Thursday 30 August 2018

New Music: Introducing - Lights On Moscow

We’ve all heard of bands and artists that took extraordinary amounts of time to follow up a record. Be it the 5 years it took The Stone Roses to return with Second Coming or the 15 years that Gun ‘N’ Roses spent pissing around before they made the frankly pretty terrible Chinese Democracy. But until today I’ve never heard of a band that took 8 years to put out their debut song.

However, that is exactly how long it has taken Lights On Moscow to release material, having first created an online presence in 2010. 

Thankfully this is no Guns ‘N’ Roses tale of time wasting, egos and artistic differences; the two members of the project, Hazel Wilde of Lanterns on the Lake and Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories have been pretty busy with their own respective bands, and it’s only now that they have pit out the captivating and atmospheric Lord Let Me Know, the first song from a forthcoming EP called Aorta Songs Part 1 which will be released on October 12th. Describing the project as ‘an almost band like a really sad Roxette’ the duo said that they had talked off and on for a long time about putting the music out and now felt like the right time. 

Ironically, given the talk about the right time, Lord Let Me Know feels pretty timeless. It certainly could have been released at any point over the last decade or two and sounded right. A gorgeous mix of Hazel’s instantly recognisable soothing tones and some languorously beautiful music, it does indeed sound sad to its very core. It's a magnificent record that fans of the likes of Mazzy Star will undoubtedly appreciate.

Lights On Moscow - Lord Let Me Know

New Music: Fröst - Black Mountain

Besides writing Breaking More Waves and going to plenty of gigs and festivals, another project I’m involved in and hugely excited about is Dials Festival. An intimate, fully independent new music festival that takes place in 5 venues on Albert Road in Southsea, Portsmouth, this will be our 3rd event, having previously put on shows in 2015 and 2016 which featured the likes of Dream Wife, Black Honey, Fickle Friends, Alice Jemima and Fear of Men. The ethos of our festival is very much D-I-Y. The team behind it are all volunteers and any profits that we make from the festival will be given to charity, namely a local Mental Health charity called Solent Mind. You can find out more about the good work they do by clicking here.

This year some of the acts that are playing at Dials include Welsh indie darlings Estrons, cool mellow pop artist Art School Girlfriend, four times UK beat boxing champion Grace Savage, indie punk band Yassassin, rising Isle of Wight star Lauren Hibberd, Bella Union's Penelope Isles, 6 music favourites Breathe Panel, dance pop specialist Salt Ashes, psych rockers Melt Dunes, brand new weird noisepop makers LibraLibra, Portsmouth's own indie starlet Jerry Williams playing a solo acoustic set and our headliners Tigercub, plus a whole host of others. You can buy tickets, find out more about the event and support a local charity by clicking this link (here). 

Why not come and enjoy a day out in Portsmouth? All the venues are situated on 1 street (Albert Road), with the two venues that are furthest from each other being only five minutes apart. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants and unusual shops to browse in as well.

I’ve booked approximately 40% of the artists playing the festival and many of them have featured on Breaking More Waves. 

One act I’ve chosen for Dials is Brighton’s Fröst, who I asked to play after hearing just one of their songs. Sometimes you just have to rely on instinct when booking stuff, hoping that others will connect as well, and I had fallen in love with Record Still Spinning instantly. It has been on almost constant repeat ever since. Since booking the band it’s been great to hear them being supported by Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music who is also clearly a fan; she’s played Record Still Spinning a number of times on the station and has included another track called Venus d’Argent, from the band’s forthcoming album Matters, on her Recommends show.

After throwing names like Broadcast, Electrelane and Stereolab into the ring to give some comparisons for Record Still Spinning, let’s lob another one in for Fröst’s new single. For Black Mountain has that same sort of pulsing electronica and subtle throb that can be found on some of Goldfrapp’s work. Inspired by the experimental college in North Carolina founded in 1933 which emphasised holistic learning and the study of art as a core part of its programme, Black Mountain coils around with an ominous pop moodiness, always holding back, never quite exploding, and is all the better for it. It makes me even more excited for the band to be playing Dials.

Black Mountain is out now. Matters is released on 28th September and Fröst play the Sebright Arms in London on 2nd October, Brighton’s Prince Albert on 3rd October, before hitting Portsmouth’s Dials Festival on the 6th October.

Fröst - Black Mountain

Wednesday 29 August 2018

New Music: Introducing - Alice Chater

After going a bit punk yesterday on the blog, today I’m veering to the other end of the spectrum, introducing a glossy new pop star waiting in the wings. If you’re a fan of Madonna, Britney and the like and if you understand and appreciate the vibrant essence of pop music is essentially about catchy songs and a performer who is able to dance their arse off to them then you’re going to adore Alice Chater.

Alice first cropped up on quite a few in the know pop kids radars in April when she released a rather artfully fierce Visual Introduction piece casting herself as some sort of exotically powerful spider woman. She then quickly followed it up with the spunky rhythmic banger Girls x Boys (click here), the video of which found her joining the prestigious pop stars in the bath club at a very early stage of her career. For anyone who is a regular at Breaking More Waves you’ll already know about musicians in the bath and how important it is for popstars to join that particular club. Find me a major star who hasn’t done a promotional picture or video in the bath and I’ll be flabbergasted. 

