Monday 31 August 2009

Little Boots - This Weeks Remedy Check In

Did we say that we were becoming obsessed with the UK chart position of Little Boots ? Yes we did and yes we are. The single Remedy holds steady at number six this week and the album remains at twenty five. This has probably been helped with the recently released 99p bundle offer that includes the cover of the JLS song Beat Again, which is very good and is shaped a little bit like a Duran Duran track. The question we ask is if hardly anyone is buying recorded music these days, is chart placing really relevant ? Does anybody actually care other than Breaking More Waves ? We wrote about 'success' before here and here, and these blogs relate in particular to Little Boots.

So to answer the question, does anyone care ? It seems that some do. Have a look over here and you will see that the most discussed and viewed thread is the chart position of Little Boots. It’s good to see that some people are still as absurdly fixated as we are.

Here’s another cover version from Victoria. Before the Lady Ga Ga comparisons started with Remedy, back last year several commentators noted that there was a little bit of vocal similarity between Little Boots and Kate Bush. So here Little Boots does the obvious.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Little Boots - In Candlelight

It seems that we are becoming obsessed with the performance of Little Boots. This is how it must feel to work for a major label, becoming more concerned with chart positions and sales figures than the artistic merit of a particular song. Slowly slowly Victoria Hesketh climbs the UK charts with Remedy. Up to a very respectable number six now and the album back into the top thirty, the song is showing that unlike New In Town it gives some legs to those Little Boots. Cynics will say that with the weight of the label behind her the marketing men have gone to work and pushed Remedy hard, and that the public will buy whatever over exposed tosh is served up to them. However we trust the public more than that; look at X factor acts such as Eoghan Quigg, Brookstein and the fat one that sounded like a 1970's World Of Sport wrestler. Their lack of commercial success beyond the first single shows that the public can be brainwashed for a short time, but soon come to their senses. We’re very much hoping that the public keep Little Boots on the radio and in our ears.

The reason for this post ? Phew, we almost forgot. Here’s a different version of Remedy by candlelight which Little Boots recently performed at the Bathhouse in London. It firmly places her in the acoustic Kylie mode, with the first couple of notes bearing a striking resemblance to Foundations by Kate Nash. Lovely.

Friday 28 August 2009

Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn - Relator

To say that the 2008 album Anywhere I Lay My Head by actress Scarlett Johansson received a mixed reaction is probably something of an understatement. Some critics panned it, others loved it. It really was a marmite album. We liked it a lot. In fact it was one of our top ten albums of last year, catch our review here.

However, before Johansson released Anywhere I Lay My Head she had recorded another collection of songs back in 2006 with Pete Yorn, and this collection is now finally to see the light of day when the album Break Up is released in September. The album was inspired by Serge Gainsbourg’s 1960s recordings with Brigitte Bardot, a concept that came to Yorn in a dream.

The debut single from the album is Relator and it is far removed from the material on Anywhere I Lay My Head. It’s a short skippy snappy tune, almost cute and summery in its vibe. We certainly can’t hear any of the smouldering sexual erotic tension that existed on the best of the Gainsbourg and Bardot tracks, this is far lighter stuff. However the voices do compliment each other, Johansson producing a vocal sounding like a dulled southern gal Winehouse with Yorn providing a light poppy tone balancing the track well. It's a song that is less likely to receive so much love or hate as her previous releases and at the risk of sounding lazy, the best word we can use to describe the song is, well, just nice.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Vampire Weekend + The XX @ Brighton Concorde

What do you do when you’ve just released a highly acclaimed album that is almost perfect in its minimalist execution ? You go and play the songs live in an equally superb manner. Or at least that’s what you do if the name of your band is The XX.

Stepping in as support act to Vampire Weekend for this one off club date in Brighton The XX (pictured) line up stage front with two bright white XX’s glowing from black square boxes flanking each side of the stage. Their appearance is of burgeoning gloomy goths; all baggy black nondescript clothing with chains. They could be the ‘couldn’t be bothered’ friends of The Horrors. And whilst their music is darkly enigmatic, it bears more resemblance to something from the Martin Hannett school of Factory production than any Fields Of The Nephilim record. Perfectly seductive and subdued past-bedtime boy girl vocals nestle with awkward brooding Robert Smith like guitars and heavy electronic beats that verge towards dubstep. From the opening two songs of Intro and Crystallised it is clear that the XX are able to replicate their studio sound perfectly live. The recordings have plenty of space in between the urban melancholy notes meaning that played live there is nothing missing - no tacky orchestral strings played from keyboards where on record a live string section was used, no limp attempts at backing vocals to replicate multi vocal overdubs. The minimalism sounds strangely fuller in the live context. Throughout the XX remain aloof but even that seems perfect for the music, just a thank you in between songs which dual vocalists Romy and Oliver even manage to harmonise together at one point. A unique cover version of Womack and Womack’s Teardrops seals the deal. Wonderfully understated both musically and in terms of performance, it makes us love the album even more.

By modern standards Vampire Weekend are doing pretty well. They nearly have album No.2 in the bag, even although their last album is still wriggling around in the best of lists from last year. The groups infectious tunes and quirkiness are probably the reasons why UK audiences took them to their hearts so much last year. Despite their very smart creative nuance that could have easily come from the UK, lead singer Ezra is at pains to point out from the stage that “Contrary to popular belief, we’re not English.” However, we‘re not sure if there are many English bands that would feature a lanky drummer dressed in a basketball vest and a lead singer that wears a pair of shorts and a neat cotton shirt to play live. “A lot has changed since we played here last, we’ve got a backdrop now,” Ezra jokes, referencing the banner of their debut album cover behind them, and it is mainly songs from this album that the band play with just a few new tracks thrown in to test the audience. In fairness the new songs sound as quirky and inventive as the old ones taking tropical, African and dance rhythms as influences but adding more diversity. The set starts slowly with the oddball Mansard Roof and gradually builds, the crowd moving from head nodding appreciation to bouncing and dancing, particularly when the band let loose with A Punk. In the course of an hour Ezra turns from a nicely turned out preppy looking dude to a sweating, leg twitching rock beast. Or near as damn it. They end with Oxford Comma before returning to encore with the sprightly Walcott and leave the audience happy from a highly competent if largely forgettable show.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

King Charles - Love Lust

In June we introduced the strangely charming King Charles, a man of plentiful hair and pedigree tunes. You can read what we said then here. It now appears that the second single from King Charles will be the learned and sage Love Lust, released through Mi7 records at some point later this year, most likely we suspect around the time when he steps out on the road with Mumford and Sons for their September tour dates.

