Sounds Around Town: 26th March – 1st April

10349094_566351956803162_3626054594936056313_nAnd so the “Kanye at Glastonbury” debate trundles on with an army of armchair Foo Fighters fans getting outraged on our behalf and trying to find ever more convoluted reasons to justify the fact that they simply don’t like his music. So? Maybe they are forgetting what a festival, especially one the size of Glastonbury (no Glasto…never Glasto!) is all about. Take a road trip to the heart of the West Country, be part of a temporary city of music fans, meet some interesting people, have a drink, get a bit …err…merry (that’s code by the way but this is a family paper,) take in some Cuban Jazz, a 1940’s Swing Band or a Canadian comedian (aren’t they all these days?) head out to the fringe events and learn to juggle. The options are endless. With literally 1000’s of acts to choose from why worry about one act, on one day, on one stage! That said, I stopped going when people in designer wellies from Kent began putting picket fences around their camping area to demarcate their own suburban plot from their neighbours.

 

And our own music week kicks off in fairly eclectic style as well. Level 3 has a wonderful slice of alt-rock spearheaded by Maidenheads Hindsights, a melodic, riff driven, energetic young band and the more abrasive growl of Hereford’s Richa. Slightly at odds with the headline sound, the more wistful indie-folk of Bad News (no, not that one…a different one) play the middle slot and local bands Dreamcatcher and Sahara Heights add an element of moody indie and shimmering shoegaze to the night.

 

At The Victoria Talk In Code will be throwing stadium tunes, euphoric vibes, accessible dance-rock and a spade load of pop sensibility into the mix to deliver their trade mark cross genre fusions. They are joined by the similarly anthemic Echotape and the pop rock of The Fuse.

Meanwhile at The Beehive, The Sitting Tenants offer up English garage band psychedelia, power-pop and modish rock.

 

On Friday, again Level 3 provides the big draw of the night. The Green Gig is a fundraiser on behalf of the Swindon Green Party, but politics aside it’s a fantastic line up. The Headliners, Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies are a supergroup with ex-members from Belarus, Good Things Happen in Bad Towns and Sunday Dogs, to name a few and a neat line in Americana, music hall and raggle-taggle folk. Joining them, conjuring reflective dreamscapes and indie, pastoral sweetness is Colour the Atlas (pictured). Ian Doeser and Neil Mercer get the night underway.

 

After that original music gets a bit harder to find, though fans of classic rock and metal covers will find a lot that they like from either Kok Rok at The Rolleston and Shepherds Pie at The Victoria. All styles, eras and genres can be found at The Liden Arms courtesy of Penfold.

 

Similarly, Saturday continues to cater for the denim-jacketed brigade with more classic rock covers from Broken Image at The Swiss Chalet. If you are fans of rock and rolls most successful survivors, then The Victoria is the place to be for The Rollin’ Clones.

 

Barrelhouse will be playing vintage blues with a hard edge that takes in Chicago’s heritage and the sound of the early English blues-rock movement at The Rolleston and Riffs Bar is the place to be for something with more of a bucolic vibe to it. Rob Richings deals in vocal harmony driven folk that uses indie and pop borrowings to keep it fresh and contemporary. Joining him is Ethemia, a duo renowned for the timeless quality and sensitivity of their songs and the inspirational Leon Daye. Getting the night underway The Southern Harmony, a band featuring three ex-members of Bateleurs, will be playing their debut show.

 

Jim Reynolds takes the afternoon slot at The Beehive on Sunday, filling the room with music that taps into everything from blues to ragtime, music hall to folk.

 

If something a bit more energetic is your sort of thing then The Victoria that evening is the place to be. Stillbust give a new twist to the hardcore genre and Foxpunch blend gritty punk, ska and a thrashier edge into what they adequately describe as speed grunge. Opening that show are Strength In Blunders.

 

And finally, Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the wonderfully upbeat and infectiously soulful acoustica of The Real Raj.

 

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Sounds Around Town : 19th – 25th March

11067477_10155344192370182_8626215301713582855_nI get a bit of stick for seeming to favour gigs at The Victoria, particularly those travelling on a Songs of Praise ticket. Certain quarters bandy around words such as nepotism (probably because a band of that name supported Iron Maiden at somewhere like Testosterone-fest) and clique (though they normally spell it click) but I think that the some of the bookings really are worthy of the extra attention. Take tonight’s act for example.

 

Emily Barker has won numerous song writing awards, written theme tunes to a number of well known TV shows, sold out The Union Chapel with her band The Red Clay Halo and even travelled Europe as part of Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour. Tonight you can catch her with fellow ex-Red Clay Halo player, Gill Sandell, for a set of country-folk vibes and breath-taking melodies. Add to that the soulful acoustica of Paul McClure (pictured) and the heart achingly honest, pin drop tones of Charlie Bath and you can see why I wax very lyrical about some of these shows.

