Wednesday, 24 August 2016

New Music: Hazel English - I'm Fine

New Hazel English tune alert! I’m very much enjoying what Hazel is doing. If she had a fan club I'd probably join. (Old people amongst you might remember fan clubs – I was a member of the 80’s synth pop ‘wizard’ Howard Jones' fan club and through it received badges, newsletters, flexi discs and even several handwritten letters from HoJo’s mum. You probably wouldn’t get that these days with The 1975 or Rita Ora) 

Her new tune is called I’m Fine and it sounds pretty er….fine. Damn fine even.  

Here’s a multiple choice question for you. First take a listen to the song. Then ask yourself about its sound. Do you think it sounds as if it is

A Caked in Californian sunshine

B Straight from the heart of a London Art School

C A pleasing indie pop song

D Two people sticking their tongues down each other’s throats in the back of a taxi after a night out clubbing?

If you answered A you’re probably her PR representative. If you chose B you’re probably me. If you chose C you’re probably accurate but a bit boring. And anyone that chose D - you’re probably drunk.

The reason I think I’m Fine sounds particularly British is those very OMD inspired synth noises combined with the concept of the song which Hazel has explained is about “struggling with something nobody else can see and trying to act like everything's fine, when it's really not,” something the Brits with their supposed ‘stiff upper lip’ are known for.

I’m Fine is the final track on Hazel’s forthcoming EP, with further tracks arriving in the next few weeks. You can pre-order the EP by clicking here.

Regular readers will also probably have already realised my continued health and safety concerns for Hazel as once again we find her sitting on a rock in a quite possibly dangerous location with no harness or safety rope attached* Newbies, you can catch up by clicking here*

*Footnote 1 - If you want ‘serious’ music criticism please go elsewhere. If you want the really important issues that everyone else ignores, stick with Breaking More Waves.

**Footnote 2 - This song has a number of little woah-oh's. It might explain why I like it, after all HoJo was a fan of the woah-oh as well (here)

Hazel English - I'm Fine

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

New Music: Introducing - Jade Bird

Today I’m introducing a ‘new’ artist, who has two tracks up on Soundcloud. One is a Drake / Beyonce cover, the other is Find My Baby - a slow bluesy rocker that weighs heavy but in a good way. Both have been on line for a year, but as her original has picked up less than a thousand plays, the tag of ‘new’ still feels very appropriate – Jade Bird is going to be new to the vast majority of readers of Breaking More Waves.

So what do I know about Jade? Only a little, because like many of my favourite discoveries on this blog she doesn’t come via an agent, a PR company, the artist herself or a tip from anywhere else, so I haven’t been supplied with any information except what I’ve sourced myself. What I do know (thanks Google) is that she comes by way of Brit School, a route that used to be much derided by a certain kind of music snob, but let’s put the place into perspective with one word; Adele. I also know she’s a fan of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and is working on her debut EP in London. 

The most important thing aside from facts is that Jade Bird delivers and then some. Her songs, stripped down to an acoustic form (as you can see on the TEAFilms session below) are superb; full of soft stirring passion and surprises - just when you’ve got her nailed as a traditional country and blues singer songwriter she’s liable to throw in a near-rap (as she does on her Pixies cover). It's a technique not that dissimilar to Ed Sheeran - and he did quite well for himself didn't he? Adele? Ed Sheeran? Ok, with references to big names like that I'm almost certainly getting a little too worked-up, but Jade Bird is an undeniably big talent. I'm excited to hear more.

Jade Bird - Madeline - TEAFilms Live Session

Jade Bird - Where Is My Mind - TEAFilms Live Session

Jade Bird - Find My Baby

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Old Music: The Swinging Easy Listening Revival of the 90's

Over the last twenty years or so there has been the odd occasion where under various guises I’ve had a go at DJing (with absolutely no DJ skills) in public. From backstage bars at music festivals, to crappy little pubs, to somehow blagging my way onto a rammed Big Top on the opening night of Bestival just a couple of hours before M.I.A in front of just under 10,000 people. Because of my lack of ability to knowledgably operate the equipment or mix with any sense of sophistication, I’ve always tried to do something a little different to compensate and cover for my lack of skills. I’m probably one of the few people in the world who has DJ’d an early morning set of just birdsong to a mainly hungover / sleeping crowd, I’ve performed a DJ set of cheese dressed as a horse and a number of sets that have centred around retro easy listening, lounge core and mood music.

