Monday 30 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021 #6 Hallan


Looking back at the Breaking More Waves One to Watch lists over the last 13 years I’ve managed in that time to pick a number of commercial big hitters. However, the reason this has always been called Ones to Watch is because some of the chosen acts are probably never going to headline Glastonbury or have a top ten album – but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth watching for other reasons – a fantastic live show or just producing some cracking singles  even if they never get played on the radio or only have a few hundred streams on You Tube. Having said that the crystal ball is very foggy - when I selected Florence & The Machine as One to Watch in 2008 I suggested that her music was too leftfield to ever be commercially successful.

It’s why, over the years, when there has been an artist local to me that I feel is deserving of attention I feature them on the Ones to Watch list. Whilst Breaking More Waves has never been a local music blog, where there is great new music coming out of my local scene (Portsmouth and the surrounding area including the Isle of Wight) I feel it’s important I highlight it. This is why previous Ones to Watch lists have included the likes of Curxes, Jerry Williams, Lauran Hibberd and Coach Party and this year I’m including Portsmouth band Hallan who are without doubt the most exciting band to come out of Portsmouth over the last year or two.

First featured on Breaking More Waves this March I described this four piece’s music as growling with a monstrous amount of atmosphere and punkish strut. They’re part of the growing number of UK bands that have been energised by the shit show that society has created over the last few years, delivering deadpan observational storytelling in a menacing drawl whilst guitars and drums sneer in the shadows (there’s another one to come on this list in a few days time). 

With three singles on streaming services, the most recent of these, Modern England released through Nice Swan records found the support of BBC6 Music even achieving playlist status. They were also a band that I had booked in for what promised to be a packed, frantic hometown show at Dials Festival 2020 until Covid-19 stamped on the live music industry. Portsmouth has always struggled with an island mentality with it's music scene but with Hallan it already feels that they're taking steps to expand way beyond the south coast. Let’s keep everything crossed for 2021 and that Hallan can deliver some more post-punk bangers and that they are able to play some throbbing, sweaty gigs soon. 

Hallan - Modern England

Sunday 29 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021 #5 Olivia Dean


The next artist on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list for 2021 is Olivia Dean. A UK soul artist from Walthamstow, East London, she’s a Brit-School graduate who has been slow trickling a series of gorgeous songs out online over the last couple of years.

Her music sounds effortless, which could be taken as a criticism (as if no effort was put into it) but that’s not what I mean. For Olivia’s sound is full of warmth and a caressing smoothness as if it just comes naturally. It’s pop, but it’s grown up sophisticated pop. Take a listen to October release Echo for a perfect example of this. You can hear references to many classic artists; she’s talked of love and influences such as Al Green, Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and Carole King, but there’s a distinctly modern sound to the production of her music as well. The video for another track The Hardest Part references Diana Ross & The Supremes. 

Having already joined Rudimental when they headlined V Festival in 2017 to sing on one of their songs, Olivia has already had a taste of the big stage spotlight; but I can imagine her elegant sound fitting equally at home in a small club. Wherever she eventually plays in 2021 and beyond, it’s highly likely that Olivia Dean will be melting hearts.

Olivia Dean - Echo

Olivia Dean - The Hardest Part


Saturday 28 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021 #4 Ivorian Doll


If you take one look at some of the comments on Ivorian Doll’s rather brilliant and fiery Body Bag video and you’ll see that I’m not the only one to think she’s one to watch for 2021:

"This should have a million views by now." (Note: It almost has 3 months later)

"This girl is not playing."

"Minute of silence for those who are sleeping on her."

"She could be as big as Nicki Minaj the UK just gotta be behind her."

All of these comments are 100% correct.

Watch the video and you’ll see why Ivorian Doll could quite possibly be the UK’s first female drill-pop crossover artist. Even if you’re not a fan of rap you’ll see that she has the personality, lyrics, flow and style to blow up and become a star. She doesn’t hold back – she goes hard – and is happy to let us know that she’s in charge.

