Friday, 22 March 2019

New Music: Rosie Lowe - Pharoah

For the first forty-five seconds of Rosie Lowe’s new single Pharoah you could easily be forgiven for thinking that her evil guitarist had secretly locked himself in the recording studio, flicked all the recording switches on and was preparing to have a self-indulgent jam session whilst nobody was around. Thankfully it doesn’t last long. Then BOOM, a big saucy bass bruises the ears in a most delightful way and we’re slipping off down to slow groove funkytown, with Rosie celebrating her strength:  “Power in my arms, power in my legs, power in my mind , power in my imperfections that make me, a power in my knowledge, power in the magic I do.” From this we can perhaps deduce that Rosie is a member of the magic circle and will soon be doing some David Blaine or Houdinni like tricks for us all when she's bored with the music. 

Then there’s the video. There’s probably some deep meaning here, but frankly it’s late at night and I have absolutely no idea what I’ve just watched. Your suggestions and answers on a postcard please (for the old people) and via Twitter (for the middle aged) and via Snapchat (for the young ‘uns) for what it all means / is about. 

More oddness abounds where, at the time of writing, Pharoah isn't on Spotify, so no New Music Friday positioning for Rosie at the moment, which is a shame. For this deserves to be heard in as many places as possible.

Update: A few hours after I posted this piece the video was taken down from Rosie's channel. This might explain the oddness described above - it looks like there was some sort of upload timing error. No doubt it will be back. Until then you'll just have to imagine what it might have been.

Rosie Lowe - Pharoah

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Glastonbury 2019 Emerging Talent Competition Longlist Announced (And My 3 Selections)

Every year since 2011 I have been one of the judges for the opening round of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, the winner of which gets to play a main stage slot at the festival and receives £5,000 from PRS Foundation to help take their songwriting and performance to the next level.

This year was no different and today the festival has announced the 2019 longlist from which a shortlist of 8 will be chosen.

How It Works

Every year there are thousands of entries for this competition. Whittling them down to an eventual winner is a three-stage process and my involvement is in the first stage alongside 29 other judges. 

Each judge is sent an individual list of around 170 acts that have entered the competition. I’m required to pick three acts from that list that are then placed on the shortlist. Each judge can request to listen to specific genres or take a selection of acts from all genres. I take this second option, mainly because it makes the judging process more fun; the thought of listening to 170 indie rock acts for example could become hard work. Each artists submission is a recording of their music on Soundcloud together with a video of themselves playing live and that’s what I use to pick my three acts. Their online statistics, if I’ve heard of them before and other such factors are discounted. My choice is based purely on what I consider to be the acts with the most talent, what moves me the most and which live performance videos show that the artist is ready and able to play a main stage at Glastonbury – as that is the eventual prize.

For 2019 my experience was that the quality of artist submissions was higher than ever before. I really struggled to choose my final three – I could have easily chosen nine or ten acts that were worthy of the longlist. You can see (and hear) my choices below.

Once the longlist of ninety has been selected another panel of judges from the festival whittle those acts down to a shortlist of eight who are invited to come and play at a live final at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April infront of an invited audience. It’s based on that live performance that the eventual winner of the competition is chosen by a panel representing the festival.

For further information on the competition, including the full longlist, hop on over to the official Glastonbury website (here) and do take a listen to my three choices for 2019 below.


Amahla has an effortlessly beautiful tone to her voice. She sings the most gorgeous and soulful songs, marking her as a huge talent for the future.

Amy Vix

With elements of country, Americana and rock incorporated in her music, Amy Vix also possesses a wonderful pop sensibility, displayed in radio friendly songs like Over The Wreckage, which has some similarity to Taylor Swift.

Anoushka Lucas

It takes just one listen to the warm elegant vocals and jazzy atmospherics of Anoushka Lucas to be impressed. Superb stuff.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Introducing: Megan Linford

It’s some time since I’ve featured any folk music on Breaking More Waves, but today I’m making amends with an artist from my home city of Portsmouth – Megan Linford. Megan has been bubbling under for some time now, but over the last year or so her profile has been gradually rising. Now seems the right time to introduce her here.

Megan played the 2018 edition of Portsmouth’s Dials Festival which I helped curate and direct and this year nabbed the prize for Best Solo Artist in the local newspaper's Portsmouth Guide Awards, a category for which she was first nominated for in 2013 when she was just 16. Incidentally, another previous winner was Breaking More Waves regular Jerry Williams, who is now getting national and international recognition – showing that despite Portsmouth’s reputation for producing nothing but generic meat and two veg man-rock there’s more to the local scene than that. 

This Friday Megan plays The Square Tower in Old Portsmouth, a building that was first constructed in 1494 and is undoubtedly one of the city's most unusual and interesting venues. It's thick stone walls sit overlooking the sea and inside it's decorated with coats of arms displays and massive exposed timber joists  The gig is already sold out.

Now comes Megan’s new single, a beautifully crafted piece called First Day of Spring. It’s a song that has gentle earthy tone to it that will please fans of Laura Marling in particular and perhaps The Staves. First Day of Spring is a song of new beginnings; from the opening sound of water and hauntingly eerie vocal sighs we find Megan coaxing an organic beauty out, singing of being in Winter’s grip, how nature can give a feeling of safety and being alone. The video finds her in some equally cold and snowy settings as well as the shingle beach close to where she’ll be playing live this Friday. Truly gorgeous stuff.

