Monday, 15 October 2018

New Music: Introducing - Amanda Tenfjord

Sigrid and Aurora you will, of course, already be 100% familiar with. Yet the quality pop from Norway doesn’t stop there. Bubbling under is the impressive Halie (who currently seems to be focused on her own country) and now I’m adding another name to the list and that’s Amanda Tenfjord. Here's a fun fact: Amanda originally hails from a village also called Tenfjord and yes, it’s her real surname as well.

Having first appeared on Norway’s TV talent show The Stream where she fluttered a few hearts performing the ballad Man of Iron she’s subsequently released a small handful of high-end electronic based pop tunes that have hooks by the bagful. Early out of traps was the suitably titled First Impression and that was followed up with No Thanks. Now Amanda makes it three good ones in a row with Let Me Think. This one's her best yet. If you’re a fan of Sigrid you’re guaranteed to like Amanda. In fact, Amanda has co-written with Odd Martin who has also worked with Sigrid and Aurora, so you can see there’s a golden thread here. 

Now all we need is Sigrid, Aurora and Amanda to get together and to form a supergroup. With all the collaborations going on in pop at the moment, it’s perhaps not out of the question. But for now, collect your thoughts and take a listen to Let Me Think which was released last Friday and if, like me, you're in the UK, start hoping she comes over to our country for some shows at some point.

Amanda Tenfjord - Let Me Think

Sunday, 14 October 2018

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - What Do Girls Want?

Lauran Hibberd has the art of writing a made-for-streaming-services indie pop hit down to a fine art. Essentially the golden rule here is no time wasting. No complex introductions are required – just get straight in with the verse and then punch home again with the chorus before the listener skips to the next track. Now you've got them hooked, keep it short, keep it sweet but always leave the listener wanting more. 

The two minutes and forty-five seconds of fizz and fuzz of What Do Girls Want? does exactly that, packing enough cartoon sass and sarcasm into its short life span to make you feel like you’ve just downed a couple of double vodka and red bulls and are now pumped up enough to do it all over again, no messing.

So, what do girls want? Alas Lauran doesn’t give the answer. “Honey if I knew I still wouldn’t tell you,” she sings in a chirpy but unforthcoming manner.  Again she's got this stuff sussed. Never give everything away.  

So without Lauran to help, here are some suggestions provided by the women of Breaking More Waves HQ:

What Girls Want

A nice sit down and a cup of tea. 
A Dog. 

There you have it. A firecracker from Lauran Hibberd plus the answer to one of the big questions in life from Breaking More Waves. Your day is complete.

Lauran Hibberd - What Do Girls Want?

New Music: Introducing - Milly Upton

Normally when a piece is titled Introducing on Breaking More Waves it signifies that the artist has either one or a small handful of tracks released to the world. Today however I’m featuring an artist who has already released an album last year. However, judging by the play count on Spotify which is just a few thousand it seems that Milly Upton will still be new to the vast majority of readers of Breaking More Waves – hence the Introducing title. If you already know her then maybe just skip this post and give her record Baby F.M another play? It's worth it.

Milly’s music is the stuff of the classic sing songwriter. It has a gorgeously soothing quality to it - it’s a record for rainy lazy Sunday afternoons, a record to wake up to, a record that sounds as rooted in the past (1970’s west coast USA to be specific) as it does in the present. Songs like Clean & Good (streaming below) with its twangy guitar and warm vocals will surely remedy any malaise – even if the all encompassing loveliness gets a small kick when Milly sings the word ‘bitches’, which sounds aggressively at odds with the beguiling nature of the rest of the song.

Originally from Brighton, but now based in London Milly has been playing live for a few years now. Your next chance to see her play is alongside Shiners, MarthaGunn and Margot at a Communion show at Notting Hill Arts Centre, London on November 4th.

Milly Upton - Clean & Good

Milly Upton - Orange & Blue (Sofar Sounds Session)

Saturday, 13 October 2018

New Music: LibraLibra - Skin and Bone

With horizontal rain belting down outside, Portsmouth football club playing at home and the band being the early-afternoon opening act on The Loft stage, a tough gig was potentially awaiting Brighton’s LibraLibra at this year Dials Festival in Portsmouth. However, expectations didn’t match reality. The group’s unyielding and colourful noise-pop won the hearts of a decent sized crowd – lead singer Beth Cannon’s gutsy in the zone performance and huge vocal was an art form unto itself – and by the end of the day they were one of the talked about discoveries of the festival.

Which brings me neatly onto their new single Skin and Bone (part of a double header set they released on Friday – the other track being Lillith). If you’re of the mind set that pop music in 2018 has largely become as sterile as a surgeon’s instrument in the operating room, then LibraLibra are here to come and infect things. Because Skin and Bone has absolutely no interest in being anything but as forceful as fuck. It’s a song that mixes a vocal delivery something akin to Beth Ditto of The Gossip and Toyah, slabs of dirty industrial noise, precision military drums and off-kilter on the edge ferociousness. It it was a person, you wouldn’t pick a fight with it.

Skin & Bone will almost certainly scare your neighbours if you play it loud enough. So, you know what to do; throw open the windows wide and turn the volume up. Brutal and beautiful and bonkers. There’s definitely a space for that in pop right now.

