Friday 31 August 2012

Making Marks - New Waves

Making Marks are a Norwegian four-piece that play the kind of chirpy, unfashionable and hooky sounding indie pop that just oozes innocence. Press play on the stream of their debut taster song Hard To Be Good and you’ll be transported into a world of choppy guitars, brassy riffs, the 1994 winter Olympics and a questioning chorus: “Why does it have to be so hard to be good? When everybody says that’s what you should, at least I’d like to say I did the best I could, but there must have been something that I misunderstood.” It’s the kind of zestfully twee indie that brings to mind the more upbeat and toe tapping moments of Belle and Sebastian and it will probably make even your grumpy granddad want to get out of his chair and have a little dance.

It’s a fine start as a debut single, but actually it’s only a debut of sorts. Because Making Marks consist of four fifths of a previous band with possibly the most awful name in history; My Little Pony. My Little Pony had been making music since 2007, having released a number of records and playing shows all over the world, including at South by South West. However, with one member departed a band re-brand was decided upon, the group deciding on a new moniker from the title of their own 2011 album. We quite like this idea. Imagine for instance if Elton John had renamed himself Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy or Paul McCartney renamed himself Kisses On The Bottom.

So now we have Making Marks. A new band that are actually an old band, a sort of Dr Who like regeneration perhaps? Their debut single Ticket Machine is due in October, but for now grab this free download of Hard To Be Good. It might be hard to, but it is.

Making Marks - Hard To Be Good

Thursday 30 August 2012

The Staves - Icarus (Ft Keaton Henson)

The near faultless vocal harmonies of The Staves have been making Breaking More Waves giddy for some time now. With an album Dead & Born & Grown finally on its way and a new UK headline tour announced (dates can be found here) the chances of our musical infatuation sickening are pretty much close to zero.

The Staves (who we named as one of our Ones To Watch for 2012 last December) recently recorded a new version of their song Icarus with special guest Keaton Henson and have now placed it on the internet for us all to enjoy and download for free. Icarus is a delicate song that possesses a dark weariness. “And when I’m tired of sitting I drag my bones to bed,” sings one of the sisters before the song builds to a repeated chorus of “I have not seen the light for days” towards the end. This is the musical equivalent of a duvet day, albeit one with maybe a slightly foggy distant hungover sensation.

The Staves - Icarus (Ft Keaton Henson)

Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Night - New Waves

If you don't want to read a near 800 word discussion on how blogs 'discover' new music and just want to hear a song then please skip to the bottom of this post where it says in capitals Now Here's The Even More Important Bit Of This Blog Post, press play and read that small part whilst listening. For the rest of you, here's a tale with a slight twist to it.

Before Breaking More Waves was born we possessed the naïve notion that music bloggers discovered all the fantastic new bands and artists they covered completely on their own. We thought they were so hungry for music that moved them, so tuned in to the musical landscape, that their brightly burning spotlights were always out there hunting and highlighting the artists that were going to produce albums that we’d all be salivating over two years later, with no help whatsoever from anyone except their own abilities to track down brilliance.

It was therefore a crashing  disappointment having established ourselves within the new music blogosphere to find that some of the so called tastemakers and gurus of the new were actually being fed many of the acts they featured on their blogs from music industry PR companies, labels, or other record industry contacts. It seemed to all be about who you knew / networking rather than 'ability'. The independent new music scavenger side of our brain screamed out in defence of the guys who were writing blogs that actively went out looking for the best in music. These were the bloggers who turned up to see all of the support bands at a gig in a pub on a rainy Monday night in Grimsby or Swindon rather than just the main act that everyone else is there to see, in the hope that one of them might just be incredible. Or the lone man sitting in his bedroom at his laptop scouring one particular genre tag on Soundcloud or Bandcamp to find that gem that nobody has unearthed before. Wasn’t this what great new music discovery was about we asked ourselves?

So let’s introduce a new band. They are called The Night. We ‘discovered’ them via an email from a major label publicist. They are apparently ‘a big priority for Parlophone with an album coming up for the new year.’ It took us all of four minutes and fifteen seconds to discover this band as we listened to their song Strangers. Hardly hard work by us as a music blog was it? It completely undermines the spirit of independent new music discovery.

Now the independent music blog argument goes something along the lines of this: What’s the point of blogging about a band that has been signed by a major label, who will get a fat wad of cash thrown at them to help get them exposure when there are thousands of bands out there with no financial support who could do with a blogs help in getting some plays of their music and name out there far more? You’re just acting as a pawn for a major label.

Here’s our reply. This blog is independent. That means independent in terms of editorial, finance and thought. Therefore we don’t need to tow whatever the latest party line is or what the rules of blogging chapter 27 paragraph 3.3 say. All we do, all we will ever do, is write about music that moves us, that makes us feel something, that we love, be it an unsigned artist, an artist on a small indie label or an artist on a major label. It won’t make us cool or in with the in crowd, but that’s how we like it.

So this is The Night. A band that we discovered by a major label PR email. When you press play to hear them for the first time and hear them sing “we’re just strangers in the night,” you might just have a little giggle at that line. 

Yet actually The Night aren’t complete strangers. 


Because the lead singer of The Night is called Sophie Rose. We wrote about her back in October 2010 as a solo artist having discovered her ourselves after one immense internet scouring session – a complete organic non PR led discovery. If you look carefully at the video on that blog post (the MP3 streams have long been taken down) you may even recognise some faces from the photo above. It seems that just as we writing about Sophie Rose, The Night were being born.


And so finally to the music; the thing that counts miles more than any of our long rambles or how we actually discover it in the first place.

The Night is a six piece from London. They play beautiful, nerve-touching, timeless pop that hints at the likes of Fleetwood Mac. They have a classic sound that’s a world away from the thrusting and often generic r n b influenced songs that litter up the UK airwaves at the moment. They’ve even managed to take Rihanna’s We Found Love and turn it into a dreamy, sun kissed piece of ear candy that sounds utterly their own.

Yes, they’ve signed a deal with a major label, but once they were just struggling independent types. Yet all the time the music has been perfect.

We’ve fallen in love. Now it’s your turn. Welcome to The Night

The Night - Strangers

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Festibelly 2012 - Review

A review of Festibelly (or rather 10 things we learnt (or unlearned) about this small festival held in the New Forest, Hampshire just on the outskirts of the town of Lymington).

1. Festibelly may be on the same weekend as the ill-mannered coming of age post GCSE rampage that is Reading festival, but it is more akin in musical style to a smaller version of Bestival.

From the glitchy patchwork electronica of Gold Panda’s headlining Sunday night set to Skinny Lister’s rum sodden, knicker flashing, high energy, saucy sea shanty brand of old English folk on the same stage a few hours earlier Festibelly was wondrously eclectic; but all curated with a certain youthful coolness. And whilst not necessary being the most youthful these days, Mr Rob Da Bank, head honcho of Bestival himself, was on site to help DJ the silent disco, which according to the timetable ran on till an impressive 5am in the morning. (Although we’re unable to verify if the disco was still going at that time – we’d been safely tucked up in our sleeping bag for a number of hours before that). 

There were some similarities to Reading festival though; Dan Smith, lead singer of Bastille, fresh from playing at Reading the day before, found himself crowd surfing during his bands blood and thunder synth pop set.

2. A festival isn’t a festival without a reggae soundsystem booming out at some point.

So even though we’re not huge fans of reggae generally (ok, not at all) well done to Festibelly for getting one up on the main stage on Saturday afternoon for the old-school festival heads.

3. A festival isn’t a festival without some naked people.

A few decades ago a music festival wouldn’t have been deemed a proper music festival unless it involved loved up hippies taking their clothes off and dancing to the music in the sun (or mud) au naturel. These days you’re probably more likely to get arrested if you attempted to do so. 

So well done the two brave souls who for the sake of a ‘life drawing class’ outside the splendidly named Massive In China Tent bared all so that the ‘class’ could practice pencilling the fine specimens of human flesh with their left hands before participating in a ‘apply paint to the naked bodies themselves’ session. Equally hats off (or everything off perhaps) to the class who applied themselves to their tasks with just the required level of seriousness and good natured humour and the festival Free Hugs Girl who arrived halfway through with no knowledge of what was going on and showed no fear (and possibly even a little bit of joy) at giving two naked men free hugs. Imagine if real society was like that all the time. But that's part of the point of festivals isn't it?

The Massive In China Stage

4. A festival isn’t a festival without someone annoying shouting ‘Alan’ in the middle of the night.

A few years ago anyone who wanted to show what a bell-end they were at a festival in the UK shouted ‘bollocks’ at the top of their voice in the middle of the night when everyone was trying to sleep. Now they shout ‘Alan’. Except at Festibelly. We didn’t hear either and for this ‘failure’ at being a ‘proper’ festival we are truly thankful. We suspect that at Reading Alan may have heard his name called out quite a few times.

5. A festival isn’t a festival without overpriced burgers and overpriced drinks.

That one’s a lie as well. We never paid more than £5 for any meal all weekend and for £10 got 2 lagers and one locally brewed cider.

6. A headliner who hasn’t even released an album probably isn’t a worthy headliner.

Willy Moon’s sharp suited mix of raw rock ‘n’ roll thrills, stage shadow boxing, dirty beats and 50’s / 60’s rock soul superstar stage imitation and impossible shaky leg dancing was potentially impressive but with a set that lasted barely over 25 minutes you couldn’t help but feel a little short changed from a supposed headline set. Maybe a more established artist would have felt more end of the day satisfying?

7. It is possible to run a music festival without corporate sponsorship and in your face branding.

This was Festibelly’s fifth year and the site is still free from any sort of corporate sloganeering, branding and advertising.

8. Position and timing on the bill is everything

A few weeks ago we watched quirky French trio We Were Evergreen play a thoroughly enjoyable mellow set at Camp Bestival early on a Sunday afternoon to a crowd who were basking in the sun lazily. Fast forward a few weeks, put them in a tent at Festibelly on a Saturday evening and watch a crowd dance loopily to their cute carefree toy town pop. It was rather marvellous stuff.

9. Don’t believe everything you read on music blogs - they don't always know the truth

Take a quick scan through some of the UK’s music blogs and you could be easily led into thinking that Bluebell is the next UK pop princess in waiting. Those blogs (including our own) are wrong. Bluebell’s live set was full of rock riffs and weighty beats - at one point Killing In The Name Of seemed to almost be emanating from the guitar on stage.

10. Believe everything you read on music blogs

The Blue Walrus described Mt. Wolf as a ‘soothing isolated beauty’. Faded Glamour talked of the ‘incredible ethereal vocals’. They were both right. Mt Wolf’s set in the Terrapin Tent (effectively a big top with some bunting, a crazy flashing light grid wall and some terrapin pictures) was staggeringly beautiful. Believe everything you read on music blogs and take a listen to a couple of their songs below.

Mt. Wolf - Life Size Ghosts

Mt. Wolf - Underground

Monday 27 August 2012

Crybaby - True Love Will Find You In The End

He may be a manic depressive and a schizophrenic, have been celebrated by Kurt Cobain and so the story goes once removed the ignition key from a two-seater plane he was in forcing the pilot to crash land, but never let it be forgotten that at his best Daniel Johnston was also a rather brilliant songwriter.

And it’s songs that we’re focussing on here, because as we’ve already written at some length in previous blog posts the debut album from Danny Coughlan aka Crybaby is chock full of great songs. If you haven’t already heard it let us guide you first towards I Cherish The Heartbreak More Than The LoveThat I Lost. A title that could easily sit amongst Morrissey’s finest, evocative spine-tingling lyrics and a melody to die for, it gives a great introduction to Crybaby. Our only disappointment is that as yet the album really hasn’t had as much publicity as it deserves – but maybe that’s because Coughlan’s music sounds snugly out of time.

Further publicity will come with a new four track digital EP released in September which will include We’re Supposed To Be In Love (a highlight of the album) and this cover version of the Daniel Johnston song the original of which is currently featuring in this advert. It’s one great songwriter, covering another great songwriter; the results of course can only be wonderful. It's currently available as a free download.

Crybaby - True Love Will Find You In The End

Friday 24 August 2012

Embers - Sins Unknown

This week, in what is our most read and most retweeted post from the last two months we ranted a little against buzz blogs. We define buzz blogs as those that with lightening quick efficiency copy and paste HTML code of the latest MP3’s, You Tube streams or press releases as soon as they come out with no other context and very little quality control. Their sole aim is to drive traffic to their blog and you get no sense of either the taste or character of the person. Often the bands or artists they post will be the latest act to be getting attention on the internet hence the name buzz blog - because that will help drive more traffic to their sites.

But let’s be slightly contradictory here. Our dissatisfaction with this type of blog doesn’t necessarily extend to those who put music up on their blogs the day it appears on the internet. Of course the best music takes time to bed in, lasting well beyond this year’s next big thing / sound of year xx status, but to dismiss the thrill of pressing play, hearing something fresh and it slapping you so joyously hard in the face that you want to listen to it again and again is to dismiss everything that is great about pop. Not all music has to be analytically broken down and intellectually rationalised as to why it’s good or bad – sometimes music is just astounding from the off and the future will take care of itself somehow.

Last November we said something similar about a new band called Embers from Manchester who dropped some demos into our in box that not only slapped us in the face, but punched us so hard all over that we had no choice but to write about them there and then. We said at the time of the demos ‘Someone put this lot in a massive studio and give them the production and recording weight they deserve please.’ Now that time has come. The band has delivered two monstrous tunes that premiered earlier today on This Is Fake DIY.

Sins Unknown is a dense and devastating piece of post-apocalyptic indie rock – the sound of Thor shitting on you with lightning bolts. Tunnel Vision (one of the original demos we streamed) is even more cataclysmic – like early Embrace throwing their music through a speaker stack made out of thousands of shards of broken glass. As Neil Diamond once said ‘It’s a beautiful noise.’

So even though these songs have only been online a few hours, we’re putting Sins Unknown on Breaking More Waves. If you think that’s buzz blogging, well that’s fine with us - it's just a label and doesn't fit with our full definition. We’re not doing it for hits (which are nice for the band because they get their music heard more, but rewards us absolutely zero) or being cool (which is transient) or because Embers are a band getting lots of attention on the internet (they have had some attention from a number of our UK blog peer group but that has no influence on our choice to post) or being able to say we got there first (although we believe in some respects it is important to post stuff early if a blog defines itself as a new music blog – that’s why readers come to you to a certain extent – posting them next April would be pointless unless there was something else to say about them at that point) but because we want you to hear these songs and for once today we have some spare time to write this post. Now why don’t you click that arrow below?

Tunnel Vision and Sins Unknown will be available as a limited edition vinyl release on 24th September together with a digital download code.

Embers - Sins Unknown

The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law (Video)

You don’t have to be a musicologist or musician to know what makes great music. You don’t even need to be a critic or a journalist. You certainly don’t have to be a blogger.

Because great music is felt as much as it is heard. If it makes you feel something powerfully good inside, then the chances are that it’s great music.

So let’s put this simply. This is how we feel about The Joy Formidable’s new song Wolf’s Law; it’s f*ckin’ amazing. Did we just swear? Yes we bloody well did and we make no apologies for it.

