Picture Book are no strangers to Breaking More Waves, their impeccably produced electronic pop and the tantalising vocal of Greta Svabo Bech managing to easily secure a bit of space in our hearts (and on our blog) whilst making our feet dance deliriously. Whilst many of the tracks we’ve featured in the past have now been taken off-line the gorgeous Sunshine remains and to this two new songs have been added.
Send The Army In is a flamenco-flavoured piece of sunshine electro that paints the world with a bit of colour, whereas as Surrender is a big hands-in-the air club anthem that we can easily, ahem, surrender to. As the cold winter nights wash in, this is music that can take you back to a world of sexy cocktails, dancing on seafront terraces and feeling utterly at one with the world and right now we couldn’t think of anything nicer than that.
Are we about to have a roller-disco revival? Bestival 2011 featured a roller-disco stage and now Only Only the new single from the funkily perfect Ronika features some hip roller skate action in the video. Mixing up the syncopated electronic bass flavours of early 80’s US club disco with the boomboxsounds of B-Boy Streetsound 80’s compilations and a heavy dose of Paul Hardcastle, the smartly executed remix from Fear of Tigers (streaming below) even threatens to topple the original with some aplomb – time to get that Adidas tracksuit and Gazelle trainers out again we think.
Any lady who states on her twitter strapline that “I only eat brains and caviar, SAXOPHONE SOLO,” sounds like the kind of person who would be a LOT OF FUN to hang out with. If she designed a nightclub that was anywhere near the visual aesthetic of her video and style, we’d be there like a shot, busting some moves - we'd even bring a lino mat for some bodypopping.
Only Only is the other part of a double A-sided single, the other song In The City we featured back in August here.
Talking about the forthcoming Radiohead remix album Thom Yorke suggested that the culture of remixing was healthy for the music of his group. “I think it appeals to us a band at the moment that ideas and versions are not so fixed and set in stone.” Yorke is alluding to the idea that creation of music can be a fluid and on-going experience, not one where there is a set ending to every project.
The remix serves many functions. At its worse it can be a low-level attempt to get more exposure for a song. Spend 10 minutes chopping up a song a little, add a few new beats and samples, kick it out to a bunch of bloggers and DJ’s and someone will play it or feature it, particularly if the artist being remixed is already well known – fans will be desperate to hear any new material, never mind the quality. Let’s face it Thom Yorke could sample himself farting into a microphone, add it to one of his songs and fans would buy it.
From a more positive perspective a remix can also be a way of getting a new band or artists name into the public realm. Give a new act a well-known artists track to remix, let them stamp their mark and personality on the remix and listeners who may not have given them the time of day before may take notice because of the associations of the well-known name. It’s fair to say that on numerous occasions we’ve gone scurrying off to investigate a new remix artist who has followed this route.
However at its best the remix can be great art on its own. Set aside the idea that once a song is complete and recorded it shouldn’t be tampered with. Sometimes a remix can either add or create something extraordinary from the original work. The best remixes take on lives of their own. Look at the way Skream’s version of In For The Kill took the La Roux track somewhere else completely. Andrew Weatherall’s remix of the Primal Scream song I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have eventually became the classic Loaded – a song infinitely better than the original.
At Breaking More Waves we don’t post a huge number of remixes. The reason is because the vast majority don’t meet our basic criteria for posting on the blog; is it good? We would never post a remix just because we’d been offered it as an exclusive by a PR company or a band, or it was guaranteed to draw in a number of hits, even if it was Radiohead, unless it ticked our personal quality box. However, today we’re agreeing with Mr Yorke as we’ve been listening to two glorious remixes , one which we’re posting now, the other tomorrow morning.
Video Games by Lana Del Rey could easily be one of those untouchable songs, but White Lies have ripped it apart and created something radically different that harks back to the days of New Order’s Blue Monday in the church of rave. Yes! It streams below.
Have you heard of the blog-bubble? It’s a place where new music bloggers float around together creating the web 2.0 phenomenon that is the blog-buzz band. Frothed-up from a frenzy after just one or two songs appear on line or a group have played some smelly lager coated scuzzy east London toilet venue, the blog-buzz band typically finds itself at the middle of an internet stream of love that grows into river before ending in a pull-the-plug whirlpool as the cool kids move on, their hype thrills popped.
If you live or spend a lot of time in that bubble (UK version) you could easily be forgiven for thinking that London five-piece Zulu Winter are already playing three nights at Wembley Arena or a series of sold out shows at Brixton Academy such is the adoration eschewed on them by the usual crowd of upfront blogs. To be fair the band are actually playing Brixton Academy for real, but as a support slot to Friendly Fires, who are just one of the bands that Zulu Winter have drawn early comparisons with alongside references to Wild Beasts, Brian Wilson, A Certain Ratio, Trophy Wife, Cymbals, Foals and MGMT. Whilst we don’t think any of those pointers are 100% fully accurate, if you put all that lot in a pot and stirred it for a bit you’d actually be getting pretty close. It’s basically very tasteful indie music that grooves with just the right amount of subtlety, occasional falsetto melody and strategically placed atmospherics.
The debut double A side Zulu Winter single Never Leave / Let’s Move Back To Front which streams below is due for release on November 7. As with any new group only time will tell if Zulu Winter are able to raise their game further to find love outside of the blog bubble. Another song Silver Tongue (now removed from the internet) suggests they may be able to, but these two songs represent a decent start out of the blocks.
