Saturday, 30 May 2015
“I make tunes,” new producer Lif3blood states on his / her Twitter bio. That’s all they’re giving away about themselves. They could be a purple three footed alien from outer space and we wouldn’t know.
However, there’s a more open and human side to his / her / its debut, a rework of The Korgi’s top 5 hit Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime, in the form of singer Kate Miller, who cropped up a couple of times on the blog in 2014 prior to releasing her debut EP Neophyte. This track, a balearic house production, is somewhat different to Kate’s solo offerings, but it'll make you realise that its 'song of the summer' time and nearly every music writer in the UK will be rolling that cliché out some point in the next month or so if they haven't done so already. Oh, looks like we just did it right there. Next you'll possibly find us jumping into the swimming pool whilst shouting TUNE very loudly indeed.
Lif3blood wasn't wrong with that Twitter bio. He / she /it should have just put the word tunes in capital letters.
Lif3blood - Like The Sunshine ft Kate Miller
Friday, 29 May 2015
It’s probably fair to say that here at Breaking More Waves, even though occasionally we’re partial to some gritty loud rock ‘n’ roll, Royal Blood’s music really isn’t the sort of thing you’ll find playing on our stereo. However, today we’re featuring a Royal Blood song, albeit a Royal Blood song in a very different form. It’s a hushed acoustic version of Out Of The Black from North Yorkshire’s Billie Marten, the B-side to her stunning song Heavy Weather, released this week via Chess Club Records. A limited edition vinyl version follows on the 8th June.
Billie has had a fair few ‘the new Laura Marling’ tags applied to her, which actually we’re relatively happy with, because the ‘old’ Laura Marling’s recent album has left us shrugging our shoulders a little (with the exception of the song False Hope which we adore).
Of course Billie Marten isn’t the new Laura Marling, she’s just Billie Marten, and we’ll enjoy her music, covers and originals, on its own terms. And that music is rather lovely.
This live video was shot in the Star of Bethnal Green whilst Billie was in London last month. It's just right if you fancy a quiet moment.
Billie Marten - Out Of The Black (Live Video)
Thursday, 28 May 2015
This has been some time coming, but it’s worth the wait. Back in February 2014 we introduced Eloise Keating, an unsigned singer songwriter who hails from just outside Portsmouth, who at the age of just 17 produced a staggeringly good piece of music inspired by F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. That song was Be My Ghost (The Green Light) and ever since then we’ve been patiently waiting for Eloise to release further material. In that time there’s been just a handful of gigs, played with the prettiest of guitars, including slots at last year’s Camden Crawl plus Portsmouth's Victorious Festival then in 2015 she has supported Indiana and played alongside another south coast rising hopeful and Breaking More Waves approved Jerry Williams. However, today, finally, there’s a new song.
Working Late, lives up to expectations. Recalling the gentle twangy atmospherics of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game (which Eloise has covered live - as well as a rather fantastic take on Hey Ya by Outkast) the song smoulders with its ‘I love him’ coos and elegant electronic production. Alongside Be My Ghost (The Green Light) it marks Keating out as not just a talent with much promise, but one that is already beginning to fulfil it. Let’s just hope she doesn’t wait another 15 months before her next release. We suspect that’s highly unlikely this time though.
Eloise Keating - Working Late
We have a quite simple history with Hurts. It goes something like this:
Album 1: Pop brilliance. One of those bands that we named as Ones to Watch (back in 2009) and then 12 months later Happiness found itself at number 2 in our favourite Album of the Year list. Some people disliked Hurts because they thought they were too cheesy / pretentious / ostentatious, but of course THEY WERE WRONG.
Album 2: It all started perfectly. The early signs were that Hurts were going down a darker path, ‘doing a Depeche Mode’ perhaps – but on release something just didn’t quite connect. Maybe it was just as simple as the songs not being quite as good. That’s our analysis of things anyway. If you want in depth journalistic consideration and thought, you've come to the wrong place.
And now we’re coming up to album 3.
Do you remember how lots of people who know lots of things about music had suggested that Hurts would be the perfect band to represent the UK in the Eurovision song contest? After all Theo and Adam seem to connect with European audiences outside of the UK in a way that many people don't understand, in the same way that the UK doesn't really get Eurovision and seems to treat it as a bit of a joke.
Well, if Hurts did do it, the first song from album 3 would be perfect. Some Kind Of Heaven is far less murky than album 2 material (even the white suit and turtle neck clothing in the promo shot suggest so). In fact, despite maintaining the sense of drama that makes Hurts what they are, this one sounds positively radio friendly, filled as it is with hooks galore. This one could have been up there with Sweden, Russia and Italy last weekend.
Hurts - Some Kind Of Heaven
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Are you a new band or artist that is having some success on the internet?
Has your song rocketed up the Hype Machine charts, gathering 1000’s of plays in just a few days?
Great. Brilliant. Thumbs up etc. It’s pretty exciting isn't it? Lots of people across the globe are listening to your music. A few hundred or thousand people have clicked a little love heart on their computer / laptop / tablet / phone screen for your song; but here’s a reality check....
This ‘success’ doesn’t equate to you selling tickets, records or necessarily generating any sort of lasting fan base. In fact it doesn't mean very much at all. Here’s an example:
For a UK (let’s say London) based band getting 100,000 plays on Soundcloud via a Hype Machine charting song, might mean that 20,000 of those plays come from your own country (the majority will be plays in the US); of that 20,000 maybe 10% of the listeners really like the music - a lot will just be casual listeners. Of the 2,000 UK listeners that really like it, 12.5% of them will be based in London. Of the 250 that really like it and are based in London, maybe 5% of those would consider,on the basis of that one song, finding out more about your band and going to see them live. Of that 12-13 people that might do that, maybe half of them would be able to make your next show in London. That’s 6 or 7 people from the 100,000 plays. It's probably wise to not start planning to buy that mansion in the country just yet.
That’s our reality check. Hype Machine listed blogs have the potential to generate significant plays of your music. But don’t ever think that this means anything more than maybe a handful of people becoming fans.
Sometimes, something that looks ‘big’ on the internet, isn’t so in real life. Things can be easily distorted, your view of reality changed depending on the channels you use. Enjoy your ‘success’, but keep a firm grip on the reality.
