Thursday 29 June 2017

New Music: The National - Guilty Party (Video)

This weekend just gone The National played The Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. I’m a huge fan of the band and for me this should have been one of their crowning moments, but I'm sorry to say it felt like a wasted opportunity. Too many new songs left the audience where I was standing losing interest and the band’s mood, whilst humble, felt a little downbeat which didn’t really capture the atmosphere on site, which was positively upbeat. 

Menacing closer and new song Turtleneck felt wrongly positioned in the set, particularly with its rather abrupt ending. “So is that it?” seemed to be the shoulder shrug response of those by me after they finished. When Matt Berninger showed his phone to the crowd to ask them to call a US politician and stop a controversial healthcare bill in the US, it was an admirable thing to do, but felt misplaced given the band was playing in the UK which has its own very pressing political issues right now. It was all in all a little disappointing, especially after Katy Perry (who I've never particularly liked) put on a exuberant show immediately before them and became one of my (many) surprising highlights of the weekend.

That’s not to say there weren’t highlights though. An early appearance of Fake Empire captured my heart and England swelled with huge emotion as well, but it wasn't enough from a band that have previously moved me nearly to tears.

However, not every artist can be perfect every time you see them – it’s one of the realities of being a fan and seeing a band a number of times; some shows will always be better than others. Not to admit that is living a false reality.

However, all is forgiven when listening to the second rather gorgeous but sad song to be released from the forthcoming album Sleep Well Beast. It's called Guilty Party.

"It's nobody's fault. No guilty party. We just got nothing, nothing left to say" sings Matt, capturing exactly how many break ups feel. If you’re going through a tough time with a relationship ending right now, this song will probably feel like it’s written for you. Hopefully that might help with things a little. 

The National - Guilty Party (Video)

New Music: Confidence Man - Boyfriend (Repeat) (Video)

Australia’s Confidence Man is a band I’ve been banging on about a lot this year. In fact they’re my favourite new pop group of 2017. 

There’s a whole bunch of reasons for this. 

First the live shows; hyperactive danceageddon gigs with sassy don’t fuck with us attitude and a compulsive energy that's guaranteed to leave you with biggest smile on your face, even although the band themselves apply stern Paddington Bear (RIP Michael Bond) hard stares throughout. 

Then there’s the whole concept of the band; from the cartoonish names (Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild, and Clarence McGuffie) to their strong visual identity – netting over the drummer and keyboard players faces to obscure their faces, overly tight pants and baby doll dresses. Confidence Man look like pop stars from the get go. 

Then there’s the songs - high energy relentless volcano pop that bubbles and explodes with dangerous regularity. Their whole reason for existence is to make you want to get high whilst getting down. They teach you how to feel alive.

As yet not many of these songs have made it online. So far there’s the delirious Bubblegum and the party time electro funk of Boyfriend (Repeat), which are out there on all the usual streaming services. 

Whilst we wait for more Boyfriend (Repeat) now has a video and it perfectly captures the essence of the song with a disturbingly funny idea that takes a bunch Kens (some dressed in ways you’ve probably never seen Ken dressed before) and subjects them to treatment by microwave, blender, saw, barbeque and pink plastic mallet to name just a few. Men be warned. When your girlfriend says: “My boyfriend wants to talk, my boyfriend talks to much,” this could be your fate if you don’t shut up.

Confidence Man - Boyfriend (Repeat) (Video)

Monday 26 June 2017

New Music: Joy Crookes - Power

Earlier this month I made my annual pilgrimage to West London from the south coast for Bushstock Festival, a review of which you’ll find here. The highlight of the event came in the mid-afternoon in a Library Bar that forms part of the Bush Theatre. In amongst the books, on the tiniest of stages, London lass Joy Crookes wowed the packed silent room with a jazzy charm that had me getting a little bit hyperbolic on Twitter muttering names like Amy Winehouse and Billie Holliday. OK maybe I went a little too far, but it wasn’t so far from the truth. Crookes was utterly dazzling - the sort of artist that makes the roll of the dice of music discovery come up double 6.