We tweeted about this last night, but stuff gets lost so quickly in amongst the busy chitter chatter of the internet that we thought it best to blog this new video for one of our favourite tracks of the year as well. With her mighty gobby primitive roar Merrill Garbus aka tUnE-yArDs is one in a million and this song, a clattering lurch of loops and bassy grooves is experimental, odd and yet irresistibly brilliant. Imagine if all pop music was as adventurous as this. How bloody brilliant would the world be?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, expect to see tUnE-yArDs album Whokill cropping up on a number of end of year lists, including our own.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the 2010 Guardian First Album Award winner Gold Panda but yesterday a new track - An Iceberg Hurled Northward Through Clouds – emerged and clocked up virtually 8000 plays on his Soundcloud player before the day was out. This shows how far Gold Panda has come since we first caught him live in a half empty Brighton pub a couple of years back.
An Iceberg Hurled Northward Through Clouds opens the latest of the DJ Kicks albums, a legendary series, which this time finds Gold Panda himself at the controls. Full of gentle clicks and twinkling bell sounds this is ambient, soothing but still with enough pulse to get the head nodding and the body grooving. This is a blissful way to start your day - we could play this on repeat over and over.
You can never have enough bells in pop music. Fact: 80’s synth pop star Howard Jones debut LP had a bell of some sort on every track on the album. The Cure's greatest album Disintegration also opened with the sound of bells chiming. Maybe this is where Viva Brother went wrong - not enough bells - take note potential music artists of the future.
So from that moment of arousal meet Salt Ashes – a potential pop star in the making, although currently unsigned. Salt Ashes is from Brighton, another seaside city just a few miles down the road from Breaking More Waves HQ of Portsmouth. An ex-vocal coach (she worked on German TV show Popstars on Stage), earlier this year she self-released an impressive under-the-radar EP called Sirens Roar under a different name; Ruse. If you live in Brighton, you may have already seen her perform in the city using this first name. As seems to be the trend these days (hello Lana Del Rey) now that Ruse has done the donkey work a new moniker is in order – hence Salt Ashes – although a quick Google search does reveal that various other incarnations of Ruse already exist and to avoid any law suits and difficult Google searches a name change was probably very advisable.
By now you’re probably thinking not another pop singer who has a line in dramatic soprano vocals – the whole Kate-Bush-brought-up-to-date-with-pop-and-electronic-synthy-modern-production-that-sounds-a-bit-like-Ellie-Goulding has been done to death. This is where you are categorically wrong. You can NEVER have enough singers who sound a bit like Kate-Bush-brought-up-to-date-with-pop-and-electronic-synthy-modern-production-that-sounds-a-bit-like-Ellie-Goulding. It’s a bit like saying that you can do without any more air, or water or chocolate digestive biscuits.
So to the music. Probably by this stage you’ve either stopped reading because the idea of Kate-Bush-brought-up-to-date-with-pop-and-electronic-synthy-modern-production-that-sounds-a-bit-like-Ellie-Goulding is not your thing, or you can’t be bothered with reading this much text (try one of those blogs that just posts with no commentary, no voice and no personality next time) or you find this whole post quite annoying and just want to press play. However if you are still with us (and thank you) then we’d say that the monster length Edge of the Heart also has elements of Kylie and Little Boots and would need a big edit to get it radio play, whilst Fire is characterised by some neat squiggly sounding electronics and that Love In The Echo is the mature piano ballad that shows that Salt Ashes is more than just a Kate-Bush-brought-up-to-date-with-pop-and-electronic-synthy…ok we’ll stop now. Press play please. PLEASE.
1993. The Brit Awards. Simply Red won Best British Group. Annie Lennox won Best British album. Tasmin Archer won Best British Newcomer. Nirvana seemed to be every ‘alternative’ music fans favourite band, except mine and picked up Best International Newcomer. But all of that has thankfully faded from memory, only restored by the power of Google.
However the 1993 Brit Awards stay ferociously embedded in my brain because of one moment. It was a performance that signalled the populist arrival of what Melody Maker (R.I.P) had already headlined as ‘The Best New Band in Britain’ before they had even released a single. It was a two fingered salute from a group that had more energy and charisma than Tasmin Archer would ever have and yet they hadn’t been nominated. Thankfully the NME began a campaign to get the band booked to perform on the show and it worked, the result being a recklessly joyous celebration of everything that was wrong with the British music industry. Brett Anderson, with his androgynous arse spanking sexuality, girls haircut, pale torso and spit charged sexual lyrics stood out like a sore thumb at a ceremony that apart from these three minutes was the ultimate in bland. As Anderson posed, strutted and pouted in front of an audience of dumbstruck dickie-bow wearing toffs (pictured above), Suede became brutally and brilliantly out of place – a hard suck of aggressive fresh air. Yet for people like me, sat at home watching the group storm of the stage at the end Suede held out a hand to the future; a future of excitement, passion and rawness that was lacking in music right then. I was incredibly glad I could reach out and grab that hand.
For me this is the time that Brit Pop started. Suede’s performance was a huge f*ck you to the establishment. Several years later that genre had (arguably) pulled the soul out of indie music, but at this moment, with this song, anything seemed possible.
