Friday 30 September 2016

Playlist: This Month's Breaking More Waves Update

Playlists. They’re bloody everywhere these days aren’t they? It makes you wonder if anyone is actually listening to a singular album anymore. Even more than that, everyone seems to want to be a playlist curator. Particularly bloggers. After all, let’s face it, this stuff is easy. Just take a genre, a theme or just any random selection of tunes and a title and there you have it – you can now put ‘playlist curator’ on your bio.

So this post is about a Breaking More Waves playlist. The concept is simple – it’s intended as a monthly catch up of what I’ve already posted on the blog. I update it at the end of each month. All the old songs disappear and a bunch of new ones magic themselves in. It bundles everything together in one easy place, so if you haven’t had time / can’t be bothered / don’t like reading the blog you can still listen to the music I’ve put on this site in the past month, assuming it’s on Spotify.

So now I can put ‘playlist curator’ on my bio. It will look far cooler than ‘Chartered Surveyor’ or ‘Chartered Manager’ or any of the multitude of boring looking things that actually earn me money and enable me to live my life in the way I want to. Plus unlike those two professional qualifications it only took me 10 minutes to knock up.

So enjoy the Breaking More Waves playlist. All the songs I posted on the blog that you missed . This month's includes indie rock from the likes of Black Honey and Pumarosa, instrumental retro electronics from Stranger Things associated SURVIVE, pop brilliance from Sweden’s Skott and newcomers such as Pets, 4th Chapter and Ider

Why not follow the playlist and make me look cooler and more ‘relevant’ than the 20 people who currently do so after my first couple of attempts at this?

Whilst you’re listening don’t forget that albums exist as well. Right now I’m spending a lot of time with Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. It’s early days but to my ears it is a record that already sounds like it is going to show up on a lot of end of year lists, including mine. You’re probably already familiar with the 2nd song on the album 10 d E A T h b R E a s T, but just in case you’re not, here’s your entry point into a fascinating and immersive body of work that gets better as you go deeper with it. It’s also on the playlist.

Find, play and follow the Breaking More Waves Spotify playlist by clicking here.

Bon Iver - 10 d E A T h b R E a s T

New Music: Jerry Williams - Let's Just Forget It (Video)

Jerry Williams is carving out a rather good space for herself musically, managing to neatly encompass elements of indie, pop and traditional singer songwriter into each new tune she releases. 

Her latest, Let’s Just Forget It is probably her finest one to date. Out goes the musical chirpiness of Boy Oh Boy or Mother and in slides a tender melancholy musicality combined with Jerry’s personal real-life lyrics. “Just hold your arms around me, this cruel world, let’s just forget it,” she sings at whoever the song is directed to, as the music swells to an intimate and tender crescendo. Her voice as ever is sweet perfection. Beautiful stuff.

The video, a one shot piece, was filmed on West Wittering beach near Chichester – one of my favourite areas of coast in the south of the UK – its simplicity working well with the song. OK I’ll admit at the end I thought Jerry was going to rush off into the distance and jump headlong into the sea, but then maybe the (likely) accompanying shout of “f*ck this, it’s cold,” probably wouldn’t have suited the poignant atmosphere of the work up to that point.

Let’s Just Forget It is the title track of Jerry’s new EP which also features Mother, a track that has now hit over 2 million streams on Spotify – not bad for an unsigned artist. 

Jerry is also about to head out on her first UK tour, starting this Sunday in Portsmouth at The Loft. Breaking More Waves will be in attendence so follow me on Twitter (here) for some opinions of the gig there. That show is already totally sold out, although tickets are available for her other shows in London (3rd), Manchester (4th), Bristol (5th) and Birmingham (6th) – grab one quick.

Jerry Williams - Let's Just Forget It

Wednesday 28 September 2016

New Music: Shells - Jailbird

This is a beautiful piece of pop music. In fact, to call it pop seems to lessen it's value. It's worth far more than that. Delicate in its creation but bold in its lyrical content, Sarah Sheldrake who goes by the name of Shells, sings the prettiest of melodies of how she’s “losing all control, I’m giving in to desire.” Don’t be fooled by the purity and gentle construct of the music, there’s plenty of deep seated passion and courage here. 

I first caught Shells live earlier this year at Bushstock Festival and although her live set up was relatively simplistic, what came across is what you hear on this song – something that has been painstakingly constructed and performed by a singer with a wonderfully natural, elemental voice.

Just lovely. 

If only all pop music was like this.

Shells - Jailbird

New Music: S U R V I V E - A.H.B

My route into the music of S U R V I V E is probably the same as many others – through the addictive Stephen King / Steven Spielberg referencing Netflix hit of the summer Stranger Things and its immersive score. That score was put together by two members of this Austin based four piece, namely Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon after show producers The Duffer Brothers came knocking. With near perfect timing Stein and Dixon were also readying their latest work with the two other members of S U R V I V E, namely Adam Jones and Mark Donica, and by the time I finished the TV series it was possible to pre-order the new album, which is simply named after its catalogue number RR7349.

