Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Not Quite A Full Stop. But Nearly A Pause. Breaking More Waves - The Slowdown


Back in mid-March I posted a piece titled The (Temporary) Return of Breaking More Waves Blog.

With the introduction of a lockdown in my home country as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and a period of isolation I decided that with no friends to see, no gigs, festivals, art galleries, theatres, restaurants or cinemas to go to and with the amount of jogging I was doing being reduced it was a good time to bring Breaking More Waves out of semi-retirement and start posting about new music again to help keep me sane. 

I have some underlying health conditions and therefore am slightly more at risk should I contract Covid-19, so have been relatively risk-averse in terms of staying safe over the last few months, but thankfully over this time my physical health has remained good. 

My mental health too has been strong; even although until this week I haven’t seen a friend in real life since February I feel like I’ve weathered the storm so far. I have a theory that being an only child helps – I grew up with limited company when I was young, so I’m used to keeping myself busy on my own at home. I also helps that I’ve been very fortunate to work throughout the pandemic and although my job (working for 2 local authorities) has been challenging, it has been a piece of p*ss compared with working on the frontline in our health services or being made unemployed and now struggling to find work.

However, as things have begun to open up in the UK there is the opportunity to return to seeing some friends and socialise a little and I’ve also got out on the streets running more often. Therefore, I’m finding less time to prioritise writing the blog again and so I have decided to part retire Breaking More Waves. The return was always intended as temporary – I stated that from the off and nothing has changed my mind on that, although I've enjoyed doing a handful of posts the last few months.

However, I will still be running a monthly playlist on Spotify of new music from the previous month (click here to find it and follow) which I will write about on Breaking More Waves and if I feel compelled to bash out anything else about music, I reserve the right to do so here. It’s my blog so I make the rules. Also, whilst I very much hope it doesn’t happen, if the number of cases of Covid-19 in the UK accelerates again and the country goes into another lockdown, the frequency of posts here will probably match that acceleration. 

But for now, this is me not exactly signing off, but making Breaking More Waves the blog equivalent of driving at 1st gear with my foot hardly on the throttle.

Finally, just to add, I’ll still be relatively active on Twitter (here) where you’ll probably find me posting about musicians in the bath a little too frequently. Stay safe everyone. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. This video, released today seems appropriate in a number of ways.

Phoebe Bridgers - I Know The End

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Winter Gardens - Tapestry


Cast your mind back. To February 2019 to be exact. For it was at that time I introduced a new band from the Brighton area called Winter Gardens with their debut single Coral Bells; a mix of dreamy indie and punkish sounds that rattled with energy. It showed promise.

My crystal ball was working well that day because in a moment of spot-on fortune telling I suggested that lead singer Ananda had just a hint of Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins about her vocals - they have subsequently covered a Cocteau’s track - and that whilst there was a lot of energy in the music I could easily imagine Ananda’s voice coating itself over something a little slower and softer.

Now after a somewhat lengthy gap Winter Gardens has finally readied their debut EP and the lead single from it, Tapestry, released yesterday, is a treat. It does exactly what I imagined in that introducing piece. 

For at the start Ananda’s voice is given space to breathe, her voice a giddying and bewitching sound designed to make even the burliest of builders weak at the knees. The tempo is unhurried, the band seemingly realising that there Is no rush to reach heaven. There’s no chorus as such; the whole thing is constructed as one beautiful repeated nursery rhyme, so it doesn’t need it. What’s possibly even more striking though is the sheer power of the song, for when the explosions come, and believe me they do come, you are lost, deliriously lost, in a rich landscape of sound. Ananda’s voice battles to be heard and whilst this could be perceived as a tragedy, that melody, repeated again is already lodged in your brain. It doesn't need to be front and centre any more.

Gorgeous.

You can pre-order the debut Winter Gardens EP by clicking here.

Winter Gardens - Tapestry

Monday, 20 July 2020

Introducing : Eaves Wilder


If the names Lush, Slowdive, Ride or Chapterhouse mean anything to you then this new artist might just make you raise an eyebrow. 

She’s only sixteen years old, hasn’t played a live show yet and has released just one song; but it’s a good one. Won’t You Be Happy is a blissed-out swoosh of indie guitar pop. It’s already picked up plenty of online press coverage plus national UK radio play via BBC 6 Music (Lauren Laverne) and Radio 1 (Jack Saunders). It's an impressive start. 