Because that’s how it makes us feel.

It does everything we want music to do. It beckons us cautiously and delicately in, then with (dare we say it) Coldplay-esque piano chords wells up and pushes higher and higher, gradually becoming more and more gargantuan. When we hear Wolf’s Law we feel as if oceans are crashing, stars are colliding and suddenly anything, absolutely anything, in life is possible. If that’s a cliché, then sorry but we really don’t care.

Our one criticism, it’s too short. It sounds like someone has shot down the rocket before it’s even got beyond the clouds. Another fifteen minutes of ever building power and potent noise would have suited us fine.

Welcome back The Joy Formidable; certainly not just a fuzzy pop indie band anymore.

The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law (Video)

Thursday 23 August 2012

The Other Tribe - Skirts (Video)

Last week we introduced the hedonistic sounds of The OtherTribe. Now here’s the video for the song Skirts.

The plot is pretty simple for this one. An innocent and pretty looking girl wanders barefoot through the forest (00.00-00.17), spots some graffiti by an XX fan (00.18), meanwhile some post-apocalyptic ravers have a mortar mixing party but forget to bring any sand to put in the cement mixer (0.23), Beyonce turns up in disguise (0.39) whilst a man with a reindeer / antelope fetish tries it on with the innocent girl (1.13), meanwhile the lead singer of The Other Tribe does some energetic dad-dancing (1.17) some faux lesbian touching starts, ending with the gentle coupling of the innocent girls breast and the messing up of her clothes* (1.50- 2.20) and her potential deflowering by the lead singer (2.20-2.30). Just when it’s all getting a bit too much we all realise that this is possibly just a trailer for the new Mad Max film and there’s even some traffic cones (there’s a good one at 2.46) on set to remind us that those films were as much about cars, roads and transport as they were Mel Gibson and Tina Turner. Alas Tina Turner doesn’t appear in the video, although if you look closely at (2.52) could that be her sister lurking in the background ? Meanwhile at (3.01) disguised Beyonce realises that innocent girl is actually Lana Del Rey in disguise and pops a blindfold on her in case she recognises any of the other famous / semi-famous people at the cement mixer party (3.15) which also include various members of the Klaxons as well as 80’s minor pop starlets Strawberry Switchblade and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. By (4.25) innocent girl / Lana has lost the plot after some fruit force-feeding and is dancing like a rave princess and frankly, she’s probably right to do so, because this is a bloody good rave / pop dance tune and bizarrely one of our favourite videos of the year.


*Footnote – we had wondered if the cement mixers would double up as washing machines to wash innocent girls clothes, but sadly the video director hasn’t got quite the same mindset that we have.

The Other Tribe - Skirts (Video)

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Halls - White Chalk

At risk of making a massive over generalisation there are two types of non-professional (ie not being paid a wage to create it and not being bound by a professional set of rules and regulations laid down by a governing body concerning ethics) new music blogs ( we’re discounting the listen once and then repost immediately buzz blogs from this generalisation as they’re a different breed again).

The first is the ‘fan blog’. This is essentially what Breaking More Waves is – writing about the stuff that makes us excited and then writing about it some more. Then writing about it again. Our hope is that by bombarding you with the artists we love you’ll eventually come round to our way of thinking. The second type is the ‘one recommendation’ type blog. Good examples of this in our country are A New Band A Day, The Recommender and also The Guardian’s New Band Of The Day column. These blogs tend to push forward something that has caught their ear, recommend them to you and then let you decide if you’re going to take up the mantle to follow the artist as they develop or not. They’re still fans, but are not going to blindly obsess over and over about certain bands on the blog. A good explanation of the ideology behind the ‘one recommendation blog’ was written in this blog post from Joe of A New Band A Day (together with a small comment from Breaking More Waves at the end).

Which brings us to Halls. We’re a big fan of Samuel Howard, yet you’d hardly tell from this blog. Rather like our post that included a letter of apology to Rachel Sermanni we seem to have failed in providing much coverage of his ambient and dramatic electronic work having originally featured him in February and March 2011. And so it is that we hang our head in shame. An utterly failed fan blog.

So let us make amends. Taken from his haunting debut album Ark comes this piece of ghostly celestial minimalism entitled White Chalk - for which a new video has just been released. Sparse, evocative and deeply moving, if an amalgamation of Perfume Genius, James Blake and Bon Iver sounds like your cup of tea, then come and sit at the table with us and we’ll make a brew. Maybe we’ll just post this track every day for the next week just to demonstrate our love.

Halls next live show is at Birthdays in London on Oct 30.

Halls - White Chalk

Halls - White Chalk (Video)

Festibelly 2012 - Preview

If Breaking More Waves was given the opportunity to curate a small music festival or festival stage (note to any festival organisers reading this, if you’d like our assistance please get in touch ) the line up at this year’s Festibelly would probably be close to what we’d come up with. A diverse roll call of artists that ranges from electronica to folk to pop to rock ‘n’ roll all merged together in amongst the beautiful surroundings of the New Forest, Hampshire. Festibelly is a truly independent grass-roots festival that supports new and emerging artists and as the festivals website proudly claims there is not one brand or sponsor in sight.

