Saturday 26 July 2014

Back Soon

We’re on a short blog holiday. We like to tell you this because it annoys us when the blogs we read just stop posting with no explanation. We figure you might be like us and get bothered by things that aren’t really important whilst letting important things not bother you at all.

So far this year we’ve posted 316 blog posts (317 including this one). That’s around 65,000 words. We think that’s not bad going considering Breaking More Waves is effectively a one man effort completed against the background of a full time non-music related day job and a family including two kids. 

Last time we went on holiday (Easter) we still ended up blogging. We’re not going to do that this time, however itchy we get to do it.

See you around August the 4th / 5th when normal service will be resumed.

Friday 25 July 2014

Georgia Mason - New Waves

Here’s a mystery. Sometimes we come across new artists or music away from the internet, or read or hear about a musician that we think may interest us, but we don’t have time to investigate that day. So we metaphorically throw them in the modern equivalent of a filing cabinet (the notes page on our phone) and investigate at a later date.

One name that has been sitting there for a while now with a question mark against it is Georgia Mason. The mystery is we have no idea how it got there. If you told us about her let us know please.We’re glad it made it, because Georgia Mason is very good indeed. Her voice is both gritty and delicate, carrying the unique colour of youth with it, but if we were pushed for comparisons we’d go for Duffy (remember her?) Rosie Oddie (and anyone remember her?) plus Berkshire’s Haze. 

It’s not just about the voice though, she’s got the songs as well. The three tracks on her Soundcloud are all top notch. The lead track from her debut EP Running Blind is a timeless string and piano based piece of pop, Reach Out is a soulful jazzy effort once coated with an additional layer of smooth orchestration, whilst No No No is classic retro pop. 

A bit of digging tells us that she’s already come to the attention of Jimmy Hogarth, the producer and songwriter who has worked with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Paolo Nutini, Ren Harvieu and guess who….Duffy. Let’s just hope that Georgia doesn’t decide to go for a bike ride for a bottle of coke and then ditch her management team if she has some success. 

Her video for the song Running Blind features a couple of semi naked blue people (not Smurfs) and Georgia looking very happy just to be singing. You can watch it by clicking here. She’s also recently uploaded a cover version of Hozier’s Sedated which shows off the rarity of her voice even more so than the polished pop tunes and to give contrast to Running Blind we're featuring that below as well.

Of course whether the world wants another singer of Georgia’s nature is up for debate (after all we can’t think of anyone who is less fashionable than Duffy right now) but that’s for you to decide. What we know, without question, is Georgia’s voice and songs grab us completely, irrespective of if her sound is cool / very ‘now’ / zeitgeist / buzzy or not.

Georgia Mason - Running Blind

Georgia Mason - Sedated (Video)

Thursday 24 July 2014

LUKA ‡ - New Waves

If we were going to write one of those 100 albums you must hear before you die lists, Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin would without doubt be somewhere on there. It was and remains a truly groundbreaking piece of work. The reason we mention this is because on listening to Cult by 23 year old LUKA ‡ we could hear a distant similarity to the master maverick himself Mr Richard D James and that brilliant record. It’s the eerie clicks in particular, the ones that sound like they’ve been recorded in a distant cave that give Cult the slightly creepy but fascinating aura. It doesn’t particularly go anywhere, there’s no big drop that so many electronic records seem to have these days, just repetitive sounds cascading and licking around your ears in a simple but beautiful way, but it works.

Cult is taken from LUKA ‡’s (real name Luka Seifert) debut EP, which is a hugely rewarding listen for fans of ambient techno, experimental electronic music, analogue studio sounds and of course of early Aphex Twin. Apparently his Tumblr page Inside The Nest has 150,000 followers, which sounds pretty impressive, but let’s be honest we really don’t care. Let’s just listen to the music.

LUKA ‡ - Cult

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Charli XCX - Boom Clap (Elk Road Remix)

It’s about bloody time isn’t it?

This week Charli XCX is going to have her first proper solo UK chart hit. We say ‘proper’ because the collaborations and the Icona Pop number 1 weren’t Charli in her own right.

We’ve got to say we’re very pleased about this. For 4 reasons.

1. Because the chart needs stars and performers like Charli XCX. Stars that have fire in their bellies.

2. Because it half fulfills point number 11 of this wish list for 2014 that we published on January 1st. Now what we really need to complete the pop dream is points 19 and 20 to happen before the year is out.

3. Because we can go ‘told you so’, having first featured Charli back in 2009 and having blogged her journey up the pop mountain ever since. Doesn't she look different now? (See here)

4. Boom Clap is a very good pop song and deserves to be a hit. It's far better than that Cheryl Cole tune that sounds like a half arsed demo which will probably be number 1 on Sunday (Ok that sax bit is alright we’ll admit)

So let's celebrate. Charli XCX is currently number 3 in the mid-week UK singles chart. This is bloody brilliant. 

Now all we need is a proper UK tour. We believe this is going to happen. Until then, here’s one of the remixes of Boom Clap. Most of them are pretty atrocious but this one’s OK.

