Monday 23 August 2010

Here Comes The Sun (Again) - Worship - Midnight Sun

By the time you read this we will have journeyed from our base on the south central coast of the UK to Scotland and then after one days pause will have continued on to Spain. It may seem a convoluted journey, but in this case it's necessary.

It will have appeared that we’ve still been busy posting, but the reality is we’ve been laying on a beach catching the sun, sea and sangria for a few days now and have gone nowhere near Breaking More Waves. With the exception of our recent post concerning the new Paper Crows single the last weeks worth of blogs were all pre-written and pre-scheduled 2 weeks ago. You don't honestly believe that we sit at our laptop just waiting for 1 minute past midnight or minute past twelve in the afternoon to hit 'Publish post' do you ? Sorry if we let you down in your expectations, but with a full time non-music related career, a family and a busy and active social life we are highly time restricted. We are embarrassed to admit that the time we put into creating this thing is pretty minute compared to some of our bigger better music blog cousins. If this blog was a school report we would probably only get a C for effort. One day we'll take some time and get an A+. For now we snatch moments and that is all.

And for now we're grabbing lots of moments back. We’re taking a break right through to September, when we’ll return. Our twitter will remain active during our holiday, so if you don’t already do so, why not stalk us there instead ? We might even tweet something of interest.

In the meantime we’ll leave you with another track from a new band we recently posted about - Worship. Enjoy some Midnight Sun

See you in September.

Friday 20 August 2010

Paper Crows - Stand Alight

There's a competitive element amongst some bloggers that makes them want to be 'the first to post about a band.' It's rare that Breaking More Waves achieves this - we're not big, clever or cool enough to do this normally - although we have once or twice. The way that this blog is constructed, with posts often being written days in advance and then scheduled to appear daily doesn't help - we're often in the stalls early before the starter fires the gun but out last. However, we probably could have been one of the first with Paper Crows having written about them in our new waves feature here, a piece which was scribed a week before it went up. We were fairly confident that nobody else had 'discovered' them yet (although of course who is truly 'the first' to discover a band is arguable - there's always someone before you, even if it's their parents). But on the day our blog was scheduled to be posted a whole host of blogs such as Arjan Writes, Battery In Your Leg and Indie Here posted about the groups debut single. Our plans were scuppered, battered and kicked to the ground. However, there are millions of people in the world, and not everyone is as upfront musically speaking - for some Marina and the Diamonds is still a 'new' act, so it's all about perspective - many of our readers will have not heard Paper Crows.

Irrespective of who gets there first, what counts is the quality of the music, and in this case Paper Crows score high.

Their ghostly debut single Stand Alight - which is released on Future Cut Recordings on 11th October - streams below. Stand Alight is a song with haunting vocals, majestic piano and hints of post-dubstep that twitch around the shadows of the listening spectrum. With a manner of Portishead, Esben & TheWitch and Bat For Lashes, Stand Alight menaces with a near gothic heaviness and beauty that will be the perfect soundtrack to autumnal darkness.

Duncan and Emma, the duo that form Paper Crows first met at college in Kilburn eighteen months ago and have been busy creating tracks such as Stand Alight ever since. Fact fans may also like to know that both members of Paper Crows also like cheese and origami, which I am sure you will agree is very important. Here's Stand Alight.

Stand Alight - Paper Crows by Sainted PR

Thursday 19 August 2010

Dekade - Lies

Stylish eighties looking men in suits? Electronic music? Eighties influences? You’re probably thinking we’re talking about Hurts here, as we’ve talked about them a lot. Maybe too much. But instead today we’re featuring a band we first wrote about back in April, who have the eighties literally running through their blood. This is Dekade. The original article we wrote here explains all.

It’s been damn quiet on the Dekade front, but now things are surfacing. Following their Camden Crawl gig earlier this year and a DJ set at the Great Escape in Brighton, they are readying a remix for something we blogged recently here - The Naked and Famous debut UK single Young Blood. Also a song that the band have been hosting on Myspace entitled Lies has been given the remix treatment by Melechtric, a man who at the time of writing has only had a Myspace page for less than a fortnight and has yet to obtain one single Myspace friend. Melelechtric also runs a night called Drmrllpls in Dalston, London. The remix retains the 80’s flavour of the song but adds a hyperactive mad lab technicians synth jitter to excite things a little. It streams and is available to download below.

