Album Review: Yard Act – The Overload

We were pretty excited here at BCFB when we first heard about Yard Act. Having been long standing admirers of frontman James and bassist Ryan’s previous bands (Post War Glamour Girls and Menace Beach respectively), we just knew they’d come up with something good. Turns out we weren’t the only ones.

Only two years into their existence and the four piece have become one of the most talked about bands in the country – even Sir Elton regularly bigs them up on his radio show! One of the many reasons for this (dare we say) hype is due to Yard Act being a cut above the rest of the current post punk crop, as this here debut album attests.

In terms of the four key players within Yard Act, everyone plays such an important and distinct role in delivering ‘The Overload’. Ryan’s bass lines completely steal focus, with drummer Jay often locking into hypnotic grooves, solidifying their prowess. I also love how guitarist Sam lets the rhythm section breath, adding perfect little licks that soar around the drama of James’ vocals.

An album of observations, opinions and fiction, James spits with confidence, wit and a lot of eloquence. You can’t help but hang off his every word as he tells stories from the everyday, introducing us to characters throughout his life, the ones you want to remember and the ones you’d rather forget (those that found hilarity in next door neighbour Graeme on early single ‘Fixer Upper’ will be pleased to know he sticks his beak in several times throughout).

Putting all these elements together creates an album with a very distinct personality, but there’s still room to explore different avenues. The hook heavy, 90’s inspired swagger of previously released singles such as the title track and ‘Payday’ get taken up a notch further with ‘Pour Another’ acting as a Madchester Party bopper, while ‘Quarantine The Sticks’ gets lost in an NYC punk funk groove.

They’ve really added in a lot of detail, which only gets magnified on the show stopping ‘Tall Poppies’; an ode to an old friend that is jaw droppingly engaging, as James pretty much lays out the life of a small town hero. It can be bleak but there’s also glimmers of hope and acceptance, which all comes beautifully to a halt on spaced out closer ‘100% Endurance’.

The Overload’ is an incredibly smart debut that knows when to have a laugh but isn’t afraid to deliver hard hitting messages, either politically or observationally. Add in sharp hooks by even sharper musicians and you finally get to see the good guys win.

After years of telling you how great these guys are in other bands, they’ve come together to be Yard Act, a band we can trust to move this post punk revival into the new realm.

Phoebe Fox

Read an interview with YARD ACT right here! (Photo Credit: Phoebe Fox)

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Exclusive: WATCH a new OMNIBAEL video for ‘Shut Out The Light’ from their forthcoming debut album

A split with NYC punks Lip Critic out late last year saw Stoke On Trent based outfit OMNIBAEL continue to make the most of a quarantined life. Debut single ‘Violent Flower‘ (mixed and mastered by Wayne Adams of Bear Bites Horse) appeared earlier in the year on compilation ‘Deprived of Occupation and Pleasure We Feast‘ and the band performed numerous improvised live sets over the World Wide Web as part of the FEAST series for US label NIM.

Taking inspiration from the likes of Territorial Gobbing, The Body, Show Me The Body and Uniform, the pairing now look to make the most of their Coronavirus endeavours with a nine track full length. Off the back of raging 7+ minute nightmare ‘The Repetition‘, today sees the release of album closer ‘Shut Out The Light‘.

Complete with a dizzying head-trip of a video, it’s a suitable companion to the aural head-kicking offered up, OMNIBAEL favouring the jarring approach as vocalist Phil Malpas builds and builds to a throat-shredding roar on top of crushing noise. It’s a welcome break from the dog barking his fucking head off in my gaff, let me assure you.

Recorded at Staffordshire’s Tremolo studio in October of last year, ‘Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie‘ is out February 4th 2022 via our friends at Cruel Nature Records (on a tidy sounding clear cassette made from recycled materials). Get your pre-orders in now and peep the video below.

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This One Song… Crows on Slowly Separate

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 announcing their forthcoming new album ‘Beware Believers‘ (out April 1st 2022 via Bad Vibrations Records), James Cox of London lot Crows talks us through new single ‘Slowly Separate‘. Take it away, James

James Noise

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: James Noise)

Slowly Separate is a funny one, it was one of the first tracks we wrote when we started writing album two, bit of a different pace and style for us but still very much Crows. I loved Steve’s jarring guitar over Sam and Jith’s smooth grooving rhythm so it was hard to think of what to do over the top. I came up with the melody and syncopation before I really finessed the lyrics. I’d had the lyrics written from a couple months before and dug them out of one of my lyric books and they just fit to it perfectly without any adjustment. Very satisfying feeling.

The chorus weirdly completely changed after we had done all the tracking on the album. I wrote the final chorus with Jith when we were doing vocal takes in the studio after the initial recording. Which I’ve never really done before but the final result was so much better.

Lyrically I wrote the whole song after a really long brutal shift at a pub I was working at. It was a point where I was so skint, so miserable, with seemingly no light at the end of a life living to work. I know that’s a really common feeling for a lot of people, to feel unfulfilled in your job and not see any way out. As soon as your paycheck comes in it just all goes out again. It’s exhausting. Changing jobs is really difficult, especially now after Covid and at the end of the day a job is a job and if you can get the work, get it, but it just drags ya know.

Writing has always been my release from these feelings of getting overwhelmed, so that’s why I love singing this song because I can really spit it out and still feel the same feeling I felt when I wrote it and I really hope people can feel that too. An anthem for the overworked and underpaid hahah.

I also like it because even though I wrote the lyrics pre-pandemic, you can relate the lyrics to life in lockdown and life with Covid. Lockdown fatigue really got me during all the lockdowns and I recently had to isolate with covid just before Christmas by myself and it just brought back all those feelings. Just that utterly hopeless feeling of nothing fucking changing.

Slowly Separate

I’m sick and tired of living life with a glassy stare
Too polite, too ashamed, too inadequate.
I keep counting down the days till I flush again.

