Sunday 31 December 2023

Albums of the Year 2023

 It’s the final day of 2023 which means it’s time to post a list of my favourite albums from this year.

There’s no big commentary here, it’s just a simple list, because I figure at this stage you’re probably bored of big long commentaries justifying why album X deserves it’s place at number 89 on a list of ‘THE DEFINITIVE 100 BEST ALBUMS OF 2023’ list.

It’s also a list of just 10 records, because frankly does anyone really care what my 89th favourite is? You probably don’t even care what my top 10 consists of, so going further than that is maybe just too much. If you really do want more though, you can find my Top 30 over on Spotify by clicking here. 

So here you are. The Breaking More Waves favourite albums of 2023. Compare them with your own. If we have a few similar and there are some on this list that you haven’t heard of, it might be worth giving them your time.

The fact that Spotify Wrapped tells me I’m the type of person that listens to an album from start to finish means that there's a big bunch of people out there that don't. More than ever we live in an age where not only people’s temperaments seem to get ever shorter but so do attention spans. This is bad news for albums, particularly for artists producing long, sprawling, often challenging listens. Who wants to sit through over an hour and 15 minutes of Lana Del Rey’s lengthy flawed beauty that is Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd when other internet sources can give you a 30 second blast of everything you think you need? The Tiktokification of music is killing patience. But greater long term reward requires that patience. So yes, I will sit through Lana’s new record from start to finish with no interruption multiple times. 

Therefore, if nothing else you can rest assured that the 10 records on this list are ones that have truly made a lasting impression on me in 2023. It was quite a battle between Caroline and Lana for number 1, but Caroline just shaved it – maybe the flawed beauty of Lana’s record just had slightly too many flaws?

Favourite Albums of 2023

1. Caroline Polachek – Desire, I Want To Turn Into You

2. Lana Del Rey – Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard

3. Moyka – Movies, Cars & Heartbreak

4. Young Fathers – Heavy Heavy

5. boygenius – the record

6. Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan – The Nation’s Most Central Location

7. Fever Ray – Radical Romantics

8. Laura Groves – Radio Red

9. Glume – Main Character

10. Lanterns On The Lake - Versions Of Us

Caroline Polachek - Smoke from Desire, I Want To Turn Into You


Wednesday 20 December 2023

Ones to Watch 2024


Yes, it’s that time of year again at Breaking More Waves Towers when the understairs cupboard is cranked open and after a bit of a rummage the dusty crystal ball is hauled out, polished, shaken around a bit and given the opportunity to make some musical predictions for the year ahead.

It’s the annual Ones to Watch list.

This year the list is coming a little bit later than normal. Normally I prefer to publish it before all the big tip lists are released. However, circumstances have not allowed that approach this time round, but thankfully many of the artists on this list won’t be found on the likes of the BBC Sound of 2024. There’s just 1 crossover, although the BBC Sound of list does feature 4 artists that have featured on past Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch lists from previous years: Olivia Dean, CMAT, Caity Baser and The Last Dinner Party.

Unlike the BBC list this isn’t intended as one that aims to showcase artists “with the potential for global success who will shape the sound of the coming year.” Instead, it simply chooses 10 artists that I think have the potential to do something exciting. For some this may be some brilliant gigs, for others a great album or EP or two. It’s getting harder and harder for new artists to truly break through and so trying to predict who will achieve global success or shape the sound of the coming year is virtually impossible.

In some years I’ve published 10 individual posts, 1 on each selected artist, but this year I’m keeping it short and sweet, with all 10 artists in this post together with a short piece of text and some music.

So here they are, Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2024

1. Wasia Project

Wasia Project is siblings Olivia Hardy and William Gao, accompanied by other musicians when playing live. In their songs you can hear pop, easy listening, jazz, classical and even a pinch of occasional soul. Rather like the success of an artist like Laufey (who will play the Royal Albert Hall in London next year) it seems that elements that you might usually consider as music for an older generation are landing well with a young crowd these days. Debut single Why Don’t You Love Me? came out as far back as 2019 but their debut EP How Can I Pretend wasn’t released until 2022. In 2023 the band released three songs, the beautiful My Lover Is Sleeping, the equally excellent soft-bop of Petals On The Moon and another song Remember When. In 2024 the band will be touring in February and I fully expect the band to continue on an upward trajectory with more releases.

