Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – Something Familiar

“Reflections at sundown can make me so sad, for there’s no way of keeping the day we’ve just had.”

Oh, isn’t that so true? It’s the final fragment of ‘Something Familiar’, a beautiful, hazy folk tune from Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker. Yesterday, I stumbled upon the video to this track from their recently released fifth album and, in truth, haven’t been able to get the touching, evocative images and the crystal clear vocal out of my head since. 

In many ways, Sonic Breakfast is as much a blog about memories as it is about music. I often write about new songs that give me glimpses into my past. These are tunes, covering a range of genres and styles, that take me time-travelling to invoke the dim and distant. I’ve got tales to tell, some imagined and some very personal. The music of others is my enabler. 

And tonight, as I sit in my comfy armchair and fret about my aching and ageing bones, I hold a mirror up to my face and spy the younger me. I flick through photos in a physical scrapbook that will never be saved to social media. I try to recall the dreams I had back then, the trinkets that I kept by my bed and toys that have long since been tipped. 

There’s a freedom in reflecting. You can see the distance travelled and grasp again at the things you’d filed away for another day. 

Today has been one of those days. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have released a thing of sparse beauty here.






Scam Avenue – Sailor

Sometimes, it pays to check your junk mail. 

 Every now and then , I open the folder within my google mail account. Mostly, I’m greeted with odd looking offers telling me that my cheque is waiting to be cashed or that I’d be a fool to miss out on my final-ever opportunity to take advantage of a great deal – the text of which looks remarkably similar to a mail that surfaced within the junk mail folder just a week before. 

 Sometimes, a female with a voluptuous sounding name (often Russian) wants to become my bride; at other times (and perhaps in anticipation of me taking up succulent Svetlana’s offer), I’m offered help with some sort of penile dysfunction.

 You can perhaps understand why dipping into my junk mail folder is a thing to do fleetingly.

 But, yesterday I was glad that I did.

 Lurking in that box was an E-mail from a PR company that I’ve got a fair bit of time for. Quite quickly it became obvious why filters had worked in the way they had for this was promoting a video from a band called Scam Avenue. Entirely new to me, I had a watch and a listen. 

 There’s no getting away from the fact that the video verges on the creepy. A woman in a zombie-like trance being followed down a dark street by man in a similar trance-like state can be nothing but. I guess that’s the overall point though? For ‘Sailor’ seems to be about confronting fears head-on in order to achieve something on a different, higher level. 

 It’s the exquisite indie-pop charm of the music that really appeals within this though. The male and female vocal lines might take influence from some fine pop from the 1980’s and the relaxed electronica some of St Etienne’s  better moments but the overall sum becomes something quite new and exciting. 

 This track, Sailor, appears to be the first release from a forthcoming EP of the same name. I’m very glad that Scam Avenue found their way from my junk.




Andrea Terrano – Woodlands

Brrrr…. It certainly feels that Autumn is here and that Winter is just around the corner. Some crazy people class this as their favourite time of the year but how they find beauty in the grey, wet and dismal is beyond me. A romantic skip through slushy leaves might sound good on paper but, in reality, there’s always a hole in your shoe that leaves your feet damp and your socks sodden.

I prefer to head off into a cosy dreamland until Spring once again blossoms. Sometimes, I’ll do that by posting videos on Sonic Breakfast that hark back to sunnier times. Today is a case in point.

I’ve recently been sent this video. Woodlands is the first track to be released from Andrea Terrano’s new album, Innamorata. It’s coming out on Atlantic Jaxx and is produced by Felix Buxton of Basement Jaxx. It’s also the opening track of the album.

Terrano is an Italian guitarist of some repute. His playing on ‘Woodlands’ is nothing short of splendid. This gentle yet powerful piece takes me back to the warmer days of 2016. You can almost smell the pine and hear the crickets as you look up through the branches of the trees within this video and spot the sun shimmering through. 

Go and lie down next to a radiator (if you have central heating). Raise the base of your feet so that they’re touching the heat and play this video. I guarantee you that the grey will go (albeit temporarily). 




Meilyr Jones – The Cookie – October 7th 2016

It’s something of a travesty that Meilyr Jones has not been the featured artist on Sonic Breakfast before. I can’t exactly work out why that is.

I first saw him play live at the fab Port Eliot festival in 2015. My eFestivals review of that can be found here. Essentially, I note that “I sit in the front row of two as Meilyr, slightly nervously, marks out his star quality for all to see. It’s just him behind a keyboard for this set and it’s another Port Eliot musical moment of which there are many.”

