From blog frenzy (yes, we were involved) to major label deal, Cults finally released their debut album in the UK yesterday. Here’s some footage from when the band hit Brighton for the Great Escape festival, filmed for Bowlegs at the Marwood Coffee Shop. “Kick ass coffee & life changing cake,” the shop states; high claims indeed.
Although the bands official Great Escape performance at Horatio’s bar on the pier was somewhat underwhelming, the shoot of this song – The Curse – seems to have a bit more of a cool bite to it. For comparison we’re also streaming the original amped up version in Soundcloud below.
Jess Mills wrapped her seductive tones around The Cure’s classic A Forest a short while ago – you may remember it streaming here back in April? Now here’s a video for the song shot in Death Valley. Where is Jess walking / running to or what is she running from? Nothing is explained – not even why she’s wearing a poncho.
Answers to “Why is Jess Mills wearing a poncho as this does not seem to be particularly fitting attire for a pop singer, especially one who has just immersed herself into the dark electronic pool that is A Forest?” on a postcard please to Breaking More Waves, c/o The Internet, World Wide Web. Thank you.
In 1978 the artist David Nash fashioned a large wooden boulder, cut from a tree trunk and placed it at the top of a waterfall in North Wales. The rush of water immediately swept the boulder downstream in a heady torrent of white waves before it stuck on the river bed, unmoved by weather and the shifts of the season until 2003. Then finally, slowly and surely the boulder rolled and floated forward a little. It eventually spent 25 years of being emerged in the water until tidal currents took it from the rivers out to the sea.
That boulder is a representation of The Suburbs for Arcade Fire for us. Their earlier work was the giddying excitement of the plunge of the waterfall, but The Suburbs was the moment when things got stuck. It was a record that seemed over-long, bloated and just a little lame – like its title, and like the boulder, stuck in the middle of nowhere. Yet slowly our opinions have changed. As the river of music continues to bash against the boulder we have begun to re-appraise The Suburbs and now find it substantially better than those first few plays. It is still perhaps a little over long, but it is a record that we keep returning to.
Which is where Norway’s Mr Little Jeans comes in (yes she’s a woman despite the name), adding something extra to the journey. This moody, electronic version of the title track of the album reminds us a little of a Breakage remix (more of him later today) with its desolate electronica and slow wash of brooding atmospherics. It makes us love the song just that little bit more.
What makes a best friend? When you’re young it’s probably the amount of time you spend with someone. Yet as the years advance and life takes you in different directions or places the best friend equation is a little more complicated. For me it’s probably something like this ; amount of time known you’ve known each other + how well you still get on + common ground shared between you now + shared experiences of the past.
It’s this last factor - the shared history - that Music That Made Me is all about. Call it middle-aged nostalgia if you must, but the songs that define me are as much about the memories that they hold as the songs brilliance. In an age where music bloggers shout on a daily basis that songs they’re writing about are ‘game-changing’ and that they’ve ‘fallen in love’ with some new band that nobody has ever heard of and then a year later have disregarded the song / band / artist completely for the next new thing, it’s essential to hold on to the songs that really are important. Just like friends.
The best songs cannot be written about in isolation. Each one comes with its own back story. Which is why, when thinking about best friends and songs, it’s so hard to pick just one tune , particularly when you've experienced so much music and memories together. It’s inevitable that there’s going to be a boxful of music to recapture. In fact, a number of the tunes we’ve reminisced about in this series could easily have related to this particular friend. Even although these days we’re separated by countries, me in Portsmouth, England, him in Helsinki, Finland, and we certainly don’t see each other that often, the best friend equation holds true. Christmas and birthdays still tend to involve the giving of CD’s as presents – him some good and some not so good Finnish band he’s discovered, me something from the music scene in the UK. He even writes an (occasional) Brit in Finland blog called Holynpoly. You can find that here.
So where to start with the music? I’ll pick one, there may be more later.
Shepherds Bush Empire, London. Brit pop is starting to ebb away. Front row against the barrier. The oddest support band ever. A lead singer that is quite happy to show her pierced genitalia to us and a man wearing a toilet seat as a headpiece. An odd start. Minty left us with somewhat nervous laughter, not quite knowing where to cast our eyes.
Then the main event; I remember ringing the box office during the day to ask what time the band would be on stage. “Our heroes will be on at 9,” came the reply, and a little tingle ran through my spine. Our heroes. He was right.
A band for the geeks, the freaks and the arty kids that suddenly became cool, conquered Glastonbury and with this song became OUR band. The gig was exceptional. We both came out with big smiles on our faces. This was the music that made us.
Choose blogging. Choose new music. Choose electropop. Choose dirty aggressive walls of sound. Choose beauty. Choose dancing. Choose folk. Choose no time in the f*ckin’ day to listen to everything you want to listen to. Choose gigs, dancing, festivals and the internet. Choose sexual analogies about songs. Choose the underground. Choose cute girls with keyboards and even cuter boys with guitars. Choose forming bands, growing bad haircuts and splitting up before you’ve even released an album. Choose Saturday. Choose us. Choose Breaking More Waves every single day of your life.
