Wednesday, 21 March 2018
I’ve always been a fan of bands who take their name and title a song after it, or is it the other way round where they take the title of a song and name themselves after it? Either way, I like it. Maybe it would be fun if solo artists did this as well. Time for Ed Sheeran to write a song called Ed perhaps? Mind you that sounds a little egotistical – but then Kanye West has already done it with I Love Kanye. I’m looking forward to hearing Sigrid’s tune Sigrid is Amazing or perhaps Taylor Swift’s I Am Swifty (So Hurry Up)? Maybe there's even an opportunity for Lorde to release Praise the Lorde?
Which brings me to Canada’s Little Destroyer. They of course have a song called Little Destroyer which was released on streaming services back in January. It’s one of a number of tracks they’ve put out over the last year or so from a forthcoming EP called Strange Future which is a potent blend of modern electronic pop with plenty of sharp edges.
Little Destroyer first came into being in the earlier part of this decade under the name Legs. Consisting of singer Allie Sheldan and brothers Chris and Michael Weiss, their original aim was to ‘score some festival tickets’. Legs was eventually shelved until the three regrouped as Little Destroyer, and the results with their new modus operandi impresses.
Immediate standout track is Rattlesnakes. Little Destroyer might look like a rock band in the picture above, but their sound is pop. Albeit Rattlesnakes is dark, hard-hitting industrial electronic pop tune that deals with the disillusionment that comes from the realisation that youthful partying ultimately just leaves an emptiness. Of the track the band have said: “It’s about the nights you become a mutant, and the mornings after. And it parallels the empty, dank & depressing vibe of a club, after last call, when the house lights turn on, to when the veil of fantasy lifts and you see it all for what is; a monstrous feedback loop set to empty.”
Another track, Savages takes a danceable pop verse and then throws on the noise and distorted electronic drums for the chorus as shouts of “Run wild” burst out. It’s certainly more guttural than most pop music you’ll hear and therefore when you learn that the band have worked with Dave Ogilvie (Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy and Marilyn Manson) things make sense in terms of what they are aiming for in their sound. Katy Perry this is not.
For those of you like me in the UK, you have a chance to see Little Destroyer this Spring as they hit our shores in May to play Focus Wales Festival in Wrexham and Brighton’s Great Escape 2018, so they've finally achieved that initial aim of bagging some tickets.
Little Destroyer - Rattlesnakes (Video)
Little Destroyer - Savages (Video)
Monday, 19 March 2018
Whilst some questions remain of the Pale Waves sound and if it is going to provide enough long-term variety to keep everyone hooked in, for now the buzz they’re creating continues to propel them forward. Despite not varying far from previous tunes in terms of melody or style, Heavenly, the best track from their All The Things I Never Said EP and one of the first songs the band ever wrote, still manages to be a mini indie-pop thrill that gets inside the head, beaming with a glossy mix of 80’s indie pop, energy and modern production.
Today Pale Waves released a new video for the song and its their most stylish piece to date. It features lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie in a set of minimalist coloured futuristic visuals and casts her as some sort of latex clad dancing marionette. It reminds me a little of Edward Scissorhands being trapped in Clive Barker's Hellraiser film as she is trapped by the wires.
Pale Waves - Heavenly (Video)
Thursday, 15 March 2018
There’s a school of thought that suggests that pop music somehow has less depth than other forms of music like rock, jazz, or soul.
That school of thought is absolute bollocks.
Here’s an example to prove my case. Her name is Sigrid. She’s from Norway. She does pop music. You of course have already heard of her, or you’ve been living under a rock.
Sigrid is brilliant. She can do all the things that are required of brilliant pop music. She has great tunes. She can sing. Boy oh boy can she sing. She has the moves. She has a great band around her.
But there’s more than that. Because any great art has to have more than the sum of its parts to really resonate. Songs are great to connect with, but it’s all the other stuff that surrounds popular culture that’s just as important. Of course, it’s a dangerous thing to do – putting artists on pedestals can lead to them falling off – but if we didn’t, how would we ever show off their greatness to others?
And Sigrid is great. Not just because of the music, but because of the way she is. There’s no artifice or act. People who argue that authenticity in music is important (often fans of men with guitars) will even find it difficult to argue that Sigrid doesn’t have that authenticity in huge bucket loads. Of course, they’ll argue that it’s ‘just pop’, but when you’ve been to a show like the one I saw Sigrid perform last night, it’s possible to see that sometimes pop isn’t ‘just pop’.
From her simple stage attire (jeans, plain t-shirt and tied back hair) to her self-aware and unassuming nature (before thanking the audience for coming to the show last night she asked “Can I be a bit cheesy now, is that OK?”) to her inability to surpress her emotion (last night at the start of Don’t Kill My Vibe Sigrid became so overwhelmed with the reaction she couldn’t sing, so she just held the microphone out to the audience who sang the words back whilst she stood and cried – it was a beautiful moment that made even the hardest of us well up a little). These are the things that, combined with the music, make Sigrid special. There is something about her pure and raw.
Which is 398 words just to shoehorn the word Raw into the conversation, which just happens to be the title of the new song from Sigrid.
