Monday, 9 September 2019
After 3577 posts (all written by myself) and over 11 years of music blogging, today is the day when I announce that Breaking More Waves is finishing. Or rather, almost finishing.
The reason? After experiencing an unexpected heart attack due to a congenital defect in 2018 and then undergoing major open-heart surgery I have been through a slow process of revaluating what I do with my remaining life and have come to the conclusion that I would like to dedicate more time to other aspects of it. The blog is very time consuming for something that is of such little importance.
However, that’s not to say I’m finished with music. I continue to love singles, albums, gigs, festivals and reading about it all and will continue to be an active participant in all things related to those.
I’ll also continue to occasionally write about music elsewhere.
The blog won’t totally stop either. I still plan to update my Spotify monthly playlist with new music (you can find that by clicking here) and I’ll comment on those updates using the blog, so there still will be the occasional post but it will just be once a month.
So I'll see you at the end of September, but for now, that’s all folks.
Thursday, 5 September 2019
“There’s a crown covered in glitter and gold, I’m gonna wear it whether you like it or not.” With those words (and a few more) Oh Wonder kick away the self-doubt and fly high with Hallelujah, the first song to be released from their forthcoming third album.
Don’t be fooled by the gentle opening piano chords reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th on the songs intro though, for this one follows its own pop-path. It’s a path lined with strings, a thumping hyperactive beat and spacey layered vocals in a garden of utter delight.
Oh Wonder’s songs have often carried a message and a sense of hope; their debut of album in 2015 got me through a pretty tough time. If you’re finding that you're questioning yourself and the cynics are kicking you down do watch this excellent one shot video, it might just help a little.
It's fantastic to have Anthony and Josephine back. They're a band that should be available on prescription, they're that good for you.
Oh Wonder - Hallelujah
Saturday, 31 August 2019
“That seemingly boring thing which gives us all the magic of music, with its repeats inside repeats.” That’s how Max Cooper describes Repetition - a piece of pulsing minimalist electronica designed for escaping the fast flurry of the world, social media and short attention spans. As Max says, it needs a few minutes to work and is best listened to with headphones and your eyes closed. Give it time and space - this one is the equivalent of a massage for the ear drums – intimate and expansive.
Repetition was written for a video chapter of Max’s new work Yearning for the Infinite which he will be performing at a sold-out show at the Barbican in September.
Max Cooper - Repetition
“When we’re all alone and the lights are low, I’m gonna make you scream,” sings G Flip, which depending on your perspective makes her out to be the latest slasher movie monster character or a bit of a sexpert.
Either way, if you want a big wave-your-arms-in-the-air power ballad with a catchy chorus (which trust me you do) then G Flip is here to provide just that. Lover isn’t a single, but the opening track from her debut album About Us – a collection of songs about an on off relationship with a girl. “I hadn’t seen this girl in a year, so when we caught up at the end of 2017, she asked me what I’ve been doing and I told her I had written a heap of songs, and that I was going to try it out as solo musician now. I showed her all the songs and asked her one important question: Would you care if I released these because they’re all about us?” she said of the record.
G Flip - Lover
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
There’s a weird irony that in the last few years, because of the growth of affordable and simple technology, musicians have found it easier and easier to get their music out there, yet on the same hand found it harder and harder to get heard. The traditional routes of exposure such as tour supports, plays on radio and coverage by the music press have become less effective and now musicians are having to use other routes to get their music heard.
Which is where today's new artist crops up. You may have already heard her debut single without realising. Or maybe you are one of the 14,000 people that has used Shazam to find out what it is? That is, if in the UK, you watch the vacuous abomination that is Love Island; a TV show that is absolutely not about love and more about who can get the biggest endorsement deal and Instagram following. Because that’s where Emillia Tarrant’s song, a cover of Michigan rappers NFs If You Want Love found its way to the ears of several million viewers.
Yes, Love Island is officially a #tastemaker.
Produced by Danton Supple who has worked with the likes of Coldplay, Suede and Elbow, Tarrant’s version of the song is absolutely stunning. Swapping the guitar for piano and the r ‘n’ b vocal for a hauntingly soulful delivery it marks Emillia down as a very special talent. The comparisons to Freya Ridings are almost inevitable; I get the same goosebumps as when I first heard Riding’s cover version of Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There's a hint of Grace Carter in the song's evocative delivery as well.
What’s more remarkable however is that the track doesn’t appear to be released by a major label predicting dollar signs; If You Want Love is self-released through her own Summer Freckle records.
So what's next? Tarrant isn’t going to be just about cover versions it seems. This 17 year-old from Winchester is gearing up to release original material later in the year.
Having played this weekend twice at Portsmouth’s Victorious Festival where she created quite a buzz amongst those who heard her, Emilia’s next shows are in London on August 29th at Camden Chapel (guest list only show) and then at Notting Hill Arts Club on September 17th for Gold Dust. More gigs will follow after that.
Time to fall in love with If You Want Love.
Friday, 23 August 2019
If there’s one word to describe Brighton based 2-piece Arxx it’s powerful. Powerful riffs, powerful lyrics, powerful vocals, powerful performances. Taking the drums and guitar route used successfully by the likes of fellow Brightonians Royal Blood as well as The White Stripes, Arxx are a force. A garage rock band with a strong DIY / punk ethos. Hannah Pidduck (Vocals, Guitar) and Clara Townsend (Drums) have been making music together since 2017 and have been slowly building their profile through word of mouth to the point where today their new single Y.G.W.Y.W (You Got What You Want) has made it onto the Spotify New Music Friday Playlist.