DEKADE - Lies (Melechtric remix) by Drum Roll Please...

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Paper Crows - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Kate Bush and Bjork. The two most obvious reference points when describing any new quirky eccentric female vocalist that oozes eccentric glamour or confident style.

Emma Panas might as well get used to those comparisons because the haunting dramatic alt. pop duo she fronts certainly have elements of both of these artists. This group, who go by the name of Paper Crows certainly aren’t trying to hide these references though, having already covered Bush’s Cloudbusting, setting it to a rhythmic backing not dissimilar (if we’re brutally honest - almost identical) to Bjork’s Human Behaviour. (It streams from a music only You Tube clip below). Elsewhere, of the other songs over on the Paper Crows Myspace, Stand Alight is all acoustic dreaminess, heavy beaten electronics and ethereal breathy singing and whilst we wouldn’t go as far as calling Paper Crows gothic, there’s a darkly atmospheric undercurrent to their ballads of power such as Homebound (which isn’t a power ballad in the traditional sense but is still a ballad with some power). Did anyone mention Bat For Lashes ? We just did.

There’s very little information available about Paper Crows, the London based duo having only been making music for just over a year. They played their very first gig a few days ago and will next be appearing at Offset Festival. They are currently recording an album and as the clock circles we’ll see where their epic spooky requiems take them.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Still Corners - Wish

Have you fallen in love with Still Corners yet ? If Endless Summer (blogged here) didn’t at least make you want to sit on the beach holding hands and stare up at the starlit night sky with the most beautiful girl / boy of your dreams, then please check your pulse. You may be officially dead. Assuming however that the romance was there, here’s the moment when you both kiss. It’s a song called Wish.

Wish is one side of the bands new double A-side 7” single. It’s a thing of winsome beauty created from soft focus acoustic guitar picking and gentle single key piano work. It’s so light and vapidly beautiful we could almost imagine it evaporating as we listen. Subdued, elegant and ghostly - an enchanting moment of spectral pop. Wish is released through The Great Pop Supplement on August 20th.

Wish from Still Corners on Vimeo.

Monday 16 August 2010

NewIslands - Shivers

A second and very short post today to draw to your attention a new song from the Breaking More Waves regulars NewIslands. NewIslands are seemingly an impossible band to pin down. When we first featured their music their sound was big epic synth pop, then with Paradise they gave us a something influenced by mid 80’s stadium rock. Now with Shivers NewIslands throw in wobbly bass lines normally found on a dubstep record and combine it with an organ and synth ballad. Confused ? We are, but only by the variety of the bands material, not the flying majesty of their songs. Shivers, with its escape to the future lyrics and gentle pop warmth deserves your ears. Wrap them round the song now.

Shivers mp3 by NEWISLANDS

Gold Panda - Snow & Taxis

Ever since we first laid hands on Gold Panda’s Before CD last year, we’ve been pretty convinced that his jittery spectrum of minimalist electronic glitch-techno is of the highest order. His next single - Snow & Taxis taken from forthcoming album Lucky Shiner (apparently named after his grandmother) seals the deal. Sounding like tinkerbell going to the disco Snow & Taxis has a hushed hop-skippity winter-based dance flow that works as well as home as it does on the more intelligent dance floors. This is seems in keeping with Gold Panda's recent announcement in respect of the album that "I didn't want bangers, I wanted songs with structure."

After his final UK festival appearance for the year at Green Man, Gold Panda aka Derwin, the Japanese culture obsessed hooded geekoid, will be flying stateside for a lengthly tour where America can witness his blend of knob-twiddling laptop-bobbing fun. Here's Snow & Taxis.

Snow & Taxis by Gold Panda

Friday 13 August 2010

Revere - Hey! Selim

The music of Revere aspires to big things. This is very evident on the bands debut album - Hey! Selim.

Hey! Selim is like a warship, bedecked with elements of post-rock, gypsy folk and epic ballsy stadium crescendo. Its songs are string drenched soundscapes that cast themselves away from the shores of radio friendly obviousness, preferring to sail in darker waters of drama. Recorded in a remote barn out on the Scottish Highlands as well as at Pinewood Studios, one of its telling production credits is Anthony Theaker on mixing duties. Theaker, a former member of mid 90’s Chichester band Hope of the States makes much sense, Revere having a similar sense of ambition to their music as did Theaker’s now defunct group.