 

And talking of great harmonies, anyone who hasn’t caught The Teddy White Band yet, which surely must amount to about two octogenarian spinsters on the outskirts of Stanton Fitzwarren, then you have the opportunity to catch the twin attack of Anish Noble-Harrison’s soaring, angelic voice pitted against the sinister and earthy tones of Pete Cousins’ growl. The fact that you also get a great retro beat band that ooze soulfulness is merely an added bonus.

 

A similar vibe can be caught at The Castle on Friday with the wonderful 58 Shakes and the bluest blues with the most soulful of souls can be found at The Rolleston with The Mike Hoddinott Blues All-stars. One of the most interesting and consistently unique bands in the area, Port Erin, are at The Beehive, trading in accessible psych grooves, flurries of cool jazz and walking a wonderfully fine line between pop, rock and progressive themes. If you don’t already have a copy of their latest album, Floating Above The City, then catch the show and pick one up. If you do already posses a copy I’m sure you have already made plans to attend anyway.

 

Another stalwart of the local circuit, The Shudders, can be found headlining at The Victoria. Their music has passed through a few different stages over the years and traces of all of those developments can be found in their alt-country meets indie sound. Imagine a West Country version of The Long Ryders or Wilco…or Bright Eyes..or Crazy Horse, oh, I don’t know, just pop along and dance the night away to music that rocks enough for the boys and pops enough for the girls and is even cool enough for the beardy hipster with the t-shirt and braces trying to look earnest in the corner. Solo sets from Nick Felix and Jarid Clark will set the night up in fine fashion.

 

Rock fans can get their fix with The Guns ‘n’ Roses Experiment at Level 3, supported by an opening salvo of classic rock with a contemporary kick from The Damned and The Dirty.

 

Younger bands are also out in force, pop-punks Post 12, shimmering shoegazers, Sahara Heights and new kids on the Britpop block, Westways, play Riffs Bar as a fundraiser for children’s projects in Africa.

 

And the both Post 12 and Sahara Heights can be found at a second fundraising night at Level 3 on Saturday, this time joined by The Misfires and Overload to raise money for Cancer Research.

 

Other original music to be had comes with The Newbolds funky R’n’B set at Riffs Bar and Flash Harry who will be concocting their magical folky-blues, bluegrass and gypsy jazz fusions at The Rolleston.

 

If you want a taste of The Thin White Duke then The Bowie Experience at The Victoria is one answer, and surely a better option than paying a fortune to watch from half a mile away at Wembley…if indeed he ever tours again.

 

People who prefer a smorgasbord of their favourite tunes that cross decades and genres should note that both Echo at The Haydon Wick Club and Mid Life Crisis at The Swiss Chalet will tick those boxes.

 

And finally on Wednesday, The Roaring Donkey break the working week up with the soulful and jazz infused folk and soaring vocals of Nick Tann.

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Sounds Around Town – 12th – 18th March

10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nNice to see that following on from last weeks flurry of live shows, this week is continuing in a similar vein, both in terms of volume and diversity. Hopefully even those who continue to fly the “nothing ever happens round here” flag will see that it is time to call it a day or at least go back to their X-Box, Facebook trolling and Game of Thrones boxed set and let the rest of us get on with the job at hand.

 

One of the more extraordinary bands of recent times has been The Jim Jones Revue who combined the furious piano playing approach of Jerry Lee Lewis with the visceral guitar style of proto-punk bands such as The MC5 and The Stooges. Well, the band may have called it a day recently but the man who provided that core sound, one that suggested a gang fight in a piano shop, Henri Herbert, can be found at The Victoria tonight.

 

An even bigger name can be found at The Wyvern Theatre as the man with the golden voice and stalwart of such bands as Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike and The Mechanics, Paul Carrick will be running through his repertoire of blue-eyed soul and pop-rock.

 

On Friday two big line-ups go head to head within spitting distance of each other in Old Town. At The Castle, brit-pop brats The Racket spearhead a line up that caters to all things indie and modish, being joined by the mercurial melodies and flamboyant stage antics of Nudybronque, the sharp music lines of British Harlem, the jangly pop of Theo Altieri and rock and roll swagger of Portsmouth’s Sixes & Sevens.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, is Songs of Praise line up of A Way With Words, Cavalier and Leader, so prepare for a night of abrasive alt-rock, creative dynamics, indie vibes and energetic performances.

 

The Rolleston has opted for a blend of eastern European folk, sea shanties and carnival chaos with the welcome return of Calico Jack (pictured)and their colourful tales and even more colourful costumes. And moving from the sublime to the ridiculous I can also announce that Showaddywaddy can be found at The Wyvern Theatre. Time to break out the Crepes and Drapes!

