If you’ve spent any time on Breaking More Waves blog over the last year the chances are you’ll have seen the name Queen of Hearts crop up a fair few times. Queen of Hearts is a new electronic pop artist who makes music similar toSally Shapiro, Goldfrapp, Little Boots and Ladyhawke, referencing 80’s synth pop and italo disco but with a contemporary sheen thanks to working with producers such as Dreamtrack, Sound of Arrows, Fear of Tigers and Monarchy.
After receiving significant blog love this year (Breaking More Waves probably more so than any other blog out there, first posting about her in February 2011 and numerous times since) she finally released her debut EP Arrival this autumn.
Queen of Hearts has said that she writes songs about the important things in life – love, loss, heartbreak, betrayal. She has been growing a small but devoted fan base through gigs that involve elegant theatrical costumes, dancers and her ‘creatures’ – a number of rams skulls that adorn the stage. This left of centre showmanship gives an approach that reminds us of a more restrained small scale post-Gaga, without the overt near-nudity. In fact Queen of Hearts manages to be a very sexy performer whilst keeping her clothes fully on. Look at the picture above for the evidence.
Whilst her appeal may be a little too niche to have any mainstream appeal at this moment (although like Hurts did over the last two years it may be that she just needs time to find her true audience), if you like electronic music and believe that pop music should be about elevating you away from normality to a world of fantasy then Queen of Hearts is one for you to watch in 2012.
Rather like Willy Moon, who was yesterday’s Ones to Watch 2012 choice, Michael Kiwanuka is producing music that has a deeply nostalgic tone. Unlike Moon however there is no attempt to give his music a contemporary edge. Instead Kiwanuka’s music subscribes to the argument that great art should never be discounted simply because it doesn’t innovate. Innovation can often be too closely linked to fashion, falling out of favour as tides turn and new waves sweep in. Listen back to something in your record collection that you thought was ground-breaking a few years back and now it may actually seem very dated. Having the tools and talent to create something moving and beautiful, irrespective of originality, is more likely to stick closely to the heart longer than the latest hipster craze or fad.
This is where Michael Kiwanuka wins hands down. You can choose to describe his soulful, acoustic music as timeless, classic or alternatively you can use words such as retro and vintage, but ultimately whatever way you frame it Kiwanuka makes music that is exquisitely warm and wonderful.
Kiwanuka is 23 years old and grew up in North London. He grew up on a musical diet of Blur, Nirvana, Hendrix, Dylan and Otis Redding. It is Redding that laid the roots for Kiwanuka’s own brand of music that is every inch close immaculate.
Michael Kiwanuka will be releasing his new single Home Again on January 1st and his debut album follows in March.
Our next One to Watch for 2012 certainly meets our criteria for producing something interesting. Albeit this judgement is made on the basis of only the two songs we have heard. The question of if it will be loved by the public is not nearly so clear, because what Willy Moon is doing is so different it's actually difficult to fathom if it's good or not. He could turn out to be 2012’s Marmite artist, dividing lovers and haters, or he could flop into the dark abyss of the bargain bin without anyone even noticing. Although we suspect that if he does end up in the trash can it's unlikely that it will be without at least getting noticed; for this is an ambitious young man. He's already been quoted as saying that he wants to be a massive pop star and that everything he does will be spectacular. Playing to fifteen people on a damp Tuesday night at The Bull & Gate isn't his style.
So what is it that makes Willy Moon so engrossing? The best answer is to watch the videos below. (Skip the remix and come back to that after you've seen the videos). Originally hailing from Wellington New Zealand but now based in London Willy Moon looks and sounds like he’s found some time warp from the 50’s and funnelled it to the present day. Anyone remember Westworld and Sonic Boom Boy? Well that’s a reference point perhaps.
With his snappy powder-coloured suits on his lanky body, hair full of Brylcreem, the most buttery feet you’ve ever seen move, Max Headroom styled stutters on She Loves Me, beats that could have almost come from a Jay-Z record, guitars that sound like they’ve been lifted from the grave of Bo Didley and songs that clock in under two minutes there’s no question that Willy Moon isn’t following any trend. The question is, will anyone actually like it?
Initially we weren’t going to include Lana Del Rey in our list of Ones to Watch for 2012. There’s been so much written about her on the internet that it seems that another post from a small scale blog is almost pointless and arguably she's already so prominent in most music fans minds that bringing attention to her really isn't required.
