Tuesday 31 May 2016

New Music: HOLYCHILD x Kate Nash - Rotten Teeth (Video)

Hats off to the brilliance of pop that has COLOUR and MAGIC and isn’t beige or flatpack.

Hats off to singers who have won Brit Awards and had chart success before turning their backs on it all and still fizz with ENERGY and FUN and ATTITUDE.

FUN is not a dirty word in music – there’s a note to the ‘serious music fans’ amongst you.

Dressing up is good. Don’t be boring, be ALIVE.


How about a hook that says: “Do we eat or just starve ourselves tonight?” 

Hats off to colourful modesty covers.

If only all pop music was this bratish, sarcastic, insultingly beautiful, clever and LIFE AFFIRMING at the same time.

On repeat.

HOLYCHILD x Kate Nash - Rotten Teeth (Video)

Monday 30 May 2016

New Music: Bishop Briggs - The Way I Do

One of my ‘to sees’ at this year’s Great Escape Festival that never materialised due to horrendous line up clashes was Bishop. To make matters worse I spoke to three different people who did make it along to the one show she played and all of them sung her praises to the heavens. 100% killer vocal and talent was the consensus. Damn.

Her first two singles Wild Horses and its follow up River were both colossal tunes which in some ways reminded me of an artist like Rag ‘N’ Bone Man; that is to say she clearly possesses a fine set of lungs and her songs mash up a number of genres - in Bishop’s case, acoustic folk, dark electronic pop and soul.

Now she’s back with a third offering and a name upgrade from Bishop to Bishop Briggs. I assume this is not as a tribute to the town on the edge of Glasgow, Scotland, although apparently her parents are Scottish, even though she was born in London and raised in Japan and Hong Kong before finally ending up in Los Angeles. The Way I Do is a gospel-choir backed belter, passionate in both its delivery and lyrical focus and may well send shivers down your spine. It’s a persuasive argument that we all need to go and worship at the church of Bishop Briggs.

Bishop Briggs - The Way I Do

Sunday 29 May 2016

New Music: Introducing - Lauran Hibberd

It took me about twenty seconds to fall in love with the sound of the Isle of Wight’s Lauran Hibberd. With a folk-pop sensibility similar to the likes of Lucy Rose or Billie Marten, Lauran manages to combine a simple acoustic delicacy with a something a little bolder that hints at a grander musical vision. Take a listen to The House I Built When I Was Small, which she describes as being about ‘between facing reality as a child and facing reality as an adult’ and you’ll understand what I mean. Quietly and beautifully magnetising, it’s a very fine start for this young singer songwriter.

I’m not the only one to be immediately smitten with her music though – Lauran has already won a competition to appear at this year’s Bestival on her homeland and has received plays on both BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio. If you shop in Harrods (!) you may have even heard her voice soundtracking your expensive spending spree as this song has made the in-store playlist there. Press play below and listen to this entrancing song

Lauran Hibberd - The House I Built When I was Small

Friday 27 May 2016

New Music : Let's Eat Grandma - Eat Shiitake Mushrooms (Video)

Just a really short post to bring you the video from one of my highlights of this year’s Great Escape Festival – Let’s Eat Grandma. It was my second time seeing the band live and they were just as spellbinding as the first. 

I’ve already written plenty of words about Eat Shiitake Mushrooms on a previous post (here), but make sure you give the video a play even if you've heard the track plenty of times - it takes you further into their world. Eat Shiitake Mushrooms is what I imagine Studio Ghibli and Dario Argento would come up with if they ever made a pop record. Disturbing, menacing but curiously uplifting, this is a record that puts a big ‘must trying harder’ comment down on the music school reports of not only 90% of vacuous mainstream pop music but so called ‘alternative’ acts who are just rehashing what has gone before. Different? Very much so. Thank god for Let’s Eat Grandma. 

Let's Eat Grandma - Eat Shiitake Mushrooms (Video)

Thursday 26 May 2016

New Music: Shura - What's It Gonna Be?

By now the chances are that you’ve already heard the new Shura single, which arguably could make this blog post utterly redundant. But in my own egotistical big headed way I like to think that you’re reading this because you’re interested in what I think of it rather than just coming for the latest in new music and therefore have been waiting with baited breath for my informative and / or hilarious commentary on her latest effort. 

Well, sorry to disappoint, but I think that all the main things that need to be said about this terrific pop song have already been said. So instead I’ll summarise (and possibly go off on a tangent about fashion and American rock stars)

1. It’s called What’s It Gonna Be? It’s very 80’s referencing.

2. The growing consensus is that Shura knows how to write a damn good pop song. I very much agree with this consensus. She really does know how to write a fine tune without ever sounding like she’s trying overly hard to court the mainstream - which is exactly the sort of pop music I like. 

