Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2019 – Number Six – Fake Turins and Shattercones – 26 Leake Street

2019 has been a great year for me. Zone one London living on cheap-as-chips floors, seasonal ups and downs and yet an ultimate sense of moving forward more than backwards. 

Happy at the Spanish villa, I look out of the windows to see wispy white clouds stitched into the pale blue sky. Reeds in distant furrows wave at me as they rock back and forward in the shallow breeze. Peace. Restful peace. Chill.

I know that there are some back in Blighty for whom Christmas will have been tough. And not just those turkeys who voted for food-banks and a widening of the gap between the have and have-nots. It’s a time of reflection and for many life will be irrevocably different to how it was in 2018. Loss, grief, release, memories. 

Number six in my countdown of Sonic Breakfast 2019 gigs is one that will always stick in the memory. It was at 26 Leake Street in May that I learnt of the passing of John. I wrote about it here. A fine man, I’m sure that there were tears and yet joyful tales told in his memory around dining tables this past week. 

Since that night in May, Fake Turins have raised their profile with video releases and headline shows. Without giving too much away about the rest of this top ten another of their gigs that I saw features higher up the chart. So I won’t dwell much upon them here. Suffice to say that they’re one act that I plan to see before Winter gives way to Spring. 

 

Shattercones ended the year playing support shows with New Model Army, dabbling in soundtracks and soundscapes. Their artistic endeavours will undoubtedly draw me in again in 2020. 

 

Happy New Years Eve. Must get a boogie on with the top five whilst thinking of 2019’s highlights and lowlights. 

Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2019 – Number Seven – Scott Lavene & The Golden Dregs – Servant Jazz Quarters

Are we only on number seven on this top ten gigs from Sonic Breakfast’s 2019? I’d better up the pace a bit unless I want to still be writing about 2019 in February 2020. 

The one time I went to Servant Jazz Quarters this year was to see Scott Lavene. I loved his set back at the start of the summer and wrote excitedly about his live act (here). ‘Broke’, the album he was touring, has rightfully found its way into some end of year lists from astute bloggers though many still seem oblivious to its many delights. Lee from the Birmingham Mail still ignores it in favour of The 1975. 

Earlier this week, Scott posted a Christmas treat onto his Facebook wall, a reminder of a musical project that he was involved with a way back and one of the more entertaining Christmas songs to ever emerge. It’s worth a watch, a dark excursion into one guy’s descent.

 

Also on the bill at Servant Jazz Quarters that night was The Golden Dregs. Since June, they’ve released a quality album (Hope is for the hopeless) that I’m listening to right now. I’m pretty sure that regular readers of Sonic Breakfast would approve. A successful November tour suggests there’s more to come from Ben et al in 2020. 

 

Back later with number six.. 

Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2019 – Number eight – Wovoka Gentle at Omeara

I meant to publish this on the 25th December but events and celebrations overtook. Better late than never eh? 

Happy Christmas Day one and all. Here in Spain the skies are bright and the heads are dull after entertaining lovely neighbours last night. Sonic Breakfast has just put a fire on to take the nip out of the chill and, with Cava in hand, is now ready to continue the 2019 countdown. 

One of the bands that I managed to see most in 2019 was Wovoka Gentle. Before the year started they were simply, to me anyway, an act that I’d once stumbled upon on a Sunday afternoon at a small festival and subsequently blogged about (here). Now, they’ve supported the Flaming Lips on a UK tour. They are pure and simply a fantastic live proposition and always delightful to watch. Except on a Brighton pier when they were a bit wobbly. They had just had their instruments stolen from a van.

Eighth slot in this Sonic Breakfast top ten is thus an easy one to consider. I’m going for the gig at Omeara put on by the wonderful Yucatan records and showcasing three from their stable. I adored the way this venue nestled beside a larger complex. I’ve returned lots since to munch the street food on offer and to be bombarded by all sorts of delights in the wider space that surrounds. But back in March, gig going was my only intent.

And what a night it was. (written about here)

Josiah and the Bonnevilles were up first. Keep an eye out for Josiah and gang should you ever get the chance to see them live. Josiah, solo for the night, seemed like an odd addition to the bill back in March but that was before I really understood the nature of Yucatan records. They’re not fixated by genre and simply sign stuff that meets a quality threshold. Thus, Americana can sit beside pop, skewed folk and electronica with ease.

