Wednesday 31 May 2017

Playlist: Breaking More Waves (May 2017)

I’ve been making playlists for years now, for both myself and my friends. First they were compilation tapes, then CDs and now a drag and drop creation on Spotify. Each format has become quicker and easier to put together.

The Breaking More Waves Monthly Update does what it says on the tin. It’s all (or virtually all) the songs I’ve featured on the blog in the last month. There are a few missing – namely by artists that are so new that they’ve yet to make it on to Spotify (by choice or their own negligence). It's a playlist that I mainly create for my own purposes – yes I actually like listening to the music I’ve written about, but it’s also for anyone who visits the blog occasionally but hasn’t got the time or inclination to look at everything I feature. A few people have even started following it, which is nice. Hopefully now and then you’ll find something on it you like.

So what's on the playlist (and hence the blog)? There’s usually a few tracks by bigger established acts that you’ll probably know. This month there’s the likes of The National and OMD but there’s also some very new artists with just a few hundred or thousand plays of their songs to their names like the jubilant and life affirming old fashioned indie-pop of London / Brighton duo Sugarhouse and the mysterious and ghostly Dream Harlowe.

This month’s playlist clocks in at almost an exactly an hour, which in the old tape compilation days would have taken that time to create it. I made this in about five minutes. Technology eh? It’s great.

Have a listen, enjoy, but sometimes come and visit the blog for the 'bonus content' - pictures and words. You can also follow the playlist if you have a Spotify account. Click here for the link.

Breaking More Waves Monthly Playlist

Tuesday 30 May 2017

New Music: Introducing - Grace Carter

If I analysed the last 9 years (or rather nearly 9 years) of writing on this blog and where the artists that I’ve written about have come from, the chances are that Brighton, UK would be fairly near the top of the list. Today I’m adding another one from that seaside town just down the road from me. 

Grace Carter arrives fully formed musically with debut single Silence, a song about the classic destroyer of all relationships; poor communication.  “All I wanted was you to speak to me, but you never did,” she sings, alluding to the frustration caused by someone not telling the truth. Warning – this one might start like a simple piano and electronic beats ballad, but watch out because there’s a big hooky multi-layered vocal pop chorus lurking within. An impressive start.

Another winner from Brighton.

Grace Carter - Silence (Video)

Monday 29 May 2017

New Music: OMD - Isotype

Here’s some very new music from a very old band. 

OMD have never shied away from the fact that they were influenced hugely by Kraftwerk when they started out and it seems that even now, way beyond their 80’s heyday, they continue to doff their hats to the German synth pioneers. Take a listen to new song Isotype, taken from forthcoming album The Punishment of Luxury, to hear the evidence. With its bleeps, pulses, vocoder voices and a beautiful sweeping synth line Isotype will no doubt please long-standing fans and that includes here at Breaking More Waves. The song itself seems to be a comment on the reduction of thoughts and information into simple forms for fast communication in today's web and app enabled world.

For younger readers, if you like the sound of this and have never checked out the back catalogue of OMD I’d recommend starting with Architecture And Morality before going to Crush and then for some odd experimentation, try my personal favourite, the misunderstood Dazzle Ships – the record that lost them millions of fans – and then make sure you read Bob Stanley’s great piece on that album by clicking here.

OMD - Isotype

Sunday 28 May 2017

New Music: Dagny - Wearing Nothing

Norway seems to know exactly what it’s doing when it comes to pop music right now doesn’t it? Aurora (A.M.A.Z.I.N.G), Sigrid (A.M.A.Z.I.N.G) and now Dagny. She seems to be on the verge of joining the A-dot club with Wearing Nothing, a lusty pop tune that suggests that when Jermaine Stewart told us that we didn’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, he was very wrong. “Help me now please ‘cos I can't deal with clothes between us,” Dagny sings. Of course, wearing nothing could just be a metaphor for emotional intimacy, but hell, every now and then in pop there’s nothing wrong with a bit of hot desire as well. Backbeat was banger no.1 from Dagny. Now she makes it 2.

Dagny - Wearing Nothing

Saturday 27 May 2017

New Music: Introducing - Robinson

I always think it’s a little odd when a musician just uses their surname as their pop star name. Can you imagine Adele if she was just known as Adkins? Or Rihanna if she’d been called Fenty? And Knowles-Carter would be a bit of a mouthful when you can just have BeyoncĂ© wouldn’t it? But new singer on the block Robinson has decided to go down the surname route, aligning herself with a UK brand of fruit cordial that has real fruit in every drop. As far as I can tell from a quick Google search her first name is Anna, which is a nice name, but maybe not very pop star like. But then you could say the same about Adele.

Robinson is from New Zealand, a country that has been banging out all sorts of quality pop over the last few years, most notably Lorde, but also Broods and there’s a hint of both of those artists in Robinson’s debut song Don’t You Forget About Me, which you’ll be pleased / disappointed to hear (depending on your perspective) isn’t a cover of the Simple Minds song. Instead it’s a relatively subdued piece of pop that gets better with every listen. Along its way Don’t You Forget About Me throws in a couple of f-words, some yeah yeah yeah chants and a black and white video which was either filmed in the rain or a car wash. 