By the end of 2011 with just one single release and a handful of shows Del Rey has received so much under the microscope analysis that you have to wonder how she can ever survive it. Is she authentic? Does she really write her own songs? How much money has she had thrown behind her by her major label? Can she sing? How much of what she does is an act? Why has her debut album under her real name Lizzy Grant been deleted? How many record company execs has she slept with to get where she is now? Are her lips real?
Let’s repeat that last one. Are her lips real?
Yes the internet has become such a dissecting gossipy beast that grown men (and some women too) are spending their time discussing how real Lana Del Rey’s lips are. When you think about it, it really is pathetically lame.
Del Rey seems to have become an internet discussed phenomena in a way that is childlike and sometimes borders on misogynist. Never before has a single new artist been subject to such inquiry and analysis, much of it based on pre-conceived assumptions, sometimes without accurate fact checking.
How on earth can Lana Del Rey survive the hype both musically and personally? Those who hate her will, like an abusive parent to a tiny toddler, continue to kick her down even before she’s had the chance to walk. With such levels of uncontrolled exposure, those who like her could also become sick of hearing about the most talked about new artist of 2011. Del Rey has said herself in interviews that she’s stopped reading what people are writing about her because it upsets her. If she continued reading she would probably have become sick of herself as well. It’s true that some of the negative writing about her has been particularly vicious, to the point where you have to question how the internet is affecting society – would these writers say what they write to Del Rey's face? If not then this is assassination by stealth.
This is why Lana Del Rey has to be one to watch for 2012. The question is can she survive the onslaught of the hype machine? Last year in this list we named The Vaccines who also had to ride the wave of over-exposure (albeit not of the tsunami proportions that Del Rey has experienced). The Vaccines rode the wave well by getting their heads down and concentrated on playing lots of gigs and festivals, weary of the press and blog adulation. Even when lead singer Justin suffered a haemorrhaging vocal polyp they got back on the road as quick as possible after. By the end of the year the band can look back at a solid if unremarkable debut UK top 5 LP, sold out gigs and personal relationships in the band that have held together well.
There’s a potential lesson there for Del Rey. The hype will eventually die down. The cynics and doubters will move on to find something else to cast their negativity on. If she focuses on what actually brought her to our attention in the first place – her intriguing, otherworldly music, she may just survive.
Let’s remind ourselves of that music. Back in May 2011 Breaking More Waves was the first Hype Machine listed blogger to post a stream of the song Video Games in the world. Since then that post has become one of the most read posts on our blog with 1000’s of hits. It remains a sublime, slightly disturbing song about control in a relationship and is one of our favourite pieces of music released in 2011. The video (playing below) has had over 6 million views on You Tube. Let’s see what 2012 brings.
‘Nothing like Corinne Bailey Rae or Andreya Triana, but we all have similar hair,’ states Lianne La Havas, our sixth one to watch for 2012, on her facebook page. If those two comparisons don’t sit comfortably with Lianne then maybe instead we should compare her to our first one to watch choice, Lucy Rose. There are at least several similarities. They’re both women for starters and both play acoustic guitar. They both also sing songs that have a tremendously soothing quality. Then there’s the matter that both have names beginning with the initial L. They certainly don’t share the same hair however.
It could be a good year for women who have names beginning with L. Four of our 15 selections are as such (our fourth selection, Foxes, is called Loui and we have one further to come very soon). Let’s see how that statement holds up next December.
However whereas Lucy Rose sings in a pretty almost dainty voice, Lianne’s vocal has a more of a soft sultry soulful quality. Comparisons to the likes of a lighter Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott or Eryaka Badu have already been thrown around by the bucket load as she sings her songs of heartbreak.
If you’ve already come across Lianne La Havas it may have been through the song No Room For Doubt, which she recorded with Willy Mason (video below), her cover version of Final Form by quirky indie rockers Everything Everything (below), her performance on Later with Jools, her Black Cab Session video, or maybe you’ve never heard of her before and are reading her name for the first time on this blog. Whatever way you’ve discovered her one thing that is absolutely clear is that this 22 year old south Londoner, who has sung backing vocals with Paloma Faith and has found everyone from the likes of Bon Iver to Fearne Cotton championing her, has the potential to release an album that could ooze quality.
