Tuesday, 25 July 2017
You may well recall before Breaking More Waves took off on holiday (with just the occasional post such as this one - normal service resumes sometime mid-August) I mentioned the forthcoming sweary new Sofi Tukker beast of a tune Fuck They. That animal is now out in the world and is positioned to assault your earlobes, with over thirty F-words in its three minutes of fingers-up-at-the-world dance attitude, if it hasn't done so already. Thirty is certainly a decent amount of potty mouthed foulness, although nothing compared with the Super Furry Animal’s The Man Don’t Give A Fuck which clocked in at over fifty.
Whilst Fuck They has been streaming for a couple of weeks now, the video has only just gone live. Filmed in Toronto and directed by Mac Boucher, whose previous work includes videos for Grimes, HANA and Yukon Blonde it features a cameo by celebrity hairstylist and frequent band collaborator Danny Moon, a nod to Tucker Halpern’s past basketball life, the best carrot munching moment you’ll see this year, lots of head nodding, messy drinking and a whole lot more that will probably leave you uttering a few expletives yourself. Unleash your inner animal and enjoy the WTF colourfulness of Sofi Tukker.
For those (like me) in the UK who have been patiently waiting for the band to come back to our shores, you finally get a chance to see the duo when they play Oslo in Hackney, London on 1st October. Tickets are available by clicking here.
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
SKOTT, one of the world’s greatest hand in the air pointy finger singers and also one of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch for 2017 has a new single. It’s called Mermaid. For those who have already seen her live you will already be familiar with this song, possibly to the point of thinking that Mermaid has already been released simply because it gets under the skin so easily; on listening it feels like a familiar friend.
If you haven’t, then dive in, and prepare yourself for an immersive pop treat. It’s the equivalent of an emotional 80’s power ballad dragged gently into this decade with its tinkling piano chords, sweeping strings, la la la backing vocals and heavyweight electronics. All it needs now is a moodily styled video with some shots of SKOTT floating around underwater and she’ll be fully in business – for this is a very good song.
Now come on radio people and playlist people – this one deserves to be on at least your B list / high up your new music Friday playlist or you are dead to me.
Skott - Mermaid
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Breaking More Waves is about to go (in fact it's already gone) into one of its quietest periods ever as I take a huge long summer holiday that started a few hours ago and doesn’t finish till somewhere around four weeks from now. Despite having been being lucky enough to get time off the day job to attend a number of music festivals, the reality is that I haven’t had a proper holiday abroad for over two years, so that’s what I’m doing this summer.
There will however be the odd post or two over the next month, but they will be extremely limited. I'll be back down to business as usual in mid-August.
Before the quiet though I’d like to introduce a band that released their debut single last month and it’s been never far from my ears ever since. Swimming Girls song Tastes Like Money is a dizzying indie guitar pop tune with supersaturated guitars straight out of the Cocteau Twins handbook and a vocal that has just enough lilt and drawl to make it stand out from the crowd. It is indebted in some respects indie records from the 80’s and perhaps a little bit of early 90’s shoegaze towards the end, but that’s fine when it’s done as well as this. Taste Like Money is a record to feel as much as hear. Let it run through your veins.
Swimming Girls are Vanessa, Roo, Jay and Max and are based in Bristol. However, they formed in nearby Bath as students put together randomly in order to “write a song” for an undefined musical project. Watch out for more material from the band coming soon.
Swimming Girls - Tastes Like Money
Monday, 10 July 2017
By now the chances are that you’ve read an awful lot about Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran at Glastonbury. You’ll also have read far less about a French popstar qui est absolument parfait, named Jain, but trust me, she played Glastonbury as well.
At first her booking on the Sonic stage looked a little out of place, Sonic mainly catering for dance heads, but within a few seconds of her starting up the booking made absolute sense. Less a dance party more a crazy gymnastic hands-in-the-air workout, Jain pulled punters into the venue with one of those ‘what is going on over there ?’ moments. I think by the end of her set the ground in the venue had lowered a couple of inches with all the bouncing on it.
So now it’s your time to move your feet as Jain revisits a track from her album. Dynabeat is all about the dance of life: “Love it or hate it , but you have no other choice, you have to realise that we are all living on a beat.” The video, like all of Jain’s videos, is a little surreal, like a modern Magritte inside a TV screen. There’s plenty of detail and clever little effect pieces to keep you hooked. Oh, and the song? Well Jain is all about the hooks; she probably has a whole wardrobe full of them and she's got this one out for you today. A squelchy synthy neon-bubblegum tune to keep you going all night.
Jain - Dynabeat (Video)
I can’t remember the last time I posted a remix on Breaking More Waves, it’s something that I just don’t seem to do that often these days. Here’s one I couldn’t pass on though. After all, at the back end of last year I named, as I always do in late November / early December, ten artists that I believed were Ones to Watch for 2017. Two of those artists were Maggie Rogers and Sofi Tukker*. So, when the two of them came together musically, there was an inevitably that the results were going to find their way on to this little corner of the internet.
So what’s the output? The results are perhaps not the pounding, riffing, weird-out, hip banger that you might expect from Sofi Tukker**. Instead they’ve taken the chilled soulful coolness of the original and whisked it off to Ibiza for a mellow sunset moment. Imagine a classy seafront bar / terrace, a cocktail and everything being right with the world, whilst this loops on repeat in the background. That'll do nicely.