Don’t forget her name, particularly her last one – this is Robinson.

Robinson - Don't You Forget About Me (Video)

Wednesday 24 May 2017

New Music: Introducing - Dream Harlowe

This is stunning. A big nod to Crack In The Road blog for unearthing Dream Harlowe and her debut track Moarte

Formed out of nothing much more than sparse subdued beats, a splash of electronics and a vocal that hints of smoke-laden jazz clubs and sadness, Moarte is a sparse ghost of a song that sounds as if it belongs on a lost old-fashioned black and white film. As she sings of seeing death waiting in the corner and severing the cord you might begin to question what this somewhat disturbingly beautiful piece is about. Thankfully there’s an explanation on her Soundcloud that states: “I wrote this song after meeting my father in Eastern Europe for the first time. We are not what we come from and yet, we are.” 

A song from the heart of the night. 

Dream Harlowe - Moarte

Sunday 21 May 2017

Review: 5 Acts At Great Escape 2017 That Had The Wow Factor

Brighton’s Great Escape, Europe’s largest new music festival, is like a live version of a new music blog, with over four hundred artists vying for your attention playing shows in clubs, pubs, churches, hotels and other locations of the south coast town. The key word with the Great Escape (much like this year’s event’s weather which went from heavy rain to sun) is variety. In just over 72 hours of being in Brighton I saw indie, country, folk, jazz, pop, soul, funk, disco, rap and many other genres, witnessing 37 full sets.

Of those 37 performances, the quality level was very high and so it’s impossible to say which gigs were the best. However, there’s something very exciting about seeing an artist for the first time and their performance leaving you breathless and giddy. So, whilst I went to shows by acts that I’ve witnessed already such as Alice Jemima, Skott, Casi, Pumarosa, Liv Dawson and Jerry Williams and they were all hugely enjoyable, these five gigs by musicians that I'd not seen before had that ‘wow’ factor that you can only get the first time you see a band or solo performer. They came from all sorts of genres and, reflecting the Great Escape’s truly international curation, from all over the world.

Sigrid (Coalition) Norway

It might have been raining outside, the venue ceiling was dripping inside with leaks but Sigrid just can’t stop winning and spreading sunshine. A superb Later with Jools debut, an outstanding debut EP and positive reviews from critics and fans alike, the new pop lady on the block had a lot to live up to and she delivered. Sigrid was as charismatic and praiseworthy as I’d imagined. Yes, of course Don’t Kill My Vibe gained the biggest cheers but the rest of her set was coated with enough quality to suggest that alongside other new potential pop stars such as Maggie Rogers and Skott, that it’s possibly time for Perry, Gaga and Spears to move to one side. 

Sultan of the Disco (Latest Music Bar) Korea

On entering the Latest Music Bar for a K-Pop Night Out (which actually took place in the afternoon) guests were greeted by friendly Korean hosts and handed glow sticks, cute animal temporary tattoos and leaflets about the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. It clearly wasn’t going to be an ordinary gig by UK standards. And it wasn’t. 

In a sweaty basement bar Sultan of the Disco delighted with non-stop dance routines, classic disco grooves and funk not dissimilar to Chic, The Jackson 5 and Bruno Mars together with a joyful cover version of Ghostbusters; which you can see a clip of by clicking here from my Twitter feed. Dressed in kimono style dressing gowns, shades and headbands the band threw to the audience cuddly toy versions of Soohorang and Bandabi the Winter Olympics 2018 mascots and at one stage lead singer Nahzam Sue played keyboard by being held mid-air by other band mates. Band’s don’t normally do encores at Great Escape, but there was no way the audience was going to let Sultan of the Disco get away without playing one. 100% fun.

The Rhythm Method (Brighthelm) UK

The Rhythm Method (pictured below) are the sort of band that could only come from the UK. Or rather England. More specifically London. They channel The Streets, Madness, Squeeze, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, and The Pet Shop Boys. Lead vocalist Joey told the late night drunken crowd “You don’t want to be here, we don’t want to be here,” whilst looking thoroughly pissed off and I couldn’t tell if he was joking or being serious. They had catchy hooks, bored sounding half spoken-word lyrics that referenced politics, pubs and sex and opened with a song that, if I’m not mistaken, mentioned salad cream. "Play Home Sweet Home," shouted someone in the audience referring to the duo's most well known track. "No," replied Joey. And they didn't. And it didn't matter. You’re either going to love them or hate them and if they get around to releasing an album I suspect there’s the potential for it to be an instant cult classic.

Confidence Man (Komedia) Australia

Confidence Man are a group that make every regular indie rock band, every bland music by formula pop band and every Drake wannabe seem as boring and pointless as ironing socks. Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie came dressed in a baby doll dress, way too-short shorts and two gothic beekeepers hats respectively and for 20 frenetic minutes bombarded the audience with comic strip sassiness, high energy dance routines, (click here for what they were doing) and Lucozade fuelled skilfully crafted electro bubble-gum tunes. That’s all the time it took for Confidence Man to quickly become one of the most talked about bands of the day. I can’t wait to hear and see more.