3. The artwork is a bit ‘Complete The Kids Colouring Book meets A-Ha’s Take On Me video.

4. I've noticed over time that Shura seems to be quite a fan of the denim jacket (although not in the photo above). I approve of this. It’s a bit ‘RAWK’ like Bruce Springsteen, which is a nice contrast with her synthy sound. Although bizarrely the press release for the song describes What's It Gonna Be as a “euphoric mix of motoring, Bruce Springsteen inspired rock and affecting R&B vocals.” Personally I don’t hear The Boss reference at all, but having consulted a few other members of the Breaking More Waves household apparently there is something in the intro to the song that hints at Broooooooce. I'm On Fire perhaps?

5. Shura has an album coming out soon. It's about bloody time. It's four and a half years since I first wrote about her on the blog. It’s called Nothing’s Real and it’s an example of how the landscape of modern pop creation has changed from the days past of artists draining thousands of pounds of record labels money recording in lavish country studios with huge mixing desks, farting around 'jamming' and re-recording guitar solos 350 times because 'the vibe wasn't quite right', whilst shoving drugs up their arses, to now. Because Shura recorded her LP in her bedroom. Maybe when she wanted to get some 'vibes' she nipped down to the local Nandos for lunch and then had a swift half in the Brew Dog, Shepherd’s Bush to confirm her rock ‘n’ roll status, which frankly sounds far nicer to my way of thinking. 

If you actually haven't heard the song (a small possibility) here it is.

Shura - What's It Gonna Be?

Tuesday 24 May 2016

New Music: Alice Jemima - Liquorice (Video)

Alice Jemima’s Liquorice, her first self-penned material to see the light of day since her debut All The Boyfriends EP back in 2012, will for many be their introduction to the Devon based singer songwriter. So even although Alice is technically not a new artist (a quick search on Hype Machine will show you just how many songs she has self-released in the past) it still makes a lot of sense that last weekend she played at Brighton’s new music festival the Great Escape and this weekend coming will be alongside the likes of Blossoms, Izzy Bizu, Rosie Lowe and Declan McKenna on the BBC Introducing Stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend. Of course Breaking More Waves has been writing about Alice since virtually before cavemen walked the earth. More recently I wrote about my journey with her as a person and her music in a longer post about the song last month, which you can find by clicking here.

Continuing her prolonged introduction comes a video for Liquorice. A bright and amusing affair (everyone I’ve shown it to has had a little giggle at the ‘bum bongo / wobbly jelly’ part) it reminds me a bit of the visuals that Little Boots released for her Working Girl album campaign, with its use of simple colour backgrounds and visual interpretations of both the lyrics and the sounds. Watch it to light up your day.

Alice Jemima - Liquorice (Video)

Monday 23 May 2016

New Music: Wildes - Illuminate

“I am reckless for your love,” intones Wildes on her second release Illuminate, the follow up to Bare

The chemical rush of passion, lighting up a dark world, runs deep through this powerful track. “I’m on fire can’t you see me burning up,” she sings as she piles on the emotion. Quick someone give this woman a cold shower before it all becomes too much and goes horribly wrong. Actually no, don’t, because (and excuse my evil sentiment here) there’s nothing better for art and music and its creative process than a tortured and heartbroken soul. 

But until that (almost inevitable) downfall, you can enjoy Illuminate below. Bare found a lot of comparisons to the work of Daughter, but here Wildes expands her sonic palette somewhat; although as the gritty and reverb laden guitars wash over the song towards the end there’s certainly some of the same emotionally arresting atmospherics to be had as those produced by Elena Tonra and co.

Get ready to lose yourself in this.

Wildes - Illuminate

Sunday 22 May 2016

5 Of The Best New Acts From Great Escape 2016

This weekend I went to Brighton’s Great Escape Festival, which is Europe’s largest multi-venue new music festival. It was the 10th time I’ve attended in the event's 11 years.

Great Escape is truly international and one of its key characteristics is the colossal range of countries and genres it draws its artists from. This year I saw Poland’s answer to The Knife / Grimes, some incredible Finnish bubble-gum synth pop punk that drew influence from 60’s girl groups and garage rock ‘n’ roll and a fine new country artist, who didn’t hail from Nashville but Sydney, Australia to name just 3. 

There was even a Latvian and Lithuanian artists showcase (something you don't get at any other UK festival for sure), which I didn't attend, but in hindsight I wish I had at least stopped by, because it appeared to me that many of the most interesting, creative and unusual artists playing this year's festival were coming from outside of the UK. It does worry me slightly that my home country has become so steeped in tradition that our pop music (and I use the term pop in the widest sense) has a tendency to veer towards the conservative and therefore the dull and generic. 

