Thursday 28 February 2019

New Music: Feet - English Weather

Feet are a band that has mastered the art of using double denim to levitate in. For those who like to label music and put it in boxes, they’re an indie guitar group, but scratch below the surface a bit and you can hear all sorts of influences from punk to psychedelia to funk to baggy to Brit Pop; in fact their live shows remind me a little of the fledgling Blur when they were playing 200 capacity club shows – confusing, chaotic, a bit shambolic, but having a certain sense of fun and perhaps the idea that if they can refine what they do they might just develop into something more than they are right now. Or on the other hand they might just fizzle away and die out in a year. They’re a band who have songs about dog walking, shoplifting and this one - English Weather - with its tales of ‘warm nights and cold sandwiches, bowling green chatter as the lemon slice vanishes,’ and a chorus which reminds you to pack an umbrella. 

My favourite comment on this song on You Tube is: “Officially have a foot fetish.” If you’ve come across this video on other websites you might see them reporting that it was filmed in Portsmouth. This struck me as strange as I didn’t recognise much of it as being the place where I live. It seems however, that in reality it was filmed in a holiday park a few miles away from there – but as we know when it comes to music everything seems to have to be located to a city. I’ve seen bands from the likes of Luton and Guildford claim they are from London and bands from Chichester say they’re from Brighton. Maybe they were all too busy writing songs at school to pay attention to geography? 

Feet - English Weather

New Music: Emily Burns - Too Cool

“You’re so sweet like twelve ice creams, it kind of makes me sick,” sings Breaking More Waves favourite and regular Emily Burns on her brand new track Too Cool. This one, a peppy number about the perfect girlfriend who is just too nice once again demonstrates Emily’s ability to sneak in a 100% ear-popping chorus without you even realising it. 

The video amplifies the message even further, for here we get Emily pouring water over her completely unphased partner, blowing over her playing card castle and generally being a pest, with her opposite half just smiling her way through the whole thing. 

You would think we all just want people we interact with to be nice wouldn’t you? After all it’s better than being horrid, but just like music, sometimes ‘nice’ just doesn’t feel real enough. 

After last year's excellent pop on mini album Seven Scenes from the Same Summer and the track she made with Studio Black, Friends Don't Kiss Friends, which has picked up 6 million streams on Spotify alone, Emily Burns shows no sign of slowing down with the hooks. 

Emily Burns - Too Cool

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Introducing: Sazzie

Bringing back colour and tacky bouncy synths to pop music, today’s ‘new’ artist is one that long term Breaking More Waves readers may well recognise. Sazzie, as she now likes to be called, is Sarah McIntosh and she first featured here 10 years ago (March 4th 2009 to be exact - here) when she started out as The Good Natured, knocking out some rather classy cool underground pop with tracks such as  Your Body Is A Machine and Skeleton. Since that time she’s also been part of the sassy Lovestarrs before she moved on to a solo career under her new Sazzie moniker.

Sazzie, much like Sarah’s previous projects, is clearly in love with pop music. But whereas The Good Natured had a slightly hip / indie / underground feel to it, as Sazzie, Sarah seems to have no hesitation in embracing her playful side. Do You Work Out? with its naughty hen party and male strippers visuals and call to take off your shirt is the UK’s better and sexier answer to Gangnam Style and latest track Wtf (Pop Culture) is an energised romp through the disco days of the Pet Shop Boys and Vince Clarke era Depeche Mode whilst documenting the here and now of mobile phones, Instagram, Donald Trump, Brexit, Cardi B, Azealia Banks, Grimes, Elon Musk and many more.

If you like pop acts that don’t take everything seriously (Lizzo, Confidence Man etc) you might just love Sazzie. She’s injecting a big dose of cheekiness into the rear end of pop music, and I’ll tell you what, everyone should have at least two shots of it.

Get dancing to her tunes below.

Sazzie - Wtf (Pop Culture)

Sazzie - Do You Work Out?

Monday 25 February 2019

Introducing: BASH!

