Wednesday, 8 August 2018

New Music: MAY - Falling

Back in June I introduced readers of Breaking More Waves to MAY, one of the most incredible new voices out there.

As part of that post I included a live video of an unreleased song called Falling, which found MAY singing her heart out at a candle lit piano. “Why is she not already a huge star?” I asked.

Now let’s ask the question again. Because MAY has now released a fully recorded studio version of the song. Thankfully it’s not that different to the live version – but it once again gives me the opportunity to through all the superlatives in the English Dictionary at it. For Falling is stunning. A sensitive account of love that’s never been replaced, it’s stark, ghostly and will grab at your heart.

Falling is taken from a forthcoming EP where MAY has collaborated with the likes of Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Amy Winehouse) and Patrick Wimberley (Solange, MGMT). Get ready to fall in love with her voice and songs.

MAY - Falling

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

New Music: Robinson - Don't Trust Myself

It’s been a pretty quiet month on Breaking More Waves and next month will be even quieter as I take the majority of August off to have my first two-week holiday in over a year and also hit a couple of music festivals; Bestival – where I’ll be DJing as well as enjoying all the fun as a punter and Victorious Festival in my home city of Portsmouth. It will be the longest break I’ve ever had from the blog, but right now a recharge of the batteries is necessary. There will be a handful of posts, but that’s all. Normal service will resume in September.

However, before the big slow down here’s a final post for July. 

New Zealand's Robinson first appeared on Breaking More Waves back in May 2017 to very little fanfare (a quick check on Hype Machine shows that of the blogs listed there just Breaking More Waves and Going Solo posted her song Don't You Forget About Me via Soundcloud upon release) with me mainly making jokes about how Robinson was only using her surname and how most big popstars used their first name (Adele, Beyonce, Kylie, Rihanna etc). However, since that time something pretty incredible has happened because one of Robinson’s subsequent releases Nothing To Regret went supernova and has now clocked up a huge 41 million streams on Spotify. That’s pretty huge numbers for a relatively new artist. Maybe she'll have to start using her first name after all?

Yet streaming statistics in pop music doesn’t always mean huge stardom or a long-term career. In fact Robinson’s latest release, the track I’m posting here, Don’t Trust Myself has just over 1,000 views on You Tube so far (it’s streaming statistics are better with about 200,000 so far on Spotify). 

And whilst our love of music isn’t about statistics I wonder how many so-called hardcore music fans have even heard about Robinson? Today I did a quick straw poll survey of some of my ‘music friends’ and only 1 out of 7 people knew her name. This shows that my music friends aren’t all reading my blog (boo they let me down) but more importantly demonstrates some evidence that a single ‘hit’ on Spotify doesn’t make you a star. If Robinson played some shows in the UK she probably wouldn’t be rocking out Brixton Academy or even Shepherd’s Bush Empire just yet. Despite those big numbers. Hopefully she's be doing somewhere bigger than The Old Blue Last though - although if it's big enough for Kylie (see here) maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea?

So, there’s still work to be done. Streaming below is Don’t Trust Myself with one of those lyric videos which even features the ‘Oooh Oooh’ parts of the song. It’s a slow burning emotional electronic pop tune that deals with the complexity of relationships, the heart ruling the head and feelings of emptiness: “How am I lonely, with so many other people round me.” It’s also a fine, albeit subtle, follow up to Nothing To Regret.

You can also find Don’t Trust Myself on the latest instalment of the Breaking More Waves Spotify monthly playlist, which has just gone live, and features all the songs I’ve featured this July. As it was a relatively quiet month the playlist is only 12 songs and forty minutes long, so you can perhaps take a listen on your morning commute? Don’t forget to follow it if you don’t already do so. I update it at the end of every month (You can find it by clicking here).

Robinson - Don't Trust Myself

Thursday, 26 July 2018

New Music: Emily Burns - Test Drive

The fact that Emily Burns is able to do a good song has never really been in question has it? This blog was full of her creations and they all justified that she was a bona fide talent.  But now they’re gone. All those old songs like Plasters, Glitters and Glue and Enemy seem to have been buried in whatever the internet’s version of the graveyard is, perhaps never to return. 

Thankfully though there’s plenty more out there to enjoy now and perhaps have a little dance to. For Emily has released a mini album / EP (I’m not quite sure which it is - there's 7 songs clocking in at just over 20 minutes) with a title that sounds like a movie: Seven Scenes from the Same Summer. It’s a snapshot of a point in time that delves into the joys and sadness of relationships starting, relationships ending, Sundays in bed and Emily discovering who she is.

Another alternative title could have been Seven Pop Jams from Heaven, because every single one is. 

You’ll already be familiar no doubt with the likes of Cheat and Bitch (which I featured here) but today I’m featuring the record's opening track Test Drive

A deft and modern piece of electronic pop, Test Drive some good punchy shouts of “Hey!”, one use of the F-Word and a naughty little chorus that finds Emily using the analogy of a car to describe how she doesn’t want to be used as a test drive for the weekend (or a joy ride in the evening). For even more amazing car analogies take a listen to the lyrics of the Grace Jones song Pull Up To My Bumper. Now that’s a really naughty tune.

Stream Test Drive below and the six other songs of Seven Scenes From The Same Summer on any streaming service. Those of you who remember Emily from my early blog posts in her unsigned days you will also be pleased to hear the album isn’t all spanking shiny electronics with songs like Vanilla Sundae and Senseless giving some nice variation as she goes back to her more acoustic roots. 

Emily Burns - Test Drive

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

New Music: Another Sky - Avalanche

Another Sky won me over on first listen back in March with their bewitching track Forget Yourself and the accompanying digital video (see the previous Introducing post by clicking here) and now they’ve gone one better with Avalanche.