It’s the first in a collection of brand new material, set to drop every week. It’s not a banger. Don’t worry banger fans. If you wanted another Don’t Kill My Vibe / Plot Twist / Strangers she has more of those to come. But having watched Sigrid’s set grow over the six times I’ve seen her one thing that is becoming apparent is that she’s a much more versatile pop artist than one that just does in your face jams. This one is stripped back to the very core.
“No apologies for being me,” sings Sigrid on Raw. I think this much about her we all know.
Sigrid - Raw
Tuesday, 13 March 2018
If you’re into lo-fi or bedroom pop music then the chances are you’ll have already found Claire Cottrill, known as Clairo from Boston, USA. Even if you’re not, you may well have stumbled across her homemade video for Pretty Girl, which she uploaded last August and somehow went viral with (currently viewed more than 10 million times). But if you haven't, this post is for you...
The Pretty Girl video which Clairo struck internet gold with had no clever production, no super cool direction and Clairo has gone on record to say that on the day she recorded it her hair and skin looked bad, but she felt that that was the perfect day to make it – after all it’s a song about feeling that you have to be ‘pretty’ for someone else and feeling that you have to change for someone else and ultimately how messed up that idea is. “I could be a pretty girl, I’ll wear a skirt for you, and I could be a pretty girl, shut up when you want me two,” she mouths as the words scroll across the screen and she stares into the camera with headphones in her ears.
Clairo - Pretty Girl (Video)
When Clairo uploaded Pretty Girl, she didn’t think that it would get seen by that many people. It was just her mucking around in her room – a what you see is what you get visual. “I'm still not entirely sure how Pretty Girl blew up the way it did. It wasn't really meant to. The song was originally meant for a compilation tape for a magazine called The Le Sigh, and I made the video in about 30 minutes. I only expected about 5,000 views at most! Getting a million views on a video I made is still hard for me to wrap my head around. Most of my friends back home still have no idea that any of this has happened,” she told Pigeons and Planes website recently.
With lo-fi music there are generally two types of artists. There are those who like to keep the sound quality lower than usual contemporary standards. It’s part of their aesthetic. But then there are those who do it out of necessity. Recording at home rather than using expensive studio space is a commercial reality for many musicians. This sort of musician would love to have the opportunity to record somewhere where the imperfections are ironed out and overall reproduction of the sound is improved but they just can’t afford it. Sometimes when a lo-fi artist does develop to a more polished sound they lose some of their fans but gain many more – for some it’s that DIY sound that attracted them in the first place.
With Clairo’s DIY efforts blowing up the question is which sort of artist is she? If she got the opportunity to grab the gloss, would she paint it all over in bright lurid colours.
It seems that the answer might be yes. Although not in the way you might think (yet). For yesterday Clairo released a new video for her track Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, a simplistic but weirdly addictive chill-pop song she put out six months ago which has achieved over 1.5 million streams on Soundcloud. This video has a lot more budget thrown at it than the likes of Pretty Girl. Way more. It involved directors, stylists and choreographers and er….. dancing Cheetos! Visually it’s a long way from her bedroom minimalist beginnings and has already divided fans with some calling her early work a façade. But is an artist not allowed to change an develop? Is this not part of the natural evolution of art? Can we all not just enjoy the silly dancers?
What comes next musically from Clairo will if nothing else be intriguing. Will she try to keep her low-key, minimalistic bedroom pop sound alive? Or will she aim for a bigger more expansive hi-fi pop sound? Or try and find a halfway house between the two? Only time will tell, but for me whatever direction she goes it’s the quality of the songs that’s important. It’s whether they connect, irrespective of if they’re hi-fi or lo-fi. Let’s wait and see.
Clairo - Flamin' Hot Cheetos
Sunday, 11 March 2018
Some artists take a while to establish their true artistic vision, some never fully realise it and some come with it fully formed. Chløë Black is definitely from the later school. Whether she’s singing about f*cking you for life or getting high enough for two, her take on pop has always danced towards the darker side; songs that deal with topics such as getting f*cked (by either sex or drugs) and death make up Black's arsenal. Up until now I would have said you’re hardly likely to find Chløë on the dancefloor wailing about bringing on the Good Times. But it seems I’ve been proved wrong.
Not that Chløë is covering Chic or bashing out some thoughtless happy-day-glo disco track about being in da club (the only club she’s sung about is the 27 Club). This is very much her take on things. She might sing of wanting to get high, but there's also a reminder that those transient moments of chemical euphoria come double-edged: “Everything hurts when I’m sober,” she adds. The music takes the same form as the songs lyrics, with melancholy piano balladry and heavy beats matched with Ibiza tropical rhythms and moments of lighter bliss to convey both sides of the highs and the lows.
It's another piece of stylish pop from Chløë Black.
Chløë Black - Good Times
Saturday, 10 March 2018
Let’s face it, New Music Friday can be both a blessing and a curse. Yesterday I wasted the best part of three and a half hours working my way through the UK edition of Spotify’s NMF playlist to find very little to connect with. But then away from the playlist there’s the new Sofi Tukker. Oh yes, and Sofi Tukker rule.
