Sounds Around Town – 7th – 13th December

13407096_10153662274891463_6649436038957675124_n.jpgIn a world which seems ever more divided along political lines, knowingly supporting cash over climate issues, payola over peace and where a small very small sector of society pull the strings and calls the shots, wouldn’t it be good to have someone come along and make sense of it all. Not some dry political hack or firebrand orator but maybe a guy with a bass guitar, a hat and a bag of songs which point fingers, neatly satirises and gently ridicules the state of the world. It might not fix the problems but it sounds like a fun night out to me. Oh look, Grant Sharkey is at The Tuppenny tonight, what a co-incidence!

Meanwhile down at The Beehive, that excellent fellow Tim Manning is hosting his Acoustic Buzz night, a session dedicated to all things rootsy and this time around Boss Caine headlines the night, imagine Tom Waits singing Ryan Adams …if they had both had the good fortune to grow up in Yorkshire that is. Chris Webb is also on the bill, a finger-style folkie par excellence and your host will kick the night off with his song-blends of country and folk.

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Sounds Around Town – 30th Nov- 6th Dec

23737694_1197292103706164_1036619967639662373_o-1If the term Folk-Punk implies a blend of deftly wrought tunes and vibrant energy, old school charm and a rabble-rousing soul, then Davey Malone could indeed be the poster boy for such a movement. Temporarily ditching his band,The Longtails, and heading out on his first solo tour he comes to The Victoria tonight armed with comedic and cautionary takes, poignant political and thought provoking prose, charisma and rough hewn elegance.

At The Beehive you will find the beat and boogie, rhythm and musical rhyme of The Teddy White Band who plunder the back catalogue of underground classics, revive and rejuvenate a host of songs you had almost forgotten about from a time when music mattered more than record sales and people were, quite frankly, much better dressed.

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TC and me: A cup of tea and a chat with Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers

thumbnail-1With the E.P. Great Aspirations seeing Colin Mounding and Terry Chambers musically reunited, we sat down for a chat about all things TC&I, past, present and future, in that order. So the first question is to ask if it really was 1983 that the two last worked together musically?

“Yes,1983 and then Terry left the country.” Which begs the obvious question of why get back together now? “Because it’s soul destroying working on your own,” Colin admits, “Terry came back into the country and we went out for a few drinks and I said, ‘Look I’m working on some stuff, do you fancy having a go?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that would be great,’ one thing led to another and before long we had an outfit and so we could record something. It’s just a need to be with other musicians and have fun, working alone is hard, you need that feedback from fellow musicians. Although I had a few tunes, the project didn’t really take on any solid purpose until Terry was involved.”

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Scene and Heard : Boneyard –  Alice and The Lovers

cover1 001Having last crossed my path with their debut single Valentine a couple of years ago, it is only fitting that Alice and The Lovers are back on the radar with an equally seasonal song, this time one which slots right into the more ghoulish themes of the Halloween vibe. Boneyard is the perfect blend of the band’s inherent light and shade, one that balances the harmonies and pop grooves of the classic girl-group era with the edge of nineties alt-rock and US college radio, and more than tips a jaunty angled hat to 70’s pop-rock. And it is the band’s ability to walk this line between the infectious and commercially viable, and the underground and more discerning rock tastes, something, it should be noted, that it took Hole three albums to get right, which sets them apart from the pack. And if Boneyard was touted as a lost track from the seminal Celebrity Skin album, few questions would be asked, except perhaps why this wasn’t released as the second single.

Recorded at The Lighterthief Bunker under the watchful eye of Messrs. Rowe and Partridge, it comes as no surprise that it was mixed by none other than Mike Chapman, a name entwined with seminal, female led bands such as Blondie and Suzi Quatro. If you like your pop music with a mean streak and a dash of vitriol or indeed your rock music with an accessible and contagious groove then Alice and The Lovers do it much better than most.

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Great Aspirations – TC&I (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

largeIt is always difficult for musicians associated with a past name act to bring fresh music to the table without people trying to join dots and name check, extrapolate and reference, particularly if that previous act was one which rose over the years from mercurial pop outsiders to full blown national treasures. And so Colin Moulding and Terry Chamber’s first post-XTC collaboration arrives amid a flurry of speculation but I’m sure they want nothing better that to see this e.p. as a new start, a thing apart, a line drawn underneath the past rather than part of some fan envisaged ex-TC canon.

