Thursday, 27 October 2016

New Music : Hazel English - Make It Better (Video)

Remember when Bon Iver took himself off to a cabin in the woods and created For Emma, Forever Ago? Well for the last few days I’ve done something similar, living out of a corrugated iron clad shed, formerly a World War 2 Land Girls’ House in Somerset, complete with an air raid shelter, a 1940’s kitchen, a fireplace and attic bedroom accessed via nothing much more than a ladder. It revisits another era, a trip in time that is pure nostalgia. It’s the kind of place that, from the very little I know about her, I imagine Hazel English would be smitten with. After all her sense of style is absolutely vintage / retro and as I’ve noted before on the blog her music pays much reference to the past - albeit a past when many an indie loving student in the UK danced to chiming guitar music like this in their Doctor Marten’s whilst swigging snakebite and black. 

But to pull it forward to the here and now, somebody on Twitter recently noted “Can we all agree that Hazel English is the indie darling of 2016?” I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that statement.

With that title under her belt, here’s another new song. Make It Better is the fifth and final release from her 5 track EP Never Going Home, and yes I’ve featured every single one of those songs on the blog. It’s a sweet and serene tune that has some similarity to The Sundays in terms of its sonics - if you haven’t heard Reading, Writing and Arithmetic please go and investigate it - but before you do so, press play on the video of Make It Better below, which features clips from some of Hazel’s old school films and TV shows.

Hazel English - Make It Better (Video)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

New Music: Introducing - Molly Burch

With a debut full length coming in 2017 via Captured Tracks, it’s time to introduce Molly Burch to readers of Breaking More Waves. The first time I heard Downhearted, her debut for the label, I was instantly transported to some sophisticated and fashionable European city in the 60's, Paris or London perhaps. It therefore seems rather curious to report that Molly actually resides in Austin, Texas, but maybe, on second thoughts those country twangs are more at home there than by the Seine or Thames? 

What I do know though is that music is universal and that irrespective of where in the world something comes from, it’s when it finds a place in your heart that matters. Downhearted certainly does that; pulling strings in the same way that someone like Patsy Kline’s music does.

Maybe the wistful romantic beauty of I Adore You, the B side of Downhearted that really is too good to be called a B side, gives a better context to where Burch is at musically. A subdued country-soul affair, it just oozes loveliness. It makes a lot of sense that Molly, when asked to compare her music to a food, described it as hot chocolate: “Because it’s comforting and dreamy but could also make you think of past loves.” 

Hear both songs below and note her name down, because if the rest of her album is anything like these two songs, it’s going to be a must listen / buy.

Molly Burch - Downhearted (Video)

Molly Burch - I Adore You

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

New Music: Majik - Real

Last year I named Majik in my annual Ones to Watch for 2016 list. Some people suggested that this was a bit too early, as Majik was still taking baby steps in the world of music. However, to a certain extent, that was my exact reason for naming them on that list. I felt it was worth keeping an eye (and ear) on those first tentative moves. 

Not that there’s anything tentative about new song Real. It comes fully formed, even if the lyrics are less sure of the world, questioning a relationship. “So can we turn this round or should we let this go?” 

Despite the mental turmoil, the music is a gorgeously smooth elixir of pop and blue eyed soul. It’s downbeat without ever sounding miserable. If songs were a season then Real would most definitely be autumn, moving into winter; it taps into the melancholy of that time. Captivating and beautiful.

Majik - Real

Monday, 24 October 2016

New Music - Martin Green's Flit - The Suitcase

From the moment I first heard about Flit, a new project from Martin Green the accordionist and electronic experimenter with folk trio Lau, I was immediately intrigued. For not only was the subject material, that of social migration, something a little bit different from the norm, but the list of collaborators on the record included a number of people that at one point or other in my life have created music that has moved me in some way. 

These names include Adrian Utley of Portishead, a band that created two of my favourite studio albums of all time, as well as a fantastic live album and were responsible for one of my most memorable performances at Glastonbury Festival (which you can read about here). There’s also Becky Unthank, from folk sisters The Unthanks, whose records have cropped up regularly on my end of year lists including one at the very top (see here). Then there’s sometimes sordid Scottish wordsmith Aidan Moffat from Arab Strap, who besides creating The First Big Weekend (one of my favourite singles of 1996) and the rather excellent Philophobia LP) also once received a review by the NME of a gig at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms which made reference to some tribal style dancing by a small section of the audience. I was one of those dancers. Add in the likes of Karine Polwart, Anaïs Mitchell and Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison and you have a very interesting project.

With Green and Flit going on the road this week with their multi-media show (sadly I can’t make my local date in Brighton) it seems a good time to feature the song The Suitcase from the record. Starting with a spoken word piece by Aidan Moffat the track then moves into a darkly claustrophobic electronic soundtrack with Becky’s voice bringing a traditional purity and human beauty and Dominic Aitchison providing the lower sounds. It’s one of my favourite pieces on the album, which features songs that range from tragically sad to heart-warming.

'The Suitcase' from Martin Green's Flit ft. Becky Unthank and Adam Holmes from Lepus Productions on Vimeo.