Tuesday, 21 February 2017
I’m not sure if Leeds based 3-piece Polo are named after the horseback sport, the Volkswagen car, the aftershave (which takes its name from the sport) or the classic British mint sweet with a hole in it, but what I do know is that their quirky and twitchy song Gold Horizons, taken from their debut EP Alice is an earworm.
Over pitter-patter beats, including what sounds like a dripping tap, and crisp tropical electronics it finds law student Kat McHugh singing of a bad choice; a devil on her shoulder that she keeps mistaking for an angel. There’s something devilish about the tune itself too as it sneaks gently up on you in its three minutes and forty seconds of oddball but delightfully enjoyable astute pop.
Released today, Soak, the second song from the EP gives a further dimension to the band’s sound. It’s both vulnerable in its lyrical delivery but fully robust and ergonomically designed in its detailed electronic soul pop delivery and adds a new dimension to their first release.
Take a listen to both songs below. The Alice EP is out on 10th March. The trio are currently playing a handful of dates across the country and will be at The Garage in London on 24th February.
Polo - Gold Horizons
Polo - Soak
Leave your preconceived ideas at the door for this one. If you saw the name Winston Marshall and thought ‘he’s in Mumford & Sons’ you’re right. What you’d be wrong about though was if you had assumed that this collaboration with Austrian electronic production duo HVOB was going to sound something akin to the vomit inducing techno-folk of Wake Me Up by Avicii. For The Blame Game, the first single from HVOB’s upcoming album Silk, is a thing of absolute beauty rather than something shameful, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
Taking you on a journey from sedately intimate XX-like reverb laden guitar chords to dark whirlpools of warped wavy techno this is a song that needs all of the six minutes it occupies to expand fully outwards whilst immersing you inwards. Yet those six minutes never feel long. In fact they seem to pass far too quickly.
The song came about simply because Marshall emailed HVOB telling them that he liked their music and that he’d like to work with them. The duo didn’t take the email seriously at first, believing it to be fake, but a year and a half later, this unusual meeting of minds has produced a stunning piece of music that deserves your attention, whatever your thoughts on Mumford & Sons.
HVOB and Winston Marshall - The Blame Game
Monday, 20 February 2017
Total banger alert!
Take one call and response chant, a pumping house backing, some crafty guitar licks and some smooth lyrics about keeping you up all night and there you have it. Ten imagine throwing in a dancefloor, darkness, strobes, dry ice and a whole bunch of people ready to go batshit mental and you’ve got yourself A MOMENT.
Actually, you’ve got yourself A MOMENT even without the dry ice and strobes. Just turn this one up and add it to your best bangers in the worlds ever playlist.
There's a hint of Sleigh Bells with this one, as Sofi Tukker bring the noise. "This is one of the first times Sophie has ever screamed," say the duo. "Unfortunately there's a lot to scream about right now."
Sofi Tukker - Greed
Sunday, 19 February 2017
With its liquid gold synths and soft beats, Closer, the debut song from Norway’s Emma Jensen, sounds a tiny bit like Grimes on downers.
A hypnotic ode to wanting to hold on to someone who is drifting out of your relationship, this tune has a relatively sparse musical simplicity that in lesser hands could just float away to nothingness. Jensen does better than that though – it’s as if she is wiggling her musical finger at you beckoning you to be drawn in, then once you’re there she adds a surprising bluesy guitar riff just to prove that this isn’t just electropop balladry by numbers.
A soft sounding yet musically strong start from Jensen, it's probably not surprising that over the last week or so Closer has been picked up by quite a few new music blogs, Certainly it's my favourite song to come from Norway since we last heard from Aurora - and that's pretty decent company to keep.
Emma Jensen plays by:Larm festival in Oslo this March.
Emma Jensen - Closer
Saturday, 18 February 2017
When it comes to end of decade best of lists, I’m afraid I won’t be taking any notice of yours in 2019 if it doesn’t contain Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Lana Del Rey’s Video Games.
