Honey – Do It All Again

There was a story that came out of China after their first lockdown that loads of couples were now filing for divorce. Separation rates were going through the roof. It all stands to reason that spending more time with your significant other, having to put up with their more extreme habits, might be the thing to break any camel’s back. 

There are also very real stories of increased rates of domestic violence emerging during these volatile times. Clearly, there are some relationships that people shouldn’t ever stay in. The fact that it’s been arguably harder for people to leave dangerous and destructive relationships during lockdown periods is a crying shame.

But there are some relationships that just need a bit of TLC to make them work. And that’s what today’s really quite lovely Sonic Breakfast song is all about. ‘Do It All Again’ by the emerging Swedish duo, Honey, is about the ups and downs of relationships. This is about making the bad moments count and realising that, whatever the outcome, the life-decisions that you have made are the right ones for you.

 

The video is a real charmer. Miranda and Magda, the vocalists and front persons from Honey are singing from their sofa whilst we also get live action from the dining table of Karsti and Samme. They reflect on the path that their relationship has taken; the holidays they’ve taken together and the parties they’ve enjoyed. The memories are moving and the nostalgia sweet.

It helps that Honey lay down a sound within ‘Do It All Again’ that could quite easily have been around when Karsti and Samme first met. This is a song with a majestic 70’s pop tone; the comparisons to Abba are inevitable and I’m not just saying that because Honey are from Sweden. 

‘Do It All Again’ is a gem to cherish – as are your relationship memories. Happy Monday.

 

SHYAWAY – Smile For The Camera

I have friends who hate having their photo taken. So eager are they to avoid the pose for the camera that they concoct increasingly varied tales as to why they can’t be pictured. They’ll insist on taking the snap themselves or they’ll go and hide in the toilet. If push comes to shove and they have to be in a group shot, they’ll stand right at the edge and definitely behind a taller friend so that their image stands a chance of being masked. “It’s a thing from childhood”, they say when quizzed about their behaviour.

I suppose those friends that actively shy away from the camera are refreshing when compared to those who hog the limelight. These are the people with more selfie sticks than rooms in their house. Every day and sometimes every hour, they declare their need for attention and adoration by posting a new pic of themselves onto their social media channel of choice. I think, of the two extremes, I’m more in this camp. But, I do check myself from time to time. And I don’t even have an Instagram account.

‘Smile For The Camera’ by SHYAWAY is a fun and perky piece of pop for your Sunday morning delight. It takes a jocular swipe at the self-absorption that comes from being too dependent on your photo content. Bouncing along with intent, this is clever pop that can’t fail to get under your skin.

SHYAWAY is the stage name of Adam Macaulay, a multi-talented musician/songwriter from Brighton. He tells me that he’s currently scoring for a string quartet and woodwind ensemble when we exchange a couple of mails in advance of this piece being published. He leaves one in no doubt on which side of the selfie fence he sits.

“We should eschew social media and this self-worshipping lifestyle; focus on the life we’re actually living right now as opposed to the carefully curated online one.“, says Adam. “Either that or we just do what Kim Kardashian does; shake our ass for the masses and smile for the camera.”


John Swale and the Missing Pieces – An interview

Yesterday was a sad day for me. I am no longer a property guardian. I’d kept hold of my cheap-as-chips, wonderful space in London’s zone one throughout the pandemic in the hope that some sort of normality will return soon but it doesn’t seem to be imminent. I could no longer justify the cost of my pad that I’ve not properly lived in since the first lockdown. Adios Upper Street.

Whilst feeling mournful about giving up the space, the response to a set of interview questions I’d sent out popped into my mailbox. And they made me chuckle (a lot). Then, they made me feel nostalgic for the group living that I’ve so recently left. And then they made me gasp at the wisdom within. John Swale is an intelligent man and a dream to interview – of that there can be no doubt.

I was initially drawn to John Swale and the Missing Pieces after hearing their song, Party Like It’s 2019. It’s literate, amusing and deserves to be heard by many. We talk about the ‘inspiration’ for the banger he’s created below. Settle down with a coffee and a croissant on this Saturday morning, immerse yourself in these mighty words before then doing your hoovering to the party track.

 

Most readers of Sonic Breakfast will know nothing about John Swale and the Missing Pieces.What’s your elevator pitch?

Poetry is the underwear of the soul. Here’s mine! Also… don’t take the elevator. Take the stairs.Less carbon emissions. gotta say that, I’m a millenial.

And why should readers of Sonic Breakfast be listening to your music?