One of the tunes from Joy’s rapturously received set that day was this new one, which she uploaded to the world wide web recently. Despite it's classic laid-back sound Power is no pushover over of a song.  There’s a strong message here, which needs no explanation, the words clearly speak for themselves: “You’re a man on a mission, but you seem to forget, you came here through a woman, show some fucking respect.” Then there's this one: “Melanin is not your enemy.” It’s Crookes who has the authority here. This is quality. 

Joy Crookes - Power

Friday 23 June 2017

Breaking More Waves Is 9 Years Old Today - Here's A Blog Post To Celebrate

9 years old today. 9 bloody years I’ve been doing this thing. This blog. This record of some of the stuff I’ve been listening to. 

It’s fascinating to look back over that time and see some of the artists that I’ve introduced. Some of them have gone on to be a huge creative and commercial success. Others, absolutely nothing. 

Here are a handful of examples. Look at the picture below. Recognise her? That’s Charli XCX back in 2009 when I first wrote about her. At the time she was flaunting a bunch of songs like Neon Fashion & Glowstix and Francheskaar and I concluded that although her music appealed to me I found it hard to see any long term appeal. 8 years on and she seems to be doing OK. Her first 2 albums proper ended up being some of my favourites of 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Here’s another one. Recognise them? No, me neither. But apparently, they were a band called Look Stranger! I featured them on the blog once and that was all. I can’t remember anything about what they sounded like now, even having re-read my original blog post. I never heard of them again.

And here’s one more. This was Skint & Demoralised. I named him as one to watch many years ago. His music never set the world alight (albeit listening back to it now I still really enjoy it) but years on Matt Abbott the singer cropped up on this TV advert (click here), showing that he was one to watch, just not in the way I originally thought.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that in 9 years of music blogging what I’ve learnt is that anyone who tells you that they are a tastemaker and can predict the success of any artist is talking out of their arse*. Some acts make it, some don’t. Nobody has the perfect crystal ball. Every time someone tells you about how they were one of the first to discover a particular successful artist, ask them how many others they discovered that never went on to light up the world. By the law of averages, the more artists a site writes about, the more chance there is that some of them will go on to be massively commercially or artistically successful. 

All I can do, and all any blog worth their salt can do is bring you some new music and new artists I like. The rest is unknown.

Breaking More Waves is 9 years old today. Right now I’m celebrating that fact somewhere in a field in Somerset at Glastonbury Festival, probably with a cider / wine / gin and tonic in hand. Maybe all 3. 

I always said at some point the blog will end and when it does I’ll make a definite point about it. There will be no gradually fading away. But a big full stop. But not yet. I’ve got a little bit more fuel in the tank yet. Maybe not a lot, but it's not time for ending quite yet. 

Thanks for reading guys, without you it would be fairly pointless.

*Footnote. Some other things I've learnt whilst writing this blog are:

1. When times are bad (death / illness etc) music can be a salvation. In fact this blog has been a real help for me during those bad times - the last year in particular.

2. I also run a twitter account associated with the blog. Twitter is a very odd place - a weird bubble where people reinforce their own views with others like them and castigate those who do things differently to their world view - with little or no nuanced discussion. (How can you in 140 characters?). 

3. There's only so much you can say about music before you start repeating yourself. 

4. Musicians are weird and like to promote their art by sitting in the bath.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

New Music: Introducing - Stereo Honey

Does anyone remember Geneva? They were a band from Aberdeen in the latter part of the 90’s who released a now much forgotten, somewhat flawed, but loved (by me at least) album called Further. They were the first indie rock band that I had ever heard with a male vocal singing falsetto and they absolutely blew me away. Even today Andrew Montgomery’s voice and range gives me goosebumps on songs like the jangly beauty of Into The Blue and the exquisite Tranquilizer with its soaring strings of perfection. 

From that point on I’ve always connected with male voices that reach for the heavens (this year Tom Adams’ debut Silence has captured my heart) and today I’m introducing a new act that continue the glory of seraphic vocal chords. 

