Saturday 31 May 2014

Jude - Jaded

If for historical purposes you wanted to mark out exactly what decent contemporary pop music in 2014 sounded like, Florida duo Jude’s second release Jaded would probably be a good place to start. In exactly three minutes and thirty seconds it manages to combine pretty much everything we like without ever sounding clichéd. Kevin James Neal and Sydney Morris cast verses from electronic spaciousness, whilst the chorus is made from striking grit-pop drama. Sydney’s vocal intonation has (like on debut track Crystals) a resemblance to Lorde once more, although her tone is somewhat higher and less menacing. 

The song is labelled on Jude’s Soundcloud as bedroom pop. We’re not sure if that’s meant to reference where it was created, where the band think it should be played or if Jaded is considered suitable for whatever else goes on in that particular room, but whichever it is we’d recommend that you don’t limit it to just there – Jaded deserves to be played everywhere. It's free to download below.

Jude - Jaded

The True Cost Of Gig Going (Part 5)

It’s time to file our latest update on our monthly and yearly spend going to see live music.

May has been odd, for we saw a huge number of artists, (57 full performances by 56 different acts) yet spent the lowest amount on tickets per number of bands seen in any month so far (£48.50). The reasons for this are that many of these gigs were at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival for which Breaking More Waves received a free press pass.  As explained in a previous post, generally we like to pay our way and don’t ever blag a place into shows just because we write a music blog. However in instances where we are doing some form of ‘work’ such as writing a review (and we use this term loosely as going to see a show or event and then writing a review isn’t really that hard work, and as we’re not being paid it’s really just a hobby) we do feel it is fair and reasonable to apply for a press pass. This month we were also given a ticket for another gig for free as a present.

So here’s this month’s vital statistics.


In total we saw 57 artists full performances, including support acts. That’s 141 for the year, of which we’ve seen 135 different ones. (We’ve seen Fickle Friends, Curxes, Bridie Jackson & The Arbour, The Night VI and Laurel more than once this year). This means we’ve probably spent the equivalent of 3.5 working weeks watching live music this year and that doesn’t include the travel time.

Unlike previous months we have hardly travelled at all, nearly all the gigs we’ve attended being in Portsmouth the city where we live, with the exception of Brighton’s Great Escape. 

£48.50 was spent on tickets.

Because of most of the gigs being within walking distance of our home we spent only £15 on travel.

£82 was spent on drinks at venues - our highest spend of the year so far – probably because of the lack of driving this month entailed.

£120 spent on overnight accommodation (Great Escape hotel)

We didn’t spend any money on merchandise at the gigs.

The total spend this year so far is £1337.90 Travel costs continue to be the most expensive cost (£412) of our total spend, closely followed by accommodation (£410.15). Tickets only account for 268.95 (20%) of the total spend.

Next month will see our half yearly review and the effect of festivals on our spending really starting to kick in.

Sophie Ellis Bextor - Love Is A Camera (Video)

You know all those end of year album lists? We wonder when most people start thinking about them? If you’re anything like us (and frankly we hope you’re not) then you started in January. And one of those early contenders that we suspect come December will still be in the running for a place on the list is Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Wanderlust.

Switching from disco-diva towards mature pop songsmith with tunes that are in part inspired by Eastern Europe and fairytales has been a smart move for Sophie. This fantastic new gothic and dark video for Love Is A Camera captures perfectly the essence and style of one of our favourite songs from the album (it’s also her granny’s favourite apparently) with Sophie turning black-witch (a part she plays incredibly well) and capturing more than just the image of unfortunate souls by the power of the lens. At the end as the screams ring out you might even find yourself doing some Russian Cossack dancing.

Sophie Eliis-Bextor - Love Is A Camera (Video)

Friday 30 May 2014

Some Very Last Thoughts On The Radio 1 Playlist Committee Debate

Apologies, but here's some more (final) stuff on BBC Radio 1 and the Guardian article about the playlist committee's use of data to help inform its choices. If you haven't read the article yet play catch up by clicking here.

Listed below are the 15 songs that form this week’s Radio 1 A list (they get 25 plays a week) decided by a committee of people who work for the station assisted by data derived from You Tube plays, Twitter followers and the like.

Following that is the Breaking More Waves imaginary playlist decided by just one person with no reference to popularity or statistics, the selections made on gut feeling and excitement for the music alone.

The common criteria is that the music chosen is relatively new or current pop music. Unlike Radio 1 we have made no attempt to cover all genres, we’ve just chosen the stuff we like - the BBC Trust would probably have kittens.

Which one is better? Would anyone in Radio 1’s target audience of 15-24 year olds really want to listen to the Breaking More Waves playlist? 

Maybe not. And there’s our point. Even a playlist chosen with passion and love may not be ‘right’. So whilst we agree with the Guardian that the process used to select what is playlisted is dispiriting and soulless, it doesn't mean that it's necessarily wrong or a bad thing in terms of the final music chosen. At the end of the day the BBC is a pop music station and it needs to give its audience music that will be popular with listeners. But as a public funded service it also has a wider remit set by the BBC Trust to fulfill and sometimes that remit clashes with the concept of playing music that people already know. Compromise is required. 

