Dreams Of Empire – Space Invader

It was probably quite a paranoid thought. But we used to imagine that there was a ‘Guild Of Incredibly Tall Men’. The Guild’s sole purpose was to mess up our view at gigs. There was a period back in the noughties when we couldn’t go to a concert without the guild turning up. They’d time it to perfection. With minutes to go before a band that we’d been waiting patiently to see, two or three ‘incredibly tall men’ would slightly awkwardly shuffle over to wherever it was that we were standing and plonk themselves slap bang in front. The men couldn’t hear the protest; mostly they’d just make an impenetrable huddle between themselves and act oblivious, sometimes they’d acknowledge the grumbles but say something polite like ‘Well, where the fuck else are we going to stand?’ – joyful space invaders.

More recently, the Guild seem to have disbanded but have been replaced by the Association of Narcissists at gigs. This is the society that don’t actually seem very interested at standing and watching because they can’t bear that many eyes not being on them. So, they flail their hair about so that you can eat a gobful of it. They’ve either doused themselves with so much perfume or forgotten to use deodorant for the past two weeks but the effect is the same – you are left gagging for air. And just when you think you’ve got away from their company, they insist on getting their phone out to badly film themselves at the show utterly blocking your view. I do miss gigs.

The phenomenon of the ‘Space Invader’ isn’t just something that’s prevalent at gigs though. Over the last year, we’ve all been told that keeping our distance from others is a good thing to maintain. So why, when you go to any supermarket in any town is there still a warm welcome from the Society Of Pushers? This is the crowd that take great delight in nonchalantly reaching over your frame to pick up a packet of ham when if they’d just wait for two seconds you’d be long gone from the cold meat aisle. 


Dreams of Empire are probably similarly bitter as I am about the ‘Space Invader’. The Brighton dreampop duo (who become a four piece live) named the opening track of their second album, Encapsulation, after it. It’s a track that I’m very much drawn to and not just because I can relate. “A pure indie guitar energy rush for anyone with a fringe (or who used to own one)“, says the accompanying press release – and you can’t argue with that. 

There’s  a slice of shoegaze and a trim of twee that wrap themselves around the solid indie base on offer in this ‘Space Invader’ cake. Andrew Craig, guitarist and main songwriter in the band, tells me how they plan to follow it up. “The new stuff is going to sound similar to Space Invader which has been really well received.”, he says “Oh and I’ve even written some slightly more positive lyrics for a change – hopefully we’ll have reasons to be cheerful before too long.

I know I’m odd but I’m cheered enough by the sentiment behind Space Inader. It’s good to know that the Guilds, Associations and Societies don’t solely target me. 

Simon Dinwiddy – City Of Hope

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know how much I love going to festivals. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to party in a field by the end of this year though I admit the prospects look gloomy right now. Rockaway Beach at the Butlins in Bognor was the last festival I was able to get along to before the pandemic hit. I reviewed it for e-Festivals here. January 2020 seems an age ago. 

Festivals are my ‘City Of Hope’. Some of the larger ones (I’m thinking Glastonbury and Boomtown) are the actual size of cities but even the smaller ‘towns and villages’ help me in my escape. They are my amusement arcade; the place where I can go to forget about the 9 to 5 drudgery. I can eat popcorn and candyfloss at a festival if I want to. I simply cannot wait for their return. 

Simon Dinwiddy gets my longing. His recent tune ‘City Of Hope’ is all about dreams and romance, lust and escapism. With an indie crash and a punky, Britpop splash, Simon takes us all to the seaside for a swagger through the streets. With a nod to The Libertines and to Blur, this is a fun-time tune. How crazy that the video is filmed in Bognor, the scene of my last ‘City Of Hope’.

I’m in Littlehampton, I thought it would be ironic to do it in Bognor.“, says Simon when I ask him about his choice of location. When you see the cheesy tat on offer, the irony is not lost though I wouldn’t dismiss the hope that comes out of a place that hosts a festival of Rockaway Beach’s quality. 

‘Get on a plane and fly to Spain’, sings Simon a couple of times in the song. Now, there’s an idea if we only could. It’s two weeks since I flew out of Alicante. My enforced isolation is done and I’d hop on that plane back tomorrow. That’s a true city of hope. 