Jamie n Commons is no stranger to the blog and we get reaquainted with new song Nina. When we talked about authenticity in music yesterday (as well as indie-snobs less savory habits), Commons is one for people who value this authenticity greatly. Unless of course his deep gravel soaked old man’s tones are exactly that and we’ve all been ‘tricked’ with some imposter pictures of a good looking young gent who purportedly sings these songs. Whatever way, appreciate his Bourbon roughed up sound.
To say we’re way behind with this track would be a massive understatement. Posted on 130 Hype Machine listed blogs, with coming up to half a million plays on its Soundcloud player you could easily ask, what’s the point now? The point is that M83’s new album Hurry Up We’re Dreaming is released in the UK on October 17, they have just announced some new UK dates in January yesterday and this is one of the stand-out tracks from it and somewhere, someone may not have heard it yet, so we’re giving it a shot and if you haven’t listened to it yet be warned, you’re going to spend the rest of the day walking round making a strange tropical bird synth-riff sound. It's good to have M83 back. Brilliant.
Following a track that the whole world and his wife seems to know about, here’s one that has sneaked out pretty much unnoticed at the moment. The subject of one previous blog post on Breaking More Waves back in April, this new Cave Painting song Rio continues where Midnight Love left off, that is to say it’s a brooding monster that sneaks subtly out of the box, creeping like some sort of quiet clawed demon that dances to its own shadowy rhythm, growing with all sorts of inner power on its journey. The band are on tour right now and play a free gig alongside Teeth, Wild Palms and Bear Cavalry on September 29 in Breaking More Waves hometown Portsmouth at The Registry. Watch our twitter for a few thoughts from that gig.
Imagine the scene. You’ve met the seemingly perfect girl (or boy). In this case we’ll refer to her as a girl, but if your choice is a boy please use your imagination. She’s gorgeous, amazingly intelligent, funny, and great to be with plus all your friends love her. After a few dates things are going incredibly well and the inevitable moment comes where she asks you back to her place. It’s not long before you’re in her romantically candle lit bedroom and clothes are being removed.
As she stands naked in front of you, smiling with sensual come to bed eyes, you realise something that you hadn’t noticed until this point; she has fake breasts. Large, standing to attention fake breasts. What do you do? Do you continue onwards in your first night of passion, or do you stop, point at them and say “You never told me you had fake breasts. I feel cheated. You have not been honest with me. I cannot continue this relationship and bid you goodbye,” collecting your jacket as you leave her.
The reason why we ask this question? Because of Lana Del Rey.
Now before we explain ourselves fully, here’s some context and background. In May of this year we first posted about Lana Del Rey. In the post we featured a song called Video Games. At the time we hadn't been contacted by the artists PR company and had ‘discovered’ her through our own organic means - there wasn't much of a 'buzz' about her. We found an authorised Soundcloud embed of Video Games and hosted this together with a You Tube video of the equally good Kinda Outta Luck. At this stage we still had no idea if Del Rey was a ‘signed’ artist or not, but frankly didn’t care. We liked the art - the music was good and we thought the visual presentation of it was very stylish. The Soundcloud embed was a PR company owned one, but not the one that you can now find on Soundcloud and streams below – it appears that shortly after we posted the piece a new PR company took over the ropes and the original Soundcloud player was removed.
At first the post received very little attention, but slowly but surely momentum began to build behind the track Video Games. Fearne Cotton on BBC Radio 1 began playing it, Gorilla vs Bear and Pitchfork got behind it in the U.S and suddenly the track posted originally on Breaking More Waves started shooting up the Hype Machine charts (a number of times) delivering a sledgehammer of traffic towards the blog as the blogosphere went into over drive.
Then the backlash started. Hipster Run-Off ran a fairly obnoxious but predictable piece about her past, and other blogs ranted that she was manufactured, had undergone plastic surgery and had a rich daddy. Plus there was a now deleted first album (which until recently you could listen to on Soundcloud) that Lana Del Rey had issued some time ago. We mentioned this backlash here. Other blogs criticised the likes of Gorilla vs Bear for not being ‘transparent’ and not admitting that there was a major label behind Del Rey.
Now there’s the backlash against the backlash and we’re joining in a little because we agree with the point that argues that hipster blogs need to get over their indie snobbery ideals of ‘authenticy’. It’s a word we are seeing crop up more and more on certain blogs, who argue that certain artists are ‘manufactured’, not ‘authentic’ and therefore ‘lack credibility’. A bit like the girl with the fake breasts.
So what would you do with the girl? For us the answer is simple, we’ve obviously grown to like this girl enough that we want to get into bed with her, so really fake breasts aren’t an issue. It's gone beyond that and we're not going to intellectualize it - sometimes you just have to enjoy yourself. So it is with Lana Del Rey. Irrespective of if she’s manufactured or authentic we love her music, so unless we discover something fundamental about her (everyone has their limits) like she’s a child murderer, our views are not going to change.
