The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2015 – Five To One

As 2015 draws to a close, I’m reminded that I’ve kept regular readers of Sonic Breakfast hanging. It’s been over a week since I let people know what was ten through to six in my posts of the year that I was keen to revisit. I’m still to do my top 5. 

Hoping that turkey was loved and Santa bought you everything you wanted… Without further ado… 

 

5.OBS Unplugged – Steve Parker

Steve is still a legend in Leicester. Unlike others in this top ten, he’s released nothing since I did my blog post about him in January and appeared in no videos promoting new tracks. I expect the same level of minimal marketing intent to carry him into 2016 as well. He’s played gigs around this fine city, just his unassuming, slightly world-weary, warm voice and guitar picking. Everybody who knows him knows how great he is. Sometimes, people who have never seen Steve live before catch him playing a tune or two at pubs and festivals around town. They might even try to buy his latest CD. He rarely has anything to sell. A true gent. Younger musicians could learn much from this man.

I wrote about Steve on the back of a set I saw him play as part of the OBS unplugged showcases at Leicester’s Musician. We’re not far from another series of these fine January gigs – a fab way to begin the year and these nights never fail to unearth some pretty special talents.

 

4.Rope Store – Get Me Out

The weekly listening post over at Fresh On The Net often reveals new acts that I can’t help but fall in love with. When Norwich’s Rope Store apparently came out of nowhere with their fine track ‘Get Me Out’ back at the start of the year, it was clear that 2015 was going to be an interesting one for Gemma and Jason. That certainly seems to have been the case. 

Gigs in London and growing popularity in Norfolk see them end 2015 with BBC Introducing videos and a Christmas single release which again was featured on the Listening Post. ‘What’s Life All About’ is a belter of a track. I’d recommend watching Rope Store closely in 2016.

 

 

3.Peaness – Fortune Favours The Bold

 I’m not bragging about this in the slightest but I think that Sonic Breakfast was the first blog to feature Peaness. I sent this ace track across to a well connected friend in North Wales and since that point, Peaness have been taking the indie-pop scene in Wales by storm. 

 Sold out shows at Cardiff’s SWN festival and a review from Huw Stephens suggesting that Peaness were one of his highlights bode exceptionally well for 2016. With a knack for writing seemingly simple songs that surge under your skin, Peaness’s size will surely grow.

 

 

2. OBS Unplugged – Lucy Davies-Kumadiro

 Lucy’s one of the most captivating artists I have ever seen play at an OBS unplugged night. She played her first ever show at one of these nights. Her performance at Leicester’s Musician back in January was simply sublime. 

 She’s now studying at University in Nashville and, by all accounts, wowing her fellow students and those slightly wider afield with her gentle, sweet soul. I dare say it’s been a term of settling into American life. As Lucy gets more familiar with her surroundings, Tennessee will be wanting to claim her as one of their own. 

 It all makes me most excited about OBS unplugged 2016 and what talent will be on offer to see.

 

1. Workers In Songs – Sorry Marie

 There was never any doubt in my mind what would be the Sonic Breakfast number one post for 2015. We need to go right  back to the first day of the year and the very first video premiere that we ever had. The wonderfully deranged alt-country act from Roskilde, Workers In Songs gave me the opportunity to launch their video for ‘Sorry Marie’. I still love watching it and hearing that anguished vocal.

 

Over 2015, Workers In Songs have released a new EP, Scrapbook. It’s another impressive stunner. Here’s a one-take video with a song from that EP, Big Ol’ River. 

Thanks for the support for Sonic Breakfast across 2015. I’ve been lucky enough to hear some great music and to go along to some fine gigs and festivals. Looking forward to sharing more of my life in music with you next year. 