First there’s the song. A hard hitting take on toxic masculinity that finishes with a repeated raw and impassioned angry mantra by lead singer Catrin Vincent: “When you hold them to account, they’ll spit you out, just a bad taste in their mouth.” Its’s a powerful piece of music that sonically shares some similarities with OK Computer era Radiohead, although I don’t ever remember Thom Yorke singing lines as targeted as “They’re strangers, they’re in Hollywood, they’re your neighbours you left back in your childhood, your fathers that won’t make amends, they’re in schools, they’re your boyfriends.” A direct statement that the traits of toxic masculinity such as misogyny, homophobia and violence can exist anywhere.

Then there’s the video. It’s a potent piece of work. Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity at the start as you watch a weird white-painted bald-headed person that looks like a long lost relative of Jed Hoile or Pinhead from Hellraiser pull some shapes. As the video develops you'll see the personal anger and upset forge to the front as Catrin reveals more of herself in what is clearly a very personal piece. This is certainly the video that pulls the most punches I've seen since This Is America by Childish Gambino.

A highly impressive and compelling piece of art. Another Sky are way more than just your average indie band. 

Another Sky - Avalanche

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

New Music: Introducing - Angie McMahon

Angie McMahon first came onto my radar in a library. It wasn’t a case of finding Angie’s name in a book titled The Great Hopes of Future Music, nor was Angie working there issuing me with a 20p fine for returning my copy of The Great Gatsby a day late. Instead, this particular library was part of the Bush Theatre complex in London and Angie was playing a show there as part of June’s Bushstock Festival. It was there, in a tiny and rather sweaty room that could only hold about 60 people, she regaled us with her powerful undiluted songs as well as tales of her snotty nose, having been a bit unwell before the gig.

What impressed me most on first listen about McMahon though was her voice. Solid seems like a pretty awful word to describe someone’s singing, but if I am going to use that word (and I am) it’s meant in the most positive of ways. I could add soulful onto that as well, as there’s an easy flowing depth to her vocal. 

Angie is an Australian songwriter and musician from Melbourne. If you search for her on Twitter, she’s the one who in her bio simply states ‘Potato farming.’ She’s already put out a couple of tracks that have done well in her homeland – the simple but highly melodic Slow Mover and the equally good Missing Me

Her latest effort Keeping Time shows it’s all killer no filler with her work, as it struts in with a confidence that sounds like Florence And The Machine has been listening to the blues and got a bit of dirt and grit inside her. If you’re a fan of Joan Armatrading or Karima Francis you might just find something here you like.  It’s strong (or dare I say it again…solid) stuff that is likely to find McMahon labelled with words like ‘authentic’ which is not something I care for either way (you can make great tunes whilst being absolutely inauthentic) or even worse she’ll get the tag ‘real music’ – a classification designed mainly by middle aged white men who struggle to embrace the idea that music can be many things besides just bands with guitars. However, one label I will agree with is that Angie McMahon is first-rate. 

Take a listen to Keeping Time below and also do investigate her other two tracks. Of Keeping Time Angie says: “This song is me yelling at myself to get off my arse and do some work... but in a loving way. Like, you know what you want, and you can either back yourself or keep bad habits, so take note of where you’re at and use it as fuel. It’s like a love song to self-discipline. I hope others can feel some affection towards it too.”

Angie McMahon - Keeping Time

Sunday, 22 July 2018

New Music: Chløë Black - Spaceman

When I first heard that Chløë Black was releasing a song called Spaceman my thoughts first turned not to David Bowie as you might expect, but Babylon Zoo. Whatever happened to them? And can you name their other hits after Spaceman? (* Answer at the bottom of this post).

Thankfully this isn’t a cover of THAT Spaceman song. Although to put it in context Babylon Zoo's song was very popular and sold 420,000 physical copies on it’s first week of release – the fastest selling single in the UK since Can’t Buy Me Love by The Beatles. This more recent Spaceman is an original and for anyone that knows Ms Black’s previous work, there are a few surprises in store as it delves into new areas musically.

Starting with some piano balladeering Spaceman soon rockets off into futuristic trap-pop territory. Here Chløë delivers plenty of standout lyrics about her high expectations in relationships, admitting she’s bored out of her mind and that she wants a spaceman to get her higher: “Tequila my sunrise, an astronaut between my thighs,” she sings. Blimey! In some of Chløë’s previous work there’s been a definite Twin Peaks influence. Now it seems she wants a bit of Tim Peake (other spacemen are available).

It’s another winning out-there pop jam from Chløë Black.

 Chløë Black - Spaceman

* Babylon Zoo had 2 further top 40 hits in the UK after Spaceman. Animal Army reached number 17 and The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes (the title track from their debut album) hit 32. They didn’t have any hits from their second album and the record, King Kong Groover failed to chart. And there lies the story of pop - one moment riding a wave, the next moment it breaks and you're lost under it.

New Music: Flohio - Watchout

No matter how much hype an artist gets on line, the great leveller can often be getting out there and playing live. Suddenly all that praise from Pitchfork, The Fader, Cracked Magazine as well as being touted as One to Watch by the Guardian can seem pretty irrelevant when you’re playing to a crowd at a music festival that you could quite easily invite round to your house and pretty much fit in the bathroom.

Such was the case for Flohio last weekend at Latitude Festival. Now of course there are some extenuating circumstances here. First Flohio was a relatively late addition to the bill. Second she clashed with main stage headliners Alt-J. Third Latitude is a very white, very middle class, non-urban festival and Flohio’s music probably doesn’t sit comfortably with 95% of its audience. 

However, even given all these factors, it shows the lack of big influence the online music press now has on our decisions. The Guardian might be tipping her as One to Watch, but at Latitude (whose audience probably has a high Guardian readership) very few people took its advice. 

Which is a shame. 

Because Flohio is good. She has a fiery, fast-paced delivery. Plus her music sets itself apart with plenty of streaks of originality. It isn’t exactly grime, it isn’t exactly hip-hop, it isn’t exactly techno and it isn’t exactly trap, but there are elements of all of these on Watchout, which is frankly, a banger of the highest order. 

