Wednesday, 30 April 2014
This week there have been a number of articles written about Lorde’s recent Tumblr post. Lorde criticised Complex and music journalism in the wider sense, following the publication’s negative review of the Iggy Azalea album The New Classic, on the basis that the magazine has previously given favourable coverage to Azalea.
Lorde stated: “bugs me how publications like complex will profile interesting artists in order to sell copies/get clicks and then shit on their records? it happens to me all the time- pitchfork and that ilk being like “can we interview you?” after totally taking the piss out of me in a review. have a stance on an artist and stick to it. don’t act like you respect them then throw them under the bus.”
Of course no artist enjoys getting a bad review of something they are proud of, but as has been pointed out by Complex themselves and a number of other publications who feature criticism, publications put an artist on the cover of their magazine and interview them because they think the artist is someone their audience is interested in. Giving an artist a bad review is because the individual journalist thinks that someone that the publication’s audience is interested in didn’t make a very good record. It’s pretty simple and we’re not finding much favour with Lorde in this case, as much as we love her music.
We’re not going to repeat the arguments about music criticism at length here though, if you want further reading on this subject this piece over at The 405 (here) is pretty good.
Instead we want to ask a question from our perspective as a blog. It’s this: Is early blog-love / hype helping perpetuate a pop culture of wrapping young artists up in cotton wool too much, giving them a misguided self-perception of themselves and not preparing them for the reality of the world, which is that not everyone likes everything?
Fundamentally there are two types of blog - those that operate in a similar manner to other music publications, posting news, articles and reviews. Those reviews might be positive or they may be negative depending on the author’s opinion. But then there are many blogs like Breaking More Waves that just write about the music that the author(s) love.
When we started Breaking More Waves we had a go at criticism. But as time passed we decided it wasn’t for us. The reason was Breaking More Waves is unfunded and we didn’t particularly want to spend our time writing negativity. We’re just like any regular music fan, albeit a fan who spends an absurd amount of time listening, thinking (and then writing) about music. We spend more time thinking about music than we do sex (despite what you might believe reading some of our ‘sexier’ posts). We came to the conclusion fairly early on in the blog's history that we prefer to spend our spare time celebrating the stuff we adore and occasionally being a bit playful and entertaining with it and having conversations about music rather than offering negative opinion.
It’s a personal choice. Other blogs may do it differently, but the vast amount of new music blogs we read tend to do it this way, writing about the music they like, often single songs rather than albums. Criticism is sometimes implied when we don’t feature something (for example we’ve written a number of times about Banks and named her as one to watch for this year, but we haven’t and won’t be featuring her new single Goddess as we found it a little bit disappointing – not bad – just a bit average; it’s a 6.1 from us if we were Pitchfork, which we’re obviously not). However just because we don’t feature something doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like it – we just don’t have enough time to feature everything of the 200+ submissions we now receive daily.
But as a positive ‘fan’ blog maybe we’re a small part of a problem - helping cultivate a generation of artists like Lorde who think that it’s wrong for a publication to have both positive and negative articles. When Lorde’s material was first released worldwide on line it was the blogs that picked up on her first. Royals was a massive track on the blogs – way before it went to worldwide radio. There was very little criticism at the early stages as most new music bloggers work in a similar way to Breaking More Waves. Then as more than just bloggers picked up on her, and her audience grew, she (and the likes of Iggy Azalea) would find themselves on covers of magazines and the subject of more articles, but at the same time they would be subject to more critical appraisal, much of it by journalists who amongst their roles are employed as critics. Some of those journalists will have a negative opinion, after all music criticism is subjective.
But if Lorde / Iggy Azalea etc have grown up artistically in a world where the likes of music blogs are constantly amplifying the praise, to suddenly get an apparent backlash on the release of an album must be hard to take. “But I thought these people loved me.” Maybe some of them do. But of course a review is just an individual journalist thinking that a particular record isn’t very good. Not a whole publications view. And besides, a publication is allowed to change its opinion as new information and context appears. For example, how do old fans of Gary Glitter or Lost Prophets feel about those acts now? It’s the same for journalists. One single may be great – the album may not be.
But if as blogs we are building up artists egos too much through our praise should we stop doing it?
No of course not.
With so much new music out there blog readers like to visit blogs to find new things to listen to that they may not have heard before - they want to hear about the good stuff – and that’s what a lot of blogs try to write about. But it’s important for those around young artists (family, friends, music industry people working for them) to give those artists a sense of realism, keep their feet on the ground and make them understand at an early point that not every person or every publication will like everything they do and to learn to accept that.
Oh, here's a Lorde remix that was released last week by Flume. Guess what, a lot of blogs loved it. So do we. There you are - that's our 'journalism'.
Lorde - Tennis Court (Flume Remix)
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
We like Cosmo Sheldrake if for no other reason than every time he releases a video, the chances of it featuring him in ‘da club’ popping bottles of Cristal whilst sexy young hot things get their groove on are very very low*. Mind you, in a way we’d love to be in a typical WKD-popping UK regional high street club on a Saturday night and in between whatever Calvin Harris or David Guetta track is playing the DJ drops Cosmo Sheldrake’s The Moss into the set, just to see the stunned drunken faces and reaction.
So to Cosmo's new non club based video. Previous releases have been filmed in such exotic locations as the launderette, a pig sty and a fishing trawler, but this new one for The Moss comes from Bekonscot in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, which we’re reliably informed is the oldest original model village in the world. As a blog that is based in a city that also possesses a model village, this can only get our utmost approval. We also firmly approve of the use of the ironing board as a stand for Cosmo's instrumentation.
