Tentative plans for 2018

Have I fallen out of love with blogging? A quick look at the sparse, sporadic Sonic Breakfast updates in 2017 might well indicate that to be the case. To my shame, the regular ‘Sonic Breakfast Top Ten Of The Year’ feature didn’t even feature between Christmas and the New Year. 

In truth, I have perhaps lost a bit of that fire. It might come back or it might take another form but at the moment the thought of scanning through the ever-growing mountain of E-mails from PR companies and bands desperate to be introduced as the next big thing holds less allure than once it did. 

There’s such a quantity of great art out there that doesn’t see the light of day; so much great music that gets released to the slightest of fanfare; so many great films that are left in the editing suite to decay and rot. It all becomes a bit overwhelming. Whilst friends did end of year lists documenting their 100 favourite albums of 2017, I simply wallowed in the corner feeling fraudulent for barely listening to a dozen albums from start to finish in that twelve months. 

 A couple things are happening in my life that regular Sonic Breakfast readers might care to know about. 

(1) After 12 years in the day job, I’m taking redundancy at the end of March. I see this as a positive thing though it’s only natural that stepping out of a comfort zone also brings accompanying fears. My plan is to head to Spain. Sarah has a villa over there. I want to give myself the headspace to write words every day. With a view looking out towards real mountains, the ever-growing mountain of E-mails will surely seem less daunting to deal with.

(2) I’ll be renting my house out – or at least making use of the services of AirBNB. Close friends who’ve seen my house will know that there’s a fair bit of largely cosmetic redecorating work to get through if I’m going to achieve the Spanish dream in April.

(3) The day job workload shows little sign of abating. I’ll be kept busy before I go. Appalling at saying ‘no’ to things, I’ll also still be writing comedy festival reviews for the Mercury during February and knocking together the occasional piece for the fine Leicester listings magazine, Great Central. This all takes time. 

(4) I’ve been developing a love for ‘random’ word generation games. I’ve been managing that overwhelming pile of E-mails by not managing them and finding other ways to unearth great music and film. The internet has some great, little tools for generating random words. I’ve been using those words with which to search Spotify or IMDB movie databases. I’ve been forcing myself to expand my horizons; to listen to the music that a random combination of words entered into search tools might spew back; to watch the awful TV movie if that’s what the search results demand. Somewhat amazingly, employing such randomness rarely fails to delight and always seem to inform. Even when the art isn’t entirely to my taste, I’m taken down new and exciting avenues of thought. I’m discovering new things in a way that feels comfortable and pressure-free. I plan to keep playing around with such practice.

Yesterday, to my general surprise, I received a press invite to the incredible Eurosonic Norderslag festival. It takes place each year in January in Groningen, Netherlands and I was lucky enough to head out last year to review it for eFestivals. (My review can be read here). It’s happening next week which gives very little time to plan but after a bit of frantic arranging it does look like I’ll be heading out again. Despite all that I’ve said elsewhere in this post, I’m genuinely excited about the new acts I’ll get to spot. 

And tomorrow on Sonic Breakfast, I’ll make use of random word generation in order to introduce one of the bands on the ESNS bill. For now, feel free to take a look at this. 


Koudlam – Benidorm Dream

Drunk, after a weekend of excess, I missed my early morning flight to Alicante. No worries – I was able to get one later in the day. This was last July. I was picked up at the airport and taken to Little Britain, ex-patriot central. We dived into bars run by people called Dave and witnessed fights between proper English sorts who couldn’t cope with the combination of Sun Cream and alcohol required.

We bypassed Benidorm on the way to better parts of Spain.

Perhaps, if we had taken time to explore, we might have bumped into Koudlam. For his new record, Benidorm dream, the French producer holed himself up in one of the many high rises that dominate the Benidorm horizon. Like a modern day JG Ballard, Koudlam clearly saw rich pickings in his surrounds. Here we have a very postmodern, dystopian dance vision; a dream that conjures up scapes of land and sound that have an almost hymnal element – futuristic and yet rooted in the here and now.

It’s an album that was never conceived to be an easy listen. It’s not something to play if you want to snuggle up with your loved one on the sofa. There’s something pretty rotten going on in the Benidorm streets and Koudlam wants us to know he’s angry about it. But, it’s not all bluster and beats. The waves subside and a wash of calm saunters past – a temporary oasis amidst the fights, the seediness and the monstrous desperation. Almost hypnotic, this is how this part of Spain could be if we dare to dream with a positive spin.

We wander around, darkly dysfunctional. We head to a new party and pretend the drugs are designer. We wear flags on our shaven heads to be both symbol and sun-block. We pretend we’re having fun as we piss against walls and tag unfinished building sites.

We reach out to the mountains in the distance. Up there, we might get a fill of clean air; a swim in a waterfall sent from paradise.

Benidorm dreams.



Parlement – Blood

At home, I have been without heating and hot water for three days. This morning, covered with duvets and wrapped in scarves, I sat and waited for hours for an emergency response engineer to arrive. I wiped icicles away from my nose and stomped up and down in an attempt to break the block of freezing chill that was surrounding my feet.

Sonic Breakfast is a place where often you’ll find sweet pop. Such service will surely resume with a fully functioning boiler (I have been slowly defrosting this evening) but, for now, allow me to bring you some angry, guitar-laden, indie-rock from Spain. It’s perfect for stoking your internal fire – and that’s what I needed earlier today.