Originally born under the name Glastonbelly, Festibelly has grown from a one day event attended by just a few hundred of people to a two and a half thousand capacity show that for the first time ever this year runs over two days. However the organisers are keen to stress that they’re not intending to become the next Glastonbury or Reading, simply taking each year as it comes and sticking to what they do best.

So, that roll call of Breaking More Waves approved artists that we mentioned on the bill? There’s the glitchy geeky electronica of Gold Panda, the hipswinging 50’s influenced rock and roll of Kitty Daisy & Lewis, the sharp suited rawness, hip-hop beats and Bo Didley riffs of Willy Moon, the melodramatic and accessible electronic pop of Bastille, the reach for the stars anthems of Clock Opera, the ghostly laptop computerisations of Labyrinth Ear, the heartfelt symphonic songs of Bluebell, the dance your pants of scandi-pop of Vaz, the rousing rum drinking old fashioned folk sounds of Skinny Lister, quirky French trio We Were Evergreen, the sample cool kids Dems and electronics vs acoustics with bespectacled groove man James Yuill for starters – all of whom have been featured on this blog.

For those who complain that festival tickets have become too expensive Festibelly also provides a welcome cheaper alternative with tickets available as follows:

Saturday & Sunday Ticket – £55.00
(includes Saturday & Sunday night camping)
Sunday Ticket – £38.00
(includes Sunday night camping only)
The festival takes place on the 25th and 26th August.

Furthermore if you’re lucky enough to have your birthday on the weekend of Festibelly you can get in for free. The founders of Festibelly, Tom and Andy share their birthday on the August bank holiday weekend and have therefore decided that if it's your birthday on the Saturday or Sunday of Festibelly you can come for nothing, but if not you can grab a ticket from here. Full details of how to get your free birthday wristband are here.

Here are three of the bands you'll likely to find us down the front for.

Skinny Lister - Colours

Gold Panda - Mountain

Bluebell - Cinderella

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Caitlin Rose - Lately I've Let Things Slide

Ah Caitlin Rose, you've been missing from our lives for too long now. We're glad to have you back.

Taken from a charity covers compilation album entitled Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe released via Fiesta Red Records in September, the delightful country songstress returns with her version of Lately I’ve Let Things Slide. Caitlin’s debut album Own Side Now was one of our favourites of 2010 and also did well in that year's UK bloggers album of the year poll, coming in a respectable twelfth. Since then we’ve had her cover of Piledriver Waltz which seemed to get the backs up of a number of Alex Turner / Arctic Monkeys fans, but we suspect she’ll be on safer ground with this song.

Hopefully next time we bring you a Caitlin Rose song on Breaking More Waves it will be something of her own composition from her second album, but until then enjoy Caitlin’s warming tones, the slide guitar and piano tinkles of Lately I’ve Let Things Slide – a perfectly lazy and lovely Sunday tune, which we just happen to be bringing you on a Tuesday. But good music is good music whatever day of the week it is isn’t it? Lovely.

Caitlin Rose - Lately I've Let Things Slide

Sunday 19 August 2012

Are Music Blogs Dying ?

The unedited and rambling thoughts of a music blogger, written whilst taking some time out from constant new music blogging on summer holiday.

In 2008 when Breaking More Waves first started new music blogs were cropping up left right and centre. It seemed that every week another bunch of time rich kids in college or an unemployed man in his bedsit would be unleashing themselves onto the internet having decided that their taste in music or writing or both was exemplary. At the time music blogs were still seen as a threat by the certain parts of the music industry with many blogs posting MP3’s for download that they had no approval to share. At this time Breaking More Waves took a more cautious route and only posted You Tube videos or links to places where music could be heard officially – we’ve always believed in artist control and if an artist doesn’t want a track to be online then we respect that.  As a result we never received any DMCA takedown notices on the blog. 4 years on with the development of Soundcloud we do stream tracks, but only from official sources and have only received 1 takedown notice which was issued in error where a PR company gave us a track to stream exclusively without the knowledge of the American arm of the artists record label knowing.

Now many blogs act in a more responsible way and we believe are viewed by the industry in a favourable light. We’re working with artists not against them, often with no personal gain for ourselves as blog writers except the enjoyment of the music and the network of friends, bloggers, artists and industry types that we develop. Mp3 bloggers are by and large positive in their outlook – they’re not critics as such, but fans of the music they post.

But as music blogs have gained more credibility within the industry, by acting more responsibly, the question we’re asking is are music blogs dying ? There’s evidence to suggest that certainly the traditional MP3 blog is.

Here’s the evidence (for evidence in some cases read ‘not that well thought out theories’)

1.The lack of new start-ups

Many music blogs tend to be temporary. Once those time rich authors find less time available (usually ‘real life’ of work / relationships /children getting in the way) their blogs often come to a close. Yet in the past there has always been some hip new gunslinger of a blog to take over. However we’ve noticed in the last year there have been fewer and fewer new start-ups making a big impression. However maybe this is just us taking our eye off the ball. Having asked for some newly started music blog recommendations on twitter the likes of Alphabet Bands, LostLost Lost, Brapscallions and Beat Pyramid were amongst the relatively young contenders that got thrown up, although arguably none of these have really come to the forefront of the new music blogging scene yet (although they’re certainly in there battling it out).

