Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Amy Holford - New Waves

Amy Holford is a truly exceptional singer; if you haven’t heard her yet prepare to be seduced and stunned. She first came to our attention in 2012 but somehow slipped off our radar (yes we hang our head in shame there – music blogger fail) until a few weeks ago, when quite possibly the tallest blogger in the UK, Neil from Music Like Dirt posted a track that she’d recorded (I Won’t Wait – streaming below) for BBC Introducing Newcastle after having seen her live in London at the Camden Barfly. “It brought to mind seeing a lowly billed Adele at The Luminaire in 2006, not to suggest Amy is the next Adele but just in the disconnect between the sound you imagine will come from the girl with a guitar on stage and the beauty (and power) that follows,” Neil reported. He’s dead right.

For Amy’s voice is the full of the stuff primed to stop you dead in your tracks. It’s soulful, oozing with depth, utterly composed and achingly gorgeous. It almost seems astounding that she’s not already having huge selling LP’s. In fact as yet she hasn’t even released a single, but with a talent like this there’s no need to rush things. The best music lasts forever. Patience will be rewarded.

Having quit university to concentrate on her songs Amy has already racked up supports with the likes of Willy Mason, Lucy Rose, Jake Bugg and Newton Faulkner and has now moved to London. Having impressed one of our blog peer group a few weeks ago we’re pretty sure that it won’t be long before Amy’s magic casts itself even wider. Is it too early to start suggesting she’s One to Watch for 2014? Go on then. Simon Cowell would kill for someone like this. Keep your evil hands off Simon.

Amy Holford - I Won't Wait (Live In Session for BBC Introducing Newcastle)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Die Mason Die - New Waves

Yesterday Generator North East tweeted some sound bites from the Chase Park Festival Artist Masterclass that caught our eye. “Blogs took the power away from traditional press, but many post too quickly to get more hits. Find bloggers whose taste you trust,” was one in particular that got us thinking.

We believe that’s a reasonably valid point. But what is posting too quickly? 1 listen to a song? 10 listens? 100? Breaking More Waves is not a blog that particularly posts that quickly, although there have been a number of times when we’ve been ‘the first to post.’  For example later today on the Guardian’s New Band of the Day, journalist Paul Lester will feature the synth pop goodness of Pawws. She’s an artist that has recently been squirreling her way up the Hype Machine charts. Yet we originally featured her last October, before the blog buzz started this year. When we first came across Pawws it took just one listen for us to absolutely know that we were going to post about her. Sometimes love hits you instantly. So we’re not sure if posting quickly is a bad thing – sometimes you just know intuitively that a song is great. Or our inflated ego likes to think we do anyway.

Today we’re introducing a band that has been on our radar for a matter of days. Like Pawws the first time we pressed play we knew their sound was good. Nothing over the time period that followed has changed that viewpoint.

So let’s welcome Die Mason Die (a terrible name we admit, it sounds like a metal band), a group who were pitched to us as folk, but we’d say that’s not really the case with their new single. For on current release You’re Lonely Die Mason Die compress the likes of ethereal ambience, stadium rock and ghostly folk into something that is serenely beautiful and epic. Imagine The National produced by James Blake or Coldplay doing tranquilisers. Or just imagine good music.

Die Mason Die centres around the Welsh born, Australian raised Samuel Mason who now lives in London. The band also consists of Stefan Ferguson (guitar and vox), George Cramer (bass) and Dave Wade Brown (drums). They released the Tongues In The Clamp EP last year and You’re Lonely will be the follow up released on the 9th September through Young & Lost Club who have previously released the likes of early singles by Everything Everything, Fear Of Flying (who went on to be White Lies) and Bastille.

Take a listen, take 10 even take 100, but however many you take we hope you come to the same conclusion we did on our first listen; that this is wonderful.

Die Mason Die - You're Lonely

Monday, 29 July 2013

Haim - The Wire

Haim seem to confuse quite a few people. It’s easy to understand why. Their live shows, which include Este’s gymnastic bass face (proving that it’s not only drummers that do sex faces when playing music), flirting with the audience and jam session moments certainly have more kick and punch than their studio work, but that’s fine with us; after all who wants to go and see a band live and it’s just like listening to the record? (OK in terms of just the sound we’ll admit there are exceptions, but those exceptions always add something else to the experience to make it worthwhile. Example = Kraftwerk.)

With new song The Wire (unfortunately not a tribute to Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers) our approach to listening is different. By now most Haim fans have had an opportunity to see the three sisters play live at either a festival or their own show or if not via the multitude of You Tube clips out there. So with this track we’re comparing the live version that most of us know with the studio version rather than vice versa.

The recorded form is a taught little beast, but pretty much how we would imagine it. The vocals and harmonies are locked in perfectly, the music slick, but still holding onto the essence of the live version. It’s probably not as instantly pop as Forever although it does have the same break down at about two and a half minutes in where the vocals chant ‘always keep your heart locked tight’ and the guitars strut in sexily like they’re auditioning for a part in the introduction to Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor.

The most interesting thing with Haim now (from our own UK perspective) will  be how this song does on national radio and in the UK charts. Having now been through the hype mill and having done all the groundwork, this is where we get to find out if all translates into sales. 

Haim - The Wire

Flow Festival 2013 - Preview

So far in 2013 Breaking More Waves has been previewing and reviewing UK festivals. However, come August we’ll be putting the blog on hold for a few weeks whilst we take our summer holidays. Of course our holidays wouldn’t be complete without some music and so from the 7th-11th August you’ll find us in Helsinki, Finland for our second ever visit to Flow Festival.

The organisers of Flow describe it as both ‘a mental and physical state of being, where feeling flows collectively through music into a larger entity.’ Wow and there we were thinking it was just a bunch of bands playing some tunes.