Megan Linford - First Day of Spring

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

New Music: Patawawa - All The Time

Time to strut. Lizzo and Janelle Monae have been funking their stuff hard recently, but its not just American acts who are getting the hips thrusting. The UK (in places) is at it as well.

Derbyshire isn’t known as the centre of disco, but Patawawa are continuing to make it just that. New single All The Time whips up the delights of the groove and throws it all over the dancefloor with a little help from the ghost of Prince.

“Forget about my counselling, forget anxiety, when I look into your eyes our prescription is for me,” sings Beth Garrett as the nation suddenly decides it’s John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and there’s some serious dirty dancing going on. Or at least that’s what should happen when you hear Patawawa. Time to get lost in music. We're caught in a trap. This feels good.

Patawawa - All The Time

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Introducing: Gracey

The chorus of newcomer Gracey’s debut single is a killer. With an effect laden voice reminiscent of Imogen Heap’s Hide & Seek or Laurie Anderson’s Oh Superman it stabs deep: “We just want different things, we want different things, I only wanted to love you, but you made it fucking hard to.” It’s soulful, spacey and a rather special pop song. If she has anything else as good as this get ready to read her name a lot.

Gracey’s not 100% new to this pop business though. Remember By Your Side by Jonas Blue and Raye? Gracey has a writing credit on that (under her full name Grace Barker). Ditto the Sub Focus track Don’t You Feel It (featuring Alma). 

Gracey comes from just down the road from this blog’s location in Portsmouth, namely Brighton, which means that she’s the second very good singer called Grace from there in recent times, the other being another Breaking More Waves approved act - Grace Carter. So perhaps the change to the more popstar like name of Gracey is a sound one, after all two Grace’s from Brighton could be confusing for those of us with lesser minds.

Gracey’s debut song is called Different Things – and no it’s not about UK politics and Brexit and how the politicians seem unable to agree on what to do  – but a romantic relationship that just was never going to work out. Different Things is on streaming services now and there’s a simple introductory video to accompany the song as well.

Gracey - Different Things

Monday, 11 March 2019

Introducing: Pocket Sun

When this blog was in its infancy dreamy, blissful, spaced out electronic pop seemed to be everywhere, but particularly in America. Times have changed since that time, but every now and then a new artist or band will crop up who could have very easily fitted in with those lavish sounds of 2009-2011. 

Today I’m introducing one such act. Except this lot aren’t from some laid-back Californian town, instead they’re from Bristol, UK.  They’re called Pocket Sun and they use synths and electronics to make songs that sound like the computer techies in the office have been on a holiday to a sun-drenched resort and come back with a bit more of a relaxed groove about them. If the sound Pocket Sun make was the blog sound of 2010, with a few years removed and less hype it still sounds celestially lovely. 

Debut single Plastic is a technicolour pop song of perfection. It doesn’t leap out and shout in your face; it’s more subtle than that. But once the “sending signals into the sky” hook and melodic charms weave their way into your head you’ll probably want to float away somewhere all together more astral as well.

It’s very early days for Pocket Sun – Plastic only came out on Friday – but once their debut EP (due for May release) is out and everyone has heard more of their warm, bleached out electronic songs it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we’re all drifting away with them. A fine way to start your musical week.

Pocket Sun - Plastic

Friday, 8 March 2019

Introducing: Kings

If you’re a fan of modern of the moment slow-burning electronic pop with strong vocals then you need to take a listen to today’s new artist. She goes by the name of Kings and shouldn’t be confused with late 80’s Dr Martens sporting King who gave us Love and Pride and some others that nobody can remember, or any of the other rather large crop of bands with Kings in their name, from that Sex on Fire lot to the Kings of Convenience. Or even this group (click here) who I introduced a couple of years ago that had exactly the same name. No this is just Kings, even although there’s just the one of her - which is somewhat confusing.

Kings is not her real name, of course, which is in fact revealed on her Facebook as Aniya. If that name rings a bell it’s probably because there was a singer called Aniya who after moving to London from her native Switzerland put out a couple of really good tracks in 2017 called Demon and Demon Part II In Praise of Folly. Those tracks did pretty well on You Tube and then after that, it seemed to go a bit quiet.

It appears that these two Aniyas are one and the same. Recently Aniya, under her new name of Kings, supported Lewis Capaldi and Nina Nesbitt at a sold out show in Switzerland and played her own smaller headline gig Iin Zurich which she also sold out. Colours is her debut song as Kings and was released today; it’s easy to imagine this one picking up some airplay in the UK on Radio 1. It sounds a little bit like a cross between Dua Lipa and Little Mix, so it really is one for the pop kids. An impressive and accessible start – keep an eye and ear out for Kings.

Kings - Colour

Thursday, 7 March 2019

New Music: Angie McMahon - Pasta

Well, this is very good isn’t it?

It’s a song called Pasta from a forthcoming album called Salt. I’m secretly hoping that the rest of the album will contain other food-based song titles that will, when combined, make a delicious recipe.

Angie McMahon is the sort of artist that people who argue that music is only worth listening to if it’s ‘authentic’ and ‘honest’ and ‘real’ will like a lot. I really don’t care for any of those things. It's so limiting to your enjoyment of all types of music but is also an argument often built on a lie. Anyone that has watched Bruce Springsteen’s On Broadway will understand. After all Springsteen is one of those artists that people attribute all of those qualities to with regularity and yet there he was on stage revealing how so much of what he does is fraud. He is after all a man who sings songs of the workers in the factories. “I’ve never seen the inside of a factory, and yet it’s all I’ve ever written about,” he tells the audience. “I’ve never worked 9 to 5. I’ve never worked 5 days a week.”

