Monday 30 November 2009

Ones To Watch 2010

Tomorrow we publish the first of our Ones To Watch for 2010. At the start of October we sat down and drafted an initial list of the music artists that we considered we might identify as likely candidates. In total we wrote down thirty seven names. Some of those thirty seven we have posted about before in detail, others in passing and some not at all. Over the next month we whittled the list down to the final ten that we are about to publish. It was harder than we thought. Right up to yesterday we were still altering the list, deleting blogs and writing new ones. We probably care too much about these things; but we want to get it right.

Let’s define what we mean by ‘get it right.’ We don’t mean that we want to produce a list of ten artists who we believe are all going to be commercially successful. Far from it. In fact this year there seem to be fewer bands out there with big crossover potential on our radar. The criteria for our Ones To Watch list is a list of new bands and artists that we believe possess the ability to do something that is worthy of attention. Hence the title Ones To Watch 2010. In some cases this may mean having commercial success, for others maybe a critically acclaimed album, some fantastic live shows or creating something a little unusual or ground breaking. It may even be that we are just fascinated with the media buzz about the band and want to see if the artist will rise to justify the hype or drift into a backwater. One thing is clear though, from what we have heard of these artists (and in several cases it is a very small number of songs) we like them all.

Although our list features ten artists, this is only because ten is a nice round number. It would have been easiest to publish sixteen Ones To Watch this year. However, some of the artists that we haven’t featured at Breaking More Waves yet, who didn’t quite make our list will almost certainly form the basis of future posts in 2010 and if you have been paying careful attention the last month or so has seen a number of posts about some of those who didn't quite make the list.

So besides the qualitative criteria for choosing artists for the list described above, there were certain other rules that we have applied.

1. The artist(s) must have not yet released an album or mini album. For example, The Drums 7 track EP we consider a mini album and so we discounted them from consideration. It also meant that a band like The Antlers who are to many in the UK a new band, couldn't be included.

2. Solo artists who have had commercial success as part of a band will not be counted. We loosely consider commercial success as a top 40 single or top 50 album. For example ex-Sugababes could not feature. Nor unfortunately could Rose Elinor Dougall as she was a member of The Pipettes who had a minor top 30 hit with single Pull Shapes and an album that charted in the Top 50.

3. Acts that we have featured in past Ones To Watch lists either on this blog or previous incarnations of this blog cannot count. So for example Marina And The Diamonds and Yes Giantess who we featured in last years list and whom are still bubbling under cannot be featured again, much as we would like to.

4. Soap stars or reality TV stars, including X Factor don't count. Sorry Jedward.

5. The artist must be relatively new to the public at large. There's no point predicting that U2's performance at Glastonbury will be one to watch.

So by following those rules and the criteria above, tomorrow we present the first of our ten Ones To Watch 2010. Enjoy and let us know what you think.

But before all of that here is the new single from an artist that would have been on our list, except for the fact she was on last years list here. Here is Marina and the Diamonds with the fabulous Hollywood. We're loving the lyric "Oh my god you look just like Shakira. No no, you're Catherine Zeta. Actually My Name's Marina." Funny. In a way sneaking the video for Hollywood in at the bottom of this post is a little bit like extending our ones to watch list to 11 and breaking our own rules, but hell, this is our blog, we can do what we want. Creating rules for a blog list and even explaining them is a bit absurd anyway, it's hardly as if this list is the BBC Sound Of 2010 list, even if we were involved in the voting process of that particular list. More of that later this month though. For now enjoy Marina and the Diamonds, a star who has been gradually rising all this year.

Sunday 29 November 2009

The Antlers @ Brighton The Hope

It’s Brooklyn’s The Antlers second visit to Brighton in just over three months, this time selling out The Hope some weeks before the gig was due. The reason for the full venue is simple - their album Hospice. With Hospice The Antlers have undoubtedly produced one of the most absorbing and sonically powerful indie rock recordings of the year. It has attained significant critical acclaim and continues to slowly build a profile in the UK, much of it through word of mouth and recommendation.

For this live show The Antlers concentrate on material from that album, the sound raw, evocative and if anything more cataclysmic than the recorded versions. Drenched in reverby guitar work that glides in and out of focus and carried by lead singer Peter Silberman’s haunted scratchy falsetto, the songs from Hospice provide a bleak but strangely euphoric emotional resonance that leads to at least two grown men hugging each other for comfort in the crowd. The Antlers live sound is not just something to listen to, it’s something to feel, to completely and utterly immerse yourself in.

The opening songs of Kettering and Sylvia, probably two of the most powerful pieces on the album, open the set and seem almost throwaway compared to what follows thereafter. Tense stabs of guitar are matched with moments of quiet, sad intimacy to create a superb show that really makes us want to use words such as epic and awesome to describe the three piece; except that these days those words are so often over used that they lose meaning. However this is exactly what The Antlers are like live. Epic, awesome, and worthy of such words. Live, Antlers produce the kind of music that grabs your heart and envelopes you in its howling grief. When Silberman sings “There’s a bear inside your stomach, a cub’s been kicking from within. He’s loud, though without vocal chords, we’ll put an end to him,” on Bear, it’s desperately sorrowful, yet because of the music seems poignantly beautiful.

As the bands set climaxes with expansive layers of guitar noise the audience, who at the start seem particularly reserved will not let them go without an encore. It’s utterly deserved and when Silberman returns with Epilogue and sings “So I lie down against your back, until we’re both back in the hospital. But now it’s not a cancer ward, we’re sleeping in the morgue,” before the song progresses and swells to a dramatic conclusion, it’s impossible not to be drawn in, the same way we slow down to watch a car crash on the motorway - brutal, tragic and yet darkly mesmerising.

We suspect that the next time The Antlers visit Brighton they will have to play a significantly larger venue than The Hope.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Ones To Watch - How Did We Do ?

It’s almost December. Which means it’s time for a look back as well as a look forward. Over the next month we’ll be blogging our way through our favourite ten albums of the year as well as listing ten artists that we believe could be ones to watch in 2010.

In a change from 2008 we’re going to start with a look forward. The reason being that last year just as we began publishing our list of Ones To Watch the BBC went and published their Sound of 2009 list earlier than normal. To our surprise six of the artists we had chosen were in the BBC’s long list of fifteen. So this year to avoid any criticism of just copying the BBC list we’re making sure our list appears early. Mind you this year we actually had a tiny influence over the BBC list as we were asked by the BBC to be one of the participating voters in their Sound of 2010 poll. We're not sure how many bloggers get asked to participate, we know of at least one other (a list of those who voted will appear on the BBC website soon) but we guess it's a bit of an honour, effectively being recognised as having some degree of expertise in new music. The three artists we voted for in the BBC poll feature in our own list of ten, but we'll leave you to see if you can guess which three we voted for.

Not that we expect all of our list to be the same as the BBC list, particularly as some artists such as Marina and the Diamonds, who we fully expect to be on the BBC list, don't qualify for our list (read next Mondays blog for our explanation of why).

