Thursday 25 June 2020

Lynks Afrikka - How To Be Successful

As regular readers will know, besides running Breaking More Waves I’m one of the booking team for Dials Festival, a small volunteer-run multi-venue one day event that takes place on one street in Southsea, Portsmouth in October. All profits made by the event are given to mental health charity Solent Mind. For the last couple of years I’ve taken on a major role in the booking and this year had taken the job of lead booker.

Sadly the Dials Team had to cancel the 2020 event due to the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns around safety and certainty in planning. You can hear a playlist of the artists that had been confirmed to play prior to the decision to cancel by clicking this link here.

However, whilst we keep our fingers crossed that we are able to return in 2021, I’m pleased today to feature, not for the first time on this blog, one of the artists Dials was due to bring to you this year. That artist is Lynks Afrikka

Alongside acts like International Teachers of Pop and Brighton newcomers Hourglvss, Lynks Afrikka was set to give Dials 2020 a splash of colourful technicolour vibrancy, with dance party atmospherics being the order of the day. (Click here to see an example of the sort of fun-frenzy Lynks Afrikka brings live.) 

Whilst Dials would have provided its usual mix of indie rock, punk, new wave and pop that is at our core we have always tried to provide a mix of genres for people to pick and choose from. This year more than ever we had programmed the line up and running order to ensure that both our party starters and party finishers were correctly placed, ready to bring the whole thing to a shuddering climax at the end. Lynks Afrikka would have been part of that final surge of energy.

Whilst the debut of Lynks Afrikka in Portsmouth will have to wait for another day, there’s no stopping his new single which has unleashed itself onto the world. How To Be Successful comes all over you like a lo-fi Pet Shop Boys or Fischerspooner banger biting against the conveyor belt of life. The track is taken from his forthcoming Smash Hits Vol.1 EP and arrives complete with a section in the song entitled ‘Dance Break’. Brilliant. Are you ready to bounce? You should be.

Lynks Afrikka – How To Be Successful

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Another Sky - Fell In Love With The City

“Fell in love with the city. Fell in love with @AnotherSkyMusic (again).” I posted those words on Twitter back in September last year after the band’s phenomenal show at London’s Village Underground. Now we finally get that song ahead of the band’s debut album I Slept On The Floor due 7th August.

It feels good to be posting this song today. It is, after all, the day Breaking More Waves was born back in 2008 with a quote from Lyndon B. Johnson: “We can draw lessons from the past but we cannot live in it," together with a reflection that it was eleven years before that that I’d published my first ever fanzine (Breaking Waves) under the author pen name The Boy On The Boat. (Simply because at the time I lived on a houseboat on the Thames).

Now here I am 12 years after that first post (despite supposedly retiring the blog last year) and 23 years since that first scrappy stapled and photocopied ‘zine. I'm still writing about the work of bands and artists I love for no other reason than i like doing it. 

I still occasionally go off at tangents and reflect on the oddness of pop. Questions such as why is it that music seems to be the only profession where it seems totally normal to promote your product by publishing a photo of yourself in the bath? Or why are musicians so full of contradictions? I still write posts unedited and throw them up online in the spare 15 minutes I find in the day. I still get over excited about an artist who I'm sure will be the next big thing that we then never hear of again. I'm still a nerdy fanboy. I still love this thing we call music.

And there you have it, I’m veering off again. This is about Another Sky. 

Fell In Love With The City is classic Another Sky. Surging cinematic guitars combine with Catrin’s Vincent’s mighty vocal to make a song that is exhilarating and elevating. I've already played it a dozen times and I've only just got started.

This is big music. This is another one to lose yourself in. What a band.

Another Sky - Fell In Love With The City

Sunday 21 June 2020

Sault - Monsters

When the blogosphere was fully loaded, active and pretty influential a few years ago, being a ‘Mystery Band’ was a de rigueur model for marketing a new act. Put some classy tracks out and a band name, but keep everything else secret and watch bloggers fall over themselves to discover the arist's identity, generating extra publicity as you went. It certainly helped the likes of Jungle and Oh Wonder; the difference between these artists and some other mystery bands that didn’t fare so well being the quality of the material.