I’ve seen arguments recently that focusing on playlist placement is the wrong strategy and that artists need to have a longer-term vision of building real fans. But I think that’s not necessarily correct - it's less black and white and is possible to focus on both and that seems exactly what Arxx are doing. There’s a slow build going on here, with people gradually discovering their music, which leads to a few good slots on playlists which will help them find worldwide listeners as they continue to grow.
I first became aware of the band when I saw their name listed as support for another act I like last year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the show but having checked the band out online I was impressed. There was a rawness, a big punch of sound and despite their rock base they possessed a pop sensibility in so far as they had hooks, lyrics that you could holler along to and tunes that would stick in your head. It’s why a few months later I approached and booked them for Portsmouth’s Dials Festival (Oct 5th, 5 venues, Albert Road, Southsea, in support of Solent Mind – Full details and tickets can be found by clicking here) and was delighted when they agreed to play.
The new single is a great example of what the band do: Explosive riffs! Song structures designed to make you want to punch the air! Chant ready lyrics! Get ready to yell along at the top of your voice: “You’re messing with the wrong girl honey.” Arxx rock.
Arxx - Y.G.W.Y.W (You Got What You Want)
Tuesday, 20 August 2019
Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s experience of cervical cancer is well documented (you can read about it and her advice about the importance of a smear test in an interview she did with the Guardian by clicking here) but now thankfully she’s back making music.
Fall Apart, the new song from her band Pumarosa, was released back in July, but it’s only today that the track has received the video treatment. It’s a big departure from the group's earlier material – sounding in places like a weird and frantic mix of David Bowie’s Little Wonder and something you might find lurking in the dark corners of an Aphex Twin album. There’s a hint of the Shirley Manson’s in the vocal delivery as well. It’s chaotic, experimental and certainly isn’t the track to push them towards the mainstream – which is a compliment not a criticism.
The video is equally odd and somewhat creepy. Set in London it features the delivery of a basket and an egg by some pagan looking women to Isabel. The egg is inscribed with the words ‘Chaos is Coming’ – perhaps a reference to Brexit, the rebellion of these women into a different way of life or maybe just reflecting the sound of this song. Whatever its meaning it’s good to have the band back, taking some creative risks and not following the same formula as before.
Pumarosa - Fall Apart
Monday, 19 August 2019
Tour de France by Kraftwerk, Bicycle Race by Queen, Bike by Frank Ocean (with the line “life goes round in cycles”) and Nine Million Bicycles by Katie Melua; just a handful of the songs in pop music about or related to the pushbike, a form of transport that somehow just doesn’t seem anywhere near as rock and roll as a car, but that’s fine with me. After all musicians can’t escape from the pressing need to be environmentally conscious (just like we all need to), so maybe singing about bikes is much better than things like: “Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims, and strap your hands 'cross my engines.” Sorry Bruce.
Now here’s a new one. It’s Maude Latour’s second time on Breaking More Waves; on the first she arrived with the pop star vs the bath promo shot and joined the club I spend too much time bringing to your attention. This time she’s grabbed the handlebars and has gone for a ride; it’s an undeniable bop. Imagine an exercise craving Lorde after 4 vodka Red Bulls and a couple of Fruit Shoots. It starts, like all good journeys should, in first gear, but then works harder, aiming for both your hips and feet. It’s song that celebrates getting out there and clearing the anxiety and stress from your head with the full force of pedal power (something that good pop can also help with). Watch out for the spoken word segment as well – a classic pop moment.
Feel the euphoria, the adrenaline, the blood-rush of excitement and as Maude sings, get that runners high, with Ride My Bike.
Maude Latour - Ride My BIke
Sunday, 18 August 2019
The last time I came across Lily Moore was at Portsmouth’s Victorious Festival where she was performing an early evening set on the Acoustic Stage and dealing with some very drunk punters in the front rows:
“What’s yer name darlin?”
“Lily who? Well ooeva yer are Lily yer great. We love yer Lily.”
In fact, our drunken revellers loved her so much that after a little dance they spent the next couple of songs chatting to themselves and completely ignoring her.
Reality check. Festivals aren't always brilliant. Particularly for lesser known acts. This is what it’s sometimes like, particularly at city-based ones that offer day tickets, where for a certain % of the audience the music is just a background soundtrack to getting hammered and having it large with your mates.
For those who were a little more invested in the music however, Lily Moore was a revelation. “Why isn’t Lily Moore a star yet? Touches of Amy Winehouse, Adele and Paloma Faith. Bucket loads of talent,” I tweeted after watching her.
Now here she is displaying that talent once again on new song Nothing on You which was written with the band Honne and finds Lily singing about what sounds like the perfect partner: “Every time I’m lost, you’re the place that I go. And when nothing makes sense, you’re the one thing that I know.” Yet for some (unexplained) reason Lily confesses that “It really kills me to tell you the truth, but I can’t let myself fall in love with you.”