It may come as a surprise for regular readers to see us featuring Dot Rotten in our Ones to Watch for 2012. After all this blog is hardly upfront when it comes to rap and grime. However, having expanded this list from the past previous ten to fifteen artists this year, it does give us the small opportunity to widen our net a little and put forward at least one act from a genre not featured heavily on the blog. Having said that, in terms of commercial rap music Rizzle Kicks regularly featured over the last year, the brassy ska-grooves of Down With The Trumpets being one of our favourite singles of 2011 with Breaking More Waves giving support by featuring the original demo of the track early on.
So this one to watch is a UK MC and you'll be pleased to read that all Eastenders references and jokes about his name have been left firmly at the gate.
Dot Rotten (real name Joseph Ellis) has been plugging away for a long time now. In fact way back in 2006 he was trading under the name Young Dot and released his debut mixtape This Is The Beginning. However his move from underground credibility to potential mainstream appeal really began at the start of this year. If you’ve heard Ed Sheeran’s excellent No.5 Collaborations EP ( at 8 tracks long it is virtually an album) which was released at the start of the year you’ll know that besides tracks with Wiley, Devlin and Random Inpulse one of the stand-out tracks was Rotten’s Goodbye To You; an intimate tribute to the loss of his nan and her strength. “I still think of you every Sunday, no one can top your chicken and rice, even through the darkest times you held us all up ‘cos your vision was bright, I knew your strength was your wisdom inside, you never let anyone see your heartache, you just got on with it,” he raps. It’s proud real-life stuff.
Now with a deal through Mercury Records, the sharp Normal Human Being making waves earlier this year, support slots with Chase & Status in the bag and a new single Keep It On A Low being released on December 11 it could be Dot Rotten’s time to step up with the UK rap big boys. On the strengths of Goodbye To You, the super slick Microphone (streaming below) and Keep It On A Low, we reckon he has a really good chance.
If you’ve read Breaking More Waves for any period of time you’ll know that we have a strong penchant for female singers. In fact Hype Machine tags this blog as being one to investigate in particular for female vocalists. Therefore it makes absolute sense that of our 15 Ones to Watch for 2012, 9 of them will be bands or solo artists that feature female vocalists.
Our fourth selection is one of those 9. We first posted about her back in August when she was still performing using her real name, Loui Rose. (Actually her real name is Louisa Rose Allan, but she’d dropped the ‘sa’ and the Allan by then.) At the time we suggested that this had the potential to make things a little confusing, what with another upwardly rising singer Lucy Rose bobbing about in the arena. Now, we don’t know if Loui Rose or whoever is working with her was thinking the same thing, but now Loui Rose is going by the name of Foxes. Which makes it easier for you, and easier for us, especially as we’ve already featured Lucy Rose in this list.
Except it doesn’t.
Because there’s a band called Foxes! from Brighton who have been going for some time now and so there’s only an exclamation mark between these two. We can see all sorts of potentially confused looking gig audiences in the future. Surely there must have been other animal names that were available for a new act?
Since that blog post in August Louisa Rose Allan / Loui Rose / Foxes (maybe we should call her Loui Fox, although that wouldn’t work because according to the Guardian there’s a mysterious silent partner in the back with Loui who goes by the name of Sam, so actually Foxes is a band, just like the Brighton lot, although Popjustice says the Guardian is incorrect, so now we’re even MORE confused) seems to have picked up a fair amount of record industry attention and now she’s releasing a single via boutique pop label Neon Gold – the people responsible for the debut singles from Marina & The Diamonds and Ellie Goulding. Whether this means that Foxes already has a major label working behind her and the Neon Gold release is just to wow the tastemakers and give her credibility or not is unclear to us, but ultimately it’s irrelevant.
The important issue is the music.
Youth is the Neon Gold track and is is exactly what you’d expect from that stable. A high production value pop song with dance crammed edges formed with epic showers of shimmering synths and cluttering carnival percussion – it may not be quite as instant as early Marina and Ellie tracks did but it improves on repeated listens.
But there’s better to come.
You may remember that our August blog featured a demo of a song called Night Owls Early Birds. It sounded like a less muscular Rolling In The Deep by Adele and was particularly impressive. Along with the rest of the Loui Rose Soundcloud account it’s been taken offline now, so you’ll have to be patient to hear it in some fully produced form.
Don’t expect to see Foxes all over the place in the early part of 2012, but as the year progresses, watch carefully. We will be.
