Unicorn Kid. Remember him? That teenage mentalist who injected raw buoyant electricity into dancing feet? The guy that in 2009 we introduced as a 5 minute energy jolt that probably wouldn’t last long, then by December of the same year were naming as One to Watch for 2010? Yes him – the wonder kid that banged out the bleeping pornographically dirty Dream Catcher, a track that we described as ‘the sound of Britain in 2010.’ Remember him?
Well he’s back, releasing his first material of 2011 prior to (finally) releasing an album in 2012. Tidal Rave is the name of the EP and it quite simply couldn’t be more appropriately named; for this is an EP of tsunami like proportions that gets better as each track breaks. You’ll be able to hear each tune from the EP at Breaking More Waves in full over the next three months as Unicorn Kid reveals each of its components, finishing with the hands-in-the-air colossus that is True Love Fantasy in October, which sounds like Nicola Roberts Beat Of My Drum gone raving and has already become one of our saluted tracks of 2011 – possibly even more so that Nicola’s brilliant pop-genius-chart-flop.
True Love Fantasy has received the accolade of being Hottest Record In The World on Zane Lowe’s show on BBC Radio 1 and if you’re coming to Bestival, get your skates on down to the Big Top as soon as the gates open on Thursday afternoon to see the DJ crew that Breaking More Waves leads – The Sunday Best Forum Allstars – put True Love Fantasy through its paces through a massive soundsystem. There is no better way to feel the romance.
Before all that we have the first track from the EP which you can grab totally gratis below, it's called Chrome Lion, and takes the Unicorn Kid chiptune sound to planet rave-pop where all the aliens are dancing like loons with massive smiley faces whilst the DJ blasts out the audio equivalent of pink lasers from a podium on a neon spaceship. Beam us up please - we want some of this.
You know Delilah don’t you? No not the Tom Jones one, the other one. No? Well maybe not, because according to her facebook page she’s ‘the industry’s best-kept secret’, which is a bit of a strange thing to say considering that there are already plenty of web postings about her and a You Tube stream of her song Breathe has already received 84,000 views. If she’s a secret, those views are the size of Wembley Stadium whispering but getting louder all the time. Yet when we did a little asking around a handful of the more well established new music bloggers, none of them had heard of Delilah. So maybe she’s a secret after all, or maybe the blogs haven’t got their ears as close to the ground as you may think (for close to the ground read that they haven’t been contacted by the artist or their PR company yet), or maybe she’s just not very ‘bloggable’ in that her sound isn’t underground enough for the majority of blogs, or maybe we just asked the wrong bloggers, or maybe we're wrong and she's actually rubbish so bloggers don't care. Except us. Because we care. We care enough to write these few words during our summer holiday, when we shouldn't be posting blogs. If David Cameron has to be called back off his holiday whilst his country riots and loots and Obama has to shorten his because of Hurricane Irene, it's more than appropriate for us to take some time away from the beach to bring good new music to your attention.
So here’s our small attempt to blow the lid on this ‘secret’, that is if you haven’t heard Delilah before. Chances are you have, but just haven’t clocked the name yet, as she’s been working with Chase & Staus (we’re streaming their song Time below which features her vocal and to be fair is listed on a whole load of music blogs) but now she’s about to set out on her solo career. In fact she already has an album fully recorded and ready to go, which will be released at the beginning of next year.
So what does she sound like? (We'll keep this short because nobody wants to read paragraphs of verbose description of what the music sounds like when they can just press play and make their own judgements do they?)
Delilah’s songs are perfectly nailed urban mini anthems of sedateness swimming around in a dark pop undercurrent. That sounds a bit wanky, but it's true. There’s a strong similarity here to another Breaking More Waves featured artist Jess Mills, who has worked with dance producers (in her case Breakage) before venturing out on her own. Her vocals are top notch, all breathy and suggestive but with a restrained power. Listening to the fluttering mellow vibes of the Chakha Khan referencing Go we’re reminded of the likes of Sia, Massive Attack and Portishead in terms of atmosphere, or maybe Katy B in bed with Leftfield as does the string laden Breathe which you can download for free below. There’s upbeat stuff as well, such as Layby which you can listen to here, but we suggest that it’s these sultry, late night modern ballads that are the most effective. Now go listen.
End of the Road Festival is one of the success stories in another year that has seen many smaller UK festivals cancelled or run at large loses due to poor ticket sales. It has managed to buck the trend, keeping to a modest capacity and selling out several months in advance. It takes place on the 2-4 Septrember and if you're going you can find a handy clashfinder to determine what bands to see using this link.
The reasons? Probably because the festival has grown a dedicated niche fan base who return year after year knowing that End of the Road will supply the type of music they like (folk, country, indie and rock are heavy on the line up – there’s only a small amount of electronic music and the likes of hip hop or dubstep don't get a look in), in a setting they like (the lovely Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset – complete with roaming peacocks and pretty woodland), with an audience of a similar mind set to themselves, with plenty of attention to detail in the festivals design – there are little surprises round every corner that delight and enthral. End of the Road is the antithesis of the likes of V Festival in every respect and is all the better for it.