Slowly separate, divide and It’s gone again.
Again
I feel a disconnect again

I feel indifferent again

Slowly separate again

I feel like time never stops, it’s always speeding up
Stuck inside alone with nothing but electric light
Saying nothing coz I can’t afford a basic lie
God forbid I’d be honest and seem impolite


Nothings changing (Nothing Changes)

Slowly separate
I’m slowly suffering you
Quickly fading
I’m tired of suffering, forever suffering you.


I train myself to stand the pain.
The more I learn I’m less afraid.
I’m tired of always staying the same.
The more I’ve learned the price to pay, the price I’ve paid.

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Album Review: Blood Red Shoes – Ghosts On Tape

In 2019, Brighton formed duo Blood Red Shoes re-emerged from the shadows after a five year gap with an all new electro pop sheen. One of the many things I admire about this band is how they’ve always pushed the boundaries of what a two piece rock act can do. I don’t think anyone could have blamed them however for wanting to try out something new. Though we had a pretty raging fuzz rock EP out last summer, Laura-Mary and Steve head into album six picking up from where they left us on the synth driven sass of predecessor ‘Get Tragic’.

Ghosts On Tape’ takes inspiration from true crime podcasts and all things Lynch, as we are taken through a dark, dangerous set of gothic pop. The songwriting is sharp (particularly in the first half), taking some left turns compositionally, from the enveloping menace of opener ‘Comply’ to the Turbowolf synth rock rage of ‘Give Up’ that dissolves into a glacial sway of electronica. In truth they’ve never sounded so fearless; ‘I Am Not You’ is a statement of alt rock defiance, while ‘Morbid Fascination’ boasts a seductive synth pop hook that Gary Numan would be proud to take home as his own.

Admittedly, it’s the first half of the record that seems to retain more staying power on the hook front for me, but it’s still hard not to get caught up in the drama of this thing. I’ve never been one for interludes, but the white noise fuelled segue weaving between tracks really add to the atmosphere that sweeps across the record and sonically it could quite possibly be their most cohesive sounding effort thus far.

To me, it feels like Blood Red Shoes have built a new empire from the foundations set on ‘Get Tragic’. But, as ever, they’ve grown and evolved on what they’ve learnt previously, embracing the grit of it all whilst also not being afraid to etch in finer detail. Overall, there’s a lot to be impressed about on ‘Ghosts On Tape’, as Blood Red Shoes continue to keep their fire burning bright.

BRS1

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

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 2021, we’ve had all sorts talk to us about inspirations, including the likes of MaybeshewillSugar HorseAlbertine Sarges and Sweeping Promises!

With 2021 now in the rear-view, we asked some of our favourite artists what releases they’ve been raving about over the past year. Last through the gate, we’re chuffed to have Chris Sutter of Meat Wave talk us through some of his favourite releases from the past 12 months.

Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan’s album AVL

I don’t know if this came out this year or not (It didn’t, but that’s fine – Ed). My partner gifted me this LP and I immediately fell in love with it. Harp and synth. Extremely beautiful and peaceful. I believe it was recorded live. Lovely.

Doom Flower’s album Doom Flower
(Record Label)

Love this record so much. Just came out. Two respective chicago genius friends Jess Price and Bobby Burg join together and create absolute midnight smoked out chilled out jammers. Beautiful. Really sharp tender songs like a hug paired with really agile & forward bass playing. “Headlights” is a total jam. Dissonant piano notes totally make it. “Get a Job” – breezy beautiful blissful. I listen to this album when I walk to work late at night. All crisp and shit. Love them.

FACS album Present Tense
(Trouble In Mind)

This band can do no wrong. Mind blower. Loveliest people too. First two tracks burn everything down. Probably my favorite band in Chicago. Someone thought I was Brian Case’s brother one time and I was so honored. Future punk. They transcend all & know no bounds. FACS of life.

Grouper’s album Shade
(kranky)

I had Covid recently and all I could listen to was Grouper. Really comforting, simple, otherworldly music. On the other hand it is extremely human. And it invites your imagination to fill in these illusive blanks.

Floatie’s album Voyage Out
(Exploding In Sound Records)

Floatie is so cool. They’re extremely rhythmic. All the instruments push and pull each other around like little machines. Soothing vocals atop. I’m gonna call this genre Midnight Punk.

EXEK’s album Good Thing They Ripped Up The Carpet
(LULUS SONIC DISC CLUB)

I love this record. Saw them years ago and kind of forgot about them. Stumbled upon this record, man is it great. It’s a world I really enjoy being in. “Several Souvenirs” is the obvious jammer.”

New EP ‘Volcano Park‘ is out now on Big Scary Monsters – grab yourself a copy of the record here! Mid-year, Meat Wave talked us through the track ‘Nursing‘, which you can read here.

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a/s/l: Big Break

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: Off the back of releasing their debut EP ‘Big Break‘, Sheffield punk lot Big Break answer a series of inane questions!

Big Break

Words: Andy Hughes (Photo Credit: Laura Merrill)

a/s/l?
Tom: 32/M/Sheffield.
Joseph: 34/M/Sheffield.
Ben: 31/M/Sheffield.
Lew: No comment.

Have you ever seen a dead body?
T: No.
J: Yes, on a beach.
B: Nah.

Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
T: Moe Szylak – “They called me Kid Gorgeous, later on it was Kid Presentable, then Kid Gruesome and finally Kid Moe“.
J: Young Grandpa Simpson.
B: Larry Burns

What T-Shirt are you wearing?
T: New Order – World in Motion – the one from the video.
J: Nohrr black longsleeve.
B: Dragon Soop competition winner.

What did your last text message say?
T: Your coronavirus lateral flow test is positive. It’s likely you are infectious.
J: “humming bird wangs
B: Yeah, considering he faced 400 balls in his second test I guess he has a right to be a bit aggrieved.

What’s the last song you listened to?
T: Steely Dan – Dirty Work.
J: Island of LoveThoughts of You.
B: Shamelessly, The Smoke by Big Break, in a 3D world youtube video.

