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

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 2019 we’ve had all sorts talk to us about inspirations, including the likes of International Teachers Of Pop, Working Men’s Club, WARMDUSCHER and Die! Die! Die!

With the year coming to a close, we’ve decided to turn it on its head a bit and ask some of our favourite artists what releases from this year they’ve been raving about. With that in mind, we’re chuffed to have producer extraordinaire and noise-maker Wayne Adams of Petbrick talk us through their favourite releases from the past 12 months.

(Photo Credit: Felipe Pagani)

Kali Malone’s album The Sacrificial Code
(iDEAL Recordings)

Something Iggor (drummer from the Petbrick project we do together) switched me onto whilst we were on tour together. Usually when I’m touring I’m looking for music that suits a mood whilst travelling, and I found myself going back to this a lot. Landing in the drone/neo classical crossover territory, super meditative, stunning pieces!”

Beak>’s Life Goes On EP
(Invada Records/Temporary Residence)

I love anything Beak> put out, so had to put this in the list, also in a way, because of my day job I find myself gravitating towards shorter releases these days, as I’ll get through the whole thing whilst I’m travelling and can really get to know the tunes!”

Deafkids’ album Metaprogramacao
(Neurot Recordings)

I think this is the only “heavy” album that will make my list, it’s incredible, a absolute mind melter, and the guys from Deafkids absolutely have their own sound, dare I say this is probably the most original sounding heavy music I’ve heard in a long time! There were absolutely loads of heavy records I wanted to include but most I recorded…. haha, when you record music everyday you end with a very strange relationship with it, so of course I have these super tight relationships with these albums, in a way I get emotionally tied to a lot of them, so I thought it best to leave all of them out so it didn’t look like a weird promotional advert, haha!”

Alessandro Cortini’s album Volume Massimo
(Mute Records)

Again this is someone that I find I love everything they create, these are really beautiful pieces of ambient electronic music, his melodies are so stunning, and his ability to keep the music moving, whilst somehow only working with one very simple idea per piece and not sounding like he’s going over the same territory over and over again, it’s a very fine line he rides and does it perfectly.”

Boards of Canada’s Peel session
(WARP Records)

Okay this was recorded in 1998, and released (again??) this year! It’s from the most exciting period of the whole Braindance/IDM period in my mind… it just has a sound that I adore, not over polished, or over produced – or over complex. It sounds like the technology it was composed with in a way. All the Warp/Reflex people at this time were pushing what was possible with electronic music, so you can hear the ideas and the sonics developing and evolving with each release from this era, almost like you’re on a journey of discovery with the artists. I’m not sure we will ever have that again with electronic music, so I love going back to these releases and being able to hear it!”

I – the hard-hitting debut album from Petbrick – is out now through Rocket Recordings! Read our review here why dontcha!

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Album Review: Deliluh – Beneath The Floors

Toronto band Deliluh pile subtlety onto restraint onto understatement to make a sprawling, excessive heap made entirely of minimalist gestures, like a huge mound of small bits of sea glass. Kyle Knapp’s clean guitar and mostly spoken vocals are the band’s sound. With both instrument and voice, he favours a very simple no frills and highly repetitive style. As a lyricist, on the other hand, he is highly complex and abstract, the songs often an avalanche of words falling too fast to catch them all and intoned with little affect to provide any further point of purchase. The sound is different but the effect is similar to Bristol’s Repo Man. Sometimes his vocals are duplicated, lots of Knapps talking to each other or repeating the same point; again, minimalism compounded until it becomes glorious excess.

Alongside Knapp’s voice and guitar, other sounds fade in and out. There’s typical rock instrumentation like drums and bass, played, like the guitar, simple, clean, and repetitive, as well as the occasional piano, broken and noisy distorted guitar, and what might be synthesizers or found sounds. The repetitive and spare guitar, bass, and drums all work well with the other more sprawling and stranger elements, in that each sets the listener’s ear up to better appreciate the other.

One of my favourite parts of the record is the track ‘Master Keys‘, when the band vamps for a long time on a simple – again, clean, spare – riff that’s mostly guitar and bass, with a bit of pretty synths. This goes on at length as recordings of conversations fade in, unintelligible but familiar – quiet hubbub like the company of strangers in a diner, hushed voices in a library, a stranger walking by talking and laughing into her phone.

It reminded me of Jawbreaker’sCondition Oakland’, where a recording of Jack Kerouac’s voice and Steve Allen’s piano undulate among the band’s music. That recording, however, was one group of artists appreciating other artists, while on ‘Master Keys’ Deliluh sound to me like artists elevating ordinary life to their level, like documentary photography. Those conversational recordings alongside the music were pretty on their own and I took them as an invitation to think about how the sounds all around us can be enjoyable if we think of them that way. Art is in some respects training in aesthetic perception, and we can to some extent apply that perception to objects that are ostensibly not art.