*Of course we also like his music.
Cosmo Sheldrake - The Moss (Video)
Monday, 28 April 2014
You can tell when someone gets to that top floor level of being so well known that they don’t have to use their surname anymore. From John, Paul, George and Ringo through to Adele, you know instantly who those people are. Jetta isn’t anywhere near that level yet, but Crescendo is likely to push her forward, helped by the production assistance of another man who we all know by just one name – Pharrell.
Of course if you’re a long term reader of Breaking More Waves you may know Jetta’s name, after all we first featured this ex Paloma Faith backing singer and Liverpool lass way back in 2012, but it’s taken her until now to get round to releasing what appears to be tagged as her debut single proper from a forthcoming EP, which leads us into a whole different debate about when is a newly released song online not a single and when is it and does it really matter anymore?
Crescendo is quite a departure from Jetta’s previous songs like the big soul stormer of Start A Riot or the epic lighters in the air ballad Feels Like Coming Home, being much more pop light, with a lilting vocal chant, but shows that she can apply herself to any style – in this case an updated mix of Amazulu, early Bananarama and The Belle Stars but with a modern funky groove and a hint of Icona Pop (and dare we say it (gulp) Little Mix?)
Jetta - Crescendo
Not all music festivals operate on the same basis. There are the corporate, soul-sucking beasts that throw a bunch of big name acts in a field, treat you like sheep and then the organisers drive off in their fancy cars to tally up the takings. Then there are those run for very different reasons. The people who put on this second type of festival are in no danger of getting rich. It’s not why they do it.
Are You Listening? is one of those festivals. Yes, it’s about making money, but all the proceeds after costs go to a local charity (Reading Mencap). We’re pretty sure that at the end of the night, when the last punter has left the building and the streets of Reading are deserted, the organisers of Are You Listening? are able to sit back with a real sense of satisfaction and pride; their personal bank accounts may not be any better off, but they’ve made a real difference and achieved something. For Are You Listening? is a festival that is faultless in its execution, demonstrates that the Reading music scene is in rude health, showcases the best of local talent and a number of national touring bands for the bargain price of just £10.
And to the music; for our £10 ticket we saw 10 acts. Each venue was just a relatively short stroll from the next in the heart of Reading city centre, with the typical mix of pubs, clubs, bars and more orthodox concert rooms being used. Highlights included local indie boys Komodo Krimes who brought bad spelling, shoeless feet, perky guitar peppered with saxophone blasts and a buoyant energy to the stage at The Bowery, probably the only venue we can think of that in the middle of the dance floor has a wall with a shelf on it for putting your drinks on. The band typified the festival’s soul - pleased to be doing it for the sake of doing it and enjoying themselves in the process.
The question for most punters at events like this is how long will the queues be, but Are You Listening? seemed to get things right. We encountered only a five minute wait at the full to capacity Milk Bar (a rum bar complete with drinks served in milk bottles and a DJ playing its anthem – Milk by Garbage) before artist changeover. Once in we got the chance to witness the delightful Haze (streaming below) who played the festival solo last year, but returned with a small band, fleshing out her tranquil sound without ever overpowering it, allowing her unique voice and effortless melodies to shine through.
Elsewhere playing at South Street Arts Centre, The Night VI (pictured above) showed that they are a band that is both stylish and full of substance. Seemingly surprised to find a full hall waiting for them to play, they were easily the most impressive band of the day. A number of the audience at the front were spotted mouthing the words to songs like Thinking Of You and shouts for recent single Sienna indicated that the bands growing online adoration is slowly transforming into a real fanbase. Sophie Rose Harper’s smooth and velvety voice was particularly enchanting and songs like Strangers, a tune that Sophie advised is about sleeping with somebody other than your boyfriend and not something she would recommend, had a gentle sense of sadness within their yearning romanticism.
After the beauty of The Night VI anything else was going to be an anti-climax and whilst the Chicago rock ‘n’ roll of Ezra Furman didn’t fully translate geographically with all the audience, his deranged and slightly scary stage presence, together with his backing band The Boyfriends (which includes the second sax of the day) certainly added to the festival’s variety. By the end of his set his shirt was wide open, his bare chest showing, the veins on his neck pumping; Furman’s cartoon Springsteen meets Wheatus yelps and music had certainly raised the temperature in the room and left the front rows shouting for more before they disappeared home or headed off like us to enjoy a DJ set by XFM radio DJ John Kennedy at Oakford Social Club
Reading Festival? You’ve got a new baby brother, and it’s a belter. It’s called Are You Listening?
Haze - Together Or Apart
Friday, 25 April 2014
A while ago we saw Layla play her first UK show under her new moniker and during the gig she mentioned a future video shoot and that she was looking for two people who were prepared to get naked and make love on camera. Thankfully we held back from volunteering, the visions of us bouncing around amateur porn style whilst Layla’s beautiful music played would be a pretty unappealing match to most people after all.
Thankfully the end result is far more aesthetically pleasing (but also quite sad) and the song, an evocative piece of emotion and sensitivity, is one of those stop whatever you’re doing and lose yourself in the music moments. So tender, so lovely, if we were a little bit in love with Layla before, we’re totally besotted now.
The Black Mud EP is released on the 28th April and considering it also contains the previously blogged Smokestacks you will be committing a crime against music if you don’t pre-order it from here.
