Loving Backwards – Gorgeous Pulse

I know that many of my dearest friends have found 2020 a struggle. They tell me that their anxiety is going through the roof and that their panic attacks have become more sustained and frequent. Some won’t see 2021 because they’ve made a choice that this is all too much. It’s not been easy. 

When little makes sense, I often find that a healthy tablet of odd psychedelia clears the mind. And when it doesn’t entirely sort you out, it helps to rewire your brain so that little seems problematic any more. 

Take this track ‘Gorgeous Pulse’ by Loving Backwards. It manages to avoid any elongated pomposity that could be associated with the genre clocking in at a mere three and a half minutes. It doesn’t half pack a punch in that time. 

Changing time signature as often as a Tory Government backtracks (a lot), this wizard piece is the first single from a Tel Aviv consortium led by guitarist and vocalist, Or Izekson. When asked about the title, Or said, “the theme behind the phrase “Gorgeous Pulse” came to my mind while struggling with anxiety outbreaks during a personal crisis, which caused my heart to beat very strong and rapid. Writing this song was a way to address this, as in saying: “it’s OK, dear pulse, you’re absolutely gorgeous, and I have no quarrel with you”.”

‘It’s ok dear pulse, you’re absolutely gorgeous and I have no quarrel with you’ – let the power of that sink in for a second. We all should be telling ourselves how true that is every morning when we wake. It’s a beautiful statement and a helpful thought for these times.

Gorgeous Pulse comes with a magical video as well. An elderly wizard goes on a quest to regain his powers and is helped to do so by a young girl. It’s an epic journey in a short(ish) song but also an opportunity for Or to burn an old, broken guitar that he had at his disposal. 

You are all absolutely gorgeous. Make time for treats this weekend.

East Eden – west nod

Back when Ollie, my son, was a young teenager, we both used to amuse ourselves with the thought of epic road-trips. Travelling across the States would be our ultimate goal taking in the sights and sounds as we made use of motels and canvas to sate our wanderlust. Conversation has gone a bit quiet on this front in recent years though it remains a dream of mine. I guess life just gets in the way. 

So, it’s with the slightest of envy and the utmost of admiration that I watch the journey being made by East Eden as they leave their base in New York to travel west. They pack a portable music studio to write and record as they go and, on the evidence of this single release, west nod, have found much to inspire. 

“Our single ‘west nod’, describes our wanderlust“, say Yori and Carolina, the couple that make up East Eden. “Our goal was to record all over the country with our ‘pop up’ studio, drawing inspiration from our surroundings and experiences. Yori recorded the bass and horns in New York. Carolina laid down the vocals and drums in Virginia. Yori’s verse took form in Tennessee. We pieced it all together in Utah. About a week later we shot the music video in Joshua Tree and L.A.”

East Eden have produced a track that positively bounces with a good-time feel. This is sunshine funk with spirit; the sense of fun that both are having is contagious as they realise their dreams en route. The West Coast remains the destination but much fun is going to be had on the way.

It’s a Friday and the weekend has nearly begun. Sonic Breakfast obliges with some music guaranteed to make your smile broad and your cava quaffable.

 

Abby K – All Good

I don’t talk much about my day job within this blog. It’s pretty much been an unwritten rule since beginning Sonic Breakfast that I would rope off some aspects of my life and rarely discuss them. I’m not sure why it’s developed that way.

For those that don’t know, I work for a charity that distributes funds to youth homelessness projects. I work as part of a team that’s helping to create new homes for young people who don’t have that security. Get beyond the day to day routine, rigmarole and frustrations that are part of anybody’s working life and it’s a pretty rewarding place to be.

But, I still walk past people sleeping rough (or did before 2020) and barely bat an eye. If challenged my well-rehearsed lines still stand up to my own scrutiny. “It’s better to give my money elsewhere“, I say before spending it that evening in the pub. “You’re not really getting to the root cause of the problem“, I say before spending the day talking with friends about the latest exit on I’m A Celebrity. “I need the food myself“, I say before putting nothing in the food-bank collections and going home to write a blogpost about my expanding waistline.

Despite thinking that I care about others and actively do good when I really think about it what do I really do? My emotions are hardened, my tears trained not to fall and my life, as a result, is all good.

This is the situation that Abby K describes in her latest song and video, All Good. Released in the build up to the US election, it served as a call for Americans to vote for change. Asked specifically about this track, Abby says, “the idea that we are privileged and turn away from the ugly truths of our world is a powerful notion. Something’s got to change or something’s going to give! When tears refuse to stream the way they should, I guess that means, life’s all good? It’s time to MAKE things all good.