Another standout track is ‘Falcon Scott Trail’, a moody and jittery instrumental that mixes tape manipulation with a mournful-yet-threatening saxophone that would be at home on the last Sly & the Family Drone record (Sly and Deliluh should absolutely tour together. Someone make that happen, I insist; I deserve this.) That song turns over into another instrumental, ‘Con Art Inc’, a similarly uneasy sax writhing atop undulating post-punk bass and drums, with stranger and harsher noises – scraping, reverbed feedback, what sound like animal calls – and tape manipulation.

It’s tempting to call Deliluh art rock – it’s definitely art – but there’s not a lot of rock here, nor is there much pop. There are some energetic parts and some hooks, but mostly there is a lot of repetition and atmosphere. That’s not a criticism. The music reminded me of bleak landscape photography of Midwestern winters. There’s a lot of space to stretch out and in one light all that openness and emptiness is captivating, while in another it’s oppressive.

In the sampling and tape manipulation, Deliluh reminded me a little of Burial. Though they’re playing in very different genres, both artists make sounds that are cold and distant and pair them with sounds that are warm and human. There are unsettling, uneasy parts, and there is a sense of people being together. Maybe it’s no accident that Deliluh recorded this record and an earlier release at a veteran’s hall – I believe in England they’re called working men’s clubs? – a place people go to be with other people, to shelter from literal and metaphorical cold.

In some ways Deliluh is like Leeds art punks Drahla (Add them to that tour with Sly and the Family Drone. Someone needs to get on this right now. Is someone taking notes?) Both bands make music with a strong artistic vision, but Drahla have a confrontational coldness, while Deliluh play music with the warmth of a Weakerthans or John K. Samson record, though far more arty and sonically interesting. ‘Beneath the Floors’ is a record to sit with many times, to take in and mull over. It’s very good, you should go listen to it.

(Photo Credit: Colin Medley)

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod – End of Year: False Advertising

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 2019 we’ve had all sorts talk to us about inspirations, including the likes of International Teachers Of Pop, Working Men’s Club, WARMDUSCHER and Die! Die! Die!

With the year coming to a close, we’ve decided to turn it on its head a bit and ask some of our favourite artists what releases from this year they’ve been raving about. With that in mind, we’re chuffed to have Jen of Manchester’s False Advertising talk us through their favourite releases from the past 12 months.

(Photo Credit: Derek Bremner)

Bon Iver – Salem’
(i,i – Jagjaguwar)

I remember listening to this album loads in the summer and immediately loving tracks like ‘Faith‘ and ‘Hey Ma’, but then after a few listens ‘Salem’ really grew on me. It’s like the most uplifting sounding song ever but the lyrics seem to get to this horrible rationalisation that humanity is ruined and he’s given up on it. It’s both heartbreaking and awesome.”

Employed to Serve – Force Fed
(Eternal Forward Motion Spinefarm Records)

“‘Eternal Forward Motion‘ by Employed to Serve (which this track is from), seeing Loathe and Conjurer at 2000 Trees, and some of the tracks from Slipknot’s new album totally got me back into listening to lots of metal this year after years of not listening to very much. Finally seeing Employed To Serve live at Glastonbury a few months ago was insane, they are so impressive live it’s ridiculous.”

Great Grandpa – Digger’
(Four of Arrows – Big Scary Monsters)

Musically this track is somehow epic, mellow and sad and happy at the same time. I originally started listening to this band when they released an EP in 2016 which reminded me in good ways of early Speedy Ortiz, it was kinda Pavement-y and chaotic and had sick guitar tone. It’s really cool that they’ve evolved into making an album which has such an expansive vibe. ‘Digger’ seems to be somewhat about obsessive-compulsiveness, which I can certainly relate to, it’s felt nourishing when listening to it during a chaotic time.”

Pile – A Labyrinth with No Center’
(Green and Gray – Exploding in Sound Records)

Spotify says I listened to Pile’s new album more than any other this year, as a band they very much appeal to my love of all things guitarry, idiosyncratic, fuzzy and loud. The lyrics and music meander in a really pleasing way, and it sums up the sort of feeling of being stuck and frustrated.”

Better Oblivion Community Center – Exception to the Rule’
(Better Oblivion Community CenterDead Oceans)

This song is like the perfect storm for me, my favourite Bright Eyes album is ‘Digital Ash in a Digital Urn’, and I love Bright Eyes… then also I’d more recently gotten into some of Phoebe Bridgers’ more upbeat songs. So Conor Oberst and Bridgers coming together and forming a band was pretty much guaranteed to be right up my street, but I never expected them to go down a more electronic route with anything, so this song was the most awesome surprise. I’m also well into the creepy cult-vibes in all their art direction and they put on a great live show when they toured this too.”

Brainfreeze – the wunderbar new album from False Advertising – is out now through Alcopop!