LibraLibra - Skin and Bone

Thursday, 11 October 2018

New Music: Plastic Mermaids - 1996 (Video)

This year I’ve witnessed the Plastic Mermaids experience (and it really is an experience – not just a regular gig) twice. The first was in Rough Trade record shop in Bristol. Unlike most in store gigs, it wasn’t a stripped back low-key affair playing a handful of songs before the band nip off to try and sell you some merchandise and get down the pub. Instead it was a full show, with the stage crammed full of technology and even some arena-like confetti explosions. Fast forward a few months to End of the Road Festival where the band opened the Woods Stage on a Sunday lunchtime with a tinsel clad dancing choir, an operatic guest vocalist and one of the most life affirming sets I’ve seen this year. If I was going to point you in the direction of one band to go and see live it would be Plastic Mermaids. They’ll make your heart flutter and maybe even boom.

Now, after quite a hiatus, there’s new studio recorded material. 1996 is everything you’d expect from this band; a beautifully trippy pop song that fearlessly heads off the map yet never feels anything other than being perfectly complete.

It’s accompanied by one of the strangest yet weirdly sweet videos you’ll see all year, as a man falls in love with a robot. The water ski scenes are both hilarious and beautiful at the same time. For those of you who know the Isle of Wight (from where the band hail) you’ll undoubtedly recognise the ex-Tube Isle of Wight railway carriages. Next time I hope they can fit one of the Island's hovercraft's into proceedings as well.

It’s great to have Plastic Mermaids back. 1996 absolutely delivers as a song and based on the material they’ve been playing live, the album, when it comes, is going to be an absorbing and monumental listen.

Plastic Mermaids - 1996

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

New Music: Introducing - Jeffe

From the impassioned rock thrills of Gang of Youths to the heartening pop of G-Flip to the so sassy it hurts dance-party thrills of Confidence Man I’ve probably discovered more great music coming out of Australia in the last couple of years than at any time before. Here’s another.

Jeffe (pronounced in the same way as us Brits would pronounce Geoff) first put out a track called Whoever You Love I’m Cool around the end of 2017. However, with its minimalist rubbery sounding electro pulse and not trying too hard vocal delivery, 2nd single Undecided (released just a few weeks ago) is the one that hits home. 

There are some neat lyrical turns of phrase on this record that I particularly like: “Caffeine, nicotine singing nine crimes.” Or “Pick apart the pudding in my mouth, pull apart the seams that are loving again.” Never mind what she’s singing about, these phrases just sound good. 

Already crowned as one to watch by Triple J Unearthed in Australia and having supported the likes of Lanks, Alex The Astronaut, Stella Donnelly and the aforementioned G-Flip Jeffe is clearly picking up some traction. Now Breaking More Waves is adding its little push as well. This is cool pop for the cool kids.

Jeffe - Undecided

Thursday, 4 October 2018

New Music: Alice Chater - Hourglass (Video)

“If she’s got a few more hooks and massive bangers ready in the wings she could be a star,” I said of Alice Chater back in August.

Well, here’s her new song Hourglass.

And guess what? It’s a banger. With some hooks. 

Last time she grabbed the discotastic melody of Ring My Bell by Anita Ward for her song Heartbreak Hotel and this time she’s only gone and bloody sampled The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, which any wedding / pub / party DJ will tell you is absolutely guaranteed to get persons of a certain age group up on the dance floor. 

Then there’s the fact that Alice pulls some serious shapes in this one-shot video. Imagine if Britney Spears was a phone and you could upgrade her. Likewise Madonna. Or even perhaps Lady Gaga. Your new model would be Alice Chater.

If mainstream pop goes through cycles of highs and lows then at the moment it's largely going through a bit of a low. Alice Chater seems to be trying to change that.

Alice Chater - Hourglass

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

New Music: Sody - Maybe It Was Me (Video)

This is the first time I’ve featured Sody (real name Sophie Dyson) on Breaking More Waves, even though the just turned 18 year-old has been releasing fully realised pop music for the last couple of years and has already played Glastonbury. I caught her in the BBC Introducing Tent in 2017 playing to a very receptive crowd.

However, I’m very much making some space for her new release Maybe It Was Me, as it's her strongest song so far. It’s one that reminisces on a past relationship, her first, and finds her reflecting on her actions: “I was selfish, couldn’t help it,” she sings at one point before more self-blame comes along: “Maybe it was me who fucked it up.” 

Of course, when things go wrong in a relationship it’s easy to blame someone, be it yourself, the other person, or someone else. It’s much harder to just accept that break-ups are often an inevitable part of dating and that incompatibilities are really no one’s fault. 

And talking of breaks, I’d like to suggest that given the right ones (and perhaps an edit of the swear word in the song) Maybe It Was Me could easily find itself being played out on UK Radio – either Radio 1 or 2. It distances itself from some of her earlier electro-pop work and wears its heart on its sleeve as a simple but beautifully melodic ballad.

You can find Sody out on tour with Tom Walker and Breaking More Waves favourite Maisie Peters later this month around the UK.

Sody - Maybe It Was Me

Friday, 28 September 2018

New Music: Fröst - La Venus d'Argent (Video)

If you listen to one album today make sure it’s Matters by Fröst. A hypnotic, pulsing record of motorik beats, analogue synths and icily cool reserved vocals delivered by Johanna Bramli, Matters veers between sophisticated art-pop songs to darker atmospheric pieces that could even claim some reference to horror movie soundtracks (Suspiria and The Exorcist come to mind). 

From the album comes new single La Venus d'Argent which gives a nod (albeit possibly unintentionally) to similarly titled La Femme D'Argent by French popsters Air in the way it uses a lightweight beat at the start, the sort of thing you might find as a preset on keyboard. 

