Wednesday, 21 February 2018

New Music: Confidence Man - Don't You Know I'm In A Band

If  only all pop music was as good as the pop music that Confidence Man make.

No wonder their album, due via Heavenly on the 13th April is called Confident Music For Confident People. It makes you want to strut your stuff.

Here is a group that clearly knows that pop music at its best is fun, irreverent, has a dance routine or two and wants to shove itself hard into your ears and stay there until it's done with you.

Before that album comes a new song. It's a live favourite (although I should caveat this statement with the fact that every track that Confidence Man do live is a live favourite of mine). It's called Don't You Know I'm In A Band. Lead co-vocalist and striker of some seriously aggressive dance moves Janet Planet has described the song as for people who think they're cool just because they're in a band, before adding, with (I expect) tongue firmly in cheek: "People like us".

We're in an era where there's a strong argument that pop music is becoming overly homogenised. Confidence Man are the counter to that argument. Get out of their way, put them in VIP and give them champagne now.

Confidence Man - Don't You Know I'm In A Band

Monday, 19 February 2018

New Music: Introducing - Lilo's Wall

Consisting of Christie Gardner and Helen Dixon, the music of Lilo’s Wall casts the same sort of blissful spell as Watford’s finest The Staves. It’s all soft acoustic strums, golden harmonies and a calm intimacy that manages to create a quiet lull amongst chaotic pace of the world. It’s folk-pop cast from something rather graceful and lovely.

This Winchester two-piece have been playing together for a number of years now and last year released an extended play single Tinted Windows / Tough Love that picked up a small amount of attention including from their local BBC Introducing radio show, but really not enough. So, with the tracks being uploaded to Soundcloud over the last few days it seems an opportune moment to feature them on Breaking More Waves and hopefully guide their music towards a few more as yet unknowing ears. Take a listen below and find the full three track EP on all the usual streaming services.

Lilo's Wall - Tough Love

Sunday, 18 February 2018

New Music: Bloxx - Novocain

I've often written on Breaking More Waves about how if you’re going to see a particular band headline a gig, make sure you get there early and watch the supports. There’s lots of reasons for this, but the primary one is for your own benefit. Just because an act isn’t top of the bill doesn’t mean they couldn’t be in the future. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to see acts such as Radiohead, The Killers, Ellie Goulding, Jorja Smith and Franz Ferdinand play as support acts in tiny clubs for way less than you would pay to see them now. And if you do go and watch the supports, please have the common decency and manners to actually listen to them, not just treat their music as a backing track to your conversation with your mates.

So, here’s another support band recommendation. If you’re in the UK and are going to see Pale Waves on their sold-out UK tour then make sure you get there early for Bloxx. They’ve already been featured on Breaking More Waves a number of times and their new song Novocain justifies another post. It's a vibrantly exciting piece of guitar pop that struts and shimmers with all the confidence of someone who has just slipped on some shiny new shoes and knows they look bloody good in them. To be honest Bloxx probably don’t need anybody to tell them that they sound good – you can hear they know it. Another two fingers up against anyone who says that guitar music is dead, this one walks it.

Bloxx - Novocain

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

New Music: Emma McGrath - Love You Better (Video)

Harpenden’s Emma McGrath has been making music for some time now, with her first EP The Judgement released as far back as 2014. Yet it’s her latest song Love You Better that has suddenly seen a flurry of interest on line. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed a number of blogs that I visit such as Crack In The Road, Too Many Blogs and Going Solo all posting the song and it’s easy to understand why. Love You Better has a fully-grown completeness to it. It’s a guitar-based pop tune, but the sort of classic thoughtful pop song you might find being played out on BBC Radio 2 rather than Radio 1. 

It’s probably fair to say that on first listen Love You Better probably isn’t the sort of track that you’d expect interpretive dancing (or in fact dancing of any kind) to be done to, but you’d be wrong. The video, which was released today, features exactly that and it’s surprising how well it works.

Of the song Emma says: "It's an interesting song, that can be viewed in two different ways. The lyrics "I can love you better in the long run" have juxtaposing meanings - "I'll become a better person" or "I'm better than that person". It says a lot about the attitude of an individual in love."

Having received a PRS Foundation Women Make Music grant in 2017 Emma has been working with the likes of Grammy Award winning Jimmy Hogarth and Brit School alumni Jackson and Rhiannon Mair to develop her work. Her new 6 track EP Silent Minds is due for release in April.

Emma McGrath - Love You Better (Video)

New Music : Grace Carter - Silhouette (Video)

Last year when I published my annual Ones to Watch tip list for 2018 one name that I picked that I was a little surprised not to see on lots of lists was Grace Carter. Why was I surprised? Because of two simple things. First, because she is a super talented and composed vocalist. Secondly her debut single Silence was the sweetest of perfections and if she got anywhere near that with any other songs then she deserved to be taken notice of.

So now it really is time to take notice. Because she’s done it again. Working alongside Justin Parker, the man who is probably most famous for writing Video Games with Lana Del Rey and bagging himself and Ivor Novello award in the process, Grace has created Silhouette. It’s been out for a few weeks now but today she has released a video.