*Footnote: The 10 artists I selected as Ones to Watch for 2017 were Skott, Maggie Rogers, LANY, Hazel English, Seramic, Dave, Sofi Tukker, Jerry Williams, Cabbage, Liv Dawson.
**Footnote 2: Keep an eye and ear out for Sofi Tukker’s forthcoming single out later this week. It’s very sweary, very good and you definitely won’t be hearing it on the radio.
Maggie Rogers - Alaska (Sofi Tukker Remix)
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Way back in 2013 I featured a new band from Brighton who went by the name Phantom Runners. Their debut single It Takes Me Away jangled with some full on groovy indie swagger and I was ready and prepared for the blogs to be all over the song. It didn’t happen. A few further releases (which to be fair a number of sites did get a little bit excited about) followed but it all seemed to fizzle out before the sparkle had really got going.
But in pop you need to be careful with sparks and embers, because sometimes they ignite something else and before you know it you’ve got a glow. In this case a neon glow of electronic pop gloss goodness.
For Adam Al-Hilali was the front man of Phantom Runners, but now he flies solo under the name ADAL, signing himself as a future pop collaborator / curator rather than just a producer and songwriter. His new project has been bubbling under for a while now but it’s his new collaboration with Copenhagen’s singer of pop bangers FREJA (they're both lovers of the capital letter clearly) that really hits home. Fire To You is a cinematic pop tune that could have easily featured on the soundtrack of Top Gun or Drive. It’s a flawless example of the slick soft synth song that will no doubt appeal to fans of M83 with its dark throb of a bass line, subtle electronic stabs and references to the American dream. Rather like his previous work with Phantom Runners Fire To You definitely looks over its shoulders with an eye on the past – this time the mid to late 80’s rather than the early 90’s – but it’s done so well it’s impossible not to be impressed.
What did Bruce Springsteen say? You can't start a fire without a spark. From that spark here's Fire To You.
Adal - Fire to You featuring FREJA
Are you sitting down whilst reading this? Well if you are get ready to stand up and shake your tail feather, because Curtis Harding is going to make you groove, right from the moment the opening drums kick in. The former Cee Lo Green backing singer is moving on up after his debut album Soul Power with another slice of horn fuelled Philly strong stuff and on this one he lets everything fly. Sure, there’s nothing new in any shape or form here; On and On is the sound of someone who has studied the classics well, and mastered his craft to the point of perfect tribute, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t worth your attention. A good song is a good song. Not everything has to be about the new and progression.
Listening to On and On is like a discovering a super rare Northern Soul stomper in the bottom of your dad’s record collection. Seconds after that you’re dancing on the ceiling. Solid gold.
Curtis Harding - On And On
Saturday, 8 July 2017
I might be a bit tired so that's my excuse I'm using for admitting that I cried a little watching this film, but Lucy Rose's new documentary is hugely touching. I can't stress how important it is that anyone who reads this post watches it.
In 2016 Lucy Rose travelled to South America to stay with fans and play free gigs booked by them. The results, far away from London and the often very unkind music industry, were clearly life changing for Lucy, altering her view of the world and her music.
As Lucy says in the film: "Music is more than music." That's something I've always felt and I hope (because you read this blog) that's something you feel as well. It can connect people in weird, wonderful and beautiful ways that can alter our future paths and beliefs.
Take twenty minutes out to watch this documentary and then listen to Lucy's new album, which is undoubtedly the best thing she has recorded, and for me is the album I always wanted her to make.
Lucy Rose - Something's Changing
Friday, 7 July 2017
Back in the Summer of 2016 I introduced an impressive new artist on the blog called Jade Bird and wrote that she was recording her debut EP in London. Now nearly one year on that EP has arrived. It turns out that the majority of it was recorded in Woodstock – but irrespective of location it was very much worth the wait.
The EP takes the classic sounds of country, folk, Americana and the delta-blues and frames them in the world of teenager in 2017 who has spent time in South Wales, Germany and Chesterfield. It’s a case of one foot in the past but one foot very much in the future as well. At points on the EP her music sounds hauntingly intimate whereas at other points, such as the bluesy holler of Ginnin’ In Your Face she sounds raspy bold and whisky swigging loud. The range of songs is strong but it all glues cohesively together.
Where Jade Bird’s natural audience sits is still to pan out. Certainly in the UK it’s easy to suggest an older Radio 2 crowd, but her youth and some her other songs that I’ve seen her play live could perhaps cross over to a younger crowd – so maybe Radio 1 is in her grasp as well. Irrespective of age though, one thing is clear, Jade Bird has bags of talent and her EP fully displays that.
Jade plays a number of festivals this summer (including Latitude next weekend) and has her own headline show at London's Omeara in October (tickets here) after recently selling out a gig at Servant Jazz Quaters also in London.
Hear the song Something American below and the whole EP on Spotify by clicking here.
Jade Bird - Something American
Thursday, 6 July 2017
There’s something wonderfully widescreen and ambitious about Manchester’s Affairs and their new song Gracious World. It sounds like it’s got its sights set way higher than some grotty boozer in Shoreditch, Camden or anywhere else for that matter. A high-kicking and life affirming song soaked in the drama of the world and all that it has to offer, it heads straight for the indie rock jugular and then some; a chest thumping, fist pumping tune. This is the big music.
