Tuesday 30 August 2016

New Music: Georgia Mason - Loveland

Back in 2014 I posted a track by a new singer Georgia Mason. The song in question, Running Blind, was a rather impeccable pop tune sung with a voice of some distinction. It would, after hearing Running Blind, have been easy to get on the hype horse and ride off into the distance shouting ‘next big thing’. If I had, I’d definitely have egg on my face now, because since that time, there’s been no new material, although Georgia has been gigging in and around London.

Now she's back and for those of us who expected some zeitgeist pop tunes bound for blog fervour, prepare for a shock. For Georgia has taken a bold step into the leftfield, with a four track EP played entirely on autoharp. Big and glossy this certainly isn’t. Bare bones, raw and bewitching it certainly is. Loveland, the title track, isn’t the easiest of listens, but nor is it a dauntingly difficult one. It just needs a little time to embrace in the same way that releases this year from PJ Harvey (another autoharp user) and Let’s Eat Grandma did. What remains with this EP though, to an even greater extent than Georgia’s previous recordings, is the impact of her voice. It's both childishly unsettling and fairy-tale beautiful – a devilish combination of Joanna Newsom and Nao if you can imagine such a thing.

Georgia Mason - Loveland

Monday 29 August 2016

New Music: Bon Iver - 33 "God"

In 2008 Bon Iver released For Emma, Forever Ago and it became my favourite album of the year. It’s one that has also very much stood the test of time and regularly finds a place on my listening device of choice. Since that time Justin Vernon’s status has continued to increase with many a music aficionado, but for me nothing has got close to that record. With a new album imminent however, new song 33 “God”, released today, gets close.

Starting with a piano refrain that sounds like the intro to a Tom Odell song, 33 "God" soon diverts into more experimental territory, but (and here’s the important thing for me) underneath the raw electronics and weird effects there’s still a beautiful tune. “I find god and religion too, staying at the Ace Hotel,” he croons in falsetto. Well at least it’s not at the Travelodge. One to lose yourself in.

Bon Iver - 33 "God"

Sunday 28 August 2016

Playlist: Monthly Catch Up With Breaking More Waves Blog

Whilst I continue to upload around 20 posts a month on Breaking More Waves and whilst I’m aware that I do have a few regular daily readers, most people frequent my little blog far less often. Shame on you!

This means that you miss an awful lot – not only my witty, thoughtful and sometimes hilarious (!!) commentary but a whole bunch of good tunes.

For that reason, here's your chance to catch up, without the need to even see the written crap that I bash out, by way of a Spotify playlist. It features virtually everything I’ve posted on the blog in the previous 30 odd days and is fully refreshed around the end of each month – providing I remember to do so. This month’s is available now and can be found by clicking here or below.

Not quite everything I’ve posted on the blog is on the list, either because the artist is so new they only have demos on line, for example this month the fantastic Jade Bird, a major talent who I recommend you investigate by clicking here, or the artist isn’t streaming the song on Spotify yet. Two great examples from this month are the rather hard to watch video from Indiana for her song Caroline, and the absurdly good Deathproof by Breaking More Waves favourite and all round top woman Chløë Black, which is only on Soundcloud.

So take a listen, maybe follow the list and see what you’ve missed. But most of all – enjoy.

Breaking More Waves Latest Playlist

Saturday 27 August 2016

A Summary Of The Recent Articles On Music Streaming And Where It Needs To Go From Here

This week there have been a few attention grabbing articles about music streaming services. If you are at all interested in the ongoing conversation about how these services work and how they are developing, then they are all must reads.

The first is called Why Apple Music Exclusives Are Good For Artists which is written by a former Apple employee Sean Glass. The title might sound like a defence of exclusives – but Sean is keen to point out that he is not in favour of exclusives, but he is ‘in favour of the work and value Apple is putting into music right now.’ Read it by clicking here.

The second article, from Music Ally provides some balanced commentary on the first article and how it shows the best and worst of Apple as an organisation – click here.

Then there’s another article from Music Ally on how Spotify is continuing to do well in converting its free users to paid for subscribers – click here.

With Spotify coming out and saying it was against exclusives, several news items (like this one on The Verge – click here) reported on how it is dealing with artists who give exclusives to other services.

Finally, Sean Glass posted some follow up thoughts to his original article. (Click here)

If you have the time and interest it’s worth reading all the pieces.

Here's my one simple thought, the key issue as I see it right now. It may be over simplistic, but I believe it's vitally important. 

More and more people are using streaming and more and more people are paying for it. From the industry and artist perspective that’s a good thing. But, and there’s a big but here, for every big artist that puts their album out as an exclusive there’s a huge number of illegal downloads. This week it was reported that Frank Ocean’s Blonde was downloaded illegally over 750,000 times and there have been similar issues with exclusive albums from Kanye West, Beyoncé etc. 

It might be a simple conclusion to draw, but it seems that whilst streaming could be the answer to reducing illegal downloading (one of the reasons it was developed in the first place after Napster’s creation threatened to destroy the industry completely) by clawing back some money into the industry, album exclusives through one streaming platform are the equivalent of the music industry shooting itself in the foot. Let’s hope for artists, the industry and the consumer the business can sort itself out. 

