What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod – End of Year: Acid Klaus

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make.

In the struggling year of our lord 2022, we’ve had all sorts talk to us about inspirations, including the likes of WITCH FEVER, The Lounge Society, WOOZE and Group Listening!

With the year coming to a close, we’ve decided to once again turn it on its head a bit and ask some of our favourite artists what releases they’ve been raving about this year. With that in mind, off the back of releasing debut album ‘Step on My Travelator: The Imagined Career Trajectory of Superstar DJ & Dance Pop Producer, Melvin Harris‘, we’re chuffed to have Acid Klaus aka Adrian Flanagan (founder/writer/co-producer for The Moonlandingz, International Teachers of Pop, Eccentronic Research Council) talk us through his favourite releases from the past 12 months.

Jockstrap – Concrete Over Water
(I Love You Jennifer B)


They’ve had a great run of EP’s have Jockstrap & this single is just brilliant. Their songs are musically inventive – like short films walking through different rooms. Great production and Georgia Elleray’s voice hits a real emotional sweet spot within its sonic dystopian landscape. 10 out of 10 also for the dog barking sample – I don’t take any music seriously unless it communicates also with animals. My dog klaus loves this record. Saying that, If a cow was listening to Meat is Murder by The Smiths, it would proper shit itself. Cows do not want to hear the sounds of abattoirs and other cows in distress… The amount of cows that became sheep eaters because of that record doesn’t bare thinking about!!

Cate Le BonRemembering Me
(Pompeii)


Cate Le Bon can do no wrong in my book, I’ve loved her forever. More so than ever over the past couple of years her music has connected with me almost like a perpetual psychic cuddle… I think due to me going through lots of personal loss, grief and my own shitty health issues I’ve been in a more self reflective and acutely sensitive Piscean head space. I think when you get in to your Middle Ages and you’ve been making music for decades to varying degrees of ‘anti success’ and almost every other week a family member, a friend, a musical hero etc passes away – you do get into these strange reflective headspaces where you think about your own legacy and what you’ve achieved and what you need to do next.

I love that ‘face down in heirlooms’ line… I often think of myself lying face down rotting in a room full of moth covered fisherman hats & boxes and boxes of c90 cassettes containing hundreds of unreleased and by and large terribly recorded songs – all being picked through and compiled by some musicologist for some 6 cd box set to be released by Cherry Red Records (ha)! I think It’s very important to undo your own mythologies every few years and try and lose the shittier aspects of what you use as your protective armour!!

Audiobooks – Tryna Tryna take control


This track reminds me of a few fun afternoons over the spring and summer in Manchester. I’m good pals with Audiobooks. I’ve been a fan of theirs for a good few years & I / Eccentronic Research Council did a little collab with their singer Evangeline during the first lockdown when we soundtracked a dream of hers. I think she’s one of the best lyricists in the country and has a very unique way of looking at the world which I think comes with being a little eccentric and having a very strong spiritual faith.

Her and David, the Welsh wizard of synthesis, are just brilliant together. When we could start going to gigs during & post the pandemic the first gig I went too was an Audiobooks show at The Social in London. Then Evangeline came to an ITOP show in London, then ran off halfway through! Ha! Then over the spring & summer of this year whenever they’ve been up North we’d usually hang out & do cultural things pre-show such as searching for pages in museums from the original handwritten copy of the bible – or trying to break into the Anthony Burgess Foundation in search of ultra violence and other silly but life affirming things – then we’d go eat naked burritos… Audiobooks are big fans of the naked Burrito. Good pals, good songs, good company. Which is rare as I pretty much despise 98% of all musicians. Every last one of them are shithouses!!

Mauskovic Dance Band’s album Bukaroo Bank


This album hasn’t been out long but I’ve been vibing on it over the past few weeks – it’s by the Mauskovic Dance Band who are based over in Amsterdam. Kind of African rhythms merged with live drum machines and percussion, new wave funk bass, Lee Perry style dubs and a whole lot of alien WONK!! Their bass player Mano contributed a bit of synth and live drum machine fills and dubs on my album/single track ‘The Three Rooms of Nightclub Marilyn’… Mano also has his own band called Baby’s Berserk who I love lots and whose singer Lieselot Elzinga also appears as lead singer on said Acid Klaus collaborative track. I look forward to the debut Baby’s Berserk album very much, hopefully 2023 will gift us this cultural future highlight.

Paranoid LondonSuck A Dick


An already classic of the Paranoid London live show finally gets its recorded vinyl release… If it’s not on the stereo at your family, friends, work colleagues Christmas parties you are doing Christmas all wrong. Strip off – douse yourself in goose fat, drop a box of Chinese firecrackers on the dancefloor and…

New album ‘Step on My Travelator: The Imagined Career Trajectory of Superstar DJ & Dance Pop Producer, Melvin Harris‘ is out now on Zen F.C. (the label of them from Yard Act) – grab yourself a copy of the record here! You can also find him on Instagram and Twitter.

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Exclusive: WATCH ‘Union Ridge Cemetery’ – The new video from Salisman & His Celestial Bodies

Becoming somewhat of a theme, the last time we spoke of Salisman & His Celestial Bodies – the trio of Tyneside’s Chris Tate (Score, d_rradio) and Chicago locals Paul Foreman and Travis Salisbury – they were known as Salisman & His Hermetic Order. Prior to that, Salisman & His Blessed Eunuchs. Come album four, we will no doubt have moved along to another moniker.

