Monday 30 June 2014

Glastonbury 2014 - Review (Part 1)

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is arguably the world’s greatest festival, with thousands of acts performing over a multitude of stages over the course of five days of incredible madness, joy and the most crazy weather known to man (this year, electrical storms into brilliant sunshine in the space of a few hours). Glastonbury is also an event that is utterly over saturated by media channels. Even if you weren’t there if you have any passing interest in the event by now you’ll have probably watched or heard some of the larger acts perform via the BBC’s coverage either on the TV, via its online stream or its various radio channels, as well as reading about events on site as they happened via professional web publications and social media.

Therefore less than 24 hours after the event a traditional review of Glastonbury seems almost irrelevant and out of date. So instead we’re going to be posting a number of shorter posts with a more personal take on the festival – after all that’s what we believe a DIY blog does best - with at least a few things that maybe the media didn't cover as much. So we won't be covering the whole did Dolly mime debate.

You’ll probably have seen many fantastic photos on line from the professional photographers who shoot Glastonbury. However in this day and age the vast majority of us capture our own personal memories on a small hand held device, be it a digital camera or a phone. Those professional photos may look great, but they don’t necessarily mean anything to the individual.

So here's our first post / review. Professional? Us? No, we're keeping this strictly amateur.

14 Badly Taken iPhone Pics From Glastonbury With No Filters, Zoom Or Photoshop Touch Ups

Some mud. There was quite a lot of this. It varied in colour, texture and wetness. But it was still undeniably mud.

Obligatory men who have rolled in the mud photo.

It wasn't all mud all the time though. It's fair to say the weather was indecisive. Wellies and sunblock were required, sometimes at the same time. 

There are a lot of flags on site at Glastonbury.

A lot of people seemed to decide that despite the many flags on site, they needed to bring their own. This breed of person seemed to spend most of their time standing near the front at either the Pyramid Stage (pictured) or The Other Stage (the 2nd stage), obscuring the view for many of the people behind them.

The Pyramid stage is a very odd place to be. Thousands of people congregate there to see the big names. The majority of them will be so far back that even if their view isn't obscured by the flag wavers they will end up watching it on the big screens either side of the stage. This strikes us as an odd way of going to see a live band or artist - after all you could do this at home by watching the telly and it's a lot easier / quicker to go to the toilet in between acts. We prefer a more immersive-close-up-whites-of-their-eyes experience, being able to really feel something powerful from the performance as much as the music. This is a picture of Dolly Parton (you can just about spot her) performing. You might think we were a long way back. But there were in the region of 55,000 people behind us.

Not every stage pulls such big crowds though.

The Pyramid Stage from behind. A pretty dull place to be. It also looks much smaller from the back than the front.

The press tent. This is what part of the world's media looks like eg: Not very exciting. 

These evil fishermen were pretty scary.

So were these freaky babies.

Block 9. An impressive looking structure that sadly looks less impressive when you see it from behind and see it's just a bunch of scaffolding and cladding.

One of the best things about Glastonbury is the lack of separation between the camping sites and the stages. It means if you arrive early you can camp really close to your favourite area. These campers had a thirty second walk to the John Peel Stage.

Glastonbury is intense. If you come for all five days as we did unless you are very careful and pace yoursself you'll probably come home broken. Expect post-Glastonbury blues. You might even find yourself crying afterwards for no reason. It looks like this man didn't pace himself so well. We hope he's home, safe, washed, dry and warm now. We also hope that whatever broke him was incredible. We expect it was.

Further 'reviews' to follow.

Monday 23 June 2014

Breaking More Waves Is 6 Years Old Today - Some Blog Related Thoughts

Breaking More Waves is six years old today. *Applause*

The first words on this blog came from a quote from Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States. “We can draw lessons from the past but we cannot live in it.” It applied to our thoughts on popular music at the time, as well as the ever evolving format of amateur d-i-y music press. Those thoughts still hold true now. Breaking Waves started as a paper fanzine, but that format was dead. Long live Breaking More Waves! (Internet blog version)

Six years may not seem much of an achievement, but personally for us it is. For anyone that has written a new music blog for any length of time, particularly a one author / one voice effort such as this one against a background of full-on day job miles away from the music industry or journalism, kids, social life etc, will tell you it isn’t always easy, especially if you try (as we do) to post something nearly every day. 

It’s why now as each year goes on we stop and celebrate our blog birthday.

Rather like last year, in that moment of celebration we’re offering a few naval gazing thoughts, this year six of them (for obvious reasons) up about our experiences created from writing Breaking More Waves 

1. New Music Blogging Is Important (But Not That Important)

This year more than any other we’ve had the opportunity to meet quite a few of the artists that we’ve written about and supported regularly on the blog. What has amazed us is that these artists 1. Know of the blog. 2. Have seen the posts we’ve written. 3. Are really thankful for our support. 4. (Bizarrely) are as excited to meet us as we are them. 

What is amazing about all of this (particularly item 4 in that list) is that Breaking More Waves is just somebody sitting at home, listening to music and writing about it on his laptop. It’s really not that important. But to some artists, particularly those who aren’t on major labels, who don’t have a PR company behind them to help them out, who aren’t played on the radio and who don’t have a manager, having somebody out there on the internet spreading the word about their music, giving them a few hundred extra plays on their Soundcloud with each post is very important to them.

Sometimes it can be even more than that. This year in particular there have been a number of artists that have been featured on the blog who haven’t had any of the support infrastructure we’ve just outlined, who have contacted us to tell us that they’ve had the likes of managers or record labels A&R get in contact with them saying that they’d heard them via this blog. This is frankly quite staggering and a bit weird.