Hello. Thank you for choosing us. This is the Saturday Surf, our weekly round-up of stuff we missed or didn’t have time to properly post about in the week just gone.
Remember Just A Number 05272011? They were the mystery band that animated the blogosphere with their rather good off-kilter electropop and Scooby-Doo-esque ‘who are they?’ mystery identity approach. When we first featured them back in March we suggested that the number may represent a release date. In fact yesterday was simply the day that they revealed through twitter that they were to be known as Battlekat. It’s a shame really, because we preferred the more unconventional name Just A Number 05272011.
If the anti-climax of this revelation felt a lot like not being able to get an erection after the tantalising promise of sex with a new partner, then the hope is that when Battlekat release some new songs they’ll destroy everything in their path, and we’ll all forget about the just a number gimmick. The only up side to the 'actually our name is rubbish' fiasco was that the Copenhagen based band (not Isle of Man as suggested by their Soundcloud) also played their first ever live show a few hours later. You can finally see what the band look like and read a short review of the gig on the Line Of Best Fit here. In the meantime here’s another remix of He Didn't Want A Love Song from the group.
Givers are a six-piece from Louisiana that have been around for a while now, but are only just beginning to break through in our own territory of the UK. Mixing afro-beat, indie and synth rock the track Up Up Up is one of those 100% guaranteed joy tunes. Expect more of this from their forthcoming debut album. For those in the UK the band are due to visit these shores this summer, with confirmed festival appearances at Field Day and Summer Sundae, both of which will be reviewed on Breaking More Waves. Watch this space.
Les Mistons are a band that could be huge. Not in the sense of selling out stadia and winning platinum discs huge, nor having the ability to eat themselves into obesity, but they seem to possess the capacity to make big sounding music.
Take their signature track Keep Flying. It’s not the type of song that can be judged until it’s been given five minutes and fifteen seconds of your full attention as it slowly builds from its atmospheric beginnings to its chest thumping gang-shout chorus, “Woah-oh” chant and repeated line of “Hit it over the head with a blunt object.” It may be a little rough around the edges, but imagine if you took this London 3 piece, who have been friends since they were 11 and were previously in a covers band called The Badgers and put them in a big studio with someone who had a firm grasp of sonic science, the results could be colossal.
Finally for this week we wanted to give a quick heads up to Beat Connection who managed to get Breaking More Waves hometown of Portsmouth a raving and a grooving in a pub that vaguely resembles someone’s gigantic front room a couple of days back. In The Water is the sleek new single out this week, it’s crammed full of trippy and Balearic influences . We're streaming it below and you can see the new video for it here.
If you’re the sort that likes bands, but also like to get your savvy synth groove on, embracing the likes of Delphic, Fenech-Soler, Chew Lips and Friends Electric then the crisp computerised tunes of Lighthouses could be the next jams to funk you giddily into party heaven.
Lighthouses are a go-for-the-burn electronic pop trio that create a sound that suggests that some mad vibed up scientists have gone clubbing, got back to the lab and decided to crack the formula for getting everyone up moving and shaking – and we’re not talking Dancing Queen by Abba or I’m In The Mood For Dancing by The Nolans here. Lighthouses songs are full of shoot for the stars sexy disco bleeps that just when you think you know where you’re heading take a little twist and head even higher, but all within the context of a pop song.
Having remixed the aforementioned Chew Lips and Fenech-Soler as well as the likes of Yeasayer and Miike Snow, Lighthouses have got out there with support slots including David E Sugar, Mini Viva, Get Shakes, Midi Midis, Ignug and LA Shark. They’ve now picked up some coverage through the very important BBC Introducing and have also had their track played on NME Radio. Next they get the Breaking More Waves treatment and will follow this up with some gigs across the UK in the next few months including shows in Southampton, Bristol, Doncaster, Nottingham, London and a slot at the newly created Good Weekend Festival in Hampshire. Get ready to wriggle uncontrollably to their songs that stream below and when you hear the Telegram from the Queen remix of Control be prepared to change your knickers – as you may just lose yourself physically.
Remember Samuel and the Dragon? They created a beautiful hymn of minimalism called Diamonds On A Boat back in 2009. We got very excited about this wonderfully sculptured tune and started writing the words ‘next big thing,’ as music blogs do.
Blogs get criticised for ‘hype’ but this song was absolutely perfect and as any fan of music will know, when you hear something extraordinary you want to tell the world about it. So we did. Then nothing. Absolutely nothing. The Dragon departed and Samuel was left on his own as simply Samuel Chase. A few live shows followed and then more silence.
Until now. Samuel Chase has unveiled a new collaboration with Untold. They go by the name of Dreadnought and have a piece of music called Caroline. The track and the accompanying video is creepy, dark and sinister. As a commentator on You Tube states; Thom Yorke is a wet nappy in comparison. Prepare yourself – this is harsh.