But I digress. This isn’t a post about Springsteen – although ironically Angie McMahon names him as an inspiration alongside the likes of Lianne La Havas, Big Thief and Tom Waits. This is a post about Pasta.

Watch the video below which essentially finds Angie doing nothing. OK, this probably doesn’t sound like the most inspiring concept for a video, but it weirdly works and gives you plenty of time to focus on Angie’s wonderful low-range vocal delivery and raw guitars that eventually let loose, just as you think the song is going to drift towards a finish. This is strong.

Angie McMahon - Pasta

New Music: Saltwater Sun - Blood

Blood by Reading band Saltwater Sun is undoubtedly my favourite tune that the group has released so far. 

Whilst positively raining with gorgeous guitar chords and uplifting sounding melodies the track deals with much more personal issues; for Blood is about family and the legacy we leave behind, written as lead singer Jen Stearnes thought about her father who died a number of years before. Most people would probably like to think that we will get through life to see some of those big moments that mark the life of a family – anything from graduations to weddings to special holidays to the birth of new children – but the reality is that unfortunately some of us will pass away early, and Jen sums it up with this line: “Is it tainted now by the agony of all you had to miss?” 

Whilst the song was released a month ago, the band have just put out a video to accompany the tune which is the classic ‘shove a camera in their faces whilst we’re driving along the motorway’ tour footage piece which if nothing else you can learn that last year the band played a BBC Introducing Stage at a rainy festival, supported Jimmy Eat World and had some fun.

Blood is taken from a forthcoming EP due for April release with the promise of the band playing a number of festivals in 2019. 

Saltwater Sun - Blood (Video)

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Introducing: Moyka

Over the last few days Oslo’s By:Larm festival took place – one of a number of larger emerging music festival’s that happen across Europe at the start of the year. Alongside Eurosonic it’s one I always pay close attention to, as it’s a good way of picking up on exciting new talent from other countries – even if I haven’t attended. These days discovery is so easy, with line ups published way in advance and streaming services making access to artists music so simple.

You might remember that last year I wrote about a new Norwegian artist called Halie - someone that I part discovered through By:Larm. Today I’m doing virtually the same and introducing to Breaking More Waves readers this year’s By:Larm discovery and yes, it’s another electronic pop artist from Norway.

Moyka is Monika Engeseth, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter and producer who has, in the last few years, been based in what seems to be the capital of banging Nordic pop: Bergen. There’s just 1 track on her Soundcloud, a demo of a song called Colder (updated 11/3/2019 - now replaced with a full version as the demo has now been removed) , but it’s way better than 99% of the demos you’re ever likely to hear – it sounds like a fully-fledged tune to me.

Big pulsing electronics, strong slightly ethereal vocals and a sense of weightlessness, calm and space are the things that immediately stand out with Colder. If you’re a fan of Aurora and Sigrid the chances are you’ll quickly fall for this, a song which finds Moyka singing ‘I love when it hurts, drag me under,” which to be honest doesn’t sound like a lot of fun from my perspective, but it certainly makes for a good other-worldly electronic pop tune.

Moyka - Colder (Demo)

Friday, 1 March 2019

New Music: Ellie Goulding - Flux

It’s funny how the course of pop music runs. On Wednesday I posted a track by Sazzie, a new project from Sarah McIntosh, an artist that I first wrote an introducing post nearly 10 years ago when she was doing a another project. Fast forward to now and she still isn’t any sort of household name. This isn’t ‘failure’ just as becoming very well-known isn't necessarily ‘success’, although society generally views popularity and commercial gain in this way. However, the pressures of that so called 'success' and becoming a public figure can bring their own personal difficulties which aren’t for everyone and might lead them to questioning if it is all it’s made out to be. 

Within a few days of the Sarah McIntosh post all that time ago I also ran another introducing piece on a new artist. In that blog post the picture of the artist shows her standing in a simple vest top, wearing glasses with long brown-ish hair. If books were judged by covers then she didn’t look like a typical popstar at that time; certainly the piece I wrote  talked of her acoustic roots and the fact that she had started to introduce electronic elements to her music. Her name was (and still is) Ellie Goulding

You’ve probably heard of her. 

At this stage I could probably roll out a bunch of clich├ęs about her ‘journey'; something which so many musicians and journalists talk about in interviews I roll my eyes. Please musicians stop talking about your journeys - everyone has a 'journey' - it's just what you've been doing in life. 

Instead let’s just take a listen to her new tune.

Here are the key facts you need to know:

1. It’s called Flux, but it isn’t a cover of the only really good song Bloc Party put out after their first album.

2. This one is more Freya Ridings than Diplo. It’s a piano ballad, so arguably has more in common with her acoustic singer songwriter roots than her electronic pop, although of course in the UK one of her biggest hits was a cover of a ballad (Your Song).

3. In the video she wears an amazing dress. The sort of thing only popstars and celebrity types can get away with wearing without anyone calling them ridiculous.

4. The “I’m still in love with the idea of loving you, it’s a state of Flux, but it’s not enough,” line will get in your head.

5. If you go back and listen to her music from when she started her career you can hear how her voice as changed – it’s less thin sounding and slightly lower than it used to be. 

