Thursday 30 November 2017

New Music: Sigrid - Strangers (Video)

One of the great things about pop music is how it can make you feel. That infectious dopamine rush. That high, That ecstasy. That euphoric tingle that takes you to the dance floor and makes you pull shapes like never before. It can make you feel alive. It can even make you believe, for three or four minutes, that you are a pop star yourself.

Right now, Sigrid from Alesund, Norway is doing a very good job at being a pop star, her music is doing a very good job at getting people to move their butts and she’s also pulling some very good shapes herself. In fact, I’d like to dance like Sigrid does in this new video for her song Strangers. The trouble is when I’ve tried (and trust me I have tried) I don’t look anything like a pop star. I look like a sad-dad dancing. There are reasons for this. The main one being that Sigrid is a pop star (or at least a rising pop star). And I am a dad.

But, here’s what I’d like to believe. I’d like to think that all over this country dads weren’t listening to Pink Floyd / U2 / Oasis / The Foo Fighters (a massive generalisation that that’s what dads listen to I know, but perhaps to a certain extent true) and were actually putting on a colourful pair of trousers, a neat little t-shirt and dancing like Sigrid to her new single Strangers. Somehow, I feel if we all did this together the world would be a much happier place.

Don’t kill my vibe readers, more dads need to dance like Sigrid. Let’s go to work and do this. Fill your lives with joy.

Sigrid - Strangers (Video)

Wednesday 29 November 2017

New Music: Thyla - Tell Each Other Lies

Brighton's Thyla channel their indie-goth on new single Tell Each Other Lies, a magnificent sounding opus that lays its foundations with shadowy and brooding atmospherics before rousing haunted-chanteuse vocals and a powerful chorus light the touchpaper. If you’re the sort of person that thinks that the likes of Pale Waves, despite their look, are ‘far too pop’ and want your indie guitar bands darker, edgier and harder hitting, then Thyla will tick your boxes.

Although there’s no compromise in the band’s sound here, the song itself deals exactly with that idea, albeit compromise in a relationship; finding a way around things to make it work rather than an attempt at trying to change someone through confrontation.

Thyla support Femme in Brighton tonight at the Hope & Ruin before a couple of dates with The Wytches in Liverpool and Sheffield in early December.

Thyla - Tell Each Other Lies

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - Hunny Is This What Adults Do?

“I wrote this song about being really good at adulting yeah?” says Breaking More Waves regular and Isle of Wight resident Lauran Hibberd of her new song Hunny Is This What Adults Do? 

To answer her question, here’s a quick adulting checklist. How many do you score out of 10?

1. Manage to put up a shelf, straight and level that doesn’t fall down.

2. Cook a roast dinner for your family rather than having one cooked for you.

3. Drive a car.

4. Mow a lawn.

5. Have a pension.

6. Getting up before 7.30am on a Saturday because you have things to do.

7. Hope to get socks for Christmas.

8. Arriving on time for a party.

9. Be the first to leave the party because you have (6) above to do tomorrow.

10. Own a well-stocked fridge (not stocked by your parents).

Whilst Lauran doesn’t actually deal with any of these in her latest release, irrespective of if she’s got being an adult sussed or not, she certainly knows how to write a cracking indie pop tune and this one is no different. After all, what’s not to like about a song that has a simple guitar intro that’s like a slowed down version of  the start of The Proclaimers I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)? Mind you I’m not sure how relatable Lauran’s strangely positive attitude about going to work on a Monday will be for all listeners - adult or not. Or is she just being a tiny bit ironic here? Perhaps so....

Lauran’s had a pretty positive year which included a main stage slot at Bestival and a succession of highly enjoyable releases. She caps it off on the 16th December where she’ll be headlining a show on her homeland of the Isle of Wight at Strings in Newport. If you are on the Island or fancy jumping on a hovercraft or ferry over from the mainland, you can grab tickets by clicking here

Lauran Hibberd - Hunny Is This What Adults Do?

Monday 27 November 2017

The BBC Sound Of 2018 - Commentary

Being the sort of geeky music nerd that likes to order things into league tables and turn pop music into a sport of sorts, late November and December is a dream for me as we get the end of year lists, of which I devour as many as I can find. 

I love trying to make sense of how my taste compares with others, from small scale bloggers to professional journalists and to sometimes find records that I've completely missed that others like. So far my current early thinking suggests that one of my favourite records of 2017 is also a lot of other people’s favourites, whilst another of my favourites isn’t – but the reasons for that aren’t necessarily because my taste is removed from the majority. More on that when I publish my end of year list at the end of the year.

But besides the backwards looking lists we also get the tips for next year and one of the more widely known and discussed of those is the BBC Sound of list. If I appeared on Mastermind I would probably choose it as my specialist subject I’m so obsessed by it. Yes, I’m probably one of the only people in the world that could tell you off the top of my head that the Sound of 2007 poll included Enter Shikari at number 5 and Ghosts at number 9. Ghosts. Anyone remember them? No me neither. As I've said before, tipping is always perilous and even the most savvy tastemaker gets it wrong sometimes. 