After all in many ways the sound of XTC was often defined by the guitar playoffs between Andy’s angular pop approach and Dave’s more florid musical statements so with that no longer part of the equation we get to fully appreciate Colin’s own English pop vision. And with so much to look back on from a certain point in the arc of life it is not surprising that it is a very reflective vision, Scatter Me dealing with the inevitability of returning to the mere building blocks of the universe but in doing so remaining part of the landscape you spent your life in and Greatness discussing the high aspirations of the e.p.s title.

Comrades of Pop is the track that will be most discussed by the fans and followers, probably more for lyrical content as for anything else. It is the sound of lines being very much drawn under the past, the squawk of cats amongst pigeons, the distant smell of smoke from bridges burning and a reflective overview which probably applies to any number of bands.

What Colin and Terry have created here is something tasteful, deftly wrought, restrained and wonderfully English, West Country…. Swindonian even, if you are close enough to get the references. It is in turns lyrically funny, emotive and poignant and falls into a sort of alternative pop territory that seems to be done so well in this country evoking the likes of Martin Newell and Billy Childish, perhaps not sonically but coming from a similar musical mindset. In short, triumph and hopefully merely the first chapter of a new musical novel.

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The Raven and The Rose –  Wisdom of The Trees (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a2461722928_16Most modern music is made for all the wrong reasons, be it the desire to be a career musician or to get that 15 minutes of fame, a means to an end and a very shallow end at that. That is what I appreciate about Wisdom of The Trees and Will Elmore, the man at the heart of these wonderful musical projects, he is the total opposite of that star chasing ethic. Every so often a new album pops up on the radar, no fanfare, no fuss, just a sonic message in a creative bottle being dropped into the ocean to see who will find it and what they will make of it. Music made for all the right reasons, a creative outpouring, the need to communicate, the desire to build something.

And if last time around Fragments of Sound was an eclectic collection of trippy, ambient dance instrumentals, this time the focus is more song based and having gathered a collection of guest vocalists, with Nigel Boyd Robinson taking the lions share and doing a sterling job, to add the required lyrical dimension and the result is a wonderfully smooth, pastoral folktronic journey.

The titles and subject matter suggest some very familiar, traditional motifs being played with but it is the reimagining of these standard forms into hazy, drifting post-folk gems that is the real charm of the album. Come Away With Me plays with buoyant east European grooves and Under The Moonlight revels in 60’s folk revivalism and then you have songs such as Rambling Man which somehow captures a strange, smokey 80’s Hall and Oates pop vibe whilst still staying well within the albums remit. For me it is The River’s Daughter that is the highlight of the collection, a mercurial blend of The Incredible String Band and the bucolic pop of The Lilac Time.

It’s a fantastic collection of music, it shows just one future path of folk toward the potential of the new roots sunrise. Folk music has been with us since the first proto-human banged a stick on a fallen tree trunk to create rhythm and then stuck his finger in his ear to better harmonise with it, and so its reinvention every generation or so is only natural, necessary even. What The Raven and The Rose does so well is help keep the evolutionary forces at work, it may not seem like much but it is the most vital job in the musical landscape.

 

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Scene and Heard  : Scatter Me –  TC&I  

desktopThere have been many songs about what Mr Shakespeare so eloquently refered to as “shuffling off this mortal coil” and it is part of the human experience to muse on what happens after we are done with this life, but few, if any, have broached the subject so beautifully, so gently and so expertly wrapped up in a song which is also so pulsing and vibrant. It takes a special type of songwriter to weave such deft and delicate musical threads into such a wonderful design. It takes someone like Colin Moulding.

Scatter Me is the first public outing that sees him reunited with his fellow XTC rythmn section partner Terry Chambers and comes hot on the heels of a wonderful 4 track EP called Great Aspirations which by now you already own or which is in the post…I can really think of a third option. It is an e.p. which shows that whilst age may have led to a more reflective view of the world, the duo’s ability to put together wonderfully poignant songs, ones which root them to and very much reference the part of the world where they first learnt to be musicians together all those years ago, is undiminished.

Scatter Me considers the human contition and in a very humanist and slightly humourous way pictures an immortality that on reflection and in the bigger scheme of things, doesn’t seem so bad after all. Great to see you back chaps, you have been missed.

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