Monday 29 June 2015

Equal Opportunities For Women Musicians - Are Bloggers As Bad As Festival Bookers?

Over the last year the subject of the number of female performers at UK festivals has been questioned time and time again. A recent analysis by the Guardian investigating the gender split of artists, calculating the number of male and female performers featured on posters advertising festivals, found that there were 2,336 men on stage at the major festivals in the UK this year compared with 270 women. Anyone with a sense of fairness would see that that something is quite clearly wrong here. However, just calling out the festival bookers is only the tip of the iceberg. We think that Emily Eavis of Glastonbury hit the nail on the head when she stated “the question of why there are so few women needs to be asked further back than us…. We also need those female artists to be pushed through – by record companies, radio and the media.”

We agree. The music industry itself needs to take a long hard look at how it operates and why so few women have opportunity. 

People often comment about how many women artists we write about on the blog, as if it’s unusual. Yet here’s a reality check. Of the 10 artists we’ve written most about in Breaking More Waves 7 year history (you can see the full list here), if you include all the members of a band where the artist is billed as band, rather than just a solo act, and not just vocalists you’ll find that only 45% of the acts we’ve written about are women. Not so good after all huh? OK it’s close to being equal, but if we’re perceived as being women heavy, what of other blogs?

Last week we did a quick straw poll of other blogs we read and their posts from the last couple of months. The % splits were generally far better than the music festival results (shout out to Just Music I Like who bucked the trend and had featured 71% women musicians in the last month) , but it was clear that overall, the bands being written about still contained more male musicians than female. Solo women artists featured more often, and in some cases it was hard to know how many people were in the band and what sex they were, but as a very broad guestimate the split was 70/30 in favour of males. Interestingly, some of the blogs that have been quite vocal on Twitter about the lack of opportunity for women in music didn’t do any better in our quick straw poll analysis than other blogs.

Leigh from the above mentioned Just Music I Like went one further last week and tried to analyse why it is that maybe bloggers do write about music that has more male musicians as part of the act than women. He analysed his ‘supply chain’ of music submissions, namely his email in box, in a snapshot survey and found that male artists accounted for 78% of submissions and females just 22%, and this was made up of acts that were male only (60.5%), female only (21.4%) and mixed (18.1%). So whilst this isn’t conclusive it supports the theory that more men are making music, or at least more men are making music and submitting them to blogs. You can read the full results of his study here. The big question of course is why is this?

The answer of course probably isn't one simple black and white solution. There's probably a lot of work that needs to be done to change things. We’re a firm believer in action speaking louder than words - there’s been an awful lot of words on the internet about this lack of opportunity and whilst the discussions and tweets are useful to a point, so much more needs to be done. We think it’s up to everybody to consider and change their actions where necessary, not just festival bookers, but anyone involved in music, right down the supply chain, back to music education at schools.  “Equal opportunity” doesn’t just mean treating everybody the same. It means adapting our ways to give everyone an equal chance. Clearly this isn’t happening right now. 

Of course if you think that women are being given equal opportunity in the music industry as performers, do let us know, and if you think they are, why? We're interested to hear your views via Twitter or in the comments below.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Breaking More Waves Is 7 Today (And Why We're Slowing For A While)

Today Breaking More Waves is seven years old. Happy blog birthday to us etc.

Here in order are the artists we've posted about the most over the last 7 years. Whilst we like to support new acts, we also continue to write about more established artists that we've covered in their early days, when they release new material, if we like it and time permits. This isn't one of those automatic 'post the first two tracks and then lose interest' blogs. That's why Little Boots and Ellie Goulding are at the top - we've featured them from demo stage through to more recent work. Alice Jemima who was close behind in third may have only released a single self released EP and featured on a song on Laura Doggett's EP to date, but keep your ears out for Ms Jemima as this year (and next) progresses.

The Most Blogged Artists On Breaking More Waves from 2008-2015

1. Little Boots 
2. Ellie Goulding
3. Alice Jemima
4. Marina & The Diamonds
5. Hurts
6. Stornoway
7. Charli XCX 
8. Slow Club
9. Curxes
10. Chvrches

7 years old is pretty old in blog terms. Especially as a 1 man d-i-y effort. In that time we've written over 2,500 posts. Really this blog should have stopped a long time ago. It’s as dated and uncool as they come. We still use an old school Blogspot / Blogger template, we still like the idea of writing some waffle to go with the music and we still like the idea of that waffle being about ideas, opinions, context, emotion and sometimes just stupid old tomfoolery. All of that stuff seems pretty out of fashion these days - but then we didn’t start this to be fashionable or cool, we started it to have a bit of fun.

Whereas many other blogs / bloggers have ambition to be bigger and better, or a desire to expand their passion for music further, through shooting their own videos, creating their own record labels, putting on their own shows, making their own podcasts and the like, we don’t have any of that. We’re just happy doing what we do.

We often see music blogs ending because the site has become all -consuming in the author’s life,  or they don’t have the time / enthusiasm any more as they pursue other things that have now become more important to them (the raising of children usually being the killer). We’ve never really had to do that, despite having a family of our own. The reasons, we think, are something to do with not having ‘blogger ambition’, not letting the blog become too important and quite probably being pretty organised and motivated in life generally. We’re not the sort of person to have lie-ins or spend a week just chilling watching mindless TV. We like to be busy.

Having said all of that, for the next few months Breaking More Waves will be scaling things back a bit. First, because we’re off to Glastonbury Festival, so whilst we’re there the blog will be silent. Once we return, Breaking More Waves HQ is likely to be relocating and we need to take a bit of time out with everything that is associated with that. Building works don’t get done without some labour.

We’re not stopping the blog completely though. There will still be some spare lunch hours at work, so we anticipate posting at least once a week in July and August, a little more than that sometimes.

