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)
Thursday, 1 February 2018
If there’s one thing there’s not enough of, that there really should be more of, is weekend matinee gigs. Have a nice spot of lunch before, stroll down to the venue, enjoy some live music without having to worry if you’re going to cut it too fine and miss the last train home and be home in time for tea – ready for either a night in relaxing and an early night, or going out again to do something else. Maybe even another gig.
Sadly, in all of my gig going years, having seen thousands of bands live, outside of festivals and record shop in-stores I think I’ve only ever been to two matinee shows. This weekend I’ll be making it a third with Courtney Marie Andrews.
Andrews has already placed herself firmly in my musical affections with her previous gospel tinged song May Your Kindness Remain (posted here) and now the caring theme continues, this time with Kindness of Strangers, a song that came from the idea that sometimes when you’re feeling low, a few simple words or a nice action from another human being can mean everything. It’s pretty simple really isn’t it? Just be nice to people and the world will be a much better place.
I’ve already written about how Courtney’s new material reminds me of some of Maria Mckee’s work and this song with the soulful backing vocals and piano in amongst the country guitars does the same. Then of course there’s her voice; strong, commanding and full of emotional clout.
The new album seems to be shaping up very nicely and it should be a pleasure to see her in a tiny pub mid-afternoon this weekend. (Both of her Guildford shows, matinee and daytime are sold out, but she returns to the UK this spring for a larger tour in bigger venues).
Courtney Marie Andrews - Kindness Of Strangers
Here’s a picture of one of Breaking More Waves favourite bands. You know who they are, they’re Chvrches. Now at this stage in proceedings I should write a lengthy post (or maybe I’d I call it an essay if wanted to give it a sense of gravitas and importance) on their brand new song, their first single in two years.
It’s called Get Out.
But then being the type of person that visits music blogs as you clearly are probably means that by now you’ve already read plenty of pieces about Get Out on other sites. A lot of them will have been lifted straight from the press release. You will also possibly have heard Lauren from the band talking on the radio about Chvrches 2018 (or #CHV3 as the band are using on Twitter) and how when they play gigs they’ll be introducing live drums to the set and how they decided to not self-produce this album but worked with Greg Kurstin of Adele, Foo Fighters and Sia fame.
So instead let’s turn our attention to that photo. It’s just a regular promo photo right? Of course. But look again. Don’t you think Iain from the band is actually looking younger than he was 3 or 4 years ago? Is he actually the Benjamin Button of pop? And what about the people in the background? There are some girls who seem to be staring straight at the camera or band. Are they Chvrches super-fans and if so are they so star struck that their faces have melted off? Because it looks like that. And who is that guy on the far left? The one with his hand in his pocket. He looks a bit sinister. And why is Martin also looking to the left (his right)? What has he spotted? Is he becoming slowly aware of creepy guy behind him who is about to draw a knife and stab him in the back because he’s a ‘real music’ fan and can’t stand bands who destroy it with all those synths and computers? How will the scene unfold? Maybe we'll see that in the promo pic for the next release?
You probably didn’t get commentary like that on Pitchfork did you?
That’s why Breaking More Waves is an irrelevant two-bit blog written by one person on his laptop with an old school Blogspot template and Pitchfork is Pitchfork.
Anyway, Get Out. You probably already know this but it’s a VERY GOOD POP SONG. Dark sexy synths in the verse and a hooky chorus. It’s 100% recognisably Chvrches but doesn’t sound jaded or heard-it-all-before.
If you have missed it so far, here it is.
It's great to have them back.
Chvrches - Get Out