Bossa Bandits – One By One

Dani credits me with saving his life. I didn’t but the 24 hours we spent in each other’s company at the Benicassim music festival a few years ago is a story that should be made into a film. From our initial random meeting in the lift of the hotel to the mad morning rush in a taxi to take an ill Dani to the local casualty department, it’s a tale that (with a bit of embellishment for the big screen) has it all. There’s too much involved in it to tell the story now. Dani is from Brazil and, as far as I know, is living there now. He was, at least, when we exchanged messages about the madness of Bolsinaro last year. Lots has gone on in Brazil since then. 

The soundtrack to the film would have to feature some Bossa Nova. The offshoot of Samba that emerged as a ‘new wave’ of music in the 1950’s and 1960’s still bears influence in Brazil today – and who better than the Bossa Bandits to bring us some of those tunes? They specialise in Bossa Nova with a British twist; the tropical rhythms merge with bittersweet lyrics for a perfect blending of styles and influence.


Clive B Bossa, the main force behind the Bossa Bandits, takes up the tale from here:-

I was on a surf trip to the northern beaches of Brazil in 2012 when I fell in love with the sound of Bossa Nova. As a guitarist and percussionist, I was completely hooked and found myself returning to the beaches of Jericoacoara in Ceara state as often as possible so that I could play with the incredible musicians that are attracted to this spot. By 2015, I was regularly getting asked to play in some of the clubs and bars during my trips. Back in London, I started to write and perform some of my own original Brazilian inspired material and the Bossa Bandits were born.

The Bossa Bandits have been as productive as possible during the last year. With live shows off the table, they’ve set about recording some of their gems. ‘One by One’ is the most recent release and I’m told that more are on the way as momentum builds for the forthcoming album, ‘All True Stories’. One by One neatly captures the ‘clash’ of styles; a song all about having the strength to trust your instincts, the dark(ish) lyric merges with the happy beat for an intoxicating whole. 

I’ll send Dani a message later to check that he’s doing ok. He’s a strong street fighter and I have no doubt that he’ll be surviving. As Covid-19 continues to rage in Brazil, it feels like the right time to send some brotherly love. 

Ali Bla Bla – Island

Despite its very obvious natural beauty, I’m not much of a fan of living in England. I’ve posted before that the small-minded ‘islander’ mentality of at least 52% of the population disgusts me and I’d rather be elsewhere. In many ways, Covid-19 has been a dream for the politicians and policy makers who survive on a diet of anti-immigration rhetoric. Because now ‘we’ can close our borders to refugees, asylum seekers and people who can help to strengthen ‘our’ cultural identity by bringing new creative ideas. This is England and I’d rather be back in Spain.


The fabulous Ali Bla Bla tells me that he has found temporary respite in Kyiv, Ukraine with his wife and new born baby. He left England last summer and will be coming back in the next few months. “Life has been different here than in the UK, a lot more free.“, says Ali. “Being away has allowed me to have a fresh perspective on whats important in life, as well as time to create. We are coming back in the summer and i’m excited to start rock n rolling a bit more again, even if its with a mask on!

I could ramble on and on about the glorious week that I spent in Kyiv back in 2017. It really is an impressive city and I’d love to get back to see more. But I won’t. It’s not really the point of this post.

The travel and perspective gained from being abroad seems to have invigorated and freshly inspired Ali. Not that he needs much new inspiration based upon the evidence from recent release, ‘Island’. Here, we find Ali rapping over a punkish backing. He tells all about his experience growing up as an immigrant in England. It’s a vital and vibrant listen; urgent, informative and politically astute. 

At the song’s core, Ali is still crying about the state of affairs. This is a man who has recognised that “home aint were the heart is, so I’m trying to find the part where i care“. I get that. I’m sure all of us who struggle with the ‘island’ mentality do. It’s a point that Ali touches upon when we exchange E-mails.

I believe we are all victims of mental oppression in many different ways, and all of us have to find ourselves through the confusion.”, he wisely says.

I hope you all had great bank holiday weekends and the week ahead holds unforeseen pleasure. 