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
“I’ve been sleeping with your friends,” sings Misty Miller and with it punches a way not only onto this blog (again) but this time onto BBC Radio 1. New single Happy was deservedly named hottest record in the world on Annie Mac’s show last night, where it received its first play. It's a pop punk anthem fuelled by a throw-yourself-around-the-dancefloor energy and an infectious hook that should find Misty a whole bunch of new fans. One to Watch for 2011? OK, maybe we were a little premature there, but sometimes it’s worth sticking around and letting an artist develop.
“You were always in my head, but we don’t talk about it,” she growls. Maybe. But now is the time to start talking about Misty Miller, because this song will be in your head.
Right now, based on this video, we'd say life's a riot with Misty Miller. Can we sign up to her gang?
Get Happy from the 7th June.
Misty Miller - Happy (Video)
Monday, 25 May 2015
Having spent much of the last two years touring with the now defunct The Amazing Snakeheads, where she provided guest vocals, guitar and percussion (as well as co-writing and singing on the band’s song Bullfighter) Glasgow's Laura St. Jude returns to deliver her first solo release since her debut Fatal EP from 2013.
I Can’t Stop Loving You is one of two tunes that form Laura’s new double A-side single. With a hushed Mazzy Star like intimacy that’s both warm and haunting, what I Can’t Stop Loving You definitely isn't is an instant pop thrill. This is something deeper, something with an almost obsessional romance at its heart. That romance is so strong that Laura states: “It is a mantra for those so in love, that to live without is to die.” It’s a song to be played in the dead of night, as it comes heavy with slow burning melancholy, weeping guitars and Laura's calm bilingual vocal.
So dim the lights, find a quiet space and let this one drift over you, creating a darkly exotic David Lynch / Twin Peaks like mood.
Laura St. Jude - I Can't Stop Loving You
Sunday, 24 May 2015
This year at Brighton’s Great Escape there were two bands that veered completely off the Breaking More Waves radar who seem to have impressed many people who saw them. One was South African quintet Al Bairre, who won over many with their giddying enthusiasm and infectious pop, the other was White, another five piece, but this time from Glasgow.
Rather like Al Barrie, what makes White’s debut track (Future Pleasures) stand out is its energy. Combining a choppy mix of frantic indie disco guitars and a hyperventilating electronic pulse, it’s indebted to the arm of Scotland’s indie lineage that likes to strut on the dance floor; think Orange Juice, Hipsway and Franz Ferdinand as reference points. There’s a hint of The Bravery and LCD Soundsystem in there as well if you listen closely and in another song, Living Fiction, the verses possess the yelp of David Bowie and elements of Roxy Music.
Whilst White might be a new band, they have a past history. Lead singer Leo Condie was previously recording as Low Miffs, whilst other members of the group were in Kassidy, who you may remember, not because of their musical output, but because one of their number (who isn’t in White) was Barrie James O’Neill, the ex-boyfriend of Lana Del Rey.
White’s name is already getting a small amount of buzz in new music circles, but you won’t find their songs on new music blog aggregator Hype Machine yet. The reason? The band have signed to Sony, who are busy withdrawing all of their artists from Soundcloud, and as they’re only streaming the track through You Tube, that means that Hype Machine can’t pick the music up and potentially stream it to thousands of new music lovers. Let’s hope this decision doesn’t affect the development of fan bases for new emerging acts such as White, in an age where it’s getting harder and harder to break new bands.
White - Future Pleasures
Thursday, 21 May 2015
“Will this be the one where they let us down?” It’s a question we ask of all our favourite bands every time they release something new to the world. Inevitably it will happen. Even the ones you love dearly will fall over every now and then. That doesn’t mean though that if one indiscretion or moment of failure occurs we’ll be turning our back and looking for something new. It takes a lot more than just one duff song to end that relationship.
Thankfully we’re nowhere near that with The Night VI. We’re still in the honeymoon phase, even although that part of the relationship should be utterly over by now. New tune Just Words does what every relationship needs to do to survive; it subtly shifts and changes the dynamic of what has gone before, keeping things interesting, without ever losing the identity of what made it all so special in the first place. Just Words adds a new glossily soft r ‘n’ b smoothness to The Night VI’s sound, it's just enough to make us realise (again) how lucky we are to have their music. If you weren’t a fan of the band before, but enjoy artists like Jessie Ware, this might just be the one to turn you. “Don’t leave me now,” the vocals plead. We’re not going anywhere. No mistakes here.
Just Words is taken from the group’s 3rd EP which will be released in September.
The Night VI - Just Words
Here’s an artist that’s new to the blog, that we were going to post about yesterday, but then got somewhat diverted by the Hype Machine chart integrity debate. However, better late than never as the clichéd saying goes, so say hello (no don’t, this is the internet she can’t hear you) to Grace Lightman. Grace came to us, not through searching long and hard to find new music organically as we described yesterday, but by way of the email in box.
The email concerned tells us that Grace once fronted a London psych rock band called The Hypnotic Eye, mentions references to Kate Bush and influences ranging from Vincent Gallo films to Francois Hardy and Nico. We think what this email was trying to tell us was that Grace is pretty damn cultured and is unlikely to be producing any songs that we can proclaim to be a banging club anthem in the near future.
Certainly Vapour Trails, her debut, won’t be the song to play if you’re having it large in Ibiza this summer. This is something with far more depth; it requires a few listens to fully explore and appreciate its nooks and crevices, which are crammed with interesting flourishes of electronics and opulent off-kilter experimentation alongside the base of a traditional song structure. Those Kate Bush references have some degree of accuracy, but we’d also like to suggest that Lightman’s voice is a little like Snow White in the Disney cartoon, but with a greater weight of melancholy. It's a fascinating start; Vapour Trails is a thing of wonder and even better, it's available for free download from the Soundcloud player below.
Grace Lightman - Vapour Trails
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
If you follow the music blogging scene closely you may well have seen a statement from Hype Machine, the blog aggregator (an essential site to many artists hoping to get greater exposure to their music), concerning the integrity of their chart and why they have stopped tracking a number of blogs, some of which are relatively high profile. If you haven't you can see the full post here.