But as you notice a slowdown in output, please don’t think this is the beginning of the end. We have every intention of posting our 8th birthday celebration next year. We still get enormous pleasure in adding to the digital trash on the internet, and all the time we’re getting that, we’ll make some time for Breaking More Waves. However, for  the next few months we might just be the blog putting the 'late' into latest music.

Right we're off to Somerset tomorrow - some family called Eavis has arranged our 7th blog birthday party in a field there.

Monday 22 June 2015

Hurts - Some Kind Of Heaven (Video)


Hurts, the 5th most blogged about band on Breaking More Waves have just released a video for their new quite poptatstic single Some Kind Of Heaven, to follow on from the previously released You Tube audio stream. Imagine if a band just popped the video up online and didn’t bother with a staged release campaign - who knows maybe they’d save some money on their marketing budget? But of course that's not the way things work these days.

Anyway, the video is suitably weird and beautifully shot, with an almost David Lynch like feel to it. What’s it all about we hear you ask? We have no idea. Our interpretation is that Theo is attempting to escape from ‘some kind of heaven’ that may or may not be death, and that there’s no escape, he’s always going to end up back there. Watch out for the clapping on the thighs bit, it’s the most sinister thing you'll see all day.

This is worth watching even to just enjoy another popstar besides Ellie Goulding running, probably something you wouldn’t expect of the usually stationary Hurts, although in Theo’s case he isn’t wearing Nikes and sportswear - he still keeps a shirt on.

Hurts - Some Kind Of Heaven

Sunday 21 June 2015

Glastonbury 2015 - Preview

Trying to write a preview of Glastonbury Festival (or to give it its full title – The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts) is as impossible as trying to stifle a yawn. Not that there’s anything remotely yawnsome about the festival itself – except the punishing tiredness that may kick in after it’s all over. For Glastonbury is huge – you probably know that much. In fact the way we like to think of Glastonbury isn’t one gigantic festival, it’s like many festivals within one festival; and because of that every person who goes will have a very different experience as they search for pleasure. Some will just watch the big stars on the Pyramid and the Other Stage (the ones the media tend to focus on, giving in our opinion a rather sanitised and unrealistic view of the festival) some will take in a little bit of everything, whilst others will see very little live music all weekend, instead exploring the many other weird and wonderful attractions the festival has, from cabaret to circus to political debate to craft and so much more. We’d need to write a novel to cover everything and the internet is already full of stuff about the event. 

However, if you’re going this year and are a Glastonbury virgin we recommend you read our tips from last year (here) which still all hold true.

What we would like to tell you about, if you’re at all interested, is our own personal history with the festival.

Breaking More Waves first trip to Glastonbury was in 1994. It was the year that the Pyramid Stage burnt down just a few days before the start date and had to be replaced with an alternative structure. In those days there wasn’t the massive internet scrum there is now for tickets. In fact the internet didn’t even exist. We purchased our tickets by sending a cheque (£59 for a ticket) to a PO Box number and picked them up from a lady sitting in a caravan on the site when we arrived. 

There used to be a phrase that ran something along the lines of “if you can remember Glastonbury you probably weren’t actually there,” and it’s true that we remember very little of that year. Not because of some hedonistic attempt to get off our faces on drugs, but just that we’ve been to so many festivals since that they all blur into each other. Things that we do recall are that it was blazing hot, that we saw Pulp, Blur and Oasis (who were virtually bottom of the bill at that point) all perform stunning sets on the second stage as Brit Pop began to accelerate towards 90’s domination, that Bjork was an incredible bundle of dancing prancing energy and vocal brilliance, that M People captured a polished joy that demonstrated that Glastonbury was no longer a festival for just crusties and hippies, that on Sunday morning part of the site was shut off as there had been a shooting incident, that elsewhere we heard that someone died of a drugs overdose (the first ever death on site) and most importantly that whilst we were there the first cracks in the relationship with the person we were living with and thought was going to be our life partner appeared. By Christmas that year we had separated.

Since that time, we’ve been back to Glastonbury a number of times – not every year, but on average about once every three years. We’ve experienced some of the most apocalyptic weather and conditions we’ve experienced in a tent at Glastonbury. The mud of 1997 and 1998 in particular was horrendous. 

After Glastonbury 1997 the first ever Breaking Waves fanzine was published. It was 38 pages long and contained a 19 page review of the mud bath event in diary form. Reading back now it seems that our highlights were Daft Punk, Radiohead and Dennis Pennis having to fill for the The Prodigy when something went wrong with their equipment and they had to leave the stage. In 1998 we went with our new girlfriend, her first Glastonbury, and had to endure a river running through the middle of our tent. The fact that she didn’t complain once and just got on with things probably explains why she’s still our partner (and mother of our 2 children) now. 

In 2003 we took our children to their first Glastonbury and had a very different experience – spending the mornings relaxing in the sun in the kid’s field, with ‘headliners’ such as Bodger & Badger before catching the likes of REM, Radiohead (again) and the Flaming Lips on the Pyramid stage at night with our children drifting off to sleep in pushchairs. Everything about it was glorious and it was probably the first time ever that we really didn’t want to come home afterwards. That was the year we really found that ‘Glastonbury spirit’ that people talk about; a spirit of humanity coming together, co-operating and appreciating each other, whatever their views on the world outside. 

12 years on and with the children now teenagers we’re beginning to believe they are charmed – they’ve now been to over 20 festivals and have yet to experience any sort of major mud bath – in fact they’ve only had to wear wellies (because of wet grass more than anything) for just 1 of those festivals they have attended. They also seem to have found a little bit of that Glastonbury spirit themselves, being pretty empathetic kids who seem to be far more tolerant of differences than many people from generations above them. They give hope for the future.

More recently, Breaking More Waves was invited to become one of the music writer judges for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, for which we receive a complimentary ticket for the festival as thanks for helping filter through some of the thousands of entries that are submitted for the competition every year. The last two years this ticket has been a press ticket meaning that we’ve been able to camp in the reserved hospitality campsite on site giving us privileges such as showers, ‘real’ flushing toilets and a hospitality car park that is close to the site. It’s something we’re extremely grateful for, getting that bit older and having slummed it in some pretty horrendous conditions at other points of our Glastonbury history.