Affairs are out on tour this summer playing those grotty boozers I mentioned including a show at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch on Wed 9th August. Catch them there for now, before it’s too late.
Affairs - Gracious World
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
If you follow the blog very closely you’ll have probably noticed that besides all the indie, pop, electronic, folky and acoustic music I tend to gravitate towards I also have a very soft spot for instrumental sounds, particularly soundtracks and ambient music. It’s why SURVIVE’S RR7349 featured in a very high position on my end of year album list last year and why records by the likes of Nils Frahm, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin as well as The KLF’s Chill Out all have a special place in my heart.
So today here’s a new favourite instrumental. It’s called Bloodflow and it comes from the German duo Erol Sarp and Lukas Vogel, better known as Grandbrothers. Taken from their second album Open due on October 20th Bloodflow is structured in layers that are constantly repeating yet subtly shifting and mutating as they grow like watching ripples and waves on the sea from above. It makes for an immersive and meditative listen as the piece propels forward towards its final landing point. It’s six minutes long but it never feels like that. Beautiful stuff. Take a listen below.
Grandbrothers - Bloodflow
Sunday, 2 July 2017
Look at virtually any artist that has been in it for the long term and you’ll see one binding factor - development. Sometimes there will be radical changes in style, other times it might be more gradual twists and turns. But apart from a handful of exceptions most acts need to diversify creatively over time, not only for themselves but for their fans. Otherwise the rule book of pop suggests that boredom and stagnation sets in for everyone involved. Take a look at a band like Oasis for a classic example of ever decreasing returns by sticking to the same formula. Then look at someone like David Bowie for an example of an artist who was always pushing for change creatively.
Comfortable, the new single from Greta Isaac, shows how exciting development can be. From her initial mellow organic roots first featured on this blog in 2011, the 2017 version of Greta shows folk and world music reworked, reinvigorated and rebooted. The results are really interesting; organic sounds are chopped and mixed with a frenetic and futuristic fury as the newly glitchy Greta explores the ideas of turning a blind eye to everything - the trait of apathy and selfishness.
A fine development.
Greta Isaac - Comfortable
Thursday, 29 June 2017
This weekend just gone The National played The Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. I’m a huge fan of the band and for me this should have been one of their crowning moments, but I'm sorry to say it felt like a wasted opportunity. Too many new songs left the audience where I was standing losing interest and the band’s mood, whilst humble, felt a little downbeat which didn’t really capture the atmosphere on site, which was positively upbeat.
Menacing closer and new song Turtleneck felt wrongly positioned in the set, particularly with its rather abrupt ending. “So is that it?” seemed to be the shoulder shrug response of those by me after they finished. When Matt Berninger showed his phone to the crowd to ask them to call a US politician and stop a controversial healthcare bill in the US, it was an admirable thing to do, but felt misplaced given the band was playing in the UK which has its own very pressing political issues right now. It was all in all a little disappointing, especially after Katy Perry (who I've never particularly liked) put on a exuberant show immediately before them and became one of my (many) surprising highlights of the weekend.
That’s not to say there weren’t highlights though. An early appearance of Fake Empire captured my heart and England swelled with huge emotion as well, but it wasn't enough from a band that have previously moved me nearly to tears.
However, not every artist can be perfect every time you see them – it’s one of the realities of being a fan and seeing a band a number of times; some shows will always be better than others. Not to admit that is living a false reality.
However, all is forgiven when listening to the second rather gorgeous but sad song to be released from the forthcoming album Sleep Well Beast. It's called Guilty Party.
"It's nobody's fault. No guilty party. We just got nothing, nothing left to say" sings Matt, capturing exactly how many break ups feel. If you’re going through a tough time with a relationship ending right now, this song will probably feel like it’s written for you. Hopefully that might help with things a little.
The National - Guilty Party (Video)
Australia’s Confidence Man is a band I’ve been banging on about a lot this year. In fact they’re my favourite new pop group of 2017.
There’s a whole bunch of reasons for this.
First the live shows; hyperactive danceageddon gigs with sassy don’t fuck with us attitude and a compulsive energy that's guaranteed to leave you with biggest smile on your face, even although the band themselves apply stern Paddington Bear (RIP Michael Bond) hard stares throughout.
Then there’s the whole concept of the band; from the cartoonish names (Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild, and Clarence McGuffie) to their strong visual identity – netting over the drummer and keyboard players faces to obscure their faces, overly tight pants and baby doll dresses. Confidence Man look like pop stars from the get go.
Then there’s the songs - high energy relentless volcano pop that bubbles and explodes with dangerous regularity. Their whole reason for existence is to make you want to get high whilst getting down. They teach you how to feel alive.
As yet not many of these songs have made it online. So far there’s the delirious Bubblegum and the party time electro funk of Boyfriend (Repeat), which are out there on all the usual streaming services.
Whilst we wait for more Boyfriend (Repeat) now has a video and it perfectly captures the essence of the song with a disturbingly funny idea that takes a bunch Kens (some dressed in ways you’ve probably never seen Ken dressed before) and subjects them to treatment by microwave, blender, saw, barbeque and pink plastic mallet to name just a few. Men be warned. When your girlfriend says: “My boyfriend wants to talk, my boyfriend talks to much,” this could be your fate if you don’t shut up.
