Saturday 30 July 2016

New Music: Broods - Heartlines (Video)

Here’s a question for you. What do you do with the members of your band that don’t sing or dance in a pop music video where you’ve decided to not allow them to play their instruments? I don’t know about you, but I feel a little sorry for Broods’ Caleb here. Because whilst Georgia swans around dancing and singing in the California desert, Caleb is resigned to just doing nothing in particular. i can imagine the director now: "Hey Caleb, your job is to stand around and look moody OK?" 

Spolier alert no.1 – Caleb gets a bit bored around the 1.50 mark and does a nifty looking jump in the air. There should have been more of this at random moments in the film - whilst the actors did their thing Caleb could be leaping around in the background for comedy effect.

Spolier alert no.2 – the storyline for the video is a break-up one, but you just know they’re going to get back together don’t you?

Heartlines is the latest single to be released from Broods’ second long player Conscious and was co-written by Lorde. Isn’t it about time we heard something from her in her own right? Well, whilst we wait I’d suggest giving the Broods record a spin, particularly if you like full bodied but elegant electronic pop music. It's bolder than their first and it's one of the ups and downs and the starts and the break ups of life. Their debut was one of my top 5 of 2014. It's too early to say if this one will be in 2016, but it's certainly no stinker.

So, a note to pop music video directors. Next time let’s just give Caleb something to do, OK?

Broods - Heartlines (Video)

Friday 29 July 2016

New Music: The Shires - Beats To Your Rhythm

It's quite comical that some people (who haven't met me) think that because I write a music blog I must be some sort of hip trendy dude. Far from it. The reality is that, myself and most music bloggers I’ve met are far from cool. Put a couple of us in a room together and we’ll sit and happily have a geek-off for hours obsessing about nothing but music. Why on earth would we spend money on trendy clothes and haircuts and hanging out at cool clubs and bars when we could spend it on enlarging our record collections?

However, being a music nerd and particularly one who loves new music does mean that from time to time I end up writing about artists that are considered trendy (note: trendiness never lasts, it’s transient, and generally relies on another factor – youth) but I’ve never written about those artists because of that. It’s always been because I like what they've created. 

So today I’m featuring the new single from UK duo The Shires – a band who I’m sure are in no way considered trendy. They’re probably considered the opposite of that and I'm positive they really couldn’t care. After all, in the UK country music has never really been perceived as cool. 

Yet if trendiness is linked to youth you might be surprised to know that according to a recent CMA study 47% of 18-24 year olds now identify themselves as country music fans. And irrespective of how you perceive The Shires and their music, they’ve been doing rather nicely in terms of finding an audience as I predicted when I named them as Ones to Watch back in 2014. Since that time The Shires have become the biggest-selling country act in the UK last year (including US artists), and one of the biggest-selling breakthrough UK artists of any genre alongside James Bay, Years & Years & Jess Glynn. 

And unlike those three acts I’ve just named The Shires haven’t continued to flog the hell out their debut record until people are sick of it. They’ve already got another album in the bag (it’s out in October) and kick it off with this song Beats To Your Rhythm. Whilst the title of the song might sound like The Shires have discovered a new previously hidden dance direction, fear not. For this new tune does exactly what you want from The Shires, namely country music is a reference point, but it also has a big old fashioned pop heart.

Maybe The Shires aren’t the sort of band you’d expect to find on a hip trendy new music blog. But then Breaking More Waves has never been about being hip or trendy - you should be able to tell that just from landing here and seeing that I still post via an old-school blogspot template. 

Take a listen to Beats To Your Rhythm - a rousing, glad to be alive hook laden tune that I imagine will be all over BBC Radio 2 this summer. It was released to streaming services today.

The Shires - Beats To Your Rhythm

New Music: Viola Beach - Boys That Sing (Video)

Today sees the release of Viola Beach’s album. It’s not the debut album the band would have made, but instead a document of the songs they had recorded before they were killed in a car accident. I’ve already written about how just a couple of days before their deaths they had been confirmed for Dials Days, a small one-day festival in Portsmouth that I helped book. When I heard the news about the accident it stunned me as much, possibly more than Bowie, Prince etc. Why? Because Viola Beach seemed so much more real in my life; they were going to play an event I was helping with, and as a new music blogger I could relate to them as another young band that like many before (and many that will follow after) was pushing forward with bright hopes, golden dreams, ambitions and glorious expectations. They were doing it the old fashioned way - getting out there, playing live, and building a fan base. 