As long as the use of data is kept on a leash and doesn't become over dominating turning Radio 1 into just the same as a commercial station, things should be OK. 

Here's a couple more articles that are worth a read.

Song By Toad's BBC1 Radio 1 Playlist Fake Controversy piece (here) gives good food for thought and touches on the idea we've suggested above that Radio 1's different obligations leave it caught between a rock and a hard place. 

And whilst you're deciding if Radio 1's playlist or the Breaking More Waves playlist is better, and if the use of data is a good thing or not to determine playlists, here's the science behind it all with Mark Collier explaining why popularity is determined more by peer pressure than quality (here). A fascinating read for the boffins and geeks among you.

Radio 1 A Playlist

Bastille – Bad Blood
Bombay Bicycle Club – Feel
Clean Bandit – Extraordinary (feat Sharna Basss)
Fuse ODG – Dangerous Love (feat Sean Paul)
Kasabian – Eeez-Eh
Katy Perry - Birthday
Kilngande - Jubel
One Direction- You & I
Pharell Williams - Marilyn Monroe
Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down
Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Second City – I Wanna Feel
The 1975 – Robbers
Tiesto – Wasted
Twin Atlantic - Hear And Soul

Breaking More Waves A Playlist

Honeyblood – Killer Bangs
Host – Heartbeats In The House
Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX - Fancy
Ivy & Gold – Not Had Enough
Jungle – Time
Kassassin Street – The Royal Handkerchief Ballet
Lana Del Rey – West Coast
La Roux – Uptight Downtown
Mausi – My Friend Has A Swimming Pool
Meanwhile – Bigger City
Porter Robinson – Sad Machine (streaming below)
Raury – God’s Whisper
Seinabo Sey – Hard Time
Sophie Jamieson - Stain
Wolf Alice – Moaning Lisa Smile

Porter Robinson - Sad Machine

(A song with over 1 million plays on Soundcloud and just over 2 weeks old - we're surprised it's not on that Radio 1 playlist !)

Thursday 29 May 2014

Seinabo Sey - Hard Time (Video)

Seinabo Sey’s song Hard Time and previous tune Younger are both blowing up on the internet in a colossal way. We predict Radio 1’s playlist committee taking note very soon.

Today Seinabo (who today we were informed pronounces her full name full name in this manner : Say-na-bo Sea) released this new video for Hard Time. The credits on You Tube are pretty extensive; Fedra Rodriquez did the nails if anyone is interested and the clapper loader (we have no idea what that is) was Jospehine Owe. It shows that someone’s throwing some money Seinabo’s way, and rightly so, because Hard Time is impressive pop music. Imagine if Laura Mvula got edgy with an idea of global domination in her head. That's Seinabo right now. One of the most exciting new voices on the planet. No argument.

Unsurprisingly the video is suitably cool, stylish and just a little bit odd.

“Many of my favourite songs are songs that have boosted my self –esteem and given me strength and in a sense that’s what I try to achieve with my own music. I hope Hard Time gives those that need it the courage to speak up,” she says of the tune, which is released on June 30th.

Seinabo Sey - Hard Time (Video)

Young War - Darker Love

The last time we featured Young War we suggested he’d gone a bit Chet Faker in his sound, giving it a hip grinding, lip blushing, cheek flushing vibe, even if the lyrics of Black Diamond weren’t exactly about removing underwear and seeking pleasures of the sensual type.

Now he’s continuing that path with another new song called Darker Love, which has been produced by Pablo Nouvelle, who was also responsible for a remix of Young War’s Rose Gold. Here the music is slinky and sophisticated with looped guitars mixing with light beats to create a warm and hypnotising groove. 

Darker Love gives an immediate clue to the lyrics and this one sounds like things are pretty complicated. “You remind me of a love I used to know,” he sings at one point. “I want to see you in the darkness, I want to turn out all the lights, I want to swim in all the sadness, I want to drown in all your lies,” he adds. This is all after he’s opened the song by asking someone to come closer to his heart, close enough that they can “tear it apart.” It’s certainly not all uncomplicated sunrises, flowers, champagne and chocolates, but then that’s just the stuff of teen romance isn’t it? This one is a bit deeper. It's full of being ready to be hurt.

Young War - Darker Love

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Wolf Alice - Moaning Lisa Smile (Video)

Look, we know we’ve already banged on about it yesterday (here) but we want to mention the Radio 1 playlist again. For below you will find the new video for Wolf Alice’s song Moaning Lisa Smile. At the time of writing (which is different from when we post) it has just over 500 views on You Tube. We wonder what Radio 1, with their statistics influenced decision making process would think of this? Would they decide that they wouldn’t play the song until it had racked up a few more views? We’re not quite sure how that fits with a station that is supposed to champion new music.

Thankfully for Wolf Alice they’re one of the 5 acts who have made it on to the In New Music We Trust part of Radio 1's playlist, although we’re a bit confused by The Guardian’s original piece on the playlist meeting (which you can read here) which quotes somebody saying “Wolf Alice’s Moaning Lisa Smile video has had 15,000 views on YouTube and they've got 11,000 followers on Twitter," as the ‘video’ referred to is simply a You Tube stream with a picture, not a video. Yes we know it’s geeky of us to say so, but if the so called ‘experts’ can’t even tell the difference between a video and a stream you have to question their expertise. We wonder for example would they be able to tell the tell-tale signs that a video has had fake comments or views purchased to increase its total plays? 