However, there’s nothing stopping you falling in love with this song, which is another fine addition to Lily’s collection, more of which you’ll be able to hear on her forthcoming mixtape due September 13th and features collaborations with Maverick Sabre and Dan Caplan.
Lily plays the 100 Club in London this September but that show is already sold out.
Lily Moore - Nothing On You (Video)
Tuesday, 13 August 2019
Maybe it’s something to do with the politically turbo-charged times we live in, the pop charts becoming increasingly bland / mass-produced or that what goes around comes around, but it seems that shouty music is back in. Every single week a new fiery band of renegades crawl out of South London’s underground scene with a noisy slap of post-punk, whilst up and down the country small gangs of guitar hungry kids are beginning to discover that the music their slightly weird dad listened to in 1982 is actually pretty cool. With IDLES announced to play Alexandra Palace and Fontaines DC selling out dates with ease and both bands finding themselves on the Mercury prize short-list, this stuff is at the point where it’s both critically acclaimed but beginning to have a commercial viability again.
I’ve already pinned my colours to the mast in previous posts with Irish group The Murder Capital, another band of noisesmiths who have impressed in the past both in the studio and, where they really excel, live. But it’s not just about their punk racket. This is a band who offer more layers than that; theatricality, tenderness, emotion, entertainment and intensity. It’s that intensity that is the main element of More Is Less. Uneasy listening that punches hard. A visceral and intense song you probably won’t be playing to your Aunty when she comes round for tea and cake on Sunday. That is unless you’ve seen her wearing a Fugazi, Joy Division or Nick Cave t-shirt, in which case turn the volume up loud and blast her with it.
The band’s debut album is out this Friday. Prepare your ears for a beautiful sonic shafting.
The Murder Capital - More Is Less
Monday, 12 August 2019
Purveyors of a sort of jazzy rock that can be singled out for its absolute confidence and soulful beauty, Birmingham’s Chartreuse could well be your new favourite band. Their debut song Three Days is a delight; it’s a tune that sneaks in with a soft weariness at midnight through the back entrance, but then lingers around whilst it seduces with its subtle and sultry touches, building to a powerful climax. Michael Wagstaff’s croon is near jaded in places and his introspectively vulnerable musings are almost perfect as he sings of having to wait three days until he can “spend my life with you.” It’s a really short space of time of course, but he makes it sound like an eternity. Talking of time, Three Days clocks in at nearly 6 minutes - this one isn’t designed for your average short attention span streamer, but for the rest of us it’s worth sticking with.
Named after a colour that supposedly cannot be seen when printed (which is also a French liqueur discovered by monks some 900 years ago) Chartreuse consists of Harriet Wilson (vocals/piano), Michael Wagstaff (vocals/guitar/piano), Perry Lovering (bass), and Rory Wagstaff (drums). The band played their debut headline show in Birmingham last December and if you want to catch them early you can find them supporting the equally jazzy and mellow Puma Blue in London on 30th October. Three Days is taken from the band’s debut EP which is due later this year.
Chartreuse - Three Days
Sunday, 11 August 2019
Meet Mealtime, the Manchester band who appear to have a bit of an obsession with all things mouth related. From the band name, to new (bad spelling) song Teef, to their promo pictures which show them shoving various food stuffs in their gobs to an oral cavity heavy video; if these six pieces’ next single is called Kiss, Lipz, or mentions dentists in any way then suspicions will be fully confirmed.
Manchester’s musical scene may arguably be centred on guitars in recent years but Mealtime offer something different to that. From the two songs they have released so far listeners will have been able to detect a pop heart, albeit one that’s more alt-pop than mainstream pop; there are plenty of soft synth sounds, throbs and electronic mini-riffs combining with the girl-boy vocals. Nice might sound like a lame word when used to describe music, but that’s exactly what these songs are - really nice. Electronic pop can often sound sharply robotic but Mealtime sound like a dream under silk sheets.
Mealtime was picked as part of a BBC Introducing Takeover promotion to play the Nebula Stage at this year’s Blue Dot Festival alongside the likes of Diving Station and Abbie Ozard, both of whom have been featured and introduced on Breaking More Waves, and are due to get their first play on Radio 1 via Huw Stephens just a few hours after this post goes live. Add them to your musical menu.
Mealtime - Denim
Mealtime - Teef
Monday, 5 August 2019
In 2019 the standard release strategy for artists seems to be a constant drip feed of singles before collecting them all together, adding in a small handful of new tracks to the mix and releasing it as an album. Yet with so many artists releasing independently now and the internet enabling barriers to be broken there is so much scope for musicians to release in different and original ways. It’s a shame that more don’t experiment with this.
Chinatown Slalom from Liverpool are tremendously exciting. Their music sounds 100% free of constraints and record label interference; it’s trippy, haphazard, oddball and never rests in complacency. Sometimes it's a mess, but that's OK. Messy is at least interesting. They have also dropped their debut album without the usual two-year long build up and drip feed to generate interest. They’ve just banged it out and word of mouth is building. There's some advice to new artists here; don't play safe.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? is a very DIY record that scrabbles around grabbing as many sounds and samples as it can; genre is obviously a word that Chinatown Slalom haven’t come across. Some reference points that I could throw in are The Avalanches debut, The Beta Band (possibly the most similar comparison), The Beatles, De La Soul, Plastic Mermaids, Jai Paul (who they sample on the album’s title track), Hot Chip, The Beach Boys, The Flying Picketts, Clarence Clarity and Alt-J. Not all of it is perfect - sometimes it feels like a kaleidoscopic collection of ideas that are still moulding themselves into something and they haven't quite got there yet - but it’s this fresh rawness that makes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? a must listen.