Layla - Black Mud (Video)
Thursday, 24 April 2014
We know music shouldn’t be a tick box exercise. It should be about passion, emotion, finding something that you can utterly immerse yourself in, but let’s be honest with you, we’re big fans of the sort of music that contains female vocals, electronic instrumentation and is pop but not necessarily the sort of pop that is going to be played on constant rotation on daytime UK radio and finding itself nestling up to the likes of Katy Perry and Rihanna. Sometimes of course this type of pop does cross over (hi Lorde, hi Ellie Goulding), but usually it dances in the shadows rather than the spotlight.
Here’s a fine example of that sort of pop that
Even if lyrically Premonitions seems to be dealing with the concept of disappointment it doesn’t do so musically.
As yet we haven't been told that much about Vaults, and many blogs will tell you they are a 'mystery band', which is frankly lazy and untrue unless you're just reading the PR guff, because with just three minutes of Google searching we found out that lead singer Blythe was born in Herefordshire, has been making music for some time, (look up Bizali and her solo work under the name Blythe Pepino), that on Rob da Bank’s session they played an instrument that we've never heard of before called an aluphone, and they’re not to be confused with shaggy haired rockers The Vaults from Suffolk, last heard of about 10 years ago, even although two of Valuts have spent time in the same neck of the woods geographically. Oh and despite a press shot that makes them look all moody (here), they seem to be pretty normal and even dare we say it smiley in 'real life' (here). Mind you, we reckon even Van Morrison would raise a smile at Da Bank being dressed like that.
Anyway, for now we’ll forgive them for the lack of information (we seem to be saying this a lot recently, it started with rule 14 here), it’s all about not giving too much away whilst creating buzz isn’t it? Don’t let buzz put you off though, Premonitions is brooding magnificent shadow pop at its best and worth your undivided attention.
Vaults - Premonitions
She’s still doing a relatively good job of keeping her real name secret (even if certain bloggers who have worked it out have been hiding secret clues on the internet for those who are prepared to look into the bigger picture and get the answer) but now the music is flowing again as Mononoke has uploaded her third song Barefoot and Broken for your listening pleasure.
An understated piano based ballad, with a modernist pop production, Barefoot and Broken doesn’t sound like a straight to radio chart-friendly hit, but that's not a criticism. There’s a gentler subtlety at play here, but one which pays dividends on repeated listens. It’s a song to drift away to, her soft but strong vocal encased in the musical equivalent of a floating cloud.
Finally a minor moan; does anyone else (apart from ourselves) really dislike the typeface used in the logo above image ? Is it wrong that we actually hate it? Poverty, injustice, war and the crimes of the world and we’re getting angry about a typeface. Save us.
Mononoke - Barefoot and Broken (Video)
Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Ooooh, Young War’s gone all kind of Chet Faker; oozing it up with a slow motion, softly sung organ led piece of soul / r 'n' b, quite possibly smoothing the way for a few babies to be made during or after playing. That is unless you listen to the lyrics, which don’t really say ‘let’s get it on.’ Because the words are about lies and the death of love rather than the sweaty, sticky, flushed face start or middle part of relationships. No, this one is all about the end. Shame, because bang goes the latest track on the 'Breaking More Waves Gets Down And Dirty' compilation then.
Rather like Public Service Broadcasting (although completely different in terms of musical genre) Young War takes an old fashioned vocal sample to embellish the track further. It's from Rev. A. W. Nix (who was known as one of the great singing preachers) about the Black Diamond, a passenger train that ran from New York to Buffalo from 1896 until 1959. We’ve no idea what this has to do with the lyrics of the rest of the song, but it all sounds good together, so frankly who cares?
It's available to download for free.
Young War - Black Diamond
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
"Ladies and gentlemen this is your captain speaking. On behalf of the flight crew let me welcome you aboard Breaking More Waves post number 2116 to destination music. We should touch down in two minutes and fifty seven seconds and are expecting a fairly lively flight. I’ve turned off the fasten seatbelt signs so please feel free to have a dance in the aisles whilst your cabin crew serve you complimentary cocktails in their swimwear as we head for the sun. Don’t forget to appreciate the good time vibes, have a smile on your face and as the lyrics of the song say “feel so high” that you’ll never want to come down. The weather at our destination is hot and humid, just like this frothy, danceable summertime pop from this new Surrey (Guildford to be exact) based band. Once again we thank you for choosing to fly with us today. Get your shades on, and we'll see you on the beach. Enjoy Paper Boats. Enjoy Holidays."
Paper Boats touch down at Guildford Boiler Room on April 25th alongside Fickle Friends.
Paper Boats - Holidays
Today we’re posting about a new artist who goes by the name of Sake who we were introduced to just yesterday by one of the UK’s longest serving music bloggers, Simon from Sweeping The Nation. “You’ll like this I suspect,” he tweeted us. He was wrong. Very wrong. We don’t just like it, we adore it. In fact we love it more than anything else we’ve heard this month. Consider us 100% smitten.
And so it starts. “This old heart I call a suitcase, borrowed and bruised case,” Sake sings in a musical garden of genteel acoustic playing and soft bass. “We travel distance, across the ocean and back. I wonder if there’ll be someone to carry me when I’m tired and heavy?” she asks. But before you think this is just another whimsical folk song, listen further. For as the songs progresses it swells through the use of wide screen sweeping atmospherics, electronics and elegiac drumming to produce something intoxicating and beautiful. Then there’s the voice. Oh, the voice. A voice that hits the spot and does things to us that we probably shouldn't even attempt to describe on a public blog.
