Sunday, 22 April 2018

New Music: Introducing - LibraLibra

Pop music needs free-spirits. If we didn’t have them then we’d be drowning in the bland. Thankfully LibraLibra, a new Brighton based project, wields its unconventional approach with a ferocious confidence. 

Debut single Animali ties together the musical out-there conviction of The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual album with a sound not dissimilar to that of tUnE-yArDs and in the process conjures up an invigorating song of colourful rhythms, tribal wails and shakes. It’s an art-school adventure that isn’t afraid to explore off the map and is all the more enjoyable for it. 

Animali also comes with probably the strangest pop music video you’ll see this week, with animal mask wearing people, BDSM ball gags, babies and blood all featuring. It’s fair to say this probably isn’t the sort of thing you’d see Drake or Taylor Swift shooting.

LibraLibra is Beth Cannon and Joe Caple with additional musicians added for live performance. You might recognise Beth’s name (or voice) from her recent work with Bella Union man Simon Raymonde’s Lost Horizons project for which she provided some vocals – and what splendid vocals they are – urgent, gymnastic and powerful. 

Animali is a song that is bold, manically creative and just a little bit ridiculous. Thank goodness for mavericks.

Catch LibraLibra in Brighton on the 28th April at the Bad Pond Festival, supporting Swedish Death Candy at the Boiler Room in Guildford in May, at Liverpool's Sound City and at the Alt-Escape part of Great Escape in Brighton. But before that be sure to check out the video below - it's one for all the animal lovers out there.

LibraLibra - Animali (Video)

Thursday, 19 April 2018

New Music: Lykke Li - Hard Rain

There are some artists who bang out record after record that all basically use the same ingredients stirred around in the bowl of a music studio, and then there are some who seem to prefer cooking up something different every time.

Lykke Li is definitely one of the later type of artists. From the pop noir of Wounded Rhymes to her flirtations with a more folky acoustic sound as part of the Liv project, she’s never been one to serve up the same dish twice. 

New song hard rain (yes, there’s no capital letters) is one of two songs she released today (the other being deep end which you can hear by clicking here) and it's taken from her forthcoming album so sad so sexy

The song takes Lykke Li into new deeper territories; it’s a skeletal trap-twisted beauty that sounds not dissimilar to something you might have found on Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. Of course, this being a Lykke Li tune there is one thing that is consistent with much of her other work- she’s not singing about partying in the club with the champagne popping. There’s still a sadness there: “If you like the feeling of a hard rain falling, I have a sea full, I can give you an ocean,” she offers. Someone get the handkerchiefs quick. Or maybe a mop.

Lykke Li - Hard Rain

New Music: Introducing - King Princess

I’ve always been a little cynical of when huge major label pop stars suddenly start suggesting their love of lesser known artists on social media, especially if it turns out there’s a connection to the label they’re signed to. 

So when One Direction’s Harry Styles quoted some of the lyrics to the song 1950 by newcomer King Princess on Twitter, but didn't tweet the title of the song or who it was by, it was inevitable that his fans would head straight to Google to search out what it all meant. Suddenly King Princess was getting a lot more attention and love. 

The label connection comes from the fact that King Princess is signed to Mark Ronson’s new Zelig Recordings and Zelig is a venture with Columbia. Guess who's signed to Columbia? Yes Harry Styles of course. It’s therefore not hard to join the dots and come up with the thought that Harry's tweet is as much about hard faced business as it is a genuine love of the song. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt shall we? And even if we don't, let's be realistic; the music business is called a business for a reason.  

But once the cynicism has been overcome there’s a pleasant surprise in store. Because the music of King Princess is actually agreeably sophisticated pop, which is chilled, measured, soulful and comes with a more interesting lyrical take on things.

1950, the song Styles tweeted about, is a love song, which takes a twist from the typical ‘girl is pursued by boy then they fall in love’ narrative: “I hate it when dudes try to chase me, but I love it when you try to save me, ‘cos I’m just a lady, I love it when we play 1950” she sings.  The video for the tune already has over 800,000 views (and a lot of Harry Styles sent me here comments below it) and hints at rebelliousness with King Princess sporting a drawn-on moustache, setting fire to a teddy bear and smoking a cigarette. 