Yesterday I introduced you to one new south-coast based band, now here’s another. Southampton’s Bash! are purveyors of instantly likeable indie joy-pop. If I had to write a recipe for their music, I’d take a slice of Paramore’s Hard Times and a good sprinkling of anything by Fickle Friends and mix it all round at speed in a big day-glow coloured bowl with some lemonade. 

Bash! make the sort of music that I often describe as 'pop music for the sort of person that doesn’t normally like pop music'. Their Facebook bio makes things much more straightforward though: “They do pop,” it explains. Maybe they should add the word good into that.

Bash! encapsulate feelings of fun and energy in their songs, but they also seem like the sort of band that could deliver it well in your local indie club – in fact the couple of small video clips I’ve seen of the band playing live seem to confirm this, with one person describing them in a tweet them as ‘a revelation’ and another as ‘a must see’. 

The band’s Facebook also tells us that their interests include Dungeons and Dragons, Sweet Treats, Minecraft, Denim and most importantly Lego, from which the video for their effervescent single Wild has been created. It’s a deliriously upbeat tune that really deserves to be blasting out across radio stations across the country. Take a listen and view below.

Bash! isn’t just some silly exercise in comic book power punch terminology either; the lead singer of this five-piece is called Amanda Bashmakova; assuming of course that is her real name. But let’s not worry about monikers, just enjoy the music, which is guaranteed to brighten your day.

BASH! - Wild

Sunday 24 February 2019

Introducing: Winter Gardens

Back in 1984, in the UK, if you described yourself as being into indie music everyone had a pretty clear idea about what that sounded like. The chances were that your record collection would contain something (or everything) by The Smiths, The Pastels, The Wedding Present and Cocteau Twins. Those jangly guitar sounds ran through the veins of any self-respecting ‘alternative’ band from that period.

These days it isn’t really clear what indie is anymore. Take a look at some indie playlists on Spotify and you’ll find there is Indie R&B (Ella Mai and Craig David are on that), Indie Pop (everything from The 1975 to Jade Bird) to Fiesta Indie, whatever that is (it seems to include Confidence Man and Hot Chip).

But here is a new Brighton based band called Winter Gardens, who have a sound that is resolutely old school indie and it’s all the better for it. Their debut single Coral Bells, released through Austerity Records (a label name very suited to our times in the UK) came out on general release last Friday on 7” vinyl and is limited to just 100 copies. It jangles, riffs and stutters in a rather frantically charming way and the vocals from lead singer Ananda have just a hint of Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins about them. There’s a lot of out of the box energy in the music that contrasts with the voice that I can easily imagine coating itself over something a little slower and softer- but perhaps that will come later? Sometimes groups just have to get the adrenalin out of their system first. 

For now, however, Coral Bells shows Winter Gardens having lots of promise with their stark dreamy post-punk sound.

Winter Gardens - Coral Bells

Friday 22 February 2019

New Music: Erland Cooper - Haar

I have a love affair with the sea. The coast is where I spend an awful lot of time. That love is in the multi-layered name of this blog. I purposefully moved geographic location to be living in a city by the sea.  I love the ocean's vastness, its sound, its power, the way it's always different, sometimes raging and sometimes calm, so many different colours. I’m fascinated by the fact that it's so beautiful and yet it can alter the shape of the world so easily and we as humans have to adapt to its changes. 

But mainly I love spending time by the sea as it acts as a natural break, a reset, from the troubles and stresses of every day life. It’s no wonder that, in the last few months when I’ve had to recuperate after surgery I’ve spent an awful lot of time walking up and down the coast where I live, whatever the weather, to build up my strength again.

Living by the sea also trains the brain to be able to pick up up on the clues of the direction of the coast. I’m often surprised when I’m with friends who live inland and we’re travelling to somewhere by the ocean that I can detect where the coast is several miles away from it when they can’t. The smell, the space, the sounds are all there as clues, but I think if you have spent a lot of time near or by the sea you are much more hard-wired into observing these differences than people who don’t.