My view is that the industry needs to ditch exclusives and work together to make things work for everyone. If it continues down the exclusives route, especially if smaller acts start doing deals for album exclusives, it will become a bigger and bigger mess. I've seen a similar thing happen with music blogs, where now virtually every single two bit music blog is offering an 'exclusive premiere' of some tiny little artist and therefore actually restricting the chances of that artists music being heard, even if those exclusives are only in the short term before a wider release. In my opinion it's people thinking too selfishly and not about the bigger picture.

Come on Apple, Spotify, Tidal etc – all get in the room together and sort this out. There’s enough room for all of you, you just need to make it work.

What did Kanye West say? Oh yeah: “Let the kids have the music.”

Wednesday 24 August 2016

New Music: Hazel English - I'm Fine

New Hazel English tune alert! I’m very much enjoying what Hazel is doing. If she had a fan club I'd probably join. (Old people amongst you might remember fan clubs – I was a member of the 80’s synth pop ‘wizard’ Howard Jones' fan club and through it received badges, newsletters, flexi discs and even several handwritten letters from HoJo’s mum. You probably wouldn’t get that these days with The 1975 or Rita Ora) 

Her new tune is called I’m Fine and it sounds pretty er….fine. Damn fine even.  

Here’s a multiple choice question for you. First take a listen to the song. Then ask yourself about its sound. Do you think it sounds as if it is

A Caked in Californian sunshine

B Straight from the heart of a London Art School

C A pleasing indie pop song

D Two people sticking their tongues down each other’s throats in the back of a taxi after a night out clubbing?

If you answered A you’re probably her PR representative. If you chose B you’re probably me. If you chose C you’re probably accurate but a bit boring. And anyone that chose D - you’re probably drunk.

The reason I think I’m Fine sounds particularly British is those very OMD inspired synth noises combined with the concept of the song which Hazel has explained is about “struggling with something nobody else can see and trying to act like everything's fine, when it's really not,” something the Brits with their supposed ‘stiff upper lip’ are known for.

I’m Fine is the final track on Hazel’s forthcoming EP, with further tracks arriving in the next few weeks. You can pre-order the EP by clicking here.

Regular readers will also probably have already realised my continued health and safety concerns for Hazel as once again we find her sitting on a rock in a quite possibly dangerous location with no harness or safety rope attached* Newbies, you can catch up by clicking here*

*Footnote 1 - If you want ‘serious’ music criticism please go elsewhere. If you want the really important issues that everyone else ignores, stick with Breaking More Waves.

**Footnote 2 - This song has a number of little woah-oh's. It might explain why I like it, after all HoJo was a fan of the woah-oh as well (here)

Hazel English - I'm Fine

Tuesday 23 August 2016

New Music: Introducing - Jade Bird

Today I’m introducing a ‘new’ artist, who has two tracks up on Soundcloud. One is a Drake / Beyonce cover, the other is Find My Baby - a slow bluesy rocker that weighs heavy but in a good way. Both have been on line for a year, but as her original has picked up less than a thousand plays, the tag of ‘new’ still feels very appropriate – Jade Bird is going to be new to the vast majority of readers of Breaking More Waves.

So what do I know about Jade? Only a little, because like many of my favourite discoveries on this blog she doesn’t come via an agent, a PR company, the artist herself or a tip from anywhere else, so I haven’t been supplied with any information except what I’ve sourced myself. What I do know (thanks Google) is that she comes by way of Brit School, a route that used to be much derided by a certain kind of music snob, but let’s put the place into perspective with one word; Adele. I also know she’s a fan of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and is working on her debut EP in London. 

The most important thing aside from facts is that Jade Bird delivers and then some. Her songs, stripped down to an acoustic form (as you can see on the TEAFilms session below) are superb; full of soft stirring passion and surprises - just when you’ve got her nailed as a traditional country and blues singer songwriter she’s liable to throw in a near-rap (as she does on her Pixies cover). It's a technique not that dissimilar to Ed Sheeran - and he did quite well for himself didn't he? Adele? Ed Sheeran? Ok, with references to big names like that I'm almost certainly getting a little too worked-up, but Jade Bird is an undeniably big talent. I'm excited to hear more.

Jade Bird - Madeline - TEAFilms Live Session

Jade Bird - Where Is My Mind - TEAFilms Live Session

Jade Bird - Find My Baby

Sunday 21 August 2016

Old Music: The Swinging Easy Listening Revival of the 90's

Over the last twenty years or so there has been the odd occasion where under various guises I’ve had a go at DJing (with absolutely no DJ skills) in public. From backstage bars at music festivals, to crappy little pubs, to somehow blagging my way onto a rammed Big Top on the opening night of Bestival just a couple of hours before M.I.A in front of just under 10,000 people. Because of my lack of ability to knowledgably operate the equipment or mix with any sense of sophistication, I’ve always tried to do something a little different to compensate and cover for my lack of skills. I’m probably one of the few people in the world who has DJ’d an early morning set of just birdsong to a mainly hungover / sleeping crowd, I’ve performed a DJ set of cheese dressed as a horse and a number of sets that have centred around retro easy listening, lounge core and mood music.