A gentle country-folk song for a Thursday, Abby’s delivery has none of the rage that you might traditionally expect from a protest song. Like a calm and collected schoolteacher taking an assembly, the singer-songwriter carouses and encourages us with her unique voice into looking at the world differently. 

The cynic in me finds this so easy to dismiss as idealistic, hippie twaddle. Maybe, thinking about why I have that response and taking a good look at what I’ll be doing to make things better today is the more appropriate way forward.

VÍB – AMBER

 As relationships go, my time with AMBER could hardly have been considered a rip-roaring success. Over before it really began, this was one of those long-distance affairs that promised much but delivered little. We didn’t agree on much politically but tried hard to make it work as we glossed over our obvious differences. Things petered out within the space of a few sad months and we moved on to better things before the Summer was done. 
It might then be odd and a bit niche if I was now, after all of these years, writing a blog post about that relationship. But, as VíB are quick to point out in the press release to their song ‘AMBER’,  “Often times when people hear “AMBER” they think it’s about a women, but AMBER is a metaphor for whatever your vice is.”
 
They add, “Sometimes too much of a food thing isn’t good anymore. Just because it’s good to you doesn’t mean it’s good for you. That is AMBER.”
 
Lockdown has been good in so many ways but my waistline has noticeably suffered. Never blessed with the thinnest of frames, it turns out that the combination of bread, chocolate, crisps, cheese and wine is not a sensible one if I want to avoid weight gain. Tie that in with the more sedentary lifestyle that working from home brings and the fact that the fridge is only ever a short walk away and trouble is brewing. 
 
VÍB’s AMBER is a fantastic, soulful song of despair and temptation. You feel the guilt as the singer gives ways to his addiction and orders another portion, gram, dose, glass or batch. You can’t help but relate as you eat your cheese and biscuits for supper and drink one more glass of wine before bed. You catch a glimpse of your side profile in the shadows and reflections as you waddle off for a night’s sleep and resolve that tomorrow is the day when your new life begins, a plan easily forgotten when the new day dawns. 
 
VÍB are planning for new releases in 2021 – and it turns out that so am I. 
 
 
 

 

 

Tazmin – Nine More Lives

It would be very easy to be sniffy about Tazmin. Looking towards her pure pop pedestal, first impressions might suggest that there’s little more here than an X factor wannabee. One could quite easily dismiss her achievements to date as a typical career path of those who are building up to a future of reality TV shows followed by pantomime in Peterborough.

But to allow any sort of musical snobbimess to guide your judgment here will be missing the point. So, she’s been a child-star in China, turned out for Disney and won talent competitions that only really exist to make money for their organisers. From the outside looking in, her route through all of this might not be as tragic as some and her back-story less compelling.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Tazmin has talent and a work-ethic that’ll put many to shame. Take this tune of hers, Nine More Lives, a song about forgiveness and getting a second chance. Unlike many of your indie stars with a team of songwriters behind them, Tazmin wrote and semi self-produced this 80’s-influenced banger all on her own. And to do so, she openly notes that she drew influence from the songwriting guile of Nile Rodgers, studying the structures that he employs with such dynamic effect. She might not spell her name as TZMN but Tazmin has a broader range of skills to draw upon. 

Even if the pop-funk singalong focus of Nine More Lives doesn’t entirely float your boat you have to admit that the video, shot last year in Wadi Rum & Petra, Jordan, is a thing to lift you from the drudgery of your own miserable Winter experience. It’s cool to see sunshine and sights when your own horizons are limited. 

Tazmin doesn’t need to be using one of those nine lives to draw me in. But drop your own misconceptions,, give tunes (and artists) such as this a second chance and you might get a welcome surprise. 

 

Supervene – Weeping Desire

Compared to some, my lockdown lot has been a lucky one. It’s hardly been a chore to be stuck here in Spain whilst the world goes mad around me. I do feel desperately sad for my Leicester-based friends who’ve not had much of a break from this since March. England’s forgotten city and my adopted hometown has undoubtedly had it bad and yet I bet the people of Leicester still have some sympathy for those in Melbourne, Australia. By all accounts, Friday was something of a day of celebration there as they emerged from one of the most draconian lockdowns the globe has seen. 

I didn’t know that the Melbourne one had been so fierce. This year has closed our borders and our interests have got more parochial. There might be a global pandemic going on but we only want to know about the R rate in our own localities. Our horizons shrink as our tears are drawn. 

I only found out about the Melbourne lockdown when chatting  with Supervene about their latest video and single, Weeping Desire.

“We have just finished one of the longest and toughest Lockdowns in the world.“, they said. “It could have all been avoided as the Victorian government bungled the International Quarantine and caused the spread of infection. This has been causing us to weep for 5 months in lockdown ! “

Initially I thought that Supervene were being overly-dramatic about their own lot (the Rock band privilege) until I randomly read a BBC news article backing it all up.