From their third album, ‘Gulch‘, we’re pleased as punch to have an exclusive first watch of a new video for ‘Union Ridge Cemetery‘ from the Anglo-American collaboration.

The trippy, head-spinning video comes from friend of the site, Jason Kester, who has priors with the outfit (‘Ether’ appearing on these very pages previously). On the album, Salisman & His Celestial Beings:

Trolling the underbelly of the remnants of the remnants, we found mostly nothing. Rotten milk and poorly performed blues. The Lexington Strut consumed us. Feet worn and cracked. Centuries of endurance. Sweet coffee consumed in a tub of pathetic burlesque performances. We didn’t like it but it was our home. Gulch.

Released at the tail end of October this year via Cruel Nature Records, you can pick up a copy on a limited edition pro-dubbed lilac cassette made from recycled materials (only 45 copies world-wide, mind!)

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Exclusive: Watch ‘MEATLIFE’ – The new video from Greater Manchester trio Chrysalid HOMO

If you’ve got a pulse and an internet connection of some description, no doubt you’ve heard the term ‘cancel culture‘ bandied about (alongside ‘woke‘ matters and such). The cancelled of the world plastered all over television and written about in papers, complaining they’re censored at every turn.

Despite crying about a non-existent cancel culture, celebrities on the right continue to use their privileged positions and massive wealth to punch down at those they deem unworthy and unacceptable.” Says Lawrence Duke on the subject, one third of ‘post-nuclear electronic heralds‘, Chrysalid HOMO.

It’s this very type that the Mancunian trio take aim at on new single ‘MEATLIFE‘, a robotic, electro-punk affair which we’ve got an exclusive stream of below. Multi-millionaire authors and downtrodden singers of the world take cover!

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Release Rundown – Nyx Nott and Other Half

Nyx Nott – Themes From
(Melodic)

NN

Having spent the year touring with the beloved Arab Strap and releasing a new collaborative album as Gentle Sinners with James Graham, Aidan Moffatt bows out of a busy 2022 with a new solo release. The second release under the moniker of Nyx Nott sees Aidan put down the microphone once more, producing sample driven instrumentals, this time sourced from professional TV and Film music libraries. The initial idea was to write a series of short TV themes, but instead Aidan decided to dive deeper and make a fully fledged album, but one that still very much looks to TV and Film soundtracks, with the titles of the songs named after the sort of shows they might work with.

Steeped in the brooding atmosphere and loose, jazz-inspired drum loops that dominated the previous Nyx Nott release, ’Themes From‘ naturally moves around a bit more, both sonically and dynamically. ‘Docudrama’ is dominated by a beat heavy loop, as plucked strings and quick-fire guitar delays cut around it. Like all good TV themes should, there is a forward moving build to the track – sombre string samples and glacial key samples upping the drama and intensity. This definitely fits its title.

Porno’ follows suit with some classic saxophone crooning oozing around brushed drums and swirling layers of synths, strings and double bass. It’s actually an incredibly sumptuous and effortlessly cool piece that is almost too good to feature on a porn film (not to berate the genre, it’s just less cheese, more swagger – all to Aidan’s credit of course).

I’ve always been a fan of records that take on an imagined soundtrack. And for me, it’s exciting to let the music take your imagination to the places it has in mind, whilst letting you put your own spin on it. Sometimes I can even see the colour schemes and graphics that go along with the title sequences; I get vivid swirls of reds and wide shots of corridors and spiral staircases when I hear ’Thriller’.

It’s been really interesting to see Aidan really progress his production chops this year and the runtime of ’Themes From’ absolutely flies by, as I find myself engulfed by these beautifully entrancing and theatrical compositions. I can see this capturing the imaginations of many.

Other Half – Soft Action
(Big Scary Monsters)

SA

Hailing from the Norwich DIY scene, alt rock trio Other Half have made considerable strides over the last few years, playing up and down the country with a string of well received releases to their name. Following on from their blistering 2020 debut LP ’Big Twenty’, the three piece have hooked up with the ever reliable Big Scary Monsters to release their second album. Recorded at Sickroom Studios (great name) in Narborough, Norfolk with longtime-producer Owen Turner, ‘Soft Action’ continues in delivering the tense, thought provoking post-hardcore that ripped through heir debut.

The thing that really grabs me with Other Half is the amount of musical reference points I can pin throughout this record. I’ve already described the blistering ‘Slab Thick as At The Drive-In covering Dinosaur Jr and furthermore I can hear more alt rock influences from Pixies (‘In My Wires’) to Sonic Youth (‘Losing The Whip’), blending effortlessly with the intensity of bands like Converge (‘Like A Dog’) and La Dispute (‘Doom Logo’).

But it’s the way that Other Half blend these knife edge riffs and thrashed out drums with bold melodies and interlocking harmonies that feels unique to them. I’ve always associated that half spoken / half screamed vocal delivery with American bands, but hearing that done in an English accent, feels fresh to me.

Despite the amount of US bands I’ve just thrown out here, Other Half do really belong in the UK scene, and I feel like in an alternate reality they’d have kept company with the likes of Reuben, Yourcodenameis:Milo, ThisGirl and the like. The foundations of their sound come from a golden age of alternative rock music, but continue to push that forward into present day.