Tom Adams (Unitarian Church) UK / Germany

Sat at a piano in the corner of the church Tom Adams (pictured below) created the closest thing possible to heaven. Placed somewhere between Phillip Glass and Sigur Ros, Adams’ contemplative modern classical pop with choir boy falsetto voice and soft ambient electronic backing was a beautiful still moment amongst the craziness, the crowds and the energy of much of Great Escape. It was a perfect way to end the Friday evening. He’s already created one of my favourite records of 2017 (Silence), and the live incarnation was just as good.

The 37 artists I saw at Great Escape and Alt-Escape 2017 were: 

Benny & The Hair Nets, Fable, Porshyne, Confidence Man, Jade Bird, The Van T's, Be Charlotte, Liv Dawson, Songe, Swimming Tapes, Sigrid, Shitkid, Nilufer Yanya, Tom Grennan, Cosima, Salen, The Rhythm Method, Flamingods, Slotface, Rosie Carney, Hazel English, Childhood, Matt Woods, Wrabel, Sarathy Korwar, Julie Byrne, Tom Adams, Alice Jemima, Bokito, MC Sniper, Sultan of the Disco, Jerry Williams, Matt Maeson, Off Bloom, Casi, Skott, Pumarosa

Wednesday 17 May 2017

New Music: Kwaye - Little Ones

I’m half wondering if all round cool dude and wearer of the braided man bun Kwaye is eventually going to open some sort of musical school for children. After all, his debut track which was featured on Breaking More Waves back in March was called Cool Kids and now he’s singing about Little Ones. If his next tune is called Children In The World or Stay Young we’ll all know for sure.

The good news is that Little Ones won’t find Kwaye in after class detention for crimes against pop. Mixing future soul with something that hints at 80’s / early 90’s r ‘n’ b, the song deals with putting people in boxes through prejudice, something that’s learnt through socialisation rather than something that is inherited; hence the references to the innocence of the little ones in the lyrics. It’s a classy tune with Kwaye demonstrating some impressive vocal chops, from stern soul to funky falsetto.

The photographer really needs to try harder on the promotional picture though. Where’s his head at? I want to see that bun.

Kwaye - Little Ones

Monday 15 May 2017

New Music: DIICE - Do Wrong

Almost a year ago today I featured a new act who went by the name of DIICE after hearing their creamily smooth debut Multigold. Usually when a mysterious identity free band release a debut song as good as Multigold it suggests the start of some slowly unfolding campaign, gradually drawing the public in as the artist (or artists) lead to an EP or even an album. However, in this case, if it is a campaign, it’s the slowest yet. One song a month like Oh Wonder did with their first album would be cool. But surely this isn’t one song a year?

Let’s hope not, because whilst DIICE’s second release once again reaffirms the argument that good music is like good cooking - needing quality ingredients and (most importantly) time – I’m not sure if I can wait another twelve months for a third.

Do Wrong is gorgeous. It's formed from spacious nocturnal production and subtle warm electronics that sit halfway between the likes of Massive Attack and Vaults - and that can't be a bad thing. What I particularly love are the vocals - they’re just so velvety, soulful and you can hear every lyric perfectly. I also love the way the vocalist does a tiny little roll of the ‘r’ on the words reason, breath and cry - is she perhaps Welsh? It sounds like she could be. 

But apart from that guess on nationality (there's also a hint on line that they're based in London or Essex) I still don’t know anything about DIICE, although according to Complex who premiered the track, they're a trio. But knowing so little doesn't matter. The sound is the thing. That’s all that matters.

DIICE - Do Wrong

New Music: Is Bliss - Into A Dream (Video)

“Playing in what appeared to be no more than a sweaty padded cell, under flashing red lights, the pulverising zoned-out guitars and submerged vocals of Is Bliss was viscerally exciting; a bomb scare of a band.” Those were the words I used to described this bunch of Portsmouth rockers 5 years ago when I first witnessed them play a home town show at Southsea Fest. Since that time the sound of Is Bliss has morphed somewhat, whilst maintaining the element of chaos and destruction that made them so thrilling in the first place. 

New song Into A Dream is a perfect example of what they do now. A wigged-out trip machine of 60’s influenced psych rock and sitars with plenty of bounce, Into A Dream swirls with an exotic fire that makes it perfectly acceptable to use the word ‘groovy’ once more. The video, a simple close up performance piece, ensures that the intensity is maintained as the whole thing explodes in a beautiful noise towards the end.

Into A Dream is taken from the band’s second EP The Honeycomb Explosion and is available from AC30 records. It’s limited to 500 copies worldwide on 180g transparent yellow vinyl with orange and red streaks. 

Is Bliss - Into A Dream (Video)

Friday 12 May 2017

New Music: Kacy Hill - Hard To Love

This is getting silly. Last year I posted how writing about Kacy Hill on Breaking More Waves seemed to be an annual thing following Experience in 2014, Foreign Fields in 2015 (still my favourite song that Jack Garratt has been involved in) and last year’s Lionwhere most importantly I noted that Kacy has already done the obligatory ‘pop star in the bath’ picture. Now it’s 2017, so here we go again.