How did you meet the people in your band?
T: Through playing in bands in Sheffield. Between us we have been in The Hipshakes, Nai Harvest, Avida Dollars, Best Friends, Thee Mightees, Thumbuster, Joy Boys, Crawlies… maybe more.
J: What Roper said!!!! Happy to be in a band with members of some of my favourite bands ❤

What’s the first record you bought?
T: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time.
J: “Naked” by Louise Redknapp… A mistake I had wanted “Undivided Love” by Louise Redknapp.
B: Reel 2 Real – I Like to Move It.

What was your favourite VHS growing up?
T: Jack Robin Williams plays a boy who ages four times faster than normal. When he first attends school he looks like a 40 year old man. Hilarity ensues when he pretends to be the school principal for his friends at parents evenings and can get away with buying adult magazines. But it’s also very sad as Jack realises he is going to die very soon because of his condition.
J: Dumbo.
B: No VHS player, but cruelly had some Simpsons tapes I couldn’t watch. The covers were nice though. Our first DVD’s were a Godzilla (98) / Showgirls buy one get one free so I had to do some growing up fast.

When was the last time you cried?
T: At the end of Jack, “make your life spectacular“.
J: Saturday out of happiness.
B: Monday evening – new series of Queer Eye.

Have you ever kissed someone & regretted it?
T: No.
J: No.

Best Physical Feature?
T: Muscular Forearms.
B: Impossible cute face.

Worst physical feature?
T: Knees.
B: Inability to grow facial hair in my 30’s.

Reasonably ok/not bad feature that you’re not fussed about?
T: Hands?
B: Soft, supple hands.

Do you have any pets?
T: A ginger cat called Cilla.
J: No.
B: Connie, chocolate dappled Miniature Dachshund.

Ever picked up any injuries on tour?
T: Suncream in the eye, very painful.
J: Smashed my teeth and forehead with a microphone.
B: Only to my dignity, ego and self-esteem.

What did you do for your last birthday?
T: Watched all of The Darkness’s music videos.
J: Recorded Big Break live session in front of a green screen and went to look at Screw Gallery, both in Leeds.
B: Was force fed a dessert called The Ultimate Big Candymania.

Name something you CANNOT wait for?
T: The end of self-isolation.
J: Performing live.
B: Delicious Clam work outing to adult-themed mini-golf emporium.

Do you have a crush on someone?
T: Most people.
J: Yes.
B: Yes!

What’s the shittest experience you’ve had as a musician?
T: Everything has been great really.
J: Disgraced former MP Jared O’Mara putting an old band of mine on. My amp exploded onstage and an old man posing as a bouncer kicked the singer out of the venue. Mr O’Mara spread a rumour we destroyed the stage and hassled the staff which gave us an unfair and cool reputation.
B: From a venue perspective – awful booking agents. From a band perspective – awful promoters.

If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
T: I would go to a Love Triangle gig.
J: I would go watch Dawn Of Humans at the Lughole.
B: To the release of Cher’s Turn Back Time music video.

How do you want to die?
T: People who have almost drowned often describe being overwhelmed by a feeling of bliss between the time they accept their fate and before they get saved. I read that some sailors used to return to the area of the ocean where they nearly drowned as the spot held such a sense of connection and magic – so maybe that would be an ok way to go after the initial drowning/struggle bit.
J: On a hill chosen by myself.
B: Peacefully, surrounded by friends and enemies.

What’s your favourite thing about pizza?
T: Versatility – so many topping options, can be eaten at any time of day cold or hot, can be classy or junk food etc.
B: The possibilities are endless.

What are you craving right now?
T: Warmth – it’s snowing.
J: Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, always.
B: Pizza.

Have you ever been on a horse?
T: Just a donkey I think in Great Yarmouth.
J: Yes.
B: I have been next to a horse.

What did you dream about last night?
T: Killing baby Hitler (Have I got a question for you! – Ed)
B: I rarely remember my dreams.

If you could go back in time and kill the baby Hitler, would you?
T: Yes, he was a terrible guy.
B: Why not early teens Hitler? Slightly less infanticide guilt.

Do you like Chinese food?
T: No.
J: Yes.
B: Yes, I have a wonton spreadsheet.

Have you ever been on TV?
T: Nah.
J: Cutscene TV.
B: No, but my brother was on Blue Peter as an adult.

Ever meet someone famous?
T: Steve Davis – very nice man
J: I met El-P and Carrie Brownstein at the same time at Primavera festival, it didn’t go well as I took umbrage with them going to see Sun Kil Moon.
B: No, but my brother was on Blue Peter as an adult.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
T: Young.
J: Professional gossip columnist.
B: GIS Analyst.

Debut EP ‘Big Break is out NOW! Grab a copy or two here!

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Album Review: AUA – The Damaged Organ

German duo AUA make danceable pop songs brimming with a sadness and tension they only partially articulate. This record is full of hard feelings stuffed down and powered through, borrowing strength by smiling and almost meaning it and just staying in motion. It’s very good. Pretty, full of hooks. Makes you want to move, or sit down and get emotional – the way your favorite early New Order songs feel.

The band are Fabian Bremer and Henrik Eichmann, a pair of multi-instrumentalists whose past musical output has tended to be harsher and more aggressively experimental, above all in the prog/post-rock/jazz unit Radare. In AUA, the pair play much more accessibly and melodically, allowing the music its emotional heft sugared with toe-tapping rhythms and lush arpeggios.

I recently bought a book called the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, consisting of made up words for real feelings, very precise emotional experiences. For instance, etterath, “the feeling of emptiness after a long and arduous process is finally complete – having finished school, recovered from surgery, or gone home at the end of your wedding – which leaves you relieved that it’s over but missing the stress that organized your life into a mission.

AUA evoke emotional scenes with that level of precision, scenes you don’t yet have words for but which you now have sounds. The result is a kind of simultaneous novelty and familiarity – I feel exactly like this sounds, I didn’t realize it before, but now that I’ve heard it, it’s now obvious!