Let’s remember Eaves Wilder is just sixteen. When I was that age the most noteworthy thing I’d done was probably get a couple of detentions at school for not giving in homework. Come to think of it, I'm way older now and still have never had a song played on the radio.

The chances of Eaves being drawn to music were probably always somewhat higher than your average kid; after all she’s the daughter of journalist parents (Caitlin Moran and Peter Paphides), both of whom have written for music publications. I wonder how mum and dad would have reviewed her single back in the day? Caitlin once in the early 90’s called Curve’s song Unreadable Communication ‘the most intense piece of music to be recorded this year.’ There’s a very subtle hint of Curve in what her daughter is doing here as well – albeit the intensity on a scale of 10 is more around a 2 to 3 than 10.

Won’t You Be Happy dips its foot into both colourful psychedelia and swirling shoegaze yet also maintains a dreamy but punchy indie-head sound. If you’ve ever heard a Shine compilation you’ll probably feel this fits. The song was recorded during lockdown in her bedroom, but has been given some extra zing by producer Stephen Street, probably best known for his work with Blur and The Smiths. 

What’s surprising about this fuzzy head music of a tune is that Eaves first came to some attention online via a video of her jamming piano to Uncertain Smile by The The for National Piano Day in January. It subsequently gained the approval of Matt Johnson from The The who sent her a signed copy of the band’s album Soul Mining with a note saying ‘To Eavie – Practice makes perfect, keep up the hard work!’ So, whilst this first release frames Eaves in the way of stoned guitar sonics, there could well be some very different dimensions to her music to come in the future. Very early days, but perhaps one to watch?

Eaves Wilder - Won't You Be Happy

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Introducing : lilo


Today’s new band, a duo, merge UK folk and US singer-songwriter styles with a pleasing serenity and beauty.

But before we go any further, I should add that this ‘Introducing’ post feels a little bit like a lie; I already featured lilo on Breaking More Waves - back in 2018. However, then they were called Lilo’s Wall and at the time the ‘soft acoustic strums, golden harmonies and a calm intimacy’ that I described I thought would lead to further releases. It didn’t happen.

Now in 2020 we have that music. Alongside a name change (lilo with no capital L – hence a new post under the Introducing banner). 

Everything else is present and correct. There’s not been a huge stylistic change with the shortened name; lilo haven’t suddenly decided to have a go at becoming grime superstars, launch into some dark DIY psychedelic rock and their career as pumping house DJs will have to wait for now. Their new songs are still all about a cosy camp fire tranquillity, showing that quiet can still speak volumes. The Staves are still a definite point of reference. They still sound rather lovely - if music were an action then lilo's would be a hug, which given the current social distancing guidance in the UK, we could all probably do with right now.

There are 5 tracks up on Bandcamp (1 is a demo) and 4 of those are also on Spotify. Take a listen to latest release Simply Put, which went online yesterday. The duo have written of the track: "This song is about feeling like you're not being listened to, and about questioning your worth and value, especially as a woman™ in music™ and in relationships™. Sometimes it can feel very tiring to realise as you grow up that you gradually get listened to less and less." I hope that everyone reading this will listen.

lilo - Simply Put

Friday, 17 July 2020

Hurts - Redemption


If music is going to achieve any sort of result it has to move me. Sometimes this movement can be physical - primarily dancing - but likewise it can be some sort of emotional engagement. The new single from Hurts, Redemption certainly achieves the later. 

Hurts has always been a divisive and somewhat misunderstood band; from the moment they first emerged a decade ago coming in the top 5 of the BBC Sound of 2010 and playing an incredible show at Wiltons Music Hall that featured an opera singer and Theo combing his hair on stage, some people struggled with the idea of a duo who displayed big ideas alongside a slight cheesiness. This was I believe primarily because Hurts didn’t fit with the staid clich├ęs that help influence and form the judgements we make about music. There are so many preconceived ideas around pretension, authenticity and naffness. Yet what is perceived as over sentimental songwriting that makes the skin crawl to one person is a thing of huge power to another.

“You've made all our hidden pain inside just cry out and shake what we really are,” comments one person on You tube about this song. “You saved my life in 2010 and you keep on changing me with everything you do,” says another. People from Russia in particular seem to get Hurts and connect with them. Most Brits and Americans less so.