2. Picture Parlour

Picture Parlour has already featured on Breaking More Waves and after the debut release found themselves subject to a few cynical calls of being ‘industry plants’ rather like their pals The Last Dinner Party. All I would say to these cynics is go and see them live. Picture Parlour are the real deal. They make rock n roll cool again. Having played their first ever live show at The Windmill in Brixton last December and with just 2 songs out in the world the band have been turning heads ever since with a swagger and sound that might make you think of a female-fronted gothic Arctic Monkeys. Apparently they’re Courtney Love’s favourite new band. Maybe they’ll become yours?

3. Fat Dog

Don’t expect Fat Dog to be selling vast quantities of records and challenging Taylor Swift for the top of the charts. However if the idea of a band that get the audience dancing like crabs in a circle pit (yes you read that right – crabs), have a drummer who wears a dog mask, and induce the sort of sweaty, all over the place abandon at their gigs that would make Taylor squirm uncomfortably then Fat Dog are ones for you to watch in 2024. There’s only 1 song out at the moment (King of the Slugs) so expect plenty more next year and venues to tremble in their wake.

4. Stacey Ryan

Whilst Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list has a strong focus on UK artists, for a moment let’s turn our heads westward to Canada and give a wave to Stacey Ryan. Stacey is a singer songwriter who in a similar way to Wasia Project mixes pop and jazz styles to great effect. Her 2022 release Fall In Love Alone has just grown and grown (nearly 220 million streams on Spotify) and recent release Dream Boy has shown that she’s prepared to try styles that aren’t necessarily flavour of the month and make them her own, in this case bringing Bossa Nova to the fore.

With a clear ability to write songs and sing them majestically Stacey has already proved she has the talent, so now we need to watch to see where she takes this next.


Camera shy HONESTY arrive on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list on the back of one EP via Partisan records under their belts and a bunch of capital letters in their collective’s name. Trying to pinpoint HONESTY’s sound is not exactly easy. There are elements of garage, shoegaze, ambient soundscapes and electronic dance in their tunes and they feature a number of different vocalists.

The music of HONESTY is distinctly music of the night and whilst it’s very early days (on Spotify their biggest track has just over 7,000 streams,) I’m taking a punt on them being being one to watch in 2024 because of the way they manage to take all of these different influences and styles and make something coherent and engaging with them.

6. Divorce

Another band on the Ones to Watch 2024 list that have been receiving the praises of a more famous musician is Nottingham based quartet Divorce (as far as I am aware the dog isn't a member of the band - maybe it plays tambourine?). Rebecca Lucy Taylor of Self Esteem / Slow Club is a big fan. So am I. I’ve seen Divorce 3 times this year and each time more people have turned up and the reception they band receives gets better. With co-vocalists Felix Mackenzie-Barrow and Tiger Cohen-Towell trading vocal exchanges over their mix of country, indie and classic singer-songwriter Divorce have now released 2 Eps and will (hopefully) continue to win new fans in 2024. a tour with Everything Everything is next on the books and further new music will follow.

7. Sekou

Whilst this list isn’t about potential commercial big hitters in the main, here’s one that if I was taking a bet, my money would be on. It’s the one point where this Ones to Watch 2024 list aligns with the BBC Sound of 2024 as well as the Brits Rising Star nominees (the other 2 nominees were on last year’s list)

Having played the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury when he was just 17, blowing people away with his mature and soulful delivery, then popping up on BBC TV via Later With Jools a few months ago there’s no doubt that Sekou has some big guns behind him. The string of songs he’s released in 2023 would suggest commercial success is a possibility with his highly polished mix of R n B and soul.

8. Big Special

Consisting of Joe Hickin (vocals) and Callum Mooney (drums), Midlands duo Big Special have known each other for around 10 years but it’s only recently that they formed Big Special and became one of the most exciting new bands out there. Mixing poetic lyrics soul, spoken word, rock and punk there’s an energy and a realism to their music which can be heard on their debut EP TREES released in Dec 2023. Debut song Shithouse features some of the best laughing we’ve heard on a track since HAHA by Charlotte Adigery (and a good amount of the use of the F-word) whilst in Desperate Breakfast Joe sings of toasting his tea in mourning for a morning come too soon – one of my favourite lyrics this year. Big Special will be headlining the DIY Now and Next Tour 2024. Go and see them.