Blood is the debut single from Spanish newbies, Parlement. If Kasabian indulged in a ballsy-more-bluesy riff driven template, it’s what they could sound like. Yes, I get the Black Keys comparisons that are attached to the press release but this is far from being another lazy derivative. It has an explosive, Almerian edge.

The video is equally captivating. Beautiful people at a wedding service; a celebration of two people being in love that quickly descends into a raucous, riotous reception. With more twists and turns than a Shakespearean tragedy, this has a plot that’ll hold your attention until the closing drumbeat and the final heartbeat.

More singles and an album are promised in 2015 from Parlement. I hope that my house doesn’t need their rocking warmth when I next hear from them.


Eurovision – part deux

I am still alive but I might need a bodyguard. Yesterday’s Eurovision post was delivered at great risk to my own personal safety. Much maligned in the U.K., we can get away with pithy comments about the contest. Our collective arrogance swells because we’ve given the world the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin and One Direction! I will not be surprised if a price is already on my head from one of the former Soviet bloc countries that takes this a tad more seriously. 

Ruth Lorenzo is representing Spain in the contest. She once came fifth in the U.K’s X factor, largely because (as far as I could tell) men of a certain age and disposition were attracted to her Mediterranean charms and ample cleavage. Ruth is hoping to use that link to get ‘douze points from us’ in Copenhagen in May. She won’t be getting my vote though. Ruth once appeared at a Leicester City Football club fans village thing in advance of a friendly against Real Madrid. She mimed to a backing tape for one and a half songs before the local talent of Jersey Budd and The James Lewis Band blew her off the stage. One of her bodyguards knocked me over in her rush to get away. 

Do excuse my wittering. There are songs to review.


10. Estonia – Tanja – Amazing

This is far from amazing. In fact, all it is good for is a game of ‘count the clichéd lyric’. Tanja sings about how amazing it is to be weightless over the top of an Eurodisco pop track, produced in a bedroom. I bet Tanja is a bit chubby. 


11. Spain – Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing In The Rain

See above. It gets points in my book for being the first song I’ve reviewed so far to not be completely in English. The first Spanish verse sounds exotic and sexy but then the English begins and we learn that ‘life gets you every time’. Thanks for that Ruth. It’s pedestrian and procession like. Watch out for her bouncers.


12. Finland – Softengine – Something Better

In truth, I was hoping for Something Better. This is on the rock spectrum and sounds like it’s sung by somebody who makes a better living in a Frank Turner tribute band. The best that I can say about this is if I heard it a million times I still wouldn’t recognise it.


13. France – Twin Twin – Moustache

Can we go back to the piano ballads of yesterday please? This is French disco rap pap. The chorus bursts into English when Twin Twin tell us that they ‘wanna have a moustache‘. One that’ll do well in the gay Eurovision circles no doubt.


14. United Kingdom – Molly – Children Of The Universe

Yeah – we cheer collectively much like we do at the start of the football World Cup. We know that we have no chance of winning even though we buy our slot in the final. I’m sure that Molly Smitten-Downes (from Leicestershire) will give us 110% and she’ll sing her heart out.

 She’s supported Jake Bugg, Tinie Tempah and Basshunter so she’s learnt from the best. And Dean Jackson is her biggest fan. In truth, the song isn’t too bad. It begins very Lana Del Ray and I like the poetry of ‘I’ve been tired of this thinking, so I drowned it out by drinking‘. But, it quickly descends into lyrical nonsense as we learn that we’re ‘children of the universe, dancing on the edge of time.‘ Still, better than most though. 

PS – I realise the picture isn’t Molly!!


15. Georgia – The Shin And Mariko – Three Minutes To Earth

Sometimes Eurovision throws up something so bewildering and quirky that you can’t help but delight in it. Georgia’s entry is one of those. Beginning with a yodel that transforms into a vocal warble, this tune seems to be about a skydiving. It tries to be acoustic prog-folk over some classical guitar noodlings. Then, it calls on Bowie’s ‘Starman’ before the realisation hits that this parachute isn’t opening and we’re about to crash and die. Delightful.


16. Greece – Freaky Fortune Feat. Risky Kid – Rise Up

Risky Kid is a rapper. On the evidence of this offering, he should change his name to Safe Young Man. This dose of trumpet-led Euro pop swings along without really going anywhere. 


17. Hungary – Andras Kallay-Saunders – Running

This is horrible which probably means that it’s a favourite to win. More bland ’emotive’ Euro rock pop as Andras tells us all about a girl who is facing up to some pretty difficult times. ‘She keeps on running, running, running from this crazy life’, we’re told. And we weep at the magnitude of it all. 


18. Ireland – Can-Linn (feat Kasey Smith) – Heartbeat

What? No Jedward? It’s a travesty. In their place, we don’t even get that old soak, Johnny Logan. Instead Can-Linn do their best to sound like every other bland AOR track in this years Eurovision – except this has a bit of Celtic Fiddle to distinguish it from the rest. It won’t win. How many Eurovision songs have been called ‘Heartbeat’ in previous years I wonder? 


And, with that Day 2 of my Eurovision Easter egging draws to a close. Tomorrow will have some true highlights. Mum’s gone to Iceland and come back with a quirky punk gem whilst Latvia will be having a cake fight with Belarus. 

The two songs to highlight by video today again pick themselves. I have to support local girl, Molly… and The Shin and Mariko from Georgia is a madness that deserves extra prominence.