King Capisce – Never Spoken

My review from last weeks Spring Off The Tracks festival is complete and published here.

I’m on the festival treadmill now, running ever faster to keep up with the demands of pretty much doing one a weekend throughout the summer. Later today, I head across to Cheltenham for the Wychwood festival.

If Off The Tracks taught me anything (I think I was aware of this anyway) it was to not be fearful of jazz-rock experimentation. A few years ago, a band described in a programme in such a way would have had me running for the hills afraid that I had finally lost my marbles.

But, Sheffield- based, King Kapisce are described as jazz-rock and they were one of the OTT highlights. To call them jazz-rock omits the other influences that mix into this cauldron. It was impossible not to tap a foot, to shake a head or to stroke a beard (I don’t have one but the man sitting behind me didn’t seem to mind) over the sounds they created.

They normally have two sax players to pump stacks of soul over a complex mesh of drum and guitar-led sound. But at OTT, they offer humble apologies for one of the band has left them for a holiday in America. We didn’t need to know this. There’s enough going on without needing more.

King Capisce make instrumental music. Their new record is ‘The Future Cannot Be Born Yet, It Is Waiting For The Past To Die’.

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast might have noticed that I’m somebody who often gets excited about lyrics. The fact that King Kapisce are completely instrumental is not a hindrance. I closed my eyes during their set and let my imagination run wild. I climbed that tree and jumped across the tops. I threw myself from that plane and flapped my arms like an eagle with wings. I surfed on that wave until it washed over me.

Try it out yourself. Where might this take you?



The Corner Laughers – Midsommar

Is it pouring with rain where you are? I’ve yet to draw back my curtains but I’m sensing grey. I can hear cars swooshing through puddles as early risers weave their way to work. It’s a thoroughly depressing sound and even the birds that are singing seem muted today. 

Thank goodness therefore for happy, sunny songs such as this one from Californian twee pop band, The Corner Laughers. Midsommar is a bright breeze of a piece and is released in advance of The Corner Laughers fourth album. If you like your music joyful then I’d recommend checking out more of the offerings from Karla Kane and gang. I have been over these last few depressingly, drizzly days. The album from a couple of years ago, Poppy Seeds, would seem like a pretty fine place to start. 

Vaguely aware of midsummer through the summer solstice, I had little idea that the ‘Midsommar’ celebrations in Sweden are such festive affairs. A national Bank Holiday is called on the weekend closest to June 24th. Swedes flock to the countryside where they set up camp for the night, wear crowns made of flowers, build a midsommarstang (like a community maypole), dance, sing, eat and drink potent drops of the alcoholic drink, Akvavit, around a Bonfire as night sets in. It does all sound like a rather glorious time.

And it’s those glorious moments of time that I think The Corner Laughers are trying to capture in Midsommar. From the initial strums of ukulele through to a pompous but not out of place guitar solo, this is a tune about celebrating good times. The impossibly happy chorus encourages us to frame those memories for they might be few and far between. 

I defy you not to have a glorious time. 



Jimmy Binks And The Shakehorns – Apple Tree

A week ago on Sonic Breakfast, I posted about a wonderful Japanese ex-pat band called The Watanabes. And I pondered whether the ex-pat scene in Japan was an active one. The Watanabes are clearly generous, sharing sorts for Duncan from the band sent me a couple of other recommendations to check out.

One of those recommendations was Jimmy Binks And The Shakehorns. He must have known that left-field Alt-country, the sort of songs that The Broken Family Band used to issue before their sad demise, presses one of my many buttons. There’s lots of fine stuff here.

Just so that you know (I had to look it up), a shakehorn is a plastic acorn-shaped shaker percussion instrument that the band uses as often as possible.

You might have thought that JB&TS would have been fronted by a man called Jimmy Binks – but they’re not. This is a six piece band with four of the members coming from the Uk, one from Canada and one from Japan. Last year, they released a five track EP, Not Too Late, that built upon the success of a mini album they named after the band.

A quick FB search does show though that there are a number of people in this world called either Jim, James or Jimmy Binks. One Jimmy Binks would appear to be a lover of Liverpool FC and a keen fan of Elvis; another has recently started working at the VC Summer nuclear station. I wonder if they know about their namesake band in Tokyo? Perhaps, they could all be encouraged to form a choir of Jimmy Binks to singalong on a future release? 