The festival sets out some of its key objectives on its website, namely that:
*You won't get all the over hyped bands headlining.
*Most bands play longer sets than usual.
*You can eat a range of quality food.
*You can drink a range of quality beers.
*The staff and security care about everyone and show respect.
*The festival takes pride in being an independent festival.
*The crowd will be there for the MUSIC.
It is this last point that is the most important. Breaking More Waves has been attending festivals for nearly 20 years and in that time one of the most noticeable changes as more and more festivals appear on the market is the behaviour of people who go. With a few exceptions, in the past people chose to go to festivals because of the music. These days an increasing number go because of the ‘experience’, ‘their friends are going’, ‘it will be a laugh’ or ‘to get wasted’. Sure these things have always happened at festivals, but in the past they’ve been secondary to the music. In the last few years there have been times when bands have played at festivals whilst a small but significant proportion of the audience stand there chatting, completely ignoring the performers, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’re even playing. One suggestion for these changes in behaviour is the mass media coverage that festivals now get – these days it seems that as part of your summer routine it is imperative that you go to a festival – it’s as much about ‘being there’ than the music for some. Thankfully you won’t see Zane Lowe or Jo Whiley sitting in a commentary box proclaiming how amazing everything is at End of the Road Festival, which maintains a low mass media profile.
So, to the music. For this is the most important thing. End of the Road is very much a serious music lovers festival. 'Serious music lovers' is a phrase which can sound rather stuck-up and worthy, suggesting that such people are chin-stroking disdainful intellectuals who look-down on anything that isn't full of deep complexity. This isn't what we mean. Serious music lovers, real serious music lovers, will appreciate all forms of music and understand that music can be full of fun and a great source of entertainment - it doesn't all have to be weighty or have heavier connotations. One of the characteristics of serious music lovers is that they will always give a performer their full attention and respect - irrespective of if they like it or not. Thankfully End of the Road's audience is full of serious music lovers.
If you’re going here are Breaking More Waves 6 recommendations of acts to see in both audio and audio / visual form (2 for each day), although frankly we could have chosen at least 20 for this list with ease, and besides if you’re the sort of person that’s going to End of the Road you probably know all the bands on the bill anyway.
Dry The River (Friday 14.15-15.15 Woods Stage)
Fresh from slots at Reading and Leeds festivals expect edgy and rousing alt. folk rock from this London based band who are blessed with melodies, energy, delicate violins and growling walls of noise.
tUnE-yArDs is the inventive and quirky musical project of Merrill Garbus - an absolute must see at End of the Road as she hasn't bombarded the UK festival scene this summer. Mixing tribal afro-pop, funk-folk and a bold chaos of ideas to create something utterly unique her second album Whokill has been one of Breaking More Waves highlights of the year so far and we fully expect it to appear on a lot of end of year lists.
Austra (Saturday 16.00-16.45 Big Top)
Pulsing beaty synths, operatic vocals and songs that get under your skin. Like tUnE-yArDs, Austra is effectively a one woman project - that of Katie Stelmanis, but the songs are fleshed out in the live arena by an ensemble of other musicians.
We make no apology for stating that The Unthanks are one of our favourite bands of the last few years, possibly with all things considered our absolute favourite. They have now managed to produce not one, not two, but three of our most listened to albums, the latest of which - Last is an incredibly downbeat yet gorgeous folk album. Probably the only time you'll ever get to hear a band sing songs about children being buried in a mining slag heap burial disaster and enjoy it and even if you don't it will probably still be the only time you get to hear a band sing about children being buried in a mining slag heap burial disaster. The Unthanks make sadness sound utterly beautiful, but watch out for their in between song banter is often surprisingly humorous.
Lanterns On The Lake (Sunday 13.30-14.15 Big Top)
The words 'eagerly anticipated' are often used with no real justification. Eagerly anticipated by who we wonder ? Well let's be clear, the debut album by Lanterns On The Lake, released through Bella Union next month is eagerly anticipated by Breaking More Waves. The live experience of Lanterns On The Lake is like having all of your emotions crushed into a tiny box and then exploding it with everything that is life affirming.
In between two further must see acts - Laura Marling and closing headliner Joanna Newsom why not get a little bit of fuzzy C-86 indie guitar pop into your life with Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing. His music may pay hommage to 80's bedsit indie in bucketfuls, but its well executed and has more than a sprinkling of melody.
How do you judge music? How do you determine what’s good and what’s bad? At Breaking More Waves our judgement is simple – does it make us feel something – something wonderful, something emotional? If it does, then it’s good music. For us it doesn't have to be technically competent, that definition of 'good' is for chin-stroking muso's who have forgotten how it is to feel alive. It’s why the Breaking More Waves definition of good will often be different to another music blog, because we all feel different emotions about different things and at different times.
