Louis Brennan – Airport Hotel

It felt somewhat neat and a little appropriate on Valentine’s Day to receive the new song and video from Louis Brennan, Airport Hotel.

 

Sending brightly-coloured cards with glossy emotions does little more than sabotage and sanitise the complicated feelings we all experience around ‘love’ and it’s perhaps this that turns many off from celebrating with flowers, chocolate and poor poetry on St. Valentine’s Day.

In Airport Hotel, the emotions are real and raw; let yourself get carried away with Brennan’s expressive, baritone voice as it gradually reveals the story of ‘forbidden’ love that permeates throughout the song. The string arrangements rise and fall as Louis ponders how he might explain to his wife (and kids) that he has fallen for another. It’s stark, dark and yet beautiful storytelling that’ll surely tug on the most emotionally detached. 

The release of ‘Airport Hotel’ comes slightly in advance of Louis’ album ‘Dead Capital’ which is scheduled to drop on February 23rd. It’s an album that Sonic Breakfast is quite excited to hear. Back in 2017, Louis released another track from it, ‘Bit Part Actor’. Brooding, dark and melancholic with the poetry taking centre-stage, the video stars one of Sonic Breakfast’s favourite comedians, Ed Aczel. 

In despondency, it’s entirely possible to find lovely art.

 

 

 

 

Blue Rose Code – Ebb And Flow

A cold, grey wintry Monday morning and it’s hard to think that ‘everything is alright’. It’d no doubt be easier to hibernate under the bed covers until the next tint of blue creeps through my curtains. It’s so easy to say that I can’t be bothered with today.

But that’s hardly adopting the principle of ‘Carpe Diem’. I can grumble as much as I like but the truth is I’ve got a fair bit to live for at the moment – the progression towards redundancy; getting the house ready for rental and the year of living in Spain. It’s not looking at things through rose tinted specs to say that today is full of opportunity.

And as I grasp these thoughts I pull back my curtains and see some blue sky.

I’m drawn to this uplifting tune and new video from Blue Rose Code.

Blue Rose Code, aka acclaimed singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, released his latest album, The Water Of Leith, in Autumn 2017. It met with some top-notch reviews from Folk, Acoustic and Americana magazines all declaring that this was Wilson’s best release to date. The previous ones had hardly been flops. 

(See what Sonic Breakfast thinks by clicking on page 2)

The Young ‘Uns – Be The Man

It’s been four years since I first saw The Young ‘Uns play live at Musicport up in Whitby. I recall that their set was a real highlight of the festival, something I captured in my EFestivals review (here).

 I said:

 “Saturday afternoon and I take a chance in the theatre with The Young ‘Uns from Teeside. The programme simply tells me that these are ‘one of the most sought after folk acts today’ and that they bring ‘abiding enthusiasm for traditional song’. Those familiar with the ‘translate the programme’ game we often play at festivals would suspect slim pickings from this description. This could well translate as ‘Once played Cockles and Mussels to rapturous applause at a folk club in Durham’. But, this set is a lesson in sometimes going with the flow. Sometimes acapella, sometimes with accompaniment from accordion and guitar, this trio of twenty-something men banter so effortlessly on stage that the captive audience are dragged into their jolly world. Songs about political struggles of yesteryear mix in with emotive tales of love to ensure that, by the end of their set, the audience are standing on their seats demanding more. Folking great.”

(Click on page 2 to read about fantastic new work by the Young ‘Uns)

Maheekats – Without Horizons

Sometimes you hear a song or watch a video and know that it’s one you want to feature on your blog. You start writing about it many times but give up or move onto something else because your words refuse to come out in the right order. That’s the dilemma I find with Maheekats and Without Horizons.

(Click on page 2 to discover if I resolved that dilemma)

Gregory Alan Isakov – Nottingham Bodega Social – March 27th 2017

I’ve got a busy week of gigs coming up. I’ll be reviewing some for the Leicester Mercury and some directly for Sonic Breakfast. If they’re all as great as the one I went to last night, Gregory Alan Isakov, then it’s going to be a fine, fine time. 