Don’t listen to my music, listen to the words! My songs are just poems I’ve put to music. It’s kinda like the poems are the kale…and the music is the mayonaise. You know the kale is good for the mind but it needs the mayonaise to make it a digestable prospect for most people. Most people are scared of poetry, ya know.

Party Like It’s 2019 certainly suggests that you lived it large that year. Care to tell more?

Actually I thought 2019 was a pretty terrible year for most of us…the election, Trump’s visit, Toblerones got smaller and then Greg and Amber split up two weeks after winning Love Island…tragic really…which made for the double irony of course cos 1999 was way better. I mean, we still had Tony the tiger back then didn’t we?!

What’s been the best gig you’ve ever played? What made it so special?

I live in a warehouse with 36 people and we put on a gig during lockdown just for us. In the lockdown before that it was that ‘don’t know what you got til it’s gone’ thing and we were so hungry for live music so it felt so fucking euphoric to be part of that world again. It was a true energy flow between crowd and performers. Although it was only a little ‘un it felt way more special than a lot of bigger shows I’ve done. Bring on the summer of love festival season post covid!

If you had to come up with your dream festival headliners, who’d be on the list?

Any festival at the moment would be a dream. And I can’t even dream of festivals right now cos my dreams are too fucking full of anxiety ridden narratives. Recently I dreamt Hitler and Goering came to my warehouse to kill us all…so I drowned them both in cereal bowls, then they turned in to little fish (specifically roach)…which I diced up and fried and fed to my housemates (it’s not complex I just think I’m Jesus in my dreams apparently) …. Then of course The Verve reformed and did an unplugged rendition of bittersweet symphony in our backyard in gratitude for us saving the world from the holocaust (Oh yeah the dream was set pre-holocaust) and then we all got wildly high. So I’d probably say The Verve would be my dream headliners, LCD Soundsystem and errr John Swale and The Missing Pieces. I mean, who else?!

Given the nods to Prince in Party Like It’s 2019, what’s your favourite Prince song and why?

I like the silences between the songs with Prince. What was he all about anyway? Just a guy with a Napoleon complex who was deluded about how sexy he was. That’s why I chose to rip his song off. Add to the first world torture inherent to my poem. I mean it’s a song about not being able to party while the world is in a fucking pandemic. Prince’s 1999 is a tacky as hell song and it needed to be to add to the joke. Plus his song was about an apocalypse not really about partying at all. It was perfect for it!

As the UK enters a third lockdown, what would be your advice to anybody struggling to cope?

Stop reading the fucking news! Lockdown seems to me like a once in a lifetime gift of time and space to reflect on personal internal shit and think and review what really matters in the scheme of things when all the fake shit like awards ceremonies, fashion, etc are taken away. I liked how uncool lockdown 1 was. I remember Joe from Idles talking about how he was going to bed earlier and earlier each night. It gave us all a collective vulnerability. also trust optimism. It’s very difficult to be sad when you’re smiling. I don’t wanna get too Deepak Chopra on this shit but suicide is a huge problem at the moment especially in young guys. So much emotion is chemically based. Running and exercise has saved me from the spiral of mental breakdown so many times during lockdown. And soon as I stopped reading the news my anxiety started to clear and I found out the important things through people I live with. Why poison your mind with fear of huge speculative shit like brexit, slowness of the vaccinations, etc you have no control of outside of you in lockdown when instead taking the time and mindspace to think about how to best inhabit your body, learn self love and what you’d like to give to the world in the future will ultimately be better for you and society. Amen.

And looking forward what are you hoping for more than anything else in 2021?

I actually hope that people will have taken this pandemic as a formative experience to reflect on the personal as I mentioned. It seems to have had some of an effect already. Things like the George Floyd protests to me wouldn’t have happened in such a beautifully momentous way if we hadn’t all been given the experience of stepping outside of our homes and immediately feeling vulnerable to the threat from the virus in a similar way certain minority groups have experienced that threat from others in society. Also I hope there will be less focus on the monetary. and the momentary. It’s kind of like… a good trip. I always think it’s a bit sad seeing people I know, loved up on a trip and treating other people with far more candid love and openess and honesty but then as soon as the comedown hits , they’re back to their normal selves, failing to incorporate any aspect of those higher feelings into their everyday life. It seems a bit like a wasted gift. I hope experiences from this pandemic won’t be wasted in that same way.

How did you celebrate 2020 turning into 2021? Was it radically different from your New Years Eve in 2019?