Now that we’ve got off our geeky high horse, let’s just enjoy the actual film where we find lead singer Ellie Rowsell entering a dance competition and being given the cold shoulder by the too cool for school bitch-kids. To the rescue come her dragged up and wigged out band mates who help her find solidarity in each other’s outsider status. Hurrah. See? Nothing wrong with being a geek.

You can hear the whole of the Creature Songs EP from which Moaning Lisa Smile is taken by clicking this link.

Wolf Alice - Moaning Lisa Smile (Video)

Tuesday 27 May 2014

La Roux - Uptight Downtown

We can feel it, there’s something funky in the air right now. What with Jungle, Meanwhile and now La Roux getting their sweaty groove-thing on pop music seems to be rediscovering that it doesn’t have to be R ‘n’ B influenced to make you dance. 

The fact that La Roux’s first single proper after the rather brilliant taster track Let Me Down Gently has the funk should come as no surprise to fans, after all back in the day when Elly’s quiff was ridiculously high she could be found collaborating with fluid funk 80’s popsters Heaven 17 (here) and singing the praises of David Bowie (there’s more than a hint of Bowie’s Nile Rodgers produced Let’s Dance album in this song). Plus her low key UK shows last year featured a number of songs that moved the template away from the rigid robotic early 80’s synth sounds of her debut. Rather like Elly’s haircut, things seemed to have loosened up a little and this has to be good thing. Standing still wasn't an option. 

So here is Uptight Downtown by La Roux. It’s time to shake your whole body until your bones clatter to the rhythm. This one’s got us all hot in places other than just under our collar.

La Roux - Uptight Downtown

Meanwhile - Bigger City

“A man who fizzled with charismatic / camp booty and hip shaking energy and a blast of Prince like electro-funk grooves, plus songs that were both intriguing and infectious.” That was our description of Tom Andrews, who goes by the name of Meanwhile, following his performance in a blackened tunnel just yards from the windswept beach at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton. There may have been a few technical hitches, but Meanwhile was freakily thrilling, showing that Basingstoke (for apparently this is where he comes from) has an awful lot more to offer than Brit nominee Tanita Takaram (remember her?) and a bunch of roundabouts.

Now here’s the second track to be released from Meanwhile following the online success of Luvletta. Bigger City struts like the funkiest of chickens, completely dismissing itself from most of the pop of today. It’s the sound of Cameo grabbed by the balls with some screwed synths from Chaka Khan’s Feel For You and rocking up to Paisley Park for a full on lubrication by the purple one himself. It’s stupidly fun and ridiculously animated five-star funk. 

If you get the chance to see him live, do so, for if nothing else you'll come out after the show with a huge smile on your face.

Meanwhile - Bigger City

David Harks - New Waves

Today we introduce another UK south coast central act via our UK south coast central based blog. The name David Harks first cropped up on radars after Sirens appeared on the Kitsune Maison 15 compilation. However, it is latest tune We that has impressed us more. It’s a gentle tumble of a pop song that acts as a soundbed for a subtly uplifting anthem for doing the things we have to do to. “How you ache to feel alive,” David sings with a touch of soul, although just to confuse you this is not David Harks. The vocals are by one David Sanderson. David Harks is the name of the act in the same way as Miike Snow (who David Harks are gaining a number of comparisons to) is a band not a person. Ditto also Rilo Kiley or Franz Ferdinand, although David Harks certainly don’t sound like those. 

David Harks promise ‘four new singles set to premiere in 2014’ of which this is the first. Keep those ears finely tuned for more.

David Harks - We

Slow Club - Suffering You, Suffering Me

Channelling elements of country, sixties pop, motown, northern soul and a bit of big band sound the new song from Slow Club sounds like a long lost song from The Commitments or The Blues Brothers. It is also bloody marvellous. Rebecca’s voice is the best it’s ever sounded; full of depth and classy glitter gown power. This song is a long way from their indie roots (which we loved) but dare we say it, this is even better. 

Taken from the band’s new album Complete Surrender due on July the 14th if you pre-order on iTunes now you get this song immediately.

Glorious. Grandiose. Great. Get it. We love you Slow Club.

Slow Club - Suffering You, Suffering Me

Haze - Smoke (Video)

Last weekend The Guardian published an article that detailed the inner workings of Radio 1’s playlist committee and how it decides on what tracks will get the stations maximum exposure through repeated plays (A-list records get 25 plays a week, B-list 15, and C-list eight to 10). You can read it via this link. The article made depressing reading, detailing the stations over reliance on data from social media and You Tube to determine what would and wouldn’t get played (that is of course if the record was even given consideration, which appears to rely heavily on having the support of a radio plugger to get under the noses of the committee.) As the Guardian suggested it made the whole process utterly soulless and risk free – where was the passion? Where was the ability of an individual human with a strong gut feeling to say 'I think this record is f*cking brilliant and irrespective of the fact that hardly anyone has watched the video on You Tube, I believe it’s our job to give this song a chance?'

