L.A. Salami – The News Cafe – ESNS Groningen

It’s been a long and exciting day. I write this as the wind outside howls around the dark and wet streets of Groningen. But I’m ok – AirBNB has worked wonderfully and I have a fab room in the heart of this fine city. 

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know why I’m in the Netherlands. I’m reviewing Eurosonic Noorderslag for eFestivals. The plane from Southend touched down just after 5 and since then it has been all systems go. In the space of a few hours this evening, I’ve seen much that a fuller review will warrant but for now I’ll pick a shorter tale.

I clocked the band on the train from Liverpool Street. I needed a wee and so walked up and down the aisles to try and find a toilet. These shuttles don’t seem to have them but I did walk through a carriage that was laden with trendy looking musicians carrying boxes of equipment. “They must be on their way to Groningen“, I thought to myself.

(Click on page 2 to find out which band it was)

Joe Buzfuz – Now That I’m The Mayor Of London

During the Easter break, we took advantage of Bank holidays and Airbnb offers to spend a few days in London. I go there a fair bit for work stuff but rarely as a tourist so this was actually quite exciting. To be able to meander aimlessly, investigating curious side streets and the wonderful interiors of Samuel Smith pubs, was a whole host of fun. 

Based out in Bermondsey, we weren’t far from Tower Bridge and City Hall, a place I’ve visited a fair few times in my day job. For the uninitiated, it’s from here, in this modern looking mis-shaped egg, that the Mayor of London directs their operation. From the south side of the Thames, the Mayor issues policies, sets ambition and counts their money. 

Some people living away from London (and probably some living in London) will not realise that there’s a Mayoral election campaign running at the mo. Boris has served his dues and has his eyes on a bigger prize and so now Londoners are getting to vote for a new one. Let’s hope they’ve had enough of the Tories by now. 

In ‘Now That I’m The Mayor Of London’, the fab Joe Buzfuz, who co-runs the Blang label, spells out his Dick Whittington manifesto. Some of what he proposes (growing veg in window boxes and keeping bees) is scarily aligned with the thinking of the present incumbent but other more outlandish suggestions (silence every day between two and three) might never come to pass. All of it is gently delivered on a picked and strummed acoustic guitar with the overall effect landing somewhere between an XTC out-take and a folk protest. 

I don’t live in London so I can’t vote. And I’m pretty sure that Joe is not actually standing to be City Mayor. But, if these pretty big barriers were overcome, I’d be proud to say….

‘I’m voting for Buzfuz’.


Hunck – Never Had A Dream

For some while now, I’ve been meaning to post about Hunck. I first heard this particular tune before Christmas and loved it. It’s fair to say that the recently released video amplifies that connection.. 

‘I’m up all night, I sleep all day’, suggests the beautiful opening line. Yes, yes, yes.. My kind of lyric.. 

HUNCK were apparently born out of the post-riot depths of Tottenham in 2013. Estranged childhood friends Frederik and Thomas reconnected after a series of heartbreaks, losses and unfortunate events to indulge and share their love in the gloomier sounds of long dead crooners.

New songs come and go all the time. This one just stays.. Less than a month into 2016 but I’m happy to predict this’ll be one that still resonates in November. 

To sleep, perchance to dream.. Let’s hope so.. 

Big, big beauty – love this. 

Diet Cig, Saltwater Sun & INHEAVEN – London Lexington January 14th 2016

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that, on those days when I work in London, I’ll choose to take in a gig in that fine city rather than getting a train straight home. It means that I don’t get home until the early hours but, invariably, being tired at work the next day is a price that I’m willing to pay. 

So, last Thursday I was down in London. I got the chance to go and see a stellar trio of bands as part of the Five Day Forecast mini festival, a week of shows put on by The Line Of Best Fit at the Lexington. TLOBF gaze into their crystal balls and predict what’ll be grabbing our attention in 2016. 

I signed up mostly because I was intrigued by the headline act, Diet Cig. This was part of the New York slop-pop duo’s first venture to the UK and, in truth, Noah and Alex didn’t disappoint. This was a whistlestop whizz through their fuzz-laden tunes that have been creating such a buzz. It lasted no more than half an hour and each song was over before it began.

 Alex breathlessly bounces around the stage; she climb onto speaker and drum stacks as she unleashes thrashy chords and trashy (but fabulous) lyrics. I’m sure that we’ve all seen doom-laden posers offers similar postures before but Alex contrasts with their strut; for this is a joy-laden, breeze of energetic happiness. London is urged to dance; it’s a step too far for some of the cool kids in the front but, if they’d turned around, they would have seen a healthily full Lexington getting washed up in the infectious enthusiasm bounding from the stage. Brilliant.

 

It’s almost embarrassing to admit it but I’d never before been to the Lexington. What a fabulous live music venue it is. The downstairs bar serves up an impressive range of American beer and whisky. With staff that seem genuinely happy to serve you (by no means a given in London), it’s a place where the lone gig-goer immediately feels welcome. I settled on a draft pint of Big Wave Golden Ale, brewed by the Hawaiian company, Kona and went upstairs to watch the two bands on before Diet Cig. 