This time round Kacy has released not one, but two songs on the same day. First there’s the downtempo minimalistic electronic ballad Like A Woman, but the one that gets my heart racing is the pulsing pop of Hard To Love, a song about trust, promises, excuses and lies in a relationship. Despite the despondent nature of the lyrics the melodies and music are positively jubilant; yes it’s another one of those songs that turns someone’s personal sadness into a universal joy, something that pop throughout its history has always done very well.

According to her Twitter feed Kacy’s debut album is finally on the way and is about "sex, but it's also about intimacy, longing, heartbreak, and exploration." You can also find her guesting on the new Cashmere Cat album. Schedule your diaries for a further blog post about her on Breaking More Waves in 2018.

Kacy Hill - Hard To Love

Thursday 11 May 2017

New Music: The National - The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness

When any band or solo artist creates a substantial body of work and the inevitable ‘what’s your favourite album by that act’ discussions come up, it’s easy to be derided for choosing the most commercially successful of that acts' records. Yet I’m quite happy to admit that some of my personal bests are the big hitters. U2’s Joshua Tree, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love and The Cure’s Disintegration are all records that, of those particular artists, mean the most to me. Likewise, The National’s High Violet, the band’s 2010 album, sits easily within my albums of the decade list.

But once a band has released an album that endears itself so powerfully to you, there’s a danger that having fallen completely in love, any other relationship will always seem slightly inferior. That’s certainly what I found with the 2013 follow up Trouble Will Find Me. Despite some superbly crafted material (I Need My Girl in particular is an exemplary song) it just never found a place in my heart in the same way as High Violet did.

Now, four years on, my favourite band that look like a bunch of Geography professors return with their seventh album. Sleep Well Beast will be released on September 8th through 4AD records and the band will be touring extensively – the opening date of that tour being Glastonbury Festival, but UK fans can also find them playing a number of dates in Edinburgh, Manchester and at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. The first single to be taken from it is called The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness. It is, I'm very pleased to say, very good.

Instantly recognisable as The National due to Matt Berninger’s gorgeous baritone, the first things that strike me about the song is the taught guitar riff that eventually leads into a full on solo (we just don't get enough proper guitar solos these days, so it's good to have one here), the simple repeated piano backing, lyrics about talking to God, loss of no other faith and dying of lonely secrets. Then there’s the fan pleasing moment when Matt sings ‘I can’t explain it, any other, any other way,” a lyric that sounds ready and ripe for 1000s to sing out together at the gigs.

I doubt anything will ever surpass High Violet for me, but having just played The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness twelve times on repeat I can confirm that this is a very fine return.

The National - The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness (Video)

Wednesday 10 May 2017

New Music: Honeyblood - Walking At Midnight (Video)

There’s a couple of indie rock / pop guitar bands I’ve been to see live recently who seem to have really upped their game in terms of crowd excitement levels and size  compared to when I’ve seen them before. One is The Big Moon (who this year released a highly-recommended song fuelled debut album – do check out Love in The Fourth Dimension if you haven’t done so already) and the other is Honeyblood who now have two solid records under their belt, both of which featured on my respective end of year lists.

From Honeyblood’s second Babes Never Die comes a new video for Walking At Midnight, which features a performance by drag-artist Virgin Xtravaganzah, some scary looking audience members and some nods to old school horror films, particularly Carrie and Suspiria. Prepare to get a little creeped out.

Honeyblood - Walking At Midnight (Video)

Monday 8 May 2017

New Music: Introducing - Maximillian

Danish singer Maximillian has a very decent chance of being a pop star. Why? Well look at his name. He’s following the well-formed rule of pop that says: “I know I’m good. I should be a star. Therefore, you only need to know me by first name. That is enough.” When we talk of Elvis, we don’t need to say Presley. Ditto Madonna. Prince. Kylie. Bono. Bjork. Adele. Sting. The list goes on and on. Even Duffy had a go for a while.

But of course just having a pop star name (although Maximillion is still a bit of a mouthful to be honest) isn’t enough. Decent songs help. That’s where Duffy went wrong. She took her name to heart and recorded a bunch of tunes on her second album were a bit…duff. Of course that horrendous Diet Coke advert assisted the career suicide as well.

Maximillian knows a good song though. He proved this with his mash up of London Grammar’s Hey Now and Frank Ocean’s Pink + White a couple of months back. Now he’s doing it again with Higher, which ticks all the contemporary pop buttons; it’s a banger that's been given the slick electronic downtempo moodiness treatment. Oh and Maximillian's voice is impressive as well - it has a sad soulful tone to it that actually sounds best when he's not trying to hard. 

As long as he avoids the Diet Coke he should be fine.