Starting with the instrumental gypsy folk of Forgotten Names, Hey! Selim soon finds its feet with two of the most obviously commercial tracks on the album. The doomy drums, mournful violin and Thom Yorke styled vocals of As The Radars Sleep may not sound particularly uplifting at the start, but as trumpets and strings head skywards it becomes a blissful triumph. Next song We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow is a thundering tub-thumping rock work-out, resplendent with brass and driving piano and a repeated chant of “We must keep breathing through the fire inside.” For (the minority of) disgruntled Arcade Fire fans who disagree with most of the critics and find The Suburbs a little dreary, middle of the road, pedestrian, over long and underwhelming, We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow will put a smile back on your face.

Not everything is as call to arms bombastic as We Won't Be Here Tomorrow however. The Escape Artist has a distinctly melancholic feel to it, ending with swirling melodic strings and beautiful noise last created by Japanese sonic-masters Mono, albeit more leashed-up than Mono’s epic work. Likewise the seven minute opus that is I Bet You Want Blood has Indian mysticism, military drumming and funeral-like trumpets to create moments of downbeat complexity before the song explodes in a seething mass of instrumentation at the end.

Besides the references of Hope of the States, Radiohead and Mono, Hey! Selim prompts memories of the first two Arcade Fire albums, Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Broken Records and The Dawn Chorus - bands that deal with musical landscapes that rise like mountains and fall like valleys.

It’s good company to be in.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Spark - Love The Way You Lie

If you’re a regular reader of Breaking More Waves you’ll know that we’ve been getting quite excited about Spark. The 18 year old London based singer with the red lipstick, strong pop voice and just a hint of soul appears to be sitting in the elevator having just pressed the up button. We’re looking forward to watching it rise.

Whilst we wait for her next release following the confident start that was Shut Out The Moon, there's a new video that she’s whacked up on the internet. Following the obligatory 'new artist does You Tube cover version' route, Spark performs a version of Love The Way You Lie by Eminem and Rihanna, which you can also grab as a free download from her new website in exchange for your email. The video is about as basic as they come - making Spark look like any typical urban hoodie wearing teenager sitting outside her house - we guess she’s 'keeping it real'.

It’s certainly not going to start the fire that the Eminem and Rihanna video did - there's no domestic violence on this one - the biggest controversy probably being that it isn't a live version, which typically these new artist covers are. So not quite as 'real' as maybe we suggested, which is a shame because a quick search of the internet shows that Spark can sing live very well indeed. However, we've not yet seen Spark play, so we can't judge fully until then, although we hope to bring you a review of one of her gigs come September.

Oh, and that picture above ? No jokes about extinguishers putting out the Spark please. We thought of that one, but it was just too damn obvious.

Clogs (featuring Matt Berninger from The National) - Last Song

Sometimes it doesn't matter how many words are used to describe something or how excessively over the top the enthusiastic words are, nothing will do a song justice. Rather like trying to describe the most attractive man or woman, the most wondrous landscape or the most incredible architecture, nothing beats experiencing it yourself.

Which is why we implore you to take a few minutes out of your life and listen to the ornate and restrained beauty that is Last Song by Clogs, featuring the moving muttered baritone of Matt Berninger from The National. Right now he is quite simply our favourite male vocalist on the planet. Last Song is taken from an EP of the same name and also features on Clogs album The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton.

There is nothing more to say. Just listen. Absolutely perfect.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Idiot Glee - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

We guess that in the UK 2010 will be partly defined by the TV ‘phenomenon’ that is Glee. The high-school underdog comes good musical drama has been a huge success, even although we find the whole thing like a bucket of overproduced nerdily-weak congealed saccharine puke.

We doubt if the name Idiot Glee was designed with the TV show in mind, but there’s certainly no harm in taking a word and using it to your advantage. Like a mournful psychedelic barbershop quintet with a hint of soul, his work (for it is a solo project) has a mellow dreariness to it, but we don’t mean dreary in a bad way. There’s a vague similarity in the music of Idiot Glee to a band like Summer Camp - it has a slightly downbeat, melancholic washed out quality that makes us want to throw around words like 'dreamy', 'wan', and 'nostalgic'. There are however similarities as well to the not-quite-as-funny-as-everyone thinks it is TV show. In a similar manner Idiot Glee has produced acappella songs and cover versions, but you’re unlikely to find overtly camp and colourful dance routines being filmed to them. Of particular worthy note is his minimalist, verging an ambient cover version of Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers and the spectral Beach Boys doo-wop of I Want The Night To Stay.