A couple of days ago she dropped a video for Watchout (which has been out for a few weeks now). It has a lo-fi grainy edginess to it and you can watch it below. Ignore the Latitude blip – I agree with the Guardian, she’s one to watch.

Flohio - Watchout (Video)

Friday, 20 July 2018

New Music: Fröst - Record Still Spinning

Imagine, if you will, pop purveyors Saint Etienne getting in a studio with Anglo-French band Stereolab. The end result, Record Still Spinning, could well be the result. Although in this case the song was created by by Brighton’s Fröst. It's a gorgeous piece full of propulsive, motorik beats combined with the lovely languid vocals of Johanna Bramli and it comes from the same place as another Brighton band of old; Electrelane. There's even a hint of the wonderful Broadcast in there as well. Basically it's pretty special.

Record Still Spinning is one of those odd songs that whilst sounding slightly downbeat and introspective still manages to produce a feeling of joy and hazy delirium. There’s lots of superlatives I could throw at this one, but let’s just go with the fact that this is a sublime, dreamy, enchanting, ghostly piece of art pop that you can totally lose yourself in.

Record Still Spinning is taken from Fröst’s debut album Matters which is due for release later this year. Fröst is the aforementioned Bramli and Steve Lewis, who also plays with Fujiya & Miyagi and the band have already been picked up by the likes of Annie Mac (BBC Radio 1), Nemone, Gideon Coe and Lauren Laverne  (BBC 6 Music) and John Kennedy (Radio X). 

Fröst - Record Still Spinning

Thursday, 19 July 2018

New Music: Bokito - How Dare You

London’s Bokito got me all hot under the collar back in March 2017 with their single Better At Getting Worse and since that time I’ve spent far too much time learning to dance like their uniquely charismatic front man Moses Moorhouse, who cavorts in a way that is both carnal and camp, unleashing his inner gorilla and finding that groove in a way you just wouldn’t expect. 

This week the band released a new single How Dare You and once again I can feel my hips beginning to twist and my legs beginning to explore just how far they can bend and warp as Bokito make summer go indie. Singing with a falsetto that’s a saucy mix of silk and gravel Moses has explained that the tune is: “A celebration of finding someone that matches your madness, the insecurities and concerns that come into building a relationship and the ever growing feeling that these thoughts may be pushing the other person away. But ultimately, the comfort in knowing that someone has those same uncertainties in relation to you!” 

This one's a flaming joy.

If you want to see more of Bokito, Moses incredible dancing and be ready to move with some force yourself, your next opportunity will be at The George Tavern in London on 21st July. However, the gig I’m most excited about Bokito playing is in October when the band hit the stage in Portsmouth at Dials Festival, an event which I’ve had a reasonably big hand in curating (booking about 1/3 of the acts). They'll be on stage at the Wine Vaults, one of 5 venues that we will be taking over for the multi-venue event. Other acts playing that stage, which will run from early afternoon to evening that have featured on Breaking More Waves include Art School Girlfriend, Jerry Williams and Temples of Youth (subject to final confirmation of line up and times). You can buy tickets for Dials for just £16 by clicking this link. The festival is over 18s only except for the Wedgewood Rooms and Edge Of The Wedge venues which is over 14s. The earlier you buy, the more help you will be giving the festival and therefore Solent Mind the mental health charity that Dials Festival is supporting in 2018, so grab one quick before they’re gone.

Bokito - How Dare You

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

New Music: Sigrid - Schedules

It’s been an odd week or so at Breaking More Waves, simply for the fact that pretty much everything new I’ve pressed play on has been at best average and more often than not way below that. So, glory be to Sigrid for coming along again and saving pop music (or at least stopping this blog from becoming a graveyard of nothingness). Schedules, a live favourite, is the final song from her Raw EP that she’s been slowly revealing over the last few months. And I adore it.

There’s so many things to love about this song. There’s a oh-oh hook. I’m a big fan of the oh-oh or the woah-woah-woah in a pop song. Sometimes you need throwaway lyrics as much as you need deeply personal, poetic and well thought out ones. Then there’s the cleverer lines: “I think we’re a hit,” she sings. As a relationship? Or as a pop song? Both I'd say. Then, and this is probably my favourite thing about Sigrid, her vocal always has that slight raspiness to it – just jagged enough to give it that extra level of raw emotion. In an age when it seems that there are buckets of autotune just waiting to be splashed over every pop singers vocal, it’s great to hear something undiluted. The fact that this song is also quite sweary adds to that even further.

Sigrid wins at pop again.

(Note: Breaking More Waves will be quiet for a few days now whilst I head off to Latitude Festival. See you next week).

Sigrid - Schedules

Monday, 9 July 2018

New Music: Let's Eat Grandma - I Will Be Waiting

When Let’s Eat Grandma first appeared on Breaking More Waves in 2015 I suggested that whilst there was an awful lot to like about Rosa and Jenny’s idiosyncratic, scrappy, kooky and eerie music, they were still very much developing as artists. Cut through to the start of 2018 and as the duo released the single Hot Pink that development was clear. 

I perhaps cheekily (or perhaps realistically) suggested that the rules of pop decree that as a developing artist you have to 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. Now there’s no guarantee that Let’s Eat Grandma are going to follow the rules all the way through, but certainly they’ve hit the nail smack bang on the head with the second record. It’s been met with almost universal praise (I say almost because this review (click here) described it as a mainly ‘sterile pop album’, which is frankly ridiculous – I can’t think of any word further from the truth than sterile) but elsewhere everyone from the Guardian to Pitchfork gave it the thumbs up. Of course, just because a record gets critical adoration doesn’t mean mass commercial success, and let’s face it I’m All Years is still a long way from being a mainstream pop record; but as a listening experience that’s to its advantage.

