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


Sunday, 15 October 2017

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - Eliza


When Lauran Hibberd introduces her song Eliza live she often states that it’s about a girl she used to know once and she wasn’t very nice. This sounds pretty harsh until Lauran sings: “Eliza built a home in the back of my mind,” and you begin to wonder who Eliza really is. Maybe she's is a lot closer to Lauran than we all first thought? If she is, then it looks like Lauran has dislodged the inner demon now though: “The girl you lead astray is going to be OK.”

Lauran’s music seems to be gradually evolving from a softer folky feel to something with a more idiosyncratic indie feel. Eliza is a good example of this, rushing headlong into three minutes of an exuberant and raw stomp, with the chorus spelled out letter by letter E-L-I-Z-A. This self-assured noisier sound suits her well.

Following a main stage set at this year’s Bestival and a date supporting Sarah Close, you can next find Lauran treading the boards when she supports another Breaking More Waves supported act, Jerry Williams, at the Black Sheep Bar in Ryde, Isle of Wight on 22nd October, with more dates to be announced soon.

Lauran Hibberd - Eliza 

Friday, 13 October 2017

New Music: Introducing - Ace Marino


Stranger Things

Neon

Tron

Top Gun

Synthwave

The 80’s

Computer-pop

Retro-electro

Bad hair

Now ladies and gentlemen, if you like that list, add Ace Marino and his debut EP Cocaine Flamingo to it.

From it, streaming below, is Communication. Together, we’re living in electric dreams.

Ace Marino - Communication

New Music: Introducing - iZNiiK


There’s no background and no story with this new artist who goes by the rather odd name of iZNiiK. Despite doing the usual detective work of a whole lot of Google searches and with no record label or PR email to hand, it’s impossible to tell even if iZNiiK is one person or a group. If I were to hazard a guess though I’d suggest they’re a solo artist, because iZNiiK’s debut EP (simply called EP1) sounds like some sort of crazy off-your-face bedroom DJ mash up project. Songs, if you can call them that, are formed from a cleverly pieced together collage of vocal samples, jazzy grooves, hip hop beats, r ‘n’ b thrills and spills and whatever else iZNiiK decides needs to be there. The obvious comparison is of course The Avalanches, and perhaps there are minor elements of Clarence Clarity and Jai Paul as well, but with iZNiiK the sound is if anything, more confusing, more deliberately screwy and definitely more funked up. How this whole thing works is beyond me, but it does.

Take a listen to the futuristic sounding So Easy below and then check out the whole EP by clicking here.

Update: The one thing I do know about iZNiiK is the artwork for his EP was created by Jonathan Zawanda, an Australian artist living in LA who has worked with a lot of electronic musicians including Flume (for the cover of Skin) as well as Classixx and Mark Pritchard.

iZNiiK - so easy


New Music: Dave - Question Time (Video)


A few years ago talking about politics in pop music was something that musicians just didn’t do. Singing about being 'in da club' and 'not giving a fuck' was the standard and even so called alternative musicians, who in past decades had been more politicised, seemed to have grown brains of beige. 

Remember a few years ago when Farris from The Horrors was quoted in the Guardian as saying: “Politics doesn’t mean anything to me, the stuff that gets discussed on Newsnight isn’t relevant to me, and it’s pretty much not relevant to anyone.” And this was from a singer in a band who was supposedly well educated. “I don’t think you get anything from voting. I find it funny that someone would vote for another person, whether it’s on Celebrity Big Brother or as a politician, on the basis that they could imagine going for a drink with them. I just think voting is for people who don’t have their own imagination. It’s for a different generation. You’re not accomplishing anything.”

Well sorry Farris. You’re wrong. And thankfully after Brexit, Trump and the rise of the 1000-1 outsider Corbyn, people in all aspects of pop music are talking about politics in interviews, to their audiences and in songs. It's important because young people look up to musicians and their favourite pop stars. If they're talking about politics then it makes it OK / cool for their fans to do the same. 

Since naming him as one of my Ones to Watch for 2017 last year, Dave has been developing a bigger and bigger audience and in his new track Question Time he’s certainly talking about the issues that matter in this quite incredible track. Game over Farris. 

Dave - Question Time (Video)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

New Music: The Rhythm Method - Something For The Weekend (Video)


One things I’ve always been a fan of in pop music is the Marmite band and The Rhythm Method are very much are Marmite band. (Apologies to readers in countries who don’t have Marmite and hence have no idea what I’m talking about. To explain it’s a spreadable yeast extract which is often put on toast in the UK and is generally either loved or hated by those who have tried it. There is no middle ground.) 