New single Baby I’m A Queen is the sound of Sofi Tukker grabbing pop by the nether regions and twisting them hard until an intense climax. It’s all about a chunky granite guitar riff, Sophie’s finest vocal delivery yet and some techno-club beats that thwack like they're trying to raise hell.
Of the track the band say: “Baby I’m a Queen is about embracing tumultuousness and vulnerability. Just because you are vulnerable, doesn’t mean you have to let yourself be belittled or infantilized (Why is “baby” the default nickname?) We are strong and empowered because we cry, because we desire, and because of what is chaotic about us. This song is about standing up as strong and powerful, because of that courage to share ourselves. It’s about being both a baby and a queen at the same time.”
The good news is that Sofi Tukker has announced the release of the debut album Treehouse for April 13th. They’ve also announced a world tour that runs through from late March to August. The bad news is that for those of us in the UK that tour doesn’t include our fair land. However, the tour is labelled Part 1, so perhaps we’ll all get to the chance to dance hard with them later this year?
Sofi Tukker - Baby I'm A Queen
Friday, 9 March 2018
New band Another Sky released their debut single Forget Yourself with very little online fanfare just over a month ago. Yet the beautiful quality of the track demands that you take notice, but perhaps that demand comes with a whisper first before a shout. Fans of Radiohead will probably be nodding along in quiet contemplation as the piece seamlessly grows from looped beats and chords, through gentle falsetto vocals into a crescendo and wash of noise. It all sounds awkwardly and twitchily romantic. If I was going to tag the song with a genre I’d go for something along the lines of ambient-electronic-experimental-post-rock-pop; essentially this track covers a lot of ground without ever sounding over complicated.
There’s not a lot of information available about Another Sky at the moment, but they are playing at St Pancras Church in London on April 19th and are also at London’s Bushstock and Citadel Festivals this summer. The one site that seems to know something is Highclouds which states that the band met at London’s Goldsmiths University and their name is taken from the Emily Dickinson’s poem There Is Another Sky. But that’s all there seems to be for now. No doubt as time and more music is released their story will unfold, but this is a bewitching start.
Watch the surreal digital artwork video by artist Mikey Burey below.
Another Sky - Forget Yourself
Thursday, 8 March 2018
I’ve made several failed attempts to see Thyla over the last year or so. That was until January this year when the Brighton four-piece announced they were the tour support for Inheaven, which included a show at my local venue The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea, Portsmouth.
This time nothing got in the way and everything clicked. Thyla were impressive. For me it was one of those evenings where the support band outshone the headline band. Big atmospheric guitar riffs, powerful vocals and a handful of blistering tunes that burned brightly.
New single I Was Biting is another power punch to add to the band’s growing collection of songs that you need to know. Combining elements of grunge and indie rock it propels them forward with an angsty and aggressive edge, sometimes leaving you hanging at the cliff before exploding in a glorious uproar.
There’s a whole wave of thrilling new guitar bands around at the moment but a lot of them can’t really sing. That’s where Millie Duthie comes in. She’s Thyla’s not so secret weapon. Her vocals step from dreamy etherealness to moments of soaring authority in a flash. Thyla have won me over. Again.
Thyla - I Was Biting
Wednesday, 7 March 2018
Stop what you are doing and press play now! There’s only a bloody new La Roux track on line! In fact it’s been there for a handful of days, but it seems that I never got the message.
OK, let’s calm down, it’s not really a new La Roux track, it’s a song from elusive Manchester musical project Whyte Horses who you may remember from their colourfully brilliant debut album Pop Or Not. If you missed that record it’s worth a listen – it’s the kind of long-player that sounds like nothing has been skimped on, referencing classic 60’s pop of both the British and French kinds, swirling psychedelia and twisted experimental dance. It sounds like a record made by people who are very well versed in the history of pop music and has, in certain quarters, become a bit of a cult classic. Imagine The Go Team! and Belle and Sebastian having a celebratory hug and that is where Whyte Horses are born from.
Having already released Empty Words, the title track of their forthcoming LP (two minutes and thirty-two seconds of a gem of a pop tune) now we get The Best of It (featuring La Roux). Based on just these two songs I’m calling it early and suggesting we might have another contender for those end of year album lists on our hands. It’s the sort of song that it’s just too easy to throw the word timeless at, but I’m doing it anyway. Listen to The Best of It. Then back track to Empty Words. Then if you missed it first time round dive into Pop Or Not. All come highly recommended.
Whyte Horses have only ever played a handful of live shows, but if you are in London you may like to go and see them this September 13th at the Royal Festival Hall. Special guests are pretty much guaranteed.
Whyte Horses - The Best Of It (Featuring La Roux)
Tuesday, 6 March 2018
On face value it could appear somewhat mystifying that I’ve never featured London based band Yassassin on the blog before, despite being a fan of their Vitamin Y EP and having enjoyed them when I saw them play live. But being a small scale sole author blog means that I can never feature all of the music I enjoy.