Idiot Glee is one James Friley from Lexington, Kentucky and for those resident in the UK you can catch him playing shows late August and early September in support of Women. A forthcoming EP is due soon in the UK, but for now you can hear some of his songs on the bandcamp player below as well as a video of his cover of Ain’t No Sunshine filmed at Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn.

Idiot Glee - "Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers)" from Ian Perlman on Vimeo.

OMD - If You Want It

Breaking More Waves is primarily a new music blog, and to many this means new bands and new artists that are only just breaking through. However today we post new music from a band that first hit the charts in 1980, but their electronic sound remains highly influential and cherished. OMD are back with a new album History of Modern on the 20th September, their first in over a decade and it’s preceded by a single If You Want It on the 6th September. The artwork for the album sees the band re-uniting with graphic designer Peter Saville to produce another bold and iconic cover.

If You Want It is trademark OMD and as they go back to the future, the duo are joining forces with modern electronic bands who no doubt owe debt to OMD in their influences. On their forthcoming European tour OMD will be supported by Breaking More Waves Ones To Watch 2010 - Mirrors and for their UK tour they will be joined by Finnish electro duo Villa Nah, who we recently blogged here. Furthermore Villa Nah have remixed If You Want It which is streaming and available for free download below. The remix retains the full essence of the OMD sound and could have probably been a single on its own right. Enjoy.

OMD - If You Want It VillaNah Remix by bangonpr

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Trophy Wife - New Waves @ Breaking More Waves

Oxford is doing pretty well this year in terms of putting out great music. Stornoway and Foals, both Oxford bands, have released albums that could well feature in a number of end of year lists including our own. Now here’s another group from the city of dreaming spires who are making us grin with tranced-up abandon.

Trophy Wife are a band that we first came across via the excellent Illegal Tender and Not Many Experts. Trophy Wife claim to produce ‘ambitionless office disco’ but actually produce self-contained ice-cube-cool rhythmic indie, the kind of indie that abstains from overtly rocking out and instead sets an objective of bringing the dance through the use of temperate chiming guitars, funky bass lines and soft disciplined vocals. The song Microlite, like its title, may at first seem featherweight and unheavy - you could expect it to fly away into the ether to be forgotten. However its subtle patterns and vocal chants get under the skin, or at least under the feet, forcing them to move, albeit in a gentle and modest way. Their cover of Joanna Newsom’s The Book of Right-On features ghostly whistling, a repetitive disco groove and soft apologetically unemotional vocals similar to what Delphic do on songs such as Remain and This Momentary, but Trophy Wife still make the song very much their own. Then there’s the percussive jam of Take This Night which is available to download below, which provides the bands biggest reference point.....

That reference point is Foals. In terms of grooves and breakdowns, there’s certainly a symbiotic relationship. It therefore seems highly appropriate that the band should be supporting Yannis and co on some of their Autumn UK tour dates in November in Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham, Southampton and Brighton as well as a special MTV under 18’s show at Dingwalls in Camden, London later this month. At that point we’ll get the chance to see what they look like, their current photos (above) revealing nothing of the band. All we do know is that they are a trio who have suggested that one of their ambitions for this year is to play a show and spend their Sainsbury’s nectar points. They’re certainly going to achieve the first and if they use this no.2 shouldn’t be hard either.

It’s early days for Trophy Wife as a band but their gainful compositions seem designed for more than just the water-cooler moment at the ambitionless office they speak of. Prizes could be for the taking.

Trophy Wife - Take This Night by Breaking More Waves

Teeth - See Spaces (Video)

Last month we posted the new Teeth song See Spaces and almost overdid it with the alliteration, calling it a shimmery synth space anthem and superb stuff. Since then we’ve participated in our first (and probably only) circle pit whilst watching the band live and played See Spaces out on our local community radio station show that that we participate in bi-weekly - Express FM’s The Guestlist. (You can listen to the latest edition by clicking here, it features Breaking More Waves until Wednesday night at least).

Now Teeth - a band who take the 'laptop punk' label to a whole new level with just one man doing very little with that single laptop and a vicious drummer - have uploaded this glorious green techno gunge video to accompany the song. Tonight they play with Sleigh Bells at the Lexington. If you were there, raise your hand, we’d love to know your thoughts.

