What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: Shopping

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. With that in mind, we’re delighted to have Rachel Aggs of the brilliant post-punk outfit Shopping, talking about five releases that got the trio in the mood during the production of their latest album.

Number 1: Orange Juice – ‘Rip It Up’ (Rip It Up, 1982)

We recorded our album with the legendary Edwyn Collins at his studio in Helmsdale, Scotland. He was so fun to work with and to hang out with! He has this determined passion for music and is constantly singing and talking about songs. It’s funny watching this video again after getting to know him, his sense of humour really cuts thru! And it’s such a perfect song.”

Number 2: Pylon – Beep’ (CHOMP, 1983)

Amazingly we got to play a gig in Pylon’s home town of Athens, Georgia and Vanessa joined us on stage doing vocals on one of our songs! It was a totally wild dream-like experience. We were asked to play Athens Popfest by Mike from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records and he suggested we contact Vanessa – there was a bit of a communication breakdown and we thought it probably wouldn’t happen but she just turned up to the soundcheck with this page of amazing lyrics! We played our song ‘1234′ and she sang her own part on top. Really hope we can record it one day! She’s an incredible writer and singer and it was super inspiring.”
Number 3: Grace Jones – ‘Walking in the Rain’ (Nightclubbing, 1981)

Feeling like a woman, looking like a man” This is Billy’s choice and also a tour van favourite. Grace Jones obviously needs no introduction! Totally ahead of her time as a non gender conforming icon and unapologetic weirdo.”

Number 4: XEX – Fashion Hurts’ (Group: XEX, 1980)

No idea what this is. All I can say is it was Andrew’s choice and he has excellent taste. On the new record he’s playing some sounds from a digital drum pad that we’ve also been using live, it’s hopefully added a new spangly edge to our sound…”

Number 5: Dusty Springfield – ‘In Private’ (Reputation & Rarities, 1990)

Another tour van favourite! This video is so wonderfully camp and the lyrics about having some sort of ‘discreet’ love affair really speak to the queer community, it’s an anthem for anyone who’s ever been closeted.  Also produced by our all time faves The Pet Shop Boys! On the last tour we did before going into the studio we had the Best of Dusty album pretty much on repeat in the van.”

The Official Body‘ is out January 19th on Fat Cat Records. Pre-order a copy (or two) here.

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More Meat Wave! The Chicago trio release two new songs ahead of EU Tour

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since Chicago trio Meat Wave put out their second LP ‘The Incessant(out in the UK through tastemakers Big Scary Monsters).

With the anniversary looming, and with their European return imminent, last week saw Meat Wave release two new tracks, both recorded with the infamous Steve Albini as part of The Incessant sessions.

We spoke with Meat Wave last time they were up Norf (on tour with label mates Cassels), with the Albini sessions discussed (as well as a love of Wetherspoons…) The full list of dates for their upcoming Euro tour can be found here!

You can find ‘Shame’ right here and listen to ‘Dogs At Night’ below!

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a/s/l: Tangled Hair

Remember the days of the old schoolyard? Remember when Myspace was a thing? Remember those time-wasting, laborious quizzes that everyone used to love so much? Birthday Cake For Breakfast is bringing them back! 

Every couple of weeks, an unsuspecting band will be subject to the same old questions about dead bodies, Hitler, crying and crushes.  

This week: James Trood of Tangled Hair! They’re back, baby!

31 / M / near Heathrow airport.

Have you ever seen a dead body?
Do mice my cat’s killed count? No?

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
Mr Burns.

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
A shit one.

What did your last text message say?
“Looked at my photo’s today and saw you on a moped. When did that happen?”

What’s the last song you listened to?
Bearcubs – ‘Underwaterfall.

How did you meet the people in your band?
Was in another band with Alan. Met Alex because he married Alan’s sister.

What’s the first record you bought?
Fugees – ‘Refugee Camp’.

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(The first movie).

When was the last time you cried?
Watching the new Star Wars film with my Dad.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
Not in the last 7 years.

Best Physical Feature?
My arse is decent.

Worst physical feature?
Big forehead.

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?

Do you have any pets?
Yep. His name is señor and he’s a cat.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
Sprained my hand in the US and had to go on Jimmy Kimmel the day after.

What did you do for your last birthday?
Went to Edinburgh and couldn’t find a fry up anywhere.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
The next Star Wars.