Girls x Boys has been followed this summer by Heartbreak Hotel, another very modern, very Radio 1 friendly pop banger that manages to shoehorn the melody of the disco classic Ring My Bell by Anita Ward in to the chorus in much the same way that Madonna stole Abba for Hung Up. If pop music was football Heartbreak Hotel would be very much like Leeds United - pushing to get in that premier league.

It seems upon further investigation that Alice is a very big fan of the bathtub, because not only does she jump in one for Girls x Boys, but she also climbs into a big bold yellow one for the video of the latest single. Not only that but there’s footage online of her performing at this year’s London Pride and she’s in the bath for that as well. It’s a bath with her name on – so she really is serious about this.

So, whilst in 2018 new pop has been owned by Sigrid (who owned in 2017 as well, but until she has an album out I’m still considering her as new) Alice Chater is also making an impression. If she’s got a few more hooks and massive bangers ready in the wings she could be a star. And if there's any more bathtub action on the way, it's guaranteed.

Alice Chater - Visual Introduction

Alice Chater - Heartbreak Hotel

Tuesday 28 August 2018

New Music: Introducing - Lady Bird

Meet the band who have been signed to Slaves own record label, was one of the highlights of my Great Escape Festival in Brighton this May and despite their riotous indie punk sound, tell stories with a sensitive and heartfelt base to them. 

This is Lady Bird. They consist of Don Rennols on vocals, guitar and occasionally keyboard, Alex Deadman on guitar and Joe Walker on drums. They hail from the same Kent music scene as Slaves and Don has been friends with the Slaves guys before Slaves even became Slaves. They released their debut EP Social Potions through Girl Fight records (the aforementioned Slaves label) earlier this year and it was Spoons from that EP that grabbed my ears. A lurching, strutting punk rock number that sounds half like Parklife era Blur and half like The Streets, Spoons tells the tale of a young man exploring life (eg: going on a bit of a bender) in the cheap pints and cocktail pitchers world of pub chain Wetherspoons.

At Great Escape I watched two of their shows, the second of those at The Walrus, a dark basement pub. They played with an intense spiralling energy that found them collapsing exhausted on the floor stage side afterwards, whilst the audience danced on smashed pint glasses. Not plastic ones – but real glass. Thankfully health and safety weren’t around to shut the whole thing down.

Now with Reading and Leeds festivals under their belts this weekend on the BBC Introducing Stage, Lady Bird release their first new material since the debut EP. 

Boot Fillers might initially sound like a more lo-fi take on songs like The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger with its ‘da da da’ hook designed to get the drunken football lads singing along, but there’s a fully endearing vulnerability to the lyrics that tell the tale of someone dealing with a number of step-fathers through his life: “The first one ran away with another man’s wife, the second he wasn’t afraid to fight, I had my differences with the third, but they turned out all right.” It’s this reality that gives Lady Bird that extra appeal as much as the handful of visceral but catchy songs they’ve released thus far. 

Catch Lady Bird out on the road this November with Slaves.

Lady Bird - Boot Fillers

Monday 27 August 2018

New Music: Freya Ridings - Lost Without You (Video)

There’s a comment underneath the recently released You Tube video for Freya Ridings Lost Without You that simply states: “How can you dislike something so beautiful?” And whilst I could open my music and psychology textbooks and begin to research and write a huge in depth dissertation of the many different ways we listen to music and how nature and our environment develops each of our tastes in different ways, this is a music blog, designed to be relatively short and conversational, so let’s move on from that discussion and just all agree that it’s impossible that anyone could not find this song anything more than perfect shall we?

Whilst Lost Without You has been around for some time now (stats fans may be interested to know it now has over 22 million plays on Spotify) and there’s already been an official video of a live version of the song, as well as physical releases of the song on her Live At St Pancras Old Church (now sold out) and Live At Omeara (still available) CDs this is the first time there’s been an official video for the studio version of the song. 

If you haven’t heard Lost Without You yet, where the hell have you been? But better late than never. It's the sort of song that in the old pre-internet days would have probably been number 1 for 10 weeks. Watch the video and bathe in one of the most beautiful things you’ll find online.

Fun fact: The last time I saw Freya Ridings she was standing outside a chicken takeaway in West London using her mobile phone. I mention this only so that there's a reality check here. Even people making beautiful things like this lead normal lives as well.

Freya Ridings - Lost Without You (Video)

Wednesday 8 August 2018

New Music: MAY - Falling

Back in June I introduced readers of Breaking More Waves to MAY, one of the most incredible new voices out there.

As part of that post I included a live video of an unreleased song called Falling, which found MAY singing her heart out at a candle lit piano. “Why is she not already a huge star?” I asked.

Now let’s ask the question again. Because MAY has now released a fully recorded studio version of the song. Thankfully it’s not that different to the live version – but it once again gives me the opportunity to through all the superlatives in the English Dictionary at it. For Falling is stunning. A sensitive account of love that’s never been replaced, it’s stark, ghostly and will grab at your heart.

Falling is taken from a forthcoming EP where MAY has collaborated with the likes of Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Amy Winehouse) and Patrick Wimberley (Solange, MGMT). Get ready to fall in love with her voice and songs.

MAY - Falling