Thankfully, whilst Video Games made Lana a star she’s managed to sustain herself with a series of records that have kept a consistency both in terms of quality and style whilst influencing many wannabee Lanas along the way.
Now, after a series of posters appeared in L.A last week, with their photos cropping up all over social media feeds, she returns with a song simply called Love (surely this should have been released on Valentine's day? Her label missed a trick there) and it’s a right old fan pleaser.
“Look at you kids, you know, you know you’re the coolest. The world is yours and you can’t refuse it. Seen so much you could get the blues, but that don’t mean that you should abuse it,” she coos in that effortless languid tone of hers. It's a song that deals with the mixed emotions and confusions of youthful love; not knowing where the ride is going to take you, but you’ve got to go on that journey anyway. “Doesn’t matter if I’m not enough, for the future or the things to come, ‘cause I’m young and in love.”
It's romantic, dreamy and perfectly Lana.
Lana Del Rey - Love
Friday, 17 February 2017
When I first featured Pumarosa on Breaking More Waves in 2015 (when the Puma and Rosa bits still had a gap in between them), I mentioned a track called Dragonfly. “A tune that wades in atmospherics, slowly drip feeding its meticulous indie sound in a way that suggests that Puma Rosa have been doing this for some time, which of course they have,” I wrote, referring to Ada, their previous guise. Now here we are in 2017 and what goes around comes around, because Dragonfly has been unleashed into the world again and although I’m relatively sure this is a new version of the song, it still ticks all the boxes that it did before.
Dragonfly is taken from Pumarosa’s forthcoming debut album which is called The Witch, a title which seems to perfectly capture the essence of their music – dark, spiritual, bleak and haunting. Other song titles on the record include Snake, Barefoot, Lions Den and of course Priestess, the brilliant debut single. The Witch will be released on the 19th May.
Pumarosa - Dragonfly
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
At the risk of Breaking More Waves just becoming a musical Xerox machine, constrained to pump out posts about acts of certain genres, here’s a brand new piece of electronic sounding pop from London’s Ider. You may remember them from an introducing post I ran last year.
Listening to Face On I imagine that Megan and Lily, who make up this duo, would have been the two kids at school who always sat at the back of class, were far too hip to talk to the likes of you and me and were already sneaking their way into nightclubs by the time they were 16. However, irrespective of my imagination of their cool misspent youth, Face On is a very neat piece of electronic pop blessed with dark ominous sounding verses and an airy hooky chorus, that gets the Breaking More Waves seal of approval, whatever that is is? Maybe a cheesy double thumbs-up?
Face On comes from Ider’s debut EP which is due on the 31st March and have signed to Aesop (SOHN, TALA etc.) for its release. The band have already sold out their debut headline show at Bermondsey Social Club on the 6th April and have a variety of festival dates announced including Live At Leeds and End of the Road.
Ider - Face On
Monday, 13 February 2017
What’s your view on lyric videos? Originally, I thought they were a little tacky, but as time has gone by I’ve come to like them quite a lot – they’re really just an internet enabled version of pulling the record out, putting the needle down, immersing yourself in the songs and reading the sleeve-notes and lyrics as the music plays. It seems a far more holistic experience and, for me, keeps my focus on listening.
In The City is a slice dreamy indie pop of the melancholy variety from Northern Ireland’s Bad Fit and comes with one such lyric video; but there’s a bit more to it than just being a vehicle to convey the words. Being on your own in a big city can, for some, make you feel more alone than being in an empty place, and the scenes of space portrayed in this film convey that very idea; sometimes people need to get away from everything to find comfort. Take a listen to In The City below, soak up its pretty melodies and chiming guitars whilst you let your worries float away.