Yet some people will press play on Redemption and vomit. If the idea of Hurts structuring a song like Lewis Capaldi whilst singing of never feeling this far from God make your dark cynical heart feel a bit queasy then get the bucket because you’re going to be very sick. But even if that’s your reaction, stick with it because something quite amazing happens towards the end of Redemption. In a classic Hurts moment, they go the whole hog; orchestras, choirs, a cinematic piece that the word epic was 100% designed for.

You might hate it. You might love it. But I defy anyone not to be moved by this. And that’s a good thing. Music is at its best when it’s a force.

The new Hurts album, suitably titled Faith is released on September 4th.

Hurts - Redemption 




Saturday, 11 July 2020

E.M.M.A - Into Indigo


You know that scene in the movie where the camera pans over the wild untamed landscape from above, a single winding road cutting through the crystalline ice capped hills and dense green forests? It’s twilight and a single set of headlights light up the road. Dark clouds signify a storm is brewing.

The camera begins to zoom in and we follow the car for a few more seconds, driving steadily and carefully through the scene. The windscreen wipers work against the falling sleet. The camera cuts to inside the car and it’s there we see the protoganist, staring straight ahead, their face hollow, deep in steely thought and concentration The events of the last few days have changed her as a person forever. She’s driving to the final destination. 

The moment of truth is about to arrive. Your pulse quickens and you realise that you are gripping the arm of your chair in tense anticipation. Then the camera fades and the climax begins.

This is the soundtrack to that scene.

Off course I have no idea what was in E.M.M.A’s head when she wrote Into Indigo, it may well have been fluffy bunnies, but what I do know is that it’s seven years since her acclaimed debut Blue Gardens. Now she’s back with a Indigo Dream, her forthcoming album which is released on July 29th. It includes a track called Ryan Gosling In Space and for that reason alone is worth buying. 

The field of electronic music is one area that is still hugely dominated by men. That is slowly (ever so slowly) changing and in that scene E.M.M.A has been quietly established herself, gaining much respect not only through her released music, but her work as a soundtracker and her behind-the-scenes work as the founder of Producergirls, the UK’s first free-to-attend beginners’ electronic music production workshops for women.

Take a listen Into Indigo, a superbly crafted piece and imagine your film scene.

E.M.M.A - Into Indigo

Friday, 10 July 2020

Introducing: Baby Queen


Today’s new artist is South African born, London based singer-songwriter Bella Lathum. She goes by the name of Baby Queen. She makes songs that have a big pop heart, but they’re just a little roughed up around the edges; I could imagine her listening to Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift but then putting on Avril Lavigne and Paramore loud and mixing those ideas up to serve as her own musical dish of angst. She’s already had a hand in writing for Sofi Tukker (featured many times on this blog) which is made more interesting because of the fact that they have a song called Baby I’m A Queen. Although Bella wasn't to my knowledge involved in that one.

Bella has just two songs on line at the moment - although if you do your Google detective work you might find that she first released some music in 2014 when she still lived in Durban.

The debut single under her Baby Queen moniker was called Internet Religion and it explores the slightly problematic and narcissistic relationship many people have with the likes of Instagram: “Let me show you all the best parts of my life, my clothes and my phone and the gap in my thighs,” she sings of the unreal identities that some people seem desperate to forge on line. There's a certain irony that people criticise fake news yet are happy to fake it on Instagram, Snapchat etc. Maybe in years to come we'll look back and think of filtered selfies as weird freakish exhibitionism, or maybe it will seem odd to not to participate? 

Now it’s coupled with the newly released Buzzkill, which mixes a spoken drawl in the verse with an ultra-hooky chorus. But despite the bubbliness of the melody Buzzkill isn’t a happy tune: “When the party came to life I imagined I was dead,” she tells us as she ruminates on her unhappiness and how life is basically crap. There’s nothing crap about the tune though which makes it two out of two for Baby Queen. I’m filing her in the top drawer of my ones to watch.

