The Watanabes – Over Romantic

“There’s no point looking back when it’s an insult to the present. There’s no point looking front when it might never happen.” – The Watanabes – An Insult To The Present – Spoiled And Nostalgic EP – November 2016.

When I started Sonic Breakfast, I had no ambitious, blogging master plan. I never thought that I might travel the world on money made from it, get rich quickly or live happily after. 

I’ve not been disappointed.

But, undeniably, unearthing new acts to write about has given me many pleasurable moments; e-mails of thanks received from bands living all around the world who I might have stumbled across in late-night listening sessions and simply had to feature.

That was definitely the case with The Watanabes. I can’t quite recall when I first saw the video to ‘Yuriko Yuriko’ but I knew I had to write about it (here). I remember how exciting it was that other readers of Sonic Breakfast seemed to agree that this was something special. 

Last week, a new E-mail from Duncan (of The Watanabes) popped into my mailbox. He has a generous writing style and is clearly a very decent human being. I was pleased to discover that The Watanabes are releasing a new EP, Spoiled And Nostalgic, at the end of November. I was even happier to discover that the lead single from it, Over Romantic, is already in circulation and has a video to go alongside it. 

This is a band that can do no wrong in my eyes. Or at least, the only wrong that they can do is to wear their hearts a bit too much on their sleeves and possibly over-complicate their romantic liaisons. And that’s OK in my book. From the opening acoustic flourish that leads into the confession that ‘I’ve got myself into a bit of a fix‘, this is a tune that draws you in and then holds your interest as it builds and builds. It has a beautiful, forlorn resignation within, a positive kind of melancholia and a video that I can’t help but keep watching on repeat.

The other three tracks from the EP grow on you in similar ways. In my favourite, ‘An Insult To The Present’, we find The Watanabes in reminiscent mood, thinking back to days gone by and wondering if the dreams of those times have been achieved. They conclude in the only way possible to live for the moment.

I think Sonic Breakfast readers will like this. 

 

 

 

 

The Sonic Breakfast Top Ten – Five To One

I’m hesitant to publish my Sonic Breakfast Top Ten Five To One. Charts such as this are pretty meaningless anyway. I’ll have good friends who are wondering why they’re not in this top five; others who’ve featured on Sonic Breakfast this year might compare themselves to those in the top ten and find it difficult to understand why they’ve been omitted over and above ‘x’…

And in many ways such a response is right. What’s the point of doing anything if you’re not incredibly proud and protective about your craft? I’ll reiterate though – there’s a reason why I’ve featured each and every one of the acts I have on Sonic Breakfast this year – and that’s because they EXCITE…..

Onwards to the top five….

5. Workers In Songs

One of the lovely and slightly scary things about writing pieces for ‘Sonic Breakfast’ is that you’re never quite sure if you’ve interpreted intent accurately – or if you’ve messed up big time. I was pretty sure that there was an uncomfortable edge to the video for ‘Crazy Without You’ from Workers In Songs frankly brilliant album, ‘That Glorious Masterpiece’. Morten Krogh from the band confirmed in E-mail afterwards that, “you really get many of the things that we try to get through to the listener! Good job and respect from here!” Phew – thank goodness for that. They’ve got a new video from the album that’s due for release soon but, as that’s not yet ready, here’s one from their back catalogue.

 

4. Ash Mammal 

Ash Mammal are THE most exciting band playing in Leicester at the moment. I was unable to make their headline show at the Musician just a couple of weeks ago but my Facebook timeline was littered with comment from people who have views I respect about how great a gig it was. They use a quote from my original piece as a strapline; ‘an exercise in punkish unpredictability‘. This makes me ever so slightly fuzzy. 2015 has got to be the year in which more people realise just how exceptional they are. I’m told by Beaumont Weed that their new material pushes them up to next steps. I cannot comprehend where that takes them too. They’ll still be like marmite – but give them a try if you haven’t to date.

 

3. Dylan Seeger – Claye

Not one that’s prone to make rash predictions, I’d put money on the fact that you won’t see Dylan Seeger’s album, Claye, featured in any other top ten lists of 2014. This is the biggest of crying shames. If you’ve got some time off between Christmas and the New Year, do yourself a massive favour and give it a proper listen. This is finely crafted art. It’s an album that continues to give well after the initial listen. Dylan seems resigned to the fact that his craft will remain ignored and under-valued.

 

2. Chemistry Lane – An Interview

You can tell a lot about a band by the way that they answer questions that are sent to them. It’s been one of my favourite ways to source articles this year, partly because the onus is placed upon the band to convey whatever they want in particular ways. Chemistry Lane are a team of perfectionists over their craft and their approach to answering questions was no different. It seemed that the Chester tourist board jumped upon this article with the content sparking all manner of debate. I’ve never been to Chester. Perhaps, I should go. Expect an album from the scintillating Chemistry Lane in 2015 (or 2017 – they are perfectionists after all).

 

1. The Watanabes

The second half of 2014 seems to have been a busy one for The Watanabes. The release of their EP, ‘Draw What You Like’, has yielded all sorts of praise-laden reviews. Over in Japan, the gigs appear to be getting bigger and the fan-base is growing.

There’s a school in Peterborough. At that school, a teacher has started to show her form group videos from Sonic Breakfast. I’m told that the one for ‘Yuriko, Yuriko’ had quite a calming impact on her class. Friends of mine also thanked me for highlighting the Watanabes to them. The Watanabes seem like perfect gents. And I’m sure that they’ll appreciate this. Making things better is a pretty fine outlook with which to approach another working day. 

 

I have loved producing Sonic Breakfast this year. I’ll resolve to write even more regularly in 2015 and discover another fine set of acts that I’ll have no option but to share..

The Watanabes – There’s Something Wrong

Anyone casually observing my bookshelves will notice the prevalence of novels by Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. I love the dream-like, otherworldliness of his writing. In his beautifully haunting, romantic novel, Norwegian Wood, Murakami puts himself into the shoes of a lovestruck, reminiscent narrator, Toru Watanabe.

If you are casually observing my bookshelves, would you mind leaving my house please? It’s a little bit weird having you here when we’ve not been introduced.

Apparently, Watanabe is a common surname in the orange laden prefecture of Ehime in Japan. if you were to call your band The Watanabes, it would be like living in England and calling your band The Smiths.

Like Murakami in Norwegian Wood, the Watanabes create a nostalgic, yearning art that tends to centre on dream-like, lovestruck romance. These are tunes that reminisce about times when the grass was greener and the pine cones hadn’t fallen. Some might call this whimsical whilst some might call this twee. Others could call it music with issues of self esteem. For all of these reasons, I’m glad I’ve found the Watanabes.

Duncan and Selwyn Walsh are brothers from Norfolk. It’s not entirely clear how they’ve ended up in Tokyo fronting an indie pop band but I find myself wondering whether there’s much of an ex pat scene amidst TEFL teachers, gap year students and business leaders. With an impressive back catalogue of releases, Duncan and Selwyn are working hard to make The Watanabes work. Their nostalgic laments deserve to be heard.

A new EP, ‘Draw What You Like’, has been released this year. It’s typical of previous releases and perhaps a good place to start before exploring more of what the Watanabes offer. I’m attaching the lead track from that EP for your listening delight as well as an earlier video for a tune, ‘Yuriko Yuriko’.

Norwegian Tree. Japanese Twee.