So who is this new artist? The answer lies on the Facebook page for Welsh folk singer Chloe Leavers. “I would really like to say a big thank you for all the support and kind words and lovely comments over the past few years. Everyone has been so kind and it has amazed me! I have recently been working on a new project of my own as I am no longer writing/performing as Chloe Leavers. I have a new website with a free download for everyone as I would love you to have one of my new tracks. There will be more to come so keep a look out thanks again so much.”
The price of something beautiful today comes at the cost of your email address. Really Sake has underpriced herself. We’re very excited to hear more. Download Almost Never by going here, or press play and stream below.
Footnote: After this post was published due to technical issues Sake had to take the track down, she has now re-posted - apologies to those who visited but the player wasn't available.
Sake - Almost Never
Monday, 21 April 2014
After last Saturday’s Record Store Day our Instagram and Twitter feeds showed everyone’s story; the queues they’d stood in, the records they’d bought and the media that they had played them on when they got home. It seems that those we follow very much fall into the set who spin their records on the nostalgic looking Crosley record players - you probably know the ones - it's the choice of the Urban Outfitters shopper and has a reputation for being cosmetically stylish but manufactured from cheap components and at best giving out below average sound.
However we digress, what those tweets and photos did was give a context and a narrative to the music those people now owned. This is something that an MP3 download or stream, despite its brilliant ease of use and portability, struggles to replicate. A picture of iTunes downloading an album just doesn’t seem as special as the ceremony of buying something on Record Store Day is it?
It’s the above mentioned context that turns passive consumers into fans. It might start with a photo of the record they’ve just bought, but by uploading that picture they’re stapling their personal identity to it, creating a little bit of history. A bit like buying a ticket to see the artist live. Once you have a history and some solid memories a relationship has been formed with that act – a potential fan is in the making.
And fans are important to the recording industry. More so now than ever before.
Because its fans that keep an artist’s career going in the longer term – they stick around, despite other temptations. These days with MP3s, streaming and the rapid turnover of new music it’s easy to be the musical equivalent of a wealthy sex starved businessman in a whorehouse, skipping from one artist to another without developing long lasting relationships. But fans aren’t like that; they’re prepared to accept the uncommercial and experimental third album or the odd duff track and still invest in the artist.
But to do that it's our opinion that fans need more than just the tunes.
They need something to hold onto, something to set their imaginations alight, to relate to, a story to share. Essentially they want to understand more about the artist. It’s why when Lana Del Rey blew up fans wanted to know about her past history and how Lizzie Grant became Lana. It’s why people were so fascinated Bon Iver’s back story about why he went to a cabin in the woods after he split up with his girlfriend and recorded an album. It’s partly why One Direction put something out on Record Store Day – because it gave their fans something many of them had never had before – vinyl – and created a shared story for fan and band. But sadly (here comes the moany part) our perception is that there’s an awful lot of artists out there right now who seem to have very little to say about what they stand for or have any sort of story to tell. MP3s and streaming don’t help of course – carefully written context setting sleevenotes aren’t usually part of that format’s equation.
This lack of context and history has also infiltrated new music blogging. We’ve communicated with a number of bloggers who don’t understand why we write more than just a couple of words about a song. “It’s all about the music,” they say. But is it? Isn’t it more than that? Don’t readers need to know more to fall deeply in love? Imagine meeting the most physically beautiful person in the world, going to bed with them, then spending the rest of your life with them but not knowing anything about them. It just wouldn’t work would it? It’s the same with relationships with music. Fans need to know the circumstances that surround the songs.
It’s not just bloggers though. Time and time again we’re receiving emails from bands and their representatives that say things like this, received a couple of days ago: “I’d like to note that we're choosing not to use any social media sites for the time being. Only Soundcloud and Bandcamp. The idea is to keep things just about the music. Additionally we are refraining from using any member names or specific locations for now.” Great, so we play the song, we like it but because there’s nothing more the band are soon forgotten. Fans need the blanks filling in to make sense of it all.
So our plea – to artists, their representatives, writers and the media at large – if you want the musicians you love to have long term careers they’ll need fans, and to get them you’ll have to give listeners more than just the music. These days there’s always something else to listen to if you don’t.
Remember landfill indie? If our memory serves us right sometime around 2008 it got buried as the UK music police got bored of bands with guitars who were mostly blokes and instead started to get excited about anything else.
We’re beginning to wonder if soon the UK blog police are going to call time on landfill once again – this time though it being landfill sparse R’n’B. For it seems that everywhere we look and listen there are men grabbing their laptops and finding influence from the likes of James Blake onwards.
It’s why we thought twice about posting this new London artist who goes by the name of Esse. (We're not sure if that's pronounced 'Essay' 'Essie' 'Esser' or just plain old simple 'Ess' - if someone could let us know we'd much appreciate it, thanks.) Having first come to our attention by the ever on the pulse Killing Moon blog, Esse’s debut track Deep Heart is so incredibly of the moment that initially we decided it was too-zeitgeisty for its own good and wouldn't feature it. But there was something nagging in our brain, scratching and clawing, trying to make itself heard, and it was this; shouldn’t our decisions on what we post be made on the quality of the song, not if it was in fashion or not?
So here it is. Deep Heart by Esse. It’s a richly soulful piece of work, that keeps everything just as it needs to be, no more, no less. It’s brimming with atmosphere but also has a melody that gets under the skin. Killing Moon suggested that it reminded them of a track from 2009 by an act called Samuel and the Dragon (we suspect that song was Diamonds On A Boat) and we can hear the similarity in stylistic terms, both songs harnessing both minimalism and outrageous beauty.
Oh and Killing Moon peeps, if by any chance you ever read this, we know in your post you asked what happened to Samuel? Click here for your answer. Not sure what happened to the dragon though.