Yesterday The Horrors unveiled their brand new single Still Life. Sounding like a wayward and less bombastic version of Simple Minds dragged wearily from the depths of the mid 80’s it finds Faris intoning “when you wake up, when you wake up you will find me,” over arms aloft synths. Dare we say it but The Horrors have created their first stadium anthem. The song sparkles in the gloom and is almost calling for cigarette lighters in the air.
Could this five-piece, who frankly very few people took seriously when they released their debut, become this decade’s version of The Cure? Starting out with gothy-punk-pop songs that were rather hit or miss at their beginning and slowly evolving into a unit that embraces all sorts of alt. rock / pop sounds, is it possible that they could end up selling out arenas? On the basis of just this song that idea is not out of the question.
Still Life bodes very well for Skying, the bands third album which is due July 11. It was recorded by the group in their own studio in Dalston, London.
You can catch them this summer at a variety of festivals and one day summer shows which include Wireless Festival in London, Field Day (also London) and the Reading and Leeds Festivals.
The music of Lana Del Rey is rather sumptuous. It’s perfectly styled with a strong cinematic influence – like something out of a French art-house film or a Tarantino movie - but with massive gateaux slice of creamy pop shoved in as well. Listen to her songs and you’ll probably be struck with the imagery of cocktail parties, cool looking men dancing with even cooler looking girls, jazz clubs, gangsters, fashion shoots for high-class magazines, drug deals and sad lonely Hollywood film stars. Oh, and Smash Hits magazine.
Rather like The Cardigans circa the Life album or Vanessa Paradis on her self-titled album from 1992 Lana Del Rey has conceptualised a very specific sound, from a very specific time; namely the sixties. However, unlike those two artists the production on Lana Del Rey’s work is more polished and ‘now’ - the nostalgia comes from the reference points. On repeated listens it’s possible to envisage Paloma Faith having a crack at these songs, although we doubt if she’d be able to deliver the vocals with such aplomb – all sultry and smoky one moment, all girlish and cute the next. In fact the girlish and cute side brings to mind much more chart bound pop acts such as Katy Perry and even Britney to a certain extent. It's an odd mix, but it works.
Take a look at the video for Kinda Outta Luck and its guaranteed that after the thirty seconds of nostalgic scene setting you’ll think of Julee Cruise singing Falling or Nancy Sinatra performing Bang Bang as she opens her mouth. “I was born bad but then I met you, you made me nice for a while, but my dark side’s true,” she husks over slow twangy guitars. Then suddenly the song bursts to life with snappy drumbeats and Lana exclaims with glee that “My daddy’s in the trunk of his brand new truck, I really want him back but I’m kinda out of luck, ” and we hear snapshots of country, pop and the aforementioned sixties. Lana may look the all-American doe eyed beauty, but there’s something sinister going on here as well - as the video says "loving her is like shaking hands with the devil."
Also streaming below is another song – Video Games – which despite its title is not some sort of neon-electro track that pays homage to Tron and Super Mario, but a sad sounding ballad built out of Florence and the Machine like harp, strings, piano and military drums full of references to bad girls (again), alcohol and Belinda Carlisle in the words “heaven is a place on earth.”
These are impressive beginnings for the 24 year old from New York that now spends most of her time in London and whose real name is Lizzy Grant. We’re not quite sure where her songs will fit in today’s pop landscape, but we’re looking forward to hearing more.
*Edit the original soundcloud embed for Video Games has now been removed and replaced with another (identical) version of the song which you can find by clicking this link. Lana Del Rey - Video Games
Here’s a track that we were originally going to post a few days ago, but we held off thinking / hoping that there would be a visual accompaniment at some point. Now there is. Directed by Stuart Hall (we assume it’s not the UK television and radio personality with the mad laugh) this video welcomes back our new favourite pop sensation Queen of Hearts.
Some facts about Queen of Hearts that you may or may not know.
1. When playing this video You Tube suggests that we should also watch the work of Sally Shapiro. In this case You Tube is right – there’s a similarity in vocal style and lush shimmery synth work (try Love in July for starters).
2. Queen of Hearts wears a lot of absolutely fabulous (please read the word fabulous in an abfab Joanna Lumley style) costumes in this video. It’s nice to see a girl that gets dressed up whatever the occasion, even if the clothes aren’t that practical for walking around the countryside. We imagine Queen of Hearts even does the washing up in a posh frock.
3. Johan Agebjörn, who Queen of Hearts has collaborated with here is a Swedish italo-disco producer and he has done a considerable amount of work with Sally Shapiro, which brings us back to fact number 1.
4. Pitchfork recently gave Agebjörn’s album Casablanca Nights 6.7 out of 10 (how do they decide it’s .7 not .6 or .8 can somebody let us know ?) They said of this song and of Queen of Hearts “It's too bad she doesn't appear more often.” We agree with this last statement.
5. Queen of Hearts debut live show at Madame Jo Jo’s in London was very well received by all accounts with people using words such as “impressive” and “amazing” for a performance that was sexily-dramatic, theatrical and as cool as f*ck.
