Corner Suns – Borrowed Time

The books on my bookshelf were moving. One by one, from left to right and top to bottom, they declared their presence by edging forward and then returning to their original space. The effect was akin to a Mexican wave in a stadium, an epic dance routine and a choreographed shimmer. It was a bit ghostly but I wasn’t scared.

Fuck, these mushrooms were good. 

The tune that was blasting from my CD player seemed to be on constant repeat. My sense of time was skewed and hazy as I stared at the shelf, captivated by the swishing novels. Over and over, that same tune played. It seemed like it would never end. But, I didn’t mind. I couldn’t quite compute what was happening. Had I inadvertently put on a 12 inch remix? Or was time just going slow? 

The tune – One Of Us Is Dead by The Earlies. How I loved that band.

A few months later and I’m standing with most of the band in a field in Somerset. Brian Wilson has just taken to the Pyramid stage. After an early part of the weekend when the festival was threatened by fierce rain, the sun had shone and the mud was bouncy by this Sunday afternoon. I nodded in acknowledgement and muttered platitudes but, in truth, I think that The Earlies were too enthralled by Brian to notice their fanboy.. And that’s how it should be.

I was over the (super) moon to receive an E-mail today telling me that Brandon Carr, one of The Earlies, is one half of a new band, Corner Suns. The other half, John Dufilho, is also no stranger to my ears having been prominent in the fab Apples In Stereo. I didn’t even have to read to the bottom of the press release to know that this was going to be a marriage made in heaven for me.

And it is. There’s an album out in January 2017 and I can’t wait to listen to that but for now I’ll indulge myself with the lead track from that album, Borrowed Time. This has cheered me up no end today. I’m older and arguably wiser than I was back then. My sense of my own mortality has definitely heightened. “Down borrowed time I’m running”, emits Carr over this fuzzy dose of psych-rock. I get what is meant.

Those were Corner Suns.

 

 

 

 

 

Mishka Shubaly – Cowards Path

Next weekend I’m going to see Mishka Shubaly play a live show at Derby’s Hairy Dog. Mishka’s quite a new discovery for me but I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to find a lot to love within the gig. 

For starters, Mishka describes his songs as a “collection of depressing, alcoholic, nihilistic songs”. That’s exactly the sort of tune that gets this voyeur going. I’ve given his album, Coward’s Path, a few listens now and, each dab has left me with a new buzz. Alt-Country is a genre well known for pushing the boundaries of despair but Shubaly squeezes even more drops of misery out of the form.

She turns off the light in the bedroom to make it easier to pretend I’m somebody new. Baby, I don’t blame you for pretending, for I’m pretending I’m someone else to.’

It’s undeniably dark stuff but laced with a delightful black humour. It mightn’t be for everybody but I’m scarily drawn to a man who imagines ‘your plus one at my funeral’. “Who’s gonna walk you home when I’m rotting down below?” sings Shubaly in his deep, anguished, booming voice. You might not hear a more heartbreaking love song in 2016.

We might also meet Shubaly in a grumpy mood. Press releases indicate that he’s no fan of Donald Trump so what’s happened in the last week must be playing on his mind. 

“I feel an unusual kinship with the English. Like you, I find Donald Trump terrifying and America worth mocking, even on a good day. I enjoy the fine foods available at your Tesco Express restaurants. And I feel so well-loved there, it’s almost like the English have an intimate familiarity with drinking problems, depression, and a pervasive sense of personal failure.” 

I’ll be sure to report back after the gig but here’s a list of the tour dates just in case your own appetite is fuelled. The poor chap seems to be up and down the country like a yo-yo. He’s going to know our motorway networks pretty well by the end of November. 

15 Nov – Ring ’o’ Bells, Bath. 

16 Nov – Gwdihw, Cardiff

17 Nov- Scarey Canary, Stourbridge

18 Nov- Gryphon, Bristol

20 Nov- Hairy Dog, Derby

21 Nov- Underground, Plymouth

22 Nov- Toast, Falmouth

23 Nov- Rowbarge, Guildford

24 Nov- Henry Boons, Wakefield

25 Nov- Gulliver’s, Manchester

26 Nov- Slaughtered Lamb, London

27 Nov- Latest Music Bar, Brighton

 

Yeah, you really should take a chance on Shubaly. 