But before the gate opens, let’s have a quick recap of our Ones To Watch 2009 list and see how they fared.

#1 La Roux

We said “What sets her apart from a multitude of dance floor kids is a pop sensibility that knows how to deliver a half decent tune.”

In For The Kill became a genuine pop phenomenon, slowly climbing from number 11 to number 2 in the singles chart, whilst Bulletproof went one better. The eponymous debut album went to number 2 in the UK, 7 in Ireland and 8 in Canada.

#2 Little Boots

We said “Little Boots is exactly what we want our pop stars to be.”

Little Boots topped the BBC Sound of List but failed to capitalise on its exposure, finally releasing the very average New in Town in May which went top 20. The album Hands entered the charts at number 5 but quickly fell away, only re-entering the lower reaches of the Top 40 when the far superior Remedy was released as a single. The initial quirky charm that we heard on Stuck On Repeat and saw on her bedroom You Tube cover versions seemed somewhat diluted by the end of the year, but if her record company keep going with her we still think there is possible unfulfilled potential.

#3 Passion Pit

We said “They will bring a lot of smiles, and if there is any justice Sleepyhead will be one of the songs of next year in the UK.”

Sleepyhead was never released as a major label single in its own right in the UK, (there is no justice) and although the band didn‘t achieve commercial highs, their debut album Manners received much critical acclaim and charted at number 55. The band grew as a live act during the course of the year, playing bigger shows as the year progressed, plus there were several festival appearances including the main stage at Bestival.

#4 Giantess

We said “It’s very early days for this band but Breaking More Waves reckons their Myspace friend count will soon be on the way up.”

The band renamed themselves Yes Giantess, put out a white vinyl 7" single, supported Little Boots in the U.S and were picked to play on the NME Radar Tour in the UK in October. They’ve recently been recording with a number of big name producers including Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Dido, Little Boots, Kylie) in France and have had some major label interest. In November one of their number (Karl) announced he was to leave the band, his parting gift a superb downloadable mix tape. Yes Giantess continue into 2010. Their Myspace friend count has indeed risen significantly since we first wrote about the band and they have a bag of big tunes ready to go including that hooky as hell No Reason.

#5 White Lies

We said “Have potential to be a commercial success.”

The bands debut album went to number 1 in the UK and White Lies have played many big gigs and festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park and Reading and Leeds. Personally for Breaking More Waves our opinion is that the album was too contrived and weakened by schoolboy lyrics.

#6 Skint and Demoralised

We said “No doubt many young lasses will fall for him.”

If they young ladies did fall for Skint and Demoralised they forgot to buy his records. The single Red Lipstick picked up some Radio 1 play but come October the record company had ditched plans to release a further single or the album that was ready to go. Matt Skint got his hair cut and started presenting football reviews on You Tube. In February our review of his poorly attended live show at Brighton Audio commented that it was only when he dropped the music and delivered an anti BNP poem without a microphone that he came into his own and that “Maybe this is where his future lies.”

#7 Alessi’s Ark

We said “Unlikely to find huge commercial pop success, but is certainly an act to be championed.”

As predicted Alessi didn’t find huge commercial pop success, but her album Notes From The Treehouse was an endearing and sweet record. At the time we described the record as having “A sense of music wonder and magic.”

#8 Florence And The Machine

We said “An exciting proposition.”

Florence exceeded our expectations, her album Lungs being a triumph musically and it attained significant commercial success, remaining at number 2 in the album charts for five weeks, held off the top spot only by Michael Jackson. Her live shows became more focussed and as a result got better and better, with her performances at Camp Bestival and Brighton Concorde being two of our favourite gigs of the year.

#9 Mumford and Sons

We said “Will warm you deep inside.”

Mumford and Sons profile grew slowly over the course of the year. They proved that the old fashioned virtues of playing great gigs and having good songs will deliver you a loyal fan base. The band signed to Island Records and the subsequent release of their debut album, Sigh No More, at the start of October, saw the band hit number 11 in the UK charts. Not bad for a folk / bluegrass act. Bellies were warmed.

#10 Marina and the Diamonds

We said “This maverick cat has already ruffled a few feathers with her blogs on Myspace, which she has now removed declaring that she will never open her mouth again.”

Marina has released two critically acclaimed singles on the Neon Gold label and has now signed a major record deal with 679/Warners, releasing Mowgli's Road in November. An album is due for the early part of 2010. She back tracked on her promise of keeping her mouth shut and has a fully functioning, active, entertaining blog.

Now let's move on up.

It's almost time for this years Ones To Watch list. On the 30th November we shall explain our criteria for selection and rules of engagement. Then on the 1st December enjoy our musical advent calender as we reveal who our Ones To Watch are, each act hiding behind a different musical door on the countdown to Christmas. This will the be swiftly followed by our Top Ten albums of the year list and then, well, that's pretty much it till next year except for a few random articles that we have floating around that we haven't yet posted following our 'one blog a day' rule. Go !

Friday 27 November 2009

Blue Roses - Does Anyone Love Me Now ?

After we gushed like someone who had just discovered romance a few days back about the wonderful Blue Roses and their show at Brighton's Prince Albert, Shipley’s finest release a new single on XL Recordings. Does Anyone Love Me Now? is a limited edition 4 track 12” EP which is out around the start of December. The lead song is taken from the debut Blue Roses album and is a simple folkish piece where Laura Groves wraps her nimble fingers around her acoustic guitar and sings of wanting to believe a lovers lies and the disappointment of the relationship. “Two nights in a row I didn’t see the moon hanging in the sky, and I need its cool pale face, to believe in this place and believe your lies,” she sings delicately before adding later “I will just lie in wait, if only to hear the stories, you don’t seem to know how to tell.”

The EP also features a new version of one of Breaking More Waves favourite songs of the year, the hauntingly gorgeous Doubtful Comforts recorded live with the band Grammatics. Whilst the original was untouchably perfect the new version is robust enough and demonstrates the singers vocal off to fine effect. Two further new songs also feature. Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) is a cover version of the Irma Thomas soul classic. It’s a bold move to attempt such a song, with Laura Groves giving it a strange spectral Christmas-like weirdness, a long way from the tracks on her album. The other song First Frost Night loses a little of the minimal beauty of other Blue Roses tunes being more traditional indie created through the addition of proper drums and a hint of Bat For Lashes meets Clannad foggy mysticism.

Here’s a live session version of the lead track from the single.

Thursday 26 November 2009

The Cordelier Club - White Walls

We’ve posted several times this year about The Cordelier Club a group who have not yet gained any significant attention, and are unsigned. However the brother and sister led act have been worming away writing some stomping and catchy as hell middle of the road pop songs. Now, middle of the road may sound like a horrendous categorisation to throw at a band, but The Cordelier Club embrace a sound that we suspect shows a refreshing and unusual love for Fleetwood Mac and later day Eurythmics when they left the synths at home and became a bra ripping pop rock band.