Mention the name Ed Sheeran and the chances are you’ll get one of two responses. The first is a swooning puppy-dog eyes-wide dreamy faraway look and a gentle sigh followed by something along the lines of “Oh I love him so much,” the second is a look of utter disdain. This is the way emotions work. This is the way ‘good’ and ‘bad’ music is defined.
We’ve never shied away from enjoying music that is made for commercial gain or on a major label. Music is just music and once you start passing judgements on something because of anything other than the song then your judgement is coloured and that’s a dangerous thing.
But of course you know and we know that this last statement is a load of balderdash because our judgement is coloured all the time in the amazing world of pop music. That’s why the haircut, the ‘coolness’, the look of a performer, how sexy they are, what they said that you agreed with in an interview, how old they are, even if your peer group like them or not all affect your judgement. For example if you live in the UK, if we played you a record and told you that Fearne Cotton adores it how would you feel? What about if we told you that Abeano blog or Transparent blog had raved about it? What about if we told you that the singer went to Brit School? Or had won X-Factor? Chances are that you’ve already made your mind up about the song to a certain extent before you’ve even heard it.
So here’s a new remix from Ed Sheeran of You Need Me, I Don't Need You, remixed by another Breaking More Waves supported act Rizzle Kicks. If you don’t like either act or if like both, the chances are that you’ve already made your mind up about the song before you even press play. We have no idea what Fearne Cotton thinks of it, but we’re pretty sure you won’t be seeing it on Abeano. We’ll give you one more piece of information to influence your thinking – the track is as much Rizzle Kicks as it is Sheeran, with completely new rapped verses. Oh and there’s some rude words as well. Now press play and make your own judgement if you haven’t done so already.
Yesterday the internet went a little bit crazy in an attempt to be the first to upload the new James Blake / Bon Iver collaboration. Despite the fact that we spend a lot of time searching for great new music we really aren’t concerned with the petty one-upmanship of being the first to discover or post something. All we’ve ever wanted to do was share what we love with someone who may not have heard the music we love yet. The most important thing is the music, not the blog or website where you heard it first.
On this note we return to a wonderful band who make evocative dreamy songs with breathy female vocals and in this case a vintage organ sound a little reminiscent of Broadcast. The song has already been all over the internet, in fact we posted a live video of it a while ago, but if you haven’t heard it yet and you’re reading this then we’re glad you are. For this is the sound of Cuckoo by Still Corners, perfect for a rainy day London town Thursday.
There’s something romantic about the simple sounds of an acoustic guitar, a soulful folk voice and an attractive song. So it is with Belfast based singer-songwriter and musician Isobel Anderson who we stumbled (or rather waded) across in the Acoustic tent at a rather muddy Glastonbury Festival this year and instantly fell in love with.
With a debut solo album Cold Water under her belt, September 14 will see a second release – Dark Path – and if our instant enchantment was just a rush of blood to the head then Dark Path has all the signs of making this something a little more permanent. If you’re a fan of Laura Marling and her folk heritage then the chances are you will love these songs from the record that brood with gentle Celtic boldness and intimacy. When you listen to the words it’s as if you’re reading someone’s secret diary or eavesdropping on someone’s private conversation for these are songs of relationships and love. To make things seem a little less naked there’s guitar, cajon and violin to clothe the songs a little, although never over heavily. As you listen though, it doesn’t matter if you are prying because honestly, there’s nothing better than feeling that spark, is there?
A week later than planned, today saw the release of the 2nd part of the Marina & The Diamonds / Electra Heart video for the song Radioactive. The world and his wife already knew that this was ‘the banger’ in Marina’s arsenal, where she fully embraced the dance floor with a Stargate and DJ Chuckie production.
A few years ago Marina wrote on her (now deleted) blog “As with every phase/ trend that sweeps music, artists who have something lasting and unique to offer will remain and will inevitably move on to do greater things. The ones who have little to offer, except for the ability to latch onto and simulate a trend, will disappear. Mark my words.” So with Radioactive and its very ‘now’ sound, is Marina just latching onto a trend herself with nothing else to offer?
We suggest the answer to this question is no (and yes) – Marina has far more to offer than just latching onto a trend. Unfortunately she doesn’t offer it here. If this was a battle between art and commerce, then commerce has put its foot down full on the throttle and stormed ahead. Radioactive has potential to get significant Radio 1 play with its Calvin Harris-esque synth stabs that draw heavily from late 80’s rave culture and be a sizeable pop hit. It will probably help pay the bills and keep the record label and public at large happy, but it’s massively derivative. On the other hand Marina’s vocals are vastly superior to your average auto-tuned wannabe pop princess – so there’s still a chance for art to win through on her next album.
Some plus points. The video has plenty of interest. Who is Electra and her mysterious man? Are they criminals? Why the wig? Will there be an explanation? Also we like the way that Marina gets the words ‘neon gold’ into the lyrics. Is that some sort of subliminal advertising for her former boutique label mates who got her started in this whole pop thing in the first place?
Back in April Louise & The Pins got a short mention on Breaking More Waves in one of our features concerning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition and we promised that we would be covering the band at some point in the future. That point is now and although we’ve referred to them before, it seems appropriate to introduce the band properly as what we like to describe as a new wave.