Lyrically, this lives in the now, with the band’s lyrics very much reflecting on society’s changing attitudes and the characters they create struggling with their class, their drives and their mental state. This is certainly a visceral and enraged listen – almost every track comes in maxed out and spat out at you. Ultimately, there is a spirit that runs alongside ‘Soft Action’ that you cannot help but march along to. Basically, Other Half are the real fucking deal, the power and ferocity of this record is completely intoxicating, totally kicking down the back end of 2022 with one final belter of a rock record.

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Listening Post – December 2022

Now that the work Christmas do is out of the way (reader, I had mine last night – forgive any spelling mistakes), we march through to the 25th and the big man with the gifts.

Before all that though, important matters at hand – our monthly rippers playlist! You’ll find it all in here – From jazzy Japanese hip-hop to Northern post-punk to NYC hardcore to Welsh indie.

Tell your mum, tell your dad – have an enjoyable festive period, wherever you are.

Vansire / MUNYA – Vivienne
(The Modern Western World)

On ‘Vivienne‘, Minnesota duo Vansire enlist the help of Canadian artist MUNYA to elevate the glittering single to heart-swelling highs. Pleasant and then some, it’s the audio equivalent of falling asleep on the beach with the sound of the sea in earshot. Magnifique.

Julia Jacklin – Love, Try Not To Let Go
(PRE PLEASURE)

Having obsessed over the tremendous ‘Crushing‘ in 2019, we know Australian artist Julia Jacklin can tug at our heart strings. From her latest album ‘PRE PLEASURE‘, ‘Love, Try Not To Let Go‘ really gets the heart racing, particularly that unexpected thumping chorus. In early November we got to see it played out in the flesh, a proper treat in a live capacity with everything beefed up. Don’t be a stranger, Julia!

Humint – The Felt
(It’s Bunk!)

A year on from our first (and only) sighting of Humint, a choice play on the wireless the other day reminded us just how much excitement they cooked up within us when we caught them supporting The Eurosuite at local spot Wilderness Record Store (RIP). The Greater Manchester locals have that all-over-the-shop post-punk quality we loved about DUDS, which makes sense given some of their numbers previously played in the much missed outfit.

Show Me The Body – Boils Up
(Trouble The Water)

UGH! NYC hardcore trio Show Me The Body go hypnotic on the explosive ‘Boils Up‘. Underpinned by a total feeling of unease, it pulsates – at times sounding like a swarm of wasps are on the loose – as vocalist Julian Cashwan Pratt hollers over the top.

Cola – So Excited
(Deep In View)

Having only really discovered them just before releasing their final album ‘Room Inside The World‘, I was gutted when Ought called it a day. Thankfully, vocalist Tim Darcy and bassist Ben Stidworthy didn’t drift too far, teaming up with Evan Cartwright of U.S. Girls to form Cola, who it must be said do sound quite a bit like Ought. ‘So Excited‘ is a cucumber cool wee number.

2nd Grade – Dennis Hopper In Easy Rider
(Hit To Hit)

Shades of Kevin Devine and Kiwi Jr ring through on this hazy summer day scorcher from Philadelphia’s 2nd Grade. A lot packed into 90 seconds, ‘Dennis Hopper In Easy Rider‘ is really infectious stuff – good luck not bopping along to this!

dosmonos_oubo_a_photo-scaled

Dos Monos – DOG EATS GOD

Recent tour support for Black Midi, Japanese hip-hop outfit Dos Monos pricked up our ears almost instantly – offering up notes of American hip-hop groups Gravediggaz and The Pharcyde, as well as that ‘Joyride‘ song from ‘Grand Theft Auto‘… ‘DOG EATS GOD‘ is hella catchy. The story goes the trio even had their own miniseries on Japanese TV (which they starred in and scored)!

H Hawkline – Milk For Flowers
(Milk For Flowers)

Drafting in contemporaries and Birthday Cake For Breakfast favourites Cate Le Bon and Sweet Baboo (alongside Davey Newington of Boy Azooga and Tim Presley of White Fence), H Hawkline is building excitement for fifth album, ‘Milk For Flowers‘. Its heart-swelling title track has quite a bit of Todd Rundgren about it, ‘Milk For Flowers‘ being a song which mesmerises from note one.

Blacklisters – Why Deny It?
(Leisure Centre)

From their latest EP ‘Leisure Centre‘, Blacklisters have penned possibly their catchiest number yet, bassist Steven Hodson and drummer Alistair Stobbart laying down the infectious groove for the rest of the band to go nuts over – sax wigging out and vocals getting more and more unhinged as it builds and builds. Proper.

Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light
(Something / Anything?)

Inspired listening following the release of the new H Hawkline single in November, the Welsh songwriter very much calling to mind famed songwriter and record producer, Todd Rundgren. The opening track from his 1972 album ‘Something/Anything?‘, ‘I Saw The Light‘ is very much a vibe.

Weird Nightmare – So Far Gone

A summer rager in November c/o Alex Edkins a.k.a. Weird Nightmare. Taking a brief break from shouting himself hoarse in Canadian mega trio METZ, this year saw Edkins release a solo album of fuzzy, anthemic sun-soaked bangers that lean more towards the poppier side of things, new single ‘So Far Gone‘ very much a continuation of what he’s been dishing out in 2022.