The Cordelier Club played this years In The City event in Manchester and following on from their slot at this years Bestival (review here) have just recorded a session for Breaking More Waves favourite Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank, which is due to air on the November 28th. The band are also lining up more gigs. But before all that here are The Cordelier Club performing a softer acoustic version of their song White Walls for your listening pleasure, which has recently been added to their Myspace along with cover versions of Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Nicks songs. Check out the strength of Alice’s vocal and the perfect matching of the harmonies.
White Walls

The Cordelier Club | MySpace Music Videos

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Mumford and Sons - Winter Winds

Picture the scene if you will. A minimalist office building with a line of crookedly hung Pulp gold discs on the wall. It was a glamorous place at the end of the 90’s. Tired looking record label staff sit around their CD and crisp packet littered desks, wondering how long they will remain in a job. They curse with humbug like bitterness the illegal down loaders and the evil Simon Cowell empire that has brought their industry to its knees. It looks like after Christmas a job in McDonalds may be a realistic career option.

“What we need is a Christmas Number 1,” says one bedraggled once hipster indie kid turned label marketing man, his grubby Libertines T shirt soiled with excessive nights out in London town. He swings round on his chair and kicks a pile of CD’s balanced between a discarded cardboard cut out of Duncan from Blue and a pile of unread faded NME’s. They topple and one lands face up. It’s Mumford and Sons Sigh No More album. He bends down to pick it up, readying it to throw frisbee like into the bin. Indie bluegrass folk ain’t his thing.

Then his eyes catch hold of something. Some words forming a title. Winter Winds. A thought crosses his mind. Winter Winds by Mumford and Sons He smiles knowingly. He remembers The Pogues Fairytale Of New York. He remembers Del Amitri. Could this song be his salvation ?

Winter Winds by Mumford and Sons is released on December 7th. The Christmas number one is highly unlikely, unless the band sneak onto X Factor, but in an alternate world not far from our own we could just about imagine it. Here's the video.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Charli XCX - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

We’ve been trying to avoid Charli XCX . Why? Because up until now we’ve found her blowsy breed of Atari electro rioting just a little bit novelty act and lowest common denominator. She has written a song called Neon Fashion and Glowstix. This says it all really. The mockney rapping on Francheskaar made us shudder at the thought of nineties girl power group Shampoo doing grime whilst watching Skins and pressing the airhorn button last used on the Klaxons Atlantis To Interzone. Plus we’ve never really been sure about a young teenage girl who proclaims “Give me unicorns and fairgrounds and cupcakes and jam and dreams and clouds and curls and bubbles and beats and nights and noise and oceans and disaster...please.” It all just seems a little too over excited, like Charli has spent a night pumping herself full of jelly tots with her friends at a sleepover. Which due to her age she may well have done.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to find that we really like the new song Do It Well by Charli XCX. Do It Well pops a sedative in the girls mouth and calms things down a little, bringing a Lily Allen LDN styled vocal to the dance floor with softly menacing synth sounds and dark aloof beats. Charli has already been compared with everyone from Lady Ga Ga through to Kate Nash and M.I.A so we’re not talking about anything particularly fresh or imaginative here - if we were going to be insulting then derivative would be the word. However with her flamboyant imagery hitting a variety of tastemakers taste buds and having played a number of well received shows this year including supporting Frankmusik, Charli XCX may well be on to something. We will be interested to see what comes next, although we still find it difficult to see anything particularly long term with her. Early days though, early days.

There’s no video for the song at this moment, and her record company seem to be doing a fairly stern job on ensuring that any unauthorised clips are taken down from the interweb, so instead here’s a video where Charli reveals her love of the Spice Girls and, well, not a lot else really. The song is currently up on her Myspace so go there using the link on her name above for a listen.

Charli XCX - Rankin's DESTROY from Youth Music on Vimeo.

Monday 23 November 2009

Blue Roses @ Brighton Prince Albert

There’s a moment during Blue Roses set at the Prince Albert in Brighton when Laura Groves drops her guitar with a noisy clatter. The phrase ‘you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet’ seems to have been taken to a new level. It is the only point in the show that isn’t utterly graceful and perfect in every way. Blue Roses are really quite extraordinary.

Laura Groves may only just be escaping her teenage years but the music she creates has a significantly mature emotional resonance. Laura plays a mix of gentle plucked acoustic guitar, classical piano and electric guitar arrangements, all sparsely layered with accompanying violin and soft pitter-patter drums. Then there’s her vocal - full of a serene childlike beauty that is underlain with something of a deeper and more powerful tone. It’s the stuff of candlelight, churches, romance and quite possibly what heaven would sound like. It caresses and sonically stimulates the ears with the most tender of embraces. As she sits at the piano, her eyes almost shut, Laura seems utterly immersed in the music, the soaring highs of Greatest Thoughts justifying musical comparisons with Kate Bush. Elsewhere her voice floats and rises effortlessly like a younger sister of Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays or Joanna Newsom. Lyrically however Groves is of a different mettle to the aforementioned Bush. The songs of Blue Roses are very much those of a typical young woman singing of emotions, love, loneliness. There is nothing kooky or odd about the music of Blue Roses. Just raw honest beauty.

Every song played is utterly compelling. The heartfelt torch light gentleness of Doubtful Comforts would in any just society be topping end of the year lists. The closing Moments Before Sleep with its ethereal choral folk and looped guitar sound somehow manages to retain the endearing rarity of many other Blue Roses songs whilst sounding big, broader and more wonderful than life itself. If our gushing of Blue Roses in this live review seems just a little too much, we are not apologising. For there is nothing to apologise for. Stunning.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Vampire Weekend - Cousins

First out of the traps in terms of big releases for 2010 is Vampire Weekend with their album Contra. Following the free giveaway of Horchata the first single proper is Cousins which sees Vampire Weekend buzzing along with an almost cartoonish abandon and possibly more beats per minute than any other song that will be released next year. It fizzles with the kind of fun that will make detractors hate them even more, but should keep fans eager for the album which follows on January 12th. It’s going to be interesting to watch drunk indie kids dance to this two minutes and thirty seconds of zany structured mayhem. We hear rumours of ballads on the forthcoming album, which will be needed just to catch our breath.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Kitsune Maison Compilation 8

Do you remember that girl at school? The obscenely cool, outrageously super confident, super attractive one who all the boys fancied? Well at the age of twenty one she was a burnt out single mum, pushing a pram, attending drug dependency clinic once a week. She still got out of her council flat now and then for a night of drunken debauchery with her best friend, but even those nights out felt awkward and forced, her cool factor replaced with a hint of desperation. Sometimes when the lights were shining behind her it was possible to see what made that girl so attractive in the first place, but you had to be standing in the right location.

Rather like that girl, the French electro label Kitsune Maison compilations have always held their place as the super confident, super cool taste forming albums. But with their 8th release there are signs that things have gone a little off track. The label isn’t pushing that pram yet, but there are signs that it could happen. Kitsune’s compilations are focussed on bringing the hipster party to the home stereo, but there are a number of times on this album when the music sounds as if too much time has been spent trying to make it sound hip and not enough on bringing quality in inventiveness to the dance floor.