Louise & The Pins have an open vein of nostalgia within their music running the gamut of folk, blues, country and doo-wop, all laced with wonderful harmonies and a sense of mellow warmth and soul. Their songs are late night, smouldering fires that are impeccably performed and recorded – we can imagine their appearance on Later With Jools already, it’s that kind of music. And if that gig comes, this is what you’ll see; the self-assured and glamorous Louise with raven beehive, bright red lipstick, and vintage black dress backed by two stylish female backing singers (Bethan and Sara) and a backing band. However, some songs are played without the other musicians, leaving Louise to command the audience on her own (as you can see in the video below)
Come September 5 Louise & The Pins will release their debut single Melancholy/Beauty Strange on September 5th through Chess Club Records. A version of Melancholy has already been doing the rounds for a few months featuring the guest vocals of Laura Marling. The group toured with her last year, but the official single will instead feature Martha Wainwright. It follows a slow and gradual build up which has included the Marling supports, playing live on Radio 2 and their performance at Glastonbury itself, on the Avalon Stage, where they neatly segued into Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, another band who mine the vaults of the past with passion.
So, to the listening experience. We’re streaming the other side of the single - the jazzy Americana of Beauty Strange below. Words like lovely, charming and irresistible flow forth with ease - have a listen below. Having seen the band play twice now, we’re confident enough to tell you that there’s more and even better to come after this. Beautiful is an overused word in music, but once you’ve watched and listened to the video of Bell Jar also streaming, if can’t hear the beauty, then we suggest it’s time to get your ears tested.
As we alluded to a few weeks ago, August is the period when Breaking More Waves traditionally slows down with its output and this year is no different.
We’re on holiday and when we return have just a few hours to spare before we set off to End of the Road Festival. Then after that we have a couple of days to return to the normal world before we set off again to Bestival where we’ll be bringing our DJ crew – The Sunday Best Forum Allstars to the stage for a right-royal knees up.
So between now and mid-September Breaking More Waves will be putting the brakes on. There will be no Music That Made Me or Saturday Surf features although there will still be the odd post now and then, just to ensure that the site doesn’t grind to a full halt.
In mid-September we’ll be cranking things up again, but for now, let’s enjoy summer, starting here with this – a new song from a long term Breaking More Waves favourite – Clock Opera. See you in a few days time.
Singers are like buses aren’t they? You wait for one and then two arrive at once. OK, of course there are thousands of singers in the world, but in this case we’re referring to a particular type of singer. It’s one with the name L. Rose. We recently featured upwardly rising acoustic singer songwriter Lucy Rose and now here’s Loui Rose. Confused? For a moment we were too.
The strapline on Loui Rose’s twitter account suggests that she’s a professional Elvis impersonator but to our ears this Southampton born, London dwelling lass sounds like a slightly less ballsy Adele. Listen to her song Night Owls Early Birds (below) and hear the distant ghost of Rolling in the Deep, complete with clomping beats and a rousing authoritative chorus. With the record breaking success that Adele has achieved it’s surprising that Loui hasn’t been signed by a label yet, but as we just said there are thousands of singers in the world and everyone is jostling for some space.
Luckily the studio demos that Rose has online buzz with confidence, ability and charm. So if there’s going to be a scramble to get on the record label bus, Loui Rose has a very good chance at being at the front of the queue. She’s already begun chasing her dreams by upping sticks and moving to the big city, sleeping on couches and scheming her musical future. Keep an eye out for this one; her future could be bright indeed.
The trouble with much of the music that broadly falls under the vague and fuzzy umbrella that is known as shoegaze, is that it’s essentially lazy. It lolls around in its detached distorted bed of noise without the energy to do anything but drone on and on through a fog of messed up guitars and indistinct vocals. Shoegaze is designed for the sort of person who thinks that getting out of bed, making a cup of tea and having a cigarette is a productive day.
Or is it? Because Carousels track Sleep has many of the characteristics of shoegaze (the title itself suggests it will be the anthem of the comatose and apathetic) but it fizzes with an animated fire of guitar riffage that positively excites like a lusty romp in a bed that sees action every night. It’s music that pumps away for five and a half minutes of giddying passion before finally draining away. Yes shoegaze can be exhilarating and full of spunk after all. And if Sleep is the moment when Carousels reach for the climax, then another song Here To Me is the moment just after – there’s still the heat but there’s also a calming wash of ethereal chiming guitars and the handclaps of celebration.
So who are Carousels? They’re a Guildford two piece consisting of friends since childhood Nick Benton and Lucy Wilson. They have yet to play a live show together. However, this will change in October when the band play The Old Blue Last in London. We expect a buzz not only from the instruments that night, but the crowd as well. As long as those wanting to attend can find the drive to get themselves out of bed.
Leicester’s Summer Sundae festival may not be a big hitter in terms of giant artists, riotous audiences, high budget aesthetically pleasing artistic direction or a line-up devised to appeal to one particular demographic, but what it does do it does incredibly well.