Music can be many things. It can be a comfort, a way of connecting people, a way to forget the world. But it can also be something much more simple. It can be something to put a smile on your face. Leading up to the release of the Viola Beach album today I’ve read several pieces that have suggested that rather than listen to this album and dwell on the brutal tragedy, we should smile; because Viola Beach wrote music to make people feel happy. For me, this is perfect. There’s so much crap, so much sadness going on in the world, so many people being angry, casting negative judgements on people that they don’t even know, that sometimes it seems that we’ve forgotten that we’re all only here for a certain length of time and that we should be trying to get as much out of our short time on planet earth. Sure, it’s not always easy but we should at least try. 

I’m lucky, I’ve already lived a lot longer than Viola Beach. I’m absolutely going to enjoy the music the band left, smile and celebrate. I hope you will to.

To mark the posthumous release of the album an animated video for lead single Boys That Sing has been revealed today. It's streaming below.

RIP Kris, River, Tomas and Jack and their manager Craig. You will be missed not only by your family and friends, but music fans who didn't even know you.

Viola Beach - Boys That Sing (Video)

Thursday 28 July 2016

New Music: Fickle Friends - Cry Baby

Breaking More Waves has been sitting in amongst the participants for the blog thrill ride that has been the Fickle Friends story so far from the very beginning and with new song Cry Baby there’s no stop barrier in place.

Despite (by blog standards) having been around for a while now, Fickle Friends still sound fresh and fine, like the new kids on the block. This one is 100% uptempo and groovy with all the basic things that a pop song needs in their correct places; hummable hooks and melodies, catchy instrumental parts, and something that stands out from the crowd without ever being alienating. Oh and it’s 3 minutes and 6 seconds long, so only 6 seconds off the perfect pop song length. Not bad. 

Fickle Friends - Cry Baby

New Music: Skott - Wolf

Do you remember a few years ago, pre-Spotify discovery playlists, when blogs were THE place to go for discovering new music? At the time, it seemed like every week there was a new artist blowing up, generating ‘blog-buzz’ and gaining thousands of plays through the Hype Machine charts before the artist crossed over to radio and (sometimes) mainstream success?

These days things are a little different. Blogs are no longer the force they were in terms of discovery, although there’s no doubt they still have a role to play, particularly for exposure of the underground or d-i-y artist who may struggle with the required resource or know how to position their music on key playlists. They can also be useful for providing greater context and information – something Spotify doesn’t do (yet). It’s all very well listening to something on a playlist, but if you want to know more about the act a quick Google search and hitting up some blogs might give you what you need. Also, for some people, music blogs aren’t about discovery at all these days – it’s about enjoying the inner workings of someone else’s mind, getting access to some other music geek's thoughts. Maybe sometimes reading the blog becomes more fun than listening to the music?

But back to ‘blog buzz’. So it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, fair enough. But there is still the odd moment when it feels that blogs come together as one and celebrate a new discovery. A good example this year is the Maggie Rogers song Alaska. It was picked up by over 40 Hype Machine listed blogs in a short space of time. More recently Porcelain the debut track from Scandinavian newcomer Skott was subject to intense praise from over 30 such sites (as I correctly predicted when I wrote about her – suggesting that Porcelain was exactly the sort of song bloggers would love - we're so bloody predictable). Interestingly both of these artists also came with an endorsement from another established popstar (Pharrell for Maggie Rogers and Lorde for Skott), so maybe if you’re a new artist about to release something you might want to give Bjork a ring and get her on board?

Now the second track by Skott arrives and once again the blogosphere is getting excited (and that includes this blog). This one is called Wolf, and continues my (currently very vague) theory that there’s a growing trend for whacking an animal reference into your new pop song somewhere; from Soffi Tukker’s Soft Animals EP to Petite Meller’s videos where the likes of giraffes and flamingos star, to Aurora’s Running With The Wolves to both Casi and Kacy Hill releasing songs called Lion. OK, this is probably the least thought out theory in the history of this blog, but if there’s going to be another 30 odd Hype Machine listed blogs all writing about this song (we’re already at 16 including this one) waxing lyrical about the quality of the music, at least this post adds something different to the mix. Right? 

OK, you want some journalistic words about the song? Well you’ve probably come to the wrong place. But Wolf is certainly better than quite good (there’s a quote the PR people won’t be using on the next press release) but you can make your own judgement on that rather than just trusting my words. I guess I'd describe Wolf as being another one of those pop songs for people that don’t normally like pop music. It certainly throws in all sorts of instrumentation as it goes on. There's some lyrics about being a wolf and howling on your doorstep, which is probably quite annoying in reality. However, I particularly like the line about her haircut being different - I'd never really thought that wolves had haircuts? But maybe I'm not thinking deeply enough about the song.

