Friday, 24 May 2019

New Music: Oscar Scheller - Interstellar Disco (featuring Pawws)


Imagine a decadent and seedy basement bar where the champagne and illegal drugs flow freely whilst half naked Swedish men pole dance for free for the baying clientele's pleasure. This is the club that I imagine that pop musicians nip off to when they disappear off our radar, never to be heard of again. 

Look around and there in one velvet draped corner you might find Duffy, doing vodka shots whilst regaling anyone who will listen about how she won 3 Brit awards in 2009 before metaphorically falling off a cliff. Somewhere else on the dancefloor, shaking her thing vigorously on her own you’ll see Tiffany – yes her from the 80s. Coming down in the elevator right now is Yazz; when she gets back in it after the club is over it will be her turn to sing THAT song one more time.

For a while I thought Pawws might also be in that club. You might remember her back from 2012-2014 when I featured her on the blog with a series of top-notch electronic booty wiggling jams. But after that it could have been easily assumed that she was hanging out with Duffy.

Except she wasn’t. Pawws has in fact been busy. Remember Dua Lipa’s Be The One? Pawws (real name Lucy Taylor) was one of the writers of that. Pawws knows how to do pop for sure.

And now here she is again alongside Oscar Scheller with a premier league tune called Interstellar Disco taken from Oscar’s forthcoming album HTTP404. And rather like my imagined club for retired / semi-retired pop stars, Interstellar Disco is about a fantasy club; a place where you can go and let loose with that friend who knows that sometimes sitting around talking about how life has thrown you one too many custard pies isn’t what you need. Sometimes, when everything seems to have gone wrong you just need to dance dance dance. This is truth. 

Grab your favourite friend and get moving to this - a prime piece of electronic pop.

Oscar Scheller - Interstellar Disco (featuring Pawws)




Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Introducing: Dua Saleh


First, we had Dua Lipa, but now there’s a second Dua to add to your catalogue of musical goodness. Although Dua Saleh’s music is very different from the mainstream pop of Ms Lipa.

This Dua’s cuts are far deeper, far more leftfield and arguably far more intriguing. Dua identifies as gender non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns. They released their debut EP Nūr (pronounced 'noor') which means ‘The Light’ in Arabic earlier this year through Bandcamp and after numerous listens I’ve concluded it’s pretty damn special.

Nūr is full of jams that touch on jazz, pop, hip-hop and the sort of ghostly r’n’b that FKA Twigs does so well. It’s wonderfully varied but the songs seem to co-exist in a harmonious union of difference. Dua’s vocals are forceful and snappy one moment, casually half-spoken and half-sung the next (on the track Kickflip), then on the atmospheric Albany, which comes complete with some birdsong samples, all shadowy and wispy.

Lyrically there’s plenty to devour. For example on the economical opener Sugar Mama you’ll find Saleh singing of halitosis, lobster and someone who has a “pussy melting like a glacier” as the person “wonders ‘bout my flavour, those chocolate coated layers.” Then on the track Survival (streaming below) you’ll find them intoning "I am not a lover, won't you fuck right off,” as Velvet Negroni adds some extra vocal touches to develop the track into something that the likes of Massive Attack or The Weeknd would probably be pretty proud of.

Below you’ll find that tune and another titled Warm Pants. Give them a listen but make sure you check out the whole EP which you can find by clicking here. Hopefully there’s more to come from Dua Saleh soon.

Dua Saleh - Survival (feat Velvet Negroni)



Dua Saleh - Warm Pants

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

New Music: whenyoung - The Others


YESTERDAY THE BEST GROUP OUT OF LIMERICK SINCE THE CRANBERRIES RELEASED A NEW VIDEO FOR THEIR INDIETASTIC GOOD SONG THE OTHERS. AS FAR AS I'M AWARE IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BAND THAT RELEASED THE SONG THIS IS FOR THE POOR SOMETIME IN THE EARLY NOUGHTIES, WHICH AT THE TIME SEEMED TO HAVE SOMETHING, BUT IN HINDSIGHT WAS PRETTY RUBBISH WASN'T IT? THE NME TRIED TO CLAIM THEIR DEBUT ALBUM WAS GOOD BUT THEY LIED. I BLAME THE LIBERTINES AND ALL THE DRUGS THAT THAT SCENE TOOK.

BUT I DIGRESS. THE OTHERS IS ONE OF whenyoung's BEST TRACKS TO DATE. BUT WHY OH WHY DOES THE BAND WRITE THEIR WHOLE NAME IN LOWER CASE LETTERS? IT MAKES THEM SEEM SOMEHOW SMALL AND INSIGNIFICANT - WHICH THEIR SONGS AREN’T. 

THERE’S A WHOLE BUNCH OF THEM COMING ON MAY 24TH WHEN THEY RELEASE THEIR DEBUT ALBUM REASONS TO DREAM. MAYBE THE SONG TITLES WILL ALL BE IN CAPITALS FOR CONTRAST? BECAUSE IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC ISN'T IT? 

TIME TO START SHOUTING ABOUT THEM. WATCH THE VIDEO FOR THE OTHERS BELOW AND DON'T BE LIKE THE OLD PEOPLE FEATURED. AND DON'T BOTHER WITH THE OTHER OTHERS. THEIR MUSIC WAS A RAMSHACKLE TURD.

whenyoung - THE OTHERS


New Music: Charli XCX - Blame It On Your Love (featuring Lizzo)


Over the last day or so Charli XCX and Lizzo have been teasing a track that they’ve recorded together. 'BOUT 2 SAVE POP MUSIC,' the sign in the picture proclaimed (see above).

