Sounds Around Town : 15th – 21st March

sweetchunks-band-800x450Thursday, as always, is the night for original music and one of the most interesting line-ups to have graced the parish in a while can be found at The Tuppenny. The Blunderbuss Press is a strange and quixotic duo who blend Old World alt-folk with New World quirky Americana and sing songs whose lyrics wouldn’t seem out of place on a Bonzo Dog Band album. Support comes from Cursor Major, a band whose accessible indie-pop meets post-punkery has graced Swindon as a full band in the past but who will be rendering their songs into more a manageable, stripped back form on this occasion. If you want wonky pop and the sort of indie music which isn’t checking its hair in the mirror every ten minutes, then this is the show for you.

Indie of a more fashionable form can be found at The Victoria as a whole host of local movers and shakers line up behind This Feeling’s club night. These nights are aimed at bringing the newest and most happening bands to a wider audience and before This Feeling resident DJ’s remind us of great music past, it is the turn of those bands seeking to join that list. The Sulks paint with a wide, almost neo-psychedelic, sonic palette whilst Shore and GETRZ both thread some deft post-punk references through forward thinking takes on widescreen indie.

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Sounds Around Town : 8th – 14th March

Ginger Wildheart albumMaybe not the best known band name in the music world, but to many The Wildhearts are simply rock and roll legends. Creating a sound which felt like The Beatles crashing head first into Metallica, they rocked harder and played harder than most and have often paid the price for their full throttle lifestyle. Front man Ginger (pictured)has led a varied musical life between and since the bands regular breaks, playing with the likes of Michael Monroe, guesting in place of Jason Ringenberg in The Scorchers and over a decades worth of albums under his own name.

Tonight he brings the musical fruits of his latest album, the country and folk inspired Ghost In The Tanglewood, to The Victoria. Today’s Ginger is more reflective than before and the songs deal with many of the challenges he has personally faced, though universally relatable ones, but you know that even with the foot off the pedal somewhat, Ginger is a brilliant and engaging live act.

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Sounds Around Town : 1st – 7th March

17884323_2000823670141482_4213892188950281230_nThere does seem to be a upswell of strangeness going on in town at the moment. Last week saw the marvellously unique, cinematic, drone infused art attacks of Stereocilia sneak into the parish for a small but well attended show and tonight those lovely chaps at Liquid Library, who have been responsible for some really artistically left field musical events over the last few months, bring more oddness to The Victoria.

Fort Boyard! promise much more than 90’s French endurance game show references, expect punkadelic improv and synth-dub experimentation. Support comes from the schizophrenic blends of sonic brutalism and anti-folk acoustica of Tremelo Ghosts and the fuzz drenched noise-scapes of Zero Gravity Tea Ceremony, who you have to love for the name alone. I know this isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of darjeeling but I think as lunatic fringes go, I’m glad that the town is getting weird around the edges again.

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Sounds Around Town: 22nd – 28th February

26805351_1804865899523931_4455629295024373349_nBefore we get into the meat/quorn of the column this week, just a reminder that if you are not seeing your venues gigs here it probably isn’t because the author “only writes about his mates bands” but more likely that you need to keep your website up to date or better still ahead of the chronological curve. If you are updating your listing or events page whilst the band in question is setting up for the sound check, I think it is safe to say that it isn’t going to be that effective. If I, someone whose job it is to trawl the internet, can’t find your gig, it is likely that few other people are seeing it either. Maybe it isn’t that people aren’t consciously not supporting your gigs, maybe they just didn’t know that they were happening in the first place. These, however,  are the gigs I did manage to track down.

Something a bit special can be found at The Tuppenny tonight in the guise of Stereocilia. John Scott, the man behind the music, uses guitar, live looping techniques and analog synths to create dense and rich cinematic soundscapes and beguiling drone art attacks. Support comes from the always compelling Grasslands and his equally unusual musical blends.

The Teddy White Band can be found at The Beehive  for another round of their trademark selection of blues and boogy from a bygone age, long forgotten gems and underground classics. Germany’s Rooftop Sailors bring their classic infused slabs of alt-rock to The Victoria as the UK leg of their Dead Water tour hits town. Support comes from The Stolen Jam Band, who play a mix of alt-rock and pop-punk originals and covers.