From the album the band recently released I Will Be Waiting (streaming below) a slow building track that deals with opening up and clearing the inner head space. It sounds not that dissimilar to something that Chvrches might do, which is rather handy as Let’s Eat Grandma have just been announced as Chvrches support act for their European tour (which as yet still doesn’t include any UK dates). Let’s Eat Grandma also play their biggest headline show to date in London at Heaven on 27th September. Hopefully there will be a few Breaking More Waves readers at that one? See you down the front if you're one of them?

Let's Eat Grandma - I Will Be Waiting

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

New Music: Boniface - Dear Megan

Micah Visser aka Boniface seems like a sensible chap doesn’t he? After all there’s no stupid promo pic of him lounging around in a bath without water or sitting uncomfortably on a hedge like other musicians I've featured on Breaking More Waves. No, just a nice straightforward one of him sitting on a sensible but stylish chair. 

Of course the trouble here is, and at the risk of massively generalising, sensible looking people often make quite boring music. But there’s the problem – I’m generalising. Because Boniface makes very good music. That’s why I’ve featured him on the blog before and that’s why I’m featuring him again here. 

His latest, Dear Megan, is a hyperactive alt-pop banger: “Meet me in the middle of the night, it’s easy,” he sings. Ah, now we’re getting to the true bonkers and exciting inner pop star here. Because let’s face it, meeting anyone in the middle of the night isn’t that easy if you’ve been up since 6am working for your employer. But then pop stars, like all creatives don’t really do early mornings do they? Still, that’s OK when they’re doing the good stuff. And this one is the good stuff. Oh, the joy of pop!

Boniface - Dear Megan

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

New Music: Introducing - Your Smith

The first time I heard The Spot by ‘new’ artist Your Smith my immediate thought was that it had an uncanny resemblance to All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow – the one song by Crow that surely everybody knows?

One quick Google search later and it turns out that Your Smith isn’t that new. (But she isn't Crow in disguise either). She’s actually been releasing material as far back as 2008, first as part of the band Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps and then as a solo artist under her own name. In 2016 she put out Let ‘Em Say with Lizzo and the smooth tap dancing jam of Trying Not To Love You, marking a progression from her earlier folky roots to a more contemporary modern pop sound.

Now as Your Smith she’s got a new haircut (always important in the world of smash hits – don’t listen to those who say this stuff isn’t important – haircuts are an ingrained part of pop culture) and the new name. Of the new name she says: “The change in name is less of a reinvention and more of an engagement with that part of me. I’m still me. I’m still your Smith.” I guess the same applies to the haircut as well.

Her debut EP under her new moniker has been produced by Tommy English (BØRNS), Stint (Carly Rae Jepsen, Nao, AlunaGeorge) and Nicky Davey (Internet, Syd) and The Spot is released via Neon Gold Records who I haven’t featured anything from on this blog for an age. If this is an All I Wanna Do for the year 2018, I’ll take that. 

Your Smith - The Spot

Saturday, 30 June 2018

New Music: Introducing - Talkboy

Talkboy might just be about to become your new favourite indie six piece from Leeds. OK, you may not actually have a current favourite indie six piece from Leeds, but trust me on this, you’re just about to get one.

Bringing the soft sound of the sixties with a more robust guitar-based edge, Mother is all about the rose-tinted spectacled world of parental expectation: "I was always perfect in her eyes, and all I ever did was tell her lies." As the girl-boy vocals convey the angsty thoughts of being a major disappointment to the person who brought you into the world, you might well expect the whole tune to become a bit maudlin, but then all of sudden there’s an uplifting hook and an end conclusion of acceptance: "My mother turned to me last night. She saw I was a normal person." Hurrah! We reach a happy ending. Lovely stuff.

Talkboy are Katie Heap (vocals), Calum Juniper (vocals), Tim Malkin (guitar), Charlotte Jones (keys), Tom Sargent (bass), and Jake Greenway (drums) and have already played at Live at Leeds and a show curated by Abbie McCarthy of BBC Introducing. There’s elements of many classic British indie bands to their sound and if they have any other tunes as good as Mother in their bag it probably won’t be the last time you see them on Breaking More Waves.

Talkboy - Mother

Friday, 29 June 2018

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - Call Shotgun

Today tickets go on sale for Dials Festival, a multi venue event taking place on just one street on one day in Southsea, Portsmouth, October 6th. I’m pretty excited by this because somehow I’ve ended up being the director of the festival and have also been responsible for booking about one third of the bands on the bill. 

Dials Festival is being run on a DIY self-funded ethos. For 2018 it carries no sponsorship (although if any companies out there would like to do so I’d love to talk to you) and is aiming to raise funds and awareness for Solent Mind, a local mental health charity. The organisers are all working as volunteers and take no payment in an effort to try and help increase the money raised. Some artists on the bill have also agreed to play for free or a lowered fee as it’s for a good cause -  although all acts were offered payment - and the venues are all donating their spaces for free. Other volunteers have already helped with the likes of the design of our website and promo material and we're hoping that others will offer their help as we move forward. This is our idea of a community festival. A music community doing something for the greater good.

Tickets are just £12 for super early birds and £16 once they sell out. They will be more expensive on the day. If you want to come and have a great day of live music on the south coast don’t wait to book your ticket - book now in the knowledge that the earlier you book actually helps the festival more (cashflow is important) and therefore the charity. 

Dials will be headlined by Brighton's Tigercub with Welsh band Estrons as main support. The event is 18+ but for anyone under that age you can still come along, but your access will be restricted to just 2 venues - The Wedgewood Rooms and The Edge of The Wedge. Both Tigercub and Estrons will play The Wedgewood Rooms. If you are 14 or under you will need to be accompanied by an adult. 

For £12 (if you get in quick) it's worth it for just those 2 bands - after all Tigercub's last non festival show in Brighton was £10 on its own. Then you can see a whole day of music before those two bands bring the noise.