A number of the blogs that are no longer being tracked have put out statements of various sorts, including this one from Hilly Dilly.
We’ll leave you to read those statements and make your own judgement about the ethical position. However, we thought it was worth explaining a little how Breaking More Waves works and our thoughts on Hype Machine’s action, as we value the concept of integrity deeply.
1. Breaking More Waves is a one man d-i-y blog. There are no other writers. We do this first and foremost to ensure that there is a consistency of opinion and personality through the blog and also because that's how we started and the idea of being anything bigger was and never has been entertained - we have no aspirations with the blog other than to do what we do. A further offshoot from this is that it is very difficult to be 100% confident that if you use other writers that they do not have other vested interests in writing about certain acts. In fact the only time we have ever used a ‘second writer’ is our traditional Christmas posts where we invite the likes of Santa Claus (who is usually drunk) and Rudolph (who is quite rude) around for a spot of festive guest posting. They're only interest seems to be getting off their faces and insulting people though.
2. At the top of this blog there’s a strap line that states that Breaking More Waves is an independent new music blog. That independence doesn't relate to 'indie' music (we love a good commercial major label pop tune as much as we love unsigned independent music) but being independent financially. Breaking More Waves is just a bloke sitting at home or in his work lunch hour (like now), writing about stuff he likes. It's a hobby. This is incredibly important to us. We’re not interested in generating income from the blog – be it through advertising, funding from a backer or any other source. We’re of the opinion that where money is involved, behaviour is at the risk of changing.
3. We’re very aware that there are lots of people ( PR companies, labels, artists) trying to get their own or their clients music onto not only the big websites, but small blogs like this. Even getting a song on Breaking More Waves and no other blog can generate 200-300 plays in the first 24 hours, maybe more if the song does well on the likes of Hype Machine. Sometimes PR companies will offer incentives to sites – not usually financial ones (in the history of the blog we’ve received 2, maybe 3 offers of payment for a post, which we have of course refused), but for example the opportunity to ‘exclusively premiere’ the track. Breaking More Waves doesn’t do premieres. We’d rather pass those on to sites that this is important to. That doesn’t mean that a song might not appear first on Breaking More Waves against any other blog, but if it does it’s just because we got there first, not because of some exclusivity deal with a PR company or band. Anyone else could have posted it before us. However, we’re not saying that premieres are wrong, they are good for blogs that have aspirations – they’re just not for Breaking More Waves.
4. We’re also very aware that music blogging can become very PR led. Every day we receive in the region of 200 emails in our in box submitting songs to us for possible posting. We probably have around half an hour a day to open and read some of them - the majority never get opened. Full disclosure here; there are certain companies that we trust a little more than others in terms of the artists they represent, often (but not always) having a commonality with our taste. Therefore we're more likely to listen to their submissions than others, but the reality is that we don’t just post in box discoveries on the blog. We enjoy sourcing music in many other ways – from radio, other blogs, watching support bands at gigs and quite often we sift through festivals and gigs line ups looking up names of artists on the bottom of the bill and giving them a listen. It takes longer, but it gives us a lot of pleasure when we unearth something we really like. Once more, we're not criticising blogs that do just source all their music through their in box, everyone is different, and certainly we source a lot of ours in that way, but it's not the only way.
This post is not intended to criticise blogs that do things differently, particularly with regard to premieres or just discovering / posting music via the email in box route. However, when it comes to posting music because the artist is a client of the writer’s, which is the integrity issue the owners of Hype Machine have taken issue with, we fully support and applaud the action Hype Machine has taken. Of course it won't stop all aspects of Hype Machine chart manipulation (one comment on Hype Machine's post suggests that their action is like putting a finger in a leaky dyke) but it's a valiant effort by Hype Machine to try and do something. Our hope is that in starting this they have the resource to investigate other blogs they list that may be acting without integrity, posting tracks by artists which they have may also have a financial interest in.
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
By now, if you've viewed any UK based music websites / Twitter feeds over the last couple of days, you’re probably getting pretty bored by all the ’10 Best New Acts We Saw At Great Escape’ features.
However, if you are looking at these we’d also ask you to question how many acts did the author actually see whilst they were there (and how many of them played that publications own stage?). If they only managed 20 then giving you the Top 10 doesn’t really say that much about the acts at positions 9 and 10 really does it?
If by any chance you have read any of our coverage (lots of tweets and some blog posts whilst we were still at the event) you may have picked up that of the 39 performances we saw, 1 artist stood out above all others. That artist was Norway’s Aurora, who managed to absorb us completely with two utterly unique performances (one acoustic one with a full band), both of which brought a tear to our eye and left us with a combination of goosebumps and the biggest smile across the face that is possible. It wasn't just us though, Leigh from Just Music I Like thought the same (here) and judging by the reaction from both audiences, it wasn't just a bunch of nerdy music bloggers who fell under Aurora's spell.
Today, there's more shivers as Aurora releases a new video of a cover version of the Nat King Cole classic Nature Boy. Cello, guitar and Aurora’s devine voice combine to create something born out of subtlety that creates something show stopping. It's stuff like this that makes being a music fan worth so much.
Next big thing is a very dangerous tag to apply to an artist in so many ways, raising expectations that can probably never be achieved, but Aurora is undoubtedly the best new artist we have come across in the last year. If you get the chance, make sure you see her live.
Aurora - Nature Boy
Monday, 18 May 2015
Remember Gabrielle Aplin? Of course you do – sweet songs, sort of inoffensive, went from being a You Tube sensation with a bunch of cover versions (she’s now had 80 million views on You Tube), to self-releasing a number of successful EPs, bagging a major label deal and covered Frankie Goes To Hollywood for THAT advert. We wrote about her quite a lot 'back in the day.'
Well now she returns with a new album due in September which apparently was inspired by Joni Mitchell and the production of Feist’s The Reminder. First up is the title track to the album, which whilst not exactly turning Gabrielle into the new queen of riot grrrl or hardcore punk, does find her brandishing her knuckles a little and embracing a rockier more American sound, with a few bonus country twangs for good measure. Light Up The Dark has some similarity to the likes of artists like KT Tunstall, Texas or Sheryl Crow, and marks a change in direction at the sign marked bad-ass. How this tune will fare with her fan base will be interesting to see, but the initial reaction seems to be favourable, perhaps proving that people can appreciate a good song, whatever the style.