We feel like we’ve grown up with the festival. We’re guessing that this is not uncommon for those who have been going for many years. We’ve watched it get bigger and cater for the mainstream masses , and its undoubtedly become safer in many respects (not only in some of its main stage music selections but the actual site itself – the installation of the super fence may have alienated some, but when lives were being put at risk without it, it needed to happen), but at its heart the old fashioned alternative hippy spirit still resides there, or at least as close as you can get to it in these days of corporate greed, social media that’s often anti-social and lifestyles that in the main seem to be all about the individual rather than society. Glastonbury (in the main) brings us back to a concept of society – albeit one that is drunk, wasted and hungover.

If you’re going this year, have a fantastic time however you choose to experience the festival. Look after those you’re going with, and make friends with / keep an eye out for strangers there as well. 

Musical tips? Oh go on then. The Unthanks with an orchestra to wash away your hangover at 11am on Saturday opening the Pyramid Stage (streaming below), Kate Tempest (various stages) delivering her optimistic words and beats and of course, Lionel Richie if only to see if he starts with Hello. If he does, we'll probably cry and laugh at the same time.

The Unthanks - Flutter

Lionel Richie - Hello

Friday 19 June 2015

Iris Gold - Goldmine

Iris Gold already wowed us with WOW! (a track that has now been deleted from her Soundcloud) and now she’s digging up musical gold dust with Goldmine, which we’re informed is her ‘debut official track’ - make of that what you will. Throwing together some old school hip-hop / R&B production, a chirpy pop sensibility, whistle like electronics and a small child delivering some rhymes (one of those  ‘it really shouldn’t work but it does moments’) this one marks Iris out as being a little different from your run of the mill rapper or pop pretender. But then we knew that already from WOW! didn't we? 

After yesterday’s post where we joked about the fact that Kiiara probably wasn’t brought up in a commune of free loving French hippies, we can reveal that Iris grew up in Freetown Christiana, which is an autonomous fringe commune in Copenhagen. Apparently it even has a famously liberal/free-thinking anything-goes culture; which just goes to show that blogging about pop music and all that surrounds it can be full of twists, turns and contradictions.

Iris has yet to find much support from the blogosphere, but she’s got some big support elsewhere, with slots on one of the stages at both Blur and Taylor Swift’s shows at Hyde Park, London, which let's face it is probably worth more than it's weight in to Iris than a couple of hundred plays from a tin pot music blog.

Iris Gold - Goldmine

Thursday 18 June 2015

Kiiara - New Waves

It seems that newcomer Kiiara isn’t really a people person: “I forgot how exhausting it is to be around people. I don't like it. Nope. I like being alone,” she tweeted as one of her first ever tweets. Maybe she’s better just sitting at home and making music? Certainly on the evidence of her debut track that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. For Gold, with its glitchy vocal and spacey but bouncy electronics squirms and wriggles in a way that's full of sparkle appeal. Mind you, as much as glitchy production is a lot of fun it’s bloody difficult to sing along with. Try singing this one yourself. Impossible isn’t it? 

What do we know about Kiiarra? Just a little. According to The Fader, who premiered this track, she’s 20, from Illinois and by day works in a hardware store. OK, it’s not much of an exciting pop star backstory but we reckon this is better than being one of those ‘shrouded in mystery’ artists that is only shrouded in mystery because they have nothing interesting at all to tell us. 

It's also nice to see someone being open about the fact that like the vast majority of artists making music that they want to make, unless they're either a rich kid bankrolled by the bank of mum and dad or supported by a major label or sponsor, they're going to have to do a day job. The concept that all musicians (and in fact artists in general) can earn a wage for their art on a non-commissioned basis is a ridiculously selfish and unrealistic one. We wrote more about this and why musicians can't expect to earn money from music automatically in 2014 - click here to read the post.

But back to Kiiara. Even if she did have some exotic story to tell us, perhaps about how she was raised in a commune of free loving French hippies in a jungle and at the age of just 7 she'd already written a 150,000 word historical novel, she probably wouldn't, because judging by that tweet she's just not that sort of social type.

Gold is taken from Kiarra’s debut EP Meet Me In The Cornfield, which comes out soon.

Kiarra - Gold

Foals - What Went Down (Video)

A short note to record labels.

Dear Record Labels,

Remember once upon a time you’d sign a band and they’d put out their first album and it wasn’t particularly great, but you didn't overspend in its making or marketing and didn't drop them? A few people liked it and the band played some shows off the back of it and started to build a loyal fanbase, because the people who came to see them saw the same things that you saw in them when you signed them? Then the band got even better at writing songs and you’d let them release more records, because even though they weren’t making any big money for you yet YOU HAD FAITH.

Then as time went on the band got even better, more people invested in their music (including some of the older music) and shows, and you made a stack load of cash? Because YOU HAD FAITH.

It can still happen. Sign fewer acts, don't spend as much, but have faith in the ones that you do sign and if you’re good at your jobs, you’ll reap the rewards.

Here’s the new song from Foals. It’s a noisy pummelling powerhouse of a song, built off the band’s confidence found at their incendiary live shows. It’s taken from their forthcoming fourth album, each of the three previous having found a greater worldwide audience, because people representing Foals HAD THE FAITH. Not every artist can be an Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith, but that old cliché about growing big oak trees from acorns holds true. It just takes time.

