Wednesday, 14 July 2021

NEW #32 - Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

 

It all starts with a rather upper class accent announcing: “It is an endeavour to provide a balanced town in which the motor car has certain privileges, public transport has certain privileges and people, perhaps most of all, have the privilege of walking about in safety…”. This is the start of Interim Report, March 1979 by Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan - a concept record that has grabbed me on two levels. First the music; sinister but warm sounding retro synth instrumental pieces with a rather melancholy and pulsing cinematic feel. They're like a long-lost cousin of Jean Michel Jarre or for a more modern reference, the soundtrack to Stranger Things. The second is because of my profession; design, architecture and construction is what I do and it helps pay for my music obsession. But that deep interest in buildings and place helps make this seem even more of a special record for me.

The cover of Interim Report, March 1979 reveals that the music contained within was commissioned as the soundtrack to a short film Gateway to the North, Gateway to the Future. The film publicised the work of the Warrington-Runcorn Development Committee in providing a thriving cultural life for the residents of the new estates of Warrington and Runcorn. It claims that excerpts were shown later that year on BBC’s Nationwide. Combined with the ‘Ex Libris Warrington Public Library’ stamp and the retro looking pictures of brutalist town centre landscapes it’s easy to believe the authenticity of this concept.

The reality is that this is all just the simply the brilliant imagination of one Gordon Chapman Fox who has created this impressive homage to these failed architectural and town planning orchestrations. The dream may have been an optimistic one; towns that were safe, clean and futuristic, but the reality was the opposite - grey, dispiriting and falling to pieces. Chapman Fox’s music undoubtedly provides the perfect soundtrack to this basic notion – even if the concept of the film and committee are fake.

Normally on Breaking More Waves I feature new artists who have just a handful of songs out, perhaps leading up to a debut EP. Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan is different. This album, released a few months ago, is already on its way to becoming something of an underground electronic cult-classic. It sold out first time round and is now being repressed on splatter vinyl with a further 600 copies available. But that’s just the start. In September Chapman Fox will release his second long-player under this moniker; People & Industry soundtracks the economic boom in industry in the Lancashire area in the late seventies. I’ve already seen record shops reporting that they are nearly out of their allocation, so as it’s not available on Spotify / Apple (just Bandcamp) you’ll need to get in quick if you want a copy.

Expect to see Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan's Interim Report, March 1979 on a few end of year lists come the close of 2021. Town Planning never sounded so good.

Warrington-Runcorn Newtown Development Plan - Gateway To The North

  

Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan - The Town of Tomorrow
 

Monday, 12 July 2021

NEW #31 - Cathy Jain

 

If you take a look at the cover art for the debut single Cool Kid by newcomer Cathy Jain (a simple line drawing of someone crouched on a skateboard) you may well come to the conclusion that she is the latest lo-fi indie darling, producing scrappy bedroom jams for the approval of the vintage clothing wearing, knit beanie wearing hipster crowd. Yet you’d be very wrong. Yes, of course, like most other artists she’s been making music in her bedroom the last year or so, but the production quality of Cool Kid is a long way from being full of imperfections and noise.

Instead Cool Kid has a warm languid feeling to it – think Maisie Peters jamming in the sun with Easy Life. Dealing with the concepts of authenticity and trust Cool Kid finds Cathy examining how some people can change the way they behave and their attitudes in order to make relationships work: “Lying while I’m lying next to you,” she sings after narrating the a scene where someone pretends to love a song that they don’t really like in order to find favour with someone. Is this fake or is it just someone naturally evolving and adjusting? Are we all truly authentic or just products of the environment and people around us? These are the questions that Cathy gets you thinking about in the space of her chilled easy on the ear four- minute modern pop song.

It's fine start (or that is to say new start as Cathy has released some songs in the past but you'll have to dig for them as they have largely been deleted) from this UK based 17-year old who was born in Salford but was brought up in China and Australia before returning to the UK 4 years ago. If you’re going to Latitude festival in less than two weeks you can catch Cathy on the BBC Introducing Stage there.

Cathy Jain - Cool Kid

Thursday, 17 June 2021

NEW #30 - Wet Leg

 

Two things that I’m a big fan of are musicians in the bath* (so many of them do promo pictures this way but nobody can explain why) and slightly idiosyncratic singers. Often the two go hand in hand as they did back in 2016 when I wrote about rising Isle of Wight musician Rhian (here) Since that time we haven’t heard a lot from her (she released the songs Time Traveller and Solid Gold in 2018) although she has popped up singing with fellow islanders Plastic Mermaids at some of their live shows.

However, now Rhian (full name Rhain Teasdale) returns alongside jeweller / musician Hester Chambers with a new project Wet Leg. Their debut is a gem of an indie pop anthem called Chaise Longue. It’s totally different to her solo work (the vocals are less Joanna Newsome and more in the vein of the current trend of spoken ASMR pop) and will get you on first listen. It does it with a simple but propulsive backing, sharp guitar riff and quick to absorb lyrics that will undoubtedly find audiences chanting along with them. Phrases like “I got the big D” and “Excuse me, what?” deserve to be shouted back at the band in sweaty rooms across the country. Chaise Longue is undoubtedly the first time I’ve ever heard someone ask “Is your muffin buttered” in a pop song and “I’ve got a chaise lounge in my dressing room and a pack of warm beer that we can consume,” is one of my favourite amusing or is it just real life (?) lyrics I’ve heard for a while.

Then we come to the video. Which is simple, but brilliant. Dressed in old time country dresses and hats Rhain delivers the words deadpan whilst Hester lurks around being somehow sinister and comical at the same time (watch out for the high kicks) her face covered by her hat. It doesn’t sound that interesting but by the end it will have you in giggles and in love with the song.

