Thursday, 11 January 2018

New Music: Emily Burns - Bitch

Regular / long term readers of Breaking More Waves will recognise the name Emily Burns; she first appeared on this blog back in 2013 with a now long deleted song called Plasters, Glitter and Glue. At the time I compared her to a new wave of young acoustic singer songwriters that were making a name for themselves; Ed Sheeran, Gabrielle Aplin and Nina Nesbitt.

Since then Emily’s music has transitioned from vocals and acoustic guitar to out and out contemporary pop which we last heard in 2016 with the Sound of Fractures produced Take It Or Leave It, a quality cut which picked up some traction music blogs. 

Now the 22 year-old is back with new pink hair and her most of-the-moment tune so far. It seems that her momentum is continuing as Bitch isn’t self-released, but through 37 Adventures – a label that has brought you the likes of Rosie Lowe, Jones and Salute.

Bitch finds Emily looking back at a past friendship / relationship and wondering how that person has been doing since they went their own ways and reflecting on what she’s heard of that other person, as they have mutual friends: “You say you’re flying now I’m gone, don’t care about me no more, you think I’m crying well I’m not, I’ve never been quite this sure.” It’s quite a jam and then some. 

Bitch was produced by biLLLy and recorded at Abbey Road Studios, where she works as a receptionist and used her down-time there to record. It’s not the first time Emily has recorded in the famous studios though having bagged the opportunity to record some of her earlier work there a number of years ago after attending a BBC Introducing masterclass session.

Bitch is spikey, full spirited and likely to make the ears of any pop fan tingle with excitement.

Emily Burns - Bitch

New Music: Introducing - Yawwn

Somewhere out there on the internet or perhaps in a dusty cobweb covered library there’s some ancient directory called Band Names Volumes 1 to 10. It contains every single moniker that’s possible for every group and every time a new one emerges their name is deleted from the directory. With the development of Google the directory had to be updated to include all those Google optimised bad spellings like Chvrches or Deadmau5, giving a fresh and almost unlimited supply of ideas for those who are struggling to find something original.

Which brings me to south London double denim wearing five-piece Yawwn. You can probably see where I’m going with this already. In terms of names it seems like this lot drew the short straw – you can just see the jokes about them being boring tumbling in already. 

Thankfully though despite the sleepy name the music is excellent. Debut single Partisan is a melee of slacker grooves, indie rock, weird bubbling sounds, piano stabs and slow bump and grind bass. It also has an addictively simple killer chorus: “I have a feeling that I’ll need you always.” I imagine (and this is complete guess work) that their record collection contains everything from art-school funk, to psychedelic, to straight up alternative indie rock, disco and pop. What I do know for sure however is that this is in no way dull or sleep inducing. Partisan is a preening piece of musical joy. Get ready to stop yawning and get dancing.

Partisan was recorded between the band’s South Wimbledon rehearsal space and Konk Studios, and is the first track off a forthcoming EP. Yawwn played their first shows last November supporting Kane Strang on his UK tour, including a gig at Oslo, Hackney. Partisan is officially launched on 13th January at the very first of their own Club Yawwn nights in SW19 London, which according to the information I’ve been sent includes ‘Meal Deals’. I’m not sure if that’s the name of a band or a packet of sandwiches, a bag of crisps and a smoothie for £3, but either way I like the idea. 

Yawwn - Partisan

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

New Music: Coutney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain

I first came across the music of Courtney Marie Andrews early last year when Leigh from Just Music I Like Blog (R.I.P – the blog, not Leigh) recommended her Honest Life album to me. If I remember correctly Leigh had bought the vinyl in Resident Music in Brighton simply because he liked the very sixties styled cover and the write up that was posted with the record in the shop. Upon listening, I found I enjoyed the songs but as a complete album it didn’t blow me away. Perhaps Andrews’ acoustic country sounds, whilst lovely, were just a bit too samey over the course of a whole record for me.

However, the title track from Andrews’ forthcoming long-player May Your Kindness Remain, which premiered on NPR Music today,  is a revelation and leads me to completely reappraise her work. For this is stunning. Here Andrews steps out beyond just simple country music to something bigger, bolder, warmer and more soulful. It reminds me in places of ex-Lone Justice lead singer Maria McKee’s more mellow songs on her solo self-titled album, particularly with the touches of bombastic gospel that punctuate the latter part of the song (or maybe it’s just because she sings of ‘a good heart’ – the tune that McKee wrote and Undertones man Feargal Sharkey had a UK no.1 with)

In a world that seems harsher and ever more judgemental than before, Andrews takes a step back with this piece of powerful beauty and offers a simple antidote to the subject of her song: “If your money runs out and your good looks fade, may your kindness remain.” She’s right of course. Being nice to people is actually far more important and will make you much more content than what culture tends to push down our throats as 'success', namely monetary gain, physical perfection and attaining status. 

Courtney Marie Andrews plays a handful of shows in the UK in a few weeks time (Glasgow on the 31st Jan, Oxford 3rd Feb and a 2 tiny pub shows in Guildford (one of which is a matinee show and still has a handful of tickets left), then heads over to the US before returning to the UK in April for a larger tour. The album May Your Kindness Remain is due March 23rd and can be pre-ordered from her Bandcamp by clicking here.

Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

New Music: INHEAVEN - Sweet Dreams Baby

Indie rock is dead. Guitar music is dead. Bands are dead. Blah blah blah. 

Maybe to you Mr / Ms Music Journalist. But not to me. Music doesn’t die. To treat it as such is to treat it as fashion. Or your latest one-night stand before you move onto your next conquest. Music is for life. Sure, indie rock might not be bursting at the seams with original ideas right now, but that’s perhaps because it has simply reached the equivalent of middle age in much the same way as folk music has. Yet you don’t see people saying folk music is dead just because The Dubliners haven’t had a no.1 album do you? It’s something I’ve argued numerous times on this blog and will continue to do so until this blog stops. 

And if you are looking for change or a revolution in ideas in indie rock then even if it’s not happening artistically, it’s happening in the politics of gender. Whereas in the past indie was dominated by men, now we are slowly moving forward to a position of equality. There's still a long way to go but things are gradually shifting.

So let’s forget all the R.I.P indie rock crap that gets written and just celebrate good music, whatever genre it is.

Here’s one example. A new song from INHEAVEN that follows their debut self-titled album last year. Sweet Dreams Baby is a pure and unfiltered slice of indie rock goodness. The drums pound, the guitars create all sorts of noisy atmospherics and in amongst it all a triumphant chorus gasps. The second best song to feature the words sweet dreams in the title. They've still got to go some to beat Eurythmics though.

The band start a UK tour in my hometown of Portsmouth on January 31st (where they are supported by Brighton’s Thyla and the Isle of Wight’s Freazy) and follow that up by heading out to the USA to support Pale Waves.

INHEAVEN - Sweet Dreams Baby (Video)

Monday, 8 January 2018

New Music: First Aid Kit - Fireworks (Video)

January used to be a very quiet month for new album releases but it seems that 2018 is going to be an exception to the rule. With forthcoming records from tUnE-yArDs, Django Django, Shame and Nils Frahm due this month January is shaping up very nicely. Over and above all of those releases is one that I'm looking forward to the most - Ruins - the new album from Sweden’s finest First Aid Kit, which was recorded in Portland, Oregon and features appearances from REM’s Peter Buck and Midlake’s McKenzie Smith.

Prior to the album release, Klara and Johanna have released a new video for their song Fireworks which finds them going full-on 80’s at a high school prom, their melancholy tune soundtracking the most vacant slow dancing you have ever seen. The song itself finds the band delving deep into classic vintage balladeering and is as gorgeous as anything else they’ve produced. Keep January 19th free in your diary for the release of Ruins.

First Aid Kit - Fireworks

Sunday, 7 January 2018

New Music: Introducing - Sidney Gish

Until last Friday the name Sidney Gish wasn’t on my radar at all. Then thanks to Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist a quirky little ditty called Where The Sidewalk Ends jumped out like a friendly jack-in-the-box and introduced me to Sidney's colourful world of d-i-y indie pop. “I wanna write a book, and put it in your mailbox, and when you go to pick it up, you would send it back to Amazon,” sings Gish over a tune that sounds like a long-lost track from the soundtrack of the movie Juno. She had me hooked straight away.

As it turns out this isn’t Gish’s debut single, far from it; it’s just one track from her recently released No Dogs Allowed album, the follow up to a previous record called Ed Buys Houses. Another tune from the record, the perky Sin Triangle, is also giving Gish some extra exposure over and above the Spotify playlisting, flying up the Hype Machine charts over the last few days. It seems that her brand of melodic, sometimes witty, sometimes humorous, sometimes twee guitar pop music is getting noticed and more importantly liked. 

“To be completely and genuinely candid, no review, write-up, or piece of enthusiastic praise will ever do No Dogs Allowed and Gish’s seemingly inherent lyrical and musical talent any justice,” says Boston Hasssle. I wouldn’t go quite as overboard with my compliments, but there’s certainly something very charming about Gish’s work which sounds endearingly fresh as well as entertaining. Anyone who has song titles like I’m Filled With Steak and Cannot Dance and I Eat Salads Now is certainly carving out their own little space amongst the thousands of artists trying to get heard.

“Sidney Gish sounds like she grew up in a full house of music with Simon, Garfunkel, and Sufjan as her wacky yet sensitive musical uncles,” suggests one comment on her Bandcamp page.  I’d add in The Moldy Peaches to that list as well. And maybe a few giggling slightly drunk aunties as well.

You can hear No Dogs Allowed, which is self-released, over at Sidney’s Bandcamp page or through all the usual streaming services. Get a taster of it (as have over 100,000 other Spotify listeners over the last three days) with Where The Sidewalk Ends, which will have you clapping, smiling and singing along blissfully to Sidney's top-drawer songwriting.

