Jack and Amy – Plus Size Fairy

For many of us, the start of a New Year gives us the chance to dream. 

We might have piled on the weight through over-indulgence after the Christmas festivities but new diet regimes are going to see us slimmer by Springtime. We resolve to change habits, jobs, behaviours and Facebook statuses because adjustment is good. As days get longer and optimism grows, we live in our very own fairy tale following after fantasy wrapped up as ambition. 

Just before Christmas, I was sent news of an EP called ‘Winter’ that’s due to be the first release of New York duo, Jack and Amy. Released in mid January, it’s right up my street. Cinematic, melodic and dreamy with lush floaty vocals over soft electronics and keyboard flurries, it’s an EP that serves as a fabulous statement of intent. 

Apparently, it’s been a few years in the making. Jack and Amy aren’t actually called ‘Jack and Amy’ but, perhaps confusingly for some, Dan and Joyce. Separately, they make music ranging from contemporary chamber jazz to traditional Korean sanjo. I’ve yet to check any of that out!

A video for my favourite track from the Winter EP, Plus Size Fairy, has been in circulation for a little while now. It’s a charming piece of music and the animation within the video just heightens the sense of wonder. The Cinderella of this particular fairy tale is optimistically waiting for a new beginning, a happy ending with that charming prince who’s still snorting the pixie dust. 

“Is it because I’m a plus size fairy? Is it because I’m stuck in fantasy? Wings wet with reality I keep twirling … waiting for our tale to begin“, sings Amy/Joyce. 

Happy New Year to all Sonic Breakfast readers. Let’s resolve to make 2016 a great one. 

 

 

The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten 2015 – Ten To Six

People have been asking me if I’m going to be doing a ‘Sonic Breakfast Top 10’ again this year after the success of last years chart. Here’s the answer!! Yesssss…

It’s been something of a stop/start year for SB if I’m honest. Increased ‘day job’ responsibilities, another busy festival season, new outlets for my writing (hello Leicester Mercury) and a bit of that personal shenanigan stuff have all contributed to a slightly more sporadic approach to blog posting. I resolve to do better in 2016! Nevertheless, I’ve still featured some fab music that I’m keen to revisit.

 

10. Of The Valley – Ride Alone

 What better place to begin the countdown of the ten Sonic Breakfast posts that have given me the most pleasure in 2015 than with this track from Copenhagen based ‘Of The Valley’? Brian DellaValle continues to plug away with his music. The city of Hamburg appears to have taken Brian close to its bosom in the latter part of this year. He’s played the Reeperbahn festival there and a gig in the last couple of weeks. Let’s hope for more recorded material as strong as Ride Alone and possibly a couple of gigs here in the UK in 2016?

 

9. Correatown – Longshot

 This was one of my first posts after the lengthy blog break for another Summer of festivals. Since I reviewed the single ‘Longshot’, Correatown have released the superb album ‘Embrace The Fuzzy Unknown’. It’s well worth a listen should you get the chance.

 Angela Correa’s words here feel suitably uplifting for an End of Year post  – “Sometimes the life we have is just as beautiful, if not more so than the life we imagined because it’s ours and it’s real. Sometimes it’s even better because we’ve lived through all the days and moments to get there.”

 Other videos have now been released to accompany the album. Here’s one for a favourite track of mine – True North.

 

8. VanWyck – An Interview

 I still listen to the ‘listening post’ on Tom Robinson’s ‘Fresh On The Net’ website. It’s a fine way to be introduced to new acts such as VanWyck. This is one of my favourite interview based posts from 2015, largely because of the richness of the answers given by VanWyck. There’s much of interest to read within.

 Amsterdam based VanWyck has been undertaking a pretty mammoth task of late. Since September, she’s been publishing a weekly digest about her ventures into songwriting and recording. Christine’s plan is to do this for a whole year. To date, there’s been twelve songs released – some are lo-fi, scratchy phone recordings but with a talent such as VanWyck this just adds to the ambience. 