With the Isle of Wight already bringing us Plastic Mermaids, Coach Party, Lauran Hibberd, Champs and Roberta Fidora it’s a highly fertile breeding ground for new music. Soon they’ll be able to run their own festival with no mainlander artists at all.

Wet Leg are the latest newcomers to that list and on the basis of this debut they’re a very worthy addition. 

* Don't forget to have a look at the #musiciansinthebath hashtag on Twitter

Wet Leg - Chaise Longue

Friday, 11 June 2021

NEW #29 - Modern Woman

 

Modern Woman, the latest band to be introduced on Breaking More Waves are purveyors of leftfield experimental art rock. Then they throw in the surprising addition of supple vocals that you’d probably expect to hear in a traditional folk group rather than a band that are about to embrace a series of dates that include shows at various alt-rock / psych / indie festivals, including End of The Road Festival.

In fact End of the Road Festival is important here as Modern Woman are the first signing to End of the Road Records, a label set up by the festival. Simon Taffe, the founder of the event has said of the band; “As soon as we accidentally stumbled upon a Modern Woman live show, we were obsessed. They were so fully formed. We were stunned to discover they hadn’t even recorded a song.” 

Now they have. 

Let’s be clear here – Modern Woman are very much on the avant-garde side of things. They’re not searching for a hit. They prefer to explore areas such as free-jazz, noise and post-punk. They’ve also been known to create percussive sounds from instruments they have created themselves, such as an old table with a metal colander nailed to it. Their debut single is about desire and a voyeur leaving offerings for their neighbour. It’s edgy, weird and all over the place. The closest comparison I can think of is PJ Harvey going completely off-piste or perhaps Black Country New Road or Squid after a big night out.

Modern Woman make music that is uneasy listening. In places their sound is brutal. But Offerings is an intriguing start.

You can find Modern Woman on this week’s Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly Playlist, which you can find by clicking here.

Modern Woman - Offerings

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

NEW #28 - Alice Low

 

We all know the rules of pop, right? Don’t make your song more than 3 minutes long, because modern attention spans just can’t cope with any more than that can they? Especially if it's your debut single.

Alice Low, from Cardiff, clearly hasn’t read the rules. Debut single Ladydaddy clocks in at a superbly absurd 14 minutes long. Of course, there’s a shortened radio edit but forget that. You need to dive fully in, if only to hear the opening lines “Trying to work out what it takes to turn a man into a doll, go into town with my best fuck me face mask on.”

What Alice Low does is ridiculous but brilliant. Ladydaddy is a bewildering journey into weird 70’s pop via the world of an acoustic bar room singer, sax solos, Bowie, glamorous excess, camp stomp, and ideas that dart and propel themselves around like an energised pinball. You never know what's coming next, but you can be 100% certain it won't be like Lewis Capaldi. Think Sparks at their most eccentric and you’re possibly getting a little closer. Ladydaddy sounds so completely unlike anything else from 2021; it’s gloriously refreshing and inventive, if also a little perplexing at the same time. You won't be finding this played on daytime radio (although I can imagine the radio edit sneaking onto BBC 6 Music).

Ladydaddy was released a couple of weeks ago via Clwb Music. Truly bonkers pop music that doesn't play safe. 

Alice Low - Ladydaddy

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

NEW #27 - rainbow frog biscuits

 

Today’s new artist has just one song online, but it’s such a pretty and melodic thing that its soft impact feels ready for writing about at this early point. The song in question is Attention. It’s by Amber Louise, a teenager who hails from the Leicestershire region and performs under the name rainbow frog biscuits. It will charm rather than punch you into submission and yes, there’s an element of tweeness about it, but twee unfairly gets a bad name sometimes. 

If you’re only into lad-rock you’re probably not going to be jumping up and down with excitement to rainbow frog biscuits, but at least Amber can’t face any criticism from the dreaded ‘real / authentic music’ fans who think that anything that is generated from a computer isn’t good. Her plucked guitars and gentle cooed harmonies are about as organic and natural as you can find – you can easily imagine her playing this song in a shaded glade at a festival in the woods to a hushed adoring crowd.

Of course, it’s the de rigeur for new artists to develop a following on Tik Tok these days and here Amber is doing rather well, with 1 million followers and 17.4 million likes. But away from that, Attention, a song about the classic teenage insecurity of having a friend that you think is way better looking than you, stands tall on its own, whatever platform you first discover it on.

“I just wanna make some quirky groovy tunes about quirky groovy things, you know?” she explains on her Spotify bio and the playlist she has curated there spells that out from the start; after her own song twelve Kate Bush tracks follow. Unsurprisingly the playlist also features a Dodie track (probably the most obvious reference point) but the inclusion of George Benson, Tears For Fears and Chris De Burgh may not be what you expect.

What we can expect next from Amber is a mystery at the moment. But if her songs are anything near as endearing as Attention, those play counts on streaming services are going to be shooting up.

rainbow frog biscuits - Attention

Sunday, 23 May 2021

NEW #26 - Scout

 

There are those who dismiss the 80’s as just a decade of Thatcherist deconstruction of society, yuppies and shallow upbeat synth pop. But anyone who even scratches the surface even just a little will find there was far more than that. However, it cannot be denied that the 80’s were key in the development of the synthesiser. As the technology got cheaper more artists embraced it – and just like any genre there were fast songs, slow songs and mid-tempo songs. There were songs that had deep meaning and there was stuff that was throwaway. There were songs about love and songs about heartbreak. Just as there probably always will be.

Which brings us to Scout. On their (or is it her?) debut single Never Fade Scout strongly references that synth pop; the sort of lush, cinematic glossy electronic sound that comes from the same 80’s family as Berlin’s Take My Breath Away. Lyrically it’s definitely in the sad-pop-heartbreak arena; after the break up and the misery comes the difficulty of disconnecting from the memories: “Every little thing reminds me of your face.”