Starting with its multi layered and sentimental folkish a cappella chorus of “Never let a woman go, even when you know, she can always be replaced, she can always be replaced,” it’s one of those tracks that leaps out you from the very first moment, with its nippy twang, skittering percussion and celebration of true love over beauty. Then before you can say “The divine right of kings,” it warps into a headlong cavalry charge of psychedelic guitars and hyperactive keyboard riffs before concluding passionately that “Love will set your soul on fire.” Bow down before him and join his rallying call - long live the king !

At the moment there's no official video for the song, but enjoy this performance from Glastonbury 2009.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

DiScover Tour 2009 @ Brighton Freebutt

If 2009 has been the year that mainstream British pop music forgot about guitars, then on the evidence of this inaugural Drowned In Sound sponsored DiScover tour then the same can be at least partly said for the underground. Four very different bands play, but the common thread is the use of keyboards and electronica throughout.

Nullifier make a big noise, and its hardly surprising with a stage rammed full of two keyboard / electro men, two drummers, two guitarists, a bassist and a bare footed bespectacled vocalist. Their sound is often shouty and full on with quarrelsome keyboards and gruff guitars slapping each other hard round the face until they bleed in a battle for supremacy. Neither one gives in, but underneath the brutality we can hear a pop sensibility and some catchy hooks with neat tunes. It says something about a band whose vocalist loses his glasses to the floor halfway through the set, then just tosses them back to the ground again when an audience member hands them back.

Esben And The Witch (pictured) create a very different type of atmosphere. With skulls, lanterns and flower lights on stage the band evoke a ghostly hushed midnight chill. The band have improved technically since we first caught them at the end of last year, their sound now poised, dramatic and meshed with dark sonic innovation. With a drum at stage-front, similar to Florence And The Machine, the band maximise its use adding throbbing electronic beats, taught guitars, sinister synths and strong female vocals to create a haunting experimental sound that darkly enchants, particularly on the bass heavy Marching Song which sounds better live than on their EP. The trio end their set crowded round the drum, as if trying to cast some sort of spell from it, but their magic has already been evoked.

Rave hoodied up like a boxer about to enter the ring to dual with his laptop, Gold Panda seems strangely misplaced in the venues dark dingy space. His knob twiddling, sample firing, stuttering laptop trickery is surely better suited to an urban club vibe or an art school studio than the stinking drudgery of the Freebutt. Lit only by a single red light his crackly beats are both as geeky and as hip as where your thigh meets your stomach. Gold Panda is like a malfunctioning modern Aphex Twin, warped, wired up and skilfully good.

Three Trapped Tigers are the last band on and don’t quite make it to the end of their set due to the strict curfew. They have instrumental tracks that are named only by numbers. One of their trio bounces on the spot between tracks and head bangs during them. They deliver all over the place electronic jazz rock synth that refuses to stay in one place. There are acid rave basslines, prog keyboards, space invader arcade sounds and manic drumming that refuses to do anything as simple as a standard repetitive beat. Depending on your perspective its all either a little bit to clever and up its own backside or incredibly playful and challenging music that deserves to be given your full attention. We can salute the creative and intelligent musicianship, which manages to be both structured and chaotic, organic and mechanical all at the same time, but for us Three Trapped Tigers don’t grab our emotional core.

What this evening has proved is that the underground is in good health, with strong diversity and fresh sounds, all using electronica in exciting and often engrossing ways. Now, who fancies a listen to The Kooks then ? Er... thought not.

Monday 24 August 2009

The XX - XX

The debut album by The XX is a sparsely minimalist piece of work built around simple echoing guitar notes, moody keyboard sounds and the gloomy understated vocals of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft. It is pop noir of the highest order. In an era when expensive production teams and engineers are paid huge sums of money to layer, remix and over produce recordings, XX throws the strongest argument of less is more back at record companies. Even the sleeve design takes this approach, with a single X cut out of the card sleeve, revealing a white background which is the lyrics book of the album, full of abstract pictures and a simple 'Thank You' on the back cover. It reminds us in many ways of a Peter Saville / Factory record sleeve.

This is an album that strips things back to give a ghostly, slight and claustrophobic sound that demands to be listened to first time and gets better each time it is revisited. Frosty and enigmatic, it is full of subtle songs that creep under your skin. Layered with singular guitar notes reminiscent of early Cure songs and occasional electronic drum patterns it is most definitely indie music, but beautifully removed from the landfill indie that has been thrown up and regurgitated at us for the last few years. Tracks like Basic Space have so much latitude to them that they sound like they guitar based cousin of something darkly urban, perhaps Burials Untrue, all twitching beats combined with subdued tones from Oliver and accompanying sensual vocalisations from Romy. Elsewhere there are hints of Chris Isaak and his song Beautiful Game on the beautiful Infinity, which harbours the same refined atmospheric melancholy guitar styles.

In XX The XX have created a stunning debut. If you only buy one album this month, buy this. As autumn and winter arrive this one will be perfect.

Saturday 22 August 2009

The New Editor Of The NME - Time For Change ?

The appointment of Krissi Murison as the new editor of NME has created significant discussion over the last few weeks. Much of this discussion has revolved around the fact that she is a woman. The Guardian ran this interesting piece here. More importantly than the sex of the editor though is can she deliver a publication that is culturally relevant and of such worth that people want to read it ?

Here at Breaking More Waves we are going to reserve judgement on this matter. We prefer to wait to see how things unfold. However here’s a clue. Young Krissi recently wrote in the Times about her recent musical experiences of being in America and why she was looking forward to coming home. “I miss crowd-surfing at shows. I miss drunk people at shows. I miss drunk, underage people crowd-surfing at shows. I miss 18 year olds forming ludicrously experimental bands for a laugh, then splitting up on stage six weeks later. I miss it when one of those bands forgets to split up and inadvertently goes on to change the course of British pop music. I miss bands without facial hair. I miss bands with feathercuts. Mostly, though, I miss the constant drive to discover something new that means there’s never a dull day.”

“The constant drive to discover something new.” That’s the bit that interests us the most. Because the drive to discover something new may be there in its new soon-to-be editor, (who by all accounts is a very nice person and has pretty good musical taste ) but arguably that drive doesn’t sell copies any more. Mind you, it seems that the last few years attempts at constantly putting Oasis / The Libertines / Coldplay on the cover hasn’t worked either - sales of the NME are down to just below 50,000 now with a 24% year on year drop. Also although there may be the drive to find the new, when it occurs the magazine format of the NME fails - discovery to publication can take months, by which time the artist is almost second hand. Quite simply the NME can never respond as quickly as the internet (and particularly the blogosphere) can. A blogger can go and watch a band play their first gig tonight and write about them straight away then publish to the world with no editor to satisfy, no bureaucracy, no publication deadlines and dates. We wrote about this recently here. The NME simply can’t respond that quickly. So by the time the NME writes about something ‘new’ it no longer is. For example, this week in the NME the main Radar article, which is supposed to reveal new artists, featured Ellie Goulding. Even this blog, which is certainly not the hippest or most progressive wrote about Ellie last February and so have many others. Not only that but the departing editor Conor McNicholas must be staring out of the window eyeing up sports cars in preparation for his move to Top Gear magazine, because the feature describes Golding as “rousing folk rock for over-emotional drunks for fans of The Pogues, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash.” This is a terrible editorial error. If you have listened to Goulding you’ll know she sounds nothing like that.