Richard Dawson – The Fool
(The Ruby Cord)

Fronted by 41 minute epic ‘The Hermit‘, the new Richard Dawson album ‘The Ruby Cord‘ appears on the surface like it could be a challenge. But then again, what would you expect from the North East songwriter who last year took a side-step and made a concept album with Circle, touted as ‘The New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal‘. ‘The Fool‘ builds to such transcendent highs (almost as high as Dawson’s falsetto!)

DT

Dilettante – Keep Time
(Tantrum)

Known for mixing it up with BC Camplight in his live band, multi-instrumentalist Francesca Pidgeon a.k.a. Dilettante this year released her debut full-length album, ‘Tantrum‘. From it, the hypnotic ‘Keep Time‘ has a Field Music-esque wonkiness to it, keeping you on your toes as much as Pidgeon is in its jump-rope themed video!

Dilettante recently talked us through the single, which you can read about here!

Shame – Fingers Of Steel
(Food for Worms)

Building on the captivating, atmospheric ‘Station Wagon‘ that closed out their last album ‘Drunk Tank Pink‘, globetrotters Shame build anticipation for their forthcoming third album ‘Food for Worms‘ with the invigorating ‘Fingers Of Steel‘. Described by vocalist Charlie Steen as “the Lamborghini of shame records”, colour us truly excited for what’s to come.

David Brewis – The Last Day
(The Soft Struggles)

Even when stepping away from the Field Music banner, I love that brothers Peter and David Brewis still muck in with each other’s solo projects. David Brewis recently announced a forthcoming solo record under his own name (having previously released material under the School Of Language moniker), due out on the band’s own Daylight Saving Records and with Peter semi-top billing on its cover! Capturing that Brewis magic as ever, ‘The Last Day‘ is such a treat from a pairing that never miss.

David was kind enough to talk us through ‘The Last Day on its release.

Horse Lords – May Brigade
(Comradely Objects)

I love becoming obsessive over a record and then having the chance to catch the band not long after. Having released their new album ‘Comradely Objects‘ at the beginning of November, we were lucky enough to catch Horse Lords just over a week later in Salford – a proper trip of a show. ‘May Brigade‘ is a frantic, energetic piece that has head-spinning in mind.

Sunday Lendis – Breathe Again

A song about feeling the sun on your skin once more.” Is how Leeds based artist Sunday Lendis describes her debut single, the at-times tranquil ‘Breathe Again‘. With a dash of Laura Marling in the mix, it’s a really pleasant, engaging piece.

Pure Adult – The Power of Incredible Violence Part III

We’ve all got to start somewhere. For Jeremy Snyder, formative years were spent in a cult-like church, but look at him now – one half of experimental punk outfit Pure Adult, along with contemporary dancer and visual artist Bianca Abarca. From earlier this year, ‘The Power of Incredible Violence Part III‘ takes you on a journey – from tripped-out psych stylings to full-throttle shouting-in-your-face punk, all with a groove to get you shaking your hips.

Adwaith – Sudd
(Bato Mato)

Having won the Welsh Music Prize not once but twice (the first band to do so), South West Wales trio Adwaith this year released their hotly tipped second album ‘Bato Mato‘. From it, ‘Sudd‘ is a real delight, a bouncy vibe enhancer that shares similarities with the sort of stuff you’d expect from former tourmate Gwenno.

Annie Hamilton – Night Off
(The Future is Here But it Feels Kinda Like the Past)

Night Off‘, from the debut Annie Hamilton album out earlier this year, really washes over you with a dreamy shimmer to it, the Australian artist effectively allowing you, the listener, the night off as you allow yourself three minutes to get lost in the music. A worthy three minutes to rest up and let Hamilton take the wheel.

Charlie Hardy

(Photo Credit: Charlie Hardy)

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Album Review: Jamie Lenman – The Atheist

Here at BCFB, we’re always eager to hear new material from UK rock maverick Jamie Lenman. This is not only because of his supreme songwriting skills, but also because you never know what the dude is gonna do next… The last time we heard from Mr Lenman was on the 2020 ‘King Of Clubs’ mini album. Although brief in length, it carried an intense blend of big riffs, big hooks and industrial noise, which was up there with some of his finest work to date. So, having spent the best part of a decade pushing the alt rock envelope in his solo guise, it’s time for Jamie to really lean into his songwriter credentials.

The Atheist’ is a heart on sleeve indie rock record that is massive on a totally different scale. I’ll be the first to admit, I had my reservations when hearing the sugary sweet indie pop pomp of first single ‘Talk Hard’, but with an impossibly catchy chorus and an even catchier guitar hook, I succumbed to its charms pretty quickly. And going into this record, it’s clear to see that everything about it is immediate. Lyrically, Lenman has always been an open book, but with the riff-rock toned down a smidge, it opens up a clearer thematic thread of introspection.

This is an album about relationships, from the good (‘Lena Don’t Leave Me’) to the bad (‘Bad Friend’) to the slightly strange (‘Song On My Tongue’) – Jamie has never sounded so impassioned as he does on these songs. His voice is full of soul and vigour, whilst the arrangements range from flamboyant Queen-esque rock to more light, fluffy indie pop ala Weezer. Even the power ballads pack an emotional punch, the string section that soars over ‘Hospital Tree’ being a heart-string tugging highlight.