But irrespective of if writing this blog is important to others or not, it’s important to us, which brings us to point 2…..

2. We Do It Because We Do

Some people write music blogs as a stepping stone to career opportunities in journalism or the music industry (although we suspect the chances of those opportunities coming from writing a music blog are far lower than what they used to be), others do it to generate some income (again the chances of earning anything worthwhile from a new blog are now very limited), others do it to help promote the artists they love. Whilst there’s certainly an element of the last part of that statement in why we do it, our main reason is simply this; we do it because we want to. Six years in and the process of listening, writing and sharing is addictive. We just do it because we love doing it. We do it because it's fun. 

3. People Are Generally Bloody Nice

Despite what you might think if you use lots of social media, our interactions in real life with artists, their representatives, readers of the blog (yes we’ve actually met people who read this thing and some of them have now become friends) shows that people are actually alright. In fact most of them are bloody lovely. It’s heart-warming to discover how decent most people are.

4. People Are Generally Bloody Nice (2)

At the end of this January myself and fellow music blogger Adam from Alphabet Bands took on a challenge to write and create blog posts non-stop (except for food and comfort breaks) for 24 hours. In doing so we asked people to sponsor us with all money received donated to Cancer Research. We hoped to raise a couple of hundred quid. We actually raised £1,500. People were incredibly generous. More than we could ever imagine. It is undoubtedly the single best thing we have ever done since writing Breaking More Waves and we’d like to thank every single person that read a blog post (we managed 1 every 45 minutes, which wasn’t too bad considering some of them were very long essays and we also scrapped one very long post halfway through writing as we tied ourselves up in tired knots) and sponsored us.

5. Being Independent Is Very Important To Us

Independent doesn’t mean only covering independent artists. Far from it. It means being independent of mind and unfunded. That means being able to cover what we want, how we want, without any other influencing factors.

6. We're Not The Oldest Blog In Town But We're One Of The Older Bloggers

And because pop music is obsessed by youth (hi Radio 1 we still listen to you a fair amount – you’re attempt to discard your over 25 listenership hasn’t worked completely) we sometimes wonder if maybe we’re just getting too old for it all. But then we think of John Peel, a man who was utterly in love with music till the day he died; and that’s how we still feel. Our body may be older but our mind still feels the same as we did in our early twenties.

It doesn’t look like we’re stopping this any time yet*

*Except that is for the next week or so, whilst we take a holiday of sorts and come Wednesday head off to Glastonbury festival. We’ll be back once we’ve recovered from that. Keep an eye on our tweets for all things Glastonbury.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Camden Crawl 2014 - Review

When we previewed this year’s Camden Crawl festival here (rebranded as CC14) we suggested that the event had lost its way, falling behind to other multi-gig festivals that had more vision, a greater sense of identity and more ‘must-see’ acts on their bill. Certainly on the Friday of this two-dayer it seemed that our opinion was correct, the lack of crowds in any of the venues showing the lack of support for the event.  However, on the Saturday things were noticeably busier, the one day wristbands obviously being the preferred option for most – perhaps if Camden Crawl runs again next year running on just Saturday may make more economic sense?

With wristband collected (where we were able to watch 80’s pop crooners ABC soundcheck from the ticket exchange point at Koko) and phone app timetable in hand (which thankfully was a lot better than the events poorly designed website) we swerved in between the tourists taking pictures of Camden punks being used to advertise Doctor Marten boots and grabbed as much live music as our time would allow.

Here are 10 things we learnt about Camden Crawl 2014 (A review of sorts).

1. It Isn’t As Good As Brighton’s Great Escape

As another multi-day, multi-venue, wristband access festival, comparisons with Brighton’s Escape (the UK’s market leader in terms of this type of event) are inevitable. Certainly in terms of value for money Camden Crawl was some way behind. At Great Escape we saw over 40 acts, at Camden Crawl we witnessed just 16, yet ticket prices for both events were about the same. Whilst both festivals had reasonably good quality in terms of the acts, Great Escape shaded this as well with more must sees, buzz band and overseas bookings.

We also witnessed a few organisational problems at Camden Crawl. On Friday the show at The Lock Tavern started half an hour late with no information to inform punters of this - we saw several people walk away and head off to other venues because they weren’t clear what was going on. We also entered two venues (one again being The Lock Tavern) who weren’t properly checking wristbands, leading to quite a few punters watching shows who hadn’t paid for tickets.

2. Being Not As Good As Great Escape Has Some Advantages

The lower attendance meant that at no point did we witness any queues to get into venues. One in one out was a phrase that didn’t need to be used.

3. Anneka Could Be The UK’s Answer To Grimes

Combining laptop, pads and percussion Brighton’s Anneka (no not the jump-suited sky runner from Treasure Hunt and Challenge Anneka, but a different one) provided one of the more interesting sets of the weekend. An example of how a modern ‘band’ operates Anneka pulled pretty much all of her equipment out of a small rucksack, set up in just a few minutes and created a mix of warped experimental electronic pop that was both innovative and challenging but still laced with pretty melodies. This was D-I-Y pop of our times and rather good it was too.

