Friday, 20 October 2017

New Music: Naaz - Up To Something (Video)

If you went down to B & Q or other similar DIY store today to buy some paint to redecorate your bedroom and found that because it was the biggest seller B & Q had decided that from now on they would only be stocking magnolia you’d probably be pretty pissed off, right? It’s a bit like that with a hell of a lot of mainstream pop music right now. It’s colourless, very bland and all the f*ckin’ same - because that seems to be what sells. Now of course the argument is that mainstream pop is always that way, that’s what makes it mainstream, but to my ears the variety that there used to be has been flushed down the drain.

I could probably write a thesis on the reasons for this rapid dilution of pop but we’re all busy people, so for now here’s just one factor that I believe is to blame: Production. In the past pop has always concerned itself with songs. You know, the basic stuff such as interesting melodies that distance themselves from the verses. But now it seems that the production is more important. Mainstream pop music now seems to be full of meandering flavourless identikit tunes (Drake, one of the biggest stars in the world is the biggest exponent of this) that forget that a big proper chorus with a great melody is a grand thing. Love him or hate him, it's probably one of the reasons why Ed Sheeran is so popular - first and foremost with his material comes the song, not the production.

Which brings me to Naaz. She’s already impressed with her delightful ditty Words (here) and now she has done it again with Up To Something. It only takes about 20 seconds to get to a hooky pre-chorus and from there on the whole thing just sticks. Sure, it’s simple, but that’s so much better than a song being overloaded with ‘clever’ production. It’s the same as so called ‘good’ writers who use a thesaurus to find the most complex words possible and use six sentences to express something that could be said in 5 simply understood words. (No comments about this blog post please!) This is mainstream pop done well, with a simple personal commentary thrown in: “I don’t want to hurt them, but this is who I am. Chasing ambition making my own mistakes,” which no doubt refers to Naaz’s Kurdish background and the conflict with her parents about pursuing a career in music, which is detailed in the video with a scene of her sitting to eat with other Kurdish people, taking a break from running around a sterile white building.

Naaz - Up To Something (Video)

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

New Music: Introducing - Joji

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and have only just discovered the internet, the chances are that that you will have seen or come across George ‘Joji’ Miller already. Yes, he’s the guy responsible for the Filthy Frank TV series and irrespective of your views on the thing (for the record I didn’t like it at all) it was a huge online hit, pulling in millions of views. He also put out, under the name Pink Guy, a low-brow cringey ‘comedy’ album that ended up topping the iTunes chart. It was an offensive release that made me shake my head in disbelief and realise that no matter how interested I remain in popular youth culture as I get older, I just wasn’t in touch with what ‘the kids’ were into these days.

Yet Joji has also gone on record saying that he only started Filthy Frank and Pink Guy to draw attention to himself and that it all just got a little bit out of control so he had to roll with it. Underneath all the pink bodysuited You Tube weirdness (click here if you still have no idea) and meme frenzies was a serious musician just waiting to break out and today Joji delivered on his promise with Will He the first song from his forthcoming debut EP due at the start of November. 

Will He is a surprisingly downbeat piece of music featuring stripped back ghostly piano reminiscent of something you might expect to hear on a Nils Frahm or Aphex Twin ambient record, with slo-mo beats and languid woozy vocals. It’s difficult to comprehend that this is even the same man as Filthy Frank, such is the lonely late-night feel of this drowsy song, which is really rather (and I'm in shock to say this) beautiful. 

The video is mesmerising as well – and yes Breaking More Waves regulars will be very pleased to see that he’s wasted no time in getting into the bath, albeit a blood one.

Despite having been on-line for less than 24 hours this video has already had over 500,000 views, showing the power of You Tube in developing an artists profile. Let's hope he keeps things like this and doesn't start referencing Dumplings or scaring people for lols.

Joji - Will He (Video)

New Music: Introducing - Kailee Morgue

The back story to Phoenix's Kailee Morgue and her music is that she tweeted a video clip of her singing a demo of her song Medusa back in January with the words “I apologize for my voice cracking and the unflattering angles but here's something I'm working on,” then a few months later she had been signed by Republic records, and the tweet had been retweeted over 45,000 times by October. 

It’s impressive statistics, however they were achieved, but let’s all remember that there is often a massive disconnect between online numbers and the real world; I’ve been to see bands that have had millions of plays on Spotify playing to rooms of less than 50 people and vice versa I’ve seen artists that appear to have relatively small on-line statistics play to packed houses. Just because someone takes a second to favourite something on line doesn't mean they'll come to your show or invest any money into supporting you as an artist buy buying your products. There's more to it than that.

However, what matters as far as this blog is concerned is simply this; does the music do it for me? Irrespective of profile. And with this one, the answer is a resounding YES! Medusa is such a pretty electronic pop song that works because of some very straightforward things. 

First its simplicity in its lilting dreamy construction; there’s nothing more than what needs to be there – it doesn’t need any extra polish or make up to make it sound just right. Second there’s the hooky chorus; “She looked right through me and I turned to stone,” will soon be bouncing around the inside of your brain. Guaranteed. Then third it’s Kailee’s highly palatable vocal delivery on the song – she has one of those girl-next-door voices that’s just really easy on the ears.

The question now is will Kailee be a one song wonder or something more? The fact that she’s already been signed to a label suggests that somebody thinks she can deliver. Let’s watch this space.

Kailee Morgue - Medusa

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

New Music: Keir - Squeeze Me

It’s not often that a song features on Breaking More Waves twice, so when it does you know that it’s something bloody special to me. Keir’s astonishing tour de force Squeeze Me first came to my attention by way of a Maida Vale Session video that I posted in January. It got me swearing like a trooper excitedly about the man’s raw impassioned delivery and performance. “This guy is a star.” I thought.

Of course, it was just one track and one video. But having now seen Keir live and in the flesh I can confirm he is the real deal. He might have only been playing a small stage at Glastonbury but the intensity and beauty of his show made me think that he had all the potential to play the Pyramid stage one day. He owned the place like a true rock opera star.

Keir is making music totally out of time and out of place with everything else that’s in fashion right now, but don’t damn him because of it. The weighty emotional punch of his sound and his expressive quality transcend the zeitgeist. 

Now (finally) Squeeze Me is getting an official release. I’m pleased to say the recorded version doesn’t let him down. It's been worth the wait. Keir is staggeringly good.

Keir - Squeeze Me