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. 

 

 

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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…