Although it’s not officially released until this Friday, the album is already streaming on a variety of websites and my CD copy arrived in the post a few days early, enabling my recent journeys to work to be filled with the bleak menacing sounds of vintage synth soundscapes. If you enjoy albums by the likes of John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis or Goblin, or like the embrace of brooding almost druggy sounding ambient music then RR7349 is for you. Alongside Cliff Martinez’s brilliant soundtrack for The Neon Demon film, also released this year, this record has rejuvenated my interest in instrumental atmospheric electronic music. S U R V I V E are worth more of your attention than just Stranger Things and RR7349 deserves your investment. From the record here's the opening track A.H.B - a pulsing spacey sounding piece of warm electronics.

Order the album by clicking here

S U R V I V E - A.H.B

Tuesday 27 September 2016

New Music: Minque - So Precious, So Small

“Let’s go to the beach, kiss the stars goodnight and maybe have a glass or three…” sings newcomer Minque over a twitching synth riff that sounds like it might have just found a place on the debut La Roux album. Whilst her debut song Bones was melancholy night time pop, So Precious, So Small is much more hedonistic – a dance banger that embraces the idea of losing minds, then going one further and losing it all. Yet despite the hands in the air house vibes, Minque retains a sense of cool detached majesty in her vocal delivery, and it’s all the better for it. A party anthem for those who shudder at the idea of ending up in their cities' tackiest nightclub dancing alongside a plastic inflatable penis, tiara and L plates sporting hen party perhaps?. Let’s all go down to the beach and drink some wine instead yeah?

You could do just that when Minque plays a show in Southsea, Portsmouth on Friday 14th October at Drift Bar - it's very close to the beach. Tickets are only £3 (here), so if you are anywhere on the south coast, that’s that Friday night planned for you.

Minque - So Precious, So Small

New Music: Anteros - Ring Ring (Video)

Over the last year Anteros have definitely edged up my league table of favourite new credible pop bands and so tonight, for the second time, I’m very pleased to be catching them live. If you’re in the south coast region, then come, Southampton Joiners is your destination. (Tickets here)

And what better way to prepare for the gig than one of those ‘classic’ band on tour videos, for Ring Ring, from the truly excellent Breakfast EP. So, what debauched activity can we expect from the band in this video? Obscene drug use, maybe something similar to the dreaded Cocainus chapter in the Tim Burgess book Telling Stories? Or maybe rampant alcohol fuelled sex orgies that would make the likes of Keith Richards blush? No, it seems not. Today’s modern band has to take a somewhat more low-key approach; so expect a bit of larking around in a service station, quite a lot of sleeping and various puzzled faces whilst putting up tents at festivals. 

Call me boring, but frankly I’m all for this less exuberant approach – at my age all I want from a gig is some good music and to be home by midnight for a nice cup of tea. Please take note all touring bands that I go to see. It’s not much fun for the punter if the artist is busy shagging a stranger backstage*, high on illegal substances before arriving an hour late to give a shit-faced useless performance.

*Unless perhaps, in certain circumstances, you are that stranger.

Anteros - Ring Ring (Video)

New Music: Liv Dawson - Reflection

September and October tends to be that time when 'new music' people like me start thinking of their tips for 2017. (Actually not quite true, I started thinking about mine in May, but then I'm a massive geek when it comes to that sort of stuff - it brings out the trainspotter / nerd / stats-freak element in me). Last year there seemed to be more Ones to Watch lists than ever before, and by the end of December it got to the point of being overwhelming. Ironically, it’s getting harder and harder for new artists to break through (and when I say break through, I mean in terms of getting to a point where they are able to make a sustainable career out of making music) and so many of these tip lists are pretty redundant despite their vast numbers.

18 year old Liv Dawson is an artist who might just make a few of this year's lists. Maybe. She is undeniably talented and I’ve already seen her name crop up on a few conversations between tastemaker types as well as on a number of key Spotify playlists. Even I've got in on the action. In fact I jumped the gun a bit when I posted about her in May and said that she was one to ‘file under one to watch’. Having already supported Frances and being booked for Honne’s forthcoming tour, she’s getting plenty of exposure, and her latest track Reflection, her best song to date, is really worth a listen. Produced by Levi Lennox it's an elegant and stately piece of soul-pop with a very day time radio friendly chorus.

Oh, and keep an eye out in November, because as I’ve tended to do over the last few years I’ll be publishing my own Ones to Watch for 2017 list before all the big guns publish their's. In fact, I’ve already decided on 90% of the acts that I will be featuring (clue: most of them will have featured before on the blog) and quite a few of the posts have been part drafted. Will Liv Dawson be one of the choices? My lips are sealed for now. Have patience and just enjoy this song.

