Courtney Farren – Hard To Tell

I’m recreating your presence, by wearing socks to bed.”

You kind of know that you’re onto a winner when a song knocks you sideways with an opening line full of mournful poetry such as that.

Even more so when that song, Hard To Tell, is sung in the teary, polite and brutally honest manner that Courtney Farren applies to her work. There’s a heartbreaking simple beauty about this song; you, as a caring voyeur are given a tender insight into the distraught distraction of poor Courtney. 

(Click on page 2 to hear the song and to see what Courtney says about it)

Oliver Sean – New York

I’m not as knowledgeable as many about the Leicester music scene – but it is the city I live in and, as such, you do tend to hear about the locally based acts with an international profile. It’s really hard to get my head around the fact that somebody played on VH1 and with MTV awards might be ‘anonymously’ living in our midst.

So, it was something of a surprise when the new music of Oliver Sean was thrust under my nose via musicsubmit, a U.S. based promotions company. They often send me tunes to listen to and then link me up directly with the artists I like. Oliver Sean is a chap from Oadby, Leicestershire.

And he has a name that would lodge in my head. It’s not something I’d easily forget. My nineteen year old son is called Oliver and his middle name is Sean. Coincidence can account for so much but this seemed beyond that. I wondered if somebody was winding me up.

(Click on page 2 to find out if it is a wind-up)

Nikki Pope – A preview

I’m back from Eurosonic in Groningen. Now the hard work begins as I piece together the jigsaw of events in an attempt to make a coherent review for eFestivals. Suffice to say, I’ll be singing the praises of a fantastic event.

 Forgive me if the blog goes quiet for a few days whilst I’m working on that. The day job remains busy and I don’t have a massive amount of spare time. I did want to publish this piece first though.

 Jono has been a friend for a number of years. He’s a man to know in Leicester with his finger in many pies. I don’t know much about studios but friends with more expertise than I’ve got tell me that his studio (Yellowbean) is one of the best-equipped and supportive across the Midlands. Jono sings in a Madness tribute band, Gladness; he has the trust and ear of Dean Jackson, the excellent BBC Introducing DJ for the East Midlands (who I once blogged about here). Every year, he organises a fab skiing trip for mates (I went one year and, in truth, struggled on the slopes). Jono’s an avid Leicester City FC fan and a very friendly and sociable guy. In truth, he’s one of the good people on this planet and I ought to drink beer with him more than I do.

 So, when a stranger gets in touch with you saying that they’re a friend of Jono’s and he’s sent them your way, you sit up and listen.

(To find out more about that stranger click on page 2)

American Anymen + Lise – Nobody Made Me Smile Like You Did

Yes, I had a lazy day yesterday. The icy frost outside looked most unappealing so, for much of daylight, I hibernated under my duvet. I felt awful for wasting time but consoled myself with the thought that this is a treat that doesn’t occur often. 

I used it as a chance to wade back through unread Sonic Breakfast E-mails. And squealed with glee when I stumbled upon the latest song and video, Nobody Made Me Smile Like You Did, from American Anymen and Lise. It’s taken from a four track EP they’ve released, the Oui EP.

(Click page 2 to read on)

Mercy – Ice Cream

Over twists and splits, sugared sprinkled bits, maybe I could take you for ice cream’.

That’s one of the lines of simplistic and innocent, lyrical naughtiness that make up a new track sent my way by Christopher Pellnat, a chap who’s currently making music with Mercy. Mercy has a soulful, seductive voice and a winning way of wooing her man. In ‘Ice Cream’, a track that melts and slides along like a more playful Portishead, Brooklyn based Mercy licks us all into a state of submission. 

I see your cone is dripping crazy‘, she purrs.. 

Oh yes, it is, Merci Mercy’, we all virtually reply, whilst thinking of mint choc chips. Summer’s approaching and we need this blast of warmth to get us through the remaining frosty days.

By contrast, the video to this wonderful piece of laid-back ice-pop, charms through its DIY innocence. Think of any of those great indie-geek romcoms that attract the misfits such as us and you’ll be in the right place; we want them to hold hands and work it out in the park over strawberry sorbets and pistachio crunch because that’s all we’ve ever wanted. 

Raspberry ripple baby… 

 

Alpenglow – Solitude

alpenglow

ˈalpənɡləʊ/

noun

the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on high mountains.

“the red granite flickered warmly in the evening alpenglow”

So, here I am on a train journey to London. Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will be pleased to know that I’ve got my headphones back. This is making this generally grey day more pleasant as I’m able to listen to tunes in solitude.

There’s no chance of seeing an ‘Alpenglow’ today – there’s no sign of the sun – but none of this matters because I can bask in the warmth of the new track from Alpenglow, the band.

“If I wanted my solitude, I’d move to the city. If I wanted to be with you, I’d move to the woods for a little while“, sings Graeme Daubert in the opening lines of this gem. There’s some truth in this. Later today, as I often do when visiting London, I’ll sit by myself in a coffee shop or pub and derive great amusement from watching the world bustle by. I’ll probably chat with nobody (my headphones will act as a barrier). I’ll collate my thoughts, centre myself, stand/sit firm and find happiness in my solitude. 

Alpenglow recently moved from Vermont to New York and that contrast between rural and urban really jumps out at you in this tune. It’s a mountain folk tune played with all sorts of modern electronica; Daubert’s voice is angelic, pure as the driven snow (whatever that means) but with an edge of urban grit. This is the sound of Vermont descending upon New York, of the Peak District becoming Manchester.

The smog will pollute the innocence of Alpenglow. But for now let’s revel in the rosy light. 

 

 

 There’s also a video here, a live recording of another track from Alpenglow’s forthcoming album just in case you still doubt their essence. 

 

 

 

Karel Ullner – Closer To Your Body

I was sitting in a packed train carriage catching up on Sonic Breakfast things after a busy day in the day job.

‘Finland’s answer to Justin Timberlake‘, said the introduction to the press E-mail that I’d  received about Karel Ullner. I confess I didn’t actually know that JT was asking questions in Finland but I kept reading anyway. Despite my general appreciation of cheesy pop, I couldn’t help thinking that this wasn’t going to float my boat. 

 The release continued:-

 “Karel’s upcoming single ‘Closer To My Body’ is a melodic portrayal of a sound that has recently been described as “fully finished, well produced and ready for urban dance clubs” by New Yorker newspaper Scarsdale Inquirer. The lyrics describe a special moment between two people in a club drifting into their own bubble of consciousness.”

 This was getting better. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a special bubble of consciousness moment myself but it sounded most pleasant. Bless Karel for being able to give me some insight here.

 I scrolled down to a picture of Karel. The man sat next to me got a glimpse of my I-pad screen and started to awkwardly shuffle. 

 

Another insight into Karel’s life was revealed:- 

 “Having grown up in an artistic environment and being able to meet people such as Sir Paul McCartney during a session at the studio have contributed to Karel’s enthusiasm and determination.”

 I wondered if Karel and Sir Paul had experienced a bubble of consciousness moment. 

 “The songwriter has used music as a way of overcoming personal struggles and feelings of exclusion after having had to deal with bullying during his school days. Through music, he has found true friends and a more positive meaning in life.”

 Whoops – I’m sorry Karel – I’ve not been able to help myself. 

 There’s little else to do now that your appetites are whetted to an unhealthy level of frenzy than to show you this somewhat steamy video. It’s probably not necessary to point out that although Karel is getting quite excited that the love of his life is closer to his body, she chooses to remain in a separate location throughout, miles apart in their bubble. 

 Boy, I’m such a bully. The song actually grows on you in contagious pop fashion.