A second track, Talia, due to appear on an EP alongside 1950 solidifies the idea of what King Princess is about. This one’s a break up tune though. Starting with soft synths and hand clicks it soon burbles up with a mid-tempo chorus that finds King Princess singing of getting a bit wasted and imagining her ex is still there: “If I drink enough, I can taste your lipstick, I can lay down next to you, but it's all in my head.” Musically, the hook isn’t in your face, but it’s still there ready to creep in to your ears.

OK, fair play Harry Styles. You might just be on to something here.

King Princess - 1950 (Video)

King Princess - Talia

Monday, 16 April 2018

New Music: Aurora - Queendom

1963. 1978. 1981. 1997. Four years that in terms of music Norway will probably want to forget. They were the years when it scored 0 points in the Eurovision song contest – the most times any country has had that dubious distinction.

2018. Everything is better. It's the year when Norwegian pop singer Sigrid became ‘The Sound Of’ and one of her countrywomen Aurora returned to the fold with the promise of a new album and this new song, Queendom, taken from it, is released today. It's a year that not only Norway will want to remember, but the world.

OK, maybe that’s a little bit of hyperbole, but there’s no doubt that the Scandinavian country is doing exceptionally good things with pop music right now, producing artists that not only can sing beautifully but have bags of charm and charisma. Anyone that has seen Aurora live will know this, she has a nature that comes across like some sort of elf or fairy – kind, caring and full of wide eyed magic.

This nature shows up again in Queendom where Aurora sings of the underdogs being her lions, the silent ones her choir and the women her soldiers. It’s a song about empathy, coming together and being safe in Aurora’s world. It’s a wonderfully positive tune and amongst all the crap that the world seems to harbour right now shines a light and allows you to smile and feel that little bit better.

It’s great to have her back.

Aurora - Queendom

Sunday, 15 April 2018

New Music: Ben Khan - 2000 Angels

Back in 2014 when a whole bunch of music fans and websites were frothing excitedly about Ben Khan’s debut EP 1992 the music didn’t really connect with me. The same happened in 2015 with his 1000 EP. If you, like me, felt the same about his output then it would be pretty easy to skip over his new tune 2000 Angels. However, that would be doing Khan a disservice, because this song is a jam with the lid fully off. It’s like Nicolas Winding Refn suddenly got together with Khan for a new film and the result is the funkiest neon flecked futuristic horror / sci-fi soundtrack you’ve ever seen or heard.

Khan might have been considered the class of 2015 but finally he’s due to drop an album later this year. Has it all come a bit too late? Maybe for those who treat their music as fashion. But for the rest of us there’s hope of something interesting brewing here. Let's get frothing together.

Ben Khan - 2000 Angels

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

New Music: Janelle Monáe - Pynk (Video)

If on the 26th April you are just about to go to bed and look out the window and wonder what that queue down your street is, the answer is that it’s probably the line of people waiting for the new Janelle Monáe album Dirty Computer to be released on 27th April.

I’ll be at the front. Obviously.

Why? Because she’s already released one of the best pop songs of 2018 with Make Me Feel and now she has replicated that achievement with another pop song that demonstrates the art of amazingness.

It’s called Pynk. Grimes added some harmonies on it. You might recall that Janelle worked with Grimes on her track Venus Fly. It’s got great lyrics like: ”Cos boy it’s cool, if you got blue, we got the pynk.” Or how about “Pynk like the inside of your, baby, pynk behind all of the doors, crazy, pynk like the tongue that goes down, maybe, pynk like the paradise found”. Yes, it's a song that is undoubtedly talking about cunnilingus. It’s got a stripped back deeply throbbing minimalist 80’s sounding synth groove. It’s got a guitar riff and some ‘Yeahs’ that sounds like the sort of thing that Taylor Swift might have done after 1989 if she hadn’t screwed it up with the piss poor Reputation. It’s got a video that features pink trousers that look like a vagina. 