The Vaine Man – Addendum

One of my favourite blogposts from this year is the interview that I was able to carry out with John Swale (here). He answers my questions in such entertaining fashion that it makes for a great read. So when John gets in touch with a recommendation it’s inevitable that my interest will be piqued. Last month, he did just that introducing me to his friend, Mircha Ivens, and the enigmatic project of ‘The Vaine Man’.


‘The Vaine Man’ has just released their second single. ‘Addendum’ is a complex and glorious swirl of industrial electronica; artistic, glamorous and with glimpses of scratchy psychedelia, this cinematic piece refuses to be pigeon-holed and stands up all the better to scrutiny as a result. “The song sounds like Walker Brothers’ song Nite Flights was covered by The Knife then remixed for the post gender generation by Grimes“, says the press release confirming that genre confusion.

Mircha directed the accompanying video; the radio edit of the song extended to suit the short film experience and a spoken word piece of poetry bolted on to the beginning. At its heart, Addendum is perhaps a song about letting go of trauma, a footnote encouraging the move-on from a challenging relationship. It’s both confident and disorientating, creative and poppy. 

It’s what you expect a young Bowie might be producing right now – and that’s high praise indeed for a Wednesday morning. 

Elliot Joe Whitehead – Let It Slide

Being stubborn has its place. It feels good when in the midst of an argument to stick our feet firmly in the mud. We know that our position is the right one and we’re not going to budge. Not ever.

This is all well and good for a while but if your encounter is with somebody equally intransigent, it’s not long before the situation is one of impasse. And both parties are just left incredibly miserable by the fact that no progress is being made. Some will choose to never resolve; it’s not in their nature to give ground or to negotiate. But others will see that the original argument was a thing of nonsense and look for ways to reconcile. 


That’s the position that Elliot Joe Whitehead finds himself in his catchy-as-hell debut single, ‘Let It Slide’. With a monosyllabic, baritone delivery style, Elliot draws upon all sorts of 80’s influence and DIY charm to issue his own apology. Think Phil Oakey experimenting in his lounge and you mightn’t be too far away from the overall effect. You hope that, by teatime, Elliot has done enough to turn the squelchy mud into a slide that the happy (again) couple can skate over. Top work. 

Elliot , by his own admission an “essentially unknown artist from Greenwich, South-East London, with strong ties to Brighton“, is modestly surprised at the response received about ‘Let It Slide’ since releasing it on Valentine’s Day. “I never really expected it.“, he says when we exchange E-mails. 

He’s now energised for the future months. “First thing out of lockdown is to make a video for my third single, then release the second and then start rehearsals for gigs and then release the third single with a video!“, he tells me. “I’ve got it all figured out! – I think…

Just a few days ago, Elliot added a live performance of ‘Let It Slide’ to YouTube to sit alongside the lyric video. I provide both here because I think they offer a real insight into the DIY ethic of the man. 

Sonic Breakfast likes the energy and looks forward to the future releases (unreservedly and without apology).


King Casio – Big Truck

I loved my two trips to Groningen for the Eurosonic festival. They formed part of a perfect January break. As snow and sleet fell all around and I stomped from venue to venue across the city dressed like an Eskimo, I probably took the freedom of it all for granted. Packed bars and clubs hosted the finest up and coming acts from across Europe and I was in my element. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

On that first trip to Groningen, I had a brief conversation with some cool dudes at Southend Airport. You can read about that encounter here. I’ve since written about L.A. Salami and Francobollo a few times for eFestivals and have always made an effort to see them live when they’ve been on a festival bill. The brief encounter at the airport was one of those fortuitous moments that life keeps spinning back to.


I was thus very happy to hear about the make-up of King Casio. An Anglo-Swedish trio formed between vocalist Aaron King and members of Francobollo, they specialise in psychedelic Lo-fi ambles. King Casio’s first two singles had videos directed by L.A. Salami but I’ll let you review those in your own time. Today, let’s look at their latest release, Big Truck. 