9. Mette

It was back in 2021 that Mette first featured on Breaking More Waves with debut dance floor pop thrill Petrified. The former dancer turned musician has been taking her time since that debut. In fact we had to wait till 2023 until Mette brought more, but when she did she absolutely delivered. The debut EP METTENARRATIVE gave us a better picture of her universe. Mamma’s Eyes pulled in some banging dancehall beats, gospel and a chorus to kiss your ears so that you want to do it over and over, whilst Acid Rain had hyper-modern frantic production and Van Gogh brought in some dance floor friendly soul – think early Madonna and Lizzo jamming in the club. Having recently opened for Jessie Ware in London, Manchester and Glasgow, hopefully next year we’ll see Mette bringing her live show out as a headline artist and more music.


The final artist on Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch list for 2024 is Bodur. With Sri Lankan, Turkish and Irish heritage (but living in London) Bodur makes modern experimental tunes mixing Eastern sounds with contemporary electronic production and when playing live performs with poised dancing that also references her roots.

Bodur has been releasing music for a number of years now, but none of it really compares with what she is doing now. It feels like her 3 track EP ÖZ (which translated from Turkish means ‘self’) released this June is the real start of Bodur’s musical journey. Songs like Gorgeous sound as fresh as they come and prepare for some unusual lyrics on the almost harder edged Britney Spears-like Mummy: “He needs a titty in his face.” Is it about a baby? Or a man who wants a sugar-mummy? We’ll leave you to listen and decide. Either way Bodur’s recent music sounds fresh, vital and ready for 2024.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

What Happened to The Ones to Watch 2023?


Every year since it started in 2008 Breaking More Waves has posted an annual Ones to Watch list. This has generally been 10 and occasionally 15 new artists that come recommended as ones to keep an eye and ear out for in the following year. This was the very first list:

Marina and the Diamonds

Mumford and Sons 

Florence And The Machine 

Alessi's Ark

Skint and Demoralised 

White Lies


Passion Pit 

Little Boots 

La Roux 

It's fair to say the list was a mix of commercial hits and misses, but some of those commercial misses still produced some great songs. That pattern has pretty much followed every year since.

The Ones to Watch list is usually published in the next week or so, ahead of most other websites and the likes of the BBC Sound of List.  This year, whilst this blog has been stupidly quiet (does less than 16 posts even make it an active blog?) the annual Ones to Watch list will still be posted, but due to other commitments it won’t be until mid-December. Fingers crossed all the other websites aren’t thinking of exactly the same artists I’m thinking of.

Before we get to that point though, let’s look backwards and recap last year’s tips. I think I can safely say The Last Dinner Party (or The Dinner Party as they were then known when I tipped them) was a good shot. Priestgate less so.

1. Caity Baser

In summer of 2022 Caity Baser was listed as third on the bill at a BBC South Introducing night in my home city of Portsmouth at The Edge of The Wedge – a venue that holds around 100 people. Next year she’s playing Hammersmith Apollo. That’s some progress. A good year for Caity and maybe even a better one in 2024?

2. Priestgate

Oh dear.

At the start of 2023 Priestgate was undoubtedly one of the most visceral and exciting new bands out there treading the boards. A new EP One Shade Darker arrived in early March and things looked to be going in one direction – upwards. But then there was silence, until August 2023 when it was announced that Priestgate had come to an end following the departure of one of their number.

This was probably the shortest period between tipping a band as One to Watch to them splitting in the history of the blog. You can't win them all.

Footnote: A month later, from the ashes of Priestgate new band Velkro arose. They go again. 

3. FLO

R n B pop trio FLO featured on a lot of last year’s end of year lists, topping the BBC Sound of 2023 poll and winning the 2023 Brit Award for Rising Star.

Since that time they’ve had a minor hit with Fly Girl (featuring Missy Elliott) which charted at number 38 in the UK singles chart, released some further EPs and played a number of festivals including Glastonbury and Wireless.

There has been no new music since July and now the question is are FLO readying themselves for an album in 2024 and do they have the momentum to keep stepping up? Time will tell.

4. The Last Dinner Party (Previously The Dinner Party)

I included The Dinner Party on last year’s list on the basis of seeing them play live a couple of times. At the time they hadn’t released any music.

Cut forward a few months, they renamed themselves The Last Dinner Party, released debut single Nothing Matters and suddenly found themselves under a weight of hype and excitement. They soon got tagged by some naysayers as ‘industry plants’ but thankfully the band had the songs, talent and attitude to rise above that. They’ve now released 4 brilliant songs, played sell out shows and their debut album Prelude To Ecstasy, released 2nd February next year is one of a handful of records that actually deserves the description of ‘eagerly awaited’.