In the case of The Rhythm Method I fall very much on the positive side of things. There are so many things to love. There’s the clever / funny / sometimes politicised wordplay that reminds me a little of everything from Ian Dury to The Streets. There’s the way they manage to sneak in the pop hooks amongst the spoken word and before you know it you're humming the tunes and wondering how they got into your head. There’s the way that every song sounds that little bit different from the previous and yet they are all undeniably by the same band. There’s the way that the duo don’t really look like pop stars / musicians at all (although what exactly a pop star / musician is meant to look like, I really don’t know – but maybe just not like The Rhythm Method).

The Rhythm Method are one of those acts that will probably never appeal to the masses, but from the couple of shows I’ve seen them play now (at The Great Escape and in the Bollywood Tent at Bestival), they will appeal to some – perhaps a mini-cult following? They're on the Moshi Moshi label as well, which seems a perfect home for them, being a label that often specialises in the slightly off-kilter but still accessible side of pop music.

Here’s the video for their latest funky offering, Something For The Weekend, which actually came out a few weeks ago, but as a true professional fan amateur I have only got round to posting today. It has all the things I like about them present and correct.

They’re out on tour in the UK at the moment. Go and see why they make me smile if you get the chance.

The Rhythm Method - Something For The Weekend (Video)


New Music: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights (Video)


Here’s a video that came out yesterday from Julien Baker and immediately appeared on all the big music sites like Pitchfork, Stereogum, The Fader etc. Yet it’s a tune weighted with so much emotional power and finesse that I felt compelled to put it on my small scale old school personal music blog, albeit a day later.

Why?

It’s because of a moment. 

That moment, two and a half minutes in, has the same effect as THAT crescendo moment in Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars (at around 2:50 for anyone wanting to compare the similarity). Now of course music snobs will shudder at the mention of Snow Patrol, but bear with me, because emotions are an individual and personal thing, and both the Snow Patrol song and this song pulled at my same heartstrings. Radiohead’s Creep does it as well as it launches into the chorus. 

It’s that surge of power. It touches on something raw and primal. It stops you in your tracks. Here although 'the moment' is clearly full of angst and a certain sadness, it sounds so vitally from the soul that it becomes oddly uplifting. It does one of the things that many of the best sad songs do – however heavy and downfallen they might be lyrically they have the power to make the listener feel alive. 

Starting from simple beginnings (I’m not sure if the lyrics about a hole in the wall not being fixed are a deep metaphor for something or quite simply a reflection of Julien’s lack of DIY skills, in which case she needs to get a builder in. More likely they're a reflection of her state of mind and not being able to get round to doing things.) Turn Out The Lights soon dives in deep: “Can you help me, I just wanted to go to sleep?” she sings softly before that cathartic wail kicks in. “When I turn out the lights.”

Raw. Brutal. Intense. 

Superb.

Turn Out The Lights is taken from a forthcoming album of the same name, was recorded at Ardent Studios in Baker's hometown of Memphis and is the follow up to her much acclaimed record Sprained Ankle

Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

New Music: Sølv - Codeine


Back with some black liquid electronic gold comes Sølv, the singer who by all clues should be from Scandinavia, but isn’t. Following her debut EP from 2016 Sølv now begins a drip feed of new material with the exquisite chill-pop of Codeine. This isn’t a song that screams at you, instead it slides starkly into your ears, intent on slow-burning skeletal seduction. A song of obsession and addiction and not having “a care when we’re young,” Codeine sounds sinister, shadowy and claustrophobic, not because there’s huge layers of sound pressing down on you, but the opposite – it’s tightening grip is due to the minimalism of it all.

Sølv - Codeine

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

New Music: Belle And Sebastian - I'll Be Your Pilot


To this day Belle And Sebastian are the only band that I’ve bought an album of purely because of the cover. Their second album If You’re Feeling Sinister was my entry point to the group, not by the music, but because of that classic dual-tone red and black photo; so simple, but so effective, evoking so many ideas and stories in my head. 

From there Belle And Sebastian soon became one of my favourite gangs, from a shambolic but brilliant early set at the Union Chapel in Islington through to falling in love with the series of EPs they put out in the late 90’s through Jeepster, with similarly brilliantly simple but wonderful photograph covers. 

Lazy Line Painter Jane (featuring Monica Queen of the much under rated band Thrum, who I wrote about in 2016 which you can find by clicking here), is one of my all time most loved songs. There's a great blog post about it here. It's a song that contains not one but two sets of my favourite lyrics: “Boo to the business world! You know a girl who's tax free, on her back and making plenty cash, you are working for the joy of giving,” and “You are in two minds, tossing a coin to decide, whether you should tell your folks about a dose of thrush, you got from licking railings,” which now, incredibly, is quoted on line in the Urban Dictionary. I’d certainly never heard the expression ‘licking railings’ before - I was such a nice boy you see - so I blame Belle And Sebastian for opening my mind to new sordid expressions. They changed me.