Aaron describes ‘Big Truck’ as “happy, sad and a bit nostalgic as well. It came about through my cat getting run over and it symbolised the sudden death of a relationship. These two events informed the feel of the song, which allowed us to think about how It was sad to lose these things, but happy to have had them in the first place.

The sudden death of a relationship and the mixed emotions that ensue – that’s clearly a universal theme that we can all get behind.

Musically, Big Truck is an awkward yet compelling track. It’s no singalong but I don’t think that entirely matters. Jazz tones and crumpled electronica give way to an off-kilter guitar gloss whilst Aaron’s vocal croons, deliberately wayward, within the mix. It’s skew-whiff brilliance, nostalgic, hypnotic and perfectly odd. And it works for me.

Apparently, King Casio and L.A. Salami were due to go on tour together this year but that’s looking increasingly unlikely now because of Covid. A shame but I’ll certainly be looking forward to those random meetings in Southend when the restrictions relax. 


Kritters – Maybe you’re right

There are some days when I review the material of an act that I’m keen to feature on Sonic Breakfast and I’m struck by the sparseness; I’m stuck by their minimalism. These are acts that use one word answers in their press releases when truly more will do. They have no stories with which to support their music and convey a nonchalant disinterest about anything they have created. Perhaps the downplay is a deliberate ploy but it doesn’t half make it a challenge to write a blogpost about them.

Kritters are not one of those acts.

In fact, in the space of a couple of months, Kirini and Rob, the ‘blisteringly fast’ duo who form Kritters have produced so much that the challenge is knowing where to edit. This is a blog post that could run and run and they’ve only just begun. Imagine you’re in your favourite restaurant and the food is as exquisite as ever but you’re getting no break between the courses. With three fab electro pop singles released since February, all with elaborate videos to accompany, this is truly an act with a mission. 


There’s a method to the madness.“, say Kritters when we chat by E-mail about the frantic nature. “It’s also driven by the knowledge that we have so many songs on deck: Kirini has essentially written the next four albums (and still going!) so we do what we can to stay on top of it.

You suspect that Kirini and Rob are the sort of people who have hundreds of ideas before breakfast, who are just used to working at pace. I ask them, because I’m genuinely interested how they fit it all in. “In terms of spare time: because we have quite fluid day jobs (we are both private tutors, working mainly online these days) we use every spare second for art.“, they tell me. “And for us art is a very wide net: in addition to making music, Kirini is a visual artist, primarily working in paint but also ceramics and digital collage, and now, too, videos in service of Kritters. This past year she’s also been writing a novel, which will probably take another year to finish. As for Rob, in 2020 he released an album with his last band Stornoway (he was their drummer for 11 years) and so this past year has been all about developing as a producer, something with which he had no experience other than watching the pros in recording studios.

I initially approach the duo, currently based in New York, after hearing the second single taken from their forthcoming EP, It’s A Trap. Maybe you’re right is a grower, a banger and an ode about wanting to escape from self-imposed isolation. It’s easy to see how such a song resonated with me during this lockdown. I ask the pair how the last year has been and repeat their answer in full because it has such power. 

We live in the South Bronx – the Bronx is a borough of NYC which sits just above Manhattan, separated from it by the Bronx river. The South Bronx is a great area, with the energy of city life but at a slightly slower pace to Manhattan; really everyone should be familiar with it because it’s the birthplace of hip hop. It’s also poor and chronically underserved by city and state government, so our neighborhood was particularly hard hit during Covid: at one point this past year we hosted a nurse who had come all the way from Arizona to help out in the local hospital. It’s tough to really put a finger on what, exactly, we will take away from this pandemic year. It’s been desperately sad and completely strange: Trump, needless death, people swept into poverty. But also remarkably positive: the BLM protests, neighbors looking out for each other, and Biden’s election which also saw the election of Ritchie Torres, who is young and progressive, as our district’s representative in Congress. And for us personally the global pause coincided with Kirini beginning to write music, which she’d always planned on doing, and for once there was little else interfering. So, yes: the highs were high and the lows were underground, but we have hope.