Liv Dawson - Reflection

Sunday 25 September 2016

New Music: Fours - Sickly Sweet

Because the new method of new music discovery for the majority now seems to be playlists and in particular Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist, as a new music blog it seems almost pointless posting something that was featured on that playlist a few days later. But just in case you aren’t a Spotify user, or don’t use the New Music Friday Playlist, or just haven’t got to listening to Spotify’s selections yet then now’s your chance to hear Sickly Sweet by Fours. Back in January when I introduced the band I gave as a reference point a comparison between Fickle Friends and a less try hard Florence and the Machine. And guess what? That sticks with this new one as well. 

Sickly Sweet is rabidly upbeat, one of those songs that in the alternative-pop universe would be all over the radio and in the charts. It’s not pushing pop in some radical new direction, but it will push you towards the dancefloor. “You shouldn’t have loved me anyway,” sings lead singer Edith Violet, which slightly takes the sunshine smiles off the chirpiness of the tune, but frankly she could be singing “I’ve just killed your mother,” and I’d probably still be grinning from ear to ear. (Sorry mum)

Sickly Sweet - Fours

Thursday 22 September 2016

New Music - Black Honey - Hello Today

I love Black Honey. Do you love Black Honey? You really f*ckin should.

Someone who knows a lot more about music than I do once told me that the three basic rules of writing a great pop song (of any genre) were to 1. Keep it short. 2 Keep it simple. 3. Make it instantly memorable. Black Honey follow those rules 100% with new song Hello Today, which clocks in at just over 2 and a half minutes. They’re not hanging around here and they don’t need to. That’s all the time that’s required to make an impression. You only need this to pass your ears once and it’s there, in your head, riffing and snarling, strutting and preening, confident in the knowledge that it knows what it’s doing. 

As I said. I love Black Honey and so should you.

Black Honey - Hello Today

New Music: Introducing - Ider

North London’s Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville go by the name of Ider. This is their first time on Breaking More Waves, but King Ruby, their latest song, is their third tune to be released. That’s not to say I didn’t 100% approve of their first two offerings. Sorry was a piece of downbeat sad-pop, perfect for those late night moments when you’re alone and feeling a little bit lost in the world. It’s follow up, Pulse was even better; stripped back to just keys and beats it was a subdued yet stirring slice of perfection.

After those first two songs, it could have been easy to pigeon hole the duo as just being the languid version of Oh Wonder (not a bad thing), only being able to create hushed hymns for a generation suffering from the exhaustion epidemic. However, King Ruby offers something different. This one brings an Eastern ethereal sound to proceedings and a slightly more uptempo pace.

Apparently the likes of Aurora and Shura are already on board as fans and Pulse has already notched up over half a million plays on Spotify, which is some going. Probably adding the name of Breaking More Waves to the fan list probably won't be quite as big a deal, but for musicians, every fan counts, in large amounts.

Listen to King Ruby below and if you’re playing catch up enjoy the ambient pop sound of Pulse as well.

Ider - Pulse (Video)

Ider - King Ruby

New Music: Prep - Who's Got You Singing Again

Jazzy flutes? Check. Easy listening vibes? Check. Silky smooth sophistication? Check. Welcome to the world of Prep. It's a good world to exist in.

Prep first cropped up on Breaking More Waves just over a year ago with the far out soul of Cheapest Flight – it was the kind of jam that made me want to grab a cocktail and lounge back into a big white leather sofa. Since then they’ve followed it up with Sunburnt Through The Glass, received support from BBC Radio 1, KCRW and Beats 1 and grooved their way to near the top of the Hype Machine charts.

What I'm enjoying about Prep is that they sound so different from anything else out there right now. Sure the influences are there (I still hear a fair amount of Donald Fagen in their music) but for a bunch of guys that include a hip-hop producer, a classical composer, a house DJ and a singer songwriter and whose individual credits include Drake, Kwabs, AlunaGeorge, Foxes, Raleigh Ritchie and Klangkarussell they sound wonderfully not of the moment, and I like that.

Prep play Birthdays in London on the 12th October. Who's Got You Singing Again is taken from Prep's forthcoming EP which will be called Futures.

Prep - Who's Got You Singing Again

Wednesday 21 September 2016

New Music: Introducing - Pets

Combining stadium rock riffs, a pop sensibility and a commentary on modern capitalism, newcomers Pets seem to be covering all bases with their debut single If It’s For Sale. It’s probably no surprise though, given that lead singer Sam McCarthy, who hails from Breaking More Waves own stomping ground of Portsmouth has already provided his writing skills to Norwegian pop star in the making Dagny on her monster online hit Backbeat, as well as once fronting almost made it indie band Gilkicker. Add in our modern cultural climate and voila – the product is Pets.

If It’s For Sale sounds like it means business. It’s a plugged in, chest thumping anthem that I suspect sounds best live and very loud. The band played their debut show the other day at the Camden Monarch, so as yet there’s not been much opportunity to confirm those suspicions, although Pets have just confirmed a show on the south coast at the mighty Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (tickets available here). However, If It’s For Sale is certainly a fervent statement of intent. Let's see where Pets go from here.

The song is released through NW1 records on the 26th September.