At first Blame It On Your Love could seem like a disappointment; it’s a remix / rework of Track 10 - my favourite tune from Charli’s Pop 2 record. Why remix a great tune? It seems silly – it's like taking a Michelin starred restaurant meal and throwing some Nando's perri perri lemon & herb sauce over it - it might still taste OK, but the chances of improving things are very limited. But then music, like food, is all about taste.

And yes, this version isn't as spectacular as the original. However, the Stargate reggaeton / tropical house pop production on the track probably makes it a little more accessible to the masses. If there’s a non-sweary edit it could even get some radio play. After all the super-synthetic, apocalyptic, bonkers, build-to-ecstasy version on Pop 2 with it’s weird Aphex Twin style intro, harp, Charli’s processed vocals and PC Music production was pretty out there. 

However, Blame It On Your Love reminds us (as if we needed reminding) that Charli XCX knows how to write a hook, so be prepared to get fully pulled in by this one. As a bonus we also get Lizzo, although her appearance on the track is fleetingly short and seems a little bit phoned in: “Blame it on the juice, looking at my booty like you don’t know what to do,” she raps.

If I hadn’t heard Track 10 before this I’d have been claiming that it was time to grab a cocktail and jump into your neon coloured swimwear as this could be one of the party pop songs of the summer, instead I’ll say it could still be, but to turn up the heat even higher put on Track 10 and get well and truly burnt.

Other fun facts about Lizzo and Charli XCX: In the last couple of years they’ve both recorded songs called Boys. Both are very good although bizarrely Lizzo didn’t put hers on her album, although it can be found on the Deluxe edition, so play that instead.

Charli XCX - Blame It On Your Love (featuring Lizzo)

Monday, 13 May 2019

New Music: Arlo Day - This Love


Over the last week I’ve been wracking up the footsteps (over 60,000 in 3 days) at Great Escape in Brighton – Europe’s leading new music festival. The one question I was asked time and time again as I chatted to other punters, in between the music, is who have you seen that you’ve really rated? For the record some of my favourites that I haven’t seen before were The Murder Capital, Chai and Celeste. Other highlights were from Squid, Another Sky and Confidence Man but they are all acts I’ve seen on a number of occasions before Great Escape.

However, today I’m featuring an artist that in certain respects I was surprised not to spot anywhere on the bill at Great Escape given she has been signed to Domino Records and is new. But perhaps that's because she is supporting AlaskaAlaska in Brighton tomorrow. Her name is Arlo Day.

This Love is the second track to be released from her debut EP which comes out at the end of this month, following the introspectively divine Bad Timing. An exquisitely doleful sounding piece it finds Arlo contemplating a relationship with someone she knows isn’t good for her: “You are like a drug to, but I can’t let you get to me.” It’s a song that has extra weight because of its musical subtlety. This one feels special. Give it a listen below.

Arlo Day - This Love

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Introducing: The Murder Capital


This weekend is every British new music fan’s dream festival: Brighton’s Great Escape. With over 450 artists playing over 3 days, most of them being relatively new and from all over the globe, it’s an amazing festival of discovery. I’ve been attending since its very early days, when gigs really only happened in the evening, to see it grow into the bustling and enormous event it has become now. It’s an immediate must do in my diary every year.

Normally around this time I’d write a number of posts giving my tips, musical and otherwise, for the festival, but time has been against me. So instead I’ll just rattle of a small handful of names that I’m most excited to see, some not for the first time: 404, Squid, Amahla, Another Sky, Plastic Mermaids, Celeste, L Devine, Chai and one more band that I’m featuring in full on the blog today. 

That band are The Murder Capital and they hail from Ireland. Loaded up with post-punk intensity they currently have just 2 songs on line to stream. 

Having first caught the attention on the strength a You Tube live recording of a song called More Or Less that packed a hard weighty punch as well as word of mouth from those who attended early gigs, The Murder Capital built a fierce reputation before they even released a single. 

The first track they put out officially to stream in January was the The Fontaines DC-ish Feeling Fades, the second in April was the claustrophobic and brilliantly murky sounding Green & Blue which has hints of early U2, Joy Division and The Cure to it. Both are superb but particularly this second song. It might be called Green & Blue but it’s real colour is midnight black. 

“With their wings flung the choir sung their final song today, as the doors appear to clear the space in which she lay, she’ll collapse she’ll collapse as the amber sisters softly say,” it starts, hinting at an end, a death. This theme is continued through to the powerful video which finds the characters portrayed dealing with what appears to be grief and the loss of someone loved. The audio and visual combined make a poignant and powerful piece of work.

Having already supported the likes of Idles, Fontaines DC and Slaves, The Murder Capital seem well positioned to take things to the next level. The Great Escape might be your last opportunity to see them in a really small venue like The Prince Albert. Go see them if you get the chance.

The Murder Capital - Green & Blue

Monday, 6 May 2019

A Personal Note On Dials Festival 2019 - An Event I Help Run


Away from my day job (which has absolutely nothing to do with music) one of the other projects I’m involved in is running a small music festival in Portsmouth. It’s called Dials. It’s a multi-venue event run by a team of volunteers in support of Solent Mind, a local mental health charity. 

Dials ran in 2015 and 2016 as a smaller replacement for the now defunct Southsea Fest, before taking a break in 2017. My original role was not much more than having a small hand in booking some of the artists that played in those first two years, helping out with a bit of public relations and trying to understand how a putting on a music festival worked; it's a jigsaw and you have to put all the pieces in the right place at the right time.

In 2018 we decided to continue, with a slightly different (albeit very small) team as well as a modified concept and I acted as festival director as well as co-booker. For 2019,  I’ve taken a step back after some recent health issues and another team member Abbie Eales has taken on the role, but I’m still quite heavily involved; I co-book the event and generally do whatever I can to help with the limited spare time I have.