Maximillian - Hey Now / Pink + White (Video)

Maximillian - Higher

Preview: The Great Escape 2017 (Part 2.2 - Music Tips)

Following yesterday’s post of 5 Breaking More Waves approved acts that I’m recommending to watch at 2017’s Great Escape in Brighton here are a further 5 that, should you be a little overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of music on offer at the festival, you might want to consider watching. If you fancy watching them all, this is possible - the timetable allows you to catch all 10 with a bit of planning.

Alas the Royal Pavillion pictured above isn't one of the venues at the festival, but if you do have any spare time in Brighton when the music isn't on, I'd recommend a trip there as well as Resident Records store, the North Laines, Brighton Museum and a stroll along the seafront.

6. Alice Jemima (UK)

Regular readers won’t be in any way surprised to find Alice Jemima on this list, she has after all been one of the most featured artists on Breaking More Waves since 2011. Alice first played the Great Escape 2 years ago at a small Alt-Escape event watched by about 10 people. Last year she was on the main programme with just one afternoon show at the outside venue of Jubilee Square. This year she returns with several million streams on her Spotify, 2 shows at Great Escape (one late night and one opening) and a debut album of softly sung indie singer songwriter pop with touches of electronica, that fulfils on her promise. 

Latest Music Bar 23.00pm May 19th
Komedia Studio 12.15pm May 20th

7. Bokito (UK)

Not to be confused with Kero Kero Bonito, Bokito come to Great Escape with a strong debut song (Better At Getting Worse), a decent amount of support from music blogs and a nomination on the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition longlist. With a lead singer that looks like a metal band but ‘dances like an African woman’ (his words) and having drawn comparisons to Vampire Weekend, Everything Everything, Metronomy and Jinja Safari, Bokito will be playing their blend of tropical indie in the Queens Hotel, one of the stranger venues of Great Escape – the space is basically a staircase lobby below the reception. But everyone has to start somewhere – I saw Dan Smith from Bastille play this space, before he’d even formed Bastille (see this review from 2009 here).

Queens Hotel 13.30pm May 20th

8. Sultan Of The Disco (South Korea)

Two of the best things about Great Escape is the sheer variety of music on offer and the fact that there are many international showcases. This year one such showcase is a South Korean extravaganza, which will include rapper MC Sniper, rock band The Monotones and the incredible Sultan Of The Disco who first came to prominence in the UK following an appearance at Glastonbury Festival 2014 (although they formed in 2006). Taking inspiration from soul and funk, Sultan Of The Disco are all about dance moves, costumes and lots of entertainment. 

Latest Music Bar 15.15pm May 20th
Latest Music Bar 22.30pm May 20th

9. Casi (UK)

Back in 2013, another music blogger, Chris from The Metaphorical Boat tweeted me about a singer called Casi Wyn, suggesting he thought she would be my metaphorical cup of tea. At the time the music she was doing didn’t really grab me. Fast forward two years and not only had I changed my mind (see here) but Casi (minus the Wyn) had played a Welsh music showcase at the Great Escape in 2015. Since that time her music has developed even further significantly and her expressive electronic pop song The Beast encapsulates just how good she has become. She’s back at Great Escape 2017 and is now firmly one of my recommendations.

Coalition 21.15pm May 20th

10. Skott (Sweden)

Striking electronic pop from Sweden? Yes, it’s Skott, one of Breaking More Waves past 10 Ones To Watch for 2017 and the last of my tips for the Great Escape 2017.  You’ll find a number of the 10 acts that I featured as One to Watch for 2017 on the Great Escape bill such as Jerry Williams, Hazel English, Cabbage and Liv Dawson but it’s Skott that takes the glittering, icy crown with her dramatic multi-blog approved sound. Catch her immediately after Casi on Saturday night.

Coalition 22.15pm May 20th

Sunday 7 May 2017

New Music - Embrz - Heartlines ft Meadowlark

Incredibly, even though Jack Casey aka Embrz has been making glistening droplets of chilled electronic pop music flown in from planet bliss for some time (I first featured him on Breaking More Waves in January 2014), only now is he getting ready to release his debut EP.

Surprisingly, Heartlines, the first track to be released from the EP is a lot more song based, upbeat and pop than you might expect. Featuring the vocals of Kate McGill from Meadowlark it has a lilting summer hue to it and McGill’s vocals add a pleasing prettiness to the whole thing. One to add to your Summer Holiday 2017 playlist?

Embrz - Heartlines ft Meadowlark

Preview: The Great Escape 2017 (Part 2.1 - Music Tips)

With less than a couple of weeks until 450 bands and solo performers and 1000s of punters descend to the seaside in Brighton for the annual orgy of new music that is The Great Escape, most music geeks will already have worked out their must sees, possible sees and might sees, with spreadsheets, apps and good old fashioned bits of paper being utilised to work out their timetables.

If you’re one of those people then this post isn’t for you. However, if you are organised but haven’t been to Great Escape before you might want to check out Breaking More Waves practical tips guide for making the festival work for you by clicking this link here.

If you’ve been less industrious in your timetabling or are looking at the full list of artists and are thinking ‘I only know about 4 of these’ then this post is for you. Put your trust in Breaking More Waves and allow this blog to act as your filter. With no messing, I’m recommending 10 acts playing Great Escape 2017 that come with the Breaking More Waves seal of approval – 5 are featured in this post and 5 in a further post published tomorrow. There should be no surprises that they’ve all featured in some form on the site before.