Pets - If It's For Sale (Video)

New Music: 4th Project - Taking Me Over (Video)

Bristol based trio 4th Project don’t seem to be a band to rush things. Their debut single, the haunting and intimate Taking Me Over is a fine example. Clocking in at just under six minutes it waits almost a minute and a half before it finally hits home with the chorus; but it’s worth the wait. Kathleen Fitzpatrick Milton’s voice is a thing of smooth white soul and the music is warm, low-key and full of comforting pleasure. 

“I never knew a love like this, like it’s taking me over,” she croons. If you’ve ever put your trust in someone completely, ever been held by someone and experienced that gnawing feeling that this is the real thing, then you’re probably going to be able to relate to Taking Me Over. As unspoilt as it’s possible to make a pop song, far away from the pressures to make something that fits to radio programmer’s desires and cram it all into 3 minutes, this is heavenly.

4th Project - Taking Me Over (Video)

4th Project - Taking Me Over from Pixillion on Vimeo.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

New Music: Skott - Amelia

If you’re anything like me, you’ll love a theory about pop music that has no basis in science and is totally based on a hunch. In fact, when you think about it, (and sadly I too often do) that’s how most pop musicians get deals with record labels in the first place. Music industry types might use lots of data before deciding to sign someone, but ultimately they can never know if that artist is going to be a success or not - it's all just guess work. Whatever marketing strategy you use, you can't force the public to like a song.

Last July when I wrote about Skott’s second release Wolf I suggested that there was a growing trend for whacking an animal reference into a pop song; Skott had achieved that admirably with Wolf. Now I’d like to present another theory to you. It’s based on an old idea, but I’m updating it for 2016. Let’s call it The Breaking More Waves Theory of Alphabet Bands (which has nothing to do with our blogger chum Alphabet Bands, but maybe Adam, its writer, can throw some light on all of this being an alphabet expert?)

In 2012 I suggested that if you were a new musician then your best bet for success at that time was to have a name starting with L. That theory proved to have some accuracy with my tips Lianne La Havas, Lana Del Rey, Lucy Rose and Foxes (her real name begins with L) all doing reasonably well. Now for 2016/17 I’m updating and suggesting that S is the one to have. After all we have the likes of Seramic, Sofi Tukker and Skott herself all delivering the goods and potentially being on a few of those end of year tip lists that you either love / hate / couldn’t give a monkey about.

So with all the right credentials in place - the letter S starting her name and an animal reference in one of her songs, all Skott needs to do is produce some quality tunes. And guess what? She’s done that again with new one Amelia, which is a thrilling ride through the planet alt-pop. Part folky, part electronic it’s probably my favourite of her 3 releases to date and certainly the most powerful. Take a listen and lose yourself for a few minutes. 

Skott plays a couple of shows in London later this month - one at Notting Hill Arts Club supporting Muna, which is sold out, and one at Birthdays on the 29th September. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for reports back on the Birthdays show.

Skott - Amelia

New Music: Seramic - Greg's Love (Ft Bootsy Collins)

Well this is a blast. Seramic might be quite an ordinary looking bloke with an even more ordinary real life name, but the music he’s making lubricates the parts that other songs fail to reach. This guy has the funk. This guy has the rhythm. This guy will make you shake your booty and then some. “Free the tiger, let the music take you higher,” go the words. Hallelujah brother. Welcome to the church of groove.

My only sadness about this record is that Greg’s Love is not about a passion for the similarly spelt UK based retailer that sells ready made sandwiches, pizza slices and sausage rolls. That really would have been quite something. I’d have quite enjoyed watching the gymnast in the video tucking into a good old steak slice at the end of her workout.

Oh and did I mention Bootsy Collins? Yep, the actual Bootsy Collins. Now there's an endorsement of the funk if ever there was one. 

Seramic - Greg's Love (Video)

Monday 19 September 2016

New Music: Anteros - Ring Ring

Back in ye olde days of pop music, when the UK singles chart was genuinely exciting because it was based on what people were buying rather than what they were playing, it was possible for a relatively new indie band that had written a half decent pop song and had a few fans to get their tune in the UK Top 50 without having to either sound like everything else or have an association with a big American star. 

For example, pop saviours Saint Etienne could notch up a string of minor hit singles (17 of them between 1991 and 2003), each one sitting in the charts for around a month before diving away without people screaming 'flop'. The charts allowed space for bands to develop a longer term career without ever troubling the wider mainstream. This was because of the one-off nature of sales (where fans could have more immediate impact by buying in the first week), compared with multiple plays (a very different thing) which are responsible for this week’s UK singles Top 100 containing Mr Brightside by The Killers (a record released 12 years ago, but because of streaming, still in the charts) and Sorry by Justin Bieber which has taken up a near year long residency in the charts. All the UK charts demonstrate these days is that the public at large is incredibly conservative in its music listening habits.

