Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Night VI - Just Words

“Will this be the one where they let us down?” It’s a question we ask of all our favourite bands every time they release something new to the world. Inevitably it will happen. Even the ones you love dearly will fall over every now and then. That doesn’t mean though that if one indiscretion or moment of failure occurs we’ll be turning our back and looking for something new. It takes a lot more than just one duff song to end that relationship. 

Thankfully we’re nowhere near that with The Night VI. We’re still in the honeymoon phase, even although that part of the relationship should be utterly over by now. New tune Just Words does what every relationship needs to do to survive; it subtly shifts and changes the dynamic of what has gone before, keeping things interesting,  without ever losing the identity of what made it all so special in the first place. Just Words adds a new glossily soft r ‘n’ b smoothness to The Night VI’s sound, it's just enough to make us realise (again) how lucky we are to have their music. If you weren’t a fan of the band before, but enjoy artists like Jessie Ware, this might just be the one to turn you. “Don’t leave me now,” the vocals plead. We’re not going anywhere. No mistakes here.

Just Words is taken from the group’s 3rd EP which will be released in September.

The Night VI - Just Words

Grace Lightman - New Waves

Here’s an artist that’s new to the blog, that we were going to post about yesterday, but then got somewhat diverted by the Hype Machine chart integrity debate. However, better late than never as the clich├ęd saying goes, so say hello (no don’t, this is the internet she can’t hear you) to Grace Lightman. Grace came to us, not through searching long and hard to find new music organically as we described yesterday, but by way of the email in box.

The email concerned tells us that Grace once fronted a London psych rock band called The Hypnotic Eye, mentions references to Kate Bush and influences ranging from Vincent Gallo films to Francois Hardy and Nico. We think what this email was trying to tell us was that Grace is pretty damn cultured and is unlikely to be producing any songs that we can proclaim to be a banging club anthem in the near future.

Certainly Vapour Trails, her debut, won’t be the song to play if you’re having it large in Ibiza this summer. This is something with far more depth; it requires a few listens to fully explore and appreciate its nooks and crevices, which are crammed with interesting flourishes of electronics and opulent off-kilter experimentation alongside the base of a traditional song structure. Those Kate Bush references have some degree of accuracy, but we’d also like to suggest that Lightman’s voice is a little like Snow White in the Disney cartoon, but with a greater weight of melancholy. It's a fascinating start; Vapour Trails is a thing of wonder and even better, it's available for free download from the Soundcloud player below.

Grace Lightman - Vapour Trails

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Few Thoughts On Blog Integrity, Hype Machine & Our Own Blog

If you follow the music blogging scene closely you may well have seen a statement from Hype Machine, the blog aggregator (an essential site to many artists hoping to get greater exposure to their music), concerning the integrity of their chart and why they have stopped tracking a number of blogs, some of which are relatively high profile. If you haven't you can see the full post here.

A number of the blogs that are no longer being tracked have put out statements of various sorts, including this one from Hilly Dilly.

We’ll leave you to read those statements and make your own judgement about the ethical position. However, we thought it was worth explaining a little how Breaking More Waves works and our thoughts on Hype Machine’s action, as we value the concept of integrity deeply.

1. Breaking More Waves is a one man d-i-y blog. There are no other writers. We do this first and foremost to ensure that there is a consistency of opinion and personality through the blog and also because that's how we started and the idea of being anything bigger was and never has been entertained - we have no aspirations with the blog other than to do what we do. A further offshoot from this is that it is very difficult to be 100% confident that if you use other writers that they do not have other vested interests in writing about certain acts. In fact the only time we have ever used a ‘second writer’ is our traditional Christmas posts where we invite the likes of Santa Claus (who is usually drunk) and Rudolph (who is quite rude) around for a spot of festive guest posting. They're only interest seems to be getting off their faces and insulting people though.

2. At the top of this blog there’s a strap line that states that Breaking More Waves is an independent new music blog. That independence doesn't relate to 'indie' music (we love a good commercial major label pop tune as much as we love unsigned independent music) but being independent financially. Breaking More Waves is just a bloke sitting at home or in his work lunch hour (like now), writing about stuff he likes. It's a hobby. This is incredibly important to us. We’re not interested in generating income from the blog – be it through advertising, funding from a backer or any other source. We’re of the opinion that where money is involved, behaviour is at the risk of changing. 