Silhouette is a huge emotional pop ballad that will probably have you gentling sobbing in the corner by the end. Be careful here though, when I saw ‘huge’ I don’t mean that it’s bombastic or over produced – there’s no grand orchestras giving an extra sense of drama. Instead Silhouette strikes the heart with its subtle and tender piano backing and Grace’s soulful voice. It's huge with it's impact. “You keep blowing smoke till you fade to a silhouette. You should've told me you didn't want me,” she sings. Breathtakingly sad and beautiful. Nothing else is required.

Grace Carter - Silhouette (Video)

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

New Music: Introducing - Los Bitchos

I don’t think I’ve ever featured psychedelic-latin rock on Breaking More Waves before, but it seems that right now is the time to tuck into some ceviche, neck a tequila or two and get down to the musical delights of the three-piece known as Los Bitchos. Consisting of Serra (guitar), Carolina (guitar) and Agustina (keys) this London based three-piece are seemingly all about good-times and fun. Now, I know in certain quarters the idea of fun in music is sneered at, the thought being that only seriously deep and careful consideration of anything can add any meaning to life. Well, to those who think like that I have a simple message for you to think about: F*ck you. 

When you’ve witnessed the joy of dancing, hands held high, to I Feel Love on a flashing disco dance floor, or when you’ve shouted out all the words to Toxic by Britney Spears at her show and really couldn’t give a flying fig about if she’s miming or not, or in fact any other moment in music that puts a big smile on your face and leaves you feeling exhilarated and happy then you will know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with fun. It’s life improving. 

Los Bitchos seem life improving. They certainly seem like a lot of fun. Witness their video for Tripping Party which features a multitude of costume changes, slinky dancing, balloons, bubbles and colour for evidence.

Now their new track, a cover of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s Trapdoor keeps the smiles going. This one sounds like a soft-focus advert for a holiday destination from the sixties or perhaps a track from a long-lost album of groovy elevator music called Tropical Easy Listening Hits Yeah! Either way it’s 100% the soundtrack to good times. Here comes summer, with a touch of the Hank Marvins.

Trapdoor is released tomorrow via Portsmouth’s Strong Island Recordings and the band will be getting things groovy when play in the tiny sweat box that is upstairs at Acapulco Bar in Southsea, Portsmouth, UK on 23rd February for the label. 

Los Bitchos - Trapdoor

Los Bitchos - Tripping Party

Monday, 12 February 2018

New Music: Introducing - Lily Moore

Today I’m introducing a new artist to Breaking More Waves, who the chances are you’re going to be hearing a lot more about as 2018 / 2019 rolls on. Her name is Lily Moore and here are the 5 essential facts you need to know right now:

1. Lily Moore used to go by the name Lily Rendle-Moore, but somewhere along the line she dropped the Rendle bit. So, if you saw her last year at Boardmasters, Barn On The Farm or Victorious Festival, or even further back in 2015 at Great Escape festival, yes it’s the same person. But up until now she’s not had an official release.

2. Let’s get the vocal comparisons out of the way shall we? Because there’s no doubt there’s a big dollop of Amy Winehouse in the way that Lily sings. And now maybe enough time has passed that having ‘the new Amy Winehouse’ (hiya Duffy) doesn’t seem such a bad thing. For the record I liked Duffy. Or rather I liked 1st album Duffy. It went very wrong very quickly after that. Let’s hope Lily has taken notes. If a well known soft drinks company approaches you about a naff advert Lily, just say no.

3. Lily is from Brighton. Outside of London I probably feature more artists from Brighton than any other place in the UK and right now there's a whole bunch of great soul singers coming from the south central seaside town. Besides Lily I've already featured a couple of them on the blog, namely Grace Carter and Isabelle Jones. The video that you’ll find below was shot on the seafront and in and around the pier in her home town with her friends, giving it a very natural feel.

4. Lily’s debut single is called Not That Special. It’s bound to get a whole bunch of people using the title to suggest that she’s very wrong and this is that special. It’s a lame joke, but actually correct.

5. Lily has previously supported Tom Grennan and will soon be out on the road with George Ezra. So, if you’re going to see Ezra get there early to witness a special talent.

Take a listen to Lily Moore below and prepare to be impressed.

Lily Moore - Not That Special (Video)

Sunday, 11 February 2018

New Music: Introducing - Jazzi Bobbi

If you’ve seen or heard the music of Nilüfer Yanya then the chances are that you’ve already come across Jazzi Bobbi, even if you weren’t aware of it. If you listen to Yanya’s song Golden Cage the raw low-key saxophone you hear on the track is played by Bobbi. Her connection with Yanya goes further than that though, having toured and supported her last year.

Whilst this Jazzi B is no relation to Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) or Jazzy B (Bhangra Singer) it seems that the name is connected with good music. There are two of her own tracks up on Soundcloud that demonstrate that.

First there’s Don’t Want to Know, which features some menacing alien electronics that sound as if they’re straight out of a horror film. Then there’s the more recent 90r – 0; a song complete with swirling and flickering computerisations and saxophone that is far more likely to find itself on your dead of night comedown playlist than your working out at the gym one. There’s a resemblance to Massive Attack with what Jazzi Bobbi does here – crisp unusual beats and darker unhurried sounds (including the vocals) all binding the songs together. Elsewhere there’s another track called Garden she recorded with her friend Hesse for a Svnset Waves Winter Winds vol. 5, annual winter compilation ‘a variety of sounds perfect for chilly nights from artists around the world’.

This isn’t just someone playing around in the studio either, having supported Nilüfer Yanya you can next find Jazzi Bobbi playing live at The Old Blue Last in London on February 16th where you'll be able to see a bit more of what she is all about.