1. Confidence Man (Australia)

The fact that the two front persons in Australia’s Confidence Man are called Janet Planet and Sugar Bones should be enough to recommend them to you without any further information, but if I add in on point dance routines, pop songs that buzz so hard with energy that they might explode into confetti showers at any point and more fun than you thought humanly possible, then you’ll understand why Confidence Man are one of the must sees of Great Escape. Take a look at the live video below and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Novelty pop maybe, but life (and therefore music) doesn't always have to be serious.

Komedia 12.10pm May 18th
Sticky Mike's Frog Bar 23.30pm May 18th
Horatio's Bar 13.30pm May 20th

2. Jade Bird (UK)

Jade Bird was the subject of an introducing post on Breaking More Waves in Summer 2016 and still there’s been no official single or EP release. Yet with slots supporting the likes of Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Tom Odell and Mahalia and a number of festival slots besides Great Escape confirmed (Latitude, Bushstock, Field Day) Jade is clearly working towards that. Catch her mix of acoustic folk, country Americana and pop early.

Patterns (Upstairs) 13:15pm May 18th 
Prince Albert 22.30pm May 20th

3. Sigrid (Norway)

In 2015 one of the main highlights of my Great Escape was Norway’s Aurora whose mesmerising performances were so good I ended up seeing her twice. Norway could win again in 2017 with another single named pop star. Sigrid’s Don’t Kill My Vibe has already been a huge on line hit and Great Escape is her’s for the taking.

Coalition 20.00pm May 18th
Wagner Hall 16.30pm May 19th

4. Rosie Carney (Ireland)

Rosie Carney is another artist that first featured on Breaking More Waves in 2016. Making beautifully poignant songs awash with meaning and melancholy, Rosie will appeal to those who love the music of the likes of Billie Marten, Lucy Rose and Laura Marling.

Jubilee Square - 13.45pm May 19th

5. Tom Adams (Germany)

His debut album Silence was largely recorded in his one bedroom flat in Berlin and is already one of my favourites of the year. It’s a quiet and gentle record formed largely of soft piano, ambient electronics and Tom’s haunting falsetto that transports you to another place. Thankfully his one show at Great Escape is in a church – which seems the perfect location for his music. If you want something far away from the rock ‘n’ roll shenanigans of much of Great Escape, mark down Tom Adams as one to watch.

Unitarian Church 22.30pm May 19th

Thursday 4 May 2017

New Music: Introducing - ROE

ROE (an all upper-case artist - can someone please explain why some go for all the uppers and some all the lows, thanks) is, as far as I am aware, nothing to do with deer or the egg masses of fish. The explanation for her name comes from a much simpler place – it’s short for Roisin Donald, her full name. 

Hailing from Derry in Northern Ireland Roe is 18 years old and has already released a number of songs, one of which was recently played in an episode of TOWIE (although the music snob in me says that this isn’t something to shout about). She’s also been selected as one of the recipients of a new Help Musicians NI development scheme and will be playing at the Alt-Escape part of this year’s Great Escape.

And despite my sarcastic comments about TOWIE, there’s a reason why she’s getting picked up in this way. There’s no flash major label budget behind her (she’s on a tiny one man band indie label called Fictive Kin) and has no big PR machine. Yet what is present is good songs. It’s the glue that I like to think bonds this blog together – irrespective of genre.

And talking of genre, of the tunes on her Soundcloud page, two of them are labelled Grumpy Electro Pop. Of those two songs Cheek, Boy doesn’t sound particularly down in the dumps to me – with a mix of simple guitar riffs and lush electronics it has a rather positive effect. What I particularly like is that musically there’s a lot going on in this song – plenty of little production flourishes and sounds to gorge on, but they are never over-bearing – the tune still stands up on its own merits. Likewise, Fake Ur Death, despite its title, is just too interesting to bring you down. 

These songs mark a transition from ROE’s earlier more traditional singer songwriter with guitar songs such as Ghost and bode well for her forthcoming EP. Let's keep and eye and ear out for more material from ROE in the future.

ROE - Cheek, Boy

New Music: Brika - Don't Want Your Love

Brika picked up a lot of traction on music blogs leading up to the release of her hugely enjoyable debut album Voice Memos, and now after a quiet period, she’s back. 

I’ve always loved the ability of pop music to take you to places that are very different to your own (records like Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly for example I find fascinating) and certainly Brika’s Miami based sound is miles away from anything I would expect to come across in the south coast city of Portsmouth UK that I call home, where all forms of guitar based rock seem to reign supreme. But that’s why I adore this even more.

Don’t Want Your Love is a song that saunters up to you with a shoulder drop and shaking hip rather than rocking with an aggressive and forceful strut. Listen to that bass and that ‘Oh-oh I don’t want your love’ hook. It's pure class. This is R&B for sure, but it’s not the normal (dare I say it lame) electronic R&B that seems to hit Breaking More Waves’ in box every day of the week. The sound here is far more organic sounding but with a heightened level of sophistication. 

