MALKA – Wonder Why

So, I first heard this tune by MALKA early in January. I’m sure you’ll recognise the feeling. The Christmas and New Year break has recharged the batteries and you’re all sorts of positive for what this new beginning might hold.  And ‘Wonder Why’ did give me a lift. 

“If this is the sort of song that’s going to surface in 2016”, I said to an imaginary friend, “then 2016 could be a bumper year for music.”

I didn’t feature MALKA on Sonic Breakfast back then because I was waiting for the video to land. Yesterday, it did. It’s added a layer of complexity to something that previously, in my head at least, was a bouncy, electro-pop song skewed by some off-kilter rhythms and tribal beats. The video is a fine piece of dark art; computer generated graphics laid over the gently spinning head of MALKA. I wouldn’t recommend it should you have an aversion for insects. 

I’m told that “MALKA first made waves on the music scene as Tamara Schlesinger, the frontwoman of acclaimed alt-folk collective 6 Day Riot and also as a prolific songwriter.” I never did get to see 6 Day Riot although our paths did very nearly cross at festivals. I wish I had.

MALKA is Tamara’s new project. The optimism of January might have been dampened by the cold of February but the daffodils are beginning to appear and Spring is very nearly here. Let’s celebrate the growth of new things. 





Treetop Flyers – Palamino

I’ve struggled to sleep. The itchy throat that I’ve been ignoring for the past couple of days appears to be turning into a cold. Blocked sinuses have kept me awake during those hours when everybody else sleeps. 

To pass the time, I’ve been listening to my advance copy of Palamino, the new album from Treetop Flyers that’s coming out on March 11th. It’s a fine record to listen to in these witching hours. It even has a track called ‘Sleepless Nights’.

This is a dense album that you’re able to get pretty lost in. With many of the tracks clocking in at over six minutes, it’s full to the brim with crisp guitar playing, keyboard shuffles and soulful, melancholic harmonies. There’s definite influence drawn from the late 1960’s west coast rock pop scene but rather than just breeze along, we also get slabs of prog and stabs of jazz. Here’s a band that are almost spinning right out of control.

Lyrically, much of ‘Palamino’ is about change, transition and fighting against the tough stuff of life. “Save me from this shipwreck”, sings Sam Beer, in a collaborative effort, replacing lead singer, Reid Morrison, on ‘Lady Luck’. “At the helm, the wheel is spinning“, he announces from the edge of the precipice a bit later in that song. 

The boat imagery continues in the centrepiece of the record ‘St. Andrews Cross’. Things are ‘soon to capsize’ we are told as acoustic guitars and harmonies with a gospel twinge directly deal with the impending loss of somebody near and dear. “I would give everything if I could change anything” is a line that jumps to the fore. 

I’d hate to give the impression that this is all ‘woe is me’ though. Treetop Flyers might have never been as hard on themselves as they are right now yet it’s an album with ultimately positive intent. You sense, within little refrains, that they’re beginning to emerge from their troubles to a firmer place. And nowhere is this more evident than in the uplifting, closing track, ‘Wild Winds’. This is that moment in any emotional wringer of a film when night becomes day, when the storm clouds depart and the blue skies appear. 

Outside, I can hear the early morning rumblings of another day beginning across the city. I might doze back to sleep. 


Stealth – I don’t need your love

A few weeks ago now, I published a blog post (here) about Stealth from Birmingham. He’s just released a video for one of the songs that I previously featured as a soundcloud link.  ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ is a cracker.

Time might be limited this week to search for new music but that doesn’t mean that I can’t bring you the tried and tested. We get a new angle on the tune from these visuals. Various people mouth along to the lyrics from the ‘comforts’ of a group therapy session. 

About the video, Stealth says, “I wanted to move away from the standard love theme, and focus on the parallels between ‘breaking up’ a relationship and ‘breaking up’ with a substance or addiction… ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ is about a fresh start and realising that the situation you’re currently in isn’t working.”

Can’t say fairer than that. Mine’s a glass of Pinot Grigio..





Fickle Friends & Clean Cut Kid – O2 Academy Leicester – February 7th & other stuff

It’s been quite a week. Some regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that the lack of blog posts over the past week has not been due to laziness on my part. 

Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival is running and I’ve committed to a pretty hefty amount of show reviews for the Leicester Mercury. To date, 5 of my comedy reviews have gone to print.  There’s links to them here.. 

(1) George Egg at the Western

(2) Bruce Edhouse at the Cookie

(3) Ian Hall at the Cookie

(4) Ed Aczel at the Criterion

(5) Sarah Kendall at the Cookie

On Sunday night, I took a break from the laughs to go and see Fickle Friends and Clean Cut Kid at the O2 academy (Mercury review here). I last saw Fickle Friends at Liverpool Sound City a couple of years back. That was towards the end of a long, crazy day of live music and I might have been a bit jaded then. They were better on Sunday.

Clean Cut Kid clearly have quite a bit of backing behind them. I think I could see why. But my motivation for wanting to see them was a bit different. My younger brother, James, told me recently that him and his wife, Saf, had once had members of Clean Cut Kid around to their house for dinner. James and Saf are fine, sensible people and the thought of them having a rock n’roll band around for dinner felt a little odd.