In terms of live performance there seems to have been very little at the moment, although they’ve thrown some house parties which they titled ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and seemingly annoyed their landlord. However, what appears to be a more regular gig has been announced at Neighbourhood festival in Manchester on 12th October. Have a listen to the track below but do visit their album to get the full range of what they do.
Chinatown Slalom - Where U At?
Chinatown Slalom - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Sunday, 4 August 2019
A sign of a hooky song is if you hear it live once and then several months later come across the recorded form for the first time and instantly remember it. Such is the case with Swimming Pools by Lxandra, her latest single. I caught her earlier this year at Great Escape Festival singing in a jazz club with the tiniest of stages and lowest of ceilings. It was there that she delivered one of the best vocal performances I heard all weekend. The first time I played this since that time it was instantly familiar.
There’s a touch of what I think we can now refer to as the ‘Adele pianos’ on Swimming Pools. Lxandra explains it’s about being happy with what you have and showing a middle finger to the expectations from society and the world that runs on money. So, the basic message is remember who you are and where you came from. I’d assume that this probably doesn’t apply if you are a super-posh trust fund kid with an overly inflated bank account though.
Whilst the track has been out for a short while, this video has only just made it out into the world. Lxandra is currently working on her debut album.
Lxandra - Swimming Pools (Video)
Wednesday, 31 July 2019
I’ve always hated the question ‘what sort of music do you like?’ This is because I don’t really like just one specific type of music and even within genres there is some music I like and some I don’t. So answering it is hard. The possible answer of ‘all types really’ is the sort of bland response that people who aren’t obsessive music fans give and saying ‘just good music’ is ridiculous because how many of us would say that we liked bad music? The question really stumps me. If anyone has a suitably good answer do let me know.
One type of music that I know that I do like and am often attracted to is pop music, but pop music with (to my ears) a bit of a twist, something that makes it stand out. ‘Pop music for people that don’t normally like pop music’ is how someone once described it. The new Husky Loops single I Think You’re Wonderful is such a song.
Taken from the London via Italy trio’s forthcoming album I Can’t Even Speak English (which will come with a customisable cover that fans can mark up themselves) the track is something we could probably all do with now given these rather aggressive, uncompromising and sometimes hateful times; it’s a song with a positive message of love, empathy and resilience. It also reminds me a little bit of Passion Pit's Sleepyhead, which is fine by my books.
What I love about I Think You’re Wonderful is its quirky sense of playfulness; there are effect laden vocal samples that will bring a smile to your face, gentle breakdowns, an unexpected ‘woop’ in the middle and the feeling that Danio, Tommaso and Pietro wanted to write a song that didn’t take itself too seriously, whilst being serious about writing a good song.
Coincidentally, I’m told that Husky Loops find it hard to put a single label on themselves, so in the same way it’s best not to ask me what sort of music I like, it’s probably best not to ask them what sort of music they make, otherwise they’ll be stumped as well.
Husky Loops - I Think You're Wonderful
Monday, 29 July 2019
Earlier this year when I introduced Black Country, New Road to the pages of Breaking More Waves it was already clear that they weren’t heading for the mainstream. A few days after that piece they released their debut track proper and as far as my ears could tell, the oddly apostrophied Athen’s, France didn’t quite live up to the hype that the band had picked up. It wasn't bad, but perhaps it wasn't as artily bonkers as I wanted.
Now however we get Sunglasses, an oddball mini-epic that clocks in at a Spotify unfriendly 9 minutes long. Ironically so far it has had more plays than the shorter edit version also released to the streaming platform. The track has already become one of the highlights of the seven piece’s live set; a sprawling beast that jumps from downbeat slo-mo post-rock to spacey sax interludes to cacophonous breakdowns to lip-curling pumping guitar riffage all topped off with wavering spoken word / shouted ramblings that reference Fonz from TV show Happy Days, Scott Walker and Kanye West plus posh Hampshire school Bedales. It’s utterly baffling but in the same stroke utterly brilliant.
Black Country, New Road - Sunglasses
Sunday, 28 July 2019
He’s the singer songwriter coming from a more traditional indie rock background, she’s the one with leanings towards hip-hop and electronics. Together this new Glasgow based duo go by the name of Morning Midnight and their single Ancoats Junction is an enticing debut that is more Bruce Hornsby than Bruce Springsteen, but whoever it sounds like, it’s a boss tune.
Continuing the reference points that begin with B there’s a hint of Bon Iver in there when Jordan Scott sings of saying goodbye and finding his own way home, hitting the high notes. Yes, Ancoats Junction is a song about separation, the end of a relationship, but it also signals the start of something new that has real possibilities.
Morning Midnight is very much a band in its infancy having formed last year and seemingly having only played 2 shows (both in the last few weeks) one supporting Sorcha Richardson in London. Hopefully there will be more soon.
A lovey start.