The article emphasised to us the thought that, in their own small way, how important music blogs are, particularly to acts without a radio plugger or big financial backing. In all the time we’ve been writing Breaking More Waves we’ve never given any consideration to how many hits or plays a song has had, we’ve never given consideration to if an act is on a major label, a tiny indie or is completely d-i-y, we’ve simply featured music that we believe in, that says something to us. It’s just our opinion and taste. The idea of relying on data rather than gut instinct to determine if something is great or not is something we would never ever do. Ironically of course by streaming a track here we’re increasing the songs data load, and if enough blogs grab hold of a tune and push the views and plays through the roof Radio 1’s playlist committee will have to take notice.

Today we’re streaming a video from an artist that at the time of writing has had just less than 50 views. It’s probably fair to say that Radio 1 won’t be coming running any time soon, but we’re absolutely enamoured by the song.

Reading based singer songwriter Haze’s Smoke is inspired by the TV series of the decade - Breaking Bad - the lyrics being pretty self-explanatory if you’ve seen the show, although alas Haze doesn’t mark the tune with any Jesse Pinkman style yo’s (like this). It’s a quietly alluring song, that grows in stature as it develops, with the key line "win or lose, would you choose the life you had?" being the inspiration for the video.

Forget the data, give the song a chance.

Haze - Smoke (Video)

Haze - Smoke (official video) from The Deolali Plan on Vimeo.

Monday 26 May 2014

Sivu - My Oh My (Aquilo Remix)

The majority of remixes that come our way are thumping hell on earth interchangeable club pop bangers – the sort of crowd pleasing formulaic paint by numbers nonsense that Calvin Harris / David Guetta etc will pump out to massive audiences this summer whilst shouting ‘put your hands in the air’ an infinite amount of times before collecting another whopping pay cheque. 

Thankfully Aquilo’s treatment of Sivu's My Oh My comes from a very different place and that place is heaven. This is a remix that refuses to metaphorically shout 'is everybody having a good time?' or 'let me see you jump,' and instead takes the listener (and this is very much a remix to listen to rather than shake a leg at) on a weightless journey through the clouds. 

Sivu - My Oh My (Aquilo Remix)

Saturday 24 May 2014

Ivy & Gold - New Waves

There’s a definite touch of the ‘London Grammar’s’ to the voice of Rachel Wilkinson, the lead singer of two piece epic pop duo Ivy & Gold, but then if you’re going to get a vocal comparison that’s not a bad one to have is it? The girl has a sizeable pair of lungs, her voice capable of reaching the highs and lows with effortless swoops. If you want some further comparisons we’d throw in Marina of Marina & The Diamonds fame and current pop chart topper Foxes. Based on those similarities it was inevitable that Ivy & Gold eventually made their way onto Breaking More Waves, although it’s taken a while; their debut EP Awake was released in the early part of 2013 but completely passed us by. However, new song Not Had Enough had no chance of escaping our ears.

So we’ve established that Rachel can sing the arse off pretty much anything that has an arse, but a substantial vocal delivery is only well and good if there’s a great song to support it. Otherwise things are going nowhere. Thankfully Not Had Enough is a 100% great pop song. There’s a big chorus, a big production, a big pop sound and a sense of big ambition. If they were explorers they'd be heading for Everest. 

Hailing from the delightfully pretty Broxbourne in Hertfordshire Ivy & Gold are the aforementioned Rachel Wilkinson and co-collaborator Jamie Davies. We’re informed that they bonded over a love of Miike Snow, Fleetwood Mac and Ellie Goulding (which makes a lot of sense when you listen to Not Had Enough) and are also inspired by the soundtrack composers Tom Tyker and Hans Zimmer (which would explain that big sound). Not Had Enough is taken from their new EP Eye of the Storm.

The band have recently confirmed a show at St Pancras Church in London on 17th Sept. Maybe you should mark that in your diaries now?

Ivy & Gold - Not Had Enough (Video)

Friday 23 May 2014

Rebecca Clements - New Waves

“I am one hell of a slut,” tweeted South West UK based singer Rebecca Clements a while ago. Now before you get the wrong idea, let’s put this in context. The whole tweet was this: “The word “slut” was originally used to describe a woman who didn’t keep her room clean... In that case, I am one hell of a slut.” 

It seems that it's not just her room mess that Rebecca excels in, for Wildlife, the tune she’s chosen to introduce herself to the world with, is also about a mess, but this time it’s a mess of a relationship. “We try to run free, but we’re two lost strays, all caught up in the mess we’ve made,” she sings.

It’s a beautiful piece of work, another song from the school of new minimalism, taking something that could have easily been over swamped with bass, drums, keys and lots of layered production, but instead Rebecca (with the assistance of producer Iain Archer) lets the whole thing breathe a sorry heavy breath, reflecting the despondency of the lyrics. Listen to the sad echo of the guitar and Rebecca’s strong hurting vocal and get ready to be impressed. A new talent strikes.