However, today I’m making amends because the band released a new video for the wonderfully titled Mermaidistic Personality Disorder, my equal favourite track from the EP alongside Pretty Face and I've found the space and time to post it. A handclap-a-go-go riot of sinister guitar riffs, the tune flits and flirts with the ideas of reality and fantasy: “Outside you’ve got the seaside. Inside you’ve got a mermaid,” chants lead vocalist Anna Haara Kristoferson before some hooky ah-ah-ahs kick in. There’s a hint of a slightly more lo-fi Wolf Alice to the song, which is no bad thing, and the video has elements of The Twilight Zone and Stay Tuned to it, creating a tale of TV nightmares and popcorn.
What more could you possibly want? This is a bad-ass indie-rock tune.
Yassassin - Mermaidistic Personality Disorder (Video)
Friday, 2 March 2018
From her acoustically based folk-pop tunes like Old Head Young Shoulders through to her biting fuzzed up indie stomps like Eliza, Isle of Wight’s Lauran Hibberd has been slowly gaining attention to the point where new cut Fun Like This isn't self-released but comes via a label proper, namely Diamond Club Records.
Fun Like This leaps out of the traps bratty and snarling. It's a song full of crude yet glamourous guitar riffs and finds Lauran casting herself as the outsider: “Told my friends that I don’t like them, told my friends I’m just not like them,” she starts out. You can never quite tell if she’s singing with tongue placed firmly in cheek or not, but either way Fun Like This sounds like a blur of a night out where the beer has started to get spilt on the carpet and someone has turned up the stereo a bit too loud. Her trashiest (in a good way) song to date, Fun Like This is a meaty slab of indie rock ready to holler along to. Get your windows open, turn it up loud and annoy your neighbours.
Lauran Hibberd - Fun Like This
Have you put an entry against 16th March 2018 in your diary yet? If you haven’t then do so now. The words you need to enter are “You Are Someone Else, Fickle Friends debut album, out today.”
By the sounds of things that album is going to be bangertastic. After all there’s Swim (banger), Glue (banger), Hard To Be Myself (banger), Say No More (banger), Hello Hello (banger) and this one Wake Me Up (also a banger) for starters. Maybe a better title for the album would have been Bangers Volume 1?
One of the things that I’ve really grown to like about Fickle Friends is that underneath the glossy pop productions and euphoric sounding tunes there’s often a layer of emotional fragility in the lyrics and Wake Me Up is no different: “We have got so much, so much to learn. What am I missing? What is it you've heard? 'Cause we are, we are, we are, we are, yeah. We are absolutely failing,” sings Natti. Not at pop songs they aren’t.
Remember. 16th March. All the bangers in one place.
Fickle Friends - Wake Me Up
Thursday, 1 March 2018
The new video from Jerry Williams for her splendid indie pop dazzler Grab Life now has a video. Hurrah!
The essence of the video is basically Jerry larking around in various seafront / watery locations with a guitar and whilst she’s at it throwing in a number of the things that make her a rather good indie-pop kid, namely:
1. Very cool trousers. I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes important points need making more than once. Jerry Williams knows a good trouser and the green ones in this video rank highly in the good trouser game.*
2. Wavey / pointy hands and arms. Jerry has become a true expert in pulling shapes and often likes to combine it with a good hair flick as well. This is all perfectly executed in this video.*
3. Good songs. That’s pretty important, right? Because it doesn’t matter how good your fashion tastes are and how nifty your moves are, if you haven’t got the tunes to back them up you’re going nowhere fast. Thankfully Grab Life is a tune and then some and combines with a whole bunch of positivity as well, which is probably why she’s not going nowhere but instead to SXSW festival in Austin, Texas to play a number of shows including ones for the BBC and Pledge Music.
Jerry Williams - Grab Life (Video)
*Footnote. There will probably be some readers who, if previous experience is anything to go by, will call me out on this post saying that points 1 and 2 are 'irrelevant shit'. Well two-fingers to you, because pop music and the culture surrounding it is about more than just music. It has always been about the clothes, the dancing, the haircuts and long may that continue. In fact maybe pop culture itself is quite possibly irrelevant shit.** But that shouldn't stop anyone talking about it.
**It's not but let's not go there. I could write a thesis on the importance of pop in life and how therefore it cannot be irrelevant. But thankfully for you I don't have the time.
Wednesday, 28 February 2018
At the end of every month (e.g. today) I update my Spotify Breaking More Waves playlist, deleting all the tracks I wrote about on the blog in the previous month and adding all the songs I’ve written about this month. So now you don’t even have to bother reading the blog – you can just follow the playlist and once a month take a dive into everything I’ve covered. Simple.
You can find the Breaking More Waves monthly playlist by clicking on this link here.
February started with the brand new and rather excellent Chvrches single Get Out and it ends in a similar way, with another new song called My Enemy, which means I can conveniently bookend the playlist with Chvrches songs. And let’s face it if you are going to have two songs by one artist on any new music playlist, it might as well be by Chvrches.
So, what do you all need to know about My Enemy? Just these 5 simple things:
1. On first listen I thought it was a 7/10 song. After another six or seven plays I’ve revised my opinion to an 8 or 8.5. It might even become a 9. If you listen just once and think it’s a 9, we’ve both gone on the same journey. It’s just yours was via the equivalent of a high speed jet plane and mine was via a slow cycle in the country. Different journeys, same result, and when the result is a good one that’s all that matters.
