Friday, 29 April 2016
‘Festival season’ in the UK doesn’t really exist now – with the exception of Christmas week it’s possible to go to a music festival, be it in a field camping in the summer or a multi-venue event in a city centres or holiday camp, all year round. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry is organising a music festival. Hell, in the last year even I’ve been part of a small team that has organised two of the things - Dials, a multi-venue event in Portsmouth replacing Southsea Fest whilst it took a year out and the follow up Dials Days, a two room-one venue bargain bucket festival which charged just £10 to see the likes of Fear Of Men, Champs, Femme, Avec Sans, Estrons and about ten more.
However, probably the most established and popular of the multi-venue festivals is Brighton’s Great Escape. Why? Because, whilst many festivals fill their bills with new music, Great Escape does it on a colossal scale. Over 3 days around 30 venues in Brighton pay host to 450 emerging artists from all over the world. On top of that there’s the Alt. Escape, the festival’s sister event which puts on many more showcases, free to Great Escape wristband holders and most of which admit the general public for free or a small fee.
Great Escape is the must go to event of the year for new music fans; I usually manage to see somewhere between 35 and 40 full performances over 3 full days. Also for those who are interested or part of the music industry side of things there’s a very full conference for which you can buy a delegate ticket, but frankly I’d rather get into the thick of the action and just gulp down as much live music as I possibly can.
Over the years at Great Escape I’ve seen the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Foals, Haim, Chvrches and London Grammar taking their first baby footsteps into the world of popular music, playing sets to small intimate crowds before they became household names. Of course the festival still markets itself partly on ‘discovery’ but with the advent of streaming and playlists (the Great Escape has its own comprehensive playlist on Spotify ) the idea of ‘discovery’ has changed from hearing a band for the first time, to discovering if the artist can actually cut it live.
However, in case you’re going and haven’t had the time to run through all the bands playing, I’ve done the job for you, and so over the course of the next 3 blog posts I’m going to be recommending five acts from the official bill (and a link to 1 bonus act from the Alt Escape) that are, if nothing else, on my list of ‘possibles’ to see.
Let’s start with Thursday:
Vallis Alps (Komedia 12:15) (Also playing at Brighthelm 22:30)
The Komedia is the place to be get your Great Escape off to a fantastic start. A showcase of varied high quality Australian artists kicks off with an act that I first introduced to the blog in January 2015. Parissa Tossif and David Ansari are Vallis Alps and will appeal to those who want to be slowly teased into the weekend with a drowsy blend of pop that tugs on the heartstrings.
Northeast Party House (Komedia 15:35) (Also playing Coalition 00:15 Saturday)
At the other end of the showcase that Vallis Alps open are Northeast Party House. Remember Friendly Fires? Well Northeast Party House bring that same level energy in their songs. This is four-to-the-floor hands in the air celebration music but with a rougher rockier edge. Like Foals going dancing.
Let’s Eat Grandma (The Haunt 20:30) (Also playing Latest Music Bar 01:00-01:45 Saturday)
Already well covered on Breaking More Waves since summer last year, Let’s Eat Grandma are two teenage girls who produce music and a live show that’s like experimental jazz in a scrappy multi-instrumental pop format. Not everything they do works, but even when it doesn’t it’s more than intriguing.
Jones (Paganini Ballroom 22:15) (Also playing Wagner Hall 16.30 and 21:00)
Another act that I first featured some time ago (September 2014). At the time I described Jones' music as ‘breezy electronic soul pop’. Since that time she’s appeared on Later with Jools and has wowed many with her song Hoops.
Anteros (Paganini Ballroom 23:15)
Anteros have at least 2 killer songs in their bag. The first is recent single Breakfast which has a really fun video (including a pop star in the bath moment for all pop star in the bath followers) of fashion), the other is the song from which their name also derives. Already touted as Ones to Watch for 2016 by plenty of tastemakers, Great Escape will be many people's first opportunity to witness what else they have to offer. Here's hoping the rest isn't filler.