Morning Midnight - Ancoats Junction
Saturday, 27 July 2019
Salt Ashes has shown her excellent taste in mid 80’s pop before with her cover of Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration back in 2013. Now she’s doing it again by taking on Madonna’s Into the Groove, the track which gave Madge her first UK number 1.
Into The Groove is also hands down one of the best Madonna songs of all time, the others being Justify My Love, Ray Of Light, Vogue, Like A Prayer, Frozen and Papa Don’t Preach. No arguments please on this. If you disagree you are wrong (but I will allow you to have Holiday, Like A Virgin and I Want You with Massive Attack as close seconds).
What Salt Ashes (real name Viega Sanchez) has done with Into the Groove is absolutely gorgeous. Given her penchant for dark disco jams, sensual beats and electronic pop it would be easy to expect her to simply maintain the original's club sound, adding perhaps a more modern gloss via production. Yet this isn’t the case. Instead Salt Ashes slows everything down bestowing the song a sense of intimacy and a sense that even if ultimately this is just a tune about dancing with some innuendo about shagging thrown in, it means so much more. Sanchez also grants the song even sharper colours with a vocal delivery that is absolutely to die for.
Madge eat your heart out. Cover version of the month for sure.
Salt Ashes - Into The Groove
Thursday, 25 July 2019
Breaking More Waves regular Lauran Hibberd’s music has gradually been getting heavier and grungier since her since folkish beginnings. We’re not talking Napalm Death, Motorhead or even Iron Maiden heavy, or not yet anyway; there’s still a massive pop sensibility in what she does. However, new track Frankie’s Girlfriend could certainly stand side by side with a tune like Buck Rodgers by Feeder and there’s an unreleased song in her live set that has distinct hints of Nirvana.
Following a tradition of Frankie’s occupying a space in pop music (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Frankie by Sister Sledge, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons….er ok I’m struggling now but 3’s a start and Frankie’s Girlfriend makes it 4) Lauran continues to tell stories of characters and the human condition. In this case our lead is the super jealous girlfriend who really resents Lauran, a platonic friend of Frankie's since childhood.
“I heard you talking in your sleep about my boyfriend,” says the subject of the story. And as the envy builds further: “I saw you walking on the beach, he was looking at you the way he used to look at me.” It seems that someone needs to lighten up a little.
The track is another rock-bop par excellence from the Isle of Wight’s finest musician / worst spaghetti eater with plenty of mighty yet trashy riffage.
Lauran is playing at Deer Shed and Camp Bestival festivals this weekend and after that you can catch her on tour in October (all the dates can be found on this link). Her new EP Everything Is Dogs is out soon.
Lauran Hibberd - Frankie's Girlfriend
Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Breaking More Waves has been on a rather extended break whilst I enjoyed a summer holiday and attended Glastonbury and Latitude festivals. Before I get back into regular posting let’s take a dive into a handful of tracks that nearly got away. Ranging from sultry disco pop to intense indie, these are the ones I’ve been playing out a lot.
Rosalía – F*cking Money Man
As the Guardian pointed out, Rosalía's ultra-modern take on flamenco has been embraced by ‘the kind of websites that make it their business to write earnest articles about the socio-political significance of pop stars’ and that those sites have indeed ‘begun writing earnest articles about her socio-political significance.’ There’s probably a whole bunch of reasons for this but most importantly it’s probably because Rosalía’s album El Mal Querer is rather bloody brilliant and that she’s become such a big star in Spain it’s impossible to ignore. She was as sharp as a blade at Glastonbury this year and now her latest track F*cking Money Man (released whilst I was basking in the sun by the pool in Torrevieja) piles on the sass. It’s also managed to upset a few language purists as she mixes a few ‘Spanishisms’ in amongst the mainly Catalan language lyrics.
Alice Jemima – Dancing in Love
Having been out on the road supporting Sophie Ellis Bextor recently, Breaking More Waves long term favourite Alice Jemima creates a new genre with new single Dancing in Love; I’m calling it soft disco. It’s played in the sort of club where you sit on extremely comfortable low-slung modular sofas, the music is never too loud to give you tinnitus and everything wraps up before midnight so that we get a good night’s sleep and no hangover. Trust me, this is the best sort of club. There’s no kebab on the way home either, just a healthy handful of berries and a small spoon of yoghurt.
The song is the opening track to Alice’s forthcoming second album Everything Changes (does anyone else immediately start singing that Take That song when they hear that title?) which includes a tune called Binge Love You, which I guess is better than binge drinking at least. She’s out on tour later this year and has more dates with Ellis Bextor (who co-wrote the track with Alice) in autumn as well.
Walt Disco – Past Tense
Glasgow based Walt Disco are one of the more interesting new wave bands out there. Are they goth? Are they pop? Are they indie? Are they New Romantic? Are we all bored of trying to put music into specific category boxes? Whatever they are, they’re magnificent. It’s why I booked them to play Dials Festival in Portsmouth this October on the same stage as other Breaking More Waves favourites The Blinders, Another Sky and Saltwater Sun (tickets for our tiny baby all day festival can be found by clicking this link – a bargain at £20). Much has been made of singer James’s Potter’s extravagant and theatrical vocals and correctly so. It’s nice to have someone singing with such gusto. The video features a girl coming to terms with the death of a friend, which leads me neatly on to the next selection (it's almost as if I planned this)...