My love of retro easy listening first developed around the mid 90’s around the time that Brit Pop was taking off in the UK. The swinging sounds of the likes of Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield and Brian Fahey were revived into clubs like Smashing and Blow Up in London. Whilst neither of these clubs had a strictly kitsch only music policy, taking on many different sounds and styles, the rebirth of easy listening for a younger generation started there. Although I never went to either club, I read about them in the music press; at these places indie kids were mixing with fashionistas, musicians and record label dudes and people were reviving 60's fashions, dressing in retro corduroy suits, brightly coloured sixties shirts, pencil skirts and mini dresses. It sounded like my kind of scene (in a totally non-ironic non-hipster way) and so I began to investigate the music. 

The first album I bought was The Sound Gallery. Twenty-four musical masterpieces dug from the crates of EMI’s flagship Studio Two label, augmented by offerings from the United Artists label and KPM Recorded Music Library, with all tracks recorded from albums between 1968 to 1976. It was from that record that I first heard Girl in A Sportscar by Alan Hawkshaw and went on to discover the huge amount of music he was responsible for. Some of it is the sort of music you’ve probably only ever heard in elevators in hotel lobbies,1970’s British sit coms and awkward moments in movies, and I loved it. People ask why I like this stuff and to this day I find it hard to give an explanation, except “I just do.” 

From there I went on to purchase a number of compilation albums that expanded my knowledge and appreciation of easy and lounge core. Those of a certain age might remember the theme to The Gallery section on Tony Hart's Vision On, but how many of you would know it as Left Bank 2 by The Noveltones? There it was on a volume 2 Sound Gallery compilation. Other brilliant albums that set me off on a journey of discovery included Inflight Entertainment, where I fell for Brigitte Bardot’s Tu Veux, Tu Veux Pas and subsequently went on a journey of discovery of the French actress and model’s recorded work. Then there was Test Card Classics, which answered in a digitally remastered form where the BBC got some of the amazing background music they played in the late 60’s and early 70’s before TV started at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and then there was The Sound Spectrum which brought me likes of The City of Westminster String Band, Tony Hatch and Roy Budd. 

The scene even brought a genuine Top 40 chart hit with a novelty cover of Wonderwall by The Mike Flowers Pops, a band who replicated the easy 60’s sound. It reached the same chart position (number 2) as the original.

If you’ve never heard of any of these artists and want to hear more I’ve put together a short 10 track Spotify playlist of some of my favourite swinging sounds from that world and beyond, which you can hear below. I’ve also added The Noveltones via You Tube which sadly isn’t on Spotify.

Maybe you’ve never payed attention to this genre of music before? If not, jump in, keep an open mind and give it a go. Life will have never felt so groovy.

The Noveltones - Left Bank 2

Playlist - The 90's Easy Music Listening Revival

Saturday, 20 August 2016

New Music: Loyle Carner - No CD (featuring Rebel Kleff) (Video)

Loyle Carner cropped up on all the tip lists that matter at the end of last year (BBC Sound of List, The Blog Sound of 2016 and the most important of all…. Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2016) and his latest tune No CD (featuring Rebel Kleff) shows exactly why his inclusion was fully deserved. Featuring his now recognisable laid back style, it’s hooky, gritty and cool as f*ck.

Let’s just hope that this track earns him a few quid because it seems that poor old Loyle has spent all his money on some old CDs. Does anyone feel like they need to give him a bit of a big brother / sister talking to? Loyle, it’s 2016 mate, you can save a hell of a lot of money if you just use a streaming service. You can still have your old Jay Zs and a couple of ODBs and they’ll already be in perfect order for your OCD as you describe in the song – just get on Spotify / Tidal / Apple Music and expand your musical collection infinitely.

Watch the video below, filmed in one continuous shot. Enjoy in particular the muso head nodding moment around the 1:10 mark. Oh and Loyle also needs another talking to about his use of the milk carton - Loyle didn't your mother ever tell you that it needs to go back into the fridge after use?

Loyle Carner - No CD (featuring Rebel Kleff)