Monday, 30 January 2017

New Music: Holly Macve - Heartbreak Blues


Judging by the occasional comment I get on the blog I know that a few of my regular readers really dislike it, no I’d go further and say really HATE it, when I post songs by artists performing country music. As yet that level of hate hasn’t motivated anyone to start an online petition requesting the government to debate its possible removal from the blog, but still, the hate is real. So for those of you who get angry about such things, please take this as A COUNTRY MUSIC WARNING.

For the rest of you, here’s the latest from Holly Macve, taken from her album Golden Eagle released March 3rd. With all the right country twangs and slides, this dejected beauty has all the trademarks of something emanating from the southern states of the USA, even if the reality is that Holly is from the UK. Grab a slice of her Heartbreak Blues, which topically mentions building walls, although I suspect they’re very different from the one that Trump wants to make.

Holly Macve - Heartbreak Blues


New Music: Introducing : Diving Station


Diving Station are Anna, Sean, George and Barnabas from Manchester and those of you with a good ear and memory might just remember Anna from a past lost battle and an old blog post on Breaking More Waves. She has the sort of voice that is just immediately endearing; an enchanting thing that delicately magnetises, binding together the concoction of harp and sprawling guitars that make up the Diving Station sound.

Across six tracks on their debut EP, they lovingly create the sort of music that is likely to find favour with those who like to take the map, toss it out of the window and let the songs go on their own journey. At worst this can conjure up images of yawnsomely boring improvised jam sessions, but thankfully there’s still plenty of structure in the songs. 

They’re very old fashioned sounding; elements of their music wouldn’t be out of place on a 1970’s prog rock or folk record, but they also reference Radiohead and Bon Iver, so there’s a sense of modern contemporary experimental thought there as well; although there’s no nod towards electronic music – this is all very organic sounding. In fact, Diving Station have a near back to nature quality about them, with opening instrumental title track Alice featuring the gentle burbling of a stream alongside the harp picking. 

From the EP, I’m streaming Plastic People, a song that goes from tiny beautiful beginnings to something that dares to wig out a little and then some more. Can someone get this band to play a gig on the south coast please? I want to see this live.

You can buy their EP by clicking here.

Diving Station - Plastic People


Friday, 27 January 2017

New Music: Skott - Glitter & Gloss


The general consensus amongst people who like pop music, and even some that don’t, is that it’s lost its sense of adventure and that streaming, algorithms, songwriters and producers working to a safe formula are partly to blame. Thankfully there are songs like Skott’s Glitter & Gloss to remind you that there are people out there still trying a bit. 

The first six seconds of this tune are brilliant. It sounds like a weird distressed electronic elephant. Thankfully the sound doesn’t just occur in the first six seconds, it occurs at least seven times more, with the later ones being super extended versions.

Then there are children singing on the record. Slightly creepy sounding kids that sound as if they’ve been watching too much American Horror Story in the shadows and listening to the Let’s Eat Grandma album (now there’s an adventurous pop record).  

It is, all in all, a very good; the sort of song I hope Lorde returns with (imagine a Lorde and Skott duet – that would be worth seeing). It’s why I tipped her as One to Watch for 2017 (here) and to prove a point, I’ll be following my own advice and doing exactly that, for the second time, when she plays in London in March.

Skott - Glitter & Gloss


Thursday, 26 January 2017

New Music: Night Games - Replicant


As someone who has a day job that is involved in the design and construction of buildings, I’ve always been fascinated by how the architecture of a music venue affects a gig – from the sound to the band’s performance to the audience reaction. So, when I read that electronic pop duo Night Games are due to play a show in the unusual venue of the gothic St Pancras Clock Tower in London next week I immediately booked a ticket. The fact that the band have now released a string of excellent and seemingly always improving electronic pop singles is a bonus.

The latest, Replicant is produced by Bryan Wilson (no, not that Brian Wilson – that really would be something) and sounds like the band have swallowed chill pill a tiny bit early on a Friday night when they are still out raving. Yes, it’s basically an understated banger. Is that even possible? It evidently is.

Tickets for Night Games clock tower gig on 2nd February are available from Dice (click here).

Night Games - Replicant

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

New Music: Cloves - Better Now (Video)


Kaity Dunstan (aka Cloves) has come some way since her participation in the 2013 edition of Australia’s TV Show The Voice and her latest, Better Man, might just be her best yet. A classic torch song with some added power riffing, it was created with ex footballer Justin Parker who famously co-wrote Lana Del Rey’s breakthrough Video Games.

The video is all about two simple things. First Cloves’ raw soulful delivery. Second the lighting. A rotating light to symbolises her changing emotions. Sometimes music videos are stuffed full of so many ideas that the creativity deluge stops the effectiveness. There’s no such issue here. 

Cloves plays Omeara in London (which seems to be getting all the best shows right now) on the 9th Feb and will be off supporting Michael Kiwanuka on his US tour in May and June.

Cloves - Better Now (Video)


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2017 - Entry Information


Today saw the announcement of the 2017 Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. It offers the chance for new UK and Irish acts the chance to compete for a slot on one of the main stages of the festival and also bag a £5,000 Talent Development prize from the PRS Foundation, with two runners up getting £2,500.

