Reverend and the Makers – Mirrors

Like many other bloggers and people who claim an interest in music, I often fall into a big trap when it comes to established artists. In our relentless pursuit of the new, the unknown and the interesting, it’s easy to get sniffy about those acts that have been around for an age. This is especially true if we only gave them a reluctant nod of praise when they first became known. What could an act on their fifth album, unless they’re called Bowie or Radiohead, possibly say that’ll inform me? I won’t be able to claim that I was first to write about the Sound of 2018, after seeing them play in a phonebox, if I spend my time and energy listening to the sound of 2007 will I?

More fool us. Let’s tame this particular shrew and hate it less when our friends become successful.

I confess that my response to receiving a number of PR mails about Mirrors, the latest album from Reverend and the Makers, was a case in point. Rentacrowd quotes from Noel Gallagher saying that this was like ‘one of those great concept albums from the 1960’s’ and from Carl Barat suggesting that this was a ‘magnum opus’ only served to heighten my sense of sniffiness. Surely, the state of things was that nothing on this record would be a ‘heavyweight champion of the world’?

Jon McClure has always struck me as a decent chap whenever I’ve seen Reverend and the Makers live. There was one particular year at Summer Sundae, the now sadly defunct Leicester festival, where Jon was the talk of the town for his exuberant frontman performance. My good friend Paul, a lifelong Sheffield United fan, almost forgave McClure for being a Wednesday fan during that gig. My sniff is without foundation.

Even when McClure explained the process behind the new album, I dismissed it as a protestation too much: –  “Ed (guitarist and fellow songwriter) and I became resolute to make a record that we loved. Why not indulge the overwhelming urge to not play games anymore and set about making some art we are actually proud of rather than the release tour festivals repeat cycle we’d been on since forever. And so we took the files we’d been diligently recording off to Jamaica and spruced them up a bit whilst making a film. The result is the best thing we’ve ever done in my opinion. The reaction when I play it to people is like nothing I’ve seen before, except maybe the first album.”

It was only in the lull between Christmas and the New Year that I chose to look into ‘Mirrors’. I’m disappointed with myself because it is very good. It’s not without fault and there are some tracks that do little more than fill for me. But, in the two tracks I’m posting on Sonic Breakfast today, Makin’ Babies and Last To Know, I think there’s enough simplicity, craft and songwriting guile to open the eyes of the biggest cynic. 

For me, it’s another lesson learnt. 



King Capisce – Never Spoken

My review from last weeks Spring Off The Tracks festival is complete and published here.

I’m on the festival treadmill now, running ever faster to keep up with the demands of pretty much doing one a weekend throughout the summer. Later today, I head across to Cheltenham for the Wychwood festival.

If Off The Tracks taught me anything (I think I was aware of this anyway) it was to not be fearful of jazz-rock experimentation. A few years ago, a band described in a programme in such a way would have had me running for the hills afraid that I had finally lost my marbles.

But, Sheffield- based, King Kapisce are described as jazz-rock and they were one of the OTT highlights. To call them jazz-rock omits the other influences that mix into this cauldron. It was impossible not to tap a foot, to shake a head or to stroke a beard (I don’t have one but the man sitting behind me didn’t seem to mind) over the sounds they created.

They normally have two sax players to pump stacks of soul over a complex mesh of drum and guitar-led sound. But at OTT, they offer humble apologies for one of the band has left them for a holiday in America. We didn’t need to know this. There’s enough going on without needing more.

King Capisce make instrumental music. Their new record is ‘The Future Cannot Be Born Yet, It Is Waiting For The Past To Die’.

Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast might have noticed that I’m somebody who often gets excited about lyrics. The fact that King Kapisce are completely instrumental is not a hindrance. I closed my eyes during their set and let my imagination run wild. I climbed that tree and jumped across the tops. I threw myself from that plane and flapped my arms like an eagle with wings. I surfed on that wave until it washed over me.

Try it out yourself. Where might this take you?



George Bennett – Calling You

I bet we’ve all been there? Sat in a pub or dancing in a nightclub (I just about recall those days) and you bump into somebody that you know. You’ve been keen on them for some time but would never confess to such feelings for fear of rejection. There’s an awkward chat, populated with pauses. You’re wondering if the interest might be shared back but you’re rubbish at picking up the signs. So you mumble clumsily, amble away and wonder how shyness can ever be nice… 

This (I think) is where George Bennett is at in his track, “Calling You”. He’s walking home, regretting not making that move, wondering if the moment is gone and whether it’s too late to call. 

My guess is, in this instance, that it’s probably not. 

There’s not a great deal of information on the web that I can find about young George. BBC Introducing in Sheffield have played this track which probably places him somewhere in the Steel city. I’ve just become his 18th follower on Twitter. I think he might also sing in a classy soul/funk band called The Tempertons.

What we do know though is that “Calling you” is an effective exercise in R&B simplicity. A sweet vocal that stays the right side of falsetto and some glitchy background vocals that sound like they are recorded over the very phone line that George wonders if he should be using. 

I can’t wait for the next instalment. What happened when George chickened out and sent a text instead?