Well after a crazy chemical christmas with my 36 housemates(!) I wanted to have a sober,reflective start to the year and I’ll proudly say I missed Brexit day… cos I hadnt been reading the news and I had a great blue sky thinking day as a consequence. I read it had happened in a poem by Roger mcgough two weeks after the fact…’when Big Ben bongs and some sing songs, I’m staying in’. There’s always a real human beauty in his sardony and it was a great way to soften the blow. If I ever get terminal cancer I want Roger Mcgough to be the one to break it to me. Ideally while rigged up to a huge hand operated morphine drip please. As for 1st January, I spent the day writing in my big black book…less resolutions more a new post covid soul manifesto… taking obligatory breaks to join the cuddle puddle of my still loved up housemates in the basement of my warehouse. It was pretty dreamy…with not hitler, fish or cereal bowls in sight.

Tell us your favourite joke?

Apart from John Swale and the Missing Pieces? hmmm…a difficult one…ok how’s about… what’s the saddest variety of gardening implement…a forlorn mower. Not funny?…oh.. ok….what about…. A musician walks into a bar. Oh wait no he didnt. It’s lockdown!

 

 

 

Rae Radick – Keep ‘Em Guessing

We’re at the end of another working week (if you’re lucky enough to be working) and that calls for a bit of a knees-up. In the past, we might have looked forward to Friday evenings because a trip to the pub would have followed the day in the office. And as the alcohol flowed so would our conversations. The office joker would do bad impressions of Boris whilst others just let off steam about the things that were causing them sleepless nights. I’m sure those evenings will return.

But, just in case you need an extra fix of bar life and the fun that can happen within them, today’s Sonic Breakfast treat comes straight from a Stateside tavern. In that bar, we find Rae Radick and her friends having fun, playing pool and singing karaoke whilst putting one leery punter firmly in his place. 

 

‘Keep ‘Em Guessing’ is a good time, toe-tapper that clearly draws influence from the country-rock sounds of Shania Twain. Even if it’s not the sort of music that you might typically be drawn to, I urge you to give it a chance. It’s music designed to make you smile – the video simply amplifies that – and we’re probably all in need of a bit of happy juice right now.

I ask Rae, a touring member of the American Bombshells (look them up, I had to) what she’s most looking forward to in 2021 and she’s quick to assert what she wants. “What would make it a great year is if COVID was no longer hindering artists from performing at gatherings, and I can get back to my second home…the stage.

From the evidence supplied in ‘Keep ‘Em Guessing’, Rae is quite the performer. I’d go to any bar she might be in and I’d try my very hardest not to be the drunken barfly loser propped up on a stool. 

Have a cracking weekend.

Circus Of Bones – Simone

Cast your mind back a couple of months and I was singing the praises of Circus Of Bones (here). Their single, ‘A Big No Body’, had really got under my skin and, for a few weeks, I was playing it to whoever would care to listen. It’s fair to say that the response it elicited was mixed with some sharing my enthusiasm but many finding little to love within the punky swagger of the tune. They are not my friends anymore.

Circus Of Bones has been in touch to tell me that a second song and video is now up for release. Simone comes sonically from a similar place to A Big No Body and for that reason I love it. In bursts of spoken word, we learn snippets about Simone. She works at the Weatherspoons on Holloway Road and has a layabout partner at home who can never quite get around to reading the collected works of TS Eliot. She takes the bull by the horns and runs off into the sunset alone.

The simple, lockdown-friendly video amplifies the sense of despair felt by our protagonist. Here we have a chap that’s going stir-crazy on his settee. In muffled and grainy image, we see him put his head in his hands wishing that a bit of Netflix and Chill could again be an option. 

At its heart, Simone is a blues song about a break-up. A partner languishes at home bemoaning the fact that he should have been a bit more dynamic and adventurous when he had the chance. Simone is the one that got away and now he only has the sofa and his PlayStation for company. It’s a song that we can all relate to. 

If you can’t, I suggest that you’re very lucky and very kind and perhaps just a bit too saintly to be reading Sonic Breakfast.

(I jest of course – all are welcome here). 

 

 

 

Grizzly Bird – The Drummer’s Trauma

I’ve always wished that I could play the drums. I had a lesson once when I was a young boy but, even then, I realised that getting my feet to do different things at different times to my arms was a step too far for somebody as naturally uncoordinated as I am. I guess it’s a skill that could have been channelled through intense practice but, by then, I’d picked up a guitar and was happier trying to learn an instrument where just two limbs (and fingers) are needed. (Insert Def Leppard comment if minded).