Summer Sundae appeals because it is an incredibly convenient festival to attend. If you’ve ever slogged your way around Glastonbury, or fought with Reading’s lack of sleep campsite-culture then Summer Sundae will come as a very pleasant easy-on-the-body surprise. Set in a park in a city centre location it still manages to convey a sense of being out in the countryside, even if the second stage is the permanent De Montford Hall and a ten minute stroll will bring you to a Costa Coffee shop with Wetherspoons pub five minutes further. But this city centre location provides many bonuses, none more so than a compact and well-designed site, a second campsite just across the road from the main festival for those who want a quiet night of sleep and excellent transport links which include a big on site cycle park, a train station nearby and car park and on street car parking within five minutes of the entrance. Top this off with excellent management and organisation where stages run on time, friendly and helpful security staff and you have something that Leicester can be really proud of.
Here’s our run down of all the good, with hardly any bad.
Early Bird 3 day tickets were £100 with full price tickets being £115. If you wanted to camp in the more spacious quiet Regents campsite there was an additional charge of £12 a person.
A tree lined park in Leicester.The main stage was set on a natural slope that gave excellent viewing opportunities whatever your height and included a Punch and Judy stall set to the left of the stage which housed a giant bird and a crocodile who appeared to occasionally mime along to the bands as they played. The second stage was indoors in the permanent De Montford Hall, which again gave excellent viewing opportunities with a seated balcony as well as the standing stalls area. Three other stages were more traditional tented festival venues (one of which was for comedy and spoken word). The smaller Musician stage could have benefitted from being a bit higher – those beyond the front rows had difficulty seeing anything on stage when the audience was standing. New for 2011 was the Victorian Bandstand Stage, whose PA was powered by enthusiastic cycling punters and featured oddities such as a penny farthing and bone-shaker display and talk by local cycling historian Roger Lovell and Harp For Hangovers – cover versions played with harp accompaniment. For those with children or for anyone that wanted to get away from the main areas The Garden provided kids entertainment, information stalls and the festival famous Mashed Tea Tent for all your non-alcoholic and cake needs.
A varied mix of old, young and everyone in between, many of whom were local to the Leicester area, giving the event a relaxed and less full-on vibe than many other festivals.
The standard festival portaloos were well provided for, cleaned regularly and well located. However for those whose idea of any sort of non-permanent loo is a malicious nightmare, the De Montford Hall permanent toilets provided a welcome alternative.
Generally cloudy with patches of sun. Friday saw a small smattering of rain but nothing of any consequence.
An excellent selection of festival favourites such as Pieminister, Simply Thai and Iechyd Da, with prices ranging between £ 5-7.50. The bars were run by Orange Tree Bars meaning that there was a huge range of real ales to sample as well as a number of cocktails. There was also the more standard range of lagers, ciders and spirits. Festival goers were also allowed to bring their own food and drink onto all parts of the site with no restrictions as long as it was for their own personal consumption, although we understand that next year these rules may change and there may be limits on what you can bring in.
Summer Sundae is sometimes too heavily judged on its often very average and inconsistent headliners and to a certain extent this year was no different with The Maccabees, Newton Faulkner and McFly topping the bill. The Maccabees may be a decent mid-level indie band, but with a large stage and PA to fill the bands surprisingly subdued performance found them lacking a little, with Orlando’s voice not being strong enough to give the songs weight and their choice of lots of new tunes testing the patience of anything but the most hardcore of fans. However where Summer Sundae wins hands down is with the other cards in the pack, bringing a whole host of new, diverse and talented musicians to the stage on the lower reaches of the bill.
Friday saw the debut UK performance of Other Lives, whose audience size was helped by a momentary rain shower outside the Rising Stage tent, their subtle yet majestic blend of orchestral folk and rock stirring the soul with its note perfect warm execution. More natural beauty was on display just a short while later when Admiral Fallow’s songs lifted spirits even further – with poetic tenderness that felt like your best friend. Yet it wasn’t all organic singer-songwriter traditionalism. For those of a sturdy constitution the intense pummelling electronics of Factory Floor (streaming below) were a ride to the future ghost (g)rave of Giorgio Moroder. Hard hitting, hypnotic and droning the three-piece managed to scare off a number of the small crowd who watched them play, but those who remained were challenged with repetitive beats and stabs that made some sort of glorious noise. On the main stage early on Saturday evening Bellowhead got bums off the grass and feet dancing with their brassy burlesque folk music that gave easy justification to a claim by the Independent that they were the best live act in the country. And as the festival began to wind down on the final night and McFly entertained the screaming girls who had camped out against the barrier all day to see their heroes, Kitty Daisy & Lewis brought a magically nostalgic take on old fashioned 50’s rock n roll, flavoured with ska, disco and the blues to a jiving and smiling crowd.
Summer Sundae is one of the most under-rated festivals in the UK. Forget about the headliners and enjoy everything else it has to offer.