Confidence Man - Boyfriend (Repeat) (Video)
Monday, 26 June 2017
Earlier this month I made my annual pilgrimage to West London from the south coast for Bushstock Festival, a review of which you’ll find here. The highlight of the event came in the mid-afternoon in a Library Bar that forms part of the Bush Theatre. In amongst the books, on the tiniest of stages, London lass Joy Crookes wowed the packed silent room with a jazzy charm that had me getting a little bit hyperbolic on Twitter muttering names like Amy Winehouse and Billie Holliday. OK maybe I went a little too far, but it wasn’t so far from the truth. Crookes was utterly dazzling - the sort of artist that makes the roll of the dice of music discovery come up double 6.
One of the tunes from Joy’s rapturously received set that day was this new one, which she uploaded to the world wide web recently. Despite it's classic laid-back sound Power is no pushover over of a song. There’s a strong message here, which needs no explanation, the words clearly speak for themselves: “You’re a man on a mission, but you seem to forget, you came here through a woman, show some fucking respect.” Then there's this one: “Melanin is not your enemy.” It’s Crookes who has the authority here. This is quality.
Joy Crookes - Power
Friday, 23 June 2017
9 years old today. 9 bloody years I’ve been doing this thing. This blog. This record of some of the stuff I’ve been listening to.
It’s fascinating to look back over that time and see some of the artists that I’ve introduced. Some of them have gone on to be a huge creative and commercial success. Others, absolutely nothing.
Here are a handful of examples. Look at the picture below. Recognise her? That’s Charli XCX back in 2009 when I first wrote about her. At the time she was flaunting a bunch of songs like Neon Fashion & Glowstix and Francheskaar and I concluded that although her music appealed to me I found it hard to see any long term appeal. 8 years on and she seems to be doing OK. Her first 2 albums proper ended up being some of my favourites of 2013 and 2015 respectively.
Here’s another one. Recognise them? No, me neither. But apparently, they were a band called Look Stranger! I featured them on the blog once and that was all. I can’t remember anything about what they sounded like now, even having re-read my original blog post. I never heard of them again.
And here’s one more. This was Skint & Demoralised. I named him as one to watch many years ago. His music never set the world alight (albeit listening back to it now I still really enjoy it) but years on Matt Abbott the singer cropped up on this TV advert (click here), showing that he was one to watch, just not in the way I originally thought.
What I’m trying to say with all of this is that in 9 years of music blogging what I’ve learnt is that anyone who tells you that they are a tastemaker and can predict the success of any artist is talking out of their arse*. Some acts make it, some don’t. Nobody has the perfect crystal ball. Every time someone tells you about how they were one of the first to discover a particular successful artist, ask them how many others they discovered that never went on to light up the world. By the law of averages, the more artists a site writes about, the more chance there is that some of them will go on to be massively commercially or artistically successful.
All I can do, and all any blog worth their salt can do is bring you some new music and new artists I like. The rest is unknown.
Breaking More Waves is 9 years old today. Right now I’m celebrating that fact somewhere in a field in Somerset at Glastonbury Festival, probably with a cider / wine / gin and tonic in hand. Maybe all 3.
I always said at some point the blog will end and when it does I’ll make a definite point about it. There will be no gradually fading away. But a big full stop. But not yet. I’ve got a little bit more fuel in the tank yet. Maybe not a lot, but it's not time for ending quite yet.
Thanks for reading guys, without you it would be fairly pointless.
*Footnote. Some other things I've learnt whilst writing this blog are:
1. When times are bad (death / illness etc) music can be a salvation. In fact this blog has been a real help for me during those bad times - the last year in particular.
2. I also run a twitter account associated with the blog. Twitter is a very odd place - a weird bubble where people reinforce their own views with others like them and castigate those who do things differently to their world view - with little or no nuanced discussion. (How can you in 140 characters?).
3. There's only so much you can say about music before you start repeating yourself.
4. Musicians are weird and like to promote their art by sitting in the bath.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Does anyone remember Geneva? They were a band from Aberdeen in the latter part of the 90’s who released a now much forgotten, somewhat flawed, but loved (by me at least) album called Further. They were the first indie rock band that I had ever heard with a male vocal singing falsetto and they absolutely blew me away. Even today Andrew Montgomery’s voice and range gives me goosebumps on songs like the jangly beauty of Into The Blue and the exquisite Tranquilizer with its soaring strings of perfection.
From that point on I’ve always connected with male voices that reach for the heavens (this year Tom Adams’ debut Silence has captured my heart) and today I’m introducing a new act that continue the glory of seraphic vocal chords.
London’s Stereo Honey have two tracks on line. The first, The Heart, which I'm featuring below, is a wistfully engaging piece of indie rock. There’s the aforementioned cherubic vocals of course, but besides that there’s impressionistic guitars that chime (with perhaps just a hint of mid 80’s U2 about them), a slight groove and a sense that this band is already 100% fully formed. The second song Where No One Knows Your Name deals with mental illness, namely anxiety, and shows that Stereo Honey are more than just a one trick pony with propulsive soft synths eventually giving way to explosive shrieking guitars. Two songs in and not a musical foot wrong.