4. Violet Skies Could Have Won X-Factor

Why? Because this Welsh lass has a pretty much flawless voice. Thankfully she hasn’t gone down the ‘this means everything to me, I’ll suck Cowell’s corporate cock for success’ route though. Instead last weekend she played to a small half empty room above a pub in Camden . If there’s any justice she won’t be playing that size of venue for too much longer though. Her slick modern electronic pop would sit comfortably alongside the likes of Jessie Ware and Banks  and seems designed for much bigger places, if she can get the exposure. Let’s just hope that Cowell doesn’t get his slimy hands on her first.

5. We're Not Sure What A Hipster Is These Days, But We're Pretty Sure Camden Crawl Was Relatively Hipster Free

Silly glasses, perfectly groomed facial hair, retro clothed 20 somethings were notable by their relative absence at Camden Crawl, which seemed to have a slightly older than average demographic than the majority of multi-venue festivals we've attended. Maybe bigger acts like ABC, Atari Teenage Riot and Steve Mason on the bill helped, or maybe because of the lack of 'of the moment bands' the cool kids stayed away? Or maybe it's just Camden itself - once the mecca of young London, now it's just not the got to place for those in the know perhaps?

6. Sometimes Playing Early In The Day Means Hardly Anyone Will Turn Up To See You

Arrows of Love faced the near impossible task of playing an early doors set at The Electric Ballroom (one of the larger venues on the Camden Crawl) to a sparse crowd on the Friday night, but they hit it as hard as they could. What Arrows of Love lack in tunes they made up for in sheer physicality, from lead singer Nima’s attempts to create a one man circle pit stumbling/ grabbing / falling / leaning onto selected punters in the crowd, to the band’s Mad Max dragged through a hedge in just their underwear styling. Raw, chaotic and leaving you numb afterwards, Arrows of Love are the vodka and arsenic cocktail of rock and roll. Brutal and sexy at the same time.

7. Sometimes Playing Early In The Day Means Some People Will Turn Up To See You.

Relative newcomer Eloise Keating has already featured on Breaking More Waves with her haunting electronic production Be My Ghost. For her reasonably well attended and received early afternoon low-key show in the Camden Eye things were strapped back to just a simple guitar backing and Eloise’s sultry and syrupy voice, demonstrating that Be My Ghost is no one off, although we may have to wait some time before we hear more in the recorded form. 

8. Sometimes Playing Early In The Day Means Lots Of People Will Turn Up To See You.

24 hours after Arrows of Love, in the same venue, Dry The River’s brand of heart pumping pastoral folk, including a number of songs from their forthcoming second album, found a big crowd. Perhaps it’s not just about what time you play as to what size of audience you’ll get at a festival then?

9. Sometimes What A Pub Needs Is Pom Poms And Dance Routines

Down at the Beatrice (formerly The Wheelbarrow) Femme’s take on sassy day-glo pop was a d-i-y explosion of fun. Imagine Angel Haze, M.I.A, Charli XCX and Gwen Stefani bringing ridiculous energy and booty shaking pom pom punching dancing ladies (The Bullet Girls) to a Camden boozer. By the end we had to get a bucket to catch all of our sweat, if there was a thermometer in the room it would have exploded. Hear Femme's recently released cover of Sophisticated Boom Boom below.

10. Important Chicken Update: There's Not As Much Chicken In Camden As At Shepherd's Bush But There's More Than In Brighton

See item 5 and 6 of Bushstock review here, but there's still more than in Brighton. So Camden Crawl beats the Great Escape on that one, but Bushstock wins overall.

All in all Camden Crawl was a straightforward and enjoyable event. The lack of queues, the relative closeness of most of the venues and the overall quality of the acts were all in its favour. What it lacked was the crowds in numbers and the 'bands of the  moment' to make it feel really exciting. With a few modifications (turning it into a one dayer, reducing the number of venues slightly and a better sense of curation with more must see acts) the Camden Crawl could still be an important date on the UK festival calendar, but for now it still has some catching up to do.

Acts seen at Camden Crawl 2014: Paul Orwell & The Night Falls, Voilet Bones, Arrows Of Love, Violet Skies, Anneka, Brolin, D/R/U/G/S, Blair Jollands, Eloise Keating, Japser Mook, Kill Moon, Dry The River, Au Revoir Simone, Femme, Farao, Rainer

Femme - Sophisticated Boom Boom

Friday 20 June 2014

Glastonbury Festival 2014 - Preview / Tips

Trying to write a short preview of Glastonbury festival is like attempting to summarise Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace in a couple of sentences; even if you do manage it, you’ll only scratch the surface. For Glastonbury is huge; the number of people that will be decanting to Worthy Farm in Somerset the weekend after this one (25th-29th June) is not far off the total population of Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth with a capacity of 177,000.

So instead of even attempting to summarise it we’re simply going to give some basic Glastonbury tips based on our experiences which started way back in 1994 and have continued on and off for 20 years, particularly aimed at newcomers to the event. None of these tips are rocket science, but sometimes even the simplest things get forgotten.

1. Before you go

One of the best guides to Glastonbury is the Glasto Earth site (here) which gives detailed information on pretty much everything Glasto related together with realistic site photos. Have a read through that. In fact forget this tips list and just go there.

2. When you go

Get there on the Wednesday if you possibly can. There’s not that much going on and it gives you a day to explore the site and get your bearings. Also you’ll get a much better choice of where to camp – the earlier the better is our rule. We’d also suggest having a look at the site map before you go (after reading Glasto Earth) and have a rough idea of where you’d like to camp, so that you’re not wandering around the site aimlessly. If you get to where you want to camp and it’s full the campsite stewards are very helpful about directing you to campsites with space – but if you get there early you should be fine.