2018 was the first year that the festival took the decision to support a charity and it is something that is very important to me. I’ve always been more of an actions speak louder than words sort of person (ironic given that I write a blog) and so you won’t find me doing lots of posts on Twitter about how important mental health is – I’d rather get on with organising an event like Dials and supporting an organisation like Solent Mind and (hopefully) giving people a great day out watching some of the best new music out there. Tweets are useful, but taking real action is even more so.

2018 represented a new start for our festival with its charity support and revised team structure. The feedback we got from punters was hugely positive and spurred us on to do it again in 2019.

This year we’ve grown the team working on the festival as we had lots of interest from people about getting involved and volunteering after the 2018 event, although the festival itself is the same size. I like to think that when something is positive and successful people want to be part of it. It certainly helps having a bigger number of people to spread the workload, especially when the team is full of such talented and brilliant people. 

I mentioned the praise we received in 2018; we especially liked that ticket holders thought that Dials had a friendly community atmosphere, was well run, had some nice elements of attention to detail (even though we had very little budget), how close all the venues were to each other, and how much great new music they discovered. 

And it’s new music discovery that is at the heart of Dials Festival. Which is why I’m incredibly excited today to reveal the first 13 acts that will be appearing at Dials 2019. 

Headlining will be The Blinders - a band I named as Ones to Watch in 2018 (here). Since that time they’ve released their debut album Columbia and cooked up a storm wherever they’ve played live. This year they’ve already played the Scala in London and will be supporting Noel Gallagher at some of his summer shows before they head to Dials. 

Alongside The Blinders I’m ecstatic to bring Another Sky back to Portsmouth for the second time. If you’ve read Breaking More Waves this year or followed me on Twitter you’ll probably know that this band is one of my favourite new acts of the last 12 months. They were the first band I approached about playing for 2019 and was absolutely delighted when they said yes. If you haven’t heard them yet, it’s time to do some catching up and listen to tracks like Chillers, The Cracks, Forget Yourself, Apple Tree and Avalanche and feel the band’s power. Having seen them play a number of times I know they can deliver the goods on stage as well – they are all fantastic musicians.

Besides these 2 bands today we’ve announced 11 more acts. From fresh new cosmic dreamy synth pop from Bristol (Pocket Sun) to snarling South London new wave punk recently signed to Felix White of The Maccabees new Yala! Records label (Talk Show) to analogue ambient audio-visual electronic art from Brighton (Johanna Bramli) to a band that are playing Glastonbury, Boomtown and Download this summer, have collaborated with Bobby from Primal Scream on a recent single and are making people’s jaws drop with their full-on live performances (Black Futures). 

We’re really proud of the line up we’ve curated and hope that as many people as possible will come along for the day. We’ve already sold out of early bird tickets and hope that even if you know none of the acts playing, you’ll come for a grand day out anyway.

A quick plea: It really helps us survive as a festival if you buy tickets early so if you have any thought about coming to Dials 2019 – grab a ticket now (just click here). 

Dials takes place on October 5th on one road (Albert Road) in Southsea, Portsmouth and runs from lunchtime to around 11pm at night.

The artists announced for Dials 2019 so far are: The Blinders, Another Sky, Arxx, Black Futures, Fake Empire, Haze, Hussy, Johanna Bramli, LibraLibra, Pocket Sun, Saltwater Sun, Talk Show and Wych Elm, but this is just the start, we have lots more to come. 

Find out more about the artists, check out the Spotify playlist and most importantly buy your tickets at the Dials Festival website by clicking www.dialsfestival.com 

If you’d like a free ticket to Dials, then why not come and help out and volunteer? We’ll be looking for people to help with things such as merchandise sales on the day, artist accreditation and acting as runners. It’s a really rewarding experience (something I never really considered until I started helping out) and we’ll make sure you get some time off to go and see some of the artists play. If you’re interested in volunteering just send an email to dialsfestival@gmail.com

To finish off, here’s some music from a few of the artists playing Dials 2019. We look forward to welcoming you in October. For more information on Solent Mind and what they do click here.

The Blinders - Brave New World



Another Sky - Apple Tree



Saltwater Sun - The Wire



Johanna Bramli - Spirals


Tuesday, 30 April 2019

New Music: The RSPB - Let Nature Sing


Last year I came up with a new idea for a DJ project. It was, at least initially, a complete piss take. I adopted the name Bird Song DJs, took some promo pics of me wearing a plague doctor bird mask and an orange ravers coat and managed to get myself booked for a major UK festival (Bestival) and a couple of smaller intimate shows. The idea was originally that there would be 3 of us adopting the names DJ Robin (well Robin is my real name after all) and the Budgie Twins and that we would play purely ambient music overlaid with the sound of birds twittering.

Unfortunately, the Budgie Twins had to drop out of the project due to other commitments but I flew on and come Bestival what started out as a joke had become a rather beautiful thing. On an evening where there was banging grime, techno and incredibly energised music virtually everywhere else on site, a walk up a hill through near fog brought you to a space of calm and beauty. As a mix of Nils Frahm, Max Richter, The Orb, Jean Michel Jarre and Poppy Ackroyd floated across the landscape in amongst it could be heard the sound of real tweeting and twittering – not that of social media. It was strange and eerie and calming and engulfed you. People stopped, sat down, relaxed and some even meditated and fell asleep. One person commented to me that it was the most perfect thing she had ever heard (she may have been drunk but I like to believe she wasn't) and another phoned her boyfriend to play the sounds enveloping her. It was a huge success and probably my favourite DJ set I’ve ever done. 

It also made me think seriously about how important the sound of birdsong and nature is to us all as human beings. Imagine spring without bird song. Imagine summer without a bee’s busy buzz. Yet 56% of UK wildlife is in decline and time’s running out to protect what’s left.

