as well, irrespective of commercial or critical success.

There’s a possibility that by the end of 2013 you might love her as much as we do; it's why we're concluding this series with Alice Jemima - saving one of the best till last.

Alice Jemima - Far From Here (Video)

Alice Jemima - By Your Side 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #14 Valerie June

Our penultimate One to Watch for 2013 is Valerie June. Her music is raw, traditional, organic and massively old fashioned and yet still sounds fresh, honest and moving. On first listen she reminded us a little of a country and delta-blues version of Joanna Newsom in the uniqueness of her vocal and the way her songs are constructed from guitar, banjo and ukulele. Listen and you’ll hear that there’s gospel, there’s soul and there’s that undefinable quality that enables a new artist to grab something based in the past and make it sound ready for today.

Valerie first played in Breaking More Waves home country of the UK at the festival we adore the most - Bestival - on the Isle of Wight this September and has kept this association alive by signing to one of our favourite and most eclectic record labels Sunday Best. An album called Pushin’ Against The Stone will be released next May. Adding to the sense that Valerie deals in rawness, several of the songs on the record have been written by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

With her snaking medusa-like hair June cuts a visually mesmerising figure and her music does much the same. Workin’ Woman Blues is the introductory single and was released this month, it streams below together with a video for a cover of the Sam Cooke tune Bring It On Home To Me. Workin' Woman Blues cocktail of groovy horn stabs and pedaling madly guitars gets under the skin and has us nodding along in reflective agreement.

Unless there’s a radical shift in the music taste of the general public Valerie June won’t be hitting the top of the singles or albums charts, but those who enjoy her style of roots based music we suspect will find something to treasure and a little bit timeless.

And that is nearly it. We’ve presented 14 of the 15 artists we believe are Ones To Watch for 2013. There’s just one to go. Who could it be? It feels like we’ve forgotten someone. Regular readers of the blog or our twitter feed will probably have guessed by now. We’ll see you tomorrow for our final choice and see if you’ve guessed right.

Valerie June - Bring It On Home To Me (Video)

Valerie June - Workin' Woman Blues

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #13 Luke Sital-Singh

Let’s hope Luke Sital-Singh isn’t superstitious, because we’re naming him as number 13 in the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch for 2013.

Naming influences such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Damien Rice it probably comes as no surprise to learn that Luke Sital-Singh is not playing hardcore techno, dubstep influenced pop or grime. No, he plays music that is stripped down, gentle and formed just out of his guitar (or piano) and vocals. Sometimes such as on the track Fail For You his voice is multi-tracked and layered to staggeringly beautiful effect but otherwise everything is kept pure and simple. Notice we didn’t use the word folk music when describing Singh’s genre, but certainly this is closest to what he’s doing. But let’s throw away genres, as useful as they sometimes are, and talk about how the music makes us feel. It’s at that point we can use words like warm, enchanted and laden with love. It’s music to cuddle up and put your head on your partners shoulder, which, especially if you’re a cool as f*ck hipster indie kid who doesn’t know love except for love of yourself, (some would call that masturbation) will probably sound like the type of sentimental cliché that will make you want to punch both our and Sital-Singh’s lights out; but we make no apologies.

Luke Sital-Singh plays a few headline dates in December in Brighton, Manchester and London following a support slot touring with one of our Ones To Watch from last year The Staves. Maybe they’ll pass the baton of loveliness and together we can bludgeon the cynics and unfeeling with it.

Sital-Singh is a talented and gifted songsmith and for that reason he deserves to feature in this Ones To Watch For 2013 list, even if it is as in this case at unlucky 13.

Luke Sital-Singh - Fail For You (Video)

Luke Sital-Singh - Dark

Monday, 19 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #12 The Night

I’d rather jack than Fleetwood Mac the Reynolds Girls once sang. They of course were wrong.

We’ve already referenced Fleetwood Mac once in our Ones to Watch 2013 series (have a look at our post on Haim if you missed it) and now we’re doing it again. This time it’s for The Night, a UK band that once again have already featured on the blog, this time back in August. They may not have the hip trendy r ‘n’ b influences of Haim but still possess the songwriting craft and style that the Mac had.