Charli XCX - Boom Clap (Elk Road Remix)

What Happened To Our Ones To Watch 2014 (So Far) Part 2

This is the second of two posts where we look back at the artists that we predicted would be Ones to Watch in 2014 and how they’ve fared so far.

6. Mononoke

“We're naming her as one to watch for 2014 on the basis of just the one song we've heard - always a dangerous strategy - but when that one song (Alice) is so good, she becomes one to watch even if only to see if she can keep the standard up with her next release,” we said. Her next releases, both to the internet, were Bones & Glory and Barefoot & Broken. Both were good, although not as breathtaking as Alice. Then nothing. Not even a reveal on who Monnoke was, or at least not officially. Although if you look very carefully (here) you might get the full picture. For the time being we wait patiently and hope that more material will be forthcoming soon.

7. George Ezra

When we suggested that “Ezra’s star was rising,” in our Ones to Watch article in 2013 we really didn’t expect it to rise as far as it has. Sold out gigs left right and centre, a huge UK chart and radio hit with Budapest (which was once a free download available from Soundcloud), a top 10 chart album in the UK and it seemed that he played about 100 shows at this year’s Glastonbury a bit like Ed Sheeran did a couple of years before that. The boy did good.

8. Banks

Queen of the internet, every time Banks has put out a song this year the blogosphere has gone crazy, rather like it did when Beggin' For Thread (streaming below) was released yesterday. The proof of her true potential will come in the next few months though. Will the BBC Sound of / Blog Sound of nominee live up to the hype with an album that manages to be both commercially and critically successful and will her live shows be able to stand the test of the large venues she’s been booked to play? When we saw one of her early UK gigs in the tiny Bermuda Triangle Club in Brighton she was good but not fully convincing. If the album stuns and if she’s upped her game with the live performance then 2014 is for her taking. If not then we might all be scratching our heads a little.

9. Eva Stone

Has yet to release a single. Maybe we were a little too early with Eva Stone? Fingers crossed for the second half of 2014. She did however support George Ezra in London earlier this year and we caught her live at Brighton's Great Escape where we confirmed that this girl has a voice of some magnitude.

10. IYES

Whilst keeping a relatively low profile in terms of live shows in 2014 Brighton duo IYES continued where they left off in 2013 by sparking up the blogs with the songs Breathe and Toys as well as some rather excellent remixes for the likes of Paperwhite and Zella Day. As a result Hype Machine recently featured them in their own Ones to Watch list. As far as we’re aware the band remained unsigned. “We have some amazing news coming soon,” they tweeted on Monday. We wonder if that position is about to change? Continue to keep your eyes on IYES.

Banks - Beggin' For Thread

What Happened To Our Ones To Watch 2014 (So Far) Part 1

It might only be July but we’re already starting to think about end of year lists. We’re stupidly obsessed with the things. We reckon we’ve heard at least four or five albums that stand a very good chance of getting in our top 10 (could Sophie Ellis Bextor be a surprise dark horse contender ?) and already have a sizeable bunch of possibilities for our own Ones to Watch for 2015 (2 or 3 of them may have appeared on the blog in the last month) plus some pretty strong guesses for the ubiquitous BBC Sound of list and the lesser known but in our opinion excellent UK Blog Sound of 2015 list (well we would say that, we run the thing).

As we’re over halfway through the year we thought it was about time that we cast our eyes back to the 10 acts we predicted would be worth watching last November and to give a half-term report on how they’ve been doing.

So without further ado, here we go with the first five. The next five will follow in a second post.

1. Wolf Alice

It’s been a solid year for Wolf Alice so far. The indie alt rockers followed up the excellent 2013 Blush EP by signing to Dirty Hit Records (home of The 1975, Marika Hackman and Ben Khan), released the equally good Creature Songs EP this May, played their biggest headlining tour and then hit the festivals including a slot in the John Peel Tent at Glastonbury. A good few months creatively and commercially it would seem.

2. Chlöe Howl

After bubbling under for all of 2013, 2014 has seen Chlöe continue to bubble, just the bubbles are slightly bigger. The re-released Rumour sneaked into the bottom end of the UK chart at number 84 (and bizarrely became a number 4 hit in Poland) and new single Disappointed is due to be released next week with an album to follow. Chlöe has also been bringing her punchy pop to the festivals this summer. The album was originally scheduled for June 9th but appears to have been put back till September. The question for Chlöe is will her bubble grow that little bit more (she’s on a major label and we imagine as a pop act they’ll expect a relatively quick return on their investment) or will it burst?

3. Sophie Jamieson

“Of the artists we’re selecting as our Ones to Watch 2014 Sophie Jamieson is probably one of the least likely to be lighting up the top 40 in the next year,” we wrote last November. That still holds true. However whilst Sophie’s music may not hold huge commercial potential, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t delivered anything but majestically beautiful creatively by way of single Stain / Other through Luv Luv Luv records this year. It was a case of two songs forming one single with the line ‘when I leave’ common to both. Sophie also featured on the BBC Introducing stage at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton.

