Wednesday 22 November 2023

What Happened to The Ones to Watch 2023?


Every year since it started in 2008 Breaking More Waves has posted an annual Ones to Watch list. This has generally been 10 and occasionally 15 new artists that come recommended as ones to keep an eye and ear out for in the following year. This was the very first list:

Marina and the Diamonds

Mumford and Sons 

Florence And The Machine 

Alessi's Ark

Skint and Demoralised 

White Lies


Passion Pit 

Little Boots 

La Roux 

It's fair to say the list was a mix of commercial hits and misses, but some of those commercial misses still produced some great songs. That pattern has pretty much followed every year since.

The Ones to Watch list is usually published in the next week or so, ahead of most other websites and the likes of the BBC Sound of List.  This year, whilst this blog has been stupidly quiet (does less than 16 posts even make it an active blog?) the annual Ones to Watch list will still be posted, but due to other commitments it won’t be until mid-December. Fingers crossed all the other websites aren’t thinking of exactly the same artists I’m thinking of.

Before we get to that point though, let’s look backwards and recap last year’s tips. I think I can safely say The Last Dinner Party (or The Dinner Party as they were then known when I tipped them) was a good shot. Priestgate less so.

1. Caity Baser

In summer of 2022 Caity Baser was listed as third on the bill at a BBC South Introducing night in my home city of Portsmouth at The Edge of The Wedge – a venue that holds around 100 people. Next year she’s playing Hammersmith Apollo. That’s some progress. A good year for Caity and maybe even a better one in 2024?

2. Priestgate

Oh dear.

At the start of 2023 Priestgate was undoubtedly one of the most visceral and exciting new bands out there treading the boards. A new EP One Shade Darker arrived in early March and things looked to be going in one direction – upwards. But then there was silence, until August 2023 when it was announced that Priestgate had come to an end following the departure of one of their number.

This was probably the shortest period between tipping a band as One to Watch to them splitting in the history of the blog. You can't win them all.

Footnote: A month later, from the ashes of Priestgate new band Velkro arose. They go again. 

3. FLO

R n B pop trio FLO featured on a lot of last year’s end of year lists, topping the BBC Sound of 2023 poll and winning the 2023 Brit Award for Rising Star.

Since that time they’ve had a minor hit with Fly Girl (featuring Missy Elliott) which charted at number 38 in the UK singles chart, released some further EPs and played a number of festivals including Glastonbury and Wireless.

There has been no new music since July and now the question is are FLO readying themselves for an album in 2024 and do they have the momentum to keep stepping up? Time will tell.

4. The Last Dinner Party (Previously The Dinner Party)

I included The Dinner Party on last year’s list on the basis of seeing them play live a couple of times. At the time they hadn’t released any music.

Cut forward a few months, they renamed themselves The Last Dinner Party, released debut single Nothing Matters and suddenly found themselves under a weight of hype and excitement. They soon got tagged by some naysayers as ‘industry plants’ but thankfully the band had the songs, talent and attitude to rise above that. They’ve now released 4 brilliant songs, played sell out shows and their debut album Prelude To Ecstasy, released 2nd February next year is one of a handful of records that actually deserves the description of ‘eagerly awaited’.

5. Ellie Dixon

“Whatever problems you have might be big, but Ellie Dixon's music will make you feel bigger - as big as Godzilla,” I wrote back in 2022. Ellie proved that in 2023 releasing a song called Big Lizard Energy. It formed part of her EP In Case of Emergency and with that EP Ellie toured the UK and parts of Europe in September and October playing shows in Glasgow, London, Berlin, Paris and more.

6. Lovejoy

“If they keep going at the rate they are Lovejoy is going to get a lot bigger yet,” I wrote at the end of 2022.

Now with 2.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, sold out shows, 2 top 40 singles and an EP that charted at number 5 in the UK album chart as well as going top 20 in Ireland and Lithuania (!).

I think you can say it wasn't a bad year for Lovejoy and their fans. A band that have demonstrated that old school indie sounds can still find fresh new young audiences if done right. 

7. Scene Queen

Scene Queen is another artist that might not have achieved main stream success but has had a very good year within the rock / metal scene. Following the success of the Bimbocore and Bimbocore Vol 2 Eps in 2022 Scene Queen released tracks such as 18+, Pink Push Up Bra and the country-metal hybrid MILF whilst playing plenty of shows. Scene Queen seems to have been particularly embraced by the UK; many of her tour dates here had to be upgraded as they sold out so quickly. 