Stereo Honey are Peter Restrick (Vocals and Guitar), Nicky Boiardi (Guitars and Keys), Ben Edwards (Bass), and Jake Black (Drums) and I’m filing them straight away alongside some other favourite Breaking More Waves honeys like Honeyblood and Black Honey.
Stereo Honey - The Heart
Monday, 19 June 2017
This weekend coming it’s Glastonbury Festival. Or to give it its full name The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. I’ll be there with a carefully planned timetable that I’ll try and stick to as much as possible, but Glastonbury has the habit of distracting you at every corner, so if I achieve 80% of what I’ve scheduled, I’ll be happy.
There are however a few artists that are on my must-see list and no much how much hot (or cold) spiced cider anyone pours down my throat, I will not miss these.*
One is Lorde (she’s arguably produced the best pop album of the year so far). Another is The National (simply because they’re The National). And a third is Haim. Why? Because having been at some of their early small sweaty club shows right through to one of their biggest – the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2013 – where it all went a bit wrong for them with Este being taken ill (due to her Diabetes) I want to see them succeed at Glastonbury.
If their new songs are anything to go by, I think they will triumph. Their latest tune Little Of Your Love, released today, has a slightly retro sound. I’m thinking 50’s rock n roll and Huey Lewis & The News. It’s a bit of a hooky bop and catchy as the common cold. Roll on the album.
*For potentially strong cider fuelled tweets follow me on Twitter at Glastonbury by clicking here @BMWavesBlog
Update: This post has been edited from the original version as I received some complaints, which having given things some consideration I feel were valid. Apologies to anyone who was offended / a bit creeped out. That wasn't my intention - I have always felt that giving evidence to explain something was important. However, the temperature of a past gig probably had no relevance to the new song. My intention was simply trying to show how I was rooting for Haim to do well at Glastonbury having been a fan from the early UK gigs.
2nd update: I've received a number of comments (a couple below and elsewhere online) saying they didn't think the original post was creepy - it just stated some facts. Which I guess just shows that not everyone perceives things the same way. However, on balance although for me the statement I made about Este was wearing only underwear as it was so hot at the gig wasn't creepy (I live in a house full of women and I am the only man and we talk about things like this all the time) I can see how some people would perceive it as such, hence changing the post.
Haim - Little Of Your Love
Sometimes Breaking More Waves features new artists that are so new that they have barely a half-formed demo to their name and less than 10 plays on Soundcloud. At other times these introducing pieces bring artists that have already put out quite a few songs, or in the case of Faye Webster a whole album. So, there’s plenty to dive into here.
Much of what I have read about Webster makes her out to be some sort of country and hip-hop hybrid. If that’s the case I don’t hear it at all. The country sound for sure, that’s loud and clear, or rather, I should say gentle and clear; but the hip-hop label seems badly misplaced. Maybe it’s because she’s friends with rapper / producer Ethereal or that her eponymous album has been released by Awful Records, a label associated with hip-hop, so there’s a connection. But I begin to wonder if the likes of Billboard, who said that “she flexes her hip-hop folk style” have even bothered listening to her record before writing about her?
For me, Faye Webster’s sound is deliciously languid country pop. Her song Alone Again could easily form the soundtrack to every sad alt-indie-emo romance movie made for Netflix. Her album is the sound of nearly forgotten 70’s summer glories, sweet vocals, road trips, intimacy, chasing dandelion seeds in the wind, slide guitars, soft drums, and nestling back in an open porch with a glass of red wine. There are hints of other styles and genres; indie, ghostly folk, subtle pop and old fashioned radio friendly soft rock perhaps, but the basis of her sound never really touches hip-hop. It would be like saying that Foo Fighters had an element of techno and rave to their music. She’s very much more straight out of Nashville than Compton.
Fans of Julia Jacklin and Caitlin Rose will no doubt find a lot to appreciate here, and the comparison with Jacklin seems particularly relevant as Webster will be out on the road with the Australian one this November. You can find her album on all the usual services right now. Grab that glass of wine and sit back whilst listening.
Faye Webster - She Won't Go Away
Faye Webster - Alone Again (Video)
Thursday, 15 June 2017
Pop music is great, isn’t it?
Fickle Friends are great, aren’t they?
Their new song Glue is great, isn’t it?
Breaking More Waves is great, isn’t it?
OK 3 out of 4 truths there.
Taken from the new EP (also called Glue) due for release on August 11th and produced by Mike Crossey (The 1975, Foals, Two Door Cinema Club) Glue is probably Fickle Friends sexiest pop song to date. “So what are we thinking, and what are we here to prove? It's stuffy in public, I guess we should get a room,” sings Natti. “Our lips are like Glue,” she adds. Saucy. OK calm down everyone. No actually don’t, because Glue is dance around your handbag and throw your hands in the air extreme pop fun. Fickle Friends are an indie band who seem to be ever honing their craft to create the perfect 3 minute dance pop banger. Or a pop band getting ever closer to creating the perfect indie dance hit.
It’s party time.
