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.