It’s that obsession that forced me to stay up last night till midnight to see the unveiling of this years poll, despite having to be up at 5.30am in the morning for work.

Having taken a bit of time to digest the Sound of 2018, here are my observations from this year:

1. By and large I like this year’s list. Much of it matches with my tastes. Of the 10 artists I selected for my own Ones to Watch for 2018 list last week 4 of them are also on the BBC list (Sigrid, Pale Waves, Jade Bird and Superorgansim).

2. This time round quite a large number of artists on the list have been promoting material for the whole year. Gone are the days when an artist released a debut ‘buzz’ single around August or September and a couple of months later was on the BBC Sound Of list. It’s an indication of how much harder it is today to break a new artist. 

3. I had a go at predicting this year’s poll and out of the 15 chosen acts I managed to guess 8 correctly: Sigrid, Alma, Pale Waves, Superogranism, Billie Eilish, Jade Bird, Lewis Capaldi and Khalid (who has already a big hit in the US, so he was a no-brainer). So, if there is a criticism of the list it’s that this year, in the main, it was quite predictable. But then last year’s list was very unpredictable; an unsigned act was voted number 1 and an artist that had already been round for a number of years and was tipped on my own blog’s Ones to Watch list several years before (Rag N Bone Man) came in at number 2. However, there are some surprises. 2 artists that I suspected would be on the list (Jessie Reyez and Mist) aren’t featured. However, the Sound of poll’s job isn’t necessarily to pick artists that will be big – pundits are asked to vote for artists they are excited for. Hence this year we have the likes of indie-jazz-soul artist Nilufer Yanya, who has just 1,687 followers on Twitter, (for comparison Jessie Rayez has 26,000 and Mist has 39,000) but Nilufer has been releasing some intriguing high quality music over the last year or so. Despite having seen her live and being impressed, I’ll happily admit to not considering her a potential on the BBC list, but it's nice to see her there.

4. There are just 2 bands on the list. This is a growing trend in the music industry. I tried to address this in my own Ones to Watch list, because I’m convinced that there are lots of great new bands out there – it’s just that the industry is finding that it works better for it to take on solo artists. It’s why I included the likes of The Blinders, Off Bloom and Confidence Man alongside the 2 BBC nominees of Superorganism and Pale Waves on my own list.

5. This year the panel of music industry experts who voted included past BBC Sound of winners and nominees from previous years such as Ellie Goulding, Ray BLK and Stormzy. Did their input make any difference to the outcome? It’s impossible to say, but I’d take a guess and say not really. The list doesn’t seem that different from many of the years before it.

6. There seems to be quite an emphasis on pop this year. Even the one traditional indie rock band on the list (Pale Waves) have a very pop shine to their music. It’s also noticeable that the old-fashioned virtues of song writing still find favour with the likes of Jade Bird, Lewis Capaldi and Tom Walker all making the list.

7. Who will be in the top 5 announced in the New Year? This is the one area where I’m not so sure. Personally, I’d like Sigrid to top the list and I’d say she’s in with a fair shout, certainly for the top 5 but there’s a lot of quality this year so there could be quite a scrum for the top positions. Or maybe like sport, just when you think you know how it’s all going to play out a Leicester City will come along and shock us all.

The BBC Sound of List in full:

Billie Eilish
Jade Bird
Lewis Capaldi
Nilüfer Yanya
Pale Waves
Rex Orange County
Sam Fender
Tom Walker
Yxng Bane

Saturday 25 November 2017

New Music: Introducing - Franc Moody

Over the last 10 days I’ve posted Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch for 2018. 10 artists, who I’m excited for next year. Whittling the list down to a manageable number always involves quite a bit of head scratching and some artists who, in an ideal world, I’d like to include just don’t quite make it. Some of those nearly but not quite acts this year were Breaking More Waves regulars / previously featured Lauran Hibberd, Keir, Bad Sounds, Easy Life and Joy Crookes and as well as a few that I haven’t featured before but have enjoyed live such as such Alma, Shame and Matt Maltese.

One further name that was on that long list for consideration was West London duo Franc Moody who have been dropping some swelteringly hot groove laden tracks over the past year or so and have picked up support recently from the likes of Pete Tong and Annie Mac. Franc Moody’s earlier work, which was instrumental, hinted at some potential but it’s their latest more overtly song based cuts that have really delivered. Most recent track Pheromones is their biggest tune to date. It’s a sweet bouquet of soul and pop that will satisfy any fans of the band Jungle until Jungle return themselves. It funks into the night with bags of class. Take a journey with them below.

Franc Moody - Pheromones

Friday 24 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - Summary and Playlist

With the 2018 Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch posts now complete, I’m wrapping things up with the full list of 10 artists selected and an accompanying spotify playlist which you can find by clicking here or stream below. It has one song from each of the acts selected.

Whilst posting about these artists I’ve had a couple of comments made from readers about balance and how the selections were all mainly female and I’d just like to address this. First, so what? It’s the music that I'm concerned about not the artists sex. Secondly that statement is actually incorrect. Yes, 9 of the 10 artists I have selected have a female vocalist (when I introduced the posts here I noted that because of my tastes, the list wouldn’t be balanced in that way) but there were 31 musicians of which 16 were male and 15 were female. So in terms of that demographic the list was pretty much balanced - although this was more from luck than any judgement.