6. Flux is my favourite Ellie Goulding song for some time. It’s majestic, enchanting and rather lovely.

Ellie Goulding - Flux

Thursday, 28 February 2019

New Music: Feet - English Weather

Feet are a band that has mastered the art of using double denim to levitate in. For those who like to label music and put it in boxes, they’re an indie guitar group, but scratch below the surface a bit and you can hear all sorts of influences from punk to psychedelia to funk to baggy to Brit Pop; in fact their live shows remind me a little of the fledgling Blur when they were playing 200 capacity club shows – confusing, chaotic, a bit shambolic, but having a certain sense of fun and perhaps the idea that if they can refine what they do they might just develop into something more than they are right now. Or on the other hand they might just fizzle away and die out in a year. They’re a band who have songs about dog walking, shoplifting and this one - English Weather - with its tales of ‘warm nights and cold sandwiches, bowling green chatter as the lemon slice vanishes,’ and a chorus which reminds you to pack an umbrella. 

My favourite comment on this song on You Tube is: “Officially have a foot fetish.” If you’ve come across this video on other websites you might see them reporting that it was filmed in Portsmouth. This struck me as strange as I didn’t recognise much of it as being the place where I live. It seems however, that in reality it was filmed in a holiday park a few miles away from there – but as we know when it comes to music everything seems to have to be located to a city. I’ve seen bands from the likes of Luton and Guildford claim they are from London and bands from Chichester say they’re from Brighton. Maybe they were all too busy writing songs at school to pay attention to geography? 

Feet - English Weather

New Music: Emily Burns - Too Cool

“You’re so sweet like twelve ice creams, it kind of makes me sick,” sings Breaking More Waves favourite and regular Emily Burns on her brand new track Too Cool. This one, a peppy number about the perfect girlfriend who is just too nice once again demonstrates Emily’s ability to sneak in a 100% ear-popping chorus without you even realising it. 

The video amplifies the message even further, for here we get Emily pouring water over her completely unphased partner, blowing over her playing card castle and generally being a pest, with her opposite half just smiling her way through the whole thing. 

You would think we all just want people we interact with to be nice wouldn’t you? After all it’s better than being horrid, but just like music, sometimes ‘nice’ just doesn’t feel real enough. 

After last year's excellent pop on mini album Seven Scenes from the Same Summer and the track she made with Studio Black, Friends Don't Kiss Friends, which has picked up 6 million streams on Spotify alone, Emily Burns shows no sign of slowing down with the hooks. 

Emily Burns - Too Cool

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Introducing: Sazzie

Bringing back colour and tacky bouncy synths to pop music, today’s ‘new’ artist is one that long term Breaking More Waves readers may well recognise. Sazzie, as she now likes to be called, is Sarah McIntosh and she first featured here 10 years ago (March 4th 2009 to be exact - here) when she started out as The Good Natured, knocking out some rather classy cool underground pop with tracks such as  Your Body Is A Machine and Skeleton. Since that time she’s also been part of the sassy Lovestarrs before she moved on to a solo career under her new Sazzie moniker.

Sazzie, much like Sarah’s previous projects, is clearly in love with pop music. But whereas The Good Natured had a slightly hip / indie / underground feel to it, as Sazzie, Sarah seems to have no hesitation in embracing her playful side. Do You Work Out? with its naughty hen party and male strippers visuals and call to take off your shirt is the UK’s better and sexier answer to Gangnam Style and latest track Wtf (Pop Culture) is an energised romp through the disco days of the Pet Shop Boys and Vince Clarke era Depeche Mode whilst documenting the here and now of mobile phones, Instagram, Donald Trump, Brexit, Cardi B, Azealia Banks, Grimes, Elon Musk and many more.

If you like pop acts that don’t take everything seriously (Lizzo, Confidence Man etc) you might just love Sazzie. She’s injecting a big dose of cheekiness into the rear end of pop music, and I’ll tell you what, everyone should have at least two shots of it.

Get dancing to her tunes below.

Sazzie - Wtf (Pop Culture)

Sazzie - Do You Work Out?

Monday, 25 February 2019

Introducing: BASH!

Yesterday I introduced you to one new south-coast based band, now here’s another. Southampton’s Bash! are purveyors of instantly likeable indie joy-pop. If I had to write a recipe for their music, I’d take a slice of Paramore’s Hard Times and a good sprinkling of anything by Fickle Friends and mix it all round at speed in a big day-glow coloured bowl with some lemonade. 

Bash! make the sort of music that I often describe as 'pop music for the sort of person that doesn’t normally like pop music'. Their Facebook bio makes things much more straightforward though: “They do pop,” it explains. Maybe they should add the word good into that.

Bash! encapsulate feelings of fun and energy in their songs, but they also seem like the sort of band that could deliver it well in your local indie club – in fact the couple of small video clips I’ve seen of the band playing live seem to confirm this, with one person describing them in a tweet them as ‘a revelation’ and another as ‘a must see’. 

The band’s Facebook also tells us that their interests include Dungeons and Dragons, Sweet Treats, Minecraft, Denim and most importantly Lego, from which the video for their effervescent single Wild has been created. It’s a deliriously upbeat tune that really deserves to be blasting out across radio stations across the country. Take a listen and view below.

Bash! isn’t just some silly exercise in comic book power punch terminology either; the lead singer of this five-piece is called Amanda Bashmakova; assuming of course that is her real name. But let’s not worry about monikers, just enjoy the music, which is guaranteed to brighten your day.