 Sean

 

 

 

 

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The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2015 – Ten To Six

People have been asking me if I’m going to be doing a ‘Sonic Breakfast Top 10’ again this year after the success of last years chart. Here’s the answer!! Yesssss…

It’s been something of a stop/start year for SB if I’m honest. Increased ‘day job’ responsibilities, another busy festival season, new outlets for my writing (hello Leicester Mercury) and a bit of that personal shenanigan stuff have all contributed to a slightly more sporadic approach to blog posting. I resolve to do better in 2016! Nevertheless, I’ve still featured some fab music that I’m keen to revisit.

 

10. Of The Valley – Ride Alone

 What better place to begin the countdown of the ten Sonic Breakfast posts that have given me the most pleasure in 2015 than with this track from Copenhagen based ‘Of The Valley’? Brian DellaValle continues to plug away with his music. The city of Hamburg appears to have taken Brian close to its bosom in the latter part of this year. He’s played the Reeperbahn festival there and a gig in the last couple of weeks. Let’s hope for more recorded material as strong as Ride Alone and possibly a couple of gigs here in the UK in 2016?

 

9. Correatown – Longshot

 This was one of my first posts after the lengthy blog break for another Summer of festivals. Since I reviewed the single ‘Longshot’, Correatown have released the superb album ‘Embrace The Fuzzy Unknown’. It’s well worth a listen should you get the chance.

 Angela Correa’s words here feel suitably uplifting for an End of Year post  – “Sometimes the life we have is just as beautiful, if not more so than the life we imagined because it’s ours and it’s real. Sometimes it’s even better because we’ve lived through all the days and moments to get there.”

 Other videos have now been released to accompany the album. Here’s one for a favourite track of mine – True North.

 

8. VanWyck – An Interview

 I still listen to the ‘listening post’ on Tom Robinson’s ‘Fresh On The Net’ website. It’s a fine way to be introduced to new acts such as VanWyck. This is one of my favourite interview based posts from 2015, largely because of the richness of the answers given by VanWyck. There’s much of interest to read within.

 Amsterdam based VanWyck has been undertaking a pretty mammoth task of late. Since September, she’s been publishing a weekly digest about her ventures into songwriting and recording. Christine’s plan is to do this for a whole year. To date, there’s been twelve songs released – some are lo-fi, scratchy phone recordings but with a talent such as VanWyck this just adds to the ambience. 

 Most songs are accompanied with videos – footage from other moments of cinematic history that add to the track. ‘Tanned Legs’, the song that first pulled me into VanWyck’s world now swims in vintage mermaid murkiness.

 

7. Snowapple – Leicester Musician – Wednesday February 11th

 Let’s stay in Amsterdam a while with the fabulous SnowApple. If there was a blog post this year that sums up the ever so slightly chaotic experience that my life has been then this one is it. 

 I’ve still to see SnowApple live. They played a short tour here in the UK in the summer which again I managed to miss. Judging by the photos I’ve seen from incredibly successful tours in Mexico, future dates here might be more of a challenge to get tickets for. 

 

On that summer tour, they recorded this song ‘Old Fashioned Morphine’ which has recently been released with a vintage underwater video..What is it about vintage underwater videos coming out of Amsterdam? Interestingly, the video was put together by Jonathan Brown (aka Dusty Stray). We’ve been E-mailing this year and I’ll be featuring Jonathan’s music on Sonic Breakfast in 2016. 


6. Wolf Colony – Unmasked

 Delighted to see that 2015 has been a pretty spectacular year for one of my favourite discoveries from New York, Wolf Colony. The album ‘Unmasked’ wasn’t far from my car CD player throughout the months of Spring. It’s joyous, electronic pop with an edge and I adored sharing it with others who fell in love with it as the days got longer and summer approached.

 I didn’t feature any of the follow-up videos beyond the beautiful ‘falling in love’ moments of ‘The One’. I probably should have done so. Watch ‘Holy’ to take you to a place of sand, sun and strange, floaty symbolism. It helps that it’s full of beautiful people as well. 