There’s a 1960s science fiction vibe to the sound and to the band’s album art, with synthesizers, tastefully reverbed surf guitar, and a very dry, trebly tone on many of the instruments and vocals. It fits with the darkness of the record, as it recalls specifically old sci-fi: a past generations vision of better futures which never arrived – remember optimism? Me neither.

The vocals are generally a detached croon, very pretty and pretty distant, often recorded with enough treble and reverb to recall an old telephone. The effect is simultaneously one of intimacy – hearing someone’s private thoughts right in your ear – and detachment – they’re the thoughts of someone too busy with private concerns they don’t want to talk about to fully reciprocate your interest. That said, the sadness here is muted, buttoned down: this is the internal monologue of someone keeping it together, and by the end of the record it adds up to a different kind of optimism, one based on a resilience that comes from being in community with fellow lovers of beautiful textured sounds and well designed album covers.

On their debut, ‘I Don’t Want It Darker‘, one of the best records of 2020 in the opinion of your humble reviewer, the songs got progressively harsher and more chaotic over the course of the record, though remaining bathed in delicious analog synths and guitar textures. Here on their second record, ‘The Damaged Organ‘ (which is every bit as good as the debut) doesn’t have that progression toward harshness. Instead there are small flourishes of distortion and haunting squeals of synths and what sounds to my ears like a UFO in an old movie. These appear across the record, salt and sour splashes to compliment and deepen the over all sweetness and bitter aftertaste.

It’s a very good record and it passes the money-where-my-mouth-is test: I was emailed the songs for free but I bought the vinyl anyway. Give it a whirl, crack the lid just a little to let off some pent up sadness, while AUA’s music holds your hand, makes you smile and dance.

Jörn Schüler

(Photo Credit: Jörn Schüler)

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Exclusive: WATCH the captivating new video for ‘Brick Break’ from German duo AUA

Following on from their debut album ‘I Don’t Want It Darker‘ released last year – one we suggested is like ‘a good cocktail, their music is rich and layered‘ – German duo AUA start off the new year with the release of its follow up, second album ‘The Damaged Organ‘. Said to take a deep look into the concept of alienation, across its nine tracks the pair also explore the theme of searching for identity.

The duo of Fabian Bremer and Henrik Eichmann fully chucked themselves into the DIY production of the album, spending pre-production participating in a search of a different kind, collecting an array of unusual electronic instruments to provide additional inspiration. Subsequently, the pair play virtually every instrument across the record, taking it in turns when it comes to vocals (along with Annika Henderson, who appears on ‘Islands Song‘).

Off the back of singles ‘Post Human Blossom‘ and the aforementioned ‘Islands Song‘, today the pair release ‘Brick Break‘ – the single seeing AUA return with an even more invigorating sound, the tension built across the tracks 3 minutes completely reeling you in (much like the video which you can have a peep of below!)

Much like go-to bowling bonanza ‘The Big Lebowski‘, the alley seems to have more to it than just its balls and shoe-spray, as our front of house man looks beyond the ball and is transported into somewhere other worldly. Directed and edited by the band’s own Henrik Eichmann, it’s a proper trip, cinematic in scope and delivery.

The Damaged Organ‘ is due for release on January 21st 2022 via Crazysane Records (with some particularly beautiful looking vinyl variants, if that’s your bag). Get pre-ordering and watch the new video below!

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: POZI

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 latest EP ‘Typing’, we’re delighted to have POZI talking us through a host of records and other items that helped shape and inspire them.

Devo – ‘Come Back Jonee’
(Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!, 1978)

Toby Burroughs (drums/vocals): “The drum beat from this song is one of my favourite beats and is also used at a slower pace, in Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and Donald Fagan’s “The New Frontier”. At the faster tempo (as it is in the Devo song), this beat instantly sounds like a chase, or a train to me. When first jamming the idea for Detainer Man, the chasey feeling created by that same beat, bass, siren like violin and megaphone style vocals helped to conjure the image of a police chase, which led our minds toward that subject matter.

This is one of my favourite drum beats, and at the slower tempo (as in Stevie and Donald’s cases) gives off more of a hodown vibe.

Gary Numan’s album The Pleasure Principle
(1979)

Tom Jones (bass/vocals): “About ten years ago I got pretty obsessed with the work of Delia Derbyshire, the pioneering composer from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and creator of the Dr Who theme tune. A result of this was I started listening to music that I thought matched her sound in some way. I can really hear her influence in Gary Numan’s music particularly on his album The Pleasure Principle and whilst we were making Typing I had been listening to this record a lot. It made me want to play around with the more synthy effects on my pedal more and just tinker with sound effects in general. I think our tracks Typing and Heavenly have a more electronic, trippier feel than some of our previous releases and I’d like to explore this more in our work.

Streets Of Rage 2 (Game and Soundtrack)
(1992)

Tom Jones:I got this mini Megadrive thing a few years ago that has about 50 games on it, you can just plug straight into your telly and you’ve got access to a load of old classic video games. I hadn’t played it much and it had just been sitting around the flat for a while getting a little dusty. Due to the way things were I wasn’t going out and I started playing it loads, particularly Streets Of Rage 2, a game I loved when I was a kid.

One of the main things that kept me hooked on the game was the music which has like a kind of ravey feel to it in some parts. I don’t know if this influenced the EP in anyway tbh but I was playing it a lot before we started recording! I recently found out that the composer Yozu Kushiro has put the music out on vinyl. I might have to get a copy so I can give my thumbs a rest and just enjoy the music!

Wunderkammer Olbricht

MementoMori

Rosa Brook (violin/vocals): “The lyric ‘the plastic set of bones we discovered here / I covered them with sand, the ears the eyes the hands’ from Sea Song was inspired by the miniature skeletons I saw at Wunderkammer Olbricht in Berlin. Olbricht’s “cabinet of curiosities” was full of tiny ‘Memento Mori’ gadgets and gismos, which fascinated me. Translated from Latin, ‘Memento Mori’ means ‘remember you must die’. A typical ‘Memento Mori’ has a skull but they can take shape in different objects that symbolize the transience of time and earthly possessions, like clocks, musical instruments, etc. These items were interpreted as a kind of carpe diem message in the 1500s when death wasn’t feared so much; they were more a reminder that the physical body is temporary! I love this outlook!