Breaking More Waves has been a big supporter of Newcastle’s Let’s Buy Happiness for some time now and today it gives us great pleasure to stream their new single Dirty Lakes, a blog exclusive.
Dirty Lakes brings a musicality of lightness and carefree joy, Sarah’s delightfully sparkling voice skipping and dancing as she sings that “It’s time for us to get soaked.” There’s a summery indie pop feel to the song, re-affirming absolutely everything we love about music and about this band. Dirty Lakes has a sweet urgency that hasn’t been present in the groups previous work; with it they flower.
In summary, this is heavenly, still delicate but with a ripple of muscle. A tune worth looting for. However, rather than risk a night in the cells, we suggest you actually purchase a copy. You'll be able to pre-order it very soon using links on the Let's Buy Happiness facebook page.
Although much of the music that has made me and continues to inspire me now is based in the traditional structures of song – verses, choruses and delightful melodies – there’s another part of me that thrives listening to the leftfield. No other artist satisfies this desire for the more peculiar than Aphex Twin. The first Aphex Twin album I purchased was his classic Ambient Works. It was a mesmerising recording full of graceful looping synths, out there beats and calm creeping atmospheres that I would put on constant repeat for hours and hours. I loved the way the tracks were in no rush, everything in the music appeared when it was ready and not before.
Following its release Aphex Twin became the king of experimental and underground music, throwing out remixes, singles and albums at some rate of knots and with a somewhat maverick approach. Rumour has it that he was meant to remix a Lemonheads track and when the record company came to collect it he hadn’t even started work on it, so he just gave them a half-finished demo he had been working on and they loved it.
His gigs became legendary; there were tales of DJ sets where he would put on sandpaper discs instead of records. When I went to see him play at The Old Trout Pub in Windsor (before his status ensured that grotty pub gigs would be out of the question) he set his equipment up at the back of the stage, filled the place with dry ice and blasted mind numbing techno at ear crushing volumes out to the crowd. When he left stage the music just continued and nobody knew when to applaud or even leave the venue. My most vivid memory of that gig was a zoned out hippy standing at the front with his ear pressed hard against the speaker as the beats punched out – his hearing surely destroyed for life.
I have many loved Aphex Twin tracks, but it’s On, a single that wasn’t featured on any of his albums that is my favourite. It finds a measured balance between his ambient material and harsher techno work. The video for the track was also directed by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame. Although the likes of Come To Daddy and Windowlicker with their freakily menacing horror show Chris Cunningham directed videos are more universally well-known it was On that achieved Aphex Twins first ever UK Top 40 single, which for music that was obtusely non-commercial is some achievement.
The original concept of The Saturday Surf was to round up the loose ends at the weekend – giving a little bit of exposure to tracks that we’ve been enjoying but not had time to give a full blog post to. This concept of course assumes that there are enough good tracks to go round, that we’ve managed to discover them and that we are actually around at the end of the week to write about them. Yet with summer festivals, holidays and the real world getting in the way of internet time, this Saturday Surf finds itself being written and readied for publishing well before the weekend with very little time to make new discoveries. Thankfully we’ve managed to find three, so without further ado here they are.
Outfit – Two Islands
It’s fair to say that Outfit have nearly become one of the buzz bands du jour in the world of UK indie bloggers. Until now they haven’t impressed Breaking More Waves at all but this track Two Islands does the trick, starting all quietly shy and then gradually creeping up to smother you in layers of gliding guitar and subtle groove. It gets released on 7” clear vinyl in September through the equally buzzy Double Denim records.
Now here’s something curious from the leftfield. A confident piano riff, warped alien pitch-shifted underwater vocals and a simple growing beat create something that sounds like the soundtrack to a druggy road movie. The track has a distorted mystery to it that’s both creepy and strangely infectious. If we were going to classify it as a genre we’d call it pianocore. It landed in a whole host of bloggers in boxes last Wednesday, including ours, with no explanation about who created it, although there are rumours of a Manchester connection. You can download the track for free here. And what are those /// about ?
Finally something more late night and downbeat after the journey home. In fact night is the operative word, for Shura describe this music as Night Folk, in the same way that another Breaking More Waves regular Alpines describe their music as Night Pop. This is the inner calm after coming in out of the rain. Find someone to curl up with and spend the rest of the darkness listening to this. River defines beauty and in this case that beauty is free to download.
How relevant are the UK singles charts these days? In terms of being the best tool we have available to measure sales they’re still the best – they don’t take into account all sales, the likes of purchases from independent sites such as Bandcamp are not measured through the charts for example, but they still give the most concrete and least subjective guide.
With so many other methods of easily consuming music being available sales are not necessarily a 100% foolproof guide to who is ‘popular’, but they still present a more objective amount of evidence than other similar tools. A number 1 on the Hype Machine for example can often have very little relevance to the vast majority of music consumers in the UK. This is illustrated sharply when gigs by bands that are ‘big on the blogs’ and have had high Hype Machine chart placings pull only a tiny handful of people to see them. Last year we attended one such gig where despite coverage by the likes of Pitchfork, Gorilla vs Bear and a Hype Machine top 10 there were 16 people in the audience. Yet take an act like Ed Sheeran, who until very recently was hardly listed on Hype Machine and you’ll witness his shows selling out in minutes. At July’s Camp Bestival festival Sheeran’s set in the Big Top was packed to the gunnels (the busiest of the weekend), the crowd baying his name a good twenty minutes before he came on stage. The same weekend a number of ‘big on the blogs’ bands played to just a handful of people.