It’s for this reason that this week The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has released a track called Let Nature Sing. Today. there are 40 million fewer birds than there were 40 years ago. The RSPB are saying we need to turn up the volume on nature before it’s too late and are asking people to buy (via a download) or stream the track, which is purely bird song to get the track into the charts. 

Currently it seems to be working. In the mid-week charts Stormzy is number 1, Taylor Swift is number 2 but Let Nature Sing is number 11. Which is bloody brilliant. It may not stay that high by the end of the week, but with your help it can. The recording is accompanied by a beautiful video animated video which is perfect for the track (see below). 

Let Nature Sing is now guaranteed a place in any future Bird Song Dj sets. If anyone wants to book me to come and do my set, just let me know. Any profits from any fees I make after costs will be given to The RSPB. Download and stream the track to show your support for nature.

The RSPB - Let Nature Sing

Friday, 26 April 2019

New Music: Introducing - Winnie Raeder


“Wow! Who is she? Can't find her anywhere, but she's brilliant!”

“It takes a special ability to make your music hit people straight to the heart and this here is ability.”

“Tone of Adele with the melodies/vibrato technique of Matt Corby. Haven't heard a voice this honest sounding in a long time. Her songwriting takes it to that next level, though.”

“Could not be more in love with a voice.”

These are just a handful of the positive comments on Winnie Raeder’s Mahogany Session video published in December last year. They’re not wrong. Winnie is a more than special talent.

This week saw the release of her debut single Don’t You Dare. Written and performed by Winnie and produced by James Earp (a man who has worked with a whole bunch of Breaking More Waves favourites; Fickle Friends, Nina Nesbitt, Shells) it’s an instant classic. OK perhaps to become a classic it has to connect with a big audience and at the time of writing it only has just over 1,000 plays on Spotify, but don’t let statistics put you off. Stripped back to the core Winnie’s earthily soulful voice is timelessly beautiful. The simple addition of keys and some soft backing harmonies give the song a solemn stillness that is poignant and powerful.

Born and raised in Denmark but now living in London Winnie was, so the story goes, discovered in a coffee shop where she worked. it’s always good to have an extra skill set in case the music doesn’t work out – so hopefully she can make a mean cappuccino. However, if she continues to release songs as good as this, there really won’t be any need.

Having already nabbed support slots with Alex Vargas, Banfi and Meg Mac, Winnie plays a show in Brixton on the 1st May, but it’s already sold out. This is followed by one at St Pancras Old Church in London on the 3rd June and the mighty Bushstock Festival, also London, on the 15th June.`

Listen to the song and let it beguile you. Then do it all over again with the Mahogany Session video. 

I suspect Winnie Raeder is going to be one of my (and maybe your) favourite new artists of 2019.

Winnie Raeder - Don't You Dare



Winnie Raeder - Don't You Dare and Now I Understand (Mahogany Session)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Preview: Are You Listening? Festival 2019


If there’s one expression that UK TV and radio types use a little too often, that I find quite annoying, it’s ‘Festival Season’. If you listen to Radio 1 for example you could be easily duped into the idea that ‘Festival Season’ starts with their Big Weekend event (which whenever I hear it mentioned my head starts speaking to me in the voice of Aidan Moffat…. “So that was the first big weekend of the summer. Starts Thursday as usual with a canteen quiz and again no-one wins the big cash prize….”) and ends with Reading / Leeds (remember when they rebranded it The Carling Weekend – that didn’t work did it?). The fact that somewhere in the country there is a music festival of some type taking place at least 48 weeks of the year seems to escape them.

Today Reading is the focus of Breaking More Waves attention, but not for the post GCSEs riot that happens in August. For this weekend Reading's more civilised festival takes place. It's called Are You Listening?

Are You Listening is one of my personal favourite one day festivals for a number of reasons (more of which in a moment) and one that I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from in helping run Dials Festival, a one day / one street / multi-venue new music festival that happens in my home city of Portsmouth, this year on October 5th. A quick plug - you can buy tickets for Dials by clicking here and we’ll be announcing the first handful of artists playing for the 2019 edition in just a few weeks time. 

Most festival previews I read tend to focus on what bands the writer recommends you see. Whilst this can be useful I prefer festival previews that actually tell me a bit about the event. I can easily listen and decide about what artists to watch using streaming services. Any festival worth its salt will have its own playlist. (Find Are You Listening’s by clicking here). What I want to know is what’s it really like to attend? What are the queues like? What are the punters like? What’s the location like? On that basis, here’s my run down of Are You Listening? 2019.

THE DETAILS

WHERE: Reading town centre. It’s one of the largest towns in the UK without city status and is easily accessible by public transport from London and the South. If you get bored you can always do some shopping in The Oracle Centre and there are plenty of places to eat to suit every budget. (Note: You won’t get bored).

THE VENUES: 8 in total. Milk, Oakford Social Club, Purple Turtle, Rising Sun Arts Centre, Sub 89, South Street Arts Centre (2 venues – Theatre and Studio), St Laurence Church. 

All venues are accessible with a single wristband (subject to capacity) which started at the bargain price of £10 for super early birds and are now £25. Some of the venues like Milk (a trendy cocktail bar on a side street) are very small – it can’t hold (at a guess) more than 100 people, whilst others such as Sub 89 (a regular nightclub) holds around 600 and the church (standing not seated) is also a sizeable space. If you go to see any acts at South Street the 2 venue spaces are right next to each other so you can just skip between them with ease. 

The only venue I’m not so keen on is Oakford Social Club. Despite the name it’s a modern pub, but the area where the bands play is relatively small and enclosed meaning that viewing can be difficult if not impossible unless you get there early, as the capacity of the pub is way bigger than the space to watch the artists. 