Yes, Brika may not want your love, but she’s got mine anyway. 

Brika - Don't Want Your Love

Wednesday 3 May 2017

New Music: salute - Light Up (Ft. Liv Dawson)

Put together one of the artists I named as One to Watch for 2017 (Liv Dawson) and another artist that I’ve featured in the past (salute*) and what do you get? The musical equivalent of feel good movie with bags and bags of popcorn coated in sunshine. It’s just what the doctor ordered. As Liv sings of “getting drunk on the bass” and of being so excited that she’s only just begun, it’s impossible to feel anything but absolute optimism and hope from this shiny computerised banger.

A tiny bit of internet research reveals that this track is a bit of a team effort with Zyra (another previous One to Watch, who as yet still hasn’t released her own music, but it is perhaps getting closer) stating on Instagram that this started out as a soul pop instrumental that she made to try and make salute smile “and he took it on and smashed the final song" with Liv Dawson, Pawws (another Breaking More Waves regular a few years back) and Bren Grieve (Sam Smith’s bass player and a writer / producer in his own right).

*What is it with all these trendy kids just doing their name in lower case? Did they learn nothing about grammar when they were at school? 

salute - Light Up (Ft. Liv Dawson)

New Music: Introducing - Sugarhouse

Oh, pop music! Remember a time when you were young and fresh faced, full of the joys of life, like a spring lamb skipping around in the field, without a care in the world? It was a time for flinging windows wide open and shouting “I adore this” without worrying about the judgements, the music snobs or what would happen in the future? Remember a time when you made us feel an instant epinephrine high, making the kids want to dance in the indie disco hand in hand together like nobody was watching?

Well guess what? Brand new duo Sugarhouse are here to bring back those feelings and that pop music. 

With debut single Love Anyone Else, Charlie Sinclair and Connie Craven will make you realise that amongst the political turmoil, the endless horrors, the sadness, the lack of compassion, empathy and understanding that the world seems to deliver on a daily basis, there’s still a thing called love. And it’s a beautiful thing. It fills you with hope, joy and a sense of freedom. The planet can be a better place.

This is how Love Anyone Else will make you feel. It’s a simple, unvarnished, heart-warming old fashioned pop song.

It’s Sugarhouse’s debut single. 

It will probably make you want to start a fanzine. Or a record label. Or a music blog. Or just give someone a big hug – maybe even a kiss.

It’s making indie a joy rather than an exercise in beard stroking seriousness and lager laddishness.

Love Anyone Else is released via cassette (!) via Sad Club Records on May 5th. Click here to get one.

Sugarhouse - Love Anyone Else

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Preview: The Great Escape 2017 - (Part 1: Practical Tips For Music Nerds)

City based multi-venue new music festivals might be omnipresent in the UK these days, but Brighton’s Great Escape remains the mother of them all, being bigger, longer and bolder as it showcases a far more diverse range from all over the world than other similar British events.

Running from Thursday to Saturday Great Escape brings over 400 acts to the pubs, clubs and venues of the south coast of England and that doesn’t even include the Alt-Escape, which is a collection of generally free to enter showcases taking place alongside the main festival programme.

This year as it has done for the last few years, The Great Escape also features a number of larger Spotlight shows. These include Slaves playing at the end of Brighton’s most famous landmark the Palace Pier, using the Horror Hotel as the setting for a 1,000 capacity gig. The show will also include Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice DJing on the dodgems and the audience being asked to wear Horror Hotel themed fancy dress. West Sussex’s own Rory Graham aka Rag ‘n’ Bone Man will also be performing at a spotlight show, at Brighton Dome, returning to a place he first played in 2012 when as an unsigned artist he supported Joan Armatrading after his girlfriend had entered him for a talent search competition.

However, for me, The Great Escape isn’t about larger established names, it’s about watching and listening to as much new music as is humanly possible, mainly checking out acts I’ve never seen before, as well as a few favourites that I've seen before.

Over the next few weeks, if you’re into new music (and I assume you are otherwise why would you be reading this blog?) you’ll probably see plenty of articles with tips of acts to see at the festival. A word of warning - if you see an artist being asked in an interview for tips never trust them, they'll generally tip their mates, someone that has or is supporting them or someone on their label. However, I hope you can trust Breaking More Waves, as I'll be suggesting a handful of artists to see in a post later this week. 

But before that, if you’ve never been to the event or even if you have here are my practical tips on how to get the most out of it.

Warning: These are tips for people like me, namely those who want to see as much live music as humanly possible during the course of 3 days, not those who want to catch a handful of bands and spend time chatting to their mates / ‘networking’ with music industry types in the many pubs of Brighton. Or in other words, total music geeks.

So here are my 5 basic suggestions.

1. Eat A Big Breakfast

Because trust me you’re not going to have much time for food the rest of the day. The music starts as early as 11.00am on some days, so eat a big breakfast around 10am and then just grab food as and when you can in between venues / bands. Why spend an hour sitting down and having a leisurely lunch when you can grab a sandwich walking between gigs and catch another band?