Thank you to everyone who engaged with these posts this year. Whilst Breaking More Waves is written mainly for my own entertainment, the Ones to Watch posts are very much for others. Amongst my (real life) friend group some of my friends, who know I'm obsessed with music will often ask me ‘what are the latest new acts we should be listening out for then?’ My Ones to Watch list is essentially my online response to that real-life question. 

Here’s a summary of the 10 artists chosen and a playlist featuring 1 song by each act.

1. Sigrid

2. Jade Bird
3. Superorganism
4. The Blinders
5. Pale Waves
6. Grace Carter
7. Off Bloom
8. Confidence Man
9. Pink Kink
10. Maisie Peters

I'll be updating the Breaking More Waves monthly playlist at the end of this month as per usual, but it won't include the Ones to Watch posts only the other new music that I have uploaded in November. If you want to follow the monthly Breaking More Waves playlist you can find that by clicking on this link.

Ones to Watch 2018 - #10 Maisie Peters

The final choice on the Breaking More Waves 2018 Ones to Watch list is singer songwriter Maisie Peters. Maisie was the subject of an Introducing post on this blog back in August 2018 when I described her debut single Place We Were Made, after hearing it on Spotify, as ‘a breath of fresh air amongst the paint by numbers pop of much of the rest of the New Music Friday playlist’. Since that time Place We Were Made has been streamed over 6 million times and Maisie has followed it up with the equally touching piano ballad Birthday.

As I’ve alluded to before there’s often a huge disconnect between numbers of online streams and real-life fans and in terms of playing gigs and it’s still very early days for Maisie with relatively small audiences compared to her high statistics on You Tube, where she started her musical journey posting a series of really well recorded and engaging originals.

Described by the Great Escape Festival (which Maisie will be playing at next year) as “British pop’s next Bright Young Thing,” Maisie’s songs are flecked with both a beautiful innocence and clever wordplay. Watch out for the not yet released song Treasure, which is an absolute peach.

With a few low-key headline dates in small venues this autumn and a handful of shows supporting Mahalia in October under her belt there’s sure to be plenty more to come from Maisie Peters in 2018. She's the last, but not least, Breaking More Waves One to Watch for 2018. A post with a playlist of all the acts selected will follow shortly.

Maisie Peters - Place We Were Made (Lyric Video)

Maisie Peters - Birthday

Thursday 23 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #9 Pink Kink

With one band made up of members from all over the world with different backgrounds already gracing the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2018 list (#3 - Superorganism) it seems appropriate to add another. 

The rowdy Pink Kink may be based in Liverpool, but their five members all hail from different countries across Europe. With just two recorded songs out there to their name, the street harassment feminist anthem Bubblebutt and the hungry and horny Munchie Magic, Pink Kink are gaining a name for themselves not only through their hyper-energetic songs, but their live shows.  

“The best band in the UK.” “A bit mad” “An explosion of colour and pop chaos.” These are just some of the things I’ve seen tweeted by various commentators after seeing the band play in the last few months.

There’s a danger with the two songs that Pink Kink have released so far that they will just be treated as a novelty act, but it seems that there is a lot more to this band than just that. With musical styles that range through indie, jazz, pop, punk, shoegaze and electro and an emerging political edge it may be that we all have to give Pink Kink a bit of time before we get the whole picture, but certainly that picture is a vibrant, creative and exciting one.

Pink Kink are out supporting Pussy Riot right now. Expect them to tear it up wherever they play in 2018.

Pink Kink - Bubblebutt

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #8 Confidence Man

2017 has definitely been the year when pop music got more politicised. Personally, I think this is a good thing. There’s only so many songs you can stomach about being in da club or (even worse) just being yourself and not giving a shit about what anyone else thinks. In fact, I believe that all of the popstars who have been putting that message out over the last few years have been treading dangerously. If the message was be yourself but make sure you take account of others feelings as well, then I could endorse it. But just not giving a shit what others think of you is dangerous. There's no empathy - it's just selfish. That’s how criminals think.

With musicians being more politicised it helps inspire an arena for fans to think about things a little more deeply – irrespective of if you agree with the artist or not. Not thinking about things too deeply leads to complacency and history has taught us that complacency can have dangerous implications.

Yet whilst music has become political I also believe there’s a need for the opposite; music that is silly and a bit fun. It’s pop music’s job to provide escapism and make you feel good about things – even if it’s only for a fleeting hour.  This is why it's OK to like Radiohead / Bon Iver and also Girls Aloud / Britney Spears. 

It's also where a band made up of members of Australian bands The Belligerents, Moses Gunn Collective and the Jungle Giants come in. Because they formed a new super group called Confidence Man.

For Confidence Man are all about fun, dancing and letting yourself go. They’re the sort of sexy disco shorts excitement bubble that everyone needs in their life now and then. Sure, their music isn’t going to be up there in the hallowed rock n roll halls of fame alongside Pink Floyd, The Clash, The Smiths or Oasis, but you’ll probably never wiggle your hips to any of those bands like you will Confidence Man. I reckon they'd even make Thom Yorke throw his arms in the air and thrust his crotch backwards and forwards a bit.

