Girl Friend – The Cookie – Last week sometime

Last week, I had one of those fab evenings you get sometimes when watching live music. 

I thought that Manchester’s Girl Friend were a bit special. 

I was able to write about them for the Leicester Mercury and after some delay, they’ve published my review for others to read here..

Yep – they were that good. I’ve previously blogged about Tapestry. There’s perhaps no finer support. 

One of my favourite new bands of 2015.. There’s been a few. 

 

 

The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten – 10 to 6

I’m relatively content with the way that Sonic Breakfast has gone this year. A few random conversations and, before I really knew what I was doing, it launched in March. Despite a Summer break when I was far too busy in festival fields, there’s still been 112 posts this year that have been read in 91 countries of the world.

I care about every single one of the acts that I feature on Sonic Breakfast. I write about them because something appeals to me about their music and attitude; it’s not and never will be genre specific; I’m too ancient to be chasing the next big thing – although that’s not to say that some of the acts I’ve featured this year might not strive to greatness in 2015.

I thought (because it seems to be all the rage) I’d do a ‘Sonic Breakfast’ top 10 of 2014. Ten discoveries for me this year; ten artists or tracks that I want to revisit; numbers ten to six will come today and then five to the coveted number one slot later this week.

This will look like no other end of year chart that you’ll see….

(10) Tapestry

It was quite a year for Tapestry. Bursting on to the Leicester scene, Elliot, Alex and Taylor precociously announced their presence by storming the Original Bands Showcase. A prominent slot at Simon Says where the eFestivals reviewer highlighted their set for praise by saying – “the very first band on the outdoor Hobgoblin stage that afternoon, the fresh-faced  three-piece Tapestry were perhaps the most experimental bunch of the entire weekend, doffing their saxes and synths to Alt-J and Goblin. ” Alex left the band due to musical differences in the late summer. It remains to be seen if Elliot and Taylor can continue to develop without their drummer. Still young and with their fingers in all sorts of musical pies, don’t bet against something special in 2015.

 

(9) Huskies – Sober

I was charmed when I first heard Huskies back in April by their brand of indie-pop. Since then, they’ve continued to get noticed in all the right places. A successful EP launch less than a month ago and well received gigs around the country marks these out as ones to watch. I saw them play at Y-Not when writing for eFestivals and said this about them:- “Their jingle jangle form of pop arguably sits in that hole between The Strokes, The Housemartins and Vampire Weekend. This correspondent predicts big things for these dogs.”

 

(8) Sean Grant & The WolfGang

It seems like an age ago when my friend, Val McCoy, played me Sean’s video on her mobile phone and suggested she’d try to get him along to an OBS unplugged night. Sean travelled up from Northampton and impressed all who saw him. Other Musician shows followed for him and his band as did a slot at Simon Says. Incredibly impressive inter-blog coverage since and a neat line in videos suggests he’s travelling a considered path. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke (and band). Tonight, they play a set at London’s Sebright Arms. This recently released video to ‘Fairground Fighter’ oozes class.

 

(7) Son Little – Your love will blow me away when my heart aches

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is one of my songs of the year. I was sat in my comfy armchair listening to new music on my headphones and this just left me quivering. I heard it being used by the BBC in one of their programme links a few weeks later and I was so happy that a wider audience might now question who was behind this incredible track. He’s played a few UK shows in the past month. Foolishly, I conspired to miss them. Follow up tracks to ‘Your Love’ have been well received… That voice….

 

(6) Elliot Moss – Slip

Finally for today we come to this gem of a track by Elliot Moss. This could be number one in my top ten and I’d be happy. Not only did I write about this but I also wrote about the remix by Hippie Sabotage. Writing about remixes isn’t something that comes easy to me! Elliot’s sheer act of generosity in sending his CD, at considerable cost, across the Atlantic Ocean still sticks with me. His is an album that deserves to get under more skin in 2015.

 

 

With such quality amidst numbers ten to six, I bet you can’t wait to see what’s in the Sonic Breakfast top five? 

The 10th Original Bands Showcase final

Tonight’s the night of the 10th Original Bands Showcase final in Leicester. This’ll be a night of celebration, sweat, endeavour, smiles and jubilation. It’s become something of an event in the annual music calendar of this fair city and I can’t wait to get on down to the Musician tonight to see what happens.

 

The OBS is the brainchild of the formidable yet fair Val McCoy. Dig beneath the surface (she doesn’t suffer fools gladly) and here you have a woman who is probably even more passionate now about supporting and nurturing local talent than she was 10 years ago when this venture started. For each year, OBS provides a platform for developing and established acts to take to the stage and further hone their craft. Tonight is the culmination of a series of heats, callbacks and semi-finals.