Our third ones to watch for 2012 are Alabama Shakes, from Athens, Alabama, USA. If there’s a thread linking some of the artists on our 2012 list, it’s that more than one of them take classic, retro sounds and bring them fully loaded into our modern world and none more so than Alabama Shakes. Formerly just known as The Shakes this band bring straight up sweat, blues, soul and southern rock ‘n’ roll with knee trembling, gut bursting vocals from one Brittany Howard (pictured above) and in places a hint of the good parts of Kings of Leon. Hell, imagine if this lady went on X-Factor. The judges would probably wet themselves in fear.
Alabama Shakes are as raw, real and unbelievably good as any new band out there and will be making their way to the UK in 2012 on the back of a record deal with Rough Trade records. The groups first show is at The Boston Arms in London on February 22. If you live within 200 miles we recommend you bag yourself a ticket.
He’s dated Peaches Geldof, was previously in both Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man and Les Incompetents, wears the most ridiculous thick rimmed circular framed glasses and in an interview with the NME compared his new group to Spandau Ballet. He’s possibly going to be the geek fantasy of a few girls whilst the rest of his gang is going to get more than a few attentive looks as well. He’s also going to upset a few (or possibly a lot) of people with his rhetoric; a strange mix of self-knowing depreciation and hyperbole at the same time. Some folks are going to absolutely hate this music-combo.
His name is Fred MacPherson and his band is called Spector. They may have tagged themselves a commercial indie group, which to some minds may seem a contradiction in terms, but they look more like a bunch of preppy office types in their shirts and jackets. However, such attire gives them the appearance of a unit – a slick-but-shabby ready-to-storm-the-charts unit, or if not at least a unit which will fail gloriously with the best songs that Fred has written in his life.
Having first come to our attention on Breaking More Waves back in May the band have done all the right things to get noticed, cropping up on smaller stages at summer festivals, releasing a series of low key singles and playing their own small headlining tour. Now it relies on Spector having enough good songs, the right exposure and that indefinable quality that some call luck to capture the public heart. With a slot on Jools Holland's BBC television show this week, a second tour early next year and then support slots at Florence & The Machine's arena shows, they certainly are going to be getting that exposure. And based on the evidence of their three singles, there’s a half-chance they’ll be able to grab peoples ears; Never Fade Away is a hooky bombastic anthem, What You Wanted is like a suave but bullish half-Killers referencing bopper and Grey Shirt & Tie is a subtler crooner with some very 80’s synth sounds.
Our first One to Watch for 2012 is Lucy Rose. The Warwickshire born singer-songwriter first cropped up on this blog in summer following the release of her debut single Middle of the Bed and then followed it up with the love-him-or-leave-him ditty Scar this autumn. These two songs form the basis of a collection of works that are endearing in their sincerity and beautiful in their construction.
What Lucy Rose does so well is that she keeps things simple. There’s no over-blown production, no bumping and grinding bass-beats, just good songs crafted with care and love. Of course singer-songwriters are ten a penny these days, but Rose’s songs stand out because of her unaffected calmness combined with the gentle massage and purity of her vocals.
Even great songs or talent isn’t always enough and certainly the patronage of Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club will have done Lucy no harm (they met at a gig in London and since then Lucy has sung backing vocals on his bands album and supported them on tour).
Lucy Rose probably won’t be lighting up the singles charts next year with big pop bangers or out there rockers, but for those who want something a little more graceful and longer lasting, her rising star is one to watch and savour in 2012.
It’s getting to that time of year again when everyone will soon be revealing their tips lists for 2012. Breaking More Waves is no different and this year we will be expanding our now traditional Ones to Watch feature to 15 artists rather than the smaller 10 we’ve published in previous years.
Our Ones to Watch list is not a tips for commercial success list. If it was we’d feature the likes of Azelia Banks, Frank Ocean and Skrillex, all of whom have had underground buzz and could be poised to break through in 2011. However, none of these artists fit with the tastes of Breaking More Waves and therefore won’t be appearing. Nor will it include any X-Factor or similar contest winners (although we admit we seriously considered listing Pepper from Sky 1's Must Be The Music - her track Wish It Away is way better than you would expect - keep an ear and eye out for it when it finally surfaces.) Our Ones to Watch 2012 reflects the output of the blog and its musical preferences and U.S hip hop, r 'n' b etc don't usually float our boats. (Having said that keep an eye out for a UK rapper that appears in this years list - we've cast our net a little wider with that one). The artists we select are new acts that we guess (and it can be no more than a guess) may produce some music of interest in 2012, irrespective of if they are a ‘hit’ or not - the kind of music that would appeal to ourselves and regular readers of this blog. Many of them have already appeared on the blog over the last year, in fact this list could almost be said to be a summary of our New Waves features on the blog from the last 12 months, although there will be a few new additions as well.