There are still plenty of hits, but in places the quality control is urinated away, leaving things sounding cheap and shabby. Have Kitsune Maison taken their eye off things a little? Maybe. This is the sound of electro pop getting a little too drunk, sliding up against the wall of the nightclub, flashing its knickers and snogging the first laptop carrying cool kid that passes by.

That’s not to say it’s full of duffers though. Memory Tapes create something fresh and dreamy with Bicycle. It pedals its way with a blissed out groove and adds snatches of New Order / Cure like guitar together with a choir sample over its trippy loopy backing. Maybe it’s more of a home listening track than a club banger, but it’s a languidly beautiful tune. Our only complaint is that it would have been better positioned right at the end of the album. This Momentary by Delphic with its washes of keyboards, soft chanted vocals and crashing warlike drums has a tidal build that grows and grows into a dry ice and strobe induced moment of Hacienda glory. Even if the track sounds more like a remix than a song on its own right it’s still very good. The Drums Let’s Go Surfing has been well documented on this blog previously here and seems a little out of place on an electro dance album, but it remains a fun whistle-a-groove-along pop song. French Horn Rebellion also succeed by whipping out the cheesy synths, camp vocals and keeping a pop sensibility that cheers easily on their lead track Up All Night.

But then there’s the bad. Le Corps Mince De Françoise are just too wacky for their own good. Like a nursery rhyme CSS, they may be fun to listen to once but the second attempt leaves us slamming our head against the wall screaming “No more.” If electro pop is made for the clubs, Le Corps Mince De Françoise were out the back popping far too many pills. Even worse is I Love London by Crystal Fighters. An infuriating mix of percussion and dirty synth bass it’s as if Bonde Do Role were tasked with recording the most annoying sounding hipster track ever. This song is that girl we mentioned just as she got pregnant. So full of confidence, it forgets what it is doing, jumping up and down shouting "Cool kids please love me." It is utterly terrible. Further tracks by Parallels, Jolie Cherie and the Crystal Castles gone even more wrong of Heartsrevolution are all the kind of toss that hipsters will proclaim are the future of music, but we can’t imagine anyone listening to any of these tunes in six weeks let alone six months.

Come on Kitsune Maison. This is not the essential electro collection that we know you can do. Your vision has become blurred. We don’t want you ending up as a sad single mum yet.

Friday 20 November 2009

Lisa Mitchell @ Portsmouth Cellars

In September we questioned if maybe Lisa Mitchell was mysophobic, with her song Neopolitan Dreams featuring on a well known washing product advert and her new single being called Coin Laundry. We may have been somewhat joking, but now we’re thinking this is serious. On arrival at The Cellars in Portsmouth, a makeshift washing line has been strung up in the corner. Luckily it is only to display merchandise for sale and not because Lisa has been on a crazed soap and suds frenzy.

It’s a strange gig for Mitchell. In Australia she may have had a top ten album, but in the UK she is virtually unknown. That said the pub venue is sold out, although there seems to be no particular buzz in the room, the applause being strangely reserved. In fact when Mitchell starts to play a significant number of people appear completely indifferent to the fact she is on stage and continue chatting despite the signs at the bar asking for quiet. In spite of her young age Mitchell appears outwardly unaffected, casting out a set of quirky acoustic pop tunes such as the whimsical Coin Laundry, the gentle intimate confessional Love Letter and a solo acoustic cover version of Dire Straits Romeo and Juliet to draw punters in. Unfortunately her Lenka like soft slightly kooky girlish vocal is not always commanding over the talking punters, who don’t seem to care for the fact that they are in a live music venue. As a result the show lacks substance. If only Lisa wasn’t the polite professional announcing that “Because you’re all so nice, I’m going to play you a love song. It’s just us,” and instead had said “If you’re not going to listen can you please leave,” the show may have been more compelling. By the time she finishes her set the expected applause for an encore only lasts as long as it takes for her to exit the stage. Her return a minute or so later feels rather forced and subdued.

Lisa Mitchell is certainly talented and has some sensitive almost daintily sweet acoustic pop songs, but with an audience who seemed somewhat ambivalent to her presence it probably wasn’t her best day.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Dan Mangan - Robots

Last month we posted Dan Mangan's The Indie Queens Are Waiting for your viewing and listening pleasure and subsequently reviewed a live show (here) We also hinted that his single Robots would be released in the UK soon.

Now the video for Robots has arrived. Inspired by early eighties gang movies it tells the story of two rival groups who engage in their own back-alley version of robot wars, pitting one robot against the other in a battle to the finish, but when one robot chooses compassion over malice, the gang members are forced to question their own hatred and animosity towards one another. It’s love over war in the same time it takes to make a cup of tea. Who needs blockbuster movies?

The song shows that it isn’t only electronic bands that can sing about robots and androids, bringing Mangan’s trademark gruff pirate vocal and acoustic sounds to a chorus that is silly yet deeply sincere, even if you have to wait for two and three quarter minutes for it to float in. You’ll probably be humming it all day long. The tune has just been nominated in the Candian Radio 3 Bucky Awards for best song, and Mangan himself has also picked four other nominations for best lyrics, vocals, live performance and sexiest musician.

It seems a shame that at this moment Mangan is getting so little buzz or press in Breaking More Waves home country of the UK, when he is a singer songwriter of such quality. Maybe this will change next year when his second album is officially released in the UK. For the moment though, we’ll keep Dan Mangan as our own little rough diamond.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Clock Opera - White Noise

Back in July (here) we got very excited by the magnificent Clock Opera, a band who in a bubble of passion we stated that we loved more than our own children. Offspring upset duly followed. We then followed it up with an interview with the man behind the music - Guy Connelly -in August. (Read it here.) At the time Guy told us that recordings were ready to go and that there would be news of a release soon. That time is now as Clock Opera release their debut single White Noise.

White Noise is a radioactively shimmering sound collage fused with experimentalism, as is a thundering rhythm heavy remix of the song that has been produced by Django Django. Connelly sings with a melancholy beauty of an accident he nearly had with a speeding riderless motorbike whilst electronic sounds slide in, out and over each other. This engineered soundscape never sounds like it has been created by white lab coat wearing scientists though, White Noise holds a warmth through its melody even when it startles by adding grooving funking drums and bass towards the end.

If White Noise wasn’t good enough on its own, then things get even better with the twinkling b-side of Alouette which sounds like Radiohead stepping through cascading fairytales. With both White Noise and Alouette, Clock Opera have created something just a little bit unique meaning that our kids are going to be feeling rejected again. Our love affair continues with Clock Opera.

White Noise can be purchased exclusively through Pure Groove here. Keep an eye out on the internet soon for a remix that Clock Opera have produced for Marina and the Diamonds as well. Here's the video for White Noise.

