Wednesday 30 May 2018

New Music: Introducing - Jevon

You know all those end of year prediction / ones to watch / tips for 2019 lists? Well, based on his new track Redemption, it really wouldn’t surprise me if we see the name Jevon crop up on some of them. In fact Pitchfork has already said pretty much the same thing about the man. So whilst Pitchfork and Breaking More Waves are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways, the fact that a tinpot amateur DIY hobby blog and arguably the biggest music website in the world have come to the same conclusion probably says something.

As a producer on last year’s New Gen album Jevon is now flying high and solo. Throwing in a children’s choir, an organ sample, some jazzy piano and high speed rap that finds Jevon describing himself as ‘The chosen one, like Mary and Joseph’s son’ this smacks of absolute confidence. It’s like Kanye before Kanye become well… a bit rubbish really. “Imagine what my album’s like,” he raps, and I already am. You will be as well, unless that is it's near lunchtime and you are thinking more about what you're going to fill your stomach with. Maybe if you are in the UK and at work it's time for a trip to Tesco?  

London’s most exciting new rap artist for sure and way better than a Tesco £3 meal deal

“I wanted to make something that felt epic, like the bad guy in the movie you thought was dead but returns in the sequel,” Jevon explains. Listen to Redemption and you’ll hear what he means.

Jevon - Redemption

Friday 25 May 2018

New Music: Jade Bird - Furious

With a title like Furious and lyrics that ask "when did you decide to let me down?" and "how could you do this?" you might expect Jade Bird to sound pretty angry on this song. Yet the opposite is true. Jade sounds almost calmly resigned as she questions what’s gone on. It’s only towards the end that this quiet acoustic lament rises up with Jade’s voice expanding with force to fill the space. The song is all the more powerful for its reposeful delivery.

Furious is a heartbreaker for sure and that adds a new-found dimension of depth to Jade Bird’s output. 

Jade’s previous single Lottery recently spent three weeks at number 1 on Triple A Radio and she was the first new artist to reach the top of the Triple A chart in 2018. She’ll be touring extensively this summer and winter, first in America before she heads home to the UK for some dates which you can find by clicking here.

Jade Bird - Furious

Thursday 24 May 2018

New Music: Maggie Rogers - Fallingwater

From the 'Pharell discovery moment' of Alaska through to finding herself playing Glastonbury and singing alongside Mumford & Sons at another major festival, life has been a bit of a whirlwind for Maggie Rogers. The last we all heard from her was in September 2017 when she released a Split Stones and announced that the tune represented her saying goodbye for a little while. It seems that 'a little while' was only that. Because eight months later Maggie is ready to go all over again with a lovely new song Fallingwater

Produced together with Rostam Batmanglij, Fallingwater isn’t going to shock existing fans - she hasn't returned with a screaming heavy rock tune - instead it retains the warm, relaxed ambience that was prominent on her debut EP. The song itself comes from Rogers journey over the last 2 years and her transition from college to where she is now: “It’s a song that celebrates rapid change and how simultaneously scary and electric it can feel. It’s about giving everything and not knowing if it’s enough. It’s about the power of vulnerability – a cry for help and a battle cry at the same time.”

Although she’s only been away for a short time (and no doubt she’s been busy creating in that time, not just sitting round eating Ben & Jerry's and watching non stop Netflix) it’s good to have her back.

Maggie Rogers - Fallingwater

Wednesday 23 May 2018

New Music: Saint Sister - Twin Peaks

I’ve never featured Saint Sister on the blog before, which is a real shame as the Irish duo have produced some exquisite tunes. Latest offering Twin Peaks is no exception – a spacious and silky song that will touch you with its soft tenderness.  

I really love the sentiment of it as well. Twin Peaks was written for a friend who was going through a bad time and the song is about the idea of just blocking out the world for a while and doing all the things that you enjoy doing together. Friends can be important for being a shoulder to cry on and talking through things, but sometimes what is required when things aren’t so good is just to be bloody self-indulgent and find some happiness again. Friends can be really good at helping with that.