Do you have a crush on someone?
Wonder Woman.

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
When all your shit breaks onstage.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
Tough question. Dinosaurs are cool still right? Maybe go watch them roam around for a bit.

How do you want to die?

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?

What are you craving right now?

Have you ever been on a horse?
Yep. Hated it.

What did you dream about last night?
I didn’t dream last night I’m afraid.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
Kill a baby who will turn out to be Hitler? Fuck man this question sucks. I’d kill the baby? Thats what you want to hear isn’t it.

Do you like Chinese food?
Love Chinese food.

Have you ever been on TV?

Ever meet someone famous?
Met Jeremy Beadle once. He was lovely.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

‘Nao Is My Driver’ is the newest Tangled Hair single, streaming exclusively with our friends Gold Flake Paint here! The first single to be taken from their debut album ‘We Do What We Can‘, out through Big Scary Monsters this March. Pre-order here!

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Album Review: shame – Songs Of Praise

Review from Ben Forrester

Looking at the cutesy, Beach Boys-esque cover of this debut album from London based youngsters shame, you would think that you were about to listen to a dream-pop record. The name of the band and song titles on the other hand suggest something on the bleaker, post-punk side. It becomes apparent when listening to ‘Songs Of Praise‘ that pretty much both of these assumptions could be considered as correct.

My first taste of the record was recent single ‘One Rizla‘, which musically is a breezy indie-pop tune, that swoops in, guitar lines crisp as a freshly ironed shirt and a sprightly, head bobbin’ groove to get the kids swaying at shows. It was the vocal that threw me off the scent a little, as front man Charlie delivers his lines with a bite and attitude that doesn’t automatically go hand in hand with the instrumental. It works though, giving you a sense of intrigue as to how this sound will translate onto a full length.

From the moment the rhythm section punches in on opening track ‘Dust On Trial‘, it would seem that shame aren’t a band that want to stick to the script. There is this taught energy to the track; soaring yet frantic guitars mash together with bellowing vocals that makes for a thrilling opener. Two tracks heard and I am even more interested as to what else this record is going to bring.

For the rest of the record, we’re stirred back and forth into a melting pot of the sweet and the sour. In places it can be gritty, the bass lines get sleazy on ‘The Lick‘ and the guitars get prickly on ‘Gold Hole‘. In other places, it can have quite a brit-pop swagger to it, especially as the guitars melodies come out swinging on ‘Tasteless‘ and ‘Concrete‘, which I can totally see being heard on the Match Of The Day credits. But underneath most of these tracks lies an intensity between the rhythm section and the vocals that brings a whole different dimension to their dynamics. It’s youthful and free but it’s also murky and not afraid to get its hands dirty.

In my mind, it sounds like a mash of those two Eagulls records, with the wide eyed stare of the debut but the more considered, vintage pop melodies of its successor. In some places you may get a King Krule vibe in the gruff, scruffy vocals, while the cleaner sounding instrumentals could remind some of breezy pop heroes Real Estate. Basically, shame seem to have a grasp on the current indie scene, I mean they’re only young lads so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these bands were a blueprint for their sound. I like the fact they’re not shying away from having different influences and try to throw it into the pot all together to give a fresher spin on some classic musical methods.

Songs Of Praise is very much the sound of a young band finding their feet. It’s a varied collection, with the whole album acting as this confident dance between sprightly brit-pop and snarling post-punk. Ultimately, this album is all about energy, atmosphere and being in a moment. It’s this combination of ideals that makes for a compelling listen. It may not set the whole indie world alight, but shame have stoked a fire that will most certainly burn bright throughout 2018.

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Album Review: The Xcerts – Hold On To Your Heart

Review from Ben Forrester

For a band that have been going since the turn of the millennium, The Xcerts have never lost their fire and still strive to write the most heartfelt rock songs around. Their previous effort, ‘There Is Only You‘, opened new doors for the trio and dawned the start of a new era, with an extremely powerful set of rock-pop bangers behind them.

In the second half of last year we had three new singles thrust at us, showing off this sparkling 80’s inspired pop sound that immediately started up the hype for a new album. Finally, after a four year wait, The Xcerts are back with their fourth long player ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ and on first listen there is no denying that this is their stadium rock moment!