So besides encouraging accurate and well written journalism one of the main challenges for Murison must be to develop a vision for the publication that works. If the NME is to stick to being called the NME rather than just the ME it needs to deal with how it is going to be leading rather than following in discovery of new music and somehow balance that against the commercial realities of the world, where its sales are dropping. Let’s put this in perspective; Metal Hammer now sells more copies than NME.

We wouldn’t fancy Murisons job, but wish her the best of luck and hope that she at least brings back some credibility to the NME.

Friday 21 August 2009

Summer Sundae 2009 - Part 3

Day three of Summer Sundae continued where the other two left off. More good weather and more diverse music. The highlight of the day, if not the whole festival, was the Israeli band Monotonix. Yet we have to admit we weren’t there. We missed them, instead choosing to watch indie rockers Flashguns. So how do we know they were the highlight ? Quite simply after they had played, everyone who saw them was talking about them. There was a complete buzz around the festival about their performance. Yet hardly anybody mentioned the music. You need to read about Monotonix first hand, so please check out Rullsenbergrules Blog and the Safe Concerts review and watch the video clips of the balcony escapades here to get an idea of what went on. There, see what we mean ?

So what of the acts we experienced ? Well, under spinning glitter ball lighting Woodpigeon bring softly sung acoustic bliss with loving delicate organ and keyboard sounds. The highlight of their set was a gorgeously idyllic and emotive cover of the Abba song Lay All Your Love On Me with Beth Jeans Houghton providing additional backing vocals whilst dressed in a frightful blonde afro wig and tiny mini dress. The band made the song their own, but unfortunately their self penned compositions can’t compare with the cover, although they are gracious and charming enough.

Whilst Monotonix are tearing up the De Montfort Hall four young men from Brighton step up to the Rising stage. “The name of this band is Flashguns,” lead singer Samuel Felix Johnston states confidently. With a Weller / Bragg type lad look, dressed in denim, Johnston is blessed with a strong voice, competent indie guitarmanship, a neat line in twitchy bent leg dancing and the sweat and passion of a man who utterly believes in what he is doing. The band have yet to write any distinguishing songs but their snarling indie growl certainly has some promise if they can continue to develop. St George is one of their best moments, it finds an atmospheric misty broodiness amongst the spunky indie rock.

Next up is Micachu And The Shapes. The newly blonded up Micachu has received some critical acclaim, but on this performance we see no justification for it. Her scuffed experimental tunes and droaning vocal lack any sort of charisma. There are moments when a riff or a rhythm will jump out for a nano second, but then scuttle away back into a hole. We applaud Mica Levi’s attempt to be innovative, but the messy random nature of her songs sits too far to the left for Breaking More Waves to enjoy.

The sister duo of First Aid Kit are much better. They are from Sweden but their music sounds like it has come from Kentucky. With just simple acoustic instrumentation, warm mesmerising harmonies and some of the most beautiful songs we hear all weekend, they prove that Swedes can do far more than the upbeat pop of Abba and Alphabeat. It’s almost worrying how two girls who are still in their teens are singing such world weary and heavy songs at such a young age, we wonder what their parents are like. Tangerine is the sad tale of an affair told from the perspective of the person left behind at home “Another business trip, another reason to stay away,” they gasp mournfully. They show that they haven’t lost all of their young innocence yet though, dedicating their cover version of Fleet Foxes Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song to “the blonde boy sitting on the barrel,” with a cheeky mischievous grin. Towards the end of their set another cover comes in the form of Donovans Universal Soldier, which as the girls explain was written by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Its theme of individual responsibility for war is as relevant today as it was when it was originally written, and First Aid Kit give it a more modern context by changing some of the words to suit the year we find ourselves in. It hushes the whole audience and receives rapturous applause at the end.

The haunting and slow folk vibe continues on the main stage with Bon Iver. Justin Vernon has been pedalling his trademark falsetto vocal and simple acoustic instrumention across the world for some time now, and as wonderful as Breaking More Waves favourite For Emma, Forever Ago is, his set is just starting to become a little bit tired now, being not that different from when we were first astounded by its performance a year ago at the End Of The Road Festival. The treble drumming Skinny Love, engrossed beauty of Re:Stacks and the gently rocking Blood Bank with its lyrics of “As the moon waned to crescent, we started to kiss,” are all wonderful, but the announcement that this is their last show in Britain for some time seems well timed. Not everyone seems hugely impressed with Bon Iver however, a significant number of the audience disappearing halfway through the set to go and watch The Lightning Seeds.

It’s left to headliners The Zutons to close Summer Sundae 2009. Its been a difficult time for the Liverpool band having been dropped by the record label following the poor sales performance of their last album, and at first it’s easy to see why the record didn’t sell. Songs such as Always Right Behind You sound like a horrible mix of Status Quo and ZZ Top; swine flu seems almost preferable. But as their set progresses memories are jogged as to why The Zutons were once the toast of the town and picked up a Mercury nomination for Who Killed The Zutons? Songs such as You Will You Won’t and the much extended crowd pleasing Zuton Fever are expert pop tunes with a hint of soul, and sometimes we need reminding that Valerie is actually a Zutons song and does not belong to Ms Winehouse. The band are also cheesy enough to give the audience plenty of fun, from encouraging them to wave their arms side to side Take That style to shouts to “get involved,” over their old school grooviness. “Can you understand a word I’m saying?” Dave McCabe asks the audience in his broad accent. It doesn’t matter if they can’t, The Zutons do their job well.

So Summer Sundae 2009 was a success. It’s a very well run and organised festival, with good infrastructure, and the most friendly and helpful stewards / security that Breaking More Waves has experienced at such an event. With its well planned running times enabling punters to skip between the main stage and smaller stages without missing anything on the main stage and a huge range of diverse music that mixes older established bands with bright young new things and more obscure acts, its claims of being ‘a musical treat’ are exactly right. Breaking More Waves highly recommends it as excellent value for all discerning music fans.

This chap seemed to be enjoying himself as well......

Thursday 20 August 2009

Summer Sundae 2009 - Part 2

Saturday of Summer Sunday Weekender 2009 brings exactly what the logo and strap line of the festival promise, namely “a musical treat” and lots of ice cream. It’s even possible to buy an ice cream called the ‘Bon Iver’ and the stall selling them seems to be doing a brisk trade. Thankfully the weather forecast from two days before is horrendously wrong and the sun shines all day. This means that the main stage area is once again full of picnic blankets. Luckily folding chairs are banned from the site otherwise moving across this particular area could have become a highly challenging assault course. The emptiest area by the main stage is actually right at the front, which is zoned by shade, making it relatively easy to turn up five minutes before a band are due to play and stand right against the barrier without being crushed if you so wish, whilst picnic types fight for space behind.