Saint Sister will be releasing their debut album called Shape of Silence later this year and will be taking in a tour of America and Europe to promote it in the winter.

Saint Sister - Twin Peaks

Monday 21 May 2018

New Music: Introducing - Abbie Ozard

When I started writing Breaking More Waves nearly 10 years ago I didn’t really realise what I was getting myself into. I just started posting about music that I had heard and liked (and posted the occasional festival review and what I now know to be called a ‘think piece’) with no thoughts about if anyone would read it. But just in case someone did read it and just in case an artist wanted to tell me about their music I put my email address on the blog for people to get in contact with me. It was my personal email address. Why on earth would I set up one for the blog when this was just a small personal project?

10 years later that email address remains on the blog as a way for people to contact me, except these days it receives over 200 submissions every 24 hours. It amazes me on a daily basis how much new music is released. And because there is so much music put out there every day, it makes me sad to think of how many of those artists will get little or no coverage from small scale personal blogs like mine right up to the Pitchforks of this world. I probably read less than 5% of the emails I receive - full time work and having a life take precedent. 

I’ve had to change my personal email address of course. The old one is now just for the blog. My mum was getting annoyed when I wasn’t replying to her because her messages got buried in between submissions from Japanese heavy metal bands and the latest glitchy new wave electronic bedroom pop artists single promotion. Sorry mum. Now I reply pretty quickly to her so we're all good.

But now I have to say sorry to the artists as well. Because although it can still be a lot of fun discovering new artists via the in box, I’m still just as likely to discover new music through a whole variety of other channels. Such as today’s new singer songwriter. Her name is Abbie Ozard and she hails from Nantwich, Cheshire. If she did ever send me an email (I've just checked - I don't think she did) the chances are I probably would have missed it anyway.

Abbie has already been picked up by BBC Introducing Manchester and last year won the inaugural Words & Music Song Contest, a competition that included 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins and singer songwriter Thea Gilmore as its judges. So it's not just me that has noticed her, although at the moment most of the attention on Abbie has come from the Manchester area. 

The song that has grabbed my ears is Average Disguise; it's a dark torch song cast from the witching hours. It was the track that won her the competition and it was released at the start of this year - but it's still worth your time now. The most important ingredient of quality is time. Average Disguise is full of powerful brooding textures and ghostly cinematic guitar rattles and it is frankly rather wonderful. Abbie names Daughter and Marika Hackman as influences and you can definitely hear that in terms of the atmospherics of the song – it has elements of the epic, the cinematic and the nostalgic to it, although this is no copycat – it very much stands out as a very well-crafted piece on its own.

It’s early days for Abbie Ozard, but I’ll be keeping close tabs on her to see what comes next, for this sounds impressive.

Abbie Ozard - Average Disguise

Thursday 17 May 2018

New Music: Dizzy - Pretty Thing (Video)

“Hey guys we need to shoot a video for your song Pretty Thing.”

“Cool – what do you have in mind? Maybe we could do a performance video where we all play our instruments to show what we look like live. Or maybe we could not appear in the video at all and just use actors to tell an interesting or arty story for people to watch?”

“No, I was thinking that we get Katie to sing whilst you guys just stand there looking really really awkward for no reason.”

“Hmmm that doesn’t sound great – can we not at least move around or something? Maybe some dance routines perhaps?"

“OK, you can do a little bit of walking. But that’s it. Mainly I want you just standing doing nothing. It expresses something deep about the pointlessness of life”

“Er…OK…whatever you think will look good.”

Here is the new video for Pretty Thing by Dizzy. An undeniably beautiful song that in places reminds me of the band I’d most like to reform (The Sundays). Just feel a little bit sorry for the guys in the band in this video as you watch. They certainly don't look like they thought this was a good idea. More like they're at a funeral and Katie has just burst into song.