 Most songs are accompanied with videos – footage from other moments of cinematic history that add to the track. ‘Tanned Legs’, the song that first pulled me into VanWyck’s world now swims in vintage mermaid murkiness.

 

7. Snowapple – Leicester Musician – Wednesday February 11th

 Let’s stay in Amsterdam a while with the fabulous SnowApple. If there was a blog post this year that sums up the ever so slightly chaotic experience that my life has been then this one is it. 

 I’ve still to see SnowApple live. They played a short tour here in the UK in the summer which again I managed to miss. Judging by the photos I’ve seen from incredibly successful tours in Mexico, future dates here might be more of a challenge to get tickets for. 

 

On that summer tour, they recorded this song ‘Old Fashioned Morphine’ which has recently been released with a vintage underwater video..What is it about vintage underwater videos coming out of Amsterdam? Interestingly, the video was put together by Jonathan Brown (aka Dusty Stray). We’ve been E-mailing this year and I’ll be featuring Jonathan’s music on Sonic Breakfast in 2016. 


6. Wolf Colony – Unmasked

 Delighted to see that 2015 has been a pretty spectacular year for one of my favourite discoveries from New York, Wolf Colony. The album ‘Unmasked’ wasn’t far from my car CD player throughout the months of Spring. It’s joyous, electronic pop with an edge and I adored sharing it with others who fell in love with it as the days got longer and summer approached.

 I didn’t feature any of the follow-up videos beyond the beautiful ‘falling in love’ moments of ‘The One’. I probably should have done so. Watch ‘Holy’ to take you to a place of sand, sun and strange, floaty symbolism. It helps that it’s full of beautiful people as well. 

Still anonymous, Wolf Colony ended the year with a fab three track EP ‘Oceans’. When asked to comment on the new EP he replied, ““True love is eternal. It changes form, but never fades away. Ocean is about the five different stages of a relationship:

1.Passion 2.Love 3.Hurt  4.Resentment  5.Forgiveness”

 

2015 – a year that’s had all of that emotion in bucketloads. I’ll be back soon with the rundown from five through to one. I bet you can hardly wait. 

 

 

 

Ionie – Give Me Your Eyes

“It conveys the plight that many young lovers must face– the endlessly complicated, dichotomous relationship between the private, verses the public. In private, a bond with someone can seem indestructible and carry through with careless, ineffable glee. Yet, in public, the same person can suddenly transform into someone impenetrable, reclusive, and distant.”

 So comments Erica Rose, the producer/director of this new video that surfaced in my inbox recently. Ionie’s ‘Give Me Your Eyes’ is truly lit up by the story that runs throughout this video. And regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know that I’m partial to a bit of theatrical narrative.

New York based Ionie released her self-titled debut album back in April. On initial investigation, it’s a pretty mixed bag. That might be a deliberate ploy to show off her varied talents or it might be that Ionie has yet to absolutely find the style she’s most comfortable with. ‘Give Me Your Eyes’ is undoubtedly a stand-out track.

Modern dating is tough right? It certainly seems to be the case here. You put all of your eggs into one basket-case and then they turn out to be fecklessly unreliable. They sweep you off your feet by whispering sweet nothings into your ear whilst, at the same time, whispering ‘it’s nothing, sweet’ into somebody elses ear. 

What better way to convey the highs and lies of that experience than through a dose of jazz-tinged soul? This is a tune calling out for your commitment. 

Give it a shot. Give it your eyes. I don’t think it’ll disappoint.  

 

Nozart – Orphanage

Every now and again, I have a recurring dream. I am, once again, in the company of an ex-girlfriend. We’ve not met since we were both teenagers but, in the dream at least, the years have been kind. Our conversation and laughter flows in much the same way as it did when we were dating. We’re older now and the arguments that were always a feature of our real time together have diminished in this dreamland.

Sometimes, we kiss. Mostly, my alarm wakes me just as we’re making plans to see each other again. “Let’s not leave it so long until we next catch up”, she says with that infectious giggle she seems to never have lost.