5. Ellie Dixon

“Whatever problems you have might be big, but Ellie Dixon's music will make you feel bigger - as big as Godzilla,” I wrote back in 2022. Ellie proved that in 2023 releasing a song called Big Lizard Energy. It formed part of her EP In Case of Emergency and with that EP Ellie toured the UK and parts of Europe in September and October playing shows in Glasgow, London, Berlin, Paris and more.

6. Lovejoy

“If they keep going at the rate they are Lovejoy is going to get a lot bigger yet,” I wrote at the end of 2022.

Now with 2.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, sold out shows, 2 top 40 singles and an EP that charted at number 5 in the UK album chart as well as going top 20 in Ireland and Lithuania (!).

I think you can say it wasn't a bad year for Lovejoy and their fans. A band that have demonstrated that old school indie sounds can still find fresh new young audiences if done right. 

7. Scene Queen

Scene Queen is another artist that might not have achieved main stream success but has had a very good year within the rock / metal scene. Following the success of the Bimbocore and Bimbocore Vol 2 Eps in 2022 Scene Queen released tracks such as 18+, Pink Push Up Bra and the country-metal hybrid MILF whilst playing plenty of shows. Scene Queen seems to have been particularly embraced by the UK; many of her tour dates here had to be upgraded as they sold out so quickly. 

“What remains to be learnt is if Hannah sees Scene Queen as a short-term project or something more long-term. If it’s the later and more releases / tours follow in 2023 she’ll be one to watch,” I wrote in 2022. She’s achieved exactly that.

8. Flowerovlove

It felt almost too early to be featuring Flowerovlove aka Joyce Cisse as One to Watch 2023 as she was only 17 years old, but she’s done a pretty good job of justifying that selection. She ends 2023 with half a million monthly listeners on Spotify, latest single A Girl Like Me building up a head of steam and a show at Liverpool’s Sound City festival already announced for 2024. One to watch for next year as well then?

9. Prima Queen

It feels like Prima Queen spent the whole of 2023 on the road. Not only did they play their own headline tour they also played a huge number of festivals including multiple slots at Glastonbury, SXSW Texas, Tramlines, Truck Y Not, Are You Listening, 2000 Trees, Kendal Calling, Mutations and Manchester Psych Festival to name just a few. They also managed time to release some new songs which can all be found on the Not The Baby EP released in May. 

So it's safe to say 2023 was a solid year for Prima Queen. If 2024 is going to continue the upward trajectory, new songs will now need to be the order of the day.

10. Nell Mescal

The final artist on the list last year was Irish singer Nell Mescal. At the time of being featured she had released just 2 songs. She’s trebled that now culminating with the gorgeously hooky Teeth this September. She also has her own upcoming headline tour starting in Ireland before moving to England, finishing at an already sold out Omeara next January. shows. 

And that was the class of 2023. I'm still gutted about Priestgate, but very pleased that The Last Dinner Party are going from strength to strength.

Keep an eye out for a post on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2024, alongside the usual album of the year round up in December.

The Last Dinner Party - On Your Side

Scene Queen - MILF

Sunday 1 October 2023

NEW #77 - twst


I have no idea how you pronounce twst. Is it as it appears or is there a silent vowel making it ‘twist’? Please send help / advise as appropriate. Thanks.

Either way, today I’m featuring this Welsh born artist who has been whacking out some excellent edgy, horizon searching pop music over the last few years with her debut EP TWST0001 dropping in the early months of 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, because twst (real name Chloe Davis) has been around for a while I had to check that I hadn’t already featured Chloe on the blog in the past.

It seems I had, but only in a roundabout way; a number of twst tracks had featured on my monthly playlist in 2020 (which eventually transformed into the New Music Weekly playlist) and I used to post about those playlists here. However, I’ve never fully introduced Chloe and with new material now being released plus some forthcoming live shows, this moment seems a good time to shine the light further.

So where to start with twst? I’d recommend somewhere near the beginning, with Are You Listening? a futuristic, electrifying horror-pop tune full of bassy minimalism, Hitchcock-like Psycho samples and lyrics that centre on problems of the world such as misogyny, climate change and fake news.

From there I’d jump to most recent release Catch Me (Beautiful Fall); twst's most commercial romp through the world of pop so far, if there was an exam in bangers, Catch Me would get a high grade A. Written with long-term writing partner Eden Tredwell, the credits for Catch Me (Beautiful Fall) reveal that one of the producers besides twst was one Clarence Clarity. Remember him? He first featured on this blog about 10 years ago and has subsequently gone on to work with the likes of Rina Sawayama and Sundara Karma. If you’ve never heard his track 4GODSLUV then your homework for tonight is to listen to that.