Dizzy - Pretty Thing (Video)

Wednesday 16 May 2018

New Music: Yassassin - Citizen

With an opening cry of “C-o-n-v-e-r-s-a-t-i-o-n,” London 5-piece Yassassin launch headlong into an untreated piece of rock ‘n’ roll mayhem on new single Citizen. “I guess it’s about realising that as messed up as our world is, there are still so many people who care and get themselves involved in fighting injustices. It really gives you hope. It’s important for young people to speak up, demonstrate, to get involved politically if that’s your thing, to write songs, make art,” the band explain. 

Bloody hell things have changed, haven’t they? It was only a few years ago when we had the likes of Farris from The Horrors saying that politics meant nothing to him and the vast majority of  indie / alternative artists were keeping their mouths shut on any sort of social commentary less it risked damaging their careers. Now bands seem to be stumbling over themselves to make their views known. 

Whether it’s having any real impact remains to be seen though. In the UK the Conservative government remains in power and last year the Electoral Commission warned that whilst there was an increased turnout at the general election, at local Council elections young people were still not engaged - they weren’t voting in their masses like they did in the snap general election. There’s a worry here that politics has become trendy / fashionable but only so far as singing ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ along to a White Stripes tune and tweeting how much you hate Theresa May and Brexit. 

Yassassin sound like they mean every word they sing though. Citizen is almost brutal in its approach. “The children gonna wake up,” comes the chant against the scuzzy strut of the guitars that bring massive slabs of energy and passion to the song. “I’m a citizen,” just isn’t a thing that UK indie bands would have sung five years ago. Sure, there’s an argument that pop and politics have always been uneasy bedfellows, but as Yassassin point out in Citizen, it’s time to wake up. Get involved.

Yassassin - Citizen

New Music: G Flip - Killing My Time

If you follow Breaking More Waves on Twitter, beware, because for the next few days there will be lots of tweets coming from The Great Escape Festival in Brighton. And as I am rushing round the streets of one of the UK’s finest seaside cities, catching as many live acts as possible, one name that is right at the top of my list to see is Georgia Flipo, who goes by the name of G Flip; I introduced her on the blog just last month as Australia’s answer to Phil Collins. 

That doesn’t mean to say that Georgia is a short bald man with a bad back who went from being a child actor to member of Genesis to one of the most successful songwriters of the 80s pop music era. But she can sing and drum and singing drummers are a pretty rare thing, plus she did used to be in a band (Empra) before she went solo so the comparison with Collins is valid in my opinion.  

The initial excitement for G Flip came from just one song. About You has been on constant rotation at Breaking More Waves HQ from the first day I heard it. From the weird droning sound that underpins the track, to its inherent can’t-get-you-out-of-my-head catchy simplicity, to Geogia’s pristine vocal delivery, G Flip struck pop gold on first attempt. 

But guess what? She’s done it again with song 2. No, not with a cover of Blur’s Song 2, but her own new song Killing My Time. With this one G Flip demonstrates that the art of writing a great pop song isn’t just about a catchy chorus – it’s about making the whole bloody thing an earworm to the point where you begin to wonder which part of the song is really the chorus at all. You might as well stop what you’re doing now because you’re going to get drawn away anyway once you press play. And this song is all about distraction, although in G Flip's case it’s not music that is doing the distracting: “Don’t distract me with your body, put your clothes back on, I know where this is going,” she sings. Well. That’s certainly one way of making someone lose focus on what they thought they were going to be doing.

G Flip plays 2 shows at this year’s Great Escape (the chances are that I’ll be at both) and she also supports Pale Waves in London later this month. Killing My Time is released to streaming services today.

For all the Great Escape tweets and action follow me @BMWavesBlog

G Flip - Killing My Time

Sunday 13 May 2018

New Music: Thyla - Blame

Thyla, one of Brighton’s most rapidly rising bands returned last week with their most urgent sounding song yet. Blame is a riotous blast of post-punk that clangs and soars with a frenetic full-throttle energy. Unhinging themselves from anyone that was describing their sound as dreamy or ethereal (oh, that’ll be me then) here we find Millie Duthie spitting out the words like a powerful punch in the face over an almost industrial backing of bass, drums and guitar that play at 100 miles per hour. 

