Tuesday 31 July 2018

New Music: Robinson - Don't Trust Myself

It’s been a pretty quiet month on Breaking More Waves and next month will be even quieter as I take the majority of August off to have my first two-week holiday in over a year and also hit a couple of music festivals; Bestival – where I’ll be DJing as well as enjoying all the fun as a punter and Victorious Festival in my home city of Portsmouth. It will be the longest break I’ve ever had from the blog, but right now a recharge of the batteries is necessary. There will be a handful of posts, but that’s all. Normal service will resume in September.

However, before the big slow down here’s a final post for July. 

New Zealand's Robinson first appeared on Breaking More Waves back in May 2017 to very little fanfare (a quick check on Hype Machine shows that of the blogs listed there just Breaking More Waves and Going Solo posted her song Don't You Forget About Me via Soundcloud upon release) with me mainly making jokes about how Robinson was only using her surname and how most big popstars used their first name (Adele, Beyonce, Kylie, Rihanna etc). However, since that time something pretty incredible has happened because one of Robinson’s subsequent releases Nothing To Regret went supernova and has now clocked up a huge 41 million streams on Spotify. That’s pretty huge numbers for a relatively new artist. Maybe she'll have to start using her first name after all?

Yet streaming statistics in pop music doesn’t always mean huge stardom or a long-term career. In fact Robinson’s latest release, the track I’m posting here, Don’t Trust Myself has just over 1,000 views on You Tube so far (it’s streaming statistics are better with about 200,000 so far on Spotify). 

And whilst our love of music isn’t about statistics I wonder how many so-called hardcore music fans have even heard about Robinson? Today I did a quick straw poll survey of some of my ‘music friends’ and only 1 out of 7 people knew her name. This shows that my music friends aren’t all reading my blog (boo they let me down) but more importantly demonstrates some evidence that a single ‘hit’ on Spotify doesn’t make you a star. If Robinson played some shows in the UK she probably wouldn’t be rocking out Brixton Academy or even Shepherd’s Bush Empire just yet. Despite those big numbers. Hopefully she's be doing somewhere bigger than The Old Blue Last though - although if it's big enough for Kylie (see here) maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea?

So, there’s still work to be done. Streaming below is Don’t Trust Myself with one of those lyric videos which even features the ‘Oooh Oooh’ parts of the song. It’s a slow burning emotional electronic pop tune that deals with the complexity of relationships, the heart ruling the head and feelings of emptiness: “How am I lonely, with so many other people round me.” It’s also a fine, albeit subtle, follow up to Nothing To Regret.

You can also find Don’t Trust Myself on the latest instalment of the Breaking More Waves Spotify monthly playlist, which has just gone live, and features all the songs I’ve featured this July. As it was a relatively quiet month the playlist is only 12 songs and forty minutes long, so you can perhaps take a listen on your morning commute? Don’t forget to follow it if you don’t already do so. I update it at the end of every month (You can find it by clicking here).

Robinson - Don't Trust Myself

Thursday 26 July 2018

New Music: Emily Burns - Test Drive

The fact that Emily Burns is able to do a good song has never really been in question has it? This blog was full of her creations and they all justified that she was a bona fide talent.  But now they’re gone. All those old songs like Plasters, Glitters and Glue and Enemy seem to have been buried in whatever the internet’s version of the graveyard is, perhaps never to return. 

Thankfully though there’s plenty more out there to enjoy now and perhaps have a little dance to. For Emily has released a mini album / EP (I’m not quite sure which it is - there's 7 songs clocking in at just over 20 minutes) with a title that sounds like a movie: Seven Scenes from the Same Summer. It’s a snapshot of a point in time that delves into the joys and sadness of relationships starting, relationships ending, Sundays in bed and Emily discovering who she is.

Another alternative title could have been Seven Pop Jams from Heaven, because every single one is. 