Back in March 2017 Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie first got introduced to the readers of Breaking More Waves and they went on to be one of my undisputed highlights of both The Great Escape Festival and Glastonbury. This is a band who put on a high camp show of sass. In 2018 we should get an album via Heavenly Recordings. Go and see them live if you get the chance and get ready to dance like nobody is watching.

In a world that sometimes feels like it’s turning to shit, Confidence Man will give you a reason to smile again. Get ready to get down (under). 

Confidence Man - Better Sit Down Boy

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2017 - #7 Off Bloom

Mette Mortensen, Alex Flockhart and Mads Christensen are Off Bloom from Denmark. They make rampant spikey modern electronic pop music and they are the seventh of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2018. They’re also one of just two acts on this list that hasn’t featured on Breaking More Waves before (the other being #4 The Blinders)

Rather like Danish pop counterpart MØ Off Bloom stand out from the pop crowd because of their attitude. Live lead singer Mette takes the front person role very seriously – her energy is addictive – more rock ‘n’ roll / punk than what you might expect of someone fronting a electronic pop band. 

Off Bloom are also the second act on this list that have recently supported Dua Lipa and they have also played shows with Breaking More Waves favourites Fickle Friends. 

Having originally formed in 2015 Off Bloom first came to a lot of people’s attention with the video for their song Love To Hate It, but even better is the song Falcon Eye – a bona fide banger which probably deserves a rerelease as the band’s profile increases. The trio’s most recent output is the Lover Like Me EP which helps continue their trajectory. Off Bloom describe it as an EP “about love, sex, frustration, intoxication and of course loyalty.” 

Expect them to be challenging MØ as the rulers of Danish power pop very soon.

Off Bloom - Falcon Eye (Video)

Off Bloom - Rockefella (Fuck That To Be Honest)

Monday 20 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #6 Grace Carter

There’s only one song from Brighton’s Grace Carter available on streaming services, but what a song it is. Since Silence appeared on Breaking More Waves back in May it’s racked up over 4 million plays on Spotify alone. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s a beautifully crafted and vulnerable soul number with hints of gospel in the chorus that despite its despondent lyrics sounds supremely uplifting. Grace grew up listening to the likes of Lauryn Hill and Nina Simone and you can tell. There are further hints of what’s to come on You Tube where various live and session recordings can be found, and it’s clear that if you’re a fan of tear jerking soulful ballads, Grace Carter is a name for you.

Having recently toured with Dua Lipa Grace will be stepping out again in the new year as part of Line of Best Fit’s Five Day Forecast event at The Lexington in London. Make her one of your Ones To Watch and catch her there if you can.

Grace Carter - Silence

Sunday 19 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #5 Pale Waves

Pale Waves might have come to prominence at the start of 2017 with the ultra-hooky There’s A Honey but the band's origins date back as far as 2014 when they were operating under the name Creek before changing to their current moniker in 2015 and being picked up by a handful of early adopter blogs.

Much has been made of the involvement of Matt Healey of The 1975 in the development of Pale Waves, although he has been at pains to point out recently that whilst he has helped with the production and editing of the songs, he’s not some sort of svengali. The songs were already there before his involvement and even in 2015 early reviews were making comparisons of the Pale Waves sound to The 1975, as well as the likes of Peace and Swim Deep.

Pale Waves deal in accessible indie pop anthems with chiming guitars and rousing choruses, but the emphasis is on the pop here; lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie not only has the looks of Robert Smith of The Cure’s daughter but her band take the same path as the more upbeat end of the goth-pop masters music. Just don’t expect and Disintegration or Pornography bleakness quite yet.

With three songs out there in the world, the aforementioned There’s A Honey, Television Romance which sounds to all intents and purposes like There’s A Honey and recent release New Year’s Eve, a two months supporting The 1975 in huge US venues, their own headline tour of the pubs and clubs of the UK and a forthcoming US headline shows Pale Waves are carefully stepping upwards, maybe not towards global domination, but at least to a point where they have enough of a fan base to release an album to.

Pale Waves - Television Romance (Video)

Saturday 18 November 2017

Ones to Watch 2018 - #4 The Blinders

“The future’s bleak, but at least we get to decide it’s soundtrack,” state The Blinders. And what a soundtrack. Take one listen to Brave New World, a gritty and raucous mix of punk, psychedelia, shouty indie and a hint of Carter USM’s Bloodsports For All and you’ll see. It’s the stuff of sweat, blood and tears. It’s the sound of a band who, if they have ever been told that guitar music is dead, have clearly decided that it’s fake news.

Having released their debut EP Hidden Horror Dance back in 2016 The Blinders have been slowly growing an audience ever since. 2017 saw them doing the business through hard gigging, support slots with Cabbage, one of last year’s Ones to Watch, and festivals such as Great Escape, Reading and Festival No.6. Next year will see the band hitting the road for their own headline tour which is likely to be an explosive and highly energetic affair. 