Sheeran’s recent single The A-Team reached the top 3 in the UK singles chart. When you combine this with his well-attended shows it supports the argument that despite the 1001 ways we can consume music, the sales charts are still relevant in terms of a gauge of what acts are popular at any one snapshot in time.
Sheeran is an unlikely pop star – with his mop of ginger hair and folk / hip hop angle of his songs, but we like him a lot. There’s something very real, very honest and very sincere about what he does. Breaking More Waves has never been afraid to cover new music that is popular – witness our past treatments of acts such as Ellie Goulding and Hurts as well as darker more underground stuff. Music is a broad church and we worship it all.
So here’s the new single from Ed. You Need Me I Don’t Need You features Wretch 32 and Devlin and was first posted on the blog in March – with a video of his SB TV performance which has now racked up over 3 million views on You Tube (another possible guide to popularity - but then don’t forget how many hits Rebecca Black received - we’re not convinced that the hits she received were because people liked her)
Below you can hear the single itself, a remix and watch the video. His album titled + is due in September. Expect it to do very well in the charts.
Recalling the early days of Madonna or a disco-down Kylie, Nottingham’s very own singer, songwriter, producer and remixer Ronika is readying her new double A sided single Only Only / In The City for release on September 26 through the Record Shop label.
In The City streams below.
This is all about the dancefloor but with pop sensibilities running through the gaps between the tiles. It’s as if somehow Ronika has been locked away in a late 80’s New York basement club and only just found a way to escape.
Rather like Willy Moon who we featured yesterday, Ronika’s material may be stuffed and signposted with obvious reference points, but there’s really nobody out there doing this at the moment. “I’m just trying to increase the body count of people who have been knocked dead by my music,” she says. Knocked dead sounds a little violent for our liking, but In The City will certainly get you into the groove.
At first glance Summer Sundae festival in Leicester doesn’t look particularly appealing. Located in a city centre with a line-up that includes McFly, Newton Faulkner, The Maccabees and Showaddywaddy (yes honestly) sounds like someone has put the name of every band that ever existed into a hat and pulled some out randomly and called it a line-up.
But closer inspection reveals a festival that is bulging with musical goodness and has a couple of unique selling points that means that it’s a cracker of a festival – whatever the weather.
Summer Sundae may not pull huge names; it’s having to be run on a very careful budget after overspending in previous years, but as you look down the bill there’s a whole host of great new artists, many of whom have appeared on this blog. Take for example the band Other Lives, who play their first ever UK show on Friday afternoon on the Rising Stage – their album Tamer Animals is a subtly distinguished gem, one of our favourites of the year. On the same day there’s the jaw-droppingly good folk rockers Admiral Fallow, the irresistible put-a-smile-on-your-face indie of Givers and a certain Mr Graham Coxon of Blur. Add to that list over the next two days Breaking More Waves featured favourites Beth Jeans Houghton, Yaaks, Kyla La Grange, Delta Maid, The Antlers, Warpaint, and Exampleas well as names such as Blood Red Shoes, Dry The River, Bellowhead, I Am Kloot, The Agitator and Mercury nominated acts King Creosote & Jon Hopkins and Everything Everything and you have a veritable feast for your ears.
But there’s something else pretty clever about Summer Sundae. Unlike many other festivals, the chances of the dreaded line-up clash are minimised by the main stage running whilst the other three stages change over and vice versa. So in theory if you don’t stop for toilet or food breaks you can watch a band on one of the three smaller stages and as soon as they finish walk a few yards across the compact site to watch the next performance on the main stage. Not only that but if the weather is atrocious, you have the benefit of being able to dry off and even sit in comfort on a balcony as the second stage is Leicester’s De Montford Hall which is located on the side of the park where the event is held. Of course being a permanent building on site brings other luxuries – permanent toilets, sinks with hot water and soap and a carpeted bar area. If the idea of 3 days in a muddy field seems like your worst nightmare then Summer Sundae provides a decent halfway house between that and a normal gig.
We’ve mentioned some of the artists playing Summer Sundae. Here are three of our recommendations for your listening pleasure. We’ll be bringing a full review of Summer Sundae with our usual round up of the key points that make a festival work or not after the event.
*Footnote - Due to the recent riots and looting in the UK some events have been cancelled. We understand that there have been some incidents in Leicester, but that Summer Sundae organisers are liaising with police and the festival is still due to continue. Please however check the event website (link at the top of this preview) before travelling.