However, wherever they are based in the world, virtually all of the artists I saw play this year were of a very high calibre. I managed to catch 38 acts, and I've selected 5 in this post that were my personal favourites. 

Before I name those artists, a quick note about queues. One criticism that I often see levelled at Great Escape is that too many of the venues are full and that punters spend half their time queuing and then not getting in to see what they want. In the festival’s defence, I’ve been going for 10 years and even without a delegate pass (which allows you to queue jump) I’ve never not got in to where I wanted. It helps of course knowing the venue capacities, the walking distances to them and the relative popularity of the acts playing – but with a bit of advance planning and being prepared to turn up suitably early when necessary, I've never had a problem. Admittedly this year was the closest I have ever got to not getting in (Black Honey at the Wagner Hall) but I knew that I was taking a chance on this show, leaving it relatively late to arrive at the venue as there was another gig I desperately wanted to see first on the other side of town. However, I made it in by the skin of my teeth and if I hadn’t, I already had a plan B of alternative artists to visit that I was confident wouldn't be full. 

So here are the 5 acts that absolutely blew me away at Great Escape, followed by a list of all the bands I saw:

Jain (Paganini Ballroom)

The most engaging performance I saw all weekend in one of the most charming spaces (chandeliers, a Juliet balcony, drapes). What on paper looked terrible (a vocalist with a small box that wasn’t much more than a karaoke machine and a bunch of clichéd audience participation tricks) turned into one big bouncing party, made possible by French singer Jain’s adorable polite quirkiness and her intriguing pop songs that took reference from both African and hip-hop beats. It left me with a huge smile on my face. Whilst she's relatively unknown in the UK her song Come has already been a number one hit in her own country. It needs a push here. Viva La France!

Black Honey (Wagner Hall)

The atmosphere in the Wagner Hall was more TV studio than gig venue, with a lighting rig that far exceeds its small capacity and cameras swinging above the audiences heads to film the action on behalf of Vevo. However, what it did do as a space was give a sense of what Black Honey could be. I’ve seen them play in grotty pubs and toilet venues but at Wagner Hall they stepped up to show how exhilarating they can be on a larger stage, with charismatic singer Izzy snarling her way through the bands punchy, powerful set.

Let’s Eat Grandma (The Haunt)

There was a sign in the Haunt that said that you can double your spirit for only £1.50. Well certainly Let’s Eat Grandma’s leftfield experimental ghostly pop added some extra value. Fighting much of the conservatism in so called ‘alternative’ music with their own world view on things, this Let’s Eat Grandma show felt like you were seeing someone discovering music and performance in a public playground and they were going to explore every single corner of it, whatever the results, in front of your eyes.

Seramic (Patterns)

Although some people on Soundcloud's comments had already guessed who ‘mystery’ artist Seramic is (yes, he’s already a well-established singer songwriter who has released more than one album) we needed to go and see him in person to confirm if they were right and to see if the live form could match up to the three recorded songs he’s put out on line so far. If you think I’m going to just tell you who he is at this stage, you’re wrong – you’ll have to do your own mini detective work. However, what I can tell you is this guy is the real deal. Raw, soulful, powerful and clearly a super talented musician, the early online buzz is worth it - and his show in the dark nightclub basement at Patterns was rammed to the very back.

Julia Jacklin (Komedia)

I saw two great country singers at Great Escape and could have chosen either as my fifth choice. One was Holly Macve, who I’ve written about before, the other was Australian Julia Jacklin whose woozy songs and mellow country tones bowled me over. Fans of the likes of Caitlin Rose will probably enjoy Julia.

Full list of artists I saw: Vallis Alps, Chiara Hunter, Slum Sociable, Julia Jacklin, Methyl Ethel, Northeast Party House, Sam Wills, Connie Constance,  Tangerines, Will Joseph Cook, Let’s Eat Grandma, Jain, Jones, Anteros, Khruangbin, Annabel Allum, Xylaroo, Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS, Pleasure Beach, Seramic, Alice Jemima, Black Honey, Loyal, Declan McKenna, Blossoms, The Big Moon, Cadet, Glass, The Hunna, Yonaka, Esther Joy Lane, Holly Macve, Stevie Parker, Anna of the North, Cosovel, Money, Ekkah, Jagwar Ma (In the order I saw them)

Friday 20 May 2016

New Music: Declan McKenna - Bethlehem

Never judge a book by its cover. 