Like vampires a small audience initially take shelter from the sun in the De Montfort Hall to enjoy the experimental acoustic looping of David Thomas Broughton. The man is either a warped genius or just warped. With a folkish vocal tone not dissimilar to a deeper Antony from Antony and The Johnsons, Broughton uses loops like many of his contemporaries to layer and build tracks, but unlike many of his peer group his approach is much rougher, erratic and unconventional. He seems to want to destroy songs with uneasy noise and distortion with little regard for the enjoyment of his audience. By the end members of the crowd are covering their ears to avoid the high pitch squealing pain Broughton has induced over subtle and delicate acoustic tones. There are no gaps between his songs, no communication, no concession. This oddball maverick approach also applies to his physical performance which includes standing at the microphone self-consciously singing with both hands in his pockets, throwing himself across the floor and head butting the microphone. His lyrics are also both comic and disturbing. “I’m going to charge through this china shop, I’m going to drink till I stink, such is the nature of a drunk,” he operatically growls. Utterly memorable and perversely enjoyable.

Next up, outside in the sun Minnaars bombard the crowd with spikey post punk guitars that scream Foals at us in large capital letters. We almost expect them to cover Cassius and rename themselves Horses. Three years back this stuff would have seemed intelligently exciting and fresh , but now it seems dated, faded and worn. The indie kids at the front love them (they are local so that helps) and I’m sure the director of Skins will soon be in touch, but frankly the bus left two years ago and Minnaars are still waiting at the stop.

The Joy Formidable are however on the bus. Or rather they are the bomb on the bus in the film Speed. Ticking with a powerful fizz ready to explode, the Welsh trio show that exciting indie Brit guitar pop can still be made that doesn’t have to pay references to Blur, The Libertines or the like. Lead singer Ritzy is dynamite, her scuzzily sonic guitar becoming a little too aggressive for the good townsfolk of Leicester, the band being instructed to turn it down a little. Their sound is brash, frantic and has hints of bands such as Belly, Throwing Muses and Echobelly as well as atmospheric hints of Mogwai. Having first written about the band last January it’s good to finally catch them live and find that they live up to expectations. Leicester is theirs, easy.

“I’m not sure if our music is suited to a warm sunny day in Leicester,” says the lead singer of Broken Records and unfortunately he’s right. Despite the quality of the sound that mixes traditional instrumentation of accordion, cello, acoustic guitars and trumpets something is missing. Many of the songs meander with lots going on but nothing really hitting home. Even the epic closing number Slow Parade lacks potency. Maybe their songs work better in a dark sweaty club, maybe it was just an off day, or maybe the songs lose impact from being singularly formulaic in their attempts to fill the space with grandiose bombast. “This is a village fete not a festival,” they moan berating much of the crowd for sitting down, and then later when they ask for help in pushing their broken van seem surprised when no one volunteers. They seem to have forgotten the golden rule of not insulting your audience.

“It’s so hot in here there’s actually sweat dripping off the ceiling. It’s lovely isn’t it?” James Yuill (pictured) questions. His music burns us up as well. With a full booming sound system that gives just the right balance between his punchy laptop synthtopia and acoustic guitar plucking Yuill shows us exactly why we put his album in our Top Ten of 2008. No Pins Allowed, This Sweet Love and Over The Hills are all gloriously pumping, beats diving in all directions. Yet despite the maxed up dance power of his songs the audience prefer to stand and stare. This is the dichotomy for Yuill. His electronic side suits the dance party but his singer songwriter approach, acoustic moments, tie, glasses and general nice lad demeanour are more suited to a folk club. Yuill finds himself in a gap, but he’s building bridges with some aplomb.

Our next performance is a so called ‘secret’ set by Frank Turner on a tiny BBC Leicester stage next to the signing tent, which is announced from the main stage just seconds before he plays. Frank rips his way through two songs Long Live The Queen and Dan’s Song, with his typical acoustic punk passion, one of which Breaking More Waves captured for your viewing pleasure below.

Breaking More Waves first saw St Etienne play live over fifteen years ago and their Summer Sundae set is one of the best we have seen them play in all of that time. The band have discarded the notion of trying to be a proper ‘live’ band, instead adopting an approach similar to the Pet Shop Boys. Much of the music is pre recorded, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs standing at the back of the stage twiddling knobs and samplers leaving Sarah Cracknell and a single backing vocalist to carry the live weight. And whilst music snobs would criticise this as not being real it gives them a much more focussed and powerful dance sound, with a shimmying feather boa clad Cracknell providing heightened sophistication. Spring is gorgeous sixties pop combined with dub, This Is Tomorrow space age electro that isn’t a mile from the bands younger contemporaries such as Little Boots, and any band that can open with a song so perfect as the sublime Nothing Can Stop Us Now should at least be knighted. Even after all these years St Etienne show exactly how pop music can be uber cool, and they get the picnic blanket brigade dancing.

Its virtually full to capacity for The Airbourne Toxic Event in the De Montfort Hall and from the word go the band excel. The bands debut album did very little for Breaking More Waves, lacking imagination and being full of indie rock clichés. Yet it is exactly these qualities that work so well in the live arena. From the cavalcade of noise that marks their entry, to the soaring violins, chiming guitars, and pounding bass Airborne Toxic Event seem to take tiny elements of every acclaimed commercially successful indie rock band of the last ten years and manufacture their own stomping rock beast from it. As the band sing “Sorry I really lost my head,” on Happiness Is Overrated we almost feel ourselves doing the same. Airborne Toxic Event play with a brooding urgency that’s impossible not to be moved by.

Still with us ? It was a long day, but fear not we’re nearly there.

The Radio 1 / Kanye West effect of Supernova means that the audience for Mr Hudson is full of over enthusiastic teens at the front and he plays up to them coming to the edge of the stage to elicit sexually repressed squeals from the young girls hugging the barrier. Mr Hudson has become a proper pop star. With this of course will come accusations of selling out, but at least the man isn’t ignoring his first album which he announces he was incredibly proud of and recommends the audience buy on I Tunes “It’s probably only two quid the way things are going,” he jokes. There’s plenty of crowd surfing and girls on shoulders and yet with the exceptions of the skanking Too Late Too Late and the mass sing along to Supernova we find the whole thing slightly lacklustre, but then maybe we need a big shot of youthful adrenalin.