Esse - Deep Heart
Sunday, 20 April 2014
When a band cites ‘reflections of Lana Del Rey and Alt-J’ as forming part of their sound they certainly know how to get us intrigued. Whilst we fail to see the Alt-J reference, 19 year old Aviva Payne and Matais Coulter from Sydney, Australia, who go by the name AViVAA certainly possess a little of Lana’s cooly jaded delivery. In fact if you hop over to their Soundcloud player (here) you’ll find they’ve covered one of Lana’s songs. Even as big fans of Miss Del Rey / Grant we’d probably baulk at yet another version of Video Games, but thankfully they haven't chosen the obvious one, instead they've uploaded a live recording of one of those ‘not officially released but everyone’s got it anyway’ tracks – Hundred Dollar Bill. The Lana comparisons don’t end there either – live video footage of the band (as well as shots on their Facebook) shows Aviva singing with a flower garland in her hair, rather like those early shots of Lana as she started the campaign for Video Games and the subsequent Born To Die album.
AViVAA are probably (no scrap that definitely) the only band we’ve ever featured on the blog that can claim to have had their debut single, the witchy sounding Reel Me In, used by an Australian BMX champion showing off his skills (here), but as it's had over 150,000 views it’s certainly decent exposure for the duo. It makes us wonder where or what unlikely video or advert their new song and second single XX will end up on. Let’s just hope it’s not a porn film, with some sad soul thinking the title is a reference to a double x rated movie; after all there’s plenty of lyrics about ‘wanting to kiss you’ and Aviva’s delivery has a certain soft-core sultriness to it.
However, before we go too far off tangent, let’s be clear that XX is a well written song, with an indie-electronic wooziness and amorous beauty that marks AViVAA as ones to keep an eye and ear out for in the future. Take a listen to it below and let it embrace your ears.
AViVAA - XX
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Fans of George Ezra and Michael Kiwanuka - you’ll probably want to add singer-songwriter Jake Isaac to your list of must listens, for we’ve been mightily impressed by what we've heard and you may be as well.
For Isaac’s song Waiting Here ( a free download streaming below) is a fine and comforting piece of acoustic soul with a simple pop sensibility that has found a place in our heart with its gentle repeated guitar picking, light beats and its protective lyrics of ‘these arms are meant for you’. Then there’s the beefier organic stomp and bash of Long Road which has hints of gospel, rock and folk within its melee, or the gentle piano and guitar lullaby of You & I - a song that will have you sighing at its loveliness. You can find both these songs and more at his Soundcloud. What we have here is accomplished song writing with depth and variety all played by someone that oozes warmth and talent in their delivery. If you want more examples of that talent, take a look at the video below of his live version of Ellie Goulding's Anything Could Happen, where he forges ahead and transforms the song into something powerful with just an acoustic guitar and his voice.
It seems we’re not the only ones who are excited by this new artist either. Jake Isaac has already had the patronage of BBC Introducing and Communion Music and has supported the likes of Joan As Police Woman and Ella Eyre. So we’re certainly not the earliest to ‘discover’ him, but we hope that through this post a few more people may do so – for that in essence is what Breaking More Waves is all about.
Jake Isaac - Waiting Here
Jake Isaac - Anything Could Happen (Video)
Friday, 18 April 2014
Although we love joyful energetic music that makes us dance and thrash our bodies around in abandon, there’s a side of us that loves to immerse ourselves in slow burning, melancholic sounds. The yin and yang; we simply can’t exist with each one playing off the other. It can be recordings of any genre, from the electronic Ambient Works albums by Aphex Twin, to the traditional folk of The Unthanks, to Mazzy Star, Portishead, Daughter or even the more down moments of Lana Del Rey. Sad music sometimes makes us feel comforted or even happy.
So here’s a fine example of that. We know absolutely nothing about Lüthian, a producer from Vancouver, Canada who came to us today by way of the highly prolific HillyDilly blog, probably our favourite blog for alerting us to lots of great downtempo electronica and ambient music.
Maybe it's the sound of the pouring rain, or the unhurried luscious female vocal, or the softening electronic pulses and beats that gets us, but whatever it is, this music sounds utterly melancholy and beautifully reassuring. It’s music for those late night come downs or those early bleary eyed coffee moments. Soak it up.
Lüthian - In Between
It’s funny how we’re told that technology speeds everything up and yet the music industry seems to operate at a speed that is slower than ever. Gone are the days when bands like The Beatles bashed out an album annually plus a bunch of singles that didn’t even feature on the LP and still managed to play a whole bundle of shows as well. These days patience is one of the must have characteristics of a music fan - the gaps between releases become increasingly longer.
Case in point is Pawws (real name Lucy Taylor) who we first wrote about when she put some demos online back in 2012, which we duly posted. She then released a couple of those songs in upgraded form last year as a single. In the meantime we’ve been twiddling our thumbs waiting for something truly new and fresh. Yesterday it finally arrived in the form of Sugar, the lead track of her forthcoming EP which will be released by Best Fit recordings on June 16th.
Sugar sounds like a long lost collage of sounds created by Kraftwerk or OMD, with twinkling pitter-patter crystalline droplets of synth, but rather than robots taking control the song is centred around something far softer, namely Lucy’s candy coated vocals. “Just pretend there is nothing wrong,” she sings. No need for us to pretend in the case of this tune. Our patience has been rewarded.
Pawws plays a poptastic showcase for Line of Best Fit next month at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton on a line up that also includes Breaking More Waves favourites Laurel and Emilie Nicolas as well as the rather good Tove Lo. Expect to find us there, if you're going we'll see you down the front.