THE ARTISTS: A mix of national touring bands often of the new music / indie / alternative / rock / singer songwriter variety and the best of more local rising talent. If you listen to BBC 6 music and Radio 1 you will be well catered for. This year some of the highlights include Flamingods, Bad Sounds and Breaking More Waves favourites Another Sky. Also this year St Laurence Church is being opened by Reading's very own Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, so if the rock ‘n’ roll thrills are too much for you there’s a very different choice! Find the full list of acts and timetable on the festival's website here.

QUEUES AND CAPACITY: Clearly any multi-venue festival is limited by the capacity of its spaces but in the 4 years I’ve been to Are You Listening so far I’ve never struggled to get in to see who I wanted to see. The only time I witnessed a big queue was last year for Idles at Sub 89, but the band were rapidly rising at the time so this was easily predictable and anyone with any sense would have arrived early. This year I suspect there isn’t a similar buzz band on the bill and so my guess is venue hopping should be relatively straightforward. I could of course be proven wrong! As always with these events, if there’s someone you desperately want to see arrive early!

TIMETABLING: The festival generally sticks to the approach of putting the biggest names last, with a smaller number of venues open at the start of the day when less people are present. Sub 89 closers earlier than other venues, which is good as it is possible to see the headliner there and then go on elsewhere to catch another. 

PUNTERS: The number of twats / idiots in the audience is very low. Punters tend to be a mix of hardcore gig goers and people just enjoying a good day out – buy my experience has been that audiences are generally well behaved and respectful of the artists. As some of the venues are 18+ punters tend to be a little older than the other Reading festival in August!

THE BEST THING ABOUT ARE YOU LISTENING? BESIDES THE MUSIC: It’s in aid of charity (Reading Mencap). This is an element of the event I love – just by buying your ticket you’ve helped support a great cause and the work they do. It’s an idea we’ve 100% stolen for Dials Festival in Portsmouth (where we support Solent Mind). 

THE SECOND BEST THING ABOUT ARE YOU LISTENING? BESIDES THE MUSIC: Honest Burgers have produced a special edition AYL? Burger on sale at the Reading Restaurant on festival day only (£1 from every burger goes to Reading Mencap)

THE THIRD BEST THING ABOUT ARE YOU LISTENING? BESIDES THE MUSIC: West Berkshire Brewery have brewed an AYL? Festiv-Ale which is available at local pubs this week and at venues on 27th (a percentage from every pint goes to Reading Mencap).

THE FOURTH BEST THING ABOUT ARE YOU LISTENING? BESIDES THE MUSIC: It’s just before my birthday, so the festival acts as a party of sorts for me. 

THE FUNNIEST THING ABOUT ARE YOU LISTENING 2019: One of the band’s playing early on (Diving Station – who I featured on the blog back in 2017 here) have a song called You’re Not Listening. I hope they play that – for obvious reasons.

Are You Listening? Is this Saturday, April 27th 2019. Tickets whilst available can be purchased by clicking here.

Last year's festival was a sell out event and boasted performances from Idles, Field Music, The Lovely Eggs, Her's (RIP) and raised over £13,000 for Reading Mencap

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

New Music: Brika - Blinded


Brika’s new song Blinded is by far her most ambitious to date and possibly my favourite thing she’s ever done. It starts with a crackle and some single drips of piano that gradually evolve into a rain of notes, a storm more reminiscent of something from a classical-ambient record than an artist usually associated with R‘n’B pop. It doesn’t end with the surprises there either. There’s Brika’s effect-laden vocal, what sounds like suspiciously like a banjo and a backing track that sounds haunting, mysterious and almost modern Celtic.

It’s bolder and more experimental than anything Brika has done before and it opens up the idea of all sorts of future possibilities – and it’s those possibilities that make me excited just as much as this rather intriguing piece of music.

Brika - Blinded

Monday, 22 April 2019

New Music: Golden Fable - Finery


Have you watched the Netflix show The OA? Do you remember how after watching series 1 you (probably) felt a little bit WTF? Especially after THAT dance. If you did you might feel the same after viewing the new video from Welsh band Golden Fable who return with a new single Finery, which is taken from their forthcoming album Alchemy. Featuring two members of Manchester’s Kapow Dance the performance you see is strangely captivating, tender, physical and beautiful – but also downright weird. The comments on the video say it all. First: “Lol I found this while looking for a Fable soundtrack chill out music mix. WHERE AM I?! What is this? Why internet, why?” Second: “This is brilliant.” Personally, I could (and have) watched it over and over and what helps is the beautiful music that accompanies the performance.

If you know Golden Fable’s previous work, you’ll already be familiar with Rebecca’s celestial voice and it’s in the best form on Finery. But that’s not all, the string laden music is also superb; stirring without ever being bombastic it swells and rises much like Rebecca’s voice. Is it folk? Is it rock? Is it indie? I don’t really know or care – but it absolutely moves me. I'd take this over 1000 BTS's or Ariana Grande's.

You can pre-order the new Golden Fable album by clicking this link here.

Golden Fable - Finery



New Music: Talkboy - Wasting Time


There’s been more than one occasion now where a writer has stated that comparing one artist to another in terms of what they sound like is lazy journalism. That’s bollocks. Cutting and pasting a whole press release and then passing it off as your own is lazy journalism. Equivalence, especially in new music writing, is a useful tool to give a reader at least a vague sense of if the music might be something that appeals to their tastes. It isn't lazy – it requires a bit of thought.

