Ali Horn – End Credits

The day has arrived. I was up early this morning to draw the blinds on the villa and to make my way to the airport. Goodness knows when I’ll get back. I might have shed a tear or two on the terrace last night but today I’m going to be defiantly happy. We only live once and let’s make it count, right?

Ali Horn gets me. In his nihilistic yet optimistic single from last year, End Credits, he’s making a ‘hopeless plea for temporary happiness’. He enhances his thinking later in the press release. 

“The only thing we know for sure is that we can’t stay here for long.“, Ali says. “We’re a speck of light reflecting off a fractured fragment of smashing glass in slow motion. There for a second and then gone. But let’s have fun while it lasts. You can’t hide for the inevitable.”

Spot on I say. I saw Ali play a live set in London (at the Old Blue Last I seem to recall). It was October 2019 and I was between guardianships, staying in an odd and quirky Airbnb house in Islington surrounded by books as I slept on a rickety sofa. I fully intended to write about Ali’s live set but the ‘delights’ of the accommodation got the better of me. 

My notes from the night still exist but they’re pretty indecipherable. I do remember enjoying Ali’s set though I also noted that Ali could do with smiling more. He had a four piece band with him and shades pinned to his chest. A fuzzy Neil Young, Ali commented that this crowd was ‘better than Brighton’. Fez and Jouis were also on the bill that night. 

So, I’m happy to be able to feature ‘End Credits’ as I get on this plane to leave Spain. A happy song as the trudge towards the end continues. 

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. 

Ladies – Trigger For Love

Cast your mind back to the distant past of 2016. I declared a love for Ladies back then (here), so much so that the trio from Liverpool prominently featured in my top ten of the year (here).

I’ve exchanged messages with lead singer, Chas, a fair bit since. When I’ve been up in Liverpool visiting my parents or heading out to a festival, we’ve made every effort to catch up over a beer or two. It’s always been interesting to hear about the plans for Ladies. Getting yourself heard when in a young band is fraught with challenges and frustrations but Chas’s determination that they’re going to ‘make it’ shines on through. You get a sense that the lucky break is coming; that their music is going to imminently be heard by a mover or shaker with the influence to help them realise their dreams.

They’ve just released a new video for their most recent single ‘Trigger For Love’. A word of warning – searching the Internet for ‘Ladies Trigger For Love video’ brings back all sorts of inappropriate oddness that a band with their healthy political outlook would be sure not to approve of. But it’s OK because you can link to the actual video from here.

The song itself is riddled with melody, completely characteristic of the band’s style. The Liverpool influence is pushed to the fore; it’s a tune that wouldn’t be out of place on The La’s classic album which is the highest of praise. 

Mersey-beat is alive and well and the scene is set for another iteration. Ladies are doing what they can to place themselves at the fore of that movement.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten – 2016

It’s that time of year again. We come to the end of another one and decide upon the things that have made us happiest (and in the case of the shit-fest that has often been 2016, the unhappiest).

 

 Sonic Breakfast will again get in on the act – with my list of the top ten posts from 2016 that have for a variety of reasons given me the most joy. There’ll be surprises and certainties, posts I’d forgotten about and posts that I wish I’d never published! I think you’ll enjoy.

 Without further ado.. Click on the next page number for number 10…

 

Ladies – Pretty In My Heart

Something changed for me last year. 

Ever since I moved to Leicester a dozen or more years ago, I’d spend three or four nights each week being a consumer of local music. I’d go to cold, flea bitten holes (all of which have now closed down of course) on Tuesday evenings to watch bands who were just starting out and often not very good. Sometimes, I’d watch these bands grow in confidence as they developed their stagecraft. Often, bands would split up after their opening gig. 

I can’t put my finger on a time when the magic went. But it did last year. I’m now enjoying staying in and only venturing out to gigs where there’s a purpose; typically, this means going to larger venues to produce ‘fucking shit’ reviews of touring bands. 

Who knows if I’ll get my love of the local fleapit back?

On one of my rare forays out in 2015, I came across Ladies (that’s not as crude as it sounds). Here was a band who were clearly still finding their feet and developing their stagecraft. But already I could tell that this three-piece had the seed of something special. More than anything, I could tell they had songs. They were both derivative and utterly modern at the same time. They had a slightly shambolic swagger and yet were captivating to watch. I got to know their lead singer and songwriter, Chas, who impressed with his general approach and attitude.

