Cast your minds back a couple of months if you will? I published a post when I was just back in the UK from my long retreat in Spain to talk about the fascinating dreampop duo, Moontwin. (Piece here). Moontwin create their music from separate places, one in the UK and one in Bulgaria. It doesn’t seem to impact upon their quality. They’ve released another track since early February. ‘For Your Happiness’ deserves attention.
Single friends of mine tell me that they’d like to meet a partner, perhaps ‘the one’ for them and then their lives will be complete. I scoff at their assertions and suggest that they might be putting too much emphasis on the power of the other. They tend to concede that I’m right but still their search goes on; they copy and paste profiles onto dating apps saying what they think they’ll need for happiness. They should look within.
That’s what Moontwin’s ‘For Your Happiness’ is about – “our obsession with idealised, romantic love and the desire to seek our personal salvation through ‘the other’“. Centred around some deliciously stark spoken word from Hunter S Thompson’s The Proud Highway’, here’s a tune layered with rich melancholia, sinister progression and standout vocal harmony. Much is packed into the song’s three and a half minutes – exactly what Sonic Breakfast readers expect from their Monday morning tune.
I ask the Moontwin duo what they might need to ensure their own happiness. “Happiness would be assured with an abundant supply of fine cheeses and wines to help navigate these trying times.“, says Mellie. I’m sure we can all agree with that. “Ideally accompanied by lashings of warm, buttery, yellow custard and baskets of kittens in lace attire.“, she adds more controversially.
Zac’s request is less complicated. “A few litres of cheap unbranded vodka, some Marlborough reds“, he requests.
‘For Your Happiness’ is definitely not about meeting your dream lover.
We’ve all been there; you’re watching a local band in a bar and thoroughly enjoying their original material when they say those dreaded words – “And now we’re going to do a cover version of one of our favourite songs“. Chances are that it’s a cover version of a song that you really like also. The band think they’re Rock Gods and begin to play completely overlooking the dynamics that made the song initially so great. You have to walk away as you feel the anger rising.
Ok – perhaps we’ve not all been there and maybe it’s just me? But I don’t deal with live covers well. And don’t even get me started on tribute bands. I realise that people gravitate towards familiarity when out and about (or at least did when they could go out). For me, originality is the key.
You won’t find many covers featured on Sonic Breakfast for this very reason. The exceptions to that unwritten rule are that the song is a cover of something so obscure that I’ve never heard the original – or that by covering a song, an artist has bought something new and unique to the table. In this cover of ‘First World Problems’, an unreleased track by Chance The Rapper, Elina Filice ticks both of those boxes.
Fans of Chancelor Johnathan Bennett have long yearned for him to officially release the track he performed live on a TV show. For some reason he never has. Elina has taken the song, rewritten the spoken word verses to make them much more personal to her and simply left the chorus in tact. It’s a complete renovation of an under the radar song. And it’s quite wonderful.
“The song is a critical reflection on the last few years,“, says Elina. “From leaving the comfort and structure of university to figuring out what to do with my life, the struggles of being an artist, searching for meaning, and trying to understand the world around me.”
The artist from Canada enlists the help of Dublin-based singer/songwriter, Cat, to provide a haunting backing vocal. This is perhaps none too surprising given that Elina has previously spent much time in Dublin. “Yes I miss (pre-covid) Dublin terribly!“, she says in a short E-mail exchange. “It’s a great city with a vast music/arts scene, not to mention a cheap flight away from anywhere in Europe.”
You can’t say fairer than that. Elina Filice, alone in the studio, following dreams and thinking critically about the world recognises it’s a tough and sometimes lonely road. I hazard a guess that regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will be keen to follow.
I’m in Benidorm for a weekend. Taking advantage of a cheap all-inclusive hotel deal, I take it upon myself to explore the sights and sounds. Benidorm at the back-end of Summer 2020 is clearly a very different place to how it might have been in previous years; muted, more reserved and less wild, it’s a place that’s simply going through the motions. The bars are required by law to close by midnight; the nightlife is thus curtailed. A town that depends upon a mass of tourists has nothing more than a trickle of them to please. I sense the over-arching anxiety as I weave between boarded-up clubs, pubs and retail units to find one of the few open bars.
