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

Sunday 11 August 2019

Introducing: Mealtime

Meet Mealtime, the Manchester band who appear to have a bit of an obsession with all things mouth related. From the band name, to new (bad spelling) song Teef, to their promo pictures which show them shoving various food stuffs in their gobs to an oral cavity heavy video; if these six pieces’ next single is called Kiss, Lipz, or mentions dentists in any way then suspicions will be fully confirmed.

Manchester’s musical scene may arguably be centred on guitars in recent years but Mealtime offer something different to that. From the two songs they have released so far listeners will have been able to detect a pop heart, albeit one that’s more alt-pop than mainstream pop; there are plenty of soft synth sounds, throbs and electronic mini-riffs combining with the girl-boy vocals. Nice might sound like a lame word when used to describe music, but that’s exactly what these songs are - really nice. Electronic pop can often sound sharply robotic but Mealtime sound like a dream under silk sheets.

Mealtime was picked as part of a BBC Introducing Takeover promotion to play the Nebula Stage at this year’s Blue Dot Festival alongside the likes of Diving Station and Abbie Ozard, both of whom have been featured and introduced on Breaking More Waves, and are due to get their first play on Radio 1 via Huw Stephens just a few hours after this post goes live. Add them to your musical menu.

Mealtime - Denim

Mealtime - Teef

Monday 5 August 2019

Introducing: Chinatown Slalom

In 2019 the standard release strategy for artists seems to be a constant drip feed of singles before collecting them all together, adding in a small handful of new tracks to the mix and releasing it as an album. Yet with so many artists releasing independently now and the internet enabling barriers to be broken there is so much scope for musicians to release in different and original ways. It’s a shame that more don’t experiment with this. 

Chinatown Slalom from Liverpool are tremendously exciting. Their music sounds 100% free of constraints and record label interference; it’s trippy, haphazard, oddball and never rests in complacency. Sometimes it's a mess, but that's OK. Messy is at least interesting. They have also dropped their debut album without the usual two-year long build up and drip feed to generate interest. They’ve just banged it out and word of mouth is building. There's some advice to new artists here; don't play safe.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? is a very DIY record that scrabbles around grabbing as many sounds and samples as it can; genre is obviously a word that Chinatown Slalom haven’t come across. Some reference points that I could throw in are The Avalanches debut, The Beta Band (possibly the most similar comparison), The Beatles, De La Soul, Plastic Mermaids, Jai Paul (who they sample on the album’s title track), Hot Chip, The Beach Boys, The Flying Picketts, Clarence Clarity and Alt-J. Not all of it is perfect - sometimes it feels like a kaleidoscopic collection of ideas that are still moulding themselves into something and they haven't quite got there yet - but it’s this fresh rawness that makes Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? a must listen. 

In terms of live performance there seems to have been very little at the moment, although they’ve thrown some house parties which they titled ‘Everyone’s Invited’ and seemingly annoyed their landlord.  However, what appears to be a more regular gig has been announced at Neighbourhood festival in Manchester on 12th October. Have a listen to the track below but do visit their album to get the full range of what they do.

Chinatown Slalom - Where U At?

Chinatown Slalom - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Sunday 4 August 2019

New Music: Lxandra - Swimming Pools

A sign of a hooky song is if you hear it live once and then several months later come across the recorded form for the first time and instantly remember it. Such is the case with Swimming Pools by Lxandra, her latest single. I caught her earlier this year at Great Escape Festival singing in a jazz club with the tiniest of stages and lowest of ceilings. It was there that she delivered one of the best vocal performances I heard all weekend. The first time I played this since that time it was instantly familiar.

There’s a touch of what I think we can now refer to as the ‘Adele pianos’ on Swimming Pools. Lxandra explains it’s about being happy with what you have and showing a middle finger to the expectations from society and the world that runs on money.  So, the basic message is remember who you are and where you came from. I’d assume that this probably doesn’t apply if you are a super-posh trust fund kid with an overly inflated bank account though.

Whilst the track has been out for a short while, this video has only just made it out into the world. Lxandra is currently working on her debut album.

Lxandra - Swimming Pools (Video)