A couple of months ago, I received an E-mail from ‘Ladies’. They’ve relocated to Liverpool. In many ways, this is a move that makes entire sense. From the Beatles to the La’s (and beyond), Liverpool strikes me as the sort of city that appreciates jangle and melody. That’s the space that Ladies sit within and I’m not at all surprised that, a few months after moving, their gig calendar seems to be full and bursting. 

Ladies are a band to keep an eye on. How knock-out is the chorus in this tune ‘Pretty In My Heart’? 

 

 

 

Louis Berry and a scathing Saint Raymond gig review

“If someone tells me I have to go out there and impress some people because they’re important to my career, I’d rather go out there and really piss them off. Because this should be about the songs and a belief that everything else is bollocks. I walk around thinking ‘people in Liverpool, can’t you see what they are doing to you?’. There’s so much to say and no one is saying it. I’m going to be the lad who does.”Louis Berry

In a couple of weeks time, I’m lining up a chat with Louis Berry. He’s playing at Nottingham’s Bodega on the 19th January as part of a short headline tour. It wasn’t long ago that I saw Louis play in Leicester when he supported Saint Raymond. I reviewed the show for the Leicester Mercury but I’m not sure if my words ever got published. In truth, I was quite scathing about the headliner and I can understand why an editor might have opted for an easy life.

Anyway, waste not want not (and all that) – I’ll publish my uncensored review here…

 

I look at my watch and despair. Saint Raymond have only been playing for forty minutes in the second room at Leicester’s O2 academy but it already feels like a lifetime. It’s not simply because he’s from Nottingham that I take such a dim view. One song, with bland,subtle variation, is played over and over again. Repeat until it’s really not funny.

He’s the master of monosyllable is Callum Burrows, the man behind the moniker, Saint Raymond. ‘I want you to know that, I want you, you know that’, he sings in yet another jaunty, catchy, raise your hands in the air, singalong pop by numbers blow-out.

Yet it would be churlish not to admit that this man with very little to say does seem to say a great deal to his fans. Young female students have graduated from Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs and One Direction. They now have a new poster boy for their university bedsit and Burrows is it. Surrounded by a faultless band, the crowd sing, clap, dance and wave their phones to the innocuous, choppy pop on offer. “Let’s carry on dancing, I want to tire you out”, smiles Burrows. I yawn.

Callum plays a cover. I only know it’s a cover because he tells us so. The crowd cheer wildly after every dull syllable he states. He tells a story about making a video in a taxi in Manchester with Thomas Turgoose, a potentially interesting tale in the hands of a somebody less boring. He plays two songs without a band that fail to resonate.

More impressive is Louis Berry, the scouse support act with jug ears, a cheeky grin and a charming swagger. Sometimes he veers a bit too close to Jake Bugg for comfort but when on form, you can see the Johnny Cash crossed with Arctic Monkey influence. Plagued throughout with sound problems, it seems to distract Berry from his full game. “We can’t hear what we’re playing”, moans Berry. It has rebel attitude, bite and enough skiffle based melody to suggest that, on a good day, Louis will be one to watch.

Ever one to consider the positives of a situation, as I leave the venue I think it could be worse. A poster of forthcoming gigs is thrust into my hand and I notice that it’s two days away from a Scouting For Girls gig. I thank God for small mercies.

 

I was a grumpy bastard towards the end of 2015 wasn’t I? I’m more than confident that Louis will continue to impress throughout 2016 and he’ll have a great deal more to say than Saint Raymond.

 

Sheepy – Don’t Know Much

I wish that I was in London this coming Thursday. If I was then I’d be delaying my trip home and heading to the Tamesis Dock, a boat moored on the Albert Embankment, somewhere between Vauxhall and Westminster.

For that’s where Blang Records are hosting a free split single launch party. Two new(ish) bands to me, Sheepy and Lucy’s Diary share the release. I’m keen on both sides of the single but it’s the charming Mod(ish) Britpop bleat of Sheepy’s ‘Don’t Know Much’ that’s mostly grabbed my attention. Just for avoidance of any doubt, Sheepy are not to be confused with the Shepee’s found on festival sites, most commonly at Glastonbury. 

It’s evident within the cheeky, chirpy video for ‘Don’t Know Much’ that Sheepy are a three piece. If you’re the sort who recognises cathedrals and churches whilst looking out from the cockpit of a paper aeroplane you might also pick up on the fact that Sheepy are from Liverpool. 