Later in that same summer, I see the gentle giant at Festival No. 6 (review here). Within that review, I say that, “Huw Stephens could probably have redeemed himself if he had mentioned Meilyr Jones after Catfish and the Bottlemen. I’d previously seen Meilyr do a solo set at another festival and so realised that his songs and intensity of performance mark him out as one for the future. With a full band, the impact is even greater. Sitting somewhere between Pulp and Orange Juice, Meilyr captivates all who watch him at the Estuary stage. There’s a swimming/paddling pool in this small arena that looks out to sea. It’ll be hard to keep up with this Jones.

This year, I saw him again at Port Eliot. My comments then dispatch even more praise – “Last year, the wonderful Meilyr Jones played a solo set in front of four punters (I was one) and the girls from Stealing Sheep. This year, the ‘Caught By The River’ tent is packed out for a full band performance. It’s joyful, uplifting and theatrical, delivered by a frontman with astonishing grace and style.

So – the point I’m making is that I’m quite impressed by Meilyr. Throw in the fact that his debut album, 2013, will certainly be in my top three for this year and it’s quite an omission to have not written about him to date on Sonic Breakfast. 

On Friday night, I saw him play in Leicester at the Cookie. I was expecting this to be a packed out show but double bookings led to some confusion as to whether he was playing or not. The room might have only been half full but Meilyr and band didn’t seem at all phased. In fact, they used it to their advantage.

There’s something angelic and choral about Meilyr when he stands tall, hands behind his back and produces the sweetest of sound. When he ditches the microphone and stands amidst the crowd to sing, there’s a hushed awe in the room. This is astonishing stuff. Every time that I’ve seen him live something new is added into the mix. Effortlessly, he’s able to work with his surrounds to make the greatest of impressions. 

The tour continues. You really should get a glimpse of this gentleman whilst you still can. 




Elle Exxe – Love-Fuelled Hate

Today marks the official release of Love-Fuelled Hate, the debut album from Elle Exxe.

Over the course of this year, I’ve received various E-mails from her excellent PR company informing me about new singles, videos and gigs in traditional and non-traditional venues.

My response to the E-mails has largely been the same; general acknowledgement that there’s a real talent blossoming here but never quite getting me excited enough to write a Sonic Breakfast blog post about Elle.

This week, I found some time to listen to an advance copy of Elle’s album; frankly, it knocked me sideways. Whilst the singles do stand up on their own, it’s alongside the other album tracks that they really come to the fore. 

Designed to be listened to as a vinyl LP, both sides kick off with short introductory prologue pieces which then merge into stunning tracks. Side one belongs to the hard-sexy-brash-soul of ‘Lately’ whilst side 2 funks along with the deceptive pop of ‘Lie To Me’.

Broadly, side one has tracks where the songs are about the wide spectrum of emotions associated with love whilst side 2 has more songs with hate in the title. In reality, there’s little difference between the sides with both containing ballsy belters about the first throes, commitment, insecurity and revenge. 

You sense that there’s a diva waiting to get out in Elle and the album is at its best when the young Scot really goes for it. But, she doesn’t shy away from moments of uncomplicated tenderness either as the doting vocal-only mix of ‘I Do’ pays testament to.

Sonic Breakfast goes pop and heartily recommends Love-Fuelled Hate. 

Idles – Well Done

Your blog’s a bit Radio 2 innit“, said somebody to me the other week.

“No, it’s not. It’s eclectic”, I protested. “It’s basically things that catch my ear and excite me.”

But then I looked back over old posts and I saw what they meant. There’s a fair few fiddles and enough acoustic guitars to shake a tambourine at. 

Well, all I can say is fuck you today! I couldn’t sleep last night and so found myself listening to new music at 4AM. Maybe noise and energetic aggression hadn’t been doing it for me but then I heard this new track, Well Done, by Bristolian band, Idles. I certainly couldn’t sleep after that.

It’s spit-simplistic and shouty, punky and direct. It name-checks Mary Berry, Trevor Nelson, reggae and a chap called Tarquin in what sounds like an angry protest against ‘stuff’. I want to believe that this ‘well done’ is a two-fingered salute against conformity and blindly accepting whatever might be popular. 

I hear that Idles live show is something else. They’re touring at the moment and, whilst not touching Leicester, there are options not far away with a gig at Derby’s Hairy Dog on November 11th being the obvious time for me to check them out. 

Well done Idles for giving Sonic Breakfast a shove and a kick. Love it. I’d still rather cut my nose off to spite my face.




Nancy Kerr & The Sweet Visitors – Leicester Musician – September 26th

A week ago, I went along to Leicester’s Musician to see Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitors. It was a show promoted by a fine promoter, Jeremy Searle from Greenbird Promotions. I was reviewing the gig for the Leicester Mercury and my friend from eFestivals, Phil Bull, was lined up to take pics. 