4. Jungle

The mysterious T and J finally revealed their identities and then as happens with these so called mystery acts we all went ‘ok now we know who they are’ and just got on and listened to the music. The debut album was released last week and was generally well received and went into the top 10 in the UK. It’s electro-soul done impeccably well, as are their rather groovy live shows (see the footage of Busy Earnin' from their crowd wowing set at Glastonbury below). The only question that really remains is will the record last in people’s memories – there’s not a huge variety to it. It’s virtually one idea / song played out 12 times, but it’s a very good one nonetheless.

5. Flyte

Classic songwriting indie boys Flyte have been taking their time in 2014. Earlier in the year they were out on the road winning some new fans supporting Bombay Bicycle Club, and they released a single We Are The Rain through indie label Transgressive. Since then they’ve played a few festivals, played on the same bill as Neil Young and have been recording more material. From the songs we’ve heard Flyte play live we’d suggest that their best is yet to come. Very much still ones to watch for 2014.

Jungle - Live At Glastonbury (John Peel Stage)

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Kate Miller - Fortify (Video)

Back in February we introduced Kate Miller to readers of Breaking More Waves and stated that a debut EP would be released later in the year. Now signs of that EP are beginning to surface. First up from it comes Fortify and the accompanying video which streams below.

On Fortify, rather like the previously streamed Collar Up it sounds as if Kate isn’t trying too hard vocally; there’s no X-Factor style warbling or histrionics to be found and frankly the tune is all the better for it. Her understated tones have a glowing sensual presence, the opening line of ‘tonight I’m gonna face the sun’ being a perfect description of how she sings; with a warmth and mellowness that its easy to drift away with.

The video takes clips of performance artists such as Bruce Nauman as well as Anne Teresa De Keersmaekers’s choreographed dance Fase. The choice of these videos comes from Kate’s obsession with performance art. “I wanted to address visually what I felt about the songs on my EP, going through obsessions, being besotted with a subject or person, and repetition,” she says.

Kate Miller - Fortify (Video)

Monday 21 July 2014

Hype Machine's Most Blogged Artists Of 2014 So Far

Yesterday BBC 6 Music revealed the 20 most blogged acts so far in 2014, compiled from data from Hype Machine. If you don’t know what Hype Machine is, it’s a blog aggregator which pulls together all the MP3s that the music blogs it features post and allows you to stream them from one site. If you register you can customise the site to suit your own preferences, for example choosing to just hear music from your favourite blogs (such as Breaking More Waves of course) by following those particular sites. You can also vote for the songs that you really love and these votes count towards the Hype Machine chart, a fluid chart that identifies what songs are getting the most love at any particular point. If a song gets near the top of the chart it guarantees the artist a huge amount of extra plays for that particular song. Rather than explain Hype Machine in detail the best thing we can recommend is that you go and visit the site (here), register with it and then of course don’t forget to follow Breaking More Waves as one of your preferred blogs!

From the data Hype Machine has gathered here are the 20 most blogged acts of 2014 so far. It’s no surprise to see Banks at number 1, she has been the queen of all things blog related for the last year, including being joint winner of last December’s UK Blog Sound of 2014 poll voted for by UK music bloggers.

You can debate the value of this list till the cows come home. From our own UK perspective we’d have liked to have seen more acts from our own country featured (we thought Jungle might have sneaked on there for example). There’s also a big debate to be had about if the more established artists on this list really need the exposure of music blogs – but that’s a highly complex debate and not one which we’re sure we can draw any firm conclusion to. Ultimately the list is what it is – a representation of what the 800+ music blogs across the world (many of whom are American) have been writing about over the last 6 months. 

Here's the list:

1) Banks 
2) Little Dragon 
3) Chromeo 
4) Caribou 
5) London Grammar
7) Mac Demarco 
8) Todd Terje 
9) Yumi Zouma 
10) Sharon Van Etten 
11) Sylvan Esso 
12) Tycho 
13) Lorde 
14) Chet Faker 
15) Mø 
16) Cloud Nothings 
17) Drake 
18) Sam Smith 
19) Lana Del Rey 
20) Glass Animals

Friday 18 July 2014

Robyn Sherwell - Love Somebody

This is the third time we’ve featured Robyn Sherwell on the blog and the second time this song has appeared here, having originally streamed on April’s introductory piece on her, but in video form. That video has now been deleted as has the Soundcloud stream of her cover of Ben Howard’s The Fear, but instead we get a crisp shiny and new version of Love Somebody, a song that deals with that awkward situation when you’ve fallen desperately for someone but still need your own space.

Or rather we hope that’s what the song’s about. After all there’s the line “maybe you’ve come too soon,” which could be seen in a very different context. Let’s hope Robyn hasn’t been having problems with young men getting over excited in the bedroom before things have really got going. However if she has it could well be because her soft relaxed voice positively purrs across the gentle guitars and beats on this song and musical eargasms occur.