If you have access to Spotify, I urge you to check out their tune, “I’ll be in your arms again tonight”. It’s a classic, skewed story tale, littered with the darkest of humour and Country cliches. I genuinely hope it’s not describing a true story. 

Quite a few of their tunes seem to describe scenes in which relationships are drawing to an end, pictures of romance gone wrong. I guess it goes with the alt-country territory. It mightn’t be music to make love to but it’s definitely music to love.



Hot Feet – Sedation

 Back from a great time at the Spring Bank Holiday Off The Tracks. A full review will appear on eFestivals this week once I’ve recovered enough to write it up. I tried to blog from there but couldn’t get a good enough signal to allow for uploading. Here’s something I wrote yesterday (Sunday) morning…


I’ve returned to my car to survey the lie of the land. The grass is soggy;puddles sit on the surface suggesting it could be a slipping and sliding affair to get out of this car park.

From elsewhere, the roar of Super Bikes has just kicked in again. The thunderous throttling hum has been a constant this weekend though it has sometimes been drowned out by low flying planes about to land and mostly been hidden by the live music on offer. 

I am here at Off The Tracks. My belly aches suggesting that one of the 80 real ales lives on inside me (Just to clarify, I didn’t have 80) and blue sky is trying to break out from behind the cloud. My hands are no longer cold. An extra layer of socks are keeping my feet warm.


But my feet aren’t hot. I’d go as far as suggesting that the only Hot Feet here yesterday were the band of that name from Stroud who entertained from a threshing barn. Hot Feet opened up an early evening session. Punters were still feeling the effects of the hog roast, the incredible, electric, storm that left everybody rushing for cover and a break for beer so Hot Feet’s languishing folk-fuelled laments hit a sweet spot.

I sat on a bench towards the front and marvelled at their display. The drunken, bumbling compere introduced this band as one with the best female vocalist we’d see all weekend. Marianne certainly did impress. A voice, fragile and pure, yet with a hint of rural ruddiness. These are songs rooted in farmyard barn simplicity that break out into urban sprawls of sound. 

And I find it rather charming. They’re apparently playing at Wychwood next weekend, another festival I’m reviewing. My mind is made up that I’ll see them there again. No cold feet from these quarters. 



Ash Mammal – Polyamorous Me

In half an hour or so, I’m heading off to the Off The Tracks festival. It’s going to be my first camping festival of 2014. I don’t think it’s going to be a dry one. My wellies are packed. Wish me luck.

Before I go (I’ll try to blog over the weekend), I thought I’d write about a Leicester based band who are exciting many. Rumours abound of serious record label interest for Ash Mammal – and watching them live at the final of the Original Bands Showcase last Saturday it was easy to see why. These teenagers have something fresh and unique. 

Ash Mammal took to the stage as the second band of six and set a high bar to jump over. This is the sort of band that, when on form, are so captivating you don’t want to blink. They look the part and each member of the band knows their role. If guitarist George was in a stand up comedy duo, he’d be the foil, the straight man. He sings a bit and stands solid. Controlled and contained much like bass player Jeeves . Drummer, Anya, almost steals the show when she leaves her drums behind and takes to the front of the stage to sing. Her drumming is so clinical and so polished, a speeding, blurring, whizzing wind-up toy . You want to watch Anya but to do so would mean not watching lead singer, Cass. An exercise in punkish unpredictability, a voice that won’t be loved by everyone (there are many fools in this world) and a performance so theatrical, so full of outlandish art that it leaves your jaw in a permanent state of drop. Cass has the ability to be one of the greatest front-people this land has seen. Think Bolan, Bowie, Mercury, Rowland (Kevin), Boy George and Cocker (Jarvis) wrapped up with a bow on top and you get a feel for how good this could be. 

I’m not one for rash predictions – but I’ve seen enough about Ash Mammal to realise that the world could well be their oyster. If you’re based around these parts, I recommend seeing them before it’s too late.

Enough – my taxi is calling…


Nick Price – Cabin Built For Two

There’s a moment (just after two minutes and 45 seconds) in this new tune from Nick Price when an unfeasibly dirty, almost grunge-like saxophone jazz solo kicks in. It’s at this point that pure sex penetrates through the soulful, smouldering tone that has gone before. This is the clothe-shedding, carpet burning climax that’s touching the stars. It’s hard not to get carried away.

