Dusty Stray – Blood Trail

I’m reminded that, back in the chaos of 2015, I was sent a video from Dusty Stray’s new record. I was also sent a link to that album, ‘A Tree Fell And Other Songs’, which was being released early in November.

I exchanged some E-mails with Jonathan Brown, the incredible talent behind Dusty Stray and confirmed that I was definitely going to write about ‘Blood Trail’ on Sonic Breakfast. But then, the stuff of life got in the way and I stopped updating my blog.

I say to all who’ll listen that it was a perfectly treatable skin cancer without really stopping to think about the effect it had on my head in those Autumn months. As the trees became bare so did my cupboards.

Born in Taiwan, Jonathan Brown grew up in Texas as a son of a preacher man. Raised on songs about death and resurrection, he began writing his own songs taking influence from early American folk music. Travel, dead end relationships and forming freak folk bands led him to a place where he’s now based in the Netherlands. Jonathan curated the recent SnowApple video that I featured in my Sonic Breakfast Top Ten of 2015.

A Tree Fell And Other Songs, the fourth full-length Dusty Stray release, was written in a small, lone trailer in the flatlands of Holland alongside the dead end of a river. The twelve original songs illustrating “dead end” relationships flow into one another in a natural, organic way. It’s a fine listen if you want to indulge in a bit of melancholy. 

‘Blood Trail’ has a haunting, memorable lilt. It’s almost got the feel of a murder ballad save for the fact that nobody dies. I asked Jonathan what the song was about: – 

“It’s all about a somewhat traumatic childhood memory of when I was about 7 or 8 playing in the dirt/mud along our driveway — making some kind of “castle” or something — and some neighborhood kid came along and completely destroyed it. I was so angry that I picked up a nearby brick and threw it at him hitting him in the head and causing a lot of bleeding and screaming. He turned out to be ok — didn’t even need stitches — but the image of that little blonde-haired kid suddenly blood red-haired sitting on our kitchen counter while my mom was helping him is still with me. And I think that was my first and last violent act…”

I love this. Have a happy weekend SB readers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Snowapple – Leicester Musician – Wednesday February 11th

On Tuesday evening, I went to the Y Theatre to see the wonderful performance poet/comedian Rob Gee deliver his new stage play, Icarus Dancing. It was an absolute joy to behold; bittersweet, well-constructed, funny and intelligent. On the surface, you might think that this has very little to do with Snowapple (even though their songs are bittersweet, well-constructed and intelligent) – and you’d be right.

As I waited for the Rob Gee performance to begin, I got chatting to a guy who was sat at the same cabaret table. “Have you seen John Etheridge before?” asked the man. I considered his question a little odd but did my best to answer. “I’m a massive Soft Machine fan”, continued the man, “and I can’t wait to see them tonight.” At this point, I had to jump in and correct. “This is a comedy night you know?” The man looked at his ticket, cursed loudly and sheepishly confessed that he had got the wrong night. The Soft Machine gig was happening the next night. How I laughed at his foolishness.

They say that he who laughs last laughs longest (or something like that) and I have now experienced how true that is.

Tonight, I had it in my diary to see Snowapple. I’d been put onto them by the brilliant Louis Barabbas (who runs the record label, Debt Records, on which the latest Snowapple album, Illusion, has recently been released). Louis had kindly written to me asking if I’d take a listen to the album and come along to review their show at the Leicester Musician on February 11th. I had a listen to the record and thought it was brilliant. I replied saying that I’d love to go and added the show to my diary (for February 12th).

At least the man who got the wrong date for Soft Machine was able to resolve his error.

When Louis was describing Snowapple to me he said, “They’re a Dutch group comprising three women of very different musical backgrounds (Laurien is an opera singer, Una is the daughter of South African jazz saxophonist Sean Bergin, Laura’s more into synths; they tour with a fashion designer who makes weird outfits for them between gigs…), they mix pop, psychedelia, folk and classical elements. Beautiful harmonies throughout and always quite theatrical.”

I thought there and then that I’d be foolish to miss such an opportunity. I am foolish.

The video to the first track from Illusion , ‘Small Stone’, is worthy of watching. Get your fill on this if you’re not able to see them live.