I’ll be posting more about Dials and some of the acts playing in a few weeks time, but for now, to see who is joining the likes of those two bands, plus artists that I've featured on the blog such as Art School Girlfriend, Jerry Williams and Bokito hop on over to the Dials website for all the details. (Click here) And then whilst you are there why not grab those tickets? More acts are still to be announced.

One of the artists on the bill is someone that Breaking More Waves has been supporting since her very first releases. It has been a pleasure to watch Lauran Hibberd develop her music and style over the last couple of years. Lauran's performance at Dials comes on the back of slots at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival (where apparently actor Colin Firth was in the audience), Common People in Southampton and last year’s Bestival. She’s also supported the likes of Girli, Clean Cut Kid and Bryde and has been played on BBC 6 Music and Radio X. 

Today Lauran releases her new tune Call Shotgun – and it's a fizzed up kiss-off that's full of thrashing guitar abandon. It hits with force. It goes something like this: bang bang bang faster faster harder harder then repeat and is probably that moment in her live set where one second you’re holding a plastic pint glass in your hand and the next moment it’s gone flying up in the air. Yes, Lauran Hibberd brings the mosh and the beer shower with this one. Her rallying call of “Call shotgun. I want one,” deserves to be shouted in indie clubs across the country. I pretty much say this every time Lauran releases a track, but Call Shotgun really is her best yet. Oh and it's on the Spotify New Music Friday playlist in the UK as well, which should bring Lauran a few new listeners and maybe fans. Come see her and a load of other great acts at Dials in Portsmouth this October. 

Lauran Hibberd - Call Shotgun

Thursday, 28 June 2018

New Music: Laurel - Same Mistakes

Relationships. Love them or hate them we don’t seem to be able to do without them, do we? It seems that for most of us there’s seem deep seated need to be wanted in some way. On new single Same Mistakes Breaking More Waves regular Laurel sings of that desire. “I don't want you, but I still want you to love me,” she intones. Now if ever there was an anthem for ITV2’s Love Island contestants this could be it couldn’t it? 

Having moved away from her early pop incarnation Same Mistakes is one of two singles Laurel released yesterday (the other being Crave) and they showcase what we can expect from her debut album Dogviolet which is due towards the end of August. ‘Debut album’ still seems a somewhat strange thing to be stating considering that Laurel’s first material featured on this blog way back in 2012, but as I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, sometimes the most important ingredient to good art is time.

Of interest to some readers in relation to this track is the picture that accompanies it. Some of you may remember that I wrote extensively about how musicians seem to like to jump in the bath (either naked or clothed, with or without water being present) for a promotional opportunity. Since that time, I’ve realised that it’s not just the bath (although Laurel has previously joined the musicians in the bath club) but that musicians more generally enjoy having a bonkers photo taken of them. Sitting on a hedge, standing on the roof of a bus, laying on a tennis court, or in this case standing barefoot on a red blanket on a roof for no reason whatsoever seems to be the order of the day. No wonder us non-musicians sometimes think they’re all a bit crackers. But if that’s what it takes to help a good tune get heard, let’s not deny them the opportunity. Right?

Laurel - Same Mistakes

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

New Music: Introducing - Akine

Breaking More Waves might have been going for ten years now, but there’s still plenty of time for some new firsts. Today for example is the first time I’ve featured an artist from the Ukraine, although it does seem she has lots of UK connections. The artist's name is Akine and she’s the latest signing to Best Laid Plans, a record label that has already brought you the likes of Rag N Bone Man and Rationale. 

Akine currently has two tracks on line. Pray For The Prey is the more upbeat pop tune, but it comes with some depth, as despite the title it deals with Akine’s lack of belief in faith: “I don’t believe in god, nor his angels, nor his disciples, he’s a stranger, he’s subliminal, not my father, not my leader of all,” she sings with a strong willed voice. Later she adds: "And we pray and we pray and we pray, heart of this foolish masquerade." It’s a fine opening gambit that was recorded in Maida Vale with James Earp (Fickle Friends, Bipolar Sunshine, Lewis Capaldi), even if it did lead to her having to post on Facebook "Sorry to disappoint -I am not Satan, nor do I believe in the devil. Hope everyone is having a great day.""

The second song of Akine’s, which you can find on all the usual streaming services, continues the religious imagery. It's is a piano based cover of Devil Like Me, originally performed by Rainbow Kitten Surprise. It shows off her vocal warble to some effect and at some points there’s just a hint of the Adele’s with some of the piano chords.

Akine’s debut EP Don’t Foster Fear will be released in 2018 and here we have perhaps the glimmer of an exciting new talent who comes with something interesting to sing about and some bigger picture ideas than just the typical songs of falling in love and break-up and heartache.

Akine - Pray For The Prey

New Music: Lizzo - Boys

The fact that Melissa Viviane Jefferson, better known as Lizzo, hails from Minneapolis already draws some sort of connection to Prince, but with new track Boys that reference isn’t just in terms of geography. 

Earlier this year Janelle Monae got funked up with a track that heavily referenced the purple one and now Lizzo gets her freak on in a similar manner; this one is a cowbell and bass work out with some sharp and nifty guitar work to work up the sweat further.

“I like the pretty boys with the bow tie, get your nails did, let it blow dry, I like a big beard, I like a clean face, I don't discriminate, come and get a taste. From the playboys to the gay boys, go and slay boys, you my fave boys,” Lizzo raps, making me want to shake my tail feather and shout “you go girl,” which in certain circles might seem a bit wrong for a middle-aged man on the south coast of England who should probably be playing golf or doing some woodwork in his shed. But frankly, when there’s an anthem like this, why the f*ck would I want to be doing that? The best music is, after all, universal. Single of the week, if I did singles of the week. Which I don’t. But maybe just for this damn one?

Lizzo - Boys

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Breaking More Waves Is 10 Years Old Today. A Decade Of New Music Blogging (And Why I Still Do It)

Breaking More Waves is 10 years old today. Yep, a decade of new music blogging.