I’ll set the scene as I see it.There’s this remote cabin that’s built for two. Nick Price is in it singing sweet neo-soul. Early drumbeats sound like nails being hammered in to strengthen the endurance of the wooden shag shack. For tonight, if Nick gets his way, the shed is going to rock n’roll with moans and groans. Stars will provide the light. There’ll be enough electricity even though this place isn’t connected to the grid. Are you getting the picture? I won’t go on.

Nick Price is a Canadian now living in LA. There’s an obvious quality and class about this tune and it’s no surprise to discover that Nick is classically schooled. This is only his second release. His first, Naked Souls, created quite a buzz of interest and I’m sure that interest is only going to multiply as more get to know about his music. 

This isn’t bombastic, in yer face, soul but rather it’s jazz-tinged late night smoochy soul. It’s hard not to be impressed. Feel the love.



The Moulettes – Lady Vengeance

It’s a repeat post. I’ve already talked about the Moulettes. Their music does make me happy. 

But I have a few reasons to repeat… 

(1) I’ve just seen their video for new song, ‘Lady Vengeance’. It’s arty animation and I’m pretty sure that I quite like it – only pretty sure because it’s a bit fantastical and I’m not completely clear what it’s telling me about my life. This is a track that’s been described as ‘noir trip hop’. I’ve always found the music of Portishead pretty dark but if this is digging deeper then it ought to garnish respect.

(2) I’ve been listening to their new album, ‘Constellations’ for some time now. It’s getting a full release on June 2nd and it’s definitely a record to watch out for. The press release sums it all up really neatly. 

” ‘Constellations’ crosses varied and expansive musical territory over its ten tracks. As songwriter, cellist and front singer Hannah Miller notes, “People can listen to Moulettes and hear Shostakovich, Miles Davis, Pentangle, Pink Floyd, Bjork and Skrillex. That is where we’ve all come from…everyone shares in over 80 years of recorded music history”.

(3) I’m off to my first camping festival of 2014 this weekend. I’ve heard great things about the spring ‘Off The Tracks’ at Donington Farmhouse but have only been once before. My good friend, Richard Haswell, was celebrating a special birthday. His love of steam trains meant that a fine group of his friends spent a day having a beer ridden picnic whilst travelling up and down the line between Leicester and Loughborough. We ended the day by spending a night at ‘Off The Tracks’. Such was my level of inebriation, I can only recall staggering and swaying whilst the Alabama 3 nailed it on a main stage. Hopefully, I’ll remember more about this weekend. The Moulettes are playing and I intend to be dancing like a whirling dervish when they take to the stage in the afternoon sunshine (or May drizzle). 

Perhaps I’ll see you there? 





The Watanabes – There’s Something Wrong

Anyone casually observing my bookshelves will notice the prevalence of novels by Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. I love the dream-like, otherworldliness of his writing. In his beautifully haunting, romantic novel, Norwegian Wood, Murakami puts himself into the shoes of a lovestruck, reminiscent narrator, Toru Watanabe.

If you are casually observing my bookshelves, would you mind leaving my house please? It’s a little bit weird having you here when we’ve not been introduced.

Apparently, Watanabe is a common surname in the orange laden prefecture of Ehime in Japan. if you were to call your band The Watanabes, it would be like living in England and calling your band The Smiths.

Like Murakami in Norwegian Wood, the Watanabes create a nostalgic, yearning art that tends to centre on dream-like, lovestruck romance. These are tunes that reminisce about times when the grass was greener and the pine cones hadn’t fallen. Some might call this whimsical whilst some might call this twee. Others could call it music with issues of self esteem. For all of these reasons, I’m glad I’ve found the Watanabes.

Duncan and Selwyn Walsh are brothers from Norfolk. It’s not entirely clear how they’ve ended up in Tokyo fronting an indie pop band but I find myself wondering whether there’s much of an ex pat scene amidst TEFL teachers, gap year students and business leaders. With an impressive back catalogue of releases, Duncan and Selwyn are working hard to make The Watanabes work. Their nostalgic laments deserve to be heard.

A new EP, ‘Draw What You Like’, has been released this year. It’s typical of previous releases and perhaps a good place to start before exploring more of what the Watanabes offer. I’m attaching the lead track from that EP for your listening delight as well as an earlier video for a tune, ‘Yuriko Yuriko’.

Norwegian Tree. Japanese Twee. 