Love Breaking More Waves

Foals - What Went Down (Video)

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Cloves - New Waves

Yesterday there was a flurry of activity on the blogs around a new recording artist who originally hails from Australia that goes under the name Cloves. Whenever this happens it’s very rarely that those bloggers have all simultaneously discovered the artist out of the blue and have magically posted on the same day, but more to do with good PR by those representing the artist. However, irrespective of where the song comes from and the machine (or lack of it) driving behind, the very simple question we always ask ourselves at Breaking More Waves is this: ‘Is it good?’ Or rather, we ask if we like it or not, because good is highly subjective. Musical beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

With Cloves, the answer to the question is simple. We like this new kid on the block a lot. An awful lot. Frail Love, her debut tune is a lighter (or phone lights) in the air piano ballad of some beauty, ready to make you feel a bit fragile and emotional. “I give you all I have to give my love,” Cloves sings in a moment that sounds like it would absolutely slay on the X-Factor or The Voice, which is ironic considering that that is where Cloves first came to some people’s attention. Yes Cloves (real name Kaity Dunstan) participated in the 2013 edition of The Voice in Australia where she was knocked out in the battle rounds after singing on Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

It seems that Ms Dunstan is going to have the last laugh though, because Frail Love is way better than probably anything The Voice or other TV talent shows has ever mustered (Girls Aloud excepted). 

Frail Love is a limited download for a period of time and will also be a part of a three song EP titled XIII out on Duly Noted Records as a 10” vinyl only which you can order here (limited at 300 copies.) According to the world wide web, those who have worked on the EP are ex-footballer turned songwriter Justin Parker (probably most famous for Lana Del Rey’s Video Games) and producer / mixer / drummer Rich Cooper (Tom Odell, Lucy Rose). Cloves plays in London tonight at The Lucky Pig and it’s free entry.

Cloves - Frail Love

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Bry - Thighs

‘Midnight menacing electronic pop music’ is how we described the work of Bry last year when we featured her song Boy. It was a track that only a small handful of blogs picked up on, yet it has subsequently managed to notch up close to 40k plays on Soundcloud. Now she’s back with another smouldering piece of utterly modern music.

 “In the back of your car in the early hours,” she sings on new tune Thighs (there surely can’t be many pop songs with that as a title can there?) and that midnight menacing tag still seems absolutely perfect. This one is seductively dark, the cinematic after hours production taking the song to a place deeper and even more psychologically dangerous than her previous work. “You’re messing with my head but I want more,” she entices. Deadly, disturbing and beautiful - let Bry entice you in to her world.

Bry - Thighs

Bushstock 2015 - Review

Last Saturday Breaking More Waves hit the streets of West London for the 5th Bushstock festival, another multi-venue, single access wristband event, that is defined by a well curated line up and a value price (super early bird tickets were just £15, rising to a final price of £30). Here’s what we learnt over the course of the day:

1. As far as festivals go, Bushstock is as untaxing on the body as they come.

We spent the first three hours sitting down in venues; under the giant paper lanterns in St Stephen’s Church (pictured) and then on the beanbags, sofas and rugs of The Common Room Stage. Plus as an added bonus all of the stages were within 5 minutes or so walk of each other - tired legs and feet were not a consideration.

2. Despite what you might think or have read Bushstock isn’t just a ‘new-folk’ festival.

The event was run by Communion Records, purveyors of all things folky, and the event has a past reputation for acoustic / singer songwriter leanings, particularly within the church venue. However, the event has diversified to cater for all sorts of different music. During the course of the day we caught scuzzy fuzzy rock ‘n roll of the indie format (Honeyblood) and the dirty sweaty attitude laden garage pop type (Misty Miller) and even electronic shenanigans from Strong Asian Mothers who provided samples of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls, brass, laptops, an indoor firework (just the one), a brown suit jacket, shout outs to the internet and a general sense of anything could happen and humour.

3. Fashion Tip 1: Beards are on the way out.

Over the course of the last 6 or 7 years we’ve noticed the slow growth in men sporting facial hair, particularly at gigs and festivals. When we first attended Bushstock the face to beard ratio was particularly high. Last year we noticed a definite decline in the beard presence and this year it was even smaller. Maybe there’s a correlation between the more diverse line up that Bushstock now provides and the beard count, but we suspect it’s as much to do with fashion and trends and that beards are just about to become deeply uncool again.

4. Fashion Tip 2: Headbands may be on the way in.

This is a longshot, as we only saw one person the whole day wearing one, but Samm Henshaw’s guitarist looked the part rocking his starry headband on the new-for-2015 outdoor courtyard stage. Maybe the upturned umbrellas that hung from wires above the area were a sign to keep the rain away (see below), and if it was, it worked. Henshaw’s music moved clouds as well, a mix of classic old school soul and rock, with the slender vocalist not afraid to encourage some feel good sing-a-long and clap your hands in the air moments.

5. Frances could be the next Rae Morris or even the next Adele, but she’s more likely just to be Frances.

One of the most fully assured and composed performances of the day was from new artist Frances who played a solo piano set in the church that managed to combine that most complex of things - a sense of broad scale and ambition, but with as much intimacy as there was power. Closing tune and current single Grow melted the heart with ease.

6. If Bushstock continues to diversify musically then so do some of its artists.

The best example of this was Lucy Rose, whose set under the chandeliers of Bush Hall was fuller and more robust than her soft acoustic playing of the past – no longer new-folk Lucy, but almost indie-Lucy, complete with guitar licks and some minor head banging, albeit in a fairly genteel way. Unfortunately a slightly muddy sound, particularly on Lucy’s vocal didn’t allow the set to sparkle; there will be better gigs ahead for her.

7. When evening comes, sometimes you just need to dance.

Thankfully Liverpool’s All We Are (streaming below) were ready to provide the slinky grooves. Clearly relishing the opportunity to play Bush Hall, the trio were the musical equivalent of a cup of coffee, slowly lifting and invigorating the crowd with their smooth blend of layered indie, funk and ethereal guitar pop including a cover of Caribou’s Can’t Do Without You. Each member of the bad contributed not only with their instruments but the vocals as well. “This one’s for all the lovers,” they proclaimed at one point, before they continued their flow, slowly turning the heat up further. 

8. If you took every band that organisers Communion had ever had any involvement with and mixed them all up, the chances are they’d sound a lot like The Beach.