Entries open for one week only on Monday 30th January until 5pm on Monday 6th February via the Glastonbury website.

For musicians that wish to enter you simply need to supply a link to one original song on Soundcloud and a link to a video of themselves playing live – even if it’s only recorded in their bedroom.

All entries are listened to by a panel of 40 UK music writers (of which I am one) and from those entries a longlist of 120 acts is compiled. They are then whittled down even further to a shortlist of just 8 by judges including Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis and are invited to play at live finals at Pilton WMC – which having attended on a number of occasions, I can confirm, is a really enjoyable evening.

If you’re an artist (of any genre) and fancy having a go, I highly recommend it. There are some people out there who think that music shouldn’t be turned into a competition, but for me the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition is very different type of competition. This isn’t about celebrity, it isn’t about commercial success and being a star, it isn’t about the judges – it’s just about finding a talented act that can really deliver a great live performance and the competition is a process to do that, with a great reward at the end. 

As one of the judges, here are a few basic tips that I suggest any act entering should consider. Whilst these tips are really all just common sense, I must point out that these are purely my tips and not published by the Emerging Talent Organisers themselves – although I’m sure they’d agree with all of them!

1. This competition is judged at a live final. Therefore, make sure you can actually perform live. That’s the point of it.

2. Make sure you follow the instructions. When it says ‘submit a live video’ it means a recording of you actually playing live. Not miming. Not one with non-live sound overdubbed over a stage performance. Actually live. 

3. Make sure when you submit your links they actually work. Each year of judging I normally find someone with some incorrect links or private links with no access details.

4. Make sure you submit your best song and best video performance. Don’t hold anything back at this stage – you only get one chance a year.

5. Read and re-read the entry instructions. The judges have a lot to get through – you aren’t doing anyone any favours by not following the (simple) instructions. Eg: Original means original. Not a cover.

6. Don’t hassle the judges if you know who some of them are. They have a job to do and asking ‘have you got my entry in your list to listen to’ won’t help.

7. Be good. Be brilliant. Be astounding. Then I might just see you somewhere in a field in Somerset this summer.

Here's last year's winners She Drew The Gun, a band whom I'd actually written about on the blog before they entered the Emerging Talent Competition and whom made one of my favourite songs of last year - the spellbinding and thought provoking Poem, which you can see them playing here live at last year's final (look carefully and you might spot me).

She Drew The Gun - Poem Live at Pilton WMC 

Monday, 23 January 2017

New Music: Jain - Heads Up


“Heads up for this time where fear is not a leader, where open mind is stronger, life is for lovers.”

“It’s our differences that make the richness of our souls.”

“Let’s sing for everybody now.”

At a time when the world seems horribly divided it feels like French pop wonder Jain and her song Heads Up, taken from her debut album Zanaka, is just the tonic. A song of positivity and acceptance, it sits with bouncing joy alongside her other great singles such as Makeba and Come.

Whilst Jain's already bagged a number 1 single in her homeland of France and a top 5 album both there and in Belgium, my country, the UK has yet to fully embrace her. However, it took us Brits a while to really get another unique and exciting French act - Christine & The Queens, so there’s still hope yet. Hope is the operative word here, because Heads Up brings a tale of hope and by rights we should all be on the rooftops singing and dancing to it.

This new lyric video was released today, so if you haven’t heard of Jain yet, it’s time to get acquainted. Especially you United Kingdom. 

Jain - Heads Up (Lyric Video)


New Music: Rosie Carney - Awake Me


Somewhere out there on Spotify there’s a playlist with the rather hyperbolic title of The Most Beautiful Songs in The World. Yet despite the slight over exaggeration, I would at least endorse the fact that there are many spellbinding, often quiet, pieces of music on the playist, including the likes of Billie Marten, Bon Iver, Arctic Lake, Robyn Sherwell, The Slow Show and London Grammar, all of whom have featured on Breaking More Waves. It’s a soundtrack for staring out the window on a rainy day and letting the world go by. 

If you play the whole list, then right near the bottom you’ll discover something very special. It’s by 19-year-old Rosie Carney, a resident of Ireland who I’ve featured a couple of times on the blog in 2016. The song in question is Better Man. It’s a rare and devastatingly beautiful thing.

Now after a period of quiet Rosie returns with Awake Me and frankly at this rate Spotify might as well just create a list called The Most Beautiful Songs in The World by Rosie Carney.

Considering that Rosie’s life has been far from gentle and calm (click here to read her story of abuse, mental illness, anorexia and being dropped by a major record label at a young age) it seems even the more incredible that her music is so serene, so gracious, so perfectly painted – but then maybe sometimes, music can be an anchor in the sh*t life throws at you. Awake Me is poignant, honest, vulnerable and tenderly moving. In short, it got me.

Hear more of the most beautiful songs in the world on Spotify by clicking here.

Rosie Carney - Awake Me


Friday, 20 January 2017

New Music: Starling - No Rest For The Wicked (Video)


Yes, it’s true, that as I hit the ten second mark of this new video from Starling (you may remember her from these posts here and here) there was a very high chance that I’d be featuring it on the blog. Regular readers will fully understand why.  Newcomers may need to tap into a few of my previous posts (soaking up this piece here is as good a place as any) to fully understand. But irrespective of the bath action (in Starling’s case clothed, but with water) there still needs to be a good song to accompany it.