The Murder Capital – Don’t Cling to Life
Whilst we’re talking of coming to terms with death, Ireland’s The Murder Capital give us the cheery title Don’t Cling to Life for their new single. One of the most intense yet strangely tender groups I’ve seen live in 2019 The Murder Capital matter. Clocking in at just two minutes and thirty-two seconds long, this is a demonstration of why.
Abbie Ozard – Heartbreak Radio
‘Heartbreak Spotify Playlist’ doesn’t really have the same ring to it as a song title does it? Radio is still more romantic.
I was pleased as punch to see Abbie Ozard’s newbie Heartbreak Radio sneak its way onto the Spotify New Music Friday UK playlist last week. Having posted Abbie’s tunes a couple of times on the blog (first back in 2018 with the song Average Disguise) it’s nice to know that someone else out there is taking notice. Heartbreak Radio is one of those snappy uptempo indie pop numbers that hammers along with a playful tunefulness and finds Abbie linking memory of past relationships to music. She’s improving with every release.
Wednesday, 3 July 2019
It’s been pretty quiet over at Breaking More Waves HQ the last month or so and will remain so for almost the whole of July whilst I’m on holiday and then hit up Latitude festival, but once we reach August it will be full steam ahead with new music posts.
However, before I take a break I want to highlight three things to you that may be of interest.
First is the Breaking More Waves Spotify playlist. It’s updated at the end of every month with all of the songs that I’ve posted on the blog in the previous month (assuming they are on Spotify of course). Due to the small number of posts last month the current playlist is under half an hour long – which I’m sure you’ll agree is much more manageable than those ridiculous 80 song long playlists you’ll find all over streaming services. You can find the playlist by clicking on this link (here) and at the bottom of this post. If you are so inclined you can follow it and enjoy the monthly updates.
Secondly, I’d like to draw your attention to a new music discovery festival that I help curate. It’s called Dials. It runs on one street in five small venues in Southsea, Portsmouth on October 5th and is in support of local mental health charity Solent Mind. In the 2018 I was the director for the event but I've handed over to someone else now, but am still involved this year in a booking capacity. 2019 will be the festival’s fourth edition and there are a number of confirmed artists on the bill that have featured on Breaking More Waves, including The Blinders (who played Glastonbury this weekend), Another Sky, Pocket Sun and another ‘sun’ band Saltwater Sun. The festival will be announcing a further 20 artists this Friday around 10am including at least a couple more that have been featured on this blog in the last month or so. One of them, Megan Lara Mae was sneakily announced here a few weeks ago. The festival is very small in size and excellent value at £20. Therefore if you’d like to come I’d recommend that you buy your tickets early to guarantee entry. You can buy tickets by clicking here.
Thirdly, some music. That’s the point of this blog after all. Here is a song that I’ve had on repeat the last few weeks. It’s from an artist that describes their current location as Berlin / Tel Aviv on their Facebook page. I assume that means that she’s based between the two rather than that she has magic powers that enable her to be in two places at once. However, when it comes to pop music it seems that Lara Snow does possess some sort of magic, because her single Swim Far is a bewitching banger that has put me under a spell. If you like the sort of electronic pop that Chvrches do then you’re almost guaranteed to like Swim Far. In fact drop the almost. You are guaranteed to adore Swim Far. To paraphrase Kylie Minogue I can’t get this one out of my head.
Lara Snow - Swim Far
The Breaking More Waves Playlist
Tuesday, 25 June 2019
One of my absolute highlights of Brighton's Great Escape Festival 2019 was the short set performed by Celeste (no not of Daphne & Celeste / Ooh Stick You / Reading festival bottling fame) underneath the chandeliers in the Old Ship Hotel's Paganini Ballroom as part of a Radio 1Extra showcase. She may have looked slightly uncomfortable and awkward, standing frozen to the spot, giving the impression of being very self aware of herself, but as soon as she opened her mouth she took the audience to another place. Jazzy, theatrical and elegant it took about five seconds to fall in love with her voice and songs. As Celeste finished each number the applause seemed to go on forever – always a good sign that the artist has really connected with her audience.
This week Celeste has released her latest tune, albeit one she wrote a couple of years ago. Coco Blood is the sort of cinematic track that I’d expect to hear at someone’s swanky floor to ceiling windowed loft apartment in New York or London whilst drinking an expensive red wine or cocktail. It's definitely not a pint of lager and packet of crisps down the Dog & Duck. Go on, lift a glass, take a sip and let Celeste, the trumpets and the strings seduce you. A timeless beauty.
Celeste - Coco Blood
Sunday, 23 June 2019
Today Breaking More waves is 11 years old. That’s a pretty long time to do anything. But here I am, still doing it.
So far 2019 has seen me post far less than any previous year. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one is simply that I’ve been freeing up more of my spare time to do other things. Some of you may remember that in November 2018 I underwent open heart surgery due to a congenital defect and since then I have been getting my physical health back on track, which takes time. And as writing a music blog also takes time (not a huge amount of time, but still, it’s not written instantaneously) so the posts have decreased.
However, I still am absolutely determined that Breaking More Waves will continue. This has been very much a slow-down rather than a complete halt. A huge amount of new music blogs have fallen by the wayside over the last few years as ‘discovery’ becomes dominated by streaming services, and some bloggers shift to try and monetise their love of music in other ways; working for record companies, artists or shifting to print formats seem to be the most popular.