The Dead Freights – Fever And The Thunder

Here I am in Prague; it’s 6AM and I’ve been out all night. I stick to the dancefloor and sway from side to side as I try to move in time with the beat. Some of my newfound ‘friends’ also dance whilst others hide in the shadows at the bar. By tomorrow, I will have forgotten their names but that doesn’t matter a jot in this moment. Eric, an American I’d met hours previously, offers me a drag on his cigarette. I shake my head as a shard of sunlight squeezes through the window and reminds me that it might be a good time to head back to my hotel.

Now, I’m in Vienna. It’s 3AM and the taxi driver has just dropped us off at this sweat-box. There are no windows here; everything is painted black. But after an evening surrounded by champagne, ice-buckets and bling, it’s exactly what we wanted. The combination of bass and beat stops us from thinking too much; we shout words to each other in slo-mo as the strobe effect plays havoc with our mashed-up heads. 

And now I’m in Bristol. It’s not yet midnight and the party is young. It’s a student house in a posh part of town. But word has got around and the clientele that’s about to over-run this space with their presence aren’t your typical student crowd. Punks with glorious mohicans take control of the CD player in the kitchen whilst a reggae crowd sit in a huddle in a downstairs bedroom. I take another swig from my can of Scrumpy Jack and keep wandering.


Sleazy house parties and grungey discos – It’s fair to say I’ve had my fair share. The Dead Freights, fine indie from Southampton, would doff their collective cap if the evidence on offer in ‘Fever and The Thunder’ is anything to go by. 

For this is a tune that could all be about those chaotic nights spent in pursuit of grubby pleasure. Charlie James, frontman of The Dead Weights tells more. “Fever has that concise chaos which is imperative to our sound and overall vibe as a band.“, he says. “To me, it sounds like a sleazy house party; a constant groove with moments of menace. It wears itself out then climaxes into madness.“. The accompanying video sees Charlie come a cropper at the hands of his fellow band-mates.

You can clearly see why this mix of grunge-laden disco (Fever) and traditional rock ‘n’ roll (Thunder) has been turning heads down on the South Coast. I’ve had a sneaky listen to their next single, Sufferin Safari, and it’s evident that there’s still some serious diesel in the tank. When the video for that gets released, I might well give The Dead Freights more coverage on this page. I do hope that Louis, Robert and Robby have dropped their obvious desire to murder Charlie by that point.


Abandon Ship! – Get Blazed

Abandon Ship! are from Basingstoke. It’s worth letting that sink in for a moment. When you’re grumbling about your lot in lockdown at least you’re not having to spend it in a town in which the most interesting thing is the collection of decorated roundabouts on the ring road. I jest of course – I’m sure that Basingstoke really does have much to appeal.

Abandon Ship! mention in their press release that they draw fresh inspiration from the Australian sounds of Ocean Alley and Sticky Fingers. They’re not the only band I’ve seen recently that have cited Sticky Fingers as an influence. I had no idea when I saw Sticky Fingers live back in 2014 at a free gig at Leicester’s Cookie (review here) that I was in the company of future legends. Admittedly, they were pretty great though – and I wish I’d committed more of that gig to memory.

I called it back then. Sticky Fingers’ sound seemed pretty wrapped up in weed culture. And you could be forgiven for thinking that the recent single from Abandon Ship! ‘Get Blazed’ was inhaling from that same pot if you’re the sort that takes song titles in isolation. “Yeah normally it would mean that,“, says lead guitarist, Jordan Baggs, when I ask about the reference. “Although In this case it’s more the notion of getting away from the mundane, releasing yourself from the slog of a life of 9-5.“.

It is a stonker of a track for sure. It’s a tune all about friendship – about going away with a group of best mates on holiday and loving every minute that you spend in their company. It beautifully captures that feeling you sometimes get when sitting in a pub garden with a large gang of friends and laughing so much that it hurts. It’s the Zoom call that you never want to leave because you feel so at ease with the other people on it. 

Musically, Abandon Ship! have delivered a track with all sorts of indie shimmer. The laidback vibe glistens throughout but that doesn’t mean that the earworm of a chorus won’t stridently march forward and lodge itself in your head before the day is done. 

And ‘Get Blazed’ probably hits home harder than ever right now because our opportunity to get away from the mundane with friends we love is so scarce. That will change though and when it does, the resulting party will surely be wild. 

Yep – even in Basingstoke.

