Saturday 31 August 2013

Daughter - Smoke

The Mercury Music Prize shortlist is soon to be announced (11th Sept) and one album that seems to tick all the right boxes for being on the British album of the year list (most importantly the fact that it’s good) is Daughter's LP If You Leave. One bookmaker is giving the record a 20-1 shot of winning. (Interestingly the favourite is London Grammar’s debut at 15/8 which isn't even out yet and qualifies for nomination by virtue of being released 1 day before the closing date).

Recently uploaded to You Tube is a new song Smoke, the b-side to Daughter’s single Youth. The song sees a remarkable shift in the bands direction, with Elena Tonra dropping the sad, isolated and damaged beauty of the LP for upbeat lyrics about her love of partying in her bikini with her girlfriends backed by tropical rhythms, cowbell and euphoric rave synth builds. It was apparently recorded live on holiday in Ibiza whilst the band drank champagne bellinis, after listening to a soundtrack of Disclosure, Bondax and Rudimental on the white sands.

Ok, this may not be entirely true. In fact Smoke is more of the same, but that’s fine because the music of Daughter is all about creating hushed, emotional landscapes of sound that represent world weary sighs and eerie beauty, and breaking that atmosphere would frankly be a cardinal sin.

Daughter - Smoke (You Tube Stream)

Friday 30 August 2013

Misty Miller - Taxicab

Trashy, dirty, spunky, underground rock n roll; yes it’s time for another appearance on Breaking More Waves from Misty Miller who gives us another slice of bluesy guitar riffage with new track Taxicab. With hints of early Kings of Leon, The Black Keys and PJ Harvey all present and correct Misty romps her way through a song about the journey home in the back seat all alone after “the worst night she’s ever had, baby’s crying.”

Now what was all that stuff about guitar music coming back earlier this year? Well the UK top 40 singles chart may not be stuffed with it (in fact you have to look very hard to find any at all) but for those happy to peer further outside, there’s still plenty of plucky kids like Misty thrashing away with real zest.

Misty Miller will be playing some live dates supporting Eels in September in Glasgow, Newcastle, Leicester and London followed by a trip down to Breaking More Waves hometown in Portsmouth for Southsea Fest.

Misty Miller - Taxicab

MØ - XXX 88

When we put the title of MØ’s new song XXX 88 into Google last night all we got was quite a few references to porn, chubby teen girls and a couple of posts by bloggers who uploaded on the b of the bang when this track was released to the world. By this morning (when we finally put this post up) all those naughty sites had dropped down the Google rankings and had been replaced with an overwhelming number of links to blogs and websites that have posted this song already - 12 hours is a long time on the internet these days.

So, to the song. With the man who possibly built music on the web - Diplo - on board for musical coupling, what you hear with XXX 88 is MØ’s trademark slightly left of centre electronic pop with a groove that’s all sorts of sensual and sexy sounding, brassy riffs and MØ gobbing off with some shouted chants in the background. If you’ve seen MØ live it’s almost impossible to listen to this song without visualising her unique style of bendy energetic gymnastic punchy hair flinging attitude laden dancing. In fact don’t tell anyone but we might have even had a little attempt at recreating the moves ourselves whilst listening. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

XXX 88 is released on October 20. After that we must be getting damn close to an album. Let's hope so. 

Try some MØ dancing to the song yourself, but whatever you do, no narcissistic selfies or videos of your moves to be uploaded to the internet please. Leave it to the professionals. 

MØ - XXX 88 (Featuring Diplo)

Thursday 29 August 2013

Phantom Runners - It Takes Me Away (Video)

“It’s not every day that I feel I can profess to having discovered the future of indie pop music in true Alan McGee style, but I’m fairly sure this could be it.” They were the opening words of an email we received yesterday. Now that sounded pretty exciting. Until we realised that we’d actually featured the band (and song) in question back in May of this year. Remember? They are called Phantom Runners.

But let’s not get disheartened, because all of us new music lovers have those Alan McGee moments. Sometimes those moments end up becoming our equivalents of Oasis, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain or Primal Scream, whilst other times they end up being like The Loft or The Jasmine Minks. The important thing is that having those musical moments is a bit like sex; if you start worrying too much about what’s going to happen after the moment, (long term relationship or being dumped because you actually weren't good enough) you take all the joy out of the moment.

So just bloody enjoy it whilst it lasts. 

We enjoyed it back in May and now we're having another bash, only this time, it's like pornography, as a video is involved. It features the band having a jolly old sing-a-long in a car and in a field, all shot in dodgy VHS style, which seems appropriate for the band’s sonic set, which would sit perfectly on one of the Shine compilations from the mid-90’s.

It Takes Me Away is released through Stray Cat Records on September 23rd. Phantom Runners play some London shows to support the release at The Old Blue Last on September the 4th, Tipsy on the 19th September and The Nest on the 5th October.

Phantom Runners - It Takes Me Away (Video)

Flyte - New Waves

Today we’re introducing a group who with their debut song Over And Out have managed to put together a tune that encapsulates classic songwriting with indie pop sensibilities, a smattering of a groove and a chorus that sounds so wonderfully life affirming that we haven’t been able to stop singing it since we first heard it several days ago. Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, we give you Flyte.

From what we’ve heard of Flyte’s other tracks Over And Out is no one song-wonder either. Here’s a band who know how to write a real corker of a tune, with all that basic stuff that so many bands forget; great melodies, harmonies, variety and an accessible inventiveness that draws you in further. We hear elements of Tom Petty, Orange Juice, Roy Orbison and Talking Heads in what they do, as well as The Beatles in this gorgeous song called Faithless.