No Rest For The Wicked is certainly that. It has a boldness to it, from its come-and-have-a-go-if-you-think-you’re-hard-enough bass line to its lyrics: “I’m sick and tired of being the nice girl, got to rearrange this,” she sings, giving a cheeky wink to camera as she does so at one point. Throw in what looks like a typical burger and chicken joint in London (complete with stray Christmas decorations and a house speciality of Spaghetti Bolognaise) and a tatty block of garages for Starling to up-style with her glamorous presence and what you’ve got is a sassy, cool looking, budget video. 

Then for extra value you get the bath. It seems to me that at some point in their lives, every musician will suddenly feel the desire to involve the bath in their art. Although I’m still waiting for Kanye to do it to be honest. Once he's been there it will be game over.

No Rest For The Wicked comes from a forthcoming EP, due in the Spring.

Starling - No Rest For The Wicked (Video)




New Music: The Gift - Clinic Hope


I’m not really one for analysing the detailed technical aspects of music, it sucks the enjoyment out for me. I’m more for how songs make me feel than anything else. However, I am reliably informed by those in the know that this cracking new tune from Portugal’s The Gift pulses at a full throttle rate of 189 beats per minute.

It's probably that frenetic pace of Clinic Hope that thrills me with excitement whenever I press play, in the same way that some people get an adrenaline rush from hurtling along a road at illegally fast speeds or being thrown into g-force situations on rollercoasters. Whatever it is, this whipped up carousel of joy makes me feel great, and I hope it does for you to. It’s the kind of song that anyone can dance to, because it’s far too fast to move to in any sort of stylish way, hence knocking out the good dancers. I’ve tried the ‘running on the spot very quickly’ dance routine, which I find works quite nicely, especially if I add in a bit of  'arms punching wildly to the side' for variety and some air-synth fingers when the jaunty keyboard solo kicks in halfway through the song.

Warning: If you have a heart condition, make sure you’re fully relaxed before you start listening. Go!

The Gift - Clinic Hope


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

New Music: Sofi Tukker - Johny


You know that moment at the party when you can sense that everyone wants to dance, but they’re just waiting for the right track to drop? First there’s a little bit of head nodding, smiling at each other, drinks are knocked back, the occasional shoulder is dropped, the hips start to swirl and then as the music grows (and someone turns it up louder) people start to groove. Johny by Sofi Tukker is that groove. It's delicious.

With its bassy sass and slinky guitars Johny speaks the language of dance, even if like me you can’t understand a word Sophie is singing except for the “Johny can you hear me,” line. 

To get fans involved with the release of the song (which you may well already be familiar with if you’ve played the EA Sports' FIFA 17 video game) the duo has launched a "Johny" hotline +1 866-445-6469 (international charges apply) where fans can call in to enter for a chance to chat with Sophie and Tucker or win select prizes. There are 3 options when calling:

Press 1: Listen to Johny 

Press 2: Leave a voicemail for Sophie and Tucker 

Press 3: Enter into a contest for a chance to speak with the band

And on Friday between 5:30 - 6PM EST callers who press 3 will have their call forwarded directly to Sophie and Tucker's mobile phones for an opportunity to speak with the band! My tip: If calling don’t just say “Hey guys I love your music.” Try to think of something interesting to ask. Can they translate the words of this song for you, perhaps? Or how they felt when they were told they were on the infamous Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2017 list? No don’t, that’s embarrassing for me when they just answer with “The what?”

Sofi Tukker - Johny


New Music: Introducing - Keir


F*cking hell.

Just watch this video. 

This is Keir

This is Squeeze Me.

This is incredible.

I really don’t need to say any more.

Keir - Squeeze Me (Maida Vale BBC Introducing Session)

New Music: Maggie Rogers - On And Off


With debut EP Now That The Light Is Fading due soon, the creator of my favourite song of 2016 and one of my Ones to Watch 2017 (as well as, it seems, virtually everyone else’s tip) Maggie Rogers brings something different to the table with new song On And Off. Whilst there’s still the charismatic vulnerability to the lyrics as she sings of emotional instability and having someone there to help her stay afloat: “When I feel like I’m drowning and then I see you, it’s okay, it’s okay, I'm okay, I’m alright again,” this one is all looped electronics, bass throbs and subtle production tricks that is about as far away from her folk roots as its possible to get. Probably most of us need someone to help us stay grounded from time to time, but music itself, when you connect to them, can sometimes be an anchor as well. Maybe this one, or one of Maggie’s other songs could take you to that place? 

Maggie hits Breaking More Waves homeland of the UK at the end of February for 2 sold out shows at Omeara. If you haven't got a ticket, keep an eye on my Twitter feed @BMWavesBlog where I'm sure I'll be posting some words or pictures from one of the shows. In exciting news I can also confirm she'll be supported at the gig by Mosa Wild who you can read about by clicking here.

Maggie Rogers - On And Off

Sunday, 15 January 2017

New Music: Introducing - Hydra Lerna


Here we go again. Pop stars and musicians in the bath. You know how I bang on about it quite a bit? Well, despite some earlier assurances that I’d stop, I can’t do it quite yet. Partly because nobody has really got to the bottom of the tub in terms of explaining the deep psychology of why so many musicians get in the bath to promote their music, but mainly because they just keep cropping up on line. 