Given my love of the sea and music, it is therefore a little surprising that there really aren’t many songs that I love about the subject matter. Seaside by The Kooks? No thanks. Although I do adore Down To The Sea by Tim Booth of the band James and (my favourite) Nightswimming by REM, although that arguably isn't about the sea.

Because of this you can probably imagine my excitement when Erland Cooper, the artist who released my favourite album of 2018 (Solan Goose) announced the forthcoming release of a new album called Sule Skerry yesterday and said this about it: “It’s a record about the sea, our relationship with the outside world, forces outside of our control but it’s also about creating a nest within that, nurturing and protecting our own sea havens, those sheltered bays, those safe places. Always returning back in some form, as we step in and out daily.” A whole album about a subject I love.

Sule Skerry is the second album in a triptych shaped by his childhood home, the Orkney Islands.

The album includes Cooper’s own field recordings and interviews within the community of the Orkney’s, a collaboration with the Scottish musician Kathryn Joseph who contributes a spoken word narrative, using poetry written for the album by Will Burns on the track Flattie and also impulse recordings - the reverberations of spaces from beneath the lifeboat pier, his local town hall and inside a 5000 year old Neolithic cairn which were then taken back to London to be incorporated into the mixing process.

The first music we all get to hear from Sule Skerry is the track Haar. Haar is a sea mist which, in Orkney, can form for miles and consume an entire harbour of fishing boats. Performed with a complete live ensemble it features Cooper on piano, minimoog and tape loops, with accompanying string, guitars and soprano as well as field recordings of thunder, during a breaking Orkney sky. It sounds like a natural progression from the work on Solan Goose and will provide you with that momentary break that we all sometimes need. Once again Erland Cooper has created something very special.

Erland Cooper’s confirmed live shows for 2019 include London’s sold out Milton Hall Barbican performance (see you there is you're going to that), Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall and a headline for Caught by the River Calder in Hebden Bridge with Further UK tour dates to be announced.

Erland Cooper - Haar

Sunday 17 February 2019

New Music: Maisie Peters - Stay Young

In the UK this week the opening song on the official Spotify New Music Friday playlist isn’t, as is usually the case, a big pop superstar (they follow in positions 2 to 5 with a variety of collaborations from the likes of Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Yungblud, Halsey, Travis Barker, Zedd and Katy Perry) but a relatively new artist. Whilst we all probably understand that to hook someone in to a playlist you do have to put some big names at the front, I’d like to see Spotify do more of this and take a few risks with lesser known artists at the top of their big weekly playlists. 

Having said that in terms of playlists the artist in question (Maisie Peters) isn’t really a total unknown. Her song Worst of You now nearly has 25 million streams and Place We Were Made now has just under 22 million. She’s hardly one of those artists with a less than 1,000 symbol streams next to her playlist statistics, is she? However, we are now living in an era where certain artists have millions of streams on Spotify but cannot draw 50 people to a gig. Thankfully Maisie doesn’t seem to be one of them with her online success slowly transferring to real life; her show at Omeara (320 capacity) in London next month is already sold out and she has a gig at the much bigger Scala (800 capacity) planned for May. Perhaps naming her as One to Watch for 2018 as I did back in 2017 (here) was a tiny bit early, but it wasn’t a bad tip was it?

The song in question topping the New Music Friday playlist is called Stay Young (which let's be honest is a physical impossibility) and it’s possibly her most pop leaning tune to date with a proper big old catchy chorus and a modern radio friendly production. Maisie has described the track as: “A song about growing up and being lonely in Willesden Green, chasing my dreams and missing my friends and wanting to make them proud.” 

Even if you don’t bother with the New Music Friday playlist this is worth pressing play on.
There’s a video for the song as well and as we all know one thing that is almost guaranteed to get a lot of views and likes on the internet is a cat and so Maisie duly obliges here. 