I mention St Etienne because for me a current band like Anteros would have been the sort of act that would have been “doing a St Etienne” a few years ago. Their songs like Breakfast and The Beat are eminently hummable bona fide quality pop tunes, not the turgid formulaic sh*te that current chart toppers like The Chainsmokers, Calvin Harris, Drake etc are inflicting on the masses. Anteros would have probably gone to number 34 with Breakfast and The Beat would have made the top 30 for a couple of weeks. Then they’d have released an album that might have dented the top 20 for just one week but it would have been enough to sustain them to make more records. 

Unfortunately, times have now changed (yes I'm being a grumpy old man again) and whilst the British public continues to listen to Mr Brightside over and over (a brilliant pop record, but to listen to it so many times that it’s still in the charts is a bit like having sex in the same position every day – reasonably satisfying but ultimately bringing less impact every single time) Anteros keep pushing out tunes for the few of us who care enough about pop to listen. Their latest Ring Ring, bizarrely, in terms of its instrumentation, could actually be a Saint Etienne song, capturing the casual sixties spirit of You’re In A Bad Way with some panache. So there you have it: Anteros – a band making stylish pop for those in the know. Join their club.

Their Breakfast EP is out now. Hear it all on Spotify by clicking here. Give The Killers a break, stop doing it in the missionary position and try something new. You might actually enjoy it.

Anteros - Ring Ring

Sunday 18 September 2016

New Music: Martha - Precarious (The Supermarket Song) (Video)

Ever since Durham punk-pop upstarts Martha released their second album Blisters in the Pit of My Heart at the beginning of July, not a week has gone by without someone of a more indie / DIY persuasion extolling the virtues of the record on my social media channels (which is basically Twitter and a tiny bit of Instagram). So with all that praise beginning to slow down my broadband, a couple of weeks ago I finally took a listen. 

Guess what? It’s a rollicking romp of a recording, full of energy, witty but personable lyrics and singalong tunes. Sure sometimes it verges into cliché and if you’re a fan of playing ‘spot the guitar riff’ you’ll be able to pick out a few that you’ve probably heard before, but Blisters in the Pit of My Heart is an undeniably euphoric and joyous sounding thing. I can imagine people hollering along to this one as they pogo around their bedrooms. Much like another punk-pop record from earlier this year, Misty Miller’s The Whole Family Is Worried, it stands out because of its sheer tunefulness. It’s easy to understand why readers of websites like Drowned in Sound are taking it to their hearts. 

Remember the Rihanna and Calvin Harris song We Found Love? Well I often wondered where that hopeless place was. I like to think it was in Lidl or Tesco. If it was, then Martha have gone one better and made it very clear, because Precarious (The Supermarket Song) is all about finding love amongst the groceries. It’s chock full of lyrics that will appeal if you can relate to feeling a little bit awkward about romance, life and expressing yourself: “I’m an unexpected item, in your bagging area,” is my favourite. There’s also something very lovely about the way the band sing of desire as well: “You won’t know until you try it, I’m a person, you’re a person, nothing else is really certain, and the evening is still young, let’s get out of here and have some fun.” 

Hurrah for finding love in a hopeless place – this is the band’s new video for the song. Go and take a listen to Blisters in the Pit of My Heart if you haven’t already done so.

Martha - Precarious (The Supermarket Song) (Video)

Friday 16 September 2016

New Music: Pumarosa - Honey

This is going to be a very short post, because by now, the chances are you’ll have probably heard Honey by Pumarosa. Officially their third track to be released (discounting a couple of early demos Red and Dragonfly) Honey is full of disturbed spiralling guitars, Isabel Muñoz-Newsome’s coldly foreboding voice and a sense of hypnotic abandonment. It’s one to draw you out from swigging cider nervously in the dark corner of the indie disco to wigging out on the dancefloor, embracing it all.

I put the band on my list of Ones to Watch for 2016 (here) – now with a small handful of tunes under their belts and some well received festival performances this summer – I’m beginning to wonder if they might find themselves on some more Ones to Watch lists for 2017 as well?

Pumarosa - Honey

New Music: Let's Eat Grandma - Sax In The City (Video)

OK I’m going to say it now, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for ground breaking new music, particularly from new artists. So much of it, be it pop, hip-hop or even so called ‘alternative’ indie hasn’t sparkled, but merely glowed with a dull pleasantness. 

A few years ago I wrote a lot about how contemporary pop music (and I use the term pop in the widest sense) had reached middle age and there certainly seem a lot of artists out there who are in that rut; not just musically, but lyrically to – with words seemingly bashed out in just a few minutes and so many of them being very inward looking. At the risk of sounding like one of those grumpy old men who sit in the pub shouting that things were better in their days, where are the future Morrisseys or future Nicky Wires or future Kate Bushes taking references from literature, politics and art, having something to say, and turning those big thoughts into songs? I know I go on a lot about this but the next time I hear someone singing about being IN DA CLUB or how YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE YOURSELF I will not be held responsible for my actions.

OK, moan over. Before you all shout back in disagreement telling me I’m looking and listening in the wrong places, let’s be clear that there are still interesting, idiosyncratic and eccentric artists out there. They’re probably just not sitting in a London record company office being told by well-meaning but ultimately self-serving people what they should and shouldn’t do to be ‘succesful’. 