Youthful adrenalin is leaking out everywhere for Chipmunk. “Any under 18’s in the house?” he asks. The room erupts. If the Airborne Toxic Event use rock cliché after rock cliché then Chip Diddy Chip does the same for MCing. From his commands to “Put your hands in the air and bounce,” to his blatant self promotion, with numerous mentions of his forthcoming single Oopsy Daisy and “Who’s coming to see Tinchy Strider on tour,” before adding that he’ll be playing as well, Chipmunk is certainly self assured and confident. “Everybody say my name now,” he asks before throwing CD’s out to the audience. There’s lots of “Hey ho, hey ho,” arm waiving and “Who’s gonna buy my album?” requests, and we wonder if maybe a few indie rock bands should watch and learn from Chipmunk. They might actually sell some records then. Diamond Rings is of course the best moment whipping Leicester into a late night storm and then he’s gone. What’s his name ?

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Summer Sundae 2009 - Part 1

With the UK festival market reaching saturation, a festival needs to have a unique selling point. Summer Sundae, based in Leicester has several. The events compact city centre location means that the four stages are all very close to each other, and with a staggered running order that enables you to watch (if you chose to) every act on the main stage as well as full sets by artists appearing on the other stages in between, it is a music lovers paradise. In theory in one day you could watch about sixteen full sets by different bands, although you would need to fit in food, drink and toilet breaks somewhere as well.

Another unique factor of Summer Sundae is the ‘Indoor Stage’, more commonly known as the De Montfort Hall. The De Montfort Hall is a typical purpose built concert hall complete with balcony, comfy seats and proper toilets. No danger of trudging around in the mud here, although for Summer Sundae 2009 it was gloriously sunny, so entering the darkness of the indoor stage felt a little improper for such good weather, but where there was music to be discovered, needs must. Many punters seemed to enjoy staying sitting outside on the grass at the main stage, giving that area a very relaxed wine glass and picnic type atmosphere, which seemed somewhat incongruous with the often hip roster of bands that graced the Summer Sundae line up.

The first early afternoon stop of the first day for Breaking More was in the Phrased and Confused poetry tent where four artists were commissioned to produce new and exclusive works for this festival. We caught three piece Sound Of Rum who produce a piece of work combining ambient atmospherics that build into an almost jazzy, dubby flowing groove whilst Strongbow drinking, ladette look a like Kate Tempest delivers one hundred mile an hour poetry about the way that patterns in life unfold. Her rap may be charged and forceful but combined with the music its extremely effective and potent.

The Pencil Stringhorn Project crack on with the music and words groove although to a lesser influence than Sound Of Rum. With midnight sax riffs and creaky rhythmic cello backing, poet Joshua Idehen croons a piece about gang enlistment and the BNP entitled You're Strolling With Us Dogs Now; “There’s no one to turn to - we’ll sort you out,” he raps. Its menacing and dark. Elsewhere other tracks are of a more personal nature, with a piece about Idehens arguing neighbours.

The newly relocated Rising Stage is our next stop , where once again Summer Sundae have teamed up with Drowned In Sound who curate the stage. BLK JKS from Johannesburg start their set with a few minutes of moody muso noodling which slowly grows into what could at best be described as a sky touching anthem, and at worst, a song constructed of more moody muso noodling. Not everything is like this though. In fact one of BLK JKS qualities is the variety in their songs. There are twitchy funky guitars, complicated pace changing rhythms, whistling and a few rather nasty prog rock moments. All this variety means that we soon need a musical map as BLK JKS loose us in their hazy blend of sounds, as well as a significant number of the crowd who leave the marquee early. It’s all a little bit like a TV On The Radio practice session. A look what they can do with a guitar type experience. Competent musicianship but not nothing to engage an audience with.

The Qemists fusion of rock and drum and bass in the De Montfort Hall seems to be a little bit misplaced on the bill, being far more suited to late night hedonism. The Brighton bands energised sound under a strobe light frenzy is just a little too derivative for Breaking More Waves tastes, taking the electronic fireworks of The Prodigy and Pendulum as their starting point, but without the character or style of either of these two bands, although the youthful crowd surfers in the audience would probably disagree.

Oi Va Voi on the main stage continue the musically diverse spectrum of groups at Summer Sundae. With a mixture of clarinet, drums, violin, trumpet and guitar their sound is gypsy pop dancing with Shirley Bassey at the circus. With lead singer Bridgette Amofah parading around the stage in a blue mini skirt and red heels, and the very orange looking violin player Anna Phoebe diving on her knees and arching her back as she plays, they create a visual playfulness which balances neatly against their perfectly contained sound.

Unfortunately Fridays headliners The Streets had to pull out of the days proceedings due a bout of swine flu which means that Idlewild were bumped up the bill as emergency last minute headliner. This leaves Beardyman to fill the Idlewild early evening slot on the main stage. “Make some noise Leicester,” he shouts and finally gets the crowd off their cosy picnic blankets. Beardyman is a stunning and often hilarious beat boxer, but these days his set has evolved to incorporate electronic sampling and mashing his own voice to create live dance tracks, as well as the addition of a live guitarist for part of his set. This is highly technically impressive, but nothing can match the rawness of just his pure beat boxing particularly when he drops in The White Stripes Seven Nation Army into the mix.

Just a few weeks ago we witnessed Dan Black play probably his most surreal gig ever at the Camp Bestival bandstand to an audience of heckling four year olds and their parents. He’s back on more usual ground at Summer Sundae with the front row full of screaming teens and a mix of curious twenty to forties behind them. “I feel like Boyzone,” he announces. “It’s early, so give us a moment to let the juices fully come to the boil,” he states before ripping through a set of gleaming electro pop, roaming the stage in power drill circles, dancing awkwardly in his pointy shoes; toes pointed inwards. Alone is once again the highlight, spitting funky bass lines whilst whooshing synth sounds attack with shabby tongue out lustfulness. The juices were flowing for sure.

Taking the main stage to the sound of air horns Mystery Jets demonstrate just how many good songs they have written in a relatively short space of time. Half In Love With Elizabeth, Young Love and Two Doors Down are all deliciously sweet, showing the band can pen quirky summery euphoric pop songs, although their sound occasionally suffers from being a little sleight and the band lack that indefinable stage presence to give them extra muscle. This lack of robust might leads to the back section of the audience virtually ignoring the band. A new song This Girl Is Gone shows the band progressing on the route to more mature singer songwriter type tunes that bodes well for the future, if they can master the art of holding everyone’s attention, rather than just half the crowd.

And so following on from their previous headlining slot at Summer Sundae in 2005, Idlewild step into the breach left by The Streets. Roddy Woomble apologises to the relatively small crowd (for a headliner) for not being Mike Skinner but nobody seems to mind. Idlewild deliver the goods, playing it straight and racing through a set of crowd pleasers including Everyone Says You’re So Fragile, When I Argue I See Shapes, You Held The World In Your Arms and Roseability. Idlewild are just five boys making a lovely noise. Their edgy guitar sound is pleasingly powerful, the vocals having just enough sneer and dourness to be affecting. It’s a fine end to the first day Of Summer Sundae 2009, but Saturday gets even better...