Love Somebody is taken from Robyn’s debut EP which is due on the 7th September via Birdland Records.

Robyn Sherwell - Love Somebody

James - Curse Curse

Yesterday we posted a well-received article giving some reasons why many on line music writers don’t write about the lyrics (good or bad) in pop songs. It therefore seems an appropriate time to post about long serving UK band James, who released a new LP (La Petite Mort) this year. From that record on Soundcloud comes Curse Curse. Here Tim Booth returns (partly) to his saucy and funny days of Laid where he sang of the bed being on fire “with passionate love, the neighbours complain about the noises above, but she only comes when she's on top.” 

On Curse Curse Tim correlates football and making love in the opening lines, which find him being ashamed for getting turned on by the sound of someone in the next door hotel room having sex whilst he watches Lionel Messi score a goal. “A hundred thousand came,” he sings.

Curse Curse is a return to the bands heady chart topping days around the period between the Gold Mother and Seven albums, taking influence from rave-pop. It’s also our favourite song of theirs for years and so whilst Breaking More Waves doesn’t delve too deeply into artists that may now be considered past-masters, we’re enjoying Curse Curse so much, and after all it is their new single / new music which is our main reason for existence, so we wanted to bring it to your attention. Altogether now: “Pour me more tequila…..”

James - Curse Curse

Laura Doggett - Phoenix

Last year on the blog we pondered why Wiltshire lass Laura Doggett wasn’t already a household name and named her song Sometimes as one of our favourites of 2013. Now she’s back with new material following a recent short low-key tour of the west-country, a support slot with Agnes Obel at Somerset House and her own headlining show alongside one of our major blog-crushes Alice Jemima in London on Wednesday night in a room that contained a stuffed monkey holding a gun. We're not making that up.

The new song is Phoenix, the first results of her collaboration with sadcore producer and performer Sohn. On first listen Phoenix could easily be mistaken for a long lost Bjork track, combining skittering minimalistic beats, gentle keys and looped effects, but whereas Bjork has a tendency to use expressive art-pop vocals, Doggett’s voice is deeply restrained, sounding rich and timeless against the very modern production. It's a voice that will probably make you feel something inside your gut as she sings “phoenix gonna rise from the ash again.” It's astonishingly good and gets better with every listen. 

Having seen her live we can also confirm that Laura can also do big and expressive vocals like the best of them - it's not all about subtlety. Keep an ear out for her sonic boom in the future as she unleashes her soul to the world.

Phoenix is already streaming on Spotify.

Laura Doggett - Phoenix

Thursday 17 July 2014

Why Do So Many Online Music Writers Ignore Lyrics When Writing About Music?

A couple of days ago we posted the following on Twitter. “I’m as guilty as any but why do so many blogs / sites write about the instrumentation and production of songs yet barely mention the lyrics?”

The response was interesting. Artists and musicians favourited the tweet, other interested parties conversed with us on the matter, but hardly any blogs or websites responded. 

So instead of trying to summarise a number of responses in a single blog post from bloggers and websites, here’s our own take on things.

If you don’t believe our original statement that lyrics are often ignored we challenge you to go to Hype Machine, pick any song where more than 10 blogs have posted about it and count how many of those describe the music or the production but not the lyrics. And when they do describe the lyrics or talk about what the song is trying to communicate see how many of those descriptions are near to identical as they just take the information straight from the press release that accompanied the track.

8 Reasons Why We Think Many Online Music Writers Don’t Write About Lyrics

1. The culture of criticism is a dying art form.

The vast majority of lyrics are not saying anything interesting anymore. They’re insipid, inane and full of cliché. Really, how many more songs can there be about shaking booty in da club? It's become a joke. However, there’s a school of thought that says this has always been the case. Anyone remember The Cranberries song Zombie for example? However, as music writing moves further away from a culture of criticism and more towards a culture of celebration (of which music blogs very much form a part of) the bad is often ignored and forgiven allowing artists to frankly get away with anything.

2. Modern production / mumbling or shouty singers.

It might make us sound like an old boring fart, but there are a lot of times when we can’t actually understand what the singer is singing anymore. This problem can often be exacerbated by modern production techniques and effects on the vocal.

3. Sometimes music writing is more fun when you're not writing about the music.

Because (and this one is fairly personal to Breaking More Waves) we like to write blog posts that don’t actually describe the music at all sometimes. Our theory is this – if we’ve embedded the tune on the blog you can press play and make your own judgements. We’d rather provide a conversation around the tune, the sort of thing you might talk about in the pub. For example this post from Tuesday talks about blog hype and our concerns about it - it hardly mentions the song. We think this is more interesting to read than six paragraphs of dry text describing every beat and every guitar or synth chord.

4. Music should be felt as well as heard.

Because sometimes we don’t ‘listen’ to music we ‘feel’ it. The words become almost immaterial. Take the classic Motown hits. They sounded joyfully happy but the lyrics were sad and sorrowful, yet we still sing along with big smiles on our faces.