But before you do so, try twst and keep an eye out for 2nd EP TWST0002 later this year as well as forthcoming live shows which include Swn Festival in Cardiff later this month and a headline show at The Grace in London on 12th December.

twst - Are You Listening?


 twst - Catch Me (Beautiful Fall)

Saturday 30 September 2023

NEW #76 - Fat Dog

Testing 1, 2, 3. Is anybody there?

It’s been a fair while hasn’t it?

Does anyone even read music blogs anymore? Particularly inactive ones that haven’t posted for a few months. 

There’s only one real way to find out. So here we go. 

Strap yourselves in, I’m grabbing your ears and taking them for a ride. I’ve got some new music to rave about.

Starting with Fat Dog.

Not the most glamourous of names, but with a debut single released in August (which featured on my Spotify New Music Weekly playlist) and critics describing their live shows as ‘unforgettable’ and ‘exceedingly fun…exceedingly strange’ Fat Dog are a name you need to put on your ‘to listen to’ and ‘to see’ lists.

Let’s go to that debut single. King of the Slugs clocks in with a shape shifting, ecstatic, shot of musical hedonism that pumps away for a hefty 7 minutes. How to describe it? Ok I’ll try. There’s some post-punk, some psychedelia, some swirling balladeering theatrics, some rave, some rock ‘n’ roll and some twangy John Wayne cowboy movie soundtrack in the mix. It’s the kind of tune that leave you feeling exhausted but exhilarated at the same time. It’s sort of dirty sounding. It's sort of intense. It’s a musical odyssey. It’s bloody brilliant.

King of the Slugs is also the only song I can think of that mentions washing your clothes and makes it seem cool. Sorry Kate Bush, I love you, but Mrs Bartolozzi is truly terrible.

And that’s it. Fat Dog. Not a band for the faint hearted.

If you want to ride with them, they are on tour in the UK in October.

For the current New Music Weekly Playlist (updated every Friday) click here.

Fat Dog - King of the Slugs

Friday 23 June 2023

NEW #75 Picture Parlour


If you pay even just a passing interest in new music then the chances are you’ll have already come across Picture Parlour. If you haven't, then this post is for you.

They’re a band that have been gaining traction through a number of well received live shows played over the past year or so. This week, after releasing their debut single and getting plenty of press coverage, they have found themselves at a bit of a storm centred around arguments of being ‘industry plants’, the increased visibility big management and a label backing can bring you over others that don’t, tastemaker hype, the systemic problems of the music industry favouring white artists, stereotypes, judging artists purely by their online statistics / data and misogynistic attacks on female artists. The Last Dinner Party and Wet Leg have also been used as examples in many of these debates. 

Some of these arguments are easy to debunk. For example, there’s been criticism of all of these bands seemingly ‘coming from nowhere’, which is frankly a load of uninformed tosh. Take Wet Leg for example. Lead vocalist Rhian had been treading the boards for some time (I posted one of her tracks on the blog here back in 2016) and co-founder Hester had also played in other bands such as Maybe Tuesday before Wet Leg was formed. Wet Leg  had released a DIY song Girlfriend on Soundcloud in 2019 which was removed, probably when they got signed. 

Likewise, arguments that Picture Parlour have hardly any listeners on Spotify being held up as the fact they are ‘Industry Plants’. Well, you can’t expect a band to have listeners before they have released anything. That’s just ridiculous. And the term ‘Industry Plants’ is utterly meaningless anyway. I'm not even sure if most music listeners care about where artists came from - they just want tunes they like. 'Authenticity' is something that seems to exist in certain rock / indie circles in the same way as the term 'real music' does. 

However, some of the arguments that have been put forward online are certainly worthy of further discussion. For example, conversations around the systemic issues in the music industry and the lack of inclusion of persons of colour are very valid. However, unfortunately some of the people I’ve seen online who are trying to address these issues are probably not taken as seriously as they should be because of the way they put forward their arguments, which to an observer such as myself can be interpreted as aggressive, unkind and with a lack of nuance. 

The argument that is the silliest of all though is the ‘they won’t last’ argument, because for anyone who knows anything about pop music will tell you, nobody has a crystal ball that works 100% correctly 100% of the time. That’s the nature of the beast. Remember Suede? Back in the day they were on the cover of Melody Maker under the slogan “The Best New Band In Britain” before they had even released a single. 30 years on they’re still going strong, selling out big venues and releasing excellent records. But then does anyone remember Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong? They were another press acclaimed band that released 3 singles that didn’t connect with the public before disbanding. Pop is a funny old game.

