Heyrocco – Melt

A week today, I’ll be heading down to one of my favourite Leicester venues, The Cookie, to watch a band that I really cannot make my mind up about.

Heyrocco came to my attention by virtue of a press release that promised the earth. Here’s a band that are “in pursuit of becoming the biggest and loudest rock band of their generation.” It’s probably mandatory for any band trying to launch careers but it’s refreshing to know that Heyrocco have a “compelling image and an onstage persona that’s in-your-face rock and roll.” Just in case there’s any doubt (there is), it’s of great relief to know that this is a band already endorsed by Kerrang! and Huw Stephens of Radio 1. Sounding like the first Foo Fighters album, this is “perfect rock with massive hooks and sign along choruses“. (The press release suggests sign along choruses – I’m not sure what that might be!!!)

When confronted with such hyperbole, my typical response is to press delete but something had grabbed my attention. I had five minutes to spare and I thought I’d at least have a listen to their single, ‘Melt’. First impressions are that it’s undeniably derivative.

But then I’m drawn to the words of ‘Melt’… Hang on, is this what I think it’s about? Suddenly, it becomes clear that this is a song about premature ejaculation. These cool, rock and roll kids with a ‘compelling image’ and ‘sign along choruses’ are singing a song about a very intimate vulnerability. I had Heyrocco down as brash and slightly arrogant Americans but here they are revealing something completely different.

I’m still not sure that they’ll be entirely my cup of tea. I might be blown away.

But (and I’m sorry for the use of a rather obvious pun here) next Monday cannot come soon enough…..

 

 

 

 

Joe Sundell – The Hat Thief

A word of advice from Sonic Breakfast this morning for all hat wearers – Should you ever be at a party with Joe Sundell you might want to keep an eye on your hat. Better still, keep it on your head unless you want to be walking home, bleary eyed and smelling of last nights excesses, with your pate exposed to the elements.

Joe has a mighty fine new album out (you can find it at his website), titled ‘The Hat Thief’ and I thought I’d ask him why he called it that:-

“I had a show in Kansas City at a place called Davey’s Uptown Ramber Club. It was one of these nights where there are like five bands on the bill and no one knows each other, but this one actually turned out pretty well, fans crossed over and got into the the bands they hadn’t necessarily come to see, and I hit it off with a couple of the other groups and we decided to all go hang out at the house of one of the local groups (I guess I won’t name names here). You know what happens next, lotsa drinking, music making, and all that good stuff and everybody wound up crashing in various uncomfortable places like the floor. Well the next morning I woke up super early, everybody was still asleep and as I was taking off I saw this hat lying around. I had lost my hat the night before (I always wear a hat) and I thoughtlessly picked up this hat and wore it out. Didn’t hear anything about it until I was going back to play at the same club in Kansas City some months later and started to get the word out, and that’s when I discovered that KC was “abuzz” (in the words of one of my friends there) with the news that I had stolen a certain drummers hat. He was not happy about it as I guess I would’ve expected if I had thought about it. I gave the hat back and things worked out, sort of, although those guys aren’t too fond of me, again as I guess you would expect since I stole something that belonged to one of them.

Now as I was putting out the album and thinking about a title, I thought about what the album represented to me. For me, it’s all about this character who’s struggling to find his way in the world and who at times doesn’t even think the world is worth saving. He’s had bad luck with love, he’s down on his luck, but he’s still hoping for that chance at redemption. It’s sort of like my ultimate starving miserable misunderstood artist album. Not without worth, but I had to recognize at some point that in real life, being that character wasn’t really working for me. It may have been who I was at the time, but I just can’t go through life that way. So finishing the album and reflecting on all that, naming it “The Hat Thief” was a way for me to encapsulate that notion that it was time to move on. I guess the incident with stealing the hat was also sort of representative of that person who just doesn’t give a shit about making a good life for himself, so it made sense in that way as well.”