 

It’s such a shame to discover that Swimming Girls have split in the last couple of months. I didn’t entirely fall in love with them back in March but had no qualms about their Glastonbury Emerging talent shortlisting. They were undoubtedly exciting prospects and we all watch with interest to see what comes next from their talented members. 

 

Wovoka Gentle will continue to bloom. They might become too big for this blog in the way that the likes of IDLES have previously done. They might not. But my 2019 has been enriched by having their live show to depend upon. 

 

Back later today with more of the countdown. 

Sonic Breakfast Top Ten of 2019 – Number Nine – Life At The Arcade and DAY at the O2 Islington Academy

To truly appreciate the quality of gigs, you need some duds. There’s been a couple of times over the course of this fine gig-going year that I’ve needed a jolt to bring me out of a routine, a reminder of how lucky I am that quality gigs are taking place on my doorstep. My recent November experience at Islington’s O2 Academy proved to be exactly that; after writing about it (here), my critical faculty was reset, refreshed and ready to appreciate again. 

And it’s for that reason that the Life At The Arcade headline gig gets a number nine slot in Sonic Breakfast’s top ten of 2019. 

Well, almost for that reason. There was one band on the bill that really appealed to my senses. And DAY have just released a video from the night. Chasing Sugar was a set highlight and gives a really good indication about where this super-interesting outfit are heading. Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast better be quick to view though as I’m told it’ll only be shared for a week or so. 

 

 

Back tomorrow – Christmas Day and the number eight ‘present’ in this countdown of moments. 

Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2019 – Number Ten – The Lottery Winners and Depression Baby at the Sebright Arms

I’ve been in Spain for a couple of days now. Yesterday morning, I briefly watched the television as the spectacle of the Christmas lottery unfolded before my eyes. ‘El Gordo’, the fat one, is a tradition, an event that runs back hundreds of years. And the presentation of it all is weird. Schoolchildren sing with tuneful innocence as numbered balls get dispatched from a giant sphere that sometimes turns. They get gleefully teary should they get to announce one of the big prizes. And whole villages cheer when their numbers get drawn as winners.

It’s appropriate (in some ways) that number ten in the Sonic Breakfast 2019 top ten is The Lottery Winners and Depression Baby’s gig at the Sebright Arms from back in February. I recall that this was one of my first times at the Sebright and both bands excelled on the night by really putting on a show to behold. Here’s my review of it. (Click, click).

I would have been keen to see both bands again during 2019 but, alas, it was not to be. And now I’ll have to wait until 2020 for the pleasure. In the case of The Lottery   Winners, I notice that they’ve got a Spring tour coming up and one of their stops will be The Lexington, the fine venue just around the corner from my property guardianship. They’ve had quite a year of it with festival appearances and a support slot with Tom Jones to contend with. Their debut album gets released next year and it shows early signs of being a cracker.

Depression, Baby have now played London headline sets – and a festival in Norwich. They’re avid supporters of new and interesting music with their Spotify playlist always making for an interesting listen. I wish that I’d seen their show at The Old Blue Last earlier this year. Video footage suggests they stormed it. 

Back with number nine in the countdown tomorrow. 

Brooke Bentham & IMOGEN – The Islington – December 9th 2019

I feel that I’m limping over the 2019 finish line; the Christmas break can’t come soon enough as I crawl towards the end of the year picking up all manner of debilitating December bugs. The general disappointment of last week’s General Election result just compounds the overall effect. The cold and flu remedies do little to lift the malaise and the chesty coughs. 

Going out is a chore. This wonderful city that I’ve explored with wide-eyed curiosity throughout the year is now nothing more than a miserabilist’s damp dream. Rather than explore the mean streets, my over-arching desire is to hibernate underneath my duvet. I don’t do that though. Life must go on and this will all get better. 

It certainly will by next week. I’m off to Spain for Christmas, back to the villa where Sonic Breakfast spent much of 2018. Some blue sky and warmer temperatures will no doubt sort me out. Whilst there I plan to do a 2019 top ten countdown. I’ll write about ten gigs this year that caught my eye. The list won’t be an obvious one. 

I did manage to get to the Islington last week before the infection really took hold. The Islington is a pub/music venue no more than five minutes walk from the front door of my Guardianship. I’ve visited before but tonight I’m also committed to taking notes. Headliner, Brooke Bentham, takes a break from her Sam Fender support slots to impress us with tunes from her imminent album release. Support act, IMOGEN, puts in an act of such quality that the Geordie’s really do throw down the gauntlet and declare they’re ready for a more dominant profile in 2020.