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Bat For Lashes - Sleep Alone

On the 7th September Bat For Lashes release their third single from the Mercury nominated album Two Suns. Sleep Alone is a hazily haunting song where Natasha Khan sings of loneliness over an incessantly plodding beat. What we find rather odd about this release is that the record company have chosen to shorten the song and cut the whole of the second verse from the version on the album. By chopping lyrics so harshly it seems to vindicate an argument that the cut lyrics weren’t very good. But if this was the case why put them on the album in the first case ? If the cut has been made to make the song more radio friendly then a reduction in length from four minutes to three is pointless when many singles now hit four minutes and still receive plenty of radio play. Someone is being short changed here.

Maybe in the future record companies could charge for albums and singles based on the number of lyrics. Just think, I Tunes could offer Sleep Alone (All verses version) for 79p, the single version for 59p and maybe an abridged version where everything but the chorus is removed for just 29p. Bargain.

Monday 17 August 2009

Kid Adrift - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

What is it with these kids ? Having recently posted about Unicorn Kid and Casio Kids we now feel compelled to make it triplets and bring to your attention the massive sound of Kid Adrift. If you took a big raft of overblown pompous rock and set it off through a computer, mashed in some dubstep beats, a layer of distortion and gave the whole thing a post-apocalyptic shove of electronica you would probably be lurking off the same shores as Kid Adrift.

The twenty one year old Glaswegian is creating a sound that is gloriously gargantuan. Red Green And Blue has already picked up significant radio play off the back of a CD that Kid Adrift handed in to BBC Scotland DJ Vic Galloway and since then Huw Stevens and Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 have been blasting the song out, and believe us blast is the right word. It’s speaker shattering stuff. Whilst for a whole variety of complicated reasons relating to the greyness of the law relating to ownership of music we don’t post tracks for download on this blog, Kid Adrift has very kindly produced a neat little widget that allows you to listen to the track below. There’s more of this to come as well. Another Kid Adrift song, Customer Satisfaction sounds like Mozart gone mad with a laptop. Fantastic. It’s early days but Kid Adrift is certainly one to file under that well worn tag of one to watch. Modern classics such as these will be available on his debut EP due for release later this year.

Friday 14 August 2009

Little Boots - Remedy

Remedy is the new single from Little Boots.

In this age when singles that aren’t even officially released yet can enter the chart, Remedy is already at number fourteen and has been loitering there for seven weeks. Once an album is released and any single track is available for download, the notion of singles having an official release date is virtually obsolete. However for those who wish to own a physical format of the single, some new remixes or just help propel Little Boots further up the chart, your official chance comes next week.

Remedy is the Little Boots single that New In Town should have been. If Princess Leia went blonde, swapped the light sabre for a Tenori-On and stabbed the keyboard with a dazzle of Lady Ga Ga meets Britney meets Kylie ish hooks then this tune would have been the result. It’s pure pop that would get even the stiffest storm trooper swinging its hips. It may not be particularly original or have the geeky charm of Stuck On Repeat, but it’s still a fine moment of commercial electro fun. We hope it's not too late to save the album from the bargain bins and that a rise up the charts will now commence. As we have said before, the album deserves to be a bigger commercial success than it currently has been. Remedy may not cure all the ills created by New In Town, but it's a neat spoon of pop medicine that makes us feel a hell of a lot better.

On a side note, in a previous post we stated the absolute need for pop stars to be sexy, that sex sells and that Little Boots hadn't quite achieved that for us. Having watched this video we retract that statement. Totally.

Thursday 13 August 2009

The Drums - Let's Go Surfing

So after nearly two weeks soaking up the summer sun in Spain, Breaking More Waves is back; not that you missed us anyway with all those posts written and scheduled in advance. So here’s a few more. Because after a quick pit stop, by the time you read this we will have set off to continue our summer of festivals at Summer Sundae in Leicester. In the meantime whilst we’re still on a holiday vibe of sun, sand and sangria here is a new single from Brooklyn dudes The Drums called Let’s Go Surfing. It’s being released in the UK on Moshi Moshi in mid September.

Featuring the best whistling on a song since Peter, Bjorn and John’s Young Folks, the song is a perky number with a sea bound sound that radiates cheer. The band formed recently when long standing friends Jonathan Pierce and Jacob Graham got together to collaborate, and although these two form the core of the group, they have subsequently expanded to a four piece. The reason for the bands name is simple, they chose it because “they thought it sounded just so cool.” In visualising what The Drums would look like just from the song, without seeing the video, one would expect vintage 50’s or 60’s Beach Boys Hawaiian shirts combined with preppy cardigans like Vampire Weekend and long grey overcoats straight out of the late 70’s early 80’s Manchester post punk scene. It’s an odd blend of influences but is irresistibly head nodding. Now let’s get down to that beach again and enjoy the singing, stringing, twanging and banging of The Drums. Surfs up.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Clock Opera - Interview

A short while back we introduced Clock Opera, a staggeringly brilliant group who have produced one of our favourite songs of the year in Once And For All. It’s an astounding piece of work - part pop song, part electronic symphony of the highest atmospheric order. It's our most played tune of the last month and when we play out under our occasional DJ role we are currently using it as one of our opening tracks. Now it’s time to meet Guy Connelly, the genius behind Clock Opera's experimental harmonies. Trust us. This lot are good.

Hello Guy. OK first of all we are going to gush like an excited teenager and tell you that Once And For All is one of our favourite songs of the year. Please can you tell us about the song, we’re desperate to know more.

Thank you! You are a kind one. Actually, the teenage nature of your gush is appropriate as the song was inspired by fifteen year-olds. I saw this amazing theatre show called Once And For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen about what you do when you’re that age. It started off with them talking, fighting, having a laugh, making stuff and knocking it down, and you couldn’t work out what was going on. But then they repeated exactly the same thing in different ways. Anyone younger or older couldn’t have done it and I loved that we were watching something that wouldn’t exist for very long.

It made me remember exactly what it was like to be fifteen, and realise what has changed for me since. When you’re that age, there are some things you just know. You don’t ever expect to forget them, but you do. Watching the play made me wonder whether anything I am certain of now will disappear in the same way.

We know very little about you, but you appear to have created some really interesting, unusual and exciting work already. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your work for theatrical companies that you have been involved in?

I used to be in a band called The Fallout Trust, which became The Corrections. Then I started Clock Opera, and about the same time wrote a score for Rambert Dance Company using strings, samplers and bits of metal (as in dog bowls and old car batteries, not Sepultura. Since then, I’ve worked with (the amazing) Tangled Feet on a few things and done a couple of short films.