3. When you get there

One of the worst parts of Glastonbury can be getting onto site, particularly if travelling by car as the walk from some car parks (it’s a lottery which one you’ll be allocated to) just to the entrance gates can be a long and tiring one, especially when you’re laden down with heavy kit. We’ve actually seen grown adults crying on the way in, albeit this was in a worst case scenario when a storm was lashing down and there were huge pedestrian queues to get into site. If you’re unlucky and have a bad experience getting onto site, remember it will get better and within a few hours that will all be forgotten.

4. Whilst you’re there

The Pyramid stage might look fantastic on TV but the reality can be (depending where you’re standing) very different. Remember seeing all those flags waving in front of the Pyramid stage on the telly? Didn’t they look pretty? Well, if you’re further back in the audience (particularly at night time) that’s probably pretty much all you’ll see. Last year we went to the Pyramid stage twice all weekend, this year it will be a similar number of times. We strongly believe that if you’re the sort of person who just stays at the Pyramid stage all day long you really are missing out on what Glastonbury is about.

We love planning what artists we’re going to see at festivals and running between stages to see as many acts as possible. Glastonbury is the one exception where we don’t do too much planning, quite simply because there are too many stages that are too far apart with too many other things going on in between to plan too much. The old cliche about being able to spend 5 days at Glastonbury without seeing any music really is true. We suggest you choose a maximum of 4-6 must see acts a day and then just see how things go with the rest. Also remember that as there are a lot of people there, many of whom will want to see the same things as you, so it can take a long time to get anywhere. There will be gridlocks, there will be queues. Just accept it when it happens and don’t be a knob to the people around you.

Glastonbury is set in a valley. There’s a lot of clay soil. So take wellies. Whatever the forecast says. Because even a shower can create quite a bit of mud at Glastonbury and if the rain is heavy, despite the improvements to the drainage of the site over the years things can still get pretty horrendous. Everything you’ve read about Glastonbury mud is (unfortunately) probably true.

One of the things that makes Glastonbury a little different from many other larger festivals is that there is no divide between the ‘arena’ area and the camping. Once you’re through the gates and have your wristband, that’s it. So if you’re the sort of person that likes to try to sneak a can or two of alcohol past security into the arena at other festivals, you have no need to do so at Glastonbury. The advantage of this is that besides potentially saving you some money it means that generally the bars are a little less busy than at other big festivals. However when deciding on how much booze to bring bear in mind that in a worst case scenario you could be 30-40 minutes walk from the car park to the entrance gates if you’ve come by car and carrying a heavy load of alcohol is hard work.

Talking of booze; pace yourself. It’s a marathon not a sprint. No matter how excited you are to be at Glastonbury, if you go too hard too soon you’ll burn out and this is one festival where burning out early makes no sense considering the amount of money you’ve spent on a ticket. And if you do drink too much or take some sort of other illegal substance please don’t be boring and insist on boasting about it at the top of your voice at 5am on the campsite whilst people are trying to sleep. You don’t want to be the festival twat do you?

A tip we’re repeating from last year. How to keep clean: Simply take with you 1 plastic bowl, 1 water carrier, a single ring gas burner, some soap and a flannel. Hot washes a plenty! Much better than wet wipes. Some people will be amazed at the ‘extraordinary lengths’ you have gone to bringing this equipment onto site. They’re usually the same ones who have sweated buckets carrying forty cans of cheap nasty lager in. 

And that’s it – nothing too complex. If you’re going have a great time, we'd say 'see you there' but the chances amongst that many people are extremely limited. There’s no other festival quite like Glastonbury, if only because of its huge size. 

Thursday 19 June 2014

Laura Welsh - Break The Fall

Exposure and success have been a long time coming for Laura Welsh. After all it was in March 2012 that she first featured on Breaking More Waves and even before that she’d performed under the names Laura and the Tears (played on Radio 2 by that hip young tastemaker Terry Wogan) and Hey Laura. Now she’s gearing up to being a tiny bit better known as Here For You, the Gorgon City track she provides vocals for bursts (probably) into the top 10 of the UK singles chart this weekend.

With the Gorgon City song doing well it’s an undeniably an appropriate time for her to put out one of her own songs, capitalising on the attention. The tune that she does that with is Break The Fall, a big booming powerhouse that sounds like an amalgamation of some of the best bits of many of the British female vocal hits of the last few years, from Adele to Florence to Emeli and back again. 

Whilst Laura’s music may have changed stylistically over time one thing that seems to have remained constant is her ability to struggle with love. Previously we’ve heard her questioning it, finding a hollow emptiness in it and this time we’re finding her distrustful. “I want to love you but I’m just too cynical,” she booms. Come on Laura, don’t you know that it’s better to have lost in love than never to have loved at all? Throw your inhibitions to the world and go for it, a bit like the way this song does. You might regret it later, but at least you've had a go.

Laura Welsh - Break The Fall

Broods - Mother & Father

Here it is, the new single from New Zealand’s Broods, in which lead singer Georgia Nott expresses the fears of getting older and flying the parental nest. “I don't want to wake up lonely, I don't want to just be fine,” she sings. Most parents who have children that are getting near to or are at the age where departure may soon become inevitable will probably have a little shiver. 

We’re pretty sure that Ma Nott and Pa Nott must be pretty proud of Georgia and Caleb right now. For with Mother & Father’s glistening opulent synths combining with lyrics that anyone who has ever felt a little bit lost and under confident in this vast world will be able to connect with, Broods have produced a pop record that is crafted with elegance and feels both honest and human. 