We live in an age where every musical idea has references to the past. Previously the underground was the place for innovation, but now even that is a bed for a fever of nostalgia. There seems to be no cure to this malaise, just a constant grabbing of our past musical heritage, mixing it up a little and putting it out to sell again. There's no such thing as a new idea - just regurgitating others creative ideas.
So against this background let’s introduce Willy Moon. He’s an odd one. Odd in the sense of being different from everything that’s around at the moment, but not being in any way avant-garde. He’s very much something new from the past. He’s certainly not underground, but he’s not mainstream either. At this stage we greet him as a passing curiosity with some interesting stolen ideas.
Willy Moon’s reference points are from the library of retro-rock - Bo Didley, Eddie Cochran and Link Wray spring to mind. With his stripped-back beat-laden song I Wanna Be Your Man the closest contemporary cousin is probably The Agitator. He also has the same slick teddy boy hair and penchant for looking smart as the Brighton rock n stomp man – although this visual quality could also have been appropriated from Rick Astley or Hurts, He only follows two people on Twitter – Kanye West and Big Boi. Right now only 30 people follow him.
I Wanna Be Your Man, which surfaced online recently, has according to our investigations actually been present on his now deleted Myspace for almost two years. His Bandcamp is still around though. It clocks in at less than two minutes. The black and white video for the song has some slightly mad spotlight puppet styled dancing. It’s as retro as you can possibly imagine, the twist being that there's some more modern beats. It's just a little crazy. Form your own opinion below.
If music is your hot hot sex, then here’s something to make you even sweatier. By the end you’ll probably be at least down to your underwear, and possibly even naked. My Tiger My Timing graced Breaking More Waves a short while back with their single Endless Summer and now they’ve pushed out this throbbing and pulsing remix of the song that gives a vaguely Moroder-ish flow to the track, keeps the hooky nursery rhyme vocal melody and heads out to the dance floors, looking to pull.
This is the stuff of pulsing strobes, girls and boys grinding sexily and the club losing itself in a delirious thrusting mass. Arousing stuff, get your coat Just Say Joe, you've pulled.
With this song it’s more than nice. Quite simply this new material from Marina and the Diamonds sets our pulses racing, faster than ever before. Fear and Loathing is a massive development from her previous work, darker, more introspective and full of weight. "I live my life in bitterness and fill my heart with emptiness," she sings before continuing "I’m done with trying to have it all and ending up with not much at all." Then there's the positive conclusion; that freedom and inner satisfaction can be obtained. “Baby, you don't have to live your life in fear, the sky is clear, is clear of fear. I don't want to live of fear and loathing.”
The simple but beautiful video symbolises change and ridding yourself of fear perfectly through the cutting of hair. We uttered an audible gasp when we first saw it, wondering if Marina was going to go the whole hog and do a bald-Britney, but thankfully this is a lot more restrained.
Marina’s blog titles the video Electra Heart – The Start. Talking to Popjustice today Marina said "Electra Heart is the antithesis of everything that I stand for. And the point of introducing her and building a whole concept around her is that she stands for the corrupt side of American ideology, and basically that’s the corruption of yourself. My worst fear - that’s anyone’s worst fear - is losing myself and becoming a vacuous person. And that happens a lot when you’re very ambitious."
The song is utterly fantastic. The video (of which there are more parts to come to tell a whole story, the next episode of which is released next Monday) is utterly fantastic. Her potential is becoming fulfilled. It’s great to have you back Marina. Really great.
During the mid 90’s The Cardigans became my new favourite band. The first time I heard them was with Sick & Tired on GLR radio, which in many ways was a precursor to BBC 6 Music. At first I was sure it was a group from the 60’s; the sunny saccharine cuteness of the lead singer’s voice and the chirpy instrumentation surely couldn’t be from anywhere else. Yet it transpired that the Cardigans were a new group from Sweden and a few months later they were coming to England to play. The song seemed completely at odds with much of the emerging Britpop scene – this was music that gleamed with light rather than something that swaggered with laddish bombast.
As the band walked on stage at Camden Dingwalls they were everything I hoped they would be. Nina, the singer, stood at the front, sporting a shift dress, hand on hip, gently swaying her other arm and clicking her fingers whilst a good looking bunch of boys with bowl haircuts created hooky, catchy pop gems full of knowing ironic retro-references. They even covered a heavy rock song in a jazzy cocktail lounge style. They were brilliant and I was in love. .
The Cardigans was the first band that I ever saw more than a couple of gigs of on a particular tour, taking a week off work to follow them round the country when they formed part of the NME Brat Bus soiree. I got to meet the band and at their Nottingham show they even invited me in to watch their soundcheck, so impressed were they with my commitment to them. I remember sitting in the venue on my own, listening as Nina sang to just me and melting. .
Later years would see The Cardigans become international stars with their disco-influenced pop hit Lovefool, which featured on the soundtrack of the Baz Luhrmann film Romeo & Juliet and big hit singles such as Erase / Rewind and My Favourite Game, before they veered into darker less commercial territories that produced some of their finest work with later albums. It was this song that first grabbed my heart though and it still sounds fresh and effervescent today as it did then.