Take a look to Norwich for example. Let’s Eat Grandma’s album certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of musical tea, but that’s the point. It might not be perfect (it isn’t) but those flaws give it far more character and personality – it provokes a reaction. The new video for album track Sax In The City, which features some warped ungainly music and imagery of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth dressed as babies crawling through the streets, certainly does that. It might leave you shaking your head in despair, giggling uncontrollably, feeling slightly uncomfortable or thoughtful and considering if there’s some deep artistic message behind the whole thing, but it will make you feel something – and for that alone, it should be applauded.

Let's Eat Grandma - Sax In The City (Video)

New Music: Introducing - Mirror Furies

This duo from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire has a very grown-up charm emanating from their music. Or that is, I should say, the one song that I’ve heard. Released way back in May to very little fanfare, Born Screaming by Mirror Furies is a thing of plaintive beauty and it deserves your attention.

The first thing to hit you is Carina Bragg’s voice. It has that raw emotive coating that could quite easily be powering its way over a big rock song, but on Born Screaming there’s just a quilt of lullaby guitars to provide a backdrop to the tune. And that’s the second thing – the tune. It’s hardly a revved up machine, more doleful than dynamite, but it has some power. It’s a song of goodbyes, of letting go and of finding your own space in the world. “Do you think you’re ready for that big old open world, only 17 now, you’re still a little girl to me.” Bragg croons. “What can I do, I can’t help you any more, I still worry about you, am I a stranger to your thoughts?” We all have to let go of the ones we love sometimes.

An enticing debut from Mirror Furies. If you’re going to Neighbourhood Festival in Manchester on October 8th get there early to catch them at the Deaf Institute at 13.30.

Mirror Furies - Born Screaming

Thursday 15 September 2016

Witness The Sickness - When I Got Ill At A Music Festival

This was meant to a long read review of the 2016 edition of a festival that I’ve attended every year but one. I was going to write about how after a really impressive climb from small scale boutique festival in 2004 to a huge beast of an event that had attracted star names such as Stevie Wonder and Elton John, Bestival 2016 took a bit of a tumble in ticket sales and found itself having to downsize. It was going to be a fan perspective review, but with as much balance as I could muster, giving the goods and bads of the scale back. It was also going to be a review that focused on not only the new acts (as this is largely a new music blog), but one of The Cure, who were headlining the festival on the Saturday night and are one of my favourite bands of all time.

However, it isn’t. Here’s why…..

Bestival always brings surprises and wonder, it’s one of its characteristics that keeps pulling me back year after year for that short but expensive ferry trip across the Solent from my home in Southsea, Portsmouth. Yet this year there was a particularly horrible surprise in store for me; it was the year I became unwell at the festival.

Now don’t worry, it wasn’t anything that threatened my life and 6 days later I am 100% fighting fit; but for a few hours it felt like the devil was inside me – just disguised as a digested chicken burger.

The biggest irony to all of this is that I work in a public health and safety environment as part of my day job. I’m therefore acutely aware of how risky festivals are and how dangerous they can be when they go wrong. Most people probably don’t stand by the main stage and question what wind load it has been designed to and what the evacuation plan for a particular area is, but I do. It’s just inbuilt in me because of my profession. 

Also being a little bit older than your average Bestival goer these days I tend to pamper myself a little more. I don’t camp on site, but instead pitch my tent (below) 15 minutes down the road where I can get a nice shower, a swim and at the end of the day a good night’s sleep with nobody tripping over my tent guy lines. I drive to site every day, so I don’t drink alcohol and drugs are just never something I’ve been interested in.

As far as your average punter goes I’m probably quite low risk in terms of ending up in the festival medical centre. But that’s where I was last Saturday night.

On four o’clock in the afternoon whilst watching sad Scottish rockers The Twilight Sad pile on the goth guitars and Ian Curtis style dancing to a small but appreciative crowd in Bestival’s Big Top I mentioned to my friend that I felt a tiny bit odd. “I’m probably a bit dehydrated so am going to get a bottle of water.” One bottle gulped down and the feeling didn’t go away. It got worse. Quickly. 

Heading towards Wolf Alice on the Main Stage I had started to turn a grey colour and was beginning to feel shivery cold. I had an urge to lie on the wet, slightly muddy grass and sleep. However, I couldn’t do that because that was the time when the sick decided to come up and out. ‘Oh god, people are going to be thinking I’ve been overdoing it the night before,’ I thought. My friend did a grand job of looking after me, supplying liquids and buying me an extra jumper from Oxfam to try and keep me warm, but the nausea and the cold just got worse and worse. 

By the time Ride was playing I was in the medical centre having my temperature, blood sugar and some other tests done and sitting by a heater that I was told was blowing out hot air but I couldn’t feel a thing. It was working, my body was just playing stupid games. 