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Release Rundown – Typical Hunks, Dead Kaczynski and Kopper

Every day Andy makes his way down the creaking staircase, bringing some breadcrusts plus another brick or two with which to further wall me in. I don’t complain; he was very upfront about it from the get-go. He said “Fortunato, you shall die slowly by immurement, but there will be a great deal of music along the way” and I thought “Fair trade, really.” It’s what I deserve, plus his wi-fi is very fast. Anyway, this week down here in the wine cellar I’ve been enjoying a trio of shorter records that I wanted to tell you about. They’re quite warming, holding at bay the chill that’s begun to creep through the chateau’s exterior wall.

Typical Hunks – ‘Snakebit/Unravelling’ single
(Buzzhowl Records)

On their new single, out now from the aggressively artistic Buzzhowl Records, the Reading-based duo Typical Hunks explore the overlap between early industrial and late new wave, with relatively clean and repetitive guitar droning melodically over lightly distorted bass and a drum machine set to relentless. The vocals are talk-sung, sounding cold and distant, highly in control but tightly wound. The singer sounds like he has strongly held opinions about art films and grinds his teeth in his sleep. On these songs, Typical Hunks sound like Big Black on downers – slower but no less angry, and even more tense, with no cathartic release ever taking place, and perhaps less able to experience actual human connection. I liked it so much that I bought the ten inch on vinyl (if you do the same the proceeds go to a charity that works on ending homelessness – clearly these cold musicians have warm hearts). It’s a good dark record for increasingly dark days.

Dead Kaczynski – ‘Yakuza Attack Dog’ EP
(Skingasm Records)

It’s good that Dead Kaczynski have found a musical outlet for their antisocial rage – or, for their understandable bile at a society ruled by sociopaths – instead of just bottling it up or lashing out. Hopefully they’ll channel this anger into a full length soon, and ideally on vinyl: this is music worth paying for. The Kent-based trio begin ‘Yakuza Attack Dog’, their debut EP, with about a minute of rhythmless drums and muffled shrieking that breaks up into a sample looped too much or stretched out. It’s hardly a pleased-to-meet-you sort of beginning. The fifth and final track starts with a kazoo, some unpleasant warbling guitar fading in, then more chaotic drums and what sounds like someone shouting in a cavernous empty warehouse. That goes on almost three minutes before breaking up into feedback and amps that sound like the cones have been kicked in. If the record is a visit to what I’m sure is the band’s debris-strewn wreck of a house, they did not welcome your arrival and did their best to make you leave.

Between those two ugly – I mean that in the best way – book ends sit three proper songs that are the kind of noise rock I like best. (That means it’s really good; tastes are objective, don’t make me tell you again.) There’s a yappy and screechy vocalist slightly distorted, screechy and cutting guitar moderately distorted, and huge bass guitar massively distorted. They’re all multicoloured shards of glass, sparkling, ready to cut you. They would break apart at any moment if they weren’t cemented together by the hardest rock drumming: think ‘Nevermind’-era Dave Grohl drums, giving those skins just a full on pounding.

While they’re a new band, they’re mature enough musicians to know not to careen at full speed the whole time. They pause and slow down sometimes to build tension. There’s some weird hooks as well, fuzzed out guitar bending notes with the vocals doing similar, again reminding me of bits of Nirvana. There are some creative flourishes with the production as well, with the drums and vocals sometimes sounding more distant. It gives the sound some nice variation and makes the other fuller parts of the EP hit all the harder. In the best moments, the band cut loose all at once, flailing with dissonant and high energy abandon. The EP’s really good, you should listen to it.

Kopper – ‘Fading Fires’ EP
(Cans Lyf Records)

Kopper play energetic rock songs with a mix of sad and anthemic, sweetened with a healthy dose of melody. The guitars have elements of two kinds of wall of sound – Bob Mould’s colossus of power pop and Kevin Shields’ shimmering atmospheric blur – along with some softer parts that sound sadder and more vulnerable. The band offer standout guitar hooks played in each of those three kinds of sound. The drums similarly move between full throttle rock on the one hand and more reserved and moody on the other. The singing similarly manages a wide range from a sad and tired mutter to punk shouting to fist in the air big rock chorus energy to pop oohs and falsetto. The band go to some dark and sombre places but they always come back strong and, ultimately, uplifting.

Do what you want, it’s your life obviously, but I found these three EPs, especially played in this particular order, to add up to even more than the sum of their excellent parts. Taken together, Typical Hunks, Dead Kaczynski, and Kopper bring listeners through frustration and denial to anger to acceptance – the three stages constituting the entire range of human emotion. Give them all a listen. Feel something for once, you deserve it.

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Gallery: Cigarettes After Sex at Albert Hall in Manchester 27 November 2019

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

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Gallery: Working Men’s Club at O2 Apollo in Manchester (supporting Mac DeMarco) 23 November 2019

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

(Photo Credit: Callum Barks-Moores)

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