6. Her majesty plays another show with a supporting cast 100% worthy of her royal patronage – the much Breaking More Waves blogged Paper Crows, the recently blogged Cave Painting and the sublime new folk princess Daughter - at Proud in London on the June 8. This gig comes with our full stamp of approval and we hope very much to be in attendance.
7.We appear to have ignored Ercola (also credited in the song) completely. Sorry.
8.Queen of Hearts is now most certainly our new favourite lady in electronic pop. Fact.
There’s something very special about Communion Records. Rather like Bella Union they’re a label that just seems to ooze quality and in Michael Kiwanuka they’ve found another gem. His debut EP Tell Me A Tale, which is released on the June 13 is head and shoulders above the crowd.
Like a lazy autumn Sunday afternoon Kiwanuka’s music is full of laid back, effortless beauty and deserves to be cherished. Featuring pattering drums, flutes, guitars, soft brass and a wonderfully warm voice the cuts on his EP are organically faultless - a mix of 60’s jazz, soul and pop. This is a man blessed with real talent, something which we confirmed a couple of weeks ago when we caught a short acoustic set of his at The Great Escape in Brighton – and he could easily find a loving audience on the likes of BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music.
If we were to compare Kiwanuka to Bill Withers and Otis Redding it may seem like high praise indeed, but it’s fully deserved for the songs, the voice and the musicianship here are all top notch. The 23 year old Londoner recorded the tunes on his EP with Paul Butler from The Bees in Paul’s homeland of The Isle Of Wight. Since then travels further than the three miles across the piece of water known as the Solent have entailed, as Kiwanuka was asked to support the globe conquering, chart busting and frankly amazing Adele on a number of shows, including some in mainland Europe.
It’s been a good few weeks since Alice Jemima’s name first appeared on Breaking More Waves, but now she’s back with a new song entitled Red Coat that she’s recorded with Grammy nominated producer Andy Chatterley and Jason Tarver (both of whom worked with Kylie Minogue on her album Aphrodite). Red Coat is a delicately constructed and innocently sweet sounding pop song that takes an alluring step forward from her more folkish and minimalistic work that we’ve previously featured.
Since we introduced Alice she’s received her first Radio 1 play courtesy of our favourite festival organizer / curator and DJ Rob da Bank and has confirmed to play the BBC Introducing Stage at this year’s Wychwood Festival. It’s still very early days for Alice, but we could easily see her fragile and lovely songs placing her as the UK’s answer to the likes of Australia’s Lisa Mitchell or Iceland’s Emilíana Torrini.
The Great Escape 2011 featured bands playing in a variety of unusual locations besides the standard pubs, clubs and concert halls. There were performances on streets, on Brighton pier and in vintage clothes shops. Read our review of the whole event here. Courtesy of the people at Bands in Transit there were also some special performances from the back of a van. As their website says “Every band has been there - shifting gear from gig to gig in the back of a van, chasing the dream. Bands In Transit rolled into The Great Escape to put a host of established stars and breakthrough newcomers into the back of a Transit.” Here are some of the results, from long term Breaking More Waves favourites The Joy Formidable performing Whirring and the violin plucking Marques Toliver singing Deep In My Heart.
Together with the videos we’ve also included the excellent original versions of each song to stream and in the case of the Marques Toliver song, a free download.
It was one of those moments. One of those pull the car onto the kerb and listen in stunned silence moments; a moment where a song seemed more important than everything else in life.
I’d been a fan of the Manic Street Preachers pretty much since day one. Their mix of politicised intelligence, lipstick trash glamour and literacy stood out in a time when most bands were more interested in ‘avin it large than listening to songs about culture, boredom, alienation and despair. Lad culture was on the rise and the progression from the second summer of love by way of the Madchester scene to the vulgar Loaded-mag / coked up end of Brit Pop and all its vulgarities was unavoidable. Yet from day one the Manics had been different – they were a band to obsess over and to embrace wholeheartedly – a band whose fans were more likely to discuss the works of Camus than how they could party their arse off.
The Manics weren’t perfect either – guitarist Nicky Wire’s comment that “In this season of goodwill, let’s pray that Michael Stipe goes the same way as Freddy Mercury pretty soon,” was inexcusable, despite his protestations after that the quote hadn’t come out how he had intended. Their first two albums didn’t fully realise their potential, both being flawed in places, although both also had songs of brilliance. “We’ll release one double album that goes to number one worldwide. One album, then we split. If it doesn't work, we split anyway. Either way, after one album, we're finished,” they claimed, but that didn’t come true.
But it was after the first two albums that the Manic Street Preachers became something else. The Holy Bible was the sound of the band descending into the darkness of hell. Written in the main by guitarist Richie Edwards before he was hospitalised for depression, self-abuse, alcoholism and drug-use, The Holy Bible is a bleak piece of work full of self-loathing and narcissism. It dealt with subjects such as anorexia, the holocaust and a call for capital punishment and was released at a time when Blur were getting cheery and beery singing about holiday sex and park life whilst Oasis were about to proclaim that you and I were going to live forever. It was a compelling listen.