It’s not just 100% retro though, the song itself has a very modern structure – the vocal delivery has hints of a downbeat Charli XCX and I could easily imagine Chvrches putting this in their set and nobody batting an eyelid. Scout is not totally new to all of this; in 2015/6 they were working under the name Kid Wave, a much more guitar-based project. You may remember the track Wonderlust which gained some decent traction. 

What comes next remains to be seen, but a debut EP is promised. If it’s as dreamy and sad as Never Fade, count me in. Let’s get ready to wallow in someone’s unhappiness.

Scout - Never Fade

Saturday, 22 May 2021

NEW #25 - Lovejoy

 

Here’s an odd one. Press play on Lovejoy's debut EP Are You Alright? released a couple of weeks back and you’ll probably think you’re listening to something from 2005- 2007. Their blend of hooky pop tunes formed out of chunky energetic guitars punctuated by punchy brass riffs sounds far removed from much of today’s designed for Tik-Tok / You Tube influencer led pop music. 

So, it might come as a surprise to find that Lovejoy are already enjoying some success. After all, their sound certainly isn’t flavour of the month. A couple of the UK band’s tunes are already hovering around the lower reaches of the Top 100 singles chart, and the video for their song One Day has over 5 million views on You Tube. 

The reason for this seemingly very non-zeitgeist band doing so well? The answer is Wilbur Soot (real name Will Gold). The lead vocalist is an established UK based internet personality and Twitch streamer. Wilbur has over 5 million subscribers on You Tube and has already released some solo music. It seems that perhaps bands like this aren’t dead, they just have to work out how to engage with an audience in new ways. 

Of course good songs and personality help and there’s something really likeable and very British about Lovejoy’s tunes. If in the mid noughties you were listening to Jack Penate, Scouting For Girls, The Rumble Strips or Athlete then Lovejoy will probably bring a smile and sense of nostalgia to you. 

All credit to a band who start one of their songs with the line: “Stop! ‘Cos why did you have to kill my cat?” (on One Day), before continuing with Wilbur singing that “a toilet with the seat left up is closure like a deer in headlights.” Combine that with the aforementioned bouncy exuberant brass, stupidly frantic foot to the floor drumming, a momentum that sounds like they might fall apart at any moment and Wilbur’s existing online presence and you have all the ingredients of an old fashioned band that might just cut through.

Lovejoy - One Day

Sunday, 9 May 2021

NEW #24 - Jayla Kai

 

This is the first post for nearly two weeks. Something was scheduled to go up earlier last week, but the new artist in question released a new (second) single the day before the post and it was an absolute shocker, so I just couldn’t stand by my post and it never went online.

It’s a simple lesson re-learnt; that pop music can be a fickle. Yesterday’s artist with potential can be today’s dodgy incompetent. Nobody has a crystal ball that is accurate. 

Whenever a writer blethers on about all the artists that they wrote about in their infancy that are now festival headliners, ask them which artists they wrote about that came to nothing. There were probably a lot of them. ‘Tastemakers’ memories can be selective.

With that in mind today I’m introducing Jayla Kai. She released her debut single I Can’t Lie just a few days ago. An extremely easy on the ear piece of  music that would sit comfortably in a record collection alongside the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Soccer Mommy, but manages to feed in some electronics and a pop sensibility as well: “I never thought I could have a song with a beat drop,” she says. “Now I love it. It’s authentic vulnerable, shamelessly unfiltered. It’s me.” I liked it so much I put it as the first track on the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist.

Kayla grew up in Woodstock and has benefited from the experience and positive approach of Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), when at the age of 15 one of her teachers put her in touch with him. Kieran has helped inspire and motivate her to the point where Kayla is now releasing music, with an EP to follow through new independent label Everybody’s Music. Of course, that EP might be garbage; but if it’s not and Kayla goes on to critical success and fame and fortune I will absolutely delight in telling anyone that listens that I was one of the first to write about her. 

Jayla Kai - I Can't Lie

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

NEW #23 - Rianne Downey

 

Glasgow seems to have come up trumps with Rianne Downey, a new acoustic-country queen, who has teamed up with James Skelly from The Coral and now will almost certainly continue to win hearts wherever she plays.  If that is, Covid-19 doesn’t screw live music forever.

Let’s not be negative about things though. After all how can you be down once you’ve listened to Rianne’s debut Fuel To The Flame, released this February? It’s a gorgeous cinematic song that Quentin Tarantino, if he was in need of a new track for a cowboy film, could do with signing up. A ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ tune of sorts, but not that Tony Blair endorsing D:Ream one or even the one by 80’s synth popster Howard Jones. This instead is a guitar picking slow burner with a haunting nostalgic quality to it. Rianne has named Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton as influences, but if you want something a bit more modern her vocal has a passing resemblance to that of Katy J Pearson but with a greater degree of purity.

Her second release has a title that sounds instantly like a classic country song: Stand My Ground. It’s a quickstepping, animated skip of a tune that suits Skelly’s production skills perfectly. It doesn’t quite make me want to pull my fringed boots and denim jacket on and run down to the Grand Ole Opry, but it’s a strum-bop nonetheless.

The back story with Rianne is a journey from busking on Buchannan Street in Glasgow through to supporting Gerry Cinnamon to posting You Tube covers in lockdown (and finding the old school indie crowd fawning over her covers of note perfect versions of songs from the likes of The Stones Roses and Arctic Monkeys) through to these two debut songs. Very recently she’s been seen on the internet singing with Alex Moore of The Lathums, another band who have been produced by James Skelly. All of this has led to the 500 copies of her yet to be released debut EP selling out. It wouldn’t surprise me if her shows booked in Manchester and Glasgow this September follow suit very soon.

Rianne Downey - Stand My Ground

 

Rianne Downey - Fuel To The Flame

 

Friday, 16 April 2021

NEW #22 - English Teacher

 

With a title like R&B the last thing you’d probably expect to hear is a storming piece of indie-art-rock in the vein of Dry Cleaning or Sinead O’Brien, but that’s exactly what you get from English Teacher on their new single. Having drip fed three songs in 2020 the Leeds based four-piece is newly signed to Nice Swan Records who released records by artists such as Sports Team, Pip Blom and Portsmouth newbies Hallan. Essentially, if you like your music with a guitar / 6 music listener feel Nice Swan is a label you really should be into by now, if you're not already.

The band describe R&B as: “About the cyclical, productivity-diminishing paradox of low-self esteem and imposter syndrome-induced writer’s block that then fuels low self-esteem and imposter syndrome. It’s also about racial identity and putting the love that you have to offer a potential romantic partner back into yourself.”

Whilst R&B displays a rousing crunchiness combined with a spoken word delivery, the rest of English Teacher’s material shows that they’re a versatile band in the making. Last June’s You Won’t Believe How Beautiful She Is When It Has Snowed might sound like the title of something churned out by The 1975, but it drizzles a gentle low-key artistic languidness whilst lead singer Lily references Friedrich, Shelley and Byron in the lyrics. The Treacle Trap Door meanwhile sounds like a potential set closer in the making, managing to be suitably sprawling and uplifting in just under four minutes. If this had been the 90’s it would have been released on Chemikal Underground records for sure.

It’s no surprise to see English Teacher starting to pick up some attention with their releases so far. They have a slot on the Great Escape festival’s online event and have received some funding from the PPL Momentum Accelerator Fund, which helps artists outside of London to get beyond the first stage of their career, with funding for recording and marketing granted.

For now though, take a listen to new single R&B. You can also find it on the new Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist (click here). But don’t then just think that everything they do sounds like that. Take a listen to their small back catalogue as well. 

English Teacher - R & B

Saturday, 10 April 2021

NEW #21 - poutyface

 

Today I’m introducing poutyface. Her real name is Olivia Knight and she's from California. She gained some early attention through Voisey – a platform allows users to record short videos using multi-tracked vocals over backing tracks uploaded by amateur and professional producers from around the world.

But it’s the two songs that she's released on more traditional streaming platforms that have grabbed me. (You can find one of them streaming on my New Music Weekly playlist on Spotify by clicking here.)

2020’s debut, Deathwish, reveals poutyface as having some fairly serious anger and triggering issues. Over a nursery rhyme like melody and minimalist backing track she sings: “Got a deathwish baby, push my buttons you’ll be pushin up daisies, pull up in a hearse no Mercedes, I might go Cruella de crazy you can’t even phase me.” Its delivery sounds a little like the missing link between Billie Eilish and Ashnikko, which is no bad thing. Deathwish is also the only pop tune I’ve ever heard that starts with a whispered utterance of the word “poopyface” as well as being super catchy.

Working itself around the classic quiet verse / noisy chorus formula, new single Never Fuckin Know sounds like something a rebellious cheerleading squad might rock out to. Starting with a spoken word intro not that dissimilar to Confidence Man’s C.O.O.L Party poutyface narrates a night out gone wrong: “So I made the mistake of going to a strangers party alone, and the last thing I remember is watching a Dominic Fike video, then I woke up, still drunk, sheets were clean but my clothes were fucked,” before the music ramps up with an insistent pop-punk verve and perhaps just a hint of Avril Lavigne. Expect to find yourself headbanging to this before the end. The two songs are very different in musical style, but their cartoonish spirit stands out.

Quotable lyrics, hooks and a big dose of bad-ass are all present and correct here; poutyface might just end up being your new favourite pop-star.

poutyface - Never Fuckin Know


poutyface - Deathwish

 

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

NEW #20 - Pyra

 

Today’s new artist is Thailand’s Peeralada Sukawat aka Pyra. Pyra describes her music as dystopian pop. Dystopian is usually used to describe something imagined in the future. Pyra believes we are living in dystopia right now. Her sound could be the soundtrack to it.

Pyra makes music that is full of messages, style and ideas and with it she also embraces her cultural roots. It is at its best on her most recent single yellow fever (featuring Ramengvrl and Yayoi Daimon) released last month. yellow fever deals with the sexual fetishizing of Asian women by non-Asian men and is accompanied by a video that finds a bunch of dodgy old sex tourists heading into a Thai bar. “This one is for all my Asian girls out there who’ve been asked to do favours to quench the thirst of em’ pervs,” Pyra says. As you’d probably expect it doesn’t go the way the men planned.

With its electronic nu-metal / heavy bass backing and acidic delivery Pyra takes no prisoners: “Bet you think the yellow screams louder, and all the Bangkok babies are designer, bet your wondering if I got a vagina, wow that’s crazy,” If you’re a fan of Ashnikko you’ll certainly find some commonality here alongside the nu-metal elements of artists like Poppy and Grimes. If these reference points tick your boxes then I’m pretty certain Pyra’s music will as well.

Whilst yellow fever is my favourite track so far there are plenty of other thrills, spills and a bit of pain to be found in Pyra’s world. On You Tube you can find her performing her track bangkok whilst getting a thai massage and the theme continues when she gets a tattoo whilst performing her song dystopia

She’s clearly not a fan of capital letters either, with all of these songs being titled fully in lower case. That continues on plastic world which takes on consumerism and global warming with a danceable pop tune.

Watch the video for yellow fever below – it’s strikingly brilliant - and enter Pyra's world.

Pyra - Yellow Fever 

Monday, 5 April 2021

NEW #19 - Charlie Houston

 

If you take a snapshot of pop music at pretty much any point in history you’ll find that alongside the eternal teenage musings of love and relationships there are certain other subjects that crop up in the lyrics of songs more prominently at certain periods, time-stamping the music. Right now, mental health is very prominent. Thankfully pop is generally the preserve of the young; otherwise with health on the agenda we might find our musicians singing about their back problems, aching joints and if they survived Covid-19. Although to be fair, why shouldn't musicians sing about what the f*ck they want? After all Kate Bush sang about her washing machine, and if it's good enough for Kate.....

Canadian singer Charlie Houston is one such new artist: “I just want my songs to be super authentic and address shit that all young people deal with,” she says of her songs. So probably no tunes about hip operations quite yet then.

With her debut EP  I Hate Spring out later this month we’ll get to hear her music in a fuller form as she works her way through a series of pop tunes where she sings of her own mental health issues, romance, breaking apart and discovering the fluidity of her sexual identity, nailing the ‘shit that young people deal with’ area neatly.

Her first example of this came via the pleasurably lethargic pop song Calls. Flecked with some nice touches of reality (empty Juul pods and Uber Eats in bed are mentioned) it finds Charlie at more than one end; the end of the phone and the end of a relationship: “Can't help saying how I guess I miss you. Hoping you call, hoping you call me back.” 

The downtempo atmosphere is maintained on her second song Things, which adds a little more electronic R&B flourish than Calls. This one deals with Charlie losing her own self within a relationship: “I just did things ‘cos you did them too. Didn’t really want to I’m just trying get with you.” There’s a definite enervated sadness to Things, which manages to be both slick and vulnerable at the same time.

Charlie’s EP is released on April 23 and contains 3 other songs titled Adore, Honey and 19. I can only assume that 19 isn’t a cover of the Paul Hardcastle classic – although that would be something – if only for the fact that I can’t imagine that many young people are talking about the Vietnam war right now. In tribute to this however, I think this post number is rather suitable, don't you?

Charlie Houston - Things (Video)


Charlie Houston - Calls

Monday, 22 March 2021

NEW #18 - Opus Kink

 

There are a couple of people in my musical circle who now and then come out with statements that make me want to spontaneously vomit all over their pretentiousness: “Oh yeah, I’m really into Wild West psych jazz punk,” being a good example. Bleurgh.

But then I took a listen and I had to take it back; not the vomit though, I’m not taking that back, that’s gross. Because Opus Kink, a bunch of reprobates from Brighton make music that could quite easily be described as Wild West psych jazz punk and it’s bloody marvellous. 

There’s so much going on here. New single Wild Bill sounds like Joe Strummer thrashing around with joyful abandon in a moshpit with The Pogues and The Coral. They’re the sort of band that I imagine discovering late at night in a little tent at some slightly scruffy mangled-mind festival after a few rums and wondering the next morning if they really were as good as they seemed last night. (The answer is yes, they probably were.)

The blurb I was sent with the release for Wild Bill suggests influences of The Lounge Lizards, The Blockheads, Fela Kuti, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. I’m not sure if Leonard Cohen was ever this much fun, but there you go.

After a single release in 2019 (Faster Than The Radio / Mosquito), this new one finds the six piece tearing things up on Nice Swan Records, who are putting out some great stuff at the moment - Breaking More Waves home town favourites Hallan are also working with them. To add some extra bonus musical excellence points the song was recorded in the legendary Rockfield Studios with Tim Burgess from The Charlatans.

Keep everything for crossed for Covid-19 to f*ck off and do one soon, then get out and dance to this band in a field in the UK somewhere soon.Wild West psych jazz punk here we come. You'd better believe it.

Opus Kink - Wild Bill


Wednesday, 10 March 2021

NEW #17 - VLURE

 

When I pressed play earlier today on the debut single by Glasgow’s VLURE, Spotify told me that the group had a grand total of 0 monthly listeners. Let’s hope that this changes quickly because these Glasgow based industrial post-punks sound bone-shakingly magnificent. Remorselessly intense but yet gloriously uplifting, VLURE channel a sound that could easily inspire faith and devotion; and yes at this point I’m going to have to reference Depeche Mode because there are some very big, very 80’s synth washes going on here amongst the shouty-punkiness and throbbing bass energy.

Not only do VLURE sound viscerally exciting but they look the part as well. Their look is very monochrome; all black leather and cut off tees and this aesthetic cuts through to their introductory performance video which could have easily been shot by Anton Corbjin given its style. Capturing the band at Axiom Art in Glasgow it gives an exciting glimpse into what this band are about; moody stares, a pent up like a tiger in a cage lead singer and a sense of something fully formed. 

You may be reminded a little of the Murder Capital (who VLURE have already supported in their home city to glowing reviews) as their performance possesses the same sort of potency. Did I say they were magnificent? Well that needs repeating.

Their debut single is called Shattered Faith. It's out via Permanent Creeps. It’s a lose-yourself-in-the-dry-ice-and-strobes industrial goth-punk machine gun fist pumper. F*cking amazing.

VLURE - Shattered Faith



Vlure - Desire (From Axiom Art)

Friday, 5 March 2021

NEW #16 - Mette

 

Remember Lemon by N.E.R.D and Rihanna? If you’ve seen the video then you’ll already be familiar with today’s new artist Mette Towley – she’s the dancer who gets her hair shaved off. 

It’s dance that Mette has suggested is her first love in the past – she’s posted as such on her Instagram. However, she seems to be making a very good job of being a singer as well. In fact if you’ve seen her being featured on any other music website over the last few days you’ll see that she seems to have changed her mind, now saying that music is her first love. 

Her debut track Petrified, which is out this week, is a hooky dance floor friendly pop song. More than that it grooves with class.

OK, there are hundreds of hooky dance floor friendly pop songs but this stands out because of its immaculate production and a simple but sophisticated video in which Mette horrifies the health and safety police by riding backwards on a chunky 3-wheeler with no helmet before serving up some sharp shooting dance moves. She also has clearly mastered the ability to hard stare at the camera man.

It’s her first track, so it could all go downhill from here, but based on this Mette might just be your new favourite 'she's got it all' pop star in the making.

You can find Petrified on this week's Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist by clicking here.

Mette - Petrified

Thursday, 25 February 2021

NEW #15 - Sam Ryder


Today’s artist already has 2.6 million followers on Instagram. His Tik Tok account was named the most popular UK artist account of 2020. Yet his ‘official’ debut single Whirlwind only dropped earlier this week. (A previous song, a cover of  the classic rave track Set You Free by N-Trance was released in 2019 and can still be found on Spotify). 

If I was a betting man I’d be putting money on Sam Ryder flying as high very soon. 

How’s he achieved that online following? Is it because of some past participation in a reality TV show? No. Is he a member of a now defunct high flying boy band? No. (Although he has been in various music projects since 2009 including previous bands such as The Morning After and Close Your Eyes - nope, I'd never heard of them either). Does he have a famous mother or father or slept with someone famous? No. (Or not to my knowledge at least!)

He’s done it because, put quite simply, he’s got it. He seems to be able to turn his hand to any style and nail it. Pop, rock, soul – he can do it all. He has a vocal delivery that is rich and full bodied. He has the personality – take a look at his Instagram (samhairwolfryder) and let him grab you with his enthusiasm and humorous expressions. He has the looks – part Viking, part surfer dude. If he’d been on the X-Factor he would have won hands down. 

Put aside some time because once you’ve watched one of his covers on social media you’ll probably be going for a deep dive as he performs clips of The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Elton John, George Michael, Blondie and many more. 

If you’re a fan of Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Jon Newman, Passenger or Hozier you’ll probably find a lot to like about Sam Ryder. Let's hope he doesn't go back to running a vegan coffee shop (as he was doing not so long ago) in the near future.

You'll find Whirlwind on the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly Playlist which will be uploaded to Spotify around 13.00pm on Friday 26th Feb. This is just the start.

Sam Ryder - Whirlwind


Sam Ryder - Clip of Bee Gees Cover Stayin' Alive



Wednesday, 24 February 2021

NEW #14 - Wallice

 

Pop music is an odd profession isn’t it?

What other job in the world for example would you promote your product / brand by sitting in the bath (fully clothed or naked / with or without water) and do a photo shoot to promote it?

I could almost understand it if for example it was a plumbing company. But a musician? Yet so many of them do. Have a look on Twitter for #musiciansinthebath for a few examples.

Another odd way that musicians ‘promote’ their work is via the defeatist bio or CV.

“Gloomy rock band.”

“Just another beige indie group.”

“I just write songs.

“Jazz school dropout.”

These are real examples. Frankly they don’t inspire confidence. If this was the first round of shortlisting for an interview I doubt if any of this lot would get through.

But of course, this is rock ‘n’ roll kids – where it pays to be anti-establishment and alternative.

The jazz school droput is the subject of today’s post. She’s called Wallice and she’s based in LA.

With two songs out there on streaming services (although you'll find a bunch of older stuff going back 5 years on Soundcloud - of these songs Call Me By Your Name is particularly lovely) she’s ditched the jazz for pop. I’m not suggesting that she’s making the deathlessly bland super produced pop that sits easily on daytime radio. Instead, based on the 2 most recent songs it seems that Wallice’s music is more lo-fi indie but still packed with mellifluous melodies and hooks – fans of Clairo, beabadoobee or Lauran Hibberd will probably find something they like here.

Debut single Punching Bag is lyrically one of those can’t forget you tunes: “Left my Hydro flask in the back of your car, I'd like to have it back but you live so far? Can I come and grab it later today? Can I stick around? I drove all this way.” 

Second and latest track 23 deals with the aspirations of a young  (but not that young - sorry Wallice youth is over) person approaching their twenty-third birthday and how sometimes life doesn’t quite pan out the way you hoped. Wallice sings about being “terrified of the future, scared that I’ll still be a loser.” Mind you her (laced with cynicism?) aspirations are pretty high: “Maybe I’ll get married soon and buy a house with 3 bedrooms.”

Conclusions to all of this? Wallice may be rubbish at writing a bio, but she’s pretty good at making music.

Wallice - 23 (Video)

 

 Wallice - Punching Bag

Sunday, 21 February 2021

NEW #13 - Amy Montgomery

 

Today’s new artist channels elements of Bonnie Tyler and Suzi Quatro in her commanding vocal delivery, whilst creating a forceful and raw sound that could have easily come from any decade - except the last one. 

It’s this out of fashion approach that makes Amy Montgomery from Belfast, Northern Ireland stand out. She is definitely not a Billie Eilish copycat and is all the better for it.

Amy describes her music as “alt-rock inspired by experience, nature and search for truth.” Nowhere can that be heard more than on the cathartic lead track from her most recent EP Intangible. This tour-de-force of a tune is about her mother, who committed suicide when Amy was just 16 years old. Yet despite the tragic subject matter Amy makes the song truly uplifting: “I know this sounds like a strange thing, but I think it’s pretty nice that when we’re gone the birds will still sing.” It’s accompanied by a video that, despite being relatively low budget, makes good use of sheets and coloured dry ice to reflect the song in a powerful and compelling way. 

The aforementioned Bonnie Tyler similarities really come out elsewhere on the Intangible EP though. The song Jupiter 4 is a huge ballad which finds Amy’s vocal not just reaching for the skies but pole-vaulting the clouds in rasping glory. It’s huge. Old Photographs is another one – the piano may be soft and restrained but from the off Amy’s vocal kicks butt. It makes the likes of Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine look slight and meek.