In fact, my obsession with Belle and Sebastian became so consuming that for a year or two I’d only fancy girls who I thought looked like Belle And Sebastian fans; basically hairclips, dresses and glasses was my go to ideal woman. Yes, I was that obsessed. 

Thankfully, my infatuation with the band has dwindled over the years, and if I’m painfully honest a lot of their later work hasn’t always hit the spot with me, although there are always some gems on every album and every time I’ve seen them play live they’ve been great value.

Which brings me to the here and now. With a new tour announced for next year Belle And Sebastian are about to do something that will undoubtedly please a lot of old fans and perhaps keep it interesting for themselves as well. For they are due to release, not one, not two, but three EPs in quick succession, breaking away from the traditional release mechanism of throwing out a few singles, then an album. The EPs are all titled How To Solve Our Human Problems and from EP2 comes this new song. 

I’ll Be Your Pilot definitely harks back a little to past glory days in terms of its sonics. Whilst Belle And Sebastian have never been a particularly savage sounding band, I’ll Be Your Pilot certainly captures their softer, more comforting side. As a parent, this is a song I can personally relate to, even down to the Little Prince references. I have no idea if my complete lack of parenting skills when my first of two was born was a blessing or curse, but I think the idea of keeping your children safe is just something we’re all innately born with, and although ‘keeping your children alive till they’re old enough to look after themselves’ isn’t the most aspirational of parenting goals, it was one I was happy to set for myself. I'm pleased to report that to date I have achieved that goal. 

Anyway, I’ll Be Your Pilot is rather lovely, and irrespective of if you are a parent or not, there’s probably someone in the world you care for a lot and just want to make sure they’re OK. That, like this song, is a good thing. The world is so much nicer when we're just nice to each other - that's how to solve our human problems. 

Belle And Sebastian - I'll Be Your Pilot

Sunday, 8 October 2017

New Music: Introducing - Ella Grace


When an email dropped into my blog in box a few days ago with the details of an ‘indie folk newcomer’ and I had a look at her social media accounts I expected to see the usual few hundred fans that any regular new artist would have as they try to establish an audience. Yet Ella Grace is different. With over 200,000 on Instagram and 33,000 followers on Twittter clearly there are other forces at work here.

That’s because Ella Grace is more widely known as Ella Grace Denton, a former You Tuber and blogger (she wrote the now deleted We Need to Live More, a blog targeted mostly at young women, that encouraged mental wellness, for them to be happy, healthy, connect to the real world and ditch self-doubt for self-love) who has been sharing her journey, both highs and lows, with people from the age of 16.

Normally social media stars crossovers to other creative pursuits are pretty fruitless except for gaining the author a bag of cash; take for example Zoella’s attempt at literature, which was hardly going to win her the Man Booker prize, but with Ella Grace things are different. 

Having already shared a small amount of music online (a demo of a song called Walk With Me on Soundcloud, three songs Wild Roads, Away From Here and She on You Tube and another, a hippyish ditty about love, the destruction of the planet and the fast pace of life uploaded on Flo Morrissey’s You Tube Channel) her latest tune is called Here We Are Again and it’s rather gorgeous. 

With the sound of birdsong in the background Here We Are Again immerses itself in the natural and organic. Over acoustic folky instrumentation not dissimilar to something Laura Marling might produce Ella sings in a calm and soothing voice of journeys, sorrows and endings and then adds a question of hope: “Can butterflies now live where darkness crept in?” A beautifully quiet moment of reflection that shows that Ella Grace has a lot more to offer than just social media skills.

Ella Grace - Here We Are Again


Friday, 6 October 2017

New Music: Jade Bird - Grinnin' In Your Face (Live Video)


Has Jade Bird wowed you yet? She first wowed me back in August 2016 (in this introducing post). Then she gave more wows when I finally saw her live at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton and then the wows were even bigger at Latitude Festival a few months later, where her name went into my book named Good Grief These People Have Got It. Around that time Jade also delivered Something American, her first EP proper and all the wows aligned together to make one even bigger WOW. At times passionate, vulnerable and beautiful Something American mixed country, blues, folk and other shades of Americana with commanding effect. 

Others have also begun to be wowed, with Jade winning the Anchor 2017 prize at the Reeperbahn Festival, the jury stating that she displayed an “impressively broad range displaying strong songwriting and musicianship, bringing something fresh and unconventional to her genre".

If you still haven’t been wowed maybe this new live video from Jade will do the trick. Together with Will from the Mystery Jets Jade takes on Son House’s Grinnin’ In Your Face from her EP. It’s two minutes of raw power that I suspect will go down particularly well stateside – not bad from a girl from Hexham, a relatively small market town in the UK. 