Maisie Peters - Stay Young

Thursday 14 February 2019

New Music: Talkboy - Someone Else For You

In my previous post I wrote how it was 3 out of 3 for really great singles from Melissa Jefferson aka Lizzo. The same can be said of Talkboy, an emerging band from Leeds who having already impressed with the tracks Mother and Over & Under and are doing it again now with new one Someone Else For You

It’s two and a half minutes of glorious indie guitar pop based on the idea of trying to be someone you’re not for another person and it's all carried along by some arresting ice-cool vocals from band member Katie Heap that to my ears bear some resemblance to Sophie Ellis Bextor (a very good thing). If you’re a fan of the likes of Anteros or Alvvays the chances are you’re going to love Someone Else For You. What, it seems, makes Talkboy stand out over the hundreds of other indie hopefuls is an ability to pen a really strong song and they aren't limited to one idea.

It’s still very early days for the group, but there’s news of an EP on the way and they’ve confirmed they are playing at Live at Leeds and Stockton Calling so far. Here at Breaking More Waves I’m hoping they make it down to my neck of the woods on the south coast one day, so if someone would like to make that happen that would be great thank you.

Talkboy - Someone Else For You

New Music: Lizzo - Cuz I Love You

When knocking out a soulful power ballad as dramatic as Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You* there’s always a risk that the whole thing could come across as ridiculously overblown. In less skilled hands this may well be the case, but when Lizzo sings it's dynamite: “Got you somethin’ from the liquor store, little bit of Lizzo and some more,” she tells us on the title track from her forthcoming album, an album which, for once, the ‘eagerly anticipated’ tag that music industry promotional people overly use is actually true. What with Boys, Juice and now Cuz I Love You (which  she wrote in 10 minutes with a bit of help from X Ambassadors) Lizzo’s new album due in April looks set to propel her to the stars.

On your own this Valentines Day? F*ck it, that’s fine, get a bottle of wine in and have this on repeat – how could you need anything else when you’ve got Lizzo singing Cuz I Love You?

*Footnote, for fans of 1970’s glam rock – no this isn’t a cover of the similarly titled but differently spelt Coz I Love You by Slade, which depending on your perspective is either a crying shame or another victory.

Lizzo - Cuz I Love You (Video)

Friday 8 February 2019

New Music: Honeyblood - The Third Degree

OK, first of all can we all just take a moment to appreciate the lizard like way Stina from Honeyblood has camouflaged herself for this promo pic? If this is the effort she’s prepared to go to for this I imagine she’d be an absolute champion at games of hide and seek. 

Now, onto the music… after the first two Honeyblood albums the question I’ve been asking myself is ‘what next?’

More of the same? A radical change in direction which finds Stina embracing electronics and taking her sound to the disco? Fleshing out into a bigger band and maybe throwing in some strings and horns? Stripping it all back to a more rootsy or acoustic project? Going full on floor to the floor heavy metal? All of these things were and are still are possible. But yesterday with the release of some new material there was some sort of answer at least. That answer was classic 60’s ‘girl group’ pop and Motown influences – although to be fair those influences have always been there a bit, take a listen to the ‘Oo-oo-oo’ hooks on Killer Bangs and you can hear it.

With a new album In Plain Sight due later this year and a big UK Spring tour announced (dates can be found by clicking here) The Third Degree is Stina’s sneering 'could’t give a sh*t about you' indie rock take on the likes of The Ronettes, The Crystals and The Chiffons. 

“No no drama drama baby,” Stina sings as she sees an ex out with a new admirer and then makes sure she ignores them. “All the best to the one who comes next, she’s a braver girl than I,” she confirms. And with that, Stina moves on. 

6 years ago Honeyblood first appeared on Breaking More Waves. 6 years! And this new one's a blast. 

Honeyblood - The Third Degree (Video)

Thursday 7 February 2019

New Music: Fontaines DC - Big

“F*ckin’ brilliant.” Those were my words after pressing play on the new video and song from Fontaines DC, the best new band out of Ireland in a hell of a long time. 

Big is just 1 minute and forty-five seconds long, but in that time it delivers urgent blow after blow. Yes. It’s a knockout. 