In Breaking More Waves home country of the UK Broods play Latitude Festival on the 19th July and Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on the 22nd. The song is on iTunes now.

Broods - Mother & Father

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Too Many T's - 1992 Pt. II

Hip-hop probably isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect to find on Breaking More Waves, but sometimes we like to challenge preconceived ideas of what this blog is about. You might remember Too Many T’s from an introductory post nearly a year ago and now the UK groovy twosome are back with 1992 Pt.II, a full on old school tune that pays homage to the classic hip-hop sounds of the early 90’s. If flute riffs and big beats (Anyone remember the Big Beat Boutique? This would have stormed it there) are your thing, then this free download is a must.

If you get the chance to see Too Many T’s live, make sure you do so. Earlier this year we witnessed a predominantly indie rock crowd go from serious frowning and chin rubbing to full on dancing and hollering along "this is how we do," to their set – these dudes have the skills but also know how to have fun.

Too Many T’s have a new single Running Wild due in September and a full length album to follow, but it won’t see the light of day till 2015. Until know grab this piece of boom bap goodness.

Too Many T's - 1992 Pt.II

Lana Del Rey - Shades Of Cool (Video)

So what does everyone think of the new Lana album then?  Whatever you think of her purring explorations of sadness, bad boyfriends and terrible sapless girls that she likes to take the role of, one thing is clear; a Lana Del Rey record sounds instantly like a Lana Del Rey record. In fact we’re struggling to think of a modern pop artist whose songs are so identifiable. So much pop is homogenous, interchangeable and washed with the same tones that whatever you think of Lana’s sound, it’s very much her own. How the new album will work on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival next week we're not so sure, but let's wait and see. We suspect certain sectors of the audience will be looking round a bit bored, after all the record is very one-speed-slumbersome in its pace.

Yesterday Lana released a video for one of our favourite tracks from the album, Shades of Cool, a beautifully twangy, cinematic piece that surely should have been saved for the next James Bond film. One of the reasons the song is a favourite is because of the second butt jerking orgasm guitar solo we’ve heard in a pop record in just over a week (the other one was in this song). Only this one’s really dirty and as it kicks in Lana eats a strawberry and we all know that when eaten properly strawberries are the sexiest food out there. Right? Watch out also for the bit where Lana emerges out of the water – that’s pure James Bond and (we assume) meant to be funny. We certainly found it so.

Lana Del Rey - Shades Of Cool (Video)

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Camden Crawl 2014 - Preview

The Camden Crawl is a multi-venue festival with an identity crisis. It stretches as far back as 1997 when after 2 years of being a relatively straightforward event in North London (the first in 1995 had 5 venues, 15 bands and a CD for £5) it rebranded itself as The Intercity Crawl and stopped off in Manchester and Glasgow as well as Camden and used one London venue that wasn’t even in Camden at all (Kentish Town). Last year it went one further and relocated to Ireland (yes and renamed itself Camden Crawl Dublin) before returning to its scuzzy London home in 2014 with a new moniker; CC14.

CC14 has some noticeable changes to previous years. First, the date has shifted from its traditional May Day Bank holiday time-slot, when competition with other similar events was fierce. Second there’s been a shift back towards its indie and underground musical roots, although the inclusion of 80’s pop act ABC stands out like a very curious and sore thumb on the bill. In fact it’s the line-up of the festival that continues to give the event an identity crisis. With each venue being given to a different so called ‘tastemaker’ organisation who were given open briefs to curate their own line-up, the Camden Crawl has little sense of cohesion, something that other similar festivals still manage to achieve, sometimes from providing a more expansive line up, other times from settling for one particular niche.

It probably explains why The Camden Crawl has been offering 2 for the price of 1 ticket deals recently just a few weeks before the event. Despite having been one of the first UK multi venue wristband access festivals it hasn’t really capitalised on its status. The constant rebrands, its lack of clear direction and a line up that lacks the wow factor (a quick search on twitter finds very few punters tweeting about their excitement for the event) make it look a lesser cousin compared to many of its original imitators.

However, that’s not to say that Camden Crawl won’t be a highly enjoyable event. With day time comedy acts and late club nights fleshing out the festival it still has plenty to offer. But on face value, in what is now a very competitive market, this festival is going to need to stand tall, not crawl, to reassert itself as a market leader.

Camden Crawl 2014 takes place on Friday 20th June and Saturday 21st June 2014. Tickets are still available here. We’ll be publishing a review very soon after the event finishes. Check back then to see what the reality of the festival was like.

In the meantime here are two recommendations of acts to see that might suit readers of Breaking More Waves:

Violet Skies - The Lock Tavern - 7.45pm-8.30pm Friday

D/R/U/G/S - Electric Ballroom - 11.15pm-12.15am Friday

Chlöe Howl - Disappointed (Video)

So where have we got to with Chlöe Howl? She first started making appearances on the internet around the same time as London Grammar, yet since then they seem to have had quite different paths mapped out for them. London Grammar’s was simple – a clear smooth one with no junctions, crossroads, potholes, dead end corners, or dog turds left by uncaring hound owners, just signposts marked single, album, tour, another single, another bigger tour. Yet with Chlöe the path has been a bit more zig-zag and at times has resembled a maze. 

There's a sense that Chlöe is very close to getting out of the maze though, for there are new songs being released and finally there will be an LP. We heard one last weekend at Bushstock called Tomorrow’s Far Away and yesterday she put out another. You won’t be disappointed with Disappointed (sorry we couldn’t resist that) which features a roller skating derby video and a slightly rockier sound, confirming what we suggested in our Bushstock review (here) about Paramore and substitute singers.