Like the plastic set of bones in the lyrics, I saw Sea Song as a not-too scary, contemporary ‘Memento Mori’. Triggered by the existential feelings from the pandemic, it’s about the cycle of life and there’s fear in that but there’s also release and escape.

Dexys – ‘Free
(One Day I’m Going to Soar, 2012)

Rosa Brook:I happened across Dexys playing in a tent at Hop Farm festival about 9 years ago and a particular song called ‘Free’, about shaking off public expectation of ‘normal’ behaviour’, tickled me because it is completely uncool and joyous in its honesty, and I’ve listened to it on and off since. But I didn’t realise the profound effect it had had on me until now, seeing its influence take full shape in my contribution to ‘Free Day’ by POZI ( I should state for the record that this is largely Toby’s composition, I composed the layers of the string outro). Aside from the obvious similarity in the titles, there are a few uncanny resemblances in these two songs:

1. There was a woman playing violin and singing on stage with Kevin Rowland, reflecting my role in Pozi (I can’t find her anywhere online sadly, she was not the original member, though I did once spot her at The French House in Soho, she was shocked when I recognised her from Dexys fame).

2. Both songs seem to inhabit an almost village fete type atmosphere.

3. The Dexys chorus refrain “I can’t fucking wait to go outside and live my life” echoes tragically with the content of the song ‘Free Day’ (which was written about excitement/trepidation regarding the day covid restrictions were to be eased), and has even more pathos now with the current state of things.

‘Typing’ is out NOW via PRAH Recordings! Pick up a copy or two here!

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Listening Post – January 2022

Ahh here we are then, Happy New Year! Good time was it? You’re looking well. New hat? Delightful.

Right, back to business – we’re off with a bang for the year 2022 with a NEW playlist to soundtrack you ripping the tree down and grabbing your running gear out of the loft. The drill – 20 tunes, new and old – all with the intention of tickling your fancy.

Purple Disco Machine – Body Funk
(Soulmatic)

I was recently in a little bar in Venice with just the locals (we’re jet-setters darling, keep up) and they were smashing out all these European treats that we’d never heard before (so much so we had to download Shazam in our year of the lord 2021…) ‘Body Funk‘ packs in everything and all manner of influences into an unforgettable dance smash that followed us all the way back to the UK.

See Thru Hands – All I Want

Manchester’s See Thru Hands bring a ‘Once In A Lifetime‘, ‘Remain In Light‘ vibe for the first release from their own new label, ‘Means Of Escape‘. Perfectly encapsulated in the single artwork, ‘All I Want‘ evokes thoughts of late summer evenings and letting one’s mind drift.

Colleen – Captain Of None
(Captain Of None)

From the fifth album by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Cécile Schott, recorded in early-mid 2014 in San Sebastián, Spain, ‘Captain Of None‘ is a total head reset, completely hypnotising in its delicateness. Stick this on when you’ve got a right cob on.

Little Simz – Point and Kill (featuring Obongjayar)
(Sometimes I Might Be Introvert)

A woman that needs no introduction, the North Londoner smashed a lot of EOY charts with her latest release and it’s the riveting ‘Point and Kill‘ that’s had us hooked. Love the slightly delicate vocal from Obongjayar – try getting that chorus out of your head!

The Fall – Hark The Herald Angels Sing
(Cerebral Caustic – John Peel Session 17/12/94)

The Fall do Christmas? Of course they do. Similar to how they can make a Beatles cover work, The Fall put together a genuinely brilliant festive number which we’re glad to have discovered (though it’s somehow notoriously missing from shopping centre playlists we note…)

Buzzcocks – Walking Distance
(Love Bites)

I’ve just finished ‘Leave the Capital‘, a brilliant in depth page-turner from former Fall drummer Paul Hanley on the Manchester music scene outside of the usual suspects. As expected, it resulted in quite a number of back and forth musical finds, with this cracking instrumental from Northern big-hitters Buzzcocks really hitting the spot.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Tropical Hot Dog Night
(Shiny Beast [Bat Chain Puller])

Tropical Hot Dog Night, like two flamingos in a fruit fight.’ Mesmeric piece from the Captain’s tenth studio album, it’s easy to get lost in the slightly oddball, anthemic number. Love that whistling…

WD

Warmduscher – Wild Flowers

More disco delights from the incomparable Warmduscher, putting on a brave face for the forthcoming year as Clams Baker Jr says fuck it to just about everything. A personal crisis unfolding across 3 and a half minutes. Chef kiss.

Brandy – (Wish You Was) Madball Baby
(The Gift Of Repetition)

Rager from 2020 that completely passed us by but is right up our strasse. I know naff all about NYC lot Brandy because ‘(Wish You Was) Madball Baby‘ is all you need to know. Heart-pumping and requiring maximum loudness to get its thumping point across.

Partner Look – Rodeo Tragic
(By The Book)

Wonky little number from Aussie quartet Partner Look, from their forthcoming debut album ‘By The Book‘ out in February on Trouble In Mind. Certainly one for fans of their fellow countrymen Terry, it combines the talents of a pair of German sisters and their partners for a real quirky gem.

Chilly Gonzales – Snow Is Falling In Manhattan (Featuring Jarvis Cocker and Feist)
(A Very Chilly Christmas)

A wonderful take on the Purple Mountains number from a champion cast of characters, the piano on offer from Gonzales and the vocal of Cocker add a completely heart-soaring new dimension to the initial piece by the late David Berman.

