Tanoki (featuring Farah Elle) – Loading

It’s a perk of the music blogger’s life that you get to listen to a lot of music. Some of it gets sent to me by E-mail. I might not always respond because I receive a lot of mails but acts with the right approach will invariably get through. Just recently, I’ve been making use of the website, Musosoup, to source bands and songs that I want to write about. There’s an option within the site to charge acts money for the words that I cobble together about them. For some websites, it seems important to make their product into a commercial enterprise. Sonic Breakfast has never and will never be that site. No funds are exchanged between me and the bands I write warmly about. I do this for the love. 

One immediate turn-off for me in the music I hear is if no thought has been given to the lyrical content. It happens with appalling regularity. It’s almost as if the songwriters of today are deliberately encouraged to write vacuous couplets with limited meaning; you actually find yourself wondering in the most extreme cases if they’ve just left their computers to generate a random pattern of words based upon cliched phrases from millions of songs from the past. 

 

Tanoki’s latest single, Loading, draws influence from this idea. “The song is a commentary on what we’re doing with technology and how it’s intersecting with our lives.“, says Paul Mahon, the Kilkenny-based songwriter, producer and visual artist behind Tanoki. “As we lose what makes us human in exchange for the robotic, I want listeners to imagine the kind of lyrics that might come from an android, the cyborgs we’re becoming.

Tanoki enlists the services of singer-songwriter, Farah Elle, to provide a hypnotic vocal over the funked-up, trip-hop grounded, electronica that he’s created. Farah is an interesting character. With roots in both Libya and Ireland, Farah is proud of her Mum for taking a significant role in leading the way against the tyranny of the Gadaffi regime (from within Ireland). You suspect that Farah Elle will not be short of things to say or lyrics to write and mark her down as another to watch. Paul and Farah became friends and collaborators after he directed a music video of hers. 

Human content and human stories – it’s what we want. 

Brophy’s Law – The Bachelor

As another weekend approaches, we can almost celebrate that this’ll be the last that we have to endure (in the UK) without pubs. Yes, it’ll only be outside spaces and gardens that will be open from Monday but at least we’ll all be able to get the pints in again. Of course, there will be stipulations, not least that tables will need to be booked and they’ll likely be at a premium given our collective thirst but it’s a step in the right direction. 

The reopening of pubs will no doubt be warmly received by The Bachelor, the lead character in the recently-released all-time favourite live track from Brophy’s Law. The Bachelor is a man who likes a drink. Indeed, crucial life decisions are made by him based on his ability to stay close to the bar. He avoids marriage and long-term relationships because drinking at the bar is of more importance. 

I’m sure we all know people like The Bachelor. Indeed, I’ve never been married and have spent more than my fair share of time propped up on a barstool. Others, looking on in from the outside, might perceive that this song is a fair description of my life. I’d deny such accusations pointing to the wealth of extra-curricular interests I have. But I concede that those who rarely go to pubs are on another spectrum in comparison to my good self.

Brophy’s Law specialise in good-time, traditional Irish folk with a punk(ish) seam. They cite the glory days of The Pogues and the creative spirit of The Clash as major influences and that can certainly be seen within The Bachelor. This is music that you want to dance wildly to at a festival – let’s hope that some will go ahead this year and we’ll get our chance to spill our ciders (and Guinness) as we stumble into accidental mosh pits and declare that all is grand with the world. Brophy’s Law might well have festival appearances and a tour to Canada to look forward to in August though I suppose that could be on hold depending upon the speed that we get back to something approaching normality.

The opening of pub gardens (after this weekend and in the UK) signals another step forward. Wishing you all a spirited weekend when it comes. 

Michelle Daly – In My Dreams

You appear in my dream again. Intermittently, you do so (here). In this latest edition, we find ourselves on a coffee-tasting tour. We hop into an open-top vintage car (make and model unknown) and drive around the local hostelries to taste the flavour of their beans.

I’m a coffee novice but I can still distinguish between styles and types. The flavours are real. As I sip from one cup, the bitter roasted taste lingers on my tongue proudly announcing itself as a top dog of coffee. Let’s not forget that this is a dream. How is this even possible?

We’re young and carefree. We always are in this dream. The wind breezes through our hair ( I still have hair) as we travel from venue to venue. The radio is turned up loud and it plays a variety of hits from the eighties. Sometimes, we sing along if a tune catches our attention but mostly, despite the volume, it is background fodder. Instead, we chatter and laugh. We’re always happy in this dream even though we both know how it will end by now. 

As we pull into another place for one last coffee, I reach across to give you one last kiss. Our lips almost touch this time but before they do I wake. The pattern is familiar.