Chlöe Howl - Disappointed (Video)

Monday 16 June 2014

Lyza Jane - New Waves

Fans of Banks, FKA Twigs, Indiana and slow burning menacing pop music brushed with touches of brooding trip hop – here’s another relative newcomer to add to your list. London’s Lyza Jane has come to our attention with a song called Wilderness, a track full of devilish electronic beats, gritty chugging atmospherics and sensuous feminine vocals to completely lose yourself in. According to the notes on Lyza’s Soundcloud the track was produced by former Black Grape member Danny Saber who has worked with the likes of Madonna, Seal, Marilyn Manson and Public Enemy – a fairly high pedigree. Wilderness has a weightiness to it that is as oppressive as it is impressive, and we’ve certainly felt both whilst listening; press play and let this one throb in your ears. 

If you’re going to Glastonbury Festival this year Lyza is playing early Thursday afternoon at the relatively small Rabbit Hole stage – the same stage, day and nearly the same time that we saw a relatively baby like Bastille play there in 2011, so that particular stage certainly seems a place to catch the potential stars of tomorrow if the enormo-structures of the Pyramid, Other stage etc don't fully float your boat.

Lyza Jane - Wilderness

Lolo - Hit and Run (Video)

Having signed with Pete Wentz’s label DCD2 Records recently, Lauren Pritchard, now recording under the name of Lolo returns with a new song Hit and Run and a video that’s the most bad-ass thing she’s done yet. The action starts in a pole dancing club where after initially appearing to enjoy a bit of a flirt, Lolo reveals that all she’s really after is revenge. No pain is too little for those she seeks. This probably isn’t one to watch if violence for entertainment purposes isn’t your cup of tea.

The song is equally as fiery as the video. “I was brought up as a southern belle, I grow into the queen of hell,” she sings as this punchy soulful showstopper launches into a lyrical spray of blood, guns and getaway cars. This one has attitude by the bag full.

Lolo - Hit and Run (Video)

Sunday 15 June 2014

Bushstock 2014 - Review

Not all festivals are created equal and Bushstock stands out because of its convenience and well -mannered audience. If you want dangerous, dirty and full-on moshpits then Bushstock is probably best avoided, but for the rest of you, it is if nothing else, a very painless festival and an event that oozes quality.

Based in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, this now annual one dayer took place in four venues all within easy walking distance of each other. It’s centre piece was (as in past years) St Stephen’s Church (pictured above) which hosted mostly, but not exclusively, acoustic based artists and remained busy all day. There were also three other venues; the elegant Bush Hall, complete with chandeliers, disco ball and grand ornate mirrors on the wall, plus two pubs, The Sindercombe Social (which replaced last year’s sweatbox underground bunker Ginglik) and the smaller Defector's Weld. Due to the close proximity of the venues it was possible to catch a large number of full sets with very little effort and venue hopping was straightforward - we experienced none of the ‘at capacity’ problems that many multi-venue festivals face.

Here are 10 things that we learnt at Bushstock 2014:

1. The early bird really does get value for money.

An early bird ticket for Bushstock 2014 set you back just £15. For that we saw 10 bands – just over 5 hours of live music.

2. There still is very little bush at Bushstock.

We mentioned this in our review last year and it continues into 2014. Because Bushstock had a relatively high quota of acoustic and folk acts (amongst their number Hozier, Eaves, Luke Sital-Singh and Alex Vargas) if you believe folk music clichés you might have expected the number of beards in the audience to be high; however, almost exactly the opposite seemed to be the case. It seemed that in this corner of West London beards are out and clean shaven is in. Hats off to Jack Garrett though who delivered a fine beard, as well as a deeply impressive mid-afternoon set that marks his name down as the UK’s rising answer to Chet Faker. Clearly excited at playing to such a large crowd (his inappropriate exclamation of ‘Jesus Christ this is surreal’ in the church got a big laugh) his deftly executed mix of electronic soul and twisted guitars fully deserved the standing ovation he received at the end. Listen to him below.

3. A cushion is the new ‘must have’ at festivals.

Or at least at Bushstock, for sitting on a hard wooden pew in a church for a number of hours requires some extra padding in the backseat area.

4. Chlöe Howl might be making pop music, but there’s a rock star inside her wanting to jump out.

The evidence?

Her band. 

Put it this way, this man doesn’t look he would have been in Steps, Girls Aloud or One Direction does he? Yet he rocked out with Miss Howl.

Her footwear. 

Not just DMs straight out the box, but proper scuffed up and well worn. 

Her energy.

Temperatures in Bush Hall may have been bordering on sauna like but that didn’t stop Chlöe Howl giving it her all, striding the stage with a don’t mess with me stomp suggesting that if Paramore ever need a new singer she could do a pretty decent job.

5. Shepherd’s Bush loves chicken.

As we walked between the 4 venues of Bushstock 2014 we counted 11 different fast food chicken takeaways / restaurants and very little else. Yes, of course there was a Nandos.

It's a shame this website (click here) never got going. It could have just posted pictures from Shepherd's Bush.

6. It’s not always Christmas at Chicken Cottage.

Last year in our review of Bushstock, we suggested that at one of these fast food joints, Chicken Cottage, it’s always Christmas, as dusty and tired looking Christmas baubles hung from the ceiling, every day of the year. We were wrong. The decorations are no more. Christmas has cancelled this summer. But you can still get a burger (chicken obviously but veggie varieties are also available), chips and a soft drink there for £2.89 (a 4p increase from last year economics fact fans). Now that’s what we call cheap festival food.