Although my first listen to this record was a favourable one, I did wonder what fans of Jamie’s heavier material would think of this generally more warmer, earnest direction. But when I think about it, he’s always written bold pop songs if you break them down and ‘The Atheist’ is all about letting the majesty flow through and not hide behind metaphor or distortion. That said, this might not be for everyone, but having followed the man’s career for nearly 20 years, I can honestly say that this is Jamie Lenman being Jamie Lenman, which is all we ever want. Another solidly sculpted set from a one of a kind artist.

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This One Song… Dilettante on Keep Time

Tell you what – we love hearing from artists when things go right. We equally love hearing from artists when things go dreadfully wrong. A song that was a piece of piss, written in 20 minutes? Or years in the making and a bastard to write?

Whether it’s a song that came together through great duress or one that was smashed out in a short amount of time, we’re getting the lowdown from some of our favourites on the one song that they can’t stop thinking about – in their own words.

Off the back of releasing debut album ‘Tantrum‘, Francesca Pidgeon a.k.a. Dilettante talks us through new single ‘Keep Time‘. Take it away, Francesca

Keep Time is a track that I really instinctively knew would be a single right off the bat. It’s another one I wrote with the loop pedal and it’s definitely a bit early Tune-Yards. I wanted something that was quite chant-able lyric wise and that was heavy on the drums and percussion.

The song is all about trying to stop comparing yourself to other people but finding it really hard to ignore the ceaseless passing of time. It’s all a learning process I suppose but it’s something I really struggle with – I’m constantly googling my heroes and stressing about all the stuff that they had done by my age. I recently turned 28 and that was a big moment of ‘ohhh I’ll never be in the 27 club, I’ll never be a real rockstar…’ which is obviously ridiculous, especially when I think of someone like Fiona Apple who’s still doing some of her best work at 45.

There’s this drumstick clack that runs almost constantly through the track which is at 120bpm – so it coincidentally actually is in time with the ticking of a clock which I thought was pretty neat. (Fun Fact: it’s also an appropriate tempo to perform CPR effectively, should you ever wind up in such a situation).

I think the feeling I’m writing about all comes from there being a point in my life when I wasted a lot of time on sex and drugs (and not enough rock n roll) which has made me a bit obsessive about never wasting any time at all, to an unhealthy degree really. I think I want everything to happen as soon as possible and when it doesn’t I get really stressed. That’s why the song ends with me singing the word ‘wait’ over and over again. I suppose that’s me talking to myself, trying to calm down and let things happen in their own good time.

The song ends with a big major section that’s meant to represent my coming to terms with getting older, realising it’s not the end of the world and also knowing that I couldn’t have gotten to a place where I’d have accepted all these things if it weren’t for the passing of time itself. It’s about accepting that time actually passing and becoming a bit older (and dare I say, wiser?) is the only way of accepting that things do take time. It’s all a bit of a paradox.

I liked ‘Keep Time’ as a mantra because it represents the stress of trying not to run out of time but also this comfort I’ve always taken in staying in sync with other people in my life and trying to grow and become better together. That’s ultimately the message I was going for – I feel like there’s healthy and unhealthy ways of comparing yourself to others and the song is really me figuring out what those ways are. It’s about accepting your limitations and finding your strengths, or at least finding what you love. We’ve only got so much time here so I suppose I want to spend it doing what I really want to do.

I also think (again, super paradoxically) that the only way I’ve found to be even remotely happy is in trying to keep going and staying focused on whatever is immediately coming at me. So this whole song is basically about the conflicting sides of being a hyper-stressy person when it comes to running out of time but also the fact that living within its confines is the only way I know how to be happy.

I recently completed a music video for this one… that was a really therapeutic process. It was wonderful to turn something that was just a silly idea I’d had once about how ‘it would be cool if we did a video with a few people all skipping in sync’ into something tangible. Skipping is really the perfect metaphor too – you’ve got to be keeping perfect time, not too fast or too slow, to keep from tripping.”

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Release Rundown – Blacklisters, Fauxchisels and Richard Dawson

Blacklisters – Leisure Centre EP
(Exploding In Sound)

LC

It’s always bloody good when Blacklisters are back in town. The once Kings of the Leeds scene are now spread across the globe, so their appearances tend to be thinner on the ground these days. It’s therefore always a deliciously noisy delight when we have something new from the quartet.

Following on from 2020s ‘Fantastic Man’ LP, Blacklisters present the first in a series of EPs. Musically it was written and recorded over the space of a weekend, with vocalist Billy adding his forever gnarly vocal tones later on (where’s that track by track link going, Ed?) The result is the short but ever so sweet four track ‘Leisure Centre’ EP, very much a continuation of the relentless riffy assault we’ve come expect from this lot.

The title track comes in, feedback squealing, leading into a tumbling riff that instantly ignites the stink face as Billy manically exclaims “I wanna go to the Leisure Centre”. Blacklisters have an all powerful formula that works extremely well for them (one I’ll never tire of), however, this record does try out something a little different on ‘Why Deny It?’. Centred around a four to the floor kick drum and ridiculously groovy bass line, this is the closest we get to a Blacklisters dance track. Add in some serious saxophone scronking and you get this delectable avant garde punk funk treat. ’The Wrong Way Home’ marries up the saxophone squeals with that infectious rhythm section once again, but this time bringing back the gusto and unhinged chaos heard at the top of this record. It’s white knuckled, full throttle and as intensely fun as ever.

Leisure Centre’ is everything we love about Blacklisters, but with some smart, dynamic twists that makes me deliriously excited to hear the next release in this series.

