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)