3. We’re very aware that there are lots of people ( PR companies, labels, artists) trying to get their own or their clients music onto not only the big websites, but small blogs like this. Even getting a song on Breaking More Waves and no other blog can generate 200-300 plays in the first 24 hours, maybe more if the song does well on the likes of Hype Machine. Sometimes PR companies will offer incentives to sites – not usually financial ones (in the history of the blog we’ve received 2, maybe 3 offers of payment for a post, which we have of course refused), but for example the opportunity to ‘exclusively premiere’ the track.  Breaking More Waves doesn’t do premieres. We’d rather pass those on to sites that this is important to. That doesn’t mean that a song might not appear first on Breaking More Waves against any other blog, but if it does it’s just because we got there first, not because of some exclusivity deal with a PR company or band. Anyone else could have posted it before us. However, we’re not saying that premieres are wrong, they are good for blogs that have aspirations – they’re just not for Breaking More Waves. 

4. We’re also very aware that music blogging can become very PR led. Every day we receive in the region of 200 emails in our in box submitting songs to us for possible posting. We probably have around half an hour a day to open and read some of them - the majority never get opened. Full disclosure here; there are certain companies that we trust a little more than others in terms of the artists they represent, often (but not always) having a commonality with our taste. Therefore we're more likely to listen to their submissions than others, but the reality is that we don’t just post in box discoveries on the blog. We enjoy sourcing music in many other ways – from radio, other blogs, watching support bands at gigs and quite often we sift through festivals and gigs line ups looking up names of artists on the bottom of the bill and giving them a listen. It takes longer, but it gives us a lot of pleasure when we unearth something we really like. Once more, we're not criticising blogs that do just source all their music through their in box, everyone is different, and certainly we source a lot of ours in that way, but it's not the only way.

This post is not intended to criticise blogs that do things differently, particularly with regard to premieres or just discovering / posting music via the email in box route. However, when it comes to posting music because the artist is a client of the writer’s, which is the integrity issue the owners of Hype Machine have taken issue with, we fully support and applaud the action Hype Machine has taken. Of course it won't stop all aspects of Hype Machine chart manipulation (one comment on Hype Machine's post suggests that their action is like putting a finger in a leaky dyke) but it's a valiant effort by Hype Machine to try and do something. Our hope is that in starting this they have the resource to investigate other blogs they list that may be acting without integrity, posting tracks by artists which they have may also have a financial interest in.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Aurora - Nature Boy (Live Session Video)

By now, if you've viewed any UK based music websites /  Twitter feeds over the last couple of days, you’re probably getting pretty bored by all the ’10 Best New Acts We Saw At Great Escape’ features.

However, if you are looking at these we’d also ask you to question how many acts did the author actually see whilst they were there (and how many of them played that publications own stage?). If they only managed 20 then giving you the Top 10 doesn’t really say that much about the acts at positions 9 and 10 really does it? 

If by any chance you have read any of our coverage (lots of tweets and some blog posts whilst we were still at the event) you may have picked up that of the 39 performances we saw, 1 artist stood out above all others. That artist was Norway’s Aurora, who managed to absorb us completely with two utterly unique performances (one acoustic one with a full band), both of which brought a tear to our eye and left us with a combination of goosebumps and the biggest smile across the face that is possible. It wasn't just us though, Leigh from Just Music I Like thought the same (here) and judging by the reaction from both audiences, it wasn't just a bunch of nerdy music bloggers who fell under Aurora's spell.

Today, there's more shivers as Aurora releases a new video of a cover version of the Nat King Cole classic Nature Boy. Cello, guitar and Aurora’s devine voice combine to create something born out of subtlety that creates something show stopping. It's stuff like this that makes being a music fan worth so much.

Next big thing is a very dangerous tag to apply to an artist in so many ways, raising expectations that can probably never be achieved, but Aurora is undoubtedly the best new artist we have come across in the last year. If you get the chance, make sure you see her live.

Aurora - Nature Boy