 

 

 

Shébani – Figure It Out (Bad Energy)

Today, I’ve been figuring some things out. Here are four of those things.

(1) I wanted to feature an artist who had an accent over the e in their name. It’s a pretty basic rule of blogging that you should make every effort to get the name correct of the person, act or product you’re featuring… Here we go – today, especially for you, dear readers of Sonic Breakfast, I present Shébani. 

(It turns out that this is a very simple thing to figure out).

(2) I first heard Shébani’s music a few days ago, got in touch and today Sarah (that’s her first name) sent me her electronic press kit. It’s clear from this that Shébani is based in Dubai. I wonder why I’ve never knowingly before featured an artist from Dubai on Sonic Breakfast and figure out how to put that right immediately. 

(3) Does Dubai have much of a music scene I ask myself? And turn to the internet to figure this out for it’s a question that I’m unable to answer. The general consensus from articles that I read is that the scene is fledgling, challenged by having a paucity of suitable venues but getting better all the time. This quote sums things up well….

“In the reflected glare of storied international hives of creativity such as New York and London, the UAE, a country less than 50 years old, was always going to be playing catch-up. The transient nature of life here has also hindered the development of alternative, underground events with some unwilling to commit resources when they could be leaving in a year or so. But a new and authentic scene, away from cover bands and hall-of-fame outfits is emerging, albeit slowly.”


(4) What exactly is it that has drawn me to Shébani’s music? It’s certainly true that the urban pop, glitchy synth and singalong chorus mightn’t be my typical Sonic Breakfast fodder. Sonic Breakfast has always been about the eclectic. I like a lot of musical genres and will shout about them all from these pages. But it’s more than that. In this tune, ‘Figure It Out (Bad Energy)’, there’s both a confident swagger and a naive, wide-eyed energy at play. There’s a sense of oppression within the claustrophobic beats that transcends into a joyful, couldn’t give a damn, release once the chorus hits. This is the sound of an emerging artist marking out her territory and becoming something in that process. 

See if you agree that a pop song can do such things? 

 

 

 

 

 

Curse Of Lono – Saturday Night

On balance, it was probably a good thing that the gig I was due to go to on Monday night was cancelled. It’s been a hectic sort of non-stop week, one in which sleep has been at a premium, so another late night watching headliners, Uncle Lucius, and support, Curse Of Lono, might have been pushing these weary bones too far. 

But, there’s no getting away from the disappointment. I was sent a promo copy of the Curse Of Lono EP, Saturday Night, a couple of weeks ago and the four tunes on it have rapidly become favourites when driving in my car. On a recent trip to Liverpool, I listened over and over again to this distinct mix of Americana, siphoned through a seedy London backstreet. Passengers in the car chuckled over the perversities voiced within the title track whilst I was drawn to the skewed sadness and sentiment of ‘He Takes My Place’.

I had some vague knowledge of Hey Negrita, the previous band that the founder of Curse Of Lono, Felix Bechtolsheimer, had spent years being involved with. Back in the day, before I wrote about music, I’d seen them at festivals and gigs. At De Montfort Hall and The Big Session Festival, I’d watched them perform before heading back to the beer tent and nearly missing my own compere duties.

Here was a blog post waiting to happen.

But I held back a bit. I was aware that each of the EP tracks were also being used within a short, accompanying film. The trailer for ‘Saturday Night’, directed by Alex Walker, looked gripping. Cinematic, dramatic and loaded with debauched crime, the indications were that this was going to be a fine vehicle to elevate already great songs to another level.

On staggered release across some fine blogs, each of the videos have now been uploaded to Youtube. Watch carefully and visual clues help you to follow the ongoing plot. Despite the lack of dialogue, you can follow the characters through to a satisfying denouement in the final video. The path mightn’t be linear and the story not always obvious but, for me, that sense of crippling confusion and slow-motion thoughtfulness makes the music crisper.

It’s a bold statement doing things this way. There are no half measures here. Pull up a chair, sit back and open the popcorn. 