Manchester-based, but Doncaster born, The Blinders have had comparisons thrown at them ranging from Arctic Monkeys to Jimi Hendrix Experience and they're a band that are not afraid to address the current state of the nation. They’ll be bringing a mosh pit to a town near you soon. Ones to Watch in 2018 for sure. They bring the noise.

The Blinders - Brave New World (Video)

The Blinders - Murder At The Ballet

Friday 17 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #3 Superorganism

Over the last few years there’s been a noticeable shift in the music industry insofar as the vast majority of commercially successful artists seem to be solo ones. From a certain perspective you could argue that bands are on the way out. Which is what makes Superorganism such an intriguing prospect - as they fully buck the trend. They’re almost a supergroup.

An eight piece from around the world Superorganism initially formed through online forums before they started making music by sharing tracks via email. Then they finally came together to live in the UK in East London. They make askew oddball pop music with equally left of centre videos. Earlier this year I described buzz single Something For Your M.I.N.D as ‘simple, inventive, hooky and lackadaisically cool,’ and that description seems to fit well with much of their quirky cartoonish sound.

Since first arriving on the scene a deal with Domino Records has been signed and without further ado the band sold out their debut show at London’s 600 capacity Village Underground.  There was no messing around slogging round the regional toilet circuit here. The reviews back from the London gig were 100% positive – not just because of the music, but because of the band’s stage presentation. Superorganism had a clear vision of how to present themselves – something that even now a lot of bands don’t particularly think of. At Village Underground they all dressed in colourful raincoats in front of psychedelic visuals, creating that same sense of occasion that bands like The Flaming Lips, Jungle and The Polyphonic Spree have managed to create in the past. Gorillaz meets The Moldy Peaches is possibly the best approximation of their sound.

During 2017 Superorganism have created a unique space in the universe of pop. It’s why as they continue to expand that space in 2018 they have to be regarded as Ones to Watch.

Superorganism - Something For Your M.I.N.D 

Superorganism - Nobody Cares (Video)

Thursday 16 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #2 Jade Bird

Jade Bird first appeared on this blog back in 2016 before she’d even released a single, having come to my attention via a You Tube TEAFilms Live Session for a song called Madeline. She then impressed me when I caught her live at an early afternoon set at Brighton’s Great Escape playing to a room of mainly music industry representatives 2017. Then in summer there was the release of her debut EP Something American, which took the classic sounds of country, folk, americana and the delta-blues and framed them in the world of teenager in 2017 who has spent time in South Wales, Germany and Chesterfield.

Jade’s impressive vocal delivery, musicianship and talent hasn’t gone unnoticed. A few months later she was the recipient of the prestigious ANCHOR award at the Reeperbahn Festival International Music Festival. This award identifies the most promising emerging music talent from the festival’s program and serves as a label of excellence and guide for fans and music professionals alike and is described as a springboard into an international career.

More recently she took on the challenge of covering Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill for Radio 1's piano sessions and came out victor (you can see the video of that below).

With bags of talent and a highly likeable chatty stage presence the only question with Jade is (as I’ve discussed before) where does her real audience lie? She’s very young but many of her songs are possibly a better fit for an older and possibly American audience, in the same way as say a band such as First Aid Kit are.

As we go into 2018 and Jade releases more material, maybe that question will become clearer, but whoever’s ears her music falls upon the chances are they’ll be charmed.

Jade Bird - Cathedral

Jade Bird - Running Up That Hill (Radio 1 Piano Session)

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - #1 Sigrid

To any new music fan the selection of Norwegian pop singer Sigrid Solbakk Raabe (who just goes by the name of Sigrid) as the first of Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch for 2018 probably feels a little bit old hat. After all her songs Don’t Kill My Vibe and Plot Twist have achieved seemingly international recognition in 2017 and she’s already been pulling large enthusiastic crowds for both headline shows and festivals.

Yet it’s probably worth remembering that despite her success so far Sigrid only signed to Virgin records in 2016, has released just 1 EP plus another original song Strangers and that Don’t Kill My Vibe achieved a highest chart position in the UK of 62 in 2017. She’s still a long way from being a huge international popstar. 

With a voice that manages to display elements of tenderness and delicate emotion alongside a slightly throaty raspy fullness Sigrid has the versatility. She can do big belter pop songs or fragile ballads of intimacy. There's a hint of another Scandinavian pop singer - Robyn - in what Sigrid does. Combine that with an enthusiastic and endearing stage presence something akin to a punchy gazelle and a bunch of strong still to be released tunes and it’s clear that of this year’s Ones to Watch she’s possibly the one with the most commercial potential.

Just in case you've been living under a rock, you can see the video for Plot Twist plus a rather lush remix of Don't Kill My Vibe by Gryffin below.

Sigrid - Plot Twist

Sigrid - Don't Kill My Vibe (Gryffin Remix)

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Ones To Watch 2018 - An Introduction

Ever since I started this new music blog in 2008 I have, around this time, published a tip list for the year ahead. I’ve always called it my Ones to Watch list.

This year is no different. Over the next 10 days, starting Wednesday 15th November, I’ll be publishing 10 artists who ,for a variety of different reasons, I believe will be worth watching in 2018.

