The Big Moon & Virgin Kids – Nottingham Bodega Social Club – 30th March 2016

In a couple of weeks, I plan to nip along to The Cookie,one of my favourite venues in Leicester, to see The Big Moon. I’ll pull together 350 words or so about the night that’ll hopefully be published within the Leicester Mercury. In terms of content, it’ll be more concise than this waffling piece.

On Wednesday night, I had opportunity for a dry run; on the first night of their first ever headline tour, the London based four piece are playing in Nottingham at the fab Bodega Social. By chance, I’m here with my day job so a sneak preview beckons. It’d be rude not to. 

First impressions of a fuzzed-up Bangles fade slightly as the set progresses. It feels lame to draw comparisons with another all female band but I think the likeness just about holds. And at least I haven’t mentioned Throwing Muses, Belly or L7 as yet. As it is, this is a band not afraid to throw a Madonna cover into their mix (an exuberant Brilliant Stranger) so I’m sure they’re aware of their antecedents. 

I’m a bit fed up of seeing up and coming touring bands who play so hard at being ‘cool’ that they seem unable to enjoy the experience. Such accusation cannot be levelled at The Big Moon. Indeed, bassist Celia Archer, who does much of the between song jabber, is positively skipping with happiness. This adds to the charm. Tight and blissful, summer-fuelled harmonies tingle and shimmer through your core. Here we have a thoroughly modern Motown girl troupe, bounced through a scuzzed-up indie blender.

There’s a smell of wet dog in the air amidst the crowd. Lads with pudding bowl haircuts stare on with such awkward, spectrum-rubbing focus that I wonder if deodorant has been forgotten from their routine. It’s either that or somebody has wet themselves. I move towards the front just in time to catch the opening strains of new single, Cupid.

It’s undeniably one of the set highlights. The quality of this and a song (potentially called Pull The Other One) so new that this Nottingham crowd are the first to hear it suggests that there’s some longevity in The Big Moon story. They’re clearly growing in stature and confidence with each song they write. 

The same might also be true for the main support of the night, Virgin Kids, although so tall and gangly is their hair bun-wearing bass player that he definitely doesn’t need any more height on him. Unaware of his personal space, he auditions for a role in the ‘guild of incredibly tall men who make it their business to stand right in front of you thus blocking your view’. 

Minor quibbles aside, they do the business on stage with workmanlike skill. They give us a dynamic and punkish London thing. At times, the three piece almost veer towards the pre-punk, sweaty bar-room blues rock of Dr Feelgood but then project us forward into a more Libertine-like swagger. I mark them as ones I’ll see again and, given that they’re supporting The Big Moon throughout this tour, that chance will come again soon. 

Wishing both bands the best for the next couple of weeks and I’ll definitely look forward to hearing about the touring adventures when they arrive in Leicester on the 8th April. You should catch them on this tour if you can. 



Wanderwild – Misty Morning

Misty Morning is a song that’s about the cyclical nature of life, using season as a metaphor for change, process, and personal progress’ – Matt Martin a.k.a. Wanderwild.

In the run up to the launch of his fine EP, Fleeting, Wanderwild has teased us with the release of three videos. They’re all of interest but my favourite is this one for ‘Misty Morning’. 

Perhaps, it caught me at the right time of the year? There’s definitely a transition in place as we progress from the dark days of the winter into more positive seasons. As I sit on a train heading into work, after a glorious Easter weekend spent mooching and pottering in London, I can’t help but think that change is coming. 

The sky is mostly blue with fragments of magic-carpet like cloud wafting in and out of view. It’s a fine sight and I’m happy to see it. The cold and the cough that has lingered throughout March seems to be finally passing. Maybe we’ve seen our last storm for a while? 

Better make the most of it. Before we know it, Autumn will once again be here and the trees will have lost the leaves that are now shooting. 



Tour De France – La Saint Valentin

It’s not been a deliberate ploy but Sonic Breakfast has been encouraging a fair bit of croissant-munching this past month. Yep, fine bands with links to France have been featured quite regularly because I’ve been impressed by the music they’ve produced, 

Tour De France are a duo from Los Angeles that I’ve been in recent contact with. Their pretty unique thing is that they sing all of their stuff in French – a sort of electronic punk with exclusively French lyrics. Singer Bernadette is initially from Bordeaux and is now apparently Leonard Cohen’s French language coach. Sam, initially from New York, produces.