Cxl Mxck – Mushroom Treatment

It’s probable to say that when COVID-19 is done, it’s the youngsters who will be hit hardest and longest in the U.K. Some will be able to get by on the Bank of Mum and Dad but many, who had been just about surviving on zero hours contracts in vulnerable industries, will now struggle to get off of the scrap heap to which they’ve been consigned. The absence of hope and increased rates of suicide and self-harm evident across young people will unlikely be reversed by a Government who have history in ultimately looking after their own. 

This is not to say that we’ve not all had it hard – it’s just that when it comes to levelling up, there will be winners and losers.

Cxl Mxck is an exciting, new young voice from Cheshire, England. The 21 year old with a neat penchant for dying his hair in vibrant colour released his second single, Mushroom Treatment, at the end of last year. He also self-directed the accompanying video. Clearly, there’s a talent here very deserving of nurture and development.

Mushroom Treatment is a short song all about loneliness and sadness during COVID-19. In an energetic, electric start before a very indie singalong chorus kicks in, we hear about how some young people will turn to recreational drugs to get by in these tough times. Others are simply locked in conversation with their Doctor’s to help them access the ‘best’ treatment to overcome their depression. It’s probably easier in all of this to nip to the corner shop for a packet of fags. 

Nobody is under any illusion that the economic  recovery from COVID-19 will present an almighty challenge – and that there are huge swathes of society that will need mental health support going forward. But, let’s all do what we can to ensure that young people are not the ones getting left behind in the rush to build back better.


The Lunar Keys – If It Was

I don’t want to get all revolutionary on a Saturday morning. And I certainly don’t want to get myself confused with the small movement of anti-vaccine and anti-mask wearers who sometimes have been gathering together to march in the name of their cause. But it was always a surprise to me that almost a decade of austerity (as a Government policy) didn’t lead to more protest on the streets than it did. I realise that there were gatherings of smaller scale but in impact terms, they were nothing like those marches in London back in the day to protest against the validity of the Gulf War.

In the last years, popular protest seemed to take a step forward. Extinction Rebellion really seemed able to tap into the growing desire for environmental change with their deliberately disrupting activities. And the response to the horrific murder of George Floyd was encouraging. People across the UK making a stand alongside their US friends to say that Black Lives really do matter – and in doing so highlighting some of the hypocritical practices and statements we still have operating in the UK. In the midst of the first lockdown, things got quite heated for a while.

I live in hope that, once this Covid thing is all done, the use of protest to get voices heard (preferably the ones I agree with of course) is something that becomes more the norm than the exception. And I suspect that the four members of The Lunar Keys, ‘anxious types from the suburbs of London, with too many tunes and nervous energy trapped in their Psyches not to be in this band‘, would all broadly agree with me.

Their recent release, If It Was, is a song about protest and possibilities. Hidden within a neat, well delivered Indie-Rock tune, we get a call-to-arms simple chorus asking the listener the question “If It was just a choice you could make, Would you change the world today, Would you sign it with your name?

I ask The Lunar Keys what one thing they would change about the world today. “We would make all world Governments and Corporations accountable to Amnesty International, the WHO and the UN“, they say before adding, “and if we were allowed one more (hypothetically) a ban on any entity of Super Rich…..at the Risk of Human Rights and the Planet.

Worthy causes but if the revolutionary zeal and ardour within is a little bit strident for you today, The Lunar Keys do add “On the lighter side -We would ban blue smarties.

Now there is a cause that we could all protest against, right? 


The Banshees – You’re Wrong

Whenever I’ve visited Liverpool (which was with some frequency pre-Covid), I’ve spied the ‘Yellow Submarine’ sitting proudly on the Royal Albert Docks. A reconfigured narrow boat, it’s now used as accommodation for those desperate to get an overnight psychedelic Beatles fix on the Mersey. I’d always wondered what it was like inside the boat.

I now have to wonder no more. For The Banshees, an indie duo from up that way, have filmed the video for one of their latest releases, You’re Wrong, from the boat. In the opening stills, we see Vinny and Paul clamber aboard before then giving us a self-produced, guided and somewhat magical tour of the mystery space. It looks much bigger than I ever imagined; Liverpool’s very own tardis.


The Banshees duo come with impressive CVs. They’ve years of experience playing bit parts in other prominent Scouse acts but you suspect that they’ve really now found their mojo with their own indie scribbles. In ‘You’re Wrong’, Paul’s effortless guitar riffing acts as a perfect counter for Vinny’s deliberately underplayed vocal.