On 1 February 1995, a year after the release of The Holy Bible, Richie Edwards walked out of the Embassy Hotel, London and was never seen again. His car was found empty at a service station, near the Severn Bridge, a well-known suicide spot. Fans, including myself, loved Richey for articulating their shared feelings of us-against-the-world confusion. His disappearance affected me much more so than the death of Kurt Cobain – I could identify with the Manics in a way that I couldn’t with the other media-overloaded death of a rock star story of the early 90’s – that of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
After Richie’s disappearance I thought that it was the end of the Manic Street Preachers – Richie had been one of the most important creative parts of the band. Yet two years later, they returned as just a three piece – with a solid union of friendship and sadness amongst them. I remember exactly the first time I heard this song. I was driving my car towards Woking to catch a train for a gig in London. The radio announced an exclusive play of the new Manic Street Preachers single. Then they played A Design for Life. That was the moment I had to pull over. Sometimes the power of music is just too much to bear.
A Design for Life can be appreciated on two levels.
First as a life-affirming stadium anthem for the masses - beer swilling lads can bawl along to it no problem.
But it can also be appreciated with a sense of history - the back story is important. A Design for Life is a hugely dignified, bittersweet and poignant moment, where the Manic Street Preachers achieved everything they said they were going to do. Listen to those lyrics “Libraries gave us power then work came and made us free, what price now for a shallow piece of dignity? I wish I had a bottle, right here in my dirty face to wear the scars, to show from where I came. We don't talk about love we only want to get drunk, we are not allowed to spend as we are told that this is the end.”A Design for Life is an utterly compelling song about working class identity and conflict that is both brilliantly moving and powerfully intelligent. It was arguably the bands finest hour. It was a huge hit in the UK and paved the way for the band to have commercial success and find the mainstream.
I’m pretty sure Richie Edwards would have been very proud indeed.
The internet is amazing isn’t it? You can find everything on it. We mean absolutely everything. This week for example we know that somebody in Edinburgh searched for the words “Scotland free or a desert,” on the worldwide web and somehow found Breaking More Waves. Then another person looked up “Zane Lowe talking about good loop pedal” and was directed here. And if anyone spots Ellie Goulding carrying a breast milk express pump at any festivals in 2011, be sure to let her know that a person from the Netherlands is looking for her, because someone there searched for the words “Ellie Goulding sexy boob milk at Bestival,” this week and arrived at this blog.
Whatever route you’ve made it to Breaking More Waves, as a regular reader or a newbie, welcome. This is the Saturday Surf, a weekly round-up of a smidgeon of tracks that we didn’t quite get to feature in full blog posts over the last seven days, but deserve some coverage.
There's just 3 songs this week - all better than the finest loop pedal and Elle Goulding’s breast milk. Possibly.
You may remember Pris from a while back. They’re the power-punk trio of girls (and a boy drummer) that come with the Eddie Argos (Art Brut) / Manic Street Preachers stamp of approval and SHOUT THEIR TWEETS LIKE THIS and have recently been stirring it up with a few Guillemots fans by tweeting things like “GUILLEMOTS ON 6MUSIC: ''I LIKE FOOD''. WHAT A VILE AND BORING THING TO SAY-BUT THEN HE IS IN A VILE & BORING BAND WHO DO BAD BEATLE COVERS” or as they tweeted to us “THEY’RE CUNTS.” No holding back there.“Is it true Guillemots fans cry in the corner after sex?” they asked forgetting the capitals, upsetting a few more Fyfe Dangerfield followers in the process. Even if you can’t stand their music follow them on twitter (here) and see what mischief they’re up to next. Here’s a cover version of The Clash’s Janie Jones that they put on line a while back - debut single The Better You Look The More You See is out soon (ish)
Next up is the geekily named Right Click Save As who delivers this rather good demo of prizeworthy-electro-indie-dance. The song is called House and with big swipes of lush synth and falsetto vocals there’s an undeniable similarity to the likes of Fenech-Soler coupled up with Friendly Fires. Right Click Save As is the solo project of one Ben Mercer and you don’t even need to click save as. Instead press the arrow download button below and the song is yours. Do it now.
Our final track for this latest Saturday Surf is a remix. From the darker edges of the internet the squalling nightmare sound of S.C.U.M is given a electronic-knob-twiddling reworking by Manchester’s new dark-rave princes Christian AIDS. The track has a scary distorted feel to it that means it’s not so far removed from the witch house scene. Like rain-soaked sex on someone’s grave, it’s all kind of wrong and yet also live-for-the-moment right.
We’re not quite sure what a ‘re-imagining’ is, but that’s what Breaking More Waves favourites Labyrinth Ear are calling this new version of Arthur Russell’s This Is How We Walk On The Moon which they’ve recently unleashed to the internet. Re-imagining certainly sounds a little more artful than remix and a little more sophisticated than a rework don’t you think?
Russell was a musician who died at the young age of 40 and was relatively unknown in his lifetime, but a series of re-issues, compilations and a biopic have raised his profile since. The song was originally featured on his 1994 album Another Thought and was used in a UK TV advert for T Mobile, which is probably where you are most likely to have heard it. Labyrinth Ear told us that it’s one of their favourite tracks.
