Barbara – BRB

Since it’s moved to Netflix, I’m probably not up to date with my watching of the ‘Black Mirror’ TV series. I’m not a big consumer of TV and just tend to forget or lose interest as things enter multiple seasons. But, back in the day, I’d look forward to a new series of ‘Black Mirror’ with excited anticipation. It was a time when Ollie, my son, would visit at weekends and we’d watch whatever was new. They never failed to prompt discussion and conversation – scientific advances upsetting and confusing the world as we knew it. 

Be Right Back is one of my favourite episodes. If you haven’t seen it then you must. It’s the one in which a grieving Martha loses her partner to a premature death. She’s put in touch with a sinister company who are able to recreate that partner based upon his online and social media activity. It’s creative, startling and unsettling as it hurtles towards a disturbing ending. A totally compelling watch. 

I sometimes wonder what the Sonic Breakfast bot might be like. I expect they’d be exceptionally annoying. You’d hate that they brought all conversations back to new music that they’d heard. They’d only be revealing a small part of their actual life; some parts would remain hidden. Sometimes, the bot would make stories up, just because it felt mischievous to do so and nobody would know any different. 

Barbara are Henry and John Tydeman, songwriting brothers from Hove. Their debut single, BRB, is directly inspired by that episode of Black Mirror. “It’s an amazing episode because of all the moral questions it raises,”, says John. “Especially as it’s inevitable that this sort of technology will be available in the real world some day soon. Perhaps it already is! That’s what the song’s about: we’re retelling that story, from the perspectives of the human and the android.

You sense that Henry and John are no mugs. “We’re trying to enjoy the journey instead of being obsessed with goals.“, they say when I enquire about plans for 2021. “The first thing we’ll do when lockdown lifts is have a nice pint at the local pub. Hopefully in the beer garden with the sun out!

Musically, BRB is right up Sonic Breakfast’s street. Inventive and yet familiar, the song dances along not afraid to draw influence from all manner of places. I hear the pomp of Queen, the harmony of the Beach Boys, the choir of the Polyphonic Spree and the vintage sounds of music hall all coming to the fore at different points in the tune. That could descend into an almighty chaotic mess of a whole in lesser hands but Barbara are too talented to allow that to happen. 

That talent really does come across strongly in the lockdown live video that Barbara released to accompany BRB. They released this after a lyric video. Both contain slightly different versions of the same song – one has the studio whistles and bangs whilst the other sounds more organic. Both are vital and I make no apologies for sharing the pair today. 

I’ll see you soon. 


Nothing Special – Brandi

I’m not coming home yet. I had a flight that was booked at the end of December but it didn’t seem to make a great deal of sense to get on it. England is a grey, drizzly damp squib most January’s but in 2021 the prospects are even worse. With Covid out of control and the country entering into its umpteenth lockdown, it wasn’t a hard decision to make to choose to stay in Spain a little longer. 

Not that it’s a bed of roses here. Weather forecasts for the next week look cold; a daily low of two degrees feels severe when villa’s have no central heating. New Covid lockdown regulations will be coming into play here meaning that bars and restaurants have to close at 5PM and there’s a curfew on the streets from 10. And of course, Brexit means that I’m having to count my days spent here with a 90 day allowance in any rolling 180 being a reality.

Still I’m not coming home. And I’m not the only one. 

Nothing Special are a new pop punk boy band from Ontario. In their incredibly breezy song, Brandi, they also admit to whoever Brandi is that they’re not coming home. We don’t get to learn from where they’re not arriving or indeed who Brandi is in relation to the protagonist but my sense is that this doesn’t matter one jot. 

This is happy, upbeat music made to bring smiles to your face as you recall what it was like to skate around neighbourhoods freely and without care. I reckon we all need some sort of bouncey boost to help get the spring into our January step. And this should do that trick.



Death By Unga Bunga

It was a Spring day I think. Though it might not have been. 

It could have been an Autumn day. All I know is that the drive was a sunny one; not sticky and hot like we might expect in the summer months. The air was fresh and bright, all sorts of beautiful. 

We drove across the high road from Leicester to Rutland with not a care in the world. At least it felt like that for a short while. I’m sure if we had stopped to think about our lot we might have crumbled.

I put on a CD that I knew very little about. It was back in the days when the PR agency used to send me new albums in the post. This one hadn’t arrived with much of a fanfare. Still, we listened and loved. 

The garage pop felt right. It wasn’t a long album. We didn’t stop it when it started to repeat. By the second listen, we could sing along to the catchy choruses – and felt no inhibitions when doing so. If the car had been one that had a retractable roof, we would have let the breeze blow through our hair as we sang.

That was my introduction to Death By Unga Bunga. Norwegian power pop at its best. Pineapple Pizza the unlikely CD.

I had a chance to see them live in London. This was as part of a Scandinavian showcase. I was working down there and the Lexington was one of my favourite venues. Beer options were good; pricey but this was London. I suspect it was winter then; at least I remember that it was pretty much dark when I left the office and I wouldn’t  have been prone to working late. 

I hadn’t seen the late E-mail advising me of early start times. And by the time that I arrived at the venue, Death By Unga Bunga had already finished their set. I hung around to watch the other bands. In truth, they can’t have made much of an impression because I can’t even recall their names now. 

I did get to see Death By Unga Bunga eventually. On the surface, they were unlikely additions to the Nozstock festival line-up two years ago. In afternoon sunshine, they looked horrifically dishevelled; a scruffiness cultivated as a result of an early flight from Norway. 

But my eFestivals review of their set was positive  “By the end of their whirlwind set they’ve got all onside so much that the whole band in unison can play their guitars behind their heads with ridiculous rock postures. It’s surely what it’s all about.”

I’m alerted to the fact that Death By Unga Bunga are supporting Ash on their October tour. If I was back in England, I might have tried to take in a show at Sheffield, Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich, Huddersfield or London. Sadly though, I’m not. 

I’ll just have to dig into my memories more. 






Be Like Pablo – There She Is

There’s so much great music out there. February’s been a busy month and, because of that, my Sonic Breakfast mailbox has been piling up with fantastic new tunes. There aren’t the hours in the day to both do the day job and to listen to everything I’m sent – but there’s surely no excuse for not posting more regularly here. I’ll do better in March.

 A fine PR company sent me a note on Friday suggesting that the new ‘Be Like Pablo’ video was likely to be the best thing I’d see all week. I’ll take their word for it. I’ve not seen many this week but this Scottish powerpop does have a pure, unfettered simplicity that can’t help but make you smile.

 Sitting here in bed on a Sunday morning and procrastinating over the procurement tenders I have to read for the day job, it’s undeniable that ‘There She Is’ is providing suitable diversion. I’ve watched the video a few times now and love the contrast between vinyl and billboard, indie and Hollywood. From the opening vocal ‘oo’s’ before the lead joins in, this is a tune that had me bouncing on the bed. 

 For sure, in weeks to come, Sonic Breakfast will feature stuff of more serious intent. But for now, as a way to break my blogging malaise, Spring is in the air and Be Like Pablo have helped to give me a spring in my step.