“The streets were completely deserted. It was like something out of [post-apocalyptic film] Mad Max,” said a certain Mr Lanigan, who owns the cafe Lucky Penny on the iconic shopping strip.

Supervene suggest that Weeping Desire was completed just before Lockdown. If true. they might add fortune telling to their list of skills. There’s an anger that simmers within, controlled and bubbling until the shit just gets too much. And I guess the message here is that it’s OK to lose it from time to time if the alternative is breakdown in lockdown.

The Who (the band not the organisation) were at their best when their rants were forceful and their riffs driven. Supervene draw upon this essence to give us some quality Classic Rock to kick off the week. Throw those plant pots against the wall and worry not about the consequence.

 

Circus Of Bones – A Big No Body

When it comes to hangovers, I’m a heavyweight champion. Those minor bumps that I recall from my younger days when my head hurt a bit are nothing like the cuts and bruises that my body feels all over now after a punishing session. The ache and shakes that go on for days convince me that alcohol is best avoided in such quantity – and until the next celebration it is. 

The worst hangovers are undoubtedly those that come at the end of a mad festival weekend. I recall the journey home from Boomtown one year, convinced that I was on the way out such was the severity of the shivery sickness. I asked Photographer Phil to stop the car a couple of times just so that I could regain composure in a layby. When I got home, I curled up in a ball under my duvet and dealt with vivid dreams for the next 48 hours. Drinking to excess is really not cool.

In those under-duvet moments you can’t help but consider how your ‘normal’ friends have got it right. Never the life and soul of the party (because they’re not there), these are your friends who revel in routine; they get up at the same time every day and take their packed lunch they made the night before from the fridge. They work without conflict or ambition because such emotion would throw the from their equilibrium. Very little comes as a surprise to these friends; they live vicariously through the likes of you. They have a perfect, mundane life.

(And of course, these friends don’t really exist – you just imagine that they do when your wretched self is in the midst of hangover hell.)

Circus Of Bones have released an absolute gem in ‘A Big No Body’. The video, full of humour and timely moments of Speedo-Scratching just adds to the overall effect. Over a lazy cabaret ska-rhythm, we find Eddie from the band lurching from crisis to crisis as he tries to deal with his current demons and can’t even depend upon chickens as friends.

The band say that about A Big No Body – “Written in 2017 in response to the worlds worst hangover owing to a night on the whiskey at Edinburgh’s famous Sandy Bell’s, Eddie, finds comfort in the imaginings of “a settled life”. An existence devoid of fear and anxiety by throwing all ambition and expectation to the wind and accepting a future of mediocrity.

It’s an off-kilter tune for misfits; one you could easily imagine singing along to late at night in a packed festival tent – God, how I’ve missed such experiences in 2020. It manages to be both urgent and laidback, crazy and mellow. 

It’s like very little else that’s around at the moment. And I simply can’t get enough of it.

 

 

 

Kipani – Enlighten Me

After yesterday’s rant (here), I promised Pop for today. Good to my word that’s what I bring you this morning. I first heard ‘Enlighten Me’ by Kipani  about a week ago and knew straight away that it was right up Sonic Breakfast’s street. 

It will come as no surprise to those who know me well but I’m not the best at taking advice. I’ve tried to get better in recent years at seeing things from other viewpoints and at not taking criticism personally but my modus operandi when I perceive I’m being attacked is to fight back. I don’t think I’m as hot-headed when a document  I’ve crafted upon for hours is obliterated with red pen as I once was but I am now mastering the art of deep breathing, taking a step back and returning to the initial advice after a few hours. It does help and sometimes (though rarely of course) I can see that others do have a point. 

I’ve always been this way. I was a regular visitor to the Head Teacher’s office at my infant school. The six-year old Sean wasn’t badly behaved in the traditional sense; he didn’t get in fights (much) or break the well-considered rules but often took issue with the classroom teachers who were trying to force him down routes that made no sense. And hand-writing practice where you form a weird shaped S to sit perfectly between two pencil lines you’ve just drawn to a page with a ruler still seems like a stupid way to gain a writing skill. I’m glad that Ms. Morgan, the School’s Head, was happy to debate such things with me when the classroom teachers sent the unruly me to her.

I’m reminded of nieces and nephews, of friends who worry that their children are too wilful. And I tell them not to be. Compliance sits uneasily with feistiness and having an opinion on things yet I think I value the latter qualities more.

It’s been a long preamble (for which I make no apology) but in Enlighten Me, Kipani is sarcastically responding to advice offered. I guess in the music industry there are added layers of complexity at play when dealing with advice that’s being given. Insecurities, jealousies and a well-drilled perspective of ‘watching your own back’ mean that advice is often not coming from the best place. It still must be a tangle to unravel.