Wolf is taken from Skott’s forthcoming double-sided 7-inch single released on July 29th via Chess Club in the UK and B3SCI in the U.S (order here in the UK and here in the U.S)

Skott also has the following debut live dates confirmed: 13th September Way Out West, Gothenburg. 28th September Notting Hill Arts Club, London (with Muna), 29th September Birthdays, London (a free gig), 26th October Pitchfork Music Festival, Paris

Skott - Wolf

Tuesday 26 July 2016

New Music: Anteros - The Beat

Every now and then a song doesn’t so much as sneak up on you and slowly burn its way into your brain, but bounce up with gleeful exuberance, punch you hard in the face and make it feel like one of the most beautiful and exhilarating things you've ever experienced. That is the power of the best pop music. 

Such is the new one from Anteros. It’s called The Beat and frankly it’s a bloody brilliant recipe of indie, pop and even some funky-disco vibes. It has one of those choruses that is more hooky than anything a fisherman could ever have on the end of his line. Massive earworm alert. If this doesn’t get played on the radio there’s something very wrong with our broadcasting services ears. 

In even better news, Anteros are playing a few live dates in September, including for those near to Breaking More Waves, a date at Southampton Joiners. See you for a mad dance-off at that one, if you’re not too cool for school?

Drink this song up. One listen and to paraphrase Kylie Minogue, you can't / won't be able to get this one out of your head.

Anteros - The Beat

Monday 25 July 2016

New Music: Introducing - BEL

This blog (in part) takes its name by way of a reference to director Lars Von Trier (his film Breaking The Waves) and today I’m introducing a new Australian pop singer with a single who also gives a nod to Von Trier (although probably completely unintentionally) with a song called Melancholia. 

Isabelle Rich, from Melbourne, goes by the stage name of BEL and her debut offering is a cool, slightly heavy, but highly palatable slice of electronic pop. However, amongst its weightiness there’s still the occasional space that allows the song to breathe. It adds to its pop credentials by not wasting any time, clocking in at around three minutes, and most importantly for regular readers of this blog, BEL has already done the pop star in the bath promo pic (here)* It looks like she jumped in the tub in her local bathroom appliance showroom for that one.

The song is officially released on 29th July.

*No idea what the popstar in the bath thing is about? Try clicking here for starters and then a whole raft of posts on this blog since then.

BEL - Melancholia

Sunday 24 July 2016

New Music: ELEL - Animal (Saint Motel Remix)

This is a bunch of firsts. It’s the first time I’ve featured a remix on the blog in a very long while. It’s also the first appearance of a lead male vocal on a track I've posted in over a month. It’s also the first time I’ve featured an ELEL song on the blog since I introduced them way back in May 2014 with the totally tropical carousel hit kicker of 40 Watt.

The fact that I haven’t written about ELEL in the last two years since introducing them reminds me of something Justin from The Vaccines once said in an interview with The Guardian a few years ago: “If you're being talked about before release and you don't have a record's worth of songs then you've fucking blown it before you've begun. And blogs in particular are to blame for that. Every day they have to post a new band. Are they still listening to the band they posted three weeks ago?” Well actually Justin, the answer to your question is yes. I still listen to your band, even though I haven’t written about you for years. Likewise ELEL. It’s a note of caution to all artists; don’t assume that because bloggers aren’t writing about you they’re not listening. Most music blogs aren’t full time jobs, they’re hobbies fitted around busy lives. That means our greatest limitation is time and we have to be very selective about what we write about. We simply can't cover everything.

And besides, Justin was wrong. There are many examples of acts that have transitioned from a handful of demos written about by blogs to quality albums a couple of years later. For example the likes of Lapsley and Shura have recently followed this route. 

So back to ELEL. Recent single Animal was a big out of the box slice of feel-good pop, one that sat in my ‘to write about’ file for quite some time and never quite got out again. So now I can make amends for the internet version of 'gathering dust' by posting this remix (from Saint Motel) which fine tunes the track with some warm electronic wizardry, sounding a bit like what a rainbow would sound like, if rainbows made sounds. There’s an album coming via Mom + Pop Music soon as well, which rest assured even if I don’t mention ELEL on the blog for another two years, I will be listening to.

ELEL - Animal (Saint Motel Remix)

Friday 22 July 2016

New Music: Julia Jacklin - Leadlight (Video)

Julia Jacklin’s name first cropped up on Breaking More Waves after I caught her live at Brighton’s Great Escape festival and named her as one of my 5 favourite acts I saw over the 3 days (the other 4 were French pop maverick Jain, Brighton’s own and Breaking More Waves regulars Black Honey, the creepy dark fairytale warped pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma and the soul rock specialist Seramic). 

Now Julia returns with a second track, the follow up to the song I featured previously - Pool Party. Leadlight is equally as good. What I particularly like about Jacklin’s songs is that she never seems to be trying too hard. It’s the sort of music where although nothing particularly dynamic happens it’s entrancing all the same.