BASH! - Wild

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Introducing: Winter Gardens

Back in 1984, in the UK, if you described yourself as being into indie music everyone had a pretty clear idea about what that sounded like. The chances were that your record collection would contain something (or everything) by The Smiths, The Pastels, The Wedding Present and Cocteau Twins. Those jangly guitar sounds ran through the veins of any self-respecting ‘alternative’ band from that period.

These days it isn’t really clear what indie is anymore. Take a look at some indie playlists on Spotify and you’ll find there is Indie R&B (Ella Mai and Craig David are on that), Indie Pop (everything from The 1975 to Jade Bird) to Fiesta Indie, whatever that is (it seems to include Confidence Man and Hot Chip).

But here is a new Brighton based band called Winter Gardens, who have a sound that is resolutely old school indie and it’s all the better for it. Their debut single Coral Bells, released through Austerity Records (a label name very suited to our times in the UK) came out on general release last Friday on 7” vinyl and is limited to just 100 copies. It jangles, riffs and stutters in a rather frantically charming way and the vocals from lead singer Ananda have just a hint of Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins about them. There’s a lot of out of the box energy in the music that contrasts with the voice that I can easily imagine coating itself over something a little slower and softer- but perhaps that will come later? Sometimes groups just have to get the adrenalin out of their system first. 

For now, however, Coral Bells shows Winter Gardens having lots of promise with their stark dreamy post-punk sound.

Winter Gardens - Coral Bells

Friday, 22 February 2019

New Music: Erland Cooper - Haar

I have a love affair with the sea. The coast is where I spend an awful lot of time. That love is in the multi-layered name of this blog. I purposefully moved geographic location to be living in a city by the sea.  I love the ocean's vastness, its sound, its power, the way it's always different, sometimes raging and sometimes calm, so many different colours. I’m fascinated by the fact that it's so beautiful and yet it can alter the shape of the world so easily and we as humans have to adapt to its changes. 

But mainly I love spending time by the sea as it acts as a natural break, a reset, from the troubles and stresses of every day life. It’s no wonder that, in the last few months when I’ve had to recuperate after surgery I’ve spent an awful lot of time walking up and down the coast where I live, whatever the weather, to build up my strength again.

Living by the sea also trains the brain to be able to pick up up on the clues of the direction of the coast. I’m often surprised when I’m with friends who live inland and we’re travelling to somewhere by the ocean that I can detect where the coast is several miles away from it when they can’t. The smell, the space, the sounds are all there as clues, but I think if you have spent a lot of time near or by the sea you are much more hard-wired into observing these differences than people who don’t.

Given my love of the sea and music, it is therefore a little surprising that there really aren’t many songs that I love about the subject matter. Seaside by The Kooks? No thanks. Although I do adore Down To The Sea by Tim Booth of the band James and (my favourite) Nightswimming by REM, although that arguably isn't about the sea.

Because of this you can probably imagine my excitement when Erland Cooper, the artist who released my favourite album of 2018 (Solan Goose) announced the forthcoming release of a new album called Sule Skerry yesterday and said this about it: “It’s a record about the sea, our relationship with the outside world, forces outside of our control but it’s also about creating a nest within that, nurturing and protecting our own sea havens, those sheltered bays, those safe places. Always returning back in some form, as we step in and out daily.” A whole album about a subject I love.

Sule Skerry is the second album in a triptych shaped by his childhood home, the Orkney Islands.

The album includes Cooper’s own field recordings and interviews within the community of the Orkney’s, a collaboration with the Scottish musician Kathryn Joseph who contributes a spoken word narrative, using poetry written for the album by Will Burns on the track Flattie and also impulse recordings - the reverberations of spaces from beneath the lifeboat pier, his local town hall and inside a 5000 year old Neolithic cairn which were then taken back to London to be incorporated into the mixing process.

The first music we all get to hear from Sule Skerry is the track Haar. Haar is a sea mist which, in Orkney, can form for miles and consume an entire harbour of fishing boats. Performed with a complete live ensemble it features Cooper on piano, minimoog and tape loops, with accompanying string, guitars and soprano as well as field recordings of thunder, during a breaking Orkney sky. It sounds like a natural progression from the work on Solan Goose and will provide you with that momentary break that we all sometimes need. Once again Erland Cooper has created something very special.

Erland Cooper’s confirmed live shows for 2019 include London’s sold out Milton Hall Barbican performance (see you there is you're going to that), Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall and a headline for Caught by the River Calder in Hebden Bridge with Further UK tour dates to be announced.

Erland Cooper - Haar

Sunday, 17 February 2019

New Music: Maisie Peters - Stay Young

In the UK this week the opening song on the official Spotify New Music Friday playlist isn’t, as is usually the case, a big pop superstar (they follow in positions 2 to 5 with a variety of collaborations from the likes of Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Yungblud, Halsey, Travis Barker, Zedd and Katy Perry) but a relatively new artist. Whilst we all probably understand that to hook someone in to a playlist you do have to put some big names at the front, I’d like to see Spotify do more of this and take a few risks with lesser known artists at the top of their big weekly playlists. 