Buddy Holly – Raining In My Heart
(The Buddy Holly Story)

I tell my blues they mustn’t show, But soon these tears are bound to flow‘. Love this twinkling heartstring tugger from bespectacled rocker, Buddy Holly. Very much sounding like it’s come direct from a motion picture soundtrack – Dig that beautiful orchestral backing!

CE

Callum Easter – System
(System)

Real catchy title track from the latest release from Scottish multi-instrumentalist Callum Easter, recorded almost entirely alone in his Edinburgh studio. There’s almost a gospel flavour running through this, Easter taking on the role of the rock ‘n’ roll preacher man to the congregation.

SAVAK – My Book On Siblings

With just the slightest bit of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vibe on the intro (no bad thing!), the new single from Brooklyn’s SAVAK is a proper engaging, frantic piece as vocalist Sohrab Habibion takes hold of your attention and keeps it.

Peter Frack

(Photo Credit: Peter Frack)

Pola Women – Disco Disco
(Disco Disco)

Split between Berlin and Stuttgart, German duo Pola Women clearly named their EP and single very carefully (and literally), the dance-y delight from their debut release sounding like an 80s Euro classic from the off.

Die! Die! Die! – Losing Sight, Keep On Kicking
(This Is Not An Island Anymore)

A very literal single title from New Zealander’s Die! Die! Die!, who have kept on kicking throughout their near twenty years together. With bassist Lachlan Anderson very much back in the fold, they’ve never sounded better. The lead single from their forthcoming new album (their seventh) is ripper central.

Vocalist Andrew Wilson very recently talked to us about the single, which you can find here.

TA

Timi Afilaka – Spaces
(All These Colours)

Calling to mind the likes of Metronomy, Mac DeMarco and Steve Lacy, ‘Spaces‘ is a lo-fi, sun-soaked peach of a tune from Timi Afilaka, making one long for the summer.

Big Break – Big Break
(Big Break)

Aussie punk transported to Sheffield for the blistering debut release from Big Break, recorded at local DIY space Delicious Clam. All 4 track EPs should be 6 minutes long and bless the Big Break lot for keeping the opener below 60 seconds. Head wrecker.

Sworn Virgins – The Male Man
(Strangers Hands)

Pulsating head-throbber (careful) from dancefloor disco deviants Sworn Virgins, featuring another appearance here from Clams Baker Jr and The Witherer of Warmduscher fame. ‘The Male Man‘ is a real hip-shaker no mistake, from a pair who assure us they’re “greased up and ready to go“.

Fiddlehead – The Years
(Between The Richness)

Fist-in-the-air swollen heart job from Boston, MA lot Fiddlehead, who’ve pleased many with 2021 release ‘Between the Richness‘. That type of anthemic emotional hardcore you need to dive head first into every once in a while, ‘The Years‘ is a real winner.

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“We tend now not to wear the full costumes ‘cus they stink after one gig” – An Interview with Snapped Ankles

I’ve just had to sign a form here to say – if you are gonna jump on the audience or stage dive or go in the audience, we need to know what you’re gonna do. It was easier for me to write I’m not. So, I’m not. Well, I might…

It’s Saturday afternoon in late September and ‘Austin’, the normally masked vocalist fronting Snapped Ankles, is offering a glimpse behind the curtain into the health and safety expected of a band playing a university venue during a global pandemic.

We’re at Wide Eyed Festival in Leicester and as they’re not due on stage for another few hours, the foliage and headgear remains in the van whilst we find somewhere to talk. Having made our way through the convenient nearby cemetery, we share a seat in the quiet away from the venue – Austin multitasking as he eats a jacket potato in between answering at length, one answer often mingling into the next with just one question asked.

We’re almost match-fit…” He says with a laugh when we talk about their forthcoming festival slot. Snapped Ankles had some experience in the run up to Wide Eyed, having “been show-ing” at a number of events over the summer. On top of their spiritual home in the fields of green, the outfit were also able to take in a socially distanced show, as well as a number of Rough Trade in-stores following new album ‘Forest Of Your Problems’ being awarded Rough Trade Album of the Month in July. (“We did three in a row, so that’s pretty much a tour for us.”)

A lot of focus had been attributed to figuring out new material in terms of a live set-up, having had to rework the songs to be played live in front of the audience.

I’m not a sort of 24/7 gifted musician, you just switch it on. We have to work hard and rehearse hard to get good enough to play these things in time without falling over.” He says with a laugh. “We’re only still getting paid in beer and crisps unfortunately. We keep asking for water and nutbars, but…

Released in early July, their latest release just scraped the UK Official Charts Top 40, the highest placement for the band to this point. Whilst it would have been quite the feather in their caps, Austin admits it was a shock to find out that such charts even existed.

I didn’t even know there was a Top 40 anymore. I thought it was all just robots…” He says. “Not that Top of the Pops has gone, it seems to be on constantly…

sa2

Austin tells us they were unfortunately pipped to the post by young upstart David Bowie, the late artist clearly working on his algorithms from beyond the grave to maintain a healthy chart position. Even with The Thin White Duke keeping them off Top of the Pops, there were certain other factors that hampered the production and release of their latest LP.

It came out on the edge of lockdown, really. The pandemic hit in our time when we were meant to be writing the new album, so it really only put it back by about six months.” He says, noting that the hardest aspect was getting the necessary people in place to work it all out and produce it.

With our tracks you really wanna sort of play them out before you put them to record, but we weren’t able to, so we just had to invent gigs in our heads and throw the songs at the imaginary gigs. Imaginary gigs for an imaginary audience, for imaginary dances. It’s an imaginary concept.” He adds with a laugh.

One part of the production that did come together splendidly for them was the involvement of their label, the aptly named Leaf Label. “They’ve got a big reputation for a small label.Austin tells us, pointing out their enthusiasm (and the bump from the Rough Trade Album of the Month honours) allowed them to do more with this release. ‘The Protester Edition’ of the vinyl was produced using recycled offcuts from the vinyl manufacturing process, producing a ‘forest floor’ mix that makes each slab of wax unique in colour and texture. On top of that, where possible the release avoided cellophane altogether, following in the footsteps of a number of artists who have made the jump to using a printed paper outer bag to house the record.