For Leadlight Julia has a new video, which was shot in her old high school in new South Wales, Australia. Julia has explained that when she was at school she didn’t really think about the hall. It was just a place for long assemblies and exams. But when she returned she realised that it was actually a beautiful space – she loved the wood detailing and the dramatic red curtains.

Julia will be releasing her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win on October 7th.

Julia Jacklin - Leadlight (Video)

Thursday 21 July 2016

New Music: Hannah Grace - Mustang

I first came across Hannah Grace when she was belting out big gospel and soulful sounding backing vocals as part of Gabrielle Aplin’s live band and then a few months after that front of stage as Aplin’s support act. Now she has her own new EP out there in the world and the title track, Mustang, is an absolute belter. 

This one makes no apologies; it rocks hard, and it’s a perfect vehicle for Grace’s powerhouse of a voice to really let rip. It’s the sound of a Friday night out, in a seedy forgotten downtown bar, necking hard whisky. Gutsy, gritty and with a lot of va-va-voom this is the sort of muscular song that your dad would probably describe as ‘real music’ and that ‘they don’t make anymore’. Well, I have a lot of issues with the term ‘real music’ which frankly I think is the most bollocks term ever, but dad’s right about one thing; this is dead good.

Hannah Grace - Mustang

Wednesday 20 July 2016

New Music: Introducing - Lowes

When listening to new music some of us like to hear stuff that’s well within our comfort zones. On the other hand, some people (and I would guess a minority) like music that challenges them, that pushes their boundaries. These people thrive off hearing something that is incomparable to anything else they have ever heard before. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m about 75% comfort zone listening and 25% danger zone. If I spend too long in the comfort zone I yearn for something different to kickstart the excitement again.

Today I’m introducing a new three piece from Lancaster and for readers of Breaking More Waves they are very likely to drift easily into the safe listening area. They make the sort of music that you’d probably expect to find on this blog. You can probably design the checklist without even pressing play. Wonderfully composed female vocals that still manage to capture elements of emotion? Tick. Some piano? Tick. Mellow melancholy sounding chill pop? Tick. Being not that dissimilar to someone like Clare Maguire or London Grammar perhaps? Tick. Sophisticated yet still organic? Tick. But it’s all very well ticking the boxes, yet without the most important ingredient of all, a good song, it means nothing. Thankfully, this band with their debut Awake At Night have created something rather magnificent. Call it well crafted if you must, but it's certainly hit my comfort button. 

Ever had one of those times at night when you can't stop thinking about someone, one part of your mind racing, the other part screaming to let go? This is a song about those times.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you Lowes.

Lowes - Awake At Night

New Music: Holly Macve - Corner Of My Mind (Video)

Having returned from the wonderful Latitude Festival (where Christine & The Queens mesmerised me with one of my favourite performances of the year, a play which featured just 2 actors talking about their relationship in a bedroom was one of the most thought provoking and interesting things I’ve seen on stage and where Louis Theroux dad-dancing in a sweltering hot film tent was a major highlight out of many) inevitably there were some acts on the bill that I had to miss due to line up clashes. One of those was Holly Macve, who played in the beautifully fern lined and tree shaded surroundings of the Sunrise Arena, although thankfully I’ve already manged to catch her twice this year, once solo at Great Escape Festival in Brighton, the other with a full band at her own show at St Pancras Old Church in London.

Holly’s new single, Corner Of My Mind will be familiar to anyone who has seen her live. With the sparse noir country acoustic instrumentation providing the backdrop to Holly’s haunting tones that are both mournfully sad and beautifully haunting plus dark lyrics that speak of violence, misery, mistakes and fatherhood rejection it’s powerful contemplative stuff. There’s an album on its way via Bella Union as well. Take a listen below.

Holly Macve - Corner Of My Mind (Video)

Thursday 14 July 2016

New Music: Georgia Ruth - The Doldrums

I’m pretty sure that if you divided all the lyrics in the world of pop music up into two groups, one being sad songs about heartbreak and loss and the other being songs about feeling content and happy, the sad would be in the majority - artists being (or at least liking to think they are) tortured and tormented souls. There’s nothing better than a good song of anguish, hopelessness or grief to show just how deep you are as a person and to connect to the world. On the flip side, in the same way that it’s very rare for comedies to be nominated for an Oscar, singing about happiness is unlikely to get you taken seriously, especially by the critics.

However, on The Doldrums, the first song to be taken from Georgia Ruth’s forthcoming second album Fossil Scale, the follow up to the beautiful Week of Pines, (one of my favourite records of 2013), Georgia manages to take the idea of contentment and turns it into something of serious merit. The concept of the song came about from Georgia viewing a calm stretch of water, that despite its beauty possessed a stillness that felt ominous. She related it to her own life – the sometimes disconcerting placidity of being happy. The doldrums, from which the song takes its name is a sea-state of mild inactivity and stagnation caused by low pressure and this feature of non-movement is also reported to also feel unnerving.