Baby Queen - Internet Religion



Baby Queen - Buzzkill




Thursday, 9 July 2020

Sofi Tukker (ft Gorgon City) - House Arrest


Feeling a bit shite? Is Covid-19 getting you down? Does the world seem a bit f*cked up? OK. Here’s a solution. You need a banger. A 100% epic pop banger. With recent research (here) showing that pop music is now playing at the fastest it’s been for a decade (the average tempo of the top 20 best sellers each year is up to 122 beats per minute) it seems that all we want to do in these weird times is dance dance dance. As I suggested around the time when I reactivated this blog at the start of lockdown, one of the most important jobs for musicians right now is to entertain and put some happiness in people's lives. I can’t think of a better tune to achieve that feeling and shake that booty to than Sofi Tukker’s House Arrest.

Having already clocked up big numbers on streaming services with the track now our favourite New York based musical duo have delivered the official video which shows what they’ve been up to during lockdown.

Remember when this all started and it seemed like every single act on the planet was rushing to their bedrooms to film a poor quality Instagram live stream of them strumming their acoustic guitar and wailing badly, thereby demonstrating how rubbish a lot of live music can be when cobbled together quickly and without good production, then disappeared from view? 

Well, not Sofi Tukker. 

No, our dynamic duo took the ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’ approach and bedded down for some serious DJing. That is to say serious in commitment, but not in intent; their sets have been a riotous romp of elation and warmth. Sofi Tukker have become my best friends on the internet; producing a daily soundtrack of escapism for over 100 days now. I love the way they just naturally dance in the same rhythm, sidestepping together without even looking at each other. I love their humour and friendliness; this isn’t some faceless DJ duo going through the motions, telling you to put your hands in air whilst they dream of the cash they’re raking in. I love their colour and joy. And I love the tunes they play.

Did I mention House Arrest is an absolute banger?

Well sometimes things are worth repeating.

Watch the video, which features some clips of their sets, fans dancing to them (including a penguin) and a lightning strike. Then realise why Sofi Tukker has owned lockdown.

If you need some banger education. This is it. By the end you’ll have graduated with a first class honours degree in bangerism.

Footnote: Gorgon City feature as well – but to be honest I didn't really notice. 

Sofi Tukker - House Arrest (Video)

Friday, 3 July 2020

Monthly Playlist: June 2020


“What is going on?” the people shouted in desperate voices. 

“It’s the 1st of July and there is no Breaking More Waves new music monthly playlist. The playlist that catalogues some of the best banging tunes from the past month. What has happened? First a global pandemic and now this!”

The people shed a silent tear. They mourned. They felt sorrow in their hearts. How would they cope without their favourite playlist? What could they fill their empty lives with now? What was the point of it all? Life seemed futile and worthless.

Then from somewhere a small voice whispered in nervous excitement: “It’s here.”

The people looked up, their agonised faces flickering with hope. Was this true? Could it really be?

It was here. Solid, real and magnificent.

The Breaking More Waves monthly playlist. A few days late so that I could catch a handful of new releases out today, which considering this is meant to be a June playlist is a bit of a cheat isn't it? But I make the rules around here. Let's not let things like dates get in the way of proceedings. OK?

New music from the past month up to today or discovered in the past month. Some of it was featured on the blog. Some wasn’t. A gift to the people to cheer up their small and purposeless existence. And you can find it on Spotify by clicking here. Why not follow it if you don’t already?

A full list of tracks below and three of the songs from the playlist also stream via Soundcloud at the bottom of the page.

Tracklist

Cosmo Sheldrake – Nightjar Wake Up Call
Liz Lawrence – Hope (Or Something Like It)
AK / DK – Shared Particles
Another Sky – Fell In Love With The City
Sault – Monsters
Club Intl – Crush
Jorja Smith – Rose Rouge
Arca featuring Rosalia - KLK
Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
TWST – Are You Filming Me
Rinse – Tell Me Tell Me Tell Me
Elan Tamara – My Eyes
Courtney Marie Andrews - How You Get Hurt
Lola Scott – Crowded Conscience
Ashnikko (Feat Grimes) – Cry
Holly Humberstone – Overkill
SKAAR - A Little Quiet
Remi Wolf - Hello Hello Hello
Lynks Afrikka – How To Be Succesful
International Teachers of Pop - Femenenergy
Fear Of Men - Into Strangeness
Max Cooper - Swarm
Betsy – Behind Her Smile
Creep – Arlo Parks

Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher



Remi Wolf - Hello Hello Hello



Lola Scott - crowded conscience