My love of retro easy listening first developed around the mid 90’s around the time that Brit Pop was taking off in the UK. The swinging sounds of the likes of Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield and Brian Fahey were revived into clubs like Smashing and Blow Up in London. Whilst neither of these clubs had a strictly kitsch only music policy, taking on many different sounds and styles, the rebirth of easy listening for a younger generation started there. Although I never went to either club, I read about them in the music press; at these places indie kids were mixing with fashionistas, musicians and record label dudes and people were reviving 60's fashions, dressing in retro corduroy suits, brightly coloured sixties shirts, pencil skirts and mini dresses. It sounded like my kind of scene (in a totally non-ironic non-hipster way) and so I began to investigate the music. 

The first album I bought was The Sound Gallery. Twenty-four musical masterpieces dug from the crates of EMI’s flagship Studio Two label, augmented by offerings from the United Artists label and KPM Recorded Music Library, with all tracks recorded from albums between 1968 to 1976. It was from that record that I first heard Girl in A Sportscar by Alan Hawkshaw and went on to discover the huge amount of music he was responsible for. Some of it is the sort of music you’ve probably only ever heard in elevators in hotel lobbies,1970’s British sit coms and awkward moments in movies, and I loved it. People ask why I like this stuff and to this day I find it hard to give an explanation, except “I just do.” 

From there I went on to purchase a number of compilation albums that expanded my knowledge and appreciation of easy and lounge core. Those of a certain age might remember the theme to The Gallery section on Tony Hart's Vision On, but how many of you would know it as Left Bank 2 by The Noveltones? There it was on a volume 2 Sound Gallery compilation. Other brilliant albums that set me off on a journey of discovery included Inflight Entertainment, where I fell for Brigitte Bardot’s Tu Veux, Tu Veux Pas and subsequently went on a journey of discovery of the French actress and model’s recorded work. Then there was Test Card Classics, which answered in a digitally remastered form where the BBC got some of the amazing background music they played in the late 60’s and early 70’s before TV started at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and then there was The Sound Spectrum which brought me likes of The City of Westminster String Band, Tony Hatch and Roy Budd. 

The scene even brought a genuine Top 40 chart hit with a novelty cover of Wonderwall by The Mike Flowers Pops, a band who replicated the easy 60’s sound. It reached the same chart position (number 2) as the original.

If you’ve never heard of any of these artists and want to hear more I’ve put together a short 10 track Spotify playlist of some of my favourite swinging sounds from that world and beyond, which you can hear below. I’ve also added The Noveltones via You Tube which sadly isn’t on Spotify.

Maybe you’ve never payed attention to this genre of music before? If not, jump in, keep an open mind and give it a go. Life will have never felt so groovy.

The Noveltones - Left Bank 2

Playlist - The 90's Easy Music Listening Revival

Saturday 20 August 2016

New Music: Loyle Carner - No CD (featuring Rebel Kleff) (Video)

Loyle Carner cropped up on all the tip lists that matter at the end of last year (BBC Sound of List, The Blog Sound of 2016 and the most important of all…. Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2016) and his latest tune No CD (featuring Rebel Kleff) shows exactly why his inclusion was fully deserved. Featuring his now recognisable laid back style, it’s hooky, gritty and cool as f*ck.

Let’s just hope that this track earns him a few quid because it seems that poor old Loyle has spent all his money on some old CDs. Does anyone feel like they need to give him a bit of a big brother / sister talking to? Loyle, it’s 2016 mate, you can save a hell of a lot of money if you just use a streaming service. You can still have your old Jay Zs and a couple of ODBs and they’ll already be in perfect order for your OCD as you describe in the song – just get on Spotify / Tidal / Apple Music and expand your musical collection infinitely.

Watch the video below, filmed in one continuous shot. Enjoy in particular the muso head nodding moment around the 1:10 mark. Oh and Loyle also needs another talking to about his use of the milk carton - Loyle didn't your mother ever tell you that it needs to go back into the fridge after use?

Loyle Carner - No CD (featuring Rebel Kleff)

Friday 19 August 2016

New Music: Ava Lily - Painkiller

Ava Lily came to my attention thanks to Michael Barratt. Who is he I hear you ask? Well, he was the UK’s biggest selling singles artist of the 1980’s. Yes really. Still don’t remember him? No? OK, maybe you might just know him as the knee trembling, one time Elvis impersonator, Shakin’ Stevens. He had number ones with the likes of This Ole House, Green Door and Oh Julie and even played Glastonbury in 2008 to a capacity crowd despite being the first act of the day.

So how come old Shaky? Is he now one of the hottest new music tipsters around? Sadly not. It was simply that at the back end of 2015, when I was writing my annual pre-Christmas blog posts I was searching for some quality covers by new or emerging artists and a Soundcloud search of Shaky’s Merry Christmas Everyone brought me to Ava Lily. Since that time there’s been another cover (of Zayn’s Pillowtalk) but it’s her own song, the freshly minted Painkiller that has brought her to the pages of Breaking More Waves again.

Painkiller is a rainy day Sunday sixties influenced piece of soul that soothes as equally as at it grooves. It’s the sound of classic sophistication – the sort of thing The Avalanches might have sampled for one of their records. It oozes quality and it's been on repeat on my stereo today.

A quick look on Ava’s Soundcloud shows that the track is being released through Naughty Records, a label started by Naughty Boy as a joint venture with Virgin EMI – so sadly my random Shakin’ Stevens search didn’t lead me to a great new unsigned talent, but a great talent nonetheless. 