You’ll already be familiar no doubt with the likes of Cheat and Bitch (which I featured here) but today I’m featuring the record's opening track Test Drive

A deft and modern piece of electronic pop, Test Drive some good punchy shouts of “Hey!”, one use of the F-Word and a naughty little chorus that finds Emily using the analogy of a car to describe how she doesn’t want to be used as a test drive for the weekend (or a joy ride in the evening). For even more amazing car analogies take a listen to the lyrics of the Grace Jones song Pull Up To My Bumper. Now that’s a really naughty tune.

Stream Test Drive below and the six other songs of Seven Scenes From The Same Summer on any streaming service. Those of you who remember Emily from my early blog posts in her unsigned days you will also be pleased to hear the album isn’t all spanking shiny electronics with songs like Vanilla Sundae and Senseless giving some nice variation as she goes back to her more acoustic roots. 

Emily Burns - Test Drive

Wednesday 25 July 2018

New Music: Another Sky - Avalanche

Another Sky won me over on first listen back in March with their bewitching track Forget Yourself and the accompanying digital video (see the previous Introducing post by clicking here) and now they’ve gone one better with Avalanche.

First there’s the song. A hard hitting take on toxic masculinity that finishes with a repeated raw and impassioned angry mantra by lead singer Catrin Vincent: “When you hold them to account, they’ll spit you out, just a bad taste in their mouth.” Its’s a powerful piece of music that sonically shares some similarities with OK Computer era Radiohead, although I don’t ever remember Thom Yorke singing lines as targeted as “They’re strangers, they’re in Hollywood, they’re your neighbours you left back in your childhood, your fathers that won’t make amends, they’re in schools, they’re your boyfriends.” A direct statement that the traits of toxic masculinity such as misogyny, homophobia and violence can exist anywhere.

Then there’s the video. It’s a potent piece of work. Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity at the start as you watch a weird white-painted bald-headed person that looks like a long lost relative of Jed Hoile or Pinhead from Hellraiser pull some shapes. As the video develops you'll see the personal anger and upset forge to the front as Catrin reveals more of herself in what is clearly a very personal piece. This is certainly the video that pulls the most punches I've seen since This Is America by Childish Gambino.

A highly impressive and compelling piece of art. Another Sky are way more than just your average indie band. 

Another Sky - Avalanche

Tuesday 24 July 2018

New Music: Introducing - Angie McMahon

Angie McMahon first came onto my radar in a library. It wasn’t a case of finding Angie’s name in a book titled The Great Hopes of Future Music, nor was Angie working there issuing me with a 20p fine for returning my copy of The Great Gatsby a day late. Instead, this particular library was part of the Bush Theatre complex in London and Angie was playing a show there as part of June’s Bushstock Festival. It was there, in a tiny and rather sweaty room that could only hold about 60 people, she regaled us with her powerful undiluted songs as well as tales of her snotty nose, having been a bit unwell before the gig.

What impressed me most on first listen about McMahon though was her voice. Solid seems like a pretty awful word to describe someone’s singing, but if I am going to use that word (and I am) it’s meant in the most positive of ways. I could add soulful onto that as well, as there’s an easy flowing depth to her vocal. 

Angie is an Australian songwriter and musician from Melbourne. If you search for her on Twitter, she’s the one who in her bio simply states ‘Potato farming.’ She’s already put out a couple of tracks that have done well in her homeland – the simple but highly melodic Slow Mover and the equally good Missing Me

Her latest effort Keeping Time shows it’s all killer no filler with her work, as it struts in with a confidence that sounds like Florence And The Machine has been listening to the blues and got a bit of dirt and grit inside her. If you’re a fan of Joan Armatrading or Karima Francis you might just find something here you like.  It’s strong (or dare I say it again…solid) stuff that is likely to find McMahon labelled with words like ‘authentic’ which is not something I care for either way (you can make great tunes whilst being absolutely inauthentic) or even worse she’ll get the tag ‘real music’ – a classification designed mainly by middle aged white men who struggle to embrace the idea that music can be many things besides just bands with guitars. However, one label I will agree with is that Angie McMahon is first-rate. 