Is French-ghost pop a genre? Then if not Fröst might have just invented it. Haunted vocals, chilling repeated synth riffs and an aloof sultriness that can only the French language can produce (see also Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot and Francoise Hardy). What more could you want? Except perhaps a whole album of the stuff, which now you can.

Fröst play a handful of dates this month including my home city / my own festival at Portsmouth’s Dials. One street, five venues. Tickets are £16 (they will be more on the day so buy in advance). All the details including the timetable can be found here: Dials Festival Website.

Fröst - La Venus d'Argent (Video)

New Music: Easy Life - Nightmares

Leicester (a town that apparently many Americans struggle to pronounce - it's just Less-Ter OK?) has a rather limited musical heritage. Kasabian. Showaddywaddy. Er…. that's about it.

But that could all change soon; we could be adding a third name to the list. On Twitter they describe themselves as 'your favourite Westlife covers band', but don’t let that put you off. Their name is Easy Life.

You might remember Easy Life from November 2017 when the casual downbeat swell of their debut single Pockets found a place on Breaking More Waves in an introducing piece. Since that time they’ve been bubbling along quite nicely with a number of releases and shows. I finally caught them live at this year’s Great Escape Festival where they managed, in my head at least, to take me on a road trip down the west coast of the USA with the roof down. 

Now the bubbles aren’t just floating along nicely - they’re rising to the surface – with a new tune for insomniacs everywhere. It’s called Nightmares. “Forty winks would be priceless,” croons lead vocalist Murray and despite the odd bit of swearing in the song you’ll be charmed. There's a lazy-limbed lolloping beat, some warped grooves and some jazzy sax toots. Nightmares stands out as being that little bit different from any other pop music around at the moment. It’s super hooky as well. All being well it will give them a moment in the sun and maybe some more after that. Pockets was very good but this is even better.

Listen to Easy Life often and they will improve your life. Leicester for the win. Easy Life are out on tour in November in the UK. Go and see them.

Easy Life - Nightmares

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

New Music: May - Baby Save Me Tonight

MAY is blessed with a voice so abounding with beauty and warmth that I find it impossible to understand why anyone wouldn’t fall immediately in love with it. Here’s the latest example, a song called Baby Save Me Tonight. “If I fall out the window will you catch me in your arms, will you wait with me whilst the ambulance comes,” she sings. Yet despite the doomy romanticism of the lyrics the tune has a touch that is somehow soothing and comforting. 

Her debut EP, out later this year will be released via Best Laid Plans who have had success with the likes of Rag N Bone Man and Rationale and more recently brought you Akine who I introduced back in June (just a few days after I first introduced MAY on Breaking More Waves). There’s a video coming for the song on Friday. I’m expecting some sort of sombre film noir effort. But in the meantime we can all wallow in the sheer class of the audio of Baby Save Me Tonight. Music that deserves to have the stamp of 'classic'.

MAY - Baby Save Me Tonight

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Preview: Dials Festival 2018 (Part 3 - Later Evening)

Here is my third and final preview / tips post for Dials Festival 2018. A 5 venue wristband access event on Albert Road in Southsea, Portsmouth that I am helping organise in support of Solent Mind.

Having waffled on about how I became involved in the festival, the philosophy that underpins this year’s event and some of my thinking about the booking of the festival I feel that it’s time to sit back and just write about the artists a little more. This is a relatively waffle free post!

So here are 3 tips for artists nearer the top end of the bill that I think are worth your attention. This has been a particularly hard selection – as I haven’t space to mention the beautiful mellow pop of Art School Girlfriend that reminds me a little bit of Massive Attack and Portishead or the fiery Estrons who played Dials in 2016 in the Edge of the Wedge and return to blast the mighty Wedgewood Rooms with their visceral sound. But as in previous posts I’m limiting my choices to three. All have featured in past blog posts.

19:30-20:00 Bokito – The Vaults

Bokito is named after a gorilla that escaped from its cage at a zoo and that is exactly what this band are like. When lead singer Moses gets on stage he unleashes his inner caged animal. But it’s not a rock beast. No, it’s a hip swinging, falsetto crooning, crouching tiger of a man who dances like a African tribesperson. Imagine Everything Everything with a big heap of sunshine tossed into the music - and lots of confetti in this video for current single How Dare You.

20:30-21:00 Fröst – Edge of the Wedge

With a debut album Matters coming out next week we’ll get the full picture of what Fröst sound like, but from their transcendent singles such as Record Still Spinning and Black Mountain, which have found love from this blog and Lauren Laverne of BBC 6 Music, they can be described as having a sound full of retro analogue synths, pulsing electronics and motorik beats. Featuring a member of Fujiya and Miyagi and a French-Swedish sound artist, fans of Goldfrapp or Broadcast might be particularly smitten with Fröst. Dials is pleased to present them as one of just four shows they’re playing this October. The video below is a live recording of Record Still Spinning.

21:00-21:30 Grace Savage – The Loft

Another one of the curve balls I mentioned yesterday, Grace Savage is a beatboxer of extraordinary skill. Having seen her perform twice, once at Winchestival and the other time in the surreal setting of a roller-skating disco in Margate I can confirm that Grace will astound you. “She can’t be doing that just with her mouth and a loop station,” you’ll possibly cry. Oh yes she is. It’s why she’s four times UK beatboxing champion. If you want to see something different that you’ll probably remember for a long time after Dials 2018 finishes, Grace Savage is the one. No video can do her justice - you have to see it live.