Ava Lily - Painkiller

New Music: George Cosby - Juliet

In 2016, as Drake is boring the charts for weeks on end and where if someone recorded a fart and put ‘featuring Justin Bieber’ on the title it would probably get to number 1, there is a parallel universe where Juliet, the new song from George Cosby, is a huge radio and internet smash. Unfortunately that universe is a pretty tiny space at this moment in time, but that doesn’t stop this tune’s staggering ambition. 

Juliet is just magnificent, full of desperate emotion, and finds George asking with the best possible croon “tell me you needed me too,” amongst the stirring power chords. It’s a chest thumping, heart on sleeve anthem that sounds gloriously alive. It might not be soul music in the traditional sense, but this one undeniably has that soul. 

Look out for his forthcoming EP A Savage Kiss, the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2015 debut Human Touch, which secured George enough fans amongst new music bloggers in the UK to earn him a space on the Blog Sound of 2016 longlist. The new three track EP will be released October 14th on Yucatan Records and having heard all three tracks I can confirm it’s a belter.

George Cosby - Juliet

New Music: Petite Meller - The Flute (Video)

Pop songs are just like buses, you wait for one to come along and then three turn up in the space of a few seconds. In fact the last few days have found a multitude of brilliant, sometimes bonkers (a good thing) tunes appear on line and sadly with the exception of one (here) I haven’t even been at the bus stop. So over the next couple of days, expect a number of posts which basically all fall into the same category, namely here’s an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G pop tune and you MUST listen to it.

Let’s start with this. It wouldn’t be any sort of understatement to say that I’m utterly in love with what Petite Meller does. She’s making out and out pop music that makes me want to throw my hands in the air and dance like a loon – but it’s also pop music with a strong visual base and huge sense of adventurousness. 

For The Flute Petite Meller travels to Mongolia to sing dance and have a chat with some of the wild animals there. She also wears a very big pointy hat that out does even the Pet Shop Boys pointy hats. It’s a tune which until today, from live gigs, I thought was called Put Your Hands On Me and I still think a better title would have been The Flute (Put Your Hands On Me) if only because  (if you've read this blog a lot, you'll know) I’m a big fan of brackets. Apparently The Flute takes inspirations from French cinema (Manon des Sources in particular) to the ballet of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Oh and the outfits were provided by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.

It’s Green Man Festival this weekend. Wild Beasts, James Blake and Laura Marling play there. Imagine one of those doing this video. Now that would be worth paying to watch. Petite Meller will not be at Green Man. She will however be at Bestival in a few weeks time. For anyone that knows Rob Da Bank’s hedonistic colourful carnival / party on the Isle of Wight I’m sure you’ll agree that Petite Meller seems a very appropriate booking. I'll be there, maybe I'll wear a pointy hat too?

This is a double decker of a pop song.

Petite Meller - The Flute (Video)

Wednesday 17 August 2016

New Music: Chløë Black - Deathproof

Apologies for swearing but why the f*ck isn’t Chløë Black is a huge pop star? With the likes of 27 Club (labels take note – this one deserves a massive re-release), her show stopping cover of Kanye West’s Runaway and last year’s incredible social statement of a song Groupie, she should by now be sitting on a throne wearing a crown labelled ‘queen of pop’ being served the finest champagne by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Adele. OK, maybe I’m going a little over the top here – but only a little.

Perhaps Deathproof will be the one to push her a few rungs further up the ladder from lady in waiting to at least pop princess? This is unquestionably a big tune. Not only that but like all Black’s songs, lyrically it’s way more interesting than the regular ‘call me on the cell phone we’re in da club you’re getting sexy just be who you are’ type that seem to infiltrate virtually every chart hit there is. Dealing with the idea of young fearlessness and the risk taking behaviour that such a belief system can encourage “because we’re fucked up anyway,” Deathproof is a hedonistic and invincible pop song that makes even the old and safe among us want to go running into the raging sea drunk, naked and screaming with joy. F*ckin' brilliant - no apology required.

 Chløë Black - Deathproof

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Flow Festival 2016: 5 Of The Most Interesting Leftfield Performances

Finland's Flow has been gaining a reputation over the last few years for being one of Europe's coolest and most well curated festivals. Set in the grounds of the historical Suvilahti,a former power plant area in Helsinki, it manages to bring together big international pop acts with more avant garde artists from both home and abroad. 2016 was my third time at the festival and rather than providing a traditional review as I have in the past (which I'm taking a break from this year) I'm going to focus on 5 of my favourite experimental or leftfield performances I witnessed during the 3 days.

Hyvät Pahat Hajut

Finnish is not my strong point when it comes to language ( I can manage about three words ) but I'm reliably informed that Hyvät Pahat Hajut translates into something along the lines of Good Bad Odours. More of an art happening than a standard concert, this 'gig' took part in 3 parts in 2 different rooms. The concept was that the performances would include smells -  something that was unique for the moment and could not be recorded. So instead of bass, guitar and keyboards we got droning miked up microwaves with erratic rhythms provided by cooking popcorn, gurgling coffee machines being used as drums, jars filled with fragrances to smell whilst music played as well as some more traditional drum and violin work. The aromas were quite delicious and after the 'show' had finished the performers shared the drinks and snacks with the audience. It was utterly bonkers, but was weirdly enjoyable, even if it did feel a little odd applauding someone who essentially had just put some popcorn in a microwave in a pitch black room. You probably had to be there. I guess the chances of seeing something like this at Reading or T in the Park are pretty low.