Pawws - Sugar
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Ah the pain of love. When you think of the number of songs that have been written about the hurt that it causes either through the longing for, the absence of or the pain afterwards it’s a wonder any of us ever want any sort of relationship whatsoever; but then if we didn’t what would our popstars and musicians write about and what would we relate to? We’re not sure that songs about cooking the evening meal, a day in the office or washing the laundry would have quite the same impact. Lykke Li certainly seems to thrive on these matters of the heart, here on the third track to be released from her forthcoming I Never Learn album. The queen of sadness sings of longing for love before the full on power-ballad chorus kicks in: “And the shot goes through my head and back, gun shot, I can’t take it back.” Big tune. The album about washing machines and ovens will have to wait a while yet we guess.
Lykke Li - Gunshot
In terms of internet buzz Wolf Alice are a bit of an anomaly. A cursory glance on Hype Machine will almost inevitably show that the most written about and most loved acts on the 795 blogs the site currently aggregates across the world have some basis in either electronic, pop, hip-hop or r’n’b music and indie rock doesn’t get that much of a look in. Yet the most blogged act on Hype Machine by UK based bloggers in 2013 was Wolf Alice, guitars and all, and pretty much every one of their songs has found love on the go-to site for those who are interested in what music bloggers are listening to and writing about at any moment of the year. Whatever it is Wolf Alice are doing, they’re doing it right.
And here they go again.
Taken from the forthcoming Creature Songs EP due May 26, new song Storms is a firecracker that will probably make you want to paint on some black eyeliner and go and dig out the back catalogue of early 90’s indie / goth band Curve, but that’s no bad thing. Possessing a rage and a sensitivity that is staggering, Storms demolishes everything in front of it with waves of distorted reverby guitar, chunky bass and lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s cooing voice. Both abrasive and beautiful, it’s essential listening.
Wolf Alice - Storms
“The most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard,” states one comment on the Soundcloud player for Family Tree, the lead track on Meadowlark’s debut EP Three Six Five. High praise, and whilst we wouldn’t go quite that far ourselves, there’s no doubt that this is a bit of a diamond, now fully fleshed out from the earlier demo version the band first released about a year ago. Previously Family Tree was pretty but a little bare yet now accompanied by an opulent string backing it blossoms into something exquisite and lush as it plays through.
It seems that creating tunes that expand into something quite moving is one of Meadowlark’s talents. We noted this of I’ve Got You, another of their earlier works that we streamed back in November 2013 that it built up ‘some head of steam’ and now they’re doing it again. An absorbing pop ballad that we've been playing over and over. The Three Six Five EP is released on 26th May.
Meadowlark - Family Tree
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Here’s Honeyblood’s best song to date. In blog terms we're very 'late' with this one. Full of thrashy punk-pop energy it reminds us of early Kenickie (always a good thing) and is best played extremely loud to annoy your neighbours and that includes if you live next door to us. We honestly don’t care if it pounds through our party wall. Why? Well besides the fact that it’s a good tune and we’d most certainly rather hear Killer Bangs blasting through than the likes of David Guetta for example, it’s mainly because we’re not there. We’re on holiday and have been so all week. We're still blogging though. If this was twitter we'd probably end this with #dedicationtoblogging.
Honeyblood - Killer Bangs
It was only very recently that we introduced 23 year-old Elliott Williams aka Y.O.U and now here he is again with a second track, the sprightly sounding Volvic. Whilst the music may be bouncy, lyrically it’s not all glitter and happiness, for here we find Elliot singing about “heavy shit going down,” and “suffering inside.” So don’t be fooled into thinking that just because on a casual listen this is perky pop that it doesn’t deal with some deeper issues. “It’s hard to talk about your problems,” Elliot sings before offering that “it helps to just open up.”
Of course it probably shouldn’t be that surprising that there’s something a bit smarter than just a danceable electropop tune going on here - after all Elliot has an association with the band Editors having been adding keyboard sounds to their live set up in huge concert halls and arenas, but now he’s breaking out on his own.
Y.O.U will be at this year’s Great Escape festival in Brighton at The Blind Tiger on the BBC Introducing Stage alongside another blog favourite Sophie Jamieson, providing an evening that promises to be highly eclectic. We already have both performances marked down in our diary. If you’re going down to Brighton, maybe so should you.
Y.O.U - Volvic
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
“Hate is spitting out each other’s mouths, but we're still sleeping like we're lovers.”
Recently recorded at Air Studios in London, Daughter was joined by Joe Duddell and ten musicians from Manchester’s Royal Northern College Of Music to play a five song session. Yesterday it was released as a digital download. A limited-edition 12" follows on May 26th. From the session comes this beautifully constructed version of Still, from one of our favourite albums of 2013. This takes the song into territories more moving and more thunderous than ever before. To think that the first time we saw Daughter play live they were just a fragile, almost insubstantial folk act. How things have changed. Stunning.
Daughter - Still (Live at Air Studios)
If you like soulful, emotional pop music that’s underpinned by the characteristics of the classic singer-songwriter you’re probably going to love Robyn Sherwell. There’s been a lot of stuff like this around over the last few years of course; Jessie Ware was probably the first act to bring this type of music back to the popular coffee table, but we think there’s still room for some more, especially when they’re as good as Sherwell.