Moshi Moshi release the single next week. Our original post of the track was here.

Monday 9 August 2010

Worship - Collateral

Berkshire based group Worship first cropped up on our radar back in March, but with just the odd live excursion, a radio session and a remix there has been very little in the way of new material to listen to. Having decanted to Norway to write and record, Worship are now ready to reveal the first fruits of their labours, and one track, Collateral is ripe for your picking and free download below.

With Collateral Worship assault the ears with the dirty stutter of evil-robot electronica, jerky clattering drums and a vocal that bears a significant resemblance to one Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Like a dark sci-fi war movie Collateral seems to threaten weary violence, but is graceful and composed enough to never do so. We continue to file Worship in our drawer marked ones to watch, and you can get the chance to do that watching in the next few weeks when the band play Club. The. Mammoth in Shoreditch, London on the 13th August, Tunbridge Wells Forum on the 20th August and then make their festival debut at Bestival in September. Moody, eerie experimental rock that is as unsettling as it is beautiful. Great stuff.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Fight Like Apes - Poached Eggs

When we started this blog some of the first music that we featured prominently was the warped aggression from Irish electro-pop crazy kids Fight Like Apes. We likened them to a pumped up fist f*ck against the wall of a pub, under CCTV cameras with your mum and dad watching from the other side of the street. Now it’s time to bend over and take another pummelling, because Fight Like Apes are back with a second album. “None of that sophomore effort nonsense please,” the band wisely announced via their website. Just say ‘second’ and stop using the thesaurus. It’s entitled The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner and is due for release on August 27th through Model Citizen. With titles such as Pull Off Your Arms And Let’s Play In Your Blood and Kathmandu (Face It, You’re Caviar, I’m Hotdogs) it’s a fairly safe bet that the band haven’t sold out. In fact it wouldn’t surprise us if whilst they’ve been away they sneaked into your house dressed in fishnets, smeared mayo and blood all over the bed and did a little squat-wee on the carpet. They’re that kind of band.

Here’s a track from the album entitled Poached Eggs. “I’m sorry for being so gay today, you spilled your poached eggs all over my duvet,” sings Maykay before the group add a repeated mantra of “When thumbs get split, chicks get lit,” that builds and builds in a barbaric mess of synth splendour. It’s good to have them back. Now bend over and take what’s coming to you....

07 Poached Eggs by rubyworks

Friday 6 August 2010

The Naked and Famous - Young Blood

One of our favourite pop-boutique labels of the last couple of years has been Neon Gold. After a thunderous opening storm of releases that included Passion Pit, Marina & the Diamonds and Yes Giantess we came to the conclusion that their operation could do absolutely no wrong. However like any long term relationship once the initial lusty ‘can’t get my hands off you’ moment had passed, reality kicked in. There have still been highs – Ellie Goulding and Sound of Arrows in particular - but occasionally some so-so moments such as Gotye and Little Red, that whilst not ever being categorised as lows, did veer onto the side of hum-drum average.

September sees Neon Gold releasing Young Blood by The Naked and Famous, possibly the best thing to come out of New Zealand since Ladyhawke. This cut comes from the same school as Passion Pit, with high pitched vocals and synth rock sounds, and brings some of that lusty feeling back again. The Naked and Famous are a five piece consisting of Thom Powers, Alisa Xayalith, Aaron Short, David Beadle and Jesse Wood and have been releasing EP’s since 2008, but Young Blood will be their first single in the UK. The track streams below and there's also the video for your viewing pleasure. If the sound of nakedness doesn't raise a little sweat on your brow, maybe the sound of this mini-musical orgasm will.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Camp Bestival 2010 Review - (Part 3)

Sunday at Camp Bestival continued in exactly the same way as the two previous days. Perfect festival weather, an eclectic mix of music and good vibes all round.

The once Mercury nominated Seth Lakeman, a late addition to the bill, drew a significant crowd to the bandstand stage to witness him play songs from his new album Hearts and Minds as well as some older material. His rootsy hoedown and folkish marching songs got to the tribal core and soul of human emotion and went down a storm with many of those watching, a number of fans were soon up of their backsides and dancing.