5. We're not very good at riddles.

Sometimes even when we can make out the words being sung and they’re not dull and clichéd, we still have no idea what the artist is singing about. This becomes a particular problem when introverted artists sing about something that has happened in their lives but disguise it with poetic license and metaphor. The end result to the outside listener is a bunch of words that make very little sense. Sometimes we might try and write something about this nonsense, but will probably end up saying, this is just a load of nonsense, we have no idea what they’re singing about. 

6. Fear

The internet has increased the fear of getting it wrong. As lyrics are open to misinterpretation we can sometimes get it wrong. Pre-internet and particularly pre-social media if a writer made a mistake there would be little comeback. Now when someone gives an interpretation and gets it wrong they risk having their mistake painted all over the world. For example when Veronica Bayetti Flores called Lorde’s lyrics to Royals ‘deeply racist’ her article on made headlines all over the world.

7. Time

Because many bloggers and online journalists don’t actually spend much time with the music they’re writing about and don’t absorb the lyrics. This is a sad but true fact. We’ve spoken to bloggers who have told us that they sometimes only listen to a song a couple of times before posting. It probably explains the 2 lines of text that says something along the lines of  'so and so return with a new song that sounds flawless,' and very little else.

8. Great art doesn't have meaning and therefore lyrics don't matter

Content deadens art some say. It's all about style. So forget the lyrics. So argues this article from The Guardian here.

Vaults - Lifespan

Right. Let’s put Vaults down as a possibility for those end of year Sound of 2015 lists shall we?

New single Lifespan, their first for Virgin EMI following two well received internet 'buzz tracks', Premonitions and the absurdly brilliant Cry No More, is quite possibly even more absurdly brilliant. That’s quite a lot of absurdly brilliant and not a lot of critical music journalism for you, but then Breaking More Waves isn’t about critical musical journalism is it? If you want critique go and read Pitchfork. However, if you want something akin to a teen orgasm of words about lush swelling synths and chiming aluphone pop music stay with us.

But for now here’s some facts:

1. Vaults are not a 'mystery band' despite what other websites / blogs might be saying. We told you some information about who they are and their past previously (click here).

2. Their lead singer currently has 29 followers on Twitter. Yes, we know this isn’t relevant to the music, but pop has never just been about the music.

3. Vaults are playing a few selected festivals this summer (Latitude, Beacons, Electric Picnic, Bestival, Festival No.6).

4. They have a gig at the ICA in London on the 3rd September, which is exactly 12 months after we posted their first song, so that's a birthday party of sorts. As it's just down the road from Buckingham Palace maybe some royalty will pop along? If not Vaults will just have to make do with the riff-raff like us. See you down the front.

Vaults - Lifespan

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Lykke Li - Gunshot (Video)

What do you think a night out with your favourite pop star would be like? 

Imagine if your favourite pop star was Lykke Li. We can’t believe it would be a particular barrel of laughs. After all this is a lady who sings of ‘longing for your poison like a cancer for its prey.’ You’d probably end up in some downtown bar downing double vodkas and comparing how much pain of the heart you were both suffering from your latest break ups. Lykke Li would of course hurt more than you and by the end of the night she’d have probably written a song about it.

So here’s a new video for Gunshot, a song we posted back in April, and one of our favourites from her rather excellent power ballad laden third LP I Never Learn

You’ll probably be surprised to hear that it features some booty shaking, men on exercise bikes and motorbike wheelies, but don’t worry, this is a Lykke Li piece so it’s still odd, disturbing and more than just a little bit screwy as well.

Lykke Li - Gunshot (Video)

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Låpsley - Painter (Valentine) (Video)

Having disregarded music industry protocol and wisdom by uploading Station to her Soundcloud account just before Christmas when almost everyone was doing other things, Liverpool’s Låpsley found herself at the centre of a blog-buzz Hype Machine jumping whirlwind by the start of January and it hasn't stopped since.

So let’s just pause and offer four words of warning:

It’s very early days.

Whilst the music Holly Lapsley Fletcher is creating are undoubtedly gorgeous downtempo gems, the corner of the internet that deals with new artists (and that includes us) needs to learn a lesson from her songs and chill a bit. 

Why? Because she’s hardly played any live electronic shows; being thrust into the limelight and broadcast to the world online at Glastonbury on the BBC Introducing Stage was a gamble when so few gigs have been played. She’s still incredibly young, and therefore still developing as an artist and a person. Too much excitement can be a dangerous thing, even if the artist doesn’t feel it, those listening can sometimes expect too much. You think we'd have learnt that by now wouldn't you?

So for now let’s take a breather, enjoy the music and this newly released video for what it is, but not start calling her the female James Blake or whatever other superlative is out there. As hard as it is not to get over excited, let’s just all keep a bit calm.

That's going to be bloody difficult though isn't it?