Gabrielle Aplin - Light Up The Dark (Video)
Sunday, 17 May 2015
We’ve always thought that Robin is a rather brilliant name even if its spelling is Robyn, although the defining version is the one with the i in it of course. This has nothing to do with the name of the author of Breaking More Waves, after all that would be horrendously egotistical. But then let’s face it, music blogging is hugely egotistical, because at its base is an assumption by the writer that his or her musical tastes are good enough that the rest of the world would want to read and hear about them.
So here's some of that great taste, from Toyboy & Robin (Toyin Mustapha & Rob Drake) featuring Breaking More Waves blog favourite Robyn Sherwell on vocals. Like A Shadow very much has an emphasis on the groove, which is occasionally punctuated with some brassy sounding stabs, a gentle piano breakdown and of course Robyn’s warming vocal delivery which ensures the track crosses over neatly into song based territory rather than just being a generic house tune. It's perfect for blasting out at a cocktail terrace on some Balaeric Island this summer, but even if you're just streaming it off your tiny laptop speakers, that's OK.
Like A Shadow is on Toyboy & Robin’s Studio 7 EP, released on May 24th. The EP also features Save Me Now featuring Sam Wills.
Toyboy & Robin - Like A Shadow (featuring Robyn Sherwell)
“Today this is about how long must I wait for this stupid hangover to piss off,” uttered Ruby Taylor, aka Yumi & The Weather introducing her song Must I Wait from a makeshift stage on street outside the Fiddler’s Elbow in the sun. It seemed that after two days of music, more music and some significant alcohol consumption, much of Brighton was suffering – but also determined to carry on the party.
First up to start the day was North East band Cape Club at the Dome Studio. Benefiting from a good size stage and PA that added depth and fullness, it was quite possible to visualise this band playing larger shows in the future; their guitar based rock music developing from swelling melancholy to out and out urgent arena rock. Meanwhile, rock of a slightly more experimental nature could be found at a well-received set from Daisy Victoria, playing at Brighthelm. Dressed as if she was a guest at an upper class Victorian wedding, her sound possessed some of the rawness of early PJ Harvey, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and even a little bit of vocal gymnastics of Marina & The Diamonds. Two acts that made a pleasing start to the day.
Away from the core programme of the Great Escape and the Alt-Escape there was a number of other unlisted free gigs and one of those, off the beaten track, was at The Monty. Presented by Sunday Best Records, responsible for the likes of Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, Kate Tempest’s Sound of Rum project, Valerie June, Skinny Lister and Kitty Daisy & Lewis, there long time blog favourite Alice Jemima played. With an announcement there was to be an album for 2016, Alice played a set that gave a hint of what might be to come, including the Jamie XX referencing guitar and minor rave beats tune So, the deliciously melodic Home and the funky sweet shop dream of Liquorice which found Alice near rapping in a soft whispered style. Throwing in her internet destroying cover of No Diggity (over 2 million plays on Soundcloud), it looks like Alice Jemima will be one to watch in 2016 rather than 2013 as we originally suggested (here)
Back in the city centre Madi Lane, ex-vocalist of Dear Prudence, was found road testing some new material by candlelight in the Fiddlers Elbow. It’s difficult to tell what form the new songs will finally take, as they were just performed acoustically, but certainly Madi’s voice was soulfully strong and the tracks show much promise; an emotional song about her late father being a particular standout.
From acoustic softness to noise; Stevenage’s Bad Breeding hit the Corn Exchange with some venom. With angry, ear splitting shrieks and shouts, lead vocalist Christopher Dodd spent more time rolling around on the floor and in the pit than he did standing on the stage. It certainly made for an intimidating spectacle for the front rows. What anyone else further back in the huge hall would have made of this vicious hardcore stuff is difficult to say. What works in a small sweaty punk club in London doesn't necessarily translate to a cavernous space with a mixed audience.
In the evening the brick arched venue with the leaking roof known as Coalition was hosted by New Shapes, a London club well known for bringing some of the most exciting new pop music to the UK. Opening half an hour late things didn’t particularly get off to a good start and electronic duo Oceaán didn’t make matters any better. Whilst on record their futuristic electronic r’n’b grooves and shivers like the best of them, live they lacked impact, the music needing some additional punch. Visually a man with no real stage presence pressing some buttons and another hitting some electronic pads just didn’t inspire.
Things went on an upward trajectory from that point though. New York’s Verite (pictured below) produced a set that was competent without ever bringing a much needed rush of exhilaration. The electronic productions of her recorded songs were replaced with a rockier guitar, bass and drums format, closing tune Weekend being the high-rise highlight.
Once part of the live set up for the likes of Kwes, Kate Tempest, and Micachu And The Shapes, Georgia Barnes (who just goes by her first name but spelt GEoRGiA) was the first of three performers in a row to make Coalition come alive. A livewire on stage, GEoRGiA sang, shouted, rapped, played guitar (briefly) and drummed over a set of squelchy electronics and chaotic heavy beats that impressed.
But it was Sweden that won the pop victory outright on this evening. If Georgia was good, then Stockholm’s Mapei (streaming below) was even better; 21st century soul, gospel, hip-hop and pop all performed with buckets full of good-vibes energy. If Georgia had started the dancing, Mapei took it to a glossy higher place. 1-0 to Sweden wasn’t enough though; it was left to Seinabo Sey to score the winning second goal. Immaculately composed and controlled, Sey may not have danced crazily like Mapei (although she confessed her love for Mapei and how she makes her want to dance) but instead relied on her incredible soulful vocal and authoritarian tunes such as Hard Time and Younger to command. Seinabo Sey was the strongest argument possible for good tunes plus talent are still the two most important requirements for a musician.
And that was Great Escape 2015 nearly over. After all the new music it was time for something a little more familiar to finish the event. The drunken masses had arrived at The Corn Exchange for The Maccabees. The Brighton group played the very first Great Escape 10 years ago and it was therefore fitting to find them closing everything down with a tight festival ready set that didn’t shirk from rolling out past glories such as Latchmere and X-Ray before showering the crowd with confetti (pictured above) sending everyone home to (probably) wake up with another hangover tomorrow, but memories of a fantastic 10th Great Escape.