So back to Picture Parlour. Yes, they are getting ‘tastemaker’ attention. Yes, they are all white. But let’s give them a chance. Just as we should give any artist that makes you sit up and go ‘that sounds good’ a chance. And if you don’t think they do sound good, why not spend your time finding something else to celebrate rather than trying to kick a band down before they have even had the chance to prove themselves?

For the record, Picture Parlour sound like they would be great live. Their debut single is raw, rasping and reaches for the sky. No wonder Courtney Love has already given them the rock royalty thumbs-up. And no it’s not a cover of The Beatles song of the same name.

You can find the song below and on the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly playlist (here)

Picture Parlour - Norwegian Wood

Wednesday 21 June 2023

NEW #74 Fizz

Time for another new band on Breaking More Waves. If you follow the Breaking More Waves New Music Weekly Playlist (here) on Spotify you will of course have already heard them, but in case you haven’t, here’s the shortest of posts to bring you up to speed.

Introducing: Fizz. An ‘indie’ super group of sorts consisting of Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac, Dodie and Martin Luke Brown, (alas the dogs pictured do not feature)  and they make their debut with High In Brighton, which I can only assume is about chartering an air balloon over the south coast city or just having a grand old time, rather than smoking any illicit substances.

Whatever it’s about, it’s a joyous opening shot with a big shout / sing a long chorus ready for punch the air festival fun, which is just as well as they’ve already played Great Escape (in Brighton obviously) and have dates at the likes of Barn on the Farm and Latitude coming up in the near future. Throw the windows open wide, turn up the stereo to maximum and blast this giddy piece of music out to make your neighbours smile,

There’s an album to follow and if it’s anything as good as the single they might just have to ditch their solo careers.

Fizz - High In Brighton

Thursday 18 May 2023

NEW #73 Blusher


Last week I was at Great Escape Festival in Brighton, the multi-venue festival where careful planning, running between stages and dodging the queues becomes a fine art.

I managed to see 36 full performances whilst I was there and so I thought it was time to pick a couple of acts that I saw that I haven’t written about on the blog that hit my ‘shows potential’ button.

First up today is Blusher. An Australian pop three piece who remind me very much of 2012-2016 blog-wave era pop; their music is shiny, upbeat and you can dance round your handbag to it. Someone described it to me as ‘music for the gays’ and whilst I don’t fully agree with that level of exclusivity (after all music is for everyone, right?) there’s undeniably a hint of a door left open by Robyn on tracks like Dead End and Backbone. These are pulsing electronic bops with hooky choruses and plenty of gloss in the production.

In the live context the band switch between serious muso types, rocking the bass and keyboards, covering MGMT in their set, to full on hands-in-the-air cool-pop goddesses, throwing in some bedroom mirror dance routines and lyrics that celebrate the joys of dancing to forget: "One more reason to take the floor, call the girls up and dance until he’s gone," they sing on Backbone. "I still want the long nights, dancing with my drunk friends," on Dead End.

Their first ever UK gig in Brighton was in the neon blue lit Zahara nightclub and it was packed with music industry delegates. It was very well received - they certainly got hips wiggling and toes tapping. A good start here for Jade, Lauren and Miranda who are the three people who make up Blusher. A debut EP is to follow on July 14th.

Blusher - Dead End

Blusher - Backbone

Monday 8 May 2023

8 For The Great Escape 2023 (Recommendations)


When I first started attending Britain’s biggest new music festival Great Escape in Brighton in 2007, (I missed the first one in 2006) it was pretty easy to catch someone who was going to be the ‘next big thing’ in the UK, by sheer virtue of the fact that there wasn’t a huge number of artists to choose from. At the that time around 150 artists played in 15 venues over 3 days for your £35 ticket, so about 50 artists per day.

The festival was also predominantly a showcase for white male UK based indie guitar bands (some of the names listed as headliners that year were The Rakes, Art Brut and The Pigeon Detectives). You had to scroll down the small print to spot the likes of Adele playing a small coffee shop, which thankfully I did. It remains to this day one of my best brags when the conversation turns to big artists that you saw in small venues.

These days Great Escape is very different. It’s truly international in flavour, with artists from Australia, USA, Colombia, New Zealand and many European countries appearing (sadly this year there are no artists from South Korea). Also, many different genres are represented, from folk to hip-hop to pop to soul. There's even some experimental ambient stuff in a church. In total the festival showcases over 500 emerging artists in over 30 venues plus there’s a pop-up mini festival site on the beach. Add to that the unofficial ‘alt-escape’ shows and there are probably over 800 artists playing in Brighton next Wednesday to Saturday. 

