Sonic Breakfast has just received another note from Pete to Joanne to follow up on previously published letters here, here and here. I hope neither think I’m breaking their confidences by publishing the new one in full here…
It’s years since we last spoke and I have no idea if you’re still at this E-mail address? I’ll try you anyway as I’ve just heard a song that I have to share with you.
Do you remember our holiday to Los Angeles? How could I forget? It was the first time that you told me that you loved me. We went for an early morning walk that turned out so well – from the Dodgers stadium into Downtown – along Alameda and up in the hills. And wherever we went, we were struck by the fact that people spoke, waved and acknowledged our existence. What a gorgeous day.
I yearn for such a beautiful walk now. This virus shows no sign of going away though. I’m holed up here in Manchester and the prospects don’t look good. I’d love to be in a festival field again soon, smiling at random strangers as we dance to wild beats in elevated states. Joanne, you were great company at those festivals. Your life has changed now I guess?
I digress. This tune I want to tell you about. It’s truly hypnotic, simple yet powerful. Lael Neale (no, I’ve not heard of her before either) seems to have gone on a similar walk as us through those LA landscapes. She charts her progress with beautiful little observations; slight vignettes into the lives of many in the bustling city.
There’s no chorus Joanne but I remember you used to love that about Squeeze’s Up The Junction so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed that this song doesn’t take a traditional form. There’s no guitar either; just a church organ, a drum machine and Lael’s crystalline voice. I think the sparse approach works. What about you?
I’ll bother you no more Joanne. I’m sorry for writing out of the blue but my memories of Los Angeles are bound in this and I had to share.
I hope you’re well,
It’s an odd feeling when you get to my age and you ‘discover’ a band you instinctively love. New to you, this is a band that has a body of work tracing back to the turn of the century.
For, on the one hand, you know that you will simply feel compelled to immerse yourself in their catalogue of releases. You’ll feast and gorge on their output with gluttonous endeavour. You’ll try hard to ration yourself and avoid overdosing but you know that’s not your style. It’s the aural equivalent of an excellent TV boxset that’s released on Netflix in one serving.
The feeling of joy about your new find is tempered with the sense that your ‘already too cluttered life’ is about to become even more distracted.
Such is the way I’m currently feeling about Pollyn.
(Click on page 2 to find out more about Pollyn
Last night was a bit stupid. If I was of sensible nature, I wouldn’t have gone to the pub. Or, at least, I would have left after three pints to head home to my impeccably tidy house. I would have put on my slippers and chilled, maybe watching another episode of that box-set I adore whilst waiting for my wholesome stew to stew.
But I’m not sensible. I stayed at the pub for longer than I should have. I bought a pizza on the way home and woke fully clothed, having fallen asleep on my sofa. This is not the life I Imagined when I was a younger man.
Music is my constant. I can’t have been older than ten when I discovered the joy of headphones. Put on a pair, the more visible the better, and you’re making a statement that you don’t want to engage with the world. I woke this morning with headphones on.
The wonderful Francesca Brown had sent me to sleep. Or at least, it was her track, Undone that undid me. One minute I was watching this video, the next I was in the land of nod. In many ways, this might imply that what we have here is dull and languorous. But, the truth is something entirely different.
For sure, this is not a brain beating punk excursion; it’s more of a protest song done serenely. Undone has a very specific ‘je ne sais quoi’ that I cannot fathom but love all the same. Maybe, it’s the shuffling melody or the rise and fall of Francesca’s vocal, the sense that something isn’t quite right here in a world that should be perfect. It both calms me and makes me anxious. It’s sexy and completely not so. It leaves me speechless and without a rudder. It’s soul that touches my soul and I suspect this is a good response.
Ladies and Gentleman – have happy weekends. I’ll continue to nurse this hanging head with Francesca and my headphones for company.
It’s not been a deliberate ploy but Sonic Breakfast has been encouraging a fair bit of croissant-munching this past month. Yep, fine bands with links to France have been featured quite regularly because I’ve been impressed by the music they’ve produced,
Tour De France are a duo from Los Angeles that I’ve been in recent contact with. Their pretty unique thing is that they sing all of their stuff in French – a sort of electronic punk with exclusively French lyrics. Singer Bernadette is initially from Bordeaux and is now apparently Leonard Cohen’s French language coach. Sam, initially from New York, produces.
Their third album is being released this year. It’s definitely worth spending some time digging into their back catalogue if you’ve got a spare few hours.