Clocking in at a little under two minutes, Sheepy confirm what we’ve always known that length isn’t important (right?) – for, in this short burst of a song, Sheepy prove that their seven inch offers infinitely more than can often be heard in tracks twice as long. This has energy, immediacy and pzazz by the bucketload. It’s very difficult not to fall for its charms.

I mightn’t know much but I reckon they’ll be dancing on the dock and rocking in the rigging come Thursday night.

 

SG Lewis ft Josh Barry – Silence

What’s this? The second Sonic Breakfast post in less than 24 hours? Breaking rules again about not posting more than once a day? Quiet days between posts when you were getting fried and fired in Liverpool at Sound City and now a gluttony of posts to break the silence? 

Errrr.. Yes… Kind of…

 

 

SG Lewis is a bedroom producer, originally from Reading but now living in Liverpool. I guess that’s where he met Josh Barry who features on this exquisite track that’s generating a fairly noisy response on Soundcloud.

For me, this is about the ‘silence’ that occurs post-relationship argument. Both of you know that, given time, it’ll probably be ok but it’s late at night and all you want to do is sleep. But, you can’t sleep because your mind is playing tricks. And so, over a chilled out bass thud, you replay the crap that’s just occurred. 

The perils of being in a relationship that’s not working… The advantages of sleeping alone…. The joys of making up….

 

 

Liverpool Sound City – Raleigh Ritchie

I continue to write up my review of Liverpool Sound City for eFestivals. I’ve made a great dent into the review this evening whilst watching the first semi final of the Eurovision. I am gutted that the Latvian entry about baking cakes didn’t proceed. 

There were 26 venues at Sound City and I tried to get to most of them over the few days of the festival.. I’m trying hard for my review not to simply be a long and drawn out list of the things I did…

And then I went here…

And then I went here….

 

I interviewed Raleigh Ritchie this weekend and a full transcript of that will appear in good time on eFestivals. But, I’m happy to say that he was a charming man. He openly admits that he’s something of a contradiction; that his album might well be difficult to pin down because it will cross styles. He’s a perfectionist spending hours getting a bass to sound exactly as he wants. I’m left wondering if his album will ever come out. 

We talked about Wireless as he’s been announced to perform alongside Kanye and the like – but he also said that there’s more festivals coming that he can’t announce as yet. My money’s on Glastonbury as one of them. Surprisingly, Raleigh/Jacob also revealed that his first ever mosh pit experience was at a Kasabian gig. 

He thinks – and I’m inclined to agree – that he’s only compared to the Trip Hop sound of Massive Attack, Tricky and all because of his Bristolian roots.

We touched on the distinction between acting and music. Raleigh’s focus for the foreseeable is on music though he wouldn’t be averse to another Game Of Thrones series if offered. I deduce from that that he doesn’t lose his head in series 3. I steered away from questions about genitals and lack of them (in Game of Thrones)… 

I wanted to post the tune ‘Bloodsport’ in full from Soundcloud but it’s been removed and replaced with a clip. Oh well, never mind – here’s clips from all of the tracks on Raleigh’s Black and Blue EP.

 

Recycle Culture – Vacation Forever

 

I have returned from Liverpool. It’s been a frenzy of a few days and when my head is less fried I’ll write all about it for eFestivals. 

 

There were definite highlights. Jungle’s performance in the pop-up venue, The Factory, will probably be talked about for years; having a chat with Raleigh Ritchie and getting some inside ‘gossip’ on Game Of Thrones, a programme I’ve never seen, left me excited for his future in music; and seeing the ball of energy that was Lizzo, jump onto the downstairs stage at the Shipping Forecast and enthrall all with her energetic, crazed rap wordplay will dazzle for days. 

But today, Sonic Breakfast isn’t featuring something that played a part in this weekend – or if they did, it was hidden away. 

Recycle Culture has been a prolific producer over the past year and a half. A quick scan of his/her Bandcamp page shows that there’s a dozen EP’s and albums added in eighteen months. Bloggers have featured tracks but still there’s a mystery about who is doing the producing. 

 

“Collector, collapser, composter, connector & constructor of complexed cultural components; classic, contemporary & contingent”, says the Bandcamp page and with that alliteration of ‘C’s’, we can’t help but wonder if his name is Colin.

 The four track EP, Vacation Forever, is perfect Bank Holiday Monday music. The sun is out, the summer’s going to last until September and we want to sit back in our deck chairs with a glass of red, trying hard to forget that for many of us it’s back to work tomorrow. Allow this track to work its blissed out beauty in your head and the temporary illusion of a permanent holiday might just kick in……