They’ve got something to say as well. ‘You’re Wrong’ is about being aware of your own insecurities, realising that opinions are only words and you can’t please everybody. It’s a sentiment that’s massively bought to the fore towards the end of the track when Vinny sings, “You only got one life to live so you better get together and you better give some time, It’s time, Fall in love with yourself, Take care of your health and don’t you know that you’ll be fine. Just fine.”

When I ask The Banshees about the last thing they did that was wrong, they’re defensively yet jokingly adamant. “The last thing we did wrong was nothing,” says Vinny. “We’re always right…listen to the song…it’s everyone else that is wrong hahaha.”

Listening to this tune and taking ‘on board’ its message does seems like an ideal Thursday thing to do. 

12 Limbs – Memoirs & an interview

I don’t believe that I’ve ever featured a Russian act on Sonic Breakfast before. This is largely (wholly) because my knowledge of the ‘scene’ in Russia is negligible. Beyond Tatu and a sprinkling of Eurovision entries, I’d be struggling to name much.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled across 12 Limbs and their tune, Memoirs. It’s a catchy, energetic and ultimately uplifting piece of melodic indie, a statement that urges us to cling on to our memories in this most desperate of years. I was always going to write a blogpost about the song but then Ben, the vocalist from 12 Limbs, agreed to answer a set of questions. Here follows the transcript of that chat (because I find it all interesting)… 


Most readers of Sonic Breakfast will know nothing about 12 Limbs. What’s your elevator pitch?

We are three piece band from Russia. Our music is eclectical and spans rock, pop, indie and electro. Having been together since the beginning of 2000s, we never tried make it big in Russia, because rock in our country is based on poetry more than on music. Any band singing in English becomes outcast automatically.  Our initial musical exploits together began in 2003-2007, when we were students. It was before the social media started forming the music DIY scene for bands like us. Getting no attention from the big labels in Russia, we disbanded in 2007 and went our separate ways working with other bands, until all of them went off the track in 2019. Feeling much more confident in our musical skills, we got together again and started producing and releasing our tracks in the UK. 

And why should readers of Sonic Breakfast be listening to your music? 

Well, Why not! We’re a true band, a band who make music that isn’t manufactured; we don’t try to create a product to sell or to please genres.  We write what we love. All the lyrics are true, no copying or trying to catch the trends. And check the latest single “Memoirs”, it’s an experiment of making a track on three basic chords. But these chords are right.

What’s the Russian Indie Rock scene like? Are there other bands you’d recommend to us? 

Talking about Russian bands singing in English, check out Coo-Koo, with their single F.U.C.K., they had some commercial success about 10 years ago. Other bands keeping afloat have similar stories to us, most started in the early noughties and it’s taken them time to establish.  Pompeya and On-the-Go are those I can recommend. The only Russian band that’s ever played on Glasto ( kind of 6th scene, 12.00 am appearance as we call it) was Jack Wood, but they disbanded because they had no fanbase outside Russia. 

We played in a couple decent bands whose music is still available online. Search for Fra Angeliko and Odd Flat.

What’s been the best gig you’ve ever played? What made it so special?

The highlight in our formative years, was in 2006, when we shared the main stage with Russian rock-legends in front of 2000 people. The pandemic has frozen our live gigging recently, but once we can get back on the road, those will be fantastic days for us. However, we did manage to record a live set including the video for ‘Memoirs’ during this isolating year.

Complete ignorance on my part but is the Russian gig scene vibrant? Are there lots of venues? Do you have a festival circuit? 

We had everything working perfectly until 2020. Big bands from around the globe headlined the fests in Russia and gigging actively across the big cities. It’s all torn to pieces now like everywhere in the West. Russia is much more involved and connected to the world of showbiz as you can imagine. 

If you had to come up with your dream festival headliners, who’d be on the list?

If we are talking about active artists, we’d be happy to share the stage with the bands like Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines, White Lies, The Vaccines, Everything Everything. So many great bands to come across!

I was first drawn to your sounds when I heard ‘Memoirs’ – you describe it as your fight back song. What will be your memoirs of 2020? 

This is a stolen year. And we still don’t know how many of them are ahead. We produced as much content as we could this year. That’s the only thing we could do. So we are packed for releases in 2021 which is the only good point could be made about this year. 

And looking forward what are you hoping for more than anything else in 2021? 

Live gigs, live gigs, live gigs!!! And breakthrough single of course.

What words of advice might you offer to other musicians from across the globe in 2020? 