“What remains to be learnt is if Hannah sees Scene Queen as a short-term project or something more long-term. If it’s the later and more releases / tours follow in 2023 she’ll be one to watch,” I wrote in 2022. She’s achieved exactly that.

8. Flowerovlove

It felt almost too early to be featuring Flowerovlove aka Joyce Cisse as One to Watch 2023 as she was only 17 years old, but she’s done a pretty good job of justifying that selection. She ends 2023 with half a million monthly listeners on Spotify, latest single A Girl Like Me building up a head of steam and a show at Liverpool’s Sound City festival already announced for 2024. One to watch for next year as well then?

9. Prima Queen

It feels like Prima Queen spent the whole of 2023 on the road. Not only did they play their own headline tour they also played a huge number of festivals including multiple slots at Glastonbury, SXSW Texas, Tramlines, Truck Y Not, Are You Listening, 2000 Trees, Kendal Calling, Mutations and Manchester Psych Festival to name just a few. They also managed time to release some new songs which can all be found on the Not The Baby EP released in May. 

So it's safe to say 2023 was a solid year for Prima Queen. If 2024 is going to continue the upward trajectory, new songs will now need to be the order of the day.

10. Nell Mescal

The final artist on the list last year was Irish singer Nell Mescal. At the time of being featured she had released just 2 songs. She’s trebled that now culminating with the gorgeously hooky Teeth this September. She also has her own upcoming headline tour starting in Ireland before moving to England, finishing at an already sold out Omeara next January. shows. 

And that was the class of 2023. I'm still gutted about Priestgate, but very pleased that The Last Dinner Party are going from strength to strength.

Keep an eye out for a post on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2024, alongside the usual album of the year round up in December.

The Last Dinner Party - On Your Side

Scene Queen - MILF

Sunday 1 October 2023

NEW #77 - twst


I have no idea how you pronounce twst. Is it as it appears or is there a silent vowel making it ‘twist’? Please send help / advise as appropriate. Thanks.

Either way, today I’m featuring this Welsh born artist who has been whacking out some excellent edgy, horizon searching pop music over the last few years with her debut EP TWST0001 dropping in the early months of 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, because twst (real name Chloe Davis) has been around for a while I had to check that I hadn’t already featured Chloe on the blog in the past.

It seems I had, but only in a roundabout way; a number of twst tracks had featured on my monthly playlist in 2020 (which eventually transformed into the New Music Weekly playlist) and I used to post about those playlists here. However, I’ve never fully introduced Chloe and with new material now being released plus some forthcoming live shows, this moment seems a good time to shine the light further.

So where to start with twst? I’d recommend somewhere near the beginning, with Are You Listening? a futuristic, electrifying horror-pop tune full of bassy minimalism, Hitchcock-like Psycho samples and lyrics that centre on problems of the world such as misogyny, climate change and fake news.

From there I’d jump to most recent release Catch Me (Beautiful Fall); twst's most commercial romp through the world of pop so far, if there was an exam in bangers, Catch Me would get a high grade A. Written with long-term writing partner Eden Tredwell, the credits for Catch Me (Beautiful Fall) reveal that one of the producers besides twst was one Clarence Clarity. Remember him? He first featured on this blog about 10 years ago and has subsequently gone on to work with the likes of Rina Sawayama and Sundara Karma. If you’ve never heard his track 4GODSLUV then your homework for tonight is to listen to that.

But before you do so, try twst and keep an eye out for 2nd EP TWST0002 later this year as well as forthcoming live shows which include Swn Festival in Cardiff later this month and a headline show at The Grace in London on 12th December.

twst - Are You Listening?


 twst - Catch Me (Beautiful Fall)

Saturday 30 September 2023

NEW #76 - Fat Dog

Testing 1, 2, 3. Is anybody there?

It’s been a fair while hasn’t it?

Does anyone even read music blogs anymore? Particularly inactive ones that haven’t posted for a few months. 

There’s only one real way to find out. So here we go. 

Strap yourselves in, I’m grabbing your ears and taking them for a ride. I’ve got some new music to rave about.

Starting with Fat Dog.