Which brings us neatly to Sault. Having released two albums seemingly from nowhere last year, last Friday Sault released a third. It’s called Untitled (Black Is). Whilst there is no official confirmation of who Sault is, Spotify credits and a number of internet sources show that Cleo Sol and Melissa Young (aka Kid Sister) are involved alongside producer Dean Josiah Cover (aka Inflo) who has worked with Little Simz on Grey Area and Michael Kiwanuka on Kiwanuka as well as his own single No Fear in 2018 under his own name.

Untitled (Black Is) might be 20 tracks long, but unlike say The 1975’s lengthy offering it never feels flabby or that it’s struggling to sustain the quality over the duration. It wouldn’t surprise me if, given the right amount of publicity, we see Untitled (Black Is) cropping up on a lot of people’s end of year lists and winning the Mercury Music Prize. From the off Untitled (Black Is) is a perfectly realised protest album; it undoubtedly provides part of a soundtrack for the social and political climate in 2020 and the Black Lives Matter campaign.

There’s no official single from the record right now and so I’ve had to choose one track to stream from the album for the purposes of this post; an almost impossible task. Ultimately it was a toss-up between two. First there’s Wildfires with its poignant words and beautiful melody: “White lives, spreading lies, you should be ashamed, the bloodshed on your hands, another man, take off your badge, we all know, it was murder.” Then there’s Monsters: “Mr Liar got a secret now, take off your suit you’re just a sorry clown, and why are all my people disappearing now?” Monsters just pipped it, but don’t just listen to this song – immerse yourself in the whole album. One of 2020’s masterpieces.

Sault - Monsters

Thursday 18 June 2020

Ashnikko - Cry (Featuring Grimes)

Ashnikko, the only artist I know who has sold a ‘tentacle penis candle’ as part of her merchandise on her webstore (now sold out) seems to have been bubbling under with an already impressive fan base for quite a while now. 

Her latest track Cry, a blink and you might miss it 2 minutes and 6 seconds of kick-ass rage will continue to develop her profile nicely, especially with the addition of Grimes supplying some backing vocals to the track. It's my on repeat tune of the moment.

The reason for the angry future-pop? Her ex-best friend sleeping with her boyfriend. “Lay another finger on me and you could lose a hand,” she sings. 

Don’t mess with Ashnikko!

Ashnikko - Cry (Featuring Grimes)

Sunday 14 June 2020

Introducing: Club Intl

Today’s introducing post doesn’t feature a totally new artist but instead a new project from that artist. Crush is the debut tune from Club Intl, an NYC based collective formed and led by John Eatherly who has previously featured in the likes of Public Access TV, The Virgins and be your own PET.

Crush is all about big sliding synth sounds and a glossy pulsing production; think Goldfrapp recording the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive or a robot fashion show in a neon lit club. It has lyrics about feeling “deep down heavy in a blue pill daze” and being “not quite ready for my Jesus phase.” It sounds futuristic and fantastic and as if music has evolved into medicine to make everything better again. Listen carefully and you might also hear Madeline Follin from Cults sighing some gentle backing vocals towards the end. It is in short, electronic pop bliss and I must have played it at least 100 times over the last few days. 

Club Intl came into being when the East Village basement studio Eatherly records in had a nightclub built directly on top of it. “The energy from upstairs & seeing hundreds of kids just wilding out every night, started seeping into what we were working on downstairs,” Eatherly has explained. For me this track sounds more like the unsteady flickering sodium end of the night, riding the taxi home, than in the middle of club euphoria but whatever imagery it conjures up for you I hope we can agree that it’s a piece of steely pop perfection.

Club Intl - Crush

Saturday 13 June 2020

Introducing: RINSE

Today’s new artist admires the likes of The Cure, Spiritualized and The Jesus & Mary Chain and it’s those influences plus much of what students in dimly lit student indie discos in the 80’s shuffled around to which his sound references. 

RINSE is the solo project of Brisbane artist Joe Agius. The very eagle-eyed among you might recognise him from his work with Hatchie who he has produced, co-written and performed live with. He’s also responsible for the Hamster Calling filter that went viral a year or so ago; it now has in the region of 350 million users, which is probably a claim that most musicians couldn’t make. 

Alas at this point his music hasn’t been exposed to those same 350 million. Right now, his Spotify profile shows he has 1,743 monthly listeners with debut track Tell Me Tell Me Tell Me having had 15,897 plays whilst new single Trust In Me has yet to reach 1,000 plays. However, if I had to choose between a hamster filter and RINSE’s music it would be the music all the way. 