Rebecca Clements - Wildlife

Thursday 22 May 2014

Laura Welsh - Here For You

In breaking new artists pop music has very much followed the route of hip-hop and dance music in the last few years (and when we say break we don’t mean physically snapping them in two). These days collaborations are the thing. Get together with a better known / established / higher rising act than yourself and suddenly people will be interested in your solo work.

Look at the Rudimental album and you’ll see names like Foxes, Ella Eyre and John Newman who all benefitted from the exposure that quartet gave, likewise Sam Smith, AlunaGeorge and Sasha Keable got the Disclosure treatment and Jess Glynne has had a career boost from Clean Bandit.

This is where it gets a bit like playing musical family trees because Clean Bandit in turn featured on Gorgon City’s track Intentions and now Laura Welsh, another singer we’ve featured on the blog a number of times has cropped up on Gorgon City’s new song Here For You. Gorgon City used MNEK on previous hit Ready For Your Love and of course MNEK has also featured on Rudimental’s song Spoons. Still with us? OK, good, it gets simpler from here.

So let’s go back to Laura Welsh. Her track Here For You with Gorgon City sounds like a potential hit designed for Radio 1 daytime air play but doesn’t really do anything for us. However, this version with just Laura and a piano we find far more palatable, allowing Laura’s vocal to flourish with note perfect effectiveness.

(Fact fans may be interested to know we've featured more artists by the name of Laura on this blog than any other name. Hi Laura Doggett (look out for her at some point she's been collaborating with Sohn) Laura Groves, Laura J Martin, Laura Marling, Laura Mvula, Laura St Jude (whatever happened to her?) and of course Laura Welsh.)

Laura Welsh - Here For You

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Jungle - Time

This morning we featured George Ezra, one act who has been doing rather well this year since his inclusion on lots of end of 2013 tip lists, including ours. George is ramping things up as his debut album gets closer and we're looking forward to hearing the results of his labor in full soon.

Here’s another of those acts that appeared on plenty of the lists, although bizarrely despite being covered by an awful lot of music blogger types last year they didn't make the Blog Sound of 2014 list, which we thought was odd. They are the mighty XL recording artists Jungle and this is their new song Time. The buzz that Jungle started last year certainly hasn’t stopped; their gig we witnessed at Village Underground in London earlier this year was about as vibey as it gets, the audience together as one on some big soulful trippy dance vibe and we hear reports that their gig at this year’s Great Escape at The Haunt had people queuing round the block to get in from way early.

We’re noticing that quite a few d-i-y blogs and even pro websites are still referring to Jungle as 'mystery artists', which seems pretty lazy considering the information is all over the internet - just one or two simple Google searches (or maybe even a Twitter search) will reveal that the main founders 'T' and 'J' of Jungle are ex Born Blonde members Tom  McFarland and Joshua Lloyd-Watson. Now you know that google them for more information and have a giggle at their rather cringe worthy childhood interview with the Guardian about their parents from a few years ago. No wonder they were trying to keep their identities hidden.

So to the song; Time continues where Jungle left off with Busy Earnin’. It’s the sound of a hot city night where the stereo plays fresh soul and funk the whole way through, shooting electro shocks from the brain to the feet leaving you no option but to dance as the boy-boy high-low harmonies ring out. If you love what they’ve done so far you’ll love this as well. But that may also be the problem. Because with a self-titled album due mid-July the big burning question remains. As groovy as their shows are, as irresistible as these tracks seem as singles, will the album just be a one trick pony? 

Time will tell (see what we did there?)

Jungle - Time

George Ezra - Leaving It Up To You (Video)

Remember at the end of last year / beginning of this when everyone was posting their Ones to Watch / Sound of lists? One name that cropped up on quite a few of those lists (including our very own Ones to Watch 2014, The BBC Sound of 2014 and The UK Blog Sound of 2014) was George Ezra. Fact fans may be interested to know that his real name is George Ezra Barnett but he had to drop the Barnett because we already have a singer called George Barnett – personally we think he should have just gone for George Barnett the 2nd, which would have made him sound more like royalty than a singer songwriter with a guitar - after all it's good enough for Prince, Queen etc.

Since all those lists George Barnett the 2nd is doing rather well, with plenty of sold out gigs and an album Wanted On Voyage due on the 30th June. As a little enticement to pre-order the album George has put this song Leaving It Up To You on line and is giving it away as a free download if you part with your cash early for the record. If you’ve seen George Barnett the 2nd play live it’s a song you’ll be familiar with, the chorus finds him singing falsetto, which isn’t something particularly easy for someone with a relatively deep voice to achieve on stage. It’s a sweet, understated and gentle song with just a tiny touch of a gospel chorus at the end and bodes well for the album. Now come on George, next up re-release Budapest this summer and with some radio support potentially bag yourself a hit.

George Ezra - Leaving It Up To You (Video)

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Paperwhite - Magic

Brooklyn’s Paperwhite had a minor blog hit (we’re defining blog hit by getting on the Hype Machine chart and a having a large number of blogs writing about them) earlier this year with their debut track Got Me Goin’ and then impressed us further with their cowbell-tastic remix of one of our favourite songs of the last six months - Fickle Friends’ Swim.