Saltwater Sun had something. They appeared slightly nervous about the experience but really shouldn’t have been. Perhaps the broken string on an earlier BBC Introducing session (they made reference to this) still haunted them but they took a little while to get going. My notes suggest that there was a Cardigans influence going on here but, in truth, they probably weren’t alive at the Nina Persson peak. There were rock shapes thrown and enough tunes within this set to show why more on the ball bloggers than I have these down in their ones to watch list in 2016.

 

 

 

The same was true for INHEAVEN. Very true in fact. Much has been made that this is a band giving us another slice of shoegaze but I didn’t entirely see that. Yes, they made a trembling, expansive noise but there were tunes here doused with classic Americana splurge. They looked the business on stage and it’s no surprise to see that festival bookers are getting themselves in a frenzy after their standout show the following night at Eurosonic.

 

So, all told a fab night of wonderful new bands. All of them different; all of them with that magic spark that makes you smile. On the evidence presented, 2016 could well be a belter. 

 

Delaire – Don’t Move

I’ve left my headphones at work. This is an inconvenience seeing as I’m not now back in the office until Friday. I’ve got a few days of train travel coming up. I really should get a cheap pair for emergencies such as this. 

I had it all worked out when I saw the E-mail hit my inbox today telling me about Delaire’s new single, Don’t Move. Here was a track of shimmering disco funk from the London based songstress. After a day holed up in the office, I planned to do the exact opposite of the instruction in the song title. I’d get home, cook myself some soup and then plug in my headphones for a bit of a silent boogie around the coffee table. I wouldn’t want to disturb my neighbours on a Monday night. 

Delaire’s not an entirely new name to me. In the latter months of 2015, I’d found myself quite taken by her first single, Belief. If I’d have been blogging more back then, I might well have featured the fine, tear down the cheek, atmospheric video that accompanied that tune. You can see from that where the comparisons to the likes of Jessie Ware and London Grammar derive from. 

So, I’ve had to listen to the new single, Don’t Move, through the slightly tinny output of my I-pad. It’s by no means a disaster and I’m still getting the urge to shuffle on my sofa. Any song that begins with the lines  “Jealousy is not for me, I know you’ve seen her more. Her blonde hair, her underwear, I know you’ve seen before” is setting itself up to be a winner in my book.     

Of course, I might have misheard that lyric given my inconvenience. 

As ‘Don’t Move’ progresses, the opening verse of Chic-like funk gives way to a burst of Donna Summeresque disco pop. An imaginary Tina Charles very nearly takes me by the hand and says “Fuck it, you don’t need your headphones to dance around the coffee table to this one Sean”. But Tina’s too polite to swear in such a way. 

And so I remain on my sofa, generally appreciative of Delaire but slightly annoyed that I have no headphones and very aware that I need to put this right. 

 

 

 

 

Theo Bard – Memories of Dublin

It couldn’t have been timed with more precision. I was sat in Dublin airport after an extended weekend in Ireland. My flight was a tad delayed and so I opened up my Sonic Breakfast mailbox to check what had recently been sent. 

“Acclaimed East London singer-songwriter Theo Bard has revealed his new single, Memories of Dublin.  This uplifting song tells a story of a short and sweet love affair, in the typically direct and frank narrative style that marks him out as an exceptional songwriter,” ran the PR blurb. 

“The song is a clever play on the Irish folk song Dublin City in the Rare Old Time, with references to the lyrics throughout. While the song pays homage to the folk tradition, there is nothing backward looking about it, as Theo delivers a full and evocative sound that hits you in the gut“, it continued.

I was intrigued. After a few nights and days of excessive drinking, I was feeling like I’d been hit in the gut and again in the head. It might have only been a weekend break but I’d had my very own short and sweet love affair with Dublin as a place. Amongst beautiful people, I had laughed so much over the course of the weekend that unfamiliar muscles ached. 

I clicked on the link and fell in love with the ramshackle tale of winter travels, glimpses of love and loss. 

This wasn’t the first I’d heard about Theo. A couple of months before I’d got myself added to a guest list for a show he was playing at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. I’d watched the video to his song ‘Never Alone’ as my run of summer festivals drew to a close. It caught my attention and I declared an interest to feature it on Sonic Breakfast. Life took over (it’s been an odd few months – future posts will give an insight into that) and on the night of the gig, I succumbed to a head cold that turned my brain to mush. 

The timing is now right to share. 

 

 

 

Sam Baker – October/November tour

A call out to the fine people of London, Lewes, Plymouth, Leeds, Gateshead and Bury. You’ve got a chance, this week, to see one of the most compelling live performers that I had the pleasure of reviewing last year. 

For Sam Baker is back in England and once again he’s joined by Carrie Elkin. Here’s my review from the simply stunning show that I saw last year.

 

And here’s a video of Sam playing the title track from his most recent album, Say Grace. 

Take a chance on live music. You surely won’t be disappointed.