However, everything I do in relation to music has always been and always will remain a hobby.
Internet traffic and hits are nice if only to show that someone is visiting the site, but they’re not essential to me continuing: although ironically despite blogs apparently no longer being popular, the visitor numbers to this blog has increased over the last few months.
So that’s where I sit with Breaking More Waves. The rest of 2019 will continue to be more of the same. New music that I like.
I have toyed with the idea of doing a little more than just this though.
Instead of bringing back the ‘think pieces’ (which I used to write but tired of) I am thinking about writing reviews of gigs and concerts I go to. After all, the very first edition of Breaking Waves paper fanzine (the precursor to this site) was simply one gigantic review of Glastonbury Festival written in diary style. And when the blog started I did write the occasional gig write up. Some were quite popular. One journalist even copied and pasted my review of an early Ellie Goulding show onto their site and passed it off as their own. Tut tut.
Far too often these days I read live reviews on other sites and find myself incredibly bored with them. Dull descriptions of what the music sounded like and what songs the band played might be very factual, but they send me to sleep. There seems to be a lack of emotion, passion, context or humour in a lot of writing now and I keep wondering if I could write something better. If this is something you’d like me to do, please let me know.
Mind you, the reality would probably this:
‘It was raining so I got the number 2 bus down to the venue rather than walk. I bumped into John and Lucy at the bar. They had already had a couple of pints and were in a jovial mood, their faces flushed with cider. The support band was dull. The main band was better but the woman in front of me kept flicking her hair around as she danced and it ended up in both my pint and mouth. It didn’t taste pleasant although there was a slight scent of apples to it, which weirdly I liked. I went home as soon a the encore finished It had stopped raining, which was pleasing, as I didn’t have enough money for a return.”
Pitchfork / NME eat your heart out.
Anyway, happy birthday my blog. 11 years of spouting this rubbish. It’s just as well it’s not my job – I’d have been sacked a long time ago.
Friday, 21 June 2019
2 slightly different takes on Crown, the new single by Stormzy:
When Stormzy released his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer the one track that grabbed attention more than any other was the gospel tinged beauty Blinded By Your Grace Part 2. It was a song so full of soul it found people who didn’t normally like grime proclaiming their love for it. Now with album two on its way and Stormzy’s forthcoming potentially career defining Glastonbury headline performance on the horizon, it’s really important for him to release something that’s up there with Blinded By Your Grace Part 2. So throw in some more gospel, a topical reference to Boris Johnson and Stormzy saying that he struggles to find the words to describe how important the song is to him and Crown immediately is cast with a sense of gravitas and authenticity that define Stormzy as an important artist ready to sell a massive load of records. The fact that it’s a track that deals with the pressures that have come with his success make it all the more appealing as it certainly isn't going to slow with this one.
Crown is a bloody good track. Great personal lyrics. Great Tune. Forget everything else and just listen to the music. Anybody that says he’s not worthy of a Glastonbury headline slot clearly doesn’t understand contemporary pop music and culture in the UK. I’m confident he’s going to smash it.
Monday, 17 June 2019
There are plenty of UK based bands right now making a right old ear pleasing racket. Here’s another one.
The Goa Express (which if they’re not named after an Indian restaurant will be most displeasing) is James Douglas Clarke on vocals and guitar, Joey Stein on guitar, Naham Muzaffar who plays bass, Joe Clarke at the keyboards and Sam Launder on drums. Their latest tune The Day bounds along with the sort of scruffy ramshackle energy that suggests that they just stumbled out of bed, downed four Vodka and Red Bulls and got straight down to gritty business. It’s rough, ready and slightly retro sounding and at just over two minutes long isn’t going to waste too much of your day if you’re not really into it. But you should be.
The Goa Express could easily hail from New York with a sound like this, but in fact they’re based in the Manchester area. They worked with Fat White Family keyboardist Nathan Saoudi on this track, and if you want more you can find an EP they released in 2018 titled Use Your Brain in all the regular places. But start with The Day, which is about moving to university and getting in a bit of trouble as well as the idea of fake society - where everyone is pretending to be friends when they're really not. It's out on all the major streaming platforms on the 5th July.
The Goa Express - The Day
Sunday, 16 June 2019
When I first featured Arlo Parks, the coolest wearer of the headband since 1970's Swedish tennis superstar / underwear designer Bjorn Borg, I mentioned the groove. I think it’s necessary to do so again with her new track george, because the groove here is essentially the musical equivalent of a cool but surly teenager, head down, hands in pockets, sauntering along the street, but with a fluidity rather than awkwardness that you might normally equate with someone that age. It will probably rather appeal to those of us who have reached a certain age where we don't have quite as much energy as we used to. It's a head bobber rather than a hip twister.
Yet Parks certainly isn't of the age I am; she's just a teenager. like many 18 year olds in England and Wales she's just finished off her A-Levels – including English Literature. That education is paying off, because she’s using it in her songs, even if they clearly haven’t taught her that names have a capital letter at the start of them. Because george is a reference to the flamboyant poet and politician Lord Byron, with Parks taking the idea that Byron was a pretty terrible heartbreaker and narcissist and constructing the lyrics around the idea of someone like that: ‘Leaving a bit of blood in every room.’
george is smooth and perfect as a rolled bowling green. Which is a terrible simile. I'd probably get an E in my A Level.