7. Layla is another word for lovely.

Shoved into a small corner stage of The Sindercombe Social, Layla’s blend of girl next door piano based pop was utterly adorable, possessing an intimacy that had the ability to turn even the most rugged football hooligan into a fluttery mess of sweet affections. Songs like Yellow Circles, New Year and Black Mud were rolled out with an easy on the ear sensitivity that felt perfect for the later part of a Saturday afternoon – the musical equivalent of a great cup of steaming coffee, a good book and a hug from someone you love. 

8. If we were to define cool we would write it like this: Honeyblood.

Two girls. Guitar and drums. A ‘we’re just doing this because we like doing it and don’t give a sh*t if anyone else cares or not’ attitude in The Defector's Weld pub. Great clothes. Great hair. From Scotland. The sort of band that make you think ‘yeah I want to be in a rock n roll band.’ That is Honeyblood.

9. Even god cannot stop corporate sponsorship.

Posters for the beer company that was one of the sponsors this year’s Bushstock inside the church? Yes, the power of the sponsor is more powerful than the lord. Praise the lager.

10. Saint Raymond does what he does well.

His indie pop may not have smacked of originality but it was packed with hooks, riffs and summery jangles that were virtually impossible not to shake a leg at in the live environment. All this with a guitarist who looked like the rock version of Gary Barlow and some men dressed in banana costumes in the audience as well.

Bushstock 2014. For fans of great music and chicken; one of our favourite one day multi-venue festivals in the UK.

Jack Garrett - Worry

Saturday 14 June 2014

Misty Miller - Taxi Cab (Video)

The last time we came across Misty Miller she was giving two fingers and a fair few shouts of “f*ck you,” to the noise police who had shut her live set down at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival where she’d been booked to play an outside tented stage clearly designed for quiet acoustic artists, not ballsy dirty rock n roll that was the musical equivalent of shagging against a brick wall in a dark cellar with half your clothes still on and no contraceptive. Maybe the bookers of Great Escape hadn’t realised that Misty had grown up a lot and wasn’t the same artist that we suggested was One To Watch back in 2010.

Now Misty’s back with a video for Taxi Cab, a song that we originally featured last year and will be released as a single on June 16th. Here are the key points that you need to know about this video.

It features zombies.

It features a night bus.

The zombies are quite horny.

Misty seems to find this all quite fun.

So do we.

It's probably not for the easily offended.

That’s it. It’s basically horny Zombies getting horny to horny sounding rock n roll. That’ll do very nicely.

Misty Miller - Taxi Cab (Video)

Friday 13 June 2014

Lucky Elephant - The British Working Man (Video)

Are you a regular reader of Breaking More Waves? If you are here’s a test for you.

What album was our ninth favourite of 2009? What you can’t remember? It was Starsign Trampolene by Lucky Elephant. Still none the wiser? If you don't know the band or their music then the chances are that the one time you may have heard a Lucky Elephant tune is on this Danio yoghurt advert (also featuring comedy TV chap Harry Hill).

Now finally Lucky Elephant are back with their second (no, no, not sophomore as it says on the Lucky Elephant You Tube description, we’re in the UK and the word second is perfectly adequate thank you) album The Rainy Kingdom and from it comes The British Working Man which has all the quirky nostalgic charm of tracks like the self-titled tune Lucky Elephant and the summery grooves of Reverend Tisley and his Magic Lantern that brought us to the band in the first place.

In an odd way The British Working Man reminds us of the work of Public Service Broadcasting with its old fashioned vocal samples, even although musically it's very different. Like Reverend Tisley and his Magic Lantern the tune has a rather cute animated video that similar to the band’s music is a welcome alternative to the big budget butt shaking gloss pop pieces we’re so used to consuming these days. It’s this sense of being totally out of place and without a care in the world for fashion that makes everything about Lucky Elephant just that bit special.

Lucky Elephant - The British Working Man (Video)

Thursday 12 June 2014

Jake Isaac - Long Road

Back in April when we introduced Jake Isaac to Breaking More Waves we mentioned ‘the beefier organic stomp and bash of Long Road which has hints of gospel, rock and folk within its melee.’ Now we’re streaming the song properly for two reasons. First because it’s going to be featured on Jake’s forthcoming Warchild EP (due 28th June) and second because the recording now up on line has been remastered for your all-important quality listening experience.

We’ve previously compared Isaac to some sort of George Ezra and Michael Kiwanuka hybrid - so does that make him George Michael then? Well as far as we know Jake’s not been arrested for any public toilet lewd acts or covered Careless Whisper yet, so maybe he isn’t. Also this one has more of an exhilarating hell for leather feel to it than anything George or Michael have done. So as Jake comes out fighting with Long Road we might have to re-evaluate our reference points, but take a listen yourself and at least agree with us that Long Road is a stirring tune ready for a good old holler along to, and that Jake Isaac has some voice.

Jake Isaac - Long Road

Wednesday 11 June 2014

The Night VI - Wonderlust

Isn’t it about time that we had a few more eyes shut, butt cheeks clenched, head thrown back, orgasm-like guitar solos in pop music again? All this 'going for the drop' stuff is getting a bit dull isn’t it? Thankfully The Night VI have got the right idea on their way better than good single Wonderlust (not as far as we are aware a tribute to the Heather Nova album of the same name) which has been shared, unveiled, released etc to the internet today.