Last year we limited ourselves to new UK acts. This year we’re expanding to worldwide again, as there are at least 2 acts from outside our own country that we really adore and inclusion is a necessity. We’ve also changed our definition of what a ‘new act’ is this year, allowing artists to have already had 1 UK chart single, or up to 4 non-chart singles but no album release to date.
We’ll be publishing one of our Ones to Watch each day for the next fifteen days, then follow that up with our top ten albums of the year. By then it will nearly be Christmas, where with a couple of minor exceptions the blog shuts down until New Year.
So this is it, our final run down.
Our first one to watch for 2012 will be published at 20.30 this evening GMT and then at 8.30 every morning each day after that. Why not check back every day to see who we've chosen, or follow us on twitter for notification of when the blog posts go on line.
Before that, let’s cast our minds back to last year. Clare Maguire (listen and watch below) first cropped up on this blog in January 2009. We put her on our ones to watch list for 2010 at number 6 but it was too early as nothing was released until right at the end of the year. Last year we put her on the ones to watch for 2011 list at number 1 and she also appeared in the top 5 of the music industry BBC Sound of 2011 list. She finally put out some singles, an album and played gigs and festivals. We even got a thank you on her album sleeve for supporting her. Now, looking back at 2011, how did Clare Maguire do in terms of making interesting music? We’d be interested to know your views.
Today we would like to invite you to a wedding. It’s the musical marriage of stern synths, industrial clanks and smart 80’s referencing pop sensibilities. Welcome to the marriage of [Strangers] and Curxes, two bands that have been courting on the blog with some regularity. Like a plug finding a socket and thousands of volts of dark electropop coursing through the wires of a robot body, this is an empowering remix where neither band overshadows the other.
What we’re particularly enjoying about Curxes remixes (the other one out there – Worship’sHouse of Glass you can find here) is that they follow very much their own template. There’s no dubstep wobbles or attempts at hands in the air builds to please the masses on the dance floor. This is a duo that take their own influences and vision and apply it to create their own courtly drama of the matrimony.
[Strangers] play the Electricity Showrooms in London on November 24 and Curxes play Club Fandango at The Bull & Gate in London on November 30. They also support 80’s minor league synthpop stars Blancmange at the Komedia in Brighton the day before the Bull & Gate show.
Recorded and produced by Grammy nominated remixer, record producer, song writer and keyboard player Andy Chatterley and Jason Tarver (both of whom worked with Kylie Minogue on her Aphrodite album) Catapult is the all new, all shiny, fully fledged studio output from Breaking More Waves favourite Alice Jemima. A gloriously magical and innocent pop song where the verse, chorus and middle eight all seem as sweetly hooky as each other, there’s an almost old-fashioned succinctness to Catapult. Listen carefully and you might even consider that the sound isn’t that far away from Kate Nash circa Foundations before she went all shouty-indie, with Nina Persson and AlessiLaurent-Marke from Alessi’s Ark on vocals “You don’t know about me do ya do ya,” sings Alice, and we hear the sound of a few hearts beating that little bit quicker.
Press play, look up at the stars in the night sky and discover that sometimes just a sweet, simple tune can make your life a whole lot better.
No Ceremony/// are not only sitting behind a wall of fog in terms of their ‘mystery band’ status but also apply the shroud to new song Deliverus that dropped onto the internet earlier this week. Despite the gentle clarity of the guitars that weave the track together, the overall impression is of drifting out into the middle of a misty lake where sighs of ghosts breathe slow weary caresses against your ears.
If that all sounds like pretentious baloney, it probably is, but we’re not apologising – that’s the images that came into our brain when listening to the music. If music (and music writing) wasn’t occasionally pretentious it would be a very dull and beige world.
After the similarities between Hurtlove and Wearme, Deliverus suggests that not only is No Ceremony/// not just a one trick pony, but that he/she/they/ it are an act that may be able to deliver a long player that could have some value beyond blog hype. Only time will tell, but the chance is there for the taking.