2. It features Matt Berninger of The National. Some hardcore pop fans might possibly be saying ‘who?’ but then I’ve never particularly thought of Chvrches as a hardcore pop fans band – they’re more of a pop band for people that don’t normally like pop music, if that makes any sense? And the sort of person that likes pop music for people who don’t normally like pop music will undoubtedly know who Matt Berninger is.
3. Despite that bloke from The National being involved, Lauren from Chvrches sings the best bits (the hook). But then it’s her band so why shouldn’t she? Otherwise he'll just get all the credit and he has his own bloody band to do that with.
4. It’s a ballad of sorts. But don’t worry. It’s not cheesy.
5. Any pop ballad that has words like so cold, so callous, so vile, so vicious and the emptiness will go on and on probably isn’t going to be a total barrel of laughs. But then the new Chvrches album is called Love Is Dead, so it’s to be expected really.
Chvrches - My Enemy
Monday, 26 February 2018
If a mix of Friendly Fires, LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads all washed down with a high energy glass of relentless power disco and funk sounds like your sort of thing then get your dancing pants on because we’re going out. Park Hotel’s first material since last year’s Gone As A Friend and Going West doesn’t just groove, it gallops, trading girl-boy vocals, a synth riff that sounds a little bit like it’s about to launch into Mylo’s Drop The Pressure and a load of high paced percussion that sounds like whoever was playing it was having a blast. It’s a chic celebration of the thing that we might loosely term indie-dance. So, who’s coming with us? It’s time to get sweaty on the club floor.
Park Hotel - Good People, Bad Dreams
Sunday, 25 February 2018
Limerick bred but London based three-piece Whenyoung first cropped up on a number of blogs and websites back in 2016 but since then their output has been pretty sparse with just a handful of songs to their name. Their traditional indie rock sound of guitars, drums, bass and razor-sharp vocals may not win any awards for originality but the strength of their songs and fearsome delivery has already gained a very positive response. Following on from tours with Superfood and Public Access TV their latest release, Pretty Pure ramps things up further. It is already their most successful output to date and now there’s a video to accompany the track.
The film takes the angle of looking at purity being the equivalent of freedom. Starting with lead vocalist Aoife Power outside a church in a white gown, symbolising conventional purity, it takes her on a journey which ends with her escaping and finding freedom in the sea - another form of pureness.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy year for Whenyoung with support slots with The Vaccines (alongside Breaking More Waves favourites Dream Wife), Peace plus a whole bunch of festival bookings including Latitude, Y-Not, Kendal Calling and Great Escape. These live shows should help cement the band’s growing live reputation and as 2018 progresses it looks almost certain that you’ll be hearing a lot more from them.
Whenyoung - Pretty Pure
Friday, 23 February 2018
What is going on in Bergen, Norway? First we get the all conquering Sigrid and now here comes its latest protégé. She’s called Halie (I’m reliably informed pronounced “Hahh-lee”) and just like Sigrid she’s clearly an impressive talent. This song, Youth, has a colossal chorus. It’s like someone has pulled together all of the best bits of some of the world’s best pop singers (Adele, Sigrid, Florence, Jessie Ware) and wrapped them up into one delicious musical wrap. Oh, and Halie is only 17. Yes, she’s still at school.
It seems it’s not only me that Halie has impressed. She’s been signed to the same people that manage Sigrid and Aurora and after just her fourth ever live show at Where is The Music, a festival that’s the equivalent of Sweden’s Great Escape last week, she was immediately offered a slot on Skavlan, which (again) I’m reliably informed is the biggest TV show in Norway & Sweden. Next up for Halie is Oslo’s By:Larm festival in March, but if like me you are stuck in another country at least you can enjoy this five-star pop song now and whilst you are at it check out her debut song Echo by clicking here, which was released last year. If Halie has more in her bag of the same quality as Youth, she's a contender for sure.
Halie - Youth
My first encounter with Æ MAK was when I selected them as one of my nominations for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition longlist back in 2017. Although they didn’t progress through to the shortlist they seem to have been developing quite nicely anyway; they are the first act chosen for Festival Republic's ReBalance programme this year. The programme was introduced to combat the lack of female acts on festival line-ups (you can read more about it by clicking here), and as a result will be appearing at Latitude Festival in 2018.
This week Æ MAK released a new cut called Glow, their first new tune since the departure of former member Ellie McMahon. It suggests an exciting new chapter for the band. Glow is a bewitching electronic piece that evolves from a shadowy slice of experimental art-pop into a full blown fiery tribal dance tune complete with a strong vocal delivery from Aoife McCann that seems to hint at recognising the good and bad in people as well as yourself and coming to some sort of acceptance of that. It's a fine new season opener, with more music promised as the year progresses.
If you are in Ireland you can catch Æ MAK when they support Django Django in Dublin on the 2nd March.