Låpsley - Painter (Valentine) (Video)

Festibelly 2014 - Review

Festibelly started as a birthday party in a field in Hampshire’s New Forest, arranged by its founder Andy Bell (hence the ‘Belly’ tag). Whilst it’s grown a little from those early days it still very much has the sense of being like someone’s private garden party, just with a lot of extra friends.

With a mellow, chilled out atmosphere by day, helped by pretty much festival perfect weather, to the more raucous party-spirited evenings, over its three stages (Main Stage, the big top like Terrapin Station and the large tipi construction that formed the Massive In China stage complete with sofas, benches and hay bales to sit on) Festibelly provided a smattering of established acts and festival favourites as well as plenty of newer artists, to a crowd of young and old alike.

Here are 10 things we learnt at this year’s Festibelly:

1. People like a sit down during the day.

This confused some acts. They seemed determined to make punters stand on their feet and dance, largely without success. This brings us on to points 2 and 3.

2. Just because an audience is sitting down doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying themselves.

If as an artist you are faced with a seated crowd don’t force them to get up. Don’t even ask them to stand. Let them do what they want, they’ve paid to be here, and if you’re good with both the music and the banter you might even get an encore irrespective of what the crowd are doing, rather like indie folk rock band Feldspar did, in the ‘difficult’ early Saturday afternoon post-hangover slot.

3. People like a dance at night.

It’s cooler. Some alcohol may have been consumed. People are now ready to dance. Take for example Skinny Lister’s early evening slot on the main stage. Passing round a dubious rum concoction to the crowd Skinny Lister rammed home vein bursting energetic trad folk number after trad folk number and a merry old hoe down was created. Forget Mumford & Sons this was far more fun. (See video)

4. Crowd surfing with a double bass is awkward but Skinny Lister know how to do it.

5. Plastic portaloos are not as good as composting toilets.

Over the last few years we’ve noticed a number of festivals moving away from the traditional green / grey / blue plastic portaloos to use composting toilets. There’s no doubt in our mind that composting toilets are the future. Not only do they smell less and are generally better ventilated but they are better for the environment. Festibelly kept with the portaloo option. On the whole they were well serviced (every time we used one we found toilet roll inside so didn’t have to use our own) until the closing Saturday night when they became exceedingly full and by Sunday morning, when people were setting off home, they were unusable. This was the only criticism we have of what was otherwise an excellent event.

6. Mausi should be a chart topping top 10 singles band.

Electronic pop four-piece Mausi are the sound of dancing, factor 30 sunblock, cool blue seas, partying, skinny dipping, cocktails, nightclubs, sex, more dancing, getting high and living life to the fullest. Put all of this on a festival stage as the sun begins to set and within twenty minutes the crowd swells both physically in size and with the euphoria of it all. Mausi played seamless pop-banger after seamless pop-banger the net effect being akin to finding yourself in an Ibiza nightclub rather than on the edge of a picturesque part of the UK countryside. The only question that remained was why are they not yet hitting the UK top 10 singles chart? By the time they reach My Friend Has A Swimming Pool we’re convinced they should be.

7. The Cuban Brothers aren’t actually Cuban.

Fake tan? Scottish accents backstage? Shock horror; those sexual talking, body grooving, hip thrusting acrobatic dudes nearly had us fooled. However their Latino grooves from dancers ‘Double Penetration’, funky tunes, smiles, costume changes and down to pink underpants semi-nakedness kept the crowd thoroughly entertained. It just all seemed to be over far too quickly.

8. Kassassin Street are becoming the indie guitar equivalent of a STD

That is to say their set was thoroughly infectious with plenty of groovy hip thrusting guitar chops. Opening with recent single The Royal Handkerchief Ballet the band set off full throttle and never let up. With slinky riffs and the best ejaculation face drumming we’ve seen for some time Kassassin Street left us spent, wasted and in a higher place after what seemed like one half hour long psychedelic indie rock climax.

9. Festivals are becoming the new 'to do' event for Hen and Stag parties. 

We spotted one of both at Festibelly and at least one other at every festival we've attended so far at festivals this year. Thankfully all of them seem to have been music fans as much as girls and boys out on the lash and seemed to be no different to any other punter on site (except for the fairy costumes for the girls). 

10. Small is beautiful (and cheaper)

Whilst the likes of Glastonbury festival offers everything within its hugeness and is undeniably incredible, for many people the bigger festivals are now becoming unaffordable. Festibelly provided a charming old-fashioned innocence and beautiful simplicity at an attractive price that provided a welcome alternative to the mega-festivals. It’s one that would certainly lure us back again. See the full site in the video clip below.

Monday 14 July 2014

Jagaara - New Waves

Are three singing sisters a thing now? After all, we’ve had The Staves, Haim and now we have Jagaara

Formerly known as The Edmonsons, this London based sibling trio uploaded two demos to Soundcloud just a few days ago which have got us all a jitter. Yes we repeat, these are demos, or so the band has stated, even though sound like the real and fully formed deal. OK, there’s a bit of hiss on the recordings, so maybe that needs to be cleaned up, but other than that these are pretty much perfect. 