Clock Opera - White Noise from Killer on Vimeo.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Luke Haines @ Brighton Hanbury + Resident Records

A CD plays as Luke Haines steps into Resident Records shop in Brighton for a pre Hanbury Club mini acoustic warm show. “Kill the music, because that’s what I’m about to do,” he announces with a wry smile. It sums Haines up perfectly - witty, funny, knowing and eccentrically miserable. He’s carved himself a neat niche which has endeared him to an audience since the early nineties when his original band The Auteurs almost made it. Their biggest two singles hit forty one and forty two in the charts respectively and they were allegedly runner up in the Mercury Music prize for New Wave. Fifteen years on and Haines is now being lauded by a number of critics as one of Britain’s greatest and most under rated singer songwriters. When he ends his set at Resident Records with the line “Life is unfair, kill yourself or get over it,” and then adds afterwards “That’s an inappropriate ending if ever there was one,” we’re inclined to agree with those critics.

It seems that so are many others. The Hanbury Ballroom is very busy and the reception Haines receives is warm and friendly - the conquering hero returns again. Placing a glass of red wine to one side his band launch into a career spanning set with a song that Haines acknowledges will be the happiest he sounds all night - the gentle Suburban Mourning. It’s a ballad where the loathing biliousness is laid aside as Haines sings in his soft murmur of a voice of couples getting married, a missing child being found alive and “There’s no evil in the everyday, just good honest people who pay and pay.” It’s as close as Haines gets to bringing the sunshine. It’s followed by the stop start indie of The Auteurs Show Girl a song which demonstrates that Haines has always been an accomplished guitarist as well as a lyricist to be heralded. “I’m Luke Haines, thank you and goodnight,” he states cheekily after those two numbers. A career in stand up could possibly follow.

Dressed in a suit and sporting a carefully coiffured down-turned moustache Haines takes his audience on a journey of murder songs such as Freddie Mills Is Dead, waffling rants linking Gary Glitter and Ricky Gervais fans, through to the should-have-been-a hit-but-wasn’t rock riffage of the self proclaimed meta-Motown-Dad genius Lenny Valentino. At the end his encore lasts all of ten seconds as Haines decides it is too much hassle to leave the stage. He just carries straight on, such is the perverse and almost disobedient nature of the man. It is this personality and character that people love as much as his songs, particularly in the live environment, but never let it be said that he doesn’t have the tunes to back up the persona. Luke Haines shows Brighton that he may have not won the Brit Pop war with The Auteurs, but that sometimes the losers are the real long term winners.

Monday 16 November 2009

Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

It is almost impossible at this stage in the bands career to write about Local Natives without mentioning two other groups. So we will do it right at the start and then we can be on our way. A groovier Fleet Foxes? A folksier Arcade Fire? Yes. Listening to Gorilla Manor it’s easily possible to hear snapshots of both of these reference points in the groups US indie folk rock sound.

Gorilla Manor was christened after “creative bursts of musical exploration, disgruntled neighbours and one dwelling to tie them all together.”

If Fleet Foxes are the starting point then Local Natives take their template and try something a little stronger sounding. We imagine a bunch of friends who have had a few drinks and fancy a bit of a party, using more electric guitars than soft acoustic sounds. Gorilla Manor is a self assured, mature, playful and often ambitious collection of songs built from the architecture of tangential structures and agile musicianship that warrants investigation by anyone interested in this genre. It never reaches the dizzying heights of the bands previously mentioned but if it were an alcoholic drink it would be mulled wine - warming, charming with just enough sugar and spice to keep you entertained.

Gorilla Manor is a consistent album in so far as there isn’t a weak song on it, but neither is there the obvious hit single or track that could take the band to a wider audience. Maybe this is a good thing, giving the band time to develop and not be crushed under expectation when and if album number two is recorded. The closest to a commercial radio friendly song is World News which takes a singular stomping beat and a simple jangling guitar riff and builds layers both instrumentally and vocally until the song finally soars with sky bound chants of oh oh oh’s. Did we mention Arcade Fire? Oh yes, sorry we won’t labour the point then. Stranger Things opens with a snatch of violin before a clattering rhythm, vocal harmonies and mass clapping row the song oarsman-like to a quiet piano moment halfway through. You’re never quite sure where the song is going to next, a trick that the band play several times on the album including on the stocky and organic Sun Hands which lollops and grooves along before suddenly veering at right angles into a shouting crashing dynamic rock wig out three quarters of the way through. Elsewhere the band play it straight though, such as with the driving clickety clack beats, straight indie rock guitar and shades of fiddle on Camera Talk, a song where Local Natives sound more like Local Natives than anyone else.

Earlier this year this group was one of the buzz bands of the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Whilst Gorilla Manor is unlikely to continue the buzz, neither is it going to lead to criticisms that the excitement wasn’t worth it. It’s a solid start that should the band choose to do so could lead them off into an exciting musical journey with future recordings.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Unicorn Kid - Animal City

Welcome to the jungle. Here’s a new video posted a few days ago from Unicorn Kid for his track Animal City. Even if you cannot stand Unicorn Kids bleepy Nintendo meets Commodore 64 rave chip tune, this film is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, particularly if you enjoyed Trigger Happy TV and the fighting cuddly animals created by Dom Joly. The video is a fan made piece by one Melissa Katz who understands in the same way The Flaming Lips do that big cuddly animals dancing will always make people happy.

Back in August when we first wrote about Unicorn Kid we confessed a warped love of his music, even though his tunes are made of the stuff that any ‘serious’ or ‘self respecting’ music fan would despise. We also said that this love would probably only last five minutes. That was August. It’s now November.

This will not be the last post about Unicorn Kid. We still don’t understand it ourselves. We can’t stand Basshunter, who there are similarities to, yet this we love. When you consider yourself a ‘serious’ music fan, but still want to be moved by music emotionally rather than just intellectually, sometimes you have to accept that even if your brain is saying hate, you just have to dive headfirst no matter what the depth of the pool, and show the love. We’ll be posting more on the issue of ‘serious’ music lovers soon and will hopefully be stirring up a debate, but for now enjoy the raving panda, lion etc....“Pawsome!” As the man says himself.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Warpaint - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Warpaint are Emily Kokal, Jen Lindberg, Theresa Wayman and Josh Kilghoffer. They hail from LA and have been together for a number of years, slowly evolving with various line up changes. Warpaint produce a translucent hypnotic sound that colours mellow, fuzzy pictures. If we were to frame these pictures they would probably find a space alongside Mazzy Star and Cat Power. Dreamy vocals, hazy guitars, and mellow psychedelic vibes are the order of the day.

The band recently signed to Rough Trade records and are due to release an album in 2010. The song that most impresses us so far is Stars (see video below) from their Exquisite Corpse EP which has a slow burning slightly downbeat druggy feel to it. Equally good however is the virtually instrumental Jubilee Days Past which reminds us a little of a Cure song from the Disintegration album, stripped down until its virtually naked, picking its way slowly through the night with just the hint of a human voice somewhere in the background. It’s plaintive and ghostly, the blissful stuff of dark dreams.

Warpaint - Stars from Adam Harding on Vimeo.