 

Michelle Daly, the Irish born and Berlin based songwriter, released the second single from a forthcoming album at the back end of 2020. ‘In My Dreams’ is a stylish and sultry soulful stroll through Michelle’s own land of dreams. She’s got a cracking voice for jazz classics and so the comparisons with Winehouse are inevitably drawn. It’s a tune that gives me lots of pleasure and I’m sure it will you.

We find Michelle contemplating the end of a brief flirtation. Or perhaps it’s the final days of a longer term relationship. Whatever, we know for sure that Michelle is coming to terms with the fact that she has put more into this than she’s been getting out. She’s been betrayed and is now the woman spurned. And she’s not crying into her coffee but working out ways to cope. 

I pity my friends who are unable to dream. They tell me, as if it’s a badge of honour, that they don’t dream or, if they do, they can’t remember them. I actively cultivate mine. Who would not want to wake with a hazy and happy memory from your sleep time? It strikes me that it’s even more important to have vibrant and wild dreams right now when our daily horizons are so streamlined.

Happy Monday all. 

 

Linda Em – Wild Fire

I’ve never known weeds grow in quite the way that they do out here in Spain. I guess that the rain of the past weeks has helped their considerable spurt. 

I find little joy in gardening but these are no beanstalks leading to magic kingdoms. They’ll just engulf me unless I take action and so, armed with a bucket and a pair of gloves, this morning I set about tackling them. 

‘Tackling’ feels like the right verb to use for this was (and still is) a sporting endeavour. It’s me against nature and despite my very best intentions I suspect that the best I can hope for is a score draw. Or a narrow defeat. 

Regardless, there was great satisfaction to be gained in pulling at them. Their heads popped out of the gravelled driveway masking the submerged stems that wrapped themselves underground around clumps of earth, stone and tarpaulin. The ones that broke off before I got at the root mocked me but some came out of the ground complete. When they did I let out a little yelp of self-congratulation. The stray black cat, that’s made a habit out of spying upon me from a safe distance, smirked as it watched. 

“You crazy, sweat-ridden Englishman”, it no doubt thought.

Try as I might I can find little connection between pulling up garden weeds and todays choice of music. Linda Em, Irish and living in London released her ‘Wild Fire’ EP last week and it’s all sorts of smoky-seductive fab. 

If I was really pushing it, I could suggest that I’d love a wild fire to destroy these weeds. Or I could observe that the lead track is all about a power struggle in a relationship built on control and passion, where there can be no victor. That does feel a little like my battle with the weeds except I have little passion for them. 

No, it’d be foolish to force links. It’s best perhaps to simply sit back and allow Linda’s wonderful tunes to wash over you. Let the candles smoulder as the duet in Wild Fire tells the story of dying, impossible love. Allow yourself ‘the bitter sweet surrender’ mentioned at the end of ‘Two Hands’. 

The weeds will no doubt continue to grow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ren – My Heart Belongs To Ireland

I was working in Nottingham yesterday. Within my office, you could hear the muted strains of classic Irish folk tunes rising up from the Market Square below. 

I took a late(ish) lunch and wandered about the streets taking in the atmosphere that was being generated by St Patricks Day. The cheap pubs were heaving with a sea of green. Men and women wore Guinness foam hats as they supped on their lagers. The pubs spilled over with punters taking advantage of the warm day to grab a cheeky cigarette. In some cases, parents appeared to have brought their young primary school children to the party. “Watch Mummy and Daddy get pissed because it’s tradition“, seemed to be the educational message for the school kids as they drank their sugary soft drinks. 

I ventured out after work as well. Predictably, the scene had turned darker than that seen during the lunchtime exuberances. On a street corner stood a women, barking at her remaining friends as mascara ran down her tear-strewn face. “She’s a fucking untrustworthy bitch“, I heard and couldn’t help but wonder what drunken confusion had led to such a character assessment. Elsewhere, I jumped over pools of piss and vomit. I avoided those, still in high spirits, who blocked the pavements as they swayed from side to side, arms wrapped around mates, having the best day of their lives. 

A lengthy and potentially pointless introduction to a charming song by Ren that I first heard a couple of weeks ago. In ‘My Heart Belongs To Ireland’, Ren goes exploring over on the west coast of Ireland and discovers kindred spirits and common allies. It’s clear that Ren is a talented musician and a convivial imbiber and you can see why he draws such conclusion. Dare I say it – the fairy tale Ireland that he describes appears miles removed from the theme park tribute act version that I witnessed in Nottingham City centre yesterday. 

I’ve got a fair few lovely friends in Dublin and beyond. I dare say that they’re nursing hangovers today but I’d also hazard a guess that their stomachs would have turned if they’d have been in Nottingham.

Ren, the rapscallion, could well be wearing blinkers as he strums out this made for Radio 2 gem. But, I’d rather buy into his respectful yet rogue-ish sense of Ireland than anything else. 