You can find the full timetable for Dials by clicking here.

You can buy tickets for £16 plus a small booking fee from this link or direct from the Wedgewood Rooms box office where there is no fee. Tickets will be more expensive on the day so I advise to buy them now.

To prepare fully for Dials there's a playlist on Spotify featuring all the artists you can get by clicking here or just search for Dials Festival 2018.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Preview: Dials Festival 2018 (Part 2 - Late Afternoon / Early Evening)

One of the best things about running your own small independent festival is that you get to help book the bands. Whilst I don’t book everything on the Dials Festival line up, somewhere between 30 – 40% of the line-up has been my own selections and as a small team we all have an input into the final bill.  

Being a fully independent festival gives us the advantage that the team take some risks in what we book, choosing some acts that we personally like, irrespective of if they’ll sell tickets or not. Yet clearly we also have to find artists within our small budget that will help make punters put their hands in their wallets, buy a ticket and come along to the event.

We also have to try and curate a line-up that makes sense to people. However, for me it’s also important to trust in some of my own judgements and put a few curveballs on the bill to give variety and people some choice. Of course, some of those curveballs may end up playing to virtually nobody, but I have to trust the audience of what is essentially a new music festival to be open minded enough to not just sticking with what they know - discovery is key. As a music listener I don’t listen to one genre or style of music and I’m sure many of you reading this don’t. I like indie, pop, ambient, electronica, soundtracks, folk, hip-hop, country, soul and many more genres, so I want, within reason, the festival programme to represent that variety, yet retaining a consistency that makes a complete bill.

With that in mind here are 3 further recommendations from the Dials bill for the middle part of the day, two of whom should be no surprise to regular long-term readers of the blog and one that I’ve yet to feature, but I’m very excited about.

17.00-17.30 Curxes - The Loft

Curxes played the very first Dials Festival in 2015 and return in an evolved form. Since that last performance the project has downsized from a band and is now just essentially the solo creative vehicle of Roberta Fidora who has moved away from the mainland, across the Solent, to take up residence in the Isle of Wight. In 2017 Roberta released her second album Gilded Cage – a weird experimental electronic ghostly pop record which made it on to the Breaking More Waves 2017 Album of the Year List. 

Live shows to promote the album have been relatively few and far between although Curxes appeared at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival and last year there were a number of gigs supporting Blancmange where a mysterious figure dressed as some sort of dancing bear accompanied Roberta on stage. Will we get the bear at Dials? You’ll have to be there to see. Expect to possibly hear some brand new tracks as well.

18.00-18.30 Salt Ashes - The Loft

You could consider Viega Sanchez aka Salt Ashes as one of the curveball choices at Dials Festival.  There are after all a lot of bands that play guitars and couldn't necessarily be considered pop. 

Salt Ashes is the antithesis of that. She does bangers. Electronic ones. Dark ones. Sultry ones. Very modern ones. There won’t be a guitar in site. Just her, some pitch perfect vocals and someone behind her creating the music. She’s probably the most pop act on the Dials 2018 bill and is all the better for it.

At this point in the evening you have a very simple choice – the psychobilly garage punk sounds of Sleepeaters in Bar Acapulco or some badass dance jams with Salt Ashes. Also, if you choose Salt Ashes you’ll then only have a one minute walk to catch my next recommendation in the venue opposite (Note: All venues are subject to capacity) who start as she finishes, so hopefully you’ll miss very little.

Why not get your disco shorts on (I'd suggest dark leather ones would be appropriate) and give Salt Ashes a go? Listen out for recent single Girls – which has clocked up close to 300,000 plays on Spotify this year.

18.30-19.00 Penelope Isles – The Vaults

For anyone that has ever been to a gig in the West country or pretty much any festival, the chances are you’ll have heard of Big Jeff John. He’s the big guy (obviously) with the big frizzy blonde hair and a heavyweight load of festival wristbands on his arm nodding his head, waving his finger and throwing himself around to the music at as many shows as you have had hot dinners. He’s been hailed as a hero by many, including lots of musicians, who now treat it as an honour to have Big Jeff at their gigs. Rumour has it one of Haim tried to propose to him.

So when Big Jeff recently tweeted “I’ve got something big that I need to say, it’s pretty big, so deep deep breath, build some serious tension. I fricking love all the members of Penelope Isles. They are a great band. Take the dreamy melodies of Beach House and the chunky lo-fi riffs of Grandaddy,” you’d better take notice. 

Thankfully I think everyone in the Dials team agrees with Jeff. Penelope Isles is a great band in the making. I saw them at End of the Road Festival earlier this year and their last two songs were so incredibly powerful they made me well up. Having already toured with The Magic Numbers, Dials is extremely grateful that Penelope Isles are coming to our festival. They’ve been signed to Bella Union records and will have an album out next year. Ones to Watch for sure.

If you want to come to Dials 2018, don't delay. Tickets will be more expensive on the day. Grab them by clicking on this link: £16 in advance plus a small booking fee. Exchange them for a wristband on the day at The Wedgewood Rooms Box Office from 12 o'clock.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Preview: Dials Festival 2018 (Part 1 - Early Afternoon)

In just under a two weeks, on Saturday 6th October Portsmouth’s Dials Festival returns for its third chapter following its first two editions in 2015 and 2016. It’s an event I’m pretty well versed in, after in 2015 having been invited to join the organising team because of my relative expertise in new music and help book some bands for the bill, for 2018 I seem to have ended up with the job title Festival Director and am one of the core organisers and financial backers of the event. I'm not quite sure how that's happened but it has.