It was seven (or perhaps eight) years ago that I first got involved. A friend of mine, Richard Haswell (the man behind the excellent and now sadly no more Summer Sundae festival) got in touch and asked if I would judge at a final. I didn’t have a clue what to expect but the promise of free beer was enough to convince. That night a band from Hinckley, ‘The Chairmen’, took the plaudits but what struck me was the air of support and friendliness amidst the sweat covered crowd. They might have been there to see one band but they were cheering all.

The OBS mightn’t be a model for everybody. Some are suspicious of the competitive elements involved. Responding to music can be a personal thing so how can individuals say that one band is better than another with any authority? And the truth is that they probably can’t. But the competition is just a part of this showcase. For me, this is much more about the networking opportunities, future gigs and new friendships formed. The best bands see winning as secondary to the experience and opportunities provided.

For the last few years, it’s all taken place in the Musician, a venue I’ve praised previously in this blog. There’s a cast of characters here who all throw themselves behind the OBS. Andy Mann, the soundman, works his bollocks off to ensure that the tight turnarounds look smooth to anybody within the crowd. The bar staff take an active interest with Chris, Chris, Holly and others never being shy on expressing their opinions (in a friendly way). And the contributions of Darren, Nicola and Wayne all contribute to the impression that this is a supportive, positive event.

There’s six bands that’ll take to the stage tonight. One thing you can always guarantee within an OBS final is that they’ll be stretching across a range of genres yet all excelling in their chosen styles. I’ve featured two previously within this blog, Tapestry and Stop That Train. But, in truth, I could have just as easily featured any of the other four and not impacted upon the quality. Ash Mammal, Beneath The Lights, The Della Grants and 8 Miles High make up the sextet on offer.

The OBS final is nothing without the crowd though. It was the friendliness and supportiveness of the crowd that first attracted me to these events. And though people have moved on, the feeling within the audience seems to have stuck. It’ll be a packed out, sweat-laden affair tonight. It’ll be one of the best gigs many in the crowd will have ever been to. We’ll dance, we’ll sing, we’ll drink and laugh. But, above all, we’ll realise that live music is the winner.

I’ve got my special costume ready for tonight… Now, I just need to go and get my hair done…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beneath The Lights do not share any of their music for embedding upon Soundcloud.  

New Walk – Ganja Tent

New Walk is a pedestrianised Victorian promenade in Leicester. It connects Victoria Park with the town centre. On warmer, summer days, people chill, sunbathe and throw frisbees on this park. Some even share funny cigarettes. 

New Walk is also the moniker used by dubstep producer, Taylor Burton. There’s nothing pedestrian about him though. 16 year old Taylor has all the potential to put Leicester and Leicestershire on the map. Already played by DJs on Radio 1 Xtra and with mixes widely circulated by well connected magazine editors and PR gurus, there’s a buzz about this lad.

Taylor also plays in Tapestry, the band that I raved about here less than two weeks ago. One of their live highlights is the tune, Ganja Tent. Ganja Tent began its life as a New Walk production and today, Taylor has dropped a new version of the track onto Soundcloud. 

The sun was doing the best it could to shine brightly today. Listening to this track, I couldn’t help but think of blissful Summer days that are on their way. Chilled out to a horizontal, hypnotic degree, you can lie down and allow the relaxing gloss of this tune to take you away to picnics, frisbees and sunbathing. 

New Walk – connecting with Victoria Park in more ways than one. 

Tapestry

The weekend started well. Another band showcase night down at the Leicester Musician. Four varied acts all at the top of their craft and an appreciative, wise audience flexible enough to hop across genres.

Late additions, The Matchstick Men, did their cause no harm at all when they opened the night with their Springsteen-influenced sound. The Della Grants showed their consummate experience with a powerful,polished set of bar-room blues and Ash Mammal showed why just two weeks earlier their brand of twee punk (drawing influences from Marc Bolan) had the young (and old) flocking to their sell out show at the Y Theatre. All bands to watch on this local scene. 

But this post is about the final band of the night, Tapestry. I simply was not prepared for the show they delivered. 

There’s nothing wrong with a band that wear their influences on their sleeves but when that translates into yet more Arctic Monkey/Kasabian/Oasis wannabees I can very quickly lose the will to live. Tapestry set up on stage and there’s not a guitar in sight. Instead, here we have saxophone, drums and a bewildering array of keyboards, korgs and drum machines. The stage is a messy tardis.

Alex, Elliott and Taylor proceed to bang drums, to press keys, to bewilder with their technology. Amidst it all we get the sweetest of soul voices, bursts of sax jazz, mash-ups that fry and a charm that belies their teenage years. It’s not a rock n’roll set but it inhabits that uncertain space between band and DJ. It’s thoroughly modern, thoroughly now and I can’t wait to see them again soon.

They’ve got an EP out. Here’s a soundcloud sampler..