My experience of being in a band is that you write something, rehearse it, demo it, play it at a gig maybe, record it, mix it, then maybe someone puts it out some time later, when “the time is right”, which can easily equate to “when everyone involved is bored shitless with it”. With Tangled Feet I wrote the music and it was played to people almost immediately, which I absolutely love.

So many musicians in bands don’t do anything else. I used to be one of them. That can melt your brain. Doing other things keeps all of them happy and fresh. This is what I have learned and it is a great and original revelation, I’m sure you will agree.

It seems that you have only played live so far a very small amount of times, how have those shows gone and are there plans to play live more often ?

Amazing. Yes, we’d only played a couple of gigs when people started getting in touch. Now we are veterans after four gigs. We’ve only just got to the stage of being able to play the songs without our eyes coming out on stalks, so we might start having more fun on stage soon. A load more gigs are coming up soon.

We hear you have been working with Graham Stewart who has worked with Radiohead. How did that come about?

I produced an album with Graeme for The Corrections. He seduced me by letting me play on Thom Yorke’s old guitar. Now we are friends and like doing things together so he’s been helping me with mixes of my new songs.

Can you tell us a bit about how you go about constructing a song?

Record something quickly. Guitar or piano or whatever’s lying about. Don’t stress about quality. Chop into tiny pieces. Reconstruct. Hit whatever is near. Wail nonsense. Write words. Re-write words. Trim. Mix. Play.

Are there plans for any physical or on line releases to purchase?

Recordings are ready to go. Hope to have news to reveal soon.

This is a question we have been asking every band / artist we interview. What is your take on illegal downloading?

Simultaneously amazing and frustrating. It’s massively liberating how loads of people can get to know you really quickly and it’s revolutionary to be able to listen to anything you want, anywhere, any time. What bugs me is that, even if people love your records, you have to rely on other ways to make a living as an artist than just to make music. I love playing live, but resent the idea that you must do in order to survive. What do you do if your music can’t be re-created at a gig? Overall, I think it places greater reliance on advertising to support music, rather than music supporting itself, which doesn’t fill me with joy.

Now, imagine this is a job interview. Where do you see Clock Opera in five years time?

The gutter. Do I get the job?

Another job interview question- What do you think is the greatest strength of Clock Opera?

Blind optimism.

And finally – What is your favourite opera?

None. To be very generalistic, I like the music, can’t stand the singing. Maybe it’s like olives, and I will do one day.

Thanks Guy, look out for more gigs and a debut release from Clock Opera soon ! Here's a trailer for the play that inspired Once And For All.


Tuesday 11 August 2009

The Importance Of Music Blogs

A while ago when we interviewed Portsmouth based singer songwriter Loz Bridge he made some insightful and intelligent comments about the value of music criticism, in particular that he felt the point of it was to entertain rather than to educate. From his point of view, as an artist, all he wanted from a blog was a good quote he could use to help market his band. From an artists perspective that probably is one of the major values, but what about on a wider scale? Is there a value in a music blog ?

Somebody once said that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they’d eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. Thanks to the internet, we now know this isn’t true. Such is the danger and beauty of blogging. Uncensored publication has big advantages and disadvantages, particularly in relation to music criticism. Anyone can be a music critic these days, just create a blog account and away you go. We’ve managed it - it’s a lot easier to do than writing a paper based fanzine as we used to back in the olden days.

The advantages of a blog over established popular media are clear to see. There’s no editor, no PR company to suck up to and therefore no compromise. This potentially gives music blogs higher levels of credibility than standard industry publications. Music bloggers may not have the literary or journalistic skills of the established press, but you don’t need great skills to be able to explain how a song, album or performance makes you feel, and that’s important.

In the past music criticism was carried out by the elite few, reviewing albums before the public got to hear them or reviewing performances that only a selected audience could experience. But in this fast accessible world of illegal downloading, self shot You Tube concert footage, band Myspace pages and the like almost everything is available fast and easy.

This is where the critic and particularly the blogger come in. Blogs / critics can help sift through the masses out there. They can guide those who don’t have huge quantities of time to investigate everything that is available – pointing people in the direction of things that they may like. So critical blogs can do more than just entertain, they can help educate as well. Blogs have the upper hand here over the established press, as blogs can respond quickly. With no editorial bureaucracy and schedule dates a blogger can discover a band or a song they like and publish immediately.

Of course the problem is with so many bands and so much access there are now so many blogs. It becomes difficult to know what to trust. So find a collection of blogs you like or identify with that share similar tastes and opinions to your own and stick with them. Follow, subscribe or get their feeds and save yourself some time in sorting out the wheat from the chaff. Hopefully Breaking More Waves may even be one of those blogs you come back to !

Footnote: You may also want to read our other article on 'Opinions and blogs' which gives a number of other reasons why we think blogs are important here

Monday 10 August 2009

Bloc Party - One More Chance

Today Bloc Party release a new one off single One More Chance. Following on from the Intimacy album it seems like the band are defiantly trying to steer away from being labelled as an indie post punk guitar band and have veered in a very different direction, creating what is effectively a simple Italian house piano track similar to something you may have heard circa 1989-1991 on the Deconstruction label. Has Kele been listening to Black Box and their album Dreamland perhaps ? One More Chance rather sounds like an old Bloc Party song that has been given the remix treatment, except the band have forgotten to release the original song as well.

No doubt the track will divide fans, and purist indie guitar lovers will probably loathe it with a passion. At the rate Bloc Party are going, this year will be their last Reading Festival and next year they’ll be playing Creamfields instead. Some will say that the band aren't being true to their roots, but aren't a group of individuals allowed to have more musical taste than just one genre or style ? For the record, despite the songs throwaway simplicity we like it, not just because the band are progressing and taking risks by possibly alienating much of their existing fan base but because it’s an ass shaking, punching the air, confident disco stormer. Get ready for the weekend.....

Friday 7 August 2009

Hot Feet - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Hot Feet may be closely linked name wise to the staggeringly awful rockers Hot Leg (featuring the so bad he makes us shudder ex Darkness man Justin Hawkins) but we are pleased to say that that is where the joining of the dots ends. Hailing from sleepy Stroud, Gloucestershire, Hot Feet produce a delicate traditional folk sound that has a loose jazzy style to it. Their songs are formed out of light pattering drums, neat guitar work and soft fiddles that guide and glide, gently fusing with the vocal charms of Marianne Parish. Brought up with her fathers record collection of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Fairport Convention, Marianne’s voice is very much rooted in the sounds of traditional folk music, giving the band an old fashioned feel. This feel is also displayed in the bands photo shoots which have soft muted colours reminiscent of photography in the seventies or black and white styled as if it were the sixties.