Of course, simply doing a bath promo pic doesn’t mean automatic selection for inclusion on this blog – good songs come first and foremost. 

Here’s the latest one that ticks both the bath and quality tune boxes.

Hydra Lerna has appeared on Breaking More Waves before, albeit in a different guise. Since then she’s got some blue hair and recorded some brand new electronic pop music, the first example of which is the pristine yet venomous song Hydra – a song of scheming hearts and suffocation. “You’ve got power, but I’ve got poison, I can take you down,” she coos, creating an intriguing and slightly disturbing piece of pop that has a hint of the spirit of Vince Clarke pre-Erasure (The Assembly, early Depeche Mode etc) with an added touch of scientific dark minimalism. It’s certainly easy to imagine that the label Clarke produced work for (Mute) would go for this one. But then who needs labels these days? 

Pop music isn’t easy to get right, especially the sort of slightly interesting pop music for people that don’t necessarily like mainstream pop music. This one gets pretty close to doing that. As I said - a box ticker in every respect, right down to the bath. She's actually remembered to remove her clothes before having a soak, something that a certain type of musician seems to forget, suggesting they're not really taking things seriously.

Footnote: I also like the fact that Hydra’s first single is called Hydra. Popstars and musicians should do more of this. For example, The Frank & Walters (some of you may remember them – they had Radiohead as their tour support back in the day) had a song called We Are The Frank And Walters, S-Express had Theme From S-Express and The Monkees had Hey Hey We’re The Monkeys. Surely in today’s ever increasingly narcistic society every band should have a self-referencing song? At least Kanye knows where it’s at with his rap I Love Kanye. Mind you, he hasn't done the bath pic yet - so he's not fully there.

Hydra Lerna - Hydra


Friday, 13 January 2017

Preview: Icebreaker Festival 2017


It may seem a bit early in the year to start previewing festivals in the UK, but ‘festival season’ doesn’t only apply to the summer anymore. Kicking off things in January is Portsmouth and Southsea’s appropriately named Icebreaker, a one day multi-venue affair that showcases local south coast talent for a bargain ticket price of just £12 in advance or £15 on the door. Using many of the same venues as the longer established Southsea Fest (such as The Wedgewood Rooms, Edge of the Wedge and the tiny sweatbox of Al Burrito’s) Icebreaker has a very D-I-Y flavour to it. This seems to be a festival run for the sake of doing it and helping to promote the local scene, rather than big bucks.

With over 100 artists playing on 12 stages, all located extremely close to each other, Icebreaker is a very easy festival to negotiate. The difficulty of course is knowing what acts to see, especially if you don’t live in the surrounding area. For this reason I’ve picked 5 artists playing the festival that I think are worth a shot.

Breaking More Waves Tips

15.00 Percival Elliott – Wedgewood Rooms

I featured Percival Elliott on the blog back in 2015, comparing the romantic wide eyed honesty of their song Meant To Be to Stornoway. For Icebreaker the duo are promising a string quartet and their full studio band, so this one should be a little bit special. They are on early, so don’t be late and regret it after.



15.50 Minque – Little Johnny Russell’s

Another act that has featured on the blog in the past, Dani Uziel is Minque. Having played just a handful of shows and having released a few low-key singles I was quite surprised to find Minque pushing out an album so early, but she clearly had the material ready to go and wasn’t prepared to hold back a little and see if things grew. The record, Opia, is a collection of 9 electronic pop songs with a spacious mellow edge and the occasional banger, in particular So Precious, So Small which featured on Breaking More Waves here.



17.45 House Points – The Loft

This Brighton based group have only been together for around a year, but have already released an EP, and played a number of festivals including Y-Not and Together The People. They’re getting a reputation for playing highly energetic fuzzy indie pop shows, and as the video for I Don’t Like You below will demonstrate, they pack of lo-fi punch or two. Get ready for House Points.



19.30 Temples of Youth – Edge Of The Wedge 

Mixing electronic and organic instrumentation, Temples of Youth write melancholy and thoughtful songs that provide a fine antidote to some of the noisier stuff on display at Icebreaker. Having already played at the likes of Record Store Day with Portsmouth's Pie & Vinyl Store, Southsea Fest and the part Breaking More Waves curated Dials Festival this Winchester based girl-boy duo are no strangers to the Portsmouth scene and are slowly edging their way up the bills.



22.45 Signals – Wedgewood Rooms

Closing the festival and headlining the Wedgewood Rooms is math rock four-piece Signals, who have the arty angular tunes to match their haircuts. Bands take note – this is important. Your haircut needs to represent your music. Changing your musical style? Then make sure you change your haircut.  Their single Paraesthesia is a jerky piece of fun that will probably make you want to throw half your body in one direction whilst the other half goes in another.



You can grab a ticket for Icebreaker, which takes place on the 28th January, by clicking on this link here. You can see some action from the 2016 event below which contains a lot of men with guitars and beards. You have been warned.