2.The prevalence of free music elsewhere

Let’s face it, in the past many people hit up blogs for (often unauthorised) free MP3 downloads. With less downloads being made available and streaming services such as Spotify reducing the need for anyone to ever own music, blogs are not such an attractive proposition for many people. The landscape is changing.

3. There are so many ways to discover new music

A recent report by Nielsen of 3,000 online consumer surveys in the US found that 48% of those questioned discovered most new music through radio stations, 10% from friends and 7% from You Tube. The study also found that positive recommendations by a friend also had the biggest influence on what to buy with 54% of those questioned saying that they are more likely to buy music if a friend recommended it compared with 25% going by what is said on chat rooms or blogs. However 25% is still a decent statistic.

Blogs generally cater for a niche audience, so they’re never going to have the same appeal as say daytime Radio 1 in the UK, but it does seem to our eyes that blog influence on the public at large is pretty negligible, although having spoken to a number of record label and media representatives we do believe that blogs still act partly as step 1 influencers on the likes of radio and more traditional media as well as a filter for A&R types in industry. When a band gets a great reaction on the blogs you can guarantee that within a few weeks / months they’ll be picking up interest from others. Blogs are still a cog in the machine, albeit a small one.

4. Decreased traffic / hits

Over the last four years Breaking More Waves has seen a constant increase in visitors. Yet the last 6 months have seen this plateau and fall a little for the first time in our history. Some of this can be attributed to the likes of reduced one off visits from Hype Machine – last year we received a stupidly large amount of traffic from some of our posts on more commercial acts such as Lana Del Rey and Rizzle Kicks, both of whom we were lucky enough to be the first to post high profile MP3 streams of particular tracks from (Video Games and Down With The Trumpets) and this year we haven’t posted anything anywhere near as commercially successful. However we’ve noticed a few other bloggers also remarking that their traffic statistics have dropped (although other established blogs report increases), so it might just be that less people are reading.

We did a bit of digging and punched in some web sites to a few relatively unreliable site analytics tools and we found that many of the so called ‘big blogs’ are also having drops in traffic – and some of them actually aren’t getting anywhere near the number of hits we thought they would be getting. Whilst we’re talking statistics it’s also interesting to note that although the number of hits has dropped, the time spent and average number of pages that visitors look at on Breaking More Waves continues to marginally increase, suggesting that those who do visit enjoy what they get.

5. Buzz blogging

Buzz blogs are killing great blogging. That’s our view. Blogs that repost videos or MP3’s as soon as they are released (often without even listening to the music themselves first) mean that the more traditional blog that likes to give some sort of commentary to what it is posting is often seen as irrelevant and out of date – such is the way the speed of the internet works. We’ve got to a point now where phrases such as ‘sorry I’m so slow to post this’ about a new track that has been online less than 24 hours is being written on blogs. Really ? 24 hours? Too slow? Is that all the attention span music fans have now? Maybe this is part (but not all) of the root cause of why music blogs are dying. There’s no real sense of love, no sense of fandom from buzz blogs authors, it's just here's a song, play it. Blogs shouldn’t have to apologise for being ‘late’ in posting something, especially if they’ve got something interesting to say, possibly even moving the conversation about the song or artist forward.  But, why should anyone care about what someone else has to say about music if blogs are just seen as things that have nothing to say at all?

6. Blogs just aren’t sexy anymore

But then we were never really sexy in the first place. Or were we? Go on, tell us that you still find us desirable. Tell us that we still fulfil your fantasies. Tell us that we still turn you on. Maybe if we dress up in different underwear you'll like us again ? OK, we’ll stop there before we actually give up and write a sex blog instead. Actually that might be quite fun…. Fifty shades of Breaking More Waves perhaps?

So what is the future for music blogging ?

We’ve been asked this question a number of times by various people and our answer is always the same. We have no idea - and anyone who pretends they do is usually found lacking in vision a few years on. But taking a wild stab in the dark we’d say that traditional MP3 blogs are slowly dying. They’re not going to disappear yet and probably won’t vanish fully, but in the same way that old fashioned paper based fanzines have largely disappeared we can imagine a time when as MP3 blogs call it a day and new ones won’t replace them – it seems to be happening a little already. For whatever reason there seems less enthusiasm for music blogging.

However we do believe that blogs that do something different, or that have something interesting to say will win out. If blogs, as a channel of new music discovery die, we believe people will still want to be entertained with opinions, knowledge, personality and humour. We also believe that there are music fans out there who will want to write about their passion in some form, irrespective of the number of people reading and that there are similar minded music fans who will want to read about it. It just might not be in the form it is now. Breaking More Waves started out as a paper fanzine (called Breaking Waves of course) and when the time was right it became a blog. We’re pretty sure that at some point we’ll evolve again, but we’ll still want to talk about our passion. Anyone who has ever been down the pub for a drink with us will know that at some point the conversation will turn to music and this blog is just an extension of that conversation. Seriously if only one person read Breaking More Waves (hi reader) we’d still write it.