Which brings me to Leeds based sextet Talkboy. So far I’ve seen them compared to Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, Alvvays, The Big Moon, Sophie Ellis Bextor (that was me) and on new single Wasting Time the intro has the trippy feel of The Beatles more LSD influenced moments. The point is that Talkboy, whilst sitting in the indie rock / pop genre, are exploring lots of different avenues within it.  “One of Yorkshire’s most exciting indie prospects,” the press release tells me. It’s not wrong – screw it if I’m being a lazy there. (If you think I’m the only one so Google the words ‘Talkboy one of Yorkshire’s most exciting indie prospects’ and play spot the copy and paste job!) I’d go further than just Yorkshire with the praise for Talkboy though – to at least the north of England - maybe even further. 

What makes them deserve the hype? At its core the answer is the songs. They’re inventive, hooky, well-constructed and bloody enjoyable. Wasting Time is another example. Dealing with the conflict of the world of adult responsibilities whilst trying to enjoy the here and now of youth it’s chock full of melodies, harmonies and is wonderfully executed in every respect. If this is how Talkboy waste their time, let’s let them do more of it.

Talkboy play a number of festival shows over the next few months in the UK including Live At Leeds, The Great Escape (Alt Escape Show), Long Division Festival, Blue Dot and Y-Not. 

Talkboy - Wasting Time

Sunday, 21 April 2019

New Music: Abbie Ozard - Growing Pains


The last (and first) time that Manchester’s Abbie Ozard appeared on the blog was almost a year ago with her single Average Disguise. Since that track she’s released a further single Gone and a cover of East 17’s Stay Another Day, at Christmas time of course. Now it’s time to catch up with Abbie through her latest release and her best so far - Growing Pains.

She describes the song as talking about a young person’s perception of love and the confusion that comes with it. “I wanted to write a song that makes teenagers feel less isolated when falling in and out of love and struggling with identity and acceptance.”

The sound is Abbie’s chirpiest yet and if you’re a fan of old school indie – the sort that in the 80's wasn’t afraid of the floppy fringe and dancing bashfully in the corner with a pint of snakebite and black – you’ll probably like this. There are hints of artists such as Hazel English and Rose Elinor Dougall here, and even perhaps the more pop moments of The Cure, so if those names mean anything to you, it’s probably time to press play. 

Words like summery and dreamy are almost inevitably going to crop up when describing this song - and let's face it there's a lot worse things in life - so embrace it.

You can catch Abbie at Liverpool's Sound City on May 4th if you're from that neck of the woods.

Abbie Ozard - Growing Pains

Thursday, 18 April 2019

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - Hoochie


Over the years the Breaking More Waves household has owned a number of hamsters. They were called Frisbee (RIP), Krispy (RIP) and Cocoa (RIP). Lauran Hibberd also owns a hamster; it’s called Hoochie. This also just happens to be the name of her new single. I quite like the idea of her owning a menagerie of pets all named after her songs: Sugardaddy could be a tortoise perhaps, Hunny would be a cute adult rabbit and Shotgun would be some sort of vicious looking dog, that she could call at any time when she lets it off the lead.

Alas Hoochie the song isn’t about a hamster, although pets do get a brief mention. Instead it’s a tune about someone who Lauran used to hang out with, but now she thinks they’re a bit of a plonker: “I saw you bought another bass, I thought I told you it was a waste of space. I know you’re gonna start another shit hot band and make me laugh,” she concludes of the jackass boy. Hoochie flies by like a zip being yanked down. Before you know it you’ve had a bunch of growling indie guitars and yet another earworm of a chorus – Lauran just can’t stop writing them.

If the music career doesn’t work out for her  (and it seems to be going pretty well at the moment – although if the promo picture above is to be believed she doesn’t seem to have earned enough money yet to be able to afford a hairdryer, instead resorting to hand dryers in public toilets) she could perhaps try one in comedy. For anyone that has seen her live you’ll know that she does a neat line in slightly self-disparaging slightly cocky humour as displayed in her latest quote about this song: “I think there’s a confidence in this track lyrically that I’m yet to filter through to my actual life. I’m looking forward to that happening.”

Lauran has a few headline dates of her own coming up in May (in Southampton, Manchester and London) before she’s out doing a few festivals this summer including Great Escape, Winchestival, 110 Above and the mother of them all – Glastonbury - where she represents the south in the BBC Introducing tent. (I couldn't think of a finer representative). Hoochie is out all over the place right now – just like a Hoochie does.

Lauran Hibberd - Hoochie

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

New Music: Alice Jemima - Icarus


I tweeted about this track last week, but let’s face it, a tweet is a momentary and rather lightweight method of supporting an artist. So, here’s a slightly longer blog post. In fact, it would have been a little odd if I didn’t write about the return of this musician considering how many times I’ve writen about her in the past, from her early bedroom demos through to signing the dotted line with Sunday Best records and her debut album.

Alice Jemima is back and she returns with a bop. All the trademark elements that made me fall in love with Alice’s music are still present - the smooth honeyed vocals, the unfussy songwriting and the snappy guitar sounds that owe a fair amount of debt to The XX - but this time round there’s an increased level of dancefloor energy rather than her normal quietly chilled delivery. This probably has something to do with the fact that the track was co-written with one of the queens of the disco, the one and only Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The collaboration goes further than just this song though, with Alice due to support Sophie on her UK tour this summer. 

Icarus is of course a character from Greek mythology who together with his father attempted to escape from Crete by wings constructed of feather and wax, but flew too close to the sun leading to the wax melting, the wings being destroyed and Icarus falling to his death. Here we find Alice singing cautiously of love and relating it to the tale of Icarus. Can love be too perfect? Can you be blinded by it? Or is there a risk of those beautiful highs leading to you flying metaphorically too close to the sun and falling? The song is a plea for that not to happen. 

It’s also a wonderful pop record.

Alice Jemima - Icarus

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Introducing: Arlo Day


Judging by her debut single Bad Timing, Arlo Day is a purveyor of the down-beat; she makes the kind of melancholy tunes that have just the right weight of heaviness to wallow in a little, without it becoming overbearing. If introspective singer-songwriters are your thing (and we all need a little introspection every now and then, right?) then get ready to immerse yourself in her music.