There’s a sense of composure and beautiful romantic calm not only in Georgia’s ideas and thoughts but the music as well, and despite the absence of her previous instrument of choice, the harp, her voice remains as wonderfully hypnotic as ever. If The Doldrums is representative of the quality of her forthcoming second album (due in October) then that will surely be a collection to be treasured.

Georgia Ruth - The Doldrums

New Music: Honeyblood - Ready For The Magic (Video)

“Mother mother brought us here, she said the world we should fear, it is coming to its end, for ourselves we should fend, mother mother didn’t stay, she says no more, so do what may.” And so with these words, the video for Ready For The Magic, the new tune from Honeyblood, begins. A word of warning; neither song or film are for the faint hearted. The music, a mix of aggressive riffs and come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough vocals sound ripe for blowing the roof of a sweaty club near you and then some, the video on the other hand will probably leave you feeling a bit creeped out. Certainly towards the end you’ll see the girls in the film enjoying a bit of Honeyblood - but not in the way you might expect. Tasty stuff.

A mighty and powerful return from the band who have recently announced a series of small club dates and 1 UK festival - my home cities' Southsea Fest. All dates are on their Facebook page.

Honeyblood - Ready For The Magic 

Wednesday 13 July 2016

New Music: Aluna George - Mean What I Mean

Writing a new music blog and spending pretty much every spare second of my waking day obsessing about the stuff (and not just new and unsigned music, but all music from mainstream chart pop to obscure soundtrack albums from the past) probably gives me a certain level of ‘expertise’ in the subject. However, even experts get things wrong (although probably less so than non-experts).

AlunaGeorge is a classic example. After a string of blog adored early singles and featuring on plenty of end of year tip lists back at the end of 2012, the band's bubbly dance pop looked set to rule in 2013 and beyond. But for me Body Music, the debut album, was disappointing, lacking variation and becoming a tedious listen as a full length effort and their live shows lacked any sorted of charisma or genuine excitement. When I tried to sell a very little played copy of the album at a car boot sale, nobody would take it off my hands for even 20 pence. At that point I wrote AlunaGeorge off as a flash in the pan who would be forgotten in a year.

Cut forward to now and everything looks very different.  I was very wrong. The hooky as a fishing line I’m In Control (featuring Popcaan) and I Remember were both killer tunes and the small part of their set that I caught at Glastonbury by chance whilst waiting to see Sigur Ros was like watching a different beast to the band I’d witnessed a few years ago – the show was very cool, delivered why mighty confidence and left a big smile on my face.

Now they're back with their third tune from their forthcoming second album also called I Remember. Mean What I Mean continues the trajectory of goodness. Finding the pair partnering with MCs Dreezy and Leikeli47 there's some hard hitting rap, Aluna singing a pretty melody and it's all underscored by the duo’s clever and once again catchy house pop production (I love those wonky sounding synth stabs). Quality vibrant pop.

Aluna George - Mean What I Mean

Tuesday 12 July 2016

A Small Rant About A Growing Trend At Music Festivals

Although on Breaking More Waves (and in life generally) I don’t particularly like to make judgements or complaints about the actions of others unless they’re situations of life and death, sometimes things just get to me. This is one of those occasions.

This video, of a small section of the Glastonbury Festival campsites after punters have gone home, says an awful lot about parts of the society we now live in; one which certain elements appear to be obscenely wealthy and have an utter disregard for responsibility.

I don’t care how tiring the mud was, how bad your hangover was, how heavy your tent was to carry, how difficult it is to pack away, how cheap the tent was to buy; take the thing home, if for no other reason than a bit of respect for the people whose land you have camped on. And if it’s broken? At least dismantle it and leave it at the appropriate recycling collection point on the campsite.

Everyone that went to the festival was asked to sign up to Glastonbury’s ‘Love the Farm, Leave no Trace’ pledge when they completed their ticket transaction. This pledge stated:

– I will use the toilets provided and not pee on the land.
– I will use the bins provided and not throw away my rubbish on the ground.
– I will take all my belongings home with me again, including my tent and camping equipment.
– I will bag up all my rubbish using the bin bags provided by stewards and use the recycling pens and bins in each campsite

I've been going to festivals for over two decades and it seems to me that from around the start of this decade tent littering has become more and more prominent. It almost seems now that it's an acceptable thing to do amongst certain well off individuals. This makes me very sad. It is just such a waste. If you’re one of the people who went to Glastonbury, or any other music festival, and left your tent there after the festival, I ask you to watch this video and then reconsider your actions. 

