Tuesday 31 December 2019

Favourite Albums of 2019 - The Top 20

As the sun sets on the end of the year it means it’s time for an end of the year album list.

Any end of year list that is published before today is a lie – and technically so is this as there are still a few hours to go. But I’m pretty confident that nobody is going to release something that is going to mean that much to me in the next few hours that I have to delete this. If they do I will.

How does an album become my favourite of the year? I’ve talked about this a lot in previous end of year lists over the past decade and have come up with all sorts of methods, one of which included complex spreadsheets and recording every single time I played an album over the course of the year, which frankly was bloody bonkers in all sorts of ways.

But fundamentally the answer to the question is it’s the record that has connected with me the most over the last 365 days. That probably means I’ve played it a lot, but also doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my most played. It’s not necessarily a record that has been critically acclaimed, although fair play to the critics, often the records they choose in their end of year lists show up on mine as well, but there will always be some records that I’m not afraid to admit connecting with (for example this year Nina Nesbitt and Chocolate Hills) that don’t really hit home with the critics. 

So, without further ado, here are the 20 albums, released this year, that shaped my world the most in 2019. From my favourite to the 20th. I don’t really like lists that show more than about 25; as I’ve said before, does anyone really care what your 97th favourite of the year is? If it’s only 97th it’s probably not that brilliant to be honest. You’re just showing off about how many albums you have listened to.

As with previous lists, you’re probably sick of the sight of these things by now, so the main point of interest with this is probably to see if any of your favourites are the same as mine. Here is my Top 20. The Top 5 were easy to decide this year. The list almost wrote itself. 

1. Fontaines DC – Dogrel
2. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
3. Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
4. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
5. Sigrid – Sucker Punch
6. Erland Cooper – Sule Skerry
7. James Blake – Assume Form
8. AVA - Waves
9. Dave – Psychodrama
10. Aurora - A Different Kind Of Human (Step 2)
11. Julia Kent - Temporal
12. Nina Nesbitt – The Sun Will Come Out, The Seasons Will Change
13. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
14. Charli XCX - Charli
15. Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell
16. FKA Twigs – Magdalene
17. Plastic Mermaids - Suddenly Everyone Explodes
18. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
19. Our Native Daughters – Songs Of Our Native Daughters
20. Chocolate Hills – A Pail Of Air

There’s a playlist with 1 track from each of these great records on Spotify which you can find by clicking here. A couple of selections from this list also stream below via Soundcloud.

I’ll be back at the end of January 2020 for a monthly playlist of new music. In the mean time keep up to date with my musical shenanigans on Twitter (here) and Instagram (here)

Happy New Year everyone!

Our Native Daughters - Mama's Cryin' Long

Sigrid - Don't Kill My Vibe

Sunday 22 December 2019

Favourite Gigs of 2019 - The Top 20

Another list, another photo that seems to have no context and once again, no real commentary, except to say that a gig is about so much more than just a strong performance. It’s about the environment you’re in, the people you’re with, the emotion you experience. It’s very personal and yet also it’s about being part of a community. This year I saw 260 live performances including festivals and support slots - that's quite a lot down on previous years. These are my favourite 20. I make no apology for Glastonbury and Great Escape Festivals taking up quite a few of the slots in the list. They were undoubtedly some of my favourite musical moments of 2019. I’ve not included anything of Dials Festival 2019 as that’s partly my own baby and would smack of nepotism. Like my singles of the year list (here) they are in order so number 1 was my favourite.

1.  FKA Twigs @ London, Alexandra Palace Theatre
2. The Cure @ Glastonbury Festival
3. Celeste @ Brighton, Great Escape Festival
4. Stormzy @ Glastonbury Festival
5. The Murder Capital @ Brighton, Great Escape Festival
6. Little Boots @ London, The Garage
7. Another Sky @ London, Village Underground
8. Underworld @ Latitude Festival
9. Confidence Man @ Brighton, Great Escape Festival
10. Lizzo @ London, The Forum
11. Chai @ Brighton, Great Escape Festival
12. Aurora @ Glastonbury Festival
13. Rosalia @ Glastonbury Festival
14. Plastic Mermaids @ Portsmouth Square Tower
15. Kylie @ Glastonbury Festival
16. Fontaines DC @ Southampton, The Brook
17. Erland Cooper @ Brighton, Unitarian Church
18. Sophie Ellis Bextor @ Guildford G Live
19. Hatis Noit @ London, Purcell Room
20. Squid @ Bognor Regis, Rockaway Beach Festival

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Favourite Singles of 2019 - The Top 20

No commentary, because at this point, you probably don’t care and just want to see if anything on your list compares with mine. So, here are my favourite 20 songs of 2019. In order. Let’s hope no one puts out a real banger in the next 13 days and screws this. An end of year album list will follow; at the end of the year.