Conclusion / Results
Breaking More Waves saw 39 full performances by bands and artists over the course of 3 days at Breaking More Waves and remained hangover free.
We’ll certainly be back for the 11th event next year. Great Escape is undoubtedly the best new music multi-venue festival in the UK.
Mapei - Believe
Saturday, 16 May 2015
For the review of Thursday’s Great Escape click here.
Sensible footwear is often the order of the day at music festivals, and even although Brighton’s Great Escape is an urban multi-venue event, with gigs running from mid-day to well past midnight, the chances are you’re going to be standing on your feet a lot, so being prepared for the inevitable hard surface sole-ache is a must.
Portsmouth’s Kassassin Street took that difficult mid-day slot, but there was a surprisingly decent turn out in Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar for so early. If there were any hangovers in the room they were blown away by the band’s dense measure of psychedelic rock that grooved as hard as it riffed. It’s no mean achievement to get an audience dancing at such a time but Kassassin Street managed it.
The Portsmouth connection continued just yards away in Shipwrights Yard, an outdoor courtyard space that finds bands performing in a garage space. Jerry Williams (pictured below), an impossibly charming acoustic singer songwriter played every song with a smile on her face. Possessing a sugar-coated voice there was a little bit of early Kate Nash ‘check out my bum’ cheekiness in her lyrics, for example on Sunglasses she sang of boys who look at girls sneakily wearing sunglasses indoors.
Keeping the diversity going, Brighton’s Dog In The Snow played a short set of eccentric ambient pop, like a more experimental Bat For Lashes. This was followed by a short feet kind walk back to Sticky Mike’s for Nashville alt-rock band Bully. Having gained considerable critical praise over the last year a rammed show wouldn’t have been beyond possibilities, but it seemed that this particular gig (part of the free Alt-Escape event rather than the core programme) hadn’t been that well publicised and was only moderately busy. Despite the early start, Bully ripped through their set with razor-sharp, throat slashing venom. What their early 90’s grunge sound lacked in originality it made up for in sheer hollering force.
Next up was Norwegian singer Aurora (pictured below) in the tented bar café known as Spiegelpub. Arriving on stage a little late and out of breath, Aurora’s set wasn’t the electronic pop that she’s making a name for herself with, but a stripped back acoustic affair. Within thirty seconds of the show it was instantly clear that Aurora is quite brilliant. Possessing a natural innocence, a wide eyed wonder and performing in an unselfconscious manner, arms waving like a string puppet, Aurora silenced the chattering venue with a set of mesmerising songs. There was probably more goose-bumps in the Spiegelpub than the rest of the world at that moment. The highlight of the festival so far, without doubt.
Horatios is a decidedly odd place. A karaoke bar made partly from corrugated metal panel construction on the end of the pier next to a fun fair, it has a certain faded glamour British seaside charm. Throw in a hen party, some OAP regulars and a showcase by a fashion, music, art and design magazine with singer Syron belting out some club bangers backed by a DJ and 2 hip moving / arse shaking backing and alternate reality had actually become reality. Very strange.
Things got a bit more straightforward following a 15 minute trek down the seafront to Concorde 2 for Rebecca Clements, a solo singer songwriter with plenty of crestfallen lyrical anger. Describing one track, Nicotine, as ‘the most depressing song ever’, Rebecca managed to capture that sneering pissed off feeling perfectly – the polar opposite of Syron’s in ‘da club’ saucy happiness. A cover of The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry complete with Rebecca screwing up her nose in exactly the same way Robert Smith does when he sings just added to the glorious despondency of it all. We can’t imagine Rebecca having any twerking dancers to help her out in the near future, although maybe the addition of a band to flesh out the sound would be worthwhile. Good stuff all the same.
Following Aurora’s stunning set earlier in the day, a trip to Coalition to see her a second time became a must. Before her show London quartet Beach Baby got a few minor cheers for their song Ladybird, the band sounding a tiny bit like Joy Division if they’d lived in California and drank up sunshine rather than darkness. But these cheers were nothing in comparison with the roar and lengthy applause that greeted every song Aurora played. This time with a full band, the sound may have been far more akin to her recorded work, but it was her adorable nature, telling the crowd how wonderful it was to hear people clap and scream, combined with her uplifting and touchingly magical songs that won the day again. 2 sets, 2 highlights of The Great Escape. ‘Next big thing’ is a horrible tag to have, putting pressure on artists that they often can’t live up to, but certainly Aurora has unique star potential.
The Corn Exchange may be a vast hall, but Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s huge bluesy voice matched it equally. His song Life In Her Yet, a deeply personal track about his grandmother, managed to convey a deep intimacy despite the vastness of the room. A job well done on home turf, with a set that mixed blues, rock, soul and gospel in equal measure.
From the biggest of venues at Great Escape, to one of the smallest; at the Komedia Studio bar Cash + David seemed to be running a convention for tall people, did we miss the sign that said ‘no entry if you’re under 6’ 2”? Their hipster friendly multi-faceted guitar and sample based dance music got heads nodding without ever creating explosions. With vocalist Liz Lawrence describing Great Escape as ‘a nice day out’, this also seemed a fair assessment of Cash + David’s performance. Bigger fireworks came from the next artist. With funky rhythms, bad ass dancing and the sweetest of vocals London’s Nao (pictured top) clearly knew how to work a stage. No wonder she’s already been out on the road supporting Clean Bandit.
By the end of Friday night a lot of the crowd downstairs at Komedia were pretty drunk. It didn’t help Columbia’s Kali Uchis, a performer who has worked with Tyler the Creator and been compared to Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu and Lana Del Rey. Winning the award for best and boldest striped trousers at the festival, her DJ only backed performance lacked in real conviction and given the short attention span of the mainly inebriated audience, she failed to convince more than a dedicated few in the front rows. A slightly disappointing end to what had otherwise been an excellent (but foot murdering) day, with one stand out star; that was Aurora.