Glastonbury Post-Festival Walkabout

New Music: Banks - Fuck With Myself (Video)

OK. Ok. I know I shouldn’t be ‘shocked’ when someone uses the F-word in a pop song, after all it's just a word and this isn't 1977 and the Sex Pistols all over again, but still, I am. So well done Banks for surprising me. After her first album managed to straddle the line between blog-pop and mainstream approval, the first offering from the second doesn’t show any ambitions of occupying the easy and obvious middle of the road. If anything Fuck With Myself and its accompanying video are darker, creepier and more leftfield – think FKA Twigs meets American Horror Story opening credits. Let’s hope she can keep this up with whatever comes next – she might lose a few fans with this one, but I’d rather that then her veering into land of the bland.

Banks - Fuck With Myself

Saturday 9 July 2016

New Music: Kacy Hill - Lion

Rather like Christmas, posting about Kacy Hill on Breaking More Waves seems to be an annual affair. First in 2014 there was the experimental and ethereal Experience. This was followed in 2015 by my favourite song that Jack Garratt has been involved in - Foreign Fields (Jack - you should have stolen that one for yourself). Now, it’s time for the 2016 edition, with a new tune called Lion, the first taster from Kacy's debut album which will be released this autumn (or this Fall to all you US readers). It’s not to be confused with another song called Lion which is floating around at the moment, by Welsh singer Casi (here) which is equally good.

So take a listen. Don’t be fooled by the gentle near flowery ambient percussive opening on this one that will probably make you think of South American mountain ranges, sunsets and birds of prey soaring elegantly overhead (OK maybe that’s just me), because by the time Lion gets to the chorus it bursts into something far more grandiose, without ever sounding fully overblown, the song dealing with Kacy’s own tendency to shroud feelings of guilt in defensiveness. It certainly bodes well for that album. 

Oh, and on a side note for regular readers, she certainly has pop star credentials. After all, she's already done the obligatory bath pic (here). 

Kacy Hill - Lion 

Friday 8 July 2016

New Music: RIVRS - Falling

After a number of failed attempts, I finally caught electronic pop group RIVRS in my home city when they supported Foxes at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms. One of the impressions they left with me was that despite having released a number of songs (most of which have found their way onto Breaking More Waves) they still had plenty in the bag that were just as good, if not better. Today sees the release of one of those. Falling is RIVRS' most unremittingly hooky tune to date that deals with the headlong rush into the world of love (or at least lust) and the questions that go along with that commitment. Falling is fearless with its musical punch, even if lyrically it's more insecure in its nature.

Falling is taken from RIVRS forthcoming EP due on the 8th August.

RIVRS - Falling

Thursday 7 July 2016

New Music: Elle Watson - Phantom

Remember Elle Watson? Her name popped up for the first time on Breaking More Waves in January when I wrote an honest / cynical / mildly funny / self-depreciating (delete as applicable depending on your perspective) post on the secret world of music 'tastemakers' and what goes on behind the scenes to help them keep in touch and retain their 'tastemaker' status. At the time I mentioned that whilst Elle’s debut release Body was decent enough, and a bit of a grower, there was better to come. 

Well, here’s one of those ‘better to come’ tracks. It’s called Phantom and it’s really lovely. It follows the modern minimal template that was laid out by the likes of The XX back in 2009 and has been gradually developed ever since through bands like London Grammar to, more recently, the likes of Rosie Lowe. I mention Rosie because Phantom is released via Wolf Tone (producer Paul Epworth’s label) who also released Rosie’s debut album Control, so there’s more than just a sonic connection.

“There’s something unexplainable I can’t shake off,” sings Rosie, using the Phantom as a metaphor for a feeling that can’t be described. As you listen to the song’s chilled soulful delivery you may well be expecting it to suddenly explode into banger territory, and go all Sia / Katy Perry on us, but thankfully it doesn’t. Because Phantom is all about the art of the understated; graceful smooth beauty.

Elle Watson will be playing the BBC Introducing Stage at T in the Park festival next Sunday.

Elle Watson - Phantom

Wednesday 6 July 2016

New Music: Petite Meller - Milk Bath (Video)

Oh sh*t. No sooner had I called it a day on talking about musicians and pop stars in the bath (yesterday on this post), then along comes Petite Meller with a new video for a song called Milk Bath. And yes, she does get in the tub in the video, or at least partly – for the tub in question is just a tiny tin bath. And yes, there’s milk. And cows. And a big pink lake. And dancing in a very pink and blue pastel locker room. Well this is a Petite Meller video. What did you expect? Her ‘rocking out’ in an abandoned warehouse / office building with some guitars and strobe lights? Or her ‘in da club’ with 4 good looking semi naked dancers twerking either side of her? 

Thankfully not. 