Fauxchisels – Viva Deluxe
(Die Das Der)

VD

One from just over a week ago, Midland’s alt rock crusaders Fauxchisels keep up the momentum with their second release of the year. Following up the ‘Ill Will’ EP in Spring, the now two piece have been back in the lab, sans drummer, working their fingers to the bone to create their third album, the successor to last year’s ‘Education or Catastrophe’. Whereas their last album was a plush studio affair, here they’ve gone back to the more home made approach of earlier material and the result sees the band at their most inventive and ambitious.

Another Day…’ is a moody, atmospheric opener, focussing around delayed keyboards, drum loops and desert rock guitar twangs as vocalist Paul Broome offers a spoken word piece in his ever enticing Yorkshirian drawl. I think it might be one of the best things they’ve done. It’s got the same lo-fi magic that those early Arab Strap records possess, a reference I’m pleased to hear sprinkled throughout this record.

Paper Trail’ is pretty much business as usual, coming in with a ludicrously fuzzy bass line and sharp guitar chords bringing the band’s faithful 90s alt rock comparisons back into the forefront. But I have to admit, it’s Paul’s more gothic vocal delivery that works best in this track, mirroring some of the darker post-punk leanings of their last EP.

The songwriting is quite varied across this record, which really suits its more expansive, adventurous palette. I mean, if you can’t experiment on your third album when can you? But at the same time, I feel that ’Viva Deluxe’ holds some of the band’s finer punk rock moments. I love the knowing nod of ‘A Conscious Decision’, as Paul confidently exclaims “Lets get some 6Music air play”, while ‘Commodity’ brings in some more saxophone tinkering chaos over a sturdy number counting hook. To me this feels like an amalgamation of what Fauxchisels have learnt over their time in the project. You can really hear the confidence of this band growing and it’s that carefree, kitchen sink approach that keeps them moving gallantly forward.

Richard Dawson – The Ruby Cord
(Domino)

RD

A true treasure within the North East scene, Richard Dawson returns with a new solo effort following on from last year’s critically acclaimed collaboration with Finnish prog heroes Circle. Having spent most of this year touring said project, Richard has found the time to create this sprawling, full length affair. An album completing a trilogy of records; ‘Peasant’ set in the past, ‘2020’ set in the present and now ’The Ruby Cord’ set in the future. It’s not all flying cars and Blade Runner inspired dystopia though, but instead a world that has reverted, rooted in traditional folk, progressive rock, orchestral pop and much much more.

I must admit, I was slightly daunted looking at the run time for the record, particularly with its opening track clocking in at 41 minutes! But I’ve always been a true believer in finding the right setting to listen to certain records. So, it must be said, stowed away in the warmest corner of the house watching the grey, blustery landscape from my window was a perfect accompaniment to soak up mammoth opener ‘The Hermit’.

It may take 11 minutes until Richard starts singing, but there’s something quite meditative and warming in the scattering soundscape the track begins with. Richard’s voice is so captivating from the first note, I could honestly listen to his voice forever. From there we get this beautifully slow baked piece that rises and falls around accapella sections, orchestral swirls and even a harp solo! I wasn’t sure if it was something I would revisit a lot when dipping back into the album, but I have to say this hasn’t been the case – there’s something captivatingly gorgeous about this track that justifies its length and entices repeated listens.

Though the rest of the album does harbour a few longer tracks, the remainder of ’The Ruby Cord’ does feel a little more immediate. ’Thicker Than Water’ is an irresistible slice of folk-pop that shows off Richard’s knack for writing endless amounts of sing-along-able hooks within one song. ‘The Fool’ comes in with a more proggy, eastern folk-rock lilt that soon moves into a heart swelling crescendo, the orchestral arrangements bursting through the speakers as Richard’s passionate falsetto soars over top.

I could write a detailed description about every song on the record to be honest, there is so much to hear and absorb. Richard isn’t just a great songwriter but a great storyteller and it’s hard not to lean in as he tells us about the future he’s coming to us from. As previously mentioned, this isn’t the Futurama type world you’d expect to be described and in places seems flipped back to Old England. This is only amplified by its mostly live instrumentation; acoustic guitar, double bass and drums form its musical base. In short, this is a fascinating exploration into an imagined world, using all the tried and tested methods that got us here in the first place. Another incredibly crafted, richly layered and gorgeously cinematic piece from one of the UK’s supreme musical talents.

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This One Song… Kiwi Jr on Clerical Sleep

Tell you what – we love hearing from artists when things go right. We equally love hearing from artists when things go dreadfully wrong. A song that was a piece of piss, written in 20 minutes? Or years in the making and a bastard to write?

Whether it’s a song that came together through great duress or one that was smashed out in a short amount of time, we’re getting the lowdown from some of our favourites on the one song that they can’t stop thinking about – in their own words.

Off the back of releasing their third album ‘Chopper‘ (out via Sub Pop Records), 2/4 of Kiwi Jr talk us through album track ‘Clerical Sleep‘. Take it away, Kiwi Jr

Brohan Moore (drums): “‘Clerical Sleep‘ was the last song we worked on before going in to record the album with Dan (Boeckner). Not positive where Jeremy got the theme for this one, but I suspect it was one of the times I was invited to hangout on the “yacht”.

First off, took me forever to find. My feet hurt from wandering the shiny new pressure-treated pine docks down off Queen’s Quay. Looking for hours for this so-called “yacht”.