We talk of the coffee table, but it seems that Robyn, originally from Guernsey but now based in London, is actually a bigger tea drinker, which is fine with us because frankly this fits better than if we’d found out that she’s a vodka binge drinker – it just wouldn’t be right with her sparse chilled music. Take a listen to Love Somebody, the first track of Robyn’s we stumbled across. It keeps things simple – just a few light beats and gentle guitars keep everything blissed out, without it ever becoming boring, and allow her gorgeous creamy vocal to shine through. Then there’s her cover of Ben Howard’s The Fear, which ditches the picked rhythms of Howard’s guitars for a glockenspiel sound and replaces his nasal whine with something far more come-hither. It’s all seductively ear-catching, to the extent where we think it’s time to close the curtains and get immersed in her songs a bit more.
Robyn Sherwell - The Fear
Robyn Sherwell - Love Somebody (Video)
Monday, 14 April 2014
Remember when Lana Del Rey set the internet ablaze with Video Games? Well it certainly felt like that this morning. Fearne Cotton of BBC Radio 1 fired the starting pistol with the first play of West Coast and then there was a sprint by pretty much every income generating website and buzz blog to get the track up as soon as possible. We’re taking it a little more leisurely, but just in case you’ve been asleep or at work, here it is now.
West Coast sounds rather like two half songs put together to make a whole – watch out for the jarring tempo change in between the two. Thankfully the whole is a good whole rather than a bad whole. Not good as in ‘big radio banger’ good, but good as in a song with a sun-bleached seventies vibe that should keep the hardcore fanbase reasonably happy.
The first segment has a hint of sultry drive time AOR to it - it’s the part where you can hear why / how Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is involved; Lana almost becomes a rock chick. The second part sounds rather like a woozy All Saints (hints of Pure Shores) who have put on their cowboy hats and grabbed some twangy wild-west guitars.
There’s no full video yet, so for now it’s a case of this audio one with Lana spinning around a bit.
Of course the most important thing with West Coast will be how it sits in the context of an album. We’re keeping our fingers crossed in that regard. That album, Ultraviolence, follows in May.
Lana Del Rey - West Coast
Festivals. Breaking More Waves loves them. Big ones, small ones, in-between ones, we adore them all.
However there’s one thing we don’t like about them, particularly in the UK and that’s rain. There will be those who say that 5 days at Glastonbury, wading around in your wellies up to your ankles in mud is ‘character building’, an ‘experience’ and ‘brings people together.’ We just think it’s downright horrible, exhausting and a deeply unpleasant way to spend a weekend.
It’s why although you’re bound to find Breaking More Waves trooping round a few (hopefully dry) fields this summer, we’ll be hitting the single wristband, multi-venue, city festivals harder than ever this year. Even if the heavens open, we can be assured a club, pub or concert hall to dry off in for these events and there’s even the joy of a comfy bed, clean toilet and a shower afterwards.
It all starts for 2014 at the home of one of the most famous UK festivals; Reading. But the event isn’t the Reading Festival, this is Are You Listening? Festival, which returns for its second year in Reading city centre after an enormously successful debut in 2013.
Are You Listening? is very much a local grassroots festival, having a stated policy of ensuring that at least 70% of the artists booked to play are from the Reading and Berkshire area. It’s also great value with advance tickets costing just £10 with a local charity benefiting from the ticket sales, as all proceeds after costs go to Reading Mencap. Last year the event raised a fantastic £8,250 for this good cause, way above the organiser’s target.
This year Are You Listening features over 60 artists and takes place across eight venues in Reading Centre, namely Pavlov’s Dog, RISC, Oakford Social Club, South Street Arts Centre, The Bowery District, The Face Bar, Purple Turtle and one that has to be worth a visit, the bar known as Milk, which serves cocktails served in milk bottles and jam jars as well as a multitude of rums.
Fancy attending? here's the details: Are You Listening? takes place on Saturday 26th April 2014. Tickets are available in advance for £10 by clicking here (they will be more on the day) and the music gets underway from around 2pm, although some of the venues don’t open until later in the afternoon or evening.
Here are 5 acts that Breaking More Waves recommends seeing at the event, which subject to venue capacities and stages sticking to their timetables (which will be published soon) should all be possible to see without any clashes.
Vienna Ditto (Oakford Social Club)
Whilst the majority of the action doesn’t get underway until late afternoon / early evening, an early stop off at Oakford Social Club might pay dividends. Vienna Ditto mix twangy rock and blues guitars that sound like they’ve been stolen from a lost Tarantino soundtrack, add bursts of electronic edging and top it all off with femme fatale vocals.
The Jettes (The Purple Turtle)
Pan’s People loving rock n roll meets sixties bubblegum pop with plenty of fuzz and full on riffs. A bit like The Primitives only brasher. What’s not to like about that?
A regular on Breaking More Waves since we first discovered her at last years festival, local girl Haze has a voice that will melt hearts and songs that deliver power through their delicate beauty.
The Night VI (21 South Street)
Another Breaking More Waves regular, The Night VI have picked up plenty of blog buzz with songs like Thinking About You and Sienna. Described here as making “heartache sound unbelievably lovely,” The Night VI have class embedded in their core.
Ezra Furman (21 South Street)
Previously with The Harpoons and now solo, Ezra’s new album Day of the Dog has received rapturous reviews (Michael Hann of The Guardian called it ‘the best record of 2013’.) Come and experience his brand of rock ‘n’ roll and see what all the fuss is about at his first show of an extensive UK tour.
Expect a review of Are You Listening? shortly after the event at Breaking More Waves.