Osuma Ensemble

If you think percussion is just bashing drums repetively, think again. Featuring five percussionists the Osuma Ensemble created unusual rhythms from all manner of devices, turning percussion into theatre even when they had no traditional instruments and just a table as shown in the video below.

Ian William Craig

Using portable cassette players and various electronic gadgetry Ian William Craig created ghostly, choral, textured soundtracks in the dark space of The Other Sound stage. Probably one of the few gigs of the weekend where laying down and shutting your eyes, possibly even drifting off to sleep, felt entirely appropriate. Craig created layered ambient sounds that bore some resemblance to hipster monks chanting, his voice floating in space in parts, whilst at other times displaying some robust almost operatic delivery. Sadly some of Craig's audience left before the end of his show due to a time tabling cross over with New Order who were playing nearby, but those who remained witnessed the totality of something rather special. (And for those who jumped ship early, it was your loss - I still managed to catch all of both sets by both artists)

NYKY Ensemble Plays Reich

The NYKY Ensemble was formed in 2009 at the Sibelius Academy, part of the University of the Arts, Helsinki and acts as a forum and for contemporary music projects and a window for trends. At this performance a large group performed several pieces of Steve Reich's lesser known music on instruments that included marimba, glockenspiel, vibraphone and organs. It was an absorbing concert of minimalism, repetition and moments of beauty.


What is Sia, a main stream pop artist and writer of huge hits doing on a list of the most experimental performances at Flow you may ask? Whilst Sia's music may be as unchallenging as Usain Bolt's competitors, her performance had me questioning the whole concept of what a gig should be. Drawing the biggest crowd of the weekend (partly because there was very little else on at the time she performed) and with a completely empty stage except for a large square video screen, the singer herself standing on a small podium near the back (or at least I assume it was her, it was impossible to tell as she wore her now trademark long fringed wig) was accompanied by no band, just pre-recorded music and pre-recorded visuals which matched the stage set up exactly. The visuals (and stage) featured dancers giving abstract interpretations of the songs, so closely matching that at times I started looking to see if I could see hidden cameras on stage. Watching the stage was like watching a pop music video. Watching the videos was like watching the stage. It was life imitating art imitating life. It was certainly intriguing, but despite this it somehow lacked the raw emotion that you get from the best traditional live gigs. 

Flow Festival returns in 2017. It comes highly recommended by Breaking More Waves for both weird stuff as well as the big names.

Friday 12 August 2016

New Music: Alice Jemima - Dodged A Bullet

Writing about new music can often seem a little odd if, like me, you go to a lot of gigs, because the new releases you’re writing about are already very familiar to you, hearing them in their early stages as the artist road tests the songs live before the final polished recorded versions are done and dusted.

So it has been recently with Alice Jemima. By the time her Liquorice EP saw the light of day, the likes of So, Under The Radar and the title track already seemed like old friends to me; my interest was more what the final studio versions of the songs sounded like compared to the live versions that had become embedded in my head. However, new track Dodged A Bullet comes with a slightly different context; I think I’ve only heard it two or three times live, including at Alice’s first London headline show at the Sebright Arms (where members of London Grammar were in attendance to check her out) so this one comes relatively fresh wrapped, still full of the joys of discovery.

Dodged A Bullet refers to Alice looking back at a relationship that she realises that she’s better out of. “I won’t be singing your name,” she coos with that soft voice that has been casting its magic over me since 2011. As with any song I’ve ever heard by Alice it encompasses her ability to make pretty melodies without over complicating things sonically. Here you’ll find some ghostly guitar twangs, come-down electronic pulses and beats all perfectly placed with an alluring delicacy. She really is the queen of the exquisite pop song. Take a listen below.

You'll find Alice playing at a number of festivals over the next few weeks including Sea Change Festival in Totnes, Bestival, Manchester's Neighbourhood Feestival and one in Hackney called Wonderland, hopefully just so we can all do the Alice In Wonderland joke. (Sorry).

Alice Jemima - Dodged A Bullet

Thursday 11 August 2016

New Music: Tyne - Somebodies Something

In the constant shape shifting world of pop it’s not uncommon for artists to change their names; there can be all sorts of creative and commercial reasons for doing so. Here’s one such example. She’s called Tyne but used to be known as Grace Sarah. The last time I wrote about Grace Sarah I suggested that if she continued at the rate she was, in terms of knocking out quality pop songs, it wouldn’t be a surprise if record labels start paying some attention.

Well it would seem that I was correct, for now Tyne has her first song released under her new identity. Somebodies Something is featured on a new compilation called Odd Numbers Volume 1 put together by 37 Adventures (who have released the likes of Jones and Rosie Lowe). It’s a nuanced chill-pop cut coloured with deft and immaculate flourishes of electronic production that draw you in slowly. It’s not a big hitter, it’s subtler than that – but that’s its beauty. 