Now there’s song 2 and no, we don’t mean a cover version of the Blur classic. Instead Katie and Ben bring us a piece of 80’s referencing soft-focus FM synthpop by the name of Magic. It sounds like all of the worst bits of the 80’s somehow transformed into something rather gorgeous (and doesn’t the chorus just sound a little bit like Haim covering Dollar? No, OK maybe that’s just us). If you like your pop dirty, grubby and a little bit nasty, then Magic isn’t going to do it for you, but if like us you’re not averse to something clean cut, pristine and blissfully pure then this one is for you. 

Paperwhite - Magic

Liu Bei - New Waves

Gorgeously cinematic and expansive, Infatuation, the debut track from Liu Bei (pronounced Lou Bay) is pretty much all we want from music. It’s a slightly out of focus reverb washed tune that deals with the dark obsessiveness of love, that from its opening twinkles to its dying breath of sombre drum sounds is very special indeed.  “You’re in my heart, you’re in my lungs,” lead vocalist Richard sings and the music does something similar, grabbing something deep inside, pulling hard and then setting flight.  If somebody told us it had been recorded in a church or the great hall of an abandoned stone castle we wouldn’t be surprised at all. 

With an already successful career writing music for TV shows and ads, and having spent a number of years playing acoustic solo songs Richard started Liu Bei as a new project and named it after an eight feet tall Chinese warlord. Eight feet tall sounds positively short compared to Infatuation; this song takes us to the balconies and belfries. Stunning. We can’t wait to hear more.

Infatuation was recorded and mixed by James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By Horses, Rhodes, Dancing Years) and will be released on the 7 July through paradYse/Transgressive Records.

Liu Bei - Infatuation

Monday 19 May 2014

Why Bands Have The Right To Play Reunion Shows

Warning: This is basically a rehash of a blog post we wrote back in 2012 about The Stone Roses reunion, in a slightly different form, following recent online debate about the forthcoming Libertines gig at Hyde Park, London. It’s rather like a reunion blog post (except that we’ve never actually stopped) about reunion gigs.

Before we start this piece can we all agree two things? 

1. That musicians have the right to play music. (This might sound obvious but it's a core point).

2. That professional musicians have the right to earn money from employing the skills of their trade if they are good enough? 

Ok, let’s move on….

The biggest debate that has consumed the music industry over the last few years undoubtedly revolves around the internet revolution and its effect on those within the industry to earn money from what they produce – from the destruction of the physical press and journalism to low payments to musicians through streaming. It shows that whilst the art is important, money is equally so.

At the same time that this unresolved debate has been going on, there’s been a growing trend for older bands to reform and play live again, often with the reunion announcements facing criticism from fans and the media. Remember when The Stone Roses announced they were getting back together after 16 years? Of course those who didn’t like the band in the first place criticised the decision, but there was also a vocal number of fans who felt that reforming was like desecrating the grave of the group.

In 2010 Frank Black of The Pixies, speaking about the band getting back together and touring told The Quietus “We're interested in anything that's going to earn us a fair wage. It's not to say it's not about art, but we made that art fucking 20 years ago. So forget the fucking goddamn art. This ain't about the art anymore. I did the arty farty part. Now it's time to talk about the money. How much do you think we should sell the tickets for? Where do you think we should play? How many shows do you think we should play?"

This year The Libertines have announced that they are reforming for a huge show at London’s Hyde Park with Doherty admitting he had severe financial problems, the money being offered for the gig being too lucrative to turn down. "I was recently called to family law court after a young girl I knew had told me I was the father of her baby. I have a year and a half old girl and I need to pay a lot of alimony, I'm in debt. It's very complicated for me to say no right now, I have financial problems,” he was quoted as saying on various websites including Gigslutz.

But with these reformations comes all the arguments against bands just doing it for the money: That the shows tarnish the act's legacy. That the gigs will just be a band going through the motions. That nostalgia is a bit sad and not very cool. That the audience will be full of old bald men and their wives. That art suffers when commerce takes over. These arguments may all be true, but are they arguments to deny the very existence of reunion gigs? That bands shouldn’t do them?

Let’s go back to the start of this piece. Is it really so wrong that a musician should be able to play music to an audience that wants to see it? Is there really anything wrong in that? It would be like telling an actor who had taken a few years out to do something else that he was no longer allowed to act again. It’s their profession. It’s what they’re skilled to do. They should be allowed to do it and if people want to pay them to do it then they should be allowed to do so. And even if the musicians earnt decent money when they were younger, why as they get older should they stop for good? Why shouldn't they or their audience be able to start again? The idea that rock ‘n’ roll / music is only for the young is not only an outdated one,  it’s pretty ageist as well.

Of course the shows may be bad. We all have days at work when we don’t perform at our best. If we perform badly all the time we’ll probably be out of a job fairly soon and it’s no different for musicians.

But a reunion show might also be great. A few years ago we saw the reformed Pulp and their gig was gloriously uplifting. Likewise we’ve heard good reports from other high profile reunion shows by bands such as Suede and the above mentioned Pixies.