Fronted by one Sophie Rose Harper who you may recall from the song Take Me Where The Roses Grow by The Mystery Jets (who the band have also recently been out on tour with) or a blog post we wrote back in 2010, The Night create sophisticated, dare we say it, adult pop / rock music. It’s unlikely to find itself nestling on the playlists of the likes of Radio 1 or youth market pop stations but following the success of an artist like Lissie a few years back we could easily imagine their songs coasting across the airwaves on BBC 6 Music or Radio 2.

The Night is a 6 piece consisting of three members of each sex. Following the lead from Florence & The Machine and Active Child, you will find that amongst their number is a harp player, which we guess is why the band reference their sound as ‘baroque pop’, it’s certainly an instrument that lends itself to tension and grandeur which baroque is partially defined by. 

The Night - Islander

The Night - Turn Your Light On Me (Demo)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #11 Matt Corby

Likely to appeal to those who enjoy Bon Iver, Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley and Scott Matthews, our eleventh One to Watch for 2013 is a bit of a slow burner. Australian singer Matt Corby independently released his debut EP Song For in 2009 before relocating to London and signing with Communion Records. A further 2 EP’s followed. He first appeared on Breaking More Waves in February of 2012 where we asked you to ignore the man’s obvious good looks and focus on the bit that everything else aside is always the most important, the songs. The track that caught our attention then was Brother, which eventually made its way onto his new EP Into The Flame released this month. We’re hoping that with this gradual build of releases 2013 will be the year that Matt Corby takes that bold step onto an album and his voice, a wonderful raw mix of throaty rock sensibilities, soul and tender folk simplicity will engage with a UK (and worldwide) audience.

Oh, and the bit that we forgot to mention? Yes, when he was just a boy with stars in his eyes he was the runner up on Australian Idol. But let’s not hold that against him, after all the show also gave us the talents of Lisa Mitchell, whose song Spiritus would easily make it into our year end top 20. Maybe by December 2013 Corby will have an album in some of the end of year lists?

Matt Corby - Brother (Live Acoustic)

Matt Corby - Big Eyes

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #10 Curxes

Bristling with equal measures of art-pop aggression and intimacy Curxes are probably one of the slightly more leftfield choices on Breaking More Waves Ones To Watch 2013 list, but are 100% deserving of their place having secured our love pretty much from the word go.

From the frozen landscapes formed from a ménage a trois of Pet Shop Boys vs Depeche Mode sonics vs Siouxsie Sioux vocals with The Constructor, to the bands more recent post-industrial electro goth tracks Haunted Gold and Spectre, Curxes are a band that are slowly fingering their way along the precipices of planet pop.  Yet whilst they may stand on the edge, with the remarkable vocal talents of lead singer Roberta Fidora, a woman who could sing the pants off even the strongest gymnophobiac, and the musical mastermind of Macaulay Hopwood, the band have managed to combine edginess with talent. Too often edginess is just an excuse for no real ability.

2013 will see the band developing further, showing a softer more naked side. We hear rumours of beautiful ballads with strong emotions. We’re expecting surprises - that’s why Curxes have to be one of our Ones to Watch for 2013.

Photo Credit : C4Miles Photography

Curxes - Spectre (Video)

Curxes - Haunted Gold

Friday, 16 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #9 Laura Mvula

Today’s one to watch 2013 was introduced on Breaking More Waves as a new wave two months ago and has already picked up a head of media and blog love steam as she heads off for destination public popularity. She reportedly only played her first solo live performance in September at the iTunes festival in London, but this is not actually true; our favourite blog lady Flying With Anna raved about Laura Mvula after catching her at Camden Crawl 2012 in May.

Mvula, who was previously a member of the band Judyshouse released her debut limited edition single She last month and has already picked up play on daytime BBC Radio 1 through Fearne Cotton’s show. She’s what her label describes as a ‘priority act’ for 2013 and it’s easy to see why; Mvula’s soulful voice sounds utterly timeless, her classical music training impacting here possibly. Her music is the type of music to disconnect from the world to and find a space to exist only for the sound. It is a definition of beauty.