Jazzi Bobbi - 90r - 0

Hesse - Garden (featuring Jazzi Bobbi)

Saturday, 10 February 2018

New Music: Hookworms - Each Time We Pass (Video)

Regular readers may have noticed a slow down on Breaking More Waves in the last week or so. There’s a simple two-pronged reason for this. First, because I have found very little new music over that time that I really adore. I never want to post something just for the sake of it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t loads of great stuff being released; the likelihood is just that I haven’t been looking in the right places. Or more to the point, and the second reason, I haven’t really been looking at all; because Breaking More Waves HQ has been bouncing all week to the bloody marvellous Microshift, the new album from Hookworms

Yes, it’s only February, but if this album doesn’t crop up on a lot of end of year lists (especially in the UK) something is wrong. A Mercury nomination would be nice as well. A pulverising, yet pleasing, sonically adventurous body of work with a far more accessible and electronic edge than their previous records, Microshift is an album that despite its dark lyrical bent (grief, mental health, break ups) sounds utterly uplifting; it therefore comes as no surprise to find out that yesterday the record entered the UK Top 20 album charts.

If you haven’t heard it yet, buy it, download it, stream it, steal it. Just play it. Who said that bands are dead? They can f*ck off. Microshift is a glorious record.

Maybe if I give it a break from Microshift next week I might post some new music. If not, you’ll understand why. Here's Each Time We Pass from the album. But really, don't listen to one track. This is a body of work that needs to be listened to from start to finish in the order the band present it to you. It works much better that way.

Hookworms - Each Time We Pass (Video)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

New Music: Nilüfer Yanya - Thanks 4 Nothing (Video)

One of the names on this year’s BBC Sound of 2018 longlist that surprised me a little was Nilüfer Yanya, because she just didn’t seem (from my perspective) to have had the same level of industry hype around her that some of the other acts that made the list had. However, there’s no doubt that she was there on merit; when I caught her at last year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton she stood out because her music didn’t fit into one simple category (was it jazz, indie, soul, pop or something else entirely?) and her songs had a simplistic toned-down style that never seemed to desperate to be heard – it was almost as if you had to find them rather them find you. However, once you do discover them, they’re strangely captivating.

Nilüfer’s latest release is a video for her song Thanks 4 Nothing and strangely captivating is the term that applies here. Nilüfer takes the part of some sort of alien tarot reading cult leader, but most importantly to regular readers of Breaking More Waves SHE ENTERS THE MUSICIAN IN THE BATH CLUB, choosing the clothes on water in option. It's bonkers, but that's fine because it seems all musicians have such a yearning desire to get in the tub, and the rest of the video is equally bonkers.

Also nice use of the Prince style of writing 4 rather than for in the title here.

In summary: Great song, weird video. I approve.

Nilüfer Yanya - Thanks 4 Nothing (Video)

Thursday, 1 February 2018

New Music: Courtney Marie Andrews - Kindness Of Strangers

If there’s one thing there’s not enough of, that there really should be more of, is weekend matinee gigs. Have a nice spot of lunch before, stroll down to the venue, enjoy some live music without having to worry if you’re going to cut it too fine and miss the last train home and be home in time for tea – ready for either a night in relaxing and an early night, or going out again to do something else. Maybe even another gig.

Sadly, in all of my gig going years, having seen thousands of bands live, outside of festivals and record shop in-stores I think I’ve only ever been to two matinee shows. This weekend I’ll be making it a third with Courtney Marie Andrews.

Andrews has already placed herself firmly in my musical affections with her previous gospel tinged song May Your Kindness Remain (posted here) and now the caring theme continues, this time with Kindness of Strangers, a song that came from the idea that sometimes when you’re feeling low, a few simple words or a nice action from another human being can mean everything. It’s pretty simple really isn’t it? Just be nice to people and the world will be a much better place. 

I’ve already written about how Courtney’s new material reminds me of some of Maria Mckee’s work and this song with the soulful backing vocals and piano in amongst the country guitars does the same. Then of course there’s her voice; strong, commanding and full of emotional clout.

The new album seems to be shaping up very nicely and it should be a pleasure to see her in a tiny pub mid-afternoon this weekend. (Both of her Guildford shows, matinee and daytime are sold out, but she returns to the UK this spring for a larger tour in bigger venues).

Courtney Marie Andrews - Kindness Of Strangers

New Music: Chvrches - Get Out

Here’s a picture of one of Breaking More Waves favourite bands. You know who they are, they’re Chvrches. Now at this stage in proceedings I should write a lengthy post (or maybe I’d I call it an essay if  wanted to give it a sense of gravitas and importance) on their brand new song, their first single in two years. 

It’s called Get Out

But then being the type of person that visits music blogs as you clearly are probably means that by now you’ve already read plenty of pieces about Get Out on other sites. A lot of them will have been lifted straight from the press release. You will also possibly have heard Lauren from the band talking on the radio about Chvrches 2018 (or #CHV3 as the band are using on Twitter) and how when they play gigs they’ll be introducing live drums to the set and how they decided to not self-produce this album but worked with Greg Kurstin of Adele, Foo Fighters and Sia fame.