Blame is a vital song that leaves no room for doubt.

Thyla - Blame

Friday 11 May 2018

Preview: The Great Escape Festival 2018

Brighton’s Great Escape is by far and away the UK’s largest new music, multi-venue, wristband access festival. It’s an event I’ve been attending since this blog started nearly 10 years ago (and even before that) and have seen it grown from relatively small beginnings to the near monster it has become now.

If you want some tips on how best to tackle the festival, get the most out of it and to survive it in one piece, read this piece by clicking on the link The Great Escape: Practical Tips For Music Nerds from 2017.

As the Great Escape is so big (there’s over 400 artists playing over 3 days) it can seem somewhat overwhelming. Every person who goes will have a completely different experience – it’s very easy for people that have even relatively similar music tastes to yours to see totally different artists over the three days.

So if you haven’t done your homework (there’s a Spotify playlist that you can find by clicking here that contains 95% of the artists playing) let me provide you with just a small handful of recommendations of artists that may well be worth your time.

G-Flip (Australia)

Beach Club 5.30pm Thursday

Beach House 3.30pm Saturday

G-Flip is exactly the sort of artist I want to see at Great Escape. First because she’s incredibly new, with just one single release to her name, secondly because the reports I saw of her performances at SXSW Festival, Austin, Texas were very encouraging and thirdly because she’s from the other side of the world – which is what Great Escape does so much better than every other new music festival in the UK – bringing in artists from across the globe. For 2018 Australia is setting the bar in terms of exciting new artists at Great Escape with a very strong contingent of artists across the board.

Introduced on the blog just last month, G Flip’s name makes her sound like a rapper or grime artist, but her debut track, About You is actually a rather perfect pop song created from a looped rumbling dark electronic drone, a drum pattern and Georgia Flipo’s pristine vocal. As yet I’ve no idea if her other songs will match up to About You, but Great Escape will be an opportunity to find out.

Hatchie (Australia)

Komedia 12.50pm Thursday

Horatios 13.00pm Friday

The Arch 6.00pm Friday

My second recommendation is also from Australia. Hatchie has already picked up a lot of on line support including from Breaking More Waves. Hatchie is the world of Harriette Pilbeam and her music recaptures some of the spirit and sound of late 80’s / early 90’s ethereal indie bands such as The Sundays and The Cocteau Twins (Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins has even remixed her song Sure). A more recent modern comparison would probably be another Breaking More Waves favourite Hazel English, who according to Spotify is a related artist in terms of audience listenership. If you like your indie pop dreamy, fuzzy and celestial Hatchie could be for you.

Flohio (United Kingdom)

East Wing (Brighton Centre) 6.15pm Thursday

Komedia Studio Bar 3.30pm Saturday

Shooshh 9.30pm Saturday

Funmi Ohio, better known as Flohio is a South London MC who has already gained endorsements from the likes of Pitchfork, Noisey, The Fader, The Guardian and earlier this year was selected by Naomi Campbell for Vogue as one of the 10 Women Changing Our Future. She was also runner up in last year's Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition. With a delivery style that carries a certain rawness and an undiluted energy her tracks such as new single Watchout and previous track Bands mix elements of trap, techno and grime, all laid out with scissor sharp precision. Having already supported the likes of Princess Nokia, Clams Casino and Mura Masa, Flohio is a rapper on the rise.

Hatis Noit (Japan)

St Mary’s Church 7.00pm Thursday

Great Escape can serve as many things for many people. Some like to chase the latest buzz bands. Some like to catch all the latest new acts from a particular type of genre. But one thing I love about it is that over the three days there’s the opportunity to watch new artists who don’t really fit any simple classification. Hatis Noit is one such artist. In fact of the 400+ artists playing Great Escape, I’d go as far as describing Hatis Noit as utterly unique.