Petite Meller is definitely one of the more interesting people out there in planet pop right now – not just with her visuals but her music too. Milk Bath steers well away from the current pop zeitgeist and plays around with African sounds, integrating some of the rhythms and chants of that culture (members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo were involved) into her own joyful world, one where with all this talk of bathing she sings of feeling "dirty but alive.” 

Oh and fun fact: The song was partly recorded at a studio called Dairy. Where else?

Enjoy the moosic (sorry).

Petite Meller - Milk Bath (Video)

Tuesday 5 July 2016

New Music: Introducing - Bad Fit

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for a pretty and dreamy sounding pop tune painted over the top of a fuzzy less polished guitar sound and so whilst catching up on some of my favourite blogs last weekend the recommendation of this new Northern Irish four-piece via Chris at The Metaphorical Boat hit the spot immediately. According to Chris, Bad Fit (the baddest band in Belfast as stated on their social media pages) only played their first official gig very recently, but more importantly one of their number has appeared on Pointless, the only TV quiz show that for some as yet unexplained reason I seem to do rather well at. Actually scrub that, the fact that I’m quite good at Pointless wasn’t according to Chris, that was according to me.

The band’s debut song Strong Forever is, despite its uplifting melody, a song of endings. We’ve probably all had that kick in the teeth at some point in life where you think you’re untouchable, your relationship is invincible and that everything is perfect, then suddenly everything comes crashing down around you. It’s over. Strong Forever catches that moment: “You said that we were better off together - I guess that it was all pretend.” Sad face etc, but happy face for the music. 

Strong Forever is self released by the band. If I had a D-I-Y indie record label (I don't) I'd be begging to work with them. 

Bad Fit - Strong Forever

Why I'm Pulling The Plug....

Look. Let’s face it, I’m getting bored. Not of music. Not of writing about it in my own warped way. But this musicians in the bath thing. I’m all washed up over it. I’ve tapped into it far too much for my own good. It’s time to clean up and move onto something else before the bubble bursts. I'm pulling the plug on it. (OK I’ll stop now)

If you follow me on Twitter (here) or if you’ve spent anything more than a couple of minutes scanning through this blog, you’ll probably know that I’ve posted a huge amount about musicians releasing promotional photos that feature them in the bath.

Somebody once told me that in today’s fast moving society if you want to make a point you have to keep saying it over and over for anyone to take notice - the turnover of information is so quick, so much gets lost. It’s why I’ve been banging on about this a lot - to the point where I've become more annoying than I usually am. I hope by now at least one or two of you, when you see yet another musician posing in the bath to promote their music (and trust me you will see more of them, of that there is no doubt) will think to yourselves: “Gosh there’s another. Breaking More Waves was right.”

I also hope you’ll agree that:

1. It’s a really odd thing to do. No other profession would consider promoting their product by getting its manufacturer to pose in the bath – naked or clothed.

2. But then musicians are odd people. Nice (generally), but odd.

3. What’s even weirder though is that lots of journalists will put these pictures on their publications and make no commentary on it at all. As if putting a picture of a naked (or clothed) musician sitting in the bath is the most natural thing to do in the world. Of course some of these journos will claim ‘It’s all about the music.” IN WHICH CASE WHY PUT A BLOODY PICTURE OF THE ARTIST ON YOUR SITE OR PUBLICATION ANYWAY? Just write about and post the music and stop contradicting yourselves*

4. Journalists are also very odd.

OK, I’ll calm down now. This is meant to be a music blog. 

Here’s another picture of an artist sitting in the bath. It’s her second song released to the world and her second bath picture. And talking of seconds, here’s a second (not 'sophomore' as seems to be the trend with a lot of American influenced music writers - guys, quit it's use please, the word isn't even understood in many English speaking countries outside of the US) thought; maybe it’s not odd at all. Maybe it is in fact the new norm. Maybe I’m odd for thinking that a nice photo of a musician holding their instrument (maybe even playing it) would be a decent and sensible thing to have. Mind you, I’m not sure how interesting a picture of a ‘laptop producer’ staring at his Macbook Pro would be. Maybe all laptop producers should still sit in the bath.

So what of Rhain’s second song?

Josephine is a piece of highly unorthodox piano and string based pop that (as I suggested in my introductory piece about her in February) will appeal to fans of Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor. From the opening line where we find her singing of watching the subject of the song sleeping in solitude it has a slightly menacing, obsessive, observant air to it. “What kind of blood do you bleed, ‘cos all I can taste is metallic lustre,” she intones. You almost expect her to break out into a cackle of witch like evil laughter after that line. “They told me you are with another, so I crave you even more. I creep a little closer to you, want to hear the breath that you breathe,” she adds later. OK, it’s all slightly uncomfortable listening, but hell, isn’t that better than listening to some guy sing about how you used to call him on his cellphone, and now you’re drinking champagne with some girls he doesn’t know? I’d say it’s 100% better. Maybe Drake needs to up his bath picture game to be a little more interesting. Oh hold on… what’s this?