So let’s put aside our glowing enthusiasm for a moment and give you some facts. The band consist of Will Taylor (lead vocals, guitar), Nick Hill (bass, vocals), Sam Berridge (keyboards, vocals) and Jon Supran (drums, vocals). They sound like they’ve been doing it for years – so much so that we carried out a few Google searches thinking ‘they must have been another nearly-made-it-band who have re-named themselves’ but as yet we can find no evidence of that. They’ve been playing a number of shows in London and will (hopefully) be coming to a town near you very soon. One gig we know they have confirmed is in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth, where they tread the boards early in the afternoon at the brilliant Southsea Fest (preview coming soon). It’s in our diary, underlined with a big asterisk next to it.

Flyte’s debut EP, which was recorded in a day and is out next month is called The Live EP. They might have just become our new favourite band. Cancel that - they have just become our new favourite band.

Flyte - Over And Out (Video)

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Ellie Goulding x BURNS - Midas Touch (Video)

Some things about Ellie Goulding:

1. Remember when she released her debut LP Lights and all the early adopters positivity got blown away by serious rock hacks negativity (we particularly remember Alexis Petridis of the Guardian giving it 2 out of 5 and calling it ‘quite normal’). That seems like a long time ago now doesn’t it?

2. Right now Ellie Goulding is currently sitting pretty at no.1 in the UK singles chart for the second week running with Burn having shifted nearly 200,000 copies whilst Lady Gaga’s song Applause, rushed released in the same week, dropped down to number 9. Well done British pop music buying public. You have restored our faith in being able to recognise a good pop song against a decidedly average pop song.

3. Now Ellie has a new song called Midas Touch which she has collaborated on with BURNS. This could get quite confusing what with Burn the single as well. We’re hoping that next she collaborates with new artist Emily Burns and calls the song Gold. Do we have to spell out why? It's not really funny if we have to explain it though is it. OK, it's not really funny at all.

4. Even more confusing is that this is a cover, but Ellie covered it because she heard a cover of the cover. Basically the version that grabbed Ellie was Boards of Canada's version of Midas Touch although the original is by Midnight Star.

5. The important thing to us (and the raison d'etre for what we choose to post on Breaking More Waves; from unknown unsigned act to major label pop person) is that this is a relatively new tune and we like it a lot.

6. Finally, Ellie is touring the UK in October, although all the dates are sold out. So, she’s added arena shows in Nottingham, Liverpool and London next March. Ellie also plays the iTunes Festival at the Camden Roundhouse on the 22nd of September. If anyone has the midas touch (sorry) and fancies winning a ticket to that and taking Breaking More Waves with them to Camden, we’ll buy you champagne or even perform sexual favours. Now there’s an offer that one of you readers just can’t refuse, surely?

Ellie Goulding x BURNS - Midas Touch

Icona Pop featuring Zebra Katz - My Party

Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit It’s My Party has been covered by a number of artists over the years, most notably by male and female duo Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin (and just for the record, no it wasn’t Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics) who hit number 1 in the UK in 1981 with their top-notch version of the song.

Now Sweden’s Icona Pop who had their own UK chart topper earlier in 2013 with the brilliant I Love It (a song that we shamefacedly never featured on Breaking More Waves even though we’ve been fans of theirs since 2011 as well as Charli XCX who co-wrote the song with Patrik Berger and Linus Eklöw since 2009) have grabbed the chorus and turned it into something freakily weird and downright mental with Zebra Katz

We also quite like the fact that someone using the obviously wrongly spelt name Justin Baber has commented with the word ‘Yaaas’ on the Soundcloud player at 2.38. Imagine if real pop stars did actually sit at home posting comments on other artists Soundcloud and You Tube streams. “Bitch you stole my thunder,” Lady Gaga could type on Katy Perry and Ellie Goulding’s You Tube. Or maybe Bon Iver could let Birdy know that “this version of Skinny Love isn’t as good as mine.” Maybe if Lesley Gore has access to the internet she could post a comment on this?

Icona Pop featuring Zebra Katz - My Party

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Sophie Jamieson - New Waves

If you’re a fan of the sort of sparse atmospherics that Daughter make then there’s likely to be a space in your heart for Sophie Jamieson. Having released her debut EP in June, Sophie’s haunting music is gradually worming its way into lives like summer shifting into autumn. Take one listen to the rich hymns of unrushed beauty below and you’ll see why we and a number of our blog peer group including Just Music That I Like and the now sadly defunct Flying With Anna have become just a little bit obsessed with her.

Sophie Jamieson graduated from Cambridge after studying history of art and has been busy developing her music whilst cropping up at gigs supporting the likes of Emily & The Woods and Josh Record. She’s playing a whole bunch of London shows over the next few months (check her Facebook for up to date information) so we fully recommend that if you’re anywhere near the capital you try and catch her live.

Trying to pick a favourite from the EP (which is simply titled Where) is like a parent trying to pick their favourite son or daughter, they’re all equally perfect. However choose we must (you can listen to all of the songs here) and so we’ve selected Waterloo, not a cover of Abba's Eurovision winner but a thoughtful sounding song about being lost in a crowd featuring gorgeous coasting guitars and the lightest touches of percussion reminiscent of the gentle shake of a train, plus the wistful sounding Dinah which is represented by a simple self-shot video.