London’s Stereo Honey have two tracks on line. The first, The Heart, which I'm featuring below, is a wistfully engaging piece of indie rock. There’s the aforementioned cherubic vocals of course, but besides that there’s impressionistic guitars that chime (with perhaps just a hint of mid 80’s U2 about them), a slight groove and a sense that this band is already 100% fully formed. The second song Where No One Knows Your Name deals with mental illness, namely anxiety, and shows that Stereo Honey are more than just a one trick pony with propulsive soft synths eventually giving way to explosive shrieking guitars. Two songs in and not a musical foot wrong.

Stereo Honey are Peter Restrick (Vocals and Guitar), Nicky Boiardi (Guitars and Keys), Ben Edwards (Bass), and Jake Black (Drums) and I’m filing them straight away alongside some other favourite Breaking More Waves honeys like Honeyblood and Black Honey. 

Stereo Honey - The Heart

Monday 19 June 2017

New Music: Haim - Little Of Your Love

This weekend coming it’s Glastonbury Festival. Or to give it its full name The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. I’ll be there with a carefully planned timetable that I’ll try and stick to as much as possible, but Glastonbury has the habit of distracting you at every corner, so if I achieve 80% of what I’ve scheduled, I’ll be happy. 

There are however a few artists that are on my must-see list and no much how much hot (or cold) spiced cider anyone pours down my throat, I will not miss these.* 

One is Lorde (she’s arguably produced the best pop album of the year so far). Another is The National (simply because they’re The National). And a third is Haim. Why? Because having been at some of their early small sweaty club shows right through to one of their biggest – the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2013 – where it all went a bit wrong for them with Este being taken ill (due to her Diabetes) I want to  see them succeed at Glastonbury.

If their new songs are anything to go by, I think they will triumph. Their latest tune Little Of Your Love, released today, has a slightly retro sound. I’m thinking 50’s rock n roll and Huey Lewis & The News. It’s a bit of a hooky bop and catchy as the common cold. Roll on the album.

*For potentially strong cider fuelled tweets follow me on Twitter at Glastonbury by clicking here @BMWavesBlog

Update: This post has been edited from the original version as I received some complaints, which having given things some consideration I feel were valid. Apologies to anyone who was offended / a bit creeped out. That wasn't my intention - I have always felt that giving evidence to explain something was important. However, the temperature of a past gig probably had no relevance to the new song. My intention was simply trying to show how I was rooting for Haim to do well at Glastonbury having been a fan from the early UK gigs.

2nd update: I've received a number of comments (a couple below and elsewhere online) saying they didn't think the original post was creepy - it just stated some facts. Which I guess just shows that not everyone perceives things the same way. However, on balance although for me the statement I made about Este was wearing only underwear as it was so hot at the gig wasn't creepy (I live in a house full of women and I am the only man and we talk about things like this all the time) I can see how some people would perceive it as such, hence changing the post. 

Haim - Little Of Your Love

New Music: Introducing - Faye Webster

Sometimes Breaking More Waves features new artists that are so new that they have barely a half-formed demo to their name and less than 10 plays on Soundcloud. At other times these introducing pieces bring artists that have already put out quite a few songs, or in the case of Faye Webster a whole album. So, there’s plenty to dive into here.

Much of what I have read about Webster makes her out to be some sort of country and hip-hop hybrid. If that’s the case I don’t hear it at all. The country sound for sure, that’s loud and clear, or rather, I should say gentle and clear; but the hip-hop label seems badly misplaced. Maybe it’s because she’s friends with rapper / producer Ethereal or that her eponymous album has been released by Awful Records, a label associated with hip-hop, so there’s a connection. But I begin to wonder if the likes of Billboard, who said that “she flexes her hip-hop folk style” have even bothered listening to her record before writing about her?