Still anonymous, Wolf Colony ended the year with a fab three track EP ‘Oceans’. When asked to comment on the new EP he replied, ““True love is eternal. It changes form, but never fades away. Ocean is about the five different stages of a relationship:

1.Passion 2.Love 3.Hurt  4.Resentment  5.Forgiveness”

 

2015 – a year that’s had all of that emotion in bucketloads. I’ll be back soon with the rundown from five through to one. I bet you can hardly wait. 

 

 

 

Richmond Fontaine – Wake Up Ray

It must be a dozen years now since I first heard Richmond Fontaine. They were the flavour of the day in a magazine that I regularly read. I’d just moved into a little flat in the centre of the city. I worked from that flat and bought lots of CDs from the local record shop to stop myself from getting lonely. 

At night, I’d go to a bar just around the corner and drink. I never had much to get up early for and I enjoyed the company.

Different continent but similar desperation, I found something in the roaming bleakness of your typical Richmond Fontaine song. Their album, Post To Wire, was played a lot that year. Laced with dark humour and pedal steel guitar, this became the soundtrack to my summer. Here was an offer of particularly effective comedown music once the effects of the ecstasy and whisky had worn off.

When a local promoter put them on to play at the Music Cafe, it was a gig I had to go to. It was incredible. Willy Vlautin was a new Springsteen; his poetry and storytelling came from that place that Bukowski occupied; desolate drinkers and pawn fuelled paupers were his characters of choice. I got them to sign a poster for a good friend who had a birthday coming up. In conversation, they were true gents. 

Since then life has moved on. It had to. I bought a house and tidied up my act a little (some would contest this). I’ve continued to follow Richmond Fontaine although I don’t think I’ve played subsequent albums as much as I did with ‘Post To Wire’ that summer. I’ve read Willy Vlautin’s novels and envied the tautness of his prose.

I’m happy to see that they’ve got a new album coming out in March 2016.  Décor Records are releasing ‘YOU CAN’T GO BACK IF THERE’S NOTHING TO GO BACK TO’ , their first in five years. 

Willy Vlautin says this about the album “This record was written for all the guys we know who have hit the wall, are about to hit the wall, or are in the middle of slamming into it, It’s a record about paying the price for the way one’s lived.  All of us in Richmond Fontaine are at the age where the bill starts coming due for the decisions we’ve made along the way.”

It might be a record made for me. They’ve pre-released a tune from it and I’m delighted to share it here on Sonic Breakfast. 

 

 

 

 

Theo Bard – Memories of Dublin

It couldn’t have been timed with more precision. I was sat in Dublin airport after an extended weekend in Ireland. My flight was a tad delayed and so I opened up my Sonic Breakfast mailbox to check what had recently been sent. 

“Acclaimed East London singer-songwriter Theo Bard has revealed his new single, Memories of Dublin.  This uplifting song tells a story of a short and sweet love affair, in the typically direct and frank narrative style that marks him out as an exceptional songwriter,” ran the PR blurb. 

“The song is a clever play on the Irish folk song Dublin City in the Rare Old Time, with references to the lyrics throughout. While the song pays homage to the folk tradition, there is nothing backward looking about it, as Theo delivers a full and evocative sound that hits you in the gut“, it continued.

I was intrigued. After a few nights and days of excessive drinking, I was feeling like I’d been hit in the gut and again in the head. It might have only been a weekend break but I’d had my very own short and sweet love affair with Dublin as a place. Amongst beautiful people, I had laughed so much over the course of the weekend that unfamiliar muscles ached. 

I clicked on the link and fell in love with the ramshackle tale of winter travels, glimpses of love and loss. 

This wasn’t the first I’d heard about Theo. A couple of months before I’d got myself added to a guest list for a show he was playing at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. I’d watched the video to his song ‘Never Alone’ as my run of summer festivals drew to a close. It caught my attention and I declared an interest to feature it on Sonic Breakfast. Life took over (it’s been an odd few months – future posts will give an insight into that) and on the night of the gig, I succumbed to a head cold that turned my brain to mush. 

The timing is now right to share.