Fickle Friends - Glue
I’ve always been fascinated by what a ‘genuine music fan’ is. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot but there never seems to be a concrete definition. Does a genuine fan have to spend money on their passion or can you be a genuine music fan with a Spotify free account and nothing else? After all you could certainly listen to a lot of music. Is that one of the criteria? To be a genuine music fan do you have to have heard a broad range of records or is it OK to just care for a few songs or albums deeply and only ever listen to them? Do you have to go to gigs? Do you have to know a lot about different musical styles and genres? And what about genuine new music fans? Do they have to know about every new band on the planet? Do they have to spend a certain % of time every day listening to music? I really don’t know the answers, but for me it’s something around commitment and passion for music, shown by your actions. It’s why I write this blog.
But whilst I might be a genuine new music fan, I can’t keep up with everything. No matter how committed I am. It’s why until a week or so ago I’d completely missed George van den Broek aka Yellow Days from Haslemere, Surrey, who it seems has been getting approval from a significant section of what remains of the blogosphere for over a year now. It’s easy to see why. He stands out. Note to self: Read more blogs – after all why should I expect anyone to read mine if I’m not reading them?
What makes him stand out first and foremost is his voice. It’s untreated, untarnished, raw and real. It has soul. Then there’s his music, which is reflective, some might say indulgent, lacking regular structure and possessing a lo-fi feel and sound (listen to the hiss on the track below). There’s been comparisons to King Krule, which I fully agree with. There’s also been suggestions of greatness – which are probably a little premature, but there’s no doubt he’s hellishly good. With a big output already on Soundcloud and an acclaimed EP Harmless Melodies on all streaming services, his latest tune So Terrified Of Your Own Mind is a slice of smoky subdued spliffy late-night chill-rock that finally brings him to the pages of Breaking More Waves. I suspect it won’t be the last.
Yellow Days - So Terrified Of Your Own Mind
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
Julia Jacklin’s debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win found itself on many discerning music blogs end of year lists and Breaking More Waves’ as well. Now with barely a pause for breath Julia returns with Eastwick, a song that she’s been playing out on tour, so fans may already be familiar with it. If you haven’t heard it before then you’re in for a treat -it doesn’t disappoint. Eastwick has all the elements of Julia’s style that makes her music so alluring. That is to say that Eastwick is contemplative, intimate and contains thought provoking turns of phrase that combine with the slow burning layered beauty of the tune, which as it reaches its conclusion roars with a stormy growl. As usual with Julia there’s also a classy video, this time featuring a prominent blue cocktail.
Julia Jacklin - Eastwick (Video)
Sunday, 11 June 2017
Multi-venue wristband access festivals are ten a penny these days, but West London’s Bushstock remains one of the best due to its consistently good curation and interesting venues which this year included a church, a library space that doubles as a bar, a second-hand clothes store, an outdoor space under a railway bridge, an early 1900’s chandelier lit and mirrored dance hall, as well as a small handful of regular pubs. The day was also blessed with a beautifully sunny sky, which whilst not as important at this type of event as outdoor festivals in grassy fields that turn to mud, still improved it further by putting everyone in a post-election upbeat mood.
Here are some thoughts about this year’s festival.
1. Women are equal to men.
This is obvious, right? We’re all just humans. But as has been highlighted on the internet over the last couple of years, when it comes to festivals it seems that organisers have totally forgotten this, with many line-ups featuring predominantly male artists and very few having female musicians headlining.
Bushstock bucked this trend with the main headliners being the three-piece sister group The Staves and one of the other main stages being headlined by indie rock four piece The Big Moon, who are all female. Of course, it shouldn’t be necessary to point out that there were ‘all female bands’ playing, bands should just be bands, but here’s the point - Bushstock was a complete sell-out. The message to other festival promoters here is clear. Don’t book bands on some misguided notion that people only want to see male musicians. People want to see good music; and either sex is capable of creating that. Interestingly as a side observation the mix of punters at Bushstock, measured in an unscientific overview, was approximately 50/50 male / female – maybe a reflection of the line-up and maybe one of the reasons why Bushstock always sells out – it’s not limiting its audience.
2. If you like sitting down, Bushstock is the festival for you.
First there’s Stephen’s Church. Which means that the majority of the audience are seated in the pews. Those that aren’t sit on the aisles, although the hardcore stand at the back. But it’s not just at the Church. This year a new venue (The Library at Bush Theatre) was introduced and for the 1 set that I attended there (Joy Crookes, more of whom below) everyone sat down on the floor. Then there’s Bush Hall. A dance hall and more traditional standing venue. But in between every act on there, people sat down. Experienced attendees will tell you that at any music festival, it’s all about pacing yourself, but the amount of sitting down at Bushstock took things to a new level of relaxation.
3. There’s a complete absence of bad manners at Bushstock. And I don't mean the British 2 Tone and Ska band fronted by Buster Bloodvessel.
Maybe there’s a correlation with the sitting down. Maybe it’s because of the 50/50 split of sexes in the audience. Maybe it’s because of the nice venues. Most likely it’s because of the choices of the artists, which never veers too far into the mainstream, or where the acts have potential mainstream appeal, they haven’t reached that far yet. But whatever the reason, it’s noticeable that Bushstock is very well mannered. Acoustic acts are given the quiet reverence they deserve. There’s a noticeable lack of ‘lads out on the town’ treating the event as a pub crawl rather than a music festival. Even in crowded venues late arrivals don’t attempt to push their way to the front at the expense of those who got there in good time. It is very refreshing to see people behaving nicely.