1. Bad Guy – Billie Eilish
2. Strange – Celeste
3. Barefoot In The Park – James Blake ft Rosalia
4. Green & Blue – The Murder Capital
5. I Wear A Ghost – Winnie Raeder
6. The Cracks – Another Sky
7. Big – Fontaines DC
8. Everything I Wanted – Billie Eilish
9. Juice – Lizzo
10. Don’t Feel Like Crying – Sigrid
11. About Work The Dancefloor – Georgia
12. I Think You’re Wonderful – Husky Loops
13. Gone – Charli XCX & Christine & The Queens
14. Black – Dave
15. Hero – Michael Kiwanuka
16. Don’t Cling To Life – The Murder Capital
17. Frankie’s Girlfriend – Lauran Hibberd
18. Haar – Erland Cooper
19. Death Stranding - Chvrches
20. Cellophane – FKA Twigs

And why a picture of a bench by the sea? I have no idea.

Here is number 1.

Billie Eilish - Bad Guy

Saturday 30 November 2019

Monthly Playlist - November 2019

This is the last new music playlist I’m publishing this year as December tends to be pretty quiet for new releases in the UK.

However, keep an eye out for a playlist (and blog post) of my favourite albums of 2019 towards the end of December and there’s also another playlist already up which features the 10 artists I’m tipping for 2020 which I posted about (here) just a few days ago. Click here for the Ones to Watch 2020 playlist.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of the tracks on this month’s new music playlist. You can find, follow and listen to the playlist, which is updated monthly, by clicking here:

1. Billie Eilish – everything I wanted
2. Jax Anderson – Heal
3. Coach Party – Oh Lola
4. Vistas – Teenage Blues
5. Emilia Tarrant – Black & White
6. Rosalia – A Pale
7. Noisy – Do It Like White
8. Ivey – Talk Talk
9. Rosie Alena – Mixed Messages
10. Matilda Mann – The Loch Ness Monster
11. Alice Jemima – Somebody
12. Hazel English – Shaking
13. James Righton – The Performer
14. Mild Minds – Movements
15. Arlo Parks – Paperbacks
16. Emma McGrath – Fall With You
17. Nasty Cherry – Fuck Modern Love
18. Rachel Chinouriri – Where Do I Go?
19. Confidence Man – Does It Make You Feel Good?
20. Moyka – Ride (Acoustic)

Here are a 3 tracks that you'll find on the full playlist on Spotify as a sampler.

Emilia Tarrant - Black & White

James Righton - The Performer

Matilda Mann - The Loch Ness Monster

Thursday 28 November 2019

Ones to Watch 2020

It's time for tips for 2020!

Besides the Breaking More Waves monthly playlist of new tracks from the previous month (coming soon), this November I’m adding one further post to the blog and it’s something I've done every year since I've started this thing; and that's my annual tips for the year ahead. I do love a tip list and I do love deciding who should be on mine - to the point where I started a list of possible selections back in April this year, finally deciding who I'm going to pick at the start of this month (the first two selections on the list were my first choices from Spring). So, welcome to the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list for 2020.

Over the last decade I’ve normally posted this before we get too many lists being published, partly because I don’t want to be influenced by other lists and partly so I can play musical bingo of sorts, seeing which of my tips match up with all of the big music industry lists and which don’t. Occasionally I can even claim bragging rights by seeing that an artist that I tipped a year ago (or in the odd case 2 or 3 years previous) has made it onto the BBC Sound of poll nominations or other high profile industry  list. 

However, this year some sites and publications seem to have gone even earlier than normal and I'm a little later so there are already quite a few Ones to Watch / Sound of lists for you to work your way through. My list features 10 artists, some of which have appeared on some of those lists, but a few that haven't cropped on any. They range from artists I first featured on Breaking More Waves 3 years ago to one who released their debut single yesterday. 

I'm still claim bragging rights this year as well. In 2017 I chose Maisie Peters as One to Watch for 2018 and this year a number of the lists already published have chosen her for their 2020 tips including You Tube, Amazon and Dork magazine. 