The statistics from our own blog give weight to this opinion; some of our most viewed posts are our more discursive articles rather than our standard ‘here’s a song, it’s quite amazing’ type post. It suggests that there’s an audience / community for debate, discussion and conversation about music and that debate will last longer than blogs that promote themselves solely as tastemakers in new music discovery.

The internet is a strange beast. No one knows where things are going 100%. But we’re pretty sure that music blogs in their traditional form are slowly dying. We’d welcome your comments on this via twitter or below.

Updated 23rd August 2012 - The Recommender blog posted a counter view to our own which helps show the other side of the debate. It's worth checking out and then reading our response in the comments section below. Have a look by clicking this link here.

Rachel Sermanni - Waltz (Video)

We’d like to apologise. You see we’ve been a bit two faced about you on Breaking More Waves. We tipped you as one of our Ones To Watch last December and then in January suggested that we were ready to declare our undying love for you

Since then. Nothing. We haven’t featured you on the blog at all. It would probably be fair to say that we’re the online music version of a slapper – running off with other women (and men) for our own instant gratification and never giving you a second thought. Mind you that's what many of us bloggers are like you see - we get into your musical bed, romp around a bit and then move on. 

So we’d like to doth our hat and apologise Rachel. For it was never meant to be this way. And now you have a debut album ready to roll. It’s released on September 17 and is called Under The Mountains. So if you accept our apology, we’d like to feature you again, with your new video for the song Waltz. An utterly beguiling and beautiful piece of music; one of those just stop everything and listen songs.

Love Breaking More Waves xx

Rachel Sermanni - Waltz (Video)

Thursday 16 August 2012

The Other Tribe - New Waves

If we were to apply a lazy label to this new wave it would be indie-dance. Before 1987 indie-dance didn’t really exist, but Ecstasy changed all that. Indie music changed from a monochrome landscape to a vivid technicolour love dream. Suddenly indie music, which had derived its origins from nihilistic punk and new wave became celebratory. Lads who didn’t get the gay grooves of disco or the scientific minimalism of artists like Kraftwerk found themselves loosening up, growing their hair a bit longer, necking bottles of water instead of beer and starting to dance. Everything from the loose grooves of The Happy Mondays to the lurid new rave of the Klaxons owed a debt (sometimes a very large debt) to E.

Which brings us to Bristol’s latest musical export; they’re called The Other Tribe. They make the sort of seizure inducing indie dance that we imagine would sound MDMA-amazing if you were off your face in a club or loved up in the green fields of a summer festival, but it also sounds pretty bloody great listening on a small laptop at home.

The Other Tribe first came to our attention some time ago when we featured one of our blog posts about The Milk, who The Other Tribe had remixed to oblivion and back. At this stage there were two of the bands own tracks floating around - Don’t Need No Melody and the percussive and squelchy Businessman On Diazepam. The former sounds like the motto the above-mentioned Klaxons adopted when recording their rather dismal let down of a second album and the later could have very easily been the sort of title that Shaun Ryder and co. would have used on one of their albums. However let’s not get too fixated with Mr Ryder and his recently reformed Happy Mondays because The Other Tribe certainly don’t sound anything like them and their new-age, psychedelic image certainly is a long way from the casual clobber of that band. 

Instead The Other Tribe’s breed of indie dance bears a closer resemblance to something more mystic and slightly bonkers like Friendly Fires dancing round a beach campfire with an edgier Calvin Harris at their heels, whilst sexy sun-kissed boys and girls cavort and rave in their swimming costumes on a nearby terrace. New single Skirts (out September 23) is a perfect example of what the band do; it’s a propulsive sound with summery tubular clanks, falsetto vocals and indie Ibiza vibes. In fact let’s forget this whole word indie, it hasn’t meant anything for years. Let’s just go out and celebrate a golden summer and dance like deranged motherfuckers.

The Other Tribe

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Flow Festival Review 2012

A review of Flow Festival. Or rather 10 things we learnt about Flow 2012.

1. Essentially all music festivals, wherever they are in the world are the same; but they’re also different.

Every music festival is formed by the same basic ingredients. Some music, usually played on stages, with some amenities which will usually include toilets, food and drink. These things are a given. But it’s everything else about a festival that makes it unique. Flow (which takes place in Helsinki, Finland) is pretty much unrivaled in its site location. Set in the grounds of an abandoned and derelict power station, its surrounding of harsh concrete and industrial metal form the setting to what appears like the coolest rave in a post-apocalyptic funfair. We hope the pictures give you a flavour of Flow, but there are also some great pictures on the festivals website which you can access using the link above.

2. Finnish people are clean and smell nice – even at festivals.

They really are. But maybe this is because this is a non-camping festival and everybody goes home afterwards and has a good shower or bath. However this noticeable trait of good personal hygiene also applied to the festival site which was quite simply the most litter free festival we have ever been to. There’s a lot to be said for the 1 Euro deposit on each drink purchased with plenty of refund points and bins all around the site. Even Brooklyn hipster buzz band Friends commented on the lack of dirtiness during their early evening set in the Black Tent.