Take a listen to Keeping Time below and also do investigate her other two tracks. Of Keeping Time Angie says: “This song is me yelling at myself to get off my arse and do some work... but in a loving way. Like, you know what you want, and you can either back yourself or keep bad habits, so take note of where you’re at and use it as fuel. It’s like a love song to self-discipline. I hope others can feel some affection towards it too.”

Angie McMahon - Keeping Time

Sunday 22 July 2018

New Music: Chløë Black - Spaceman

When I first heard that Chløë Black was releasing a song called Spaceman my thoughts first turned not to David Bowie as you might expect, but Babylon Zoo. Whatever happened to them? And can you name their other hits after Spaceman? (* Answer at the bottom of this post).

Thankfully this isn’t a cover of THAT Spaceman song. Although to put it in context Babylon Zoo's song was very popular and sold 420,000 physical copies on it’s first week of release – the fastest selling single in the UK since Can’t Buy Me Love by The Beatles. This more recent Spaceman is an original and for anyone that knows Ms Black’s previous work, there are a few surprises in store as it delves into new areas musically.

Starting with some piano balladeering Spaceman soon rockets off into futuristic trap-pop territory. Here Chløë delivers plenty of standout lyrics about her high expectations in relationships, admitting she’s bored out of her mind and that she wants a spaceman to get her higher: “Tequila my sunrise, an astronaut between my thighs,” she sings. Blimey! In some of Chløë’s previous work there’s been a definite Twin Peaks influence. Now it seems she wants a bit of Tim Peake (other spacemen are available).

It’s another winning out-there pop jam from Chløë Black.

 Chløë Black - Spaceman

* Babylon Zoo had 2 further top 40 hits in the UK after Spaceman. Animal Army reached number 17 and The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes (the title track from their debut album) hit 32. They didn’t have any hits from their second album and the record, King Kong Groover failed to chart. And there lies the story of pop - one moment riding a wave, the next moment it breaks and you're lost under it.

New Music: Flohio - Watchout

No matter how much hype an artist gets on line, the great leveller can often be getting out there and playing live. Suddenly all that praise from Pitchfork, The Fader, Cracked Magazine as well as being touted as One to Watch by the Guardian can seem pretty irrelevant when you’re playing to a crowd at a music festival that you could quite easily invite round to your house and pretty much fit in the bathroom.

Such was the case for Flohio last weekend at Latitude Festival. Now of course there are some extenuating circumstances here. First Flohio was a relatively late addition to the bill. Second she clashed with main stage headliners Alt-J. Third Latitude is a very white, very middle class, non-urban festival and Flohio’s music probably doesn’t sit comfortably with 95% of its audience. 

However, even given all these factors, it shows the lack of big influence the online music press now has on our decisions. The Guardian might be tipping her as One to Watch, but at Latitude (whose audience probably has a high Guardian readership) very few people took its advice. 

Which is a shame. 

Because Flohio is good. She has a fiery, fast-paced delivery. Plus her music sets itself apart with plenty of streaks of originality. It isn’t exactly grime, it isn’t exactly hip-hop, it isn’t exactly techno and it isn’t exactly trap, but there are elements of all of these on Watchout, which is frankly, a banger of the highest order. 

A couple of days ago she dropped a video for Watchout (which has been out for a few weeks now). It has a lo-fi grainy edginess to it and you can watch it below. Ignore the Latitude blip – I agree with the Guardian, she’s one to watch.

Flohio - Watchout (Video)

Friday 20 July 2018

New Music: Fröst - Record Still Spinning

Imagine, if you will, pop purveyors Saint Etienne getting in a studio with Anglo-French band Stereolab. The end result, Record Still Spinning, could well be the result. Although in this case the song was created by by Brighton’s Fröst. It's a gorgeous piece full of propulsive, motorik beats combined with the lovely languid vocals of Johanna Bramli and it comes from the same place as another Brighton band of old; Electrelane. There's even a hint of the wonderful Broadcast in there as well. Basically it's pretty special.