Friday 13 November 2009

Dan Mangan @ Brighton Sanctuary Cafe

Having arrived jet lagged in the UK from a show in the middle-east, Dan Mangan's travels from his home town of Vancouver in Canada have given him a broad cultural perspective which he reflects on as he performs. From the craziness of the UK news where a Prime Minister is vilified for a spelling mistake whilst X Factor gossip holds the front page, to his experiences of the family nights out in shopping malls and heavy censorship he experienced in Dubai, Mangan is obviously a keen observer of worldwide differences. Even when he sings of his home city on Pine For Cedars he stops the song halfway through to explain a lyric about a house that someone might win in the hospital lottery, aware that a UK audience wouldn’t know what such a hospital lottery was.

Despite cultural differences, music is often universal, and certainly this Canadian has no difficulties connecting with the small group of people who have come to see him play in Brighton. In Canada Dan Mangan may have won awards for his second album Nice, Nice, Very, Nice but with the recording not released in the UK till around the middle of next year his profile on this side of the pond is as small as the tiny candle lit basement below a vegetarian café in which he plays. The cool intimacy of the venue suits Mangan perfectly though. His friendly intelligent chatter between songs, the warmth of his gravel like vocal and his personal homespun lyrics make the audience feel as they are part of his extended family. It is hard not to be moved when someone plays a beautiful passionate ode from the perspective of his grandfather - “Won’t you take my cane and hold my hand, you’re holding on to all I have, just a basket full of memories and I am losing more each day it seems,” he sings as he builds to a heady climax during Basket.

Mangan has an eye for the intricacies of life and a knack of being able to form them into subtle wonderful songs, from the “coffee sweats” of Road Regrets to the puzzle of the failing memories on the aforementioned Basket - “I’ve got the sides and all the corners - but there’s a space.” It is these moments of thoughtful realism that make Mangan particularly engaging. With just an acoustic guitar and a collection of very human, very sympathetic songs he delights those who have come to see him play and by the end manages to get everyone singing the silly, but strangely touching words “Robots need love too, they want to be loved by you,” over and over again.

Personable and cheerfully beautiful, Dan Mangan is a singer songwriter with a lot going for him. Nice, nice, very nice indeed.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Silver Columns - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Anyone remember Bronski Beat ? With so much music referencing the eighties at the moment we’ve been a little surprised that nobody has scooped up the pulsing high energy disco sound that Jimmy Sommerville and co brought to the charts and given it a high end noughties production make over.

But now someone almost has. Silver Columns are a new act that we know absolutely nothing about but the last few days have seen their tune Brow Beaten dance hyperactively and playfully through the blogosphere, and with good reason. Brow Beaten is a technotronic piece of electronic propulsion , verging on chip tune, that struts proudly straight to the dance floor and shakes its booty big time.

Nothing else is known about Silver Columns, their Myspace and Facebook pages giving absolutely nothing away, but the act - who are possibly a duo, have remixed Peter, Bjorn and John, Fever Ray and a Metronomy tune and Joe Goddard from Hot Chip has been involved in a remix (below). Check out the original version of Brow Beaten on Silver Columns newly formed Myspace or on blogs that host downloads, shake your hips, and then watch with interest for further developments.

Now where's our copy of Age Of Consent ?

Tuesday 10 November 2009

t.A.T.u - Guilty Pleasure #1

When Sean Rowley began his Guilty Pleasures night in a working mens club in Hammersmith in 2004 he could have barely envisaged the success story that it would become. A TV show, a series of compilation CD’s, DJing at festivals and a sold out residency at Koko in Camden lead to Guilty Pleasures becoming a hugely popular brand. Suddenly the shamelessly cheesy tunes which he championed, from The Nolans I’m In The Mood For Dancing to Jump by Van Halen no longer seemed pleasures to feel guilty about - Koko became a youth club for thirty year olds, where everyone was genuinely enjoying themselves. As the tunes kept on rolling, the audiences got even bigger. One of our most enduring memories of 2006 was watching 10,000 people frug madly to The J. Geils Band song Centerfold in broad daylight as the Guilty Pleasures DJ’s sliced up the musical cheddar in between bands on the main stage at Bestival.

Then as the brands popularity increased the term Guilty Pleasures started to be deconstructed by journalists. Why did so many people enjoy a night singing and dancing along to Hanson, Toni Basil and The Bee Gees? Were people enjoying the nights in some odd smug wink-wink knowing irony or was it just that people genuinely liked these songs? It seems that Rowley had hit upon a simple answer. Once people let their hair down, uncool music makes them feel the happiest.

Which leads us onto to the subject of this blog, the first in an occasional series where we look back rather than forward at some of the bands that gave us those guilty pleasures. Sometimes we intend to just recall the originals, and wax lyrical about their greatness. Other times, such as today, we will look at the bands more recent material as well as the old classics. Don't worry, the blog is not going fully retro, but it's nice to take a breather now and then, and put a smile on our faces.

Guilty Pleasures are often one hit wonders or a single standout song. For example, can anyone remember another tune by The New Radicals except You Get What You Give ?

For Breaking More Waves t.A.T.u are one such pleasure. Remember them ? The Russian fake lesbians ? All The Things She Said swept across Europe like swine flu. With Trevor Horn bringing masterful glossy pop production to the tune, his best since Frankie Goes To Hollywood, it was a thundering chart bound triumph. Of course mention t.A.T.u now and people’s minds will invariably wander to the video rather than the song, which is a shame, for in terms of huge commercial pop tunes All The Things She Said was as big as they get. It’s one of our guilty pleasures, but actually we’re not even guilty about it. We love it. It probably helps that we missed the whole furore about the so called controversial video, having first caught the song on the radio without any preconceived ideas.

In the UK t.A.T.u weren’t strictly a one hit wonder, Not Gonna Get Us, which was almost as good hit number seven in the charts, but after that as far as the majority of the public were concerned t.A.T.u were over. However in Russia t.A.T.u have continued to have success, the song Snegopady (translated as Snowfalls) spending nine weeks on rotation on Russian MTV this summer.

However on October the thirtieth of this year, t.A.T.u showed that they don’t consider themselves as just a going concern in Russia, putting out an English language version of their song White Robe on You Tube, even although the single is a couple of years old in their home country. Whilst the song isn’t a patch on All The Things She Said, it’s still a quirky piece of synthtopia with lyrics about “Flying bullets hit the targets, wings and halo’s five to seven, in this white robe, through the darkness, paragliding back to heaven.” However if anyone in the mainstream UK media clocks the Russian version of the video for the song, T.A.T.U controversy could kick up all over again. In terms of exposed flesh it puts Lady Ga Ga to shame. Sex sells. So, if you’ve been forgotten about, why not both take your clothes off completely (yes all of them) and then add a really controversial ending to your video. Watch the whole thing by clicking on this link here and you’ll see what we mean. Desperate ? Or art ? You decide. In the meantime, here's the classic All The Things She Said.