4. Bushstock might be an urban festival, but it still has its own food options and it was very good.
Shepherd’s Bush might be full of fast food chicken joints, but Bushstock also provided its own festival catering. Down at the Courtyard stage I sampled a delicious falafel and haloumi wrap with high quality ingredients from Nazari and upstairs at Bush Hall there was a tasty looking roof top barbeque taking place.
5. There was some music as well. Most of it was excellent.
Some of my highlights included Joy Crookes (streaming below) who silenced The Library stage with stripped back songs that hinted at elements of Amy Winehouse, Lauren Hill and Billie Holiday with a 2017 lyrical twist and flashes of brilliance just waiting to be discovered by the masses.
In Bush Hall The Big Moon brought a playful and cheery cockiness to the proceedings with their mix of raucous indie rock and girl-gang harmonies as well as a punky take on Madonna's Beautiful Stranger. If you haven’t heard their debut album Love In The 4th Dimension yet it’s a cracker - give it a play They were preceded by the composed musical beauty of Liv Dawson (pictured above) whose songs are full of yearning and subtle vocal intricacy. Whilst most of Dawson’s set was full of slow warming tenderness she finished with a surprise – a dance banger that wouldn’t be out of place on one of those Ibiza weekender compilations you used to get in the 90s; it brought out some spontaneous eye-popping rave moves from certain sections of the crowd.
Another band that impressed and brought out more dancing was indie-dance-pop outfit Fours. With a sound that sits in the same camp as the likes of Fickle Friends, and an energetic bomb of a front woman (Edith Violet) they were one of the most invigorating acts of the day.
Once again Bushstock came up trumps. It can hold its head up as a model of how to put on a one day multi-venue music festival. It's a truly excellent day for any genuine music fan.
The acts I saw at Bushstock: Mirror Fury, Avante Black, Joy Crookes, Fours, Arlissa, Fyfe, Palace Winter, Liv Dawson, The Big Moon
Joy Crookes - Bad Feeling
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
“What sort of music do you like?” It’s one of those questions I dread being asked. Mainly because I usually end up giving the lamest of answers: “All sorts.” But it’s true. Not only do I like many different genres (more than I write about on this blog) but I’m interested in all sorts of music – even the stuff I don’t like. My view is that if you don’t remain interested in more than just what you enjoy you end up living in a very unhealthy taste bubble - a conservative and snobbish one that just plays safe and ultimately (usually around middle age and parenthood) becomes boring and out of touch.
However, if someone had asked me the what sort of music do you like question yesterday or today, the answer I would give would have been this: “The new Alvvays song In Undertow” The chances are the person asking the question (assuming they weren’t one of my small but wonderful group of ‘music friends’) would have then either looked blankly at me, shrugged their shoulders or just asked “Who?” It's probably also the sort of song that regular readers of the blog would argue doesn't fit into the 'I like all sorts' box - because it's very typical of the stuff I like. In a nutshell it's indie pop with a female vocal.
The fact that you’re reading this piece on a low key unprofessional fully independent old school fan based music blog suggests that you probably know who Alvvays are. More than that you’ve probably already heard the song. But just in case you haven’t, listen below. It’s one example of the sort of music I like with its weird electronic intro, waves of glorious guitar noise and pop melodies that sigh with a certain sadness of no turning back. I particularly like the part where lead singer Molly suggests meditating, playing solitaire or taking up self-defence,” all better break-up strategies for your mental well being than going down the pub and getting wrecked or jumping the bones of someone else just to get your ex out of your sexual system (although arguably not as much fun in the moment).
Alvvays will release a new album, Antisocialites, on 8th September. They’re playing plenty of shows to support the record as well, which you can find by clicking here.
Alvvays - In Undertow
Monday, 5 June 2017
In the world of the Google optimised band name, Park Hotel aren’t playing by the rules. From Tsilivi in Greece, to Barnstaple in the UK, there are plenty of Park Hotels but none of those are, as far as I am aware, making music and describing it as Doom Disco.
I’m not sure about the doom element, but there’s certainly plenty of enjoyably slick boogie grooves in the material that this two piece, consisting of Rebeca Marcos Rosa (who grew up in Spain and has also works as a model) and Tim Abbey (a painter and photographer as well as a musician), are putting out. They're just bloody hard to track down through internet searching.
The fantastic new single Going West gives an excellent introduction into what Park Hotel do, combining half-sung half-spoken vocals and that same sense of nostalgic funk that we probably last saw when Jungle headed out of the blocks. First and previous single Gone As A Friend, released earlier this year continues the coolest-dancefloor-in-the-world-ever vibes as it keeps the pressure on with some glossy old fashioned synth sounds, repetitive chanting and white trash disco guitar riffs – think Grace Jones, Friendly Fires and Nile Rodgers and you’ll be getting somewhere near the mark.
Park Hotel make music that is as much about the groove as it is about the song. I can imagine them putting out a whopping extended mix of Going West that does nothing more than continue the riff for eight or nine minutes. It’s music to shimmy to under a giant glitterball wearing a cool suit. Count me in.
Where’s that handbag? It’s time to dance round it.