This post is the equivalent of giving myself a pat on the back on the internet; because let’s face it, this is very much a solo endeavour.

Every single written word on this site was typed out by me. There’s no team, no colleagues, not even any friends giving a helping hand. (Although there is, in a way, but I’ll get to that later…).

But whilst doing this for 10 years is a reasonably impressive length of time and commitment, contrary to what I sometimes see others saying about running a blog, it’s not hard work. Or at least not the way that I do it.

Sure, if you’re running your blog to make money, it can be hard to make that work. And if you’re spending the whole day just sitting at your laptop, checking PR emails and getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night just to run a music site, that can become draining in the longer term. And yes, sometimes fitting in a few minutes in the day to write a post or two in amongst a full-time career, looking after children, running a house and still having a social life can be a little challenging. But just because something is challenging doesn’t make it hard work. It's only hard if you perceive it that way.  

And I don't. Running a small music blog like mine is relaxing and self-indulgent and mentally stimulating. To be able to take that time to get away from the stresses of the real world and bash out some words on the internet about some music I love gives me endless pleasure; sometimes even the same amount as going to watch artists play live and listen to their recorded output.

And it’s for those reasons that I continue to write the blog. I still get a huge buzz from music and love taking a bit of time out of my busy life to be able to share that buzz. It’s not about hits or money or building up my ego because people sometimes say nice things about the blog. It’s just about doing it and the fun I get from that. 

Music blogs have largely gone out of fashion these days and from my perspective it seems that over the last few years a lot of other cooler, better looking, better written, intelligent, well-known new music blogs have been calling it quits. At the same time there’s been a much smaller number of new blogs taking their place.

More recently some bigger, more professional sites appear to have been struggling as well. This year Sean Adams the founder of Drowned in Sound website has alluded to the fact that he has been considering shutting DiS down because his advert revenues are decreasing. And Tom Johnson of Gold Flake Paint has announced that whilst his site isn’t closing, it’s no longer going to be a music blog in the traditional form as financially it can’t sustain him a full-time income and that his health and happiness was suffering from running the site. 

It’s a slightly worrying trend, because as much as I’m a fan of amateur music blogs like mine, I do think that professional music journalism has an important role. That role is to provide considered, well thought out, well researched articles and interviews that help give us a greater depth, context and understanding of music, as well as entertaining us. Most amateur blogs will never have the time or resources to provide that on a regular basis. Certainly I don’t. Most of my posts are rattled off in a spare 10 minutes.

Which brings me to what I really wanted to say.

Whilst Breaking More Waves is largely written in an unedited rush, sometimes before I get down to the writing there has been some degree of thought gone in to them. Anyone who knows me in real life will know that I love nothing more than having a good conversation or debate about all things music over a glass of wine / gin and tonic / pint of cider / cocktail and that sometimes, if you’re the person having that conversation with me, a day or two later you might just find some of the ideas or concepts that we talked about ending up in a blog post on Breaking More Waves. 

Whilst I started this piece saying that there was no one giving me a helping hand with writing this thing for 10 years, that's not totally true - everyone I talk to has helped.

So, this post is a thank you to every friend or person I’ve ever had a conversation with about music, pop culture and the internet, who has helped me shape and form my ideas. It’s also a thank you (and apology of sorts) to every friend who has woken up one morning, read one of my blog posts and then sent a text: “The first paragraph in that blog post is pretty much word for word what we talked about yesterday.” Sorry if you didn’t realise many of my blog posts derive from real life conversations.

When Breaking More Waves hit 5 years, the original plan was to stop. I didn’t. A couple of years ago I decided that when it hit 10 that would be a great point to end. But now I’ve decided it isn’t. And part of that reason for not finishing just yet is because of all the friends and conversations that have been made and created through writing this thing and a desire to keep that going. 

In conclusion; thank you to everyone who has ever read Breaking More Waves.

Thank you to everyone who I have had a conversation with about music.

Thank you to everyone whose ideas I’ve stolen from those conversations and put into a blog post.

I’m taking just a few days off to celebrate Breaking More Waves hitting 10 - today you’ll find me at Bushstock Festival in London – follow my Twitter (here) for updates on that, but I will be back with more new music later next week. Also coming soon is an announcement regarding Dials, a fully independent 5 venue new music festival I'm helping pull together in Portsmouth to support a local mental health charity in October. We'll be announcing about 30 acts playing and ticket details later this week. Save 6th October in your diary for that.

Friday, 22 June 2018

New Music: Déjà Vega - Eyes Of Steel

Well this is rather good isn’t it? Eyes of Steel takes elements of Krautrock, psychedelia, motoric beats, indie and atmospheric shoegaze and channels them all into something rather powerful.

Originally released a couple of months ago, today it may not be considered that new to some, but with just 12,000 listens on Spotify and a video that’s yet to reach 2,000 plays that means there’s still a whole world of indie rock fans to be turned on, tuned in and taken to oblivion with this track. Awash with trippy atmospherics, blasts of guitar power and shouts of “Novocaine. Novocaine. Works his magic just like Novocaine,” this is the moment where you need to bow down and let the Winsford three piece of Déjà Vega surge into your ears. 

Déjà Vega - Eyes Of Steel

Thursday, 21 June 2018

New Music: LibraLibra - Tongues

Are you ready to be disturbed and exhilarated at the same time? Then take a look and listen to Tongues, the second single from one of Brighton’s most exciting new bands LibraLibra.

Delivered with a real physicality, Tongues is intense art-pop. Imagine Fever Ray in the asylum and you might be getting close. As you press play you'll probably think that the devil has crept into your stereo system – but stick with it and don’t be scared. The journey to hell can be full of thrills for those prepared to embrace it. For in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds that follow you’ll find an outlandish mix of tribal and military beats and vocals, electronics and a huge hollering chorus. Add to that an equally bizarre video featuring pink morph suited men, some violence and a child’s solo tea party and you can rest assured that if there were any worries about pop music losing its sense of weirdness LibraLibra are ensuring that’s not going to happen.