Tell Me Tell Me Tell Me’s throwback guitars and underlying moody synths are complemented by a vocal delivery and melody that has an effervescent pop-charm. If I was going to stereotype and hadn’t seen a photo of Joe I’d be fully expecting him to have a Flock of Seagulls haircut (here) and be wearing a long grey raincoat (oh hold on...that coat above is grey and may well be long) and pair of Doctor Marten boots. Trust In Me follows suit, with some hooky keyboard lines overlain with some dirty The Boo Radleys Giants Steps era noise. It’s decidedly nostalgic but glistens with a joyful abandon all the same. Right now, the chances of Joe making it to the UK to play any shows are absolute zero, but perhaps we can all wish for 2021 bringing better things for live music and travel and RINSE gracing our shores?

RINSE - Tell Me Tell Me Tell Me

RINSE - Trust In Me

Arlo Parks - Creep

Yesterday I mentioned that two young artists had released cover versions of my favourite songs this week. This is the second of those.

Arlo Parks' reworking of Radiohead’s Creep is sublime.

Early Radiohead material is sometimes not particularly well regarded and whilst I agree that much of Pablo Honey was distinctly average, for me there are three songs on that record (Stop Whispering, Anyone Can Play Guitar and Creep) that stand the test of time. I also really like Pop Is Dead, the non-album single the band released in May 1993 which limped to number 42 in the UK charts, at a time when bands like Radiohead could still have singles that charted.

From this era it is of course Creep, their debut single proper and still their biggest U.S hit (it was surpassed in the UK charts in terms of position by Street Spirit (Fade Out), Paranoid Android, No Surprises and Pyramid Song) that is best known.

However, the band has had a negative history with the tune, Thom Yorke once stating that it had “sucked Satan’s cock” after its release and also suggesting that people who liked the song were “anally retarded.”

I am however quite happy to be anally retarded if it means I get to listen to Creep and this exquisite cover by Arlo Parks. Of the song Arlo has said, “Creep is simultaneously a delicate and brutal exploration of inner turmoil and human relationships. This song has acted as a refuge for me, during times of self-reflection and low mood, for many years and Radiohead as a band has deeply influenced my music.”

Arlo’s take on the song is for Shy Radicals a new short film depicting the work of artist, activist and author Hamja Ahsan.

Abandoning the angsty guitars Arlo plays the song on piano giving it an even more fragile intimacy. Together with Black Dog (which has grown to be one of my favourites of 2020 so far) it marks out Arlo as an artist who, as others have noted, is able to express real depth with a wonderful lightness and deft touch. With each song she releases an album becomes an ever more exciting prospect.

Arlo - Parks - Creep

Friday 12 June 2020

Jorja Smith - Rose Rouge

Breaking More Waves was brought back from retirement due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown; the idea was to keep me occupied when normally I would have been out at gigs or socialising with friends. I have been lucky to be able to work all through the pandemic (ironically I’ve been even busier than normal) and so this was very much an ‘evenings only’ resurrection. However, the last couple of weeks have found even this time limited and as a result I now have a large backlog of music I would have loved to have written about but haven't got round to, despite a drop off in the number of emails to my blog in box. Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to find some space again and so there will be more activity on Breaking More Waves.

This week has been exceptionally interesting for me, as a couple of young artists have released cover versions of two of my favourite songs of all time; both would have easily found a place in my ‘Best 100 Pieces Of Music In The World Ever’ list if I ever wrote such a thing.

First up is past Mercury Music Prize nominated artist Jorja Smith who, in the UK at least, has gone from understated but soulful acoustic gigs to full-on pop stardom in what seems like just a couple of blinks. This week she released a track that some of her more pop leaning fans may struggle with, but because of my love with the original piece I’ve delved into with enthusiasm. Rose Rouge, originally by St Germain, was a hit in a number of European countries. It featured an excerpt from Marlena Shaw’s introduction to her performance of Women of the Ghetto from Live At Montreux, a recording released in 1973. If you’ve never heard the St Germain original it comes highly recommended; you can find it on the album Tourist. 

Jorja’s take whilst still sitting firmly in the court of jazz is less urgent than the St Germain take, taking a more laid-back approach as she sings the repeated lyric “I want you to get together.” With this we can trace a journey from the early 70s to the current day through the evolution of a song. From Marlena to Jorja.