With the shortest set of the day (just 4 songs due to earlier soundcheck problems) the large crowd that had gathered to see The Beach may have felt a little short changed, but the reception for the songs that came across like Ben Howard having a go at an anthem suggested a developing fan base already. Extra marks for starting the set in the church with a song that features the line “I found god and it wasn’t enough.” 

9. Lisa Mitchell makes adorable music.

From the opening notes of set opener Wah-Ha, which found a number of couples suddenly putting their arms around each other, Mitchell’s mix of delicate acoustic and keyboard led pop made everything about life seem that little bit better. Just lovely.

10. This year’s Bushstock seemed busier than previous years.

At past Bushstock festivals we’ve seen hardly any evidence of venues being full to capacity at Bushstock, despite being sold out, but this year whilst experiencing no problems ourselves, we did see a number of ‘at capacity’ notifications on Twitter for some stages, suggesting that perhaps more tickets had been sold than before?

In summary

High on quality, low on hype, Bushstock once again delivered. Highly recommended - 
Bushstock shows that not all festivals have to be tiring.

All We Are - Keep Me Alive

Monday 15 June 2015

Nightjacket - New Waves

Today we introduce Nightjacket, from Los Angeles, a new five-piece that produce perfectly measured wistful indie rock that is inevitably going to conjure up words like hazy, blissful and dreamy.  Lead singer Holland Belle sings laid back melodies that float over the top of guitars which strum and chime in a signature style that reminds us a little of the likes of Mojave 3, Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies. It’s at the classier end of the guitar pop spectrum for sure, sounding a little out of time with the current zeitgeist (a good thing?), and this should stand them in good stead for future releases. In the UK you’re definitely not going to find Nightjacket being played on Radio 1, but they could effortlessly slip onto the 6 Music playlist. The focus here is on songwriting rather than ‘relevance’.

Take a listen to The Right Way To Fall, one of two songs the band is streaming on Soundcloud from their debut EP Eternal Phase, due on June 23rd, and let this one wrap itself all around you with its natural elegance. 

Nightjacket consists of Holland Belle, Jordan Wiggins, Steve Lucarelli, Louie Schultz and Diego Guerrero and their EP was mixed by Jeff Zeigler (The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile) and mastered by Joe Lambert (Washed Out, Deerhunter, The National).

Nightjacket - The Right Way To Fall

Saturday 13 June 2015

Little Boots - Working Girl

Always ready to do business, yesterday Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots dropped the title track of her forthcoming third album onto the world wide web. Working Girl continues the ideas that Victoria has been addressing of late, namely her position within the music industry: “Struck a deal, paid a price, are you worth it?” she questions, over a classy mid-pace house pop groove, her vocal delivery sounding a little like Sarah Cracknell from St Etienne.  Turn up the strobes and the dry ice for this one as you slink your way across the floor to have a groove round your hand bag (or should that be briefcase?) Excellent stuff again from the artist we’ve featured more times than any other on Breaking More Waves. 

Little Boots - Working Girl

Thursday 11 June 2015

Aurora - Running With The Wolves (Video)

We make no secret here at Breaking More Waves of our love for out and out pop music and ‘proper’ pop stars – those unique individuals who not only produce great songs but have a sense of occupying their own space – natural originals not imitators. Those pop stars (a rare and special breed) are often the sort of people who get labelled with tags like weird, kooky or pretentious, but for us that’s what makes them adorable. It’s why the likes of Katy Perry and Rihanna have never really captured our imagination; they felt a little too business like, like a product designers idea of a pop star on a drawing board. Lady Gaga seemed interesting, but she mucked up a little on the last album by forgetting to write some decent songs. Because that's the other thing great pop stars need - A.M.A.Z.I.N.G songs.

There’s a sea of imitators, but right now we’re very excited for 2 relative newcomers who have rejuvenated our love for pop music as an art form - both are 100% unique. First up is France’s Petite Meller. Her song Baby Love, which we featured in late January was a winter banger and now 6 months on looks set to be one of our songs of summer as well - it's a dance party for the world - but with it she brings her own individual style as well. The second is Norway’s Aurora, a truly remarkable individual making remarkable songs. We’ve already streamed Running With The Wolves via Soundcloud on Breaking More Waves, but now there’s a video, which manages to capture her spirit – a visual treatment which finds her escaping from a post-apocalyptic civilisation and returning to nature, running not with the wolves, but like a wolf. It’s a visually captivating piece that we’ve watched over and over. Welcome to the new generation of pop.

Aurora plays in London tonight,(probably around the time we post this video). Needless to say we’re absolutely gutted not to be there. 

Aurora - Running With The Wolves (Video)

The Staves - Teeth White (Video)

Have you ever been to watch a new band or artist and been incredibly frustrated because it seems like everybody in the audience is ignoring them even although they’re fantastic? If so come and join our club. Sometimes being a new music fan can be a pretty dispiriting experience. 

For the video for their new song Teeth White, The Staves capture that moment. If it’s bad for those few who are there to see the band, think what it must be like for the artist themselves. As The Staves say of the song “It’s is a song about feeling like no matter what you do, it’s never good enough."

If you haven’t heard The Staves second album, it's way more than good enough, adding depth and scope to their repertoire. It's also one of our favourites of 2015.

The Staves - Teeth White (Video)

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Lucy Rose - Like An Arrow (Video)

Yesterday we posted on how to make a cool video with a lesson from indie dream pop band Wyldest. Basically it involves walking around in the countryside not doing very much (the addition of some lights and fireworks also help). Lucy Rose may not have the lights and fireworks for her latest, but she does the walking around the countryside bit rather well – in fact she does it in that classic single sequence style, probably most famously used by Massive Attack for their Unfinished Sympathy visuals and Alexander Sokurov in his 96 minute master piece Russian Ark.