They’re as gruesome as they are beautiful, but totally compelling in the drama they create. With further releases to come later this year and other live dates booked, it's worth keeping your dial on this lot. 

LibraLibra play a free single launch show at the Green Door Store in Brighton tonight  with support from Yumi and the Weather and Blush. There are rumours of the venue being transformed into a giant womb tonight, so be prepared to walk not just through the green doors but a gaping vagina as well.

LibraLibra - Tongues (Video)

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

New Music: Introducing - Rachel Chinouriri

This is Rachel Chinouriri, a musician who appears to be sitting somewhat uncomfortably on a hedge. Personally I prefer a chair or the floor, and thankfully there are pictures of her sitting on a chair on her Facebook page, so at least we can conclude that she doesn't have some weird shrub seat fetish.

Rachel is a new name to the pages of Breaking More Waves, but a quick click on her Soundcloud will show you that she put an EP out in 2016 which was recorded in her bedroom with a just a cheap microphone and her laptop. It was appropriately called Bedroom Tales and seems to have garnered her a bit of attention with thousands of plays and the likes of Gary Crowley playing her song Weight of the World on BBC Radio London. 

Whilst there’s clearly some emerging talent on the EP, if it had come the way of my in box I probably would have passed on it in terms of featuring it on the blog – it just sounds a little too raw and underdeveloped for my personal tastes.

However, Rachel’s new song is a gorgeous revelation. A beautifully measured piece that glides rather than punches What Have I Ever Done reminds me a little bit of the work of Daughter with its nocturnal atmospherics and hushed stillness. If you want big pop choruses and bangers turn away now, but if you want something to really immerse yourself in, dive in deep.

Living in Croydon (home of the once largest second hand record shop in Europe - Beanos - now RIP) on the outskirts of London, Rachel is the youngest child from a large family that hail from Zimbabwe, although Rachel was born in England. Apparently, her family’s traditional Zimbabwean values sometimes left Rachel feeling isolated and it was from this situation that she found herself delving into writing and recording music. The result here is beguiling to say the least.

Rachel Chinouriri - What Have I Ever Done

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

New Music: Jerry Williams - Left And Right

If you’re in the UK and listen to the Spotify New Music Friday playlist every week then you may well have already heard Left And Right by Breaking More Waves favourite and Portsmouth's queen of guitar pop Jerry Williams but for those of you that haven’t, it’s time to get acquainted here. 

In the fast-release internet world of today Left And Right is something of an anomaly; it’s a song that has been sitting in Jerry’s live set for some time (since at least 2014) and has become a definite fan favourite – to the point that when she plays it it’s not unusual to see the audience hollering along as if it’s already a big hit single. Co-written with Newton Faulkner and his brother Toby, Left And Right has an element of the full throttle and delirious whisky downing hoe-down to it and builds to a full on orgy of guitars that makes for a head-shaking climax. This one is a stomp for sure.

Jerry Williams - Left And Right

Thursday, 14 June 2018

New Music: Pale Waves - Kiss (Video)

Yes yes. I know all the arguments against Pale Waves. To a certain extent I agree with them.

Their songs all sound the same. Their songs all sound the same. Their songs all sound the same. Their songs all sound the same. Their songs all sound the same. Their songs all sound the same.

And then there’s the argument that people only like them because of their indie goth pop look. 

Which I don’t agree with. 

Having seen a hyped-up energetic crowd bouncing up and down and singing along to every word of every song the band played at Heaven, London recently, it certainly didn’t feel like a gig where people were only there because of the bands style. They were fully invested in the music. People might buy into or identify with the look, but only if they’re passionate about the songs first and foremost.

And what a gig Heaven was. With a light show that screamed ‘we want to make this look as amazing as we can in a small venue' and with Heather becoming a rather excellent front woman (especially when she put down her guitar and pulled some shapes) it was a watershed moment for Pale Waves. At that point it left me feeling right here, right now, they’re unstoppable. Whatever the arguments against them.

Today the band continue their upward trajectory with a new video. Accusations that Heather is actually the daughter of Robert Smith won’t be helped here. It’s undeniable that the guitars in this tune could quite easily be taken from one of Fat Bob and the Goths poppier moments. And Heather’s got the oddball eye rolls and jerky quirky hand movements down to an art form. The fact that the song is called Kiss – virtually the same title as one of The Cure’s songs (which incidentally features one of my favourite opening lyrics of any album: “Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, your tongue is like poison, so swollen it fills up my mouth.”)  doesn’t help either. So as much I want to throw the ‘all their songs sound the same’ argument into the ring, there’s something about this track (namely those similarities to one of my favourite bands) and Pale Waves’ confidence and energy that keeps me locked in.

Pale Waves - Kiss (Video)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

New Music: Introducing - 3rd Culture Kid

Some of you with good musical memories might remember Lulu James. For a while, in the sort of circles that some people would describe as ‘tastemakers’, Lulu’s name seemed to be everywhere. It was easy to see why – she had enormous vocal talent, personality and some fine songs to go with it. She even cropped up on this blog a couple of times and I managed to see her live at The Great Escape Festival (on a stage alongside Chvrches and MØ) and at a rather magical set at the House of Barnabas in London.

However, such is the nature of pop music that sometimes artists, irrespective of their talent, just don’t break through the way that the tastemakers think they will do. 

Now after some time away Lulu is back with a new name to signify a new project. Thankfully despite the re-brand she’s not trying to cover up her past existence or work, something that some artists attempt and I personally find a little bit odd; there’s nothing wrong with your art heading in a different direction or changing but accepting the past is just as important as moving into the future.

And 3rd Culture Kid does see an evolution for Lulu musically. After going back to Africa, (she was born and lived in Tanzania until she was 6) and reconnecting and rediscovering her roots, she’s uniting the two worlds she comes from through her music and singing; partly in her native tongue.