Sophie Jamieson - Waterloo

Sophie Jamieson - Dinah

Monday 26 August 2013

Moonrags - New Waves

We’re not sure if Moonrags are a London based two piece or even a three piece. In fact they’re not even sure themselves, their Facebook stating that they consist of Cari, Geoff and sometimes Scott. Imagine if The Beatles had described themselves as John, Paul, George and sometimes Ringo. That just wouldn’t do would it? Anyway, for now let’s call them a two and a half piece. That covers all bases.

Irrespective of personnel numbers, it’s the music that’s good; a vaguely jazzy, relaxed blend of electronics, acoustic guitar, trumpet and beats topped off with Cari’s rather delectable voice that has a vaguely nasal but soulful tone; a little like Gabrielle (remember Dreams?) for a new generation. Logic / Love is the track that’s grabbed our attention with its burbling bass line and repeated vocal refrain, perfect for late summer listening. There’s a couple of other tracks (Games and Down Days) on their Soundcloud as well; live dates are to follow soon.

Moonrags - Logic / Love

Victorious Festival 2013 - Review

With festival ticket prices continually rising and becoming unaffordable for many, Portsmouth’s Victorious Festival provided a low budget alternative at only £15 a ticket per day for adults and £5 for children. Set against the backdrop of a historic dockyard which includes HMS Victory the site provided for an unique and unusual festival location. Breaking More Waves took to the cobbles, concrete and tarmac by the sea to experience the second day of the event.

Here’s our review of Victorious Festival 2013, or rather.....

Some Things We Learnt At Victorious Festival 2013 (Day 2 – Sunday)

1. One of the stars of the show was The Mary Rose.

Not a new up and coming indie band, but Henry VIII’s tudor flagship that sank just off the shores of Portsmouth on the 19 July 1545 and was raised from the seabed over 400 years later.

Not only did your value ticket allow you to watch music, enjoy boutique and vintage shopping stalls, a kids area and a real ale festival but it also gave access to the historic dockyards visitor attractions such as the HMS Victory, the HMS Warrior and the newly opened Mary Rose museum, which we spent a couple of hours in the morning exploring. The elliptical shaped building gave access to view the impressively preserved skeleton of the famous ships hull in a dark haunting atmosphere, that echoed the experience of being on board the ship itself. With three interlinked floor plates giving sight of not only the carcass of the Mary Rose but the incredible treasures that were painstakingly recovered from the sea bed the visit to the museum was worth the ticket price of the festival alone.

2. The music was rather good too.

Our musical highlights were all found on the second stage (The Little Johnny Russell’s stage), a large marquee like structure built on a tarmaced area that appeared to be normally used as a car park. With an excellent soundsystem Fenech-Soler's (streaming below) brand of synthy rave-pop found the audience being transformed from head nodders to fist punchers and hip wigglers with some choice cuts from their forthcoming second album Rituals and earlier singles such as the euphoric Stop and Stare

Before that The Joy Formidable raged ears with their don’t-mess-with-us frazzled gut-punching guitars. Their set was a criminally short half hour and ended with guitars being thrown against a giant gong, but by that time our ears were ringing with their own buzz of excitedly intoxicated noise. In fact fuzzy guitars won the day more than once, with local band Is Bliss playing shoegazey melodies that sounded more textural and dreamy than ever before, the group benefiting from a quality PA system rather than the muddy pub venue speakers they’re used to playing.

3. Portsmouth likes a drink. But it seems that the organisers didn’t appear to fully realise it.

A bargain ticket price meant a lot of punters, yet in terms of the festival infrastructure the organisers appeared to show a lack of experience in terms of what would be required. With a no re-admittance policy, expectations were that there would be adequate food and drink stalls, but as the site became busy in the early evening it was clear that the concessions available were straining. The bars in particular were overloaded, far more than any other festival Breaking More Waves has attended this year, there simply not being enough bar length or people serving to cope with demand. Food stalls were also way busier than average and we heard reports that the day before many stalls ran out of food completely. Queues for toilets were no better or worse than any other average festival, however they could have been improved with more thought to the layout of the cubicles, provision of urinals by the main stage and better servicing. If Victorious Festival runs again in 2014 and the organisers can improve these issues and keep prices affordable then they really could be as victorious as the name suggests.

4. If we were Maximo Park’s school teachers we’d give them an A for effort but only a C+ for achievement.

In Paul Smith Maximo Park have an engaging, energetic  scissor kicking frontman, but musically the group have never really progressed much from beyond their original template of mid 2000’s indie-art-rock. They’re 100% competent, reasonably pleasing (particularly on The Coast Is Always Changing – a song that if ever there was one seemed designed to be played in Portsmouth) but they lack the true spark of invention or great song writing to make them anything other than a  just above average and workmanlike band.

5. Every festival should have a glass deposit scheme.

This year we’ve seen a number of festivals (Camp Bestival, Latitude and Flow) operate a recycle your glass deposit scheme on drinks. The results each time has been crushed plastic glasses and litter free sites. Unfortunately despite reasonably good provision of bins by the end of the night the Victorious Festival was strewn with litter. Hopefully if the event returns in 2014 this is something else organisers will consider.

6. We really don’t know what to make of Charlotte Church's new indie / experimental direction.

On one hand, Church has to be applauded for doing something different and taking a risk. Yet on the other, there was a nagging feeling during her main stage set (which suffered from poor sound quality) that experimental just means lack of songs. Even a cover version of Ultra Nate’s Free left most of the audience a little bewildered and passive in their response and yearning for the likes of Crazy Chick to light up the day.