With 20 minutes to go before The Cure I was laying on a bed that looked a bit like a body bag, feeling like absolute shit. Call me a wimp, but I’m really not very good when I get ill. I’ve generally got high pain threshold, but being unwell seems to lower it very quickly. I’m also not very good at being sick. This was only the third time in my life throwing up.

I decided I was going to make it out for The Cure. I’d get through it. I wasn’t going to miss them. 

We shuffled through the mud in our wellies to secure a spot quite a way back. The Cure started. At this stage I realised I really wasn’t with it at all. Robert Smith looked like a weird giant through a fish eye lens. “How are they doing that?” I asked my friend and then suddenly realised that I was watching the screens to the side of the stage thinking it was the stage itself. As I said, I really wasn’t with it. I think I was verging on hallucinating. 

Then I threw up again. 

Robert Smith’s lyrics rattled through my head: “I’ve waited hours for this, I’ve made myself so sick,” seemed particularly appropriate. It was time to go. I’d managed just over one song of their set. As I walked out the exit of Bestival and up the infamous hill of death to the car park at the top I could hear the band rolling out the hits. I was very close to crying. I'd let everyone down. It was the end of my Bestival. It’s a festival that over the years has brought me virtually everything – this year it was the lurgy. 

Here’s what I learnt about being ill at a festival:

1. A music festival is one of the worst places to be ill. Everyone else’s happiness makes you feel even sadder. I just wanted to crawl away and hide from it all. It felt like the whole festival was crushing down on me.

2. If you get ill, go to the medical tent. The staff there are brilliant. They kept my spirits up, gave me good expert advice and nothing was too much trouble. Some people complained about certain security staff at Bestival this year. I can’t believe anyone could ever fault the medical staff. That tent felt like a sanctuary.

3. Friends and loved ones don’t let you down in bad times. My friend who I was with never complained that we missed The Cure, ran around and got me all the things I needed to keep me safe and really was the one who convinced me that trying to watch anymore of the festival wasn’t an option. The next day, when I was utterly exhausted and found even walking a short distance incredibly tiring, my girlfriend sailed over to the Isle of Wight, packed up all my stuff for me and got me home with as much love and warmth as anyone could ask for.

4. Even when you play it safe, things can go wrong. But on the other hand I’ve been to over 80 festivals and most of them have been perfectly uneventful except for good events.

5. Although (thankfully) I was with a friend, I sometimes go to festivals on my own. I wrote about this earlier this year (click on this link to read). I wonder what would have happened if I’d been on my own at Bestival? When the food poisoning started I just wanted to lay down and sleep. What would have happened if I had done that? It’s made me seriously question if I would do another festival on my own.

On a happier musical note, and considering this is a music blog, here’s some music. Since I first discovered Alice Jemima in 2011 I’ve watched her grow as a person and artist and seen her songs find a growing audience. I’ve also featured her an awful lot on this blog. Her new single Dodged A Bullet has already picked up some play on Radio 1 care of Huw Stephens (come on daytime shows…you know you want to). 

Bestival has been a special festival to Alice and I. In 2012 after writing about her Alice camped with me and my friends at the festival as a regular punter. A few years later she was signed to Sunday Best Records, the label part of Bestival and the Sunday Best world and this year she played the main stage at the festival. A bit of a moment for her. A bit of a moment for me. Here’s a new remix of the current single by How To Dress Well.

Alice Jemima - Dodged A Bullet (How To Dress Well Remix)

All photos were taken before the food poisoning and when the sun beamed down on the site (which it did for the majority of the weekend).

Friday 2 September 2016

New Music: Mononoke - Graceland

Near the end of every year I like to post my Ones to Watch for the next 12 months before all the big gun lists such as the BBC Sound of get published. Sometimes I do quite well with my tips, but at other times all my Ones to Watch list shows is how faulty my crystal ball is. Sometimes the artists don’t even release anything in the following year!

This nearly appeared to be the case with Mononoke (real name Katie Taylor) one of my tips for 2014.

There was a handful of songs at the start of the year in question, following the incredibly beautiful and blue ballad Alice in 2013, but then nothing. In fact the songs in question such as Barefoot And Broken and Bones and Glory seemed to mysteriously vanish from the internet. It appeared that Mononoke hadn’t even got out of first gear before the brakes were applied and the engine stopped, ignition keys thrown away.

But wait, the tale continued, because lo and behold Mononoke resurfaced this summer. Alice was rereleased and there was also another song called Silence For You, the title track from an EP. It seemed that 2014 was just a false start. Now there’s nothing stopping her. Here’s another one, called Graceland which is a slowly compelling piece of chill pop with everything in the right place.

So why the delay? “I think I was too keen to get going before I had any material or imagery to back up what I had already put up online,’ she told her record labels website.

Footnote: For regular readers, please note that I got all the way through this post without mentioning the bath pic once. I'm losing my touch.

Footnote 2: This is the final post on Breaking More Waves for a week or so whilst I'm on holiday.