Finally, I find Jeremy. Feet up, smoking a pipe in his bathrobe…on a DAYBOAT! I say “Jay, I’ve been wandering these docks for hours, I must have passed you like 10 times ‘cause I’m looking for a yacht and all I see are dayboats!”

That’s when I learned Jeremy didn’t know the difference. Someone sold Jeremy a dayboat under false pretense. Anyway, the whole thing was so exhausting I needed to lay down and I think that’s when Jeremy came up with ‘Clerical Sleep’.

Jeremy Gaudet (vocals): “Somebody recently asked me where the words “clerical sleep” come from, and I can’t remember. I got nervous that maybe I took it from someone else and googled it for a while and couldn’t find anything, so it’s just one of those things that shows up in the brain and then you gotta write the song and bring it into the world.

Mixing this song was tricky and we played around with the balance of synth vs guitar. The early mixes of it were really synth heavy and we dialed it back for the version that exists now. Personally, I wanted it to sound like Camper Van Beethoven, but I’m only one man. Also, I don’t own a boat.

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: WITCH FEVER

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel that what influences them is just as important as the music they make. With that in mind, off the back of releasing their debut album ‘Congregation‘, we’re delighted to have Amy Walpole of Manchester’s WITCH FEVER talk us through a number of visual and literary influences they had during its production.

PC Jonny Nolan

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Jonny Nolan)

When we were writing the album I was working on my dissertation for a Masters in Gothic English Lit which looking back had a major influence in my lyric writing. My dissertation was looking at the relationship between the figure of possessed woman and haunted house and below are 5 books and films that I studied that informed my writing for the album.

Saint Maud by Rose Glass
(2020)


Saint Maud is a super unsettling supernatural horror about a woman’s obsessive devotion to her faith. This film stuck with me during the writing of the record so much because of how intertwined it is with Christian imagery and horror! There is a scene where Maud kneels on popcorn kernels to pray which is where the lyric ‘I’m crushing popcorn kernels underneath my knees to feel closer to the trinity’ in Blessed Be Thy came from.

IT by Stephen King
(1986)

This has been one of my all time favourite books for years and is where the song title of Deadlights comes from! Deadlights are a supernatural force that Pennywise uses to send his victims crazy – the lyrics in the chorus are ‘these Deadlights, they’re just right, guiding me away from you’ – I thought it was fun to play with this imagery and suggest that the Deadlights are preferable to the God I grew up believing in, which is what the song is about.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
(1892)

C.F. Lummis (Original copyright holder)

(C.F. Lummis – Original copyright holder)

This is another of my all time favourite stories about a woman being driven mad by her wallpaper after being locked in her room by her husband on ‘bed rest’. There’s no specific inspiration here but the story is considered a feminist classic and is one of the first to speak about how damaging the patriarchy has been to medicine & psychiatric care.

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
(1862)

This is a poem that I loosely based our song Market on! It uses religious imagery and looks at themes of sexuality through the temptation of fruit, hence the lyric ‘ripened fruit don’t taste so sweet when it was taken from me’.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
(2009)

WW

This is a book that I wrote my dissertation on – she really inspired me with the way she writes! It’s creepy and macabre but also poetic and beautiful. And of course the book title is totally fitting!

Congregation’ is out now via Music For Nations – grab a copy here!

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Live Review: Horse Lords at The White Hotel in Salford 15 November 2022

One of only two UK dates on their current fall tour, Horse Lords clearly put a lot of faith in Salford. Quite right too, The White Hotel brimming with likeminded individuals eager for their arrival, no easy feat on a rainy Tuesday night.

I like that whilst Horse Lords were setting up, the saxophone player and guitar guys were in a loose huddle, presumably having a last minute chat, but also looking as if they were working out a strategy for the next 45 minutes. Guitarist Owen Gardner held a toothpick in his gob like a Quarterback, ready to take on their opponents – a Greater Manchester audience.

Locked in immediately with not much of an introduction (I think Gardner even said their name wrong!), I joined the room in not knowing which way to nod my head to their expansive, experimental odysseys, soon deciding to just let it go and run on auto pilot whilst the quartet hypnotised from on stage.

Gardner faced bassist Max Eilbacher most of the show, staring over his glasses, looking at the playing and waiting for the next move, chewing away on his toothpick all the while. Having pretty much caught the back of his head all show, I switched positions near the end to catch Eilbacher’s eyes bulging at Gardner at one point to signal a change. No wonder he was concentrating on what his fingers were doing!

Sax player Andrew Bernstein disappeared out of our view and behind the speaker, so it’s assumed that was him that jumped on a separate drumkit alongside drummer Sam Haberman. Bless him, on a few occasions he was running from sax to his little corner of percussion, at one point during Haberman’s soloing, the drummer nipping at his heels.

Someone’s phone went off after the first song, but it actually sounded like the intro to a Horse Lords song, which both band and crowd shared a laugh over. From their latest album, ‘Comradely Objects‘ – a record I’ve rinsed of late – ‘Zero Degree Machine‘ became trance like from the raging repetitive bass groove, whilst the guitar went up and down in tempo, one minute sounding like Gardner was playing something else entirely before coming right back in. Haberman soon revved it up and everyone clicked into place as it became a wash of noise.