I defy any fan of pop music to dislike this jam. It will make you feel alive.

Frankly even if all the other songs on the album are a load of old toss it won’t matter, because there’s more amazingness in Pynk and Make Me Feel than most full length long-players combined.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to join the queue.

Janelle Monae - Pynk (Video)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

New Music: Curxes - The Stars, Like Dust (Video)

As someone who was born on a small island, lived part of their life surrounded by water (on a houseboat) and now lives in an island city, I can appreciate the advantages and disadvantages that separation and isolation of water can give. The biggest pro is undoubtedly that the physical disconnects that such life provides with a greater sense of mental freedom and independence; for musicians this can mean increased creativity and less pressure to follow trends or fashions, allowing them to create something unique. Yet this also contributes the biggest downside; freedom can go unchecked, meaning that artists can sometimes go too far down the rabbit hole.

In terms of music the Isle of Wight certainly seems to provide that freedom with a number of unique, sometimes challenging artists emanating from across the Solent. The likes of Plastic Mermaids, Champs and Lauran Hibberd have spearheaded the Garden Isle scene, getting varying degrees of recognition well beyond the relatively small towns from which they come. 

It was therefore not unsurprising to learn when Roberta Fidora aka Curxes returned with her second full-length album Gilded Cage last year that she had moved to the Isle of Wight. It was a record that was fearlessly experimental – a vivid collage of oddball ideas and warped sounds that sounded unshackled from the world at large. It was the sort of record that could really only ever be realised from living in a greater degree of solitude. It wasn’t going to be for everyone, but the more I listened the more interesting I found it and it ended up in my list of top 15 albums of the year (here).

Today Curxes release a new video from the record for the track The Stars, Like Dust. Whereas previous single In Your Neighbourhood displayed the poppier and more melodic side of Curxes, this track is its antithesis. Spooked-out synths, hazy vocals, beats that don’t seem to fit and then drop away altogether, this is definitely from the leftfield. But then with recent contributions to the likes of The Dark Outside, a site specific radio station in the middle of nowhere that nobody can hear (unless you happened to be on that particular hillside on the single day of broadcast with an FM radio), and live performances that have included a dancing bear, it’s clear that Roberta is not trying to satisfy anyone but herself.

Of the video Roberta says: “Introversion, distance and being burdened by nostalgia or surrounded by the past are the most prevalent themes throughout Gilded Cage and in the video for The Stars, Like Dust (directed by Rob Luckins), the only way to deal with them is by being lost in space memorabilia and good dogs.” 

It’s a neat piece of work with one scene that vaguely reminds me a little of a TV moment from Aphex Twin’s Come to Daddy featuring some characters that you might recognise from the In Your Neighbourhood video and the Curxes album cover (which you can buy at Bandcamp by clicking here – I recommend the vinyl just for its orange colour and the bigger scarier cover).

The Stars, Like Dust is oddball spaced-out pop with a slightly disturbing feel. Not so much music to enjoy, but to experience; and sometimes that’s far more rewarding than something that Dua Lipa phoned in on her day off. 

Curxes - The Stars, Like Dust (Video)

Friday, 6 April 2018

New Music: Bokito - Love Gotten

When Bokito first hit Breaking More Waves with Better At Getting Worse I described their carnival-afro-pop-indie sounds as a potential party in waiting, and that description turned out to be very accurate when I finally caught them playing to a packed room at The Great Escape Escape festival in Brighton in May. What was touching about the performance was the way that the band was clearly thrilled that so many people had turned out to see them and in return they delivered a show that, centred around frontman Moses Moorhouse, made you feel glad to be alive, with Moses pulling some outrageously hip wiggling free dance moves that seemed to have more in common with African tribes people than a typical UK indie bop / mosh and the songs themselves managing to stand out from the crowd with their inventiveness.

Since that time the band released another track, Aloof, and now return with Love Gotten a tune that high-kicks and struts with a nerdish indie pop joy. Bokito’s eccentric fidgety sound sits comfortably (or perhaps given the general jerkiness of their grooves maybe I should say uncomfortably) alongside the likes of Everything Everything and shows once again that indie music can, when it tries, be both imaginative and fun. 