As ridiculous as it might seem, this recurring dream derails me. I’ve got no desire to find out what has happened in the life of this ex. But, I find myself overwhelmed with a sense of loss; for a short while, I’m an awkward teenager again. Life, with all of its uncertainties and anxieties, is spanning out in front of me. I’m clinging to a child-like romantic ideal. I’m refusing to allow myself to grow up.

This long preamble does have a purpose. Last week, Nozart sent me the video to his new song, ‘Orphanage’. I’m a sucker for delightfully romantic, sentimental gush, especially when it’s all wrapped up in a story-based song. This ticks all of those boxes. The beautifully animated video just adds to the sense of ‘awww’.

Nozart is from New York. He’s currently playing piano on tour with a chap we have featured regularly on Sonic Breakfast, Elliot Moss. I hope that they’re having fun. ‘Orphanage’ is taken from a yet-to-be released album that Nozart has been working on for the past two years.

He says about ‘Orphanage’ that “this is a story about being in love before you know how. It’s about losing that love too soon and being afraid to grow up, because you don’t want to grow up without it. It’s about holding on even when the person you loved might not be the same person at all.”

For me, it evokes much the same feeling as that recurring dream.

 

Go Rogue Records

One of the common grumbles I hear from people who want to get on in the music industry is that it’s far too difficult. This is made difficult by (delete as appropriate) promoters, venues, tribute bands, TV talent shows, PR companies, journalists and record labels (the list could be longer) who all play their part in denying opportunities that should be offered with more fairness. ‘Fairness’ can mean many different things to the many different people who grumble but, when boiled down, it often means that they want the opportunity themselves.

It’s not an argument I’m entirely unsympathetic about. I’m sure we’ve all heard about bands who’ve been ripped off by rogues; acts that might have been the next ‘Coldplay’ (please, no!!) or ‘U2’ (God forbid!!) if it wasn’t for the fact that their drummer didn’t look the part. I’d love to see a world where talent trumps all but we’re a way from that now.

I’m drawn to the productive collective of ‘Go Rogue’ Records. Here, we have a group of people, based out of New York, who have decided to do something. ‘Go Rogue’ has been running for less than a year and yet is already preparing to release their fourth album, in early February. ‘Devil’s Road’ is conceived as a collection of gritty, folk-infused rock with an apocalyptic vibe.

Lilah from the label told me that, “as always, the album is a collective labor by a number of artists on our roster. As a nascent independent label in these dark days of the record industry, we’re doing our best to come up with new models for success, and for now that means releasing collaborative albums in which the creative outpouring, time commitment, and promotion is manageably shared amongst our artists. This way there isn’t too much pressure on any one emerging artist—our artists happily share responsibilities.”

Each album that’s been released to date by ‘Go Rogue’ has had a loose, generic theme. They can all be streamed, for free, on the website which can be found here. Regular readers of ‘Sonic Breakfast’ will surely not be surprised that it’s ‘Young Blood’, a collection of youthful electro-pop, that I’m returning to most.

There’s a dozen or so artists that seem to constitute ‘Go Rogue’ at the moment. I was first drawn towards A.F. Paxton, a Glaswegian living in New York. It’s hard not to fall for the electro-pop charms of his tune, ‘Our Way’. This acts as our invite into some of the other ‘Go Rogue’ acts; Goldishack’s analog collaborations with soulful vocalists harking back to a time when Motown ruled the roost; the out of the box thinking of Tyler Ewing from Nashville’s Pinewood Social Club that makes them so difficult to pigeonhole.

Indeed, this is one of the many charms of ‘Go Rogue’. As new releases are issued, we see the artists heading in new directions and revealing new angles to their sounds. It feels like this ‘collaborative album’ model is providing the freedom to experiment and develop fairly.

I am in no way saying that ‘Go Rogue’ exists to raise awareness for the plight of unfortunate drummers but it does seem to be adding some collective fairness back into this world that we all love… And, for that I salute them…

 

 

 

 

Atonomic – Are you up for it?