Æ MAK - Glow
Last year when Canadian whizz-kid Boniface put his debut track on line it felt like he was almost embarrassed about pop music. I Will Not Return As A Tourist was the sound of someone sneaking into the room and standing huddled in the corner for a bit before suddenly pulling out the party poppers, balloons and dancing wildly whilst spilling champagne on the carpet. Then second track Again & Again took Boniface back to being all introspective, sentimental and probably offering to pay for the carpet cleaning bill, whilst singing about ‘smoking weed and watching Hitchcock’, a little bit like Conor Oberst / Bright Eyes. However, track three, Phantom Limbs, released earlier this week, steps fully out of the closet. This is wide-eyed unashamed pop music.
Of the track, Micah Visser, who is Boniface says: “I wrote Phantom Limbs a few years ago when I was starting to become really unhappy with the way I was treating myself and the way my friends were treating themselves. I wrote it out of frustration without much redemption, and in the years since I’ve really tried to stop doing that. I think it's stuck with the band and I because it’s just really fun to play and we like that contrast.”
With big glossy hands in the air synths and a sense of euphoria in the music this one is geared up for hedonistic times. It's panoramic electronic pop for you to adore.
You can catch Boniface at SXSW in Austin, Texas this March and the Great Escape in Brighton, UK in May.
Boniface - Phantom Limbs
Thursday, 22 February 2018
Looking back at my last few hours Twitter feed (which mainly consists of the music types that I follow), there has been one singular opinion that has stood out with universal agreement, and that is that the new Janelle Monáe single is really rather bloody brilliant.
This worried me a lot. Because every now and then, when the internet gets excited about a song en masse, I often find that I’m a bit underwhelmed by it. Sometimes my opinion changes; for example I initially thought Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, which had that same extreme online reaction, was just OK. But now I’m firmly of the mindset that it is one of the best pop songs of the last 10 years and hope and expect it will be on all those end of decade lists (not too long before we get those folks…). Yet other times I find myself failing to understand why everyone that I follow seems to love something so much and I never ever get beyond that point.
But it’s OK here. More than OK. Because Make Me Feel, from Janelle's new album Dirty Computer, her first in five years, is ridiculously good. Yes, there’s a big dollop of Prince’s Kiss in the track, but heck if you’re going to reference something, choose something great. And Kiss is great. Sure Prince had even greater, but Kiss is up there in the leading pack.
This is pop music’s equivalent of a couple of strong cocktails downed quickly then getting straight onto the dance floor without a care in the world.
Janelle Monáe is here to make you feel damn good. You’re not going to be able to help yourself.
Well done Janelle. Well done Twitter. Well done music.
Janelle Monáe - Make Me Feel (Video)
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
If only all pop music was as good as the pop music that Confidence Man make.
No wonder their album, due via Heavenly on the 13th April is called Confident Music For Confident People. It makes you want to strut your stuff.
Here is a group that clearly knows that pop music at its best is fun, irreverent, has a dance routine or two and wants to shove itself hard into your ears and stay there until it's done with you.
Before that album comes a new song. It's a live favourite (although I should caveat this statement with the fact that every track that Confidence Man do live is a live favourite of mine). It's called Don't You Know I'm In A Band. Lead co-vocalist and striker of some seriously aggressive dance moves Janet Planet has described the song as for people who think they're cool just because they're in a band, before adding, with (I expect) tongue firmly in cheek: "People like us".
We're in an era where there's a strong argument that pop music is becoming overly homogenised. Confidence Man are the counter to that argument. Get out of their way, put them in VIP and give them champagne now.
Confidence Man - Don't You Know I'm In A Band
Monday, 19 February 2018
Consisting of Christie Gardner and Helen Dixon, the music of Lilo’s Wall casts the same sort of blissful spell as Watford’s finest The Staves. It’s all soft acoustic strums, golden harmonies and a calm intimacy that manages to create a quiet lull amongst chaotic pace of the world. It’s folk-pop cast from something rather graceful and lovely.
This Winchester two-piece have been playing together for a number of years now and last year released an extended play single Tinted Windows / Tough Love that picked up a small amount of attention including from their local BBC Introducing radio show, but really not enough. So, with the tracks being uploaded to Soundcloud over the last few days it seems an opportune moment to feature them on Breaking More Waves and hopefully guide their music towards a few more as yet unknowing ears. Take a listen below and find the full three track EP on all the usual streaming services.
Lilo's Wall - Tough Love
Sunday, 18 February 2018
I've often written on Breaking More Waves about how if you’re going to see a particular band headline a gig, make sure you get there early and watch the supports. There’s lots of reasons for this, but the primary one is for your own benefit. Just because an act isn’t top of the bill doesn’t mean they couldn’t be in the future. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to see acts such as Radiohead, The Killers, Ellie Goulding, Jorja Smith and Franz Ferdinand play as support acts in tiny clubs for way less than you would pay to see them now. And if you do go and watch the supports, please have the common decency and manners to actually listen to them, not just treat their music as a backing track to your conversation with your mates.
So, here’s another support band recommendation. If you’re in the UK and are going to see Pale Waves on their sold-out UK tour then make sure you get there early for Bloxx. They’ve already been featured on Breaking More Waves a number of times and their new song Novocain justifies another post. It's a vibrantly exciting piece of guitar pop that struts and shimmers with all the confidence of someone who has just slipped on some shiny new shoes and knows they look bloody good in them. To be honest Bloxx probably don’t need anybody to tell them that they sound good – you can hear they know it. Another two fingers up against anyone who says that guitar music is dead, this one walks it.