Tyne - Somebodies Something

Wednesday 10 August 2016

New Music: Introducing - The Medicine Hat

Meet The Medicine Hat, a five-piece band who hail from Hamilton Canada and specialise in songs that weld together elements of classic melodic rock, sumptuous synths and moments of heady yet graceful sonic jubilation. They have two tracks on their Soundcloud, each one being equally majestic and well crafted. 

St Celia (streaming below) references the patroness of musicians and sounds for a couple of seconds of its intro as if it’s going to dive into some straightforward shoegaze, but it’s far more interesting than that - it has the effect of a beautiful tapestry – sewn together with a careful completeness. This is music that is well paced and perfectly executed. Their other tune, New Survival, has just a hint of Fleetwood Mac about it together with some retro synth sounds. It’s a song that although it’s been released in 2016 could really have come from any point from the mid 70’s onwards. It also sounds like it’s ready for stadiums.

Whilst these songs are relatively new on the internet, The Medicine Hat have been together for a number of years. You can still hear some of their older material on You Tube, but it’s St Celia and New Survival where they've really upped their game.

The Medicine Hat is Michael Boyd, Elliott Gwynne, Chris Pruden, Nabi Bersche and Tyler Bersche. If they’ve got more songs like this hidden away, they could be on to something.

The Medicine Hat - St Cecilia 

Tuesday 9 August 2016

New Music: Saya - Cherry Bomb

Not that statistics matter one iota when I’m considering what music to post on Breaking More Waves – an artist could have 1 single stream or 10 million – but Toronto native Saya has certainly got off to a good start in gaining a fan base with her debut track Wet Dreams, which has clocked up 2 and three quarter million plays on Spotify and hit the top of the Spotify Global Viral Chart. Of course her pop star credentials (the most important of which is being a bit bonkers) were already well on display having jumped straight in with the bath promo shot for that first cut.

Now she’s having a go at doing it all again (that’s the big hitting pop music, not the bath, although at some point I hope she does have a bath, after all nobody likes a dirty smelly popstar) with new r n b / pop groover Cherry Bomb, which she has described as ‘a trip through an erotic fantasy.’ I have no idea what such a trip sounds like, but apparently it’s this, which has certainly got my booty shaking and grinding. However, I should at this point out that my booty shaking and grinding certainly isn’t anyone’s idea of a trip through an erotic fantasy, more (at best) the stuff of comedy and at worse your darkest nightmare.

Take a listen below. I’m particularly liking the part around 3.30 where Saya appears to lose the plot a bit lyrically - is she really saying ‘got me like a mummy mummy, you can call me mummy lovey, even meet my mummy bunny, how we got so lucky lucky?’ As I said – bonkers. There’s also a few  'ha ha' chants in amongst the beats that sound a bit like MØ, so extra marks for that. This one’s a lot of bubbly fun. Saya slays ya.

Saya - Cherry Bomb

New Music: Introducing - Zuzu

I first came across Zuzu last autumn when Andy at The VPME named her as one of the highlights of last year's Festevol and then went on to describe the demo of her song Where'd You Go? as 'f**king ace'. And as someone who always enjoys a bit of swearing to show my excitement at a thunderous piece of music, I took notice.

So now here's Zuzu. She's from Liverpool. Her name makes her sound like she might be some sort of electronic dance music producer, but she's not. With a brand new track, Get Off, released through the Hand In Hive label, you can get to hear what she sounds like. Combining the geeky slacker rock sound of Courtney Barnett with a couldn't give a toss sneer not that far removed from the likes of Black Honey, Zuzu has a very pleasing petulance: "I don't know why I ever let you in, I guess I'll have to take this on the chin," she sings. You can almost imagine her giving the one fingered 'up yours' salute as she performs. Brash and bawdy, this one has some bite. As the man said - f**king ace.

Zuzu - Get Off

Monday 8 August 2016

New Music: Betsy - Lost & Found (Video)

You may well have already heard Lost and Found by big voiced Welsh pop singer Betsy – it was featured top on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist last week (which let's face it probably does a better job than any blog could do of delivering you all the latest new pop tunes in a day - especially if you don't want any commentary like this). 

Since that time I’ve seen lots of people (ok an exaggeration – to be honest its 3) saying that the song sounds a lot like Cher or makes them think of Cher. For me it makes me think of Heather Small from M People or Shara Nelson when she was singing with Massive Attack. However, even if it pops images of Joss Stone, Nik Kershaw, Elvis Presley or your granny into your brain, hopefully it will also make you think of words like superb or exquisite as well. If your brain is thinking sausages and chips, then your mind's not really on it and it's time to go and get your lunch / dinner.

In a relatively weak year for brand new artists Betsy is sitting somewhere near the top of the ladder right now. It’s why I’m featuring her for the third time this year on Breaking More Waves.

Footnote: When I first heard this song on Friday I searched on Google for Betsy and Lost & Found. At that point all I really learnt was that there were quite a few pets called Betsy and a fair few of them had been lost. Hopefully that's all changed now - both that the pets have been found and that the singer's song will be getting plenty of posts.

Betsy - Lost and Found

New Music: Kate Nash - Good Summer (Video)

I have quite a history with the music of Kate Nash - from way back. It started with a slightly scrappy but infinitely charming set of songs in a small grubby tent sponsored by MySpace at Electric Gardens festival in 2006 where I chatted to her afterwards and suggested that she was like the British version of Regina Spektor. Now here I am 10 years on, pressing play on her new song, with a sense of trepidation and excitement – because that what happens when you become a fan of an artist. 