And drummers (for all of their skill in keeping any band on track along with a bass player) did seem to be at the butt-end of the jokes. Watch any interview with the Beatles and Ringo is the one who is laughed at by the others, the slight outsider who will be consigned to narrating Children’s TV series about toy trains in future years. Spinal Tap takes the narrative to the extreme with the spontaneous human combustion scenes and inability to hold onto a drummer.

Hans Gnendinger, the Berlin-based musician and main songwriter in the Grizzly Bird trio, is waxing lyrical about his approach to songwriting, an approach that in the case of ‘The Drummer’s Trauma’ keeps the light mocking well and truly alive. 

After writing Empathy and the birth of my son and I didn’t write a single song for two years. Not that I didn’t have any ideas, but they were always too big and too complicated. But when I showed my bandmates my very first recordings while on tour, I remembered how I wrote my first songs – little stories full of in-jokes inspired by my friends or things they said. So when drummer Florian Dietrich kept complaining at every rehearsal about his job working in the drum department of a well known Berlin music store, I realised I have a song right there.”

It’s an interesting, refreshing approach that leads to a quirky, interesting product. Slightly reminiscent in style and lyrical content to Jens Lekman, ‘The Drummer’s Trauma’ draws upon astute observation and humorous anecdote to pinpoint focus on some of life’s minutiae. And then, like a wayward stick of dynamite in a children’s cartoon, it blows the situation up just for fun. 

It’s a perfect Wednesday Sonic Breakfast track – and, even the drummers out there, might find something in the skewed rhythms to appeal? 

 

 

A Choir Of Ghosts – Skin & Bones

James Auger is the man behind A Choir of Ghosts. A Brit who has chosen to live in Sweden, he writes intense alt-folk tunes about the wilderness, Scandinavian forests and the human lot. He’s pretty good at it.

James will be releasing a few tunes and videos during 2021 (on Greywood Records) but, this morning, Sonic Breakfast brings it back to a song that was released in the build up to Christmas 2020, ‘Skin & Bones.’

Sometimes, the video is enough and in this gem with its fire, spirit of adventure, log cabins and beautiful surrounds, I’m sure there’s much escapism to be had. We’re all grappling on whether we’d be breaking lockdown rules if we go on a walk to the local nature reserve and so here, Sonic Breakfast brings scenery and being able to wash your face in icy lakes straight to your door. It’s perhaps best to overlook the sinister chase scenes and ritualistic dances at the end of the video though if you’re in this just for a getaway.

“The song is about the realization that you can’t always “fix it” for the people you love.“, says James about ‘ Skin & Bones’. “Sometimes they have to solve it themselves, and you can’t do anything but watch and hope for the best. In order for things to grow to it’s full potential, you sometimes have to let go.”

I know that friends of mine have often had to bite their tongues when they see me taking unwise paths. I thank them for giving me that freedom and acknowledge that my stubbornness in pursuing my own things must be frustrating. And I also know that I’m one of the first to pass comment on the direction that others are taking. With the very best of intentions, I think I’m helping when I’m likely not.

Tuesday is a day to let it go with A Choir Of Ghosts as your breakfast soundtrack. 

 

Michelle Daly – In My Dreams

You appear in my dream again. Intermittently, you do so (here). In this latest edition, we find ourselves on a coffee-tasting tour. We hop into an open-top vintage car (make and model unknown) and drive around the local hostelries to taste the flavour of their beans.

I’m a coffee novice but I can still distinguish between styles and types. The flavours are real. As I sip from one cup, the bitter roasted taste lingers on my tongue proudly announcing itself as a top dog of coffee. Let’s not forget that this is a dream. How is this even possible?

We’re young and carefree. We always are in this dream. The wind breezes through our hair ( I still have hair) as we travel from venue to venue. The radio is turned up loud and it plays a variety of hits from the eighties. Sometimes, we sing along if a tune catches our attention but mostly, despite the volume, it is background fodder. Instead, we chatter and laugh. We’re always happy in this dream even though we both know how it will end by now. 

As we pull into another place for one last coffee, I reach across to give you one last kiss. Our lips almost touch this time but before they do I wake. The pattern is familiar.

 

Michelle Daly, the Irish born and Berlin based songwriter, released the second single from a forthcoming album at the back end of 2020. ‘In My Dreams’ is a stylish and sultry soulful stroll through Michelle’s own land of dreams. She’s got a cracking voice for jazz classics and so the comparisons with Winehouse are inevitably drawn. It’s a tune that gives me lots of pleasure and I’m sure it will you.