Some people might have taken extra holiday to extend this lovely Christmas and New Year period but, for many of us, the day job began again today. It won’t be long before the tinsel, turkey and mistletoe is nothing more than a fading memory as we grapple with those tasks that we didn’t want to do in 2014. At least the days are getting longer though!

I thought it a good idea to post a happy, positive tune today; a song so excessively upbeat that it might make those with a cynical, grumpy malaise explode with rage. Let me introduce you to two teachers and a painter from New York – Atonomic.

“Are you up for being everything that you want to be?” ask Andy, George and Chris, in the chorus to this three minute slice of slickly produced electro-pop. The listener is left in no doubt that this is about ditching the things that have been holding you back and striving towards better days.

The word ‘Atonomic’ is one that is made up by the band; a amalgam of ‘atomic’ and ‘anatomy’. Chris, Andy and George suggest that this new word that they’ve created could mean “the essence of creativity – something that exists in everyone.” A nice thought but it could equally be a word with no meaning, four syllables that fit and flow together neatly and don’t need to be explained.

The video for ‘Are You Up For It?’ makes me smile. The song glistens with such a shine that your cynicism gets erased. It’s the aural equivalent of a motivational speaker. And it might get us through this week at work.

 

Elliot Moss – Slip (Hippie Sabotage remix)

Earlier this year, I blogged about Elliot Moss, the 20 year old Neo-crooner from New York. His song, Slip, made quite an impression on me and I simply had to feature it (link here).

I’d had no prior contact with Elliot so I was delighted that he seemed genuinely happy with my little post – so happy that he insisted on sending me a beautifully designed digi-pak CD of his album, Highspeeds, across the ocean. Shipping costs were considerable but Elliot, to his absolute credit, was insistent.

I tend to listen to CD’s whilst driving in my car. Highspeeds has been one that has been on regular rotation over the summer. I’ve made a point of playing it to passengers and it’s rarely failed to grab attention.

Thus, I’m chuffed that Elliot’s career really seems to now be picking up momentum.

I’m hardly an authority on notable remixers but judging by their Facebook and Twitter profiles, Hippie Sabotage, two brothers from Sacromento, are at the top of their game. The fact that they’ve chosen to remix ‘Slip’ gives me hope that tunes of real quality might eventually get the profile they deserve.

When the starting point is as strong as ‘Slip’, it would need some excessively clumsy hands to mess the mix up. Hippie Sabotage are too good at their craft for such an eventuality. The lovely original, laced with a lingering, laidback soul-filled feel is given an extra fizz and energy. We’re still in the realms of chill but it’s a bit earlier in the evening now.

Elliot Moss has also been announced as the main support on a Cold War Kids U.S. tour in 2015. An unlikely alliance on the surface perhaps but a fine opportunity all the same. I once saw Cold War Kids at Glastonbury. I also saw them at Summer Sundae.. But, those are tales for other days. I hope it’s not long before Elliot’s growing stature means that some U.K. dates are announced.

For now, enjoy the Hippie Sabotage remix of Slip.

 

Ryan David Orr – Margaret

Monday morning… It’s all come around far too quickly… Weekends are but a flash in the pan…

Let’s all ease ourselves into the week with this laid-back, gentle folk number from Ryan David Orr. He’s an experienced songwriter on the North American folk scene and in this tune, ‘Margaret’, Orr brings his soothing voice to the fore. I’m reading it as a song about lost opportunities, mistakes that have been made and dreams yet to be realised. There’s something hauntingly positive within as well though and it’s this that makes for a good Monday morning listen.

I asked Ryan (a qualified massage therapist) to tell me an entertaining story about the touring and travelling life he sometimes leads when he’s not living in the home he’s built for himself in the mountains of Arizona.

This past May I had the great pleasure of playing at the Bitter End, legendary music venue in New York City. I was extremely excited and a bit nervous, and parked a couple blocks from the venue after scouring the city for a parking spot. I was right on time to the venue, played my show, checked out the band that played after me, had a great time and then went to pack my gear in the car.