For me, Faye Webster’s sound is deliciously languid country pop. Her song Alone Again could easily form the soundtrack to every sad alt-indie-emo romance movie made for Netflix. Her album is the sound of nearly forgotten 70’s summer glories, sweet vocals, road trips, intimacy, chasing dandelion seeds in the wind, slide guitars, soft drums, and nestling back in an open porch with a glass of red wine. There are hints of other styles and genres; indie, ghostly folk, subtle pop and old fashioned radio friendly soft rock perhaps, but the basis of her sound never really touches hip-hop. It would be like saying that Foo Fighters had an element of techno and rave to their music. She’s very much more straight out of Nashville than Compton.

Fans of Julia Jacklin and Caitlin Rose will no doubt find a lot to appreciate here, and the comparison with Jacklin seems particularly relevant as Webster will be out on the road with the Australian one this November. You can find her album on all the usual services right now. Grab that glass of wine and sit back whilst listening.

Faye Webster - She Won't Go Away

Faye Webster - Alone Again (Video)

Thursday 15 June 2017

New Music: Fickle Friends - Glue

Pop music is great, isn’t it?

Fickle Friends are great, aren’t they?

Their new song Glue is great, isn’t it?

Breaking More Waves is great, isn’t it?

OK 3 out of 4 truths there.

Taken from the new EP (also called Glue) due for release on August 11th and produced by Mike Crossey (The 1975, Foals, Two Door Cinema Club) Glue is probably Fickle Friends sexiest pop song to date. “So what are we thinking, and what are we here to prove? It's stuffy in public, I guess we should get a room,” sings Natti. “Our lips are like Glue,” she adds. Saucy. OK calm down everyone. No actually don’t, because Glue is dance around your handbag and throw your hands in the air extreme pop fun. Fickle Friends are an indie band who seem to be ever honing their craft to create the perfect 3 minute dance pop banger. Or a pop band getting ever closer to creating the perfect indie dance hit. 

It’s party time.

Fickle Friends - Glue

New Music: Introducing - Yellow Days

I’ve always been fascinated by what a ‘genuine music fan’ is. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot but there never seems to be a concrete definition. Does a genuine fan have to spend money on their passion or can you be a genuine music fan with a Spotify free account and nothing else? After all you could certainly listen to a lot of music. Is that one of the criteria? To be a genuine music fan do you have to have heard a broad range of records or is it OK to just care for a few songs or albums deeply and only ever listen to them? Do you have to go to gigs? Do you have to know a lot about different musical styles and genres? And what about genuine new music fans? Do they have to know about every new band on the planet? Do they have to spend a certain % of time every day listening to music? I really don’t know the answers, but for me it’s something around commitment and passion for music, shown by your actions. It’s why I write this blog. 

But whilst I might be a genuine new music fan, I can’t keep up with everything. No matter how committed I am. It’s why until a week or so ago I’d completely missed George van den Broek aka Yellow Days from Haslemere, Surrey, who it seems has been getting approval from a significant section of what remains of the blogosphere for over a year now. It’s easy to see why. He stands out. Note to self: Read more blogs – after all why should I expect anyone to read mine if I’m not reading them?

What makes him stand out first and foremost is his voice. It’s untreated, untarnished, raw and real. It has soul. Then there’s his music, which is reflective, some might say indulgent, lacking regular structure and possessing a lo-fi feel and sound (listen to the hiss on the track below). There’s been comparisons to King Krule, which I fully agree with. There’s also been suggestions of greatness – which are probably a little premature, but there’s no doubt he’s hellishly good. With a big output already on Soundcloud and an acclaimed EP Harmless Melodies on all streaming services, his latest tune So Terrified Of Your Own Mind is a slice of smoky subdued spliffy late-night chill-rock that finally brings him to the pages of Breaking More Waves. I suspect it won’t be the last.

Yellow Days - So Terrified Of Your Own Mind

Tuesday 13 June 2017

New Music: Julia Jacklin - Eastwick (Video)

Julia Jacklin’s debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win found itself on many discerning music blogs end of year lists and Breaking More Waves’ as well. Now with barely a pause for breath Julia returns with Eastwick, a song that she’s been playing out on tour, so fans may already be familiar with it. If you haven’t heard it before then you’re in for a treat -it doesn’t disappoint. Eastwick has all the elements of Julia’s style that makes her music so alluring. That is to say that Eastwick is contemplative, intimate and contains thought provoking turns of phrase that combine with the slow burning layered beauty of the tune, which as it reaches its conclusion roars with a stormy growl. As usual with Julia there’s also a classy video, this time featuring a prominent blue cocktail.