It’s in Jimmy’s Bar that I meet Matt. Jimmy’s Bar is an odd delight. A thin strip of a space, its wall and ceilings are covered with football shirts. “They’re shirts that various punters bring in for me to display“, says Jimmy, the welcoming host, originally from the North East of England. Jimmy is an entertainer, a tough-veteran of a landlord who holds court here. He doesn’t stand any nonsense but wants us all to have a grand time as he regales us with his life story. There are no other tourists here tonight; instead, it’s an assorted mix of Benidorm’s waifs and strays. Ex-pats who are running away from pain elsewhere soak up their sorrows with another pint.
Matt introduces himself and sits at my table. He’s been in Benidorm now for a few months. In his early 40’s, he left work earlier this summer and is now hopping between hotels in Benidorm taking advantage of the great deals on offer. He’s here for ‘the fanny’ and takes much delight in telling me how regularly women are ‘opening their legs’ for him. “Mate, it’s at least every night, sometimes twice a day“, says Matt. My face probably gives away that I don’t entirely believe him – Matt is no real looker after all and doesn’t appear to have much going for him – but my mistrust serves only to spark him into further story. “Take last night“, says Matt. “Fuck, she was a crazy one, beautiful but off-her-rocker, she raped me she did.”
I raise my hand to stop Matt from speaking and point out to him that as a very-willing participant, he might like to consider his use of words. Matt realises that he’s on dodgy ground and so wilts a little. His sadness seeps through and I think he’s almost about to cry. Matt doesn’t really know himself and is using his casual sex encounters (that might also only exist in his own imagination) to mask his own self-neglect. “She had a great arse though“, says Matt, back on familiar ground and reverting to form.
It’s a long intro today but it is a weekend and I make no apology for retelling this tale. There are many like Matt in the world who lurch from one sexual encounter to another hurting others (and themselves) in the process. They could all do with listening to ‘Amazing’, a fabulous jazz-noir track from the Bradford Born, London based alternative-pop music artist, Bukky Sky.
Sounding like a quality track from Destroyer, ‘Amazing’ has it all. A gentle start gives way to wholesome strings whilst a gripping guitar line builds and falls. All paths lead to the wondrous piece-de-resistance; Bukky’s own one-minute spoken word confession. And what a confession it is.
“I’ve always been attracted to truth, in all its beauty, in all its ugliness.“, says Bukky. “I wrote this song when I was ready to turn a corner and cut away the bullshit from my character”. Here’s somebody who is able to take a long, hard, look at their behaviour to realise that they don’t want to be that person anymore.
“Do you really know love and trust, The truest aspects of yourself, Have you ever taken the time and taken the courage, To go and get to know and love yourself?“, repeats Bukky in that spoken-word section of ‘Amazing’. It’s a stunning track and I can’t wait to hear more from Bukky.
I’m almost asleep. I can feel myself dozing off into dreamland. A game of cricket that I played in 2008 comes to mind; it was windy and icy then, certainly not the summer weather that one associates with the sport. With no obvious logic, I’m now an extra in the cast of the film ‘Titanic’. I’ve never actually seen the film but here I am appearing in my very own version. Icebergs ahoy! As I look out to see the white mass in the distance, it becomes a gigantic Christmas cake, the icing crisp, the decoration beautiful and intricate, much like my late Nan used to make. Red ribbons, green garnish. Deep breath. Sleep.
Moontwin’s ‘Waiting For Fall’ also “explores the twilight world that exists between dreamstate and waking“, according to their press release. “A fluid, shape-shifting space where conversations, random moments and thoughts can sneak into our sub-conscious, often revealing new meaning and unexpected significance..”
I’ve never really paid close attention those random thoughts I have on the edge of sleep. Perhaps I closed my mind to them because I thought that I was a bit strange for imagining such things as cricket, icebergs and Christmas cakes. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
The Moontwin duo, Maple Bee (Melanie) and Zac live 1700 miles apart, one in Bulgaria and the other in the UK. I ask them how such remote working can work. “For Moontwin it’s pretty much normal for us….”, they say. “We have worked and hung out together online for the last 4 years! – so where ‘screen life’ and socialising online has recently become the norm for the larger population it’s business as usual for us. We did manage to meet up in Plovdiv, Bulgaria just before the Covid-19 situation took serious hold which was amazing…we were supposed to be touring the UK at the end of last year…obviously that didn’t happen but we are keeping busy working on the new record and making videos to go with each release we put out.”
If those releases are as grand as ‘Waiting For Fall’ then Moontwin have a fan in Sonic Breakfast. Always a sucker for a bit of spoken word verse, this tune has it in bucketloads before a wispy, ethereal and dare I say it, dreamy chorus chimes in.
Excuse me whilst I grab twenty minutes more sleep before Monday kicks in?