Well, apparently I had parked in a “no parking” zone, and found an empty street where my car had been. I ran my license plate through the NYC database and discovered the car had been towed and was being held by NYPD at one of the pier warehouses. Being from Arizona, I was not happy about the prospect of not having my car until they opened again the following Monday, so I scrambled to get to the pier before they closed. However, all of the taxis that passed me were off duty and I couldn’t get a ride, so I opted to rent a bicycle and ride like hell to make it there in time.

So at about midnight, there I was, out-of-state musician, post performance, buzzed from a few microbrews at the venue, peddling frantically up New York City’s west side to beat the clock. I finally arrived and they informed me that my registration had expired two days earlier and I couldn’t have the car until I was valid. My phone charger was in the car, so with about 2% charge left on my phone, I fumbled to quickly hit up the AZ motor vehicle website and pay my registration. My payment went through literally 30 seconds before my phone died.

So they finally gave me my car, but now I was stuck with this freakin’ bicycle that I had to return to some rental site. So I shoved it in the back, managed to barely close the door, and went searching for the bike drop-off. Got the bike back, went back to the venue, got all my equipment, then finally drove to my friends’ house in Brooklyn for the night, several hours, hundreds of dollars, and a pretty solid bike ride later.

Next time I’m taking a train.

Here’s hoping that your Monday mornings are a bit better than the aftermath of Ryan’s gig at the Bitter End. If you like what you hear within this video then do head across to his website here to listen to more of his music and to find out more.

 

Stereoshock – The Letter

Dear Joanne, 

It’s been some time since I sent you a letter. But I wanted you to know that I’m doing just fine. It’s a shame that The Wave Machines haven’t toured recently. I hope that things are still going well between yourself and Simon.

I heard a fantastic tune today when I was consuming new music – you remember how I used to lock myself away in a room to listen to new tracks on the radio? I still do that but modern technology makes it much easier now.

Anyway Joanne – this tune I heard reminded me of us. It’s by a 21 year old composer from New York called Josh Cohen who goes by the stage name of Stereoshock. He describes himself as ‘blending indie-alternative music, with heavily inspired orchestral and cinematic elements.‘ Clearly, he’s someone to watch out for and I felt an overwhelming desire to tell you about it. It really is amazing and I’m sure, given your love of story lyrics, it’s right up your street.

 I’m sure you need no reminding of the day when I walked out on us; I could bear the intensity of what we had no more. I know that I left you in the lurch and I know it took you months to understand why I had to leave. But, now I marvel at the strength you’ve found. I guess that having Simon around helps? 

I wish that I could tell you that my life has turned out for the better – but I don’t think the grass has been any greener. I thought I needed to explore the world but perhaps, in reality, I just needed to explore my head.

We had something beautiful Joanne. I hope you’re well.

Pete.

Xx

 

Elliot Moss – Slip

When you give it some real thought, you realise that the word ‘slip’ is one of the best in the English language. Many words mean more than one thing but a ‘slip’ could be a mistake, a piece of paper or a fall. If I was in danger I might abscond to a dock (or slip away to a slip). You don’t need to think about cricket fielding positions or female undergarments to know that this is a versatile word.

And on the evidence contained within this track, New Yorker, Elliot Moss, is a versatile musician. Last year, he released his album, Highspeeds, to a degree of critical acclaim. It’s this track, Slip, recently added to Soundcloud, that has grabbed my attention though.

A vocodered voice spills out of multiple lips. There’s a mighty contrast at play here. The idea that letting things slip can be both positive and negative never seems far from the surface of the song. In one simple verse, Elliot asks where the pain, hurt and light he once knew have gone. This is a tune that’s both dark and light, sinister and joyful, laidback and layered.

Elliot is just 20 years old. His press release suggests that his versatility derives from his upbringing.

“His mother, an artist, rearranged the living room furniture into an assembly line of sorts, blanketed in drying mosaic tiles and soldered-together trinkets. A young Elliot surveyed piles of abandoned gear entombed in the basement of his dad’s recording studio. He would rescue and repair lost treasures to put to use in his own music; among them his first guitar – a worn Silvertone 1448 which he still plays.”

This week slips away. The weekend begins. Born slippy.