As a few drops of rain began to fall The Wurzels (yes, some of them are still alive) brought the inner child out of every cider drinking adult with their scrumpy and western sound. Describing themselves as “The original boy band,” The Wurzels songs about two foot marrows, farmers and (of course) cider put a smile on the face, although when one of their number (who must be in his late 60’s or 70’s) stripped down to a g-string (honest) some smiles turned to looks of horror. A cover version of the Kaiser Chiefs Ruby complete with “Oo-ar-oo-ar,” chorus and a version of The Combine Harvester played out as a dance remix ensured that The Wurzels at least entertained.

Calvin Harris was a revelation. It may have been elementary and coarse with continued shouts for “let me see your hands,” and “everybody bounce,” but Harris succeeded through sheer force of enthusiasm and a back catalogue of hit singles that made a field of Camp Bestivalites become a few fries short of a happy meal. It was mental. Richter scale mental. The tallest man in electro pop wheeled out bangers bigger than Katie Price’s boob jobs and slammed them down so hard that we swear the ground actually shook under our feet. Songs such as Ready For The Weekend that on record sound like weedy electro pop designed not to upset Radio 1 playlisters took on a powerful, celebratory headrush that went straight to the stars. The biggest surprise of the weekend and then some.

There is a hypothesis that says that the influence of music blogs is less powerful than many bloggers themselves believe. Evidence in support of this argument was found in the Big Top, where the reasonably well blogged Visions of Trees (pictured) played to a virtually empty tent, save for some blissfully unaware children playing football, the odd punter who has come for a lay down and a few curious onlookers. However this doesn’t mean that the blogs have got it wrong - for Visions of Trees displayed an eerie rhythmic womb-like loveliness made up of otherworldly beats and ethereal vocals that was gorgeously wonderful. Lead singer Sara displayed an alluring reverb smothered voice and despite the non-audience she danced, swayed and performed as if lost in her own misty, dreamlike world.

Before the festival closed with an incredible firework display over Lulworth Castle Friendly Fires headlined the main stage, their cowbell-indie-funk a vehicle for lead singer Ed to shake his hips like a white disco-bound James Brown. With little banter except for urging the crowd to dance more and more, Friendly Fires seem determined to exhaust the audience - a result which in the main they achieve, even if occasionally their funky jams veered into moments of self indulgent jazziness. When Ed wasn’t shoving his face into his keyboard he danced like a man possessed with an energy that left Camp Bestival 2010 spent and wasted.

With that this superbly executed event was over for 2010 - it truly was fun for all the family.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Camp Bestival 2010 Review - (Part 2)

After some very light early morning rain, by lunchtime Camp Bestival 2010 was experiencing unfaultable festival weather – sunny, but with some cloud and breeze to keep temperatures comfortable, especially for the thousands who garbed up in fairy tale costumes for the annual Camp Bestival fancy dress parade. It was like Snow Whites and the seventy dwarfs, a hood of Little Red Riding Hoods and although there weren’t quite 101 dalmations, there were certainly a good twenty or so.

Lucky Elephant was also perfect for the weather, their laid back Anglo-French grooves designed for days such as this. Asking the crowd to sing happy birthday to one of their children who was four that day, Lucky Elephant tapped into the family atmosphere of the festival, but also give food for thought with their song The Pier, the sad tale of the loss of a town’s landmark and identity.

Following the cancellation of Chipmunk, the grandiose pop of Breaking More Waves favourites Hurts (pictured) found themselves moved from the Big Top to the Castle Stage and introduced by the stage announcer as “next up – The Hurts,” missing the point that the lack of ‘The’ in the bands name is important. Dropping the ‘The’ gives a group a fashionable vagueness and emotional resonance that the gang mentality use of ‘The’ just doesn’t do. Hurts are the musical version of architecture. Carefully designed and with meticulous thought put into every grandiose expression or minimalist moment, it was difficult to see how such a band could succeed on an outdoor stage at a festival, stripped of atmospheric lighting or any sort of context to the space in which they are performing. Yet even if their form was incorrectly placed their basic function still worked - just. Theo’s calculated and suited posing – the outstretched upturned hand, the nervous playing with the microphone lead, the stance of one arm behind the back were all present, but the songs such as the pulsing electropop of Better Than Love or the Albert Hall sized Illuminated, complete with opera singer, were strangely passionate and euphoric. “This song is called Stay – remember that because you might need to use it,” suggested Theo strangely and certainly most of the audience did – Hurts even adding a few more onlookers by the end. They’re not for everyone and festivals may not be their design specialism, but Hurts still delivered.