Sidney Gish - Where The Sidewalk Ends

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

New Music: Patawawa - Patagonia

It’s time to put on your glittery hot pants, boob tube, platforms and grab your hand bag (for dancing round) as you head to the disco with Patawawa; a trio from Matlock, Derbyshire, UK who make groovy electronic indie funk. Consisting of Rory Lovatt, Sam Wilmot and Beth Garrett this three piece have been doing the rounds for a number of years now, but it’s new track Patagonia that is really spreading the funky fever.

When we hear the expression ‘bedroom pop’ it's normal to think of some sort of lonely DIY indie artist producing laptop based electronic dance music or lo-fi fuzzy indie rock. Yet Patawawa are also bedroom musicians. So much so that the debut EP from which Patagonia is taken is titled Bedroom in tribute to the place where the songs were written and recorded.

Patagonia might have been created at home in a provincial English town but it sounds like it would have been more at home in the famous Studio 54 club, New York City. Now, who's coming for a dance then?

Patawawa - Patagonia

New Music: Superorganism - Everybody Wants To Be Famous (Video)

On the same day that You Tube star Poppy (who has become  a cult semi-famous You Tube personna herself partly through posting satirical videos on the nature of celebrity) released a video called Fame Is Funny (which you can watch by clicking here) and a new series of Celebrity Big Brother started in the UK, odd-pop band Superorganism return with a most appropriately in-time song; Everybody Wants To Be Famous. It is undoubtedly the first earworm of 2018, but I suspect will be one that continues to infiltrate brains for many months to come.

Over weird squelchy bass sounds, cash machine register bells, bird song and twangy guitar licks lead vocalist Orono drawls: “Feeling like a boss, and staring at the stars, it doesn’t matter the cost, ‘cos everybody wants to be famous,” and a suddenly pop music sounds like its discovered what it’s like to be a little bit distinct again. From David Bowie to Irene Cara to er....Bros, there have always been pop songs about fame through the ages. Now here's another one and it's rather great.

Superorganism featured on a lot of end of year tip lists for 2018 (including mine). This song justifies those choices.

Everybody Wants To Be Famous is released through Domino.

Edit / Update: 20:50 The band have now confirmed their album will be released on the 2nd March and have also uploaded the accompanying video to the song, the visuals of which are suitably trippy.

Everybody Wants To Be Famous

Monday, 1 January 2018

A Thank You From Robin @ Breaking More Waves Blog

Happy New Year from Southsea, Portsmouth and the internet. The home of Breaking More Waves.

So that was 2017 then? 

It was, looking back, quite a difficult year for Breaking More Waves. Personal circumstances (my partner’s treatment for cancer, a very tough year at work where depleted resources gave constant challenges and pressures, plus working on the ongoing modernisation of my house that I moved to a couple of years ago) left little time for writing a blog. Still, I managed over 250 posts which is probably somewhere between 55,000 and 60,000 words. A lot less than every year except the blog’s first but still something to be proud of I feel. 

As I’ve said time and time before some people view a blog as successful if it’s making money or has lots of readers or gets lots of premieres given to it by record labels or gets lots of music industry recognition as a ‘tastemaker’, or has a well followed Spotify playlist, but that isn’t how I view success. My success is the pleasure I get out of writing Breaking More Waves – keeping it going is the real success for me. So maybe 2017 was actually the most successful year of Breaking More Waves considering the challenges. 

This summer Breaking More Waves will be ten years old. Ten. Imagine that. I’ve written this watching my children grow up and now one of them is at university! There have been deaths - I’ve lost my father and my partners father and mother in the time I have been doing this. There have been births with many of my friends starting their own families. There have also been a hell of a lot of other blogs going to the internet version of the blog graveyard - sadly this year one of my favourite blogs (and favourite bloggers in real life) Leigh Ecclestone from Just Music That I Like finished his blog. Thanks for all the posts Leigh and hopefully see you at a gig again soon.

Assuming that I do get to ten years (that’s in June – and I fully intend to get there) it feels like I should celebrate a bit more than just write my annual slap-on-the-back-well-done-another-year-post. I don’t know what I’ll do yet, but maybe I’ll throw some sort of party and you’ll all be invited. There would be good music of course. Watch this space.

Although 2017 was challenging in terms of finding time to keep Breaking More Waves going it’s been really good over the last year to have people say nice things to me about the blog both on line and in person. Those little tweets saying they really loved a track I’d posted or they enjoyed something I had written can be real motivators. Especially if I've been struggling.

So, I just want to say thank you to anyone who has read some of the crap I speed type onto my laptop in those spare 15 minutes I find at a work lunch hour or late at night when the day is nearly done. Thank you to anyone who has interacted with me on social media ( Twitter @BMWavesBlog and Instagram @breakingmorewavespics) and thank you to anyone who has recognised me at gigs and festivals and come and said hello / had a chat. And finally, thank you to all the musicians who make the music I write and post about. Without them life just wouldn’t be as good would it? If you want to hear all of the artists I write about I have a playlist on Spotify which I update at the end of every month with all the tracks from the previous month. December's is live now. You can find it by clicking here.

OK that was 2017.

Now it’s 2018.

Time to do more words about more music. Mainly new music. Very occasionally old music. But always that which I like, in the hope you do to.

Robin, Breaking More Waves.