The debates as to whether great art should be judged by innovation or the craft and skill with which it is created will probably roll on forever, but we prefer to judge it from an emotional rather than an intellectual perspective. Our question is always does the art move us in a positive way, does it make us feel something? Then if it does, for whatever reason, then on a personal level it’s great art and nobody can argue against that because there’s a connection. It’s why ultimately all arguments about what is good / bad, great/terrible, amazing/awful music are redundant and irrelevant – it’s about how you feel, not what anyone else thinks.
If Michael Kiwanuka was judged in terms of innovation, then he would probably be packed off to the amenity tip right now. Everything about him seems incredibly old-fashioned, right down to the faded sepia brown tones of the cover art and 70's typeface and framing for his record sleeve. Yet his rich, warm tones and subtle strong spine tingling songs are so simply affecting that to deny a connection with them is deny yourself an opportunity to enrich your life.
With an album due next March, his new EP Home Again will be released on the 1st January 2011. What better way to smooth of your inevitable Hogmanay hangover than by letting his music strip away the poisons of the night before like a smooth mug of velvety coffee?
It’s taking the world a while to catch on to The Staves, even though they’ve been together for twenty-odd years, but that’s because they are three sisters. Musically their gestation period has been a little shorter, although they've still been floating around for some time. They recently featured as the Guardian’s New Band of the Day (with a quote from this very blog when we first featured them as a New Wave back in April) and have popped up on a few of the more folk inclined sites over the last few months as well as supporting the likes of James Vincent McMorrow and Willy Mason this autumn, where they have transfixed audiences with their shy, organic songs.
Now here’s a new video for the tune Mexico which first featured in that April post. It utterly suits the band’s music - being both simple and magical. Are you ready to fall in love with the gentle and wistful sounds of Emily, Jessica and Camilla? We have.
For 42 weeks in 2011 on a Monday morning Breaking More Waves has carried a feature called Music That Made Me. The concept for these posts was a reaction against an arguably unhealthy throwaway culture, something which music blogs help perpetuate with their constant strive to find the new, often preferring to move towards the next buzz artist rather than relishing any quality time with music they already know. Songs these days seem to be all too quickly forgotten. The posts were autobiographical, showing influences and describing experiences.
The songs described weren’t necessarily the best or greatest, in fact some of them were pretty awful. It certainly wasn't a 'favourite songs of all time' list. Nor were the songs chosen to demonstrate some sort of all-rounded musical eclecticism in taste; they were just a list of tracks that at some point in life created an emotion or a memory. They also opened the curtains a little on some of the more personal aspects of this music blogger’s life.
Ironically having spent 42 weeks wallowing in nostalgia the conclusion that arose from the posts was that irrespective of the rights or wrongs of constantly striving to find the new, it’s what we feel most passionate and motivated about.
So this final post draws a line under the past. We’re raising our glass to the future.
Here’s a full list of the 42 songs we featured in Music That Made Me, some classic ones, some terrible ones, some you may have never heard of. Click on the relevant link if you want to hear or read more about any of the tracks and the memories behind them.
Over the last 42 weeks I’ve featured blog posts written in the first person that nostalgically remind me of some of the past musical glories from my life. Some of the songs I chose haven’t been played or even thought about for years, it was only when writing this series and exploring the dim cobweb filled corridors of my brain that the songs were remembered. Some of them I will probably never choose to play again. They stood for a moment, a memory, a person, a place, or a feeling and then they were gone. Some however will stick around like lasting friends.
So what have I learnt through writing these posts? Apart from realising that I have woeful taste in music sometimes, (like ex-partners, the songs seemed outrageously good at the time) I’ve also learnt that looking back at the past is fun once in a while, but it doesn’t excite me in the same way that the present or future does. Like a relationship, what keeps me alive, what raises the spirits, is not resting on the past. The past forms a foundation, but for the relationship to grow and develop it has to evolve, change and offer up new possibilities and passions. Otherwise it becomes stale and tired, lacking the zest and the sparkle that is out there.
There are 42 posts in this series. The reason for this? I am 42 years old. Yet, even now, when I hear a new piece of music that moves me I get a rush of excitement just the same as when I was still 16. It’s why I write this blog – to share some of the music that gives me that rush.
This series may be called Music That Made Me, but what is really important to me is the music that is making me, right here right now.
It’s why this final post features a song from this year. It's a song that isn't cool, isn't critically acclaimed, but it fits perfectly with my world. There’s a place for nostalgia and many my age trade on it. However, after 42 posts of Music That Made Me, I’ve had enough of it. Let’s learn from the past, but let’s move forward as well, with quite simply, my favourite pop song of 2011. L.O.V.E it.