Julia Jacklin - Eastwick (Video)

Sunday 11 June 2017

Review: Bushstock 2017

Multi-venue wristband access festivals are ten a penny these days, but West London’s Bushstock remains one of the best due to its consistently good curation and interesting venues which this year included a church, a library space that doubles as a bar, a second-hand clothes store, an outdoor space under a railway bridge, an early 1900’s chandelier lit and mirrored dance hall, as well as a small handful of regular pubs. The day was also blessed with a beautifully sunny sky, which whilst not as important at this type of event as outdoor festivals in grassy fields that turn to mud, still improved it further by putting everyone in a post-election upbeat mood.

Here are some thoughts about this year’s festival.

1. Women are equal to men. 

This is obvious, right? We’re all just humans. But as has been highlighted on the internet over the last couple of years, when it comes to festivals it seems that organisers have totally forgotten this, with many line-ups featuring predominantly male artists and very few having female musicians headlining. 

Bushstock bucked this trend with the main headliners being the three-piece sister group The Staves and one of the other main stages being headlined by indie rock four piece The Big Moon, who are all female. Of course, it shouldn’t be necessary to point out that there were ‘all female bands’ playing, bands should just be bands, but here’s the point - Bushstock was a complete sell-out. The message to other festival promoters here is clear. Don’t book bands on some misguided notion that people only want to see male musicians. People want to see good music; and either sex is capable of creating that. Interestingly as a side observation the mix of punters at Bushstock, measured in an unscientific overview, was approximately 50/50 male / female – maybe a reflection of the line-up and maybe one of the reasons why Bushstock always sells out – it’s not limiting its audience.

2. If you like sitting down, Bushstock is the festival for you. 

First there’s Stephen’s Church. Which means that the majority of the audience are seated in the pews. Those that aren’t sit on the aisles, although the hardcore stand at the back. But it’s not just at the Church. This year a new venue (The Library at Bush Theatre) was introduced and for the 1 set that I attended there (Joy Crookes, more of whom below) everyone sat down on the floor. Then there’s Bush Hall. A dance hall and more traditional standing venue. But in between every act on there, people sat down. Experienced attendees will tell you that at any music festival, it’s all about pacing yourself, but the amount of sitting down at Bushstock took things to a new level of relaxation.

3. There’s a complete absence of bad manners at Bushstock. And I don't mean the British 2 Tone and Ska band fronted by Buster Bloodvessel.

Maybe there’s a correlation with the sitting down. Maybe it’s because of the 50/50 split of sexes in the audience. Maybe it’s because of the nice venues. Most likely it’s because of the choices of the artists, which never veers too far into the mainstream, or where the acts have potential mainstream appeal, they haven’t reached that far yet. But whatever the reason, it’s noticeable that Bushstock is very well mannered. Acoustic acts are given the quiet reverence they deserve. There’s a noticeable lack of ‘lads out on the town’ treating the event as a pub crawl rather than a music festival. Even in crowded venues late arrivals don’t attempt to push their way to the front at the expense of those who got there in good time. It is very refreshing to see people behaving nicely.

4. Bushstock might be an urban festival, but it still has its own food options and it was very good.

Shepherd’s Bush might be full of fast food chicken joints, but Bushstock also provided its own festival catering. Down at the Courtyard stage I sampled a delicious falafel and haloumi wrap with high quality ingredients from Nazari and upstairs at Bush Hall there was a tasty looking roof top barbeque taking place.

5. There was some music as well. Most of it was excellent.

Some of my highlights included Joy Crookes (streaming below) who silenced The Library stage with stripped back songs that hinted at elements of Amy Winehouse, Lauren Hill and Billie Holiday with a 2017 lyrical twist and flashes of brilliance just waiting to be discovered by the masses. 

