HALAN – A Waste

There’s not a lot of happiness around at the moment. Mostly, I’ll use these daily Sonic Breakfast posts to publish happy songs, bouncy tunes that might add a bit of sunshine and smile into our miserable lives. I guess that there’s no harm though to talk about tunes that wallow a bit more in the isolation, loneliness and personal strife that we all must be feeling from time to time as the pandemic progresses? 

That’s not to say that I’m feeling especially down right now. The casual reader of Sonic Breakfast could be excused for drawing that conclusion. This week, I’ve returned from the beautiful sunshine and warm terrace of Spain to the dreary drudge and sludge of the U.K.. Friends and colleagues have been asking me how I’ve been finding the enforced social isolation – my ten days of being stuck in one terraced cottage unable to even head out for a walk. And the truth is that I have no real desire to go out and I’m largely positive about the experience. There are supplies of beers and wine – and Sarah is being a Saint in responding to my ‘demands’ for food with patience and good spirit. It’s good to have company around. Once again, Sonic Breakfast has landed on its feet.

HALAN’s new(ish) electronic dark pop song, ‘A Waste’, finds our singer in an entrenched place. A persistent bass beat lends doom as a wistful vocal gives focus to the hopelessness of the situation. “There are some things you can fight for as hard as you want but can’t change the outcome of“, offers the accompanying PR note with bleak and honest inevitability. 

I ask HALAN how things are for her in Los Angeles right now and she acknowledges that it’s been pretty bad in terms of the cases so she’s pretty much a hermit, just staying home and making music. But, HALAN, a former vocalist in rock and metal bands, also mentions some positive plans on the horizon. “The first thing I want to do after the pandemic is probably go to a concert.”, she says. “I really want to go the Rammstein one if possible. They’re hard to catch! And I definitely want to travel. Maybe to South Korea with my mom, or to Iceland to see the northern lights.

I guess it’s good form for all of us to cling to such dreams? Even if the more pessimistic outlook displayed in today’s song might offer a more accurate dose of reality. 

Nothing’s fair to anyone,What you planned can come undone,What you spend can be a waste, Where you reach can be outrun“, sings HALAN four times with increasing intensity in the song’s outro. I’ll leave that there for consideration. 

Jacob The Horse – Sunshine

After a gloomy week or two weather-wise in this part of Spain, things seem to be turning a corner. There might well be another cold snap before I leave but I’m happy to report that, for now at least, daily temperature highs are peaking in the 20’s (centigrade) and the nights are no longer in low single figures. Without the benefit of central heating that was really very cold indeed. 

The sunshine makes me happy. I could do without the stifling, over-bearing heat of the intense Summer months but for the most part you can get a decent dose of vitamin D here without feeling that sticky oppression. Yesterday, I deliberately took a 45 minute lunch break from the day job to sit out on the terrace and chill. I started to read a book, something I’ve not done for a long time. With a pleasant warm heat beating on my brow and a book to transport me to another time I couldn’t have been happier.

Some might think at first glance that Jacob The Horse are also commenting upon happy times in their first release for nearly four years, ‘Sunshine’. It’s certainly a spirited and bouncy number, an energetic punk-pop piece with an accompanying video that’ll probably make you smile. The cheesy, charm of the choreographed dance routines mostly offer good, frantic fun in these dark days.

But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll soon see that ‘Sunshine’ is not the smiley song that it first appears to be. “‘Sunshine’ is the happiest song you’ll ever hear about having a depressive episode.“, offers Aviv from Jacob The Horse by way of explanation. “The depressed mind’s message in this song is strangely fitting for today’s locked down culture: ‘I’m writing down my Netflix info, won’t you come on home, avoid the sunshine.’

‘Sunshine’ is the first single to be taken from Jacob The Horse’s forthcoming album, College Party Mixtape, Vol 1. Out in March, I’ve had a sneak-preview listen and the LA based band have certainly put something together that’ll be well worth looking out for. Today, though, is all about the sunshine.

I’m sure that we all have friends and family members who mask their underlying sadness by trying to be the life and soul of the party. We all have colleagues who live their lives at manic speed because to slow down would give them time to think about the things they don’t want to. If there’s any ‘message’ to be taken from today’s post (and there doesn’t have to be) perhaps it’s that we should take some time with our friends to see how solid their sunny state is. And that will be time well spent. 


Pluto & Charon – Sick As A Dog

There are probably very few bands that are formed in breakfast restaurants. Sonic Breakfast would be keen to hear about any of them. It sort of makes sense to feature those bands given the name of the blog.

In a series of posts that might stretch to one in number, today we put forward a track from the emerging, folksy-Americana outfit, Pluto & Charon. The Los Angeles based act, led by songwriter Matthew Hough, all met out of West Hollywood’s Griddle Cafe, a place where Matthew worked the early shift. From there, he engaged with customers and friends of co-workers to get the band together. What a glorious sound they now make. 

They’ve recently released their debut album, ‘Point Nemo’, a labour of love over the last three years. Matthew says about the release that “For better or worse, I have put most of what my heart has been able to muster for the last 3 years into “Point Nemo!” I want people to be reminded that life is abundant and inherently meaningful, and that the ride is much more enjoyable if we’re able to love each other just a little bit more than we do.”

You can’t say fairer than that. It’s that positive spirit and faultless work-ethic that comes to the fore when talking with the band. I ask them how things had been going since launching the album in lockdown. “Overall it’s just been a blast though to start sharing these tunes that have been cooking for the better part of 3 years! Now with everything still locked down pretty tight, it seems like a pretty good time to keep recording and putting out more work!“, they offer back.

The video for Sick As A Dog, the recent single release, finds Pluto & Charon in their own homemade Western movie. It’s an entertaining piece of film like something you might recall from an episode of The Monkees. From what I can tell it has little to do with the lyric of the song though that’s hardly an issue when such fun was clearly had in the making. 

“Sick As a Dog was written at the state of infatuation, where it gets confused with love. Most of the song was written before even going out on a first date with this particular person, and the song was finished after that first date. A few months down the line things had come to an end, “, says Matthew about the song.

There’s probably a whole separate blogpost that could stir about the song’s meaning but that’s not for today – today is all about bands formed in breakfast restaurants. 

Lael Neale – Every Star Shivers In The Dark

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… 


Hey Joanne,

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,


Pollyn – Findaway (featuring Alexis Taylor)

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

Francesca Brown – Undone

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. 





Tour De France – La Saint Valentin

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? 



Nick Price – Cabin Built For Two

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.



The Lake District – Framed

Dear Pete,

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. 




Low Leaf – Rise Up

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?