Originally from Shiretoko in Japan but now residing in London, Hatis Noit creates music based almost entirely around her voice, a voice that in a previous post I described as operatic, alien, monastic and earthily primal. Her work is abstract, experimental and from the leftfield embracing elements of modern technology, ambient, Western Classical and Japanese Folk. It’s also utterly absorbing. She’s playing just one show, in a church, which should give her music an added sense of otherworldliness. 

Easy Life

Komedia Studio Bar 12.15am Friday

The Haunt 6.30pm Saturday

First introduced on Breaking More Waves in November 2017, Easy Life shaped a place all of their own with debut single Pockets – a laid back anthem of modern consumption. An indie band of sorts, their reference points are far wider. Pockets has a neat brass riff, a wash of soul and a groove. That groove is even more present on their song Siverado, a track that sounds far removed from their Leicester home. With dates at Dot to Dot Festival, Barn On The Farm and Reading / Leeds all confirmed, Brighton is the next stop for Easy Life. See you there?

Thursday 10 May 2018

New Music: Basement Revolver - Baby

Here’s some good news:

1. Canadian trio Basement Revolver have a new single out.

2. It’s good.

3. They’ve got an album on the way as well. It’s due on August 24th and it's called Heavy Eyes.

4. They’re in the UK next week to play Brighton’s Great Escape and there will be a preview of that on Breaking More Waves with all the essential tips and recommendations pretty soon.

Now admittedly ‘it’s good’ isn’t a particularly great piece of music journalism (but then you don't come here for music journalism do you?) nor does it give much context or even entertain – all of those things that music writing is meant to do. 

So let’s expand just a little and tell you why it’s good. 

First, because it’s one of those tracks that sounds best turned up loud. The guitars are all gritty, fuzzy and slouchy, sounding like they’ve been waiting around at the bus stop for a while, got a bit bored and have decided to annoy the nearby residents. But the residents won’t be able to get that cross because Chrisy Hurn’s voice is so stirring and seemingly limitless that they won’t be able to do anything but be charmed. Besides they might be fans of beautifully weary sounding indie rock. 

Secondly, because it feels cathartic. And for me music is as much about feeling as it is about technical quality. By the end you’ll find yourself being swept away by the sheer dynamism of it. “It’s about feeling confused about what I want in life, and how that affects other people. It is about crying a lot and feeling like I was burdening my partner with those questions and not wanting him to feel like he was the source of my anxiety,” says Chrisy. 

This one is epic and emotive. In other words, it's good. Turn the volume up when playing.

Basement Revolver - Baby

Wednesday 9 May 2018

New Music: Laurel - Lovesick

One of the things that unsigned artists sometimes tell me is that, when speaking to record labels and in particular major labels, the A&R people there will sometimes inform them that they, as an artist, still need to ‘find their sound.’ It’s an odd expression, suggesting that an artist only has one sound and it’s somehow hidden waiting to be discovered. Can you imagine David Bowie being told when he was just starting out that he wasn’t ready to be signed because he hadn’t ‘found his sound.’ If that was the case then he spent the whole of his career constantly trying to find that sound, as his musical style was forever evolving. I think often the expression actually just means something else: ‘What you are doing doesn’t match with what I’m looking for.’ 

If artists did just did have one sound their art would very quickly become boring – an endless succession of repeats. I touched on this in my previous post regarding the new Jungle material and that of their two new songs. Happy Man, whilst well written, felt somewhat disappointing, being essentially not that different to songs on their first record, whereas House in LA felt more exciting due to its progression stylistically – whilst still being recognisably a Jungle song.

Which brings me to Laurel, another artist that the ‘finding her sound’ description could be used to describe. Or maybe Laurel is just another artist, like Bowie, who likes to try different things and evolve. Maybe she's not trying to find anything except good tunes? Having first appeared as a folky Laura Marling inspired songwriter under the name Under The Laurels, she morphed into a balladeer of beauty – Britain’s answer to Lana Del Rey, then had a go at edgy pop before moving to something less processed, more stripped back and guitar based. 