Their third album is being released this year. It’s definitely worth spending some time digging into their back catalogue if you’ve got a spare few hours. 

But, just in case you haven’t and you want a quick fix of Tour De France, here’s a lyric video of their recent release, La Saint Valentin. It’s got a simple melody that ambles along with pleasant urgency. But beware – it’s also got a melody that digs into your head. You might well be humming this as you traipse around shopping centres later today. 

With customary tardiness, Sonic Breakfast encourages you to celebrate St Valentines Day over a month after it’s passed. But I’m not sure that matters. For those of us lucky enough to be in love, everyday is a celebration, right? 



Ren – My Heart Belongs To Ireland

I was working in Nottingham yesterday. Within my office, you could hear the muted strains of classic Irish folk tunes rising up from the Market Square below. 

I took a late(ish) lunch and wandered about the streets taking in the atmosphere that was being generated by St Patricks Day. The cheap pubs were heaving with a sea of green. Men and women wore Guinness foam hats as they supped on their lagers. The pubs spilled over with punters taking advantage of the warm day to grab a cheeky cigarette. In some cases, parents appeared to have brought their young primary school children to the party. “Watch Mummy and Daddy get pissed because it’s tradition“, seemed to be the educational message for the school kids as they drank their sugary soft drinks. 

I ventured out after work as well. Predictably, the scene had turned darker than that seen during the lunchtime exuberances. On a street corner stood a women, barking at her remaining friends as mascara ran down her tear-strewn face. “She’s a fucking untrustworthy bitch“, I heard and couldn’t help but wonder what drunken confusion had led to such a character assessment. Elsewhere, I jumped over pools of piss and vomit. I avoided those, still in high spirits, who blocked the pavements as they swayed from side to side, arms wrapped around mates, having the best day of their lives. 

A lengthy and potentially pointless introduction to a charming song by Ren that I first heard a couple of weeks ago. In ‘My Heart Belongs To Ireland’, Ren goes exploring over on the west coast of Ireland and discovers kindred spirits and common allies. It’s clear that Ren is a talented musician and a convivial imbiber and you can see why he draws such conclusion. Dare I say it – the fairy tale Ireland that he describes appears miles removed from the theme park tribute act version that I witnessed in Nottingham City centre yesterday. 

I’ve got a fair few lovely friends in Dublin and beyond. I dare say that they’re nursing hangovers today but I’d also hazard a guess that their stomachs would have turned if they’d have been in Nottingham.

Ren, the rapscallion, could well be wearing blinkers as he strums out this made for Radio 2 gem. But, I’d rather buy into his respectful yet rogue-ish sense of Ireland than anything else. 


Lisbon Kid – Sunburst

It’s not that this winter has been particularly cold. We’ve had no snow and could have had many more mornings of de-icing car windscreens than we actually have. 

But, it’s my sense that it’s really dragged. More than in any previous year, I’ve found myself looking forward to the warmer and longer days of Spring and Summer with an ever-increasing sense of glee. The anticipation is doing me in. 

It’s why this new video and track, Sunburst from Lisbon Kid, is so gratefully received. Comprised of the Soho-based, Portuguese musicians, producers and TV ad composers Danny de Matos and Rui da Silva, this duo are gearing up to release their eponymously titled debut album.


Sunburst oozes with continental warmth. It’s easy to allow the visuals to wash over you as this instrumental mix of gentle electronica takes your mind on a relaxing holiday. 

Perhaps we’ve just partied the night away and we need a chilled tune to put on as we watch the sun rise beyond the distant mountain range? Perhaps we’re lying on a sun-lounger, eyes shut and drifting in and out of sleep as Sunburst glistens? We might be laughing and joking with old and new friends as the soundtrack for our summer plays. We might be walking home from the party as night gives way to blue-sky day.

Just as long as we’re anywhere from here, it’s all ok by me. 