There’s a warm intimacy to the sound of Hot Feet, you can hear it in the bobbing Firefly, which has just a hint of Fairground Attraction about it and the sparse and simple Joni Mitchell like Monsoon. It’s also very sweet, but not overly sickly. This is demonstrated on Wonderful Liar, a track which has an almost folk blues riff running through its choppy sturdy acoustic sound. There’s no video from the band at the moment, so instead have a listen by clicking on their linked name above. Whatever you do don’t search You Tube for Hot Feet as we did, trying to find a live clip of the band. If you do you’ll find some very odd films. You have been warned.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Unicorn Kid - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

From Casio Kids who we recently posted about, to another new kid - from Scotland. Unicorn Kid is Oli Sabin. He’s seventeen years old. He has a penchant for toy animal headwear. He makes the kind of music that would violently force any self-respecting, serious music fan over the age of about sixteen to slash his or her wrists. For such a person such self harm would be infinitely more preferable than to listen to the speed addled eight bit bleepy euro chiptune he makes. Okay, we are some distance from our teenage years we can’t deny that, but who said that we had any self-respect or indeed were even serious ? Sometimes we just want to pretend we can jump as high as Super Mario and Unicorn Kid provides the soundtrack to do this.

The electro game wave sound of Unicorn Kid is the sound of a console taking some pills and frugging with a sequencer once used by Basshunter. We’ve had wonky pop, now this is wonky dance. Yes there are sneaky elements of trance and hardcore in what Unicorn Kid does, but his sound is, as Mr Rascal would say, much more bonkers than that. It is utterly stupid, utterly ridiculous, and in many ways utterly horrendous, but there’s something there, something quite bizarre, that makes us really like it. For at least five minutes anyway.

It seems that we’re not the only old kids on the block that have a guilty crush on this insistent gate crashing sound. For Unicorn Kid was recently asked to remix the Pet Shop Boys Did You See Me Coming at the bands request. With teenage bravado, Oli showed no reverence for the synth pop gods, stripping the song back to just the vocal and replacing it with a pac man zapping groove. That's confidence for you. He’s also just released his new single Wee Monsters. Listen and be enjoyably scared. This could be the future of music.

For regular readers, or anyone out of their teens, in fact anyone who prefers our normal coverage of cool underground pop, indie guitar bands, or sensitive new folk types, we apologise for possibly offending with this article, but we refuse to have singular vision in our music tastes. Ears wide open. Always. Normal service will however soon be resumed - otherwise the music police will be out to arrest us.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Lucky Elephant - Starsign Trampoline

Starsign Trampoline by Lucky Elephant sounds like a vintage summer evening, carefully wrapped in a timeless blanket of warmth. If that sounds pretentious then listen to the album and then find yourself agreeing. For Starsign Trampoline is something that you seldom hear these days; a record that cannot be easily compared to any other artist or recording.

Formed from the emotional spectrum of Frenchman Emmanuel ‘Manu’ Labescats vocals and the music of Sam Johnson, Paul Burnley and Laurence Clack - two of whom were previously part of lush organic electronic group Boomclick, Starsign Trampoline is a gorgeous record that casts mellow sunny vibes in a way that probably only a band from the Isle Of Wight could. A beautifully flowing piece of work cast out of pianorgans, wurlitzers, glockenspiels, melodicas, bass, guitar and drums, Starsign Trampoline is subtly melancholic and touched with beauty.

Although the album has had a relatively low key release it really deserves more exposure. It is full of wonderfully earthy instrumentation and lovely songs that are just asking to be soaked up this summer. The opening self titled instrumental has a groove that sounds like a kids lost television show, complete with shuffling percussion and catchy piano riff. After this African guitars and wurlitzers lead us into the jaunty Edgar with its rural lyrical landscape. Other standout songs are The Pier, an epic soaring highlight where Manu sings in his most unusual accented voice of the destruction of his hometown for commercial gain. “The pier isn’t worth an eyelid in a business plan,” he suggests. Then there’s Modern Life where an almost dub sounding bass and reggae like riff echo along as Manu sings “We used to climb the waterfalls every morning.” Another favourite is The Reverend Tilsey And His Magical Lantern, it’s the musical big brother of the opening tack with its tilting plodding organ sound and Manu’s charming enunciation of words. In fact it is Manu's vocals that are fundamental to the Lucky Elephant sound, with their emphasis on accented elegance leading the songs to places you wouldn't expect.

Starsign Trampoline will probably never sell huge numbers of copies, or be picked up by the media as a buzz album, but for those who are lucky enough to hear it, they will know that they have discovered something very special and unique.

Lucky Elephant 'Lucky Elephant'

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Mirrors - Fear Of Drowning

Since we first came across Brighton band Mirrors back in April the group have been labelled a buzz band, received a tongue lashing from the NME, played just a handful of shows, and received a fairly good reaction on a number of blogs including this one. The band have also released their debut single Look At Me which we reviewed here and you can purchase exclusively on 7” vinyl through Pure Groove here . Now without announcement the band have put a new video out to the world. Fear Of Drowning is the song that Mirrors have been opening their few live outings with. It’s a brooding polished pulsing number with ambient lush washes of synth, distant cinematic drums and lyrics about being shrouded in sin. Listening to this track over and over again we have become more and more convinced that the Brighton tag is an error and the band are actually from Berlin - it has that arty European feel to it. And yes, Kraftwerk are a reference point, both musically and visually. Mirrors are a band that have a strong visual aesthetic, it’s one of the things that sets them apart from your typical scruffy band of twenty something blokes in skinny jeans. That alone should be worth celebrating, but the music is equally of cause for joy, albeit in a sombre and reflective way. Here's the new video.

Monday 3 August 2009

Here Comes The Sun

Breaking More Waves is currently away on holiday, but due to the beauty of advance blog scheduling, you probably won’t even notice. So, we continue to post blogs written several weeks before we jumped on a plane for a bit of southern European sun as regularly as if we were actually at Breaking More Waves HQ. Damn our secrets out, Breaking More Waves is not particularly spontaneous. Only five percent of what we write is actually posted the same day. Most of it is written at least a week before, usually early on a Saturday morning and scheduled to look as if we are writing virtually a blog every day. Having a busy professional job, a family and a social life means that this blog malarkey has to be neatly time managed you know. We're sure we're not the only one's who do this though.

Whilst we're on holiday we'll be listening intently to at least the following on our Ipod, all of which were released this year and we recommend as listening pleasures. Marissa Nadler - Little Hells, Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Twice Born Men, Passion Pit - Manners, Little Boots - Hands, Blue Roses - Blue Roses, The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die, Florence And The Machine - Lungs, Slow Club - Yeah So, Lucky Elephant - Starsign Trampoline.

So, with these 'advance posts' we're a bit like a blog version of Dr Who - using the internet to travel through time, without Daleks, Cybermen or Slitheen.