The Dials ethos is a little bit different from many multi-venue single wristband access events out there, although I must give a huge shout out to Reading’s brilliant Are You Listening Festival whose model we have partly taken on. It was that festival that inspired me to suggest to the team that the event should be not for profit and run in aid of a charity partner (Solent Mind) whilst raising awareness of what their organisation does and maybe even raise some funds along the way. 

We also thought it was important that, after hearing a number of reports from local artists that certain other bigger corporate festivals in the area weren’t paying the smaller artists instead offering a guest tickets as 'payment', we would offer virtually every band some form of cash return for playing. Sometimes this might only be enough to cover transport to the venue but at least it was some help to artists. You might think that paying artists was imperative, after all they make the festival, but it seems that some events have different ideas. 

This of course means that tickets are a little more expensive than some might expect, but £16 for a full day of live music which includes a host of up and coming bands including the likes of Estrons, Art School Girlfriend, Lauran Hibberd and Fröst who are all getting play on Radio 1 or BBC 6 Music, is to my mind still decent value. The reality is we couldn't make it any cheaper.

Some artists have been wonderful though and agreed to waive their fee as the event is for charity and hardly any of the acts (including our headliners) have asked for guest list. I hope that our ethos of what we are trying to achieve will make both artists and audience feel invested in the festival and this will create a positive community spirit. It was something our previous events were praised for, as well the fact that all the venues are on just one street just a few minutes walk from each other, plus the large amount of women on the bill compared with other festivals, something which as Director I’ve pushed for again in 2018.

If you haven’t got your ticket yet I recommend buying in advance, as they will be more expensive on the day. You can get them from the Dials website by clicking here.

Now onto the music. Over the next 3 blog posts I will be providing tips and recommendations of acts to see at Dials Festival 2018. I’m dividing them into 3 sections – early afternoon, late afternoon and evening, based on the timetable (which you can see by clicking here).

Previous experience has shown that not many people come to the festival early – but this year in particular I highly recommend you get down for the start. We have some really great acts at the bottom of the bill – who knows some of them might even be future headliners? Also, for some early arrivals there will be a few bonus goodies that make your £16 ticket even better value, which we’ll be revealing through our social media a few days before the event, so keep an eye out @dialsfestival.

So here are three acts it’s worth getting out of bed for. You'd be a fool to miss them.

Libra Libra 13.45-14.15 The Loft

Brighton’s LibraLibra might only have 2 songs on line but they’ve already picked up attention because of their eccentrically maverick videos, powerful lyrics and uneasy claustrophobic music that mixes everything from Fever Ray like electronics to power-chord glam-guitars. The jewel in their crown however is the wonderful Beth Cannon whose mountainous vocal range can switch from baby sweet to operatic to rock goddess in a matter of seconds. Some of you might recognise Beth’s name (or voice) – she most recently has worked with Lost Horizons - the band formed by Simon Raymonde of The Cocteau Twins and Bella Union Records and Richie Thomas.

Having already headlined a stage at Brighton’s Alt-Escape festival and with an appearance at the tastemaker led Off The Record Music Festival / Conference in Manchester in November on the cards this is a chance to catch a bubbling under band at their very early stages. They might be on early but they are guaranteed to wake you up with the beautiful noise they make.

Lauran Hibberd 14.45-15.20 The Loft

It was only a year or so ago that the Isle of Wight’s Lauran Hibberd was playing to about 6 people in a pub just over the road from where she’s performing at Dials. Since that time, things have changed. Her song Call Shotgun has been BBC Introducing’s track of the week on Radio 1 and netted over 300,000 streams on Spotify. She’s supported Eliza & The Bear on tour and played the main stage at Bestival. Lauran’s ability to pen hooky fuzzy indie pop songs at an alarming rate is incredible and on stage her funny stories, wit and likeable personality engage as much as the tunes.

Lauran is one of a number of acts playing Dials that (arguably) could already be significantly higher up the bill. Get down and see what the fuss is about.

Jerry Williams 15.30-16.00 The Vaults

After Lauran Hibberd finishes you have 5 minutes for a quick break and then a 1-minute walk across the road to Vaults to see Portsmouth’s reigning indie queen Jerry Williams. Having already sold out the 400 capacity Wedgewood Rooms with her band, Dials will find Jerry performing a more low-key solo set in the intimate space of The Vaults. With a whole bunch of catchy personal pop songs such as Mother (5 million streams on Spotify and counting), Grab Life and Left and Right, this solo set will be another reminder of Jerry’s melodic talent. It may well be busy for this one!

Grab your ticket for Dials 2018 by clicking here.

Late afternoon and evening recommendations coming soon…

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

New Music: Black Futures - Trance

Industrial noise-punk probably isn’t the sort of thing you’d associate with Breaking More Waves blog. Well think again. Because sometimes a song just leaps out at you, with both legs flying and kicks you so hard that it leaves you flat out on the floor, crying with exhilaration. This is a bloody wonderful experience.

Such is the sheer vigorous joy of Trance by Black Futures that I've been weeping till I created a puddle. Trance sounds like a violent dystopian celebration of everything, shoved into your face harder and harder until suddenly you get it. LIFE IS OK. 

Music isn’t just about technical excellence. It’s about feeling. This one makes me feel alive. I hope it does for you as well.

Black Futures - Trance

Sunday, 16 September 2018

New Music: Art School Girlfriend - Distance (Blank) (Video)

Sometimes you just have to get away from things. To find some space.