Icebreaker Video


Thursday, 12 January 2017

New Music: Laura Marling - Wild Fire


It’s inevitable that any artist that creates a sustained body of work is going to produce songs or albums that sometimes find less favour with fans than other records. I’m sure even the most hardened David Bowie admirer would agree that he produced a few duffers and whilst the phrase purple patch probably has more meaning than normal for Prince, there are some of his records that those who love his music are less keen on. So it is with Laura Marling who, if I’m honest, I fell out of love with on her last record Short Movie. However, this is all part of being a fan. Sometimes you have to endure the lows to really appreciate the highs and when Marling returned with the gorgeous and spellbinding Soothing, complete with one of her most perfect vocal performances and seductive jazzy bassline I was on that high. 

Now with news that Marling is due to release a new album this March, her sixth record in nine years, there’s a second single. Wild Fire keeps everything simple allowing the song to ooze through into your consciousness with elements of folk, gospel and country all in the mix. It is rather lovely and together with Soothing now makes the arrival of Semper Femina, the album, an enticing prospect.

Now - all I want to know is what people do with these lyric videos? Do you all sit there doing 'Laura Marling Karaoke?'

Laura Marling - Wild Fire (Lyric Video)


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

New Music: Introducing - darkDARK


Los Angeles and Austin based production duo darkDARK might be new kids on the blog, but Genevieve Vincent and Chris James sound like old hands when it comes to making golden zero-gravity space pop.

New single (and my personal favourite) Restless might start with gentle ambient minimalism and the ghostly whisper of guest vocalist Hayley Bonar, but it soon dives into a sea of euphoric technicolour whilst firing sonic lasers. It’s as if Chvrches had been asked to create the soundtrack to a new Nicolas Winding Refn film. Then there’s the darkly futuristic Fake It, which sounds a lot like a poppier SURVIVE given a modern twist. If you’re liking the idea of this then third (and debut) track Moments won’t disappoint either – it’s another deftly produced piece of smooth sighing synth pop that mixes blissed-out ambient tenderness and surging electronic swells.

This is the sort of music we can imagine listening to orbiting the earth staring out into the starry void. darkDARK seems a suitably appropriate name then. 

darkDARK's forthcoming debut EP, Heathered is due to drop on Feb 24th. 

darkDARK - Restless (Ft Hayley Bonar)



darkDARK - Moments (Video)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New Music: Introducing - Alice Merton


This one’s been floating around the internet for a month or so now, gradually worming it’s way up the Hype Machine charts and around the blogs, but until yesterday it didn't have a video. Now it has and this signals the time for it to arrive at Breaking More Waves. Warning: It's a very hooky pop song.

Of course the trouble with very hooky songs is sometimes they can become hugely irritating. Rather like a new relationship that dives in with too much intensity too quickly, its hit you with its rhythm stick immediacy can become sickening. It's often why you don't see much pop in end of year critics lists - subtler more nuanced work can often be more captivating in the long term.

There's no doubt this one's a musical parasite, ready to lodge in your brain. Will it be a one hit internet wonder that is quickly forgotten or does it signal the arrival of a bright new long term talent? Only time will tell; but for now just enjoy it. A good song is a good song, whatever.

No Roots has nothing to do with hairdressing and everything to do with never staying in one place for very long, both in terms of geography and mentally; Alice Merton admits that she’s a bit of a wanderer as well as a daydreamer. 

Alice Merton - No Roots



New Music: Seramic - I Got You


“Like an out of control lawn mower heading for the children,” is how Seramic (one of my Ones to Watch for 2017) describes his new song I Got You. Of course, what Seramic doesn’t say is if this is one of those weedy Flymo Lite things that even the smallest child could give a good kicking to, or a big monster Lawnflite sit on tractor mower that could do some serious shredding damage. I’d go for the later, albeit this isn’t a boring single colour lawnmower but a funked up day-glo variety. 

Unfortunately, the promo pic for this track doesn’t show Seramic sitting on his mower, which is a bit disappointing. However, a quick Google search suggests that unlike the musician in the bath promo picture, which is a regular occurrence amongst popstars, lawnmowers just aren’t a thing. If you know any promo pics of artists on lawnmowers or mowing their lawns, feel free to email them to me, Robin at Breaking More Waves, at robinseamer@hotmail.co.uk.

Seramic - I Got You


New Music: Zuzu - What You Want (Video)


Some components of a rollickingly good indie rock song:

1. An intro that includes some good solid drums and a slithery guitar riff.

2. Some ‘Ooh-ooh’ hooks and harmonies underlain by spiked lemon sherbert guitars that fizz and buzz with a caustic energy.

3. The ability to burst out of the speakers as if school's out 4-eva.

4. Attitude and lyrics about loving you carelessly.

5. A lead singer that wears glasses. Not sunglasses – that’s for rock stars. Indie kids rule by keeping it nerdy. 

Thankfully Zuzu has all of this and more. I therefore declare What You Want rather bloody marvellous. 

Anyone disagreeing - I’ll see you outside.

Zuzu - What You Want (Video)



Sunday, 8 January 2017

New Music: Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White - Sunday Morning


Back in ‘ye olden days’ when music was only released in physical forms and the idea of making money from people playing your songs multiple times wasn’t really a thing, January was always a very quiet month for new releases. But one week into 2017 and we’ve already had new single releases from Ed Sheeran and London Grammar and the album schedule looks particularly encouraging. Brian Eno has already given us his 1 track (he’s not going to earn much from Spotify on that is he?) ambient beauty Reflections and this month will also see long players from The XX, Rose Elinor Dougall and a rather fascinating covers album from Virginia’s Matthew E White and British singer-songwriter Flo Morrissey. 

