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.
I’m no doubt showing my age by saying that I remember the test card girl. I recall the general disappointment that was associated with the image of the young girl, Carole Hersee, and her toy clown, Bubbles, playing noughts and crosses. If they appeared on the screen when I was up early on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons then I’d know that I was up too early. It’s hard to contemplate now, awash as we are with 24 hour entertainment, that there were times of the day when the TV just had the still of the girl to keep you company. It was either that or baffling Open University programmes always presented by men in brown jumpers, big glasses and bushy beards. It all no doubt explains my fashion choices in later years.
It’s thus a good thing that Catherine Burgis is reclaiming the Test Card Girl moniker for her musical pursuits. Nobody could possibly attach any sense of disappointment to her ‘life-affirming’ electro-folk. With lush, layered vocals and happy melody, Catherine is developing quite a knack for releasing modern day, catchy-as-hell nursery rhymes. There’s quite a buzz forming around this girl from Manchester and Sonic Breakfast endeavours to find out more.
“Ah no secret, just started writing a bit later in life so feel like I’m on borrowed time!!“, says Catherine referring to the fact that she’s seeking pop success in her mid thirties. “Nothing planned yet but dying to get out there and start gigging – I’ve only ever done two gigs just before lockdown when I started out!!“, she says when I ask her about post-lockdown plans.
As an older person who remembers the Test Card Girl the first time around, I’m always going to say that age is irrelevant – but in Catherine’s case, it truly is. Take the universal appeal of second single, If You’re Feeling Down. This simple folk song with exquisite melody was originally written for Catherine’s sister. The positive ‘pertinent reminder to take a breath, look up at the sun, and remember you are loved‘ can surely be applied wider in these tough times.
The most recent single, Don’t Go, builds on the folk sounds of If You’re Feeling Down and amplifies them with top-notch electro swirls. Short and precise, Don’t Go is a tune you can dance along to whilst reminding yourself to stay well away from the bad stuff of your past. It’s blissful pop and will likely help you to smile broadly as you go about your April business.
Don’t be fooled today – fight disappointment with Test Card Girl.
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.