2. Wear Sensible Footwear

OK the Great Escape is hardly Glastonbury, and you won’t need wellies, but if you’re planning on seeing lots of acts (over 10 a day easily) you’ll be on your feet a lot, so choose your footwear wisely. Even though venues are, with just a few minor exceptions, close together, you'll still be doing a fair amount of walking as well.

3. Plan, Re-Plan And Plan Again (And Have A Plan B and C)

Virtually all of the Great Escape regulars I know say they enjoy the military like planning of what they are going to see almost as much as the event itself. Some use the app, some the website, some a spreadsheet, some the good old fashioned pen and paper list. It’s very easy to decide who you want to see in advance as The Great Escape publishes Spotify playlists of virtually every act on the bill. The idea of the festival being a ‘discovery’ event as it used to be is not quite true, or rather your discovery can be done equally as much before as during the festival. You can now know what every act sounds like before you hit Brighton – the question is just how good are they live?

Of course, with most venues being relatively small in size, queues and being ‘at capacity’ are an integral risk of the festival for punters, but with good planning, you should be able to mitigate most of that. The app also gives updates on if venues are full or not (although in my experience this can't always be fully relied on - but it's a useful guide). The key thing to take into account is if there’s an act you really want to see, don’t risk turning up 10 minutes before they are due to play. I’d recommend getting there at least for the act before, maybe even earlier if its a 'buzzy' act or very small venue. But if you can’t get in, take note of my next tip.

4. Never Stand In A Queue – Unless You’re Waiting For A Venue To Open Or Are Certain You’ll Only Be There For Five Minutes

I remember one year at Great Escape walking past a 200 capacity venue where Alt-J were due to play (they were one of the buzz bands of the moment and just breaking through). The venue was already full and there were at least 80 people queuing outside. They were never all going to get in. My advice in this situation - take a punt on something else. You might be surprised at what you find. Why waste time in a queue? Unless of course it’s to ensure you get into a venue before doors open. Back in 2007 I queued outside the Red Roaster CafĂ© for half an hour before the doors opened to ensure I got in to see a singer who was 2nd on the bill. I was third in the queue. That singer was called Adele. In hindsight it was a good decision. (Note: I had already brought food from a local supermarket and ate that whilst queuing, ensuring I followed my own time saving guidance.)

5. Try To Catch At Least 1 Artist From A Country That You’ve Never Or Hardly Ever Seen Live Music From Before

One of the things that sets Great Escape apart from other Festivals is the number of international showcases it has. What’s important to remember with the artists playing these shows is that they will often represent the cream of emerging talent from that country. Therefore the quality will be high. This year for example, one possible showcase that is on my list is a South Korean one. After all, who couldn’t resist a band like this…..(albeit Sultan of the Disco are not particularly new).

Keep an eye out on the blog for later this week I’ll be posting some musical recommendations for this year’s Great Escape. 

Sultan Of The Disco 

Monday 1 May 2017

New Music: Introducing - Sigrid

Now that we’re one third of the way through the year what are your most played songs of 2017 so far? In terms of albums here at Breaking More Waves Towers the five 2017 releases that I’ve listened to most are Stormzy, Laura Marling, Alice Jemima. The Big Moon and Depeche Mode. Something for everyone in those five I think. As far as singles go, the big three are Lorde’s Green Light, Alt-J’s 3WW and Norway’s Sigrid with her online hit Don’t Kill My Vibe.

When Don’t Kill My Vibe first burst out into the public arena by way of a very high placing on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist back in February there was, in certain quarters, an amount of cynicism that this was a big label throwing dollars at the song to make it a break through hit – after all it was even cropping up on posts by hipster indie blogs who very rarely feature mainstream pop music. This view was compounded because before Don’t Kill My Vibe Sigrid had released a handful of singles in Norway with little fanfare and then all of a sudden, with the help of management company MADE and Island Records, BOOM!

But irrespective of marketing, Don’t Kill My Vibe remains a great pop tune – with thoughtful lyrics, a hooky warlike chorus and dynamic production; Sigrid herself has described her music as ‘aggressive pop’. With such an impressive first worldwide release the potential difficulty for Sigrid would be maintaining the momentum, but two new tracks, Plot Twist (which continues the same fierce electronic style with a human touch) and the piano ballad Dynamite (which shows that Sigrid isn’t just about the bangers – I particularly like that her vocal isn’t 100% smooth and you can hear a slight rasp to it on the song) give reason to at least hope that Sigrid might be around for a while yet.

In the UK Sigrid plays The Deaf Institute in Manchester on May 15th, London’s Hoxton Bar & Kitchen (sold out) on the 17th May and Brighton’s Great Escape Festival on the 18th May. She’s also playing Latitude and Wilderness festivals this summer and has a further show at the Scala in London on 13th September. Sigrid’s debut EP is out this Friday.

Sigrid - Don't Kill My Vibe (Video)

Sigrid - Plot Twist

Sigrid - Dynamite (Acoustic)