Normally my Ones to Watch would form a series of individual posts, but now with my time being devoted elsewhere, I’m simply giving a basic run down of the 10 artists I’m tipping in one post.

This year I've tried to represent my geography, so all the acts chosen are either from the UK or Ireland, with 4 of them coming from the south coast, where I'm based.

So without further ado, here are the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2020:

1. Celeste

She captured my heart earlier this year in Brighton and her recent release Strange is the one song that has made me cry in 2019. I'm predicting more tears in 2020 from the songs of this U.S born but UK raised artist who has similarities to Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. She seems to be on every tip list going and that's no surprise - her talent is self evident.

2. Arlo Parks

Neo-soul singer Arlo Parks first featured on Breaking More Waves in January 2019 with her stunning debut Cola. Her smooth unhurrIed delivery and subtle groove make her one to watch for 2020.

3. Master Peace

With a refreshing rawness Master Peace straddles the boundaries of indie, hip-hop and pop. With just 3 tracks on line at the moment, it's his 2019 release Night Time that grabbed my attention. And if continues to release tracks like this 2020 could be his year.

4. Black Country New Road

The first of three bands on this list and another act that first appeared on Breaking More Waves in January 2019 just before they released their debut single. an act from the leftfield that mix post-punk, jazz, post-rock and middle eastern traditional sounds together with spoken (sometimes shouted) vocals, they're not a particularly commercial proposition, but do offer something new and interesting and (if) they release an album in 2020 it could be something quite exciting.

5. Winnie Raeder

Sometimes a voice just stops you in your tracks. In the same way as Celeste's Strange creates goosebumps so did Winnie Raeder's Don't You Dare. In April when I first wrote about it it had less than 1,000 streams. now it has over 1 million. Winnie connects to the listener with music that is deep, honest and beautiful.

6. Sinead O Brien

Originally from Limerick, Ireland's Sinead O'Brien makes music that is a mix of post-punk, performance art and spoken word. She has already supported the likes of Pond and British Sea Power. Ear grabbing and unique.

7. Joy Crookes

Joy Crookes has nearly appeared on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list a number of times, having been first featured on this blog as far back as 2016. However, it feels like Joy's career has taken a while to really gain momentum and with single Early (featuring Jafaris) having grabbed her Radio 1 playlisting and a slot on Later....with Jools Holland now feels like a good time to push her forward as One to Watch for 2020.

8. Noisy

With just 2 tracks on line (So What? and Do It Like That) Worthing based Noisy are another band not afraid to straddle genres; in this case rock, rap and drum and bass. Noisy's sound is adrenaline packed and full of punch. Cardiac inducing fun, get ready to push the tempo with Noisy. 

9. Coach Party

Formerly known as Jeph, these Isle of Wight indie rockers describe their sound as 'beige indie'. LOL. It's far better than that though. Hooky and energetic, it might be extremely early days for Coach Party with just 1 track released just yesterday, but if they can write songs that fizz and sparkle as much as the 1 minute and 53 seconds of indie dynamite that is Oh Lola, they're going to be Ones to Watch.

10. Sam Tompkins

The final choice on the Breaking More Waves ones to watch is Sam Tompkins. That most unlikely of tastemakers Elton John is already a fan and it's easy to see why. From Sam busking on the streets of his home city Brighton to getting signed to Island records, Sam Tompkins is my final One to Watch for 2020.

There's a Spotify playlist of all of these Ones to Watch as well. Click here.

Finally, for completeness here are all of the artists I have chosen as Ones to Watch in previous years. Hindsight is a wonderful thing eh?