So instead let’s turn our attention to that photo. It’s just a regular promo photo right? Of course. But look again. Don’t you think Iain from the band is actually looking younger than he was 3 or 4 years ago? Is he actually the Benjamin Button of pop? And what about the people in the background? There are some girls who seem to be staring straight at the camera or band. Are they Chvrches super-fans and if so are they so star struck that their faces have melted off? Because it looks like that. And who is that guy on the far left? The one with his hand in his pocket. He looks a bit sinister. And why is Martin also looking to the left (his right)? What has he spotted? Is he becoming slowly aware of creepy guy behind him who is about to draw a knife and stab him in the back because he’s a ‘real music’ fan and can’t stand bands who destroy it with all those synths and computers? How will the scene unfold? Maybe we'll see that in the promo pic for the next release?

You probably didn’t get commentary like that on Pitchfork did you? 

That’s why Breaking More Waves is an irrelevant two-bit blog written by one person on his laptop with an old school Blogspot template and Pitchfork is Pitchfork. 

Anyway, Get Out. You probably already know this but it’s a VERY GOOD POP SONG. Dark sexy synths in the verse and a hooky chorus. It’s 100% recognisably Chvrches but doesn’t sound jaded or heard-it-all-before.

If you have missed it so far, here it is.

It's great to have them back.

Chvrches - Get Out

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

New Music: Let's Eat Grandma - Hot Pink

With it being the end of January it seems like a good time to draw to your attention that I run a playlist with all the tracks I’ve featured in the previous month on Breaking More Waves on Spotify, assuming of course that the songs have been uploaded to the streaming service. If you want to follow it, as some of you nice people have, you can find it by clicking this link here. I update the playlist at the end of every month, so if you go there now you’ll find everything from January (excluding songs featured in previews of festivals), including the track I’m posting today, which is the new single from Rosa and Jenny aka Let’s Eat Grandma.

Let’s Eat Grandma served up one of the more off-kilter experimental pop records of 2016 as well as some of the more memorable mindf*ck gigs; there aren’t after all many bands that have a little lay down for a bit halfway through a song seemingly oblivious to the audience. Thankfully they didn't fall asleep as things could have become very awkward.

Fast forward to the here and now and there’s a new song. It’s called Hot Pink. The band state the song is “About the misconceptions of femininity and masculinity and the power of embracing both of them. It’s about self-expression and appreciation for an underrated colour.” It’s also a bit of banger. OK, it’s not a banger in the same way as say someone like David Guetta or Calvin Harris might make a banger, but it’s a banger all the same. Just one with a dirty harsh metallic clanking chorus. SOPHIE was involved as producer and you can hear the influence.

Hot Pink is one of those pop songs for people that don’t normally like pop music and people that want their pop music to take a step or two to the left. It’ll probably gain them some fans, but lose them some as well. “I don't think I've ever lost interest in a band so quickly. The debut album was beautiful and weird. This just sounds like Talyor Swift,” says one commentator on You Tube. He clearly hasn’t read the rules of pop Chapter 3, which clearly states do the really weird album first. Then the underground pop one. Then for album three go for the mainstream and worldwide success whilst retaining elements of what made you special for albums one and two. Maybe Let’s Eat Grandma have read the book? Time will tell…

Let's Eat Grandma - Hot Pink

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Preview: Icebreaker Festival 2018

The next time you hear someone start to talk about ‘festival season’ as we get into late Spring, give them a long hard stare. Because, contrary to what certain commentators might tell you, it doesn’t exist. If you’re in the UK and ever listen to Radio 1 you’ll know that their DJs are the worst, with their hyped up in a bubble statements like “Festival season starts here!” as they advertise their own Radio 1 event.

The reality is that music festivals, of various sorts, happen all year round. Of course, in the UK you won’t find any events that involve camping and music under open skies in January, nobody is that unthinking, but there are plenty of other events that involve bringing a bunch of artists together to create some sort of community in one or more places. 

Just a couple of weeks ago Rockaway Beach brought the likes of The Horrors, Wild Beasts, Honeyblood, Yonaka and Pater Hook & The Light together at Butlins with punters staying in cosy warm chalets and having the opportunity to attend an indie pool party complete with inflatables, wave machines, water slides and very loud booming guitar music. It was very good. Now, next up on the south coast comes Icebreaker 2018, which is situated in Southsea, Portsmouth, the home of Breaking More Waves.

Now in its fouth year Icebreaker festival has firmly established itself in the local Portsmouth scene. The concept is simple. Icebreaker isn’t about big names or expensive ticket prices. It’s about allowing unsigned and independent musicians from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas to perform in front of large crowds across multiple venues in Southsea and subsequently gain attention to their music from both punters and media. It has taken over as Portsmouth’s main multi-venue festival after the demise of the long running Southsea Fest and let’s not forget Dials, which I helped curate, which took the place of Southsea Fest when it took a years break. Dials has recently reactivated its social media accounts. Watch this space.

For 2018 Icebreaker is extending from its traditional Saturday takeover to add an additional Friday night. 152 acts will play over 8 locations on Friday 2nd February and 13 stages on Saturday 3rd February with one wristband giving access to all venues, subject to capacity. 

Of course given that the artists playing are selected from a relatively small geographic area, it’s fair to say that not everything is going to be the highest quality, although the organisers work hard to sift through the 100s of applicants they get to play the festival. In terms of music on offer, given Portsmouth’s apparent ongoing love affair with all things guitar you’ll also find that a high percentage of the bands playing are of the meat and two veg indie and rock variety. However for those prepared to dig a little there’s all types of music on offer, from country to a jazzy hip hop act and alt-electronic pop. It's all located on just a couple of roads in Southsea as well, so your pedometer won't clock up too many steps during the day.