I’m sure that, after watching this, you’ll be like me in checking future Curse Of Lono tour dates and desperately hoping they reschedule that gig. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wakey Wakey – Lean On

It was a second date. We’d got on well enough during the first and I’d even made rash predictions to friends that this could be ‘the one’. 

We’d talked lots about music as we drank and ate curry. She was obsessed with Morrissey and hilariously tried to justify his more outlandish views as she gingerly cut her Chicken Jalfrezi. It was in the days before I wrote about music. “People who write about music are wankers”, I declared in between bites of Biryani.

We agreed that the next time we met we’d take in a gig. We wouldn’t plan it. This was a city that had fine gigs on every night of the week and we’d go and see something random, something that neither of us knew much about.

That was how I found myself first watching Wakey! Wakey!. I don’t recall much about the gig itself except that it was surprisingly busy with people singing along to every word of every song. At the bar somebody told me that Wakey! Wakey! was essentially the work of Michael Grubbs and that he’d found fame by contributing music and acting skills to One Tree Hill. I was none the wiser.

I took no notes. I didn’t write about music then. I didn’t have to. We dated a few times more but drifted apart as the nights became longer.

 

Fast forward to today and I’m listening to a song that’s been sent my way by a PR company. It’s a cover of ‘Lean On’ by Major Lazer and it’s by Brooklyn’s Wakey Wakey. I smile to myself as I recall how our paths crossed once before. It’s a smile that turns into a beam when I realise just how odd this is. I’m out of the loop with mega-hits (and I’m sure that the original version of ‘Lean On’ was a mega-hit) and so I have nothing to compare this Wakey Wakey version to. Here’s a man I know a little about covering a song I know nothing about. And I’m sure that this isn’t meant to be my listening experience.

I’m supposed to be marvelling at the creative way that Grubbs has taken a pumped-up dance track and made it his own. I’m supposed to note the creative brilliance that has transcribed a synth line in the original into an emotive sounding violin line. But I don’t get these things because my knowledge isn’t up to scratch. I’m reminded again that there’s something quite lovely about not knowing things because that’s the path towards discovery.

For what it’s worth, I do think that Wakey Wakey’s version has more emotional appeal. It stands up to scrutiny and it’s definitely the sort of tune to listen to on a second date.

But what do I know? 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Watanabes – Over Romantic

“There’s no point looking back when it’s an insult to the present. There’s no point looking front when it might never happen.” – The Watanabes – An Insult To The Present – Spoiled And Nostalgic EP – November 2016.

When I started Sonic Breakfast, I had no ambitious, blogging master plan. I never thought that I might travel the world on money made from it, get rich quickly or live happily after. 

I’ve not been disappointed.

But, undeniably, unearthing new acts to write about has given me many pleasurable moments; e-mails of thanks received from bands living all around the world who I might have stumbled across in late-night listening sessions and simply had to feature.

That was definitely the case with The Watanabes. I can’t quite recall when I first saw the video to ‘Yuriko Yuriko’ but I knew I had to write about it (here). I remember how exciting it was that other readers of Sonic Breakfast seemed to agree that this was something special. 

Last week, a new E-mail from Duncan (of The Watanabes) popped into my mailbox. He has a generous writing style and is clearly a very decent human being. I was pleased to discover that The Watanabes are releasing a new EP, Spoiled And Nostalgic, at the end of November. I was even happier to discover that the lead single from it, Over Romantic, is already in circulation and has a video to go alongside it. 

This is a band that can do no wrong in my eyes. Or at least, the only wrong that they can do is to wear their hearts a bit too much on their sleeves and possibly over-complicate their romantic liaisons. And that’s OK in my book. From the opening acoustic flourish that leads into the confession that ‘I’ve got myself into a bit of a fix‘, this is a tune that draws you in and then holds your interest as it builds and builds. It has a beautiful, forlorn resignation within, a positive kind of melancholia and a video that I can’t help but keep watching on repeat.

The other three tracks from the EP grow on you in similar ways. In my favourite, ‘An Insult To The Present’, we find The Watanabes in reminiscent mood, thinking back to days gone by and wondering if the dreams of those times have been achieved. They conclude in the only way possible to live for the moment.

I think Sonic Breakfast readers will like this.