So who is Ivorian Doll? She’s one Vanessa Mahi, a UK based You Tuber turned rapper who started her career by collaborating with Abigail Asante and then in 2019 released a statement of intent in the form of single Queen of Drill. Since then her April 2020 release Rumours, which contains lines like “they said I'm leaking from the STDs that I got,” received a lot of internet love (over 4 million Spotify streams and 5 million You Tube plays for the school classroom video - a Britney / Hit Me Baby video for 2020) and Ivorian Doll was out of first gear with her foot on the accelerator. 

With her combination of heavy drill intensity but with a pop sensibility Ivorian Doll is one to watch for 2021. She's on fire. It's time to get invested.

Ivorian Doll - Body Bag

Friday 27 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021 #3 Holly Humberstone


My third choice on the 2021 Ones to Watch list has been pretty much certain for some time now. In fact I hinted that Holly Humberstone would be on this list as far back as March this year when I wrote of her 2nd song: “So that’s 2 out of 2 so far for Holly Humberstone. One to watch.”

Since that song Holly has been slowly slicing her way through the musical jungle with one quality pop song after another. They all ended up on her Falling Asleep At The Wheel EP. From the raw, introspective and weightily strong Deep End, a tune that hints at the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, to the classy snappy pop of Vanilla, Holly knows how to make a good tune. That well worn expression all killer no filler comes to mind. Add in her beautiful cover of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees (not on the EP) to her small collection of songs released so far and she begins to mark herself as a definite contender. She's 50% classic songwriter and 50% pop star. But either way she's 100% magic.

If Holly is still new to you, I’d thoroughly recommend watching her 15-minute piece On The Run which finds Holly performing a number of her songs acapella and in raw stripped back form in a paper mill. It’s beautifully shot and importantly shows the talent behind the more polished pop moments.

Having already played Glastonbury (the BBC Introducing tent before she’s released anything at all), supported Lewis Capaldi on tour, performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live (a performance that shares some similarities in style with On The Run), been named as Apple Music's Up Next Artist and recently nominated as One of Vevo UK’s Artists to Watch for 2021 I’m clearly not the only one who’s been impressed with Holly Humberstone.

She put out one of my most played EPs of 2020. I’m excited to hear what’s next in 2021.

Holly Humberstone - Overkill

Holly Humberstone - On The Run


Thursday 26 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021 #2 The Lathums


Indie rock male 4 pieces with guitars are dead, blah blah blah.

Well, if you think that you haven’t met The Lathums

If you’re a fan of Arctic Monkeys, Last Shadow Puppets, The View, The Coral, jangly guitars and strong melodic songwriting, you’re going to love this lot. 

The Lathums (not pronounced The Laithums) from Wigan came together as a college project and quickly went from playing their first gig to getting signed, to sold out shows. Then came Covid-19 and lockdown and for a band that seemingly thrive in the live arena it didn’t look so good for The Lathums.

However, their third EP, Ghosts, released at the end of October 2020 sent out a big statement of intent. “People have got too comfortable and think they have us sussed, hopefully this EP shows people there’s a lot more than meets the eye because there is no limit on how far this can go,” the band said on their Facebook page and they’re not wrong. I See Your Ghost is the sound of the Arctic Monkeys doing ska with a slice of frantic twangy psychedelia all laced with adrenalin boosted vocals, whilst Foolish Parley is all 60s influenced indie. Best however is a the first song that lead vocalist Alex Moore ever wrote; All My Life is a lovely quietly affecting ballad with a gigantic good to be alive chorus. It’s a song to fall in love to. 

Indie rock may be totally out of fashion, but I suspect that will suit The Lathums fine. Their quality songs will count more than anything else. Ones to Watch for 2021.

The Lathums - All My Life

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021 #1 Ashnikko


The first choice on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2021 list is the one that I debated the most in terms of her inclusion. Not because she isn’t good (she’s great) but because with one UK top 30 single already under her belt, over 100 million streams of her track Stupid (featuring Young Baby Tate) on Spotify and tracks dating back to 2017 on the streaming service, she doesn’t feel particularly ‘new’ any more. Yet she meets the criteria I set out in my previous post and has still yet to release any sort of long player; a mix tape comes early in 2021 though, which at 10 tracks long should surely be considered an LP?