So if you want to get your ‘festival season’ off to an early start and prove to Nik Grimshaw et al. that these events exist outside of the big corporate summer adventures, get down to Southsea this weekend. Tickets are available from the link at the bottom of this page.

To help you through the huge list of names that may well not be familiar to you, let Breaking More Waves be your guide. Having listened to virtually every band on the bill, it’s time to give you six recommendations.

Friday - Lily Garland – Wedgewood Rooms 20.55-21.25

If you like country music then Lily Garland is for you. She has been nominated for two UK Country Music Awards in 2017 and won Best Solo Act in the Portsmouth Guide Awards 2018. Her second EP reached number 5 in the iTunes country music charts.

Saturday – Grief Daddy – The Deco 12.45-13.15

An early start might be required to catch the Icebreaker ribbon cutting ceremony with Grief Daddy but it will be worth it. Winners of the Wedgewood Rooms Unsigned Showcase 2017 (of which I judged their semi-final heat) Grief Daddy describe themselves as ‘a leading provider of music entertainment worldwide.’ Hop over to their Facebook page (here) and watch their videos to get an idea of what their ‘brand’ is about. Enormously entertaining and often hilarious, if you think Sleaford Mods are a little too slick, catch Grief Daddy and expect all the messy ‘hits’ including Hot Shit (Pricks), Poverty Tourist and more.

Saturday – Sad Palace – One Eyed Dog 14.45-15.15

Fact fans may be interested to know that Sad Palace appeared on the 3000th blog post on Breaking More Waves. Music fans would probably rather know that this Gosport based group formed from the ashes of Bear Cavalry, and that both bands have achieved a little bit of traction online mainly due to their well-crafted, loose indie rock jams that offer much more musical depth for return listens than your average white boy indie four piece.

Saturday – Devin Jade – Wine Vaults 17.45-18.15

Still only in her mid-teens Devin Jade could well turn out to be Portsmouth’s next One to Watch, following in the footsteps of the likes of Jerry Williams. With a distinctive voice that has already found her getting through to a studio TV recording of The Voice and with support from her local BBC Introducing station, Devin Jade is already starting to get noticed. It’s very early days for her as she develops her sound, but her pretty songs might just win you over. 

Saturday – Barbudo – Wedgewood Rooms 20.05-20.35

Unsurprisingly the cream of the crop at Icebreaker can all be found playing on Saturday night at The Wedgewood Rooms, the festival’s largest venue. Havant’s Barbudo describe their sound as Nu Eyed Soul and having featured on last year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition Longlist (another event I helped judge) they’re bound to bring bags of warm laid-back retro grooves.

Saturday – Is Bliss – Wedgewood Rooms 22.35-23.35

Headlining the Wedgewood Rooms and finishing Saturday night off in style are Is Bliss. Expect exotic rock with a heavy dose of psychedelia. The place will be swimming in tripped out vibes (and probably spilt pints of lager and cider if a normal night at the Wedge is anything to go by) by the time they’ve finished. 

Icebreaker takes place Feb 2nd and 3rd 2018. Single or both day tickets are available. All ticket information can be found by clicking this link.

Monday, 29 January 2018

New Music: Introducing - Philip Whitehead

Nearly all of us are affected by the change in seasons. Longer and sunnier days tend to lead us towards having a more cheerful disposition and feeling more energetic, yet as the light vanishes and is replaced by the black of winter many of us will tend to sleep more and be more lethargic. Yet for some this change is heavier and more impacting that that. Those affected by Seasonal Affected Disorder experience the symptoms of depression and may find them suffocating and bleak.

In his new song Winter singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Philip Whitehead offers up his own beautiful and hymnal take on his own experiences with Seasonal Affected Disorder: “Let’s sleep now till the summertime, turn the lights down all the way,” he sings, reminding himself and the listener that at least it doesn’t last forever. The sun will emerge again.

Seductively honest Winter is subtly alluring in its beauty; the sort of song that would probably fit very well on a record label like Communion, yet surprisingly the song is self-released. There’s a sense of soulful isolation in the music, yet it could speak to many affected by SAD. 

Whitehead only started releasing music last year and over on his Soundcloud there are three other songs A Little Bit Real, I’m Gone and Paper Man’s Blues all of which straddle the folk / rock / singer songwriter genres (with a hint of gospel in places) with some powerful effect, although Winter is his best so far. Fans of artists like Matt Corby or Lewis Capaldi will find a lot to like here. Take a listen below.

Philip Whitehead - Winter

Friday, 26 January 2018

New Music: Swimming Girls - Back Of Your Car

Earlier today I posted James Blake’s If The Car Behind You Moves Ahead and now here we are with Swimming Girls Back Of Your Car. Is it national pop stars in cars day? Did I miss something?

The band’s third song to be released comes with (of course) a promo picture featuring some of the group sitting in the back seat of a car, but it looks like there wasn’t room for all of them. Perhaps this explains why they all look pretty sad about the whole affair. Or maybe it's because they're not wearing seatbelts and are concerned about their safety, especially as it appears the driver is not looking where he is going?