Mononoke - Graceland

Thursday 1 September 2016

Preview: Bestival 2016

If there’s one festival that solely changed the way I feel about music, festivals themselves and to a certain extent life (yes honestly), it’s Bestival.

Back in 2004 I’d usually attend one or two music festivals a year, which would mainly be chosen from a small list of Glastonbury, Reading, V Festival or Guildford. Then I saw an advert for a new event on the Isle of Wight that claimed it would have guaranteed sunshine, Fatboy Slim, Morris Dancers, a Kate Bush tribute act, Basement Jaxx and it would all be set in an adventure park with a toboggan ride.

That event was Bestival and in early September myself and a friend hopped on the ferry in the pouring rain to journey Robin Hill Country Park. The rain stopped as we stepped off the boat onto the island and from there a habit began.

Since that year I’ve only missed one Bestival (in 2014 when I was in America) and during that time I have seen it change and grow. I’ve also had the opportunity to DJ at the festival in stages that have included a tiny treehouse, a hidden disco and a massive big top full of thousands of people just a couple of hours before M.I.A took to the stage. I even got away with bookending the DJ set with 2 Lionel Ritchie songs; Hello for the intro and All Night Long to finish. I have so many great memories of Bestival and as with any long lasting relationship, a couple of sour ones as well. But 99% has been great - even Bestival can't control the storms that lashed down on Thursday night in 2008.

Some of the highs, besides the DJ sets, have been the weird non-musical moments; being greeted at the entrance gates one year by a bunch of grannies on motorbikes as well as two girls in an open topped double decker bus who were flashing their topless selves at the queue, the warmest smiles in the world of the ladies of the Women’s Institute Tea Tent high on the hill, attending a wedding in an inflatable church between two festival regulars known as The Dude and Flora Mouse who met on the Bestival Website Forum, cocktails in a Bollywood Bar at 11am and sitting in a pitch black open air theatre, alone at about 10pm watching The Evil Dead.

Bestival was one of the first ‘boutique’ festivals; that 2004 event had only about 3-4,000 people in attendance (don’t believe Wikipedia which states 10,000). Sure it took elements of other festivals (in particular Glastonbury and now the defunct Big Chill) but added in its own special flavours to create something vastly different to any other festival I had experienced at the time (including Glastonbury).

In 2004 it was unique, but in 2016 it is less so. There are now many festivals that have taken aspects of Bestival and grown them in their own way and this year sees the festival facing greater competition than any other. Bestival has influenced my taste in festivals and my enthusiasm for them, with the likes of Flow (in Finland), End of the Road and Latitude being some of my favourites. The bands in a dirty, smoke-laden field and nothing else approach of Reading is far less appealing these days. But with all this competition the continued growth of Bestival probably just isn’t a reality – it probably explains why this year it appears the event has downsized somewhat - although there is now the family friendly Camp Bestival, Bestival Tornoto and Common People festivals all under the Bestival umbrella.

So why do I love Bestival so much? I think it’s because it combines so many great things.

Whereas some very good, very respected festivals (for example End of the Road or Green Man) do everything with immaculate taste and a strong sense of curation, they lack the sheer eclecticism, party spirit, sense of madness and free spirited fun that Bestival at its best has. I love the fact that this year at Bestival I can go from dancing to Diplo or Fatboy Slim in a huge spaceport complete with a 20m rocket in the centre and giant astronauts firing lasers across the sky, to watching a poetry collective in an open air amphitheatre, to catching music that ranges from hip-hop to indie to pop to disco to soul to house and then go for a bounce on the world’s biggest inflatable castle. Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the fancy dress that gives the place a carnival atmosphere (and yes there’s a real carnival as well).

So if you want to come and join the party, grab a ticket by clicking here and maybe I’ll see you there? It’s my final outdoor festival of the summer, as it has been for 12 of the last 13 years.  

And don’t forget, for new music fans Bestival has plenty of it, especially in the invaders of the future stage. Here’s three of my tips from this year’s line up (although I could have included many more). The future is almost here....

Alice Jemima

Breaking More Waves regular Alice Jemima signed with Sunday Best records around this time last year, so it’s no surprise to find her on the bill at its sister festival. I understand that Alice will be playing early on Friday morning on the main stage. If you’ve spent any time on this blog you’ll know how much I adore her music. Worth getting up early for.

Petite Meller

If anyone on this year’s bill meets the Bestival ideals more than Petite Meller I can’t think of them. Her live show is a joyous dressing up dance-a-thon that makes you glad to feel alive – just like Bestival.

The Japanese House

My original 3rd choice was originally Rationale, but he has now cancelled, so instead I'll recommend an act from Bestival's new music stage - The Invaders of the Future. The Japanese House aka Amber Bain featured quite heavily on Breaking More Waves when she first released material last year and since that time has gone on to support The 1975 on tour - no surprise there given they are on the same label. There hasn't been that much in the way of new material recently, but with some forthcoming live dates and this Bestival show it shouldn't be too long before there's more - so get to the Invaders of the Future and get an early glimpse of what may be to come.