In conclusion: Victorious Festival 2013 was the Lidl of music festivals. Truly excellent value with some surprisingly good products, but be prepared to queue at the checkouts

Fenech Soler - Last Forever

Sunday 25 August 2013

Sivu - Over & Over

One of the things that sets an obsessive music fan apart from the more casual average listener is theories. Some may call these theories prejudices, but let’s not get too hung up on what we call them. The point is that this kind of obsessive can’t stop thinking about music even when he / she isn’t listening; they’re always rolling ideas around in their head like some sort of intense musical thought washing machine.

Now we probably all know some of the BORING music theories out there. The worst is the ‘real music’ theory. It's (to generalise) usually preached by the male of the species (he often has a beard, plays guitar and looks like a caveman) and goes something along the lines of “pop music / synth music / manufactured ‘music’ isn’t ‘real music' and is therefore shite’. This theory is alas not to be found in the Rules of Pop (Music Edition) having been deleted around the year 1980. Another somewhat more interesting theory is that musicians often go bad when they change their haircuts. We’ve detailed this one before (here).

So let us introduce you to a new theory. It’s the August- October New Artist Release Theory. This theory ties into the bigger Music Industry Cycle of Releases Theory, which we’ll explain in full at some point in the future but we’re sure you’ll find in all current editions of the Rules of Pop (Chapters 4-5). In simplistic terms this theory says that between the months of August and October record labels will start releasing low key singles / songs  by artists that they hope will do big things next year. Before any such release the artist will have played a number of summer festivals and maybe had a bit of online success and blog love before that.  Yes, it’s all gearing up to the likes of the BBC Sound of 2014 list, the not as well-known but relevant to us UK Blog Sound of 2014 list and all those other tip lists that seem to crop up between late November and January.

Entering this arena and potentially validating this theory is James Page, or as he prefers to be known; Sivu (it’s Finnish for page). We’ve already sneaked him onto the blog a couple of times, both in our preview and review of Bushstock 2013 where he impressed. We also caught him play a relatively secret scrappy set at the tiny Crows Nest Stage at Glastonbury. Before that he’d charmed the internet with the absorbing MRI scanned video for Better Man Than He (it’s now nearly clocked up half a million views – not bad for a relatively unknown act) and next he’s going to be working on an album with Charlie Andrew, Alt-J’s producer. So place your bets now. Will Sivu be one of the slightly quirkier singer songwriter types to watch for in 2014? We wouldn’t put it past him. With new song Over & Over sounding rough-hewn and virtually lo-fi but yet being irresistibly gentle and head swaying, he certainly seems to know how to write a nice ditty. 

Now please excuse us we've got some thinking to do about a potential theory that track 2 or 7 is generally the best track on most albums.

Sivu - Over & Over

Monday 19 August 2013

Are Music Blogs Dying ? (One Year On....)

Last year whilst on holiday in Spain we dashed off an unedited blog post entitled Are Music Blogs Dying? It ended up being shared by lot of people and became one of our most read posts of 2012.

So as today we find ourselves in the same location on a similar holiday, exactly one year on we thought we’d revisit that post and take stock of where we are now with another ‘written on a flyer, on the beach, in one go, unedited post’.

The past post in question predicted the slow death of the traditional MP3 blog (like this one) and concluded that those that do something different, or that have something interesting to say will win out (possibly in another form away from blogs). After all, ever since pop music culture started there have always been people who want to write and talk about music and everything surrounding it from the haircuts to the sex to the debates be they professional journalists or through d-i-y culture such as fanzines and unfunded blogs and an audience that wanted to read / listen.

Here are the five key pieces of evidence that we presented in the original post, to which we’ve bolted on our further thoughts from 365 days later E.g. today.

1. The Lack Of New Start Ups

Here we suggested that often music blogs tend to be temporary and that many (but not all) blog authors are time rich – that’s why they start their blogs. Once that free time is reduced, usually by work, travel, relationships or the biggest time consumer of all – children, their blogs often close. We suggested that in the past, as old blogs die there had always been new fresh faced pups of blogs who were able to quickly cast their spell over the internet and establish their place on the blog scene; but that this seemed to be happening less so now.

Last year we named Alphabet Bands, Lost Lost Lost, Brapscallions and Beat Pyramid as four new start-ups that were being recommended to us. A year on and Lost Lost Lost has completely closed down, Brapscallions has posted 6 times since May 20, Beat Pyramid 3 times since the same date and only Alphabet Bands has been churning out high quality and regular posts. Based on this type of evidence it looks like our original argument holds true – the new start-ups generally aren’t establishing themselves in the same way as the older blogs managed to.

One blogger (Scott from Surfing On Steam) who commented on our original post gave a good explanation of why this may be so. He stated “I know that no one likes to discuss this but money is a big part of the equation here (ad revenue). The name-worthy music blogs that came up in the second wave of music blogging (2004-2005) are either making decent to great ad revenue, have been bought-out, or they're in the same place they were seven years ago (or longer for some). So you're not going to see a lot of great original content from new bloggers because it's already been taken care of elsewhere.”

It’s a good point, although we’d argue that some of the greatest (and most original) content will always come from those who are fresh faced and not doing it for the money. Great creativity can come from the pure joy of creation; a good new idea costs nothing, but sometimes the risk of doing things differently is stopped because of the fear of how it may affect revenue. However if a blog is generating decent revenue the motivation to continue is easier; the blog can become a part or full time job, whereas fully unfunded and independent blogs like Breaking More Waves are only able to exist through the sheer love (and available time) to create.

A year on and the lack of new start-ups that are being ‘successful’ (and by successful we mean keeping going in the longer term and developing a readership) suggests that as the older blogs end the lack of replacements ultimately could lead to the slow death of the traditional MP3 blog. Sure, people are starting up all sorts of crazy exciting projects on the internet, but MP3 blogging doesn’t seem as high on the agenda as it did a few years back.