Having featured pretty much every track from their debut Oak EP on the blog it’s nice to have some new output from the duo and hopefully we’ll see some original material floating by fairly soon from Tom and Emily (pictured above – or at least Emily is, but then that could be a tom couldn’t it?) Here’s their re-imagination..
Kyla La Grange, who we first came across in March last year, may have started out as a gentle acoustic folk chanteuse but is rapidly transforming into a nicotine-stained, ballsy riffing rock chick. This is a singer who knows what she wants and knows where she’s going. “Tell me none of your longings, I don’t need them, or you,” she sweetly rasps at the beginning of Been Better – her new single - before the song marches into war ready to breach fortifications. “I’ve been better when the sky was red and a face like yours couldn’t make me scared, I’ve been better with the things I’ve said, when I took the lead instead of being led,” Kyla hollers as guitars become blood-drawing weapons of music in the chorus. This is vigorous and commanding stuff from the ex-Watford lass, full of fiery passion and power.
Kyla La Grange is out on tour supporting Wolf Gang in May / June before she plays a number of festival shows including Lounge on the Farm, Summer Sundae, Secret Garden Party and Bestival. We’ll certainly be catching her dramatic sound somewhere in a field this summer. Been Better by Kyla La Grange will be released on 7” and download through Chess Club on July 11.
There’s a theory floating around that music has run out of ideas. That everything references something else. That theory certainly weaves its way around the pages of Breaking More Waves. It’s often presented by weary hacks as a criticism, but pop music is just following the pattern of other forms of popular culture. Nobody criticises a film because it’s a horror film or an adventure film with familiar themes and patterns; of course it’s been done before but we accept that and judge the film on what it does for us. Does it entertain us, does it move us, does it make us see the world in a different way?
Likewise electropop is a genre that is refashioned and rebranded every now and then, but it’s still electropop. Today’s version is slow grooving, cutely sexual, twinkling, vaguely Moroderish and from France. Joypopp resurrect a sound that you could place in the 80’s but you could also place anywhere from 2008 onwards. “I want to kiss your lips, I want to kiss your body, want you all for me, I can do everything, I will do anything,” purrs lead singer Alix like a Kylie or Little Boots with extra sauce during Desire the lead track from the duo's debut EP Ecstatic, released through Binary this week. It’s just erotically charged enough to leave you wanting more; irrespective of originality or not.
Last Sunday most music fans in the UK were debating Lady Gaga’s performance at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Carlisle (our view – Gaga may have successfully caught out her audience with another shock tactic, this time the music being the talking point rather than her normally outrageous costumes, but her jazz opus felt so bland and middle of the road that we actually longed for the moment when she rolled out the synths and the beats, which unfortunately she only did sparingly).
However, whilst the chatter continued Breaking More Waves was celebrating musical victories of a smaller kind. Over in the BBC Introducing Tent the line-up included a number of new bands that we’ve positively supported over the last year or so. Mopp, Let’s Buy Happiness, Polarsets and Rizzle Kicks have all featured more than once on these pages, some of them as far back as February 2010 and all got their chance to play courtesy of Auntie Beeb. Another act that appeared – Friends Electric - we first wrote about last May and following their performance (some of which you can see here) they have now released a new video for their song Fireworks. We’ll exclude any puns about the song being explosive or rocketing into your mind and instead just say watch it. The track will be released on June 20 and is another piece of their neat fitting electro-pop jigsaw that sits sharply alongside the likes of Delphic and Fenech-Soler.
If like us the floaty dream pop of the likes of Memory House and Keep Shelly in Athens is your thing, then Boy Friend is the next faded wash of musical romance to hit your headphones. With cloudy synths and out-of-reach feminine vocals, the debut single Lovedropper through Hell Yes! has been gently rubbing itself up against our ears for the last twenty four hours. Listening to it on repeat makes us want to liken it more and more to a golden smudged ghostly sun-ray or something equally preposterous. It’s that kind of music – like whale music for indie kids; and that’s not an insult but a compliment. Luckily it’s not just the one track that massages our weary ears and body with loveliness, as you’ll hear from the slightly hazier and spacier Spirit Burner which we’re also streaming below.
Boy Friend has also gone all blog unfriendly on us with a freakish portrait video, which we advise that you don’t watch if you’ve taken any illicit substances recently. (Click here to watch and see what we mean)
Boy Friend consists of Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown (formerly of Sleep∞Over) from Austin, Texas. If bliss was something that was manufactured rather than felt, then their far-flung ambient tunes would be a central component. Time to relax and enjoy.
Belongings by Clock Opera first came to us back in March (here) and with the single now out there via Moshi Moshi they have released a video to accompany the song. Starting with a slow rising gracefulness and ending in a kaleidoscopic explosion the video is a perfect visual accompaniment to the tune, following its structure and progression.
Belongings is a stimulating and rousing piece of work that is worthy of every ounce of praise we can load onto it.