Since that first gig there have been many highs. My two fondest memories being  when Foundations went into the charts at Number 2 (quite unexpectedly) and, not quite so long ago,  a euphoric and energetic gig at Shepherds Bush Empire the highlight of which was Kate crowd surfing to pretty much the back of the room. There’s also been the occasional low; although I loved the idea of Kate rejecting commercial pop music and embracing the spirit of riot girl and punk, I didn’t enjoy Underestimate The Girl at all. However, as I suggested in a blog post at the time (here), what would you rather do, spend your whole life being unhappy trying to be what people expected you to be or happy just being yourself?

So what does Kate Nash 2016 bring? After all she’s never been an artist to just do ‘more of the same’ – right from her very first schizo-pop single on Moshi Moshi that veered from pretty acoustic songwriting to the  off-kilter beats and space weirdness of Caroline’s A Victim

The answer is that Good Summer is Kate’s most easily accessible song for years. In 2016 where contemporary pop music seems to be designed by committee to sound as in your face as everything else around, Good Summer seems almost lightweight in its nature – and I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. All the important ingredients are there; melody, hooks, something that makes you feel good about life, but with it there comes an uncanny charm and a likeability that’s formed through its relative simplicity. Good Summer doesn’t shout ‘I need to be in the charts so I’m going to sound like everything else’, instead it stands to the side and just gets on with the job of being an excellent pop tune. Oh and the video, a very old fashioned British garden party, finds amongst it's scenes of fun, Kate bashing what looks like a giant lemon shaped pinata (maybe because these days she's not so bitter?). It's good to have Kate back, and with a previously announced tour and more songs on the way, summer just got good.

Kate Nash - Good Summer (Video)

Friday 5 August 2016

New Music: Hazel English - Never Going Home (Video)

You may well remember Oakland indie musician and all round creative type Hazel English from last year; she cropped up a number of times on Breaking More Waves, where amongst other things I (correctly) predicted that a lot of music writers would use the word dreamy when describing her sound, compared her to Jeremy Corbyn and revealed that Hazel English probably wasn’t even her real name. 

Now Hazel is back with a video for Never Going Home, the song that first pricked my ears last April. However, I have some serious health and safety concerns about this video. For here we find Hazel, sitting on a rocky outcrop, (you’ll first see it just after the 30 second mark) apparently with a serious drop below her, with no safety harness on. Yes, I know what you’re all thinking ‘but she’s a musician and musicians are dangerous crazy sexy people who live life on the edge.’ Well if that’s true let me ask you this; when Kanye played Glastonbury last year why did he wear a full safety harness (that he then struggled to get off - showing his lack of personal protective equipment skills) when he went up in the air on a cherry picker when wind speeds were low? If Kanye, who let’s face it seems to be capable in his mind at least of doing anything, from designing to being president, doesn’t feel safe in a situation where there’s a slight chance of falling, then surely Hazel should be taking more precautions? Or, just like her name, is this all a big bluff and the ground is just a couple of feet below? Or maybe she’s rigged up some sort of safety net fixed to some scaffolding just out of shot? 

Anyway, health and safety concerns aside, there’s an awful lot I love about Hazel. I love her preppy style, this retro / home shot styled video and I adore her dreamy (yes, there you go I’ve used the word) music; it’s music a long way from the majority of the stuff that floods my in box these days (identikit r ‘n’ b bangers and very average laptop produced electronic pop). It seems that I’m not the only one – having amassed a huge number of plays on Soundcloud she’s now been signed to Marathon Artists (Courtney Barnett, Jagwar Ma), and is getting ready to release her first 5 track EP in October. For this time round Never Going Home, which will feature on the EP has been given a fresh mix by Charlie Huggall (Florence and the Machine, Låpsley) and now I’m just hoping that we’ll see her over in the UK for some gigs at some point. Press play on Never Going Home and let go of your body and mind’s safety harness as you lose yourself in its chiming guitars.

Hazel English - Never Going Home (Video)

Thursday 4 August 2016

New Music: Warpaint - New Song

Sadly it’s not a cover of the synth pop tune of optimism and freeing your mind of preconceived ideas by 80s synth and keytar wizard Howard Jones, but still, this er.... new song by Warpaint positively grooves with a near tribal funkiness. It’s the sound of a band loosening up, and having fun: “You’ve got the moves, bang bang baby,” they chant. Sure it’s silly, like taking your clothes off and running into the ocean after a drunken beach party, but hell, life is short, let's enjoy it. A fine return and probably my favourite song they've ever released with the exception of Undertow and Stars. It's good to see a band shaking it up a little (and hence getting their first post on this blog since way back in 2009).

Warpaint - New Song

Wednesday 3 August 2016

New Music: Tender - Outside

“Tender is the night,” Damon Albarn sang once and certainly everything that Tender has released so far seems like a perfect night time jam. Now signed to Partisan (The Wytches, Dilly Dally, Sylvan Esso, John Grant etc) the London two piece (who unless I’m horribly mistaken, and I’m 99.9% certain I’m not, are also members of the band New Desert Blues) return with Outside, a sultry breathy tune that’s not afraid to lob one of those ‘I’m going to close my eyes and pull a few orgasm faces as I play it’ guitar solos in at the end. Eric Clapton eat your heart out. It’s the musical equivalent of a pair of black silky undergarments. How about a label for their sound? If I had to have a go I’d maybe go for psychedelic r&b. Or even better, let’s just label it dead good.