We find Michelle contemplating the end of a brief flirtation. Or perhaps it’s the final days of a longer term relationship. Whatever, we know for sure that Michelle is coming to terms with the fact that she has put more into this than she’s been getting out. She’s been betrayed and is now the woman spurned. And she’s not crying into her coffee but working out ways to cope. 

I pity my friends who are unable to dream. They tell me, as if it’s a badge of honour, that they don’t dream or, if they do, they can’t remember them. I actively cultivate mine. Who would not want to wake with a hazy and happy memory from your sleep time? It strikes me that it’s even more important to have vibrant and wild dreams right now when our daily horizons are so streamlined.

Happy Monday all. 

 

Jolene – Denied

If things were ‘normal’ right now, I might be packing up a small suitcase in anticipation of a flight to Amsterdam. And from there, I might be hopping north on a train to Groningen. I’d pull my things through the slush on the streets (the snow never quite settles) and check in at the cheapest room I’d been able to find. I’d then reacquaint myself with all that there is to see and do at Eurosonic Noorderslag. January festivals are the best.

Clearly, things aren’t ‘normal’ right now. That giddy freedom of drinking myself silly whilst rushing around Dutch cities and watching acts that I might love or hate whilst talking nonsense to nearby punters is not on the cards. I’m glad I have the memories. 

Jolene is still releasing music. Sonic Breakfast readers with particularly extensive memories might recall how we once met in Groningen (here). I would love to be back in that crowd right now. I treasured the card that Jolene gave me until my wallet got stolen about eighteen months later

“Wow that is a long time ago and how drunk was I that evening hahah”, says Jolene when I get back in touch with her to tell her how much I like her new track, Denied. It’s  a dark-pop classic. On the surface, it’s a tale of love gone wrong and yet for me, right now, it takes on a much greater significance. I’m being denied these things that I love, festivals in January, and it hurts. But probably not as much as Covid does. 

Eurosonic Noorderslag is sort of continuing this year. From this Wednesday, it’s programmed four free online stages where you and I can head to watch 15 minute sets from the up and coming across Europe. I might dip in and out. I’ve struggled to connect with online gigs in the way I might if I was there in person but it’s a noble substitute and there will no doubt be some fine contributions. (Sign up here). It’ll be worth watching if other lockdown alternatives are exhausted. 

I don’t know if Jolene will be watching any. She’s sounds kind of flat-out . “For 2021 at the moment I’m busy with another project I’ve just started. It’s another musical side of me. I’m going to record another rock album with influences of Quentin Tarantino Dead Weather Style :)”, she says. “Meanwhile I’m looking for a producer to record 3 new tracks for my Jolene electro project. So kinda busy with creating music.”

We’ll be through with this nightmare soon. 

 

 

Ryne Meadow – Judgement

I tend to keep it very quiet but I was once a full-on born-again Christian. During my teenage years, whilst friends got high and stole cars, I chose to read my bible and to organise impromptu prayer meetings in the school library. I had it bad; speaking in tongues and getting slain in the spirit was my drug of choice. Every slight distraction from that path was the temptation of the devil.

It was never going to end well. A fundamentalist faith doesn’t sit well with a liberal outlook and I became increasingly conflicted. On the one hand, the Church was telling me that homosexuality is an abhorrent sin and yet I couldn’t quite reconcile that with the sense that my gay friends were the coolest and kindest people I knew. The church was governed by a set of male elders whilst women did the childcare, played the piano sweetly and made the sandwiches and tea after the services. I would have done anything to listen to a women preach but to suggest such craziness would have been derided; this church was not a place where the apple cart should be upset. Talking of apples, some of the elders seemed to delight in the fact that Eve was the temptress.

I know that not all Christian faith is as wildly right-wing as the one that I landed in. But the net result is that I have no faith now, just a language of love that includes everyone with no preconceived notions. 

And that seems to be the place that Ryne Meadow has settled upon as well. Raised in a southern baptist background, Ryne has clearly been on a spiritual journey. A gay man, he must have felt confused, sidelined and denounced as he came (out) to the judgements stemming from modern-day evangelicals. In today’s glorious Sonic Breakfast tune, Ryne reclaims his power by contemplating that judgement. With soulful voice and intense intent, Judgement is a passionate plea for the personal to be considered over and above any organised religion. It’s a tune that sparkles with class as it meanders towards a thrilling climax. And it marks Ryne out as a real talent to watch.

You only have to look at the events in Washington over the past few days to see how dangerous it can be to follow a set of beliefs so wholeheartedly that you somehow lose your own critical faculty in the process.