Those who claim that they cannot like an artist because they are manufactured miss a point (and miss a life). Much of the greatest pop music in the world is manufactured. As soon as an artist enters a studio and begins the recording experience a manufacturing process of sorts takes place – it’s just how we perceive that manufacturing process after the event. Of course much of the ‘manufacture’ of the artists is undertaken after recording in order to inspire excitement in a potential audience – some artists far more than others –but it’s all part of the fun of pop music. Personally we want our stars to look great – we really don’t want a bunch of drab lookalikes with not an ounce of creative flair outside their skinny jeans, shaggy hair and leather jackets like this lot. Elvis? Manufactured. Britney? Manufactured. The Sex Pistols? Manufactured. Thank god for manufactured pop stars. As long as the music is not bland, but exciting and inspiring then there has always been a place in our hearts for manufactured pop stars.
Those who claim that blogs should be transparent about artists backing, PR or label involvement also miss the point. The whole point of blogs is that they can be their author’s voice – free and independent. No rules. No ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’. Each blog author can do what they want, and write what they want. In this day and age where the term ‘indie’ has been chipped away so much that it means nothing – where ‘indie’ bands are on majors and pure pop acts are doing everything themselves to get noticed - the boundaries have been erased. To some bloggers what label an artist is on (if at all) is irrelevant. They don’t owe their readership an explanation of all that stuff. Imagine how boring it would be if every time we posted a blog it explained who the artists manager was, what PR company they were working with, how many times the band had offered to suck our cock before we had to post about them. Blah, blah, blah, we can feel ourselves falling asleep with the boredom already. (Note: Any bands offering to suck our cock please note that even this won't get you any preference - though the moment might be fun.)
All that matters to us is if the music is amazing. We don’t give a flying fig about the business side of things – we’re a MUSIC blog not a business / industry blog. Our sole reason for existence is to write and support the music we love - what we think is good music.
So how do we define good music? Is something ‘manufactured’ automatically not good music? Is the girl with the fake breasts automatically not gorgeous anymore because ‘she’s not real’?
Good music, in our books, is music that moves us in a positive way. That positive way can mean making us feel sad too, because sometimes we need to feel sad – it can be a useful thing. We don’t however think that if music elicits an emotion of angry that’s a good thing, unless that anger is used in a good way. For example whenever we hear the low-grade Brit Pop of Viva Brother it makes us feel angry in an unhealthy want-to-go-out-and-kill-them way. This is not a healthy emotion and is therefore good music. Yet Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue, a highly manufactured pop record makes us want to sing, dance and tell the whole world that we love it. This is good music. Some of the best records, the best artists of all time are ‘manufactured’.
We like to think of ourselves as a total music fan blog. It’s why on this blog you’ll find pop music and scuzzy dirty wall of noise bands, sure we have personal preferences (female fronted, electronic pop, folk, experimental and indie -whatever that means,) but we’d never turn our nose up at something because it doesn’t seem authentic, credible or appears manufactured. It’s why we posted about Lana Del Rey and everything that has happened since with the Lanagate internet overload / argument hasn’t changed our view at all.
It’s why right now, we’d be bouncing around in the sack with the girl with the big boobs and be having a far better time of it than up their arse indie snobs who over analyse and intellectualise every ounce of detail about an artist and end up on their own wanking over their laptop.
Of course there’s still every chance that in six months we’ll find out that the fake boob girl can really only talk about a small handful of subjects, has a very different view on almost everything to ourselves, lacks imagination and has been two timing us with a dirty skanky Pigeon Detectives fan, just as Lana Del Rey may turn out to only have a handful of good songs and a lot of filler. She may also not be able to play live (watching a gig is a bit like your first sexual experience with someone – there may have been a lot of promise but when you get down to the nitty-gritty it just wasn’t there) and we may end up feeling let down or that we’ve grown apart. We’ll let you know on twitter after her London gig on Nov 16. But for now, we’re enjoying the ride. That - like relationships - is the beauty of pop music.
Here’s that song again. One of the best of the year. Our second time streaming it, third if you include the video. Simple.
Remember the iconic Kevin Cummins photo for the NME of The Stone Roses covered in paint? (This one.) Well now Irish singer songwriter and previously Mercury nominated singer songwriter Lisa Hannigan has picked up the baton with her video for the song Knots, which comes from Lisa’s second album which is released in the UK on October 10. A tour follows in November in England and Scotland.
“The idea for this video was that the instruments would be played by paint (the drums are metallic spray cans, the strings are blue and green from above, the horns are orange) and would be flung at me in accordance with their part in the song. Up until the end, when everybody threw paint at me by the pint. We shot our one and only take in a front garden in Dublin, and we used three spray cans, four squeezy bottles, five water pistols and four buckets of poster paint — which, incidentally, tastes like wet chalk,” explains Lisa. It certainly looks like a lot of messy childlike fun and we can’t imagine that the voice at the end who jokes “OK take 2,” was particularly popular with Lisa.
Second ‘the kids’ love a bit of electronic heaviness don’t they? It really is the sound that defines our times.
So just imagine if you had a song that was just a little bit dubstep influenced and sounded just a little bit like t.A.T.u. That would be pretty incredible wouldn’t it? Well here it is. It’s called Black Star. It’s the chorus that makes us think of t.A.T.u – the high vocal part reminds us just a tiny bit of the hook from Not Gonna Get Us.
Produced by East London boys Olly and James who go under the name Devil’s Gun, Black Star is less pure pop than most of Queen of Hearts previous output, although the t.A.T.u moment (as we will now forever refer to it) burrows its way into the brain with some finesse. For those worried that the Queen has turned and is about to ‘go dubstep’ full-on, have no fear though. “No plans to do any dubstep. I'm synth pop through and through,” she noted on her facebook recently.