 

But music isn’t just confined to the regular venues this weekend as Friday also sees the start of a two day Vintage and Retro Weekend centred on The Brunel Centre. As well as Hot-rods and Vintage cars and bikes, Car Boot and stalls, there will be guitar workshops and live sessions from a Johnny Cash Tribute act plus Sons of The Delta, HipRoute and Jimmy Lee.

 

As usual Saturday is more preoccupied with offering sounds that you are already familiar with. Guns 2 Roses will be paying tribute to that most infamous street-rock outfit at The Victoria and all things ska, punk and new wave will be on the cards from Operation 77 at The Moonrakers.

 

Tying in nicely with the aforementioned Vintage and Retro weekend, Locarno Beat recreate the classic song writing of The 60’s at The Swiss Chalet and the previous decade is well catered for with The 58 Shakes at The Queens Tap and The Rhythm Bombers at The Rolleston. Similar vibes can be found at The Victoria on Sunday with Rockabilly Rumble.

 

But it certainly isn’t the day of rest for metal fans who have a treat lined up for them as Control The Storm’s current tour plays its last show at Level 3. Atmospheric, anthemic, melodic metal is the order of the day; fans of Lacuna Coil and Nightwish will not want to miss this one. Joining them are Curvature who take a more gothic and synth driven approach and Metaprism with their wonderfully prog. slant.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday you can find Blake, an artist who manages to mix accessible Beatle-esque melodies with heartfelt lyrical messages and social awareness.

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Gig of the Week – You Wait All Week For a Decent Original Band and Then Eight Come Along at Once.

10649943_945806792102227_5195462776041008646_nThis Friday in Old Town two gigs are taking place in such close proximity of each other so as to make that part of town a veritable showcase for some of the best original music in the area.

 

Firstly a free gig at The Castle present 5 bands that fall roughly into the indie, modish, brit-pop categories. Headlining are The Racket, a band built on energetic stage presence, attitude and more than a tip of the hat to nineties Manchester. Nudybronque (pictured) mix infectious grooves with winsome lyrical flights of fancy and the sharp moves and even sharper tunes of British Harlem take the middle slot. Theo Altieri will be providing some wonderfully chart-glancing indie-pop vibes and opening the night are surprise guests, The Sixes and Sevens, Portsmouth’s new hottest indie-rock outfit who rose from the ashes of Moody Tuesday, a band you may have caught gigging in Swindon a few years ago.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, over at The Victoria for a mere £3, A Way With Words are spearheading a Songs of Praise line up. Although only a couple of years in, the band have already bagged some great tour supports and national festival appearances and their assertive and brash rock sound seems to be gaining them new fans at every outing. Joining them are Guildford’s Cavalier and Leader from Witney who also mix rock, indie, pop and punk in varying degrees to create brilliantly original music.

 

So for a mere £3 you can have access to 8 bands in two venues within 5 minutes of each other. All you have to do is work out the best logistics to catch the ones you want to see the most.

 

first published at Total news  –  March ’15

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Video of the Week – The Garden by Little Red

10986511_1588321124717045_7341341982193206051_nAlthough based more in the Oxford region, Little Red are no strangers to the Swindon gigging circuit. Here their new single, The Garden, neatly shows their traditional folk roots and their ability to give such a sound only the slightest of electric makeovers to make it more accessible to a contemporary audience, though not enough to alienate the beard stroking “folk police.” So walking a path between camps old and new their lilting melodies, clean sound and wonderful harmony arangements are as good as you are likely to hear emanating from todays folk genre.

If The Garden is the sort of thing that makes you reminisce about Fortheringay, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention then pick up a copy of their brilliant recent album Sticks and Stones via the link below.

 

https://allwillbewellrecords.bandcamp.com/releases

 

First published at Total News – March ’15

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Lazy Sunday Afternoon – Volume Three

LSA-Vol-3-Cover_1The Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions have become a well-established part of the local circuit, having brought a wealth of new acts into town via its monthly shows. Fans of acoustic, folk and roots music are well catered for and this, their third music sampler, acts as an excellent calling card and memento of what these shows represent.

 

The 9 tracks that mix the local talent with acts that you might not have otherwise come across, begin appropriately enough with the session hosts, Mr Love & Justice. Never Know Why perfectly sums up the bands lilting west-coast influences and rippling guitars dovetailed with their  quintessentially English approach. Younger, female singer songwriters are well represented with the delicate, pastoral pop of Faye Rogers, the soulful vibes of Tamsin Quin and Charlie-Ann Bradfield’s more chart glancing, Goulding-esque Army Bird.