In any game now, each stage has to ask whoever’s in the production process to be as ecologically viable as possible. It’s kind of just best practice really. It wasn’t trying to make any statement, it’s just good for that.” Austin says, noting their intention was to also produce something to highlight the journey of the record, which they had to shelve for now.

As someone buying it, which you’re kind of starting to get in food – people want to know the whole journey.” He suggests, commenting on a consumer need to feel good and connected with a purchase, something which is lacking in a number of industries, particularly the “opaque” fashion industry. “Music’s a bit like that, no one wants to tell people this and that. But it’s interesting to do that exercise. It’s basically what all industries, design and artists are looking at now, because the people who are buying stuff want to feel better and wanna know that they’re at least slightly trying. It’s all our jobs as the makers of the work to really put pressure on these old industries to do the best with their product, whilst still fitting in the slot for us. Vinyl is our product, you know.

Don’t write for downloads…” He says with a laugh, the band unsurprisingly more interested in physical copies of their records rather than those found on streaming websites. “We don’t do it for downloads.

Forest Of Your Problems’ involved elements of their previous releases, with a theme from their first record being something they wanted to return to for another look. In 2017, Snapped Ankles released their debut full length ‘Come Play The Trees’, some years on from their formation in East London in 2011 (they still rehearse and record in the same place – Total Refreshment Centre, an influential DIY music space “Which is about as crunky and unsafe as anywhere else, as places used to be.”)

Building on from jams and live shows in dark rooms (“What sort of dark rooms? *Laughs* There’s all sorts in London…”), the performances led to the creation and honing of their DIY instruments – “Crappy rotten logs with synths attached.

The route to “Crappy rotten logs with synths attached” came via a love of vintage synths amongst the band, instruments which he jokingly suggests have now become “fetishized”. Though even still, you never see a vintage synth smashed to bits at the end of a gig do you? “Well actually, you have to be really nice and careful with synths, as opposed to guitars…” He says with a laugh.

I kind of record everything. All gigs, all jams and things.” Says Austin of how the first album came to be, the process which allowed and continues to allow him to get an idea as to which grooves are working, what might work for the band and the type of places that they play. Their debut saw the mysterious outfit emerge from the woods as messengers, aiming to hold up a mirror to city dwellers and plant a seed of hope.

The first album we touched on this – we had a song ‘Come Play The Trees’, which was the title – we wanted to look at… Why are we talking about trees? Let’s go back again. What is it about forests and trees and nature, what are we talking about?

Stunning Luxury’ followed in early 2019, the outfit suiting up and taking on the appearance of estate agents and the forces destroying communities – the property developers and brokers who “heat the market on the promise of Stunning Luxury” – a performance piece, having themselves played venues and seen them close down for these reasons. (“Capitalism, consumerism, neoliberalism – all these ‘isms’ that seem to be causing a great anxiety.”)

But it’s not just outside forces destroying communities, there was also potential dissension within the ranks of their fans that offered up some inspirational thinking. Culture war back and forth and pointing the finger (“… All this shit of people really forgetting what human is and just doubling down…”) reared its ugly head when a fan (“Some MAN. A man…” He laughs) took offense at their charitable actions in selling a t-shirt to raise funds for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, accusing the band of becoming “woke”.

I kinda know where he’s coming from…  Coldplay or whoever, they’re always doing good. Bono’s saving the fucking planet with a credit card, you know… I thought that’s quite an interesting area. We don’t need to deal with it too much, but it shows the anxiety people have.” He says. A book from 2018 which offered further interest came from French philosopher Bruno Latour, ‘Down To Earth’ examining politics and why they are so polarised, the reason for a lot of anxiety amongst people and the impact climate change is causing to all of this.

So this album was like looking at – what is this mental land map that we have, that was sort of losing grip with its territory, boundary and borders.” He says. “All this reading and research helps with coming up with lyrics… I try them out on the audience live, throw them out there – It’s a great time to be alive, if you’ve got a hedge fund. I think that started out – it’s a great time to be alive, if you’re a crane driver – ‘cus London had 300 cranes.

SA

Their love of vintage synths also informed some of the sounds on the record, the band taking inspiration from the likes of The Screamers and The Units to move away from guitars for the most part in favour of a dual synth attack. It all combines to create melodies that “hopefully will just annoy the shit out of you”. There’s also the vinyl that “never ends” due to the locked groove (inspired by the vocalist “always leaving records on and walking off…”)

That’s everything. That’s pretty much a lot of what’s gone into the new album.” He says. “A bit of French philosophy of course, just to keep you on your toes. Lots of grooves to definitely keep you on your toes. And lots of synthy-synths, not guitars.”

Of course there’s also the outfits, evolving over time from full foliage to sharp suits to boilersuits (“We tend now not to wear the full costumes ‘cus they stink after one gig.”) In our review of their latest record, we suggested they look and sound “like they’ve come out of an episode of The Mighty Boosh”. But rather than just a gimmick for a cool visual, a lot of thought has gone into the appearance and visual aspect of the group. Though initially it came down to helping along the performance itself.

We were doing a lot of little gigs and there was a sort of shyness in the group. I think we were playing facing a video screen, which we were following to sort of jam along to. It was like – we’re gonna have to turn around at some point and actually sing some songs…

From Elvis and hip-shaking to Jerry Lee Lewis and setting fire to a piano, the raw period of rock and roll provided a lot of intrigue.

They can’t be outrageous enough. How fucking outrageous can you be?” He says. “Then it was like – where’s that from in our culture? Why is that? Other music doesn’t demand to be outrageous, not necessarily.

The lineage of Pagan festivals and vaudeville, clowns and storytellers all feeds into it too, as well as the tradition of the Krampus in the Czech Republic, The Mamuthones of Sardinia and the Carnival costumes captures in the Phyllis Galembo book ‘Maske’.