Black Star is taken from Queen of Hearts forthcoming debut EP – Arrival – due October 3. Enjoy it’s edgy, jostling and attractively lolloping ways below.
This new waves post is probably the longest in gestation ever. Not because we’ve been fine-tuning it and editing it to make it absolutely perfect, but because just as we were originally going to post it the artist concerned – Ren Harvieu – suffered a broken and dislocated back in a freak accident. Because of two serious surgery episodes at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and extensive rehabilitation work, her record label's plans for the release of a single, a spot at Glastonbury and a subsequent album all had to be cancelled.
With this is mind we also put the brakes on our Ren Harvieu introduction until such a time that she was fit enough to be out there singing her songs. That time is now, as Ren has been confirmed to play the 2011 Swn Festival in Cardiff – often a reliable barometer of the great and good of new music as well as a gig in London at The Monto Rats on November 24.
So who is Ren Harvieu? The answer is she’s a 20 year old Salford lass who has a belter of a voice. She sings with a nostalgic rich vocal that sounds as if it’s been plucked from the throat of the greats; Dusty Springfield, Carole King and Joan Baez. Apparently at sixth form college, whilst studying musical theatre, she was told that she couldn’t sing. We can only assume that whoever told her this was locked up shortly after. For the word here is effortless; Harvieu sounds completely at one with her delivery and absolutely natural. Let your granny hear it and she’ll mutter something like “they don’t make them like that anymore.” Oh yes they do gran.
With the likes of Adele, Duffy (first album) and Amy Winehouse (R.I.P) all capitalising on a sound that has taken references from the past and touched people today, it’s easy whilst listening to Through The Night (streaming below), to envisage Ren Harvieu becoming the next name to follow those artists paths to commercial success. There’s a real appetite for this music. In fact there always has been.
Admittedly Through The Night is the only original song we’ve heard from Harvieu, so we could easily be proven wrong, but certainly the video of her beautifully covering Roy Orbison’s classic Crying (with the recently dropped Glasvegas who she supported earlier this year keeping her company) shows that her voice is sublime. Now we just need to hear some more songs.
Elena Tonra aka Daughter is back with a new EP, Wild Youth. We’re very pleased to be streaming a track taken from that EP entitled Love on Soundcloud below.
We love Soundcloud a lot and sometimes the little comments that people make on the player make us laugh. Let’s have a look at some of the comments for this song. Godslovetomoney kicks things off before the track even starts with “awesome soundz, i think a lil bit björk.” We’ll excuse the poor spelling and ignore that except for the obvious fact Elena is a female singing a non-formulaic contemporary song, it doesn’t sound that much like Bjork at all, but agree with the sentiments that it is indeed quite lovely (sorry we can’t bring ourselves to use the word awesome – the most over used word in the today – we blame Fearne Cotton). Go For Gold does better at 3.25. “Great atmosphere! We dig the distant vocals and solid drums.” Although again we feel slightly uncomfortable with the word ‘dig’ – the connotations to holes, spades and burial are too much for us. However again, we share the sentiment if not all the words. Philwmusic does even better “Heartbreaking yet compelling - thank you for sharing.” Well done Philwmusic, in just a few words you’ve summarised your emotions for the song and been polite as well. You are truly a man after our own hearts.
So who is the idiot near the end at 5.27? What are they saying and why? That name seems strangely familiar, doesn't it ? They have a point though.
The Wild Youth EP will be released on November 21. It will feature four songs entitled Home, Medicine, Youth and Love. You can download Love for free now. Oh, and toast and peanut butter is not available to download, but can be enjoyed on line, or at least the toast can, (in a roundabout way) here. It should also be available in all good kitchens.
Last month we gave you all the first instalment of the new Unicorn Kid three track freely downloadable single. Now here’s part 2. There are 5 important facts you need to know about part 2.
One. It’s called Boys of Paradise. This is pretty important, for every song should have a title. Otherwise life could become very complicated. Imagine if you were a band like The Cure and had recorded over 300 songs and they were all untitled. Devising a concert set list could be pretty confusing. Actually The Cure do have a song called Untitled, but thankfully it’s only one.
Two. Unicorn Kid now has blue hair. Blue rinses were something that were commonly sported by grannies in the 70’s, but Unicorn Kid’s bringing it back proper old school and with a degree of boldness.
Three. This track is fun and will probably have men and women over the age of 30 who have forgotten how to have fun shaking their heads in despair. In fact Unicorn Kid recently tweeted that “Ppl over 30 don't get me.” We were a little sad at this and tweeted back “We do.” Thankfully, Unicorn Kid being a polite and well brought up young man tweeted back to Breaking More Waves, Rob da Bank, Popjustice and a couple of other music types “Except you guys duhhhhhh.” We find ourselves in fine over 30's company we'll sure you'll agree.
Four. Whilst Boys of Paradise is good, the best is yet to come and will be released next month. We’ve said this before, but important things need saying more than once. In fact so good is part 3 that we played it at our short high energy set to a couple of thousand people in the Big Top at Bestival just over a week ago. You can’t hear it in this clip, but if you fancy a look you can see just a few seconds of that DJ set from the empty tent at the start to close of play half an hour later. We're happy to take bookings for future festivals, weddings, birthdays and funerals of fans of bonkers high energy electronica - just get in touch.