“Lately I am in over my head. Lay me out to watch the sun instead,” sings Polly Mackey aka Art School Girlfriend, capturing that need. With its gentle electronic pulses and isolated electronics Distance (Blank) creates the sound of walls closing in, yet rather than it sounding crushing and oppressive it sounds full of soothing beauty. With hints of Massive Attack, Bat For Lashes and Portishead to her sound Art School Girlfriend is certainly in a very fine place musically. Her first EP was very good, and this is a further step up from that.

Art School Girlfriend is touring this October with dates in England and Scotland including a date in Breaking More Waves home city of Portsmouth at the multi-venue Dials Festival on October 6th. Tickets are available for £16 for a whole day of music by clicking here.

Art School Girlfriend - Distance (Blank)

Friday, 14 September 2018

New Music: Pale Waves - Red

Today Pale Waves release their debut album My Mind Makes Noises. I think there's been enough talk about the band now and they've played enough live gigs for everyone to see the arguments both good and bad about what they do. However, whatever you think about them, they’re doing something right. Hype only lasts for a very short time - people see through it if the artist doesn't deliver and Pale Waves continue to play increasingly larger shows with an ever more energetic, enraptured and youthful audience. The first time I saw them their crowd was a mainly unresponsive bunch of guys in a small pub. The last time it was a big bouncing gang of mainly young people losing their sh*t to every song. The whole thing felt rather glorious.

After just three plays through the album, here’s a tune that has already cemented itself as one of my favourite tracks from the record. Eighteen, Kiss and There’s A Honey are all glorious (if rather similar) pop but Red is as good as any of those. It is, to use a well-worn term, a banger. It’s the sort of tune I’d have really liked Taylor Swift to have made after the 1989 album rather than the bloated Reputation LP. But then of course Taylor already has an album called Red, so she’s been there done that. It will be interesting to see how the critics respond to the record - I'm predicting a mixed response with younger writers favouring it over older ones.

Red is another obsessive relationship song. This seems to be what Pale Waves do; singing about the make-ups, the break-ups and the bits in between, before and after. It's the stuff of simple attraction that their young audience can relate to. “You haven’t left my mind, trust me that that I’ve tried and I’ve tried, I’ve tried.” Yet it seems that Heather really doesn’t know that much about the other person, except that Red is their favourite colour. Well, I guess it’s one criteria to make a judgement about someone. Unless of course, you’re like me and don’t have a favourite – it all depends on how the colours are used. 

This one is on Soundcloud - it seems (for the moment) the band haven't restricted it to just Soundcloud Go users, bucking the trend for most major label acts. Take a listen below. Pale Waves are doing a Twitter listening party tonight at 9pm, whatever that involves. Probably lots of people just tweeting 'I love U', but if that sounds like your bag join in and get tweeting. Maybe tell them what your favourite colour is?

Pale Waves - Red

Thursday, 13 September 2018

New Music: Whyte Horses - I Saw The Light

This evening I’ll be going not just to a gig, but an experience. That’s how it’s billed. It’s the Whyte Horses Experience at the Southbank Centre in London. An ambitious show to play for any band, particularly one that relatively speaking hasn’t played live that many times. Promising special guests that include La Roux, Badly Drawn Boy, members of the Go! Team, Melanie Pain of Nouvelle Vague, the St Barts Choir and a special mystery guest there’s certainly a suggestion of something a bit more than your average concert. Keep an eye on my Twitter (here) where no doubt I’ll post something about the show afterwards.

In preparation for the gig Whyte Horses recently released their take on the Todd Rungren track I Saw The Light which was on his 1972 album Something / Anything? It’s a song that didn’t feature on the band’s 60’s infused album of pop brilliance Empty Words but very much fits in the style of that record – there’s hints of psychedelia, 60's French pop and everything recorded is kept within a framework of melody and sweetness.

Whyte Horses sound very much comes across as a bunch of pop geeks playing music for other pop geeks – and that suits me perfectly. There's a handful of tickets left for tonight's show if you want to go which you can grab by clicking here.

Whyte Horses - I Saw The Light

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

New Music: Lana Del Rey - Mariners Apartment Complex

Whatever you think about Lana Del Rey, one thing she can’t be criticised for is her work rate. Since her 2012 breakthrough Born to Die she has released albums with, by modern standards, lightning quick efficiency. If you include the Paradise Edition of Born to Die, which in effect was another whole album on its own, she has put out 5 albums in 5 years between 2012 and 2017. 

Then just when we all thought we might have been able to throw the ‘Lazy Lana’ tag at her in 2018, she’s back. 

There won’t be an album till next year though, but for now here is the first of 2 new songs that Lana is releasing in the next few days. The second, Venice Bitch follows on September 18th - although the words Venice Bitch also feature in the lyrics to this new song, which is somewhat confusing!

It’s probably fair to say that if you don’t like Del Rey’s previous work this one is unlikely to sway you. However, if you do, then Mariners Apartment Complex, co-written and produced with Jack Antonoff from Bleachers (who worked on Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Lorde’s Melodrama – two of my favourite pop records from the last few years) is likely to get your approval. It has mine. 

Opening with a sense of grandeur through piano, strings and acoustic guitar we find Lana referencing Elton John: “You took my sadness out of context, at the mariners apartment complex, I ain't no candle in the wind,” and then a song of pure beauty slowly unfurls over the next 4 minutes. This one is pretty faultless - even theclosing steely but woozy psychedelic guitar sounds. The whole thing is totally Lana and totally lovely. 

