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talkincode-featured01Managed to get the latest Talk in Code release some room in NYC’s prestigious Big Takeover magazine. Read the whole review at the link below.

“Not only has Talk in Code always had a way with a great pop tune they have also always been smart enough to move with the times. I remember watching them in their earliest incarnation where they could easily have been found on a bill opening for the likes of Coldplay or Travis, which was exactly right for those times. Talk Like That is exactly right for these times. It’s still pop…”

Read the full review HERE

imageIt seems to me that there are two sorts of people in this here parish. There are those who spend their time on-line moaning that, musically speaking at least, nothing ever happens in Swindon. And there are those who don’t have the time for all of that nonsense as they are out supporting all the fantastic, musically speaking at least, things happening in Swindon.

I will make a prediction. Fassine heading back into town for a double header at Level 3 with local prog infused, alt-rockers Circu5 will be one of the defining gigs of the year. It may be a bit early to start with such hyperbole, but unless Hope Sandoval finally gives in to my almost daily requests to play a solo show in my front room, I can’t imagine there will be much to beat such a line up. Not for me anyway.

It’s safe to say that my love of Fassine’s music has lasted longer than most of my relationships but that’s music for you. I think the key is to love it from afar, keep the mystery alive, enjoy it for what it is. I remember hearing Sunshine for the first time, it seemed like a cheeky wink across a crowded room, and in the five years since, that has how things have remained. I don’t need to know too much about the people behind the sound, that would spoil the allure and despite seeing them trying to articulate their admiration for XTC as a set of talking heads in the documentary This Is Pop and that time the small one from the band with the penchant for military style caps tried to get me to dance at a TC&I gig, that’s the way things have remained.

I was lucky enough to see Fassine at Level 3, a gig which has since become a bit of a Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall moment, as I have personally met at least 400 of the 98 who attended that night. And that’s how I know how great this gig is going to be, made even more of a draw by the fact that they share the stage with Circu5. Any one who saw the TC&I shows will recognise a couple of the faces in this popular beat combo, but don’t expect there to be too much of musical similarity. This isn’t pop, this is rock. Circu5 began life as a labour of love for Steve Tilling, a set of ideas looking for a musical outlet, then a bunch of songs in search of an album to call home, an album in search of a live band, and finally a live band in search of a stage.

Thankfully, no one from Circu5 has ever tried to make me dance but that is not to say that you shouldn’t when they bring their weighty yet intelligent rock to town. They seem to be picking up favourable coverage in the printed prog world but do not expect people dressed as wizards singing songs about Charlemagne over 13 minute keyboard solos. This is prog for the 21st century, if prog it even is and I for one am doubtful and even with Steve’s often strange sartorial choices you can banish all worries of being subjected to any unpleasant Rick Wakeman-esque moments.

The two bands make for oddly perfect musical bedfellows. One a drifting blend of ambience and alternative dance beats, the other a heady mix of intelligent narratives and rock and roll swagger, opposites which attract, ones yin to the others yang…and a third analogy which I can’t think of at the moment.

Nothing ever happens Swindon! Wanna bet?

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a1398383177_16Sometimes an artist’s vibe, their defining quality, their unique selling point, is less about the face value sound of their music but what is going on below the surface of the sonics. Paul Lappin seems to support this theory of mine. If previous single Life Was Good motored along on an ever building, energetic indie groove, this time out things take a more considered, more understated route. And whilst it is easy to use such catch-all terms as pop or indie to describe what is going on here, what actually connects these two songs has more to do with their less obvious, less tangible qualities.

Somewhere between the clever production, which allows the myriad textures of the musical layers to exist in their own space and complement each other, and the positivity inherent in the writing, you find the real heart of what is going on here. If Life Was Good described a passing of the baton between perhaps father and son, a plea to get out there and really explore life and the world around you, After The Rain is a more personal reminder that the day is there to be filled with wondrous things, no matter how small.

And it is this spirit which shines through Paul Lappin’s music, a love of life, a need to see what is over the horizon or just savour the small things and encourage others to do the same. Musically it bridges a gap between the sweeter sounds of the pre-Britpop era and today’s indie creations. After the Rain chimes and charms in equal measure, the song sits on a lush network of instruments which are woven together to create a fantastic platform for the vocals to dance on and which are given freedom to throw in additional motifs and subtle inclusions, concise musical breaks and clever, one-time-only musical flashes of inspiration.

Not all music has to break boundaries or fuse together genres like mad sonic scientists feverishly working away in midnight laboratories. Sometimes it is all about taking familiar sounds, tried and tested ways of making music and using those building blocks to build something which just gets on with the task at hand. The task being as simple as making cool, charming, addictive and gorgeous music. This is certainly one of those times and it is fair to say that the task has been performed to perfection.

 

84941272_2854537271261086_2376828974551531520_nI like to make little stands against automation and the erosion of once simple concepts by unnecessary marketing, the slow Americanisation of once simple things and the perpetual desire by companies to make things cooler. I know things are all headed a certain way but I don’t use automated check-outs as a sort of stand against job losses to automation…it aint the people with funny coloured skin that will take your jobs it’ll be those pesky robots. I also tend not to use the fancy names that a simple thing like a cup of coffee has now, especially as I drink it straight up and black. Cup – beans – hot water! Simple. The stupidity of it hit home when I found myself not in my usual cool, liberal, hippieish, arty, musicy cafe, where they indulge my whims, but in one of those production line, chain coffee shops that have these days…the ones which serve children sized drinks and don’t pay any tax.