Aurora - Awakening
Friday, 15 May 2015
At first sight The Great Escape can be an overwhelming proposition, irrespective of if you’re a newcomer to the event or a regular attendee. The sheer number and diversity of artists playing (over 600 including the festival’s sister event the Alt-Escape) and the multitude of venues, some of which appear new for 2015 but are actually just renamed, is mind-boggling. But for most punters, once they have collected their festival wristband and set off through the seaside streets of (still) the UK’s only city represented by a Green MP, things just fall into place. Some will take the strictly timetabled and disciplined approach to the festival, whilst others will have a more relaxed ‘catch whatever and wherever’ attitude, but however you experience Great Escape, as a new music fan, enjoyment will be something that factors high.
It seemed that sense of being overwhelmed transferred to some of the venue organisers at the start of this years’ festival. Rain had left the carefully fashioned and made for videoing outdoor stage at the Wagner Hall unusable and so Jack Garrett’s morning acoustic gig, filmed for Vevo, had to be moved to a leaking yurt structure, complete with plastic bags positioned over laptops and a request from the director of the shoot for nobody to move whilst Jack performed at the risk of the temporary floor structure wobbling and affecting the camera shoot. A slightly surreal start to the day.
Over at Patterns (formerly Audio) the newly refurbished club and bar was also struggling. Due to start at 12:30, doors eventually opened at 13:30, the smell of fresh paint clearly present, with parts of the venue, particularly the toilets, still resembling a building site; sinks were fashioned from large pieces of plastic guttering and the walls were all bare concrete blockwork. The local authority only signed the place off as safe to use five minutes before doors opened. However once inside, nothing would defeat the music.
A Welsh showcase found Violet Skies giving a perfect demonstration in note perfect singing with smoothly elegant electronic based pop songs such as Patience. The recently Radio 1 playlisted Casi mixed both languages, singing in Welsh and English, as well as musical styles, from soft keyboard based tunes to more traditional and organic sounding pop rock, with a voice that was neatly balanced between power and restraint. Finally Llanelli five piece Cut Ribbons closed the showcase, performing with a mysteriously placed chair right in front of the stage (jokes about the best seat in the house would have been entirely appropriate), and whilst clearly a polished group with a well-defined pop sensibility and a breathless dynamic in their sound, their indie pop was let down by a poor mix which left co-vocalist Anna Griffiths barely audible.
One of the odder venues at Great Escape is the Queens Hotel, with bands playing in a downstairs lobby area of the building rather than a traditional music venue. There we caught two acts from the Dutch showcase. First Pollyana made it possible to forget the grey skies and rain outside, despite some initial technical difficulties with her bandmates guitars. Hooky, melodic songs that mixed elements of pop, rock, and country were the order of the day, all played with a delightful prettiness. In stark contrast tattooed boy-girl duo Tears & Marble played sorrowful ghostly late night electronic atmospherics (even although it was mid-afternoon) including a starkly anguished sounding cover version of Haddaway’s What Is Love.
Over at The Mesmerist good old fashioned indie rock ‘n’ roll was found to be in safe, albeit slightly scruffy hands with The Jacques (streaming below). Clearly influenced by The Libertines ( both lead singers even hollered into the same microphone together at certain points – very reminiscent of Carl and Pete) these floppy fringed youngsters provided the first bouncy indie anthem of the weekend, in a song appropriately titled Weekends. Let’s just hope they learn some lessons from Doherty and co and avoid the drugs.
A few years ago record label XL held a showcase at the Great Escape at the relatively small Red Roaster coffee house, a gig that featured a certain singer called Adele on the bill. If you want a demonstration of how XL has developed and become one of the most important labels in the UK music industry, the large queue that had formed before doors opening outside the brick vaulted under road super club that is Coalition would have given you all the information you needed.
Upwards progression was clearly evident for the first artist on the XL bill as well. Liverpool’s Holly Lapsley Fletcher, who goes just by the name of Låpsley, has come on leaps and bounds since her nervous and somewhat shaky set at the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury last year. Beautifully minimalistic in sound with a new found confidence in her emotional vocal delivery, Låpsley’s hushed tunes combined elements of soul, jazz, club culture, and ambient pop to fully justify why she’s become one of the most hotly tipped artists of the last 12 months. After Låpsley the culture clash sounds of Ibeyi, two twins who fused French, Cuban and Yoruba culture fell oddly flat. Despite their perfect harmonies and experimental sonic vision their set wore thin after a number of songs.
What was needed was an injection of energy and in Patterns Basement Swedish electro-poppers Kate Boy overloaded the audience with adrenalin. Lead singer Kate Akhurst bounced around the stage with a huge smile on her face, posed for selfies with the audience and managed to mix a commercial sensibility with a left of centre coolness. That mix continued with New Zealand’s Broods (pictured below). On record the band might take pop to a somewhat more melancholy place, but in the live environment songs like L.A.F became bona fide bangers, with lead singer Georgia Nott at the centre of it all -the swaying thrusting figurehead. Despite the exhilaration, there was a touch of disappointment as well, the band’s set shortened due to the late opening of the venue. You had to feel for a band that had flown for 30 hours to perform, only to be cut off at their peak.
And so after nearly 14 hours of live music our final destination was back to Wagner Hall, this time the indoor stage, which because of the Vevo connection had been fitted out to look as much like aTV studio than a gig venue. First up was the rock ‘n’ roll rampage of The Bohicas, but it seemed that the majority of the crowd were there for the man who started our day; Jack Garrett (pictured above). Joking with the crowd that he couldn’t believe how many people were in the venue ‘apparently there are lots of people who…aren’t here as well,’ he added, his one man all singing, all playing mix of bassy electronica, guitars and pad hitting rhythms brought day one to a close with some excellence and as one punter requested at the end of his set: “Send us home Jack, send us home.” His job was well done.
The Jacques - Weekends
Further reviews of Friday and Saturday at Great Escape 2015 will follow.
Thursday, 14 May 2015
We've fallen totally in love with Clay by new pop artist Hana. So let's cut straight to the chase and give you the 5 facts you need to know about her. Maybe there’ll be time for some waffle as things progress:
1. Hana is not (as we originally thought it was) this Hana from Wales, who also makes music and we’ve also been keeping our eyes and ears on from afar. Confusing huh?