Ellie Goulding’s late Saturday afternoon slot showed just how popular the lady has become – this was true crossover appeal. With her sun-blazed hair seeming all the more golden, Ellie squinted out at a big Castle Stage crowd of all ages – mums, dads, teenagers, kids; everybody seemed to want a bit of her. Racing through tracks from her album Lights plus a cover version of the Midlake song Roscoe this was an easy win for Goulding. It was a shame that she had to rely on so many pre-recorded backing vocal tracks to flesh out her sound – her rasping girlish voice was strong and distinctive enough to carry a set without polishing. A little more rawness would have been preferred.

Back in 2009 when Ellie Goulding was breaking through, Max McElligott aka Wolf Gang was bolting out of the same pop stable (Neon Gold Records) with his debut release. Pop success is a game, and with winners there have to be losers. Whilst Goulding played to the masses, Wolf Gang found themselves playing to a small mainly disinterested audience on the smaller bandstand stage. Whilst songs such as The King & All of His Men and the Talking Heads referencing Pieces of You still sounded like hooky pop anthems in the making, you have to wonder if Wolf Gang had drawn a raffle ticket with the word ‘lose’ on it. His guitar and keyboard led tunes were good, but not remarkable. The hot under the collar buzz generated by bloggers and industry types last year for Wolf Gang seems, for the time being, to smack a little of slightly exaggerated hype.

But brilliance shouldn’t just be judged by audience numbers. Sound Of Rum may have played one of their many sets at the festival to a smallish crowd, but were inspiring, creative and in Kate Tempest had a uniquely charming front woman. Hypnotic skittering rhythms, building layers of guitar and Kate’s street-wise poems were delivered over jazzy and rock sounds that were completely unaffected, natural and compelling to listen to, each track drawing you in. “True story, 22 seconds ago I was asleep,” Kate laughed before spitting out an incredible flow of lyrics, getting the crowd to come closer to the bandstand. “That’s nice innit,” she smiled. “A proper gig.” When there was a pause in between songs she rapped out poetry acappella and got the audience to create a vocal rhythm for her to rhyme over. Astonishingly good. “It’s all about the substance not about the image,” she rapped, and certainly Sound of Rum have giddying substance. They will never infiltrate the mainstream, but the leftfield is just fine.

Mass adoration is reserved for Madness, who draw the biggest crowd of the whole festival. Starting with One Step Beyond the Nutty Boys set saw huge giant white letters spelling the words Madness being wheeled out at the back of the crowd by men wearing glowing fez’s, and the bands name in sparkling lights to the backdrop of the stage. After indulging in some lesser known mid set-material and jokes with the audience “Ok parents cover your childrens ears, this one has a sexy guitar solo,” they really took flight at the end with a nostalgic, sentimental runway of greatest hits - Baggy Trousers, the tropical Wings of a Dove and many more, leaving mums, dads, kids and in-betweeners all happy, with a ska’d up frenzy of dancing and skanking.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Camp Bestival 2010 Review - (Part 1)

The third Camp Bestival was the biggest and without doubt the best yet. Now establishing itself as one of, if not the best family-friendly festival in the UK, Camp Bestival sprinkled fairytale magic throughout its Lulworth Castle site and kept both adults and children alike entertained for the whole weekend. Camp Bestival may have had some teething problems in its first couple of years, but rather like the giant glow in the dark tulips in the enormous kids field, now it is really blooming. Amongst the colourful flags and bunting that adorned the site a friendly, safe, relaxed vibe was present that showed that festivals really can be for everyone. The only problem was that there was almost too much to see and do. From an incredible fireworks display over the castle, to watching jousting, wandering through the woods to find the petting zoo, to the insect circus, fancy dress, cocktails, the House of Fairy Tales, the East Lulworth Literary Institute, dancing to a Rob Da Bank DJ set of old school classics from The Jam to Michael Jackson in the Isle Of Boden it was almost possible to forget the live music at all.

But live music there was, with a line up that satisfied everyone from the very young (Mr Tumble), the quite young (Calvin Harris, Tinie Tempah, Example) to the old (Billy Bragg, The Human League). New music was also well represented with acts such as Visions of Trees, Summer Camp, and Charli XCX. In spirit Camp Bestival was more akin to the eclectic and anything goes spirit of the first three Bestivals before it grew into the bigger beast it is now, albeit with far more push chairs.