Record Still Spinning is one of those odd songs that whilst sounding slightly downbeat and introspective still manages to produce a feeling of joy and hazy delirium. There’s lots of superlatives I could throw at this one, but let’s just go with the fact that this is a sublime, dreamy, enchanting, ghostly piece of art pop that you can totally lose yourself in.

Record Still Spinning is taken from Fröst’s debut album Matters which is due for release later this year. Fröst is the aforementioned Bramli and Steve Lewis, who also plays with Fujiya & Miyagi and the band have already been picked up by the likes of Annie Mac (BBC Radio 1), Nemone, Gideon Coe and Lauren Laverne  (BBC 6 Music) and John Kennedy (Radio X). 

Fröst - Record Still Spinning

Thursday 19 July 2018

New Music: Bokito - How Dare You

London’s Bokito got me all hot under the collar back in March 2017 with their single Better At Getting Worse and since that time I’ve spent far too much time learning to dance like their uniquely charismatic front man Moses Moorhouse, who cavorts in a way that is both carnal and camp, unleashing his inner gorilla and finding that groove in a way you just wouldn’t expect. 

This week the band released a new single How Dare You and once again I can feel my hips beginning to twist and my legs beginning to explore just how far they can bend and warp as Bokito make summer go indie. Singing with a falsetto that’s a saucy mix of silk and gravel Moses has explained that the tune is: “A celebration of finding someone that matches your madness, the insecurities and concerns that come into building a relationship and the ever growing feeling that these thoughts may be pushing the other person away. But ultimately, the comfort in knowing that someone has those same uncertainties in relation to you!” 

This one's a flaming joy.

If you want to see more of Bokito, Moses incredible dancing and be ready to move with some force yourself, your next opportunity will be at The George Tavern in London on 21st July. However, the gig I’m most excited about Bokito playing is in October when the band hit the stage in Portsmouth at Dials Festival, an event which I’ve had a reasonably big hand in curating (booking about 1/3 of the acts). They'll be on stage at the Wine Vaults, one of 5 venues that we will be taking over for the multi-venue event. Other acts playing that stage, which will run from early afternoon to evening that have featured on Breaking More Waves include Art School Girlfriend, Jerry Williams and Temples of Youth (subject to final confirmation of line up and times). You can buy tickets for Dials for just £16 by clicking this link. The festival is over 18s only except for the Wedgewood Rooms and Edge Of The Wedge venues which is over 14s. The earlier you buy, the more help you will be giving the festival and therefore Solent Mind the mental health charity that Dials Festival is supporting in 2018, so grab one quick before they’re gone.

Bokito - How Dare You

Wednesday 11 July 2018

New Music: Sigrid - Schedules

It’s been an odd week or so at Breaking More Waves, simply for the fact that pretty much everything new I’ve pressed play on has been at best average and more often than not way below that. So, glory be to Sigrid for coming along again and saving pop music (or at least stopping this blog from becoming a graveyard of nothingness). Schedules, a live favourite, is the final song from her Raw EP that she’s been slowly revealing over the last few months. And I adore it.

There’s so many things to love about this song. There’s a oh-oh hook. I’m a big fan of the oh-oh or the woah-woah-woah in a pop song. Sometimes you need throwaway lyrics as much as you need deeply personal, poetic and well thought out ones. Then there’s the cleverer lines: “I think we’re a hit,” she sings. As a relationship? Or as a pop song? Both I'd say. Then, and this is probably my favourite thing about Sigrid, her vocal always has that slight raspiness to it – just jagged enough to give it that extra level of raw emotion. In an age when it seems that there are buckets of autotune just waiting to be splashed over every pop singers vocal, it’s great to hear something undiluted. The fact that this song is also quite sweary adds to that even further.

Sigrid wins at pop again.

(Note: Breaking More Waves will be quiet for a few days now whilst I head off to Latitude Festival. See you next week).

Sigrid - Schedules

Monday 9 July 2018

New Music: Let's Eat Grandma - I Will Be Waiting

When Let’s Eat Grandma first appeared on Breaking More Waves in 2015 I suggested that whilst there was an awful lot to like about Rosa and Jenny’s idiosyncratic, scrappy, kooky and eerie music, they were still very much developing as artists. Cut through to the start of 2018 and as the duo released the single Hot Pink that development was clear. 