2. This Hana (who we shall now refer to as Hana USA ) comes out of Los Angeles and and has been writing, recording and performing as Hana Pestle for a number of years, but throwing away the surname marks the start of something new and potentially much bigger. Her Facebook is named Officially Hana. We're not quite sure how you make a name official, but she's done it.
3. She used to live in Montana. Yes, it’s true. Hana (USA) really was Hana Montana, and we expect she’s thoroughly sick of the jokes.
4. Hana (USA) has been celebrated on the internet by the likes of Lorde, Grimes and Lana Del Rey and is stepping out on tour with the last of those two performers. (Note to both, particularly Grimes – please come to the UK soon, thank you).
5. Clay is a sad but incredibly captivating piece of reflective electronic pop, co-produced by Blood Diamonds – just the sort of thing that we adore on Breaking More Waves. “It’s four in the morning, I’m finding my own, you know you never said sorry, for all that you stole,” Hana (USA) sings with the sweetest of melodies before adding at the end: “Nothing to show, but my name.” And that name is Hana. (Without the USA). It's official. Keep an eye and ear out for it. But don’t get confused with Hana (Welsh version).
Hana - Clay
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Today we bring you a short intermission.
During the course of this intermission we’d like to broadcast the following Public Information Film.
Originally broadcast before Public Service Broadcasting’s gigs on their recent tour, in support of their second (superb) album The Race For Space, it delivers its message with a neat touch of humour.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
Are you a Geoffrey or a Ralph?
Geoffrey Went Too Far
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
This one certainly isn’t a rough cut. Take two distinctive voices, namely Breaking More Waves favourite finger-in-the-air f*ck you popster Charli XCX and what sounds like a Texas Instruments Speak & Spell speech synthesizer, add in some pumping electronic production courtesy of the master Giorgio Moroder (but you can call him just Giorgio) and you’ve got yourself a gem of a song that will probably make you want to strip down to your underwear and dance around the bedroom like you’ve had a little too many vodka chasers. It’s the perfect combination of old and young, retro and future, electronica and pop, and of course, Charli and Giorgio.
Giorgio Moroder - Diamonds (featuring Charli XCX)
Here at Breaking More Waves we’ve written quite extensively about the visual concept of pop stars (or potential pop stars) having a bath as a promotional tool. Some do it naked, some do it fully clothed, some do it with their dogs, but it seems that if you’re a certain sort of musical beacon, you need at some point in your career to get lathered up and show the world. (More on this link here - one of the more popular posts on this blog).
Now of course Billie Marten isn’t really a pop star, her music has more folky and acoustic leanings, so it’s probably not appropriate for her to get among some suds in the tub just to sell some records. So for her Heavy Weather video (the song of which we streamed some time ago and wrote about the music) she gets someone else to take a shower. Fully clothed. We can only but assume that this is him attempting to recreate a deluge of rain to fit with the tone of some ‘Heavy Weather’. Billie also gets extra marks in this video for featuring some breaking waves, which always appeals to a blog of this name. The beautiful music helps too, of course. So there you have it, if you're an artist that wants to be featured on Breaking More Waves, some sea references, some bathing or showering and a good tune combined and you're in.
The video for Heavy Weather was shot by Daniel Broadley in Dungeness last month.
Billie Marten - Heavy Weather (Video)
Monday, 11 May 2015
This is Lisa Mitchell’s ‘new’ single Wah Ha. If you take a look at the statistics for the video you’ll see that it has already picked up 48,000 odd views; impressive work for a song that dropped into our inbox today. The point is that this film was actually released to the world wide web in November 2014, but as Lisa is now on her way to the UK again for some gigs (including Bushstock festival), it has been packaged up and re-promoted as if it has just been released, just in case you missed it first time round.
If you did miss it, it really is worth a listen. For Wah Ha is an appealingly pretty tune. It has the lightest of touches, a bossa nova rhythm giving the song the sense of spring turning into the summer. It will make you want to tiptoe down to the beach, and grab some headphones as you dip your feet in the sea, maybe listening to Astrid Gilberto’s The Girl From Ipanema and Belle And Sebastian’s Judy And The Dream Of Horses all day long.
Having fully thrown off the ‘6th on Australian Idol’ tag Lisa Mitchell has once again shown that she has a real knack of writing infectiously good acoustic based pop tunes. Wah Ha joins a growing back catalogue of golden wonders that includes Neopolitan Dreams, Spiritus and Bless This Mess.
Lisa Mitchell - Wah Ha (Video)
Today we’re introducing Chad Male and his band Cape Cub who have immediately impressed us with the two songs they have on line, namely Lantern and the more recently released Swim. Both tracks are beautifully written pieces of work, full of grace and emotion. There’s an awful lot of music around these days that takes sparseness and a sense of space as its starting point, but Cape Cub do it incredibly well. A simple guitar backing, a tender softness in its delivery and a chorus that wells up and takes hold on its very first listen: “If there’s something you want to know, show me where to go and I will give myself to you,” Chad sings. It’s fantastic stuff that sends a little shiver down the spine.
Live dates are few and far between at the moment, but for those of you heading to Brighton later this week, catch this band from the North East of the UK at the Great Escape Festival.
Cape Cub - Swim
Sunday, 10 May 2015
This coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday many a new music fan in the UK will be decamping to Brighton, Sussex for the 10th birthday of the Great Escape Festival.
You can see our explanation of why we love the event so much on this link here.
Plus you can see 20 acts that we recommend from the official programme in our 5 blog post preview here, although line up clashes preclude anyone seeing all of those acts.
Today we’re turning our attention to the Great Escape’s kid brother event, the Alt-Escape, which just like its bigger sibling has grown beyond all recognition from its early days. The Alt-Escape is, in the words of the festival organisers, an “official series of showcases that take place alongside the core festival programme at The Great Escape.”
The Alt-Escape offers over 200 additional artists performing in over 15 venues, and unlike the Great Escape itself most of these shows are open to any member of the public who is over the age of 18 irrespective of if they have a Great Escape wristband or not. Some of these gigs are free admission for anyone, whilst others are free for Great Escape attendees and accessed for a small charge for those without a wristband.
A number of bands who are playing the Great Escape also take the opportunity whilst they are in Brighton to play one of more Alt-Escape shows. So even if you’re not going to the Great Escape (tickets are now sold out) it’s still possible to enjoy 3 (or even 4 if you count the couple of gigs that are held for early arrivals on Wednesday night) glorious days in Brighton watching plenty of live music at little to no cost.