2 + 3. The Prevalence Of Free Music Elsewhere + There Are So Many Ways To Discover New Music

These two points are linked and still seem to be so. Nothing particularly seems to have changed over the last year in this area. You Tube, radio and Social Networks all remain the most important discovery tools, with blogs occupying a (possibly shrinking) niche area.

4. Decreased Traffic / Hits

A year ago we stated that over the last four years Breaking More Waves had seen a constant increase in visitors, yet the six months before the Are Music Blogs Dying post our visitors had plateaued and dropped a little. At the time we wrote that some other bloggers had also confirmed the same trend although this was by far from universal, a number reporting an increase in traffic. (See this piece from the now partly on hiatus Recommender - one of the blogs who told us their visitors were up in 2012).

So what has the last year seen for Breaking More Waves in terms of traffic? Has that plateau and dip continued in a downwards direction? No, it hasn’t.

This is one area where we’ve been proven categorically wrong. To our surprise Breaking More Waves has gone from strength to strength in terms of visitors. In fact the number of hits on Breaking More Waves in June and July 2013 was our biggest ever and the average length that the reader stayed has remained broadly the same.

On its own that might suggest that blogs are more popular, but we’re not so sure. We suspect there’s a whole number of factors at play here. Maybe we’ve just stolen some other dying blogs traffic as blog readers look for new sources. Maybe it’s as we create more content there’s more out there on the World Wide Web to find? Maybe Google searches are being kinder to us than they were in the past? Maybe we've just got a little bit better known? Or maybe just more people are online more of the time?

5. Buzz Blogs

Now last year we pissed a few people off by slagging off Buzz Blogs. But let’s be clear about what we mean by Buzz Blogs as this term was misinterpreted. We mean the type of blog that has no sense of being well curated or sense of love for the music they post. We’re talking about the sort of blog that will post any crappy Lady Gaga remix or Jay-Z mash up just because it will drive traffic to their site. We’re talking about the sort of blog that provides no commentary or context. We’re talking about the type of blog where being first is everything. These blogs are killing the reputation of all the great music blogs out there and as a result helping kill music blogging.

6. Blogs Just Aren’t Sexy Anymore

Well we’re still here, gagging for it, still hoping that we fulfil your fantasies. Gosh we look hot sat behind a laptop. But do you still want it?

So one year on, where are we now and what does the future hold?

We’re pretty sure that there are less successful new start-ups these days. We’re also pretty sure that the rise of social media and platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr has had a knock on effect on new music blogging. These days the champions are those who can share others quality content first, before anyone else, but  not necessarily by creating their own great content to accompany it. But are traditional MP3 music blogs dying? Maybe not quite yet; certainly our traffic statistics suggest that there’s a bunch of people out there who want to read the crap we write. Also the number of artists and labels that approach us looking for a post about their music suggests that the musicians and their backers still value blogs. So maybe our original post a year ago was a little gloomy and on the pessimistic side? Maybe if traditional MP3 blogs are slowly dying, it’s going to be a real long slow death?

After all everything ends at some point doesn’t it?  Having said that, crystal ball gazing on the internet is near impossible, so we’ll stop now and promise not to revisit this topic again in another 365 days.

Instead, here are three great tracks that we’ve been enjoying on our holidays. Yes one of them is Katy Perry, but it's remixed by Clarence Clarity (remember him - he's bonkers but brilliant - we wrote about him here) and he drops Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger in the middle of it which as far as we’re concerned is 10/10 genius! Then there’s the return of blog favourites and Newcastle’s finest Let’s Buy Happiness (who have an album coming soon) with a new song Run and finally a rather scrumptiously sexy mash up of Alice Jemima (who regular readers should need no introduction to) and Bondax. All top notch - all worth writing a blog (on our holiday) for.

Clarence Clarity - KADYクソPERRY

Let's Buy Happiness - Run

DJ AA - No Diggity (AA All Inside Bootleg Alice Jemima / Bondax)

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Flow Festival 2013 - Review

Flow Festival is a 3 day (plus an additional evening opening concert, so technically 3 and a bit days) festival set in the urban environs of Suvilahti power plant close to Helsinki city centre.

For the 2nd year running Breaking More Waves joined the Finnish crowd amongst the chimneys, concrete, brick and tarmac to sample the atmosphere and music that included the likes of Kraftwerk, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Alicia Keys, Public Enemy, The Knife, Haim, Grimes, Mount Kimbie, Husky Rescue, Kendrick Lamar and even some free jazz. Here’s our review (of sorts) or rather….

10 Things That We Learnt At Flow Festival 2013.

1. Finland (and Flow Festival) takes its environment seriously.

The evidence? A wind powered stage in The Black Tent. The biggest cycle park we’ve ever seen with hundreds, possibly thousands of punters cycling to the festival (and virtually everyone else either walking or using public transport). Ample rubbish bins all divided into a variety of recycling / environmental categories. A 1 Euro returnable deposit on every can of alcohol sold meaning that litter was something that hardly existed. Even the toilets were always stocked with toilet paper and had running water and soap provided to wash your hands afterwards – not something all festivals achieve. Then there was the pretty lighting illuminating the harsh industrial structures that surround and create the site. We were thoroughly impressed.

2. Pop gigs are always interesting when artists play around with preconceived ideas about authenticity.

The often perceived wisdom / expectation / prejudice is that a gig by a musician or musicians should include a display of their talent (or lack of) through live playing and singing in order to make the show valid and of artistic merit. The Knife’s opening concert at Flow played around with those ideas to a point where the post show debate around the concepts of their art became as important as the art itself.

