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 Xylaroo. Alongside 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.

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 fifteen 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)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Ones to Watch 2016 - #8 Aurora

Compiling the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list isn’t something that we do in the flash of a pan one evening before publishing. It starts as far back as May 2015 when we opened a spreadsheet at Europe’s leading new music festival - Great Escape Festival in Brighton - and note down the names of any particular new acts that we saw that stood out.

As the year continues and we discover more new acts (often introducing them in our ‘New Waves’ pieces on the blog) we add the best to our spreadsheet. By November there can be anything between 20 and 50 names on that list (this year there were 26) and from those we select the 10 or 15 that we feel are most appropriate for our annual Ones to Watch list. Some that didn’t quite make it this year included The Japanese House, Anne Marie, RIVRS, Frances, Grace Mitchell and George Cosby.

This year at Great Escape three names stood out that even that early on in the year we were confident would be making our Ones to Watch. One was the artist we announced as the first act on the list (Nao) and the second was today’s choice; Norway’s Aurora. The third was Jack Garratt - but ultimately we decided not to include Jack on the list and we'll talk a little bit more about why on our final #10 post on Saturday, so check back then.

Until a few weeks ago Aurora was still relatively unknown in the UK outside of her small fan base and those in the know. However, whilst she was (apparently) slowly developing her musical profile with a number of sold out but still relatively low key London Club shows and a succession of fantastic slightly left of centre electronic pop songs, something was going on that caught us on the hop; the John Lewis Christmas advert.

We really didn’t see that one coming.

And so by now probably every person reading these posts (in the UK at least) is probably fully aware of Aurora. So why put her on this list?

The reason is that she’s still very much one to watch. The John Lewis Christmas advert has put Aurora in an interesting place – it’s great exposure, but could it come at a cost? Will it all backfire as she quickly becomes ‘that girl who did the Oasis cover’ and is then unceremoniously forgotten, or will she ride the storm? From the evidence we’ve seen at her endearingly wonderful live shows we have hope and believe that, rather like Gabrielle Aplin (who we also featured as a One to Watch in almost identical circumstances back in 2013 on a list that also included Tom Odell, another act that two years further on would have his turn on the advert), Aurora will be able to find her own space away from Christmas one hit wonders, with her own material, but only time will tell.

Aurora - Half The World Away (Video)

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Ones to Watch 2016 - #7 Pumarosa

Isabel Munoz Newsome, Henry Brown, Tomoya Suzuki, Jamie Neville and Nicholas Owen are Pumarosa. And they’re one of only three groups to feature on our Ones to Watch 2016 list (the other two follow on Friday and Saturday). They first appeared on Breaking More Waves back in February but it wasn’t until September that their profile really started to develop when they dropped the trance like indie-gothic dance tune Priestess, through Chess Club records (the second time we've mentioned that label in this years' list).

It’s the scope of ambition that is contained within Priestess that made us select the band. Priestess was no ordinary pop single. For a start it was 7 and a half minutes long. No radio edit. A statement of intent. Then there was the way it built hypnotically to a glorious body trembling sonic climax and yet still left the listener wanting more. It showed that it is still very possible to do something creative and exciting with indie guitar music. Add in a remix by Breaking More Waves favourite Shura who provided deeper electronic dance characteristics to the song and changed a lyric to give it a new sexiness ('come to bed'), a tour supporting Genghar, plus a slot at the London Calling festival in Amsterdam and things are looking very positive for this London based unit.

They’re due back in the studio in December to work with producer Dan Carey with a view to releasing a further single in the early part of next year. Let’s hope that they keep sight of their exciting musical vision and can take us even higher.

PumaRosa - Priestess (Shura Remix)