However, a word against our own defence argument. Just because we believe that as a core principle a professional musician has the right to play music and earn money from it, neither do we believe that reunion shows are necessarily a good thing for creativity or something that we personally would regularly attend. Resting on your laurels and playing the hits might be fantastically entertaining for the fans but constantly looking into the past will ultimately sell the music industry short in the future.  Old bands become old people who will eventually die; there needs to be new blood to replace them. However, criticisms of artists playing reunion gigs just for the money, well we’re fine with that. After all, any artist who puts any price on anything they release – a vinyl record, a CD, a stream on Spotify, a piece of merchandise is at least in part doing it for the money. Otherwise why not just give everything away for free?

Sunday 18 May 2014

ELEL - New Waves

It’s very hard to write about 8 piece Nashville newcomers ELEL and their song 40 Watt without making some sort of lightbulb / power reference (after all the lyrics do so) but honestly this song is a real musical turn on that will brighten up your day (sorry). Described to us as ‘like early MGMT dusted with some Vampire Weekend’, 40 Watt is the sound of jumping on a psychedelic carousel and taking a spin into a world of multi-layered vocals, tropical steel pans and thumping drums. It has a real breadth of sonic vision. This is pop, but it’s not the sort of pop that we’d ever expect Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus to make (although all credit to them if they did). In fact 40 Watt bears similarities to a band like New York’s Cults, but with an extra kaleidoscopic twist.

The band’s debut release Geode is due to be released next month and 40 Watt is a taster of what to expect from that. If the rest of it matches the sparks-will-fly excellence of this tune then we’ll have a rather good record in our ears soon.

ELEL - 40 Watt

Saturday 17 May 2014

Billie Marten - New Waves

Billie Marten has a very good name. Anyone that could be associated to the legendary Dr and his boots gets our vote. She’s also fourteen; which in a perfect world wouldn’t be an issue, (age, just like sex, race, sexuality etc shouldn’t matter) but hell, what were you doing when you were fourteen? We were hanging around with our mates, kicking a football about and beginning to realise we’d quite like to see girls naked. Billie Marten is being way more productive than that.

Take a listen to Ribbon below and you’ll see why Billie's 'wasted youth' isn't being wasted at all. What starts as a relatively straightforward dusky acoustic journey through the landscape of a city, via guitar picking and soft strums somewhat akin to Laura Marling’s New Romantic, gradually swells with the addition of strings and droplets of piano to something pretty special. As Billie sings of “secrets of the city,” it’s impossible not to be stirred just a little. 

Billie Marten’s debut EP is due on June 23rd. 

Billie Marten - Ribbon 

Friday 16 May 2014

Bushstock 2014 - Preview

Come June and July there will be a noticeable slowdown in the output of Breaking More Waves because of 1 simple word; festivals. In the space of six weeks we’ll be hitting them hard at Field Day, Camden Crawl, Glastonbury, Blissfields, Festibelly and the one we’re previewing today; Bushstock.

Of all the events just listed Bushstock, which takes place on June 14th in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, is probably the most undemanding on the body and well behaved in terms of audience. It’s another one of those multi-venue wristband entry affairs, but it never overtaxes itself, providing just 4 main stages and 29 acts to choose from. 

Bushstock represents very good value, particularly if bought quickly after the on-sale period started, a super early bird ticket setting you back just £15, which is fantastic value for an afternoon and evening of live music (they are now up to £27.50).

As the event is run by Communion Music (founded by Founded by Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons), Kevin Jones (Bear’s Den), and acclaimed producer Ian Grimble) it’s unsurprising to find that the festival has a strong folky bias, which is centred around the largest venue, St Stephen's Church. It’s probably also unsurprising to find that a large amount of ticket holders take their place in the pews at St Stephen's and stay there all day, with previous years finding headlining performances from the likes of Willy Mason and Daughter. However, for those like us who are prepared to go a little more off-piste Bushstock is not just all about folk acts and typically the other three venues (Bush Hall, The Defectors Weld Pub and new for 2014 - The Sindercombe Social) compliment the main venue with plenty of indie and even pop thrills. In fact two years ago we witnessed the then on the way up Bastille play to no more than about 40 people in the Defectors Weld pub whilst the majority of punters crammed their way into the church.

Here’s some video footage from last year’s event.

So with the line up now finalised, streaming below is a playlist of 8 acts that Breaking More Waves has circled as ‘to watch’. At this point with no stages or timings announced they may all eventually clash, but that’s always the risk with festivals of any sort. 

You can buy tickets for Bushstock by using this link here and then take a listen to half an hours worth of great music from the event below.

Bushstock 2014 - Picks From Breaking More Waves

Thursday 15 May 2014

Brika - New Waves

Journalists love inventing new genres don’t they? And even when a style of music is a repeat or influenced by something that has gone before that doesn’t stop them either. Just put the word new (or nu for hipster spelling points) in front of something and voila, we’re in business. New wave, new rave we’ve even had the new wave of new wave. In fact we’re rather surprised that nobody has coined the term new minimalism, because when we look back at this decade and try to define what it sounded like, away from the over produced maximalism of homogenous vocoder club and r’nb influenced pop that dominates much of the UK charts these days, we’ll probably remember the likes of James Blake, The XX, Lorde and London Grammar as the new minimalists, who brought very little to the kitchen table (in a good way) allowing their music to breathe through stripping the songs back to the essentials.