Starting with lots of dry ice, weird instruments and hooded robe wearing figures, The Knife’s show certainly appeared to start as a moody and atmospheric but relatively straightforward live gig. Yet within a few songs the robes and instruments had been discarded as the band morphed themselves into a shiny jumpsuit clad interpretive dance troupe that reminded us of Pans People from 1970’s Top of the Pops. Much of the show was spent with the dancers lip-synching and cavorting with big cheesy smiles on their faces to a backing track of the band’s latest album Shaking The Habitual (which included a comical attempt at what appeared to be Riverdance) with no pretext of playing live at all.

It was virtually impossible to tell which of the numerous members of the dance troupe were Karin and Olof, the two creators of The Knife’s studio music and if the whole performance was some sort of big art joke or a deeply thought out concept designed to challenge the audience. Either way it provoked a reaction, some of the crowd shaking their heads in huge disappointment, others dancing and punching the air with delight at the fun and energy of it all.

Was the performance a rip off? Possibly. Or was this gig actually more stimulating of the mind than your standard meat and two veg ballsy rock n roll gig? Was this better or worse than thousands of people watching a DJ set? Was this any different to Sunday night’s headliner Kraftwerk who provided another gig ‘experience’ - a visual spectacle with 3D projections but very little evidence of live music being played? Would watching Karin and Olof standing behind a bank of computers pressing a few buttons and twiddling knobs have made for a better live show than the crazy often anarchic dance routine that the Flow Festival witnessed? We’d argue not. This was about having fun, about being physically involved. “I don’t want to hear you, I want to see you,” one of The Knife’s dancers shouted at one point. Maybe this was a clue to how The Knife view things, even if not all of the audience thought the same way.

3. Finnish people like a nice sit down.

We don’t think we’ve ever seen so many seating opportunities at a festival. From beanbags to coloured laminated chairs to plastic seating shaped like naked bottoms to terrace platforms surrounding the Balloon Stage (an open in the round stage under a giant white sphere), wherever you went on the site there was somewhere to sit. This was largely due to the lack of soft areas on site, the ground being mainly hard surfacing, although the organisers did create special garden areas with imported turf and planting.

4. Finnish festival goers look great.

Notwithstanding the fact that Flow is an urban festival so everyone can go home after the night’s entertainment and have a decent sleep and shower, the crowd at festival looked fantastic. Whereas in the UK every festival we’ve been to in 2013 seems to have an unwritten rule that everyone should dress down and that women should wear denim shorts with their arse cheeks hanging out, in Helsinki it was a case of dressing up and looking super awesome. (Note: Exception to the rule - a worrying trend of long white sports socks pulled up nearly to the knee. Really? That one was just plain silly, even sillier than arse cheeks hanging out).

But overall, Flow Festival truly had the most beautiful festival audience of the year. It’s easy to understand why it’s gained a reputation as hipster event, but we think that this is more to do with the urban location and the largely 20-something affluent crowd than a definite desire to be hipster, but frankly we’d rather hang out with these gorgeous creatures than the crusty, stale lager breathed, sweaty, shouty types that inhabit many of our own UK festivals.

5. Electronic music is in good hands - old and new.

Demonstrating that it’s still possible to stand nearly motionless at a podium and do virtually nothing and yet create a great gig, past masters Kraftwerk wowed with their 3D visuals that featured mid-air floating robot figures and space ships zooming out into the audience with a set of classics that included the likes of Autobahn, The Robots, The Model and Tour De France. Likewise the of the moment hyperactive crazy-alt-pop of Grimes got the crowd busting some seriously way out shapes on Sunday night in the Blue Tent, Austra received an unplanned encore for their operatic synth-pop and am-dram ballet moves whilst Husky Rescue (streaming below) showed that Finland can do softly sung electronic sounds as well as anyone else. Electronic music really is in good hands.

6. Guitar music isn’t dead either.

Haim’s rammed set in the Black Tent was all the proof you need of that. With vocal duties swapped due to one of the band being on throat rest at doctor’s orders, Haim got things sweaty and raw. On record the band may come across like a trendy version of Wilson Phillips meets Fleetwood Mac gone r’n’b but it’s their live gigs where they really excel with a kick-ass rock n roll sound. Add to that Este’s now infamous ‘bass face’ and in between song banter (this time encouraging the audience to take her for a spot of after show swimming) and it was no surprise to find a huge crowd enraptured with Haim’s first ever Finnish gig.

7. We don’t understand jazz.

Flow includes a wide spectrum of music. We watched hip hop, soul, indie, electro pop, rock and alt folk. We also watched some jazz, something that in the UK is isolated at festivals, but at Flow is incorporated into the bill and is as popular as any other genre of music. We caught Black Motor & Veneri Pohjola; a free jazz act. We had no idea what was going on. People applauded in places which appeared to be the middle of a song, that is if you can really describe the pieces as songs. The four musicians on stage each appeared to be playing a completely different tune. There were no discernible or obvious melodies. It was the musical equivalent of eating curry, peas, and peanut butter on toast whilst drinking a banana smoothie upside down and calling it baseball. Somebody please explain it to us.

8. Flow Festival takes its food seriously.

What does festival food mean to you? A greasy burger from a van? A jacket potato with cheese and beans? Not at Flow. Whilst the food wasn’t cheap (the average price for a meal was around 10 euros) the quality was very high. Moko’s beetroot pasta with goats cheese was our particular favourite, but we also enjoyed delicious Thai and American cuisine. There was also quality coffee, delicious cupcakes (the Brooklyn Café’s Red Velvet and Chocolate and Peanut Butter ones found us above cake heaven) and beverages included Coffee with Baileys and Champagne.