IMOGEN has the most beautiful of folk-pop voices. It rasps and lilts over the top of a laidback melancholic, sometime morbid sound to exude mournful precision. There are no guitars on sight here; keyboards, electronics and a small sprinkling of brass lead us down a jazz-tinged trip-hop path; if Beth Gibbons was mixed with The Unthanks, this is what you might expect. The band, dressed in black, contrast with the red satin curtain surrounds of the venue. The craft is always well considered. IMOGEN declares that the video for ‘I wish I were you’ came out all of ten minutes ago. I resolve to watch it when I get home. ‘We never dance do we?’ Is all about leaving home and the impact it has upon relationships. IMOGEN best get used to the itinerant lifestyle in the glamorous years to come.

In terms of output, the two Geordie lasses are chalk and cheese. Brooke Bentham’s sound is a more traditionally indie one, a shimmering ghostly Americana with her guitar duelling with that of Bill Ryder-Jones’ for centre stage. It’s easy to see why Bill waxes lyrical about Brooke. Her songs and the delivery of them have an effortless drawl, a timeless charm that marks the forthcoming album ‘Everyday Nothing’ down as one to give serious attention to when it comes out in February. Bill slides between guitars and places his Rickenbacker over his shoulder, the faded Coral guitar strap on show for all to see. Only some in the crowd recognise him; for most he’s just one of Brooke’s band. “We’re only playing new songs tonight“, says Brooke, confident and captivating, before the band launch into a charming cover of ‘Love will tell us apart’.

When I next write I’ll likely be in Spain. The Tories will still be corrupt. 2020 will be closer and two acts from Newcastle will have acquired more fans. 

 

Raiding The Rock Vault – Subterania – December 5th 2019

Tom G is a work colleague (until he leaves shortly for pastures new). I’ll be sad to see him go. He’s a fab, young man who helps to make everyone’s working life better by being an all-round cheery charmer. We’ve spent a fair amount of time chatting about music; he previously worked for a student publication and used to knock out a decent review or five. I couldn’t make it to a show last week and in truth, the hair-rock on offer was less my thing than it was Toms. 

Over to Tom… 

With a tagline of ‘bringing the history of rock ‘n’ roll to life’, I had very high expectations for Raiding the Rock Vault.

The troupe, comprised of a rotating lineup of rockers of genuinely impressive credentials (guitarists from Heart, bassists from Bon Jovi, drums from Yes and more), have been plying their trade in Las Vegas for several years now, promising to take the audience on a journey through the annals of some of the best classic anthems rock has to offer.

As soon as the band took to the stage in the intimate Subterania venue, they had an immediate tick in the ‘looking the part’ box. These veteran rockers are dressed to impress, with all the requisite long flowing manes and grizzled leather jackets one would expect.

The Raiding the Rock Vault show, when it kicks into action, turns out to be a bizarre and interesting hybrid of a sort of musical-style performance combined with a more traditional gig – all the band ham up their parts, swinging their guitars Pete Townshend-style and performing all sorts of Freddie Mercury-style tricks with the microphone stand.

Theatricality aside, though, it instantly becomes clear that they are all bloody great at what they do. With a set stuffed with absolute classics of the genre, there are always going to be some fiendishly difficult guitar solos, drum beats and vocal pyrotechnics to pull off, and the Raiding the Rock Vault crew smashed through these with aplomb throughout the two-hour set they played.

Hotel California’s duelling guitar solo was recreated faithfully, the infectious talkbox riff of Livin’ On A Prayer was as hypnotic as ever, and even gentler, subtler tracks like Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams were pulled off supremely well, with the female vocalist for that track in particular producing a truly impressive Stevie Nicks impression.

The vibe of the whole event was very much a party, singalong affair, with most of the audience looking like they’d be equally at home as members of the band. There were some fantastic hands-in-the-air numbers and the crowd really did their bit to make the whole thing even more enjoyable, shouting along to literally every word of every song – even if they couldn’t match some of the operatic high notes as well as the vocalist did.

All in all Raiding the Rock Vault does exactly what it says on the tin, and you can’t really expect it to do more than that – if you love a power ballad and a hair metal solo while you wear your leathers into work, you’ll feel incredibly at home at Raiding the Rock Vault.

 

I’ve suggested that Tom reviews more for Sonic Breakfast. It’ll be grand to stay in touch when he heads off to his new job.