Five. Press the little down arrow on the Soundcloud player to download for free. And watch out for an army of old blue rinse grannies raving outside your house as you play it, thus proving that over thirties get it once and for all.
There are certain songs that we associate with particular memories, people or places. Much of this series is about that. It is after all the environment around us that affects the way that we think and act. None of us are so single minded that we are not altered by what surrounds us to a certain extent. To deny it just shows a certain lack of emotional intelligence.
Yet this song has no one singular memory for me. I vaguely recall hearing it or seeing it for the first time on Top of the Pops when I was young, but that memory doesn’t stand out as a singular special point in time. Instead Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush’s song based on the book of the same name - is a constant in my life. Even just a few weeks ago when I was at a festival and a young Danish band played a cover version of it, all it took was those first few recognisable piano chords to create goose bumps all over my body.
When any new slightly quirky female singer appears, there’s a fair chance that the Kate Bush comparisons will be rolled out again on this and many other blogs. It’s a cliché to use them but it shows how influential Bush was and continues to be. Wuthering Heights is one of the greatest songs ever created in the history of pop music. Every time I hear it, it creates a fresh memory.
In the last of our end of term school-report style festival reviews, we turn our attention to Southsea Fest 2011. A truly independent urban budget festival set on one street in Southsea, Portsmouth, home town of Breaking More Waves. This was the fifth year of the festival with pubs, clubs and an Edwardian theatre hosting 15 stages of musical mayhem that represented Southsea Fest’s biggest, best and most diverse line-up to date.
There was a very old fashioned charm about Southsea Fest that matched the antique and independent shops of its Albert Road location. At times this old-school vibe meant that things were a little chaotic with a number of stages running behind time due to the ambitious number of bands on the line up and relatively short scheduled change-over times, but because there was always something else to absorb yourself in just a minute away, it didn’t matter. Being able to quickly pop in to another venue to catch something you hadn’t planned on whilst waiting for the next scheduled band just added to the enjoyment. There was also something pleasing about the lack of obvious corporate sponsorship and sense that this wasn’t a ‘music industry’ run event or one designed to make huge profits, but one run by people passionate about providing an affordable festival that provides a platform to support local and new emerging national talent.
Here’s the run down on the key points.
Early Birds £10 Advance £16 On The Door £20 – Quite simply the best value festival we’ve attended this year.
Set along the length of Albert Road, Southsea. Venues included the balconied and seated Kings Theatre (pictured above) – an oasis of elegance in the dark, The Wedgewood Rooms and it’s smaller sister venue The Edge of the Wedge, plus a variety of café’s, pubs and social clubs. The urban location for Southsea Fest meant that even when it started to rain in the late afternoon / early evening wellies were not required, in fact even an umbrella or mac were not essential – so close were all the venues to each other that you could skip between venues and avoid a soaking.
The bane of multi-venue festivals. If you’ve ever been to the likes of the Great Escape or Camden Crawl you’ll fully appreciate the potential problems of putting a popular band in a small venue with several hundred people trying to get in to see them. Thankfully we didn’t experience any queuing / capacity issues at Southsea Fest. Venues were busy and at some points nearing capacity but it was possible to get in to see everything we wanted to see without standing outside feeling disappointed.
Not a portaloo or composting toilet in sight. Armitage Shanks was highly visible though.
Pleasantly sunny and breezy, with a small rain shower early evening, but really this is the one festival where weather really doesn’t matter.
A complete mix of ages and types. There was a noticeably older crowd in the Kings Theatre which hosted music that was largely, but not exclusively of a more folkish / acoustic bent. Likewise certain venues that had heavier rock bands playing had a more bearded masculine musk to them. Whilst inevitably there was a large local crowd, this year Southsea Fest reported that their advance ticket sales included significant numbers from outside the city, demonstrating how with a stronger line-up year on year Southsea Fest is becoming a nationally recognised event.
The Music (Highlights)
They say the early bird catches the worm and at Southsea Fest early arrivals at The Globe pub were treated to captivating sets by two excellent singer songwriters. Antonio Lulic’s rootsy tones (streaming below) hinted at the likes of two Bruce’s, namely Springsteen and Hornsby as well as more contemporary bands such as Admiral Fallow, Dan Mangan and Mumford & Sons. Even more impressive was Kal Lavelle whose set of heart-on-sleeve songs about relationship break-downs (Disaster), pretty pop tunes (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and wide-throated covers (Crazy by Gnarls Barkley segueing into I Need a Dollar) were rich with melody and emotion.
Late comers could still find much to be rewarded with though. Kill It Kid brought the Kings Theatre (pictured above) out of its slumber with a barrage of pummelling rock riffage, dirty blues vocals and gut-punching songs that seemed at brilliant odds with much of the quieter folk influenced acts on that stage and Kyla La Grange (streaming below), whilst appearing somewhat overwhelmed by the scale of the space blew cobwebs from the ceiling with her sultry, husky tones and grandiose rock tunes. It wasn’t all about guitars though. Curxes drew a big crowd in a small pub (Little Johnny Russell’s) and sped their way through a set that flourished with austere industrial synths (albeit accompanied by menacing guitar effects) and lead singer Roberta’s magnificently weighty Zola Jesus / Siouxsie Sioux vocal. Despite battling technical problems which meant that Roberta couldn’t hear herself singing at all, Curxes won over a Portsmouth audience that are not known for their love of electronic music.