 

Eurovision – part deux

I am still alive but I might need a bodyguard. Yesterday’s Eurovision post was delivered at great risk to my own personal safety. Much maligned in the U.K., we can get away with pithy comments about the contest. Our collective arrogance swells because we’ve given the world the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin and One Direction! I will not be surprised if a price is already on my head from one of the former Soviet bloc countries that takes this a tad more seriously. 

Ruth Lorenzo is representing Spain in the contest. She once came fifth in the U.K’s X factor, largely because (as far as I could tell) men of a certain age and disposition were attracted to her Mediterranean charms and ample cleavage. Ruth is hoping to use that link to get ‘douze points from us’ in Copenhagen in May. She won’t be getting my vote though. Ruth once appeared at a Leicester City Football club fans village thing in advance of a friendly against Real Madrid. She mimed to a backing tape for one and a half songs before the local talent of Jersey Budd and The James Lewis Band blew her off the stage. One of her bodyguards knocked me over in her rush to get away. 

Do excuse my wittering. There are songs to review.

 

10. Estonia – Tanja – Amazing

This is far from amazing. In fact, all it is good for is a game of ‘count the clichéd lyric’. Tanja sings about how amazing it is to be weightless over the top of an Eurodisco pop track, produced in a bedroom. I bet Tanja is a bit chubby. 

 

11. Spain – Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing In The Rain

See above. It gets points in my book for being the first song I’ve reviewed so far to not be completely in English. The first Spanish verse sounds exotic and sexy but then the English begins and we learn that ‘life gets you every time’. Thanks for that Ruth. It’s pedestrian and procession like. Watch out for her bouncers.

 

12. Finland – Softengine – Something Better

In truth, I was hoping for Something Better. This is on the rock spectrum and sounds like it’s sung by somebody who makes a better living in a Frank Turner tribute band. The best that I can say about this is if I heard it a million times I still wouldn’t recognise it.

 

13. France – Twin Twin – Moustache

Can we go back to the piano ballads of yesterday please? This is French disco rap pap. The chorus bursts into English when Twin Twin tell us that they ‘wanna have a moustache‘. One that’ll do well in the gay Eurovision circles no doubt.

 

14. United Kingdom – Molly – Children Of The Universe

Yeah – we cheer collectively much like we do at the start of the football World Cup. We know that we have no chance of winning even though we buy our slot in the final. I’m sure that Molly Smitten-Downes (from Leicestershire) will give us 110% and she’ll sing her heart out.

 She’s supported Jake Bugg, Tinie Tempah and Basshunter so she’s learnt from the best. And Dean Jackson is her biggest fan. In truth, the song isn’t too bad. It begins very Lana Del Ray and I like the poetry of ‘I’ve been tired of this thinking, so I drowned it out by drinking‘. But, it quickly descends into lyrical nonsense as we learn that we’re ‘children of the universe, dancing on the edge of time.‘ Still, better than most though. 

PS – I realise the picture isn’t Molly!!

 

15. Georgia – The Shin And Mariko – Three Minutes To Earth

Sometimes Eurovision throws up something so bewildering and quirky that you can’t help but delight in it. Georgia’s entry is one of those. Beginning with a yodel that transforms into a vocal warble, this tune seems to be about a skydiving. It tries to be acoustic prog-folk over some classical guitar noodlings. Then, it calls on Bowie’s ‘Starman’ before the realisation hits that this parachute isn’t opening and we’re about to crash and die. Delightful.

 

16. Greece – Freaky Fortune Feat. Risky Kid – Rise Up

Risky Kid is a rapper. On the evidence of this offering, he should change his name to Safe Young Man. This dose of trumpet-led Euro pop swings along without really going anywhere. 

 

17. Hungary – Andras Kallay-Saunders – Running

This is horrible which probably means that it’s a favourite to win. More bland ’emotive’ Euro rock pop as Andras tells us all about a girl who is facing up to some pretty difficult times. ‘She keeps on running, running, running from this crazy life’, we’re told. And we weep at the magnitude of it all. 

 

18. Ireland – Can-Linn (feat Kasey Smith) – Heartbeat

What? No Jedward? It’s a travesty. In their place, we don’t even get that old soak, Johnny Logan. Instead Can-Linn do their best to sound like every other bland AOR track in this years Eurovision – except this has a bit of Celtic Fiddle to distinguish it from the rest. It won’t win. How many Eurovision songs have been called ‘Heartbeat’ in previous years I wonder? 

 

And, with that Day 2 of my Eurovision Easter egging draws to a close. Tomorrow will have some true highlights. Mum’s gone to Iceland and come back with a quirky punk gem whilst Latvia will be having a cake fight with Belarus. 

The two songs to highlight by video today again pick themselves. I have to support local girl, Molly… and The Shin and Mariko from Georgia is a madness that deserves extra prominence.