Since Maybe you’re right, I’ve listened to (and thoroughly enjoyed watching) further releases from Kritters. It’s a Test has a stunning video bringing eight canonical artworks to life, reimagining the women subjects as empowered and not empty vessels for the egos of male artists. The song itself is about trimming our personalities, holding our breath and curtailing our own lives – imposing our own limits to avoid scaring people away. Send me away is a dense and frenzied foray exploring the relationship between anger and insanity; both are blooming fine exponents of the creative and intellectual force that’s fizzing at full flow right now. 

Few would predict against the brightest of future for the irrepressible and effervescent Kritters. Take your seat for a wild ride. 


Sleep Walking Animals – Aengus’ Fool

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will recall that I’m not one for ceremony; on Valentine’s Day when other blogs were featuring tracks about glorious love, I was being contrary and ignoring the day’s existence. I’ll do the same this Easter weekend. You’re unlikely to find a song about bunnies, crucifixion or eggs in these parts (though a song featuring all three would surely pique my interest). 

I’m in a conciliatory mood today though. The long weekend and the four days away from my day job are dampening my cantankerous spirit so I’ll make a slight concession and feature a great song this Good Friday that has the word ‘good’ flowing through it like a stick of rock. “Love looks good on you“, sing the Sleep Walking Animals on their indie folk track, ‘Aengus’ Fool’, originally released on Valentine’s Day. 


It’s a cracking track and really marks Sleep Walking Animals out as ones to look out for when live gigging resumes. A tour is tentatively planned for October. The vocal harmonies in Aengus’ Fool build and fall over the shuffling, broken march of the drums to produce something both relentlessly modern and vigorously vintage. There’s a slightly, sinister edge running throughout as well, an approach explained by Jack from the band when we exchange E- mails. 

We released Aengus’ Fool on valentines day because it’s a confession of infatuation and desire.“, he says. “And although the song is about love (it was inspired by Irish Mythology – Aengus is the god of love) it has darker undertones. I think we wanted to subvert the usual sickly expectations of valentines day.

I’m onboard with that. Jack also mentions that Sleep Walking Animals have another single, Wild Folk, out right now. “If you want something more current it might be worth reviewing that as well/instead.“, he suggests. I take a listen and there’s no denying it’s quality. 

But I think I’ll stick with my contrary, original plan and just feature Aengus’ Fool. Have a good Easter weekend one and all. 

Peploe – The Novice

There are times when you hear a track and really love it – but can’t quite put your finger on why that’s the case. For most people this is not a problem; but for somebody who writes about music it’s stifling. Words that mostly come freely don’t and you’re left staring at a blank page. You’re a beginner in your craft trying hard to deny the feelings of failure. You are nothing more than a novice… Ah, there we go…


Today’s track is called ‘The Novice’ by a London-based duo, Peploe. It’s been out for a couple of months now but I remain keen to bring it to the attention of Sonic Breakfast readers because it’s a great song to hear. It’s a ‘pick and mix’ of genres, an almighty mash-up that comes together to work as a whole. Gabrielle’s immediate vocal line comes from a soul-mod base whilst the glitchy, staccato rhythm emerging from Arvid’s drumming is drawing influence from electro-jazz. There are key changes a plenty; wild and wacky creative flourishes that keep you on your toes as your head learns to cope with the complexities within. Somehow though, what could be an almighty muddle never becomes so. This is a simple, futuristic pop song – genius. 

And the video is quite neat as well. We’re all missing parties and interaction and this is Peploe’s attempt to deal with the fact that social events are limited for many. Arvid and Gabrielle plaster their faces onto the bodies of guests at parties in an attempt to remind us all that fun can still be had. It’s been well received. 

I ask Peploe about 2021 and their future plans. “2021 has been a bit slow, we’ve been itching to start gigging!!“, they say. “Though the silver lining is that we’ve been writing a lot of music that we’re excited to release soon. A real highlight was the amazing reaction we received to the release of ‘The Novice’ and its music video. The first thing we’ll do when the restrictions lift is hug our friends! After that, we’ll make the gigging a reality. 🙂

Sonic Breakfast can’t wait for that reality. We’re not absolute beginners when it comes to writing about gigs. 