The band really shouldn’t be looking sad though. After all what they have created here is what is known in the trade as a bit of an indie banger. It’s all synths and guitars and hooks and lyrics about setting suns, sea, sand and sweet lemonade. In other words, it's very good.

A few weeks ago I caught Swimming Girls supporting Pale Waves at The Lexington where they were very well received, so on the basis of that and the fact they now have three good tunes out there, I’d expect their next gig at The Lock Tavern in Camden on 31st March to be a pretty popular affair. 

Oh, and finally, regular readers will probably remember that I was getting pretty obsessed with the phenomenon that was (and still is) musicians doing photoshoots in the bath. Well take a look over at Swimming Girl’s Facebook page to see if they have joined the club or not (here)

Swimming Girls - Back Of Your Car

New Music: James Blake - If The Car Behind You Moves Ahead (Video)

The last time James Blake featured on Breaking More Waves he was offering us all something rather straightforward, but rather lovely – a cover version of Don McClean’s Vincent - a song about a painting by an artist who is now perceived as a misunderstood genius. Today he goes to the other end of the spectrum with his latest release If The Car Besides You Moves Ahead and you could perhaps argue that the misunderstood genius tag applies here. 

For this is the sort of pop music that I would imagine aliens from outer space make; weird, experimental, glitchy with vocals that are cut up and pitch-shifted to the point where the song becomes less of a song and more of a collage of sound. It’s the sort of jam that a lot of people are probably going to play 30 seconds of and then press skip, but for me there’s something about its whole oddness that I really like. Somebody on You Tube commented that the song was both strangely relaxing and anxiety inducing at the same time – and I think that’s about right. Somebody else also commented that the song was a total mess. I also agree with that. But I hear the mess in a positive way.

James Blake - If The Car Behind You Moves Ahead (Video)

Thursday, 25 January 2018

New Music: Introducing - Hatchie

As a new music blogger, writing about 'new' artists can sometimes feel a little bit perverse when they already have over a million streams on Spotify. Yet statistics can tell a lie. A music maker can find themselves on a couple of Spotify Official playlists like ‘Dinner with Friends’ or ‘Your Favourite Coffehouse’ and rack up the plays so quickly it can make them seem as if they're established and well known. Yet go and watch them play in a small club to a half full audience and you’ll quickly realise that the internet creates a different reality to real life. For every active engaged listener there will be many using playlists for passive background listening and never going beyond that. And the chances are even when a song has found some 'real' fans, there will be many more music lovers out there who haven’t discovered the artist yet. 

At least that’s my hope in writing about Australia’s Hatchie, otherwise she's not really new to anyone. She's hit over a million plays with her debut single Try and followed it up relatively recently with the hooky and melodic dream pop of Sure, a song about an indecisive relationship break-up: “You say you want it to be over, but is it ever really over?” she questions on the song, which falls somewhere between the more mellow parts of Wolf Alice’s output, the jangly guitars of The Cranberries (RIP Dolores) and lots of indie bands from the UK in the 80’s such as The Cocteau Twins. It’s rather lovely. More than lovely in fact. It’s been on rotation at Breaking More Waves HQ for the last few weeks and I keep coming back to it.

Hatchie (real name Harriette Pilbeam) lives in Brisbane and also plays in the band Babaganouj. Her debut EP Sugar & Spice is due this year, she’ll be playing SXSW festival in Austin Texas and readers in my home country may also be interested to know that she’ll also be coming to the UK for a number of shows in Spring.

Hatchie - Sure (Video)

Hatchie -Try

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

New Music: Introducing - Motherhood

Liverpool’s Motherhood is a four-piece indie-pop band with the emphasis very much on the pop. 

Having emerged last year on a number of blogs (although it seems they've been around the Liverpool scene since 2016) with the playfully upbeat Save Me they attracted some inevitable likenings; one publication suggested that ‘lazy comparisons would include The 1975’, but then didn’t offer any non-lazy comparisons of their own, which seems even lazier does it not? 

To my ears The 1975 wasn’t a lazy comparison at all, Save Me had some similar sounds to Mr Healy and co and it was the reason why I didn’t feature the band when other blogs with similar tastes to mine were getting excited about them. I was worried they were too similar to The 1975. There were other resemblances as well - there were some suggestions that Two Door Cinema Club fans would enjoy Motherhood as well. You can get a feel for the musical ball park we’re in here.

Now Motherhood return with a new track Hey You but this one is less likely to draw those comparisons. Hurrah! It seems they are more than just a one-trick pony, albeit a pony that seems to be comfortable in the indie-pop stable. Sadly, this Hey You isn’t a cover of The Cure’s brassy saxy sassy song of the same title, one of fat Bob and the goths finest pop moments that was never released as a single, a song that really only has a chorus and no verse, or a verse and no chorus depending on your perspective. 

But I digress, this isn’t about The Cure but Motherhood. Their tune Hey You is musically pretty perky even if the lyrics are a bit more introspective with lead singer Evan Torrente contemplating a drunken late night phone call to an ex, before examining his own shortcomings that got him into the situation in the first place. “Not as mature as I think, I can’t handle my drink,” he sings. 

Let’s do some more comparisons. This one reminds me of Fickle Friends. Not so much in its overall sound but the way the song is a bit self-analytical and deep but you almost don’t notice because of the catchy riffs and colourful pop sensibility. To add weight to this comparison the track was produced by Sam Winfield who has also worked with Fickle Friends.