Therefore the chances of seeing ‘the next big thing’ are slim, especially when you add in the fact that it’s now so hard as an emerging artist to gain enough traction and audience to make music a long term career. However, for new music fans Great Escape remains the equivalent of what Glastonbury is to summer camping festivals. It’s the biggest and often the best.

Every year a number of people ask me for tips on who to see. This on its own is an impossible task. Yes, whilst I have listened to every single artist on the bill in recorded form, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can cut it live, especially at an early stage in their career where they may still be developing.

However, if you’re going and don’t know where to start with so many names on the bill, here are a few pointers of either acts I’ve already seen live and rate, or that have caught my ear when doing my research for the festival. It’s probably not that surprising to learn that most of these artists have already appeared on Breaking More Waves over the last couple of years.

Here are 8 for Great Escape.

The Last Dinner Party

Whilst The Last Dinner Party (previously just The Dinner Party) had already attracted a fair amount of attention (I tipped them as Ones to Watch last year in a blog post that you can read by clicking here) it’s since the release of their debut single Nothing Matters that the band has really been grabbing listeners ears everywhere.

With a whole host of very old-fashioned reference points (David Bowie, Sparks, Queen, Fleetwood Mac) The Last Dinner Party could appeal to those who were around when those reference points were in their prime, but also a younger, cooler indie crowd who are perhaps getting a little bored with yet another post-punk band with a shouty male vocalist. Having seen them live a couple of times I can confirm that they’re a talented gang with a charismatic, confident front woman. Don’t expect a bunch of tunes all as instantly accessible as ‘Nothing Matters’. This is a band who sound like they could make a great album rather than just a collection of pop singles.

Mae Stephens

After Mae Stephens went Tik-Tok viral earlier this year with her break out tune If We Ever Broke Up is she destined for 1 hit wonder land or a big-time pop career? There haven’t been any further releases (why bother when you’re still collecting streams like they are going out of fashion? 95 million and counting for If We Ever Broke Up) and so maybe Great Escape will be our first opportunity to see if Mae Stephens is going to be here for the longer period or not. Worth checking out just to find some answers.

Prima Queen

Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden make up Prima Queen. They hail from Bristol and Chicago respectively and make beautiful music that sits somewhere on the Venn Diagram between indie, rock, country, pop and singer songwriter. They are one of the bands I’ve seen the most in the last 12 months and every time their music sweeps me up. I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous melodies or their very real storytelling that veers from sad songs that will possibly make you cry (Butter Knife) to tunes about dating someone whilst not really being over a previous partner (Eclipse) but whatever it is they are a band to fall in love with.

Unfortunately, Prima Queen clash with The Last Dinner Party on the timetable, so there’s a difficult choice to be made here. All I can suggest is whoever you don’t see, you get tickets to see their own show in the future.

McKinley Dixon

Unlike some of these recommendations, McKinley Dixon already has plenty of work online, including a number of albums. A new long-player follows this summer and his visit to Great Escape festival will give new audiences a first chance to hear what he’s about. Inspired by everything from Mary J Blige to OutKast to My Chemical Romance, his current EP Beloved! Paradise! Jazz? gives a good example of his music; a glorious summer kissed flow of jazz, hip-hop, pop and soul. He’s playing a number of shows so there’s no excuse not to catch him at the festival.


If you haven’t seen Vlure live yet you are missing a trick. Imagine the characters from Trainspotting in a nightclub dancing to Faithless and intense rock and roll. That is the sound of Vlure – a band that give it 110% at every live show they play. Like Prima Queen Vlure was a recent runner up at the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. Vlure are one of those bands that really only make sense when you’ve seen them live.

Caity Baser

Another artist that appeared on the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2023 list last year, Caity Baser is a UK artist who might have found some initial fame on Tik-Tok, but unlike many of her contemporaries she’s no one hit wonder. Her sassy, lyrically witty pop has already won her a legion of young fans and its starting to translate into chart positions. Last year’s ‘X&Y’ narrowly missed the top 75 in the UK at number 77 and this year’s ‘Pretty Boys’ went top 30 at number 26.