PENT UP – Reflection

A pattern is forming; not one, not two but three instrumental pieces featured on Sonic Breakfast in recent weeks. (The other two are here and here). For a blog that is so wrapped in lyrics, this is quite a development. I’m finding so much on offer in the piano-led pieces that I’m hearing. Cinematic and evocative, they’re helpful position-statements in explaining the raw emotion of the last year. They allow you to fill in the gaps, to let you mind wander, to reflect, to think and to learn. You can lose yourself in a story without words, wallow for a while and breathe it all in. 

Today’s choice is aptly called ‘Reflection’ and it’s by PENT UP, the moniker of Stephen Brook, a pianist from the South West of England. It’s already been noted by commentators more relevant than I that Stephen has the ability to tell stories without lyrics. Stephen himself notes that the video he made to accompany the piece ‘adds the visual context to the song’s narrative‘.

It’s an emotionally-charged video. Quickly we move from the bustle of a busy underground to deserted streets and empty buses. I’ve now not been to the office of my day job for over a year but when this video charts a path up an empty Regents Street and pans down a quiet Leicester Square, things really resonate. These are some of the streets that I’d walk along daily as I’d merrily go about my working day. Their emptiness is eerie, almost apocalyptic. It’s chilling when thinking about what we once took for granted.

The video moves on to feature images of people in various reflective modes; some are alone and others are in clinches with loved ones. All are taking the time to think and to ponder. We’ve lost a lot but gained equal amounts of insight into the things that really matter. 

Stephen explains his motivation behind ‘Reflection’. “I wanted to capture all of the emotions that we’ve all gone through over the past year.“, he says. “The numerous lockdowns, the sparse opportunities of freedom and how this is affecting the population mentally. I’ve also had my own realisations on the importance of family and how I have taken my own family for granted in the past.

Do find time to have a listen to ‘Reflection’ today. It can be a thinking Thursday for us all. 

Loose T. – Brexit

Brexit supporters must be thanking their lucky stars that Covid-19 happened when it did. The economic fall-out as a result of the shit storm can now be hidden away within the much larger negative pandemic impact. “Oh, that’s a direct consequence of Covid“, the politicians can say about our poverty for years to come when questioned why the nurses are only seeing paltry pay rises and the NHS doesn’t seem to be £350m better off. 

I’ve no doubt begun to sound like a broken record on these pages. But friends who run small businesses are either no longer exporting into EU countries or cutting into their thin margins to do so; friends who live in an EU country are reporting that the shelves are bare of things like Marmite and UK based cheddar cheese. Transferring funds from the UK into the EU now costs silly money every transaction. And I’m not even going to start on the time limits that we can now all spend in EU countries. 

Brexit supporters, tongues in the arses of others, lick away whilst mumbling incoherently about beating those pesky Europeans to vaccinations as if it’s a competitive sport. It all makes me want to scream. 

But, arguably, I’m still not screaming as loud about Brexit as Loose T.. Jim, from her record label, Pear O’Legs, tells me what Loose T. will be doing when the pandemic is done. ” She’ll probably just go and shout somewhere“, he says – “it really is her thing.Ideally in a crowd with a lot of sweaty strangers.


Loose T.’s track ‘Brexit’ is a wonderfully angry punk piece, a fingers up to Brexit and British politics from a French cellist, writer and activist who has spent the last 8 years living in London and Edinburgh. Who can not be drawn to a track that quickly and immediately gets to the very heart of what’s wrong with it all?

On the next day, My boss came In a Hawaiian shirt Cause he felt so smug.” screams Loose T. at one point early in the song nailing the divisions that were reinforced overnight in 2016 and have still to go away. 

Sadly I think lots of people have had enough of Brexit and have just accepted the ongoing shambles.“, says Jim from the record label, on behalf of Loose T. who doesn’t do social media. I suspect that Jim is broadly right. 

Sonic Breakfast will never accept it though.