Loose T. – Brexit

Brexit supporters must be thanking their lucky stars that Covid-19 happened when it did. The economic fall-out as a result of the shit storm can now be hidden away within the much larger negative pandemic impact. “Oh, that’s a direct consequence of Covid“, the politicians can say about our poverty for years to come when questioned why the nurses are only seeing paltry pay rises and the NHS doesn’t seem to be £350m better off. 

I’ve no doubt begun to sound like a broken record on these pages. But friends who run small businesses are either no longer exporting into EU countries or cutting into their thin margins to do so; friends who live in an EU country are reporting that the shelves are bare of things like Marmite and UK based cheddar cheese. Transferring funds from the UK into the EU now costs silly money every transaction. And I’m not even going to start on the time limits that we can now all spend in EU countries. 

Brexit supporters, tongues in the arses of others, lick away whilst mumbling incoherently about beating those pesky Europeans to vaccinations as if it’s a competitive sport. It all makes me want to scream. 

But, arguably, I’m still not screaming as loud about Brexit as Loose T.. Jim, from her record label, Pear O’Legs, tells me what Loose T. will be doing when the pandemic is done. ” She’ll probably just go and shout somewhere“, he says – “it really is her thing.Ideally in a crowd with a lot of sweaty strangers.

 

Loose T.’s track ‘Brexit’ is a wonderfully angry punk piece, a fingers up to Brexit and British politics from a French cellist, writer and activist who has spent the last 8 years living in London and Edinburgh. Who can not be drawn to a track that quickly and immediately gets to the very heart of what’s wrong with it all?

On the next day, My boss came In a Hawaiian shirt Cause he felt so smug.” screams Loose T. at one point early in the song nailing the divisions that were reinforced overnight in 2016 and have still to go away. 

Sadly I think lots of people have had enough of Brexit and have just accepted the ongoing shambles.“, says Jim from the record label, on behalf of Loose T. who doesn’t do social media. I suspect that Jim is broadly right. 

Sonic Breakfast will never accept it though. 

Sonic Breakfast’s Act Of The Year – 2020

It’s been the strangest of years – of that there is no doubt. Who knows how 2020 will ultimately be recorded in the history books but few would bet against it being seen as the year that it all changed. Very few of us are going back to what we once had. 

At the beginning of the year, Sonic Breakfast had completed the transition from a blog that wrote about acts I liked to a blog that wrote about gigs I liked. So happy was I with the change that I considered retiring the whole blog when the initial lockdown came. A writers block came over me and I wrote very little until August. By then, I’d made my way to Spain. The space and warmth chilled my lethargy and I tentatively began dipping my toe in the ‘band water’ again. Turns out I’ve enjoyed the routine it’s provided – finding new art to write about in 2020 has been a joy and there’s so much of it around. 

I’m still livid about what’s happening back home. Brexit is so clearly the stuff of nonsense. And to do something as negatively game-changing whilst a mutating pandemic rages is nothing short of supreme idiocy. But there are a few who will benefit and so they make up lies in the state-controlled media to encourage others to believe. Mostly the lies stick by attaching blame for what’s been going wrong on others; those dirty immigrants or those foul foreigners. It makes me sick.

They say that good art can come from such dire circumstance. And whilst I’m not sensing a mass movement of revolutionaries quite yet, there has been some positive shoots. Bladderwrack is a no-brainer for Sonic Breakfast’s act of 2020 as they’ve been on the money with a series of singles, many (but not all) taken from their raging album, Good Mourning Britain. That album, recorded in a session of one-hour, sets the tone for what’s to come.

Sonic Breakfast first wrote about Bladderwrack a little over a month ago when they released their single ‘Gammon’. Readers can top up on my anger by revisiting that post (here). As 2020 draws to a close, Bladderwrack have been at it again with their Christmas release, Please Sir, We Want Some More. The Dickensian Punks draw upon the spirit of Oliver Twist to highlight the plight of many who are starving and dying whilst others benefit from the systems and apps they’ve (not) created. 