Not the most glamourous of names, but with a debut single released in August (which featured on my Spotify New Music Weekly playlist) and critics describing their live shows as ‘unforgettable’ and ‘exceedingly fun…exceedingly strange’ Fat Dog are a name you need to put on your ‘to listen to’ and ‘to see’ lists.

Let’s go to that debut single. King of the Slugs clocks in with a shape shifting, ecstatic, shot of musical hedonism that pumps away for a hefty 7 minutes. How to describe it? Ok I’ll try. There’s some post-punk, some psychedelia, some swirling balladeering theatrics, some rave, some rock ‘n’ roll and some twangy John Wayne cowboy movie soundtrack in the mix. It’s the kind of tune that leave you feeling exhausted but exhilarated at the same time. It’s sort of dirty sounding. It's sort of intense. It’s a musical odyssey. It’s bloody brilliant.

King of the Slugs is also the only song I can think of that mentions washing your clothes and makes it seem cool. Sorry Kate Bush, I love you, but Mrs Bartolozzi is truly terrible.

And that’s it. Fat Dog. Not a band for the faint hearted.

If you want to ride with them, they are on tour in the UK in October.

For the current New Music Weekly Playlist (updated every Friday) click here.

Fat Dog - King of the Slugs

Friday 23 June 2023

NEW #75 Picture Parlour


If you pay even just a passing interest in new music then the chances are you’ll have already come across Picture Parlour. If you haven't, then this post is for you.

They’re a band that have been gaining traction through a number of well received live shows played over the past year or so. This week, after releasing their debut single and getting plenty of press coverage, they have found themselves at a bit of a storm centred around arguments of being ‘industry plants’, the increased visibility big management and a label backing can bring you over others that don’t, tastemaker hype, the systemic problems of the music industry favouring white artists, stereotypes, judging artists purely by their online statistics / data and misogynistic attacks on female artists. The Last Dinner Party and Wet Leg have also been used as examples in many of these debates. 

Some of these arguments are easy to debunk. For example, there’s been criticism of all of these bands seemingly ‘coming from nowhere’, which is frankly a load of uninformed tosh. Take Wet Leg for example. Lead vocalist Rhian had been treading the boards for some time (I posted one of her tracks on the blog here back in 2016) and co-founder Hester had also played in other bands such as Maybe Tuesday before Wet Leg was formed. Wet Leg  had released a DIY song Girlfriend on Soundcloud in 2019 which was removed, probably when they got signed. 

Likewise, arguments that Picture Parlour have hardly any listeners on Spotify being held up as the fact they are ‘Industry Plants’. Well, you can’t expect a band to have listeners before they have released anything. That’s just ridiculous. And the term ‘Industry Plants’ is utterly meaningless anyway. I'm not even sure if most music listeners care about where artists came from - they just want tunes they like. 'Authenticity' is something that seems to exist in certain rock / indie circles in the same way as the term 'real music' does. 

However, some of the arguments that have been put forward online are certainly worthy of further discussion. For example, conversations around the systemic issues in the music industry and the lack of inclusion of persons of colour are very valid. However, unfortunately some of the people I’ve seen online who are trying to address these issues are probably not taken as seriously as they should be because of the way they put forward their arguments, which to an observer such as myself can be interpreted as aggressive, unkind and with a lack of nuance. 

The argument that is the silliest of all though is the ‘they won’t last’ argument, because for anyone who knows anything about pop music will tell you, nobody has a crystal ball that works 100% correctly 100% of the time. That’s the nature of the beast. Remember Suede? Back in the day they were on the cover of Melody Maker under the slogan “The Best New Band In Britain” before they had even released a single. 30 years on they’re still going strong, selling out big venues and releasing excellent records. But then does anyone remember Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong? They were another press acclaimed band that released 3 singles that didn’t connect with the public before disbanding. Pop is a funny old game.

So back to Picture Parlour. Yes, they are getting ‘tastemaker’ attention. Yes, they are all white. But let’s give them a chance. Just as we should give any artist that makes you sit up and go ‘that sounds good’ a chance. And if you don’t think they do sound good, why not spend your time finding something else to celebrate rather than trying to kick a band down before they have even had the chance to prove themselves?

For the record, Picture Parlour sound like they would be great live. Their debut single is raw, rasping and reaches for the sky. No wonder Courtney Love has already given them the rock royalty thumbs-up. And no it’s not a cover of The Beatles song of the same name.

You can find the song below and on the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist (here)

Picture Parlour - Norwegian Wood