After selling out London’s Forum, next up for Caity are a number of summer festivals, perhaps showcasing her music to a different type of fan than those who are currently obsessing over her as she hits the likes of Great Escape, Latitude and Barn On The Farm. Live some of the smoothness of her records gets taken out, but you go home feeling like she's your new BFF. Look out for my favourite Friendly Sex. 


A few years ago one of my highlights of Great Escape was an Irish showcase at the tiny Prince Albert pub where I caught a beautifully intense set from The Murder Capital. This year that same showcase is in the same venue and the potential highlight is another band bringing further force. That band is Gurriers. If you like your guitar bands raw and rage fuelled then on the basis of the music they’ve so far delivered, Gurriers will be for you. If you can’t make the Prince Albert show on Thursday afternoon, they are also playing  Alphabet on Friday evening and an Alt-Escape show (which non-ticket holders can attend) at Folklore Rooms on Thursday night.

Mickey Callisto

What’s not to love about a man who does big gay pop songs, clearly models his stage presence on Freddie Mercury and on the 19th May will release an absolute banger about a nightclub called Homospace? Mickey Callisto is the fun you’ve yet to experience but really should. He’s the ultimate groovy space-cadet.

8 not enough for you?

Here are a further 8 recommendations: Heartworms, Debby Friday, Bellah Mae, Venbee, Rianne Downey, Nell Mescall, Another Sky, Ttrruuces

Bonus Tip !

And here's a final bonus tip. If you're at the festival for the 3 full days (4 if you include the limited offerings on Wednesday night) don't just stick to the genres you like and things you know. One of the beauties of Great Escape is that there are plenty of artists playing who rarely visit this country, or may never do so again. For at least half an hour in one of the three days, choose something at random that is totally different from what you'd usually see. Maybe try some hybrid Colombian folk with London jazz and hip-hop (Mestizo Collective) or some Australian sex pop (Big Wett). You may hate it, you may love it, but it will expand your musical mind either way. 


Wednesday 29 March 2023

NEW #72 Flip Top Head


How about a seven piece from Brighton playing jazz post rock with a hint of experimental punk? Well that’s today’s latest selection on Breaking More Waves.

Welcome to the world of Flip Top Head, who describe themselves as orchestral cult rock.

Their debut shape shifting song Seventh Bell Number was released back in February and has hints of Black Country New Road insofar as you’re never quite sure what it’s going to do next. Unpredictability can often be a mess, but in this case it works. The mix of beefy trombone, guitars and the wonderfully named Bowie Bartlett’s haunting vocal that sings of giving back his eyes mix well together. 

Yet this is only their first song, so who knows what comes next? The internet can provide clues of course, with live footage on YouTube showing that their other songs also feature the male vocals of the equally brilliantly named Bertie Beer.

Sitting far outside the mainstream, Flip Top Head certainly won’t be winning over lots of Ed Sheeran fans. But for those who like their music a bit more out there, they might just be your new favourite band.

Flip Top Head - Seventh Bell Number

Tuesday 28 March 2023

NEW #71 Nightbus


If you’re anything like me, the word Nightbus will fill you with some degree of anxiety. I’m talking drunken men shouting at each other, fighting, the waft of takeaway food, vomit and discarded beer bottles rolling round the floor whilst a girl near the front of the vehicle is crying, consoled by her friends: “He really isn’t worth it. You’re better than that darling.”

Thankfully this Nightbus, a three piece from Manchester (not to be confused with the ‘filter disco’ four piece of the same name from the previous decade) is a far more appealing proposition. From what’s been released so far I’d describe them as a darkly languid indie band with a heart of goth. With the likes of new artists such as Heartworms (who they recently supported in Brighton) currently getting a lot of attention, the kings of dark-pop The Cure being back on the road and night-queen Siouxsie Sioux set to return this summer, right now it’s a good time for new goth influenced bands to step out of the shadows - even if it means that a nasty bright spotlight might shine on them.

To pigeon-hole Nightbus as just goth is wide of the mark though. Their debut track Way Past Three is dreamy and gently ethereal and starts with a guitar sound similar to The Edge from U2, whilst new song Mirrors throws ghostly shapes not dissimilar to a less taunt Joy Division with its chugging bassline and haunting synths. What is certain though is that whilst their music would sound great on your headphones late at night on the sodium lit bus ride home, their world is not one of kebabs and drunk fighting, but one of moody indie-art-pop, ready to hypnotise you.

Nightbus consists of Olive Rees, Zac Melrose and Jake Cottier. You can catch them live supporting Iceage in Manchester tomorrow night.

Nightbus - Mirrors

Nightbus - Way Past Three