 

Ever the traditionalist, Ed Hanfrey’s contribution, Mimi & I, is a timeless piece of folk that would be as comfortable in a small tent at Cambridge Folk Festival as it would be in the corner of a pub any time in the last three hundred years. Beasts of Their Own by Ells and the Southern Wild takes a dark and dynamic path through the folk genre and James Daubney provides a wonderfully dexterous instrumental to round things off.

 

But it is the two bands that I am less familiar with that really caught my attention. Naomi Paget’s reflective questioning vocal forms the core of What If? By Light Falls Forward, but the music it rests on is equally as impressive, weaving wonderful layers of subtle textures. Similarly, The Orient Express conjure exotic soundscapes, referencing traditional Turkish music as much as they do Western folk and the resulting Gelevera Deresi is reminiscent of Loreena McKennitt’s world music excursions.

 

So, buy the album, go to the shows and support the great work that is being done under the banner of Lazy Sunday Afternoon in hosting some amazing local, and not so local artists.

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Sounds Around Town : 5th – 11th March

10933803_1011615478852084_3192550600492000273_nLet’s just title this week “Victim of Success Week” as the gig diary seems to have gone into overdrive and get straight on with the show.

 

Something well wicked this way comes, as the yoof of today might say, tonight at The Victoria with a snarling, noisy, beast of a show from those awfully nice chaps at Songs of Praise. Described as “zombie grunge” Sheffield’s Steel Trees are one big slab of industrial strength noise and scorching, white hot guitars. Support comes in the guise of deliciously schizophrenic post-punkers, Nasty Little Lonely and Ex-Shrine main man Mat Caron’s new outfit I Am In Love.

 

The regular Acoustic Buzz session at The Beehive has a stellar line up, not only the subtle beauty of Jess Vincent’s folk-pop but also the achingly authentic, Americana-folk of Jim Evans. As always your host, Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning, kicks the night off.

 

Two big names are in town on Friday. Firstly at The Oasis The Modfather himself, Paul Weller, will be continuing to further the cause of quintessentially English song writing. The Second hails from much further away, Portland, Oregon to be exact. Having made a name with the distinctly multi-cultural, hard rock, junk-funk outfit, The Dan Reed Network, the eponymous front man will be playing at level 3 for the Fatboys Cancer Charity For Children Fundraiser. A host of other supports are in place, although be aware that limited tickets are only available in advance from the charity itself.

 

Although if you can’t get a ticket for that one, like classic rock and iconic indie covers and want to support a worthy cause then head over to Riffs Bar where Soundbites and Vice Versa will be playing to raise money for Breakthrough Brest Cancer.

 

If you prefer something a bit smoother, then The Tribe headline at The Victoria with their trademark fusion of soulful reggae, dance grooves and infectious hip hop vibes. Support comes from dubstep meets jazz meets hip-hop collective Dubbed Over.

 

The phrase, at the opposite end of the spectrum, doesn’t even begin to describe the wonderfully named Ma Polaine’s Great Decline who play The Beehive. These roots genre time travellers mix the blues of Howlin’ Wolf and genre hopping of Tom Waits to create a sound both familiar and exotic.

 

Also to be mentioned in despatches are The Runaway Boys, a tribute to The Stray Cats, at The Rolleston and fans of covers have the choice of Toxic at The Swiss Chalet or Mojo at The Castle.

 

Before talking of Saturday’s gigs, I should point out that the now well-established Record and CD fair will be taking place at The Central Community Centre from 9.00 am.

 

As for gigs, they are more about the tried and tested rather than the new and innovative but there is still some great music to be had. At Riffs Bar, Syntronix will be reliving all of the great synth pop of the eighties, everything from the big numbers such as Rio and Tainted Love to a few lesser-known numbers from the likes of Talk Talk and The Thompson Twins.

 

Rock is on the menu as Dodging The Bullet bring the noise to The Rolleston; something a bit more subtle can be found at The Victoria as Just Floyd pay tribute to one of the biggest and most uniquely creative bands on the planet.

 

Fans of Reggae, Ska and Rocksteady will want to be at The Beehive as the Shocks of Mighty DJs spin all the best tunes from those genres and Tony M and Friday Feeling play covers at The Castle and The Swiss Chalet respectively. Also in that vein is Jamie R Hawkins who can be found at Byron’s Wine Bar.

 

And even on Sunday there is no let up as Ron Trueman Border mixes up folk, blues jazz and a lot more at The Beehive afternoon session and it is with a tear in the eye that I can report that The Victoria will be the scene of Sheer Music’s last Swindon gig for the foreseeable future. It’s only fair that they should go out with a bang and so have managed to bag a date with Moose Blood (pictured)and Creeper currently touring the UK. So, if quality Emo and melodic punk are your sort of thing then help thank Kieran and the team for all their hard work over the years.

 

Finally dexterous acoustica taking in folk, blues and rock can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday courtesy of Andy Robbins.

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