Monday 9 November 2009

Washed Out - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Washed Out produce a sound that is blissfully dreamy, fuzzy and mellow with distant almost shoegazey vocals - it’s virtually impossible to understand the words being sung. At worst it is easy to imagine the sound of Washed Out cropping up all over those post nightclub comedown Chill Out compilations filed next to At The River by Groove Armada. At best we can visualise a whole album of this warm downy electronica which unlike much of the computerised genre abstains from harsh robotic sounds, instead reaching for something far more organic. Writing about this music out on a grey, cold rainy day in November seems somewhat incorrect, for Washed Out undeniably sound like the sound of summer. But then sometimes this is what we need music for, to take us on a journey.

Washed Out is one Ernest Greene from Perry, Georgia, who when he is not busy pushing out music on the internet is also an amateur photographer. You can check out his work using this link here. It captures the same gorgeous hazy atmospheres as his music. His first release was a now sold out limited edition two hundred copies cassette, which included the down tempo groove of Belong, currently racking up the plays on his Myspace. Now a new single Feel It All Around is now available from Pure Groove records in the UK. It arouses the slow contemplative spirit of 10CC’s I’m Not In Love and sun kissed beach romances that you wish would last forever. Utterly gorgeous. Time to fall in love again.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Marina and the Diamonds - Mowgli's Road

Just over a year ago we posted “If Mr Kipling made bands this would be another one of his exceedingly good ones.” That quote was in relation to the feisty, theatrical and quirky Marina and the Diamonds. One year on as Marina prepares to release her debut major label single Mowgli’s Road, that quote holds true.

Mowgli’s Road originally featured as the B side to the Marina and the Diamonds debut single Obsessions and has been re-recorded for its own release. The accompanying video is a highly entertaining performance piece, where we see Marina hoofing and flexing her muscles in a way never seen before. Mowgli’s Road stomps and romps as if a Latvian girl called Ani Kolachova had recorded the tune as an entry for a king of the jungle shot at the Eurovision song contest. It represents the warped and fun way that the UK is currently pushing out some quite unique and non formulaic pop acts, who unusually write their own songs and are not relying on their sexuality to sell their music. With it’s cuckoo call and lyrics of “You say Y-E-S to everything,” Mowgli’s Road is a blustering piece of sassy gloss that faces just one problem - it may be too oddball for the mainstream, yet too operatically pop for indie kids. Mind you, we thought that about Florence and the Machine last year, and that hasn’t stopped her. Besides, from what we have heard of Marina and the Diamonds unreleased material, she has some more obvious tunes in the bag ready and waiting. Mowlgli’s Road is released on 16th November through 679 / Warner.

If Mr Kipling really had made bands, we think Marina would be the angel slice in amongst the jam tarts.

Friday 6 November 2009

Luke Haines - 21st Century Man

Luke Haines - mastermind behind The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder and a number of solo projects. A misfit, an outcast, a social commentator, a man who brushed with fame but lost it. Haines has in the past come across as one of the most arrogant but also absurdly loveable songwriters the UK has ever produced. If you haven’t read his book Bad Vibes: Britpop And My Part In Its Downfall and have even the slightest interest in music, put it on your Christmas list. It’s caustic, hilarious and brutal in its assassination of the leading Britpop cast and shows how his own ego, paranoia, drugs and alcohol led to The Auteurs failing big time. It is a brilliant read.

Yet ironically after the Auteurs Haines achieved critical and commercial success with Black Box Recorder. He even scored a bona fide hit with the song The Facts Of Life. Whilst his new solo album 21st Century Man will never return him towards the mainstream or the charts, it has many aspects to it that make it worth parting cash for.

From its opening line of “It’s the same old story we’ve all heard before, about the Satanists who moved next door, they met their match they didn’t stay for more,” on Suburban Mourning you know that this is not going to be your typical singer songwriter album. David Gray or James Blunt, Haines is most certainly not. There’s a song about German actor Klaus Kinski coming back from the dead where Haines whispers softly “Who needs people? Who needs friends? They only drive you round the bend.” Other titles include Russian Futurists Black Out The Sun and White Honky Afro. It’s fair to say that with songs like these Haines is putting his name up for the title of one of the great British eccentrics. Whilst the singer may be endearingly odd, it isn’t always loveable stuff. The savagery of his words are turned on himself for the song Our Man In Buenos Aires when he sings “Looked in the mirror, I said who’s that fucking freak?” We wouldn’t want to meet him on a bad day. However when he is being a little less acidic he sings of southern suburban heaven - a land of milk and honey, which he references as Guildford. But even then he can’t but help mention the Guildford IRA pub bombings of the 70’s and the fact that part of The Omen was filmed in the towns cathedral.

With such entertaining lyrics it’s easy to be distracted from the music. Generally, the tunes and melodies are solid with some variation. There’s a glam rock stomp on Peter Hammill and Wot A Rotter and an almost Ray Davies sixties influence on Love Letter To London. The best two songs however are those that bookend the album. The opening aforementioned Suburban Mourning brings a lush electric twang and acoustic strumming that sounds like a long lost Black Box Recorder tune. Then the near seven minute title track features gentle orchestral strings laid to an opus about Haines life which concludes that he is a 21st century man, because that is the century in which he will die. The irony of Haines singing that he is a 21st century man is that there really is nobody writing songs quite like Haines these days. His music is deeply unfashionable and out of time, and all the better for it.

This album is a welcome addition to the Luke Haines catalogue. Musically it is sound, often seeming from another time, but lyrically Haines frequently gets close to the levels of greatness. 21st Century Man will not reach any sort of mass consumption, but for long term fans or for those who have discovered him through the Bad Vibes book, there is much to delve into and enjoy.

Thursday 5 November 2009

Why Record Labels Are Important

With the ever expanding opportunities offered by the internet for an artist to write, record and self-release their own material, established record labels are competing with a whole new breed of ‘bedroom indies’. From new acts such to established artists such as Radiohead, artists are realising that there is a whole new world out there, away from the traditional corporate record label model.

So are record labels soon to be a thing of the past? Another concept in the music industry killed off by the on line and affordable technology revolution? Breaking More Waves hopes not. We believe there is still an important place for the record label, or rather a record label that holds good principles, not functioning purely through the basis of financial gain. Labels that are still interested in artistic development, the creative process and that care passionately about music, making money because of these principles rather than simply for short term gain are still vastly important.

We need record labels such as Bella Union and Kitchenware. Most importantly we need them because a good label actually gives an artist more creative freedom than if they are a self run bedroom indie. The problem with being a bedroom indie, as any committed artist of this type will tell you, is that sailing the ship alone takes up an inordinate amount of time resource, which restricts the artist from doing what they should be doing, and that is steering the ship, or rather being creative. Even in this day and age of Myspace pages and blog buzz, it is still unrealistic for an artist to expect to simply be able to write and record something, put it out there and find a huge audience. There has to be an element of business marketing to gain an audience. We recently read a quote from a new UK act whom this year has worked incredibly hard to have two top twenty singles and a top ten album, that only 5% of their time is actually spent on the creative process of writing, recording and performing the music. The other 95% is spent on the business side of things. This is why the music business is called just that. It is a business and like any business there is a lot of work to be done. Marketing a release requires a lot of commitment, and for go it alone artists that commitment means an even lesser amount of time being creative and more time doing business. If you agree with the argument that generally quality is related to time spent, then the more time an artist spends being creative the more likely he or she will produce more quality work. A good record label can take away much of the business from the artist and allow them to focus on being creative, but without interfering unnecessarily in the process or the outcome. A good label therefore allows artists creative freedom, and the time to be creative.