Bye bye Winter. 




HelloLisa – Lilo And John Wayne

One of the lovely things about writing this blog is how one post can lead you to another; you can never be quite sure of the impact (or not) of anything you write so it’s always a fine thing when a band or an artist gets in touch and says, “I enjoyed what you wrote about ‘x’ and I’d really like it if you’d consider writing about ‘y'”.

Sometimes, this can be awkward if ‘y’ offer little of interest but, mostly that’s not the case.

This is how I was introduced to HelloLisa, a wonderful band from Collioure.

A couple of weeks ago, I told tales about camping holidays gone wrong (here). From Perpignan, we took a day trip to Collioure. It wasn’t far but we chose to travel on an insanely hot day. Amidst artists, a royal castle, whitewashed walls and anchovies, my son Ollie (who would have been about six years old at this time) almost fainted in the extreme heat. I hailed a taxi and cut short our trip. Some things stick in your mind forever. The beautifully cool space of that air-conditioned cab seemed to have remarkable restorative powers for my sickly son. I paid the driver a handsome Hansom tip. 

HelloLisa appear to occupy a beautifully cool space in terms of the music they offer. It’s a happy potion of remarkable, restorative powers. Their elixir is a fuzzy, sparkling pop for those of us who like to dance awkwardly. On latest single, Lilo and John Wayne, this septet allow shimmering guitar riffs to build over muted male and female vocals before horns join for an all-out assault on our smiles. It’s no wonder that this lead track from their forthcoming album, Laughter, Drinks and Jiving Along, is turning celebrity heads around the globe.

I’m reliably told that these celebrity endorsements will lead to some interesting festival slots later this year and I’m hopeful that I might be able to stumble across HelloLisa at those festivals for some laughing, drinking and dancing. 

Watch this space. 

Mercy – Ice Cream

Over twists and splits, sugared sprinkled bits, maybe I could take you for ice cream’.

That’s one of the lines of simplistic and innocent, lyrical naughtiness that make up a new track sent my way by Christopher Pellnat, a chap who’s currently making music with Mercy. Mercy has a soulful, seductive voice and a winning way of wooing her man. In ‘Ice Cream’, a track that melts and slides along like a more playful Portishead, Brooklyn based Mercy licks us all into a state of submission. 

I see your cone is dripping crazy‘, she purrs.. 

Oh yes, it is, Merci Mercy’, we all virtually reply, whilst thinking of mint choc chips. Summer’s approaching and we need this blast of warmth to get us through the remaining frosty days.

By contrast, the video to this wonderful piece of laid-back ice-pop, charms through its DIY innocence. Think of any of those great indie-geek romcoms that attract the misfits such as us and you’ll be in the right place; we want them to hold hands and work it out in the park over strawberry sorbets and pistachio crunch because that’s all we’ve ever wanted. 

Raspberry ripple baby… 


Guy Jones – Leicester Cookie – Thursday March 3rd 2016

I’ve been submitting lots of reviews to the Leicester Mercury recently. Mostly, they seem to appreciate my efforts and to publish my thoughts within the paper. Sometimes, they’ll post my reviews on line as well. I’m doing this with one main aim in mind. I think that supporting live music, especially gigs that are happening locally, is a really important thing to do. If people are more aware of the quality and vibrancy that occurs every night in our fair city, perhaps they’ll be more inclined to venture out themselves. 

Last week, I reviewed an old friend of Sonic Breakfast, Guy Jones, at the Cookie. The Mercury might have printed this but I didn’t spot it so I’ll copy here instead. 

 Guy Jones, the travelling troubadour, has made the relatively short trip from Halesowen, to charm us at the Cookie on a Thursday night. His special brand of Americana-fuelled songwriting is amplified and electrified by a tight and talented quad of musicians. Guy grew up in West Brom so this is Country music formed in the Black Country streets. We respond by lapping it up, albeit politely.

It’s by and large a gentle affair. The room, laid out in a cabaret seating style, allows us to relax as the weekend approaches. Guy has a laidback, natural manner and does his best to draw us in with pleasant singalongs and simple handclaps. Guy sings about real love; he has  a song about friends who grew up bullied; a song about people he’s met whilst touring the States and a song about how he’s grown from a spurned, chubby teenager to a young man able to capture his girl’s heart. 