Having said that in terms of playlists the artist in question (Maisie Peters) isn’t really a total unknown. Her song Worst of You now nearly has 25 million streams and Place We Were Made now has just under 22 million. She’s hardly one of those artists with a less than 1,000 symbol streams next to her playlist statistics, is she? However, we are now living in an era where certain artists have millions of streams on Spotify but cannot draw 50 people to a gig. Thankfully Maisie doesn’t seem to be one of them with her online success slowly transferring to real life; her show at Omeara (320 capacity) in London next month is already sold out and she has a gig at the much bigger Scala (800 capacity) planned for May. Perhaps naming her as One to Watch for 2018 as I did back in 2017 (here) was a tiny bit early, but it wasn’t a bad tip was it?

The song in question topping the New Music Friday playlist is called Stay Young (which let's be honest is a physical impossibility) and it’s possibly her most pop leaning tune to date with a proper big old catchy chorus and a modern radio friendly production. Maisie has described the track as: “A song about growing up and being lonely in Willesden Green, chasing my dreams and missing my friends and wanting to make them proud.” 

Even if you don’t bother with the New Music Friday playlist this is worth pressing play on.
There’s a video for the song as well and as we all know one thing that is almost guaranteed to get a lot of views and likes on the internet is a cat and so Maisie duly obliges here. 

Maisie Peters - Stay Young

Thursday, 14 February 2019

New Music: Talkboy - Someone Else For You

In my previous post I wrote how it was 3 out of 3 for really great singles from Melissa Jefferson aka Lizzo. The same can be said of Talkboy, an emerging band from Leeds who having already impressed with the tracks Mother and Over & Under and are doing it again now with new one Someone Else For You

It’s two and a half minutes of glorious indie guitar pop based on the idea of trying to be someone you’re not for another person and it's all carried along by some arresting ice-cool vocals from band member Katie Heap that to my ears bear some resemblance to Sophie Ellis Bextor (a very good thing). If you’re a fan of the likes of Anteros or Alvvays the chances are you’re going to love Someone Else For You. What, it seems, makes Talkboy stand out over the hundreds of other indie hopefuls is an ability to pen a really strong song and they aren't limited to one idea.

It’s still very early days for the group, but there’s news of an EP on the way and they’ve confirmed they are playing at Live at Leeds and Stockton Calling so far. Here at Breaking More Waves I’m hoping they make it down to my neck of the woods on the south coast one day, so if someone would like to make that happen that would be great thank you.

Talkboy - Someone Else For You

New Music: Lizzo - Cuz I Love You

When knocking out a soulful power ballad as dramatic as Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You* there’s always a risk that the whole thing could come across as ridiculously overblown. In less skilled hands this may well be the case, but when Lizzo sings it's dynamite: “Got you somethin’ from the liquor store, little bit of Lizzo and some more,” she tells us on the title track from her forthcoming album, an album which, for once, the ‘eagerly anticipated’ tag that music industry promotional people overly use is actually true. What with Boys, Juice and now Cuz I Love You (which  she wrote in 10 minutes with a bit of help from X Ambassadors) Lizzo’s new album due in April looks set to propel her to the stars.

On your own this Valentines Day? F*ck it, that’s fine, get a bottle of wine in and have this on repeat – how could you need anything else when you’ve got Lizzo singing Cuz I Love You?

*Footnote, for fans of 1970’s glam rock – no this isn’t a cover of the similarly titled but differently spelt Coz I Love You by Slade, which depending on your perspective is either a crying shame or another victory.

Lizzo - Cuz I Love You (Video)

Friday, 8 February 2019

New Music: Honeyblood - The Third Degree

OK, first of all can we all just take a moment to appreciate the lizard like way Stina from Honeyblood has camouflaged herself for this promo pic? If this is the effort she’s prepared to go to for this I imagine she’d be an absolute champion at games of hide and seek. 

Now, onto the music… after the first two Honeyblood albums the question I’ve been asking myself is ‘what next?’

More of the same? A radical change in direction which finds Stina embracing electronics and taking her sound to the disco? Fleshing out into a bigger band and maybe throwing in some strings and horns? Stripping it all back to a more rootsy or acoustic project? Going full on floor to the floor heavy metal? All of these things were and are still are possible. But yesterday with the release of some new material there was some sort of answer at least. That answer was classic 60’s ‘girl group’ pop and Motown influences – although to be fair those influences have always been there a bit, take a listen to the ‘Oo-oo-oo’ hooks on Killer Bangs and you can hear it.

With a new album In Plain Sight due later this year and a big UK Spring tour announced (dates can be found by clicking here) The Third Degree is Stina’s sneering 'could’t give a sh*t about you' indie rock take on the likes of The Ronettes, The Crystals and The Chiffons. 

“No no drama drama baby,” Stina sings as she sees an ex out with a new admirer and then makes sure she ignores them. “All the best to the one who comes next, she’s a braver girl than I,” she confirms. And with that, Stina moves on. 

6 years ago Honeyblood first appeared on Breaking More Waves. 6 years! And this new one's a blast. 

Honeyblood - The Third Degree (Video)

Thursday, 7 February 2019

New Music: Fontaines DC - Big

“F*ckin’ brilliant.” Those were my words after pressing play on the new video and song from Fontaines DC, the best new band out of Ireland in a hell of a long time. 

Big is just 1 minute and forty-five seconds long, but in that time it delivers urgent blow after blow. Yes. It’s a knockout. 