The video bears a wet Irish resemblance to Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy, insofar as it’s shot in one take, on the street, but in this case rather than Shara Nelson singing we get a Dr Marten wearing 11-year-old lip syncing to the lyrics near to Poundland and Paddy Power. There’s a danger of romanticising any city (particularly one like Dublin with all of its literary greats and history) but with a video like this it shows the bands commitment to keeping reality in check.

“We felt that great ambition was a sickness, and we got Grian's 11 year next-door neighbour to say it to you all because he's got the presence of a hundred frontmen,” say the band of the film. 

There’s something about the raw impassioned poetic way that lead vocalist Grian Chatten delivers his words on every track that is utterly captivating and even after just 1 play of Big it’s easy to imagine crowds of indie rock kids (and adults) becoming heavily invested in his words. “Dublin city in the rain is mine, a pregnant city with a Catholic mind,” he opens with and I can just imagine the audience mouthing it back at him.

That is why I had no hesitation as naming Fontaines DC as one of my Ones to Watch for 2019 last November. With a debut album Dogrel due on 12th April (which you can pre-order now on CD or fancy yellow vinyl now by clicking here), a whole host of sold out dates and a new Winter tour just announced (you can grab a ticket by clicking here), there’s still a lot to come from this lot. 

To repeat. F*ckin’ brilliant.

Fontaines DC - Big (Video)

Wednesday 6 February 2019

New Music: GIRLI - Deal With It

Milly Toomey better known as GIRLI (she’s clearly a fan of the capital letters unlike yesterday’s band deep tan) has over the years been getting better and better. From the Super Mario pop of So You Think You Can F*ck With Me Do Ya? and the M.I.A vs early Charli XCX vs Shampoo chants of ASBoys in 2015 through to the 2017’s fast-paced Hot Mess up to the here and now with her best yet - Deal With It – a bona fide banger. Today she has released a video for the song - a jam that reminds me a little bit of the exuberant I Love It by Icona Pop – which is in all respects a very good thing.

GIRLI explains Deal With It as follows “It is about embracing your weirdness and telling anyone who judges or questions your individuality to get over it. It’s about refusing to change who you are for other people and instead of saying that it’s their problem if they’re offended by who you are, not yours.” 

It’s a sentiment that over the last few years a lot of pop musicians have been relaying as part of their message. It’s one that I fully support – after all it’s the weird bits of us that make us interesting and exciting. However, there’s a caveat here and I do wish that more pop people would add this caveat. Refusing to change who you are for other people is fine, most of the time. But there’s a line. For example, if you’re a mass murderer or rapist, quite a few people are going to be pretty offended / hurt by this, and it might be time to reconsider who you are and instigate some changes. Or turn yourself in to the police and let them deal with it.

However, in most cases ‘weirdness’ is just others not being able to relate to you on some much less impactful level and if for example that means that means that someone else can’t handle you dying your hair pink and bouncing around to electropop (whatever age / gender / race etc you are) then that really is their problem not yours. Now, who wants to dance frantically around their house / on the street to this? Because Deal With It is a frantic bop of the highest order.

Girli’s 9 track album Odd One Out is released on the 5th of April and she’s doing a huge tour of Britain (although there’s only 1 Scottish and 1 Welsh date) at the same time to promote it. Go and celebrate your inner (or outer) weirdness with her, whoever you are.

GIRLI - Deal With It (Video)

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Introducing: deep tan

Whilst I’m not particularly a grammar pedant or vocabulary fascist (anyone reading the catalogue of errors that is this blog should be able to tell this) one thing that does get my back up a little is the growing fashion for not using capital letters where capital letters should be used. I blame the iPhone and eBay for this. 

Now the disease has spread to bands. So, when I first came across new London group deep tan I almost passed them by simply because of their refusal to use a capital D and T. Harsh I know, but you have to use some sort of filter to keep things manageable when there's so much music out there.