And as Laurel has woven her way through these different musical shapes and forms there has always been the question of when is there going to be an album? She hinted in interviews from last year that it would drop in 2017 but that didn’t happen. However finally in 2018 there is confirmation of a long player, titled Dogviolet, which will be released on the 24th August 2017 via Counter Records. There will also be an 11 date UK tour to support the record and this, a new single called Lovesick

Lovesick keeps things raw musically and finds Laurel opening up her heart. She sings of obsession and addiction to a relationship, for better or for worse. She calls it love. “You’d be a love song, baby I’m lovesick, tasted the devil, now I can’t be apart from you.” The track reminds me a little of some of Nilufer Yanya’s recent output – managing to combine a certain effortlessness with an urgent passion that bodes well for the album when it arrives. Take a listen below.

Laurel - Lovesick 

Tuesday 8 May 2018

New Music: Jungle - House In LA (Video)

Remember Jungle?

Back in 2013 they appeared as an almost anonymous collective spearheaded by the mysterious ‘J’ and ‘T’ and wowed us all with some euphoric dry ice filled backlit shows, captivating videos that made dance routines cool again and a series of heady neo-soul pop singles. The album that followed didn’t disappoint either and ended up on the Mercury Prize list.

Now they’re back, with not one but two new songs which they’ve been playing out on a recent live tour, which I caught last night as it rolled into Brighton. Interestingly this tour missed out London, almost as if the band want to take the new songs to their fans first rather than come under too much spotlight from the press.

Of the two new tracks released today Happy Man provides little surprise. It’s very much more of the same – even the lyrical themes are close to Busy Earnin’ exploring the ideas of younger people not being able to aspire to what Baby Boomers had (which seems very topical given today’s Resolution Foundation proposal to give millennials £10,000 each)  "Buy yourself a dream, how's it looking? Buy yourself a car and a house to live in. Get yourself a girl, someone different. Buy yourself a dream it won't mean nothing." For me this lack of progression seems a little disappointing; it feels like the band are playing safe, albeit it's still a strong tune. (You can hear that song on Spotify by clicking here).

House In LA is much more intriguing. Rather like a number of the new songs they played last night in Brighton it’s slower than much of their first album and whilst it still contains the trademark Jungle falsetto vocals it’s less funky, more cinematically downbeat and slow-mo. T and J have described the album as "a post-apocalyptic radio station playing break up songs,” and this one certainly sounds more like that than Happy Man. It may not be as obviously commercial as something like Busy Earnin’ or The Heat but it provides the possibility of an album that could go deeper than the first and that has to be better than just volume 2 of the same old same old?

Jungle - House In LA (Video)

Monday 7 May 2018

New Music: Childish Gambino - This Is America (Video)

Great art can do many things. It can entertain, it can challenge, it can be controversial, it can make statements about the world we live in, it can move popular culture forward, it can stun the viewer or listener with its aesthetic prowess, it can engage, it can confuse, it can make you think. But the greatest art manages to do all of these things whilst sitting in a place that is popular and mainstream. After all what is the point of doing all of the above if hardly anyone is going to take notice?

The new video from Childish Gambino is that great art. It’s shocking, chaotic, mesmerising and its visual narrative is contextually on point for 2018 it’s crazy. This is a bold social statement that tackles racial disparity, gun violence and how distraction techniques can be used to make us oblivious to what is going on in the background. Oh and there's lots of wonderful dancing as well. It's starkly powerful to watch and absorb.

This Is America is currently the most popular video on You Tube and has already had nearly 14 million views in just over 24 hours. Deservedly so. Sadly in my country of the UK it seems that a lot of music websites haven't covered it (yet) and I hope that this is just because it was released on a Sunday followed by a Bank Holiday Monday. Because this needs to be seen and heard.

Childish Gambino - This Is America (Video)

Saturday 5 May 2018

New Music: The Blinders - L'etat C'est Moi (Video)

Guitar music is dead. Rock is RIP. Blah blah blah. 