At first the video looks pretty boring, but you’ll notice that Lucy has a cheeky smile on her face, so you know that something is going to happen. As Lucy says: “This is the first video I’ve ever needed training for….I’ve wanted to make this video for so so long, film it in one take and challenge myself mentally and physically like never before. It expresses freedom, escapism and doing something that really makes you feel something.” As you’ll discover at the end, although you only see one take, there were obviously a number of takes before the finished version!

Lucy plays Bushstock festival this weekend (we previewed that here). Like An Arrow is taken from her forthcoming LP Work It Out.

Lucy Rose - Like An Arrow (Video)

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Wyldest - Cruel Dusk (Video)

“Hey Wyldest. You’re a cool, dreamy indie pop group, what are you going to do for a video?”

“I know, let’s hang around in the woods and fields of the Sussex Downs, play with some lighting strings, smoke bombs and sparklers and make the whole thing visually a bit hazy and woozy so that it looks moody and mystical and cool and dreamy.”

“OK, that sounds great. Then all the super cool blogs like Breaking More Waves are bound to feature it.”*

*This conversation probably didn’t happen - especially the bit about Breaking More Waves and cool.

Wyldest - Cruel Dusk (Video)

Monday 8 June 2015

Starling - New Waves

In the UK Starlings look black at a distance but when examined closer their feathers are a sheen of purples and greens. There’s a similarity with this new artist who goes by the same name. 

At first Starling’s debut song Take It Down might seem like just another straightforward piano ballad, but on closer examination there’s much more to it. The lyrics intrigue and perplex with lines such as ‘I’m no prisoner, I plead guilty.’ It makes some sense then that her Soundcloud biography states that depression, solitude and a cathartic approach to writing form the lyrical basis to her work. It’s clear that we’re not dealing with someone who is just going to blast out a simple love song or a five minute pop thrill about dancing in ‘da club’. Take It Down sounds confusingly sad, but also effortlessly beautiful. A fine start from this new musician.

Starling - Take It Down

Favourite Albums Of 2015 (So Far)

A short explanation of this post. As we’re almost halfway through the year we thought we’d publish our 9 most played albums of the year so far (most played takes into account the number of weeks the record has been released). ‘Most played’ can often be quite subjective but in this case it’s deadly accurate – we’ve been recording every play and part play on a spreadsheet. (We're geeky like that)

Questions and answers

Why isn’t such and such an album on the list?

Because we haven’t played it much as these in the past 6 months. We might have not even played it all. This top 9 is taken from the 33 albums released in 2015 that we’ve listened to fully through at least once.

If they’re your most played are they also your favourites?

That depends on how you define favourite. By and large the answer to this is yes, they’re our favourites over the last 6 months.

Why 9 – seems a funny number?

Because by a strange mathematical turn, it turns out that there are 7 further records tying in 10th place at this moment in time. If we had played any one of those records just once they would have formed the 10th place on their own. 

Will you be doing your usual end of year write ups of your favourite records of the year?

Yes, and we’d expect at least 4 or 5 in this list to feature, plus maybe one or two more that 'grow' on us as the year continues.

The records are (in no particular order):

Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
Purity Ring – Another Eternity
Jamie XX – In Colour
Curxes – Verxes
The Staves – If I Was
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Charli XCX – Sucker
The Shires – Brave
East India Youth – Culture Of Volume

You can listen to 1 track from each album on the playlist below.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Field Day 2015 - Review (Or rather, 10 things we learnt about the festival / ourselves)

London’s Field Day took place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. We hit the sun-kissed Victoria Park on Saturday, where a good natured crowd turned out for a day of quality music, food and er….silly sports games. Here are 10 things we learnt:

1. Technology isn’t the be all and end all

Arriving just minutes before the gates opened we should have been one of the first onto site. However, the bar-coded tickets we had from Ticketweb and the scanning devices held by the security team seemed to have other ideas, the tickets not registering with the scanners. We were sent back to the box office where after a short delay we were issued with new tickets. On arrival back at the gate there were then further problems with scanning those tickets. It appeared that the scanners weren’t working correctly, but eventually after a number of unsuccessful scans we were admitted. Thankfully we had purchased our tickets from a reputable agency, but we saw a number of people being turned away at the gates who had purchased second hand tickets via Gumtree which turned out to be fake.

2. London gets up late

By 2.45 we’d seen three acts perform; Astronomyy, Tei Shi and Stealing Sheep yet the site still seemed ridiculously empty for a sold out show. It appeared that the vast majority of punters didn’t arrive till 3 o’clock or beyond, which considering the curfew of 11 seemed like a lot of people weren’t maximising the value of their ticket, which cost around £50 for the day. There's a think piece to be written there about the value of music.

3. FKA Twigs is stunning

Our highlight of the day. FKA Twigs performance was so beautifully expressed yet immaculately composed, both in terms of her vocals and the way that she glided, vogued and spun across the stage amongst the dry ice and mono colour lighting. Her out of space music, performed by three men whacking electronic pads was dark, cuttingly precise and earth trembling. Mesmerising stuff.

4. Dancing in the sun is fun

Norwegian DJ and producer Todd Terje was one of the joys of Field Day 2014 and he returned in 2015, this time to a bigger stage (the main outdoor Eat Your Own Ears stage) with a live band (The Olsens) to deliver his jazz-salsa-lounge-house music odyssey. It was one of those moments when the festival actually felt like those false TV ideas of what a festival is like – a sea of smiling faces, girls (and a few boys) on shoulders, everyone dancing to the very back and the sunlight streaming down.

5. Standing at the back of a festival big top is generally rubbish

Having grooved to Todd Terje it left us just 5 minutes to get over to the Crack Stage tent for Australia’s Chet Faker, maker of one of our albums of 2014. A big crowd meant that we were left standing toward the back, something we don’t normally do, and the next hour demonstrated why it’s not our normal preference. The sound was muddy and quiet, we could hardly see anything, lots of people were chattering and there was a total disconnect from the music and the performance in that location.

Extremely disappointing.