Park Hotel - Going West
Park Hotel - Gone As A Friend
If there’s one word to describe West London’s Bushstock Festival it would be pleasant; and that’s not a criticism, it’s a compliment. Reading and Leeds this most certainly isn't. With just 7 venues (one of which is a church) all located within relative close proximity to each other, a programme that finds most stages done and dusted by 11pm and a line-up that this year includes the likes of The Staves, Nick Mulvey and Benjamin Francis Leftwich, it’s fair to say that it’s unlikely that there will be any gurning off-their-faces loons in attendance. This is an event for the more discerning music lover, or for those who just don’t want to push their bodies too hard whilst experiencing a day of quality live music - and the emphasis is very much on quality - you're very unlikely to experience a duff performance at Bushstock.
Now in its 7th year, Bushstock is created by the people behind Communion music and has a reputation for putting on many ‘next big thing’ acts in intimate spaces way before they become household names. I’ve seen the likes of Bastille play in a small pub to less than 100 people, George Ezra opening the day in St Stephen’s Church and Josephine from Oh Wonder in her Layla days performing at this festival. It will be interesting to see if any of this year’s acts progress onwards and upwards to commercial success in a climate that is becoming increasingly difficult for new artists to break through.
This year besides plenty of new artists Bushstock adds some new venues (The Library at the Bush Theatre and the charity clothes store Traid) to the likes of St George’s Church, the outdoor Courtyard stage and the chandelier and mirror lined Edwardian dance hall of Bush Hall for plenty of architectural / environmental variety in which to enjoy the live music.
Whilst the beauty of any festival is stumbling across something out of the blue that you’ve never heard of before, it would also be a little strange if I didn’t provide at least one or two recommendations of lesser known acts on the bill for you to highlight on your timetable. So here below are five names I’ve picked for your consideration, all of whom have featured in past introducing pieces on Breaking More Waves.
Mirror Fury (13.00-13.30 Courtyard Stage)
There really is no excuse to not catch Carina Bragg aka Mirror Fury - unless she is ill, as she had to pull out of a show yesterday, so I'm hoping she's better for next weekend. After all she’s due to open the whole event, and the Courtyard Stage, where she will be performing, is also where the wristband exchange is. Need further convincing? Listen to her commanding and emotive cover of REM’s The One I Love below. Get there early.
Jade Bird (14.00-14.30 St Stephen’s Church)
I featured Jade Bird in a preview piece for Great Escape Festival last month and I’m putting her forward again here. With just a tiny hint of Ed Sheeran meets Dolly Parton about her, it’s still very early days for Jade, but her acoustic mix of country, pop and folk and songs about relationships going wrong will be a fine way to open up the day in St Stephen’s Church.
Joy Crookes (15.30-16.00 The Library)
“If David Lynch wanted a soundtrack for his Twin Peaks reboot, and Lana wasn't available (probably because she's still too busy putting on that red dress) this could well be it,” I wrote in February 2016 of the then seventeen years old Joy Crookes. Now that sounds like something not to be missed, especially when you slide in some sweet soul smoothness to the sound as well.
Fours (16.30-17.00 Defector’s Weld)
They had to be my fourth selection didn't they? “If E4’s teen drama show Skins was still running I’d be pretty sure that Fours would be cropping up there to soundtrack a sweaty, sexy disco party,” were my words in January 2016. OK they might be playing in a Shepherds Bush boozer in the later afternoon rather than a hip shaking club, but this four-piece are still worth catching for some indie high fives and grooves such as Fade To Love which has clocked up over 2 million plays on Spotify.
Liv Dawson - (Bush Hall 21.00-21.30)
I've seen Liv Dawson a couple of times now and she was listed in last year's Ones To Watch 2017 list on the blog. What strikes me about her is the way her songs are so full of yearning and her vocals so perfectly delivered, irrespective of if she's doing mellow dance pop like Open Your Eyes (below) or tender soulful ballads. Bushstock will be Liv's second show of the day - she's warming up for Bush Hall with an earlier gig at Wildlife Festival near Brighton.
Bushstock takes place next weekend in Shepherds Bush, London. It usually sells out, so get a ticket quick, by clicking here.
Friday, 2 June 2017
I was very late to the party with Hannah Peel. But from the moment I first saw her live supporting Vaults (R.I.P) I instantly knew she was something special. For here was an artist creating pop music (of sorts) that had vision, originality and something buried within it that was raw, emotional, very human and connected with her audience. Awake But Always Dreaming, Hannah's second album, ended up on a few selective end of year lists and if I was rewriting mine now, it would have found a place on that as well.
Now comes news of new material and once again it looks like Hannah's music is going to be taking listeners on a fascinating journey of discovery, with an album ready to roll out this September called Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia. The record tells the tale of an unknown, elderly, pioneering, electronic musical stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced home in the mining town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to see Cassiopeia for herself. The album is no ordinary pop album though. It’s a seven-movement piece composed for analogue synthesizers and a full traditional 29-piece colliery brass band, the brass being recorded live at The Barnsley Civic Theatre with Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio team. The first release from it is a track called Sunrise Through The Dusty Nebula and it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s full of deep melancholy and spaciousness but equally it soars with a commanding wonder. Take five minutes out of your day to bury yourself away somewhere and absorb yourself in this gorgeous piece of music.
Hannah Peel - Sunrise Through The Dusty Nebula