Your next slice of Clock Opera wonderment comes this summer when the band play a small number of festivals, including Hop Farm, Wireless and Field Day. Early reports of their gigs gave descriptions of ‘shaky’ at best, but having seen them storm it earlier this year there’s no doubt that they have developed into a storming and powerful sonic machine.
I met her in a boozy pub full of old men just off Trafalgar Square. She was alone and reading Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. This was some time before the film came out - she was cool like that. She was a little shy but at ease and honest – there was none of that cat and mouse you sometimes got with other girls. By the end of the evening we’d arranged to meet again in some backwater bar where a band was playing.
She was geekily attractive – an odd one out with her glitter, eyeliner and vintage clothes at a time when vintage clothes weren’t the rage. Music, art and fashion meant everything to her. She was exceptionally intelligent too, not just in terms of education, but with her emotions, common sense and the wisdom of what was really important in life. She loved the sea, the city, literature and had the ability to drink me under the table. That summer I found my soul mate and as we stepped out every weekend into the city again we were invincible.
When after two months she spoke the words “I’m sorry, this isn’t working out,” the shock was painful and unexpected. The giddy rush of chemicals in the early stages of love had made me blind.
This was very much our song. We danced madly to its snappy guitar riffs. Our arms flailed in all directions without a care in the world down in her basement flat crammed with tatty coffee stained books, artworks she’d found in second hand shops, mannequins and old vinyl records by My Bloody Valentine, Depeche Mode, Adam Ant, Ride and The Cure. It was a song that had been released a few years before, by what in hindsight was a C list mediocre indie band with very average songs and flatly predictable vocals. But for those two brilliant months this song joined us.
For yet another weekend in May the streets and seafront of Brighton were adulterated not only with the usual mix of hedonistic clubbers, party people and intoxicated hen parties, but with several thousand wristband wearing gig goers coming together in an orgy of multi-venue musical mayhem. Breaking More Waves was of course in the thick of it. Here is our school report of all the essential ingredients of what makes a festival succeed or not.
Tickets for The Great Escape ranged from a 3 day pass at £49.50 (+ booking fee) to a variety of day and 2 day combinations. Those on the smart money book months in advance though, with the early bird catching the worm at only £35 for a three day pass – the same as what a Saturday only ticket was on the door. Tickets allow access to all venues and gigs, except for shows by Friendly Fires, DJ Shadow and Sufjan Stevens at the Dome, for which extra payment was required. Alongside the main festival a variety of ‘Alternative Escape’ shows run, which non-wristband holders can also attend for free or a small charge.
No camping in messy, muddy fields thank you very much. The Great Escape is an urban festival, so if you don’t live there or travel in each day there’s a plethora of hotels, apartments and B&B’s. We stayed in the sexily swish Feng Shui ambience of My Hotel, right in the throbbing heart of Brighton which provided an ideal base for the event being only a short stagger home each night after the partying had finished. For those on a more restricted budget, a variety of campsites exist just outside Brighton, but if considering using those beware the potential risk of high public transport costs if travelling back late at night when only taxis are available.
It’s a city, by the sea. Without a portaloo anywhere. The venues that hosted this year’s festival ranged from pubs, clubs, and concert halls to a hotel lobby, a seafront pier, outdoor street gigs and even a vintage clothes store, of which you can see footage of Treetop Flyers playing in below.
A mix of indie kids and older music veterans, with everyone being there for the same reason – to enjoy the music. During the weekend we saw several acoustic / folk sets and were impressed with how quietly appreciative the crowds were, but likewise when it was time to rock / dance, everyone seemed prepared to up the tempo and party.
A good festival has good toilets, so being indoors you’d probably expect the Great Escape to have remarkably clean loos compared with outdoor portaloos or compost toilets. Yet unfortunately it seems that the users of the facilities and the owners of clubs and pubs in Brighton pay little attention to keeping the things spotless whilst in use. Here’s an example (click here) of one such offender from one of Brighton’s leading clubs. Could do much better.
Queues for the toilets and queues for food are two common complaints of outdoor summer festivals. No problem here in Brighton of course. The bane of every muti-venue urban festival is venue capacity. Arrive too late to see a popular act and you risk finding yourself standing outside on the street wondering whether spending £ 49.50 to loiter on the pavement like a loser was such a good idea.The Great Escape is no exception and we heard reports all weekend (particularly on the Friday and Saturday) of over-subscribed shows. However, with careful advance planning it’s possible (as we did) to never see a queue at all and maximise your time watching bands. (Read more about our tips on this here) In our time at Great Escape 2011 we saw everything we wanted to see – that’s 36 full performances.
Generally Great Escape is very well organised with high levels of stewarding and venues running reasonably on time, although inevitably from time to time some schedules slip a little. With festival organisers providing regular updates on what venues are full and what have space via a text message service punters are kept reasonably well informed. We did however hear a number of complaints this year about artists and bands pulling out of shows and no information being given at the venue or via the text service.
Everything from a cheap sandwich courtesy of a supermarket to some fine restauranteering is available. It’s a city isn’t it? Enough said.