The video bears a wet Irish resemblance to Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy, insofar as it’s shot in one take, on the street, but in this case rather than Shara Nelson singing we get a Dr Marten wearing 11-year-old lip syncing to the lyrics near to Poundland and Paddy Power. There’s a danger of romanticising any city (particularly one like Dublin with all of its literary greats and history) but with a video like this it shows the bands commitment to keeping reality in check.

“We felt that great ambition was a sickness, and we got Grian's 11 year next-door neighbour to say it to you all because he's got the presence of a hundred frontmen,” say the band of the film. 

There’s something about the raw impassioned poetic way that lead vocalist Grian Chatten delivers his words on every track that is utterly captivating and even after just 1 play of Big it’s easy to imagine crowds of indie rock kids (and adults) becoming heavily invested in his words. “Dublin city in the rain is mine, a pregnant city with a Catholic mind,” he opens with and I can just imagine the audience mouthing it back at him.

That is why I had no hesitation as naming Fontaines DC as one of my Ones to Watch for 2019 last November. With a debut album Dogrel due on 12th April (which you can pre-order now on CD or fancy yellow vinyl now by clicking here), a whole host of sold out dates and a new Winter tour just announced (you can grab a ticket by clicking here), there’s still a lot to come from this lot. 

To repeat. F*ckin’ brilliant.

Fontaines DC - Big (Video)

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

New Music: GIRLI - Deal With It

Milly Toomey better known as GIRLI (she’s clearly a fan of the capital letters unlike yesterday’s band deep tan) has over the years been getting better and better. From the Super Mario pop of So You Think You Can F*ck With Me Do Ya? and the M.I.A vs early Charli XCX vs Shampoo chants of ASBoys in 2015 through to the 2017’s fast-paced Hot Mess up to the here and now with her best yet - Deal With It – a bona fide banger. Today she has released a video for the song - a jam that reminds me a little bit of the exuberant I Love It by Icona Pop – which is in all respects a very good thing.

GIRLI explains Deal With It as follows “It is about embracing your weirdness and telling anyone who judges or questions your individuality to get over it. It’s about refusing to change who you are for other people and instead of saying that it’s their problem if they’re offended by who you are, not yours.” 

It’s a sentiment that over the last few years a lot of pop musicians have been relaying as part of their message. It’s one that I fully support – after all it’s the weird bits of us that make us interesting and exciting. However, there’s a caveat here and I do wish that more pop people would add this caveat. Refusing to change who you are for other people is fine, most of the time. But there’s a line. For example, if you’re a mass murderer or rapist, quite a few people are going to be pretty offended / hurt by this, and it might be time to reconsider who you are and instigate some changes. Or turn yourself in to the police and let them deal with it.

However, in most cases ‘weirdness’ is just others not being able to relate to you on some much less impactful level and if for example that means that means that someone else can’t handle you dying your hair pink and bouncing around to electropop (whatever age / gender / race etc you are) then that really is their problem not yours. Now, who wants to dance frantically around their house / on the street to this? Because Deal With It is a frantic bop of the highest order.

Girli’s 9 track album Odd One Out is released on the 5th of April and she’s doing a huge tour of Britain (although there’s only 1 Scottish and 1 Welsh date) at the same time to promote it. Go and celebrate your inner (or outer) weirdness with her, whoever you are.

GIRLI - Deal With It (Video)

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Introducing: deep tan

Whilst I’m not particularly a grammar pedant or vocabulary fascist (anyone reading the catalogue of errors that is this blog should be able to tell this) one thing that does get my back up a little is the growing fashion for not using capital letters where capital letters should be used. I blame the iPhone and eBay for this. 

Now the disease has spread to bands. So, when I first came across new London group deep tan I almost passed them by simply because of their refusal to use a capital D and T. Harsh I know, but you have to use some sort of filter to keep things manageable when there's so much music out there.

This would have been a shame, because deep tan's debut single air is rather good. A neat yet uneasy mix of French Pop, gothy drums and darker atmospherics that subtly hint at the likes of mid 80’s Tears For Fears dancing in the shadows with Editors, White Lies, Warpaint and Interpol, it’s an excellent start. There's even a touch of The XX's early minimalism in there. And unlike the normal method of releasing straight to Spotify, Apple Music and You Tube deep tan keep it old school and have just thrown the track up on Soundcloud. Their Facebook tells us that they make ‘soothing grooves earth shattering moves’ and that they’ve been playing a number of gigs in and around London, which for now is enough to know. Get acquainted with the song as we keep an eye and ear out for more from this promising bunch.

deep tan - air

Monday, 4 February 2019

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - Sugardaddy

A couple of weeks ago Matt Parsons, the Chief Executive of digital music distribution company Ditto Music caused a minor storm on the internet by tweeting: “13 years of Ditto, and Lee and I still work 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week, check our emails at 4am and help our clients on evenings and weekends. No days off. Every spare minute is an opportunity. If you can’t do that basic thing….go work at a major label.”

Whilst Parson’s clients might appreciate his levels of dedication and he might love his job to the point that he’s prepared to work this way, I’m not sure if, as a Chief Executive of a company with a leadership role, this is a responsible message to give out. Particularly to younger people on Twitter trying to get into the music industry who might read the tweet and think that this is how you have to work. 

Wouldn’t most people agree that working 7 days a week, with no days off, for 12+ hours a day mean that you’re probably dedicating too much time to work and missing out on appreciating the other aspects of life that really only come by taking a break? And also, would most people not agree that advocating working such long hours doesn’t take into account the wider impacts it can have? There are many studies that show that people who work long hours experience numerous mental, physical and social effects – some which will only become apparent later in life? Is ‘success’ (and many people judge ‘success’ as wealth earnt) really that important? And if it is, is there another way?