If you took a quick look at Declan McKenna you probably wouldn’t think he’s one of the most thoughtful and interesting new singer songwriters around today. But he is. His new single, Bethlehem, released online yesterday tackles religion and how it is used as justification for the acts of hate and war. It certainly challenges Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers who recently said to the Guardian, of modern pop music: “Music has just become a giant brand of blandness, of digitised fakery. People are willing to join causes, but no one puts those feelings into their actual art.” Well here you go Nicky, here’s someone who’s doing it. In fact he ‘s done it on every one of his three singles so far. Maybe you’re just listening to the wrong pop music? Mind you Wire does have a point and it’s for that reason that I believe it’s important to champion acts like McKenna, who not only are doing something interesting and worth listening to lyrically but are equally capable of chucking out a good melody to go with it. On Bethlehem McKenna manages that one with some aplomb - a serious message with an uplifting tune. 

Declan plays the Great Escape festival in Brighton today, which is where this post is brought to you from.

Declan McKenna - Bethlehem

Thursday 19 May 2016

New Music: Introducing - Liv Dawson

One of my golden rules of going to gigs is always turn up early and watch the support acts. If it wasn’t for that rule I wouldn’t have seen early shows by the likes of Radiohead (supporting the Frank & Walters), The Killers (supporting Stellastarr), Franz Ferdinand (supporting Hot Hot Heat) and Coldplay (supporting Terris) to name just a few. 

If you’ve recently seen Frances on tour and followed my 'turn up early' rules then you will be one step ahead of me, because you will have already had the chance to see and enjoy Liv Dawson, who I’m introducing on the blog today with her official debut release Tapestry. It’s one of those songs that it’s easy to describe as sounding ‘effortless’, which is a pretty terrible description really, because it implies laziness - and I’m sure that wasn’t the case in the creation process. Maybe ‘well crafted’ and ‘beguiling’ are better words - but certainly Tapestry is sleek, sophisticated soul pop. It’s tempered and tasteful – the sort of satin coated music that at worst will find its way onto all of those ‘chillax’ or ‘late night vibes’ playlists that are designed to smooth your worries away and at its best is a rather lovely introduction to a singer, who on the evidence of this song, just oozes talent. File under one to watch.

Liv Dawson - Tapestry

New Music: Anteros - Blue (Video)

Today the 11th edition of the Great Escape, the festival for new music, gets underway in Brighton with over 450 bands, 3,500 music industry professionals and thousands of regular punters swarming into the seaside town to get their fix of bands, booze and the beach. Unofficially it kicked off last night with a couple of pre-parties; I managed to catch indie fuzz rockers Yuck at a fairly raucous Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar where, despite the low basement ceiling height, several members of the audience managed some pretty determined and effective attempts to crowd surf.

One of the acts playing today that (queues and venue capacity permitting) I’m planning to catch is Anteros, who last impressed with the snap crackle and pop of Breakfast, the video of which found lead singer Laura Hayden joining the rapidly expanding list of musicians who promote their music by jumping in the bath (I still have no answer to why musicians do this except that either they’re bonkers or attention seeking whores – probably both). Timed nicely to coincide with their Great Escape show comes another new tune from the band. Blue has one of those ‘we don’t really have any money or time, so let’s just shoot a tour footage video which involves us driving around and playing some shows and then larking around a bit and that'll do’ videos whilst their easily digestible pop music provides the soundtrack.

If you want to see what I’m up to at Great Escape, follow me on Twitter (here) – I’ll be tweeting throughout the event. If you want to see what Anteros are up to you can follow them by using this link here - let's hope their tweets are a bit more exciting than 'driving to another gig'.

Anteros - Blue (Video)

Tuesday 17 May 2016

New Music: Seramic - Found

The oddly named Seramic has already wowed the blogosphere and radio tastemakers with his first two releases, the soulful funkiness of Waiting and the hymn like People Say, but it’s his third tune that is his first real showstopper. Like a junior wizard about to become a master conjurer Found has some colossal magic tricks up its sleeve. This is a huge gospel pop odyssey that throws in the lot; a choir, dirty squirming rock guitars that will make you shit yourself, big electronics that will make you pee yourself, and a massive hook that will leave you dribbling and drooling, yet it still manages to sound 100% human. It's like Prince taking on Jack Garratt after a couple of 16oz steaks. Just wow. Song of the month? Almost certainly. Heaven is a place in the recording studio.

If this guy can capture the power of this live he’s a must see, which is handy as he’s playing a whole raft of UK festivals this summer, starting with Brighton’s Great Escape this weekend. I hope to be in the front of the queue for that one.

Seramic - Found

Monday 16 May 2016

Old Music: Win - Super Popoid Groove

Today I’m turning my attention to a Scottish act who shone oh-so brightly but oh-so briefly in the mid 80’s, releasing some bafflingly brilliant singles and two sweetly fantastic, lyrically oblique, trashy pop albums. This blog might be mainly about new music, but the chances are that for most readers this old band will be a new (hopefully top-notch) discovery.