9. There’s something to be said for banning alcohol in the front of a main festival stage.

The Finns are a polite bunch but add in the fact that the main stage area was divided into a ‘non-alcohol’ zone at the front and an ‘alcohol’ at the back meant for those who like to be able to watch a band play without drunken oafs pushing their way through the crowd to get to the front and alcohol lubricated loud chatterers ruining the sounds you’re trying to listen to, the festival was a real pleasure. It may not be as boisterous or full of rock n roll mosh pits, but there’s something to be said for being able to go right to the front of a headline bands set and still have plenty of space around you to dance and not get crushed, with everyone being respectful of personal space.

10. If you want less rowdy more civilised, if you want cool, if you want a really varied but interesting line up, if you don’t want to be woken up at 4 in the morning by two dirty drunk teenagers in the next tent vigorously going at it like hammer and tongs, if you want a sense of respect, if you don’t want to come home feeling like death warmed up, if you want to try something different, if you want an urban setting that looks harsh in the day and beautiful at night, if you don’t want beery lads pushing through crowds, if you want a top notch European festival, then try Flow. 

That’s what we learnt. 

Husky Rescue - Tree House

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Camp Bestival 2013 - Review

Now in its sixth year Camp Bestival occupies a unique position in the festival market as the only mid-sized music festival that aims fully at a family crowd. Whilst its bigger brother Bestival takes 50,000 adults and turns them into children through over consumption of intoxicating substances, Camp Bestival starts with half of its audience as the real little things. Camp Bestival is the only festival we know of where Mr Tumble on the main stage is the equivalent of The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury and where the must have fashion accessory is a pull along trolley pimped with fairy lights, comfy duvet and scenery to pull your little sleeping loves around in as night arrives.

As usual Breaking More Waves was there, albeit without the trolley - although the teenagers in our group confessed that they would have loved the idea of being pulled around like that. Lazy tykes. So here is our review of Camp Bestival 2013 or rather 10 Things We Leant At Camp Bestival. (Other more critical and deeply journalistic reviews are available elsewhere).

1. The term ‘headliners’ at a family friendly festival is meaningless.

With half the audience being children some of the biggest crowds at Camp Bestival were for acts that were appeared during the day rather than the traditional end of night main stage performance. Friday night saw Richard Hawley, the supposed main stage headliner play to one of the smallest crowds of the day, whilst other bands on in the afternoon secured bigger audiences and the likes of kids entertainers Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble pulled in huge numbers.

2. We learnt how to do a lot of things. The Literary Tent featured a series of talks called ‘How To…’ such as ‘How To Be A Baddie’, ‘How To Interview’, and ‘How To Open A Restaurant’. Maybe Ash should have been invited to give a talk on ‘How To Play A Festival’.

Because Ash’s set at Camp Bestival showed exactly how to do it. Don’t arse around with songs that nobody knows – this isn’t your audience. Simply play all the singles rolled out one after another, with no new material, and no album tracks. A cover of Teenage Kicks is acceptable though. Bang. Job done.

3. As a DJ, it doesn’t matter how many tracks by worthy d-i-y bedroom producers or hip remixes you’ve got rolled up your sleeves, when it comes to getting people pulling crazy dance shapes at a family festival in the Bollywood Tent on a Sunday afternoon, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana and Blame It On The Boogie by The Jackson Five do the business. So does the music from SpongeBob Squarepants.

We were part of that DJ collective that played those songs. They rocked. Especially SpongeBob. Hopefully more new music bloggers will catch on to this amazing artists soon.

4. If you’re too posh to poo at a music festival it’ll cost you £20 for the weekend.

If the idea of the 'normal' on site composting toilets or portaloos was just too much for you Camp Bestival replaced one block of these this year with fully flushing, cleaned after every use toilets. However it came at a price - £20 for an adult or £5 for a child under 12 for a weekend. That’s £50 to poo if you’re a posh family of four. A sh*t load of money.

5. Camp Bestival just might create a new type of festival goer.

If the last decade has brought us the iGeneration (self-obsessed, don’t give a f*ck, phone upgrade, look at me Instagram selfie obsessed, drop your litter wherever you like, detail every aspect of their life online in the misguided belief that we’re all actually interested in it) then maybe Camp Bestival is creating a new more socially aware bunch of kids. Maybe.

They were certainly an environmentally friendly bunch, scavenging for every dropped paper cup (and those in the bins) and returning them to the recycling bars. At first we thought that Camp Bestival kids were a very special breed with incredibly environmentally aware parents. Now we realise they were only in it for themselves, with every cup returned generating a 10p refund, but still at least Camp Bestival is teaching these kids the value of environmental awareness. 

6. London Grammar – believe the hype.

It was our fourth time in the presence of the band.  The third time (Blissfields) it just didn’t quite work, but in a dark and an enclosed space it did. Their sound filled the Camp Bestival Big Top like kisses in a lovers den, with a spine-tingling weightiness and restraint that was downbeat yet breathtaking. Hannah Reid’s pipes are the sort that as she opens them you’re left gasping. Streaming below is a new song from the band, released to the world wide web yesterday. Feelings wasn't performed at the festival, but will form the b-side of their new single Strong, which was.