And so it seems that Joe is now a reformed hat thief. He’s also another of these hard working, incredibly talented musicians that we’re often featuring on Sonic Breakfast. I’ve been listening to ‘The Hat Thief’ a fair bit since Joe appeared on my radar. It’s an album that’s firmly rooted in Americana but one that draws influence from the array of genres within; we get out and out country, a jazzy swing thing, a bit of blues and some rock n’roll as the album twists and turns.

That character who’s down on his luck is clearly identifiable within the album but he’s not so morose that it makes for an uncomfortable listen. There’s a definite strand of quirky, positive humour and hope running through. ‘Mr Z’ and ‘All My Life’ are the opening and closing tracks. They’re pretty representative of the journey the album takes you on.

 

Roxanne De Bastion – Seeing You

Roxanne De Bastion writes a beautiful blog when she’s touring. She tends to travel by public transport and so you get tales of train travel and blogs from buses. She’ll walk to venues with her luggage and musical gear weighing her down. But, the observations that she makes en route make for compelling reading.

A few weeks ago, I heard the lead single from Roxanne De Bastion’s new EP. ‘Seeing You’ harks back to those halcyon days when the grass was greener, when birds whistled in harmony and hippies ran around London with flowers in their hair… Perhaps…

Regardless, I was drawn towards the song. There’s a clarity and innocence about Roxanne’s vocal delivery on this track that appeals. The melody feels clean and organic. It’s a tune that’s on one hand familiar and yet on the other so fresh.

‘Seeing You’ has one of those lyrics that critics might call personal, beguiling or introspective. I suspect when they attach such labels to things what they actually mean is that they don’t have a frigging clue what the song is about. These are words that might have marked significance for the songwriter but the listener is left dangling within a mystery of meaning. It might or might not be be about having a ‘lightbulb’ moment, finding happiness or dying.

Ultimately though, such ‘introspection’ never harmed Mitchell, Mclean, Dylan or Drake. And when the melody flows as well as it does within ‘Seeing You’, it’s probably best to make no attempt to decipher.

Yesterday, Roxanne released a video of her and a bass player performing a stripped back version of ‘Seeing You’. The track itself was hardly cluttered before.

 

 

 

Workers in Songs – That Glorious Masterpiece

Workers in Songs are a Danish Americana band who released their second album a little less than a month ago. I was listening to the excellent ‘That Glorious Masterpiece’ on the drive into the office this morning. For some reason, traffic was moving really slowly and I could feel the levels of frustration rising inside me. I had work to do.

I might have wanted to scream but I sensed my level of desperation would not even register against that being experienced by the protagonist in ‘That Glorious Masterpiece’. Morten Krogh’s vocal comes from an exasperated and elevated place of despair. He might have found no solace in the bottle of bourbon but that doesn’t matter because he’s now gurgling with bleach.

The lead single from the album is “Crazy Just For You”. A casual listen might suggest that this is one of those throwaway tender love songs that the 50’s Rock N’Roll banks are full of. But listen closer and you’ll realise that there’s madness at play here. Drinking has stirred demons and the scene that’s setting is one of broken dreams and insane intent. It’s pretty angry.

Morten Krogh sent me an E-mail to tell me about the video that Workers in Songs have made for ‘Crazy Just for You’ –

“We teamed up with director Marie Limkilde, a student of The National Film School of Denmark and an experienced music video director. In the video a young girl lives a solitary, yet playful existence on an abandoned farm. This is what happens when her universe meets the sound of a rusty male voice barking out a desperate, almost pitiful story of longing.

A contradicting clash is born between the universe of a grown-up versus child, and his desperation-to-the-brink-of-insanity versus her innocent playing around.”

I find this beautifully shot video a little bit unsettling if I’m honest. But, I think that’s the effect it’s meant to have. The juxtaposition between innocent play and adult pain and passion really does jar. I guess, though, the closing scenes suggest that hope remains for all.  It gives an initial insight into Workers In Songs but for a more rounded take, I’d strongly recommend giving ‘That Glorious Masterpiece’ a spin. 

 

Dylan Seeger – Claye/Weird

Sometimes, the craft, creativity, determination and sheer persistence of those making music astounds me. This is absolutely the case with Dylan Seeger. If there was any justice in the world those who hold positions of power would be falling over themselves to declare that they’ve found a new star.