The Dark‘ breaks the band’s tradition of opening an album with a short intro track, instead going straight for the heartstrings with a 3 minute piano ballad. Frontman Murray pours his heart out immediately with such yearning lines as “It’s 2am and I’m surrounded by love but all I see is dark“. The Xcerts have always had to write records during difficult personal periods and although this is another album conceived through grieving, they don’t let it consume them this time round. This is very much an album about hope and self rehabilitation, with its glossy pop production that amps up it’s heart-on-sleeve demeanour.

Previous singles ‘Daydream‘, ‘Feels Like Falling In Love‘ and ‘Hold On To Your Heart‘ shine bright with stick-in-your-head choruses and a fist in the air attitude, clearly influenced by their love of classic rock songwriters from Petty to Springsteen. The rest of the album follows suit and to say this album has hooks is an understatement! The title of every song is refrained in their respective choruses, each one as gut wrenchingly sincere as the last. From the sax-driven pomp of ‘Drive Me Wild‘ to the sugary pop rush of ‘First Kiss Feeling‘, every song is designed to release an ear-worm into your brain, ready to bury each line deep.

Even when the band take things down a notch, they still bring out the big guns. ‘Cry‘ matches the epic crescendo of their previous albums closer with another moving vocal take from Murray and more honking sax solos, while ‘Show Me Beautiful‘ is the most perfect modern day ballad soaked in warm synths and skipping electronic beats.

I think fans of the band’s earlier material may find this a bit too sickly sweet, but for the most part this feels like a natural progression for The Xcerts. There has always been a pop centre in what the band do, but ‘Hold On To Your Heart‘ takes those sensibilities and runs off into the sunset with them. I think this more exaggerated approach to power-pop songwriting honestly suits them.

It’s hard not to be be charmed by this record. There is such an empowering quality to these tracks, which has prepared me to say goodbye to a band that have been my best kept secret for so many years to become the mainstream concern they deserve to be.

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Album Review: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Young Adult

Review from Ben Forrester

On first listen to the debut Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly album, there was no way you could not be engulfed by the passion and sincerity coming from its creator Sam Duckworth. Lyrically, it was a perfect balance of personal and political, whilst musically it blended electronica, emo, folk and indie for some seriously stunning results. Sam went on to make three more records as Get Cape before deciding to retire the project in 2014 to concentrate on other musical ventures.

So, here we are four years on and Sam has decided to don his cape again and bring back his much adored moniker for a fifth Get Cape LP. In a world full of uncertainty with an increasing sense of doom, it seems that a new Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly album is needed to help comfort and empower us once again.

From the off, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be the heart wrenching electro-emo expected and instead what we get is a charming set of indie pop songs. Opening track ‘Adults‘ is a perfect pop tune that gently builds into a glorious ending of bright trumpets and a warm chorus of voices. Tracks like ‘Just A Phase‘ and ‘Animate‘ are similar in bringing sparkling pop sensibilities right up in your grill, almost forcing you to sing along. Musically, it’s a very playful album but lyrically Sam is still as thoughtful and intuitive as ever.

Always‘ acts as the emotional centrepiece here, with the chorus refrain of “Don’t be scared now you’ve got this, I’ll be by your side, always“. Dealing with themes of anxiety and the responsibility of age make this such a relatable moment. I’d go as far to say that those feelings act as a key theme throughout Young Adults‘, which explains its title.

There are subtle electronica references throughout the album but for the most part this is a full band affair, with upbeat drums and pleasant acoustic guitar strums taking up most of its sonic pallet. It seems that Sam wants to let the melodies really shine through on this record and not get too overcrowded, but there are still little flourishes here and there that help bulk up these unapologetically catchy tracks.

I will admit, there’s a few songs in the track-listing that don’t quite move me as much as others, and it can be a bit too predictable both musically and lyrically at times. But there are enough good tracks to save it and prove Sam’s worth as a great, honest songwriter. He has a real knack for writing songs with a sense of intimacy that make you feel like he’s singing directly to you. There is a warmth to his vocal delivery that is genuinely comforting.

The more I listen to this album, the more I respect the fact that Sam didn’t revert to his heartfelt teenage self. This is an up to date snap shot of the Get Cape story. He’s no longer crowded in a barrage of  teen angst and genre mash ups and has managed to refine his approach into making something that has heart but at the same time doesn’t take itself too seriously. From one young adult to another, this is a relatable and enjoyable return to form.

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