I wrote this three weeks ago. I guess it should be published…
2020 has been a fuzzy as fuck year. I hate not seeing friends, being contracted into ever decreasing circles, getting my hugs from distant zoom calls and my cuddles from texts.
I’ve still been writing. But my notes have been private. I’ve not entirely missed gigs but I’ve actively avoided the internet versions. I can’t help feeling short-changed.
Last night I went out into Alicante. I’m lucky to be in Spain. The Dutch and the Germans marauded carefree, no quarantine on these youths. Single-handedly, they kept alive the clubs of the old town whilst we nodded and predicted second spikes in Amsterdam and Berlin before the Summer is done.
It was nice to see people dance and smile though. We observed and kept our distance.
Mate, Seany has been listening to music in 2020 – probably not enough but I’ve been digging flamboyant soul and deadpan pop.
And there are some albums that keep giving much. Even though they’re not soul or pop.
Dylan Seeger is an under the radar genius. Prescient, perfect and largely unnoticed. I don’t know why he bothers. It’s certainly not for the attention his releases attract.
Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that his 2015 album, Claye, was an absolute favourite in these parts. He’s only gone and done it again with Metropolitan Hospital Center, his latest, released to a silent fanfare earlier this year.
How was Dylan to know that this opus, his work for the last four years, would be released on the eve of a pandemic, the worst the globe has faced for at least a 100 years?
It’s themes are scarily 2020 – hospital, loss, grief, death and a nod to the staff and people met on the way. It’s a record for me that says how much isolation can play with your dreams and your mental health.
It’s not a happy listen – but it’s perversely uplifting. And brilliant. Put it on one evening when bed beckons but you want some maudlin meditation.
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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).
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..