Immediately after the show, I rushed home and stayed up into the early hours pulling my words together. Copy submitted, I was assured it would be used. 

But, I’ve not seen it published as yet. So, I thought I’d share it on Sonic Breakfast for all to see. The pics are courtesy of Phil.



Nancy Kerr is full of stories. In best schoolteacher fashion, she primly prefaces most of the songs from her new album, Instar, with a tale or two about how these tunes came into being. The crowd, well versed in the rules of cosy, middle-class folk club, listen intently and with appreciation at the Musician on Monday evening.

 With plenty of plaudits in this folk world, Nancy and her band, The Sweet Visitors, waste little time in setting the scene. An instar is a transition and Nancy uses the concept to present a suite of songs about morphing social and political issues which matter to her. ‘Fragile Water’ is a song about changing gender identity whilst the spritely recent single, ‘Gingerbread’, recalls an austere time when pepper replaced ginger in the recipe of the day.

 Elsewhere, there’s a focus on place and how it transforms. Nancy tells all that she’s currently living at the bad end of Sheffield where steel is stolen to make a slide in a community adventure playground. ‘Apollo On The Docks’ looks at the effect that the Olympics had on East London land and set closer, ‘Crows Wing’, describes her feelings when, stuck in a traffic jam amidst an urban sprawl, Nancy sees a peregrine falcon swoop towards a pigeon. The common ground between urban and rural is never far from the surface. 

 Musically, Nancy has done her time in the folk traditions and the Sweet Visitors help her to develop this vision. Thus, at times, the songs veer into prog-folk, folk-rock and a more poppier, radio friendly form of the genre. The five members of the band employ fiddles, double bass, drums and an array of electric guitars to make the noise. The singing, as you might imagine, is a delight with effortless harmonies breaking through. When band member, Rowan Rheingans, impresses all by plays the bansitar, a hybrid instrument sitting between a banjo and a sitar,  it all makes sense. This is a mutated folk music for our time.

 Never quite sinking under the weight of ideas presented, this is a fine introduction to the tunes and themes present on Nancy’s new album. Some might yearn for a more traditional approach but there’s no arguing that the delivery is impeccable. Solid and dependable, we’re left with no doubt that these times are a changing. 



Belly Of Paris – Aristide’s Entry Into Paris

Festival season is pretty much done and dusted for another year. Autumn is all about getting healthy, losing weight in time for Christmas and making attempts to save a few pennies so that we can do it all again next year. 

Trouble is, these plans never quite come to fruition. There’s still three more festivals to cover before the year is out. And there’s a mass of gigs coming up in Leicester that I plan to review for the Mercury. 

But Sonic Breakfast must rise from the smouldering embers again. Poorly populated for much of this year, it’s a crying shame because so much great music has been sent my way.

Take today’s offering – Belly Of Paris were one of the bands to feature on a recent Fresh On The Net listening post. Regular SB readers will know that I love to spend a Saturday morning, chilling in bed, choosing five from the twenty-five. Belly Of Paris were a shoe-in with their decadent, literate and darkly glamorous tune, Aristide’s entry into Paris.


 I found myself speculating as to who the Aristide in question was. Could it have been the bohemian Aristide Bruant? My mind wanders to cafe-concerts, Toulouse Lautrec and the well known image of Bruant as he performs in Montmartre. His songs, bawdy and gentle teases and tugs at working class culture and his ‘eccentric masculinity’.


Bruant insisted that his performances were a strike against the bourgeoisie, calling his audience:

  . . the pile of idiots who do not understand what I sing to them, who cannot understand, not knowing what it is to die from hunger, those who have come to the world with a silver spoon in their mouths. I revenge myself in insulting them, in treating them worse than dogs. That makes them laugh to tears; they believe I joke when, often enough, it is a breeze from the past, miseries submitted to, dirtiness seen, which remounts on my lips and makes me speak as I do.

 But this is all an aside of course, as interesting as it is. Belly Of Paris might be singing about a different Aristide. 

 I received an E-mail from Daniel, lead singer and songwriter in Belly Of Paris. They do seem to share much with Bruant – a band bulging with multi-layered and complex stories. As Daniel notes, “Belly of Paris are a “doom cabaret” Indo-Anglo-Palestino-Hungaro-Argentine sextet based in the tiny island of Bahrain (don’t ask us how we all got there, we don’t remember). We’re releasing our debut album ‘Peste’ on November 7th.”

 Give them a listen – I think you’ll enjoy it.