Here are 5 bands / artists playing at Alt-Escape that we recommend (programme clashes permitting).
Arctic Lake – The Joker 1.45pm. Thursday 14th May
They might be playing a pub called The Joker, but there’s no joke about the band’s music. Beautiful minimal instrumentation coupled with Emma Foster’s haunting vocal, it’s no wonder that their song Limits found itself on daytime Radio 1 via the BBC Introducing playlist slot.
Curxes – Bleach 17.40pm. Thursday 14th May
Having just released their debut album proper via Strong Island Recordings and fresh from an album launch party the night before, electronic duo turned trio Curxes will be bashing all hell out Bleach (previously known as The Hydrant) in the north of Brighton just before you have your tea. Expect dramatic poses and an even more dramatic sound from the self-confessed blitz poppers.
Kassassin Street – Sticky Mike's Frog Bar 12.00pm. Friday 15th May
Arguably the finest band to come out of Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth for some time, Kassassin Street’s groovy blend of rock and electronics has found them being compared to everyone from Primal Scream to MGMT to Kasabian. The group have begun to find favour with the online press, particularly blogs, with their most recent track To Be Young entering the Hype Machine chart and being featured on the likes of Indie Shuffle, Ear Milk, Acid Stag and of course Breaking More Waves. Get out of bed early to catch them.
Syron – Horatios 17.00pm. Friday 15th May
Three days in Brighton wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the pier, maybe some fish and chips and then to a bar called Horatios which is set next to the funfair. It captures the essence of faded seaside glamour rather well and there you can get a dose of dance pop bangers from south London’s Syron as part of a showcase presented by Spindle and Firetrap.
Alice Jemima – 2.30pm The Monty. Saturday 16th May
Having featured heavily on Breaking More Waves as far back as 2011, Alice Jemima self-released her All The Boyfriends EP in 2012, appeared on a Radio 1 late night session and picked up over 2 million plays on Soundcloud for her cover version of No Diggity. However, in terms of new material there has been very little in the last couple of years. That's all changing now though as 2015 sees the slow return of Alice Jemima with a few gigs, and now a release of sorts, with Alice cropping up on Laura Doggett’s Into The Glass EP singing on Night Girl, a tune she co-wrote with Laura. At Great Escape Alice will be playing a show for Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best record label, which no doubt will include plenty of new songs. Keep an eye out for further news about Alice, her music and releases as the year goes on.
We'll be publishing daily reviews of this years Great Escape on the blog and tweeting about some of the action live from Brighton as it happens.
Saturday, 9 May 2015
Ryn Weaver looks like becoming half a decent pop star doesn’t she? She’s not fully there yet though. For starters you really have to be idolised by a significant number of fans before the star status is achieved and secondly you have to re-shape the pop star template just enough to make it your own. So whilst Ryn works on that can we all agree that what she definitely has are some way more than half decent songs?
The Fool is one of those songs. We’ve streamed it before on Breaking More Waves, but now it has a slightly surreal video that has a cute fluffy bunny, a man pretending to be some sort of superhero (he’s pretty rubbish to be honest), some slow motion, some cows and some weird watery witchcraft. Your guess is as good as ours as to whether it means anything or not – possibly something about the different stages of a relationship?
In extra news, you might remember we hinted in our last post that Ryn was playing her first UK show on Wed 3rd June and we were gunning for it to be at the Adelphi Club in Hull. Well, inevitably the inevitable has happened and instead Ryn is playing for New Shapes at Notting Hill Arts Club, London alongside Scotland’s Kloë. Sorry Hull.
Ryn Weaver - The Fool (Video)
Friday, 8 May 2015
Today Hype Machine published 10 UK music blogger’s tips for next week’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton, including those of Breaking More Waves. You can see and hear them using this link here. One name that didn’t make it onto that tip list that quite easily could have done was Nao. Why not? Because of utterly selfish reasons. We’re sorry / not sorry.
Let us explain: Nao is playing Brighton’s Komedia Studio venue at Great Escape. It’s a relatively small space. So we want to give ourselves the best chance of rocking up just before she goes on stage after catching other acts elsewhere and being able to get in. So we were trying to keep her a bit secret.
Then we realised how utterly ridiculous this was. Of our relatively small readership, only a handful of you will be at Great Escape anyway, and of that small group, they’re in all likelihood perfectly capable of making their own decisions about who to see without our interference. But just in case you’re at a loss and are still pondering who to see…shh….. don’t tell too many people about her yet, if you want to get in.
So here’s Apple Cherry by Nao, her latest track from the February 15 EP, uploaded to Soundcloud today. There’s a definite FKA Twigs influence here, although Nao’s sound is somewhat more easy to access on first listen than perhaps Tahliah Barnett’s is. Maybe see one or two of you in Brighton for this? Save Breaking More Waves a space if you get there early.
Nao - Apple Cherry
Thursday, 7 May 2015
Here’s a song / new band that’s been slowly working its way round many of the blogs over the last week or two. Now finally it’s our turn. (Yes, don't you know – music bloggers all have to stand in a virtual queue and wait for their turn to jump on the bandwagon, although sometimes the queue gets a bit impatient, all hell breaks out and there’s a massive scrum to see who can get some words out first.)
Pleasure Beach (the band) has nothing to do with Blackpool’s famous thrill seeking amusement park on the North-West coast of England. Instead they have a lot to do with Northern Irish bands Yes Cadets and In An Instant, various members of which form this new group. Their debut song Go has a propulsive and hypnotic weight to it, like a classic Arcade Fire song fuelled by wonky but brilliant electronics. It’s a tune that the word whoosh was invented for. It sweeps you off your feet. It sounds sunny and intense at the same time, and it’s actually a break up song. But if you’ve ever read and learned the rules of pop (available from all good high street vendors) you’ll know that nearly all of the best songs about splitting up and broken hearts often hide the sadness with a joyful beat and a high spirited tune.
A really great start for this new project. Pleasure Beach are Lisa, Kat, Alan, Richard and Rachel. Enjoy.
Pleasure Beach - Go