If like me you're off to Glastonbury you can catch her 4 times over the weekend. A couple of slots are on the official timetable but she's also cropping up at places like the Crow's Nest. Check her Facebook for all the details.
Arlo Parks - george
Sunday, 9 June 2019
Today I’m introducing a Brighton based artist who is playing this year’s Glastonbury festival and also has a song on Spotify that is approaching 60,000 streams; yet the chances are most readers won’t have heard of her, such is the sheer volume of new music out there.
So, here’s my first tiny attempt to get the name Megan Lara Mae embedded with you.
The second will come on October 5th when Megan plays alongside The Blinders, Another Sky, Talk Show and fellow Brighton residents Johanna Bramli and Arxx at Dials festival in Portsmouth (many more still to be announced). Dials is a multi-venue new music discovery event I help curate and book. It's the world's easiest festival as all the venues are on 1 street - you can walk between them all in about 5 minutes. You’ll see Megan’s name amongst the next wave of artists that are being announced for the festival in the not too distant future - but consider this a sneak preview. If you fancy grabbing yourself a ticket for Dials they’re £20 and available by clicking through to the website here.
On her Soundcloud Megan lists some of her inspirations as Rae Morris, Sigrid, Lorde, BANKS and Aurora so it was perhaps inevitable that she would get the Breaking More Waves seal of approval – all of those artists being ones I have featured here in their early stages of their careers on the blog. However, liking a certain style or genre is easy. Liking good songs, whatever the genre is even more my cup of tea. If Megan’s brand of creative electronic pop didn’t have the tunes, I wouldn’t be writing about her here. But she does.
Take her song of strength Caribou for example, with its thundering slabs of synth, its percussive shouts of ‘Hey’ and its positive lyrics: ‘Standing tall, getting drenched in the rain, but I’m not giving up on what I’ve gained from this pain.’ It’s a spot-on pop tune. If a marketing person heard Caribou they’d probably wet their pants and start shouting from the rooftops that it was ‘empowering’ but as that’s currently the most over used word in pop this year, we’re not going there Ok?
Another example of her contribution to being a good thing for pop music comes in the form of the curious From The Ashes. Its an idiosyncratic piece that combines Vince Clarke Erasure / Yazoo electronics with something far more swirling and cinematic. Megan’s vocal delivery is impressive as well – strong but never overstated even when the track aims for the heavens.
There’s some clear talent in Megan Lara Mae. That’s why I’ve booked her for Dials Festival. Oh and that Glastonbury slot? No, it’s not the Pyramid stage (obviously), but you’ll find her playing a slot on a bandstand near the Croissant Neuf tent (the tent where Ed Sheeran made his Glastonbury debut in 2011) before the bigger stages open, so if you’re going this year try and get along to see her and support some new music as well as the bigger stars.
Glastonbury likes her. Dials likes her. Now it’s your turn.
Megan Lara Mae - Caribou
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning, shall we? (And for anyone who has just come across this blog you have a lot of catching up to do re: musicians and baths). Yes, this is a relatively new pop musician. And guess what? She’s leapt straight in and done a promo picture with a bath. Except she hasn’t leapt in, because she’s sitting outside it. If she was aware of the long history of pop musicians and bath promo shots, she’d probably realise that this was something a little bit different. Not edgy as such - but certainly different. Maybe she is aware? Maybe she reads this blog and took influence from all the other musicians in the bath out there. There’s certainly a lot of them. I still don't anyone has beaten Mariah Carey for sheer ridiculousness though.
So, to the music and the musician. (Do you really want to read about that when you can just press play and decide yourself? Ok, I’ll keep this short.)
This is Maude Latour. She does pop music that sounds a little bit like Lorde once it gets going.
I’m told she’s lived in London, Stockholm and Hong Kong and is fluent in both Dutch and Mandarin. She's currently a freshman at Columbia University studying philosophy and political science and plans to be the first president to perform at her own inauguration. She’s 19 years old. Which makes me look back at my 19-year-old self and think I was pretty rubbish back then. I was probably sitting in a pub drinking cider talking about record shopping and that was about it.
She has 2 tracks on her Soundcloud: Superfruit (which has elements of the aforementioned Lorde and also Marina) and unusually in these days of co-writes with big teams it was written by Maude and Maude only. The second track is Plans which starts like a pretty twinkling electronic fairytale before heading into those Lorde-a-like territories as Maude sings of the start of a new love and wanting to cancel all of her plans to be alone with that person. According to the press release in front of me the song has some ‘phantasmagoric digital flourishes.’ See if you can spot them. Whatever or wherever they are, I like the sound of them. Let's have more phantasmagoric digital flourishes in life generally please.
There are some other songs on Maude’s Spotify that she released last year as a mini album called High School High. The internet tells me this was a high school final project – which makes some sense as it’s Plans and Superfruit that really hit the spot for me, as it has done with a number of blogs over the last week or so.
She’s done the bath thing, she’s released a couple of blog loved pop songs, so she’s off to a fine start.
Let’s keep our eyes and ears out for what Maude Latour releases next.
Maude Latour - Plans