Two songs in and Motherhood are showing lots of promise. Indie pop's latest worthwhile listen. So ready your ears and press play below.

Motherhood - Hey You

Monday, 22 January 2018

New Music: Introducing - Art School Girlfriend

Meet Polly. She’s from Wales but lives in Margate, famous for amongst other things Dreamland and the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery. And art is relevant here as Polly goes by the name of Art School Girlfriend when she's making music. 

You may have seen her name crop up on a few websites here and there following the release of Measures, her debut EP, released last year, which is a very er…. measured affair full of languid and calm stately melodies that will appeal to fans of Bat For Lashes and Daughter. If you follow Breaking More Waves on Twitter (here) or Instagram (@breakingmorewavespics) you might have also seen me mention her before when I caught her playing live earlier this month at the Line of Best Fit’s rather excellent 5 Day Forecast series of gigs at The Lexington (arguably one of the best pub venues in London) which included the likes of Pale Waves, Grace Carter, Poppy Ajudha and Swimming Girls.

Today Art School Girlfriend gets her official introduction on Breaking More Waves proper following the unveiling today of a video for the title track of the EP. It’s not my favourite song of the four she has released (that song goes to the fluttering rhythmic pull of Bending Back which I've also included in this post) but all the tracks on the record blend together to create a rich soothing body of eventide-ready pop. You have to give some time to it, to allow it to really soak in, it's that sort of listen. It's certainly not an instant banger. 

The video itself was directed by French-born, Amsterdam based artist Kevin Bray, the images you see consist of a 3D mapping exercise of Margate sea front, giving the whole video a rather surreal feel that suits the contemplative mood of the music.

Art School Girlfriend is the latest signing to Paul Epworth's Wolf Tone label and she joins a rosta that includes Glass Animals, The Horrors, Rosie Lowe and Elle Watson; namely artists that are doing something just that little bit different, a little left of centre and Art School Girlfriend fits that description nicely. 

Art School Girlfriend plays a headline show in London in March at the Sebright Arms on the 13th March and follows that with a show at Liverpool's Sound City on May 5th.

Art School Girlfriend - Measures (Video)

Art School Girlfriend - Bending Back

New Music: Introducing - PBSR

The first forty seconds or so of Pablo Serrano’s debut track Volcano feature some sparse plaintive piano chords and nothing else. It doesn’t really prepare you for what’s to come. But if you can imagine the pop beauty of Oh Wonder’s first album combined with the stop-start computerised arrangements that James Blake executes so well then you might just get the idea of what this Spanish born, but now London based musician, producer and songwriter is about. For Volcano is a lush piece of pop music that quickly buries itself under your skin with its beauty.

Going by the name PBSR, 24-year-old Pablo has spent time in Madrid studying Creative Media Production, before he moved in 2014 to study Music Technology and Composition at the London College of Music. He is now based in Camberwell. Having been introduced to the likes of Brian Eno, Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield by his parents at an early age and then falling in love with Sigur Ros in his teens you can hear some of these reference points filtering through in the wavey ambient electronics that create the background to Volcano and the gentle crescendo that the song reaches out for and grasps towards the end.

Perfectly balancing the position of classic singer-songwriter with modern electronic and organic production Volcano is a polychromatic piece of mesmeric pop. PBSR is set to release an EP later this year via Yucatan Records. Keep an ear out for that.

PBSR - Volcano

Thursday, 18 January 2018

New Music: Jade Bird - Lottery (Video)

Towards the end of last year when I was compiling my Ones to Watch for 2018 list, there were 2 names that needed absolutely no thought before including them. One was Norway’s Sigrid. She ended up being heralded by about 95% of all the tip lists and, perhaps somewhat inevitably, went on to top the big one, the BBC Sound of 2018 poll. The second name, one who didn’t crop up on nearly so many of the lists, but then surprised me a little by being included on the BBC Sound of 2018 was Jade Bird.

The surprise wasn’t because Jade wasn’t fully deserving of being on the BBC poll long list, she is, but more that she was on less other tip lists so logic would suggest wouldn’t be on the BBC one either.

Whilst tips are all well and good, they are just that – tips. What really counts is the music and thankfully Jade has wasted no time releasing some quality new material. Her latest song Lottery was released last week and today Billboard premiered her new video. It’s a simple, colourfully lit, two and a half minute performance piece that allows us to focus on Jade and her punchy piece of country-pop, which demonstrates not only what a potent and raw vocalist she is but that she has some real writing ability as well. Listen to her bang out that chorus: “You used to tell me that love is a lottery and you got your numbers and you’re betting on me.” It’s hard to disagree with the statement that she’s one of the UK’s finest new songwriters.

Jade Bird - Lottery (Video)

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

New Music: iZNiik - shadows (Video)

There are still no clues about who (or maybe even what) iZNiik is. Maybe it’s as simple as someone who is called Nick? Maybe it’s a collective? Maybe it’s all just music created by a computer or some sort of new pop music algorithm? We can’t be that far from the day when music and songs created solely by computers based on your own personal listening preferences is that far away can we?