The band play at the Strongroom Bar in London on the 27th May.

Bokito - Love Gotten

Thursday, 5 April 2018

New Music: Introducing - Hatis Noit

And now for something completely different…

One of the criticisms I often throw at myself and this old school music blog of mine is that it sometimes doesn’t represent my full listening tastes or experiences. The number of times that people think I only like pop music or indie music or female vocals because that’s what I feature a lot of here grates a little. Because outside of Breaking More Waves I often find myself disappearing into odd, unusual, and sometimes experimental nooks and crannies. People seem surprised when I tell them that, for example, I’m a huge fan of (most) of Aphex Twin's work as if somehow because I also like Kylie Minogue or Britney Spears that its not also possible to like stuff that isn’t mainstream.

So today I’m introducing a new artist that comes very much from the experimental side of things. She creates exotic, oddly crafted pieces that have been fascinating me for the last few days. Her name is Hatis Noit and she’s the sort of artist I could imagine the likes of Bjork hearing and immediately wanting to collaborate with.

Hatis Noit is originally from Shiretoko in Hokkaido, Japan but now resides in London. Her music (I daren’t even call her creations songs, because they’re certainly not songs in the traditional form) are based almost exclusively around her voice. It’s a voice that in places is operatic, alien, monastic and earthily primal. Sometimes she layers or chops and splices her vocals to make astonishing abstract and somewhat absurd soundtracks that sound as they’ve come from a dream. And what a dream - a playful one that is cast out on her recent EP Illogical Dance released via Erased Tapes a couple of weeks ago. It’s a transcendent piece of work, demonstrating a vocal that has incredible range and embraces the idea of experimentalism to the hilt. 

Through this music Hatis Noit has created something unique and strangely, startlingly beautiful.

Hatis Noit - Illogical Lullaby

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

New Music: Hatchie - Sugar & Spice (Video)

If you were to plot a graph of how your love of music has deepened or otherwise as time edges forward what would it look like? If when you were fifteen you fell in love with the latest new indie band that the press was championing as the saviours of rock n roll, do you still love those records now? And do you still gravitate to similar styles of music? Or have your tastes moved on and changed? Have you now perhaps become a free-Jazz convert? Or have your tastes and interests waned as other aspects of life such as kids, houses, work taken over? Does today's music feel less invigorating than it did a few years back? 

I guess each persons’ journey is slightly different, but personally my palette has definitely got broader and wider with more textures, colours and love of different musical paintings as I’ve got older and developed more of an understanding of the song as a form and an art. Yet I still largely maintain a love of the old originals that brought my own sonic picture to life as a child as well. I’ve yet to tire of music in any way.

However, today I unashamedly admit that this song, Sugar & Spice from Brisbane singer Hatchie takes me back to some of the first sounds that really touched me. Glorious layers of dream pop / shoegaze guitars and a pretty indie pop melody take me instantly back to the late 80’s and early 90’s and yet here we are in 2018 and this stuff still sounds beautifully life affirming. 

The title track of her debut EP, Hatchie has explained that for the Sugar & Spice video she wanted something simple and colourful compared to previous videos to represent the fact that the track itself was a fun short song and that she took inspiration from her old school scrapbooks.

Hatchie - Sugar & Spice

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Diary Alert: Put Fri 13th In Your Diary And Follow These Instructions. Thank You.

What are you doing this Friday 13th? Forget all that ‘unlucky date’ crap. This one is going to simply fabulous.

Here’s what you need to do:

1.      Book the day off work / school / college (hopefully quite a few students will already be off on Easter Holiday). If you can’t book the day off, pull a sickie.

2.      Buy some Champagne. Remember to put it in the fridge the night before. If you can’t afford Champagne a cheap bottle of Prosecco from Lidl or other discount supermarket will be perfectly acceptable.

3.      Go to bed and set the alarm for a reasonable time so that you have had enough sleep, but it’s not too late in the day that you have missed out.