That seems to be the view held by certain sectors of the music industry. In the UK, if you turn on Radio 1 right now you’ll find very few guitar bands on the playlist. The noteable exceptions at this week are Blossoms and Florence and the Machine on the A list (both arguably not pure guitar bands) and holding a brightly flaming torch for exciting new young rock bands, Dream Wife on the C list. That’s it.

Here on Breaking More Waves I’ve never been a champion of just indie rock music, just as I’ve never been a champion of just electronic music or just folk music or just experimental music. I’m excited by all types of music and don’t really understand people who only like one genre. There’s a whole world of sound waiting to be discovered. Only listening to one genre is like only eating fish and chips or only having sex in the same position and place. Boring.

Right now I don’t buy the guitar music is dead argument. Sure, it may not be morphing into anything particularly new or challenging as a genre but right now I feel there’s a whole group of guitar bands out there who are committing huge amounts of energy and zeal into what they do; the result being the hairs on the back of the neck stand up when you witness them play live. There's still a lust for rock 'n' roll.

The Blinders are one such band. Raw, passionate, with a lead singer who is like a modern day version of Jim Morrison, there’s a dark burning fire in this band that not only works live but translates its heavy fuel into the recorded form well.

New single L'etat C'est Moi is a perfect example of that. “A self-proclaimed war-dance told by the Idiot King himself.  The first-person perspective of a madman, and his obsessive fantasies for power over all, and insolence from none,” is how the band describe the song.  It’s a brutal but euphoric cacophony of noise that is a long way from displaying signs of indie rock being dead.This will make you feel alive.

The Blinders - L'etat C'est Moi (Video)

Friday 4 May 2018

New Music: Salt Ashes - Girls

Was it really 2011 when Salt Ashes first appeared on Breaking More Waves? It was. That’s a lot of new music in between now and then. And as Salt Ashes has been doing this pop music stuff for a while now I guess in 2018 nobody would hold it against her if she went for a ‘mature’ sound dropping all the electronics for a sleepy campfire acoustic record designed to fit on one of those Your Favourite Coffeehouse Spotify playlists.

Thankfully she hasn’t at all. Her new tune Girls sounds like it’s heading straight for ‘da club’ with big rubbery bass lines to get the lips, hips and tits moving. It even has the all-important shout of ‘Hey’ which is virtually mandatory on any self-respecting pop record these days. If you don’t believe me check out this piece Peter Robinson wrote in the Guardian last year about how the word has infiltrated music which you can find by clicking here.

Whilst Girls is a body shaker par excellence that doesn’t mean it’s just about popping the champagne and getting down on the dancefloor. There’s a bit more to it; the song deals with two people, one of whom has got the wrong idea about a friendship – they don’t understand that the other person just wants to keep things platonic: “You just don’t know when to quit, you think I’m playing hard to get, I guess you just don’t really know me.” 

Yet whilst there’s clearly a problem between these two people there’s no problem with this tune. Girls is a banger.

Salt Ashes - Girls

New Music: Grace Carter - Saving Grace

One of the exciting things about pop music is that nobody can predict the future – even though some music industry people think they can. Mind you, that doesn’t stop bloggers, music websites and magazines having a go every year, normally around late November / December time when we all start producing our Ones to Watch / Sound of lists for the year ahead. 

To prove how unpredictable the nature of music crystal ball gazing is, amongst the 10 artists I named as Ones to Watch for 2018 was the band Pink Kink. This week, after just two singles and a whole bunch of reviewers salivating at their live shows, they split up. They are no more. And they're undoubtedly not Ones to Watch any more. Ooops. I want my money back on that crystal ball.