It’s a brilliant rant, not for the faint-hearted, as it shows in mocking satire what Britain has become. Bladderwrack are worthy winners of Sonic Breakfast’s act of 2020. The medals are in the post. 

 

Bladderwrack – Gammon

We need to talk about Brexit. I’m not going to mince my words here so if you have any sympathy for the clusterfuck that is the UK’s leaving of the European Union, you’d best stop reading now. Yes, that’s it, bounce off on your trotters. You are not welcome here. 

(Oh, that felt good). 

Insanely, you still bump into some supporters of Brexit here in Spain. There is just over a month to go until the transition period is over and we have left. Blind as bats, these advocates still drive cars with British number plates. They tell me that it’s not going to be so bad when it all comes into force. “the Spanish can’t live without me”, says the  Brit at the bar who seems to have no discernible purpose at all.

Can you tell that I’m angry? Just in case you can’t I’ll reinforce it by saying that I’m fucking angry. Over and over again until it hurts. Brexit messes up my ability to be here in Spain for any real length of time. It messes up my son’s ability to work here for any real length of time. For fucks sake, the basic foods are going to be in short supply, of shit quality and more expensive back home. “Ah, you’re just scaremongering – no pain, no gain”, says the man at the bar, proud of his invention in making up a little rhyme to emphasise his fuckwittery. 

Nobody has ever been able to give me one good reason  for Brexit.I feel that I have much more in common with the people here than I do with the arduous oiks back home who grunt at me monosyllabically when I suggest this is going to be a disaster of the highest order.

And today’s tune from Bladderwrack is on my side. It’s a perfect accompaniment to letting off steam. This two piece from Penge have delivered a gnarly piece of punk taking aim at the ‘Gammon’ across the British Isles. In a press release that made me laugh out loud, they mention that the notion of ‘Gammon’ has been around since the time of Dickens before calling on the Urban Dictionary for a definition. 

“A term used to describe a particular type of Brexit-supporting, Europhobic voter whose meat-faced complexion suggests they are perilously close to a stroke”, they say and you can’t say fairer than that.

Yes, it’s not placatory; it’s not unifying and it would probably help if we all just sat around a giant table and ironed out our differences. But, for now let me delight in a song that opens with the line –

I am on holiday, The Costa Del Sol, It used to be nice here, Until the Spanish took control.

promise to post pop music tomorrow. 

Brexiteers, Gazelle Twin and Pastoral

I wrote this piece yesterday and then wobbled over publishing it. I’m not sure why……

It’s never a good idea to argue on Facebook (or indeed any other form of social media) with a supporter of Brexit. There must be somebody somewhere who can put forward a decent case as to why this lunacy is a good idea but they don’t seem to mix in my circles. 

Take yesterday. The content of Theresa May’s speech at the Nasty party conference was nothing short of horrific but she did a nice dance to Abba so nobody seemed to mind. As the U.K heads hurtling off the cliff and the prospects of a no-deal Brexit loom ever larger, the argument of your average Brexiteer seemed to revolve around two points:-

(a) It wasn’t so bad back in the days pre-EU on our little idyll so it won’t be so bad post-Brexit. 

(b) At least, we’ll get our country back. 

Of course, the average Brexiteer has little response (save for ‘Fuck off you commie bastard) when you point out that they must be delighted with the direction that the Labour Party is taking. Those halcyon pre-EU days they so identify with were also times of nationalised industry, more council housing, more efficient education and health services and less pronounced extremes between the haves and the have-nots. And we got free milk in schools then.

The world has moved on – but not for those who exist by harking back to the good old days. They don’t seem too sure what ‘country’ it is that they’ll be getting back but vouch that a strong leader will surely sort it all out. At this juncture, it would simply be churlish to point out the parallels to the ‘good old days’ of 1920’s Germany. 