3. Good festivals don’t rely solely on headliners or big names.

If they did then Flow would have been in trouble. With both Bobby Womack and Frank Ocean pulling out and Lykke Li performing her bittersweet songs with a tired, weary, wrist-slashing heaviness that didn’t suit a Friday night headline slot it was left to the somewhat smaller acts such as Ane Brun, Koralleven, Chromatics and Burning Hearts to provide some of the unexpected highlights of the weekend, although in contradiction the absolute highlight was from a headliner. Bjork’s closing set, which included incredible versions of Crystalline (streaming below) and Declare Independence (video from audience at Flow below) with a crazy female choir, pyrotechnics, lightning machine and powerful computerised beats left us feeling elated and almost overwhelmed with its equal measures of beauty and power. Bjork’s mixture of machines and nature also perfectly fitted with the environs of the space age party site which seemed to come alive at night, lit with a tasteful lighting scheme that relied on simplicity over special effects.

4. Finnish people look after their ears.

We’ve never seen so many people in a concert crowd wearing safety ear plugs.

5. There are parts of the world where dubstep still doesn’t exist.

We didn’t hear it once all weekend at Flow. Although we did hear some Turkish easy listening tunes. It was probably more enjoyable.

6. Festivals are not all about freedom.

Certain areas of the site were designated no alcohol areas, including the front section of the crowd at the main stage. This lead to the site having a regimented barrier system in place, making punters seem like sheep being herded from one pen to another. It did however have the advantage of stopping people pushing through the crowds with drinks whilst their friends reserved them a spot in front of the stage – a common occurrence at UK festivals. However it was a case of think before you drink because you couldn’t necessarily just wander wherever you wanted once you had a can of beer / cider in your hand.

7. The chances of needing wellies at Flow Festival were zero.

Although the weather stayed dry and mainly pleasantly sunny all weekend the tarmac and concrete ground covering meant that mud wasn’t an issue even it it did rain, although organisers were trying their hardest for the authentic mud feel and had imported turfs to particular areas of the site to soften it visually a little.

8. Flow doesn’t concern itself too much with staircase safety.

It’s not often you’ll read a review of a music festival that talks about the rise and goings of staircases or markings for the visually impaired on steps but we noticed that compared with our health and safety conscious UK laws these things were often missing at Flow. We spotted staircases where some risers were different heights to others on temporary structures (and watched a number of people trip because of it), goings that were uneven and inside various tents single or two steps down between levels that didn’t have their nosings marked in contrasting colours. In the darkness and with a little bit of festival drunkedness it was therefore very easy not to spot these steps and end up with a fall. Breaking More Waves blog – getting to the core of staircase safety at festivals.

9. Miike Snow is pronounced Mika not Mike.

It’s probably just us but having heard hundreds of Finnish people pronounce it as such we have realised the error of our ways. If you were doing the same, now is the time to stop.

10. Sarah Cracknell is still a beautiful person in pop.

Dressed in a shiny silver dress with fake fur and feather boa Sarah Cracknell, lead singer of St Etienne is still a fantastic pop star. The bands blend of dancey, sometimes trashy, sometimes classy electropop may have bemused some of the harder edged Finnish music fans who were waiting for The Black Keys afterwards, but there were noticeable outbreaks of deliriously stupid dancing to the likes of Sylvie, Nothing Can Stop Us Now (where Sarah forgot the words) and Only Love Can Break Your Heart.

Overall Flow Festival comes highly recommended for those who want a festival in a dramatic and unique location, with an eclectic and very cool line up, that find the idea of sleeping under canvas and the possibility of rain (and therefore mud) their worst nightmare. Just be careful on the staircases.

Bjork - Crystalline

Bjork - Declare Independence live @ Flow Festival 2012 Helsinki

Friday 10 August 2012

Eliza & The Bear - New Waves

The Only Way Is Essex hasn’t done the county any favours in reinforcing clichés and stereotypes. Thankfully there are bands emanating from that part of east of London that conjure up a musical panorama a long way from Lakeside Shopping Centre or Stansted Airport; yet the airport is a reference point for this relatively new band for the music of Eliza & The Bear positively flies. Take a listen to Brother’s Boat which streams below. Jagged fist pumping guitars collide with gloriously uplifting trumpets and lyrics that hint at the euphoria of wide-open freedom and the confines of getting old. If music was a mathematics lesson a Venn diagram for Eliza & The Bear would probably contain circles with words like Arcade Fire, Dry The River and Strange Death of Liberal England in the bands circle, words like powerful, surging and triumphant in the emotions circle and quite simply the word superb in the quality circle.

Eliza and the Bear are a five piece consisting of James Kellegher, Christopher Ramsbottom, Paul Kevin-Jackson, Chris Brand, and Callie Noake. Their debut EP was recorded with producer Peter Miles who has worked with the previously mentioned Dry The River as well as The King Blues and Sweet Billy Pilgrim. The group are currently keeping much of their recorded material under close-wraps but they have put two songs out there, the aforementioned and rather brilliant Brother’s Boat plus a demo of another song Trees. Both will make you glad that you took the time today to press play and listen. 

Eliza & The Bear - Brother's Boat

Eliza & The Bear - Trees (Demo)