Over the years, in choosing these selections, I’ve come up with a number of questions, challenges and difficulties. If you’re like me and interested in this geeky kind of stuff about how the lists are formed read on. If not it's probably just to come back here on Wednesday. If any of you have read my previous ponderings on how to form an album of the year list you'll know that I probably spend way too much time thinking about stuff like this. 

Here are some of the questions that have gone through my mind when forming my Ones to Watch lists, and the answers I've made to resolve them. Feel free to criticise my thoughts / ideas, but remember, this is my list not yours, so I can do what I want. Go and start your own blog. OK?

1. The basis of choice.

Do I choose acts I love or acts I think will be successful (commercially or critically), irrespective of if I like them?

I have relatively commercial tastes, so this isn’t too much of a problem for me. You’re unlikely to find me tipping an underground screamo noise band that are currently playing to six people in a cellar bar in Lithuania. Generally (although not exclusively) acts I like make music that is reasonably accessible to most people. So I tend to choose acts I love at the time and hope the success will follow.  In choosing acts I like it also means that the vast majority of them will have already appeared on the blog in the last year or so. In many ways my Ones to Watch list is a summary of some of the best acts I’ve introduced on the blog in the previous year.

2. How new is new?

This is a difficult one. Acts I may perceive as new may to others seem as old hat and vice versa. For example one year I tipped Clare Maguire as an artist to watch on the back of some demos on Myspace (remember that?). A year later she still hadn’t released anything. She was too new. Likewise I tipped Rag N Bone Man as One to Watch in 2014. Last year he cropped up on the BBC’s Sound of list. My criteria for newness is largely centred around if the artist has had any UK Top 40 chart hits and have they released an album. If the answer to either of those is yes, then I probably won’t consider them new. But most of the acts I’m tipping will have released a number of songs either through labels or independently.

3. Tip what everyone else is tipping or go off-piste?

These days every website and publication has its own tip list. Do I try and tip acts that are different from every other site, or follow the pack as there are always certain artists that everyone seems to be tipping?  I try and negate this as much as possible by writing and publishing my list early – that way I’m not influenced by other lists. 

4. Balance and diversity

If you look at the BBC Sound of list (to be published later this month) you will see that the producers make a real effort to engage a diverse voting panel. I can’t do that. This list is just compiled by me and therefore is ultimately based on my tastes and specialisms. So you’re unlikely to find any heavy rock on the list and very little grime – although last year I did include grime act Dave on the list as I really liked what he was doing (and still do). This also means there is likely to be a higher number of female vocalists on the list than male as that’s where my tastes tend to sit at the moment. The list is also likely to feature far more British acts than other countries – as that’s where I am based and even allowing for the internet, it’s easier to tap into acts from this country.

5. Tipping is perilous.

Look back at any so called ‘tastemakers’ list and you’ll find as many hits as misses. Nobody ever gets it ‘right’ all the time, whatever ‘right’ actually is. There's a few acts that I've tipped in the past that I look back now and think 'what was I thinking?' But by and large the majority of past choices I'm happy with - even if some of them never achieved long term careers as artists of merit. 

Check back tomorrow and at around 8.30am and every day after that for the next 10 days to see Breaking More Waves Ones To Watch 2018.

Here’s a list of all my previous selections from the last 9 years on the blog.

Alabama Shakes, Alessi’s Ark, Alice Jemima, Aurora, Avec Sans, Banks, Beth Jeans Houghton, Billie Marten, Cabbage, Coasts, Charli XCX, Chasing Grace, Chloe Black, Chloe Howl, Chvrches, Clare Maguire, Clock Opera, Curxes, Dave, Declan McKenna, Dot Rotten, D/R/U/G/S, Delphic, Elderbrook, Ellie Goulding, Eva Stone, Foxes, Florence & The Machine, Flyte, Gabrielle Aplin, George Ezra, Haim, Hazel English, Holly Miranda, Hurts, Iyes, James Blake, Jerry Williams, Jospeh Salvat, Jungle, La Roux, Lane Del Rey, LANY, Lapsley, Laura Doggett, Laura Mvula, Let’s Buy Happiness, Lianne La Havas,  Little Boots, Liv Dawson, Loyle Carner, Lucy Rose, Luke Sital-Singh, Maggie Rogers, Majik, Marina & The Diamonds, Matt Corby, Michael Kiwanuka, Mirrors, Misty Miller, Mononoke, Mumford & Sons, Mura Masa, Nao, Outfit, Passion Pit, Pumarosa, Queen of Hearts, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Ren Harvieu, Ryn Weaver, Seinabo Sey, Savages, Seramic, Skint & Demoralised, Skott, Sofi Tukker, Sons & Lovers, Sophie Jamieson, Spark, Spector, Starsmith, Stornoway, Rachel Sermanni, The Milk, The Night VI, The Shires, The Staves, The Vaccines,  Tom Odell, Unicorn Kid, Valerie June, Visions Of Trees, White Lies, Willy Moon,  Wolf Alice, Xylaroo, Yes Giantess, Zyra.

Monday 13 November 2017

New Music: Dream Wife - Let's Make Out (Video)

If British TV show Skins was still running then the new video from Dream Wife could easily have featured in it for sure. There’s dancing! Snogging! Music! More dancing! More snogging! More music! It looks great. The way all the best prom parties should be. 