In Bush Hall The Big Moon brought a playful and cheery cockiness to the proceedings with their mix of raucous indie rock and girl-gang harmonies as well as a punky take on Madonna's Beautiful Stranger. If you haven’t heard their debut album Love In The 4th Dimension yet it’s a cracker - give it a play They were preceded by the composed musical beauty of Liv Dawson (pictured above) whose songs are full of yearning and subtle vocal intricacy. Whilst most of Dawson’s set was full of slow warming tenderness she finished with a surprise – a dance banger that wouldn’t be out of place on one of those Ibiza weekender compilations you used to get in the 90s; it brought out some spontaneous eye-popping rave moves from certain sections of the crowd. 

Another band that impressed and brought out more dancing was indie-dance-pop outfit Fours. With a sound that sits in the same camp as the likes of Fickle Friends, and an energetic bomb of a front woman (Edith Violet) they were one of the most invigorating acts of the day.

Once again Bushstock came up trumps. It can hold its head up as a model of how to put on a one day multi-venue music festival. It's a truly excellent day for any genuine music fan.

The acts I saw at Bushstock: Mirror Fury, Avante Black, Joy Crookes, Fours, Arlissa, Fyfe, Palace Winter, Liv Dawson, The Big Moon

Joy Crookes - Bad Feeling

Wednesday 7 June 2017

New Music: Alvvays - In Undertow

“What sort of music do you like?” It’s one of those questions I dread being asked. Mainly because I usually end up giving the lamest of answers: “All sorts.” But it’s true. Not only do I like many different genres (more than I write about on this blog) but I’m interested in all sorts of music – even the stuff I don’t like. My view is that if you don’t remain interested in more than just what you enjoy you end up living in a very unhealthy taste bubble - a conservative and snobbish one that just plays safe and ultimately (usually around middle age and parenthood) becomes boring and out of touch. 

However, if someone had asked me the what sort of music do you like question yesterday or today, the answer I would give would have been this: “The new Alvvays song In Undertow” The chances are the person asking the question (assuming they weren’t one of my small but wonderful group of ‘music friends’) would have then either looked blankly at me, shrugged their shoulders or just asked “Who?” It's probably also the sort of song that regular readers of the blog would argue doesn't fit into the 'I like all sorts' box - because it's very typical of the stuff I like. In a nutshell it's indie pop with a female vocal.

The fact that you’re reading this piece on a low key unprofessional fully independent old school fan based music blog suggests that you probably know who Alvvays are. More than that you’ve probably already heard the song. But just in case you haven’t, listen below. It’s one example of the sort of music I like with its weird electronic intro, waves of glorious guitar noise and pop melodies that sigh with a certain sadness of no turning back. I particularly like the part where lead singer Molly suggests meditating, playing solitaire or taking up self-defence,” all better break-up strategies for your mental well being than going down the pub and getting wrecked or jumping the bones of someone else just to get your ex out of your sexual system (although arguably not as much fun in the moment).

Alvvays will release a new album, Antisocialites, on 8th September. They’re playing plenty of shows to support the record as well, which you can find by clicking here.

Alvvays - In Undertow

Monday 5 June 2017

New Music: Introducing - Park Hotel

In the world of the Google optimised band name, Park Hotel aren’t playing by the rules. From Tsilivi in Greece, to Barnstaple in the UK, there are plenty of Park Hotels but none of those are, as far as I am aware, making music and describing it as Doom Disco. 

I’m not sure about the doom element, but there’s certainly plenty of enjoyably slick boogie grooves in the material that this two piece, consisting of Rebeca Marcos Rosa (who grew up in Spain and has also works as a model) and Tim Abbey (a painter and photographer as well as a musician), are putting out. They're just bloody hard to track down through internet searching.