Those who have seen Laura perform live are falling over themselves with superlatives; a recent show in London left The Society of the Golden Slippers stating that her performance was “one of the most stirring live sets we've seen, ever.”

At the time of writing Laura Mvula’s Facebook page has around 900 likes. By the time you read this we suspect it will have a significantly larger number. Give it another year and we suspect some extra 0’s will have been added to that figure. Wonderful music - watch the video of She below and be blown away.

Laura Mvula - She

Laura Mvula - Like The Morning Dew

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #8 Avec Sans

Whilst Breaking More Waves likes to cover any sort of music that pumps our heart, we have a natural leaning to saucy synths and female vocals. We made a statement of taste and intent in our very first Ones to Watch list back in 2008 by putting two exciting electronic ladies (La Roux and Little Boots) as our number 1 and 2 choices on the list and our love of all things synthtopic and feminine continues to this day. It’s why we’ve placed Chvrches at the top of the 2013 pile of hopefuls and have at least one more (slightly darker sounding) female voiced electronic based act still to come, but today we’re adding the mysterious Alice Fox and Jack St James aka Avec Sans.

This electronic pop duo announced their presence to the world earlier this year with the Hype Machine conquering Perth and followed it up with their own stab of glossy and pulsing synth-art called Heartbreak Hi. Avec Sans are very much a modern pop band. They make music from computers, in studios, attempting to build interest using the internet rather than schlepping around grotty toilet venues playing to six people, four of whom are the other band playing that night. Maybe Avec Sans aren’t real people at all? Maybe they’re music robots, programmed with warmth and sensuality, the euphoria button switched to max, rather than built with hearts of steel and circuitry.

Whilst the band is currently unsigned, we understand there’s nearly an albums worth of material ready to go. They have to be one to watch, if only to see if the robots turn into humans, if they indulge in the gang grab of a record label scrum or decide to go solo, and to see if eventually they decide that irrespective of if there are only six people in that stinking piss-hole of a pub or not they’re going to give it a shot and play live. Their latest song The Answer streams below. Wait for the chorus. It's a big moment of power-blast synths. The moment where Avec Sans turn the thrust on their jet packs to max and lift off into space.

Avec Sans - The Answer

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #7 Sons & Lovers

Our next suggestion for Ones to Watch in 2013 first appeared relatively quietly on Breaking More Waves back in July. Since then Sons & Lovers (not to be confused with the melodic hardcore band from Orange County, California - yeah we've never heard of them either) have been going about their business, with a minimum of fuss or over excited press attention, playing shows and impressing wherever they play. They’ve gigged alongside the likes of Kyla La Grange, Walk The Moon and Luke Sital Singh with a live set that is impressively slick for a new band - it almost feels like watching a group that have been playing for years. Scrappy is not a word to be used in conjunction with Sons & Lovers, though it’s worth noting that not all of the band are new musicians, as we posted back in July lead guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook used to be in Brighton UK metal core band Architects. 

It seems that the band were originally a two piece but have now expanded to a four piece and play songs that have undeniably rich and accessible melodies. Add to this a lead singer who we suspect quite a few ladies (and some gents as well) are going to grow big crushes on and Sons & Lovers have all the ingredients in place to do that basic musical maths of good songs = success.

There’s very little information out there about Sons & Lovers at the moment although we understand there’s a forthcoming EP and an album due at some point in 2013 (we suspect the later part of the year) but for now enjoy the two songs that they’ve put online below.

Sons & Lovers - Set My Heart

Sons & Lovers - King

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #6 Tom Odell

Our sixth One to Watch for 2013 is Tom Odell. He’s the first male soloist on our list. It was only last month that he was introduced on Breaking More Waves.

Odell is a London via Brighton via Chichester singer songwriter that has been touted as a sensitive, good looking, post-Buckley type and that’s probably a good enough box to put him in. His classic style of pop songwriting has had a renaissance recently; witness the recent success of the likes of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games, Adele’s Someone Like You and Jake Bugg’s number 1 album in the UK. It’s this old fashioned school of composition that Odell comes from, plus there’s an honesty and openness to his lyrics that deal with his own (often sad) real life experiences.

