Simon Dinwiddy – City Of Hope

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know how much I love going to festivals. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to party in a field by the end of this year though I admit the prospects look gloomy right now. Rockaway Beach at the Butlins in Bognor was the last festival I was able to get along to before the pandemic hit. I reviewed it for e-Festivals here. January 2020 seems an age ago. 

Festivals are my ‘City Of Hope’. Some of the larger ones (I’m thinking Glastonbury and Boomtown) are the actual size of cities but even the smaller ‘towns and villages’ help me in my escape. They are my amusement arcade; the place where I can go to forget about the 9 to 5 drudgery. I can eat popcorn and candyfloss at a festival if I want to. I simply cannot wait for their return. 

Simon Dinwiddy gets my longing. His recent tune ‘City Of Hope’ is all about dreams and romance, lust and escapism. With an indie crash and a punky, Britpop splash, Simon takes us all to the seaside for a swagger through the streets. With a nod to The Libertines and to Blur, this is a fun-time tune. How crazy that the video is filmed in Bognor, the scene of my last ‘City Of Hope’.

I’m in Littlehampton, I thought it would be ironic to do it in Bognor.“, says Simon when I ask him about his choice of location. When you see the cheesy tat on offer, the irony is not lost though I wouldn’t dismiss the hope that comes out of a place that hosts a festival of Rockaway Beach’s quality. 

‘Get on a plane and fly to Spain’, sings Simon a couple of times in the song. Now, there’s an idea if we only could. It’s two weeks since I flew out of Alicante. My enforced isolation is done and I’d hop on that plane back tomorrow. That’s a true city of hope. 

Slow Walk – Sherlock Holmes Would Know

I am somewhat ashamed to say that I have never read a novel featuring Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle has passed me by. Add to that confession that I’m not a great watcher of TV and so have not even dabbled with Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest portrayal of the legendary sleuth then it’s not hard to see why I don’t feel particularly qualified to be commenting on today’s Sonic Breakfast post.

But (as I’m sure many will be quick to point out) such elementary ignorance has never really stopped me before. And besides, the excellent ‘Sherlock Holmes Would Know’ by Slow Walk isn’t really about the great, drugged-up detective. Rather, it’s about a “hapless fool who suspects his lover of foul play but isn’t smart enough to break the case and so he daydreams of being the legendary detective and solving the mystery that is his life.” 

Suspicion, daydreaming and trying to solve the mystery of my life are all things I feel abundantly qualified to comment upon. 

There’s a lovely marching bounce to ‘Sherlock Holmes Would Know’. With a morsel of Britpop-era Blur and a bite from The Blockheads, Keith Turner, the man behind Slow Walk, has come up with a jaunty, funny and sometime sweary song about how foolishly following your intuition can sometimes not be wise. Watch out for your neighbour eh as they’re doing the dirty on you….

I ask Keith what he’s most looking forward to in 2021.  “I think mostly I am hoping things get a little easier for everyone,“, he says. “I get to see my friends again and ideally I’ll be standing in a field somewhere watching a great band with a cold beer in my hand. But in the meantime I am happy and very fortunate to be in the Slow Walk bunker knocking out mad cap videos.

You can’t say fairer than that. From the man given his monicker by a group of youths in Tufnell Park (a mystery I’m saving for a potential sequel), I hope you enjoy Tuesday’s Sonic Breakfast tune as much as I.

 

 

 

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. 

 

Jack Perrett, The Orders & Pastel – The Old Blue Last – August 20th 2019

You’re going to struggle if you head to an indie gig to find originality. The genre is chucking out little new and the young lads that are involved wear their influences very firmly on their sleeves. This is no bad thing; you just have to roll with it, right? Enjoy it for what it is and suspend the extremes of your critical faculty for a while.

This is certainly true of Tuesday night at the Old Blur Last (see what I deliberately did there?). Tonight (Matthew), we have three more than competent acts from across the UK who have all scoured through their parent’s CD collections to collate their chords of influence. They’re all, in different ways, likeable and it all makes for an entertaining though hardly ground-breaking evening.

Jack Perrett is the headliner and arguably the pick of the bunch. Jack and his two mates, from Newport South Wales, are very much from the indie-mod camp, oozing with Jam and early Beatles influence. It’s all ‘lazy days’ and ‘sunshine mornings’ carried along with a generous dose of harmony and melody. Jack shows that he’s got an ear for writing a catchy, radio-friendly singalong and more than demonstrates how appreciative he is to have a crowd to play in front of. Some guy in an Arsenal shirt bounds up onto stage and stays there for four songs taking pictures on his i-phone. He’s the merch guy but it’s not entirely clear why he thinks it appropriate to hog Jack’s limelight. Jack and the others are too polite to tell him to fuck off. The kids of today eh?  

 

The Orders have travelled from the Isle Of Wight for this show. They wear shorts because that’s what everyone does on the island. Another three piece, you can tell that they’ve practiced hard in their bedrooms. The floppy-haired guitarist who also takes lead vocal duties can certainly play his instrument; many of the songs descend into psychedelic wig-outs with extended solos when we perhaps want short and snappy. It’s Britpop with occasional swerves towards grunge. Sometimes you can’t entirely make out what the singer is saying between tunes; he needs to project, show a bit more confidence with the mic yet I’d still see them again. 

 

Pastel are playing when I arrive. From the way they look to the sound they make, these guys from Swansea via Manchester nail their indie credentials to the mast. Think shoegaze and The Stone Roses with an Oasis sneer and you’ll have pinpointed Pastel. But, to their credit, they don’t come across as cocks on stage; there!s a sort of contained confidence, a shuffling laid-backness that’s actually quite charming. Admirable.