Bloxx - Novocain
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Harpenden’s Emma McGrath has been making music for some time now, with her first EP The Judgement released as far back as 2014. Yet it’s her latest song Love You Better that has suddenly seen a flurry of interest on line. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed a number of blogs that I visit such as Crack In The Road, Too Many Blogs and Going Solo all posting the song and it’s easy to understand why. Love You Better has a fully-grown completeness to it. It’s a guitar-based pop tune, but the sort of classic thoughtful pop song you might find being played out on BBC Radio 2 rather than Radio 1.
It’s probably fair to say that on first listen Love You Better probably isn’t the sort of track that you’d expect interpretive dancing (or in fact dancing of any kind) to be done to, but you’d be wrong. The video, which was released today, features exactly that and it’s surprising how well it works.
Of the song Emma says: "It's an interesting song, that can be viewed in two different ways. The lyrics "I can love you better in the long run" have juxtaposing meanings - "I'll become a better person" or "I'm better than that person". It says a lot about the attitude of an individual in love."
Having received a PRS Foundation Women Make Music grant in 2017 Emma has been working with the likes of Grammy Award winning Jimmy Hogarth and Brit School alumni Jackson and Rhiannon Mair to develop her work. Her new 6 track EP Silent Minds is due for release in April.
Emma McGrath - Love You Better (Video)
Last year when I published my annual Ones to Watch tip list for 2018 one name that I picked that I was a little surprised not to see on lots of lists was Grace Carter. Why was I surprised? Because of two simple things. First, because she is a super talented and composed vocalist. Secondly her debut single Silence was the sweetest of perfections and if she got anywhere near that with any other songs then she deserved to be taken notice of.
So now it really is time to take notice. Because she’s done it again. Working alongside Justin Parker, the man who is probably most famous for writing Video Games with Lana Del Rey and bagging himself and Ivor Novello award in the process, Grace has created Silhouette. It’s been out for a few weeks now but today she has released a video.
Silhouette is a huge emotional pop ballad that will probably have you gentling sobbing in the corner by the end. Be careful here though, when I saw ‘huge’ I don’t mean that it’s bombastic or over produced – there’s no grand orchestras giving an extra sense of drama. Instead Silhouette strikes the heart with its subtle and tender piano backing and Grace’s soulful voice. It's huge with it's impact. “You keep blowing smoke till you fade to a silhouette. You should've told me you didn't want me,” she sings. Breathtakingly sad and beautiful. Nothing else is required.
Grace Carter - Silhouette (Video)
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
I don’t think I’ve ever featured psychedelic-latin rock on Breaking More Waves before, but it seems that right now is the time to tuck into some ceviche, neck a tequila or two and get down to the musical delights of the three-piece known as Los Bitchos. Consisting of Serra (guitar), Carolina (guitar) and Agustina (keys) this London based three-piece are seemingly all about good-times and fun. Now, I know in certain quarters the idea of fun in music is sneered at, the thought being that only seriously deep and careful consideration of anything can add any meaning to life. Well, to those who think like that I have a simple message for you to think about: F*ck you.
When you’ve witnessed the joy of dancing, hands held high, to I Feel Love on a flashing disco dance floor, or when you’ve shouted out all the words to Toxic by Britney Spears at her show and really couldn’t give a flying fig about if she’s miming or not, or in fact any other moment in music that puts a big smile on your face and leaves you feeling exhilarated and happy then you will know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with fun. It’s life improving.
Los Bitchos seem life improving. They certainly seem like a lot of fun. Witness their video for Tripping Party which features a multitude of costume changes, slinky dancing, balloons, bubbles and colour for evidence.
Now their new track, a cover of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s Trapdoor keeps the smiles going. This one sounds like a soft-focus advert for a holiday destination from the sixties or perhaps a track from a long-lost album of groovy elevator music called Tropical Easy Listening Hits Yeah! Either way it’s 100% the soundtrack to good times. Here comes summer, with a touch of the Hank Marvins.
Trapdoor is released tomorrow via Portsmouth’s Strong Island Recordings and the band will be getting things groovy when play in the tiny sweat box that is upstairs at Acapulco Bar in Southsea, Portsmouth, UK on 23rd February for the label.
Los Bitchos - Trapdoor
Los Bitchos - Tripping Party
Monday, 12 February 2018
Today I’m introducing a new artist to Breaking More Waves, who the chances are you’re going to be hearing a lot more about as 2018 / 2019 rolls on. Her name is Lily Moore and here are the 5 essential facts you need to know right now:
1. Lily Moore used to go by the name Lily Rendle-Moore, but somewhere along the line she dropped the Rendle bit. So, if you saw her last year at Boardmasters, Barn On The Farm or Victorious Festival, or even further back in 2015 at Great Escape festival, yes it’s the same person. But up until now she’s not had an official release.