Of the other acts I named on the list the likes of Superorganism, Pale Waves, Confidence Man, Jade Bird and a certain Norwegian pop singer named Sigrid seem to be doing great guns though. One other that I’d put into the doing the good stuff category is an artist that perhaps surprisingly wasn’t on many tip lists aside from mine – perhaps because as of last November she’s only released one song – and her name is Grace Carter

Now with Silhouette, Ashes and Silence all under her belt Grace brings another cocktail of emotion in the form of a song to the world. The title might seem a little odd given her name, but Saving Grace is another smoky soul pop winner: “You told me not to hold hands with the devil, you warned me that I’d lose my faith, I never thought I’d leave my heaven but now I know you’re my saving grace,” she sings in a chorus that knows exactly how to bury itself in your brain. Every song she’s released so far seems to come from the heart and brings emotion and melody together absolutely perfectly. Keep watching her. Keep listening.

Grace Carter - Saving Grace

Thursday 3 May 2018

New Music: Introducing - Feet

I’ve always had a weird love of bands that don’t really bother singing all the time - and by that I don't mean acts that make instrumentals (although I like those as well). From 80’s indie post-punk troopers such as The Blue Aeroplanes to the electronic pop of West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys to more recent examples like shouty south Londoners Shame, and odd-ball pop types The Rhythm Method there’s something that appeals. Part of the attraction for me is that often the lyrics of such artists are easier to make out than those that sing. Somehow the enunciation of words often seems to get lost when melodies are involved. I remember a singer of one particular group telling me once that she was a bit disappointed that nobody ever wrote about the lyrics of her songs, to which the simple answer was: ‘That’s because no one can understand a blood word you’re uttering.’

Which brings me to relative newcomers Feet. George (known as Jeep), Oli, Harry, Callum and Joe formed Feet at the not exactly prestigious Coventry University (never mind lads – Coventry is the UK City of Culture in 2021 and The Specials hailed from there so it can’t be that bad) and released their debut 7” double sided single Petty Thieving / Macho Macho on Felix White’s (of The Maccabees) YALA Records. 

With its squirming guitar, opening spoken words of “Yeah you, what’s the attraction?” and big riffing shouted hook of “But I can’t meet your standards every single f*ckin’ day - petty thieving!” it’s a welcome blast to the ears that manages to deliver both a frenetic and slacker energy in it's three and quarter minutes. There’s a pretty entertaining YALA Session online (here) as well featuring the band playing the song in kimonos and sunglasses which is worth a look.

Now Feet have followed this up with a new song Back Seat Driver which features an animated video made by Jeep of the group. “Jeep studies animation and illustration at uni so it’s a two birds one stoner job” state the band. “The animation connects to the lyrics and pays homage to our guitarist Callum's problematic road rage, which is as hilarious as it is terrifying”. So that Coventry education is paying dividends then. With meandering guitars and a half-sung half-spoken vocal delivery Back Seat Driver finds Jeep getting a little deep. “It’s not a pursuit of death it’s a pursuit of life,” he proclaims shortly before the song explodes hard. I predict frenzied moshpits towards the end of this one.

Feet will be out on the road this summer playing a whole host of festivals starting at Brighton’s Great Escape in May. Steal a ticket to see them if you can.

Feet - Back Seat Driver

Feet - Petty Thieving

Tuesday 1 May 2018

New Music: Introducing - Margot

If Desensitised by Margot was a colour it would be a pastel shade. A mellow piece of jangle-pop it takes me back to a time when boys with guitars sung their hearts out with a certain softness rather than any sort of fighting arrogance. This is more Aztec Camera than Oasis, more early Belle & Sebastian than Arctic Monkeys; it meanders and flows rather than kicks and punches. There’s no earworm chorus, no killer hook and yet as Desensitised takes you on its journey of the morning commute of becoming more mechanised with pixelated eyes it manages to make the dullness and monotony of it all sound oddly heart-warming.

Also extra marks to the band for pulling a cheesy thumbs up pose in the press shot, which if you look closely even features some red eye. Clearly they're not competing with Lady Gaga in the image stakes.
Margot is Alex Hannaway (vocals), Ben Andrewes (drums), Albi Cleghorn (guitar), Rob Fenner (guitar) and Michael Webb (bass) and they are from South-London. Desensitised is the debut single. 

Margot - Desensitised