I’ll be heading to Groningen in the Netherlands in less than two weeks. Knowing this, I probably should have taken it a bit easier over Christmas.
Eurosonic Noorderslag has been a festival I’ve wanted to do for some time now. There’s something particularly attractive about the idea. Whilst others are finding ways to get fit and limit their expanding waistlines, I’ll be partying with festival bookers, up and coming bands and writers just like me in Holland.
This is apparently where the festival industry goes to do their summer deals. I’ll be doing my utmost to unearth the best rumours for eFestivals.
But, I’ll be honest. The scale of it all feels a tad overwhelming. 350 bands or so promoting their wares over a few days during which I’ll have to get my bearings in a strange city. It could be carnage if I had no plan.
People have been asking me if I’m going to be doing a ‘Sonic Breakfast Top 10’ again this year after the success of last years chart. Here’s the answer!! Yesssss…
It’s been something of a stop/start year for SB if I’m honest. Increased ‘day job’ responsibilities, another busy festival season, new outlets for my writing (hello Leicester Mercury) and a bit of that personal shenanigan stuff have all contributed to a slightly more sporadic approach to blog posting. I resolve to do better in 2016! Nevertheless, I’ve still featured some fab music that I’m keen to revisit.
What better place to begin the countdown of the ten Sonic Breakfast posts that have given me the most pleasure in 2015 than with this track from Copenhagen based ‘Of The Valley’? Brian DellaValle continues to plug away with his music. The city of Hamburg appears to have taken Brian close to its bosom in the latter part of this year. He’s played the Reeperbahn festival there and a gig in the last couple of weeks. Let’s hope for more recorded material as strong as Ride Alone and possibly a couple of gigs here in the UK in 2016?
This was one of my first posts after the lengthy blog break for another Summer of festivals. Since I reviewed the single ‘Longshot’, Correatown have released the superb album ‘Embrace The Fuzzy Unknown’. It’s well worth a listen should you get the chance.
Angela Correa’s words here feel suitably uplifting for an End of Year post – “Sometimes the life we have is just as beautiful, if not more so than the life we imagined because it’s ours and it’s real. Sometimes it’s even better because we’ve lived through all the days and moments to get there.”
Other videos have now been released to accompany the album. Here’s one for a favourite track of mine – True North.
I still listen to the ‘listening post’ on Tom Robinson’s ‘Fresh On The Net’ website. It’s a fine way to be introduced to new acts such as VanWyck. This is one of my favourite interview based posts from 2015, largely because of the richness of the answers given by VanWyck. There’s much of interest to read within.
Amsterdam based VanWyck has been undertaking a pretty mammoth task of late. Since September, she’s been publishing a weekly digest about her ventures into songwriting and recording. Christine’s plan is to do this for a whole year. To date, there’s been twelve songs released – some are lo-fi, scratchy phone recordings but with a talent such as VanWyck this just adds to the ambience.
Most songs are accompanied with videos – footage from other moments of cinematic history that add to the track. ‘Tanned Legs’, the song that first pulled me into VanWyck’s world now swims in vintage mermaid murkiness.
Let’s stay in Amsterdam a while with the fabulous SnowApple. If there was a blog post this year that sums up the ever so slightly chaotic experience that my life has been then this one is it.
I’ve still to see SnowApple live. They played a short tour here in the UK in the summer which again I managed to miss. Judging by the photos I’ve seen from incredibly successful tours in Mexico, future dates here might be more of a challenge to get tickets for.
On that summer tour, they recorded this song ‘Old Fashioned Morphine’ which has recently been released with a vintage underwater video..What is it about vintage underwater videos coming out of Amsterdam? Interestingly, the video was put together by Jonathan Brown (aka Dusty Stray). We’ve been E-mailing this year and I’ll be featuring Jonathan’s music on Sonic Breakfast in 2016.
Delighted to see that 2015 has been a pretty spectacular year for one of my favourite discoveries from New York, Wolf Colony. The album ‘Unmasked’ wasn’t far from my car CD player throughout the months of Spring. It’s joyous, electronic pop with an edge and I adored sharing it with others who fell in love with it as the days got longer and summer approached.
I didn’t feature any of the follow-up videos beyond the beautiful ‘falling in love’ moments of ‘The One’. I probably should have done so. Watch ‘Holy’ to take you to a place of sand, sun and strange, floaty symbolism. It helps that it’s full of beautiful people as well.
Still anonymous, Wolf Colony ended the year with a fab three track EP ‘Oceans’. When asked to comment on the new EP he replied, ““True love is eternal. It changes form, but never fades away. Ocean is about the five different stages of a relationship:
Sonic Breakfast has been in operation for over a year now. There was no birthday party and no celebration. It’s a year that has flown by and it’s fair to say that I enjoy the process of blogging and discovering exciting music even more now than I did back then. Maybe, I should buy a cake? It’s always been my intent to ‘ride alone’.
There’s still nothing that quite beats that feeling you get when an E-mail pops into your inbox direct from an artist you knew nothing about. You listen to the links that the artist has sent and immediately know that you’re on to a winner; such was the experience when previewing ‘Of The Valley’ earlier this week.