There’s so much music around that you don’t need to worry about being anyone other than yourself. It’s the only way it might work now. 

Tell us your favourite joke? 

Oh, we could be much more successful as comedians than musicians if we wanted too. We produce tons of jokes everyday. Sometimes we post it on our Instagram. There was a schedule of our gigs for April of 2020:  April 3rd- kitchen, 4th- bathroom,5th- balcony,6th- headlining bedroom!


Many thanks to Ben for spending the time to answer these questions. It’s truly appreciated. I’ll certainly be checking out those recommendations and keeping my fingers crossed that 2021 does have that breakthrough single for 12 Limbs. Release more bangers such as ‘Memoirs’ and it becomes a distinct possibility. 



Oli Swan & The Dangerous Creatures, Mirror Shot and Modra Luna – The Victoria – March 3rd 2020

I’ve been meaning to catch Oli Swan & the Damgerous Creatures for a little while now. I’ve noticed their presence on gig listings that I’ve very nearly attended and have been impressed by the way that they’ve surged from bottom to top of those lists in a short time. That’s a sure sign of quality and it’s all backed up by the interesting, skewed and spirited pop-rock of their releases to date. They’re headlining at the Victoria in Dalston. I’d be a fool not to go along. 

I don’t want to be uncharitable to first support, Modra Luna, but I doubt that their rise to the top of the bill will be as smooth. An energetic delivery, technical competence and some friends in the front to add to the atmosphere can’t mask the fact (for me at least)   that there are few hooks with which to engage. Lola, ‘their first song to be released on Spotify’, at least has a melody to cling to but ultimately their set peters out before beginning. 


Mirror Shot fare better. Despite a considerable thinning of the crowd that appears to zap a bit of confidence, there’s more than enough C86 spirit and off-kilter awkwardness to entice a man like me. Reminding me a bit of Hefner, Mirror Shot are not yet the finished article but with vocals that are dripping with longing and loss, the intrigue remains. They don’t appear to be enjoying this trial much yet they have the right to be more perky; ones to watch I suspect. 


Oli Swan and the Dangerous Creatures are everything I hoped they’d be. An entourage of happy looking people dressed brightly take to the stage and with a ‘one, two, buckle my shoe’, we’re off. Oli has big, permed curls and a cheeky attitude as he casually discards of his gum between songs. His fantastic band look on adoringly, admiring his many talents. Beautiful harmonies come from the musicians to his side; the keyboard player in particular throwing herself into the gig full-whack. 

There’s a lot of influences at work here; they jump from Motown influenced 60’s pop to 70’s AOR by way of a Wham-like pop jewel from the 80’s. Clearly not ones for routine, they end with a spritely new one that’s either talking about millennial pleasure or pressure. 

They’re a fun band and well worth watching before we all succumb to Coronavirus.. I head home happy. 

Disco Lizards, Murman and Aubrey – The Finsbury – January 27th 2020

It’s back to the Finsbury for a Monday night of indie guitar; a trio of acts who all have something ‘new’ about them and one, in particular, who could be a bit special when they find their stride. 

First up are Aubrey, a three piece who reveal that this is their first gig. Given this, you can pretty much forgive that there’s a raggedness around the edges and simply focus on the positives. A female lead singer sports an androgynous look whilst singing and shouting with atonal charm. There are hints of placebo and hints of a post-punk prog about Aubrey. None of this is without merit. “Marry me”, shouts a punter between songs. “If you buy me a shot of tequila I will”, is the quick retort. 


Murman take a small group hug off-stage before jumping onto it and picking up their instruments. Another three piece, their singer delvers their energetic indie with a deep, gravelly sneer. He sounds the spit of Billy Idol and this is no bad thing in Sonic Breakfast’s book. Triumphant like a souped-up Glasvegas, they announce that this is their bass player’s first gig with the band. You could never tell; he seems a fine fit. Ending with crowd singalongs about not wanting to fall in love again, it’s obvious that there’s a lot here to like.


Disco Lizards have a great name; they’re not disco and neither (from what I can tell) are they lizards. They indulge us with some pretty traditional psychedelic indie. They’re almost trying too hard to impress and there’s no denying the technical quality of Ollie’s guitar playing; it’s his first gig as well we learn. There’s competence on show here as they sing about doctors, crazy car journeys and their friends. Solid stuff. 


Monday nights – and The Finsbury delivers again. It’s best not to stay in when you can watch new guitar indie at a fine venue.