Bad Fit - In The City (Video)
Sunday, 12 February 2017
The last time I saw London based duo Glass they had ditched the keyboards and were making a mainly guitar based racket, with lead singer Jessica Winter prowling and pouting the stage as if she was possessed by the very spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. So, it comes as some surprise to see that new single Vulnerable sounds like the marching anthem of the lonely alt-pop kids, with a big killer chorus: “Oh she’s vulnerable, really shouldn’t be alone, someone should take care of her, she doesn’t have a home.” Whether the song is dealing with physical or emotional vulnerability isn’t really clear, nor if Jessica is sneering with disagreement at the idea of a woman alone is vulnerable, or if it’s a straight-laced commentary, but either way singing this one out loud is a strength-giver.
Produced by Dan Grech, who has worked with artists such as The Vaccines, Lana Del Rey and Circa Waves and Keane, Vulnerable is out now via Supernatural records and comes with a karaoke styled video (which you can find by clicking here). As is the way with the internet these days, the duo’s previous releases have mysteriously disappeared from Soundcloud, although you’ll still find them on other streaming services like Spotify. Glass play Camden Assembly, London on the 9th March.
I’ve always liked the fact that despite the musical beauty of The Staves, their language is occasionally potty mouthed on stage in between songs and now, in the song itself. Tired As Fuck was written during the course of a relationship breakdown and deals with how, as with the rest of the crap life tends to throw at you, sometimes you just have to carry on irrespective of the lack of help. It's a classic British problem in particular. When someone asks you how you are, we tend to answer with "I'm fine," even if we're not.
The unedited video that promotes the song was inspired by Andy Warhol’s work and a series of moving portraits.
The Staves - Tired As Fuck
Sunday, 5 February 2017
Whilst in no way does this blog encourage the use of excessive alcohol whilst listening to music, undoubtedly many songs can be enhanced with the odd glass / can / bottle or two. Take for example The Nolans and I’m In The Mood For Dancing. Put that on after everyone’s had a few vodka based cocktails and you’ll be surprised who is suddenly up on the dancefloor flinging their arms and hips around with abandon.
Mentioning The Nolans in the same breath as Manchester based epic-rock cacophonists Embers isn’t probably something that you would imagine comes naturally, but as I’m reliably informed by the band that new song Signs (their first in an absolute age) is probably listened to best after a bottle and a half of red wine, or at least enough so that you don’t mind the neighbour’s complaints, there is some synergy with the Anglo-Irish singing pop sisters.
Actually, I don’t think my neighbours would complain about this. After all, there’s very little to dislike, and yes, it really is best played very loud. In fact, it’s music that’s best to feel as well as hear, so turn it right up to get the floors and walls vibrating.
Signs is one half of a double A sided release due on 13th March. They also support Clock Opera in Manchester at the Night & Day Café on March 1st, a show that also features recently covered Diving Station. What a gig that will be - so if you're in the vicinity, get down early.
Embers - Signs (Video)
What’s not to like about a band who describe their music as desert disco, glam-a-billy, space blues and r&beyond? Then throw in a tap dancing drummer, get the two members of the band to marry each other and hey presto, you’ve got Kolars.
The first song I heard from this unusual U.S duo was the husky anti-career chasing anthem One More Thrill. It channels the spirit of The Strokes through the ghost of Johnny Cash with a blast of confetti canon thrown in for good measure before it ends with a satisfying thud. It’s cool as f*ck and struts like it knows it is.
Previously members of glam-folk band He's My Brother She's My Sister, Kolars consists of Rob who sings and riffs the guitar with some aplomb and Lauren who drums, whilst tap dancing on the kit itself. They’re probably the first group I’ve come across to fully implement tap in their music since Northumbrian folkies The Unthanks.
Take a listen to One More Thrill below and find a couple more of their songs (Bullet on the Run, Beyond The World Of Man) on streaming services. The band are out on tour in the US at the moment and will be crossing over to Europe this Spring. They're guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Kolars - One More Thrill
Friday, 3 February 2017
Pop music is awash with songs about break-ups, love, infatuation and sex – it’s the core diet of the thing - but nobody is writing about it quite like Sälen. “I used to dream of dying so you would cry at my funeral,” sings Ellie Kamio. What is going on in her mind I wonder? One of for the psychologists to explain perhaps? They’d probably give some explanation that related her words to her parental upbringing, for which Ellie gives some clues in the song: “My mama always told me to break five hearts every day.” Ouch. Don't mess with Mama Ellie is my advice.