Unfortunately Dream Wife don’t look like they’re having a particularly good time through it all, but at least they can be happy with the knowledge that their debut album arrives at the end of January, so there will be more opportunities for celebrations and possibly making out (with consent of course) then.

Dream Wife - Let's Make Out (Video)

Saturday 11 November 2017

New Music: Jerry Williams - Grab Life

Portsmouth, my home city, doesn’t have a great track record of artists crossing over to the wider mainstream and national stage. However, right now it certainly feels like Pompey’s Jerry Williams has all the potential to break the mould. She's managed to get on the big old important Spotify New Music Friday playlist this week, which shows somebody is taking notice, and she’s certainly one of the best, if not the best, unsigned artists from the south coast central area. 

New single Grab Life is an even more convincing argument to that last statement. It’s a snappy, good to be alive indie pop song that finds Jerry singing about seizing your time on the planet before it all ends: “Don’t watch the sunshine from your bed.” With its bright musicality and Jerry’s mellifluous voice Grab Life is the musical equivalent of Mr Motivator and after listening you’ll probably want to go and hug a stranger or at least do a little dance with one. Filled with personality and joy, this is a cracker.

Jerry will be playing on the same bill as Sam Fender and Love Ssega at the Courtyard Theatre in London on the 22nd November and headlines another London show at The Lexington on the 5th February next year before she flies out to play SXSW Festival.

Jerry Williams - Grab Life

Friday 10 November 2017

New Music: Introducing - Easy Life

Here’s a little warning for you. Having listened to the casual downbeat grooves of Leicester’s Easy Life and their debut single Pockets, do not go on to Spotify (other streaming services are available) type their name and then play the songs I’m Fading Away, 21, Light Me Up or I’ll Leave You Behind. Same band name, very different sound and band. Your ears may bleed if you do.

However, if rather than having to endure that pain you’d rather have them coated in something akin to fur trimmed ear muffs - music that is warmer, smoother and altogether more pleasant - then do listen to Pockets. A modern-day commentary on over consumption, material greed, excess and questioning the way they’re used in society to over compensate and anaesthetize for what’s missing - it’s a jam and then some. It reminds me a little of  a late night, soulful version of Jamie T.

Unsurprisingly the release comes via Chess Club records who now have a 10-year history in seeking out a widely eclectic mix of brilliantly fresh and eclectic music. Pockets certainly meets those criteria. A brassy, effortlessly cool debut that stands out from the crowd.

Easy Life - Pockets

New Music: Sigrid - Strangers

After managing to work the Don’t Kill My Vibe EP for virtually the whole year, finally there’s some new music from Sigrid. Hurrah!

Strangers isn’t the best song in her bag (anyone that has seen her live will know that she still has some even bigger bangers to come) yet it’s better than probably 95% of other pop music released this week. Why? Because: 1) It does what all good pop songs should do and gets straight in your head. 2) You can dance to it with your hands in the air. OK, maybe not the mellow beginning, but once it fires itself up and starts pumping big electronic pulses out, you’ll be raving. 3) The mellow beginning is lovely: “Just like in the movies, it starts to rain and we’re the broken beauties.” Perfect.

She’s mainstream pop music's brightest hope for 2018 for sure.

Sigrid - Strangers

Wednesday 8 November 2017

New Music: Alessi's Ark - Desert (Video)

For those of you who have been with me since virtually the beginning of the blog you might remember the name Alessi’s Ark cropping up as far back as 2008. I’m very pleased to see that Alessi is still making music and this latest cut, Desert, finds her on strong form with her always agreeable voice being backed with a classic scruffy indie-pop sound; if you’re a fan of bands like Alvvays then the chances are you’ll love this tune.

As much as I enjoy this song, what really strikes me is the new video, for quite personal reasons, as it is in the form of a rapidly changing photo collage which documents a journey from London via my home city of Portsmouth (you’ll see pictures of the harbour including HMS Warrior and the Spinnaker Tower) to the Isle of Wight - a place that I have very strong connections with. In particular a lot of the photos are taken in the seaside resort of Ventnor, a charming idiosyncratic cliffside town that can lay claim to having more sunny days than pretty much anywhere else in the UK. Alas it appears the weather when the photos were taken wasn’t so good, but the pictures give you an idea of the  wonderful vistas, it's homeliness and its old-fashioned lure. If you ever get the chance to visit the Isle of Wight make sure you spend some time in Ventnor. For a place with a population of around just 6,000 it has an awful lot to offer including some great restaurants and the Ventnor Fringe Festival.

Of course this is a music blog, not a travel one, so I must add that you should also make sure you spend some time with Alessi’s new album Love Is The Currency from which Desert is taken.

Alessi's Ark - Desert (Video)

Tuesday 7 November 2017

New Music: Pale Waves - New Year's Eve

There were a few questions asked of Manchester’s Pale Waves in these quarters at least when their second release Television Romance sounded like a copycat version of their rather brilliant and hooky debut There’s A Honey. Add in a slightly stilted and samey debut London headline gig and I was beginning to question if the indie-buzz in the UK around the band was really justified. 