 

I’m glad I made the effort to get on the 205 and head to the Old Blue Last tonight. All three bands have entertained and it’ll be interesting to follow their progress from here. 

The Lottery Winners and Depression, Baby – Sebright Arms – February 26th 2019

I’m glad that I went out tonight. Feeling a tad tired after last night’s restlessness (here), I almost did the unthinkable and curled up early. 

But this room is still sauna-like and frankly unpleasant. I’ve discovered the source of the difficulty though. There’s a thermostat in the corridor of this Airbnb and a guest in another room seems to think it a good idea to turn this up to max at every opportunity. I’m now switching it to something sensible whenever I leave the room. There are no compromises here; this is a ‘negotiation’ I will win by sheer bloody-mindedness.

In truth it wasn’t much cooler down in the basement of the Sebright Arms. Another new London venue, these trips out are delicious. The Sebright is a spacious and busy pub; upstairs the piped music is loud as it dwarves any commentary from the football being shown on the big screen. Nobody seems bothered by Bury vs Portsmouth anyway. 

The basement venue for music is functional, dark and sticky. Tonight, I’ll be watching The Lottery Winners. From oop north, I’ve been aware of the name for a while without paying them much attention. Initial pre-gig impressions are strong; two of them, beardy giants both, shake my hand as I enter the room. They’ve got a slightly blurry, fuzzy backdrop pinned to the wall behind the drum kit announcing the band’s name and some flickering old black and white TV sets dotted around for the same purpose. You suspect that The Lottery Winners mean business.

But first it’s the support for the evening, Depression, Baby. An initial sense that they might be trying a bit too hard to be cool gives way to a general feeling that they’re bloody good and that they’ve got fabulous tunes. It’s swathed in the past with bits of rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop and country coming to the fore. But, there are also cinematic sweeps and velvet flourishes that give this a decadence not unlike Father John Misty or The Last Shadow Puppets. They’ve got a fine vocalist, an interesting turn of phrase lyrically and a neat way of harmonising. New single, No Strangers, still has less than 1,000 Spotify plays and the band are keen to bump this. It’s a travesty that more haven’t listened. Give it time and their listens will surely rocket.

 

It’s also something of a travesty that more don’t know about The Lottery Winners. From the off you know that this is going to be a hoot. Larger than life singer, Tom, choreographs a last-minute band entrance to Push The Button by the Sugababes. He’s an effervescent ball of energy for a 20 stone man; always wise-cracking, corrupting and being mischievous, it’s a bit like watching Johnny Vegas front a band. The joking around and tomfoolery never gets tiresome.

That’s partly because The Lottery Winners have the material to back them up as well. Quite why this quartet from Leigh are still playing free London shows when, by rights, they should have hit the jackpot and be charging for the privilege, is anybody’s guess. The loyal fan base here tonight are already aware of their brilliance but they pick up other converts (including me) en-route. 

The offer is a sort of best of British pop; singalong choruses (‘a publisher’s dream’) harking back to Britpop highs, they freely comment on and criticise the state of life for young people today. Recent single ‘That’s Not Entertainment’, channels their anger about reality TV through a saucy-seaside postcard lens and ending up sounding like the Northern spit of Blur circa The Great Escape. 

Long-standing followers urge for The Lottery Winners to eventually release their album. “We thought we’d cut out the middlemen and put it straight into the charity shops”, quips Tim. “I wrote this one about my Mum, it’s called I don’t love you”, he states before playing a heartfelt lovely number. 

Loud Northern bastards they might be but they’re also the complete ticket. They have the tunes, the stagecraft and the girth. By the time that they get all baggy on us and recall what it’s like to be 21 again, the knowing lyrical nods towards the Inspiral Carpets (This is how it feels) feel almost throwaway. But one suspects that this cleverness is no accident. They encourage a crazy dancing chap to join them on stage, their very own Bez in the making. 

The room is less sauna-like when I eventually arrive home yet the sweat from the venue still lingers. I mightn’t have won the lottery but I’m winning my thermostat battle – and seeing great bands in the process. 

 

The Dowling Poole – Rebecca Receiving

 Mark sent me a tweet. 

Mark likes his rock music though I was pretty sure that this tweet wouldn’t be recommending a band bursting with guitars. Mark knows that our musical tastes converge slightly but that the nearer he moves towards Download territory the more I move away.

The tweet recommended this new song and video from The Dowling Poole. I listened and watched whilst on a train journey. The signal wasn’t wonderful even though the single was. I had to press play again and again.

In truth I didn’t mind.

‘Rebecca Receiving’ is exactly the sort of tune that’s up my street. It’s got an undeniably quirky edge that reminds me of XTC or some of Blur’s better Brit Pop moments. 

The theme is undeniably sad. Rebecca appears to be clinging to her youthful dreams even though her years are advancing. Like many of us, growing old gracefully is not an option for Rebecca and so we fight the wrinkles with withering weariness. 

The theme might be sad – but it’s approached with fun and an upbeat humour. Like some of the very best writing of Ray Davies, it evokes a certain joy from its character based derision. 

Wikipedia tells me that “The Dowling Poole are a British psychedelic Power Pop duo made up of multi instrumentalists Willie Dowling (formerly of Jackdaw4 and Honeycrack) and Jon Poole (formerly of Cardiacs).” This is the first releases from their forthcoming second album, One Hyde Park. 

It was making more sense now. I’ve still got lots of vinyl in my back room from the late 1980’s when I bought every Cardiacs record going. I really ought to head back there. 

I’m glad that Mark sent me a tweet.