Like previous tracks Diseasey (which I featured here) and Copper Kiss, Heartbreak Diet is brilliantly odd lyrically, but is 100% accessible due to its melodies and tune. In the game of good pop bad pop, Sälen are winning.
Sälen - Heartbreak Diet
Bad Sounds last single Wages managed to channel the spirit of a couple of long lost but hopefully not forgotten pop classics, namely Len’s Steal My Sunshine and The Soup Dragons baggy big hitter I’m Free. It was brassy, groovy, fuzzy and managed to name check John Travolta – always something to aim for in a pop song.
Now they’re back with Meat On My Bones, which takes a loose old-school hip hop beat and throws all sorts over the top of it. It’s a tech savvy bundle of interesting sounds (I particularly like the sexy sixties organ and the chimes) and easily hits the big gold quirky pop button that everyone can enjoying pressing now and again. It even manages to put the words oesophagus and rhinoceros in one sentence. For that alone it needs to be celebrated. Bad Sounds? Nah. Good good sounds.
Bad Sounds - Meat On My Bones
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
I almost didn’t post this new song by London Grammar. Why? Not because it’s poor (it isn’t), but because having been released earlier today, the speed at which the internet works probably means that almost every one of you has already listened to it. Then I realised that if like me, you worked for close to fourteen hours non-stop with only one ten minute break, you might have got home from work and not have heard it yet. Or maybe you are in another part of the world from me and are only just waking up? Then I also had to remind myself that this blog isn’t about hits or being the most well-known. In many ways one of its purposes is to be a personal timestamp for me – a musical and personal diary of sorts – that reminds me of what my views and opinions of things were at a particular time.
A few days ago, someone criticised me online about something that I wrote on my blog a few years back. It was a reference to an ‘all female band’ and their argument was that I didn’t need to make a point about their sex especially as I didn’t write about ‘all male bands’, I understood their criticism; infact it was something I had slightly changed my viewpoint on some time ago, long before they raised it. So I replied to them on this basis explaining that I had thought about this in the past, and whilst the issue was complicated (I had been trying to celebrate the fact that there were women out there forming bands, as sadly even at grass roots level there are more male artists in my in box compared with female ones – in fact back in 2015 Leigh from Just Music I Like music blog did a survey that found that 78% of all submissions to his blog were of male artists and only 22% female – click here for more detail), I had concluded after giving it some thought that whilst equal opportunities was important to me, there was something a little sexist and wrong in only mentioning 'all-female bands'. Better to just get on with writing about the music - the sex was unimportant.
But my writing is a timestamp. It was my view of the world at that moment. As we continue through life, our experiences, thoughts and the way we do things are influenced and may change, for the better or worse. I worry for people who are so fixed in their opinions that they are never able to consider another viewpoint – something that the internet bubble of Twitter seems to help foster. There are so many people shouting their opinion in 140 characters and then arguing the toss and not enough people trying to understand why someone might see things differently to them.
So right now, I positively love this London Grammar song. Maybe in a month, a year, or five years I won’t feel exactly the same. Our relationships with music, just like people, don’t have to remain consistent – views of things alter. It’s why people who thought they were in love get divorced. It's why I'm a 'floating voter' and have voted for more than one political party in my life time. It’s why now I don’t write ‘all female band’ just as I don’t write ‘all male band’. It’s why when I listen back to The Kooks I think ‘how on earth did I ever like this lot?”
But for now, if you’ve made it this far through this waffle, and haven’t heard it, take a listen to this gorgeous song. If you don't agree - give it time. It's a grower. Maybe eventually you'll change your mind.
London Grammar - Big Picture (Video)