7. We learnt some new swear words.

Flap crackers. Nanny nob nobs. Thanks Dick and Dom for your anarchic in between band fillers (and expansion of our vocabulary) on the main stage. There’s something hugely entertaining about thousands of people, standing in a field in front of a castle (adults and children) speedily singing made up swear words shown on a huge karaoke screen.

8. We learnt how to make a small child look like they’ve taken drugs.

Keep them up late for 3 nights. Wake them up early to go and see Mr Tumble. Dress them in a fairy costume or as a superhero. By Sunday they’ll have big druggy wide eyed stares. If they’re under 5 they’ll also be liable to a screaming tantrum at any point. 

9. Don’t use Sat Nav.

Congratulations to Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox who revealed in the Literary Tent to a packed like sardines audience that it took her 9 hours to travel to Camp Bestival, because she’d entered Ludlow Castle rather than Lulworth Castle in her Sat Nav.

10. All that stuff about UK festivals, bad weather mud just isn’t true in 2013.

This was our fourth outdoor camping summer festival this year. The weather was once again near perfect. Wellies? Pah, never heard of them.

It really is a Great British Summer and Camp Bestival was part of that.

London Grammar - Feelings

*Note Breaking More Waves is currently on blog holiday. Our next post will be 10 more things we learnt at Flow Festival 2013 in a week or so. Full new music blogging recommences towards the end of August.

Friday 2 August 2013

A Holiday Postcard From Breaking More Waves

Dear Breaking More Waves Blog Reader,

This is an internet postcard because we’re on our summer holiday as of today. First of all we’re at Lulworth, Dorset, UK for the fun and family friendly festival frolics of Camp Bestival (in fact we've been there since yesterday evening), then we're flying north to spend 6 days in Helsinki, Finland which will include the incredible Flow Festival before we return to the UK for just a few hours. Then we fly off for a week and a half away removed from all music in southern Spain. We hope to get back from Spain in time for the second day of the Victorious Festival in our home city of Portsmouth which we previewed yesterday.

There will be very little content on the blog over the next few weeks, although keep an eye out for reviews of all three musical events that form part of our holiday journey.

Normal near daily new music blog posts will recommence properly towards the end of August, probably around the 28th.

In the meantime why not follow us on our twitter as we’ll still be occasionally tweeting from there and also take a listen to this new track by indie pups Blaenavon, who yesterday revealed their new song Prague, forthcoming from the Koso EP via Transgressive soon. With guitars that noodle around a bit before attempting to shred your ears forcefully it's good stuff.

Back soon (ish)

Breaking More Waves

Blaenavon - Prague

Thursday 1 August 2013

Victorious Festival 2013 - Preview

Today we turn our attention to the first of two festivals on Breaking More Waves doorstep in our home city of Portsmouth. In September there is Southsea Fest, a one day multi-venue event based around the Albert Road area of Southsea, Portsmouth (full preview to follow next month), but before that there is Victorious Festival which this year takes a step up after being formed from the inaugural free Victorious Vintage Festival held in the same location the previous year.

Set in the unique historic Naval Dockyard, Victorious Festival provides what can only be described as an eclectic mix of music ranging from 80’s funky bass pop band Level 42 to North East indie rockers Maximo Park to dance floor princess Katy B to X-Factor contestant Janet Devlin to Place Your Hands rockers Reef to Welsh soprano Charlotte Church. Of more interest to regular Breaking More Waves readers might be the likes of The Joy Formidable, Fenech-Soler, Curxes, The Milk and Bear Cavalry, all of whom have featured in past blog posts.

What really sells Victorious Festival is the ticket price. At only £15 a day and £5 for children it’s a complete bargain, even if you only see a couple of bands. Questions have to be raised about how the festival can finance the operation but the answer lies in the number of tickets that can be sold. With a licenced capacity of 18,000 it’s a case of high volume sales at a low price to make the accountants happy.

The bonus of this value ticket price is that not only does it allow you access to the music but you can also visit the Navy Dockyard’s other tourist attractions such as the HMS Victory (the world’s oldest commissioned warship and the place where Nelson died), the new Wilkinson Eyre designed Mary Rose museum, the HMS Warrior, experience the modern Navy in a converted boathouse now known as Action Stations, the National Museum of the Royal Navy and take a harbour tour. Add in a real ale festival, a kids area and a ‘smugglers market’ that includes vintage clothing, bespoke jewellery, street foods, farmers markets, a pamper parlour, wine tasting, a record stall from Portsmouth’s acclaimed Pie & Vinyl shop, local antiques and furniture plus more and the ticket looks like it might just be the bargain of the summer. If you just see 1 band, visit a number of the attractions, have a drink and visit a few stalls the money you spend will work out at better value than visiting the Navy Dockyard on a normal day.

However one word of caution; if ticket sales are high (and organisers have stated they are selling fast) then with a relatively restricted site, even though some stages are outdoors we’d suggest that if you’re going and you want to see a particular act you arrive in plenty of time at that stage as if areas reach capacity it may be a case of one in one out, just like an indoor venue. Or alternatively take a more relaxed approach and just wander round the site and see what you discover.

But with no danger of mud (the dockyard is cobbled and concreted) a bus, train and ferry station right next door for easy public transport access and lots to see and do, Victorious Festival looks like it could be aptly named. 

Victorious Festival takes place on the 24th and 25th of August in Portsmouth’s historic  Naval Dockyard. You can buy tickets using this link. A full list of all the bands playing can be found here.

We’ll be attending the second day of the festival only due to other commitments, but read our review on the blog shortly after the event. Here's two of our recommended bands to see:

Saturday - Curxes - Further Still (Video)

Sunday - The Joy Formidable - Silent Treatment (William Orbit Version)