It still does feels odd. Clean Cut Kid swore on stage, had masses of facial hair and wanted us to dance like our lives depended upon it. 

Sometimes though (and this is a theme that’s been repeated time and time again in the comedy shows I’ve seen), things aren’t always worth trying to understand too much.



Sweet Baboo – Tuesday February 2nd – Leicester Musician

I’m pretty sure that I’d never want to be a gig promoter. It’s all a bit easy sitting behind this keypad saying that ‘I love X’ and ‘I want to be Y’ but these promoter types are the sort that really put their livelihoods on the line. 

The best promoter that we have in Leicester is Ian Magic Teapot. I’m not entirely sure how he still does it. For the ten years plus that I’ve been in this ‘top of the league’ city, Ian has worked incredibly hard to bring some of the best to our venues. 

Sometimes, he has a win. I think that all who know Ian don’t begrudge him those paydays when he sells enough tickets to break even.. Because, so often, for a reason I don’t really understand, we try our damnedest to avoid supporting live music. 

Tonight Magic Teapot put on a show by Sweet Baboo. Here’s an act that I’ve barely been able to see in some festival tents, such is the push and the popularity. Tonight, it was hard to keep a low profile at the Musician. The room was perhaps half full. If this was a gig in Nottingham, thirty miles up the road, I doubt that I would have been able to swing my cat whilst I danced yet here I could. 

Stephen Black is his usual self-deprecating self. This is the first night of the tour and he plays with us that his band might be a tad under-rehearsed. Epic and long, indulgent prog-rock endings to bouncy pop tunes are threatened but hardly materialise. Instead, this show stays on the right side of sweet. Sometimes, there are dips further back into the Sweet Baboo catalogue and sometimes we’re thrust bang up to date with notes from the recent ‘Dennis’ EP but mostly this is a setlist made up with tunes from last years fabulous Boombox Ballads record. 

Charles from Slow Club plays guitar tonight in Stephen’s band. The last time that Slow Club were in Leicester I wrote about it here. It’s fair to say that was a much busier gig. 

But, in terms of quality, both were on a par. Both were excellent nights out. I wish you were there to see this one for yourself. 

But not half as much as Ian Magic Teapot probably does. 



The Dowling Poole – Rebecca Receiving

 Mark sent me a tweet. 

Mark likes his rock music though I was pretty sure that this tweet wouldn’t be recommending a band bursting with guitars. Mark knows that our musical tastes converge slightly but that the nearer he moves towards Download territory the more I move away.

The tweet recommended this new song and video from The Dowling Poole. I listened and watched whilst on a train journey. The signal wasn’t wonderful even though the single was. I had to press play again and again.

In truth I didn’t mind.

‘Rebecca Receiving’ is exactly the sort of tune that’s up my street. It’s got an undeniably quirky edge that reminds me of XTC or some of Blur’s better Brit Pop moments. 

The theme is undeniably sad. Rebecca appears to be clinging to her youthful dreams even though her years are advancing. Like many of us, growing old gracefully is not an option for Rebecca and so we fight the wrinkles with withering weariness. 

The theme might be sad – but it’s approached with fun and an upbeat humour. Like some of the very best writing of Ray Davies, it evokes a certain joy from its character based derision. 

Wikipedia tells me that “The Dowling Poole are a British psychedelic Power Pop duo made up of multi instrumentalists Willie Dowling (formerly of Jackdaw4 and Honeycrack) and Jon Poole (formerly of Cardiacs).” This is the first releases from their forthcoming second album, One Hyde Park. 

It was making more sense now. I’ve still got lots of vinyl in my back room from the late 1980’s when I bought every Cardiacs record going. I really ought to head back there. 

I’m glad that Mark sent me a tweet. 



Plaudits – Honest

“Hi Sean

We are Plaudits, an original band from Leicester and have been together for around six months.”

So went the opening words of an E-mail that I received a couple of weeks ago. 

If ever a band wants to grab my attention then this is a pretty good way to go about it. Appeal to my sense of local pride by revealing that we have place in common. 

But, I’ve been let down in such exchanges before now. I maintained caution. This is a city very good at fostering the spirit of sub-standard Kasabian tribute acts. And whilst those acts invariably will go on to headline the Shed on a Tuesday night, my thing on Sonic Breakfast is to pick out the wheat from the chaff. 

Plaudits are building up towards the time when their first EP, Hinterland, is released in April. Before that, they’re releasing individual tracks from it, beginning with this tune ‘Honest’. When I first heard it, I could barely conceal my excitement. Here’s a band that are clearly giving thought to their craft and approach. This is a project with ambition akin to an experiment by Tony Wilson rather than a shambolic, haphazard, ‘let’s see where it takes us’ thing. Plaudits are two steps ahead of this game. 

‘Honest’ is truthfully very great indeed. A soaring piece of electronica – a harder edged Two Door Cinema Club – a track that wouldn’t look out of place on the new New Order record. 

I cannot wait to find out more about this band. Plaudits – they will take them..