Alabama Shakes, Alessi’s Ark, Alice Chater, Alice Jemima, Another Sky, Aurora, Avec Sans, Banks, Beth Jeans Houghton, Billie Marten, Cabbage, Charli XCX, Chasing Grace, Chloe Black, Chloe Howl, Chvrches, Clare Maguire, Clock Opera, Coasts, Confidence Man, Curxes, Dave, Declan McKenna, Dot Rotten, D/R/U/G/S, Delphic, Easy Life, Elderbrook, Ellie Goulding, Eva Stone, Fontaines DC, Foxes, Flohio, Florence & the Machine, Flyte, G-Flip, Gabrielle Aplin, George Ezra, Grace Carter, Haim, Hazel English, Holly Miranda, Hurts, Iyes, Jade Bird, James Blake, Jerry Williams, Joseph Salvat, Jungle, King Princess, La Roux, Lana Del Rey, LANY, Lapsley, Laura Doggett, Laura Mvula, Lauran Hibberd, Let’s Buy Happiness, Lianne La Havas, Little Boots, Liv Dawson, Loyle Carner, Lucy Rose, Luke Sital-Singh, Maggie Rogers, Maisie Peters, Majik, Marina & The Diamonds, Mumford & Sons, Mura Masa, Nao, Off Bloom, Outfit, Pale Waves, Passion Pit, Pink Kink, Pumarosa, Queen of Hearts, Rachel Sermanni, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Ren Harvieu, Ryn Weaver, Seinabo Sey, Savages, Seramic, Sigrid, Skint & Demoralised, Skott, Sofi Tukker, Sons & Lovers, Sophie Jamieson, Spark, Spector, Starsmith, Stornoway, Superorganism, The Blinders, 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

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Monthly Playlist - October 2019

Since putting Breaking More Waves into semi-retirement, only posting these monthly playlists (and perhaps later this year a few other lists) it’s only really occurred to me just how much time running even a tiny blog like mine took up. Whilst an average of around 300 posts per year might not sound like a lot (it’s not even 1 a day) over the course of 11 years it amounts to a significant amount of hours committed when you factor in a full-time job, kids, renovating an old house, going to gigs and having some sort of social life all still happened.

I’ve really only realised how much time it took up since I’ve stopped and found that now I have plenty of time to do other things. This month for example I’ve managed to read a novel, finally discover ‘binge watching’ of Netflix (or at least my version of it – I watched a whole series in a week, 1 or 2 episodes a day), have done a lot of running (and managed to pick an injury because of it) and have spent more time cooking new recipes. Oh and let's not forget Dials Festival, the multi-venue charity festival I help curate and run took place at the start of the month. Tickets for next year's event are on sale at a super early bird price of £15 from this Friday (to find out more click here) so buy early if you want to grab a bargain. I probably now have a relatively ‘normal life’ compared to the blog life and my respect goes out to any music bloggers out there who continue to churn out the posts day in day out for no financial reward.

That doesn’t mean to say that I’m not listening to new music though. My consumption has perhaps reduced a little, instead I’ve been enjoying more back catalogue material, but there’s still a wealth of new stuff out there to be discovered.

This month’s playlist, like every month, represents much of that discovery. Nearly all of it with the exception of one track, has been released in the last month. The playlist is designed within the rules I set out last month (see here) and is designed to be listened to in the order it is presented – it doesn’t work as well if you shuffle it or put the list in alphabetical order. There are some artists that were regularly featured on Breaking More Waves when it was running full time (Chvrches, Easy Life, Alice Jemima) to some who have just released their debut songs (Matilda Mann, Drug Store Romeos, Honey Mooncie). Hopefully you’ll find something that you haven’t heard before and like. Enjoy.

And if you don't already, why not follow the playlist for the monthly update?


1. Craven Faults - Intakes (Pye Corner Audio Rework)
2. Chvrches - Death Stranding
3. Easy Life - Nice Guys
4. Otherliine - Hates Me
5. Sinead O Brien - Limbo
6. Drug Store Romeos - Now You're Moving
7. Amahla - Apathy
8. Sassy 009 - Maybe In The Summer
9. Luca Fogale - Another Way Round
10. Honey Mooncie - Should've Been You
11. Jack Penate - Murder
12. Dry Cleaning - Dog Proposal 
13. Fake Empire - Bloom
14. Matilda Mann - Never Sweeter
15. Biig Piig - Roses And Gold
16. Yaeger - Infected
17. Icarus - Dreams Of You (feat. Rae Morris)
18. Moyka - Ride
19. Alice Jemima - Our Love
20. Joy Crookes - Early
21. King Princess - If You Think It's Love
22. Erland Cooper - Tide III

Monday 30 September 2019

Monthly Playlist - September 2019

The Breaking More Waves monthly playlist has been running for a while now, but with the site sent to the retirement home for elderly blogs, the playlist, the Breaking More Waves Twitter feed and Instagram will become the main focus of my online music presence, for the time being at least.

In putting together a playlist (or ‘curating’ one if you want me to sound pretentious) I’m following a few basic rules:

1. New music. 

This is a new music playlist. Exactly what is new is open to your personal interpretation, but this is mine. Generally the songs have been released in the preceding month, but occasionally they may have been around a little longer than that.