Alt Escape Bonus Pick: Wyldest (The Globe 21:05)
Thursday, 28 April 2016
Gosh was it really 4 years since I first wrote about Blaenavon on Breaking More Waves? It was.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about the band in that time:
1. Their lead singer dances on stage like he needs a wee and is holding it in. Maybe he is. If so he should really learn to go before the gig. Mind you I once saw Duke Special play a show at Southampton Joiners, where he stopped halfway through so he could go to the loo. It put a whole new meaning on the idea of a ‘toilet venue’. Mind you, not as much as when I saw Thomas Truax play there, when he performed inside a women’s lavatory (or wash room as my lovely American friends would call it). Yes, I know this is getting a bit off the point, but if you just want to know what the music sounds like you can just press play can’t you? (Discuss: Traditional ‘reviews’ in music writing are dead.)
2. The process of playing more and more shows has made Blaenavon a better and better band.
3. They’re probably not going to be picked up by any trendy high street stores such as Urban Outfitters for a new season fashion campaign – despite their resolutely indie appeal which you would think UO would like – unlike the last band and label mates that I posted about (Let’s Eat Grandma) who are currently propping up some of the stores' promotional work.
4. They're not afraid of a big old noisily screaming guitar orgasm work-out, as you will see during the video for I Will Be The World, the first track from their forthcoming debut album. Take a listen below. Words like powerful and quirky probably apply.
5. The dog in the picture doesn't play anything in the group. I've yet to confirm if it is part of Blaenavon's songwriting team.
Blaenavon - I Will Be The World (Video)
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
Here’s a picture of Let’s Eat Grandma laying down.
An obvious thing to say perhaps, but I've often wondered why music bloggers don’t comment on musicians’ promo pictures very often. For example, take the growing fashion for sitting in the bath, sometimes naked, sometimes clothed (just Google Pop Stars In The Bath if you don't believe me). This to me seems a pretty bonkers / strange thing to do and yet whilst many bloggers write beautiful wordy dig-out-the-thesaurus pieces about the music, they fail to comment on the absurdity of the thing that’s staring them right in the face when they post the bath pic. Surely it's worth mentioning?
Now laying down may not seem that odd. But that’s my point. Let’s Eat Grandma are a pretty bonkers band. The sort of group you’d really expect to see doing an in the bath promo pic. Maybe that will come with the album promotion. I imagine them sitting in a bath of glitter paint, dressed in robes, maybe with some pot plants around them as well. The album incidentally is called I, Gemini and will be released on the 17th June via Transgressive Records.
So back to that picture. It seems that Let’s Eat Grandma are pretty fond of a lay down. I recently caught their debut headline London gig, which found them playing a multitude of instruments including keyboard, xylophone, recorder, guitar, drums, saxophone and ukulele in one of the most off-kilter pop shows I’ve seen for a long time. But most importantly, during the gig, in the middle of a song, they laid down and had a nap on stage.
Oh, I almost forgot to comment on the new song. That’s what I’m meant to do isn’t it, as a *serious* music blogger? It’s called Eat Shiitake Mushrooms, which is certainly a better title than One Dance, Work or Love Yourself (feel free to add your own Top 40 single title here xxxxxxxxxxx – most of them are incredibly bland). It’s over six minutes long, and includes a near 3-minute instrumental intro, some rapping, some singing and a weird keyboard groove. Yet despite its d-i-y experimental oddness, it works.
There’s no doubt the album is going to be one of the more out-there pop releases of 2016.
Phew, after that I need a lay down myself.
Let's Eat Grandma - Eat Shiitake Mushrooms
Saturday, 23 April 2016
Ah Billie Marten. From pretty humble beginnings Billie’s music has been finding an audience, and whilst ‘success’ in music isn’t necessarily the most important thing, from my perspective as a new music blogger, I relish the idea that there are other people out there who hear what I hear and feel what I feel when they listen to something I’ve posted. Falling in love isn’t always easy, but Billie’s music makes the whole process that much easier.
Billie’s new song Milk & Honey, the follow up to Bird, continues to create all sorts of wonderful feelings. It’s just….perfect. It’s tenderly soft for sure, but never dainty; a heartfelt and rewarding listen that touches on the concepts of greed and commercialism. It’s no wonder she found herself on plenty of those end of year tip lists last year (including mine – here); and this is another example to justify her inclusion on them.
Billie Marten - Milk & Honey