I perhaps cheekily (or perhaps realistically) suggested that the rules of pop decree that as a developing artist you have to do the really weird album first. Then the underground pop one. Then for album three go for the mainstream and worldwide success whilst retaining elements of what made you special for albums one and two. Now there’s no guarantee that Let’s Eat Grandma are going to follow the rules all the way through, but certainly they’ve hit the nail smack bang on the head with the second record. It’s been met with almost universal praise (I say almost because this review (click here) described it as a mainly ‘sterile pop album’, which is frankly ridiculous – I can’t think of any word further from the truth than sterile) but elsewhere everyone from the Guardian to Pitchfork gave it the thumbs up. Of course, just because a record gets critical adoration doesn’t mean mass commercial success, and let’s face it I’m All Years is still a long way from being a mainstream pop record; but as a listening experience that’s to its advantage.

From the album the band recently released I Will Be Waiting (streaming below) a slow building track that deals with opening up and clearing the inner head space. It sounds not that dissimilar to something that Chvrches might do, which is rather handy as Let’s Eat Grandma have just been announced as Chvrches support act for their European tour (which as yet still doesn’t include any UK dates). Let’s Eat Grandma also play their biggest headline show to date in London at Heaven on 27th September. Hopefully there will be a few Breaking More Waves readers at that one? See you down the front if you're one of them?

Let's Eat Grandma - I Will Be Waiting

Wednesday 4 July 2018

New Music: Boniface - Dear Megan

Micah Visser aka Boniface seems like a sensible chap doesn’t he? After all there’s no stupid promo pic of him lounging around in a bath without water or sitting uncomfortably on a hedge like other musicians I've featured on Breaking More Waves. No, just a nice straightforward one of him sitting on a sensible but stylish chair. 

Of course the trouble here is, and at the risk of massively generalising, sensible looking people often make quite boring music. But there’s the problem – I’m generalising. Because Boniface makes very good music. That’s why I’ve featured him on the blog before and that’s why I’m featuring him again here. 

His latest, Dear Megan, is a hyperactive alt-pop banger: “Meet me in the middle of the night, it’s easy,” he sings. Ah, now we’re getting to the true bonkers and exciting inner pop star here. Because let’s face it, meeting anyone in the middle of the night isn’t that easy if you’ve been up since 6am working for your employer. But then pop stars, like all creatives don’t really do early mornings do they? Still, that’s OK when they’re doing the good stuff. And this one is the good stuff. Oh, the joy of pop!

Boniface - Dear Megan

Tuesday 3 July 2018

New Music: Introducing - Your Smith

The first time I heard The Spot by ‘new’ artist Your Smith my immediate thought was that it had an uncanny resemblance to All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow – the one song by Crow that surely everybody knows?

One quick Google search later and it turns out that Your Smith isn’t that new. (But she isn't Crow in disguise either). She’s actually been releasing material as far back as 2008, first as part of the band Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps and then as a solo artist under her own name. In 2016 she put out Let ‘Em Say with Lizzo and the smooth tap dancing jam of Trying Not To Love You, marking a progression from her earlier folky roots to a more contemporary modern pop sound.

Now as Your Smith she’s got a new haircut (always important in the world of smash hits – don’t listen to those who say this stuff isn’t important – haircuts are an ingrained part of pop culture) and the new name. Of the new name she says: “The change in name is less of a reinvention and more of an engagement with that part of me. I’m still me. I’m still your Smith.” I guess the same applies to the haircut as well.

Her debut EP under her new moniker has been produced by Tommy English (BØRNS), Stint (Carly Rae Jepsen, Nao, AlunaGeorge) and Nicky Davey (Internet, Syd) and The Spot is released via Neon Gold Records who I haven’t featured anything from on this blog for an age. If this is an All I Wanna Do for the year 2018, I’ll take that. 

Your Smith - The Spot