The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten – Five To One

I’m hesitant to publish my Sonic Breakfast Top Ten Five To One. Charts such as this are pretty meaningless anyway. I’ll have good friends who are wondering why they’re not in this top five; others who’ve featured on Sonic Breakfast this year might compare themselves to those in the top ten and find it difficult to understand why they’ve been omitted over and above ‘x’…

And in many ways such a response is right. What’s the point of doing anything if you’re not incredibly proud and protective about your craft? I’ll reiterate though – there’s a reason why I’ve featured each and every one of the acts I have on Sonic Breakfast this year – and that’s because they EXCITE…..

Onwards to the top five….

5. Workers In Songs

One of the lovely and slightly scary things about writing pieces for ‘Sonic Breakfast’ is that you’re never quite sure if you’ve interpreted intent accurately – or if you’ve messed up big time. I was pretty sure that there was an uncomfortable edge to the video for ‘Crazy Without You’ from Workers In Songs frankly brilliant album, ‘That Glorious Masterpiece’. Morten Krogh from the band confirmed in E-mail afterwards that, “you really get many of the things that we try to get through to the listener! Good job and respect from here!” Phew – thank goodness for that. They’ve got a new video from the album that’s due for release soon but, as that’s not yet ready, here’s one from their back catalogue.

 

4. Ash Mammal 

Ash Mammal are THE most exciting band playing in Leicester at the moment. I was unable to make their headline show at the Musician just a couple of weeks ago but my Facebook timeline was littered with comment from people who have views I respect about how great a gig it was. They use a quote from my original piece as a strapline; ‘an exercise in punkish unpredictability‘. This makes me ever so slightly fuzzy. 2015 has got to be the year in which more people realise just how exceptional they are. I’m told by Beaumont Weed that their new material pushes them up to next steps. I cannot comprehend where that takes them too. They’ll still be like marmite – but give them a try if you haven’t to date.

 

3. Dylan Seeger – Claye

Not one that’s prone to make rash predictions, I’d put money on the fact that you won’t see Dylan Seeger’s album, Claye, featured in any other top ten lists of 2014. This is the biggest of crying shames. If you’ve got some time off between Christmas and the New Year, do yourself a massive favour and give it a proper listen. This is finely crafted art. It’s an album that continues to give well after the initial listen. Dylan seems resigned to the fact that his craft will remain ignored and under-valued.

 

2. Chemistry Lane – An Interview

You can tell a lot about a band by the way that they answer questions that are sent to them. It’s been one of my favourite ways to source articles this year, partly because the onus is placed upon the band to convey whatever they want in particular ways. Chemistry Lane are a team of perfectionists over their craft and their approach to answering questions was no different. It seemed that the Chester tourist board jumped upon this article with the content sparking all manner of debate. I’ve never been to Chester. Perhaps, I should go. Expect an album from the scintillating Chemistry Lane in 2015 (or 2017 – they are perfectionists after all).

 

1. The Watanabes

The second half of 2014 seems to have been a busy one for The Watanabes. The release of their EP, ‘Draw What You Like’, has yielded all sorts of praise-laden reviews. Over in Japan, the gigs appear to be getting bigger and the fan-base is growing.

There’s a school in Peterborough. At that school, a teacher has started to show her form group videos from Sonic Breakfast. I’m told that the one for ‘Yuriko, Yuriko’ had quite a calming impact on her class. Friends of mine also thanked me for highlighting the Watanabes to them. The Watanabes seem like perfect gents. And I’m sure that they’ll appreciate this. Making things better is a pretty fine outlook with which to approach another working day. 

 

I have loved producing Sonic Breakfast this year. I’ll resolve to write even more regularly in 2015 and discover another fine set of acts that I’ll have no option but to share..

Chemistry Lane – An interview

I first met Dan from Chemistry Lane at the 6 Music Festival in Manchester early this year. It was late and I was spectacularly drunk. Mark King from Level 42 fame was buying drinks for everybody but us. We bonded over such rejection.

Dan told me about his band and gave me a CD to listen to. I threatened to start a blog so that I could feature bands such as his. I didn’t know if I’d like Chemistry Lane back then but suspected I would.

 

I’ve been sent things in the post since – press releases and videos on beautifully designed, bright orange memory sticks. For Chemistry Lane, the image, style, product and concept is important.

