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