2. Length. 

The playlist should be not much more than an hour long. Pre-internet when a mix-tape really was an actual physical mix-tape rather than just a collection of songs on line it would be generally be on a C60 or C90 cassette. C120s might have given you 2 hours of music but the tapes were generally poor quality, as to get an hour of music on each side the tape itself was thinner, meaning the tape was more fragile and the quality of the sound was weaker, often with ‘print-through’ echo. 60-90 minutes of music is probably enough for most attention spans and any more music than that in one volume can feel overwhelming.

Also, I make the playlist for my own listening as much as yours, often listening on my commute to work which is generally 45 minutes to an hour. Therefore the 60 to 90 minutes timeframe works for my journey there and back and probably does for most people as well.

3. Monthly updates only. 

So many playlists update weekly it can be difficult to keep up. I like the idea of knowing that at the start of the month there is a new collection of music delivered to me. It’s not too much but it’s not too often. I also believe good music needs time. This doesn’t have to be rushed.

4. Just music I like.

Like Breaking More Waves blog the playlist only contains music I like. I don’t care if it’s something on a major label that you’ve probably heard already or something that is self-released that has received no attention whatsoever. To use a cliché; I make this for myself and if anybody else likes it, that’s a bonus.

5. Commentary on the blog.

I’ll post about the new playlist on the blog here. There’ll be a bit of commentary with it, although to ensure this post isn’t too long I’m keeping it to a minimum this month, except to say that some of my highlights are the new upbeat 60s styled tune from Michael Kiwanuka, Sofi Tukker’s track which is taken from their excellent new house-pop EP Dancing On The People and an absolute beauty from Celeste.

This playlist also contains a handful of newly released tracks from artists playing Portsmouth’s Dials festival (Another Sky, Walt Disco, Eyesore & The Jinx), a fully independent new music discovery event that I help book and run. This year the festival takes place on Saturday 5th October on Albert Road, Southsea, Portsmouth in 5 venues with a single wristband giving you entry to all venues, subject to capacity. Find out more about the event and get your advance ticket for £20 for a fantastic day and night of new music, by clicking here.

October’s Playlist (Click here to listen to the playlist and / or follow)

1. Michael Kiwanuka – You Ain’t The Problem
2. Georgia – Never Let You Go
3. Mind Enterprises – Monogomy
4. Celeste - Strange
5. Charlotte Lawrence – Navy Blue
6. Princess Nokia – Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T)
7. The Wha - Innocents
8. Sofi Tukker – Purple Hat
9. Another Sky – Capable Of Love
10. Nia Wyn – Stay In Your Lane
11. Sports Team – Fishing
12. Master Peace – Night Time
13. Eyesore & The Jinx – Leisure Time
14. Maisie Peters – This Is On You
15. Elizabeth – Beautiful Baby
16. Lizzo – Truth Hurts (featuring AB6IX)
17. Sinead O Brien – A Thing You Call Joy
18. Walt Disco – Dancing Shoes
19. Oh Wonder – Hallelujah
20. Tindersticks – The Amputees
21. Angel Olsen – Lark
22. Moyka – Bones (Acoustic)
23. A Winged Victory For The Sullen - The Rhythm Of A Dividing Pair
24. Saint Jude – Head Is Spinning

A couple of the tracks on the playlist stream below:

Sofi Tukker - Purple Hat

Celeste - Strange

Monday 9 September 2019

The End Of Breaking More Waves (Almost)

After 3577 posts (all written by myself) and over 11 years of music blogging, today is the day when I announce that Breaking More Waves is finishing. Or rather, almost finishing.

The reason? After experiencing an unexpected heart attack due to a congenital defect in 2018 and then undergoing major open-heart surgery I have been through a slow process of revaluating what I do with my remaining life and have come to the conclusion that I would like to dedicate more time to other aspects of it. The blog is very time consuming for something that is of such little importance.

However, that’s not to say I’m finished with music. I continue to love singles, albums, gigs, festivals and reading about it all and will continue to be an active participant in all things related to those.

I’ll also continue to occasionally write about music elsewhere. 

The blog won’t totally stop either. I still plan to update my Spotify monthly playlist with new music (you can find that by clicking here) and I’ll comment on those updates using the blog, so there still will be the occasional post but it will just be once a month. 

