HMS Morris, Perfect Body and Zac White – The Social – March 12th 2019

For too many years to mention, I’ve been a fan of Dorchester Town football club. Just to be clear, they are not an obscure band that you really must listen to. They are my football team (along with Leicester City FC). Strangely, I’ve rarely talked football within this blog; from a Dorchester perspective, there’s been slim pickings to post about in truth.

Tonight, I went along to the Social. It’s hard to believe that it’s now a whole month since I saw Peaness there with Gary (review here) but it must be because the next Huw Stephens presents instalment is in town (even if he isn’t). Tonight he’s joined up with the Bubblewrap Collective, a well-regarded indie record label from Cardiff to give us three new Welsh acts. 

It seems all sorts of appropriate (to me anyway) that I’m keeping myself updated with Dorchester scores every time I make a note into my phone about the acts on stage; for tonight, DTFC are playing away at Merthyr Tydfil FC. When HMS Morris, the headliner of sorts, play songs about self love in Welsh or banter in the language with a countryman in the crowd, I allow myself a little chuckle. Dorchester, relegation candidates in a tight league, are crashing the goals in up in the valleys. It ends 7-1 and even the one for Merthyr was an own goal.

Zac White opens the Bubblewrap gig at the Social. It’s just Zac on the small stage with an electric guitar that’s set to a permanent reverb. The vibe is psychedelic; Zac’s long floppy hair for the most part obscures his face as he meanders through his set of fuzzed-up folk. He’s got a decent line in desperate and longing lyric; anybody able to rhyme ‘tourniquet’ with ‘tanqueray’ gets top marks in my book. He doesn’t have much to say in terms of between-song banter; in fact all he says is “I should have probably said but that was my last song”, as his set draws to a premature close. Despite the awkward stage manner, there’s enough craft on display to warrant further investigation. 

 

There’s a definite buzz about Perfect Body. You can’t help but notice the five piece (and entourage) as they waltz around the Social pre-gig and think ‘they’re in a band’. It’s not that there’s any arrogance about their behaviour; they’re all wonderfully polite, stylishly aware and evidently determined. Record company executives from significant indies are casually drawn into conversations before their set even begins.

When it does begin, the start is determinedly slow, deliberately ponderous. It’s music for wide vistas; perhaps we’re scanning across the outback in the opening scenes of a modern Western or seeing the setting sun over desert dunes. There’s longing in the languid guitar licks. This is the Welsh Wild West. 

When Perfect Body get fully into flow, their thing is dreamy shoegaze. They do it very well. Vocals from a keyboard player and a guitarist are barely audible over the shimmering noise that’s being created by the rest of the band. We’re probably not supposed to hear the words. It’d be easy (and lazy on my part) to draw comparisons to My Bloody Valentine so I won’t do that. Suffice to say, as the swirly atmospherics draw you in, you suddenly become aware of quite how loud the volume’s been turned up to. I move closer to the front to get more of the effect.

 

HMS Morris are a tough act to review. They’re not as easy to place or pigeonhole as many who have gone before and that should be a good thing. They’re a three-piece. Singer and guitarist, Heledd Watkins, plays for goals up front whilst the impressively bearded Sam Roberts holds it all together in midfield with samples and keyboards. Drummer, Alex Møller, sits behind in defence.

I can’t tell if it’s just the poor mix down here at the Social or if the piercing sound of the high-hat is intended but it hurts. My mind wanders and I begin to think how much more of a pleasant experience this could be without the drums in the mix. Seriously, it’s like fingernails scratching down the chalk-board. 

When HMS Morris’ music properly flows you can’t help but enjoy. But, for me, this is art-rock that rarely gets going. I’d make a point of watching them another time though as they’re not without appeal. 

See you all at the Burger King at Reading Services”, suggests Heledd, conscious that many of the crowd here are on a day trip and they’ll soon be travelling home back up the M4. 

The victorious DTFC team coach probably won’t pass them on the way.. But I’ll bet it’ll be a happier bus ride home for them. 

 

 

Peaness, Caro and Kelora – The Social – February 12th 2019

I went to a gig on Tuesday night.. Wrote a review and then forgot to post it.. Whoops!! 

I’ve liked Peaness for a few years now. Ever since a friend, an old school teacher of Jess, sent me a soundcloud link of their debut release, Fortune Favours The Bold, (review here) I’ve been urging Peaness to grow. 

I wrote about Peaness in my top ten of 2015 (here) and could barely conceal my joy after seeing them live for the first time at Leicester’s Handmade festival (eFestivals review here). 

Last night at a free Huw Stephens presents gig at The Social, they once again proved why they’re worthy of full attention. They make a fine sound for a three piece; lovely harmonies and melodies that hark back to your finest summer ever. It might be cold outside but Peaness cheerily warm the very cockles of your heart (and yes, I did use cockle deliberately there).

The trio smile on stage like it’s going out of fashion; there’s no moody faux here or mumbling grumbling. Instead, the between-song banter revolves around Gregg’s vegan rolls, whether or not Huw Stephens is actually in attendance and how they’re heading home to Chester after a late-night radio session (and this gig) because work beckons in the morning. An exhausting schedule but not one that appears to break the spirit. 

I go to the gig with a friend, Gary. On paper, Peaness are probably not his thing with his preference being for a meatier (or folkier) sound. But his head sways and toe-taps from the start. “I’d go and see these again given the opportunity”, he reveals.

It is very hard to not love Peaness. 

 

There are a couple of other bands playing this showcase. Caro are tight, competent and destined for bigger stages. They’re not afraid to mix things up a bit though obvious reference points would be Alt-J and Wild Beasts. “Ooh, this one’s very XTC“, says Gary – and he’s most certainly right. 