The fantastic new single Going West gives an excellent introduction into what Park Hotel do, combining half-sung half-spoken vocals and that same sense of nostalgic funk that we probably last saw when Jungle headed out of the blocks. First and previous single Gone As A Friend, released earlier this year continues the coolest-dancefloor-in-the-world-ever vibes as it keeps the pressure on with some glossy old fashioned synth sounds, repetitive chanting and white trash disco guitar riffs – think Grace Jones, Friendly Fires and Nile Rodgers and you’ll be getting somewhere near the mark. 

Park Hotel make music that is as much about the groove as it is about the song. I can imagine them putting out a whopping extended mix of Going West that does nothing more than continue the riff for eight or nine minutes. It’s music to shimmy to under a giant glitterball wearing a cool suit. Count me in.

Where’s that handbag? It’s time to dance round it.

Park Hotel - Going West

Park Hotel - Gone As A Friend

Preview: Bushstock 2017

If there’s one word to describe West London’s Bushstock Festival it would be pleasant; and that’s not a criticism, it’s a compliment. Reading and Leeds this most certainly isn't. With just 7 venues (one of which is a church) all located within relative close proximity to each other, a programme that finds most stages done and dusted by 11pm and a line-up that this year includes the likes of The Staves, Nick Mulvey and Benjamin Francis Leftwich, it’s fair to say that it’s unlikely that there will be any gurning off-their-faces loons in attendance. This is an event for the more discerning music lover, or for those who just don’t want to push their bodies too hard whilst experiencing a day of quality live music - and the emphasis is very much on quality - you're very unlikely to experience a duff performance at Bushstock.

Now in its 7th year, Bushstock is created by the people behind Communion music and has a reputation for putting on many ‘next big thing’ acts in intimate spaces way before they become household names. I’ve seen the likes of Bastille play in a small pub to less than 100 people, George Ezra opening the day in St Stephen’s Church and Josephine from Oh Wonder in her Layla days performing at this festival. It will be interesting to see if any of this year’s acts progress onwards and upwards to commercial success in a climate that is becoming increasingly difficult for new artists to break through.

This year besides plenty of new artists Bushstock adds some new venues (The Library at the Bush Theatre and the charity clothes store Traid) to the likes of St George’s Church, the outdoor Courtyard stage and the chandelier and mirror lined Edwardian dance hall of Bush Hall for plenty of architectural / environmental variety in which to enjoy the live music. 

Whilst the beauty of any festival is stumbling across something out of the blue that you’ve never heard of before, it would also be a little strange if I didn’t provide at least one or two recommendations of lesser known acts on the bill for you to highlight on your timetable. So here below are five names I’ve picked for your consideration, all of whom have featured in past introducing pieces on Breaking More Waves.

Mirror Fury (13.00-13.30 Courtyard Stage)

There really is no excuse to not catch Carina Bragg aka Mirror Fury - unless she is ill, as she had to pull out of a show yesterday, so I'm hoping she's better for next weekend. After all she’s due to open the whole event, and the Courtyard Stage, where she will be performing, is also where the wristband exchange is. Need further convincing? Listen to her commanding and emotive cover of REM’s The One I Love below. Get there early.

Jade Bird (14.00-14.30 St Stephen’s Church)

I featured Jade Bird in a preview piece for Great Escape Festival last month and I’m putting her forward again here. With just a tiny hint of Ed Sheeran meets Dolly Parton about her, it’s still very early days for Jade, but her acoustic mix of country, pop and folk and songs about relationships going wrong will be a fine way to open up the day in St Stephen’s Church.

Joy Crookes (15.30-16.00 The Library)

“If David Lynch wanted a soundtrack for his Twin Peaks reboot, and Lana wasn't available (probably because she's still too busy putting on that red dress) this could well be it,” I wrote in February 2016 of the then seventeen years old Joy Crookes. Now that sounds like something not to be missed, especially when you slide in some sweet soul smoothness to the sound as well.