Little Johnny Russell’s proved a difficult gig for a number of acts during the day, Adam Barnes reportedly struggled against the chattering masses and the venues half-arsed sound system and half-interested audience weighed against the pouting girl-punk-pop of Pris – the best dressed band of the day. Lead singer Kat exuded sassy style in a riot of tartan, pink hair and sunglasses and looked every inch the pop star in the making. With a cover of The Clash’s Janie Jones and the best use of the word ‘C*nt’ in a pop song since The Libertines What A Waster during Blu-Tack Baby, Pris revived the idea that getting up on stage and doing it with some personality and attitude is far more important than big voiced X-Factor falsity.
Our highlight of the day however was left till near the end. Clock Opera’s needles and pins electronica proved comparable to nothing else. Each of their songs was a slow building, bubbling hot volcano that finally exploded in powerful waves of reach for the stars vocals, rhythms, electronic loops and formidable power, their bearded front man Guy Connelly’s whole body twitching with the beautiful intensity of the music. Emotional exhaustion and happiness derived from a half hour set of music – surely that’s what the best live experiences are about? Clock Opera dispatched it in bucket loads.
If big festivals just seem too expensive and overwhelming, Southsea Fest provides a real alternative. Great bands, great price, and great atmosphere – you couldn’t really ask for much more.
That’s it, summers over. If you live in the top part of the northern hemisphere prepare for 6 or 7 months of grim weather, seasonal affective disorder and nothing to look forward to except having no money after Christmas.
Of course something you can look forward to is opening your email browser or in box each day to get the latest post on Breaking More Waves. We’re beginning to ramp things up again following a quiet few weeks in late August and September whilst we took a holiday and then partied our way across two of the UK’s best music festivals – End of the Road and Bestival.
The few weeks off have also given us the chance to review the blog and what we’re doing with it and we’ve come to the conclusion that for the moment we’re quite happy with the way it is. At the start of 2011 we dropped live reviews, album reviews and interviews and focussed purely on new music, new artists with the occasional discursive blog and our school report style festival reviews. Also on Mondays we dipped into nostalgia with Music That Made Me highlighting some of the songs that have influenced our tastes over the years. So now we continue with more of the same, with Saturdays wrapping up a few tracks that we haven’t had the chance to post about properly during the week in this feature called The Saturday Surf.
So without further ado, whatever season it is, get your swimming costume on or if you've forgotten it just throw off your clothes, let’s go surfing.
Jamie N Commons – Now Is Not The Time
Cast your mind back to March and you may remember that we featured the smoky voiced troubadour Jamie N Commons in a new waves feature. Since then things have been very quiet in terms of new music, but recently this new song Now Is Not The Time has popped up on a couple of blogs and Commons is gearing himself up for an EP release on October 17 through Luv Luv Luv.
At the other end of the musical spectrum from Jamie N Commons we find Welsh electronic dance pop demons Friends Electric, who are putting out this single Puzzle Pieces the week after Commons EP. It’s trademark Friends Electric, that is to say its sky searching danceable electro-pop that’s on a mission to get your hands up high and your hips doing air sex.
Talking of air sex, here’s another one to get you pumping and grinding. Visions of Trees started out as a vaguely ethereal, floaty, bubbling rhythmic duo whose songs owed more to the likes of ambient pioneers such as System 7 and The Orb than the psych r ‘n’ b that their Myspace claimed. Now however that claim appears justified as their newer material, including this single, bring the thrust to gothic electronica. Imagine Bela Lugosi jigging to a hard climax and this is pretty much what Sirens does.
Finally here’s a band that we’ve not featured on the blog before, yet coverage is long overdue. Big Deal are Alice Costelloe and KC Underwood and purvey a fine line of fuzzy, driven but beatless pop. Their album Lights Out which is available to purchase now is full of songs like Chair, their new single, with its twinned boy-girl vocals and openly raw guitar work. It’s a good way to sign off summer.
If you’ve read our Bestival review posted two days ago, you’ll know that one of our highlights was Lucy Rose. The young singer songwriter played a sublime Bandstand set on Friday night that confirmed that her debut single Middle of the Bed was no one off. Rose has a whole collection of slightly melancholy but delicately valuable acoustic pop songs in her possession.
Here’s one of them. Scar is Lucy’s second single and guests Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s available on iTunes on September 19 and will gain a physical release on November 14. Become enchanted as Lucy’s warm honey smooth voice sings of a confused relationship – something inside of her is telling her to leave and yet she wants to be with this person as well. Ah, the dichotomy of love. Wouldn’t it be dull if every singer songwriter just had a normal balanced easy going love life?
With their debut album Creatures of an Hour, out October 10 on Sub Pop, Breaking More Waves favourites Still Corners have just released this new song Into The Trees, for free download. Bizarrely if it wasn’t for lead singer Tessa’s ghostly whispered vocal Into The Trees could easily be mistaken from something from the second album by The Horrors, particularly Sea Within A Sea, complete with psychedelic overtones and the distant characterisation of always holding back, never going full-on for the jugular.