 

The first band of the evening, Kelora, didn’t entirely grab our attention. But that was no fault of theirs. Gary and I were still catching up after not seeing each other for almost a year and so arrived in the midst of their set. The insane levels of chatter from one table near to us rendered listening to the act nigh-on impossible – but from what I did hear, this was light, uncomplicated pop, not the finished article in terms of a live show but possibly intriguing on record. 

 

Another great night out in London watching music put on for free. And a reminder that gig-going is always better when you’re sharing the experience with mates.  

The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2015 – Five To One

As 2015 draws to a close, I’m reminded that I’ve kept regular readers of Sonic Breakfast hanging. It’s been over a week since I let people know what was ten through to six in my posts of the year that I was keen to revisit. I’m still to do my top 5. 

Hoping that turkey was loved and Santa bought you everything you wanted… Without further ado… 

 

5.OBS Unplugged – Steve Parker

Steve is still a legend in Leicester. Unlike others in this top ten, he’s released nothing since I did my blog post about him in January and appeared in no videos promoting new tracks. I expect the same level of minimal marketing intent to carry him into 2016 as well. He’s played gigs around this fine city, just his unassuming, slightly world-weary, warm voice and guitar picking. Everybody who knows him knows how great he is. Sometimes, people who have never seen Steve live before catch him playing a tune or two at pubs and festivals around town. They might even try to buy his latest CD. He rarely has anything to sell. A true gent. Younger musicians could learn much from this man.

I wrote about Steve on the back of a set I saw him play as part of the OBS unplugged showcases at Leicester’s Musician. We’re not far from another series of these fine January gigs – a fab way to begin the year and these nights never fail to unearth some pretty special talents.

 

4.Rope Store – Get Me Out

The weekly listening post over at Fresh On The Net often reveals new acts that I can’t help but fall in love with. When Norwich’s Rope Store apparently came out of nowhere with their fine track ‘Get Me Out’ back at the start of the year, it was clear that 2015 was going to be an interesting one for Gemma and Jason. That certainly seems to have been the case. 

Gigs in London and growing popularity in Norfolk see them end 2015 with BBC Introducing videos and a Christmas single release which again was featured on the Listening Post. ‘What’s Life All About’ is a belter of a track. I’d recommend watching Rope Store closely in 2016.

 

 

3.Peaness – Fortune Favours The Bold

 I’m not bragging about this in the slightest but I think that Sonic Breakfast was the first blog to feature Peaness. I sent this ace track across to a well connected friend in North Wales and since that point, Peaness have been taking the indie-pop scene in Wales by storm. 

 Sold out shows at Cardiff’s SWN festival and a review from Huw Stephens suggesting that Peaness were one of his highlights bode exceptionally well for 2016. With a knack for writing seemingly simple songs that surge under your skin, Peaness’s size will surely grow.

 

 

2. OBS Unplugged – Lucy Davies-Kumadiro

 Lucy’s one of the most captivating artists I have ever seen play at an OBS unplugged night. She played her first ever show at one of these nights. Her performance at Leicester’s Musician back in January was simply sublime. 

 She’s now studying at University in Nashville and, by all accounts, wowing her fellow students and those slightly wider afield with her gentle, sweet soul. I dare say it’s been a term of settling into American life. As Lucy gets more familiar with her surroundings, Tennessee will be wanting to claim her as one of their own. 

 It all makes me most excited about OBS unplugged 2016 and what talent will be on offer to see.

 

1. Workers In Songs – Sorry Marie

 There was never any doubt in my mind what would be the Sonic Breakfast number one post for 2015. We need to go right  back to the first day of the year and the very first video premiere that we ever had. The wonderfully deranged alt-country act from Roskilde, Workers In Songs gave me the opportunity to launch their video for ‘Sorry Marie’. I still love watching it and hearing that anguished vocal.

 

Over 2015, Workers In Songs have released a new EP, Scrapbook. It’s another impressive stunner. Here’s a one-take video with a song from that EP, Big Ol’ River. 

Thanks for the support for Sonic Breakfast across 2015. I’ve been lucky enough to hear some great music and to go along to some fine gigs and festivals. Looking forward to sharing more of my life in music with you next year. 

 Sean

 

 

 

 

Heyrocco – Melt

A week today, I’ll be heading down to one of my favourite Leicester venues, The Cookie, to watch a band that I really cannot make my mind up about.

Heyrocco came to my attention by virtue of a press release that promised the earth. Here’s a band that are “in pursuit of becoming the biggest and loudest rock band of their generation.” It’s probably mandatory for any band trying to launch careers but it’s refreshing to know that Heyrocco have a “compelling image and an onstage persona that’s in-your-face rock and roll.” Just in case there’s any doubt (there is), it’s of great relief to know that this is a band already endorsed by Kerrang! and Huw Stephens of Radio 1. Sounding like the first Foo Fighters album, this is “perfect rock with massive hooks and sign along choruses“. (The press release suggests sign along choruses – I’m not sure what that might be!!!)

When confronted with such hyperbole, my typical response is to press delete but something had grabbed my attention. I had five minutes to spare and I thought I’d at least have a listen to their single, ‘Melt’. First impressions are that it’s undeniably derivative.

But then I’m drawn to the words of ‘Melt’… Hang on, is this what I think it’s about? Suddenly, it becomes clear that this is a song about premature ejaculation. These cool, rock and roll kids with a ‘compelling image’ and ‘sign along choruses’ are singing a song about a very intimate vulnerability. I had Heyrocco down as brash and slightly arrogant Americans but here they are revealing something completely different.

I’m still not sure that they’ll be entirely my cup of tea. I might be blown away.

But (and I’m sorry for the use of a rather obvious pun here) next Monday cannot come soon enough…..