So I'll see you at the end of September, but for now, that’s all folks.


Thursday 5 September 2019

New Music: Oh Wonder - Hallelujah

“There’s a crown covered in glitter and gold, I’m gonna wear it whether you like it or not.” With those words (and a few more) Oh Wonder kick away the self-doubt and fly high with Hallelujah, the first song to be released from their forthcoming third album.

Don’t be fooled by the gentle opening piano chords reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th on the songs intro though, for this one follows its own pop-path. It’s a path lined with strings, a thumping hyperactive beat and spacey layered vocals in a garden of utter delight. 

Oh Wonder’s songs have often carried a message and a sense of hope; their debut of album in 2015 got me through a pretty tough time. If you’re finding that you're questioning yourself and the cynics are kicking you down do watch this excellent one shot video, it might just help a little. 

It's fantastic to have Anthony and Josephine back. They're a band that should be available on prescription, they're that good for you.

Oh Wonder - Hallelujah 

Saturday 31 August 2019

New Music: Max Cooper - Repetition

“That seemingly boring thing which gives us all the magic of music, with its repeats inside repeats.” That’s how Max Cooper describes Repetition - a piece of pulsing minimalist electronica designed for escaping the fast flurry of the world, social media and short attention spans. As Max says, it needs a few minutes to work and is best listened to with headphones and your eyes closed. Give it time and space - this one is the equivalent of a massage for the ear drums – intimate and expansive.

Repetition was written for a video chapter of Max’s new work Yearning for the Infinite which he will be performing at a sold-out show at the Barbican in September. 

Max Cooper - Repetition

New Music: G Flip - Lover

“When we’re all alone and the lights are low, I’m gonna make you scream,” sings G Flip, which depending on your perspective makes her out to be the latest slasher movie monster character or a bit of a sexpert.

Either way, if you want a big wave-your-arms-in-the-air power ballad with a catchy chorus (which trust me you do) then G Flip is here to provide just that. Lover isn’t a single, but the opening track from her debut album About Us – a collection of songs about an on off relationship with a girl. “I hadn’t seen this girl in a year, so when we caught up at the end of 2017, she asked me what I’ve been doing and I told her I had written a heap of songs, and that I was going to try it out as solo musician now. I showed her all the songs and asked her one important question: Would you care if I released these because they’re all about us?” she said of the record.

About Us is out this week. So when you've finished listening to the new Lana Del Rey album (which clearly you should listen to) give it a spin.

G Flip - Lover

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Introducing: Emilia Tarrant

There’s a weird irony that in the last few years, because of the growth of affordable and simple technology, musicians have found it easier and easier to get their music out there, yet on the same hand found it harder and harder to get heard. The traditional routes of exposure such as tour supports, plays on radio and coverage by the music press have become less effective and now musicians are having to use other routes to get their music heard.

Which is where today's new artist crops up. You may have already heard her debut single without realising. Or maybe you are one of the 14,000 people that has used Shazam to find out what it is? That is, if in the UK, you watch the vacuous abomination that is Love Island; a TV show that is absolutely not about love and more about who can get the biggest endorsement deal and Instagram following. Because that’s where Emillia Tarrant’s song, a cover of Michigan rappers NFs If You Want Love found its way to the ears of several million viewers. 

Yes, Love Island is officially a #tastemaker.

Produced by Danton Supple who has worked with the likes of Coldplay, Suede and Elbow, Tarrant’s version of the song is absolutely stunning. Swapping the guitar for piano and the r ‘n’ b vocal for a hauntingly soulful delivery it marks Emillia down as a very special talent. The comparisons to Freya Ridings are almost inevitable; I get the same goosebumps as when I first heard Riding’s cover version of Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There's a hint of Grace Carter in the song's evocative delivery as well. 

What’s more remarkable however is that the track doesn’t appear to be released by a major label predicting dollar signs; If You Want Love is self-released through her own Summer Freckle records. 

So what's next? Tarrant isn’t going to be just about cover versions it seems. This 17 year-old from Winchester is gearing up to release original material later in the year. 

Having played this weekend twice at Portsmouth’s Victorious Festival where she created quite a buzz amongst those who heard her, Emilia’s next shows are in London on August 29th at Camden Chapel (guest list only show) and then at Notting Hill Arts Club on September 17th for Gold Dust. More gigs will follow after that.

Time to fall in love with If You Want Love.