Whoever he / she / they /it is / are though, last week saw the release of the 2nd iZNiik EP and from it comes the debut video for lead track shadows (yes no capital in the title). Once again it’s a fine slice of cut ‘n’ paste funky pop, a menagerie of samples spliced together to create something that sounds holistic rather than separated, as do the visuals which achieve the same interconnected feeling. 

iZNiik - shadows

Thursday, 11 January 2018

New Music: Emily Burns - Bitch

Regular / long term readers of Breaking More Waves will recognise the name Emily Burns; she first appeared on this blog back in 2013 with a now long deleted song called Plasters, Glitter and Glue. At the time I compared her to a new wave of young acoustic singer songwriters that were making a name for themselves; Ed Sheeran, Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt.

Since then Emily’s music has transitioned from vocals and acoustic guitar to out and out contemporary pop which we last heard in 2016 with the Sound of Fractures produced Take It Or Leave It, a quality cut which picked up some traction on music blogs. 

Now the 22 year-old is back with new pink hair and her most of-the-moment tune so far. It seems that her momentum is continuing as Bitch isn’t self-released, but through 37 Adventures – a label that has brought you the likes of Rosie Lowe, Jones and Salute.

Bitch finds Emily looking back at a past friendship / relationship and wondering how that person has been doing since they went their own ways and reflecting on what she’s heard of that other person, as they have mutual friends: “You say you’re flying now I’m gone, don’t care about me no more, you think I’m crying well I’m not, I’ve never been quite this sure.” It’s quite a jam and then some. 

Bitch was produced by biLLLy and recorded at Abbey Road Studios, where she works as a receptionist and used her down-time there to record. It’s not the first time Emily has recorded in the famous studios though having bagged the opportunity to record some of her earlier work there a number of years ago after attending a BBC Introducing masterclass session.

Bitch is spikey, full spirited and likely to make the ears of any pop fan tingle with excitement.

Emily Burns - Bitch

New Music: Introducing - Yawwn

Somewhere out there on the internet or perhaps in a dusty cobweb covered library there’s some ancient directory called Band Names Volumes 1 to 10. It contains every single moniker that’s possible for every group and every time a new one emerges their name is deleted from the directory. With the development of Google the directory had to be updated to include all those Google optimised bad spellings like Chvrches or Deadmau5, giving a fresh and almost unlimited supply of ideas for those who are struggling to find something original.

Which brings me to south London double denim wearing five-piece Yawwn. You can probably see where I’m going with this already. In terms of names it seems like this lot drew the short straw – you can just see the jokes about them being boring tumbling in already. 

Thankfully though despite the sleepy name the music is excellent. Debut single Partisan is a melee of slacker grooves, indie rock, weird bubbling sounds, piano stabs and slow bump and grind bass. It also has an addictively simple killer chorus: “I have a feeling that I’ll need you always.” I imagine (and this is complete guess work) that their record collection contains everything from art-school funk, to psychedelic, to straight up alternative indie rock, disco and pop. What I do know for sure however is that this is in no way dull or sleep inducing. Partisan is a preening piece of musical joy. Get ready to stop yawning and get dancing.

Partisan was recorded between the band’s South Wimbledon rehearsal space and Konk Studios, and is the first track off a forthcoming EP. Yawwn played their first shows last November supporting Kane Strang on his UK tour, including a gig at Oslo, Hackney. Partisan is officially launched on 13th January at the very first of their own Club Yawwn nights in SW19 London, which according to the information I’ve been sent includes ‘Meal Deals’. I’m not sure if that’s the name of a band or a packet of sandwiches, a bag of crisps and a smoothie for £3, but either way I like the idea. 

Yawwn - Partisan

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

New Music: Coutney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain

I first came across the music of Courtney Marie Andrews early last year when Leigh from Just Music I Like Blog (R.I.P – the blog, not Leigh) recommended her Honest Life album to me. If I remember correctly Leigh had bought the vinyl in Resident Music in Brighton simply because he liked the very sixties styled cover and the write up that was posted with the record in the shop. Upon listening, I found I enjoyed the songs but as a complete album it didn’t blow me away. Perhaps Andrews’ acoustic country sounds, whilst lovely, were just a bit too samey over the course of a whole record for me.

However, the title track from Andrews’ forthcoming long-player May Your Kindness Remain, which premiered on NPR Music today,  is a revelation and leads me to completely reappraise her work. For this is stunning. Here Andrews steps out beyond just simple country music to something bigger, bolder, warmer and more soulful. It reminds me in places of ex-Lone Justice lead singer Maria McKee’s more mellow songs on her solo self-titled album, particularly with the touches of bombastic gospel that punctuate the latter part of the song (or maybe it’s just because she sings of ‘a good heart’ – the tune that McKee wrote and Undertones man Feargal Sharkey had a UK no.1 with)

In a world that seems harsher and ever more judgemental than before, Andrews takes a step back with this piece of powerful beauty and offers a simple antidote to the subject of her song: “If your money runs out and your good looks fade, may your kindness remain.” She’s right of course. Being nice to people is actually far more important and will make you much more content than what culture tends to push down our throats as 'success', namely monetary gain, physical perfection and attaining status. 

Courtney Marie Andrews plays a handful of shows in the UK in a few weeks time (Glasgow on the 31st Jan, Oxford 3rd Feb and a 2 tiny pub shows in Guildford (one of which is a matinee show and still has a handful of tickets left), then heads over to the US before returning to the UK in April for a larger tour. The album May Your Kindness Remain is due March 23rd and can be pre-ordered from her Bandcamp by clicking here.

Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain