Friday, 31 December 2021

Thirty Favourite Singles of 2021

 

My final end of year list…posted as it should be done, at the end of the year.

These are my favourite 30 singles of 2021. Which to be honest look very similar to the 30 songs I’ve streamed the most on Spotify from this year, especially the top 10.

But that’s how it should be, right? The songs you love the most should be the ones you play the most. It would be odd to listen to a song once, declare your love for it and then never listen again.

Here they are.

Favourite 20 songs of 2021

1. Wet Leg – Chaise Longue

2. Lorde – Solar Power

3. Little Simz - Introvert

4. Chvrches – How Not To Drown (featuring Robert Smith)

5. Pearl Charles – Only For Tonight

6. Glume – Get Low

7. Vlure – Shattered Faith

8.     Olivia Rodrigo - Drivers License

9. Easy Life - Skeletons

10. Self Esteem – I Do This All The Time

11. Wet Leg - Wet Dream

12. Mette – Petrified

13. English Teacher – R & B

14.   Moyka - Illusion

15. Wolf Alice – Smile

16. Ashnikko – Deal With It (featuring Kelis)

17. Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over The Country Club

18. Jorja Smith – Addicted

19.   Danielle Durack - There Goes My Heart

20. Holly Humberstone – The Walls Are Way Too Thin

21.   Jungle - Keep Moving

22. Griff – Black Hole

23.   Aurora - Cure For Me

24.   Jessica Luise - Nice Try

25.   Coach Party - Everybody Hates Me

26.  Wet Leg – Too Late Now

27.   Emilia Tarrant - Honeymoon Phase

28.   beabadoobee - Last Day On Earth

29.   Little Simz - Woman (featuring Cleo Sol)

30.   Gabriels - Bloodline

Want to hear them all (or just some of them?)

You can find a Spotify playlist of the whole top 30 by clicking this link. The top 3 also stream below.

Have a happy New Year. The blog will continue next year in much the same way as this year, with the occasional new music post. However, the intention is to also post some live reviews of gigs or festivals rather than just the odd tweet about the shows as I do now. (Although if you want to see what I tweet you can follow me here)

Wet Leg - Chaise Longue


 

 Lorde - Solar Power

Little Simz - Introvert

Monday, 20 December 2021

Thirty Favourite Albums of 2021

 

Without any further ado, here is the 2021 Breaking More Waves albums of the year list.

The thirty records I’ve enjoyed the most. 

I don’t normally publish this till December 31st but given that I am now certain I won’t be listening to any new albums till January and that my feelings for these records are highly unlikely to change, I’m breaking my own rules and putting it out there a tiny bit early.

As usual with me the list contains some records you’ll see on a lot of end of year lists, some you’ll see on a few and maybe a handful that you’ll only see on this one.

Ideally, I’d keep the list to 10 but there’s been an awful lot of stuff I’ve enjoyed this year, so 30 it is.

Thank you particularly to Pearl Charles. Magic Mirror might have been released right at the start of 2021, but I fell in love with it early and it has stayed with me throughout. From the opening song Only For Tonight, which makes me want to suggest that everyone should be having one-night stands if they end up making such Abba-esque glitterball pop like this, to the closing soulful jam of As Long As You’re Mine, it’s an album full of hazy 70s sunshine-radio referencing tunes sung with a voice so golden and calming that you could quite easily believe nothing is wrong with the world. Never ever did I think that my favourite album of any year would sound, in places, like The Carpenters. But there you go. Music is a funny old thing and you never know what journeys it will take you on.

Thirty Favourite Albums of 2021

1st Pearl Charles – Magic Mirror

2nd Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure

3rd Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan – Interim Report, March 1979 

4th Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

5th Jungle – Loving In Stereo

6th Hannah Peel – Fir Wave

7th Ashnikko – Demidevil

8th Poppy Ackroyd – Pause

9th Bicep - Isles

10th Mogwai – As The Love Continues

11th Lorde – Solar Power

12th Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

13th Sault – Nine

14th Glume – The Internet

15th Hamish Hawk – Heavy Elevator

16th Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams

17th Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan – People & Industry

18th Chvrches – Screen Violence

19th Black Country, New Road – For The First Time

20th Sedibus – The Heavens

21st Celeste – Not Your Muse

22nd Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

23rd For Those I Love – For Those I Love

24th Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark

25th Joy Crookes – Skin

26th Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

27th Salt Ashes – Killing My Mind

28th AvaWaves – Chrysalis

29th Natalie McCool – Memory Girl

30th Easy Life – Life’s A Beach

Pearl Charles - Only For Tonight

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Gigs In 2021 - My Experiences, Thoughts and Favourites

 

2021 has been a strange and difficult year for live music in the UK for obvious reasons and remains so. A new study by the Music Venue Trust has reported a "catastrophic" drop in attendance at gigs as well as spending at them and has identified that there remains a huge risk of permanent closure without further support from the government. Attendance has dropped overall by 23% and even sold out shows are not as good as they seem - with a higher number of no-shows by punters than pre-Covid, which means less spending in the venues. Cashflow is also being significantly effected as punters are buying tickets later - understandably as the risk of having to self-isolate at any point in time makes advance planning more risky. Add onto this tours being cancelled due to artist risk around Covid, logistics and positive tests and its easy to understand why the Music Venue Trust is using words like catastrophic.

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to quite a few gigs as the UK opened up and reduced its Covid safety measures as vaccines were rolled out. Ironically I only missed one due to a work commitment rather than anything health related. First there were some small socially distanced shows (a couple with an audience of no more than 30 people – incredible in their own way, especially as one of them was by an artist who has had a UK Top 5 album), then some bigger ones, then outdoor festivals, then indoor festivals, then some near arena sized events. In total I’ve seen over 200 artists play live this year including festivals and support slots.

Those shows, in relation to Covid, have been like learning to swim again; gradually reducing the air in the arm bands and feeling OK that I’m at low risk of drowning. There’s always some risk a wave might wash me away, but as the current got stronger and I stayed afloat, I became more confident. I stayed above water - for now at least.

One thing that has struck me, attending various venues and festivals, is the lack of consistency over Covid precautions and the way the are implemented. This is 100% to be expected in the UK of course, where this year the government have very much taken a 'devolved to businesses and the public' approach to safety. With the recent vote to include Covid passes, moral and medical arguments about their use aside, at least it will bring a degree of commonality to the approach to entry requirements - although punters are still going to have to check with venues before setting out if they are unsure of the capacity, and some under 500 capacity venues will no doubt continue to impose their own additional entry requirements anyway. So my advice if you are going to a show is make sure you check with the venue on their website or in person before setting off if you are unsure about requirements or feel unsafe if certain requirements aren't required. And if you are asking in person, do ask about ventilation. It's still the elephant in the room that the government seem to be paying little attention to.

Some of the gigs that I’ve been to in 2021 have probably been some of the most emotional and all consuming shows I’ve ever attended. When live music wasn’t happening, bizarrely I didn’t miss it massively. I thought I would, but I didn’t. You could do a deep psychological investigation into the depths of my brain to understand why that was, but I’m worried all you’d find was an empty void and no brain at all! However, once I was there, in the crowd, taking it all in again, live music felt momentous and important. More than ever.

I thought everyone felt like this. But as time went on I realised they didn’t. There were at least 2 gigs I attended which were utterly spoilt by not just a few members of the audience, but the vast majority, chattering away and ignoring the artists. One band even ironically commented: “Isn’t it so good that we can all be together again, chatting to our mates?” Of course, nobody heard the singer say this – they were too busy in conversation. It made me wonder what is going on inside someone’s head that after months of not being able to go to gigs, they buy a ticket to see one and then ignore the music. It’s rude, arrogant and smacks of repulsive privilege. It seems that the previous months have already been forgotten by some.

But in the main, the gigs I’ve been to have been pretty remarkable - in a good way. Sometimes because of the musicians and performance, but some of the most special gigs this year have been because of wonderful audiences who are wrapped up in the moment, feeling the music. Sometimes the non-stop applause as the artist has taken to the stage - much longer and more passionate than ever before - has been a thing to behold. But also, sometimes, being with friends, experiencing this all again has been what has made these shows special. Thanks to everyone who has been to a gig with me or said hi / recognised me at a show. It’s been a grand.

With no explanation as to why each show was so good (it could be one or more what I’ve just described, but we'd be here all day if I explained, so I'm just keeping it to a basic list) here are my 10 favourite live music performances or performers of 2021. They are listed in no particular order - each one was very special in their own way.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #10 - Rianne Downey

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: April 2021

For the final Breaking More Waves One to Watch for 2022 we travel to Scotland for the third time in three days to reacquaint ourselves with Rianne Downey – an artist that first featured on Breaking More Waves back in April. At the time of that post there were references to Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Katy J Pearson. Those references still hold true, as well as the description of Rianne being ‘a new acoustic-country queen’. What Rianne does is the stuff of classic singer songwriters all sung with a golden voice that rides atop a twangy, ghostly backing; she makes the sort of songs that are primed ready for that American road trip, singing along with the car window down.

Since that April post Rianne has released her debut EP Fuel to the Flame in September and won hearts and minds with festival slots and appearances alongside last year’s Ones to Watch and now UK number 1 selling album artists The Lathums.

If she can continue this trajectory and match the songs on the EP in 2022, Rianne Downey could be the bright new star of country pop. Catch her on tour next April.

Last on this list of 10, but not least, keep an eye and ear out for Rianne Downey.

Rianne Downey - Fuel To The Flame

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #9 - LVRA

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: N/A

She’s already been nominated (and won) the Sound of Young Scotland Award at the Scottish Album of the Year ceremony in Edinburgh in 2021, played the BBC Introducing Stages at Reading and Leeds Festivals and put out a series of cracking futuristic tunes. Now LVRA is the ninth artist on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list.

LVRA’s music delivers warped, heavy hitting electronics and twisted futuristic production matched with some r 'n' b edging. The Scottish Grimes? There are definitely some similarities stylistically in the sound. 

With two EPs out in the world, the debut LVCID released back in 2020 and the second, appropriately called TWO in 2021 plus a new single IN YOUR BLOOD released mid-November LVRA has already been described as ‘an artist not afraid to push the limits’ by Line of Best Fit and ‘thrilling’ by DIY magazine.

And if you’re wondering about the pronunciation? It’s pronounced loo-rah, as LVRA’s real name is Rachel Lu. She's the ninth artist on this year's Ones to Watch list.

LVRA - Money and Power


LVRA - Nightmare (Video)


Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #8 - VLURE

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: March 2021

The eighth Ones to Watch 2022 and only third (and final) band on this list so far is VLURE.

VLURE (like Lynks, also on this list) are a band to go and see live. You don’t just watch and listen though. You feel them; VLURE is intense, passionate and devastatingly cathartic. Formed in Glasgow, Scotland VLURE capture elements of 80’s goth, industrial, punk, rock n roll and 90’s euphoric stadium rave and mould it into something vital. 

Whether they’re covering the Faithless classic God Is A DJ (complete with lead singer Hamish dancing as if summoning the gods) or blasting out their own heavy hitters such as the pulverising Heartbeat or the emotive Shattered Faith, the VLURE live experience (and it really is an experience) feels like some sort of therapy. You'll probably come out of a VLURE gig shaking or crying with happiness.

VLURE’s debut EP Euphoria is set for release on January 14th through independent label So Young. Go see them if you get the chance and lose yourself.

Vlure - Desire


Vlure - Shattered Faith

Monday, 29 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #7 - Hope Tala

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: N/A 

The seventh artist on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2022 list is Hope Tala. A Londoner and ex English Literature student who mixes R&B with bossa nova sounds. This artist almost appeared on last year’s Ones to Watch list after the release of her track All My Girls Like To Fight from her Girl Eats Sun EP (which incidentally made Barack Obama’s favourite music of 2020 list). It took minimalist string sounds, acoustic guitars and clicky beats to create a song that sounded like washed up beauty on a paradise island.

However since that EP, Hope Tala kept the first few months of 2021 pretty quiet when it came to new releases. She returned in June 2021 with Mad – a track that cemented her style; like Astrud Gilberto recast for the 2020’s. It’s easy to understand when listening to this tune why when searching on Google, one of the most asked questions about Hope is ‘Is Hope Tala Brazilian?’

Recently Hope has released a new song Tiptoeing, which adds a hint of Lilly Allen / Kate Nash to her signature sound, all suggesting that if an album comes in 2022 it could be a very pleasurable ear-kiss.

Hope Tala - Tiptoeing


Hope Tala - Mad (Video)

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Ones to Watch #6 - CMAT

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: N/A 

CMAT might be getting a little on the hype train when she proclaims herself as a global pop star on her bio, but a very good pop star she is all the same.

CMAT’s take on pop isn’t perhaps what you’d expect though. It isn’t synthetic, glossily produced and autotuned. Instead it’s a much more old fashioned, traditional and organic take; great melodies underpinned with sounds that are painted by shades of Americana, country and acoustic music – although you might still find the odd squelchy synth here and there.

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, CMAT (real name Ciara Thompson) is a fan of Dolly Parton and has written a song about chicken – Another Day (kfc). After a string of excellent singles such as I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby! and No More Virgos her debut album If My Wife New I’d Be Dead is scheduled for release in February 2022.

CMAT - I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby! 


CMAT - I Don't Really Care For You

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #5 - Lynks

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: March 2020

When choosing artists for the annual Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list, sometimes I mean just that; artists that you must go and watch live irrespective of if they have any commercial or critical success. Lynks is one such artist. Despite the gigging scene of 2021 being someone squashed due to Covid, I’ve managed to see Lynks 4 times this year and every show has been a euphoric blast from start to finish.

Lynks (formerly known as Lynks Afrikka) is a queer-pop artist who brings it all. Energy. Performance. Wit. Humour. Intelligence. Dance routines. Leigh Bowery aesthetic. Lyrics that you won’t hear on any other pop song: “Everyone’s sexy and I’m Dexys Midnight Runners on a Thursday night.” Lynks is the anti-Oasis. Lynks is the ultimate underground raver. Lynks will get you in a lather. Lynks is one to watch.

This is an artist who brings back the silliness into pop music in the same way that Confidence Man has done and Wet Leg (Ones to Watch #1) are doing with songs like Chaise Longue. It’s unsurprising therefore that Lynks covered Chaise Longue for Radio 1 and has been dropping it during live shows. However, put aside the silliness for a second and you'll find Lynks is talking about gender politics, stereotypes and sexuality.

Right now, with the sh*tshow of Covid-19, it feels like the right time for colour, glamour and ultimately fun to be back on our stereos and in our venues. Lynks provides all of that.

Lynks is the alter-ego of one Elliot Brett and together with the Shower Gel (and not forgetting Barbara the table – a trusted er…table that they have on stage with them) they are here to bring the joy. 

Lynks - BBB

Friday, 26 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #4 - Sam Ryder

 

First Appeared On Breaking More Waves: February 2021

When I introduced Sam Ryder on the blog this February he had 2.6 million followers on Instagram. By November that figure had risen to 3.5 million. To give some context that's the same number of followers as Charli XCX and she's been doing music for over 10 years.

It’s easy to see why. His posts are incredibly engaging, his personality clearly huge. But most of all the reason why people lap up his social media like he’s new music’s version of Kylie Jenner is because of his incredible vocal talent; the man can sing the underwear off a celibate and he loves showing off that skill on his posts. (Don’t worry, he doesn’t actually make people’s clothes fall off that really would be an odd skill). It’s starting to transfer to real life as well – his UK tour in January is completely sold out.

Take a listen to his vocal on his version of his song More recorded in the V&A in London. It covers all bases. From angelic choirboy, to mellifluous boy-band balladeer to gritty rock star in the making. He makes music that is broad and could have Capaldi like mainstream appeal if he releases the right song and gets the right support, but his sound is (just) flecked with just enough edge to not make it schmaltzy. 

With one EP (The Sun's Gonna Rise) released in September and a new single called Spaceman due in January, Sam could easily be shooting for the stars. Not every act on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list has commercial appeal, but Ryder could be one that has.

Sam Ryder - More (Live at the V&A)


Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #3 - Pip Millett

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: N/A 

The third artist on this year’s One to Watch list is Pip Millett. (Her real name is Georgia, but Pip has always been her nickname and Millett is her mother’s maiden name)

Pip has been drip feeding music since 2018, including 3 Eps: Do Well (2019), Lost In June (2020) and the recent Motion Sick (2021), growing her audience to the point where she is now able to play a sold out tour - unfortunately a number of her recent dates had to be rescheduled to January due to laryngitis. She’s also appeared on the most recent series of Later…with Jools Holland on BBC2, performing in an empty swimming pool. (People who have followed me on Twitter will probably realise that I think this is essentially a case of #musiciansinthebath on a bigger scale)

However, irrespective of empty bathing facilities, her music, which is what we are focussing on, is beautifully chilled and soulful; fans of the likes of Joy Crookes and Jorja Smith will relish what she does. And just like Crookes and Smith, the most appealing quality about Pip is her voice. It’s warm late at night creaminess is gorgeous and could work its way into a lot of hearts if her future songs connect with people. 

Pip Millett - Hard Life

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #2 - Gabriels

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: n/a

The second artist on this year’s Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2022 list is Gabriels

Who are Gabriels?

They’re a LA based outfit fronted by the incredible Jacob Lusk who sings with a soulful voice that reminds me a little of Anohni and Nina Simone. That goregous voice is then carried by a luscious orchestrated backing. The songs and the sound are truly beautiful. The first time I heard Gabriels was a complete stop-me-in-my tracks moment. A wow moment. I'm not the only one who feels this way. Back in October Will Orchard, director of Blue Dot and Kendal Calling Festivals tweeted: “Truly, I’ve never seen a gig as extraordinary as Gabriels at The Social, London tonight. Their first ever show. It felt like a privilege to see a band that are clearly going to be absolutely, deservedly, huge in such an intimate space. Their unreleased stuff is phenomenal.” 

With a 12" vinyl single released almost a year ago selling out on Bandcamp, Gabriels have been picking up support from the likes of Gilles Peterson on BBC 6 Music - he was an early champion of Sault as well, who in terms of their retro-modern sound share some similarities to Gabriels. And if you do love Sault then make some more room in your heart because you're going to need space to adore these guys as well. 

Take a listen and I’m sure you’ll agree. Gabriels absolutely have to be Ones to Watch for next year as they release more new material and play shows. Their new EP (Bloodline - title track below) is due December 3rd. I have a full expectation of them being the ones to see at all the best festivals in 2022 and (hopefully) releasing one of the albums of 2022.

Gabriels - Bloodline

Gabriels - Love  and Hate In A Different Time

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 #1 - Wet Leg

 

First appeared on Breaking More Waves: June 2021 

Heading up this year’s Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list is Isle of Wight indie-pop powerhouse Wet Leg.

They follow on from other recent choices from the garden isle, with Lauran Hibberd (Ones to Watch 2019) and Coach Party (Ones to Watch 2020).

From the first time I pressed play on the video for Chaise Longue with its hooky, comically absurd lyrics, simple propulsive guitars, cottage core fashion, dead pan stares and high kicks it was clear that Wet Leg were likely to be ones to watch for the future. Chaise Longue gave me the same sort of buzz that tracks like The Modern Age by The Strokes, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor by Arctic Monkeys and Bros by Wolf Alice (Ones to Watch 2014) gave me when I first heard them. 

Wet Leg demonstrate that, despite some commentators opinions, bands aren’t dead. They just need good songs.

Cut forward one month after the release of Chaise Longue and Wet Leg could be found packing out a small tent at Latitude festival to absolute capacity - one of the musical moments of the year. People might have come for the one song, but they went away having witnessed Rhain Teasdale and Hester Chambers grinning from ear to ear as they stormed through a set chock-full of catchy tunes; from the likes of the sexy lobster pop of Wet Dream to Supermarket, Wet Leg’s lockdown-dating song, which found Rhain singing of hooking up in supermarkets because it was the only place you could go. Of course, it was always clear Rhain was talented (I’d previously featured her as a solo artist on the blog in 2016) but I certainly didn’t expect this; and judging by the band’s reaction at Latitude, I’m not sure if they did either.

A further month later and I saw them do it all over again at Green Man festival. As the first band of the first day Rhain jokingly announced that they were running the festival in opposite order this year so they were headlining. It was a set that once again confirmed that they have plenty more good songs under their belts. It will undoubtedly be the final time they are bottom of the bill.

Now with shows selling out faster than a speeding ticket and talk of an album, next year is almost certainly going to be a good one for Wet Leg. They have to be Ones to Watch for 2022.

Wet Leg - Chaise Longue


Wet Leg - Wet Dream

 

Monday, 22 November 2021

Ones to Watch 2022 - Introduction and 2021 Recap

 

Over the next 10 days I’ll be posting my annual tips list of Ones to Watch for 2022. Some of them will be of absolutely no surprise to anyone that follows new music or reads this blog. Others may be.

Here’s a recap of last year’s picks for 2021:

1. Ashnikko

2. The Lathums

3. Holly Humberstone

4. Ivorian Doll

5. Olivia Dean

6. Hallan

7. Baby Queen

8. Christy

9. Yard Act

10. Skullcrusher

And here’s the list of every artist I’ve put as ‘One to Watch’ since the first year of the blog in 2008

Alabama Shakes, Alessi’s Ark, Alice Chater, Alice Jemima, Another Sky, Arlo Parks, Ashnikko, Aurora, Avec Sans, Baby Queen, Banks, Beth Jeans Houghton, Billie Marten, Black Country New Road, Cabbage, Celeste, Charli XCX, Chasing Grace, Chloe Black, Chloe Howl, Christy, 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, Hallan, Hazel English, Holly Humberstone, Holly Miranda, Hurts, Ivorian Doll, 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, Olivia Dean, 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, Skullcrusher, Sofi Tukker, Sons & Lovers, Sophie Jamieson, Spark, Spector, Starsmith, Stornoway, Superorganism, The Blinders, The Lathums, 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, Yard Act, Yes Giantess, Zyra

Looking back at that list certainly tells you one thing – no tips list ever get’s it right every time. But if you tip enough times, sometimes you will. Some artists will go on to have huge commercial success, others will get critical acclaim and others won’t. For every Florence & The Machine there’s a Unicorn Kid. For every Lana Del Rey there’s a Spark. Pop’s crystal ball isn’t always clear. But it’s fun having a go at trying to predict what the future holds.

Let’s have a go shall we? 

Check back here from 8.30am tomorrow and every day after that for the next 10 days for the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2022.

For now here is one from 2021. 

Ashnikko - Panic Attacks In Paradise

Sunday, 31 October 2021

NEW #39 - KEG

 

Over the past few months when Breaking More Waves dares to rear its ugly head to bash out a few words about a new band or artist that is getting me all-a-fluster. there’s a good chance that I’ve selected one of the current crop of new alternative guitar bands that seem to be popping up all over the place at the moment. That’s not to say that I’ve fallen out of love with other genres of music, not at all, but undeniably there’s been a resurgence in groups making edgy, peculiar, brilliantly noisy tunes that are equal parts unlistenable and highly listenable. It’s the sort of shouty stuff that thrives in small sweaty clubs and pubs across the land – although it would perhaps be quite amusing to see Black Country, New Road play the London 02 Arena.

Today I’m introducing another from this crop. They're called Keg.

Keg are a 7 piece collective from Brighton who throw everything imaginable into their bonkers music. A frenetic riot of guitar, keys, 100mph drumming, trombone, shouting, mad cap dancing and even some playing of the seashell all fight for space in their sound and live shows. It’s the sort of oddball WTF pop that will make your head spin as it thrusts and jerks into your brain. You can hear it all on their recently released Assembly EP (via Alcopop! Records) a weird amalgamation of Devo, Squid, Gang of Four and Talking Heads. although their inventiveness is probably closer akin to a band like Plastic Mermaids and the aforementioned Black Country, New Road - even if they don’t sound anything like them. 

If that sounds like your cup of tea then Assembly is bustling and bursting with this imaginative and quirky indie. Yes, it’s hardly likely to bother the charts, but take a listen to Kilham with its fist pumping strut, warm mellow harmonic vocal interludes, sudden tempo changes and mellow jazzy closedown or Farmhands with its deep 80’s synth sounds and spluttering danceable guitar lines or the cartoonish Heyshaw (below) and be grateful that the mavericks are still out there doing things like this.

The only criticism I have of Keg is the name. Naming your band after a small barrel often used to store beer doesn’t really do it for me. But I’ll forgive them because of the tunes and also my favourite band photo (above) in recent times.

Keg - Heyshaw

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

NEW #38 - Honeyglaze

 

The latest addition to the Breaking More Waves NEW series is a London based indie guitar 3 piece that have recently released their debut single through Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground label. 

Like some of the other acts that have come to prominence through the label (Squid, Black Country, New Road) Honeyglaze’s sound has a deep avant-garde streak running through it. And whilst sometimes avant-garde is just a glossy way of saying ‘unlistenable shite’ there’s something rather calm and beautiful about Burglar, their debut single.

It reminds me a little of some of the bands who came to prominence in the mid 90’s who weren’t associated with the Britpop scene - bands that we’d probably now lazily label dream-pop. Yet there certainly is a languid dreaminess to what Honeyglaze do. It’s the sound of stumbling out of bed with a weary head on an autumnal Sunday morning and looking out at the crisp but foggy day. It’s the sound of Trish Keenan from Broadcast with a dash of artists from early Chemikal Undergound releases sprinkled subtly over the top.

Having only formed this year Honeyglaze was quickly signed to Carey’s label after a friend of the band sent a video of them playing live to him. They’ve already been out playing gigs - I caught them at Cardiff’s Sŵn. What impressed me  was the range of songs they already had in their repertoire and the way they didn’t conform to all of the regular new band gig cliches such as asking everyone to buy their merch or saying that you can find them on all the socials. Instead in between songs there was mainly silence with the occasional piece of surreal chat. At one point Tim their bassist said something along the line of: “A secret about Honeyglaze is…” and then never finished the sentence. 

Honeyglaze are a welcome addition to a bunch of Honeys that includes Black Honey, Honeyblood and Honey Lung and consist of Anouska Sokolow (guitars and lead vocals) Tim Curtis (bass) and Yuri Shibuichi (drums).

Honeyglaze - Burglar

Monday, 11 October 2021

NEW #37 - Etta Marcus

 

Today’s new artist is about as new as they come.

Etta Marcus is a 20-year-old Londoner who last Friday released her debut song Hide & Seek. No, it’s not a cover of that Imogen Heap track nor the often forgotten (but not in these parts) UK top 20 hit by Howard Jones.

It is instead a composition she wrote together with Matt Maltese (he of As the World Caves In fame) and someone called Joshua James Henry Scarbrow. It’s one of those tunes that sneaks up on you quietly; and if that sounds a bit sinister, so are the lyrics: "You can wash your skin you’ll still find me within your darkest dreams" she sings at one point. Later on, she adds: "Whether you want me I’ll walk on broken glass to get there, I’m gonna find you." Let’s just hope that this is Etta just playing around with a narrative sung from someone else’s perspective and doesn’t mark her down as a musician with creepy stalker like tendencies. If she turns up at a gig with a knife and a slightly crazed look in her eyes it's time to run.

Irrespective of the somewhat menacing tone of some of the lyrics, there’s a dreamy tone to the music, with Etta’s voice sounding both calming and beguiling. It’s a fine, dare I say it beautiful, start; those darker lyrics being matched with something far more romantic. 

Hide &Seek is taken from Etta's forthcoming debut EP titled View From A Bridge.

If you want to catch Etta early, she’s playing at The Social in London on 14th October alongside George Cosby, Mulimba, Ewan Mainwood and some guest DJs,

You can find Hide & Seek on this week’s Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist on Spotify, a playlist that showcases the best of the week’s new releases be they from established acts through to debutantes such as Etta.

Etta Marcus - Hide & Seek

 

Friday, 8 October 2021

NEW #36 - Daisy Brain

 

Ah the early 90’s. Heady times. Britpop just kicking off, grunge, even the Prime Minister at the time (John Major), despite being a Conservative, at least seemed to have a degree of respect and care for the population he represented, compared to the charlatans we have in power now. (Actually I’d quite like to have chief Charlatan Tim Burgess in charge of the country – I think he’d do an OK job).

But here we are coming to the end of 2021 and there are a whole bunch of artists that sound like they’ve jetted in straight from an episode of Channel 4’s edgy youth show The Word. The latest of these tatty round the edges but quite possibly heading for brilliance artists is Will Tse who performs under the name of Daisy Brain.

His cocktail of grunge-laden guitars, catchy rock / pop songs and just a hint of emo can be heard to fine effect on his recent debut EP Let’s Go Camping. There's also previous single Boring which is full of dirty headshaking riffs and big hooks designed to make you want to put on a slightly holey striped jumper, a pair of Doctor Marten boots and mosh.

Born in Singapore to Chinese and English parents Will now lives in the UK. Following a stint in Leeds he moved to Hackney in London where he has written and produced his music in his bedroom with assistance from his pal Dan Hvorostovsky. He’s already been out on the road supporting Yungblud and next year has a handful of his own headline dates lined up including a show at Camden Assembly.

Expect to see his name cropping up on a fair few Ones to Watch lists for 2022. Yes that's 2022 not 1992.

Daisy Brain - Boring

 

Saturday, 14 August 2021

NEW #35 - The Big Heat

 

Today’s newest addition to the Breaking More Waves collection of new bands and artists is a boy / girl duo that hail from Sydney and London. Last Friday they released their debut single in what appears to be a spectacularly low-key way, with seemingly no promotion at all except a post on their social media, which is a shame; because the song in question, Band Aid, is a rather charming old-fashioned and heartfelt indie pop song.

Despite the seemingly quiet start to this band (currently they have 50 monthly listeners on Spotify) The Big Heat are not novices. Lucy Taylor, the London based one of the pair, has written for Dua Lipa (Be The One), sung vocals on Kele from Bloc Party’s solo single What Did I Do and had a past electronic project called Pawws which featured on these pages way back in 2012 (named as ‘our new blog-crush favourite). Meanwhile Dave Jenkins Jr, the Sydney one, has his own solo project called Not A Boys Name and has played with the likes of Daniel Johns of Silverchair and Vera Blue.

Band Aid sounds like a perfect retro summer pop song. It harks back to a time when big glossy production was less important than all those simple things like hooks, melodies and quirky instrumental parts. If I didn’t know better, from their sound I’d have guessed that The Big Heat was a group of floppy fringed charity shop wearing students doing art history degrees who once supported Belle and Sebastian. Don’t hold my incorrect judgements against them though – savour The Big Heat and enjoy the music.

The Big Heat feature on the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly Playlist (here).

The Big Heat - Band Aid

Friday, 13 August 2021

NEW #34 - Billie Flynn

 

Billie Eilish, Billie Marten; now it’s time to introduce another new musician and she’s another one called Billie. This time it’s Billie Flynn from Cornwall who describes herself as a noisy introvert. Based on the two songs she has on line so far the introvert tag is easy to understand, but noisy less so. Why? Because just like the two aforementioned performers, Billie Flynn sings in a hushed and serene tone.

It’s a way of singing that, particularly since the arrival of Eilish, has gained more respect. Gone are the days when you either had to belt them out like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Mariah Carey etc or sound like virtually every gutsy-warbler on X-Factor. Can you imagine Eilish appearing on that show at its peak? When performers on America’s Got Talent used You Should See Me In A Crown and Bad Guy as backing tracks, Simon Cowell, Mr X-Factor himself, commented that he didn’t like Eilish’s music at all. It’s probably just as well that X-Factor UK has been cancelled. Times have moved on and Cowell clearly hasn’t. The chances are that Cowell wouldn’t be impressed with Billie Flynn. If that’s the case, he would be a fool.

But enough of the high waisted trousers one and his lack of love for softcore. It’s time to take a listen to Billie Flynn. A newcomer to Gabrielle Aplin’s Never Fade records, Flynn’s new single Someone’s Daughter bears quite some resemblance to Billie Marten’s earlier material and also that of Breaking More Waves favourite Rosie Carney. Combined with her debut Hey Stranger what we have are two delicately captivating compositions that win you over - albeit quietly.

You can hear Billie on this week's Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist - a specially selected list of new releases from the last 7 days that's refreshed weekly and is never more than about an hour long. Find the playlist by clicking here.

Billie Flynn - Someone's Daughter

Sunday, 8 August 2021

NEW #33 - Porchlight

 

For the latest addition to the Breaking More Waves ‘NEW’ feature it’s time to return to Brighton and meet Porchlight, a 5 piece who by the sounds of their name and debut single Drywall are fans of housing construction. If their next single is called Floor Joists or Gutter we’ll know exactly what gets them going for sure.

But what of the music? Porchlight are, at least on Drywall, one of those bands that deliver their words spoken rather than sung. But unlike many of the current crop of post-punk retrobates that are filling up the UK’s stages of pubs and club venues this lot aren’t quite as sneering or aggressive, although there’s still some general shoutiness. This slightly softer approach starts right from the beginning, where guitars are accompanied by twinkling dabs of electronics that sound like they’ve been sampled from a cute video game. But it’s still guitars that propel Drywall forward, reminiscent of Black Country New Road in places, leaving space for the tough masculine sounding vocal delivery. The words don’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but they still manage to sound poetic; main road noise bathed in doubt, steel capped boots, cold winter sky, the comfort of closure and willowed countryside are all mentioned. 

Drywall immediately establishes Porchlight as a band to be reckoned with in the current UK indie-post-punk scene. Let’s see what they do next.

Porchlight play Brighton’s Green Door Store on the 16th August (a free show supporting Peeping Drexels) and their own headline gig at The Hope, also in Brighton, on September 14th.

Porchlight - Drywall

 

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