Monday, 30 November 2015

Night Games - New Waves

This new London based duo came to us via an excellent post from Leigh at Just Music I Like blog, which not only dealt with Night Games’ music but some brief thoughts on the fickle characteristics of music sites who seem more concerned with a ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ approach to what they feature by getting a premiere on their site than anything else. 

Thankfully Just Music I Like (and Breaking More Waves) isn’t that sort of site. The bottom line from Breaking More Waves perspective is we will post and write about the music (if we like it) irrespective of if every blog under the sun has already written about it or if nobody else is writing about it; the offer of a premiere is pointless with us. It might be how the industry works, but we’re not part of that industry.

So on that note and before this turns into a blog / web rant on the ethics of blogging, let’s return to Night Games. There are three things we particularly like about them.

1. They look like a couple of young über-cool architects who have just nipped out of their sexy minimalist workpad to explore their creativity a little further by creating music as well as spaces. Call us pretentious but this is a look we can agree with a lot. Sure, this reason is not about the music, but then anyone who is a fan of pop will know that any music writer who says “it’s all about the music and nothing else” is usually in denial. As we’ve suggested before, you can usually start by asking music writers who say this why they feature pictures of the bands along with the articles they write (assuming they do), if as they say it’s only about the music.

2. They’re singer is called Constance. This is a great name (especially if shortened to Connie). The sort of name we’d give to our daughter. Oh, we already have.

3. They make good music. Remember that? That’s key. Anything else is ultimately fluff (but sometimes that fluff – context, discussions around the subject, humour, education – is important to us, that’s why we put it on the blog, it’s our blog not yours etc). 

They have two songs on their Soundcloud. Two pieces of exquisitely created electronic pop with sumptuous soft textures. The stand out of the two is the slow burner, Signals, which smoulders with a lonesome late night cabaret club moodiness. “He’s sending signals, signals to me, cannot work out what they mean,” Constance purrs, her vocal coating the song with a calming creamy effect, her tone capable of softly hitting the heights but also exploring the earthier depths. Consider us smitten.

Night Games - Signals

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Claudia Kane - The Silence

Now we’re done with Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2016 list, (just before we get the ubiquitous BBC Sound of list tomorrow and the Blog Sound of 2016 next Thursday) we can for a moment pause and reflect on the new track from Claudia Kane, which popped up on a few blogs and websites last week whilst we were crystal ball gazing.

“None of my songs are about love, because I’ve never been in love,” says Claudia. Is that why we see her in the picture above sitting on her own at a table, with a couple of glasses? Maybe she’s readying herself for a date? Maybe it's a speed dating session? Maybe she’ll find love there and then when her head’s all a flutter with romance she'll write a sickeningly cheesy ballad and find fame and fortune with it? It seems to work for Adele.

Until that time, we’ll have this non-love song, from her new EP, which has been a long time coming. So long in fact that this time last year we were naming her as one we had considered for our Ones to Watch 2015 list (see here). Good things come to those who wait though and The Silence is very good, taking flight with adrenalized trip-hop beats and a spacious filmic backdrop of sound to create something vast within the context of a pop song. 

As Depeche Mode might say, enjoy The Silence.

Claudia Kane - The Silence

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Ones to Watch 2016 #10 - Xylaroo

When we first wrote these 10 Ones to Watch posts a few weeks ago and pre-scheduled them so that we could take a bit of time off away from the blog whilst they auto uploaded daily, this final choice was going to feature Jack Garratt. However a couple of days before the post was due to go live we decided to delete Mr Garratt, who we commended for his superb all round ability, mesmerising one man shows, quality beard and general nice bloke appeal; we also compared him to the electronic version of Ed Sheeran. 

Instead, as our final tip, we’re making one recommendation of a duo that has never been mentioned on Breaking More Waves before (the other 9 tips all have).  The name of this two piece is XylarooAlongside Declan McKenna and Billie Marten, two of our other Ones to Watch, the members of Xylaroo are also too young to get served in a UK pub. Is their age relevant? Is it a bit ageist mentioning the fact that these acts are young? Well, we think it's relevant to mention the fact, because frankly if you subscribe to the idea that musicians have to learn their craft, then when someone is relatively young and very good that says something important about their natural talent. Correction - we've been informed by the band themselves that this is not correct and that they can get served in a pub. Apologies, our information was incorrect!

Oh, and the reasons for ditching sure-fire success Garratt for a bunch of unknowns on a small indie label?

1. Because to our eyes Jack doesn’t actually seem that ‘new’ or ‘emerging’ anymore. We’ve seen him a number of times live (first way back in June 2014 at Bushstock Festival which we reviewed here) and he had already developed a big online musical presence several months before that event. Maybe his label have held him back a little in order to stand a chance of being on the 2016 tip lists, but for us he was a 2014 going into 2015 tip.

2. He’s already been named as the BBC Introducing Artist of the Year, won the Brits Critics Choice award and there’s lots of talk about him being a highly likely contender for the BBC Sound Of 2016 list as well. Don’t expect to see him on the lesser known but just as interesting Blog Sound of 2016 list though, voted for by nearly 60 UK based bloggers, which we help run. The full longlist will be revealed on Dec 3rd, a few days after the BBC Sound of list - Jack almost made it on the Blog Sound of 2015 list but missed it by 1 vote, but this year didn’t get one single nod from voting bloggers, suggesting that just like Breaking More Waves, other bloggers no longer consider him emerging, which is what we believe these polls should be about.

3. Jack’s already playing Brixton Academy in April, so tipping him as One to Watch seems pointless – a lot of people are already going to watch him. 

So instead we’re choosing Xylaroo, a recent addition to one of the finest long standing indie labels in the UK – Sunday Best.

Who are Xylaroo? 

They’re Coco and Holly Chant and first met a number of years ago in a hospital in Hong Kong where they were introduced to each other by their parents. Yes, they’re sisters and follow in the footsteps of another Sunday Best sibling act, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, who started their musical careers as young whippersnappers on the label. 

And whilst we’d very much consider Xylaroo (a name that seems to have no meaning except for some warped cross between a xylophone and kangaroo – not something we could really explain) emerging, they seem to have been doing this for quite some time – they have an old redundant Myspace page (remember those?) and a Bandcamp with some rough and ready recordings dated back to 2009. However, unlike Garratt you’re probably not going to see their name everywhere in music industry music tip lists. But they're worth your attention; with their folky harmonies that remind us a little of early First Aid Kit we’re suggesting that they’re Ones to Watch for 2016, not because they’re going to have huge commercial hits or sell bucket loads of records (that’s probably unlikely) but simply because they can pen a decent tune that you might just enjoy. And that’s the most important thing.

Xylaroo - Sunshine (Home Session)

Friday, 27 November 2015

Ones to Watch 2016 - #9 Majik

When we cast our memory back across 2015 and think of all the new bands and solo artists we’ve listened to over the year, one time that instantly stands out as a bit of a eureka moment was last February when we first pressed play on a brand new London two piece called Majik and a song called It’s Alright. At the time we called the song a ‘beautifully tempered piece of modern soothing pop’, a description that still seems entirely accurate. Comparisons with Daughter, The XX and London Grammar quickly attached themselves to Majik; this was languid, sweetly mellow stuff with just a hint of soul about it. Since that debut there was nothing more than silence until this autumn when the group released a second piece of singular sublime chilled-pop called Save Me, a tune that, despite the deluge of new music that fights for our attention, has stayed with us the last few months.

It's purely on the basis of these two songs that we're filing Magik as musical Ones to Watch for 2016. It's early days for them, but let's see how they do.

Majik - It's Alright (Video)