It’s not quite clear yet if he’s going to end up being the piano version of Ed Sheeran, a more emotionally charged indie-folk-rock version of Jamie Cullum or find himself worshipped by fans of Coldplay who wish that Chris Martin would just go off and do that intimate intense ivories solo album that you just know he wants to do, but with Lily Allen (now Lily Rose Cooper) backing him with her new label he has some financial weight to take him where he wants to go.

Odell is supporting the aforementioned Jake Bugg and The Mystery Jets this month, but it surely won’t be long before he’s playing shows that leave his own fans breathless. 2013 looks bright for Tom Odell.

Tom Odell - Another Love (Video)

Tom Odell - Sense (Demo)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #5 Chasing Grace

Imagine Slow Club jamming with Ben Howard. Then imagine that they decided to cover Be Careful by R Kelly & Sparkle. Now you don’t need to imagine any longer. For it’s time to welcome today’s One to Watch for 2013.

Until just a few days ago this duo was called Saving Grace. Then they announced via their Facebook page that changes were occurring. “So we had to change our name today, due to the fact that we weren't the only Saving Grace in town! But after a lot of thought, we came up with a name we like just as much, and hope you do to!”

So say hello to Chasing Grace, a very new act who (we suspect) you’re unlikely to see on any Ones to Watch 2013 list except this one. Not because they’re not good, but because it's still very early days for this young duo. Chasing Grace have yet to put out a single (their debut EP Dinner Will Be Served is due for release early next year) and the only material that exists on line are two You Tube covers (one of which is the aforementioned Be Careful) and a stream of a live version of the title track of the EP. They did have a Soundcloud page but that has mysteriously disappeared and as the You Tube songs are still under their old band name account we’re not sure if these will stay on line for much longer – so catch them whilst you can. (30th November update : Sure enough the You Tube account has now been deleted but one of the videos has been uploaded to a new account and streams below, although the audio of Dinner Will Be Served remains absent for now)

Chasing Grace consist of 19 year-old Philip Plested and 17 year-old Grace Ackerman. Their music consists of boy-girl vocals and simple acoustic guitars. They’re only just getting going, so why not embrace the new and jump on board with them early.

If there’s one act in this series that is more likely to appear on other Ones To Watch type lists at the end of next year (rather like when Marina & The Diamonds and Clare Maguire appeared on the Breaking More Waves Ones To Watch list a year before they appeared on the BBC Sound of List) it's Chasing Grace. Or by then they may have given up and moved on to pastures new. Let’s keep an eye and ear on how they do.

Chasing Grace - Dinner Will Be Served (Live version - Audio Stream Only)

Chasing Grace - Be Careful

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #4 Savages

Savages are a four piece from London consisting of Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier - previously a member of alternative lo-fi indie outfit John & Jehn), Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton. They create music rammed full of art-cool passion, intense energy and a dark old-school indie punk sensibility. The group have so far released their debut single Husbands / Flying To Berlin and followed it up with a 12” live EP. They’ve also found themselves the stars of a recent episode of live music TV show Later With Jools on BBC2.

Savages are hardly likely to be fighting off Katy Perry or Calvin Harris for no.1 spot in the pop charts, but it’s in the live arena that they command. “Our intention is to create a sound, indestructible and musically solid, written for the stage designed with enough nuances to provide a wide range of emotions,” they state on their website. With a mixture of caustic shrieking and dagger vocals lead singer Jehnny provides the focus for the bands intense stage presence. Combine that with Savages snarling, ears bleeding, wall of sound guitar work and their stated vision is pretty much achieved already. The question now is can Savages transform the momentum of their live shows (they're certainly one of the most thrilling new UK guitar bands out there) into something longer lasting once the adrenalin fades? Or in a years time will we have a slightly average and underwhelming album that doesn't transfer the urgency of the gigs? This will be the bands biggest challenge in 2013.

Savages - Live From The Shacklewell Arms

Savages - Flying To Berlin

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #3 Gabrielle Aplin

It’s not often that Breaking More Waves gets the chance to say that an artist that we’ve been supporting for the last year and a half on the blog could have the possibility of a number 1 single or even an outside chance of the Christmas number 1, but Gabrielle Aplin, a 20 year old singer songwriter from the Bath area is just that.

In a way watching or listening to Gabrielle cover Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power Of Love (one of the best Christmas singles ever that isn’t specifically about Christmas) is observing things come full circle, because it was some of Aplin’s early cover versions uploaded to You Tube that helped her develop a fan base in the first place. Of course there are hundreds of artists attempting the webcam-bedroom-cover route of exposure but there are two simple reasons why Aplin rose elegantly above the competition. First, her voice. It has a warmth, maturity and gentle softness that cossets the ears. Second, she also has the ability to pen a more than fair tune herself.

Aplin is yet another rising star that shows the new model for some record labels. With less spare cash to throw around majors have become more risk averse and are therefore less willing to stump up money for development deals. Instead these labels prefer an artist like Aplin (Ed Sheeran is another example) who has done much of the ground work herself. Her first three EP’s (all self-released) have sold more than 60,000 copies, she runs her own active Facebook and Twitter accounts and engages with her fans on a much more natural and personal level than any PR guru run social media account could. It was therefore no surprise to find out last year that Gabrielle Aplin had inked a deal with a major label.

Her debut single, her own composition, for Parlophone was due to be Please Don’t Say You Love Me (watch here) but since then plans have changed. Her cover of The Power Of Love has now been announced as the song to soundtrack the John Lewis Christmas advert and Please Don’t Say You Love Me has been put back till next year.  If the UK has to have another cover version for a Christmas number one, we’d like it to be this.

What 2013 will bring for Gabrielle Aplin remains to be seen. There will be an album for sure and that means more alluring songs. But there's also a danger that she could end up being perceived as just 'that girl that did the Frankie cover'. We hope not, as there's a deeper strength in her own material. For these reasons she has to be One to Watch for 2013.

Gabrielle Aplin - The Power Of Love (Video)

Gabrielle Aplin - Let Me In

Friday, 9 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #2 Haim

Haim are three sisters Danielle, Alana and Este from San Fernando Valley, USA and grew up playing classic rock songs in their family band Rockinhaim. But it was when they dropped mum and dad, set out on their own and played this year’s South by South West festival that they really began to fly.

Fast forward a couple of months and the bands cheeky charisma, geeky coolness and harmonised melodic pop charms were one of the thrilling highlights at the 2012 Great Escape Festival in Brighton. Based on that sweaty, powerful, fun, down to underwear, lowdown and dirty performance the band made their first appearance on the blog in May (here).

Haim’s music forms a three way triangle between rock, r’n’b and pop. Imagine the raw adrenalin of The White Stripes, the song craft of Fleetwood Mac and the potential pop of Wilson Phillips. Add to that an infectious energy for performance, engaging banter on stage and the ability to swap instruments and vocal duties with ease and you have a band that manage to make something very fresh from a bunch of reference points from the cobwebbed past.

With a record deal signed in June (celebrating with a gig in London where mum and dad joined them on stage), some small scale UK headline shows planned for later this month and some massive arena concerts supporting Florence and the Machine  (remember when she was one of our Ones To Watch back in 2008?) Haim are going to be picking up plenty more fans before the year is out. 2013 is theirs for the taking. No question. If you haven't watched the video for Forever (one of our favourite songs of 2012) it gives you a great idea of the band.

Haim - Forever (Video)

Haim - Forever (Dan Lissvik Remix)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013 - #1 Chvrches

Breaking More Waves first One to Watch for 2013 should come as absolutely no surprise to regular readers of this blog. Chvrches tick every box in our thumbs up checklist. Not that love of music should simply be a box ticking checklist. There has to be more than this. Sometimes the band might have the right sound, the right look, the right attitude and yet that indefinable something , let’s call it soul for want of a better word, is missing.

This Glasgow based electronic pop trio have that indefinable something.

Ever since their debut song Lies – a mix of Gary Numan style computerisations and Fix Up Look Sharp beats - first slammed its way into our ears via the still-on-it boutique pop label Neon Gold under the name Churches we were hooked. (See our original post from May of this year here which followed a day or so after Neon Gold’s). Its synth driven beauty was muscular, rougher and dirtier around the edges than a lot of current electropop; it was the metaphoric sound of someone having unbridled sex straddled over a keyboard. 

A few months later and the blogs went even more ga-ga orgasmic as the band replaced the ‘u’ with ‘v’ and delivered the infectious The Mother We Share, an altogether different work that found comparisons with the likes of Purity Ring and The Knife.

So the buzz / hype had kicked in. Which is all well and good, but if the band doesn’t possess enough decent material and the right attitude to deal with it, they’ll soon be drowned out.

Thankfully it seems that Chvrches have both. Iain Cook, Lauren Mayberry and Martin Doherty, the three members of this collective, have all been in other bands. So they are not naïve to the music industry and its workings. Plus the reports from early shows this year (they performed their first gig under the name Shark Week) have been 100% complimentary. Likewise the songs they've been performing on a Radio 1 session this week, including the magical We Sink (featuring male rather than their normal lead female vocals) and the electroclash pulses of Science & Vision sound impossibly good. So we absolutely believe Chvrches are more than capable of riding this wave.

Let’s sing the praises of these new dirty angels of modern synthpop. It’s why we’re listing them at number 1. Heaven isn’t just found in the house of god. 

Chvrches - Lies (Video)

Churches - The Mother We Share

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ones to Watch 2013

For the next 15 days Breaking More Waves will be revealing its annual Ones to Watch list. The 2013 list, for the most part, represents a summary of some of the artists that we’ve written about over the last 12-18 months who we are predicting will step up their game further in 2013, alongside a few that we’ve yet to feature. All of the artists are what we would largely define as new artists in so far as they have yet to bother the UK top 40 singles and have yet to release an album.

Over the next couple of months magazines, websites and blogs will be deluging you with these lists as if new music only appears in a slot between November and January every year. Yet we all know that this is not the case. It’s why our list brings together much of what we’ve been writing about in the past and pushes it towards the future. It’s also why we’re going early with our list – we want to give you our vision and ensure we’re not influenced by others that will come (including the BBC Sound of 2013 and a poll that we help run - the UK music bloggers alternate take – the Blog Sound of 2013).

As in previous years of producing this Ones to Watch list the artists chosen reflect the output of the blog and its musical preferences, although in keeping with 2011 the expansion of the list from 10 to 15 gives us the opportunity to cast our musical net a little wider.

Forming any sort of ‘tips’ list is ultimately just a guessing game. Anybody in pop music who thinks they can accurately tell who is going to succeed either artistically, creatively, critically or commercially is a fool ; but we’re keen to show our foolishness.

We’ll be introducing the first of our 15 Ones to Watch 2013 tomorrow at 8.30am GMT on the blog and then one each day at the same time for the following fourteen days. Until then, let’s take a look back at our previous predictions. Some hits. Some misses. As you’d expect really.

Ones To Watch 2009

La Roux, Little Boots, Passion Pit, Yes Giantess, White Lies, Skint & Demoralised, Alessi’s Ark, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons, Marina & The Diamonds

Ones To Watch 2010

Ellie Goulding, Hurts, Beth Jeans Houghton, Unicorn Kid, Delphic, Clare Maguire, Stornoway, Mirrors, Holly Miranda, Clock Opera

Ones To Watch 2011

Clare Maguire (2nd nomination after failing to release anything in 2010), James Blake, Misty Miller, The Vaccines, Starsmith, Let’s Buy Happiness, The Milk, D/R/U/G/S, Visions Of Trees, Spark

Ones To Watch 2012 (Expanded from 10 to 15 artists)

Lucy Rose, Spector, Alabama Shakes, Foxes, Dot Rotten, Lianne La Havas, Lana Del Rey, Willy Moon, Michael Kiwanuka, Queen Of Hearts, The Staves, Ren Harvieu, Outfit, Charli XCX, Rachel Sermanni

Here’s one of those artists from last year’s list. Miss Del Rey had a pretty good year didn’t she? There’s more of her to come on Breaking More Waves in December.

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die (Monsieur Adi Remix)