Lana Del Rey - Mariners Apartment Complex

New Music: Starling - You (Video)

Starling is a maker of pop music. This much you may already know. But unless you’ve been particularly quick on the uptake you probably won’t have seen her latest release - her new video for the song You. So here it is.

I have so many questions about this video. 

It’s mainly centred around a large translucent box in a field. 

Why is the box there? Why is coloured smoke coming out of it? Why does Starling dance around it as if it is the most normal thing to do? Why does she grab some smoke sticks herself? And where were they from? What is the pink room in which Starling spends some of the video in? Why the glittery orange suit which seems a little inappropriate for prancing around in a field? Why the spinning vase?

When looking at art, literature and music there’s a school of thought that says we shouldn’t try to interpret what the creator means but should just decide what it means to us as the consumer. On that basis I’ll say that that what this says to me is that Starling is a bit bonkers (in a good way) and has made a pop video that is a bit silly but aesthetically pleasing. I'm sure in reality there's a connection to the meaning of the song, but that's for you as viewer to decide.

Watch You below. Enjoy it, but ask your own questions and find your own answers. 

In other good news, if like me you’re going to see Catherine McGrath play live this week get there early because you get the special bonus of Starling supporting. I wonder if she’ll bring her translucent box with her? 

Starling - You (Video)

Monday, 10 September 2018

New Music: Billie Marten - Mice

It may surprise you to find that after her debut album Writing of Blues and Yellows, a record which I described in my 2016 end of year album round up as ‘a beautifully constructed and graceful album for those long-lost Sunday afternoons,’ Billie Marten has returned with a Bro-Step digital banger that samples Daft Punk and Kanye West.

It would surprise me as well. Because she hasn’t.

For Mice, Billie’s new single, the music remains as gentle as it was before, but this time there’s a sense of languid despondency. Mice feels and sounds enticingly directionless, a welcome respite to tunes that are desperately trying to grab your attention by throwing big musical punches all over the place. The punches are there though – they’re in the lyrics. Here we find Billie dealing with losing a sense of purpose, singing of being tired and ‘living my life all wrong.’ This is a long way from being a banger, but it’s intimacy and vulnerability make it all the more special.

Billie Marten - Mice

New Music: Courtney Marie Andrews - Heart And Mind

I’ve made no secret of my love for Courtney Marie Andrew’s latest album, the divine May Your Kindness Remain. Ten songs of showstopping country / soul beauty that are delivered with an empathy and truthfulness that show that not every form of art has to be progressive if it’s done with skill.

Today, following some recent UK dates, Courtney has released a new song that could have very well fitted on that record. However, this is no throwaway out-take but another genuine piece of brilliance that once again finds singing Courtney singing her heart out. 

Heart and Mind was written after the Women’s March in 2016 and around the time it was revealed that amongst the many hurtful things Donald Trump has said he had made some gross comments about women and the way he treated them. “It reminded me of all the times I, or someone close to me, had been harassed, sexually abused, cat-called or body shamed. The song is intended to empower, and to conquer our demons,” Courtney has said. 

It’s a striking piece of work. Doleful guitars create the canvas for Courtney to paint her striking voice over the top – if the wind is blowing outside listen to the way even that drops – this is a song to silence everything. 

The video is a compilation that Courtney put together of mother and daughters from all around the world to celebrate the bond between the two.

Fun fact: I’ve mentioned this before but Courtney’s voice reminds me a lot of Maria McKee, the ex Lone Justice singer. If you’ve never heard of Maria take a listen to her solo song Nobody’s Child (click here to listen on Spotify), which has a similar ambience to Heart and Mind and then listen to the whole of her self-titled debut. And if you haven’t listened to May Your Kindness Remain yet, make sure your put that on your list as well.

Courtney Marie Andres - Heart and Mind (Video)

Friday, 7 September 2018

New Music: Broods - Peach (Video)

What should be pop music's raison d'etre? To cheer you up when things aren’t so good? To make you laugh? To make you dance? To make you cry (but in a good way - real tears of joy?) I think so.

Pop should be as much about feelings as it should be about songs. Of course good melodies, beats and voices help, but pop is about more than that. 

And if someone asked you ‘who makes really good pop music’ as described above, who would you name? Britney? Abba? Wham? Maybe. New Zealand's Broods probably wouldn’t be the first band on your lips. But then you probably haven’t heard Peach yet.

Because Peach is a good very good great pop song. Not great as in Pitchfork will love it and the indie dudes will stroke their chins and confess that although they don’t normally like mainstream pop, the Broods song is pretty OK. But great as in if you were out on a Friday night (tonight) and had drunk a couple of large glasses of wine and were feeling a little melancholy and this came on the speakers, by the time the chorus kicked in you’d be up there on the dance floor, grinning like you've won the lottery, with a skip in your step, swinging your hips and feeling bloody fantastic.

Add to that its bonkers video from the TV studios of ‘Midnight with Mick Knight’ featuring Georgia’s alter ego Peaches Magenta and some soft-focus Abba moments, and what Broods have done is scattered a whole load of colour into what they do. 

Broods - Peach (Video)

Thursday, 6 September 2018

New Music: Introducing - Erthlings

A few years ago when blogs were one of the leading places to go and discover new music you would get the ‘buzz band’ effect – a situation where one blog would publish a new artist and gradually there would be a ripple across the internet as other blogs picked up on that artist. This wasn’t unjustified hype though – often these acts were there on merit. The likes of Chvrches, Lorde and Fickle Friends are three that come to mind that all blew up through the blogs. Remeber when Lorde's debut EP was on Bandcamp and you could download it for free? Yep, that was when blogs picked up on it.