“There is definitely a lot of personal experience that this song is heavily influenced by,”, says Tiffany (who is Kipani) when I briefly ask her about it in the build-up to this post. 

“When you do something like this you are always opening yourself up to criticism. The worst advice I have ever received was actually from a music critic. They suggested rather than focusing on my own writing as an artist, I should instead build my career by lending my voice to other projects. Essentially gaining notoriety from what I jokingly refer to as being the “chick on the hook”. I’m so glad I didn’t take that one to heart! The best advice I was ever given was to stand behind your craft no matter how many likes it gets (or doesn’t get) and never let the feedback get under your skin or alter your opinion of yourself as an artist. It might seem like a simple thing but that outlook can sometimes get lost in this very judgmental industry.”

Enlighten Me is a pop song with a message. It’s dispatched with radiant charm, tongue-in-cheek confidence, assured vocal and singalong credibility. The dance moves from the chairs of Kipani’s co-conspirators are a joy to behold in the video once the song kicks in with an absolute belter of a chorus. 

The weekend is here. Let’s all kickback with Kipani. The world is a better place with Tiffany not being the ‘chick on the hook’ – of that we can all agree. 

 

 

Bladderwrack – Gammon

We need to talk about Brexit. I’m not going to mince my words here so if you have any sympathy for the clusterfuck that is the UK’s leaving of the European Union, you’d best stop reading now. Yes, that’s it, bounce off on your trotters. You are not welcome here. 

(Oh, that felt good). 

Insanely, you still bump into some supporters of Brexit here in Spain. There is just over a month to go until the transition period is over and we have left. Blind as bats, these advocates still drive cars with British number plates. They tell me that it’s not going to be so bad when it all comes into force. “the Spanish can’t live without me”, says the  Brit at the bar who seems to have no discernible purpose at all.

Can you tell that I’m angry? Just in case you can’t I’ll reinforce it by saying that I’m fucking angry. Over and over again until it hurts. Brexit messes up my ability to be here in Spain for any real length of time. It messes up my son’s ability to work here for any real length of time. For fucks sake, the basic foods are going to be in short supply, of shit quality and more expensive back home. “Ah, you’re just scaremongering – no pain, no gain”, says the man at the bar, proud of his invention in making up a little rhyme to emphasise his fuckwittery. 

Nobody has ever been able to give me one good reason  for Brexit.I feel that I have much more in common with the people here than I do with the arduous oiks back home who grunt at me monosyllabically when I suggest this is going to be a disaster of the highest order.

And today’s tune from Bladderwrack is on my side. It’s a perfect accompaniment to letting off steam. This two piece from Penge have delivered a gnarly piece of punk taking aim at the ‘Gammon’ across the British Isles. In a press release that made me laugh out loud, they mention that the notion of ‘Gammon’ has been around since the time of Dickens before calling on the Urban Dictionary for a definition. 

“A term used to describe a particular type of Brexit-supporting, Europhobic voter whose meat-faced complexion suggests they are perilously close to a stroke”, they say and you can’t say fairer than that.

Yes, it’s not placatory; it’s not unifying and it would probably help if we all just sat around a giant table and ironed out our differences. But, for now let me delight in a song that opens with the line –

I am on holiday, The Costa Del Sol, It used to be nice here, Until the Spanish took control.

promise to post pop music tomorrow. 

Freyr – Avalon

I’ve never been to Marseille. I do think that I’d like it there though. 

Most Mediterranean port cities tend not to disappoint. Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know of my love for Alicante. Mad, Med  cities buzz with creativity, tolerance, historical relevance and cosmopolitan spirit. Overlook the cruise ships, the crime and the fact that Marseille is in France (joke) and I reckon you’d have a long weekend second to none.

 

It certainly sounds as if Freyr had a pretty neat time when visiting with a former lover – that’s how I’m interpreting the lyric to his new folktronica delight, Avalon. In a throwback to the summer months, we find Freyr and his friend in hazy mood and romantic waywardness as they explore the mean streets, the monuments, the rocky outcrops, the beaches and river beds together.

The feeling doesn’t last – these things never do as the utimate verse is at pains to point out (spoiler alert) but, whilst they do, why not revel in the warm bliss of that moment? The beat is fuzzy, the vocal toned, the backing organic and the guitar woozy as; it all comes together in a wonderfully reminiscent nod towards place and season. 

Freyr comments in a brief E-mail exchange that, “The melody for Avalon was inspired by all the Temples around Vancouver. But it needed some lyrics to go with it and this trip to Marseille was still very fresh in my mind. But I don’t like saying too much about lyrics. I like the audience to be free to conjure up their own vision.”

Your challenge for the morning is set.