If you haven’t heard her yet, here’s the low down. 

Ashnikko is Ashton Nicole Cassey and she’s described her exciting music as “angry, punk, hip-hop, sad-girl-feminist, bubblegum, poo-poo music.” She’s collaborated with Grimes and Brooke Candy. If you’re a fan of Charli XCX, Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj and even Avril Lavigne (she’s reworked  Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi into a song on her mix tape called Later Boy) then it’s time to get listening. 

With her colourful, hyper stylised looks and hooky, contemporary sound Ashnikko is undoubtedly the artist on this list most likely to be continuing the commercial trajectory she’s already started on – not only with her music but her merchandise as well. Tentacled penis candles anyone? Yep Ashnikko’s probably the only musician out there flogging those. She was really one to watch in 2020, but even more so in 2021.

Ashnikko - Stupid (ft Young Baby Tate)

Ashnikko - Daisy

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Ones to Watch 2021


Welcome to the Breaking More Waves annual tips list of new artists. I call it Ones to Watch and I’ve been doing it every year around this time since 2008.

This year it is harder than ever to choose 10 new artists that I believe will be worth keeping an eye on in the next 12 months. The effect of Covid-19 on new music has been catastrophic. The route of gaining a loyal fanbase by playing live gigs through the likes of support slots and smaller stages at festivals has been totally wiped out; plus the ecosystem that the touring industry supports is also being badly affected, from sales to streams to radio play to exposure. With much of the music industry on pause or even a tragic full stop, breaking a new artist appears to have less priority than in previous years, even with the possibilities the world wide web gives.

However, that hasn’t stopped me choosing 10 new acts – doing my small bit to help support new talent not yet fully established - and I will be featuring them over the next 10 days with 1 blog post each day for the next 10 days at around 8.30am. It starts tomorrow.

In considering who is eligible for inclusion and who isn’t (or to put it another way how do I define new music?), I’ve decided to use the criteria that the BBC used last year for their 2020 Sound of list as a starting point. That was as follows:

Artists from any musical genre and country are eligible, whether or not they’re signed. They must not have been the lead artist on a UK top 10 album and had no more than one UK top 10 single by mid-October as well as not already widely known by the UK general public.

The ‘not widely known by the UK general public’ is very open to interpretation of course. In addition I’ve added an extra clause which is that the artist must also have not released any album, otherwise arguably many smaller indie bands that have been treading the boards for years could qualify.

This does mean that at least one of the artists on this year’s list has already had some commercial success having achieved a Top 30 hit single. But with no album out yet I still think the artist is deserving on inclusion.

Check back here tomorrow for the first of my 10 choices – in fact it’s the one who has already had that hit. Can you guess who it is?

In the meantime, here’s a list of all the previous artists I’ve selected as Ones to Watch since I’ve been doing this in 2008, from future Glastonbury headliners to those who didn’t really get going at all. There's also a track by Arlo Parks, who was one of my tips for last year and has had a pretty fine musical 2020 all things considered. Do let me know your tips for 2021 on Twitter @BMWavesBlog

Past Ones To Watch

Alabama Shakes, Alessi’s Ark, Alice Chater, Alice Jemima, Another Sky, Arlo Parks, Aurora, Avec Sans, Banks, Beth Jeans Houghton, Billie Marten, Black Country New Road, Cabbage, Celeste, Charli XCX, Chasing Grace, Chloe Black, Chloe Howl, Chvrches, Clare Maguire, Clock Opera, Coach Party, 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, Joy Crookes, 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, Master Peace, Mumford & Sons, Mura Masa, Nao, Noisy, Off Bloom,Outfit, Pale Waves, Passion Pit, Pink Kink, Pumarosa, Queen of Hearts, Rachel Sermanni, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Ren Harvieu, Ryn Weaver, Sam Tompkins, Savages, Seinabo Sey, Seramic, Sigrid, Sinead O’Brien, 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, Winnie Raeder, Wolf Alice, Xylaroo, Yes Giantess, Zyra

Arlo Parks - Green Eyes