The name of these Edinburgh based upstarts was Win, and they were formed by Davy Henderson and Russel Burn who were previous members of The Fire Engines (who more recently were covered by Franz Ferdinand) together with Ian Stoddart, Simon Smeeton, Emmanuel Shoniwa and later William Perry.

The two albums were Uh! Tears Baby (A Trash Icon) from 1987 and Freaky Trigger from 1989 which received rave reviews from critics at the time. “An alluring lucky bag stuffed with candy, sex oblique jokes and cartoon funk metal,” wrote Stuart Maconie before going on to give it 10/10 in the NME. “These are the ten best songs Salvador Dali never wrote,” he added. “The immaculate pop conception,” raved Sounds. “One of the few jewels that shine out of this bad, bad world,” said List. The critics loved it. The public (mainly) never heard it.

It just didn’t happen for the band. The first album failed to chart, the second reached the giddy heights of number 51 in the UK for one week. Every one of their quirky, ideas stuffed singles didn’t make the top 75, except for Super Popoid Groove (a song which I’ve been sneakily referencing on this blog for years) which hit number 63. You can see the video below, with the band wearing bizarre supersize coats and singing of "chewing gum baby for the ears, a dashing young valium to soften the fear" make of that what you will. It's first-rate bonkers.

Win - Super Popoid Groove (Video)

Frankly I find this lack of success unfathomable. Shampoo Tears, Dusty Heartfelt, What’ll You Do Till Sunday Baby and You’ve Got The Power, which did find some favourable outcome soundtracking a rather odd TV advert by McEwan’s brewery (see below), seemed genuine contenders, with an intelligently arty buzz-pop sound that found reference to ABC, Prince, Heaven 17 and Marc Bolan. But by 1990 the band were dropped and split.

Win - McEwans Lager Advert (includes extract of You've Got The Power)

Maybe they were just a little too out there for the masses. After all, this was a band who had songs called It May Be A Beautiful Sky Tonight But It’s Only A Shelter From A World At Risk, What’s Love If You Can Kill For Chocolate and Mind The Gravy. Lead singer Davey once described what an ideal Win gig would be like: “Win should ideally have 30 humans on stage dressed in pink riot gear and have a musical director.”

What Win left behind was some of the most wonderful pop music that most of the world has never heard. It’s why I’m writing about them. If they weren't on your radar till just now (statistically the chances of that are high), don't pass them by.

You can hear the whole of Freaky Trigger on Spotify (click here). Considering it was recorded in the 1980’s its production still sounds remarkably sharp and the songs, of course, still sound subversively fun.

Copies of Uh! Tears Baby occasionally crop up on E-Bay and the CD version fetches anywhere between £30 and £100 (there are more copies of the vinyl floating around). I’m keeping everything crossed that one day someone somewhere makes that record more easily available. 

Friday 13 May 2016

New Music: Glass - Be Careful (Video)

There’s something disturbing about the new Glass video that makes me either shiver with the awkwardness of it all or laugh as a method of psychological protection. After all, the whole thing seethes with a violence and rage that looks almost genuine. It's unsettling nature continues to the multi-layered lyrics: “Mind how you go, take it slow, or the next thing you’ll know, you’ll be wed, you’ll be dead, if that’s what you want, then go on ahead,” raps lead singer Jessica like a modern day Sarah Nixey from Black Box Recorder. Meanwhile behind all of that a super popoid groove keeps the music all sparky and interesting.

You can find the duo at Great Escape Festival in Brighton next week. They also play Blissfields and Secret Garden Party this summer. I've still yet to see them live, despite me booking them for their first UK show outside of London at a festival I helped put on (Dials) and then returning to my home city just a few days ago for another gig. It's time to put them on my Great Escape schedule for sure. If you're going, you should too.

Glass - Be Careful (Video)

Thursday 12 May 2016

New Music : Introducing - DIICE

What electronic future soul / pop group DIICE lack in ground breaking originality with their debut Multigold, they make up for with a smooth as silk song that hits all the right of-the-moment buttons and then some. Not to be confused with a DJ of the same name on Soundcloud, this lot (at least I assume it’s at least two people, but I have absolutely no information whatsoever), could soon be finding themselves on all of those playlists labelled ‘Seduction’ or ‘Late Night Jams’ with some ease. It’s classy yet highly accessible r’n’b pop. If Multigold was a drink it would be a cocktail – a Between The Sheets – served by a bar waiter who knows exactly what he’s doing. They've started by throwing a six.