(Click on page 2 for the review)

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – Something Familiar

“Reflections at sundown can make me so sad, for there’s no way of keeping the day we’ve just had.”

Oh, isn’t that so true? It’s the final fragment of ‘Something Familiar’, a beautiful, hazy folk tune from Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker. Yesterday, I stumbled upon the video to this track from their recently released fifth album and, in truth, haven’t been able to get the touching, evocative images and the crystal clear vocal out of my head since. 

In many ways, Sonic Breakfast is as much a blog about memories as it is about music. I often write about new songs that give me glimpses into my past. These are tunes, covering a range of genres and styles, that take me time-travelling to invoke the dim and distant. I’ve got tales to tell, some imagined and some very personal. The music of others is my enabler. 

And tonight, as I sit in my comfy armchair and fret about my aching and ageing bones, I hold a mirror up to my face and spy the younger me. I flick through photos in a physical scrapbook that will never be saved to social media. I try to recall the dreams I had back then, the trinkets that I kept by my bed and toys that have long since been tipped. 

There’s a freedom in reflecting. You can see the distance travelled and grasp again at the things you’d filed away for another day. 

Today has been one of those days. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have released a thing of sparse beauty here.

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Kerr & The Sweet Visitors – Leicester Musician – September 26th

A week ago, I went along to Leicester’s Musician to see Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitors. It was a show promoted by a fine promoter, Jeremy Searle from Greenbird Promotions. I was reviewing the gig for the Leicester Mercury and my friend from eFestivals, Phil Bull, was lined up to take pics. 

Immediately after the show, I rushed home and stayed up into the early hours pulling my words together. Copy submitted, I was assured it would be used. 

But, I’ve not seen it published as yet. So, I thought I’d share it on Sonic Breakfast for all to see. The pics are courtesy of Phil.

 

 

Nancy Kerr is full of stories. In best schoolteacher fashion, she primly prefaces most of the songs from her new album, Instar, with a tale or two about how these tunes came into being. The crowd, well versed in the rules of cosy, middle-class folk club, listen intently and with appreciation at the Musician on Monday evening.

 With plenty of plaudits in this folk world, Nancy and her band, The Sweet Visitors, waste little time in setting the scene. An instar is a transition and Nancy uses the concept to present a suite of songs about morphing social and political issues which matter to her. ‘Fragile Water’ is a song about changing gender identity whilst the spritely recent single, ‘Gingerbread’, recalls an austere time when pepper replaced ginger in the recipe of the day.

 Elsewhere, there’s a focus on place and how it transforms. Nancy tells all that she’s currently living at the bad end of Sheffield where steel is stolen to make a slide in a community adventure playground. ‘Apollo On The Docks’ looks at the effect that the Olympics had on East London land and set closer, ‘Crows Wing’, describes her feelings when, stuck in a traffic jam amidst an urban sprawl, Nancy sees a peregrine falcon swoop towards a pigeon. The common ground between urban and rural is never far from the surface. 

 Musically, Nancy has done her time in the folk traditions and the Sweet Visitors help her to develop this vision. Thus, at times, the songs veer into prog-folk, folk-rock and a more poppier, radio friendly form of the genre. The five members of the band employ fiddles, double bass, drums and an array of electric guitars to make the noise. The singing, as you might imagine, is a delight with effortless harmonies breaking through. When band member, Rowan Rheingans, impresses all by plays the bansitar, a hybrid instrument sitting between a banjo and a sitar,  it all makes sense. This is a mutated folk music for our time.

 Never quite sinking under the weight of ideas presented, this is a fine introduction to the tunes and themes present on Nancy’s new album. Some might yearn for a more traditional approach but there’s no arguing that the delivery is impeccable. Solid and dependable, we’re left with no doubt that these times are a changing.