Saturday, 14 August 2021

NEW #35 - The Big Heat

 

Today’s newest addition to the Breaking More Waves collection of new bands and artists is a boy / girl duo that hail from Sydney and London. Last Friday they released their debut single in what appears to be a spectacularly low-key way, with seemingly no promotion at all except a post on their social media, which is a shame; because the song in question, Band Aid, is a rather charming old-fashioned and heartfelt indie pop song.

Despite the seemingly quiet start to this band (currently they have 50 monthly listeners on Spotify) The Big Heat are not novices. Lucy Taylor, the London based one of the pair, has written for Dua Lipa (Be The One), sung vocals on Kele from Bloc Party’s solo single What Did I Do and had a past electronic project called Pawws which featured on these pages way back in 2012 (named as ‘our new blog-crush favourite). Meanwhile Dave Jenkins Jr, the Sydney one, has his own solo project called Not A Boys Name and has played with the likes of Daniel Johns of Silverchair and Vera Blue.

Band Aid sounds like a perfect retro summer pop song. It harks back to a time when big glossy production was less important than all those simple things like hooks, melodies and quirky instrumental parts. If I didn’t know better, from their sound I’d have guessed that The Big Heat was a group of floppy fringed charity shop wearing students doing art history degrees who once supported Belle and Sebastian. Don’t hold my incorrect judgements against them though – savour The Big Heat and enjoy the music.

The Big Heat feature on the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly Playlist (here).

The Big Heat - Band Aid

Friday, 13 August 2021

NEW #34 - Billie Flynn

 

Billie Eilish, Billie Marten; now it’s time to introduce another new musician and she’s another one called Billie. This time it’s Billie Flynn from Cornwall who describes herself as a noisy introvert. Based on the two songs she has on line so far the introvert tag is easy to understand, but noisy less so. Why? Because just like the two aforementioned performers, Billie Flynn sings in a hushed and serene tone.

It’s a way of singing that, particularly since the arrival of Eilish, has gained more respect. Gone are the days when you either had to belt them out like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Mariah Carey etc or sound like virtually every gutsy-warbler on X-Factor. Can you imagine Eilish appearing on that show at its peak? When performers on America’s Got Talent used You Should See Me In A Crown and Bad Guy as backing tracks, Simon Cowell, Mr X-Factor himself, commented that he didn’t like Eilish’s music at all. It’s probably just as well that X-Factor UK has been cancelled. Times have moved on and Cowell clearly hasn’t. The chances are that Cowell wouldn’t be impressed with Billie Flynn. If that’s the case, he would be a fool.

But enough of the high waisted trousers one and his lack of love for softcore. It’s time to take a listen to Billie Flynn. A newcomer to Gabrielle Aplin’s Never Fade records, Flynn’s new single Someone’s Daughter bears quite some resemblance to Billie Marten’s earlier material and also that of Breaking More Waves favourite Rosie Carney. Combined with her debut Hey Stranger what we have are two delicately captivating compositions that win you over - albeit quietly.

You can hear Billie on this week's Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist - a specially selected list of new releases from the last 7 days that's refreshed weekly and is never more than about an hour long. Find the playlist by clicking here.

Billie Flynn - Someone's Daughter

Sunday, 8 August 2021

NEW #33 - Porchlight

 

For the latest addition to the Breaking More Waves ‘NEW’ feature it’s time to return to Brighton and meet Porchlight, a 5 piece who by the sounds of their name and debut single Drywall are fans of housing construction. If their next single is called Floor Joists or Gutter we’ll know exactly what gets them going for sure.

But what of the music? Porchlight are, at least on Drywall, one of those bands that deliver their words spoken rather than sung. But unlike many of the current crop of post-punk retrobates that are filling up the UK’s stages of pubs and club venues this lot aren’t quite as sneering or aggressive, although there’s still some general shoutiness. This slightly softer approach starts right from the beginning, where guitars are accompanied by twinkling dabs of electronics that sound like they’ve been sampled from a cute video game. But it’s still guitars that propel Drywall forward, reminiscent of Black Country New Road in places, leaving space for the tough masculine sounding vocal delivery. The words don’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but they still manage to sound poetic; main road noise bathed in doubt, steel capped boots, cold winter sky, the comfort of closure and willowed countryside are all mentioned. 

Drywall immediately establishes Porchlight as a band to be reckoned with in the current UK indie-post-punk scene. Let’s see what they do next.

Porchlight play Brighton’s Green Door Store on the 16th August (a free show supporting Peeping Drexels) and their own headline gig at The Hope, also in Brighton, on September 14th.

Porchlight - Drywall

 

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

NEW #32 - Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

 

It all starts with a rather upper class accent announcing: “It is an endeavour to provide a balanced town in which the motor car has certain privileges, public transport has certain privileges and people, perhaps most of all, have the privilege of walking about in safety…”. This is the start of Interim Report, March 1979 by Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan - a concept record that has grabbed me on two levels. First the music; sinister but warm sounding retro synth instrumental pieces with a rather melancholy and pulsing cinematic feel. They're like a long-lost cousin of Jean Michel Jarre or for a more modern reference, the soundtrack to Stranger Things. The second is because of my profession; design, architecture and construction is what I do and it helps pay for my music obsession. But that deep interest in buildings and place helps make this seem even more of a special record for me.

The cover of Interim Report, March 1979 reveals that the music contained within was commissioned as the soundtrack to a short film Gateway to the North, Gateway to the Future. The film publicised the work of the Warrington-Runcorn Development Committee in providing a thriving cultural life for the residents of the new estates of Warrington and Runcorn. It claims that excerpts were shown later that year on BBC’s Nationwide. Combined with the ‘Ex Libris Warrington Public Library’ stamp and the retro looking pictures of brutalist town centre landscapes it’s easy to believe the authenticity of this concept.

The reality is that this is all just the simply the brilliant imagination of one Gordon Chapman Fox who has created this impressive homage to these failed architectural and town planning orchestrations. The dream may have been an optimistic one; towns that were safe, clean and futuristic, but the reality was the opposite - grey, dispiriting and falling to pieces. Chapman Fox’s music undoubtedly provides the perfect soundtrack to this basic notion – even if the concept of the film and committee are fake.

Normally on Breaking More Waves I feature new artists who have just a handful of songs out, perhaps leading up to a debut EP. Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan is different. This album, released a few months ago, is already on its way to becoming something of an underground electronic cult-classic. It sold out first time round and is now being repressed on splatter vinyl with a further 600 copies available. But that’s just the start. In September Chapman Fox will release his second long-player under this moniker; People & Industry soundtracks the economic boom in industry in the Lancashire area in the late seventies. I’ve already seen record shops reporting that they are nearly out of their allocation, so as it’s not available on Spotify / Apple (just Bandcamp) you’ll need to get in quick if you want a copy.

Expect to see Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan's Interim Report, March 1979 on a few end of year lists come the close of 2021. Town Planning never sounded so good.

Warrington-Runcorn Newtown Development Plan - Gateway To The North

  

Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan - The Town of Tomorrow