The track doesn’t mark any signifier of a new album from Jorja, instead Rose Rouge is from a forthcoming project from Blue Note records called Blue Note: Re:imagined due on 25th September. The record will find a whole host of newer artists such as Poppy Ajudah, Jordan Rakei, Ezra Collective and Jorja herself taking on tracks from Blue Note's impressive back catalogue.

Jorja Smith - Rose Rouge

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Pocket Sun - I Lost Track

When you put the words pop music and exercise together what do you think of? Kraftwerk’s Tour De France? The re-recorded version of Everybody Wants To Rule The World called Everybody Wants To Run The World? Fitness by Lizzo? Or do you, like me, think of Olivia Newton John’s classic Physical video with those tiny briefs, muscles, tans and a fat man winning the day? (Sorry Dua Lipa, your song Physical is good as well, but Olivia wins on a technicality because of the video).

Whatever you think of, here’s a new one to add to your list. I’ve written about the rather gorgeous synthwave sounds of Pocket Sun before and here they are with a dreamy piece of pop loveliness; it’s the sort of song that will surely morph even the most hardened rock fan into a marshmallow mush of romanticism.

I Lost Track is a Covid-19 lockdown tune of separation but also hope: “Missing your hello, missing your goodbye, things won't change, unless we wait it out alone. But some day it will end.” 

“But what about the exercise?” I hear you shout. That comes in the video which finds Gina from the band breaking out into her own quarantine aerobic routine – watch out Joe Wicks. Whilst there might not be any body builders accompanying her here, there is at least a naked blow up man, which given social distancing rules is probably a fairly decent effort. You can get the tune on Bandcamp by clicking here.

Pocket Sun - I Lost Track

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Introducing: Elan Tamara

Today’s introducing artist is a singer-songwriter from Walthamstow who has been circulating in music circles for some time now, but with her latest release seems ready to gain some traction on her own. 

Her name is Elan Tamara and the track in question is My Eyes; a jazzy piano based tune that fans of Laura Mvula in particular might like. Having studied ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London, played with the likes of Tirzah and Toro Y Moi and featuring Georgia on percussion and Kwes on bass and production duties, Elan’s music comes ready-stamped with pedigree – and it shows. My Eyes, a song about a long-distance relationship is far from an obvious pop banger but listening to it is an absorbing experience, nonetheless. “You knew just what to do,” sings Elan. You do, don’t you? Take a listen and keep an eye and ear out for this clearly talented individual in the future.

Elan Tamara - My Eyes

Monday 1 June 2020

Monthly Playlist - May 2020

Today is that time of month when I do a short post to let readers know that the Breaking More Waves new music monthly Spotify playlist has been updated. I'd like to say it's been carefully considered and curated, but really it's just a bunch of tracks I like thrown into an order that makes sense in my head. 

You can find and follow the whole thing by clicking this link.

This month there’s everything from a surprisingly great track from The 1975, a band that until now have never really resonated with me, a fabulous rainbow-glitter disco stomper from relative Brighton unknowns Hourglvss, a track from the bold and futuristic Charli XCX album and some beautiful softer acoustic tracks from newcomers Molly Payton and Lydiah. It’s all topped off with Erland Cooper’s wonderful A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window, a composition that soundtracks this strange time perfectly.

I hope you find something to like here. Three tracks from the playlist stream below, but click the link above for the whole thing. Some of these have appeared this month on the blog. Some haven't.

The tracks featured on Spotify this month are:

1. Celeste – I Can See The Change
2. Hourglvss – Supreme Beings
3. International Teachers Of Pop – Flood The Club
4. Moyka – Violet
5. Twst – Sad Girls Club But U Gotta Be Cute  (AmPm x Funtyme Remix)
6. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
7. Courting – David Byrne’s Badside
8. LibraLibra – Juicy Lucy
9. Charli XCX – Pink Diamond
10. Sofi Tukker & Gorgon City – House Arrest
11. Aliche – Lockdown Love
12. The 1975 – Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied
13. Arlo Parks – Black Dog
14. Olivia Dean – Baby Come Home
15. Maude Latour – Furniture
16. PREP – Pictures Of You
17. Molly Payton – Corduroy
18. Lydiah – Holding Back
19. Skullcrusher – Places / Plans
20. Erland Cooper – A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window

Charli XCX - Pink Diamond

Sofi Tukker & Gorgon City - House Arrest

Twst – Sad Girls Club But U Gotta Be Cute  (AmPm x Funtyme Remix)