Friday 23 August 2019

Introducing: Arxx

If there’s one word to describe Brighton based 2-piece Arxx it’s powerful. Powerful riffs, powerful lyrics, powerful vocals, powerful performances. Taking the drums and guitar route used successfully by the likes of fellow Brightonians Royal Blood as well as The White Stripes, Arxx are a force. A garage rock band with a strong DIY / punk ethos. Hannah Pidduck (Vocals, Guitar) and Clara Townsend (Drums) have been making music together since 2017 and have been slowly building their profile through word of mouth to the point where today their new single Y.G.W.Y.W (You Got What You Want) has made it onto the Spotify New Music Friday Playlist. 

I’ve seen arguments recently that focusing on playlist placement is the wrong strategy and that artists need to have a longer-term vision of building real fans. But I think that’s not necessarily correct - it's less black and white and is possible to focus on both and that seems exactly what Arxx are doing. There’s a slow build going on here, with people gradually discovering their music, which leads to a few good slots on playlists which will help them find worldwide listeners  as they continue to grow.

I first became aware of the band when I saw their name listed as support for another act I like last year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the show but having checked the band out online I was impressed. There was a rawness, a big punch of sound and despite their rock base they possessed a pop sensibility in so far as they had hooks, lyrics that you could holler along to and tunes that would stick in your head. It’s why a few months later I approached and booked them for Portsmouth’s Dials Festival (Oct 5th, 5 venues, Albert Road, Southsea, in support of Solent Mind – Full details and tickets can be found by clicking here) and was delighted when they agreed to play.

The new single is a great example of what the band do: Explosive riffs! Song structures designed to make you want to punch the air! Chant ready lyrics! Get ready to yell along at the top of your voice: “You’re messing with the wrong girl honey.” Arxx rock.

Arxx - Y.G.W.Y.W (You Got What You Want)

Tuesday 20 August 2019

New Music: Pumarosa - Fall Apart

Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s experience of cervical cancer is well documented (you can read about it and her advice about the importance of a smear test in an interview she did with the Guardian by clicking here) but now thankfully she’s back making music. 

Fall Apart, the new song from her band Pumarosa, was released back in July, but it’s only today that the track has received the video treatment. It’s a big departure from the group's earlier material – sounding in places like a weird and frantic mix of David Bowie’s Little Wonder and something you might find lurking in the dark corners of an Aphex Twin album. There’s a hint of the Shirley Manson’s in the vocal delivery as well. It’s chaotic, experimental and certainly isn’t the track to push them towards the mainstream – which is a compliment not a criticism.

The video is equally odd and somewhat creepy. Set in London it features the delivery of a basket and an egg by some pagan looking women to Isabel. The egg is inscribed with the words ‘Chaos is Coming’ – perhaps a reference to Brexit, the rebellion of these women into a different way of life or maybe just reflecting the sound of this song. Whatever its meaning it’s good to have the band back, taking some creative risks and not following the same formula as before.

Pumarosa - Fall Apart

Monday 19 August 2019

New Music: Maude Latour - Ride My Bike

Tour de France by Kraftwerk, Bicycle Race by Queen, Bike by Frank Ocean (with the line “life goes round in cycles”) and Nine Million Bicycles by Katie Melua; just a handful of the songs in pop music about or related to the pushbike, a form of transport that somehow just doesn’t seem anywhere near as rock and roll as a car, but that’s fine with me. After all musicians can’t escape from the pressing need to be environmentally conscious (just like we all need to), so maybe singing about bikes is much better than things like: “Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims, and strap your hands 'cross my engines.” Sorry Bruce.

Now here’s a new one. It’s Maude Latour’s second time on Breaking More Waves; on the first she arrived with the pop star vs the bath promo shot and joined the club I spend too much time bringing to your attention. This time she’s grabbed the handlebars and has gone for a ride; it’s an undeniable bop. Imagine an exercise craving Lorde after 4 vodka Red Bulls and a couple of Fruit Shoots. It starts, like all good journeys should, in first gear, but then works harder, aiming for both your hips and feet. It’s song that celebrates getting out there and clearing the anxiety and stress from your head with the full force of pedal power (something that good pop can also help with). Watch out for the spoken word segment as well – a classic pop moment.

Feel the euphoria, the adrenaline, the blood-rush of excitement and as Maude sings, get that runners high, with Ride My Bike.