The Lake District – Framed

Dear Pete,

I received your letter. You really should stop writing to me you know. It does neither of us any good to reflect upon our past times together. I’m sorry that things haven’t worked out for you in the way you hoped. I’m still with Simon. I’m not angered by what you did anymore. 

I listened to the track by Stereoshock and really liked it. I thought it might be appropriate to send you something I’ve heard recently by return. In many ways, this acts as a companion piece to ‘the letter’. It’s got a piano led melody that haunts. It’s cinematic and tells a story through spoken extracts. I hope you like it.

You might think that The Lake District are a band from Cumbria but they’re not. The Lake District is the name used by producer, Trevor Ransom, who’s currently based in Los Angeles. He describes ‘Framed’ like this:

“Framed is best listened to as you think about the last scene in Casablanca.

Though Frank dons a calm face, there is no doubt of the underlying emotion behind his appearance. Framed is about his thoughts as he watches his love walk off into the gray, to get on an airplane and never come back again. It’s about the sweet, now ash tasting memories of times they shared before innocent love was torn apart by the war. It’s about the enveloping emotions of heartache, and hopelessness that threaten to crumple him. And… at the end of it all, it’s about waking up the next day and facing the world, drained of color, but with a belief that one day the color will return.”

That’s surely something that we can both relate to Pete? I can’t begin to express how I felt when you left but I certainly recall the hopelessness and heartache. Simon is a different man to you but the idea that he might one day leave in the way that you did looms large in my head. I have to suppress such thoughts for my own good. 

I wish you well. Please don’t write again. 




The 10th Original Bands Showcase final

Tonight’s the night of the 10th Original Bands Showcase final in Leicester. This’ll be a night of celebration, sweat, endeavour, smiles and jubilation. It’s become something of an event in the annual music calendar of this fair city and I can’t wait to get on down to the Musician tonight to see what happens.


The OBS is the brainchild of the formidable yet fair Val McCoy. Dig beneath the surface (she doesn’t suffer fools gladly) and here you have a woman who is probably even more passionate now about supporting and nurturing local talent than she was 10 years ago when this venture started. For each year, OBS provides a platform for developing and established acts to take to the stage and further hone their craft. Tonight is the culmination of a series of heats, callbacks and semi-finals.

It was seven (or perhaps eight) years ago that I first got involved. A friend of mine, Richard Haswell (the man behind the excellent and now sadly no more Summer Sundae festival) got in touch and asked if I would judge at a final. I didn’t have a clue what to expect but the promise of free beer was enough to convince. That night a band from Hinckley, ‘The Chairmen’, took the plaudits but what struck me was the air of support and friendliness amidst the sweat covered crowd. They might have been there to see one band but they were cheering all.

The OBS mightn’t be a model for everybody. Some are suspicious of the competitive elements involved. Responding to music can be a personal thing so how can individuals say that one band is better than another with any authority? And the truth is that they probably can’t. But the competition is just a part of this showcase. For me, this is much more about the networking opportunities, future gigs and new friendships formed. The best bands see winning as secondary to the experience and opportunities provided.

For the last few years, it’s all taken place in the Musician, a venue I’ve praised previously in this blog. There’s a cast of characters here who all throw themselves behind the OBS. Andy Mann, the soundman, works his bollocks off to ensure that the tight turnarounds look smooth to anybody within the crowd. The bar staff take an active interest with Chris, Chris, Holly and others never being shy on expressing their opinions (in a friendly way). And the contributions of Darren, Nicola and Wayne all contribute to the impression that this is a supportive, positive event.

There’s six bands that’ll take to the stage tonight. One thing you can always guarantee within an OBS final is that they’ll be stretching across a range of genres yet all excelling in their chosen styles. I’ve featured two previously within this blog, Tapestry and Stop That Train. But, in truth, I could have just as easily featured any of the other four and not impacted upon the quality. Ash Mammal, Beneath The Lights, The Della Grants and 8 Miles High make up the sextet on offer.

The OBS final is nothing without the crowd though. It was the friendliness and supportiveness of the crowd that first attracted me to these events. And though people have moved on, the feeling within the audience seems to have stuck. It’ll be a packed out, sweat-laden affair tonight. It’ll be one of the best gigs many in the crowd will have ever been to. We’ll dance, we’ll sing, we’ll drink and laugh. But, above all, we’ll realise that live music is the winner.

I’ve got my special costume ready for tonight… Now, I just need to go and get my hair done…







Beneath The Lights do not share any of their music for embedding upon Soundcloud.