2. Let’s get the vocal comparisons out of the way shall we? Because there’s no doubt there’s a big dollop of Amy Winehouse in the way that Lily sings. And now maybe enough time has passed that having ‘the new Amy Winehouse’ (hiya Duffy) doesn’t seem such a bad thing. For the record I liked Duffy. Or rather I liked 1st album Duffy. It went very wrong very quickly after that. Let’s hope Lily has taken notes. If a well known soft drinks company approaches you about a naff advert Lily, just say no.
3. Lily is from Brighton. Outside of London I probably feature more artists from Brighton than any other place in the UK and right now there's a whole bunch of great soul singers coming from the south central seaside town. Besides Lily I've already featured a couple of them on the blog, namely Grace Carter and Isabelle Jones. The video that you’ll find below was shot on the seafront and in and around the pier in her home town with her friends, giving it a very natural feel.
4. Lily’s debut single is called Not That Special. It’s bound to get a whole bunch of people using the title to suggest that she’s very wrong and this is that special. It’s a lame joke, but actually correct.
5. Lily has previously supported Tom Grennan and will soon be out on the road with George Ezra. So, if you’re going to see Ezra get there early to witness a special talent.
Take a listen to Lily Moore below and prepare to be impressed.
Lily Moore - Not That Special (Video)
Sunday, 11 February 2018
If you’ve seen or heard the music of Nilüfer Yanya then the chances are that you’ve already come across Jazzi Bobbi, even if you weren’t aware of it. If you listen to Yanya’s song Golden Cage the raw low-key saxophone you hear on the track is played by Bobbi. Her connection with Yanya goes further than that though, having toured and supported her last year.
Whilst this Jazzi B is no relation to Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) or Jazzy B (Bhangra Singer) it seems that the name is connected with good music. There are two of her own tracks up on Soundcloud that demonstrate that.
First there’s Don’t Want to Know, which features some menacing alien electronics that sound as if they’re straight out of a horror film. Then there’s the more recent 90r – 0; a song complete with swirling and flickering computerisations and saxophone that is far more likely to find itself on your dead of night comedown playlist than your working out at the gym one. There’s a resemblance to Massive Attack with what Jazzi Bobbi does here – crisp unusual beats and darker unhurried sounds (including the vocals) all binding the songs together. Elsewhere there’s another track called Garden she recorded with her friend Hesse for a Svnset Waves Winter Winds vol. 5, annual winter compilation ‘a variety of sounds perfect for chilly nights from artists around the world’.
This isn’t just someone playing around in the studio either, having supported Nilüfer Yanya you can next find Jazzi Bobbi playing live at The Old Blue Last in London on February 16th where you'll be able to see a bit more of what she is all about.
Jazzi Bobbi - 90r - 0
Hesse - Garden (featuring Jazzi Bobbi)
Saturday, 10 February 2018
Regular readers may have noticed a slow down on Breaking More Waves in the last week or so. There’s a simple two-pronged reason for this. First, because I have found very little new music over that time that I really adore. I never want to post something just for the sake of it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t loads of great stuff being released; the likelihood is just that I haven’t been looking in the right places. Or more to the point, and the second reason, I haven’t really been looking at all; because Breaking More Waves HQ has been bouncing all week to the bloody marvellous Microshift, the new album from Hookworms.
Yes, it’s only February, but if this album doesn’t crop up on a lot of end of year lists (especially in the UK) something is wrong. A Mercury nomination would be nice as well. A pulverising, yet pleasing, sonically adventurous body of work with a far more accessible and electronic edge than their previous records, Microshift is an album that despite its dark lyrical bent (grief, mental health, break ups) sounds utterly uplifting; it therefore comes as no surprise to find out that yesterday the record entered the UK Top 20 album charts.
If you haven’t heard it yet, buy it, download it, stream it, steal it. Just play it. Who said that bands are dead? They can f*ck off. Microshift is a glorious record.
Maybe if I give it a break from Microshift next week I might post some new music. If not, you’ll understand why. Here's Each Time We Pass from the album. But really, don't listen to one track. This is a body of work that needs to be listened to from start to finish in the order the band present it to you. It works much better that way.
Hookworms - Each Time We Pass (Video)
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
One of the names on this year’s BBC Sound of 2018 longlist that surprised me a little was Nilüfer Yanya, because she just didn’t seem (from my perspective) to have had the same level of industry hype around her that some of the other acts that made the list had. However, there’s no doubt that she was there on merit; when I caught her at last year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton she stood out because her music didn’t fit into one simple category (was it jazz, indie, soul, pop or something else entirely?) and her songs had a simplistic toned-down style that never seemed to desperate to be heard – it was almost as if you had to find them rather them find you. However, once you do discover them, they’re strangely captivating.
Nilüfer’s latest release is a video for her song Thanks 4 Nothing and strangely captivating is the term that applies here. Nilüfer takes the part of some sort of alien tarot reading cult leader, but most importantly to regular readers of Breaking More Waves SHE ENTERS THE MUSICIAN IN THE BATH CLUB, choosing the clothes on water in option. It's bonkers, but that's fine because it seems all musicians have such a yearning desire to get in the tub, and the rest of the video is equally bonkers.
Also nice use of the Prince style of writing 4 rather than for in the title here.
Also nice use of the Prince style of writing 4 rather than for in the title here.
Nilüfer Yanya - Thanks 4 Nothing (Video)