We’ve been doing this shit for thousands of years, it just had a difference face and a different name.

More up to date, Rhode Island based noise duo Lightning Bolt were a particular masked band they were fond of, with it initially thought their go to might be all of them wearing masks on stage. Then came the Ghillie suits (google suggesting it’s ‘a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble the background environment such as foliage, snow or sand’) which no one else seemed to have been doing at the time. Not too theatrical, anyone could buy them – similar to Throbbing Gristle and their use of military insignia and clothing, keeping costs low and evoking a cult vibe.

… It all adds up in my crazy brain that this is Elvis’s hips, you know. This is the carnival, these evil spirts are what Elvis’s hips, Jerry Lee Lewis setting light to the piano, Iggy getting his cock out, Cradle Of Filth, Slipknot – it’s all linked in the vast human experience I think, in a celebration. We wanna be shown the fears or ridiculousness. It’s like Houdini famously said – ‘if you show them death, they’ll all watch’. You can be dark about it or you can be light about it or you can be just fucking creepy about it. But there’s something within the spectacle that I thought bands that make our sort of music hadn’t really gone for for a while perhaps, at the time. It became a device for us to create a team.

Feeding into the live show and experimentation with performance and costumes on stage, he namechecks Iggy Pop as an influence (“Normally by the second song, you’ll have his cock in your face. Still, even these days. Someone needs to tell him…”) Movement and pushing the boundaries of where the stage begins and ends “sort of breaks the cement” of the person stood still, arms folded. The band like the idea of a performance not having to be focused on one set up – the stage – with one dream scenario being to have pockets of the audience dominated by other bands playing along to Snapped Ankles up on stage, something to divert focus for the people in that area (“I’m sure it’s been done, everything’s been done.”)

In previous years Austin has taken to ‘measuring the crowd’ with a giant tape measure, famously documented in their 2020 live album ‘21 metres to Hebden Bridge’ (the exact measurements from the Trades Club stage to the pool table). It was at that very show where aspects of their dreams were made reality, when a tree person barged through their crowd on the way to performing on stage.

That’s probably a normal person five minutes before they put that costume on and then suddenly you just say to them – you are a tree, you are not a human being – and they’re like, woah!” He says. “They run through an audience, they’re dancing, then you’re the audience going – if they can dance, maybe I can dance a bit more as well… I think that’s where the fun can happen.

SA

Read our review of ‘Forest Of Your Problems‘ here!

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod – End of Year: Jimmy Watkins (Running Punks, The Vega Bodegas)

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 2021, we’ve had all sorts talk to us about inspirations, including the likes of MaybeshewillSugar HorseAlbertine Sarges and Sweeping Promises!

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 ‘All My Fish Are Dead‘ – their first new release in over 3 years (which they talked us through in great detail here) – we’re chuffed to have Running Punk Jimmy Watkins from Welsh outfit The Vega Bodegas talk us through his favourite releases from the past 12 months – “Albums which seem to change the way the atoms in my body vibrate“!

Injury Reserve’s album By The Time I Get To Phoenix

“This album seems to scatter itself through your mind and body like a sandstorm. It’s full of fragmented lyrics and music. Snippets of dreams, nightmares, and conversations about apartment sizes. I first heard this album whilst out running and immediately wrote the lyrics to our single Welcome to Slow Cooker when I got home. I love the way this album seems to carry itself on the breeze. I can’t tell if it’s real or not. Sometimes I listen to it and think I imagined it all. There are moments where a beat change, or pick-up in intensity will release a load of endorphins inside me and I’ll suddenly feel a rush of pure elation. Challenging and immersive. The perfect album to make you creative.

Fatboi Sharif and Roper Williams’ album Gandhi Loves Children
(POW Recordings)

This is another album that inspired me lyrically. Our next single Permafrost is massively inspired by this album. Musically it’s like a room full of broken clocks, and lyrically it’s like neon poetry spoken through a clown mask. I think this is probably my most listened to album of the year and it kills me that I can’t get my hands on a physical copy. I would love to make a record like this one day.

JPEGMAFIA’s album LP!
(Republic Records)

I attempted a Running Review of this album, but it was difficult to articulate how this album made me feel. There are some bits I don’t like (Thot’s Prayer for example), but somehow those moments are necessary on this unique and weird album. Again, much like the Injury Reserve album, this record delivers pure shots of euphoria in unconventional ways. There’s a tightness to it which grabs your attention and makes you feel every bass line and bonkers sample. I’ve become fascinated by JPEGMAFIA this year. There’s even an anthem about being bald on here. Amazing.

Alice Coltrane’s album Kirtan: Turiya Sings
(Jowcol Music)

I often talk about being spiritual in my Running Reviews, but a lot of people think I’m joking. It’s true though. It all started when I stopped drinking and I spent a lot of time running with nothing but my thoughts. Over time I started to feel connected to the world in ways I’d never felt before. Two years later and I meditate daily, I feel life has meaning and I run to this album as much as I can. My friend Simon Tucker said this album makes it feel like your brain is having a wash, and I absolutely agree with him. The Hindu devotionals on Kirtan are overflowing with pure magic and love. It’s one of those albums that makes me feel grateful for all the friendship and kindness I have in my life. Hare Krishna.

aya’s album im hole
(Hyperdub)

I first heard this album on a train at 6am and it blew me away. I can’t quite work it out. Sometimes I feel like it’s the story of a house party, other times I feel like it’s the voice of the moon narrating a rainy evening somewhere in the UK. The lyrics and the vocal effects are the perfect match. I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and I once ran for an hour with OoB Prosthesis on a loop. This is music that inspires me and makes me thirsty for real art. still i taste the air is the perfect song to blast on your headphones at night. I don’t know much about aya, but judging by im hole, I’d say she’s some kind of genius who makes music that can save the world.

The Vega Bodegas new single ‘Welcome To Slow Cooker‘ is out now! Stream it – and previous singles – here! You can also find out everything you need to know about Running Punks here.

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