You think we’ve got it cold here in the U.K.? Admittedly, scraping your car windscreen every morning with makeshift defrosting gadgets such as an unwanted CD case (it’s not for us to be organised) is a slightly uncomfortable frustration but surely it’s nothing when compared to the perishing cold faced every day by today’s featured act.
Pilgrim Speakeasy first came on my radar a couple of years ago when I exchanged a couple of E-mails with mainman, Roger Roge. They’d not long released a new record, ‘Lo-Fi Love At The Park Cafe’, and I was drawn to the psychedelic funk within. Flitting between lounge jazz, freakish soul, worldly riffs and fuzzed-out rock, it touched some buttons and I was keen to find out more.
(Click on page 2 to discover more)
Sonic Breakfast has had a full-on week of gigs to go to this week. Given how much we’ve been falling in love with the latest Blue Aeroplanes record, Welcome, Stranger!, (previous blogpost here), the one that was filling us with most excitement took place on Wednesday at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms when the fine Bristol collective flew into town. We were not to be left disappointed.
(Click on page 2 for the gig review)
I’m back from Eurosonic in Groningen. Now the hard work begins as I piece together the jigsaw of events in an attempt to make a coherent review for eFestivals. Suffice to say, I’ll be singing the praises of a fantastic event.
Forgive me if the blog goes quiet for a few days whilst I’m working on that. The day job remains busy and I don’t have a massive amount of spare time. I did want to publish this piece first though.
Jono has been a friend for a number of years. He’s a man to know in Leicester with his finger in many pies. I don’t know much about studios but friends with more expertise than I’ve got tell me that his studio (Yellowbean) is one of the best-equipped and supportive across the Midlands. Jono sings in a Madness tribute band, Gladness; he has the trust and ear of Dean Jackson, the excellent BBC Introducing DJ for the East Midlands (who I once blogged about here). Every year, he organises a fab skiing trip for mates (I went one year and, in truth, struggled on the slopes). Jono’s an avid Leicester City FC fan and a very friendly and sociable guy. In truth, he’s one of the good people on this planet and I ought to drink beer with him more than I do.
So, when a stranger gets in touch with you saying that they’re a friend of Jono’s and he’s sent them your way, you sit up and listen.
(To find out more about that stranger click on page 2)
I’ve had a ball – so much of a ball that as Friday morphs into Saturday, I’m at my lodgings feeling inspired to write.
I’d already had a couple of beers when I stumbled upon the Rockstone showcase. I guess that gave me the confidence to randomly wander into this hairdressing salon which was converted into a small gig venue. Well, it was that and the stunningly beautiful noise coming from inside.
I bought another bottle of beer for 2 Euros and watched, enthralled by the jazz-tinged tones coming from the small stage.
I was watching Lara Kroon. A TV screen above her head helpfully informed me of this. She was singing and strumming, picking at a guitar, whilst two backing singers helped her out with sugary-sweet harmonies. As Lara played, I did a quick, surreptitious search on my phone to find out more.
(Click on page 2 to find out more about Lara)
My legs are aching. I was standing on them for much of yesterday, either watching a show from the next bright young things or wandering around Groningen hoping to catch those next bright young things before they’re on the radar of everybody else.
A fuller review of yesterday at Eurosonic will surface on eFestivals in time but for now I want to focus upon one small part of the day.
It was about 5PM and I was wandering back to my fine room in the centre of this City. I needed to get ready for the evening – snow was forecast for the night and I wanted to add a layer or two (and an extra pair of socks).
A lot of activity takes place around the Grote Markt here; there’s a big outdoor marquee (Eurosonic Air) which hosts bands for free, lots of pop-up food stalls if you want a snack or two and many of the Eurosonic venues. This also seems to be the space where much of ‘Altersonic’ happens.
I’m guessing (my Dutch isn’t great) that Altersonic is one of the alternative spin-offs from the main Eurosonic. Eurosonic can only schedule a certain number of acts and others need opportunity to show off their talents as well. I like that Groningen has this festival within a festival even if it also means that my sense of overall confusion at the complexity of it all has heightened.
Anyway, I was walking past what can best be described as a pop-up radio station, a room with windows looking out onto the Grote Markt. A cheerful woman handed me a headset and said that I could listen live to what was being recorded within this room. I put the headphones on, watched and listened. Some sort of live lounge was in progress. An act who I didn’t recognise, just her and a guitar, was playing. “Sweet and solid folk music with a familiar twang”, I thought.
(Click on page 2 to find out who it was)
It’s been a long and exciting day. I write this as the wind outside howls around the dark and wet streets of Groningen. But I’m ok – AirBNB has worked wonderfully and I have a fab room in the heart of this fine city.
Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know why I’m in the Netherlands. I’m reviewing Eurosonic Noorderslag for eFestivals. The plane from Southend touched down just after 5 and since then it has been all systems go. In the space of a few hours this evening, I’ve seen much that a fuller review will warrant but for now I’ll pick a shorter tale.
I clocked the band on the train from Liverpool Street. I needed a wee and so walked up and down the aisles to try and find a toilet. These shuttles don’t seem to have them but I did walk through a carriage that was laden with trendy looking musicians carrying boxes of equipment. “They must be on their way to Groningen“, I thought to myself.
(Click on page 2 to find out which band it was)
Autosuggest – “to influence one’s own thoughts or behaviour through methods other than conscious thought.”
In less than 36 hours, I’ll be in Groningen. I’ve been sent invites to all sorts of parties. Many have tried to entice me with the offer of free food and beer. I’m sure that I’ll succumb to some.
And there’ll definitely be bands I see who I know I’ve heard of and not quite be able to place from where or when. No doubt, it’ll be from an E-mail that’s lurking in my inbox. The seed will have been sown. Is that auto-suggestion?
I will, of course, make every effort to maintain Sonic Breakfast whilst I’m at Eurosonic. If I can’t do that when there’s so much live music to peruse then I’ll have failed badly in trying to moderate the free food and beer offers. We shall see what happens.
In the build up to all of this, it’s been easy to ignore other new music that has hit my inbox. That’s a bit of a shame because in some cases it’s been bloody good. Take this new track from Australian producer, Autosuggest, as a case in point.
Moody and dark dance, In Lust broods along with a bass line that manages to be sombre and urgent at the same time. It’s hard not to draw comparisons with old New Order tracks when there’s a Hook-like bass hook and those similarities are simply elevated to a greater degree with the Peter Saville influenced video.
Alec Mallia is the man behind Autosuggest and this track is the first to be lifted from a forthcoming debut EP, Murmur, to be released on Perfect Hair records. Sonic Breakfast will definitely be watching how this proceeds with interest.