It seems that Lauran Hibberd has got the answer although, as with a number of her songs, there’s definitely a large element of comedic tongue-in-cheek to her solution. Just get yourself a Sugardaddy folks. No more working seven days a week. “Stay home and relax, don’t worry about the money in the bank, 'cos I’ve got stacks around the house,” she sings of her assumedly fictional boyfriend in waiting with an income that knows no bounds. There’s a definite hint of a 90’s Britpop sound to the song; Sugardaddy would sit very comfortably on Sleeper’s Smart or The It Girl Albums as it bounds along with Lauran asking: “Would you like to be my Sugardaddy? I’m tired of working seven days a week.” Brash and playful, it’s another off the wall tune from the Isle of Wight’s queen of indie.

Lauran Hibberd - Sugardaddy

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Introducing: Iris

The quality pop from Norway just keeps on coming. Not content with giving us the likes of Sigrid, Aurora, Dagny, Anna of the North, Amanda Tenfjord and Halie, here’s the latest new Nordic queen on the block. Her name is Iris and like all good pop stars she’s mononymous and doesn’t have a surname. Well she does, but nobody cares about that. When we talk of Adele nobody calls her Adele Adkins do they? 

I’m beginning to wonder if there’s some sort of pop star birthing machine in Bergen, Norway, because like Sigrid and like Halie, Iris comes from there. However, as Ian Brown of the Stone Roses once famously said: “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at,” and with her debut single From Inside A Car Iris immediately proves she’s at a very good place musically; in this case Paris. For From Inside A Car is a gorgeously low-key piece of porcelain pop with a really pretty melody and breathy hooky chorus that was written after Iris had spent a month alone in the romantic French city. 

Iris recorded the track with producer Askjell Solstrand who has worked with the likes of Sigrid and Aurora so there’s some good pedigree here. Iris herself also comes with a good history, having worked on a bunch of other projects in Norway. However, with dates at By:Larm festival in Oslo and Brighton’s Great Escape already pencilled in for 2019, you can expect to hear a lot more from her as a solo artist as the year develops.

A debut EP is scheduled for Spring.

Iris - From Inside A Car

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Introducing: Fast Trains

When the conversation turns to virtual worlds that have their own languages, characters and landscapes, the first thing that comes to my mind is Animal Crossing, the social simulation game developed and published by Nintendo. So, when a new project entitled ourWorld cropped up on my radar, for a moment I thought we were going to be treated to new variants of Bells, going fishing a lot, shaking trees and Tom Nook.

Thankfully there’s no Tom Nook involved in ourWorld, although someone called Tom does have a lot to do with it, as ourWorld is based around the songs that a certain Tom Wells, formerly the bass player in the Portsmouth based indie rock band Kassassin Street, has created. Tom's project goes under the name Fast Trains.

Getting on board with Tom is Sam Brandon, his video collaborator, who has created the animated visuals that make up ourWorld. What this world is, or is meant to be about, at this stage I’m not really sure. What do the strange symbols present in the video mean? What is the purpose of the rotating box – is it a distant cousin of the Lament Configuration from Cliver Barker’s Hellraiser or the Rubik’s Cube? (There's some 80's references for you). Who are the strange amorphous creatures that appear to inhabit this world? Maybe all will become clear in future videos. Or perhaps not. Is there a mystery to solve? Or is it all just like Nik Kershaw’s The Riddle (more 80's references there) and just a load of nonsense?

Whatever it is, the song that accompanies it all, Measure by Measure, isn’t nonsense at all. It's a rather simple and lovely thing; created from looped guitars that have a vaguely summery 60’s feel to them, combined with small amounts of electronic trickery and Tom’s teasingly pleasant and harmonious vocal melody, it never piles too much in and is all the better for it. A fine opening and I look forward to hearing (and seeing) more.

Fast Trains - Measure by Measure

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

New Music: Rosie Lowe - Birdsong

The last time I mentioned Rosie Lowe on Breaking More Waves (in 2014) it was in connection with dropping a cigarette butt in Leeds and how that can get you a £50 fine. Since that time Rosie released her debut album Control (in 2016) and is now gearing up for album number 2 which is entitled YU (I guess there’s a double meaning in the title depending on if you say the letters as a word or individual letters?). From it comes this single Birdsong which is not at all rubbish – so clearly she’s become a bit more litter conscious since the cigarette butt incident.

Alas Birdsong is not a tribute to my very own DJ Birdsong ambient project (taking bookings for 2019 if anyone would like a man in bird mask playing gentle calming electronic music mixed with birdsong – it is if nothing else a very relaxing experience) but instead she describes it as being inspired by "lust and desire, but with the lingering sense of insecurity and longing.”

The track was produced by The Invisible’s Dave Okumu and comes accompanied by a video directed by Jovan Todorovic. It’s a slinky piece of spacey funk that grinds and grooves in a similar way to some of Nao’s work with Rosie’s voice giving the song a half creepy half sensual feel and the multi-track  male group vocals adding to that steamy atmosphere even more.

This one’s on fire. And that fire is funky.

Rosie Lowe plays Guildford Boileroom on 10th March (where tickets are a snip at £3.80) and London's Omeara on 14th March (where they are quite a bit more).

Rosie Lowe - Birdsong