Gentlewoman, Ruby Man pulls together an eclectic bunch of covers that seem, on face value, poorly suited to sit together on one album, with the likes of the Bee Gees Grease, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Heaven Can Wait and a Frank Ocean number sitting side by side. It looks like a rather fascinating project and early indications from the songs shared from the record so far are that it will actually be a consistent body of work.

This week, in a final push for the album (which is released next week) Flo Mat (which is how I think they should have named this project) have released their version of the Velvet Underground’s Sunday Morning, which for the sake of being blindingly obvious, I thought I’d post today. Morrissey might be known for producing deeply woozy and meandering soft-pop and therefore this song on face value would seem an obvious choice – but the results are surprising – with the pair delivering a rather uptempo bar room brawl rock ‘n’ roll take on the tune. Good work Flo Mat.

Flo Morrissey and Mathew E. White - Sunday Morning



Saturday, 7 January 2017

New Music: Introducing - Tom Tripp


“Sweet sweet baby jams,” says one comment on Tom Tripp’s Soundcloud. They’re not wrong. Aurelia might be a demo, but it sounds fully formed to my ears – except for the fact that its from some sort of radio broadcast (there’s some DJ type chat at the end). Think Jai Paul (remember him?) meets Ben Khan (remember him?) with a soulful shine. Shall we put him down for the BBC Sound of 2018 list then? (He'd have had a good chance for the 2017 one, ticking a number of the required boxes including the South London one). A debut single proper is coming soon via Nao’s Little Tokyo Recordings label.

Tom Tripp - Aurelia

New Music: Introducing - Harlea


Yesterday the BBC Sound of 2017 process finally came to a conclusion with South London’s Ray BLK topping the list, suggesting that if the music industry pundit’s that voted have got it right 2017 is going to be an exciting year for music that takes soul and R ‘n’ B as its starting point; with the likes of Raye and Jorja Smith all finishing high in the poll. It also suggests that 2017 will be the year of South London, with 3 of the top five coming from the part of the world. 

There is of course a big argument to be had about how the Sound of list is very London-centric every year. Compare for example the number of Scottish acts that have featured on the poll over the years (only a handful, the last being Chvrches back in 2013) against London acts. Maybe the poll voters (of which I was one in 2010) need to cast their eyes and ears a little further afield? (Just for the record my three choices in the sound of poll were from Oxford, Herefordshire and Edinburgh - 2 of them made the longlist, the Scottish one didn't) 

However, whatever genres the polls suggest is are going to own 2017, I’d like propose that there’s plenty of great music in every genre. 

Certainly, today’s new act Harlea isn’t ‘on trend’ when it comes to the soul and R ‘n’ B that the BBC list hits hard on, although she does reside in London so she gets a point for that. 

Debut song Miss Me, released late last year, was a smoking, lip-curling, song of an obsessive and reckless relationship. The follow up You Don’t Get It is a hard-riffing blues piece with a bag full of pop sensibility and a bit of a groove thrown in for good measure. It’s got a unique selling point as well – it’s completely out of sync and out of fashion with everything around it at the moment – and that needs to be celebrated. Harlea’s is the sound of motorbikes, leather jackets and cigarettes. It’s a sound that grabs you by the metaphoric balls and then some. Ready?

Harlea - You Don't Get It



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Music: Introducing - Mayfair


I’m on very familiar territory here, insofar as you probably don’t have to look very far back through Breaking More Waves to find some spaciously lush electronic pop music. But don’t bother looking back, let’s look forward and enjoy Lights. It's the debut outing from Mayfair who follow in the footsteps of Lorde, Broods etc out of New Zealand. 

Mayfair consists of Izzy Clarke, Sarah Hull, Alex Johnson, Nick France and Tarn PK. What’s fascinating about them is that despite, as far as I can tell, being a fully homegrown DIY project, they’re already making superbly refined pop music. This isn’t all just some clever studio effort though, their You Tube page shows them playing some covers live at home, and they’re very competent as well.

Lights, written and sung by Izzy and Sarah from the band and produced by Tarn drips with crystalline class and elegance. I’m surprised it isn’t already all over the blogosphere - it's that kind of tune. A synthy kiss.

Mayfair - Lights


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Music: Desperate Journalist - Resolution


Dark dizzying power chords not dissimilar to something you might find on an early Editors record plus a determined vocal that cuts somewhere close to Sonya Aurora Maden from Echobelly provide the backdrop to this fine new single from London based indie rock band Desperate Journalist. It’s a song that comes from a disengaged perspective but sounds anything but that - for Resolution is injected with a fieriness and urgency that grabs you immediately. In fact it does more than just grab, it boldly punches till the final countdown.

The band are playing a variety of selected dates over the next few months, starting at The Hairy Dog in Derby – a venue I really want to visit just because of that name. A new album called Grow Up is scheduled for release on the 24th March 2017 and there's a big show at the Scala in London on the 6th April.


