I watched the BBC News at Ten for the first time in many months yesterday evening. I’d found a feed to view it from in Spain and my curiosity got the better of me.
I now understand why my friends and family back home feel terrified by the latest developments in this really quite shite year. The language used was apocalyptic; mutant strains that are 70% more transmissible, crisis and meltdown, international travel bans and no deal Brexits. It’s all quite scary.
We could debate if the language is used in such a way to deliberately foster a greater level of civil obedience amongst people already jaded and confused by knee-jerk changes to policy and practice. But that’s not for now. On a human level, Christmas has truly been cancelled for many – or at least it’s going to be very, very different.
Until Next Year by a stripped-back version of The Horse Puppets neatly sums up how many must now be feeling. This is a melancholic song about not being together at Christmas, about looking forward resiliently to 2021 in the hope of better times because that’s all of the positive thinking we can muster. With pedal steel and chilled vocal, it’s one of the best country-folk songs you’ll hear all week.
“Next year we can’t wait to travel again, we miss seeing the world and meeting up with friends and family again. This Christmas we’ll be missing out on our normal family get together, first time in our lives,“, says Paul from The Horse Puppets when I ask what plans they have for Christmas and beyond.
2020 was looking like it was going to be a biggie for the seven-piece band from Manchester. With festival slots lined up, their infectious, energetic brand of music would have met the ears of larger crowds. Instead, husband and wife team, Paul and Helen have hosted weekly gigs as an acoustic duo to the world from their living room. It’s brought them attention though I’m sure they would prefer the fun of the festival circuit.
I’m not going to be seeing most of my friends and family until next year. We’re all in that boat but at least we still have the music to get us through.
Today is all about a new band from Manchester called Passion Falls.
They’ve got their first EP, The Greatest Adventure, coming out in February. I’ve now heard two tracks from that EP and I’m suitably impressed. Their thing appears to be an evocative, emotive indie electronica. Vocalist, Jonny Holland, has an expressive tone that yearns back to the trenchcoats of the 1980’s; this is your bang up to date McCulloch, Mcaloon and Cole.
These are tunes about regrets and ‘what might have beens’ if life had panned out differently. They’re songs sung to lost loves from long ago; nostalgic nods to relationships that failed to last the course.
And we all need more of those types of songs don’t we? I bet we’ve all got at least one ghost in our past that we periodically search for on social media? We only ever slow danced at the school disco with them in our minds and yet it’s still one of the most vivid memories of our past that we have.
I was going to post the video for ‘The Greatest Adventure’ onto Sonic Breakfast before Christmas. But then top tens, antibiotics and the perils of the party season got in the way. The newly released tune, Chasing Ghosts, acted as a further prompt.
Passion Falls whilst distant dreams grow.
Hmmm…A freezing Friday. I sense that we’re all going to need something bouncy and quirky to get us through to the weekend.
Enter Twin Hidden, a new duo to me, who might be from Manchester or might be from London. Matthew Shribman and Sam Lea have just released ‘Join Hands’ and I think it’s blooming exciting.
After an intro that sounds just like the opening chimes to an episode of Skins, a falsetto vocal urges us to ‘come step outside, the world has changed.‘ Amidst a piano that builds and falls and an assortment of percussive, positive beats, we’re almost charmed into thinking that love is in the air and that we’re about to witness a couple taking their first steps together. “Come, lead me away to your favourite place. I’ve been waiting for us to join hands” sing Twin Hidden as the chorus crescendo’s and the hardest of hearts almost defrosts…
Almost defrosts but such sweetness is snatched away as the song takes a sinister tumble…
“Pick up my calls, I’ve penned a pile of letters many metres tall for you”, they sing and you bump back down to earth realising that the joyful companionship initially described is perhaps little more than an obsession; an unrequited love that will never bear fruit…
Inevitable comparisons will be drawn to Alt-J and Everything Everything. You can see why but there’s a quirky sense of humour coming from Twin Hidden not always evident in the earnestness of the aforementioned.
I hope you’re feeling warmer now.