So here’s a newcomer to that pot of new minimalism. Expectations by Miami’s Brika is a totally of the moment song; there’s belching pulses, drips of echoing electronics and sensual soulful vocals that sound like they could sing their way to ear-orgasm whatever style she chose to sing in. It’s an exquisitely well-mannered piece; nothing sounds out of place and certainly there’s no over-cooking in terms of its production. With its vocal call to take things slow, the lyrics suit its downtempo naked style perfectly. Remarkably all this is from a woman whose biggest influence is Coldplay! 

Brika - Expectations

Kyla La Grange - Wrecking Ball

Kyla La Grange’s transformation from slightly edgy folk-rock singer songwriter to electronic princess of credible pop has been pretty incredible and now it gets even better. Taking on Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball was always going to be a bit of a risk, for whatever you think of Miley there’s no denying that once you get past the tongues, nakedness and such like, Wrecking Ball is a higely powerful pop tune. Thankfully Kyla nails it.

Rather than rocking up and kicking ass Kyla takes the song on a different journey – one of subtlety and restraint. We can imagine a video treatment for this that involves Kyla dressed as a mermaid swimming under tropical waters rather than licking tools and swinging from a ball. In fact we reckon Kyla would make a bloody marvelous mermaid.

So in summary :Very good. No, more than very good. In fact this is quite close to A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

In other amazingness news, Kyla’s album (due for release on June 2nd) has a cover which is pretty much flawless (see here). Not a mermaid, but still pretty much perfect.

Kyla La Grange - Wrecking Ball

You - New Waves

“We are a bit weird but we mean well,” it states on the Soundcloud biography for You, a London based four piece who we first came across around Easter time when one of our favourite music blogs Just Music That I Like posted this song and confused the hell out of us, as nearly simultaneously we had posted an artist known as Y.O.U. The two couldn’t be more different, except for the fact that they are both equally good and both use keyboards, but in very different ways.

The You of today’s post consists of Anna Waldmann, Sam Campbell, Harrison Ball and Massimo Zeppetelli and they’ve captured our imagination with the haunting and claustrophobic sounding In Halves. It’s a song that has an eerie, unsettling edge to it, created through petal like vocals, soft horror film score piano and atmospheric guitars. It has a suitably weird video as well. But whilst the music might disturb a little there's an innate loveliness held within the song. Never has uneasy listening seemed so beautiful.

In Halves is taken from the band’s debut EP which is due on May 19 via Manchester’s MUK records. It shows that sometimes things are best left to the weirdos.

You - In Halves (Video)

Wednesday 14 May 2014

John Hancock - Left Me

If you like pop music we fail to see how you cannot love this new song from ANR front man John Hancock. All tropical grooves, thumps, shiny samples, keyboard twinkles, harmonies and a hook that’s hookier than Captain Hook’s hook, Left Me sounds like it's heading for a journey to paradise. Lyrically it might not all be gold and glitter though even if musically this song is what we'd imagine a rainbow to sound like. “You said goodbye, then kept trying to say hello, what were you’re reasons for keeping me on hold?” John questions before adding “I tried and tried to move on my life, you keep on returning so I never get it right.” Oh, relationships, they’re so confusing aren’t they? Why does anyone have them? Well, if we didn’t the world of pop would probably be very empty wouldn’t it? Keep mucking them up musicians, your songs rely on you doing so.

John Hancock - Left Me

Len - Steal My Sunshine (Re-Release)

We’re not sure if we’ve ever posted any release from Alcopop! Records on the blog before today, which really is a bit sinful; after all here is a label that in many respects shares the same ethos as Breaking More Waves; fiercely independent, run by just a couple of guys who do it because they love doing it, don't take it all too seriously and who occasionally do things a bit differently. Wristwatch EP anyone? A business card single? A My First Tooth scarf set? Yes, Alcopop! has released all those things.

So today let’s make amends, by streaming their 100th release.

And in true Alcopop! style it’s something a little different. Something that technically as a new music blog we shouldn’t be covering, because this is a song that has already been a worldwide hit years ago (no. 8 in the UK, no.3 in Australia, no.1 in Canada, no.3 in Ireland, no.9 in the U.S), but it’s such a great song that we just couldn’t resist. As Jack and Kev from the label explain on their website, they were keen to channel some of the fun they have doing the label and release one of their favourite songs of all time to mark the number one hundred.

So this re-release of Steal My Sunshine comes after a series of drunken twitter messages that the Alcopop! boys had with Marc Constanzo from Len. Being the good sort that he is he agreed to re-release the song on Alcopop! via tape, tee shirt and sunglasses (all limited to 100 copies of course), plus there’s also special bundle packages available with some special extras thrown in. (Oh and it's on iTunes as well).

So whilst technically this isn’t new music, we’re throwing the rule book out the window today (remember the most important rule of pop – there are no rules) and streaming an old song. Listening to Steal My Sunshine is like meeting up stone cold sober with a drunken one night stand you had over a decade ago and realising that you may have been drunk, but hell, your sexy partner in crime was, and still is, pretty damn hot. In fact you want to do it all over again. Hurrah!

Get your order in to Alcopop! now by using this link.

Len - Steal My Sunshine