So when punters weren’t watching festival goers narrate a chapter of their lives in the Literature Tent, smiling at the 40’s / 50’s stylings of Mr Wippy and the Conettes performing odes and dances to ice-cream from the inside of an ice-cream van parked on the castle lawn or laughing at the range of comedy in the big top later in the evening, there was still time to watch some music on the main stages.

Backed by his dancers Derek Japan and Kevin Peters, a.k.a Double Penetration, the Bestival legend that is Barry Peters Halifax Hospital Radio got the party started with a conga across the Castle Stage field (pictured above), whilst blasting out nostalgic 80’s anthems and organising a skipping competition on the grass. It encapsulated the Bestival spirit perfectly - a mix of random humour and originality - a long way from V Festivals and such like of this world. “C’mon girls, don’t be shy, your mother weren’t,” Barry announces to get the crowd going in his fake Yorkshire accent. Who needs a comedy tent?

Example wasn’t the only artist on Friday who had to announce that he was late because of traffic congestion around the site, but the hard-working rapper/ singer soon caught up for lost time with a slingshot of electronic pop bangers that delivered the goods. “If you see somebody not bouncing I want you to grab their arm - even if they’re in a wheelchair,” he announced and the front half of the field bounced as one. There was a high-energy Radio 1-ness to his performance, but with the glorious summer anthem Kickstarts and the dirty electro of Hooligans, it was difficult not to be won over.

Over in the Big Top blog favourites Summer Camp’s hazy chunk of keyboard pop wasn’t quite as distracting. Innocently cool, Elizabeth’s vocal drifted with an almost country-tinged effortlessness, and whilst Summer Camp were fine, they didn’t dazzle.

We had mixed views about Lissie’s Catching a Tiger back in June, but her live performance to Camp Bestival was faultless. Her nicotine-yellow-smothered vocal was tender and beautiful, managing to make a cover version of Lionel Ritchie’s Hello seem less a guilty pleasure and just a pleasure. The guitar riffing Cuckoo made a sound case for her being the new star of AOR rock - her Stevie Nicks referencing drawl charmed the crowd who watched her.

Still in the Big Top, Breaking More Waves favourites Stornoway drew a decent sized crowd, but much of their quiet folk-pop intimacy was lost as they battled against sound bleed from the nearby Bollywood Bar. At least however Stornoway didn’t have to announce as both Lissie and Example had, that they had been delayed in traffic - typical of a band that seem to embrace themes of nature, travel and romanticism, they had arrived via the Swanage ferry. Songs such as the Thames inspired On the Rocks and Fuel Up were still acutely intricate, beguiling and life-affirming whilst the trumpet heightened Zorbing received the cheers it deserved.

Worst performance of the weekend came courtesy of Tony Da Gatorra and Gruff Rhys, whereby the lead singer of the Super Furry Animals disappeared the whole way up his musical anal passage. Standing in front of banners that proclaimed ‘The Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness’ Gatorra played an instrument that is best described as half drum machine - half guitar, whilst his vocals rambled like a lost hitchhiker over hilly layers of ambient noise created by Rhys. It was an embarrassing psychedelic experimental mess, with complete disregard for melody - a performance designed for the statement “What planet were they on?” By the end the crowd were shouting the name “Billy, Billy” over and over again in anticipation of the Bard of Barking and when Rhys announced the last song, a big cheer sounded. Whilst Neon Neon was a credible Super Furries side project, this wasn’t.

“Not bad for an old bloke,” jokes Billy Bragg sipping a cup of tea. He’s right. In fact he’s far better than not bad - his set being an inspiring community singalong. “I feel a total jerk, before your naked body of work,” he crooned with touching warmth and awkwardness on Sexuality. The anti-fascist Accident Waiting To Happen was as lyrically powerful as ever and a great tune to boot. By the time he delivered a passionate speech about his pride for the young people of Barking and Dagenham coming out to ensure the BNP got a poor result in the election and that cynicism is the greatest enemy, his status as elder statesman of socialism and pop was assured. He rounded things off with New England and a mash up of Marley's One Love with lyrics changed to “Let’s drop the debt and it will be alright," and showed that passion and belief in what you do will always have greater longevity than shallow fashion.

It was a rewarding end to a first day, with the promise of more great live music that would please all-comers to follow the next day.