We had a crazy, mad night dancing in the silent disco at the Off The Tracks summer festival. It was also spectacularly drunken. Earlier, Chemistry Lane had proved to be one of the highlights of the whole festival. I loved their approach to live performance. I loved their sound. They have answered my questions in delightful fashion. This is well worth a read.

Introduce Chemistry Lane to the readers of Sonic Breakfast in no more than 100 words….

Bridging the gap between the intensity and momentum of a rock band, and the clinical electro loops of dance floor hypnosis, Chemistry Lane surf waves of paranoia that redirect your gaze toward the illusion, like sleight of hand in reverse. Or we make the music that we want to hear that hasn’t been made by anyone else yet.

Where does the name ‘Chemistry Lane’ come from?

Choosing the name was quite a lengthy process, suggestions would come and go, gloried by some of the band, pilloried by others. In the end, Sam noticed a rather unique street name in Sandycroft, North Wales and it was the offering that met with the least resistance. Chemistry Lane were born.

What’s been the highlight of 2014 to date for Chemistry Lane?

Our first gig of 2014 was supporting 65daysofstatic. Playing with a band which we all hold in great esteem in our hometown was pretty special. FestEvol at the Kazimier in Liverpool was a superb event, very enjoyable to play with the added bonus of some fine reviews. The same was true for Off the Tracks Festival in Derbyshire, however the undoubted highlight was releasing our debut single ‘Faustian’. Making the accompanying video was a fun experience though we fear we may lose drummer Sean to Hollywood after his much-lauded and captivating performance.

What’s the process that’s involved in writing your material?

It’s like an argument where everyone is on the same side but no-one agrees, like a jigsaw where you don’t have all the pieces, the box, or any type of illustration, and reaching a consensus is occasionally like trying to catch a lubricated eel in a tumble dryer.

Getting signed to the Victoria Warehouse label. How did that happen and how do you see that developing?

We were approached after our second self-released EP launch by the founder of Victoria Warehouse Records Danny Hambrook. That night saw us take the visual element of our show to new levels with lights, visuals and video projected against an all white background. This also included the band dressing all in white, a look that becomes bassist Dan surprisingly well. Our set had reached a point where we felt we were breaking new ground and really starting to connect with audiences, and that was recognised by the label.

The label provides an opportunity to have our releases distributed and promoted, and hopefully make the most of the opportunities that can arise from the growth of the label. The labels attachment to the Victoria Warehouse venue which recently hosted the BBC 6Music festival is also an exciting prospect.

If you were curating a festival, who would be your headliners (dead or alive)?

Good Question. We could quite easily have spent the remainder of 2014 debating this, but we’re now super professional and have an album to record so we’ve settled on:

The Who (circa 1970)
The Doors (circa 1967)
Ziggy Stardust (circa 1973)
Fugazi (circa 1998)
Marvin Gaye (circa 1971)

What’s the music scene like in Chester? What do you most like about living there and what do you most despise?

Chester has some good bands but there isn’t much of a ‘scene’ as such. Like us, the bands with a bit more ambition play the odd gig in Chester but focus their attentions further afield. Chester has some good restaurants and a zoo. We find the low crime rate beneficial when taking a late night stroll listening to minimal electronica.

‘Despise’ is a strong word for peace loving folks such as ourselves, but the Tory council run by mustachioed masons is a definite negative, as is the lack of a cinema or theatre. These factors made the Chester’s recent bid to become the City of Culture rather comedic. But it does have some good schools and a zoo.

Should those watching the video to ‘Faustian’ believe that it offers them an insight into the lives of Chemistry Lane? Are any of your influences seen within the images?

The video is cut through with a definite Orwellian influence and carries a political/social observation that a lot of people can relate to. Maybe this speaks of our hometown too. A typically Cestrian existential crisis surely involves a resident rising one morning and realising they’re never going to escape middle management in a multinational banking and financial services corporation and even if they could, they wouldn’t.

Where will Chemistry Lane be in twelve months time? What will you look to have achieved?

Our primary aim is to have our debut album finished, released and for us to be happy with the result. The plan is also to gain wider exposure through the album, bigger gigs and festivals, measured by the increasing nature of our font size on gig posters.