Sunday, 21 October 2018

New Music: Erland Cooper - Simmer Dim

Over the years I’ve occasionally stepped away from the music blog to DJ at various festivals and parties. To be honest, there’s nothing worse than a new music blogger DJing. The dance floor isn’t the place for discovery. That’s why, in about 99% of the cases when I’ve stepped up to the decks I’ve not used the name Breaking More Waves and tried to do something different away from the blog and all other DJs. 

This explains why I once went under the name DJ Hojo Hits (a ‘tribute DJ’ in a big wig and leopard print suit who originally played nothing but the hits of 80’s synth pop star Howard Jones) to the Sunday Best Forum Allstars (a collaborative effort bringing together a bunch of strangers off the internet and seeing what happens). Then there's my latest and most favourite project to date – Birdsong DJs – which is essentially an ambient DJ set allowing me to play the likes of Nils Frahm, Max Richter, The Orb, Brian Eno as well as tracks that stretch way longer than would normally be allowed - this year at Bestival I opened with a 45 minute piece of gentle French-synth ambient music. Over the top of the largely instrumental tracks I add lots of birdsong - which sounds especially effective when played in the heart of a forest.  

At Bestival this year my quiet 'tweets-not-beats' set on the Thursday night set at The Frozen Mole stage created a quiet and relaxed space away from the carnage and full on dance party madness around the rest of the site. It was the only time I’ve ever DJ’d where I’ve had people come up to me and ask me what the tracks I was playing were called and thanking me for what they described as a beautiful moment. What started as a bit of a joke ended up being very special.

Which leads me on to Erland Cooper. Earlier this year Erland released Solan Goose, his beautifully calm and meditative album formed through and inspired by the landscapes and nature of the Orkney Isles and in particular the birds of the island. Its timing was perfect; two tracks on the record, namely Maalie and the title track now form some of the core of the DJ Birdsong set. If you haven’t heard this album yet, I’d recommend finding some time and quiet space to listen to it.

Now Cooper returns for autumn with what he describes as his late-night studio experiment. The Nightflight EP is an electronic reworking of the tracks Solan Goose, Cattie-Face and Shalder. From Orkney’s Simmer Dim (twilight), Grimleens (half-light) to Mirk (deep darkness) all three tracks are stunning. Taking graceful ambience as their starting point each track evolves into something painted with techno beats and electronic splashes of mind-melting colour. Fans of Jon Hopkins will no doubt approve, the EP possessing the same sort transcendent beauty, even when the pummelling gets hard, as it does on Mirk ,which sounds as if it’s heading towards destruction. 

I’m already thinking of using one of these tracks to close out future DJ Birdsong sets. Play the EP for the up moments and then come back to earth with the Solan Goose album.

Simmer Dim (Video)

Thursday, 18 October 2018

New Music: Flohio - Wild Yout

It’s around this time of year that people like me, who like lists and fortune telling, get pretty excited about all the forthcoming tips for 2019 that will inevitably be coming our way over the next couple of months or so from various publications and organisations.

Personally, this year is probably the hardest to call for a number of years. Whereas last year Sigrid was an odds-on favourite to be on every list and previous to that there has always been a few artists that I’ve had a reasonable degree of certainty would be there or thereabouts on the likes of the BBC Sound of list, this year I can’t see an obvious front runner and from the discussions I’ve had with other interested new music aficionados this seems to be a common consensus. 

Breaking More Waves will of course be publishing its own annual Ones to Watch list as it has done every year since the blog started around the end of November, but until then here’s one of those artists that I think has a small chance of getting on those industry lists and more to the point, I’d like to see her being given the nod.

Wild Yout (that’s not a spelling error on my part – but one of those trendy grammar gone wrong things that hip young fashionable types like to do in the same way as they like to tweet all in lower case or bands that like to spell their names wrong for Google optimisation) is Flohio’s new release. It’s the follow up to the excellent Watchout and 10 More Rounds is as glassily sharp and hard as they come. Sinister synths and beats provide the landscape for Flohio’s frantic delivery: “No excuses, I just do this. Find my own way through this bullshit,” she storms. This is a track, like all of Flohio’s material, that feels like it’s pushing things forward – there’s an energy to it that is violently exciting. 

Flohio is out on tour in late November and December in the UK. Check the dates on her Facebook.

Flohio - Wild Yout

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