Secondly we need labels because, in the same way that a good blog actually cares about the music they write about and doesn’t just post up whatever free music a PR company has sent them, labels can filter out the rubbish. They have the resource to do this. As a listener, we don’t want our time wasted – we want to be able to find quality artists as quickly as possible. Labels that we trust and value allow us to do that. When for example Moshi Moshi announce a new single we now have an expectation that it is going to be something worth listening to and we will direct ourselves to check the release out. If labels didn’t exist all there would be would be hundreds of Myspace pages to look at, and believe us if you spend a day searching randomly through band Myspace pages, as we have done, you will soon come to realise how much detritus is out there.

It is for this reason that artists, punters and the industry needs record labels. The day they disappear is the day when we’ll all be spending a lot more time listening to inferior new music. We need trusted labels to guide us and to invest in artists.

And if we didn’t have labels ? There have been arguments put forward that consumer brands are the new model for artists to sell their music, making record labels redundant. Why sign with Sony when you can sign with Sony Playstation? We think this is not healthy for music. Consumer brands have no interest in anything other than making a quick buck through profit maximisation. An unsigned artist may be able to sell one of their songs for significant amounts of cash through a sponsorship deal to a brand, but once the deal is done the artist will be left with the cash but no long term strategy or support to help them develop as an artist. There’s always another act willing to sell their song.

With cash made the artist will soon return to being just another Myspace page, forgotten except for their one tune on a games console that in three years time will be redundant.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Run Toto Run @ Brighton Providence

There’s a moment towards the end of Run Toto Run's show at The Providence in Brighton where Little Red Riding Hood steps daintily forward, and with a gentle puff blows sparkling gold dust into the air. It sums the band up perfectly; Run Toto Run are the stuff of electronic fairytales. Evil spells, sorcery and demonic sprites will have been banished around the corner, even if this is a pre-halloween party where pumpkins, cobwebs and hanging skeletons adorn the room.

It is lead singer Rachael who is dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, and her magical Manchester based band are very pleased to finally be playing their first gig in Brighton. The last time the group were in the south coast city, a hastily arranged show was cancelled due to an issue with the PA system at the venue. The problem? No speakers. That really is some problem.

Tonight there are no such issues. In fact, despite the location resembling an office building converted into a Weatherspoons pub, the PA system is very good - loud and demanding of attention, but still clear. It is certainly better than many supposed ‘proper’ gig venues.

When we first featured Run Toto Run back in January here we related that the groups whimsical playground folk stylings were likely to see an increased use of electronica. This appears to have been almost an understatement. With the exception of their You Tube viral sensation cover of Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead where acoustic guitars and incredibly accomplished violins are whipped out, Run Toto Run are now manipulating their sweet melodies into delicious electro pop where bright drum machine patterns mix with keyboard pings to produce quirky sugary sounding tunes. There are some comparisons with The Postal Service, but other than this Run Toto Run are pretty much out their on their own. Where most electro bands delve into heavy beats, bombing bass and dance rhythms to murder on the dancefloor, Run Toto Run are more likely to skip gently up to you, kiss you with glitter and then fly Peter Pan like into the stars. Lovely.

There’s a healthy warmth in the groups twinkling computer sound, even when it’s fidgeting and stuttering during Catch My Breath or when Plastic Gold brings an electronic apple bobbing, clapping and operatic “Oh-oh-oh,” xylophone groove to the night. Run Toto Run are a hidden treasure yet to be found; exquisitely charming, full of smiles and loveliness. Whisper it to your friends. They are our current favourite unsigned band.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Noughties By Nature @ Sweeping The Nation

Today we divert you towards Sweeping The Nation blog, who have just started a monumental feature entitled Noughties by Nature. This is a project where Simon the erudite author of Sweeping The Nation and invited guests write about what they believe to be the best songs of the last 118 months (that’s 2000-2009 for those whom calender maths is not a strong point), be they international hits or unreleased gems. There's going to be about 120 posts till the end of the year. Breaking More Waves has contributed to this huge project and has written about six of our favourite songs of the decade. The list promises to be a highly entertaining read, as Sweeping The Nation’s tag line is “It may be white lower middle class schmindie hipster shit, bet hey, it’s British.” We fully expect it to be somewhat different from the usual lists bashed out by the mainstream ageing rock press, or even Pitchforks superb but slightly Americanised list. The first two songs that were listed and written about are Overload by Sugababes and Formed A Band by Art Brut, so you can see the kind of eclecticism that is going on here, although we suspect as it develops the indie vibe will really kick in. In the main our choices may be a little more populist than the average.

Our first choice and number 3 in the list is Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue. Read what we said about it here. Then visit Sweeping the Nation everyday, maybe twice a day as we will be, to enjoy the rest of the writing as posts go up every six hours or so.

Monday 2 November 2009

The Palpitations - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

UK indie guitar rock is dead. The once great alternative to the mainstream has now become just another niche marketing term. In the same way that some prefer Starbucks to Costa, indie rock is just another brand to choose from the plethora of musical brands. Second division Britpop and the subsequent rise and fall of landfill indie have taken the genre to new levels of Topshop identikit blandness. The genre has become devoid of creativity and originality. Indie is no longer independent.

Or that is what one could believe. Taking a swoop back at this blog over the last year, with a few exceptions, very few of the bands that have been exciting us could be defined as indie guitar rock. So it comes as a huge relief to finally find a group soaked with dark guitar riffs, eerie melodies and not a keyboard in sight that show us that the limitations of the genre exist only in our minds. With just a little imagination it is still possible to produce something a little edgier, a little denser, and a little more uneasy without it becoming inaccessible and unlistenable. This is the kind of stimulating, kinetic indie that exists away from the fluff of The Kooks, The Pigeon Detectives and their peer group. May we introduce you to The Palpitations

The Palpitations produce a wall of sound that is evocative and powerful, music that snares and circles your brain like a wild animal hunting its prey. The sorrowful Tears in the Rain takes its starting point from the Shangri-La’s drum sound that Glasvegas have used to such effect - but with less bombast, before lead singer Danielle’s strident vocal soars over exploding chiming guitars. It’s direct, absorbing and irreducible. Then there’s Take Me for a Ride which has a hint of the breathy nature of The Joy Formidable, a subtly sensuous take on dream-indie. The Palpitations state that they bonded by the refusal to join the cul-de-sac sect their surroundings insisted on. On this basis, there is a strong argument for dumping every band in suburbia for a while, the rebellion reaction seems to produce good things. UK indie guitar rock is still alive - it just skipped a heartbeat for a while.

The bands debut 7" split EP, featuring Tears in the Rain and Cabin Fever, released in conjunction with the The Lovebirds is available now through Pushing Pussy Records. There is also a download format for the more disposable type.