“I’m in love I’m in love with the idea of you,” sings Sophie Rose Harper and as she does we once again fall in love with far more than just the idea of this band, but the real thing. Wonderlust finds The Night VI taking a very American 80’s sound and adding imagery to suit - Route 66 and drinking whisky in a saloon bar get mentions, but if we’re honest the thing we’re most excited about is THAT guitar solo. It is categorically the hottest, sweatiest and sexiest of guitar solos we’ve heard for a very long time. Strap yourself in at around 2 minutes 30 seconds into Wonderlust and have some clean tissues at hand.

The Night VI - Wonderlust

Field Day 2014 - Review

The last time Breaking More Waves attended London’s Field Day in 2011 we left disappointed with an event that on paper looked fantastic, but in reality just didn’t deliver, with poor organisation, poor site layout, poor sound quality and bad mannered audiences. However, it seems that in the past three years lessons have been learned and minor quibbles aside the expanded 2014 2 day event was as good in practice as it seemed in theory, particularly on the Saturday where musical eclecticism and greater choice of stages provided some genuine natural highs.

Here are 10 things we learnt about Field Day 2014.

1. A sunny festival is always better than a rainy one.

Because you can sit down anywhere without thinking when you fancy a rest. Because sunlight lifts the spirits. Because it’s less tiring. Because it’s more convenient.  Because everyone looks better in the sun. Because your clothes stay clean. All very obvious, but at 10am on the Saturday it looked highly likely that none of these joys were to be experienced as the rain bucketed down over London, but two hours later the sun was out and Field Day’s site looked perfect, green and lush.

2. Ridiculous is sometimes a very good thing in music.

A trip round the world DJ set full of character by a 30-something Norwegian that took in house, disco, electronica, samba, Moroder-esque pulses, piano jazz and lounge music may sound crazily stupid, but somehow Todd Terje blended it all together in a manner so seamless that it was impossible not to feel good to be alive. By the time he hit 2012’s Inspector Norse (streaming below) the packed sweaty crowd was full of hands in the air, smiles all round and voices singing along to the instrumental hooks. Ridiculous, insane, call it what you will but for anyone that thinks fun is a dirty word, Terje’s set would have surely converted them. Expect his record to crop up on a fair few album of the year lists, quite possibly including ours.

3. Being cool / chilled doesn’t always work (Part 1).

Sky Ferreira must have been not just cool, but cold, as she was dressed in a heavy parka coat in the bright sun. Her aloof, unsmiling presence gave the impression of someone who had just been dragged out of bed and really didn’t want to be there. The music felt the same way. Disappointing. Someone should have taken her along to see Todd Terje to cheer her up.

 4. Being cool / chilled doesn’t always work (Part 2).

The Horrors days as shouty energetic gothic punks may be long gone, but their late afternoon set on the main stage was just too chilled for its own good, both the audience and band appearing tranquilized by the heat. Everyone could have done better.

5. Soul music takes many forms.

In this case a man in a black hoodie sitting in a cloud of dry ice moving his arms like a druid or sorcerer whilst conjuring up powerful emotive electronic music that in places sounded like Justin Timberlake on downers singing of unrequited love. It was tear jerking stuff.

6. Jon Hopkins has big balls. But they weren’t big enough.

Here are his balls.

But the sound system just wasn’t ballsy enough for his set of crackling warped techno.

7. Field Day isn’t as hipster as it sometimes gets labelled.

Yes there were a few achingly cool beards, yes some vintage clothing, yes a few pretentious haircuts, but the majority of people at Field Day looked like the regular sort of folks you see at pretty much any gig where the likes of Metronomy or The Pixies might play. And really, if there are hipsters at a festival is that really such a bad thing if they’re paying attention to the music and just having a good time like everyone else? Isn’t hipster a meaningless term these days?

8. The £5 a pint era of festivals has begun.

£5 for a can of Red Stripe. £4.50-£6 for some types of real ale. £5 for a bottle of cider. All topped off with a twitter hashtag request of #redstripefieldday. 

9. History has a habit of repeating itself.

The Sunday of Field Day (which was a smaller site with less stages than the previous day) showed a little lacking in its musical curation. Future Islands aside the music seemed very much like Reading Festival 1990, with plenty of B list and C list indie bands with (depending on time or place) lank haired shouty men, black leather jackets, black jeans and groovy rock with 70’s glam touches. Best of the afternoon crop was The Bohicas, a raw full throttle blast of guitars and rock n roll thrills with some reasonably punchy tunes thrown in.

10. History has a habit of repeating itself (Part 2).

Reading Festival’s Sunday headliners in 1990 was The Pixies. In 2014 on Sunday they headlined Field Day. Any band that can start the set with classics like Wave of Mutilation and Debaser and then play over 20 other songs, many of them classics, with nearly the same amount of gusto as they did back when Frank Black had a little more hair and was a little slimmer in just under an hour and a half is clearly going to coax a sleepy crowd out of its coma after The Horrors. The band say nothing to the crowd (why bother when you have so many great tunes to power through?) instead focussing on playing, but the audience reaction is fervent, with hordes of bouncing and dancing to be had down the front.

And that was Field Day 2014, a success without doubt. If in 2015 there can be a little more bravery in Sunday’s curation (of the 7 bands we saw on Sunday there were 28 male musicians, 1 female, 23 guitars and 2 keyboards) and if the drink prices can be a little cheaper, it could become a festival must-do. 

Todd Terje - Inspector Norse