DIICE - Multigold

New Music: Arctic Lake - Heal Me

‘A melancholic love letter’ is how Heal Me, the new song from chill-pop band Arctic Lake has been described to me. Does anyone actually write love letters anymore? Shouldn’t the song, in our high speed swiping world, be better described as a melancholic email? Or perhaps a downhearted text? Or even just a sad tweet? A hurting swipe on Tinder?

OK, whatever words are used it’s pretty undeniable that Heal Me will soften the heart of even the hardest of tech users. Emma Foster’s voice is once again hugely affecting, the music restrained and sophisticated, giving the song the depths, heights and space its needs to achieve a haunting richness. Enjoy it on this post rather than through your post box.

Arctic Lake - Heal Me

Why I Went All The Way To Estonia For A Cocktail

Last month I posted about how this blog had, at its best, become far more than just me bashing out a few words about music in the few spare minutes I have in the day. Breaking More Waves has become a vehicle for enabling some remarkable, emotional, beautiful and even comical journeys to take place in my life. Those journeys have been created through friendships that without this blog, almost certainly wouldn’t have formed. I’ve already written about sharing one such journey (on this post about singer Alice Jemima here) and today I’m writing about another one.

A few weeks ago on BBC 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq asked listeners to text or email in the weird and wonderful rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimages they had been on. Of course there are the obvious ones such as Salford Lads’ Club for fans of The Smiths, a trip to Abbey Road in London for Beatles ones, Graceland in Memphis for Elvis lovers and one I have visited myself – Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris. However, there’s another one that probably doesn’t crop up on the list of ‘must visits’ for quite so many music obsessives, and that’s to Tallinn in Estonia. But last weekend I made that pilgrimage. To visit DM Barr. Yes, it’s a bar that is solely dedicated to the music of British dark electronic pop band Depeche Mode.

Why? I hear you ask. Here’s the explanation…..

It started on the 10th May 2011, when I wrote a piece about a new band called Curxes. I described their sound as “a mixture of the darkness of post Vince Clarke Depeche Mode, the industrial ice-cool of Propaganda, vocals reminiscent of a smoother Siouxsie Sioux all carpeted with fluidly uplifting pulses.” They were an exciting prospect because they really didn’t sound like any other new band around at the time and the lead singer had a thrilling powerhouse of a voice. Shortly after I wrote about the group that singer, Roberta, got in touch by email to thank me for the piece. Bands – that’s a tip for you, if you like what I write about you, a personal thank you can go a long way. In her email she suggested meeting up for a drink at some point, as we lived relatively locally to each other. A few days later we did just that and the slow beginnings of a friendship formed. It turned out that Roberta was indeed a big fan of Depeche Mode; my reference had been correct.

Like all good friendships, ours took some time to mature. By way of dead of night long drives to the middle of nowhere to chew the fat about our relationships with our partners through to many discussions about the internet, music and social politics, to gigs together (which of course included the mighty Depeche Mode as well as a mind-blowingly good show by the Pet Shop Boys) a bond began to form.

And during this time Curxes slowly released their musical output to the world, played some great gigs, some not so great ones and developed a small but appreciative fan base. It’s probably no surprise to find that I wrote about nearly everything Curxes released. Not because I was a friend, but because I was a genuine fan of their music – and wherever I could I helped them, giving them advice about how to get their work heard, constructive criticism of the songs, even driving them and their equipment to play in unlikely locations such as Leigh on Sea and Northampton as well as more obvious locations such as London and Brighton.

Push forward to the end of 2015 and Curxes announced their parting of ways. They had released a number of singles, a well-received album, an official remix for another bad spelling band of the rise (Chvrches) and had supported the likes of Wolf Alice, Friends, Karin Park and Polly Scattergood. It was not, as some thought, the end of Curxes entirely though, but a time for a pause, reconfiguration and reflection.

It was also around this time that I received a message from another music blogger Leigh from Just Music I Like. He was in Tallinn and was sitting in a bar dedicated to Depeche Mode.

“We have to go this,” I texted Roberta. “I’m taking you.” Why did I text that? Because life’s too short to say no to new experiences, new possibilities and have fun. Because sometimes it's good to do something just because you can - especially if it makes someone happy.

“You’re drunk,” she messaged back.

“I’m not and if you don’t believe me I’ll text you again in the morning.”

The next morning I texted again. Roberta believed me. Plans were made and as a result last weekend we flew to Estonia.

Tallinn is a beautiful place; I absolutely fell in love with its gorgeous churches and towering spires and medieval squares and clean cobbled streets and queer markets and stylish galleries and most importantly its people who were far more friendly and welcoming than my prejudices of Eastern European countries would have allowed for. But before sightseeing, we were on mission to visit one place and one place only.