Sunday, 13 April 2014
We've said it before, but the south-central coastal part of the UK (where Breaking More Waves is based) is developing a nice line in female vocal singer songwriters using electronic production techniques at the moment. From rising pop-starlet Laurel, to Portsmouth newcomer Eloise Keating, to today’s new artist, the Southampton based Lauren Scrivener. Lauren has impressed us with the five songs she has up on her Soundcloud – particularly the serene and slow-burning Waiting For You.
Although we don’t want to start a battle of the sexes it does seem that right now, down by the Solent, the girls are winning over the boys and Lauren is pushing the female score up even higher. She’s like the UK’s answer to Banks or Broods, only without the big PR team behind her to bring her to the world’s attention. Her songs like the aforementioned Waiting For You and the sensitive Alone are gorgeously nocturnal, with perfectly framed production and a spliffy ethereal ambiance designed for intimate listening via headphones. It’s lovely soft-pop, ready to comfort you in its blanket of warmth. Even when the tempo is upped a little and Lauren gets ravey, as she does on Toxic, it’s hardly the full on bangs of Calvin Harris or David Guetta. Instead the synth sounds are soothing and cozy; the blissful sound of the drive home through the night as the sun rises.
Come on south coast boys, it’s time to up your game.
Lauren Scrivener - Waiting For You
Saturday, 12 April 2014
Comparisons to the vocal classiness and spacious electronic backing of Lorde are inevitable, but irrespective of sonic similarities this debut track, Crystals, from West Palm Beach residents Jude is an outstanding electronic pop song. There’s not that much information to go on at the moment, we don’t even know if the duo’s name was chosen after Jude The Apostle, Jude Law, The Beatles song, or something else. All the band told us as they dropped the song into our email in box yesterday afternoon was this: “We just released our first song today for free download. Ep coming this summer.” Their Facebook isn’t much help either: “You’ll see what you want to see,” they state.
What we do know is that Jude consists of Sydney Morris and Kevin James Neal and that Crystals drips and flows into the ears with fluid ease and then coats itself liberally over your brain. Give it a couple of plays and you’ll be humming the line about ‘crystals in the sky, everyone’s trying to get on by,’ before you know it. We particularly like the way that Sydney sings the word get – like she’s having to force it out from the back of her throat with some force.
A meritable start, now let’s see if they can throw in some more of their own identity as they release more material going forward.
Jude - Crystals
Friday, 11 April 2014
Pre-internet, when the distribution and way we listen to music was less complicated, things seemed a little more constant and ever present. Today however songs are like a prostitutes knickers, going up on line and then disappearing down again, particularly if an unsigned band sign a record deal or change musical direction and don’t want to be represented by their past material anymore.
Imagine The Beatles in this world. Would they decide that after releasing Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that they no longer wanted Please Please Me to be available as they didn’t represent who they were at that point and remove it from You Tube / Soundcloud etc? The internet and digital formatting has given artists that easy choice. History can be wiped away with the click of a button.
Which is why it’s nice to see Breaking More Waves favourites Curxes release a new mini LP prior to their debut proper, compiling some of their older singles and demos from the 2010-11 period, in a physical format (CD). It’s called Precurxor (see what they did there?) and in keeping with the bands past traditions was released on the tenth of the month (yesterday).
Having picked up on the band in the very early days, a large number of the tracks on the album have already been streamed on Breaking More Waves (before they were taken down from Soundcloud). However, there are also two brand new/unreleased/old demos - A Primary Question and Lightness. It’s A Primary Question that has immediately grabbed our ears; with its 80’s moody sounding synths, twangy guitars and drum machines it reminds us a little of The Cure. A Primary Question is less dense and pummelled with industrial noise than some of their later work, sounding as if it was recorded in a near empty room with nothing but shadows for companionship. This enables lead singer Roberta’s vocal, something we’ve always thought of the band's major tool, to be shown off to full effect, veering from a sexual cooing softness (even if she is singing lines like “death is collectable” – a reference to later taxidermy related videos perhaps?) to a more commanding sternness. Good stuff. Now the only primary question is why it remained for so long as an unreleased demo?
Buy the Precurxor CD, which contains 7 songs for just £5, including postage, from Bandcamp by clicking here, or download for £4. Bargain.
Curxes - A Primary Question
Thursday, 10 April 2014
Manchester’s Elliot Williams is Y.O.U. But no, he’s not you (unless of course your name is Elliot Williams). Instead he’s Your Own Universe which he forms the acronym Y.O.U from. His debut track Heavy Crown has already been online for a couple of months and is gradually being picked up by more and more blogs. So whilst we may not be the earliest on this, we’re never one to turn down a good pop song just because it’s been out for a while. It would be like turning down a date with your ultimate fantasy woman / man just because she’s had a few partners before finding you.
Heavy Crown may sound like a rather depressing title, but the song is anything but that. Bouncy basslines, choppy guitar licks, hooky electronics and a chopped up vocal sample intro that’s inventively entertaining make Heavy Crown a very chirpy number. “Everything will be just fine,” goes the lyric and you’d have to be a bloody enormous pessimist to disagree with that after hearing this. Smile-inducing dance pop.
Y.O.U - Heavy Crown
Our favourite gig of 2014 so far? MØ’s show in the scuzzy down at heel basement of Notting Hill Arts Club, London for New Shapes, an event put together by Neon Gold, National Anthem and Chess Club labels. Not only did it feature the first UK performance of New Zealand’s latest hot export Broods, but a low key ‘secret special guest’ show by the Danish queen of seductively brash power-pop herself before she played the much bigger Heaven venue the next day. It was a rush of energy, expression that seamlessly welded pop and punk into one full on in your face fun show that left us buzzing for days after.
MØ - Don't Wanna Dance (Goldroom Remix)