But, just in case you haven’t and you want a quick fix of Tour De France, here’s a lyric video of their recent release, La Saint Valentin. It’s got a simple melody that ambles along with pleasant urgency. But beware – it’s also got a melody that digs into your head. You might well be humming this as you traipse around shopping centres later today.
With customary tardiness, Sonic Breakfast encourages you to celebrate St Valentines Day over a month after it’s passed. But I’m not sure that matters. For those of us lucky enough to be in love, everyday is a celebration, right?
There’s a moment (just after two minutes and 45 seconds) in this new tune from Nick Price when an unfeasibly dirty, almost grunge-like saxophone jazz solo kicks in. It’s at this point that pure sex penetrates through the soulful, smouldering tone that has gone before. This is the clothe-shedding, carpet burning climax that’s touching the stars. It’s hard not to get carried away.
I’ll set the scene as I see it.There’s this remote cabin that’s built for two. Nick Price is in it singing sweet neo-soul. Early drumbeats sound like nails being hammered in to strengthen the endurance of the wooden shag shack. For tonight, if Nick gets his way, the shed is going to rock n’roll with moans and groans. Stars will provide the light. There’ll be enough electricity even though this place isn’t connected to the grid. Are you getting the picture? I won’t go on.
Nick Price is a Canadian now living in LA. There’s an obvious quality and class about this tune and it’s no surprise to discover that Nick is classically schooled. This is only his second release. His first, Naked Souls, created quite a buzz of interest and I’m sure that interest is only going to multiply as more get to know about his music.
This isn’t bombastic, in yer face, soul but rather it’s jazz-tinged late night smoochy soul. It’s hard not to be impressed. Feel the love.
I received your letter. You really should stop writing to me you know. It does neither of us any good to reflect upon our past times together. I’m sorry that things haven’t worked out for you in the way you hoped. I’m still with Simon. I’m not angered by what you did anymore.
I listened to the track by Stereoshock and really liked it. I thought it might be appropriate to send you something I’ve heard recently by return. In many ways, this acts as a companion piece to ‘the letter’. It’s got a piano led melody that haunts. It’s cinematic and tells a story through spoken extracts. I hope you like it.
You might think that The Lake District are a band from Cumbria but they’re not. The Lake District is the name used by producer, Trevor Ransom, who’s currently based in Los Angeles. He describes ‘Framed’ like this:
“Framed is best listened to as you think about the last scene in Casablanca.
Though Frank dons a calm face, there is no doubt of the underlying emotion behind his appearance. Framed is about his thoughts as he watches his love walk off into the gray, to get on an airplane and never come back again. It’s about the sweet, now ash tasting memories of times they shared before innocent love was torn apart by the war. It’s about the enveloping emotions of heartache, and hopelessness that threaten to crumple him. And… at the end of it all, it’s about waking up the next day and facing the world, drained of color, but with a belief that one day the color will return.”
That’s surely something that we can both relate to Pete? I can’t begin to express how I felt when you left but I certainly recall the hopelessness and heartache. Simon is a different man to you but the idea that he might one day leave in the way that you did looms large in my head. I have to suppress such thoughts for my own good.
I wish you well. Please don’t write again.
This is a blog that’ll never become a jazz mag.
Just to clarify that, this is a blog that’ll rarely focus upon tunes with a jazz tinge. Largely, that’s because I don’t get it. It would be like Beatrix Potter writing about Quantum Mechanics.
But I concede that there’s more than a jazz tinge to Rise Up by Low Leaf. It’s jazz of the tropical variety though, a very worldly jazz. It’s a track that with slightly different production wouldn’t look out of place on a new Noisettes album. It could quite easily sit on an MIA album. There’s something about the crackle and hiss that’s within this track that gives it oomph. And I’m quite captivated by it.
It’s got a simple, uncomplicated positive message of peace. “People, how we gonna rise up?” Sings Low Leaf, rhetorically. She doesn’t leave us thinking long before suggesting that we “be a peaceful people”. Nothing wrong with that sentiment.
I guess what I’m saying is that this definitely isn’t jazz wank.
Low Leaf has her roots in the Phillipines but is now living in Los Angeles. Rise Up is a track from her forthcoming album, Akashaalay. I’ve no doubt that it’ll deal with some serious themes and awakenings. She’s quite a multi-instrumentalist, citing piano, harp, machine and voice on her Facebook page. This video of her playing the harp live is pretty wonderful. One for Womad?