Buzz bands don’t happen so much these days though, partly because a lot of blogs have shut down and not been replaced. However today I’m introducing an Australian group who over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a slow but steady amount of online coverage for – they’re probably about as close to a ‘buzz band’ as we get these days. 

Issy, Jessame, Taylor, and Lissa go by the name of Erthlings, they’re from Sydney, met at school when they were 8, started writing songs when they were 9 and their debut single Bridges has got tongues wagging. The first time I heard it I was a little non-plussed. It seemed nice enough, but didn’t seem like song of the year material that a few websites had been suggesting. But then after having just played it once I found it swirling around in my head all day like the first excited stages of romance. So, I listened again. And again. And again. And yes, there is something about Bridges. Maybe it’s the simplicity. Maybe it’s the effortlessly cool indie sound it has – a little similar to Warpaint. Maybe it’s the fact that it just gets inside your brain so easily, Whatever it is, it has something.

They’re out on tour in Australia supporting Breaking More Waves favourite G-Flip and this single is being released via Future Classic so clearly there’s already some weight being thrown behind them.

Believe the blogs.

Erthlings - Bridges

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

New Music: Salt Ashes - Girls (Video)

Salt Ashes has been somewhat of a Breaking More Waves regular over the years that she has been bashing out big bops and bangers on the internet.  This is the twelfth time I’ve featured her on the blog, albeit this time with a song that I’ve already featured before, but now there’s a video, so we’re going in for round 2.

Salt Ashes has described these visuals, which are self-directed, as celebrating self-expression, freedom of individuality and confidence. That means what we get is lots of badass women doing the moody staring thing, skateboarding, dancing, reading books (note the #feminist title) and all other sorts of shenanigans. The point is be who you want to be, which I thoroughly endorse, but with a big caveat; be who you want to be as long as it doesn’t really hurt someone else. I mean when popstars say ‘just do what you want to do and be yourself’ it doesn’t give you the right to go out and murder someone. Ok?

Also, thumbs up to the good plant pots and budgerigars in the video as well. 

What I really want to know about the Girls video though is if you were four years old and went to your local playground, wouldn’t you just feel a little bit intimidated if you met that lot hanging out by your favourite slide as they do in the video?  I suspect the reality is that despite the serious popstar look Salt Ashes and friends would actually be dead nice and move out of the way for the children. 

Girls is out everywhere on the internet now. 

Salt Ashes plays Portsmouth’s Dials Festival on 6th October in a venue that also includes performances from Breaking More Waves favourites Lauran Hibberd, Curxes, Grace Savage, Libra Libra and more. You can buy your tickets to support the multi-venue not for profit event by clicking here.  

Salt Ashes - Girls (Video)

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

New Music: Tom Adams - Dive

“A body of work full of calm, big spaces, shifting ruminative atmospheres and true beauty,” was how I described Silence, the debut album from Tom Adams in 2017. It was one of my favourite records of the year and to this day remains a hidden gem; one of those records that is still screaming, or rather sighing, to be discovered.

But Adams hasn’t been resting on his laurels. A new album Yes, Sleep Well Death is waiting in the wings and taken from it is this piece of absolute splendour. Dive is a huge statement of intent - a wide-screen and cinematic piece that clocks in at just over 8 minutes long, but never feels like that - frankly it could be 16 minutes and it would still seem too short. Starting from gentle burbling ambient and soft-synth beginnings with choir boy vocals that carry a similarity to Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Rós the song breaks out halfway through, where rather like the aforementioned Icelandic avant-rock band's best work, Dive launches into the stratosphere with a huge volcanic punch. It's incredibly good. Hoppipolla move over.

Tom doesn’t play many live shows (I was lucky to catch him in Brighton in 2017) but he has confirmed three UK gigs in Norwich, Cambridge and London for November. Go and see him if you get the chance.

Tom Adams - Dive

Thursday, 30 August 2018

New Music: Introducing - Lights On Moscow

We’ve all heard of bands and artists that took extraordinary amounts of time to follow up a record. Be it the 5 years it took The Stone Roses to return with Second Coming or the 15 years that Gun ‘N’ Roses spent pissing around before they made the frankly pretty terrible Chinese Democracy. But until today I’ve never heard of a band that took 8 years to put out their debut song.

However, that is exactly how long it has taken Lights On Moscow to release material, having first created an online presence in 2010. 

Thankfully this is no Guns ‘N’ Roses tale of time wasting, egos and artistic differences; the two members of the project, Hazel Wilde of Lanterns on the Lake and Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories have been pretty busy with their own respective bands, and it’s only now that they have pit out the captivating and atmospheric Lord Let Me Know, the first song from a forthcoming EP called Aorta Songs Part 1 which will be released on October 12th. Describing the project as ‘an almost band like a really sad Roxette’ the duo said that they had talked off and on for a long time about putting the music out and now felt like the right time. 

Ironically, given the talk about the right time, Lord Let Me Know feels pretty timeless. It certainly could have been released at any point over the last decade or two and sounded right. A gorgeous mix of Hazel’s instantly recognisable soothing tones and some languorously beautiful music, it does indeed sound sad to its very core. It's a magnificent record that fans of the likes of Mazzy Star will undoubtedly appreciate.

Lights On Moscow - Lord Let Me Know