This would have been a shame, because deep tan's debut single air is rather good. A neat yet uneasy mix of French Pop, gothy drums and darker atmospherics that subtly hint at the likes of mid 80’s Tears For Fears dancing in the shadows with Editors, White Lies, Warpaint and Interpol, it’s an excellent start. There's even a touch of The XX's early minimalism in there. And unlike the normal method of releasing straight to Spotify, Apple Music and You Tube deep tan keep it old school and have just thrown the track up on Soundcloud. Their Facebook tells us that they make ‘soothing grooves earth shattering moves’ and that they’ve been playing a number of gigs in and around London, which for now is enough to know. Get acquainted with the song as we keep an eye and ear out for more from this promising bunch.

deep tan - air

Monday 4 February 2019

New Music: Lauran Hibberd - Sugardaddy

A couple of weeks ago Matt Parsons, the Chief Executive of digital music distribution company Ditto Music caused a minor storm on the internet by tweeting: “13 years of Ditto, and Lee and I still work 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week, check our emails at 4am and help our clients on evenings and weekends. No days off. Every spare minute is an opportunity. If you can’t do that basic thing….go work at a major label.”

Whilst Parson’s clients might appreciate his levels of dedication and he might love his job to the point that he’s prepared to work this way, I’m not sure if, as a Chief Executive of a company with a leadership role, this is a responsible message to give out. Particularly to younger people on Twitter trying to get into the music industry who might read the tweet and think that this is how you have to work. 

Wouldn’t most people agree that working 7 days a week, with no days off, for 12+ hours a day mean that you’re probably dedicating too much time to work and missing out on appreciating the other aspects of life that really only come by taking a break? And also, would most people not agree that advocating working such long hours doesn’t take into account the wider impacts it can have? There are many studies that show that people who work long hours experience numerous mental, physical and social effects – some which will only become apparent later in life? Is ‘success’ (and many people judge ‘success’ as wealth earnt) really that important? And if it is, is there another way?

It seems that Lauran Hibberd has got the answer although, as with a number of her songs, there’s definitely a large element of comedic tongue-in-cheek to her solution. Just get yourself a Sugardaddy folks. No more working seven days a week. “Stay home and relax, don’t worry about the money in the bank, 'cos I’ve got stacks around the house,” she sings of her assumedly fictional boyfriend in waiting with an income that knows no bounds. There’s a definite hint of a 90’s Britpop sound to the song; Sugardaddy would sit very comfortably on Sleeper’s Smart or The It Girl Albums as it bounds along with Lauran asking: “Would you like to be my Sugardaddy? I’m tired of working seven days a week.” Brash and playful, it’s another off the wall tune from the Isle of Wight’s queen of indie.

Lauran Hibberd - Sugardaddy

Sunday 3 February 2019

Introducing: Iris

The quality pop from Norway just keeps on coming. Not content with giving us the likes of Sigrid, Aurora, Dagny, Anna of the North, Amanda Tenfjord and Halie, here’s the latest new Nordic queen on the block. Her name is Iris and like all good pop stars she’s mononymous and doesn’t have a surname. Well she does, but nobody cares about that. When we talk of Adele nobody calls her Adele Adkins do they? 

I’m beginning to wonder if there’s some sort of pop star birthing machine in Bergen, Norway, because like Sigrid and like Halie, Iris comes from there. However, as Ian Brown of the Stone Roses once famously said: “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at,” and with her debut single From Inside A Car Iris immediately proves she’s at a very good place musically; in this case Paris. For From Inside A Car is a gorgeously low-key piece of porcelain pop with a really pretty melody and breathy hooky chorus that was written after Iris had spent a month alone in the romantic French city. 

Iris recorded the track with producer Askjell Solstrand who has worked with the likes of Sigrid and Aurora so there’s some good pedigree here. Iris herself also comes with a good history, having worked on a bunch of other projects in Norway. However, with dates at By:Larm festival in Oslo and Brighton’s Great Escape already pencilled in for 2019, you can expect to hear a lot more from her as a solo artist as the year develops.

A debut EP is scheduled for Spring.

Iris - From Inside A Car