Monday, 30 March 2020

Zyra - Take Me Home

Yesterday when I stepped out of Breaking More Waves HQ for my government approved 30 minutes of exercise (the one time that in the UK we’re currently permitted to venture outside of our houses - except for essential food shopping and work) I didn’t see one single human being. 

This might not seem that unusual if you live in the countryside, but living in a small but crowded city as I do (population of around 240,000 and the most densely populated in the UK) this is incredibly unusual. Ok, so it was incredibly late on a Sunday night, but to see no fellow human being after running several kilometers is unprecedented. It felt like I’d turned a wrong corner and entered the scene of a nightmarish post-apocalyptic movie. I half expected to see an overturned bus blocking the road or to be chased by a horde of flesh eating zombies.

To get back to normality, afterwards I blasted out some pop music. Big banging pop music. Because although in normal times pop can be and should be about fantasies, our pop stars acting as the dream-makers, right now pop music can serve a very necessary job of keeping things on the level – keeping us grounded so that we realise that isn’t the movies and is just real life. Pop exists and continues to do so. It's part of our core and our fabric of being alive. Pop is my constant. Have you heard Dua Lipa’s new album – there’s an example of how mainstream pop is still very much a thing.

One of the songs I played a little too loud a little too late (sorry neighbours) was the new single by Zyra. Remember her? No? OK, a quick recap. 

Zyra is one Alex Cheatle. She first appeared in an introducing piece on this blog in 2013 under her own name. Then having adopted the alias Zyra in 2014 she wrote and sang on Odesza’s Say My Name which became a big internet and crowd pleasing hit, particularly in the U.S. It ended up being nominated for a Grammy. I subsequently named Zyra as One To Watch for 2016 in my annual end of year tip list, but then it all went quiet. 

However just like waiting for a bus, now in quick succession we‘ve had 3 new tunes from her (as well as a bunch of demos and remixes on Soundcloud - check out F*ck You in particular). Talking of buses it appears that Zyra is not only driving the this one but she’s running her own bus company as well. 

It’s the third of these three songs released to the big streaming services, Take Me Home, that is my favourite. Released last week it’s a big hooky mid-tempo banger that makes the thought of Zombies on the street very distant; and thankfully with Zyra at the wheel that aforementioned overturned bus is nowhere to be seen.

Zyra - Take Me Home

Friday, 27 March 2020

Maisie Peters - Daydreams

Maisie Peters, the self-confessed queen of ‘emo girl pop’ has been on an upward trajectory for some time now. Remember when Breaking More Waves named her as One to Watch back in 2017? No? Well that happened (here) and since then she’s released the Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket EP in 2018 and the It's Your Bed Babe, It's Your Funeral EP a year later, played a sold out show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London and garnered millions of streams on Spotify. Surely after all this well executed slow-build 2020 must see the release of an album? If it does, Daydreams sounds like it could easily be the penultimate track, before perhaps something a little more positive to finish with perhaps? Although the closing line of this song does offer some uplift so maybe it could even end after that?

A piano ballad, it has just the right levels of restraint and understatement, with Maisie’s ever-present talent for sad and young storytelling: “I was unattached, he was quite a catch, with a nose ring.” Then she reveals: “I can dress it up pretty, I can blame it on cities, but he doesn’t want me.” As Maisie revealed on social media the ‘moral of the story is always make melodramatic diary entries in your iPhone notes when you’re sad and drunk in Ubers as sometimes u get special songs out of them.’ A tip for all you budding songwriters out there.

Maisie Peters - Daydreams

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Natalie McCool - Closure

“I put flowers on your grave, I wear a rainbow every day, all that I want is closure,” sings Liverpool’s Natalie McCool on her new song Closure. It’s a bona fide alt-pop banger with a big old sing-a-long chorus.

Goodbye songs can sometimes be the saddest ones but Closure sounds more like confetti, glitter and champagne exploding into the sky. Endings can be happy for sure. This works best really loud with you dancing with your hands above your head. (Fun fact: If you're a crap dancer, putting your hands in the air will always make you look better - it gives the air of confidence and that you are having a good time. This song will assist in that good time.)

Natalie’s been making some badges recently for those who have pre-saved this song. They read “I Buried My Ex”. Let’s hope that she only means in her head. They were due to be sent out recently but that may now have to wait due to the lockdown.

That’s not the only way Natalie has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic though. She was also due to play SXSW prior to its cancellation. Sadly the way things are going it looks like every festival this summer is going to be cancelled or postponed. I’m keeping everything crossed for our own Dials festival in Portsmouth in October (tickets are available here). Expect to see a number of Breaking More Waves approved artists there.

Natalie McCool - Closure

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Introducing: Lynks Afrikka

If, as Robbie Williams once sang, one of the main purposes of musicians is to entertain, then colourful, exuberant, bonkers pop music that puts a smile on your face has to be the order of the day. With the current state of affairs, the world probably needs it more than ever. Quite frankly, earnest boys with acoustic guitars crooning self-absorbedly about if you still love them feel very out of date. What we need is big Muhammad Ali sized punches of joy, laughter and most of all dancing.

Artists like Confidence Man and International Teachers of Pop are already raising spirits with uncoordinated hustling and bags of energy. Today’s new artist could well be the next one to join that carnival of mavericks in the club. 

Lynks Afrikka is the alter-ego of once Bristol now London based producer Elliot Brett and you only have to watch the crowd shot You Tube video of his heavy on the lettuce sandwich-based chant-a-long B.L.L.T * (Sample lyric: “I’m a toastie. The boys they never ghost me. Not all the time, but mostly) to understand that Lynks Afrikka is a riot. A raw and unpolished one, but all the better for his underground substance. Think Daphne & Celeste meets Toni Basil for reference points.

There’s a serious and thoughtful side to what Lynks Afrikka does as well, with Brett’s message focused on topics such as sexuality and gender, but making it accessible by the use of humour. His music might be raw and primitively basic in its sound, but it certainly isn’t dumb. Take for example Str8 Acting which looks at mainstream club culture and nights out in the form of an alt-lo-fi-electropop banger; a very distant cousin of Blur’s Girls & Boys. “It's just hot str8 boys, who like hot str8 girls, who like hot str8 boys, and that's the whole straight world.” 

Elsewhere he does dumb down a bit (ok a lot) with a track called How to Make a Bechamel Sauce in 10 Steps (With Pictures) which was featured on the Breaking More Waves Spotify monthly playlist recently, but let’s face it, this amalgamation of music and food is still way more usefully hilarious than whatever James Bay is up to these days.

Then there’s the mini-bass arcade game stomp of I Don’t Know What I Want which finds our hero listing out all the things he doesn’t want. Simple really: Money, fame, pleasure, pain, sex, a green smoothie.

This week Lynks Affrika has been uploading a serious of Self Isolation Tapes, sound tracking the Coronavirus pandemic (you can find them on Soundcloud or You Tube). In the not too distant-future he was due to perform at this year’s now virus-cancelled Great Escape festival in Brighton as well as supporting cousins-of-a-kind Confidence Man in Bristol in April. Hopefully someone will find a slot for his cheerleader-of-your-nightmares-or-dreams routine on the south coast when things revert to some sort of normality. Until then watch and listen below. 

Let him entertain you.

*Can someone give the Soundcloud version of B.L.L.T (below) a proper release please? It's about time we had something like this all over the radio and in our heads.

Lynks Afrikka - B.L.L.T (Live audience shot video)

Lynks Afrikka - Pandemic

Lynks Afrikka - B.L.L.T!