If you’ve ever attended an outdoor festival you’ll have probably checked the weather forecast for several days in advance. Forget what people say about muddy festivals bringing out the British fighting spirit and giving people a sense of community. That may be true, but wet festivals are still rubbish. However with the Great Escape there really is no need to worry about the weather. With 99% of gigs being indoors the wettest you’ll get is through a short dash along the seafront as you run between venues. We brought an umbrella and a mac. Wellies were never considered when you’ve got hard landscaping and a permanent drainage system. The umbrella wasn’t required anyway, with it being dry and mainly bright, with just a little cloud.
Just like outdoor summer festivals the vibe of Great Escape goes from one of chilled relaxation during the day to chaotic partying at night. What it lacks in terms of a shared inclusive community spirit that the best outdoor festivals have it makes up for in terms of convenience.
And before we forget, there’s the music. Great Escape 2011 was arguably the festival's best line up ever in terms of new music and therefore there were always going to be a huge number of line up clashes. So whilst it seemed that the world and his wife (and 95% of all new music bloggers at the festival) were herding themselves into see the likes of Braids, EMA and Gang Gang Dance we took a different route and were rewarded in particular with an incredible performance by Lanterns On The Lake whose bejewelled atmospherics were so gut-wrenchingly beautiful that grown men in the audience were shedding tears. Other highlights over the three days included James Vincent McMorrow who showed the power of simplicity with just an acoustic guitar and the voice of an angel in the Unitarian Church. Providing one of the defining moments of the festival he played If I Had A Boat off-mic to an enraptured and hushed audience, his falsetto-soul creating goose bumps everywhere. On a lighter pop note Rizzle Kicks blend of rap, ska and youthful cheekiness was stripped down acoustically in Beyond Retro vintage clothes store, delighting and putting smiles on faces during their short set. Singer songwriter Rachel Sermanni showed that she could be the next new voice of folk music with mature songcraft and a personable charm that could win her many more fans wherever she plays and Fixers came up trumps with their blend of kaleidoscopic Beach Boys / Animal Collective inspired wig out pop in the faded and tacky seaside glamour of Horatio’s bar on the pier.
Great Escape 2011 was quite simply the best yet. With a few minor tweaks in terms of information about cancellations it could be pretty much perfect. We’ll certainly be there again next year. Here are a few tracks from some of our music highlights.
It seems highly appropriate that the picture you see above was taken in Brighton, for right now that’s where we are soaking up the vast expanse of new music on offer at the Great Escape Festival 2011. A review (of sorts) will follow early next week.
Until we return, let’s dip our toes into a just a small handful of tracks that kissed our ears in the days between last Saturday and when we left for Brighton, but didn’t quite make it onto a full post on Breaking More Waves – and this time we unravel some new sexy synthtopia and computer love-making.
Earlier this week we introduced a new prince and princess of dark electronic music – the magnificent Curxes. Since we featured their music they’ve uploaded two new songs online. Here’s one of them. Creatures pays particular homage to Depeche Mode with its sinister synths and clanking industrial rhythms, but the vocals are strident female ones rather than the mournful baritone of Dave Gahan. It will be self-released on tenth June along with another song Jaws which you can hear on the bands Soundcloud.
Moving on from a prince and princess to the queen herself, Queen of Hearts is a Breaking More Waves favourite and this bootleg/rework of Daft Punk's End Of The Line from the Tron soundtrack not only cements and power floats our love for her but has us falling on our knees in front of her, begging for more like a fanboy.
Our final track is a remix from mystery electronic pop mischiefs Just A Number 05272011. The internet continues to be full of speculation as to who / where / what the band are and holds its collective breath to see if anything of significance happens on the 27May. Until then however they’ve sneaked out this remix of He Didn’t Want A Lovesong which just adds to the anticipation.
Joyous technicolour indie pop is one of the tags that Oxford five piece Alphabet Backwards use to pigeonhole their sound. We wouldn’t disagree. We guarantee that just a single listen to the one-hundred-mile-an-hour vocals and bee like squiggles of keyboard flourishes on their song Elton John will have you grinning like Colin Firth at the BAFTA’s. Po faced indie miserabilists begone because Alphabet Backwards are fun.
Yet fun doesn’t mean empty. Music snobs often carry perceptions that something happy sounding is somehow of less worth; that the only way to find the greatest music is to delve into deeper darker basements of complex arrangements, weirdness and leftfield strangeness. Such snobs will probably hold the belief that true art can only come from torment, from wretched gutter living and from squalid despair. Breaking More Waves says bollocks to such beliefs.
Great art comes from great talent and those who work at their craft get results. There can be just as much worth in a vibrantly perky sounding piece of d-i-y indie pop as something heavily nihilist.
Of course we’re not proclaiming Alphabet Backwards to be making anything near great art, but just because their songs are jolly, don’t close your ears off. Accept that a band who lists their interests as knitting, aeroplanes, ducks, records, acting, squash, pictures, fashion, summer, disco, bears, Annie, eighties, and eating sweets can make delightful indie pop songs that are as colourful as dancing rainbows.