The Depeche Mode Bar itself is located within the medieval walled part of the city up a narrow street just down from a nearby record store. Located in a dark cellar the place is full of Depeche Mode memorabilia, posters, Depeche Mode themed cocktails (yes, I admit I drank several – the excitement of actually being there got the better of me) and of course the band’s music, which is non-stop. First played from videos but then transferring to a DJ who on the night we were there found himself playing to a group of grown men dancing and singing in unadulterated joy to all the bangers from the leather clad synth goth boys from Basildon. It was fantastic. I’d been worried that after all the jokes about how we were flying all the way to Estonia just to visit a bar the whole thing would be an embarrassing let down. But it wasn’t – it was almost exactly as I had imagined it.

We left with huge smiles on our faces as we strolled back across Freedom Square to our hotel. Inside I was pretty pleased that I'd sent that slightly crazy text.

Thanks to music. Thanks to my blog. Thanks to Depeche Mode. But more crucially than that, thanks to friendship and the sometimes weirdly brilliant but very special moments it makes in our lives. 

If you haven’t heard Curxes or Depeche Mode, then your musical map is incomplete. Take a listen to both below. Run From The Funeral is a track from Curxes' album Verxes and hasn't featured on this (or as far as I am aware) any other blog before. You can find and hear the album at this link hereNever Let Me Down is a big arm waving anthem that pretty much every Depeche Mode fan loves. You can find it pretty much everywhere, but particularly in Tallinn, Estonia or just below the Curxes track.

When she isn't being the mouth piece for Curxes, or expert vintage item seller, Roberta designs some amazing (and very funny) pop star greeting cards. If you're a fan of Depeche Mode then take a look at her work on this link here. Her full product range can be found using this link

Curxes - Run From The Funeral

Depeche Mode - Never Let Me Down Again

Friday 6 May 2016

New Music: Grace Lightman - Faultless

Whilst I don’t subscribe to the idea of comparing one artist to another as instantly being lazy journalism, I do if the likenings are wildly off the mark. Probably the two singers that crop up the most in the world of slightly alternative pop as wrong comparisons are Bjork and Kate Bush. The number of times I’ve read ‘sounds similar to Kate Bush’ and then I’ve pressed play and the vocal sounds nothing at all like Kate, except in the broadest sense that the singer is a higher toned female, are plentiful.

So now here I go. I really hope it isn’t a lazy comparison, but hell, the new song from London's Grace Lightman sounds an awful lot like Kate Bush. That is, Kate Bush with a low-key 80’s electronic cinematic ballad backing. It’s exactly the sort of music that if you’re a regular here you’d expect to find on Breaking More Waves. 

What of course is lazy journalism is saying very little with too many words. But then I’m not a journalist and sometimes, just sometimes, being lazy is OK. 

Grace Lightman - Faultless

Thursday 5 May 2016

New Music: Introducing - Weirdo

OK let me just get this off my chest - the promo 'picture' above is truly terrible. Look at it for god's sake. Did a 5 year old knock it up on Paint? 'Could do better' is my school teachers report on that one. Ok, rant over, now let's get on with the blog post....

Every time a ‘mystery artist’ comes along I’m not sure whether to celebrate - because I enjoy the game of unearthing who they are and (without any assistance from the music industry) I’m generally pretty good at it, or commiserate, because frankly when it’s ‘all about the music and not the artist behind it' and there’s no context or story it can all become a little bit boring to read about. I mean – does anyone really want me to write 400 words on what the song sounds like when you can just listen yourself? No, probably not.

Anyway, here’s the latest one. He / they (I suspect it’s just a he but I could be wrong - his / their Facebook page suggests a band) goes by the name Weirdo. I like this name; remember everyone, when people call you weird, don’t be offended, it just shows their lack of ability to empathise with you. Unless of course you’re a murder, child pornographer or such like – in which case you’re way beyond weird and need locking up.

Thankfully Weirdo’s music is pretty easy to empathise with. It’s a lively blend of indie with perky pop flavours that will have you zipping along to the nearest dancefloor and pulling shapes. In fact, it’s so easy to empathise with I began to wonder why that was - maybe because I’ve heard the singer’s voice or sound before under another name? However, as yet I’m at a loss to make that connection with other parts of my brain (or the internet) and discover who Weirdo is or are. All I know is that they have (or have had) links with Berlin and Brighton. So this time my detective skills have failed me. Sorry. You’ll have to do what the artist intended you to do and just enjoy the music. 

His / their debut track was called Butter – I totally missed that one – but Armanio (the title sounds like a Pet Shop Boys song) found and grabbed me by way of a number of blogs that I have on my feed and regularly dip into, namely The Blue Walrus, Disco Naïveté and Going Solo.