Fours (16.30-17.00 Defector’s Weld)

They had to be my fourth selection didn't they? “If E4’s teen drama show Skins was still running I’d be pretty sure that Fours would be cropping up there to soundtrack a sweaty, sexy disco party,” were my words in January 2016. OK they might be playing in a Shepherds Bush boozer in the later afternoon rather than a hip shaking club, but this four-piece are still worth catching for some indie high fives and grooves such as Fade To Love which has clocked up over 2 million plays on Spotify.

Liv Dawson - (Bush Hall 21.00-21.30)

I've seen Liv Dawson a couple of times now and she was listed in last year's Ones To Watch 2017 list on the blog. What strikes me about her is the way her songs are so full of yearning and her vocals so perfectly delivered, irrespective of if she's doing mellow dance pop like Open Your Eyes (below) or tender soulful ballads. Bushstock will be Liv's second show of the day - she's warming up for Bush Hall with an earlier gig at Wildlife Festival near Brighton.

Bushstock takes place next weekend in Shepherds Bush, London. It usually sells out, so get a ticket quick, by clicking here.

Friday 2 June 2017

New Music: Hannah Peel - Sunrise Through The Dusty Nebula

I was very late to the party with Hannah Peel. But from the moment I first saw her live supporting Vaults (R.I.P) I instantly knew she was something special. For here was an artist creating pop music (of sorts) that had vision, originality and something buried within it that was raw, emotional, very human and connected with her audience. Awake But Always Dreaming, Hannah's second album, ended up on a few selective end of year lists and if I was rewriting mine now, it would have found a place on that as well.

Now comes news of new material and once again it looks like Hannah's music is going to be taking listeners on a fascinating journey of discovery, with an album ready to roll out this September called Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia. The record tells the tale of an unknown, elderly, pioneering, electronic musical stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced home in the mining town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to see Cassiopeia for herself. The album is no ordinary pop album though. It’s a seven-movement piece composed for analogue synthesizers and a full traditional 29-piece colliery brass band, the brass being recorded live at The Barnsley Civic Theatre with Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio team. The first release from it is a track called Sunrise Through The Dusty Nebula and it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s full of deep melancholy and spaciousness but equally it soars with a commanding wonder. Take five minutes out of your day to bury yourself away somewhere and absorb yourself in this gorgeous piece of music.

Hannah Peel - Sunrise Through The Dusty Nebula

New Music: Casi - Homesick

Since I first featured Welsh singer Casi on the blog back in 2015, I’ve had the opportunity to see her live a number of times and one thing has become absolutely clear – she wears some very fine trousers. This is important because as far as I’m concerned, I want my pop singers to look great. Let’s face it, if David Bowie (surely the model for all pop musicians to aspire to) had just gone on stage in a scruffy pair of jeans and a grey beer stained t-shirt from Primark, nobody would have taken much notice, would they? 

Talking of good trousers, another up and coming musician I’ve featured several times on the blog is Jerry Williams, who never fails to impress a fine cut and colourful number. Jerry sports the sort of trouser that if you or I wore them, we’d look like clowns, but when Jerry wears them she looks cool.

That’s the reason why last night I was disappointed not be able to make the BBC Introducing gig at the Lexington in London, which found Jerry and Casi sharing the same bill. Surely it was a show of off-the-hook pantaloon sensations?  If you were there, let me know if it was or not*.

Edit: My spies tell me Jerry was sporting a fine pink pair. This is a good start. I'm still waiting for news about Casi though.

Of course, besides the trousers, it’s also pretty important for decent pop types to have some decent pop songs and Casi’s latest Homesick ticks the boxes as far as that goes. “Attachment to place and people can be both cruel and magnificent. Homesick is me accepting what is now, how I feel today, and the realisation that sometimes, we have to let go,” says Casi of the song. Sadly, as you get older, you realise that it’s the same with those once cool clothes you wore as well, which creates a particularly difficult dilemma for older pop stars – to flaunt around the stage looking like a d*ck – or to slip into something a little more comfortable and uncool

Of course, the best pop stars manage to look amazing and have great songs all the way through their lives. 

Casi doesn’t have to worry about that for a long time yet though, so for now let’s just enjoy her stirring electronic pop, which is streaming below.

Casi - Homesick