Hailing from South-East London Arlo Day is the moniker for one Alice Barlow and if you do the smallest bit of digging (one simple Google search) you can find her on Soundcloud with another track called In A Vice. The track is 5 years old and was released under her real name and has subsequently clocked up an impressive number of streams. 

Described by those in the know as ‘one of the capital’s best kept secrets’ Arlo has been signed to Domino records and will release her debut EP on the 31st May. She also has a handful of summer shows, including an EP release show at Bermondsey Social Club, London on 6th June and slots at Green Man and Latitude festivals.

For now, take a look and listen to the video for Bad Timing which found Barlow collaborating with her friends Holly Taylor, Elena Isolini and Esther Collins. The visuals (black and white of course, to suit the mood) were shot in the friends’ houses all around South London. Barlow adds: ‘Like the song, the video is based around the disparity of time and hindsight, and how moments of the past can replay in your mind.”

Arlo Day - Bad Timing (Video)

Monday, 15 April 2019

New Music: Another Sky - The Cracks


I've mentioned this before on the blog, but i think it's worth repeating.The common consensus that I see amongst music biz types and some industry publications is that bands are out of fashion and out of favour. But that misses a critical point – that some of those groups are still creating incredible music. It’s why when I named my Ones to Watch 2019 on the blog last year I purposefully started with two bands. Two bands that I firmly believe are making some of the most intoxicating and compelling music to be heard right now. 

One is Dublin’s Fontaines DC, a group that has recently released a brilliantly boisterous and lyrically poetic debut album called Dogrel.

The second is Another Sky, a four piece who seemed to fly under most people’s radars with their debut release Forget Yourself in March 2018 but have been beavering away ever since, slowly drawing attention to themselves with a string of bold and arresting songs that get better and better with each listen. They’ve now got to the point where they are able to announce a headline show at Village Underground in London on September 24th, a step up from the tiny toilet venues they’ve been slogging around which seem somewhat unbefitting of their superbly structured sound, a sound that can only be created by musicians who have already mastered their tools. 

Today saw another new song join Another Sky’s collection of powerful hymns. It’s called The Cracks and is taken from their upcoming EP Life Was Coming In Through The Blinds which is due for release on 14th June. Vocalist Catrin Vincent describes the track as “a response to a Leonard Cohen lyric, ‘the cracks, that’s how the light gets in’. The song is an ode to our generation, one that is more self-aware and being forced to have the difficult conversations that lead to progress and evolution. It’s inspired by the little girl fined by the council for setting up a lemonade stall, the kids suing the US government for global warming, teenagers like Greta Thunburg. It’s about our generation’s unique position of facing extinction.”.  Driven by a rhythmic force it once again showcases Catrin Vincent’s incredible voice; it jumps from solid rock to the heavens with what seems like ease. There’s a real sense of drama here, but it’s never overblown. 

If you get the chance to see Another Sky live grab it. It’s only in that environment you really get the opportunity to appreciate the atmospheres, textures and sheer bloody great musicianship that the band possesses. They’re already in the Breaking More Waves diary for Are You Listening festival in Reading (where they play in a church) on 27th April, Brighton’s Great Escape in May and most likely a few others as 2019 rolls on as well.

Out of fashion? Perhaps. But fashion is transient. This is music built to last. 

Another Sky - The Cracks

Thursday, 11 April 2019

New Music: Iris - Romance Is Dead


Since Iris, the latest Norwegian pop-export, first hit the pages of Breaking More Waves, she has released her debut EP A Sensitive Being. It’s a rather fetching low-key collection of anti-bangers for those who like pop music that is a little more plaintive and gentle in tone (although the track Hanging Around You / Crackers displays some near-Sigrid like qualities of elevated synthy euphoria, albeit in a rather understated manner).

Now there’s a video for the closing track from the EP, the seemingly harshly titled Romance is Dead. “Who can say romance is dead when I see strangers running into each others arms?” she sings and in these times of what seems to be constant anger on line, it’s nice to hear some words like this with a piece of music that is so beautifully soothing. Of the video Iris says “I used an old digital camera because I like how the world looks through it. There’s a bit of perfection in it looking so imperfect.”

Iris comes to the UK in May for Brighton’s Great Escape festival.

Iris - Romance is Dead (Video)

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

New Music: Pocket Sun - Tightly


I first introduced Pocket Sun to the pages of Breaking More Waves last month with their debut track Plastic and now it’s time to drift away with them again as we catch their second song to be released from their forthcoming EP Sleep Inventions due May 17th. It’s called Tightly.

The sound here is perhaps unlike the title; it's less constricting and tight but more snug, like a belated Indian Summer where you’ve spent all day dozing in the hammock without realising. Pocket Sun’s music doesn’t grab you, instead it sidles up to you gracefully and just nestles into your ear comfortably. Add in lyrics about ‘floating on the waves of you’ and ‘a body needs a sun’ and the dreamy and tranquil textures of the music are accentuated even more.

To accompany the track there’s a spacey-fruity video which you can see below.

Pocket Sun is the project of an artist who goes by the name of GMT from Bristol who has assembled a 5 piece to embrace her vision. Behind the scenes Pocket Sun have been working on a live show, which will see the light of day this year - catch them at all the best venues and emerging music festivals soon.

Pocket Sun - Tightly (Video)


Sunday, 7 April 2019

Introducing: Nasty Cherry


Nasty Cherry announced themselves to the world last year with an Instagram post that showed an attempt to balance two champagne flutes on a bare bottom in a swimming pool and some text that stated: “HI WE’RE NASTY CHERRY AND WE’RE THE BEST BAND OF 2019.” It was, if nothing else, an unusual and bold opening statement and made a change from a dull press release that mentioned the word ‘empowering’ or 'empowered' (2018’s buzz word in music biz press releases by a country mile).