Oh and if you suffer from epilepsy please don’t visit the Weirdo website. (Here)

Weirdo - Armanio

Wednesday 4 May 2016

New Music: Majik - Closer

When you cast your eyes over dance styles in the history of pop music, from jive to northern soul to disco to acid house through to modern r ‘n’b twerking and grinding, there’s one that’s often forgotten, and that’s the slow dance. 

Back in the 80’s, in provincial towns and cities across the land, neon lit nightclubs with names like Cinderella’s and Ragamuffins owned the slow dance. There was that always that point in the night when the upbeat dance grooves and beats gave way to the smouldering smoochies. At this point couples would follow the instructions of artists such as Phyllis Nelson who sang that everyone should ‘Move Closer’. The swaying with arms round waists should have been a beautiful romantic moment, but in reality was often just an excuse for a lusty teenage experimental grope. Some people even called it the erection section.

I can’t imagine the slow dance making a return to today’s clubs; it now seems confined to the first dance at a wedding, unless perhaps if it was served with a massive dollop of guilty pleasure type cheese and a knowing wink.

However, if it did and was irony free, Closer, the new one from London duo Majik would be the perfect soundtrack to the new slow dance scene. A non-careless whisper of a tune, this soft, atmospheric and velvety pop song is true seduction, taking the sentiments of Phyllis forward for a new age; “Move a little closer to me.” Following debut tracks Save Me and It’s Alright, it’s another demonstration of why, despite it being incredibly early days for the band, I named Majik as one of my Ones to Watch for 2016. Modern and gorgeous.

Majik - Closer

Monday 2 May 2016

New Music: Lido - Crazy (Video)

Whether he’s working with Cashmere Cat, giving the remix treatment to the likes of Banks, Bill Withers, Bastille or The Weeknd or knocking out his own jams like I Love You or Money, Norwegian producer Lido has been pretty prolific over the last couple of years. Now he’s put out his best track to date. Crazy is, I warn you, completely bonkers. If you’re going to use autotune and effects on a vocal, this is the way to do it. It sounds like music produced by one of those alien creatures you’d find in the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars after they’ve had one too many Lucozades; it’s an out of this world banger that will either make you want to punch the air or punch Lido’s face. 

A simple but brilliant visual concept for the video as well. A man conducting some lights might not sound like visual entertainment, but it works.

Lido - Crazy (Video)

Sunday 1 May 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Preview / Recommendations (Saturday)

From my perspective the final day of the official Great Escape programme has less must sees than the previous two days. However, Saturday’s Alt Escape makes up for this with an abundance of choice, so there’s never going to be a dull moment on the streets of Brighton. These posts focus on the core event though, so in a similar manner to the two previous posts (here and here) I’ll waste no time and get straight on with recommending five acts that may be worth your while checking out.

The Big Moon 12:30 Komedia (Also playing at The Corn Exchange 19:15)

The Big Moon will be playing a huge venue (The Corn Exchange) later in the evening when they play support to The Mystery Jets, but early risers are advised to catch these Blog Sound of 2016 long list nominees earlier in the day at Komedia. Expect brash bold noisy guitar pop such as The Road, Sucker and new tune Cupid (below) to blow the cobwebs away.

Cadet 13:15 Paganini Ballroom

Grime isn’t a genre that you’d really expect to see on Breaking More Waves, but for me one of the beauties of Great Escape is to be able to sample something a little off your normal musical road map. As I listened to the festival’s Spotify playlist last month, Cadet’s track Stereotype stood out. With its honest lyrical delivery, he deals with the idea that stereotypes sadly often come from behaviours of reality - we're all likely to be our own stereotype.

Ary 15:30 Patterns Upstairs (Also playing at Stick Mike's Frog Bar 01:30 Saturday)

I first wrote about Norwegian pop singer Ary back in January and compared her to the likes of Aurora and Emilie Nicolas. After impressing audiences at other European new music festivals now she heads to the UK, hopefully to do the same there with her take on pulsing electronic Scandipop.

Holly Macve 18:45 Sallis Benny Theatre

From the Bella Union label comes Holly Macve, another artist I introduced on the blog relatively recently. Clearly inspired by American songwriters, Holly possesses a show stopping country tinged vocal that sounds as if it’s been beamed from 50 years past into the present. A must see.

Stevie Parker 19.45 Komedia Studio Bar

Gorgeous, laid back, keyboard based chill-pop from an artist from the Bristol area that is cropping up on the undercard of a lot of UK based festivals this year. Full confession; I’ve only heard one song (Never Be – streaming below), but it’s an enticing enough beauty to make me want to hear more. Stevie Parker is the last of my tips from the Great Escape 2016 official core programme.

Alt Escape Bonus Pick: Emily Burns 14.45 The Black Lion