In these times of turmoil it follows that great art is likely to be made. I wanted to discover some of the great art that slotted in with my current malaise and somebody (I can’t recall who) suggested that I gave Gazelle Twin’s new album, Pastoral, a spin. 

It’s a dense record and not one that I can claim to enjoy as such. But it is a record that can be admired. Elizabeth Bernolz, the British composer who’s adopted Gazelle Twin as a stage name, is absolutely on the money about the current state of England. She’s bashed out a doom-laden industrial soundscape that verges towards the apocalyptic, the vocals at times as menacing as the fuck-ups she details. You immediately understand why she makes use of old folk instruments to create her scary vision. Because with lyres, harps and recorders, she’s emphasising the faux-idyllic, the good old days. The village green, a bastion of ‘our country’, might be getting tangled up in weeds and vomit but at least it’s still there.

I played ‘Pastoral’ to a Brexiteer. “Can’t we listen to some Ed Sheeran instead?”, he asked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Innes And The Cavalcade – Moscow

Imagine waking up one morning having dreamt that the love of your life is leaving you. And, they’re not leaving you because they’ve fallen in love with your best friend (which would, of course, be tough enough) but because they’re off to a cold, unfathomable place.

That’s the dream that Joe Innes emerges from in his wonderful new single, Moscow. Clearly, Joe is very much in love with the person who’s making plans to leave and yet that brings up all sorts of moral dilemmas. Do you accept their decision passively without trying to persuade them otherwise? Or do you run the risk of being labelled a controlling bully by pointing out the stupidity of their actions? 

(Click on page 2 for more about Moscow)

Louis Barabbas – Before You Disperse

It’s been a fair while since I’ve updated Sonic Breakfast. Festival season has taken hold and even though I’ve made a conscious decision to cover fewer this year, reviewing them still takes up a fair whack of my spare time. Great times were had at Lunar (review here), Sonar (review here) and Barn On The Farm (review here) and I’m very much looking forward to Beat Herder this weekend coming. 

 I make little apology for the lack of updates and concede any posts are likely to be sporadic until the summer passes and I find a tad more time.

 The world feels like a very different place since I last blogged. Inconceivably, the UK voted to leave the EU and subsequent events have both shocked and destabilised. A new Prime Minister, a Labour Party in opposition and in self destruct disarray, increased economic vulnerability and a despicable increase in reported hate crime as the vote to leave seems to have given a misplaced confidence to the voice of racist scum. 

 We all seem angrier, less capable of listening to each other. This is no summer of love but rather a season of discontent. 

 I’ve featured the fab Louis Barabbas on Sonic Breakfast before (here). I went along to his Musician gig and reviewed it for the Mercury. It’s always a pleasure to hear from him. Today, I received an E-mail telling me about an EP he’s releasing on the 22nd July, an EP that raises money for Médecins Sans Frontières, in response to recent events in UK politics and the world.

 As Louis says in his mail, “It’s an EP of political songs (two songs from the point of view of our sleazy elite and two a response from those affected by all the stuff happening at the moment), admittedly a bit of a rush job but just wanted to make some sort of (probably pointless) gesture in the vague direction of horrendous politicians and generally dismal times.”

 They’re songs from the musical that Louis was developing when I saw him live at the Musician. It’s a compelling EP and for an excellent cause in MSF so I’d urge readers to head on over to http://www.debtrecords.net/ on the 22nd to make an investment. 

 Here’s a lyric video for the EPs final track, ‘Before You Disperse’. It’s a track that tries desperately to find an optimistic and uplifting path away from the gloopy and gloomy mud that we currently stomp through. It’s a peaceful call to arms, a statement that suggests there’s still strength in unity rather than division. Perhaps the power to the people sentiment is pointless but there’s surely no harm in collective hugs. Listening to it tonight made me feel a little bit better and more resolved to act. 

 We’re not beaten yet (though I might feel that way after this weekend).