Have a listen to Faultline below and you’ll see what we mean. There’s a touch of the London Grammar’s about the songs construction, which rises from a soft comfort blanket start into a guitars going for the stars climax. And the vocals? Yes, there’s a hint of a chilled out Haim about them. In fact if we were going to suggest to Haim what to do with a second album (feel free to ask girls) we’d advise something exactly like these Jagaara tunes.

The other demo is equally impressive; a soulful and old fashioned sounding ballad called In The Night, (hear it by clicking here - sadly it's not a cover of the classic Pet Shop Boys tune).  Fans of the likes of Fleetwood Mac and the much blogged (by us) band The Night VI will probably find lots to like about this song, which is a bit weird when it's called In The Night.

Jagaara are Jane, Ruth and Cat. They’ve already supported the likes of Emily & The Woods, Josh Record and Jack Garratt and have also been booked to play next weekend’s Latitude Festival on Friday 18th on the small Alcove stage. If we were going they’d be one of our must see acts. If you are, make them one of your's.

So there you have it. We can confirm that three singing sisters are now a thing.

Jagaara - Faultline

Thursday 10 July 2014

The True Cost Of Gig Going (Part 6)

Here’s our monthly geeky round up of our spending on live music (and spending related to live music) over the last month and for the first half of the year.

As summer festival season kicks in we spend much more time in our wellies and / or sunblock watching bands in a field (or at multi-venue events) than the more traditional gig venue. In fact over June we went to only 1 standard gig (Lorde at Brixton Academy) but four festivals of various types (Field Day, Bushstock, Camden Crawl and Glastonbury, all reviewed on the blog).

So do festivals provide better value than a normal gig? Well value is not just about hard facts and figures, but what you perceive you're getting for your money, so this is difficult to answer as it includes intangible things such as your 'experience'. A typical larger festival can cost anywhere between £100 and £200 for a ticket and if you’re like us it’s pretty easy to see somewhere around 10 bands a day. Transport costs can be reduced as whilst you may be travelling further you’re only having to do it once and the festival is likely to be over several days. Then you need to take into consideration how much you spend at the festival itself. Some like Glastonbury can work out very cheap if you take your own food and booze as you can take your own drinks anywhere on site, whilst others can be horrendously expensive if you have to buy overpriced cheap lager / cider from the festival bars due to restrictions on carrying drinks into the arena areas.

At Breaking More Waves we are extremely lucky as for some of the summer festivals we’ve attended we haven’t had to pay for a ticket, having either received a complimentary one (for instance Glastonbury) for helping judge their Emerging Talent Competition or we’ve received press accreditation, where we’ve written previews and reviews about the festival. It’s one of the perks of running an established music blog with a small but loyal readership.

So our spend at festivals doesn’t reflect the norm, but as the end objective is to reflect our personal total yearly spend on live music and associated costs we’re not attempting to include ticket prices for tickets we didn’t buy. We’re also not including the cost of food purchased at a festival. Whilst this expense is greater than our typical supermarket shop, we have to eat so this isn’t considered an associated cost as such, particularly as for most festivals we do take quite a large amount of our own food with us (particularly breakfasts) to help keep costs down. So for the purposes of this exercise we can't accurately say if festivals do provide better value or not. What we do know is that we love them, so to us personally they must generally represent good value.

So here are the key points of this month’s gig and festival going:

- In total we saw 71 artists full performances. That’s 212 for the year.

- Our biggest spend this month  was on tickets at £173. 

- We’ve spent £441.95 this year on tickets. That equates to £2.08 / band on tickets only. Festivals work out cheaper at only £1.62 per band but it needs to be taken into consideration that we had free tickets to the value of around £260 at these festivals.

- Our biggest spend over the course of the year so far is on travel (£558.50) and accommodation (£594.15).

- Our total spend on gigs and festivals including tickets, travel, drinks, merchandise and accommodation where applicable in the first 6 months of the year was £1,987.90

- The total current running average cost of seeing any band, including support acts and at festivals, including all associated costs such as drinks, travel and accomodation is currently £9.37. Therefore a typical average 3 band gig actually costs us just under £30.

We'll continue this series next month and talking of festivals and gig going this is our last post till next week as we set off to do both of those.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

We Are The Brave - New Waves

We Are The Brave are the Australian Haim only without the sisters and bass faces. Or maybe they’re the new Bat For Lashes without the naked album cover and enigmatic grandeur. Or maybe they’re just themselves, that is Jess Chalker and Ox Why, an unsigned duo who have in the song Your Ghost a pop tune of some sophistication that sounds a bit like Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush reimagined for the disco, albeit a rather mellow and fog filled one. It could easily be the soundtrack to one of those rubbish 80’s coming of age movies with big perms and bad fashion. If it had been released it 1985 it would have undoubtedly been a big FM smash.