Elsewhere from their latest record, ‘Mess Mend‘ kicked things up a gear and there wasn’t much room to hide in any of it, a theme for the evening as we strapped in and got taken away. A big cheer came for the wonkiness of the introduction to ‘May Brigade‘, a frantic burst of ear-bending jazzines, Gardner’s hands moving up and down every bit of the fret board as Bernstein wailed away.

Got a tune for you now…” Announced Gardner to a big laugh, a knowing wink as they tucked into yet another lengthy exploration. Can you believe a Greater Manchester audience chatted all the way through a saxophone solo? You can? Right. Attention was well and truly gripped however when Eilbacher cued something up on a laptop, filling the room with noise – a toss up between video game glitchiness and a plane taking off inside one’s skull.

The last song came in DOOMY and the crowd greeted its opening with a huge cheer. It captured the band’s knack for sounding like they’re playing three songs at once, before all four meet back at the same point. I started tapping my foot – pointless, they’d soon moved on. Where others would build, build, build and then stop, Horse Lords go the extra mile and go beyond boiling point. So engaging, I could feel my grin growing in size, like Homer when Bart gets the dud. Top marks. Come back soon, Horse Lords.

Margaret Rorison

(Photo Credit: Margaret Rorison)

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Exclusive: Take a trip to the ‘Leisure Centre’ – Stream the new EP from Blacklisters

A decade on from the release of their debut album ‘BLKLSTRS‘ – championed at the time by notable contemporaries from the likes of Biffy Clyro and Future of the Left – Leeds lot Blacklisters now look to the release of their brand new EP, ‘Leisure Centre‘, pencilled in as the first in a series of forthcoming EPs.

Recorded for the most part in Leeds with George Riley at The Penthouse Recording Studio, ‘Leisure Centre‘ is a proper rib-rattler, an EP you’ll want to press play on as soon as it’s over. By the time ‘The Wrong Way Home‘ rolls around you’re absolutely devoted to the cause – sucked in as “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY HOME” is shouted at you over and over again. Elsewhere, the pummelling title track calls to mind Pissed Jeans, whilst ‘Why Deny It?‘ locks you into a stupidly catchy rhythm, before guitar and sax kick the door off its hinges and plunge the listener into a frantic, ear-splitting wig-out. 

The US release comes via Exploding in Sound Records (Stuck, Thank, Pile), whilst Sad Tapes and the band themselves are handling the UK side of things.

Ahead of its release this week, we’re pleased as punch to have an exclusive stream of the EP in full. Alongside that, vocalist Billy Mason-Wood was kind enough to talk us through its production and equating the search for lyrics to being caught dogging.

“We recorded this record back in March… I say we, but actually it was only the three who play instruments. I, Billy, live in Berlin and for one reason or another, had to cancel coming over last minute. So Stobb, Steve and Dan went ahead without me.

We have got into this thing over the past few years, (partly because we all live in different places and partly because it’s fun) of writing and recording really quickly. Our last album ‘Fantastic Man‘, was written over a couple of weekends and then we recorded it live in two days. We’ve done a few tours where we have come in having not practiced and then got good by playing. Its added a fun element to being older and not having the same time we used to, to commit to the band.

This EP was all written and recorded in two days. They went in with no ideas on the Saturday and by the end of Sunday the songs were recorded. Which I think is cool. As I wasn’t around I had to record the vocals on my own, in sunny old Berlin… Now, March is a long way away now and that is because I took so fucking long to write the words and record them. I don’t know why, maybe because I’d never not written with the band or because I am out of practice, but I found it almost impossible to write the words. Every idea I had was terrible, every rhythm I could hear in the songs fucking sucked. The songs themselves sounded great but I was lost at sea.

By the summer it was getting a bit weird that I hadn’t done them yet and I’m sure that the band were getting impatient. The whole idea was to record a bunch of EP’s really quickly this year then release a full record. I kept trying to force anything out but it all sounded and felt like utter shit. There are about 50 versions in my phone of each song on this EP. Different configurations, verses, tunes, choruses. I’d never had this sort of block before. I’d walk around the woods, walking my dog, shouting different ideas at trees and occasionally getting caught by some poor fucker out for a Sunday stroll who had to come face to face with me acting like a mad man, shouting into my iPhone. It was like getting caught dogging or something. I’d shut up and slink away in shame, then start up again a little bit further down the lane, only to get caught again.

The first song to come was the title track, ‘Leisure Centre‘. And in the end it came relatively easily. I like how back in the day people had this utopian idea that we would all go to this place to experience leisure together, and that, that ideal was mainly badminton and doing lengths in a pool. If only we had those kind of societal aspirations today!

Why Deny it?‘ came shortly after. I feel like I was trudging over well warn territory with the lyrics to this one. I write a lot about the expectations of being an adult and that in someways I am stuck waiting to become one. But then something really cool happened. I recorded my vocals at the wrong bit rate accidentally or something, so when the vocals were laid over the track, they didn’t line up properly. As a result the song has this skewed off centreness to it which made it sound really cool and odd.

No Not At All‘ fell out of me after that. But ‘Wrong Way Home‘ just wouldn’t come. No matter how I tried to force it, it just wouldn’t. In the end I went to the band and asked if anyone could come up with anything for it. And Steve without hesitation sent through the main hook of the song. We then asked an old friend Rob Mitchell from Abstract Orchestra to put on some saxophone. He pretty much nailed it all in one too. Only the poor old struggling lead singer found it hard. Boo hoo. Wah wah. Buy me a present.

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