Damn. I really should have known shouldn't I?

Here's the song.

Rhain - Josephine

*Of course I'm fully aware that the beauty of any art form, including writing is the occasional contradiction.

Monday 4 July 2016

New Music: Introducing - Lyra

Here at Breaking More Waves HQ there’s one part of the year that I always looking nervously forward to. It's around the middle of May - when two major musical events on my calendar occur. One is Brighton’s Great Escape, Europe’s largest new music festival, the other is Eurovision, Europe’s largest new music song contest. Why the anxiousness? It's whilst I wait to see if the two dates will conflict. Thankfully for the last couple of years the events have been on consecutive weekends and I've been able to enjoy both.

Now yes, I fully understand that some of you will sneer at Eurovision (especially in the UK) but you won’t find any ridicule in my house. After all, this is the competition that not only gave us a band that made some of the catchiest (and towards their end saddest) pop songs of all time (ABBA), but more recently brought us Euphoria by Loreen, a glorious piece of dance pop that I will never grow tired of hearing. 

Why do I mention Eurovision right now? Because of new Irish artist Lyra. I could quite imagine her appearing on a stage at Great Escape, but equally I could visualise Broken Down, the third song she has released from her debut EP W.I.L.D (which stands for Wake Induced Lucid Dream), and the first I’ve featured on the blog, being Ireland’s entry for the international song contest. It’s a belter of a tune with a message of resilience. It manages to be both colossal with a tribe of passionate beating drums and a power-surging vocal delivery (fans of Florence and the Machine will no doubt approve) but also tender and intimate in its starting moments as Lyra sings of being broken. You can just imagine the flamethrowers, the wind machines and of course the army of drummers backing a spectacular performance that would make Johnny Logan proud.

Lyra’s debut EP is released on the 15th July. The preliminary dates of next year's Eurovision Song Contest are 9th May (First Semi-Final), 11th May (Second Semi-Final), and 13th May (Grand Final) 2017. The definitive dates will be announced as soon as the host city is known. The Great Escape has not yet confirmed its plans for 2017. I’m hoping it’s waiting for Eurovision to confirm fully to avoid a clash.

Lyra - Broken Down

Sunday 3 July 2016

New Music: Jerry Williams - Mother (Video)

I’ve already featured Mother by Jerry Williams on the blog, but now the song’s got a video treatment. Just in case you missed it first time round, this one’s a naggingly upbeat piece of day-glo indie pop that burns with a tuneful brightness. Of course chirpy sounding pop music sometimes needs to come with a warning stating ‘May Become Annoying’ but thankfully this isn’t the case here, particularly as Jerry isn’t shouting about how life is fantastic and everything’s perfect. Instead she sings of running home through the rain and not feeling herself. 

The video itself is a performance piece that fits with the general chirpiness of the music, with Jerry playing around on a bike, pulling some shapes and swapping roles with her band. Extra marks as well for the best pair of trousers I’ve seen this week – other indie pop acts take note. There’s more to life than skinny jeans and leather jackets.

Jerry Williams - Mother (Video)

Saturday 2 July 2016

New Music: Sofi Tukker - Drinkee (Video)

The last post on Breaking More Waves was about Sofi Tukker and now here I am, in what is probably a first for this blog, writing about them immediately again. The first post was because they recently banged out a delightful tune called Awoo from their forthcoming Soft Animals EP (which incidentally features a giraffe on the cover, always a good idea, after all one of the best pop videos of the last few years (here) had a giraffe in it). Now Team Tucker and Team Sophie (I’ve yet to decide which team I’m on yet, at the moment I want to vote for them both) have released their first ever video for Drinkee. You’ll probably remember Drinkee from back in 2015. It’s an absurdly addictive track that mixes a snappy guitar riff with Brazilian poetry and some house grooves; because of its brilliance it even found itself on an Apple watch advert.

Last night I went to see the band play live in London. Many elements of their live show are incorporated into the video, namely Sophie’s halter neck and white flared trousers garb, the band's ability to do a cool head roll (at 2:05) and the weird instrument they have that appears to be some sampler pads on some sort of rotary pole (at 2:15). Sadly the jungle backdrop and Tucker’s immensely cool water sip moment ( at 1:08) didn’t make it into the live gig this time round, but they did manage a few choreographed dance moves, including Sophie attempting ballet even though she admitted she can’t do ballet at all. 

Sofi Tukker is my new favourite pop band. Go see them live, listen to their Soft Animals EP and watch this video to make your life that much better.

Sofi Tukker - Drinkee (Video)