Jade will be playing at Omeara in London on the 17th Oct, supporting Son Little in November in the US, plus one date with First Aid Kit and will be supporting Lewis Capaldi on the majority of his UK tour in November and December. Hopefully 2018 will see a full UK headline tour as Jade’s name and voice gets known.

Get ready to go wow. This is special. 

Jade Bird - Grinnin' In Your Face

Thursday, 5 October 2017

New Music: Tempesst - Waiheke


The first thing I did after listening to the new song from Tempesst, was to Google Waiheke, which demonstrates my lack of Geography knowledge, but also shows how educational music can be when you have unusual or interesting reference points. According to the ubiquitous search engine it is an Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. A bit of further searching reveals that Toma from the band and his girlfriend went there a while ago and the song comes as a result of a tarot card reading on the Island with his girlfriend’s dad.

When I first featured Tempesst on the blog in 2015 (was it that long ago - time flies doesn't it?) I talked of how the band’s music swirled with colour and a hint of psychedelia and there’s an element of that here as well. Starting with a howl of noise and a cosmic throb Waiheke is all about big expansive sky-searching riffs, dreamy vocals and bedazzling guitars that take you somewhere rather mystical. Indie kids, shoegaze dreamers and progressive rock fans will probably find something to lose themselves in here. I’d like to hear this in amongst clouds of dry ice and trippy visuals, played very loud.

An EP is due from the band at the end of the month and live dates also follow.

Tempesst - Waiheke

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

New Music: The Shacks - This Strange Effect (Video)


New York’s The Shacks might have just become the latest stars of an iPhone advert, but they've been around for some time now. They formed in a in 2014 when Max Shrager was recording in a studio, but didn’t have a vocalist. Enter one Shannon Wise who Max knew from high school and voila, The Shacks were born. Two years later The Shacks EP was released to the world. It’s a record that sounds so out of place, so old fashioned, that it’s oddly refreshing. If someone played you The Shacks today and you knew nothing about them you’d almost certainly say that they were some long lost forgotten cult band from the 50’s or 60’s, right up to Shannon’s breathy whispered vocal, simple drum sounds and the twangy rhythm guitars. Take a listen to the EP on Bandcamp here.

A month or so ago the band released a video from one of the stand out tracks from the EP, the dreamy This Strange Effect, which is a rework of a song written by Ray Davies of The Kinks, originally released by Dave Berry in 1965. It came to my attention (and possibly yours) via the new advert for the iPhone 8 Plus. Rather than just using actors the advert places Shannon Wise of the band in the centre of the whole thing. Enjoy the full-length video by the band and for completeness I’ve also included the iPhone advert. Damn you Apple for sneakily getting me to carry advertising for your products on Breaking More Waves.

The Shacks - This Strange Effect (Video)



iPhone 8 Plus Advert - featuring The Shacks



Monday, 2 October 2017

New Music: Firewoodisland - Dearest Brother


There’s something rather life-affirming about Dearest Brother, the new single from Stian Vedøy, Abi Eleri, Stephen Allen and Dylan Jones, who are better known as Firewoodisland.

It’s a song of friendship, compassion and tough love for someone who has been hurt by bad decisions: “I am walking in when the world is stepping out,” emotes the hook as the tune heads skywards after a warm and gentle beginning of soft 70’s sounding acoustic guitars and harmonies. The band have tagged the song ‘Mountain pop’ on their Soundcloud and that’s certainly a good description. Dearest Brother sounds like it could be hollered from the tops of the earth; it has a that certain celestial quality to it.

Having already picked up support with their 2014 debut EP lld and the following Dome EP last year, Dearest Brother should allow the Bristol based four piece to find even more fans of their wonderful songwriting.

Firewoodisland - Dearest Brother

New Music: First Aid Kit - It's A Shame


This one has already been all over the big sites, but just in case like me you’ve been busy and are playing catch up, here’s the new song from Sweden’s finest country band First Aid Kit

Klara and Johanna Söderberg know how to write a song don’t they?

It’s A Shame might sound like a breezily uplifting piece of Americana, but delve a little deeper and running through it you’ll find a vein of sadness as the sisters sing of being in sunny LA yet ‘the sun’s too bright, I cannot get it right, the emptiness I feel, and now none of it seems real.’ 

Following their glorious performance at Glastonbury earlier this year, which confirmed First Aid Kit as one of the most talented young bands you can possibly hear, the band return to the UK for a one-off show at Shoreditch town hall on November 1st, which has already sold out. It's A Shame paves the way for a new First Aid Kit album.

First Aid Kit - It's A Shame