A full list of all the songs (good and bad) featured in this series and links to the blog posts will be posted later today.
If twitchy, nervy guitars and yelping vocals out of the school of 80’s post-punk / new wave jibber jabber are your thing then you’ll love Coastal Cities.
We’ve already featured this band briefly in a blog post concerning The Record of the Day Awards, but now we’re expanding this coverage. Coastal Cities are a five-piece out of High Wycombe (a town not known for its musical heritage except possibly for the delivery of synth pop wizard Howard Jones to the public’s ears 25 years ago) and have already created some small scale buzz online. US boutique label / blog Neon Gold have called them ‘the UK’s next bright young things’ and posted their key track Think Tank, as an exclusive. We’re not sure about how exclusive a song is that’s been up on Soundcloud for 8 months and had already been posted by another U.S blogger a week before - but let’s not get pedantic about these things – nobody actually cares about who posted a track on a blog first except for a few competitive bloggers themselves looking for bragging rights or validation from their peer group.
So why the buzz? Certainly part of it is because the bands snappy, agitated songs have a similar appeal to the likes of Two Door Cinema Club, Foals, The Drums and early Bloc Party. Then when you listen to No Room For Heroes amongst the smooth simple synths and picky guitar work you can hear the occasional boy-shout that isn’t that dissimilar to Los Campesinos! We mention The Drums in that list of references, and this is highly relevant as it seems that The Drums themselves are fans of Coastal Cities, having tweeted their enthusiasm for this new group from across the pond.
It’s not just the bands frank indie sound that grabs the attention though. It’s also the fact that Coastal Cities display a collective unison that all the best groups possess. Watch the way their heads and bodies bob as one in the video to Think Tank and you’ll see what we mean.
Coastal Cities may not be the most original of bands, but their musical vision is tight and could easily have kids all over the UK pulling awkward shapes on the cider splashed dance floors of indie clubs across the country. The single Think Tank is released on December 5 and the band play a show at London’s Bull and Gate on Nov 28 to celebrate.
When it comes to end of year best of lists there are certain albums that will be so ubiquitous that cynics will begin to challenge the idea that every pundit, journalist and music fan who produces such a list could actually like that album. Surely not everyone thinks the same? Or is it a case that certain more prominent lists influence other lists - to not feature particular critically acclaimed albums would be seen by some as not being on-the-case-enough?
When those lists are produced we’d love to see Last, the fourth LP from The Unthanks crop up on some of them. We fear however that it may be overlooked, partly because the bands traditional folk roots mean that they’re not a group that are seen as ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’ and partly because despite playing many sell out UK shows and Last having dented the UK Top 40 album chart, many people still haven’t heard of them.
If you’re one of those people who still hasn’t the fortune to hear their music, then today is a good time to start. The Unthanks timeless, sad and poignant songs are so stirring, that unless you have a very cold heart you cannot help feel anything but powerful emotions well up inside of you.
With today being remembrance Sunday The Unthanks have uploaded this new animated video for the title track of the album, directed by Nick Murray Willis, which draws on the themes of the day. In true Unthanks style, despite featuring cartoon animals, it’s really quite sad.
“Simple and moving – another Unthanks tearjerker,” someone has written in the comments section on You Tube. How true, how very true.
The Unthanks will release their second album of the year The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony and the Johnsons – Live From the Union Chapel (Diversions Vol. 1) on the 28 November and tour to support the record this winter.
Night draws in for the Saturday Surf. This is the last one for 2011. We’re giving this feature a little rest until the New Year, but it will be back in January. Next week also sees the last ever Music That Made Me post. That will be on Monday, and will include some conclusions and thoughts that wrap the whole series up.
We have some new features planned for 2012, but as we soon dive into late November /December the blog will be taken over by our Ones to Watch for 2012 and a post by post run down of our ten favourite albums of the year. Then we’ll have a break for Christmas and all being well the site will be back up and running on New Years’ Day 2012. Yes, this feels like the downhill stretch at the end of a music blogging marathon. Year on year we’ve increased the amount of posts on the blog to the point where we’ve gone way beyond hitting the blogging wall and we reckon a rest is well deserved. Of course there's still more to come in November, but as we ease up to the finishing tape there will be a slight slow down in blog posting before we sprint for the line in the last month.