My Favourite Gigs of 2016 - A Summary


Over the last few days a number of friends and people on the world wide web that I don’t actually know but who are interested in this sort of thing have been asking me what my favourite gig of 2016 was. So for the sake of completeness and as a record to remind myself in future years I’ve listed my top 5 below in a nice simple, no waffle, just the data form. If you want to read a little bit more about my favourite gig, I’ve included the reasons why it was so unexpectedly brilliant in this post (click here) that I’ve already published.

After this, it really is no more looking backwards and everything going forwards on Breaking More Waves. 

My Favourite 5 Gigs Of 2016

1. Adele – Glastonbury Festival

2. Christine & The Queens – Latitude Festival

3. Clare Maguire – St Pancras Old Church, London

4. Aurora – Concorde 2, Brighton

5. Jain – Great Escape Festival, Brighton

Monday, 2 January 2017

New Music: London Grammar - Rooting For You


On the video for Rooting For You from London Grammar, there’s a bold confidence on display. For the first two minutes Hannah Reid sings a haunting questioning hymn of love acappella: “I'd love to always love you, but I'm scared of loneliness, when I'm, when I'm alone with you.”

But the confidence doesn’t end with just the solitary vocal. Because after that the beautiful strings, piano and guitar sweep in to create a song that is far a typical pop song. It’s a statement of intent that says that London Grammar aren’t cynically aiming for chart positions here. This is music that carries a graceful serenity in its delivery. 

My only disappointment is that the single edit itself doesn’t feature the acappella – I’d have liked to have seen the band really risk it and present it to radio in that form. 

If their new material is all going to be like this then let's hope they're playing grandiose concert halls rather than regular rock gig venues. Mind you, pop music is a funny old thing. Maybe next they'll release a club banger collaboration with Major Lazer and Calvin Harris and then we can all just bloody well give up hope in everything.

Rooting For You is the trio's first release since the If You Wait album and accompanying singles in 2013.

London Grammar - Rooting For You


Sunday, 1 January 2017

My Favourite Albums of 2016 - The Full List In Summary

Yesterday I published 25 posts, one an hour from midnight. Each one detailed one of my favourite 25 albums of 2016, the final one being revealed exactly as the year ended.

Feel free to go back and read them all, but for those of you who just want the data in one simple list, here it is:

Breaking More Waves Favourite Albums of 2016

1. Clare Maguire – Stranger Things Have Happened
2. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
3. Survive – RR7349
4. Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let the Kids Win
5. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
6. Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
7. Shura – Nothing’s Real
8. Emma Pollock – In Search of Harperfield
9. Cliff Martinez – Neon Demon OST
10. Misty Miller – The Whole Family Is Worried
11. The Orb – COW / Chill Out World
12. David Bowie – Blackstar
13. Billie Marten – Writing of Blues and Yellows
14. Vaults – Caught in Still Life
15. Various Artists – Space Echo: The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound Of Cabo Verde
16. Honeyblood – Babes Never Die
17. Steve Moore – The Mind’s Eye OST
18. Kate Bush – Before the Dawn
19. Daughter – Not to Disappear
20. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things OST Volume One
21. Petite Meller – Lil Empire
22. James – Girl at The End of The World
23. Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini
24. Låpsley – Long Way Home
25. Ian William Craig - Centres

You can listen to a track from each album (except Kate Bush as it isn't on Spotify) for the next month on the monthly Breaking More Waves playlist by clicking this link.

Breaking More Waves 2017 And The Slow Death Of (Some) Music Blogs


Welcome to the 2017 edition of Breaking More Waves – essentially more of the same old bollocks as last year, namely me (I’m Robin, hi thanks for visiting) waffling about music is a fairly non-journalistic way. I basically write the way I speak – in fact (here’s a little secret for you), a number of my posts aren’t really written at all, they’re just dictated verbally and then I tidy them up on a laptop afterwards. There are lots of great blogs out there who write beautifully, but personally I prefer to do things this way. It’s simpler, quicker and hopefully conveys the messages I want to put out in an easy to digest form.

As I have done for the last few years, I start with a few words about what lies ahead, informed by what has happened in the past, before we get to the music. 

2016 was a pretty tough year for a lot of music blogs. There’s been a spectacular fall in the numbers of them operating. Between 2014 and the end of 2016 Hype Machine saw a drop off of approximately 20% of the blogs it lists. The noisy buzz that getting your song featured on the Hype Machine chart is a lot quieter than it used to be. New music discovery has shifted away from blogs to other ‘tastemaker’ areas such as Spotify’s Discover Weekly and New Music Friday playlists. It’s not so easy now to start a blog that then leads to other opportunities within the music industry. Some of the old-stager bloggers are finding less joy in new music than they used to. Others are struggling to balance their blogs with the demands of paying the mortgage / rent or raising young families. The overloaded in box of new submissions becomes a pain not a pleasure. Some blogs that have been financed by external sources are finding that funding dropping away or are finding that music blogging isn’t a sustainable way to earn a living.

However, from my perspective the drop off of blogs is a good thing. Those that are left are the ones who really want to do it. Enthusiasm is key to an exciting and creative music blog that’s worth reading.