Her sound might belong to a musical style that you assumed was long lost. But with live performances where she appears bare footed, adorned in war paint and in flamboyantly bohemian stage-wear, plus the big songs to carry it off, it’s clear that Amy Montgomery has other ideas. Write her off at your peril. 

Amy Montgomery - Intangible (Video)

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

NEW #12 - Glüme

 

Who is Glüme?

I’m not even sure if she is real.

Is she just an internet-born character? Is she ’a séance with Norma Jean starring as Marilyn Monroe hosted by Julee Cruise’ as her biography reads? Is she just a creation of those at label Italians Do It Better? Is she actually an alien? Or perhaps she is just a dream?

Whoever she (or they as Glüme may well be a collaborative project) is, I don’t care. David Bowie, whilst talking about authenticity as an artist described it as being about following a personal vision and inspiration, whilst pushing the boundaries of comfort and normality.  Glüme seems to be doing this. There’s a real vision here all wrapped in the beautiful package we call pop.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, we’re told that Glüme was a child actress and juggled time between training her voice, exploring music and living with a heart condition called Prinzmetal. Later this year she’ll be releasing an album. It’s called The Internet, a title which sits perfectly with her art.

The small number of tracks she has online so far range from electronic cotton wool takes of 1950s US number ones (Come Softly To Me by The Fleetwoods) to retro futurist electronic pop tunes with darkly dystopian sounding intros and a video that features tapdancing and colour aesthetics that the White Stripes would be proud of (Get Low). 

Then there’s the sensuously dreamy Body, her most streamed track to date, which is about her ongoing health issues: “Body is about returning from an episode get with my heart disease and starting to notice each part of my body working again.” 

All of these songs, which are part sung, part spoken merge to create something both otherworldly and unsettling. You can hear it on Don't @ Me, the video of which certainly has some elements of the atmosphere of  director David Lynch. Then there’s a cover of Britney as well, which takes ….Baby One More Time to a new place – first stripped back to just guitars before all the instruments drop out and it’s just Glüme’s voice. 

Glüme is creating hypnotic chemical pop music full of digital invention and artistry. Take a listen below

Glüme - Don't @ Me (Video) 


 

Glüme - Come Softly To Me (Video)

Sunday, 14 February 2021

NEW #11 - Attalie

 

If you’re craving something with soul, ghostly beauty and elegance then today’s new artist is going to tick all of your boxes.

Attalie might only have just over 1,000 plays of her latest song Homeless on Spotify, but never let the numbers cloud your judgement over the quality of the material.

Taken from her second EP Sigh, the follow up to the Latin influenced Polluted, Homeless is absolutely exquisite. With a voice that floats, despite its heavy depth, Attalie sings of being disconnected: “A stranger at home, have I become?”. It gave me shivers.

There’s a warmth to the musicianship as well; from the soft percussive rhythm that propels the introspective piece forward gently to the sudden surprising sunny stabs of brass, it’s a treat for the ears and one to lose yourself in.

Whilst Attalie might not sound exactly like these artists, Homeless reminds me of the likes of Laura Mvula or Anonhi. There’s the same quality running through her musical blood.

She really deserves more than the pitiful amount of streams she has at the moment.

Attalie - Homeless


Monday, 8 February 2021

NEW #10 - Folly Group

 

They’ve already been touted by the NME as a ‘fired up collective making angsty post-punk anthems’, played Brixton Windmill the south London venue with its own little scene that has pushed bands like Black Country, New Road, Goat Girl and PVA  to the forefront and released two songs last year that twitched with an unflinching velocity.

But it’s their newest release that has particularly grabbed my attention. Released towards the end of January 2021, Fashionista is more refined, less scrappy and frantic than the earlier Butt No Rifle and the jerky spoken verses of  Fewer Closer Friends. Dark synth drones, spiked guitars, and yelped vocals combine here to form something that bears at least a passing resemblance to another bunch of Brixton Windmill graduates; Squid. The vocals are a little exaggerated and camp for sure, but that’s good in these books; it gives the song a stylish art-pop edge, throwing back to 80's new wave. 

It’s bands like this that a year or so ago I would have been expecting to begin cropping up on plenty of support slots and multi-venue festivals in London and further afield – possibly even the one I help book – Dials in Portsmouth. But for now everything remains on pause or is cancelled. Folly Group was due to go out on the road with the aforementioned PVA and Lazarus Kane in January but for the moment the best chance of possibly seeing them live is in Scotland where they are on the bill for Scotland’s Stag & Dagger multi-venue festival in May. However, given the current lockdown there has to be some question if that event can realistically go ahead. 

But for now blast out Fashionista and get to know your favourite new London jerky guitar four piece who aren't afraid to dabble in murky electronics.

Folly Group - Fashionista

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

NEW #9 - Blu DeTiger

 

Today’s new artist is Blu DeTiger. She’s a purveyor of funky-strut-your-stuff pop and yes, she’s built quite an audience on the platform of choice for the early 2020’s – TikTok. Over there you’ll find, alongside her 1 million other followers, videos of her jamming out over pop classics with her bass guitar; Grover Washington Jr and Bill Withers track Just The Two Of Us and Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now as being two such examples.

Hailing from New York City, Blu is a producer, a DJ (she was blagging her way into clubs before she was 18) and has already toured with Caroline Polachek She’s also a former member of the band Kitten.

Of course, blowing up on Tik Tok is no guarantee of any longevity, but the handful of songs Blu has released so far have done pretty well on streaming services. 2020’s Figure It Out is the big one so far with 22 million streams on Spotify and counting; it’s all about a slinky bass line and languid not trying too hard vocal delivery. 