Thankfully the third song out of the bag, New Year’s Eve gives more hope. Sure, it’s not radically different from the other two and there’s still the nagging suspicion that lead singer Heather’s vocal delivery might become a bit tiresome over a whole album, but New Year’s Eve is undeniably catchy, from its chilled ambient beginning through to the 80’s jam-pop funkiness which sounds not that dissimilar to Breaking More Waves favourites Fickle Friends. 

The music is certainly upbeat and confident, but it’s not that way lyrically on the song: “I don’t want to be alone on New Year’s Eve, do you even wanna be with me?” sings Heather doubtfully.

A sad fact for you all – whilst Heather is worrying about New Year’s Eve studies show that for a lot of people New Year’s Day is even worse – and I don’t just mean because of bad hangovers. In the UK December 31st has one of the lowest suicide rates of the year, whilst January 1st is the day with the highest rate. There’s a suggestion that this is because of the ‘broken promises effect’, when hopes of a new beginning are not met.

New Year’s Eve is the first track to come from Pale Waves forthcoming debut EP, released in early 2018 on Dirty Hit.

Pale Waves - New Year's Eve

Friday 3 November 2017

New Music: The Staves - Trouble On My Mind (Video)

Today sees the release of a brand-new song by The Staves and it’s a fascinating piece of work, the band having collaborated with orchestral chamber pop six-piece yMusic (who have previously worked with the likes of The Tallest Man On Earth, Paul Simon and Ben Folds) from New York. Even more intriguing is that this is not just a one off single – a whole album between the two groups, The Way Is Read, is due digitally on 24th November with vinyl following on the 1st December. The record comes about after The Staves and yMusic were first commissioned to work together on a live performance piece for Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) Eaux Claires Festival and have followed that through to a full record.

Trouble On My Mind is a weighty yet restful piece that showcases The Staves pure and arresting vocals, against a backdrop of the ensembles bewitching orchestral arrangement. I’ve always thought that The Staves could do a perfect Christmas album (and The Unthanks as well) and whilst this isn’t one its sound is about as close as you could get, with its crisp wintery music and warming vocals it brings in those sort of festive feelings, in a very different way to that which Mariah Carey ever could. Gorgeous.

The Staves - Trouble On My Mind (Video)

Wednesday 1 November 2017

New Music: Fickle Friends - Hard To Be Myself (Video)

Back in 2014 I wrote a piece about Fickle Friends and their single For You. The post alluded to the fact that whilst the band was doing very well online in terms of attracting lots of blog and website praise they still had a long way to go to achieve any sort of real world success, such as selling lots of tickets for larger shows and developing a real-life fan base. 3 years on from that article it gives me absolute pleasure to see the band continuing to work hard and achieving that success, as a recent sold out show in London’s Kentish Town Forum (2,300 capacity) attests to.

Hard graft and putting the hours in is undoubtedly part of the reason why the band are doing so well, but let’s not ever underestimate the power of a hooky tune, and Fickle Friends seem to be churning them out by the bucket load. Current single Hard To Be Myself might on a casual listen sound like a piece of throw away pop with Natti asking you to ‘party with me’ but a closer listen will find that there’s something deeper going on, with Natti touching on insecurity and anxiety – the idea of being the life and soul of the party, but the reality maybe isn’t quite the same. 

Today the band released a video for the song, which explores these ideas further. Director Daniel Harris explains: “The split-screen concept for Fickle Friends' Hard To Be Myself was built off the structure of ‘Expectation’ vs ‘Reality’, all based around a ‘90s American Frat House party aesthetic. From the beginning of the two narratives, I wanted to create a clear point of difference in the behaviour of our lead, Leo, by directing a left-side character that was relentlessly decisive, unapologetically confident and free from social inhibition versus a right-side character that was uncomfortable in his own skin and nervous. Then we surrounded him with the same character-set in the two different realities, one inside the party and the other on the doorstep, uninvited. These played side by side created a really beautiful juxtaposition. Alongside the narrative, we peppered in a gorgeous telephoto performance of Natti and shots from the band that flow along with the story.”

For lovers of all good pop music around the world, it’s time to enjoy some more Fickle Friends.

Fickle Friends - Hard To Be Myself (Video)

New Music: Grace Lightman - Halloween Is Over (Live Karaoke Video)

This new video from Grace Lightman is for a song she released earlier this year and is described as a ‘Live Karaoke Performance’. All I can say is that Grace has attended some far better Karaoke sessions than me. There’s no evidence of a drunk bloke shouting out the lyrics to Mr Brightside* as he’s cheered on to shouts of ‘go on son’ whilst necking five pints of lager. No this is Karaoke by way of a scene out of Twin Peaks. Given its eerie, ghostly sound and visual atmosphere I’m not sure if Halloween really is over in Grace Lightman’s world, but nonetheless this is unsettling in a good way.

*Footnote. Mr Brightside is a great song, but it's now become the 00's equivalent of Wonderwall in the UK at least - over played to the point of annoyance.

Grace Lightman - Halloween Is Over (Live Karaoke Performance)