And as we go into 2017, I still have a lot of enthusiasm for this. Over the course of the 8 and a half years (bloody hell is it really that long?)  I’ve been doing this there has been the occasional challenge. I’ve been through periods where the enthusiasm has drained, where the day job has left very little spare time, where family matters have had to take priority – for example last year my partner was diagnosed with cancer and is still being treated for that, so I reduced my output on Breaking More Waves a bit as I give extra time to support her.

But I still love writing Breaking More Waves and will still continue doing it.  I saw a couple of bloggers tweet last year that writing a music blog was hard. That’s bollocks. It isn’t. It’s the other bits of life that are hard. Breaking More Waves is for me, a hell of a lot of fun. I hope that sometimes you get that feeling as well. Maybe you discovered a new artist that you enjoyed here? Or considered and thought about an argument or point of view that I wrote about? Or maybe you just giggled at my waffle?

Last year at Glastonbury I went to see Adele at the Pyramid stage. I don’t particularly like the Pyramid Stage. It’s too big. It feels impersonal and distant. It’s nothing like it’s portrayed on the TV. The last time I saw her was in a 90 capacity pub in Brighton. I wasn’t expecting that much at Glastonbury. Yet that show, from the moment the opening chords of Hello burst out, was my favourite gig of the year. I haven’t felt such emotion at a show for years. It just got me. Everywhere around me people were crying. I cried a bit too. When Adele got everyone to take their phones out and shine their lights – the most clichéd and tacky thing an artist can do in my opinion – it seemed the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

What that Glastonbury gig taught me was that, sometimes, especially at this time, when the world is so full of negativity, division and hatred, music possesses incredible and powerful properties that can join people together and make them feel  something better. That thing is called love.

It’s that feeling – one of love and the power of music - that continue to spur me on in writing Breaking More Waves. Let’s see what 2017 brings. Thanks for reading.

Happy New Year.

Robin


My Favourite Albums of 2016: #1 Clare Maguire - Stranger Things Have Happened


If you’ve read all of the 24 posts that have preceded this one, counting down my favourite albums of the year, you’ll have noticed a couple of key points running through the writing. 

First, that for artists, sometimes it takes a little time to get it right. So even when maybe they don’t live up to the initial hype that often attaches itself to musicians just breaking through, we shouldn’t necessarily write them off. If there is genuine talent there, that will, if given space and more than a few minutes in the limelight, come good. Unfortunately, often record labels don’t see it that way; there’s way too much short term thinking in the music industry. 

Second that 2016 has been the year of things titled Stranger Things; the TV show, the soundtrack, the band that made the soundtrack and now this – an album called Stranger Things Have Happened.

Yes, Clare Maguire, an artist who first appeared on this blog way back in January 2009 and was featured on the BBC Sound of 2011 really delivered the goods in 2016. 

Ironically, in that first post back in 2009 I mentioned a song Clare had recorded called Strangest Thing, suggesting it was exuberant, modern and commanding. That song doesn’t appear on this album, but instead we get twelve pieces of musical gold, flecked with painful emotional honesty. They may not be particularly modern sounding, but they’re all the better for it.

Whereas Clare’s debut Light After Dark was largely an over produced beast that picked up some pretty scathing reviews (Laura Snapes writing for the NME described it as containing ‘songs that’d sound a bit sexless at a WI Christmas party’ – ouch) Stranger Things Have Happened strips everything back, allows the songs to breathe and gives Maguire the chance to really let her vocal shine. 

That shine doesn’t mean just big ballsy belters though (although she gives Adele a run for her money on Elizabeth Taylor and out souls most soul singers on Here I Am) but, subtle, nuanced beauties. Faded, with its jazzy piano, strings and brushed drums sounds like something you might find a band like Tindersticks playing in a dimly lit, velvet lined coffee bar. Swimming finds Maguire vocals adopting a sultry warble as she coos of what appears to be a dark enslaving relationship. “Whatever makes you bad, makes me want you,” she starts, before swiping out with a startling compulsive obsessiveness: “Fuck it now, life can wait, give me adrenaline when I wake. I’m bored as hell, and you’re my closest heaven, and there’s the clue, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, if you needed me when I needed you.”

One of the criticisms of Light After Dark was that it felt like all of Maguire’s personality and experience had been sucked out of it. That Clare had become a pawn in the record label machine. That certainly isn’t the case here. Throughout Stranger Things Have Happened there’s a deep intimacy, both lyrically, musically and in the way that Clare sings the words. Take the title track, a fairytale quiet song reminiscent of 50’s movies and Portishead without the beats. It finds Clare cooing almost creepily (in a good way) at a range higher than we’ve ever heard before: “Walking off the sapphire blues, carrying my shoes, drinking in those drunken stares, unprepared, I don’t care.” It’s superb goosebump raising stuff.

That Maguire has had to go through a tough old time to get to this point (she’s been through alcohol addiction and some depression) makes this album even the more extraordinary. It’s a collection of songs that adopts a variety of different styles, but still sounds like a full, deep and cohesive body of work.

Rather like my favourite album of last year (Oh Wonder’s debut) this isn’t an album that you’ll find on many end of year critics lists. I don’t know why. But all I do know is that this is the most beautiful and affecting body of work I’ve heard all year. My album of 2016. No contest.

Clare Maguire - Whenever You Want It




Clare Maguire - Here I Am (Video)