Maude Latour - Ride My BIke

Sunday 18 August 2019

New Music: Lily Moore - Nothing on You

The last time I came across Lily Moore was at Portsmouth’s Victorious Festival where she was performing an early evening set on the Acoustic Stage and dealing with some very drunk punters in the front rows: 

“What’s yer name darlin?”

“Lily Moore.”

“Lily who? Well ooeva yer are Lily yer great. We love yer Lily.”

In fact, our drunken revellers loved her so much that after a little dance they spent the next couple of songs chatting to themselves and completely ignoring her. 

Reality check. Festivals aren't always brilliant. Particularly for lesser known acts. This is what it’s sometimes like, particularly at city-based ones that offer day tickets, where for a certain % of the audience the music is just a background soundtrack to getting hammered and having it large with your mates.

For those who were a little more invested in the music however, Lily Moore was a revelation. “Why isn’t Lily Moore a star yet? Touches of Amy Winehouse, Adele and Paloma Faith. Bucket loads of talent,” I tweeted after watching her. 

Now here she is displaying that talent once again on new song Nothing on You which was written with the band Honne and finds Lily singing about what sounds like the perfect partner: “Every time I’m lost, you’re the place that I go. And when nothing makes sense, you’re the one thing that I know.” Yet for some (unexplained) reason Lily confesses that “It really kills me to tell you the truth, but I can’t let myself fall in love with you.” 

However, there’s nothing stopping you falling in love with this song, which is another fine addition to Lily’s collection, more of which you’ll be able to hear on her forthcoming mixtape due September 13th and features collaborations with Maverick Sabre and Dan Caplan.

Lily plays the 100 Club in London this September but that show is already sold out. 

Lily Moore - Nothing On You (Video)

Tuesday 13 August 2019

New Music: The Murder Capital - More Is Less

Maybe it’s something to do with the politically turbo-charged times we live in, the pop charts becoming increasingly bland / mass-produced or that what goes around comes around, but it seems that shouty music is back in. Every single week a new fiery band of renegades crawl out of South London’s underground scene with a noisy slap of post-punk, whilst up and down the country small gangs of guitar hungry kids are beginning to discover that the music their slightly weird dad listened to in 1982 is actually pretty cool. With IDLES announced to play Alexandra Palace and Fontaines DC selling out dates with ease and both bands finding themselves on the Mercury prize short-list, this stuff is at the point where it’s both critically acclaimed but beginning to have a commercial viability again.

I’ve already pinned my colours to the mast in previous posts with Irish group The Murder Capital, another band of noisesmiths who have impressed in the past both in the studio and, where they really excel, live. But it’s not just about their punk racket. This is a band who offer more layers than that; theatricality, tenderness, emotion, entertainment and intensity. It’s that intensity that is the main element of More Is Less. Uneasy listening that punches hard. A visceral and intense song you probably won’t be playing to your Aunty when she comes round for tea and cake on Sunday. That is unless you’ve seen her wearing a Fugazi, Joy Division or Nick Cave t-shirt, in which case turn the volume up loud and blast her with it.

The band’s debut album is out this Friday. Prepare your ears for a beautiful sonic shafting.

The Murder Capital - More Is Less

Monday 12 August 2019

Introducing: Chartreuse

Purveyors of a sort of jazzy rock that can be singled out for its absolute confidence and soulful beauty, Birmingham’s Chartreuse could well be your new favourite band. Their debut song Three Days is a delight; it’s a tune that sneaks in with a soft weariness at midnight through the back entrance, but then lingers around whilst it seduces with its subtle and sultry touches, building to a powerful climax. Michael Wagstaff’s croon is near jaded in places and his introspectively vulnerable musings are almost perfect as he sings of having to wait three days until he can “spend my life with you.” It’s a really short space of time of course, but he makes it sound like an eternity. Talking of time, Three Days clocks in at nearly 6 minutes - this one isn’t designed for your average short attention span streamer, but for the rest of us it’s worth sticking with.

Named after a colour that supposedly cannot be seen when printed (which is also a French liqueur discovered by monks some 900 years ago) Chartreuse consists of Harriet Wilson (vocals/piano), Michael Wagstaff (vocals/guitar/piano), Perry Lovering (bass), and Rory Wagstaff (drums). The band played their debut headline show in Birmingham last December and if you want to catch them early you can find them supporting the equally jazzy and mellow Puma Blue in London on 30th October. Three Days is taken from the band’s debut EP which is due later this year. 

Chartreuse - Three Days