4.      Wake up, don’t bother getting out of your pyjamas, but maybe brush your teeth. Nobody likes morning breath and you need to make a bit of an effort for this special day.

5.      Ready yourself for a full-on dance / listening party (with the emphasis on dancing) for two new albums that have magically appeared on your streaming service of choice overnight. Both albums are by bands that have featured heavily on Breaking More Waves, both are fronted by a boy and girl who have delivered vocals on their songs, both have a sense of humour, colour and fun about what they do and somehow seem connected (at least in my head in terms of what they do) even although as far as I can tell they have never met.

6.      Go on your favourite streaming service (you can buy the records on physical form tomorrow) and press play. The two albums in question are Treehouse and Confident Music For Confident People.

7.     The two bands are Sofi Tukker and Confidence Man. They are both f*cking brilliant. Excuse my swearing, but they are.

8.      Dance your bloody arse off. Drink the champagne. Repeat.

In summary: Friday 13th. Wake up. Clean teeth. Champagne out. Soffi Tucker and Confidence Man albums on the stereo. Dance in your pyjamas and go batshit mental.

Here’s a new song from Sofi Tucker. It’s called Batshit. As Prince once said, Let’s Go Crazy. 

Sofi Tucker - Batshit

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Announcement: The Best Of Breaking More Waves + Live Tour

Having watched the evolution of blogging over the last few years it has become clear to me that the future doesn’t belong to words, but to images and sounds. The rise of vloggers and podcasts and the slow death of traditional music blogs has made me reconsider the way Breaking More Waves is presented.

So, today I can reveal that Breaking More Waves is moving into some new territories that involve sounds and performance.

Over the last six months, in my spare time, I have been carefully curating, editing and recording all of the best posts on Breaking More Waves over the last 10 years into a series of compilations for you to listen to. Yes! Now you can listen to ‘The Best of Breaking More Waves’ via a limited-edition cassette series. 

Why cassette? Because as a true struggling indie / DIY blogger I want to ensure that I release them on a format that hardly anybody can actually play anymore and therefore reduce my sales so that I can then complain about how hard it is to be a struggling indie blogger. Now you can experience the joy of listening to me having had a couple of glasses of red wine reading some of my ‘classic’ blog posts as I intended them to be. Gasp at the deep intellectualism of the classic ‘Pop Stars In The Bath’ series. Be amazed at the number of times I’ve used the word A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. when writing. Revisit some of my classic discussion posts and reviews and enjoy some of the comments people left, such as my favourite, when someone told me to go and wank myself off with a bar of soap.

All of this and more can be yours for just £5 per cassette (plus p&p). Or if you buy the whole series of 10 you get a 20% discount and get them for just £40.

Full details of the cassettes can be found on the new Breaking More Waves Bandcamp page. Get in quick for the ultimate blogger in your ears experience. Buy them now by clicking here.

In addition to the cassettes, I’m also pleased to reveal that this summer I’ll be taking the blog on the road for a short UK tour. Yes, you can now come and see me reading my blog posts from my laptop complete with a smoke machine and a strobe light for dramatic effect. I’ll even be doing requests - so look up your favourite Breaking More Waves post now.

Full details of the tour and supporting acts will be available soon. If you write a blog (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a music one) and want to read from your own blog as part of the tour, please feel free to get in contact.

Early bird tickets are now available from the venues direct and more will be released soon via the usual ticket agents.

Breaking More Waves Live

Jun 15th The Dog & Duck, Boggy Bottom , Hertfordshire

Jun 17th The Fawcett Inn, Craggy End, Cornwall

Jun 18th Pisstake Festival, Glasgow Green

Jun 21st The Mince Pie, Lapland (Only non UK show)

Jun 23rd Special Secret Breaking More Waves 10th Birthday Extravaganza at a secret location on the south coast of the UK with DJs, bands, exotic dancers and me reading some exclusive unheard blog posts.

Jul 1st The Vegan Coffee Store, Meatborough

Jul 3rd Bloggers Delight Festival, London

Jul 4th The Seaman And Hole Inn, Cardiff

Jul 6th The Fool, April Square, Portsmouth