6. There’s nothing as good as a funk on a Saturday afternoon

LA Priest, the new project from Late Of The Pier musician Sam Dust hit a little bit of musical gold in the Shacklewell Arms tent. Dressed in what appeared to be velvet pyjamas, his set started with what sounded like some sort of warped downtempo electronic sex jam that wanted to get inside your knickers before building into a deliciously groovy funk workout, complete with Dust giving a saucy wink to the crowd.

7. Alternative music taste doesn’t equal alternative food taste

Despite an excellent range of foods from around the world being available from the street market styled food stalls and vans, the biggest queue at a food stall we saw was for the burger bar.

8. Field Day are still charging £5 for a can of piss

This was one of our quibbles last year, and remains so this year. Sorry, but £5 for a can of Red Stripe gets the thumbs down from us. 

9. Tei Shi knows the most important rule of a festival set

That rule is leave your best tune to last. New York’s Valerie Teicher, better known as Tei Shi delighted with her half hour set that possessed elements of pop, experimentation and electronic R’N’B, but it was Bassically (streaming below) that sealed the deal; a dark pulsing electronic pop song with Valerie’s vocals floating around the tent like a spell, giving the audience wings and taking them higher.

10. What we learnt most though was that despite Field Day being a thoroughly good day out, we really, really dislike PC Music.

We managed 5 minutes of Sophie’s booming in your face DJ set (we didn’t wait around for the appearance of QT – the cutsie vocalist who acts as a mascot for an energy drink she’s named after). We then had to endure a full half hour of Danny L Harle before FKA Twigs. We wondered as he played out his tunes if this is how our parents felt when they listened to punk; music that we can’t relate to at all – a nauseating version of a pre-schoolers cartoon TV show theme coupled with elements of chiptune, rave and Japanese pop all given a splash of dayglow neon pink. Yet despite our dislike we witnessed cool young men who we’d normally have expected to be listening to either some cutting edge techno, loud indie rock or latest of the moment blog celebrated new band going batshit mental to this ‘music’. We were left scratching our heads, as if someone hasn’t let us in on the biggest musical joke of 2014/15.

That’s what we learnt from Field Day, an event that can now lay claim to be one of the important city based alternative music festivals in the UK. We'd definitely consider returning in 2016.

Tei Shi - Bassically

Saturday 6 June 2015

Loyle Carner - New Waves

If Breaking More Waves was going to be defined by the sort of music we post and write about, hip-hop and spoken word probably wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind. That doesn’t mean it should be the last thing though. If you thread carefully back through our posts you’ll find that, in particular, British spoken word crops up now and then. From the thoughtful (Scroobius Pip) to the pop (Rizzle Kicks), to the genre crossing (Young Fathers), to the amusing (Too Many T’s) to the moving (Kate Tempest), it’s there. 

It’s Kate Tempest who we have to thank for introducing us to today’s new artist; Loyle Carner - as we first caught Loyle as the support act on Kate’s Spring UK tour. But before that Loyle picked up some attention in 2014 with his calmly powerful EP A Little Late. It was a collection of songs that was far removed from the normal grind of hip-hop, instead bringing a soothing introspective sound that laid open his deeply honest words about his life.

That honesty continues on his latest track Tierney Terrace, which deftly deals with Loyle’s relationship with his father: “All I wanted was a f*cking man, to tell the f*cking truth, hold my f*cking hand,” he explains, before adding “I didn’t understand.” Once you’ve heard those words you’ll probably want to go in deeper, and the live beat, the gentle grooves, and Loyle’s immaculate but wounded delivery make for an all-encompassing listen. Great stuff.

Tierney Terrace is released via paradYse Records on July 24th. Loyle is playing a number of festivals this summer including the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury.

Loyle Carner - Tierney Terrace

Friday 5 June 2015

Little Boots - Better In The Morning (Video)

Here at Breaking More Waves we will always argue long and hard that pop music is never just about the music. Visual imagery is as vital to the art of pop as the song itself. Of course, the song has to be great, but it’s even better if it’s wrapped up in a bigger package that provides greater context. It’s a discussion we’ve had with many writers, bloggers and music fans over the years and it usually ends up (with writers) going something like this.

Them: “No we don’t care what an artist looks like or how they present themselves, we just write about good music.”

Us:  “So why do you put pictures of the artist on your blog when you write about them if what they look like isn’t important?”

Them: “Um……”

This is why we’re so enthused about Little Boots third album. Sure the songs are sounding great, but the whole visual concept is brilliant, linking the context of the lyrics to very stylish and distinct imagery that also relates to Victoria Hesketh’s own position of having to work hard to survive as being an independent musician. There’s GIF styling, shades of pastel and beige and proper high class Yuppie chic as Little Boots becomes the working girl who probably woke up on someone else’s sofa (or in a strangers bed) and is now hitting the office hiding the hangover. 

The next Little Boots album, Working Girl, will be released on the 10th July.

Little Boots - Better In The Morning (Video)

Elderbrook - Going ft Kweku Collins

Every year since the blog’s inception in November or December we publish a list of 10 or 15 Ones To Watch for the forthcoming year, often going before all the main polls such as the BBC Sound of List, or even the Blog Sound of poll that we help run. Looking back at the ten artists we picked for our 2015, some of them are doing reasonably well. For instance one of our tips, The Shires, scored a UK top ten album with their debut long player, the first British country band to do so. Likewise the likes of Seinabo Sey, Laura Doggett, Låpsley, Ryn Weaver and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man have all been picking up fans as more people get to hear their unique talents, the question now being for them all, can they deliver an album that hits the right spot? 

One of the other acts we placed on the list of 10 was Alex Kotz, also known as Elderbrook. However, since posting on his Facebook in February that a new EP was coming, there’s been very little sign of activity; until now, with a 'new' song called Going which is actually one of his older tunes reworked. This is a piece of music that does maximum / minimum production very well. It finds space in between the sounds, despite there being lots of really interesting things going on. There’s the heavy late night bass, the skittering beats that crackle to life and then disappear like a firework, the snatches of cut n paste guitar, the vocal harmonies, and a guest appearance from rapper Kweku Collins. It’s a track with a languid, spliffy groove, although there’s nothing lazy about the song’s construction at all. Dance music that’s awkward and engaging? You’ve got it right here.