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Sounds Around Town : 15th – 21st February

24130205_1950731681846354_9002837223731552477_oTo those who think that Swindon is one of those places always a bit behind the curve when it comes to embracing new, breaking music, what if it were to host an act which sounds like Jake Bugg’s angrier little brother fronting a super group made up of members of Catfish & The Bottlemen, Arctic Monkeys and Queens Of The Stone Age? Well, that is pretty much what you will get if you head to The Victoria tonight to catch Chay Snowdon. It’s only his second UK tour but much like the 14856 people who bang on about being at the Ed Sheeran gig at the same venue back in the day, you can also be one of those people with a smug “I remember when…” anecdote. Support comes from a couple of choice selections from the new wave of local indie, The Basement Club and The Substitutes.

If something of a more acoustic nature is required, two options raise their heads. At The Beehive you will find Barney Newman and his raw edged and rootsy, backwoods blends of folk and blues, whilst at The Tuppenny Lewis Clark returns for a solo show also pushing a folk and blues ticket but heading down a more Dylan, Van Morrison route. Lewis is joined by Nick Felix, one of the most popular solo players on the local circuit and purveyor of all things musically heartfelt, thoughtful and emotive.

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Heart of Gold – The Harlers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

27858290_1987478481505007_4204404359649383129_nIt’s been great watching The Harlers evolve and grow, from a basic two-piece of drums and guitar, through various sound enhancing, multi-amp, sonic manoeuvring to finally settle on the classic three-piece line up that they have now become. And whilst the bands delivery may have been subject to a few changes, the music that they deliver has stayed very much on focus – in your face, incendiary, blues-infused, garage rock.

Like many bands in the broad alt-rock genre that is today’s rock’n’roll weapon of choice The Harlers reference some classic bands, everything from modern purveyors such as Royal Blood, through such obscurities as Burning Tree and iconic outfits such as Cream, and a whole host of scuzzy, outsider guitar slingers from the golden age. Heart of Gold sees them ploughing the same rock furrow, not every band has to break down barriers or explore new sonic playgrounds but neither is this merely re-inventing the wheel either. The Harlers are torch bearers, the sound of classic rock and roll being carried through to a modern audience, and it is safe to say that they do it better than most.

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Veil – Richard Wileman (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

veil-coverOne of the restrictions of working with music that is so textured, intricate and dynamically fluid as Richard’s usual musical vehicle, Karda Estra, is that when it comes to live shows, the logistics surrounding the amount of players and gear that would be required to do the music justice is generally too prohibitive. Veil, therefore, feels like his pulling together a body of work, some new songs and instrumentals and some reworked pieces from the Karda Estra canon, that can form the basis of small, intimate live shows. Shows that can range from solo performances to slightly enhanced versions of the same as space and musician availability dictates.

What is great is that you get the best of both worlds, new, stripped back sonic journeys but ones which are built on the same creative pulse, musical references and progressive world view as Karda Estra. (Progressive here is used in the broader, genre hopping, rulebook ignoring sense, rather than any connotations of people dressed as wizards, singing about epic quests…possible performed on ice!)

Last Grains has a wonderful 60’s chamber pop feel, cascading vocals and jaunty guitar work really putting a Chelsea booted spring in the song’s step and at the other extreme Unmarked on Any Map is a haunting piece of pop noir. And alongside these more song based approaches, the more fluid form classical explorations are also given room. Andromeda Variations for Guitar being, as the name would suggest, a wonderfully dexterous, short acoustic guitar piece, hints of Iberia hanging between the darker passages and Amy Fry’s spotlight moment, Chaos Theme For Clarinet, hanging between the sound of a Midtown Manhattan jazz lounge and a slightly whimsical dystopian soundtrack.

It is a collection of songs that shows that even without the usual wide array of musical trappings, the heart of Karda Estra, and Richard Wileman’s music in general, is just as wonderfully mercurial and beguiling even when stripped down to its core. It shows too that the intricacies and originality are central to the way he writes and not merely the result of hanging strange textures and off kilter layers on more conventional structures. And more than anything, if this album marks Richard as a more regular fixture on the gigging circuit, for that alone it is an important step.

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