Is it shoegaze? Is it dream-pop? Does a genre name really matter? The only question you need to ask yourself is do you like it? Does it make you feel something? Does it make you want to shut your eyes and drift off to a place better than the one you’re in right now? The very fact that it’s featured on this blog gives you our answers to these questions. Sometimes music just takes you there doesn’t it?
Bestival is the traditional last hurrah of the UK major festival scene's year. It’s also Breaking More Waves absolute favourite and for its eighth year pulled out all the stops to come up with quite possibly its best year ever. Yes Bestival 2011 was an absolute corker. Here’s why.
Early bird adult tickets were £150 with normal tickets costing £170
Set in a wood lined valley and accompanying hills and fields the Bestival site is a creative wonder. From the masses of bunting by the Bollywood tent, the quirky little huts in the Wishing Tree field, the Chinese lanterns that changed colour near the cabaret tent, tree- like sculptural forms with fluorescent tubes for leaves, the swamp shack with its dilapidated shabby chic, the hammocks and lighting in the ambient woods, the abundance of flags everywhere and much more besides, Bestival was a visual treat. Add to this a well thought out site layout that has gradually evolved over the years, with head honcho Rob da Bank and his crew actively listening to punters comments on the Bestival Forum website and the result was not only the best musical line up the event has ever had, but the best site. This was a festival that obviously cared about creating a great atmosphere throughout. There's a shot of part of the festival site at night below.
The last few years have seen Bestival becoming a much ‘younger’ festival in terms of its audience and last year there was criticism in some quarters that it had lost its original spirit. This year, possibly because of headliners such as The Cure and Bjork there was a noticeably older crowd in amongst the high hormone youth. This seemed to create the perfect atmosphere – a mix of wild hedonism combined with a more relaxed calm vibe. Add in a sizeable portion of the audience dressing up on Saturday as a rock star, pop star or diva and the result was not just a colourful site but a vividly colourful audience. Wherever you looked, whatever the age there were big smiling faces with everyone seeming perfectly happy to chat to complete strangers whatever their age.
Before the festival the remnants of hurricane Irene were predicted to wreak havoc, with storm force winds and heavy rain being predicted, yet the weather gods smiled down on the happy punters and the Thursday and Friday turned out to be blissfully sunny and dry, the only harsh winds and rain came on the Saturday and Sunday nights. This was no repeat of ‘Mudstival’ in 2008 though, with plenty of areas of the site remaining free of the stuff even after the rain.
A mix of standard festival portaloos as well as composting toilets and urinals formed out of guttering fixed to boards. For a festival of this capacity (50,000) the toilets were surprisingly good and emptied regularly. There were the inevitable queues at peak times, but these were never horrendous.
Bestival catered for a wide range of food tastes and styles from the standard burger bar to the more exotic Ms Marmitelover’s Underground restaurant. Indian, Chinese, Mexican, French, Spanish, Moroccan were all to be found and there was even locally produced fresh Isle of Wight fodder. Then the absolute highlight, after a walk up a very steep hill, the salvation that was the W.I tent with the cheapest tea, cake and quiches on site all served by smiling adorable apron wearing ladies.
The only criticism of Bestival 2011 is that there was quite simply too much good music. Not only was there too much good music, but the PA systems that the music played through were powerful and clear - something that a number of UK festivals have been unable to achieve this year. From indie to folk to electronica to pop to dubstep to rock ‘n’ roll, all kinds of genres were to be found at Bestival.
The Cure played a fan and festival pleasing marathon two and a half hour 32 song set, which heaped single after single (Love Song, Friday I’m In Love, Boys Don’t Cry, Lovecats, Lullaby, Why Can’t I Be You and more) next to the brooding darkness of the likes of Plainsong, Shake Dog Shake, Disintegration and punk pop classics such as the closing Killing An Arab and 10:15 Saturday Night. The slightly greying black clad wispy haired Robert Smith was clearly enjoying himself and still on the top of his game, sounding as distinctive as he ever has been.
Other older performers also came up trumps with Brian Wilson and his band captivating the crowd mid Friday afternoon – never could the words good vibrations be better used. Likewise the sight of a 20-30,000 fancy dressed-up audience performing the actions of YMCA to an enthusiastic Village People became one of the most bizarre and unexpected highlights of the weekend. Headliner Bjork split the audience with by her own admission a set that wasn’t designed for festivals. Sporting a freakish mix of ginger afro wig, a blue shell shaped headpiece and pencil skirt, her set confused and delighted equally – her voice still powerful and childlike, her new songs sometimes too inaccessible for the majority. Health and safety staff were probably also quaking in their boots with Bjork setting off hand operated fireworks and then later a Chinese lantern released by someone in the audience landed on stage and threatened to turn the whole event into something rather serious. Thankfully staff reacted quickly and a fire extinguisher was set loose.
Of course Bestival isn’t just about the main stage – there were 17 others to enjoy. James Blake’s Big Top set was compelling and full of rich atmosphere, whilst over at the Sailor Jerry stage Alex Winston (streaming below) was found jumping onto the drum riser during her performance of her quirky songs that sounded like alt. pop designed by Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom. Another highlight came from Lucy Roses’s strikingly beautiful acoustic songs on the tiny Bandstand which battled with the bass and beats of Magnetic Man from the main stage and won.
Bestival lived up to its name. Quite simply the best festival we’ve been to this year, and in over 20 years of festival going, possibly ever.