It isn’t the band’s first song though, there’s a small back catalogue of songs to be devoured on their Soundcloud including the chugging soft focus pop of Sparrow complete with pole dancing video (below) that apes the likes of Ladyhawke and Pat Benatar in its sound. However it’s Your Ghost that we find ourselves returning to the most and although we’ve suggested if it had been released in 1985 it would have been a hit, we certainly wouldn’t object if we heard this blasting out of our radio in 2014.

We Are The Brave - Your Ghost

We Are The Brave - Sparrow (Video)

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Jungle - Time (Video)

Judging by our twitter timeline, over the last few hours pretty much every music website and blog known to mankind has featured the new video by Jungle. We’re now adding Breaking More Waves to that list.

Jungle has really yet to put a foot wrong. From those captivating first videos for Platoon and The Heat leading to the band being on virtually everyone’s Ones To Watch / Sound of 2014 lists (including our own ), but bizarrely not on the Blog Sound of 2014 list, through to the increasingly jubilant live shows Jungle have been doing it right. Their set at London’s Village Underground earlier this year was the closest in atmosphere we’ve experienced to the swaggeringly heady and vibey trip of the Madchester baggy scene back in the late 80s and early 90s and their show in the John Peel tent at last month's Glastonbury was an incredible early afternoon triumph, the audience’s reaction seemingly overwhelming the band themselves. Even when the ‘mysterious’ T and J's past history was revealed and a bit of internet detective work revealed their rather privileged backgrounds (see the interview quotes from a teenage Tom and Josh here ) it didn’t detract because of one simple reason – Jungle were creating great music.

Next week the group release their debut LP which is streaming via the iTunes store now. Warning – it’s rather excellent, you’ll be grooving all over the place. It feels perfectly timed and we have a feeling that it’s going to be the soundtrack to our summer and possibly your's as well.

But before that, there’s the new video for Time, continuing the linked dance theme from the outfit's three previous films. Once again it’s mightily impressive visually, showing that older dudes can lay down some rubbery moves as well as their younger counterparts. Anyone remember Christopher Walken in the Spike Jonze directed video for Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice? Now we have a rival.

Jungle - Time (Video)

Jude - Crystals (Video)

3rd time up for Florida two piece Jude on Breaking More Waves and this time it’s the new video for a song we’ve already streamed, albeit back in April of this year. However, the video (or as the title on You Tube states, a visualette) gives us another reminder that Crystals is

1. A very good pop song

2. A very good pop song

3. A very good pop song

We hope you understand where we’re coming from with this.

In fact two and a half months on from when we first heard Crystals the tune has, like a good wine, improved even further, showing that not all pop is here today gone tomorrow. The video / visualette like the tune keeps things simple, showing black and white footage of the duo hanging out by the sea and Sydney doing some prime head swaying whilst singing. We reckon if we were in Florida we'd want to hang out with these guys - they ooze a certain nonchalant coolness don't you think? 

Let’s just remind ourselves again, it's something about Crystals being a very good pop song. OK? That's right. A very good pop song.

Jude - Crystals (Video)

Allie X - Bitch (Video)

We’ve often wondered how and where popstars or wannabe popstars do their weekly food shop. We guess these days there’s probably an awful lot of home delivery and ordering online – although we still quite like the idea of Ellie Goulding in her stage shorts, bra and sunglasses casually pushing a trolley round her local 24 hour Tesco, grabbing the 3 for the price of 2 cans of Bacardi Breezers, reduced gone past their sell by date bags of carrots and a few Pot Noodles to take with her to the festivals she's playing when she won't have time to cook properly.

Thankfully rising pop lady Allie X shows that she has for real credentials and knows how to shop in this new video for the previously streamed song Bitch. Remember that horrible headf*ck of a gif enabled spinning video for Prime? Well now we can forget about that and concentrate on the groceries.

In other Allie X news, on her Facebook page she's been asking her fans to become exhibitionists and expose themselves.  “Become an #Xhibitionist by publicly #Xposing the parts of yourself that are normally kept hidden. Create a video, image, GIF or remix inspired by BITCH and tag it #bitchXart, and I will put it in the #Xhibit,” she states. We wait to see how this project develops, but if you're getting involved remember no getting your most private of parts out please.

Allie X - Bitch (Video)

Monday 7 July 2014

Indiana - Heart On Fire (Video)

We’ve been big fans of Indiana for a long time on Breaking More Waves but didn’t stream the original Soundcloud of new single Heart On Fire because it had one of those horrible radio rips with Zane Lowe prattling on over the top. Thankfully now there’s a video and an opportunity for us to enjoy the music, a further taster from her forthcoming debut LP No Romeo due on September 1st, without hearing the hyperactive jabber of Mr Evening of BBC Radio 1.  This is a good thing as Heart On Fire is a bit of a subtle tune, less radio obvious than Solo Dancing and subtlety isn’t something for which Lowe is known.

The video itself is one for girls and boys who like motorbikes, leather, guns, men with beards and swimming pools. There are also moments in it when we think Indiana looks a little like a younger sister of Kate Winslet (a good thing).

Indiana - Heart On Fire (Video)