Less 21st century soul (as her style used to be categorised) and rather more international leftfield pop, MTO (which means rivers in Swahili) represents the first fascinating offering from her under this new guise. If you’re a fan of the likes of Ibeyi you may well latch onto this pretty quickly and for those who want to lose themselves in dance, there’s a rather infectious remix by Kidnap (formerly Kidnap Kid) out there as well. 

I’m streaming both tracks because after repeated listens I can’t decide which I like more. The remix is rather easier to connect with at first but as you delve further in the original is perhaps the deeper and more long term listen. 

3rd Culture Kid - MTO

3rd Culture Kid - MTO (Kidnap Remix)

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

New Music: Zuzu - All Good

Liverpool’s Zuzu seems to be making a once a year appearance on Breaking More Waves. Back in 2016 an introducing piece described her as a cross between Courtney Barnett and Black Honey, then in 2017 I wrote that What You Want was a rollickingly good indie rock song. In 2018 I stand by all those statements.

But there’s more this year. So far I’ve managed to catch Zuzu live at The Great Escape Festival in the rather odd environs of a white walled hotel function room that’s probably more used to hosting weddings and conferences than raucous chaotic guitar bands (it had the nicest toilets though – so that was a definite advantage). Then there was the class of her third release Beauty Queen which has been tickling the earlobes with its hook-a-plenty delight and the promise of a full EP to come. Elsewhere over the last few days there’s also been some social media footage of Zuzu chair-moshing at a Taylor Swift gig with the Breaking More Waves regular Lauran Hibberd (look out for new material from Lauran soon). I like it when our favourite indie singers become good friends.

From the forthcoming EP comes song 4 and it’s called All Good and it’s er……all good. After all what’s not to like about a trippy ballad (of sorts…) that mentions alien aunties and falling in love without drugs in virtually the same breath? It’s the song that adds a little more musical depth to Zuzu’s output, although to be honest I’d be just as happy with her cranking out some more haphazard trashy-speed-pop belters. Either way what’s clear is that Zuzu can write a song and then some. Now all we need is a physical release so that she can claim the prize of sitting right at the end of my music collection after the Zutons; and no, before you ask I don’t own any ZZ Top.

Zuzu - All Good

Monday, 11 June 2018

New Music: Starling - Profiteroles

I can categorically say that until today I have never listened to a pop song titled after those odd little French choux pastry balls with a moist filling and a chocolate topping. But now that I have I’m glad I did. Because Starling’s Profiteroles is a lean, mean and peculiar piece of electronic pop music and certainly the only one you’ll ever hear where the lyrics mentioned those pastry balls in ‘the pockets of Charlotte’s pink dressing gown, she’s sick again, must be the neighbourhood.’ Add in some expressive dancing in the video at some slightly overcast locations and you can consider my interest piqued for her forthcoming EP The Soul, which is the follow up to 2017's EP The Body – you can see what she’s doing with those titles can’t you?

Starling plays The Waiting Room in London on 26th September.

Starling - Profiteroles (Video)

New Music: Introducing - MAY

In the last couple of weeks I came across a thread on Twitter discussing new music, websites and release dates. The person who started the thread, someone called Justin Farrar, had tweeted: “Too many music websites are hung up on reviews tied to release dates. This hurts sub-underground labels that don't play the PR/announcing racket. If some amazing, obscure record is a couple months old (or even a year), why not review it and turn readers on to new stuff?”.

It's a valid point. My response to the tweet was this: “The difficulty in finding obscure stuff that’s truly great that hasn’t been covered a lot is much harder than most people imagine. That’s not to say it’s not possible though.” My point was you have to spend an inordinate amount of time listening to a lot of crap to find a totally undiscovered gem. It’s why most sites don’t do it. They rely on the likes of PR companies to act as filters. Even a tiny small-scale blog like mine needs to operate in this way a fair bit if you want to post reasonably regularly. Unearthing truly great undiscovered music without the help of others in the music industry takes a lot of listening. And that takes time. And time rich people are either very well off or very poor and whilst being the fomer would be nice, I’m not, and I don’t want to be the second, just for the hell of discovering obscure new music. 

But there was something else in this tweet that grabbed me. It’s this concept of being tied in to writing about music tied to release dates. Why do sites, including mine, do that? Partly I guess because there’s a school of thought that nobody wants to publish a post about a track that’s already six months old. If you’ve set out your raison d'être as new music then you need to be up to date. Newness is defined by time and age.

So, here’s today's post, about a new artist that I came across this weekend. Except she’s not ‘new’ at all. The oldest tracks on her Soundcloud are from 3 years ago. Yet until 48 hours ago I’d never heard of her. She’s called MAY. Whilst she’s Brooklyn based, MAY was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. She has released some of the most beautiful, melancholy, emotional and affecting songs I’ve heard for some time. It’s real stop you in your tracks stuff. The vocals are deeply rich and incredibly elegant (reminding me a little of Antony and the Johnsons work) and her songs sound like instant classics. My only question is why is she not already a huge star? I guess it's because in the UK at least Australian artists don't get that much coverage (I'd love to hear more Gang of Youths, G Flip and Odette on the radio here) and perhaps because what she's doing isn't lowest common denominator generic pop that seems to fill up the UK singles chart these days. 

It’s for this reason that I’m posting about her now. Not one song. Not two. But three. She’s that good. Incredibly the videos only have a few thousand plays between them. The beautiful black and white dance piece for Ballerino featuring a Pierrot criminally has less than 1000 views

She might have been featured on a lot of other music websites and I might be years behind everyone else, but then she only received her first play on UK’s radio 1 the other day (courtesy of Dan from Bastille) so it seems like a lot of people are playing catch up. Maybe if I’ve missed her up to now, so have you? And MAY doesn’t deserve to be missed. An incredible talent.

MAY - Ballerino (Video)

MAY - Sunday Night (Video)

MAY - Falling (Live) (Video)