Flow Festival is located at the historic Suvilhati ex-power plant area in Helsinki. This is very much an urban festival; the landscape here is one of concrete, metal and masonry. Tall chimneys rise up behind the stages and huge cylindrical gas towers form an industrial landscape that is almost apocalyptic in nature. Those looking for the hippy spirit of the healing fields at Glastonbury won’t find it at Flow, although 25% of the energy at the festival is produced with renewable energy and one stage (the Black Tent) will run 100% on wind power. There’s also a strong recycling policy on site and Flow is easily the cleanest festival we’ve ever attended – quite simply the Finns don’t drop their litter.

The tenth edition of the festival features a range of artists from both the Finnish and international scenes. Amongst the international acts scheduled to play are Kraftwerk with their absorbing 3D show, Grimes, My Bloody Valentine, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Alicia Keys, AlunaGeorge (their debut LP Body Music is released today and we’re streaming the track Best Be Believing from it below), Haim, Kate Boy, Disclosure, Mount Kimbie, The Knife, Cat Power, Kendrick Lamar, Austra, Of Monster And Men, Azealia Banks, Beach House, Factory Floor and Hudson Mohawke. Finnish acts playing that may be known to worldwide music fans include the rather excellent Rubik, K-X-P and Black Lizard.

Besides the music Flow also utilises its dramatic setting with interesting spaces and lighting plus quality food and drink. For example Flow is probably the only festival we’ll attend this year that has a large Champagne bar and amongst its food choices there is organic black bean soup with tomato and avocado salsa and half a grilled lobster and charmoula. A greasy burger with onions at Reading festival Flow is certainly not. It’s why you’ll find us there. Keep an eye out for our review shortly after Flow finishes, but in the meantime catch a couple of really short teaser videos of the festival below.

AlunaGeorge - Best Be Believing

Flow Festival Teaser Video 1

Flow Festival 2013 Teaser from FLOW FESTIVAL on Vimeo.

Flow Festival Teaser Video 2

Flow Festival 2013 Teaser #2 from FLOW FESTIVAL on Vimeo.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ellie Goulding - Burn (Maths Time Joy Remix)

A while ago we wondered (and you may have as well) what all these new non-Halcyon LP Ellie Goulding tracks that kept springing up on line were about. It transpired the answer was Halcyon Days, one of those repackaged rereleased album things (released Aug 26th) that major labels like to do to greedily grab even more of hardcore fans cash. Is that fair? Are fans being exploited? That’s a debate for another day (one that we’ve actually tried writing and after 2000 words and tying ourselves up in endless knots we gave up on – maybe another time).

To give Ellie’s label credit this one looks pretty decent value – it’s not just two or three dodgy remixes bolted on to the end of the original album (see the full tracklisting here). It will of course include new single Burn (which for some reason never featured on Breaking More Waves so we’re posting it now). It will not however include this remix of said song which is actually a shame because it’s actually rather lovely (we prefer its calmness to the original) and the remixer (Maths Time Joy who is one Timothy James Worthington from Kent in the UK) could probably do with the money from the LP sales a lot more than Ellie could these days. After all we’re reliably informed she’s sold 10 million singles and 3 million albums. Seems that when we named her as One to Watch back in 2009 and asked “will the cool pop indie / blog buzz model work for Ellie or will it be a case of hype over content and a commercial failure?” our concerns were unfounded. The model worked. Why? The answer to that one is simple. Good songs, hard work and a little bit of luck.

Footnote and further question: That promotional photo above. It’s not the best is it? My Drug Hell by Ellie Goulding – we can imagine it being used by the tabloid press for such purposes.

Ellie Goulding - Burn (Maths Time Joy Remix)

Ellie Goulding - Burn (Video)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Camp Bestival 2013 - Preview

Go to Camp Bestival’s website and the first thing you’ll notice is that there’s nothing about the festival’s music headliners. Instead you’ll find pictures of medieval jousting, fireworks over a castle, tots TV entertainer Mr tumble and kids making giant bubbles.

For Camp Bestival isn’t your typical music festival. 

Of course there are bands there, from the likes of newer acts such as Breaking More Waves favourites London Grammar, Gabrielle Aplin, Skinny Lister and Valerie June to older stagers such as Richard Hawley, The Levellers and Heaven 17, but Camp Bestival has established itself as a well-loved mid-sized festival  by marketing itself to families.

Many festivals make a token gesture at accommodating families, but usually the entertainment for children is tucked away on one small part of the site. At Camp Bestival everyone is treated equally. For example the Upper and Lowers Kid’s Gardens, set right next to Lulworth Castle, take up nearly half the floor space of the festival. However Camp Bestival doesn’t fully separate out adult and kids entertainment, with some of children’s acts appearing on the main stage in the morning before the bands start. 

So what can you expect besides the live music ? There's the likes of Horrible Histories, Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, a summer panto of Alice In Wonderland, Wall of Death Motorbikes, kids theatre, the insect circus, crazy golf, bike and play areas, 360 cinema shows, puppetry, big wheels, maypole dancing, falconry, science tents and much much more. There are poets authors and talks from the likes of Eddie (The Eagle) Edwards on ‘How To Fly’, Jo Whiley on ‘How To Present’ and Charlie Brooks on ‘How To Play A Baddie’ (Interviewed by Sara Cox). There’s also the return of the fabulous Young British Foodies tent (last year we discovered Maramalade Vodka there……mmmmmm) and the lovely Women’s Institute Tea Tent. Add in a bunch of DJ’s such as Grandmaster Flash, Sasha, Fabio & Groovrider, John Kennedy, kids TV favourites Dick & Dom and our very own Sunday Best Forum Allstars (a bunch of DJ’s who we group together who have mainly never DJ’d in their life before, selected from an on line audition) and what you have is a festival where anyone from age 1 to 80 can find something to enjoy.

Oh, and the music ? How about a band recreating Daft Punk's Discovery live, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, Clean Bandit, Labrinth, Billy Bragg, Ash, Mark Owen from Take That, Lissie, The Polyphonic Spree and many more including those mentioned near the start of this preview.

It's also not just about being entertained sonically, but with the eyes as well; Camp Bestival prides itself on its site dressing and visual aesthetic, it’s like a cross between fairyland and a warped village fete.

Of course for those who want to get off their faces and party till 4 in the morning Camp Bestival really isn’t going to be suitable (bigger brother Bestival on the Isle of Wight is more suited to that), but for those who either want something a little easier going or have grown up partying at festivals, now have children, but still want to experience the thrill, the beauty and happiness of a music festival in an environment with all of their family, Camp Bestival comes more than highly recommended.

We’ll be bringing a full review of Camp Bestival 2013, which takes place on the 1-4 August 2013 very soon after the festival is over. If you fancy joining the fun you can grab tickets here.

Here are 3 of our must see acts at Camp Bestival 2013 (including the brand new video from London Grammar, released today)

London Grammar - Strong (Video)

Gabrielle Aplin - Home (Video)

Lewis Watson - Into The Wild (Video)

Clarence Clarity - New Waves

Welcome to the weird electronic circus freak zone of Clarence Clarity, a producer (at least we assume it’s one person) who seems to be named after that meme (click here if you don’t know what we’re talking about) and appears to be big on religion referencing titles. 

Despite some google detective work we know very little about Mr Clarity. Here’s what we do know…

1. He released his debut track 4GODSLUV late last year to the internet – an intense, lurching piece of sample based electronica that made us wonder if Jai Paul had got a bit dirty whilst acting under a different name.

2. Earlier this month a further track followed. The Gospel Truth is even odder than 4GODSLUV. Yet underneath the disturbing child-like cartoon vocals, gnarly noise, lead heavy bass and video game effects there’s a hooky pop chorus waiting to be discovered. This is probably very wrong to admit but we can imagine doing some very sexy dancing to this track.

3. Put the two tracks together and what you have is something unnaturally brilliant, messily inventive and likely to make your parents shake their heads in disdain and mutter ‘that’s not music’. If they do, just remember; THEY KNOW NOTHING AND ARE WRONG. It’s their job as parents to be so.

4. We have no idea who Clarence Clarity is, but we really don’t care when he’s banging out bubblegunk tunes like this.

5. The video for The Gospel Truth (here) continues the attempts to queer you out; lip-synching skulls, NSFW boobs, distorted family portraits and gun toting masked Halloween scaries all feature. Its low budget appearance displays a wealth of imagination.

The debut EP, entitled Save †Hyself (more religious titling) will be released through 37 Adventures on September 17th and will feature 4 tracks, The Wow (which is just over a minute long), Alive In The Septic Tank, The Crux and The Gospel Truth (streaming below). Pre-order it here.

Clarence Clarity - The Gospel Truth

Clarence Clarity - 4GODSLUV (Video)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

JJ Rosa - New Waves

If we were to time travel to the past and take a roll call of all the artists we’ve written about at an early stage in their career there would be some that have gone on to achieve mainstream attention and / or commercial success such as Ellie Goulding, Mumford & Sons, Florence & The Machine and more recently the likes of Haim and Chvrches. However there are many others that would elicit the question of ‘whatever happened to them?’

Past ‘New Wave’ stars The Jessie Rose Trip is one such band. They came onto our radar in January 2009, we posted about them once and then they fell off it again. In terms of the name you could argue that The Jessie Rose Trip was ahead of its time. After all it wouldn’t be long before the likes of Jessie J and Jessie Ware were doing it for the Jessies.

Which brings us neatly to JJ Rosa who is in fact one Jessica Rose Hancock; yes, her out of The Jessie Rose Trip, with a new identity alongside former Rose Trip sticksman Jimmy Wood and Marky Lewis on bass.

The group have taken the unusual step of making their free to download debut EP a live gig recording, but on just one listen it’s easy to see why. With a ballsy mix of pop, rock and soul JJ Rosa is no half-baked band learning their way; they sound fully formed. We can imagine them sitting right at home on Later… With Jools Holland. There’s big 80’s influenced rock out riffs, classic hot under the collar tunes and Jessica’s flawless vocal, which has a hint of the Paloma Faith’s about it. You can hear Live At The Deaf Institute recorded in her home city of Manchester here. There’s also another song - Cry Out (a demo) - on line which Jessica has explained is about the struggle of getting your opinions heard as an artist but being supported by the ones you love. This one’s less meaty and more electronic based with a softer sheen, the guitars caged in the background. It shows that away from the live EP the band have some versatility as well. It’s an impressive start. Let’s hope it’s not another 4 and a half years before we feature Jessica again.

JJ Rosa - Cry Out (Demo)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Latitude 2013 - Review

If we were to use two words to describe Latitude festival they would be civilised and tasteful. Even those who have had a little too much to drink are more likely to be found supping them from aesthetically pleasing eco-cups patterned with butterflies and flowers, whilst swaying gently to the likes of Beach House, Daughter or James Blake than they are staggering and barging their way through the crowds with a can of extra strength cider in hand. And if there is any barging or bumping to be done it will probably be with a very polite apology.

Latitude is the kind of festival where it feels perfectly acceptable to drink a latte whilst watching Tim Burgess or the Cat Power. However if this sounds like a criticism, as if a festival can only be great if it has rock n roll excess and debauchery, then think again. For Latitude is very much a festival of the modern era and that means taking home a wealth of cultural experience rather than a hangover and an STD. Its strapline is ‘more than just a music festival’ and with a focus on contemporary arts across the spectrum from cinema, theatre, comedy, poetry and literature that tag is very true.

Let’s define Latitude with this comparison: If Latitude was a newspaper it would most definitely be a broadsheet. If it were a radio station it would be 45% BBC 6 Music 25% Radio 4 20% Radio 1 10% Radio 2 and 0% Capital. But it’s not, it’s a music festival and it’s a wonderful one at that.

Here is our review of Latitude 2013 or rather, 10 things we learnt at Latitude….

10 Things We Learnt At Latitude

1. It’s possible to mosh to electronic pop music.

Take back everything we said about Latitude being civilised. Scottish synth pop sensations Chvrches late afternoon set at the beautiful i-Arena (a stage set under an aesthetically pleasing architectural canopy in the woods) found a rather fervent audience creating a circle pit and moshing like some warped version of Reading and Leeds without guitars. With pulses and echoes of Giorgio Moroder, Prince, Human League and Purity Ring in their sound (depending on which song was played) bodies became quickly lubricated with euphoric electronic joy. We make no bones about it; Chvrches are the best pop band of the last five years.

2. A civilised festival includes civilised toilets.

Surely the award for best festival toilets of the year has to go to Latitude. By taking standard portaloo and long drop lavs, along with male and female urinals, placing attendants at each toilet block (who regularly cleaned them and stocked them with toilet paper), dividing them into male and female sections and at the busier toilet blocks having separate entrance and exit points, queues were minimised and fast moving and the loos themselves were impressively clean compared to other festivals.

3. A full stop is more powerful than a question mark. Or is it?

Thanks to poet Rob Auton for that thought in the poetry tent.

4. If you’ve ever been accused of being a one dimensional band then give people a three dimensional show.

By now pretty much everyone knows the criticisms of Kraftwerk live. “It’s just 4 blokes standing behind neon lit workstations doing nothing – they’re probably checking their emails.” “Electronic music isn’t real music.” “It’s all just on tape and not live.”

But just for a moment cast those criticisms aside. Instead imagine a gig experience (and it really was an experience) that is totally immersive, where stunning and astonishing visuals float out from the stage in perfect synchronisation with the bands beautiful rhythms, simple melodies and textured electronics. For this is the world of Kraftwerk, a band who create something more than just a gig, something truly unique and something that is not without humour either, even down to the sight of 20,000-30,000 people standing in a field wearing white cardboard 3D glasses.

5. There are probably not many music festivals where you can watch a play in the woods about a dead cat in a plastic bag.

This actually happened.

6. Bloc Party have some new songs.

Listening and watching Bloc Party’s headline set on Friday night reminded us just how good an album Silent Alarm is. The band also did the classic festival no-no and played some unreleased new songs. Someone needs to have a word with the band and suggest that maybe they should remain so. Maybe a re-release of Silent Alarm would be better.

7. The best film about music you’ve probably never seen is called Svengali.

Camping out in the film tent on Friday morning was the best decision we made all weekend. Starring Vicky McClure, Jonny Owen, Katy Brand, Martin Freeman and with the likes of Alan McGee, Huw Stephens and Carl Barat all playing themselves, Svengali is a film full of romance, comedy and emotion. It’s about following your dreams and having absolute belief in music you adore. If you’ve ever heard a new band, fallen in love with them and thought the world needs to know about this, then this film is for you, but more importantly it’s also about how sometimes even music isn’t the most important thing. Set in London and Wales with a cracking British soundtrack, Svengali is funny, but also seeped with melancholy and may even bring a tear or two. So far it has just shown at festivals but there is hope that it may get a wider distribution later this year. If it does, go and see it. The best British film about the music industry you’ll ever see.

8. Queen are the Matalan Led Zeppelin.

According to DJ, journalist, critic and TV pundit Stuart Maconie, who provided a very engaging and humorous hour of chat in the Literature tent, that also included why fell walking wasn’t hip at the NME in the 90’s and why The Smiths were the North’s  answer to Thatcherism but the South’s was Spandau Ballet. He certainly had a point when he said that the north probably got that one right.

9. Harps are the new rock n roll. (In a civilised Latitude way.)

In quick succession we saw Laura Mvula, Georgia Ruth and Coco Rosie. All were excellent and all were all bound by some plucking of the harp. Maybe the industry can start proclaiming ‘harp music is back,’ it would make a change from the usual proclamations that guitar music is back that we seem to get at the start of every year.

10. Even rain at Latitude is very civilised. 

The majority of the weekend was full of summer sun, with the stages in the shady woods being a particular haven, particularly when we caught Sohn's set (track streaming below), where musical chills were added through goosebumps from his haunting electronic music. Yet even when it did try to rain on Saturday it was really nothing more than wet air. It was difficult to tell if we were watching clouds of dust rise from the dry land or rain fall from the sky. We didn't even need to put a mac on, let alone wellies.

Sohn - Bloodflows

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Gabrielle Aplin - Start Again

UK teen drama Skins may have received criticism over the years for being somewhat unrealistic (but then frankly who wants realism – watching a real spotty teenager updating Facebook and watching You Tube videos in their bedroom doesn’t make compulsive television viewing) and having stereotyped characters but it was to a certain degree innovative and set a direction for similar shows. In years to come we suspect it may be remembered fondly and be seen as defining a certain generation of youth TV viewing. Certainly a number of the shows stars have gone on to bigger and better things, notably Dev Patel for the award winning Slumdog Millionaire and Kaya Scodelario who has appeared in numerous films.

A key component of Skins was / is the soundtrack. The Gossip probably owe quite a bit to the programme for an increased UK audience for example.

As the final episodes air we now find established or semi established artists premiering their tunes via the show and Gabrielle Aplin is one such example. Not content with releasing a rerecorded version of the song Home as a single and getting Salvation (our favourite song from her debut album) on the trailer for the movie Diana, last night a new track Start Again got the Skins treatment and was then uploaded to the internet. Yes, it’s a little beauty full of soft guitars, Gabrielle's intimate soft vocal and piano tinkles and you can hear it stream below.

Gabrielle Aplin - Start Again (You Tube Stream)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Polarsets - Just Don't Open Your Eyes Yet

Newcastle’s Polarsets were all over Breaking More Waves in 2011 with songs like Morning, Leave Argentina and the cowbell banging Sunset. Soon they’ll be all over your TV (in the UK anyway), as another song we’ve featured - Sunshine Eyes - gets used on a advert. But enough of the past, because we’re all about the new shiny future and Polarsets return with Just Don’t Open Your Eyes Yet, a hear it once and you’ll know it synthy summery jam. It pretty much does what every other Polarsets tune does; gets your body dancing as if someone has wrongly wired your insides. It’s probably worth having a shower with the cold tap turned to maximum nearby because you’ll probably need a cool down after this one. 

Polarsets - Just Don't Open Your Eyes Yet

Friday, 19 July 2013

Some More Random Viewpoints On Streaming And Fairness To Artists

Two days ago we joined the debate around Spotify and Thom Yorke removing his music from the service. One comment left on the post was from a musician who stated that “I just personally think it's disappointing that something that gives all our lives so much joy and worth is deemed to be worthless by some in comparison to record labels and a business. Nobody is crying about not getting paid enough, just that it isn't fair in a comparison to the cut the bigger cats are taking.” It’s a good point and it got us thinking. If the amounts that new and entry level musicians in particular are receiving from Spotify are unfair, what is fair?

In a completely unscientific piece of research we canvassed artists and consumers that we know as well as a few of our twitter followers. Could we put a value to what was a fair price for streaming? The answer was a categoric no.

As we discussed the issue it became apparent there’s a very wide range of views on what is fair, what people are prepared to pay, what and how they think artists should be paid and what value people place on streaming.

However there were a few minor consistencies and so we’re posting them here for anyone who’s interested. 

Here’s what we found:

1. There’s a difference between what artists think is a fair price and what consumers think is a fair price for what should be paid to an artist from a streaming service and what companies should receive. Interestingly a number of artists gave us prices of what they thought they should be paid from streaming that are higher than possibly any artist has ever had in terms of royalties from physical sales!

2. There was a big lack of knowledge and misinformation around about Spotify. A lot of people think Spotify is making huge profits, whilst actually it has reported a loss the last few years and its licensing costs are heavy - the company pays 70% of its revenues in licensing fees and as this article suggests, its business model is still unproven.

3. There’s a lot of punters who think that streaming should be free, particularly amongst the younger people we spoke to. 

4. There’s a fairly sizeable pool of consumers out there who loathe streaming. Interestingly the vast majority are what we’d consider passionate music fans. Yet when we asked what they didn’t like about streaming it had nothing to do with the sound quality or the music itself, but the fact that they didn’t own it or it wasn’t something physical. Yet ultimately music is a sound  but it seems that for many music fans it’s not just about the sound, it’s about ownership, about the thrill of a purchase, the touch and the design of the packaging / artwork. Only two people we spoke to (both artists themselves) said they bought physical rather than streamed because they felt they were supporting the artist more.

5. There’s also a pretty big group of people (and Breaking More Waves falls into this category) that like streaming, but also buy MP3’s and physical product. A lot of these people like the convenience of streaming but also like the better sound quality of physical products and  often use streaming to decide what they’re going to buy physically.

6. It's not all about new artists. Many people love Spotify because they can investigate back catalogue cheaply. For example one Breaking More Waves reader told us that he's never listened to The Fall but because of Spotify had been able to investigate them and realise they weren't for him, saving him money in buying albums he's never play again.

What do you think of streaming? And what sort of payments do you think artists should receive? What is fair? Should artists on Spotify accept that its a growing business model and if they want it to succeed and ultimately pay them more they also have to 'invest' and accept that in the early years payments will be low?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Summer Camp - Fresh

Now all the hype surrounding Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories has settled down we think it’s about time that we went on record and said that we think it’s rather glorious. It’s a record that seems to break so many rules about what people expected of Daft Punk, destroys the notion that it’s not possible to make big expensive sounding pop records any more (Thom Yorke take note with regards to your recent comments concerning Dark Side of the Moon and how it couldn’t be created today), is like a love letter to music and in its sound makes us feel incredibly warm and nostalgic. The question now is will any other artists embrace Daft Punk’s love of prog-disco and give us further Saturday night fevers?

First out of the box shouting yes to this is Summer Camp as Jeremy and Elizabeth return with a new single. Fresh sounds as summery as a 99 Flake (that's an ice cream for you non UK types) with a dollop of disco guitar and pop melody on top.  It’s like a low budget indie version of Daft Punk, right down to the promo picture with two helmeted wearing dudes on a motorbike. Nothing will ever beat Pulp’s Do You Remember The First Time for songs about doing exactly that but Fresh does a damn fine job of getting close.

Summer Camp - Fresh

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Some Random Thoughts On The Spotify / Thom Yorke Debate

So Thom Yorke pulls some of his music off Spotify. The Weeknd sample Portishead’s Machine Gun even though Portishead refused consent. The whole ‘what is the value of music’ debate opens up again and quite a few musicians start moaning that it’s not fair that they are having to work for nothing / very little and that good old Thom is right and Spotify isn’t helping new music.

Now let's be clear here, we appreciate it's hard for the majority of artists – the internet has created an overcrowded market place. It’s the simple and basic fact why the vast majority of musicians will earn very little from their music. Anyone who thinks that every new band should be able to buy a new house and a Ferrari off the sale of just a few songs is living in cloud cuckoo land. 

Recording artists are competing in a very large race and there will be very few winners. And just like sport the chances are the winners will be those who work the hardest, have the most ability and by thinking outside of the box put themselves in a position to get those 'lucky' breaks.

Let's talk about this hard work - the work of creating music. It's a selfishly weird type of work, because generally it involves the artist (worker) setting their own agenda in terms of the work (what they create). It’s not the kind of job that the regular guy or girl in the street has where a price / salary are agreed for a defined type of work with a customer or employer before the job starts. The vast majority of independent pop / rock musicians aren’t commissioned to make their music (although the likes of Pledge Music and Kickstarter now enable that model to exist.) Musicians write record and then put it out to the open market.  As such music has no value, unless the open market decides it is worth something and consumers decide to purchase. Yes of course it costs money to record, promote and manufacture but this doesn’t automatically by rights add to the customer's perception of value.

Thom Yorke's decision to remove some of his work from Spotify is hardly a revelation. He's just decided that the rewards from streaming through Spotify aren't adequate against the values he perceives it has as its creator. Of course at the current time Spotify is a relatively small player, with the Guardian reporting that it is operational in 28 Countries with six million paying subscribers – a tiny amount compared with the likes of Amazon, iTunes and You Tube. However, if Spotify gets it right and develops as a business model it may be able to reward the artists it streams with increased income. Of course if artists decide that they are going to follow Yorke’s example, Spotify will quickly plunge to failure.

So back to Mr Yorke and his claims that Spotify isn’t helping new music. Come on Thom what do you really expect? There are thousands of new artists out there. The chances of them all getting millions or even thousands of plays on Spotify (or actual sales of MP3’s or physical format) are very low. This brings us to the key point. What is one play on Spotify actually worth?

Let’s compare. Take for example one play on national radio. One play on Spotify = 1 pair of ears. One play on national radio = maybe 2 million pairs of ears. So as one play on a national radio station such as Radio 2 gets around £60 from PRS payments that equates to approximately 0.00003 pence per listener.  Hardly huge value considering how many people listened to the song and contributed to payment through the licence fee. Yet we don’t see Thom asking for his records not to be played on national radio do we?

So what is the (monetary) value of music? Is Spotify paying too little? Are records and CD’s too expensive or too cheap? Or is the reality simply that there’s too much music out there and only a finite amount of resource for consumers to spend on it?

As we stated at the beginning of this post, it’s an overcrowded market place, the internet and technology enabling anyone to be a musician. Unless someone works out how to control those markets, it’s just going to get busier and busier and there will be less and less money for individual musicians to go round.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Champs - New Waves

This is a new video from Champs. It’s been floating around the internet for a few days now, but our ‘no more than 2 blog posts a day’ rule means that it has had to take a back seat for a while. We apologise for this, but only if you’re the sort of person that demands that you hear everything on the day that it is released because you have to remain ‘relevant’. If like us you’ve still not got round to listening to every David Bowie album (well Tin Machine to be exact) you’ll know that being ‘relevant’ is actually pretty irrelevant in the bigger picture. 

So here’s the video for My Spirit Is Broken plus some things you might like to know about it.

1. The video is (if you live in the currently sweltering UK) perfectly timed as it features the band jumping into swimming pools with their clothes on. Now wouldn’t we all like to do that right now? 

2. We’ve never written about Champs before here. But we have written about Champs before here, on this very ‘sexy’ playlist thing we produced for Skeletory blog.

3. The video for My Spirit Is Broken was filmed in one of the most marvellous towns in the UK – Ventnor, Isle of Wight, a place where time seems to have stood still for the last thirty years and mass commercialisation by the corporates has hardly had any effect at all.

4. Ventnor in the Isle Of Wight is also an incredibly important location because it was the very place where the author of Breaking More Waves was conceived. (Near the top of Zig Zag road for anyone that’s really interested, but probably this is too much information).

5. Champs are playing Bestival this year, which is also on the Isle of Wight.

6. My Spirit Is Broken is one of those simple effective songs that just gets us every time. Classic songwriting, harmonies and a tinge of melancholy, really what’s not to like?

7. You can get the song for free from the bands website (here).We'll repeat again, really what's not to like about that? 

Champs - My Spirit Is Broken (Video)

Monday, 15 July 2013

Chvrches - Gun (Auntie Flo Remix)

We really like the idea of an elderly bespectacled Auntie doing remixes, sitting there in her vintage Macintosh chair with her laptop, banging out some beats, breaks and drops during a break from knitting her nephew a new scarf for the forthcoming winter and making a nice sponge cake for the family.

Unfortunately Auntie Flo is a traitor. For Flo is a man! Surely Trading Standards should be involved here? However, he does wear glasses and for all we know might enjoy a spot of knitting and cake baking after he’s finished his knob twiddling productions. Let's not make assumptions.

Today Chvrches announced a raft of new dates (that’s live shows,  not some sort of endorsement of a new variety of fruit from a palm tree in a bizarre piece of Glasgow based synth-pop food related product endorsement), the details of which can be be found here. In celebration of this Auntie Flo has got to work, not with the knitting needles but with his knobs and buttons. The results are smooth as.

*Footnote - notice the way we managed to succesfully negotiate a whole blog post that included Auntie Flo and never mention Bod? (Younger readers or those lacking in kids TV culture knowledge, if you don't know about Aunt Flo and Bod, that's what Google was invented for; wasting time looking up 1970's kids TV characters just in case you might have to answer a question about one in a pub quiz one day.)

Chvrches - Gun (Auntie Flo remix)

The Hics - New Waves

The Hics, a soothing six piece from London bring downtempo soul, electronica and even an occasional bit of sax to the coffee table. Their sound may be unhurried and languid but it’s rather pleasant (pleasant is an awful word, but when you hear them you'll know what we mean - sometimes pleasant is a good thing) and fans of the likes of James Blake and Jessie Ware could be easily be converted to their gentle ways. If you like your music brash, loud, full of angry snotty guitars and energetic noise we advise you to stay away, but if you want the music equivalent of a thick duvet on a Sunday to wrap yourself up in, press play.

Consisting of Sam Paul Evans, Roxanne B, Jacob Welsh, Matt Knox, Geordan Reid- Campbell and David Turay, the nucleus of the band met at Pimlico Academy and started putting tracks on line sometime around the end of last year. Since then, rather like their music, they’ve been slowly nuzzling themselves up to listening ears and finding a slow growth of love with tracks like the atmospheric Cold Air, the seductive Lines and a remix for disco dolly Ronika. It's Tangle however, the best track they’ve put out so far, that we’re introducing the band with. Featuring male-female co-vocals, slow handclaps and sultry bedroom vibes this song is creamily rich and full of late night mellowness. Shut your eyes and let the sounds stroke you softly.

Tangle will be the band’s debut single proper released on Aug 19th. The Hics play a headline show at Elektrowerkz in Lndon on the 1st August.

The Hics - Tangle

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sampha - Without

Way back in February 2011 Sampha made his first appearance on Breaking More Waves alongside Jessie Ware with a track called Valentine. It’s fascinating to see the trajectory of Jessie since then. These days if she so much as farts into a microphone you can be pretty certain that the internet will implode as websites and blogs rush to post about it, whereas 2 and a half years ago when we featured Valentine (still our favourite Jessie Ware song) it was 24 hours before another Hype Machine listed blog followed suit and posted the MP3. At that stage neither Jessie or Sampha had built up enough headway to be treated to a blog premiere, a  P*tchfork exclusive or the blog-buzz-firstie frenzy that humans vs the internet seems to have created.

Since then we’ve not featured Sampha at all, but now there finally comes news of his debut EP Duals through Young Turks (with a P*tchfork premiere of course) and from it the track we’re streaming below. Since that P*tchfork exclusive Without has been all over the internet last week (we figure if P*tchfork wrote about a tramp vomiting some blog somewhere in the world would be tripping over itself to post about it and declare it the future of music, thankfully though this song is not that sound), but we’re taking it slower having let it ripple over us for a few days. In those few days we’ve come to the conclusion that Without is pretty worldwide gorgeous. The gentle cantering beats and the soothing vocals are just lovely and although lyrically it may not be poetic brilliance it bodes very well for that EP.

Sampha - Without (You Tube Audio Stream)

Alice Boman - Waiting (Live)

Yesterday we featured the simple beauty of a singer and a piano and today we’re doing the same. Having introduced you to Alice Boman earlier this month, we’re revisiting the ghostly still beauty of Waiting, this time performed live in Studio Möllan in Malmo, Sweden. If you missed it first time round you’re in for an absolute treat, if you’ve already heard it, remember how good it was and press play again. Waiting is one of the songs featured on Alice’s Skisser EP which was released in May.

Alice Boman - Waiting (Live Video)

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Little Boots - All For You (Acoustic)

The last time we featured Little Boots on Breaking More Waves we were rather hopeful that her second album was going to deliver. It did. Most importantly, unlike her debut Hands it works as a consistent and singular piece of work, bringing a twilight dance floor sound that is both minimally cinematic and yet full pop hooks. It manages to be both darkly sophisticated and yet full of neon lit insistent hooks all at the same time.

Add to that her part live / part DJ / part remix project - Little Boots Discotheque - which recently turned the Pussy Parlure Nouveau tent at Glastonbury festival into an ecstatic hands in the air rave-off for fans (see picture above) and you have a musical sum that scores high. We think it’s fair to say that whilst the hype mongers and next big thing crew have long deserted when she didn’t fully match up to their expectations on album one, those of us who have stuck around have finally been well rewarded.

Now after the synths, the laptops, the keytars and the tenori-on’s Little Boots takes things back to the core with this live acoustic version of album track All For You recorded in the Union Chapel, London. “The song is one of the most personal on the album, I wrote it with Andy Butler from Hercules and Love Affair and was inspired by some of my favourite artists like Kate Bush and The Pet Shop Boys,” says The Vickster of the track. This is audio heaven. We heart Little Boots.

Little Boots - All For You (Acoustic Live Video)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Saint Raymond - New Waves

Today we’re introducing our third and final new act of the week on Breaking More Waves. Give a cheery wave to Saint Raymond.

As we’re just getting introduced we’ll keep this simple. There’s plenty of time to do some deep intellectual analysis of his music and pretend we’re Pitchfork later; after all he’s only getting started. Here are 8 things you need (or at least might need) to know about him.

1. Saint Raymond isn’t actually called Saint Raymond. He’s called Callum. We feel sorry for his parents who probably agonised for ages over the name of their baby boy, only for him to ditch it as soon as he thought a few people might get to hear it.

2. He’s a solo male singer songwriter from Nottingham. This means that he’ll probably get touted as the new Jake Bugg, even though he’s nothing like Jake Bugg except being a man from Nottingham that sings.

3. He’s been doing it with Gabrielle Aplin; touring that is.

4. Gabrielle Aplin’s been doing it with him as well; that is she’s been releasing records with him. His rather good Escapade EP (his debut) was put out via Gabrielle’s own Never Fade label this spring.

5. He played at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton in May in the Unitarian Church and returns to Brighton on his own mini UK headlining tour this September and October (other towns and cities are available).

6. He’s not ‘big on the blogs’ because (we suspect) he’s not the kind of artist that as a generalisation bloggers would like. Yet we suspect that he doesn’t really need blog approval or support to do very well indeed. The You Tube stream of Fall At Your Feet from the EP has already had 45,000 plays and judging by the comments underneath it he’s already developing a crossover fan base from the likes of Gabrielle Aplin and Lewis Watson – both of whom seem to be doing very well without the likes of Hype Machine and buzz blogs writing about them. But irrespective of what the blogs think, this tune about that feeling of wanting to do anything for that other person in your life has got us tumbling over and over. “Watch me fall at your feet, give it all to make you feel complete,” he sings over a jubilant and jaunty indie pop backing before adding a twist “who am I trying to please?” 

7. There’s a bit on Fall At Your Feet that sounds a little bit like the “oh oh oh” bits on Glockenspiel Song by Dog Is Dead. This is a good thing.

8. Saint Raymond is not actually a saint. We thought we’d better clear that up in case of any confusion. There has been a Saint Raymond of Toulouse who died in 1118, but not a Saint Raymond of Nottingham. So technically the name is still up for grabs. So is Saint Jake of Nottingham. Now that's a weird idea.

Saint Raymond - Letting Go

Saint Raymond - Fall At Your Feet (Video)

Thursday, 11 July 2013

A Girl Called Ruth - New Waves

Yesterday we went a little bit off-piste and introduced a hip hop act, not the sort of thing that often finds its way onto Breaking More Waves. Today we find ourselves on much more familiar territory, with a singer songwriter who has made us sigh gently with ear-contentment. Say hello to A Girl Called Ruth.

A Girl Called Ruth is like the musical version of Ronseal, her name doing exactly what it says on the tin; she’s female and actually called Ruth. Whilst Ruth is a lovely name it’s easy to guess why she’s chosen not to use her full name; the surname Bullock isn’t the most glamourous after all (apologies to any bovine or Sandra fans out there plus Ruth herself if she likes the name). Maybe A Girl Called Ruth should get married quick and take her husband’s surname, although as she’s admitted in one interview, with men she usually makes a mess of things or ends up getting hurt, so maybe that won’t be happening so quickly.

So until she’s writing songs about weddings let’s focus on what she’s done so far. The tune that’s really grabbed our attention is her new single Lullaby. It’s not a cover of The Cure classic, but instead the lyrical content follows Kate Nash’s 3AM, dealing with that moment that in the words of Faithless you “can’t get no sleep.” (A weird double negative if you think about it). On its very first play we were instantly besotted. It’s a lovely tune with Ruth lilting and purring of the problems of circuses in her head and counting sheep not working; it makes us want to run over to her and tell her everything is going to be OK and make her a Horlicks.

There’s some other tunes on her Soundcloud as well which vary stylistically; Stuck On You is a big belting pop / rock song with a big American influence; we hear a bit of Avril Lavigne in there, although someone else close to us suggested it was more a Diana Vickers influence. We’re not sure if anyone would actually be influenced by The Vickers, but then as A Girl Called Ruth has admitted a love of The Vengaboys anything is possible. Another track Happy Song takes a more acoustic slant, whilst You I See features some rather magnificent shoegaze guitar effects in places over a straightforward and accessible pop / rock song. Well worth checking out is the Nixon remix of this track, which has already done the business on Hype Machine with just one blog Write.Cook.Click.Listen (a food and music blog - our yummy idea of heaven) posting and amassing a lot of love on the premier music blog aggregator.

But for now take a listen to the song below. Lullaby by A Girl Called Ruth is our new favourite and very welcome earworm.

A Girl Called Ruth - Lullaby

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Too Many T's - New Waves

It’s not very often you’ll find beats, breaks and hip hop grooves on Breaking More Waves but today we’re making an exception and introducing Too Many T’s.

Too Many T’s hark back to the days when it wasn’t all about rappers having a huge sense of self importance and heavy world domination but instead a characteristic that seems to have become a dirty word in certain highbrow elitist sections of the so called music loving world; and that word is fun. 

With their debut EP (titled T.P – see what they did there?) released in May, Leon Rhymes (real surname Smith) and Standaloft (who is actually called Ross) from south London promise ‘premium rap skills, good vibes, side serving of jokes,’ and that’s exactly what you get. Although there may be some humour in what Too Many T’s do, it’s not so ridiculous to become novelty such as an act like Goldie Lookin’ Chain. Instead over the course of the four tracks we’re reminded of The Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Grandmaster Flash and Jurassic 5 as well as the more modern day rap pop purveyors Rizzle Kicks. On the EP you’ll find fast and furious flows, 1920’s styled swing, old school beats, funky guitar licks and brassy punches that if you’re anything like us you’ll find much more pleasure in than the intense and rather nasty sounding Yeezus.

This summer you’ll find Too Many T’s at a whole host of festivals including Secret Garden Party, Fieldview, Boomtown Fair, Shambala and Bestival. If you want hip hop to make you feel good, feel positive and make you want to dance your sorrows away rather than wallow in them, then we recommend you download the EP (you name your price) by clicking here and if you’re going, catch them at one of those events.

Too Many T's - It Ain't Right

Too Many T's - Boom Bap (Video)