Brophy’s Law – The Bachelor

As another weekend approaches, we can almost celebrate that this’ll be the last that we have to endure (in the UK) without pubs. Yes, it’ll only be outside spaces and gardens that will be open from Monday but at least we’ll all be able to get the pints in again. Of course, there will be stipulations, not least that tables will need to be booked and they’ll likely be at a premium given our collective thirst but it’s a step in the right direction. 

The reopening of pubs will no doubt be warmly received by The Bachelor, the lead character in the recently-released all-time favourite live track from Brophy’s Law. The Bachelor is a man who likes a drink. Indeed, crucial life decisions are made by him based on his ability to stay close to the bar. He avoids marriage and long-term relationships because drinking at the bar is of more importance. 

I’m sure we all know people like The Bachelor. Indeed, I’ve never been married and have spent more than my fair share of time propped up on a barstool. Others, looking on in from the outside, might perceive that this song is a fair description of my life. I’d deny such accusations pointing to the wealth of extra-curricular interests I have. But I concede that those who rarely go to pubs are on another spectrum in comparison to my good self.

Brophy’s Law specialise in good-time, traditional Irish folk with a punk(ish) seam. They cite the glory days of The Pogues and the creative spirit of The Clash as major influences and that can certainly be seen within The Bachelor. This is music that you want to dance wildly to at a festival – let’s hope that some will go ahead this year and we’ll get our chance to spill our ciders (and Guinness) as we stumble into accidental mosh pits and declare that all is grand with the world. Brophy’s Law might well have festival appearances and a tour to Canada to look forward to in August though I suppose that could be on hold depending upon the speed that we get back to something approaching normality.

The opening of pub gardens (after this weekend and in the UK) signals another step forward. Wishing you all a spirited weekend when it comes. 

Thom Morecroft – The Beast (Live)

They’re getting closer; “those heady days of socially un-distanced live performances“, as the press release for Thom Morecroft’s latest single so eloquently puts it, are surely on the horizon? For now, we can all just about recall what intimate and raw gigs were like. And, should we need an immediate reminder, you need look no further than today’s Sonic Breakfast track. 

The Beast (live) has been part of Thom’s live repertoire for a little while and was released as a single last month. Written when he was just 17 in response to growing up with an alcoholic Dad, it’s a song that contains an almost-uneasy vulnerability. You sense that there’s therapy in the making every time that Thom plays this tune. And don’t doubt that those growing up in similar situations will identify with the desperation and wasted optimism within. Here, on the stage of Studio 2 in Liverpool, with just an acoustic guitar and a powerful, soaring voice, Thom belts it all out. 

He’s in perky and positive mood when we briefly exchange E-mails. “I’ll probably be getting a haircut as soon as restrictions are lifted.“, says Thom. “Definitely missing live gigs. It’s been a bit of a funny year so far, but it’ll get better.” 

Yep, it’s getting better all the time and should you find yourself with a little time on your hands this weekend, don’t hesitate to check out some of the many Beatles’ covers that Thom has recorded and added to YouTube during lockdowns. There’s some neat collaborations and some sterling work in reaching the high notes of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ on offer there. It all rather flies in the face of my observations about cover versions made just yesterday (here).

But The Beast (Live) is a total original. Let’s revel in the rawness of intimate art this Friday. 

The BOBS – Bargain Booze

“When booze was new its highs were true

But now the weekend is all you do 

And all the highs just lie to you”

It’s another Saturday night out in Alicante. As the alcohol flows our guard drops and we both take risks that sobriety would have warned against. 

We temporarily forget that there’s a global pandemic going on as we freely chat with cynical men from the North. They don’t believe they’re in danger and neither should we. 

Beers and shots are downed as we sympathise with the lad from Denmark who’s just had his laptop stolen from beside him. I buy a bongo, a cheap drum with garish decoration from a man selling all sorts of tat to impressionable tourists. 

Much drink is imbibed. It’s a night of high jinx, insane spirit and bargain booze. The bars are instructed to close at 1AM but by then we’ve had our fill. And we know about it in the morning when our heads throb.

I dare say that Bargain Booze, the cheap liquor store back in the UK, has been doing quite well  over the last months. Certainly, the tales in the media of the chain’s financial vulnerability seem to have abated since it was taken over a couple of years back. A model of business where location is everything, you’ll find these stores on the edge and in the heart of mass conurbations. With pub hours reduced, the Bargain Booze shops now become the social hubs for many.

The BOBS (Best of British Suicide) from Brighton have written an off-kilter ode to Bargain Booze. I’m not sure if this is directly about the store or more about the culture that we live in that both celebrates and demonises drinking depending upon your social class. 

Whatever, it’s a playful piece calling upon the frantic staccato of the Cardiacs before developing into a sort of punky Britpop four-pints-in chorus. Here we have a song that in the space of three minutes captures the highs and lows of drinking alcohol – joyful, spiky, wayward and carefree in a couple of shots. 

Even if the music is not entirely your thing (what are you, a teetotaller?), the video will surely make you smile with its stop-motion antics. Who knew that bottle openers and corkscrews had so much rhythm? 

Bargain Booze is a tune to lock-in to – and with this release, The BOBS declare themselves as ones to watch. 

 

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.