New Yorker, Dylan Seeger (I checked – that is his real name) launched his new album, Claye, at the start of September. It deserves to now be resting on every coffee table in this land. At the very least, Dylan should be a name on every bloggers brow. Let’s hope, for the sake of sanity, that this is simply a slow burn. As of yet, it doesn’t seem to have had the impact that such a stunning release deserves.

Dylan told me about some of the production methods and ethics that went into creating Claye –

” I did everything myself in my apartment, from the recording, to the production, the video, the artwork, the website. Everything was a very personal, long-term project. I worked 70+ hours a week (before and after my day job) for over two years writing every song, recording every sound, all of that. The percussion you hear on Weird, and throughout a lot of the album, was recorded pretty untraditionally. The bass drum in Weird is actually me hitting a table, the bell is me flicking a metal water bottle that I always had with me while recording. There’s a ton of layering all throughout the album.”

It’s this layering that impresses. Each listen is currently revealing something new, hidden and exciting for me. It’s not just the recording methods that are unique and creative either. In an effort to get back to a proper, vinyl listening experience, Dylan launched ‘Claye’ as a web LP.

Artwork for each song – something to look at when pondering the impact that each tune is having on you. I wonder how successful this approach will be? But, you can’t fault the man for trying.

For those convinced enough to jump into the full album, it’s here. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Alternatively, see if you can pick out other items of furniture that are being bashed whilst watching the video to ‘Weird’, the lead single from ‘Claye’.

 

Lucy Kitchen – Autumn

I’m still coming to terms with the summer. It might well rank as one of the most perfect I’ve ever lived. 

One of the best festivals I went to was Lunar. My review can be found here. You couldn’t get away from the Nick Drake influence. I’m still not sure that cracking open a can of cider at the Tanworth-In-Arden graveyard will get me into heaven.

Autumn feels like it’s pretty much here to stay – until next year. 

When I was out and about gallivanting, dedicated musicians were sending E-mails to the Sonic Breakfast inbox. Lucy Kitchen was one of those. Yesterday morning I was lying in bed. I didn’t get up until it was afternoon. It felt so wrong and decadent. I felt better about myself when I reflected that this was my first full weekend at home since Spring. I listened to my E-mail back log. I read Lucy’s E-mail.

Oh Lucy! Autumn captures the moment. If Nick Drake was still alive, he’d be raving about you. He’d be wanting to sing duets.

Lucy Kitchen doesn’t just do songs about seasons though. Her 2014 album, Waking, is a stunner. This is the gentle folk sound of Southampton. It’s hauntingly direct; pointed and poignant. Lucy’s released a video to Blue Eyes that I’m also posting here. 

As summer turns into Autumn, I’m detecting an increased interest in the music of Lucy Kitchen. Sit back in your Sunday armchair and let this wash over you, 

Tulane – But I Say

“Despite the fact that your head might know better, unremarkable people can make remarkable impressions on your heart sometimes. ‘But I say’ is one of those unfortunate stories.”

Nikki Malvar, lead singer of Tulane, sent me an E-mail. She wanted me to know about the impending digital release of ‘But I Say’ on Grandpa records. I was struck by something within the tone of the E-mail. It was confident without being brash and friendly without being over-enthusiastic. I listened.

It surely says a lot about me but I do love a sad song. ‘But I Say’ is a love song to somebody who is not interested. They’ve moved on leaving you feeling raw, vulnerable and low but you can’t quite get them out of your head. They still fit in with your romantic perspective. You’ll probably still dream about this person in decades to come. They won’t even remember your name.

Tulane are a duo from Sydney. Nikki sings whilst Nikk plays acoustic guitar. ‘But I Say’ is their attention-grabbing debut electro-acoustic folk-pop single. It builds beautifully, orchestrated from the opening bars to demand maximum effect from your heartstrings. You can sense the pain within Nikki’s lilting vocal. This is real life. I defy you not to love.