Elderbrook will release his second EP Travel Slow via Black Butter Records soon. Going is available as a free download from this link.

Elderbrook - Going ft Kweku Collins

Thursday 4 June 2015

XYLØ - Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

“The battle never ends but you won the war,” sings Paige Duddy, whilst military drums rattle through the song. Yes, the second track from LA based pop newcomers XYLØ fires all the right sounding guns from the off.  Of course, all these references to some sort of violent onslaught might suggest that Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is some sort of deadly armageddon fuelled noisy rocker – far from it. This is a piece of melancholy pop that tells of being shipwrecked, going under, coming up for air, diving in the deep end and drowning. It seems like Paige needs some relationship swimming lessons or at least armbands or a rubber ring to keep her afloat. 

If (like us) you're fans of New Zealand's sad-pop brother sister duo Broods, then the chances are high that you'll be adding XYLØ  (Paige and Chase who form the duo are also siblings) to your list of favourites.

XYLØ - Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

Bushstock 2015 - Preview

As festivals continue to evolve and diversify, the idea that every one of them should be about getting off your face, dancing to rock ‘n’ roll, rolling around in a sea of cow shit infested mud and having sex with a dirty unkempt hippy whilst tripping on illicit substances is becoming ever more an outdated view of the world. These days you can go surfing and kayaking before catching Bombay Bicycle Club and Laura Marling at Somersault, take your kids to a huge wonderland of fairytale delights and activities by a castle at Camp Bestival, or enjoy a banquet prepared by Raymond Blanc OBE and then go and see Bjork at Wilderness. Those that argue that these events are ‘not in the true spirit of festivals’ and that they are too ‘middle class’ are the sort of one dimensional characters that probably also argue that unless music is played with guitar, bass and drums it’s not ‘real music’.

For those who like their festivals with a little more convenience than the beer and dirt dinosaurs, Bushstock is pretty much perfect. After all, this is such as civilised event that, if you so wish, you can watch music all day, sat down, in the dry, in a church. Getting off your face probably isn’t high on the agenda here, although we highly recommend getting off your arse and exploring some of the other venues that this 1 day multi-venue wristband access festival in Shepherd’s Bush London provides, if only for the fact that sitting in the pews all day on relatively hard wooden seats can actually become pretty uncomfortable on the backside. We recommend bringing your own comfy cushion if you’re staying there all day.

Now in its fifth year, Bushstock has become a regular feature on the Breaking More Waves festival calendar. Why? First, because of its well curated line up, which has a strong folk / acoustic leaning, (its brought to you by the people behind Communion Records)  fleshed out by lots of potential ‘next big thing’ acts.  At past events we’ve caught the likes of George Ezra playing low on the bill in St Stephen’s church whilst most punters were still on their way to collect their access wristbands, a fledgling  Rae Morris playing a solo set, and  Bastille rocking out with a tiny crowd in a small pub, before they broke through to radio and chart domination. 

Second, because of its cheap price – get in early and a Bushstock ticket can set you back as little as £15, the price of a regular gig ticket. This is a very affordable festival.

Finally, we love Bushstock because of its convenience. This really is a festival for people who don’t want to be trudging miles through the mud or having sex with the dirty hippy. All this year’s venues (which include, new for 2015, the Courtyard and Common Room at the University of the Arts, London – the larger of these two stages being outdoors) are within just a few minutes walk of each other, and once you’ve finished for the day, if that sex-thing is what you want, you can still do that, but with someone clean and fragrant back at home.

If you’ve never tried it before (the festival, not the sex – that doesn’t come with a ticket) and fancy Bushstock, it all takes place on Saturday 13th June. Tickets are available here . The full timetable is here.

Here are 5 acts we recommend you see at Bushstock 2015, all neatly programmed with no clashes, so you can watch the lot. There'll be a review of Bushstock on Breaking More Waves shortly after it finishes.

Frances 14.00-14.30 – St Stephen’s Church

Get to Bushstock early for Frances. Hailing from Newbury in Berkshire this young singer songwriter is already being touted as One to Watch, her beautiful ballad Grow being a big hit on the Hype Machine Charts and blogs, taking off from where Rae Morris left off.

Samm Henshaw 16.30-17.00 The Courtyard

Already featured a number of times on Breaking More Waves, Samm brings classic soul and gospel vibes to the Courtyard Stage. A singer who we’ve already compared to Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye, Henshaw is the real deal.

Lisa Mitchell 18.00-18.30 St Stephen’s Church

Australian singer Lisa Mitchell makes a rare visit to UK shores to entertain with her melodic and hooky acoustic pop tunes. With a growing back catalogue of adorable songs such as Wah Ha, Neopolitan Dreams and Spiritus, Lisa will no doubt be the perfect tea time ear pleaser for the church audience.

Honeyblood 20.00-20.30 Bush Hall

Honeyblood made our third favourite album of 2014. It spat bitterness and fuzzy guitars all over the shop and made for a visceral and thrilling experience. They’ve already got some new songs ready to go and early reports are that they’re just as good, if not better than the first batch. There’s also the small matter of the band supporting the Foo Fighters at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on the 23rd June.

Lucy Rose 22.00 – 23.00 Bush Hall

When it comes to headliners there are some tough choices to be made. Villagers play the church, Michael Kiwanuka wraps up The Courtyard’s first year, and Beans On Toast will no doubt be providing some laughs as well as tunes in the Defector’s Weld. However, we’re plumping for Lucy Rose, who has added a fuller modern indie pop sound to some of her new songs following her sweetly acoustic debut LP. Expect general loveliness and more from her as she airs new songs from her forthcoming second LP amongst Bush Hall’s chandeliers and mirrors.