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)




Friday, 8 June 2018

New Music: Angus & Julia Stone - Nothing Else


I first came across Angus & Julia Stone way back in 2007 at Brighton’s Great Escape Festival (other highlights for me that year were Kate Nash, Foals, Kate Walsh and a singer called Adele….whatever happened to her?). Fast forward to 2018 and their latest release, Nothing Else, has all the qualities of their early songs that made me fall in love with them. Formed out of simplicity and meaning the song showcases Julia’s adorable vocal which manages to be both fragile, pretty and husky all at the same time.

The video of the song suits the music perfectly; using superb overlay techniques to create two different versions of Julia; it brings home a very clear message about finding acceptance of yourself, just the way you are but also provides a commentary on how relationships work - how there has to be tolerance and acceptance there as well.

This is probably my favourite Angus & Julia Stone Stone song for quite a few years. There’s something about its unruffled delivery and uncomplicated construction that brings out the goosebumps and perhaps even a tear to the eye.

Angus & Julia Stone - Nothing Else (Video)

Thursday, 7 June 2018

New Music: Loose Tooth - Keep On


Melbourne’s Loose Tooth has been around for a while now – the band's earliest work on Bandcamp dates back to 2015 – but it’s with new release Keep On that they make their first appearance on Breaking More Waves. Here Etta Curry, Luc Dawson, and Nellie Jackson throw in the throwaway hooks to catch your ears and glue it all together with a bouncy and bumpy back to basics indie pop sound of bass, guitar and drums. It sounds as if it should be fronting a remake of 1970’s TV classic The Banana Splits or every one of your summer singalongs in the car as you drive down to the beach.

The video is also a lot of fun, finding the band taking a ride on pretty much every sort of unusual transport imaginable (sadly I don’t see a hovercraft in there, but apart from that they tick a lot of boxes), following in the footsteps of the Super Furry Animals with a tank and having their own kind of Duran Duran Rio moment on a boat. My favourite part though is towards the end when they’re in a small plane – you can just tell that they were really enjoying the moment, just as I really enjoy this song. Keep On is taking from a forthcoming album of the same name which is released August 3rd.

Loose Tooth - Keep On (Video)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

New Music: Iris Gold - Roll It Out


I’ve always been a fan of pop music with bells on. And by that, I mean both pop music that is delivered with enthusiasm, but also songs that actually have real life bell sounds. Iris Gold’s latest is an absolute belter and scores on both fronts. OK the bells are more bicycle tings that Big Ben bangers, but still they work.

Roll It Out is the sort of pop song that I hoped Charli XCX would have delivered recently but hasn’t - sorry Charli your latest offerings haven’t done anything for me. 

This jam is full of strutting energy and hooks and has the feel-good factor turned up to past 10 – something perhaps we all need now and then, particularly when a recent study by the University of California has found that pop music is getting sadder (read more about that on i-D by clicking here). This is a song about getting on with life; enjoy it if you can - because it doesn’t last forever.

Iris Gold - Roll It Out

Sunday, 3 June 2018

New Music: Margot - Twenty Six


Second song in for South London’s Margot and like its predecessor Desensitised, Twenty Six is underpinned with an introverted touch of class. Lead singer Alex Hannaway’s voice is full of yearning and the song’s meandering melody drifts and soothes – an antidote to the thought that all music has to be pumped up and ambitious.

“It’s a discussion with myself, a self-reflective hangover” says Alex, “where you make pledges to yourself, full up with anxiety and memory loss.”

Twenty Six is Margot’s second self-released song and comes from a forthcoming EP, which was recorded in between day jobs at drummer Ben Andrewes house. From the photo above it looks like Margot are currently so hard up they are all having to share a bed like Charlie’s grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Maybe music will be their golden ticket?

There’s a pretty melancholy power to the two songs they've now released – there are definitely elements to the quintet's sound that remind me of Roddy Frame’s more reflective moments. Nice often sounds a terrible word to use about rock and pop music – suggesting something a bit weak, mainstream and insubstantial – but this isn’t. Yet it is really nice.

Margot - Twenty Six

Friday, 1 June 2018

New Music: Jain - Alright


French wonder woman Jain returned this week with a new song. Hurrah! 

No, it’s not called Hurrah! It’s called Alright. But it’s better than just that.

On first listen Alright seems to be just a simple message of positivity to everyone: “Things gonna be alright, if love is around” Jain sings – it’s addictive and affecting, coming from a world where pop remains untainted. But once you take notice of the verse you’ll realise it’s a much more personal message to herself and an ex: “I got no time for you on board, I'm not angry with you boy, I just really want to move on.” Rooted in a joyful a tropical world-pop sound, Alright adds in a reggae like rhythm to make it as summery as a pina colada on the beach. If you've just come out of a relationship this is one for you to raise your head up high with. 

Jain is on the road throughout the summer. Alas there’s no UK date (it seems that unless you are Christine & The Queens the UK isn’t interested in French pop, which is a real shame) but the shows she's playing are billed as a warm up tour, so hopefully there’s more dates to come once her second album is released.

Jain - Alright