Sunday, 24 September 2017

New Music: Liv - Hurts To Liv

A conversation in the Breaking More Waves household:

“This song sounds a hell of a lot like Lykke Li.”

“It does, but it isn’t, it’s someone called liv.”

“That name rings a bell as well, but I can’t think why.”

*Google search*

“Oh, hold on. It is Lykke Li. In some sort of Swedish/American supergroup. Oh, yes, I featured them before on Breaking More Waves last year. I’d forgotten”

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and the memory is failing (yes, I have used Shazam to identify songs only to then realise the reason I like the song is because it’s on a record I already own…am I the only person to do this or is it a common thing?), or maybe it’s just that there’s so much new music out there that it’s impossible to keep up. But either way liv is a name that I should have remembered.

Either way, Hurts to Liv, a personal tribute to deceased parents, is a beautiful, restful and sad sounding piece of work. Lykke Li has always been the princess of sad-pop and now this song elevates her to queen. You can imagine the band playing this in some half empty downtown bar in the mid-west of America, as a few folk pass the time staring out of the window as the sun goes down. 

liv - Hurts to Liv

Friday, 22 September 2017

New Music: Emma Jensen - Make You Mine

In terms of very cool pop music, Scandinavia has always done very well, but arguably Sweden has been leading the way for a very long time. However, now it seems that Norway has fully thrown off its infamous ‘nil points’ tag from a few years ago and is showing that it has far more to offer than just A-Ha. What with Aurora, Sigrid, Dagny and Anna Of The North leading the charge, there’s quite a few more just behind them. One of those just behind the leading pack is Emma Jensen, who grabbed attention in February with a song called Closer, which I described as sounding a tiny bit like Grimes on downers. This week Emma released her second song.

Make You Mine adopts a similar template to Closer; it’s a slow sleek electronic jam formed from melodic minimalism and Emma’s near childlike vocal which bears a lot of similarity to Megan James of Purity Ring.  It’s maybe not quite as instant as Closer, but sits in the same grounds of internet-ready-pop rather than a radio hit. Make You Mine is all about subtle intimacies; it’s the sort of music that sounds like it’s isolated itself in a quiet space, content with what it is, never wishing to be anything more. Lyrically though it isn’t perhaps as content, dealing with ideas of relationships and not making a move or saying what you want at the time.

File this one under the category ‘a grower’.

Emma Jensen - Make You Mine

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

New Music: Maggie Rogers - Split Stones

It’s amazing how far one moment and one song can take you. Since Maggie Rogers was thrust into the limelight with that Pharrell discovery video and her song Alaska, it has been pretty non-stop. At the end of 2016 she was on many a tip list (including my own Ones to Watch list) and has followed it through with an excellent EP, sold out headline shows and plenty of festival slots. 

Although I’ll never tire of listening to the EP, there does come a point where there has to be something else new and it comes today in the form of live favourite Split Stones. The two things I particularly love about this song are the unusual looped beats mixed with the sound of heavy breath (the sort of patterns and ideas someone like Bjork would adopt) and the way the song rises to form exultant crescendos, leaving you feeling high, as Maggie sings of grabbing life and moving ‘like you had something to lose’.

Together with Split Stones Maggie has put a letter on line (here) that talks of the track representing a parting gift, which at first seems odd given her limited recorded output so far, but the letter goes further: “This is me saying goodbye for a little while. Here’s to the end of the beginning and the start of everything else.” I translate this as “I am going to go and complete a full album now.” Let’s hope so.

Maggie Rogers - Split Stones

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

New Music: Introducing - Naaz

When you’re just starting out in the world of music, it doesn’t do any harm to get a leg up or two from those who have already had success and certainly when One Direction lad Niall Horan puts one of your songs on his Spotify Chilled Hits playlist, it’s not going to do any harm. Nor is it going to hurt in terms of exposure when Flux Pavilion and Yellow Claw collaborate with you so that you get to sing on a rampant dancefloor banger. However, even with these favours it’s not going to sustain you long term unless you can offer something special on your own terms. Thankfully newcomer Naaz does exactly that. 

Naaz (full name Naaz Salahaddin Ali Mohammad) is a 19-year-old singer, songwriter and producer from Holland. The back story that you’ll read on virtually every article written about her is that she was raised in a highly conservative Kurdish household and may have not ever pursued music until her parents were finally convinced that Naaz’s talents were too special to constrain. 

With a debut EP (Bits of Naaz) coming soon Naas has just a small handful of songs online; 2016’s Sadboy, and the two tracks from earlier this year that really show what she’s about. 

Words is a tender and ever so pretty pop song, one of those tunes that, if you are in love, will make you immediately want to play it to your partner and if you’re not, will probably make you decide that maybe it’s time to be so. “But yet it feels like I've never lived before, anything that's less turned into more,” she sings in her beautiful melody kissed voice and the world and life just seems a better place. 

Like Words, her other 2017 song Can’t clocks in at less than three minutes and with its warm soft synths and reflective tone also hits the spot.  It’s no wonder that Naaz has already picked up lots of streams on Spotify and You Tube. She is certainly Holland’s finest new music export.

Streams are one thing, but as any live music fan will know, you can clock up hundreds of thousands of plays on line, but it doesn't necessarily translate to a real life fan base. Playing live can help that and Naaz is now starting down that route. She plays the The Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany this Thursday and will be coming to the UK (my country) in November to play in London at the Old Blue Last alongside another Breaking More Waves favourite Joy Crookes.

Naaz - Words

Naaz - Can't (Video)