The recently released Vintage (which you can find on the Breaking More Waves weekly playlist until Friday just click here) has, for me, a bigger punch. With its tongue firmly in its cheek it finds Blu singing about how she needs a ‘Vintage Boy’ to be an accessory to compliment her outfit. “He looks so good showing up at karaoke night. He knows all the words to Mr Brightside, he says it’s a joke, but I know it’s honest, it’s so ironic, it’s  iconic, I get off on it,” she sings. 

Whilst Blu sounds modern and fresh, there are plenty of nods to the past, particularly the 70s and 80s. With what sounds suspiciously like a sample from Thomas Dolby’s Hyperactive and some beats that sound like they’ve come off an old Street Sound Electro compilation, Tangerine is once again all about the bass grooves and a certain aloof coolness in the vocals. Mad Love could perhaps be an out take from a Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul album.

If a fusion of funk, pop, electronic and nod along grooves gets you roaring, then take a listen to Blu De Tiger. Her debut EP is out soon.

Blu De Tiger - Vintage

Friday, 29 January 2021

NEW #8 - Kynsy

 


“Rowdy pop for all the family.” That’s how Dublin based newcomer Kynsy (real name Ciara Lindsey) describes her music. But take a listen to her debut EP Things That Don’t Exist (released yesterday) and initially you could easily think that this 23 year old doesn’t know what rowdy means. For it all starts with some disjointed synths and a throb of pulsing bass reminiscent of OMD's Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) that sounds more calming than disorderly, but give it a few more seconds and things really get going. For this is a collection of really good kooky songs that boom with life.

From the Strokes referencing Happiness Isn’t A Fixed State where Kynsy sings of how she has so much left to feel, to the wonky pop of Dog Videos (which you’ll find on the latest update of the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist - click here), Things That Don’t Exist is all about earworms and melody. Yet residing within her good tunes there’s a bunch of idiosyncratic ideas and oddball experimentation that make them stand out. The songs were all written and co-produced by Kynsy herself and mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer (Interpol / Parquet Courts) and Barny Barnicott (Arctic Monkeys / MIA / Bombay Bicycle Club).

The blurb that accompanies the release of the EP finds Kynsy saying of it: "A lot of the songs are based around the idea of how we as people are either being followed or chasing after things that don’t exist. We are followed by the things we see through technology, television, the news - things that derail and confuse our sense of reality.  We also chase things that don’t exist.  We ignore the fact that things could change in a blink, or chase idealistic dreams of the future based on things we've seen on TV or on phone screens."

I’ve seen the EP described elsewhere as genre-hopping, but taken as a whole it doesn’t feel that way to me. There’s variation in the instrumentation used, but it’s a complete package. It’s just the sound of Kynsy.

Rowdy pop for all the family nails it then.

Kynsey - Dog Videos

Friday, 22 January 2021

NEW #7 - Jessica Luise

 

With the UK still in what appears will be a relatively lengthy lockdown there’s been plenty of time to listen to music and the last few weeks have found me veering off at tangents from the sorts of things I’d normally listen to. Traditional Chinese, Japanese jazz fusion, Moog exotica and Russian pop have all been on the agenda, but ultimately sometimes you just can’t get away from the fabric of the familiar and new artist Jessica Luise’s music is one such example. 

New song Nice Try chimes and charms with the sort of indie guitar loveliness that always seems to find a place in my heart. Having previously released three songs between 2019 and 2020 with a slightly more organic folksy feel, Nice Try feels like a very real and very certain progression. Comparisons have been drawn with The Sundays and Wolf Alice and this tune definitely drifts over you in the same caressing and wonderful way that The Sundays songs did. 

It seems Jessica herself acknowledges this development as well: “This song is the one that helped me blossom as an artist. The simplicity yet rawness of the lyrics made this song quite cathartic to write and record.” Those words that Jessica mentions deal with the battle between the head and the heart of falling for someone you shouldn’t. However, thankfully there’s nothing wrong with falling for this song. If you like your indie music a little bit poppy, a little bit dreamy and a little bit lovely, keep an eye on Jessica Luise.

Jessica Luise - Nice Try

Monday, 18 January 2021

NEW #6 - Rooue

 

Fontaines DC, The Murder Capital, Silverbacks…. If you’re based in Great Britain it’s easy to think that the Irish music scene is just full of serious young men with guitars making intense post-punk influenced records. However, take even the slightest wider look and you’ll discover there’s a whole range of great new artists coming out of the third largest island in Europe that sound nothing like them.

Today’s new band is one of those. It consists of two twins, but don’t worry there’s only one connection to Jedward; the duo’s moniker. For just like John and Edward, Rooue are called as such because of the two sister’s names, Ro and Lou. Oh, and don't confuse them with La Roux.

There’s no silly haircuts (something that Jedward and La Roux managed) or covers of Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby) here though. Instead Rooue make highly proficient and dopamine inducing pop music. 

If you follow the Breaking More Waves Weekly New Music playlist (here) you’ll have already heard the second of the two songs they have released so far, the sharp shooting future nostalgic funky disco-pop of Flavour. Fans of Dua Lipa will no doubt approve. It’s got grooves, it’ll make you move and the vocal delivery is silky smooth. 

Previous song, the debut single What You Want comes from a slightly different place, with an electronic R & B pop sheen to it. It’s a tune about someone having unrealistic expectations of someone and the negative effect that has on them: “You steal the fight from me.” Rooue have explained that the song stems from their experience of studying music in college and the pressures to conform.

So like all the best pop music, there's a bit of depth to the thinking in the song, it's not all just oo-baby do you love me's. However, the music itself is all about getting the body moving. Are you dancing? Because Rooue are asking.

It's time to get your shimmy on without an indie rock lad in sight. This is Rooue.

Rooue - Flavour