Since that time the world has learnt a bit more about Nasty Cherry and there’s even been some music; a song called Win.

Here are the key facts that you need to know about the band so far:

1. Nasty Cherry has four members. They are Gabbriette Bechtel who has worked as a model, Chloe Chaidez who is also in the band Kitten, Georgia Somary who has worked as a movie set decorator including Star Wars VIII - The Last Jedi and Avengers: Age of Ultron and Debroah Knox-Hewson who has previously drummed for Charli XCX.

2. The Charli XCX connection runs deep – it seems that the original idea of bringing the band together was Charli’s and Win was co-written by her. The video (streaming below) was also directed by Charli and she’s been banging on about the band for some time on her Instagram.

3. Justin Raisen has also been involved in the Nasty Cherry project. He was the guy who helped produce and write a lot of Charli’s True Romance album and also worked with Angel Olsen, Sky Ferreira and L Devine on her excellent song Peer Pressure.

4. The Nasty Cherry video for Win, which includes the band dancing like a crazed coven of witches whilst covered in gold glitter paint, was premiered by Vogue – not some two-bit music website, which says quite a lot about pop music and how it's marketed these days.

5. They’ve only played one live show to date and claim they to want to achieve world domination through their music. So they’ll probably be releasing some more songs and playing some more shows at some point. They’ll not manage a global takeover off one track.

So, there’s the info, but what about the song? 

It’s essentially a pop tune masquerading as something a little bit edgier. There’s a hint of Peter Hook’s bass lurking around and perhaps a bit of a slowed down take on Feeder’s tune Buck Rogers as well. I’ve seen several people refer to Sleater-Kinney (which I don’t really hear) and also reference Joan Jett. With Charli XCX being involved there’s the inevitable repeated hook, in this case “I need to win.” If you’re a bit cynical that the whole project seems a little bit too stylised and steered by the music industry, try to push that away and just listen to the tune. It’s a very promising start. Maybe they’re not the best band of 2019 yet, but they are one rung up (a very long) ladder. 

Nasty Cherry - Win



Friday, 5 April 2019

New Music: James Blake - Barefoot In The Park (feat. Rosalía)


Whilst it’s probably a bit early to start thinking about end of year / decade lists unless you’re me, (because I love lists, statistics and contrary to most creative types beliefs I actually enjoy treating music as a competitive sport) I can think of at least 8 records that could easily feature in my top 10 or 20 of 2019 already. One of those is James Blake’s Assume Form and my absolute favourite track from it is Barefoot In The Park featuring Rosalía. It’s a simply sublime song that despite it’s electronic sound appears to have roots in traditional Irish folk music, with a number of sources suggesting that the sample featured in the track is from the song Fill Fill A Rún Ó, recorded by a singer named Valerie Armstrong in 1972. (Click here to see the original)

Now the song is getting some more attention as James has released a video to support the track. Everything about this piece is just so gorgeous. Rosalía’s vocal’s are to die for giving me shivers every single time and the tender production is absolutely perfect. I’d go as far as saying this might even be my favourite song of the year so far.

On the face of it the video is just Rosalía and James strolling around and a bunch of kids doing the same, but there's an awful lot of symbolism in the video; a boy covered in roses being shot at in play, a dead dove, the children disappearing as they grow older, a burning car crash with children staring at it, the clouds opening to the heavens, adults forming an arch that the children go under, a beautiful butterfly flying towards the crash. It’s (possibly) saying something quite sad about love, becoming adults and the journey of life, but you can form your own opinion.

James Blake - Barefoot In The Park (feat. Rosalía)

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

New Music: Max Cooper - Lovesong (Poppy Ackroyd Remix)


Earlier this year you may remember that I posted an astoundingly good remix by Max Cooper of the Poppy Ackroyd track Paper which I described as a ‘calm banger’. Now it’s role reversal time because Poppy has re-worked Max’s track Lovesong, which is the closing track of Max’s album One Hundred Billion Sparks Remixed, out now. 

Max’s original was a gentle electronic comedown, as if the doors were closing and everyone was going home. Yet it seems that someone had left a grand piano in the room and Poppy was there hiding, waiting for her chance to sit in front of the keys and coat the track in subtle pitter-patter rhythms as if it was raining outside, the small splashes in the forming puddles creating something bigger. I’ve always thought that if you are going to do a remix you should very much leave your mark on the music – the new track should be identifiably the work of the remixer - and for anyone familiar with Poppy’s work you’ll hear her signature all over this lovely piece. 

Max Cooper - Lovesong (Poppy Ackroyd Remix)

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

New Music: Hatchie - Stay With Me


Since Hatchie first cropped up on the Breaking More Waves radar in January 2018  I thought I had her sound nailed down. Layers of dreamy guitars and a pretty indie pop melody that take you instantly back to the late 80’s and early 90’s have pretty much been the order of the day. 

So new song Stay With Me is a bit of a surprise as it veers away from her usual (albeit lovely) formula into something far more synthetic. It still has that languid dream like quality to it and despite the video showing Hatchie ‘in da club’ it’s not really a dance track at all, unless your style of dancing is pretty laid back. Hatchie has described the song as one of her favourites on her forthcoming album: “Because I’m a sucker for crying-in-the-club tracks.” Personally, I prefer Camilla Cabello’s idea of there being no crying in the club, because the beat will carry away your tears as they fall and the music will lift you up, but each to their own….

Hatchie’s debut album Keepsake will be released on the 21st June and she will be playing some UK shows in Brighton, Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds in the same month.

Hatchie - Stay With Me