So without further ado, here is the final Saturday Surf of 2011.
Princess Chelsea – The Cigarette Duet
Quirky music box fairy-tale oddness from Princess Chelseaaka Chelsea Nikkel, a bedroom producer from Auckland, New Zealand who charms with this simple song about, yes, smoking a cigarette. Complete with boy-girl vocal interplay, la la la’s and a video filmed in a hot tub, this ditty is like one of those long lost easy listening classics.“I was different then, I don’t need them to be cool,” sings Jonathon Bree. He’s right, this is stupidly cool.
War of Words – Panic (Ben’s Panic Street Beaters Remix)
War of Words is a new pop duo that are releasing not just one, but two singles on the same day through Popjustice Hi-fi in December. They consist of Abi and Lucy who are both 23 years old. They’ve (whisper it quietly) come through the Brit School route to be recording artists, but before you shove your snobby indie nose in the air, have a listen to this remix by Ben Langmaid of La Roux, its sexy electro sound rampages around the dance floor but keeps a very strong song element. Apparently there’s a remix of the other single – Battleground - from the other half of La Roux (Elly Jackson) in the offing too. Hopefully this remix work signals the start of further La Roux action and hopefully album number 2 in 2012.
Finally, there's a Brighton residents bed-in with Rizzle Kicks and the funky uncle of big-beat Mr Fatboy Slim on this choice track from the Rizzle Kicks debut album Stereo Typical. Like a crazy cowboy in hip-hop chaps and stetson this one drags you in with a musical lassoo that's very 1998-2000.
Rizzle Kicks have been an interesting phenomena this year for Breaking More Waves. We post hardly any hip-hop on the blog, but when we first heard these two lads we were quickly smitten with their cheeky brand of brit-rap. Having supported them throughout the year, when many others in our peer group were telling us they were awful and wouldn't appeal to anyone, Rizzle Kicks have answered with hit singles, a hit album and sell out UK shows. Whilst commercial success doesn't always equate to good, it does show that in terms of music blogging you have to trust your instincts and not follow what everyone else says. Sometimes, as a blogger, if you like something, other people will too. Thus ends the Saturday Surf, or should that be Saturday Sermon? Have a great weekend.
Remember the BBC Sound of 2009 list? When Little Boots found herself at number 1 she was hailed as the future of synth-pop and all things female and electronica? As it happens she didn’t quite become that and a certain Lady Ga Ga, who featured lower on the list ran away with pretty much everything. Here at Breaking More Waves we’ve always preferred Little Boots to the Ga Ga though. It was disappointing that her record company didn’t capitalise quickly enough on the BBC poll at a time - when Little Boots gave interviews afterwards it seemed that simply her or her label didn’t expect to top the poll and weren’t ready. By the time Victoria did get round to releasing ‘the big single’ momentum was lost, and the so-so New In Town stalled outside the Top 10 singles in the UK with a video concept that didn’t work for Victoria’s personality and a very average song.
Today however came the discotastic news that Little Boots is back. You’ve probably heard the mix tape that she put out a week or so ago, but now here she is, sashaying her way to the dance floor with Shake. Kylie, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, watch out the girl’s back for a second bite at your crowns and this one sounds good - like St Etienne gone clubbing. Rubbery sounding bass lines, hooky la la la’s, hands in the air synth progressions are all there, all it needs now are lasers, strobes and a flashing dance floor and it will be a massive celebration. Here are the radio edits and full dancefloor versions of the song for your weekend enjoyment.
Back in February we featured a new duo called League. The back story was something along the lines of an architecture and journalism student who dropped out of college, choosing to live in a tent on the beach and make music, which sounds very romantic but frankly if we were their parents we’d probably be very cross. “Don’t you know that new bands aren’t making any money from music these days you two idiots? Now architecture on the other hand, there’s a fine profession; plans, elevations, dealing with planning officers, contract administration, project management, site supervision, leaving your stamp on the world whilst getting paid a fine salary. Now stop being lazy bums and get back to college.”
Thankfully, we’re not the parents of League, who have been dabbling away and come up with the How Do I Know EP – a three tracker of psychedelic surf pop. It’s the lead track from the EP that has our love the most, with its scabrous ball-grabbing synth line and hazy vocals. It’s the sound of your young before-you parents smoking a load of drugs and dancing naked in the sunshine before they got boring, got mortgages and got you. Responsibility sucks sometimes, we need bands like League to remind us of this fact.