Brian DellaValle didn’t say much by way of introduction. In fact all he said was, “My name is Brian DellaValle and I am a Canadian singer-songwriter and long time Copenhagen resident. I have released my first material under my solo work: Of The Valley. I released the first single last night from an upcoming record and I hope you enjoy! Ride Alone.”
Brian’s allowing the tune to do the talking. Drawing clear influence from the very best of The National or Richmond Fontaine, ‘Ride Alone’ ambles along with mysterious intent. There’s no big, catchy chorus here or singalong ending. It’s not required. A violin accompaniment provides the aural equivalent of a nail scratching down a blackboard, adding perfectly to the increasing sense of austere intelligence in the air.
At its heart, I suspect that ‘Ride Alone’ is a positive statement of intent. Here, we have a man , keen to escape the confines that have held him back. There’s an inherent sadness that to do so will mean leaving things you cherish; but an overwhelming sense that it’s only by ‘riding alone’ and taking a risk that your dreams will be realised.
“He promptly dropped the day job and holed himself up in a small town in Northern Italy with an old typewriter and guitar. Though the material for the upcoming record was already written, he spent the next month slowing down and becoming a musician again,” says the press release about ‘Of The Valley’. You can almost hear this process happening within the twists and turns of ‘Ride Alone.’
I love the Eurovision Song Contest. I realise that such amour sets me apart from a bulk of my friends. But I can’t help myself. Bucks Fizz made my mind up on this and then Bardo pushed me one step further into what has been a lifelong appreciation of the quirks, the drama, the politics and the utter spectacle.
In recent years, I have hosted Eurovision food parties (complete with bags of Maltesers for the entry from Malta). I have insisted that birthday parties and camping trips have had a healthy gap in their schedules so that I can enjoy the contest. If this is hopeless and sad then I am guilty as charged. Diggi Loo Diggi Ley.
Imagine my delighted squeal, when this week i was sent an advance copy of this year’s Eurovision double CD. This years contest is coming from Copenhagen. Across two semi finals and a final in May, 37 countries are taking part in the extravaganza. And over the next four days of this Easter break, I’m going to give you my views on their entries. Clearly, a considerable part of the Eurovision charm derives from the stage performances and I won’t be seeing this but each day I’ll post videos to two of the more extreme visions of Euro unity – just to whet appetites for next month.
So, without further ado, “let’s get this show on the road… ”
1. Albania – Hersi – One Night’s Anger
A pleasant enough start to proceedings here. A folky start with a sweet female vocal from Hersi gives way to a faux rock climax. I can almost forgive the naff guitar solo plonked in the middle. ‘Keep calm and think twice‘, sings Hersi and I wonder if I might actually be a bit mad.
2. Armenia – Aram – Not Alone
An excrutiatingly dull piano led ballad from the Armenians in which a little bird is encouraged not to cry. It almost goes into a dubstep rock thing towards the end. This isn’t a winner in my book – which probably means it stands a great chance.
3. Austria – Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix
This is epic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. It’s straight out of a Sean Connery era James Bond soundtrack. I’m not sure if Conchita is male or female based upon this vocal performance. Shirley Bassey will no doubt be envious she wasn’t born in Vienna.
4. Azerbaijan – Dilara Kazimova – Start A Fire
Four tunes in and already I’m losing the will to live. What is it with all of these piano led ballads? Where’s the quirkiness and the bizarre? This tune would struggle to even make an album of Coldplay B sides. Again, this probably gives it a chance of winning.
5. Belgium – Axel Hirsoux – Mother
More piano. Axel’s ‘coming home‘ because he’s ‘broken hearted’ and now he’s singing a frankly eerie love song to his Mum. Think Norman Bates humming a tune from The Phantom Of The Opera in a shower and you probably get the picture. Hilariously creepy.
6. Belarus – Teo – Cheesecake
Here we go. This is more like it. From an initial ‘Yeah Baby‘ through to mention of Patrick Swayze, this grooves along to a chorus that states, ‘I’m trying to be your sweet cheesecake‘. Pure nonsense. It also has an annoying duck like Kazoo sound. Fun but appalling.
7. Switzerland – Sebalter – Hunter Of Stars
Whistling over the top of banjo’s. Upbeat fiddles and handclaps. What we have here is a sub-standard Mumford & Sons – and I think Mumford & Sons are shit. ‘I am the hunter, you are the prey. Tonight I’m going to eat you up‘, sings Sebalter and I’m almost won over by the songs cannibalistic urges.
8. Germany – Elaiza – Is It Right?
A poppy oompah tune. It is very much not right. But, it’s a completely inoffensive three minutes and thus will probably do quite well. Enough said.
9. Denmark – Basim – Cliche Love Song
Clearly, Denmark aren’t keen to host the Eurovision again next year. Basim proceeds to spew cliches in an upbeat pop number that references ‘Katy Perry‘ and ‘putting your hands up‘. They’ll be dancing in the aisles of the sanitorium to this one.
And already, we’re a quarter of the way there. Tomorrow, I’ll give my comments on Ruth Lorenzo’s Spanish entry and tell all about my brief meeting with her in a Leicester car park. And I’ll also be looking at the UK entry from Leicestershire based, Molly. People from Leicestershire always do well in Eurovision (just ask old Engelbert) so I’m expecting great things.
The two videos for today very much pick themselves. Be astounded by the sinister entry from Belgium and giggle at Belarus’ cheesy cake.