Footnote: Tip for bands – don’t just have 1 promo shot of yourselves like Tender do, otherwise I have to go searching Facebook to ‘borrow’ another one. Thanks. If desperate, just jump in the bath and take a pic of yourself there. It’s what everyone else is doing. (Apologies to any newcomers re: the bath joke – you have some catching up to do. Start by clicking here.)

Tender - Outside

New Music: Indiana - Caroline (Video)

From the pulsing synth ambience of Cliff Martinez’s superb soundtrack to the divisive (but in my opinion coldly mesmerising and hugely stylish) film The Neon Demon, to the creepy anolog synth score to Netflix’s hugely entertaining series Stranger Things by Austin four piece Survive, it seems that right now atmospheric electronica is having something of a renaissance. Next up, but bringing the sound into a pop context is Breaking More Waves long term favourite Indiana who has returned to the fold with new cut Caroline.

“I was picking tracks for album two and there were just too many to choose from, so instead of just throwing this one away I’ve made a video for it… something for you to get your teeth into whilst I continue to work on the second record,” Indiana posted on her Facebook yesterday.

Caroline adds a radio friendly accessibility to the robotic cinematic synth sound as Indiana sings of Caroline, a girl who gives away her dignity: “Caroline, they only want your body for the night. Caroline, don’t let them take you for a ride.” The accompanying video, which includes some erotic and voyeuristic red light shots, might be full of suggestive sexual imagery but there’s a tear stained sadness to it all. The closing shot of Indiana being held down against the car, staring in pain directly at the camera as a man gets what he wants is particularly uncomfortable to watch – you have been warned.

Final thought: If this hasn’t made the cut for the second album, then the quality of whatever else Indiana is producing must be very high indeed. It's also nice to see a modern electronic pop artist do something different from the now all too regular 'r n b flavoured electronica' which is danger of becoming this decades version of landfill indie. A very welcome return.

Indiana - Caroline (Video)

INDIANA - Caroline from INDIANA on Vimeo.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

New Music: Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Come With Us (Video)

Yesterday on the blog I mentioned disco, in connection with the new single from Scottish five piece White, because at least two blogs that posted the song had described it as such. Yet to a large extent its ‘disconess’ didn’t resonate with me as sounding anything like it. So today here’s my version of disco;  it’s the new single from Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Some of you may remember that Sophie has a special place in the heart of Breaking More Waves; her last album Wanderlust made my 2014 end of year list. It surprised me with its ambition, its beauty and its originality: “The finest work of her career – an accomplished and mature record that takes in Eastern European folk, fairytale and mid-life crisis reference points and wraps them up into a captivating and enchanting listen.” Of course not all of Sophie’s fans were pleased with Wanderlust, deviating as it did so far from what you’d normally expect from her. 

Now for 2016 she’s back and debut single Come With Us is likely to bring those displaced fans back on board. It is as I’ve already suggested, very disco. It's grooves and licks have been on loud a lot at Breaking More Waves HQ over the last few days and there's been a lot of shimmying in the bedroom. In a similar manner to something like Daft Punk’s Get Lucky (the song of the decade so far?), the cut has been created using live musicians rather than just computer software and samples, giving it a more natural feeling, something which many electronic reproductions fail to do with the genre.

Come With Us is taken from Sophie’s next album, Familia, due September 2nd. In a statement released with the promo package for the single we’re promised an album that sees Sophie “move away from Eastern Europe to the warmer, sunnier climate of South America where she’s swapped vodka for tequila.” It sounds intoxicating. Come join the cult of Sophie and dance with her.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Come With Us (Video)

Monday 1 August 2016

New Music: White - I Liked You Better When You Needed Me

The last month or so has seen very little music (Ok none at all) on Breaking More Waves that you’d describe as gritty. But that all changes today with a new song from Glasgow’s White and an unrepentant dirty groove of a new track called I Liked You Better When You Needed Me. If you want music that sounds like it’s been dragged from the gutter and into the darkest, seediest, nightclub for the rough and cool kids then this is it. This is a spiked cocktail of trashed romance; the louder, brasher brother to Aisha by Death In Vegas. I’ve seen some other blogs describe it as disco; well if it is it’s certainly not mining the path of Chic, The Bee Gees or Studio 54 etc, and there’s certainly no glitter or sequins to be had. However, what it does bear in similarity to disco is the sound of a band playing their hearts out (something which a lot of rock types miss – there was a lot of passion in disco). Turn this one up loud and feel those drums being hit hard, that repeated guitar riff motoring around your brain and the song leaping out of your speakers to grab your guts. Just make sure you don’t soil your pants when listening.

Oh and did I mention that it’s another musician in the bath promo shot? Come on, I couldn’t post this without mentioning that could I? Hopefully if you’re a regular you’ll understand. The band play a variety of festivals this month as well as a residency at the Lexington in London.

White - I Liked You Better When You Needed Me