These tunes (and others) will all be found on Guy’s forthcoming album that’s due for release in May. It’s a sign of the high regard that Guy’s fans hold him in that this was fully funded through a Pledge campaign. Recorded in New York, it’s going to be crammed full of the melodies and harmonies that Whispering Bob Harris and other Radio 2 sorts are likely to praise highly.

Credit for the harmonies at this gig needs to go to Guy’s keyboard player, Kerry Smyth. Their voices weld together with such robustness that it’s very easy to get drawn into this world. Earlier in the evening, Kerry had given us a set of her own songs and covers. She’s a younger Beverley Craven but entertaining enough. Local lad, Reuben Wisner, opened the show with considerable craft and skill. Acoustic pickings, polite audience singalongs and occasional tracks with loops and layering are Reuben’s thing. It sets the mood for the evening well. 

But the night belongs to Guy. Confident without being cocky, this is optimistic and cleansing. Affable and tender, good-natured and nice, we drift away into the night hoping that Guy made enough on the Merch desk to get home to Halesowen. 


Louis Barabbas – Gentle Songs Of Ceaseless Horror

Next Tuesday, I am very much looking forward to seeing Louis Barabbas live at the Musician in Leicester. Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast might recall that it was Louis who invited me to a Snowapple gig last year (details here) that I managed to miss through an almighty diary malfunction. 

Such a monumental fuck up will not be happening next Wednesday (ha ha).

If I were a musician, I think I’d want to release records on Louis’ label, Debt Records. The quality of the output always seems pretty special to me but it’s also badged with a collective spirit and seemingly sage advice from the man himself. I’ve never quite met Louis but I get the sense he’s genuine in his desire to support other musicians. I put forward his role with the Musician’s Union, his appearance on industry panels and his moderating involvement in Fresh On The Net’s Listening Post as evidence.

When I say that I’ve never quite met Louis it’s true. A few years ago at the fine Musicport festival in Whitby (review here), I arrived after a long Friday evening drive, just as the set with his band, The Bedlam Six, drew to a close. I enjoyed the energy on display. At Boomtown last year (review here), I must have been sleeping when Louis took to a stage. 

Louis has a new album coming out this Friday, ‘Gentle Songs Of Ceaseless Horror’. He’s surprised at the departure from previous snarly and shouty ‘dirt-swing’ offers. This is a more relaxed affair that calls upon the ghosts of Nick Drake and Lionel Bart. It’s fucking ace, rather fabulous, brilliantly beautiful. 

Take a chance on me.


Mt. Wolf – Anacrusis

Being neither a musician nor a poet, I had no idea what an ‘Anacrusis’ was until I started to dig beneath the new track from Mt. Wolf. 

The Beatles threw one into ‘Yellow Submarine’; those words ‘in the’ that precede the rest of the verse we know and love are an anacrusis. They’re the pick-up before a downbeat; the first but unstressed syllables of a lyrical verse. In a broader sense, they are the beginning of something.

There’s also a genus of moths known as ‘Anacrusis’ – never say that Sonic Breakfast doesn’t try to inform and educate eh? 

I saw Mt. Wolf twice last year. Both of those gigs were at ridiculous o’clock and so (not that this should always follow), both times I could barely stand. At the Great Escape festival in Brighton, they were one of my must sees. It had been an excessive day and night of industry bashes and special gigs so all I could do was sway. Something was beginning as something was ending. Later, in the evening, I fell over and bashed my head, waking to think I was in Berlin.

The second time I saw them was up north at the Beat Herder festival. I sat in an armchair at the back of the tent, having overdone the evening considerably. I allowed their gorgeous brand of fractured, folky electronics to wash over me whilst I considered falling asleep. They picked me up before I eventually downed my tools.

I do plan to see Mt. Wolf again. I’ll try for a less bleary and blurry experience in the future. They’re a fine band occupying a Sigur Ros sort of space and I owe it to them. This is the beginning.