“Just a black coffee please.”

“Would that be an Americano?”

“If that equates to a straight-forward black coffee?”

“Yes, it does.”

“I’ll have one of those then, thank you.”

“One Americano. Do you want room for milk in it?”

“@&*!!£$@”

(Thanks to Only Connect I know know that the above sentence is known as a grawlix..well, it would be if it were in a cartoon speech bubble.

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imageMy friend Tom, ecologist, model builder, board game enthusiast, sonic wizard and all round good egg, has been doing a thing called Jamuary as a bit of a musical divergence from his usual Grasslands hymn book. The premise, as you may have already guessed, was to record and film one loose jam session per night throughout the month with friends and fellow makers of mad music or failing that to jam with himself via this increasing collection of synths and samplers and sonic witchery.

I was lucky enough to be asked along to do a bit of spoken word to work as the basis of one of these sessions. On the trip over I realised that he wanted me to narrate something from Urban. Urban is a concept I have, a multi-worlds, pan dimensional story line which is in various unfinished states. A novel which never quite shapes up, a set of RPG rules which is still under construction, I have even flirted with it being a TV or radio script. Whatever it is, it now has the first sketches towards a soundtrack.

So we recorded me reading the introduction…after much mirth from Tom and then set about putting some music behind it. I haven’t picked up the bass for about 5 years and I have never made music with Tom before so it was great to finally have a jam with him. What ensued was a sort of drifty, arabesque, Blade Runner type piece, my verbose and pretentious twaddle at its heart and the two of us creating skittering, bass-synth soundscapes around it. I think we were both pretty happy with the result.

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Writers Write…right!

I find myself neglecting this site. I guess the problem is that primarily I set it up to talk about and promote local, original music and between my new found hermity ways and the fact that there isn’t a lot of original music going on any more, there isn’t a lot to report. So if the music won’t come to Muhammad, then change the nature of the mountain…blog…whatever….I’m not great with analogies.

Anyway, Writers Write as they say and despite spending most of my working week writing, it is usually all about paying the bills rather than writing creatively. So the answer is obvious. Post this site regularly as a form of writers discipline and try to make the perceived ordinariness of the world around me seem interesting. Or at least let off a bit of steam. So now consider this a place where I write about more than the music scene, though I don’t know what that might look like yet. Stay tuned….

74936944_415877582692258_557440128855834624_o.jpgStay Lunar has to be one of the more interesting young bands straddling the indie-pop divide at the moment and I’m not saying that just because they probably know where I live and no, I don’t owe them money. It’s true. Indie seems to have become a tad formulaic of late, the realm of airbrushed kids sporting the right clothing brands and more concerned with their complicated hair than the music, and mainstream pop is still the bastion of production line, industry puppet shows. But, as I pointed out when listening to Brainshake, their ability to bring the best bits of both genres together and not pander to the cliches is what makes them stand out from the crowd.

Catch Up sees them playing with an oriental infused synth riff that would have been at home in an 80’s New Romantic classic but rather than merely plunder those nostalgic sounds they instead seem to be inspired by them and the song sounds nothing but contemporary and forward thinking. Guitars gentle cradle the signature sound and the rhythm section play tastefully understated rhythms. Infectious to a fault, chart ready yet street smart, youthful and buoyant, this is everything the mainstream pop sound should be. Get behind it and help make the changes you want to see in the pop world. That’ll be a meme by the weekend, you wait and see!

 

January’s Musical Musings

73320216_3227727390587092_1165816366524006400_nIt’s odd writing a What’s On guide for January this in early December (such is the nature of the deadlines and stuff) but I guess it is the closest I will ever get to time travel. So by the time you read this the floor will be covered in Christmas Tree needles, there will only be a quart of turkey curry still to get through and we will have already had to endure enough jokes about 2020 vision and the like from tabloid headline writers to last a lunchtime.You can always distract yourself from such niggles by checking out some live music, which is, understandably, a bit thin on the ground but what there is is certainly worth the effort.

It may be a new decade but some things never change and if you head to The Rolleston on 11th for a slice of Hamsters From Hell there are plenty of guarantees. On the one hand there will be blue humour, swearing, toilet references and the sort of raw R&B that can strip wall paper. On the other hand there will be a surprisingly fine plethora of musicians (looks are deceiving) a wonderfully raucous night out to be had and …well, the sort of raw R&B that can strip wall paper.

At the same venue on 17th Innes Sibun will be delivering his trademark blend of searing rock and roll and soulful blues. There is a reason why none other than Classic Rock magazine dubbed him “The best kept secret in British blues, “ pop along and find out why.

Rock is also on tap at the Victoria on 23rd as Scarlet Rebels and Revival Black bring their Rising Tour to town. They may sound like a couple of pints from the more expensive end of a craft ale bar but the former infuse Therapy? style punch with the suppleness of Muse and the latter have one foot firmly in the classic 70’s rock sound…which is why they get to call none other than Whitesnake tour buddies!

On 23rd The Tuppenny gets back in business with a wonderful double header. Both Phil Cooper and Jamie R. Hawkins (pictured) channel classic acoustic sounds, from James Taylor to Crowded House. Whilst they are often found on stage with Tamsin Quin, this is a chance to remind yourself what fantastic players and songwriters each of them is in his own right.

If something more weighty is to your taste then Bots at The Victoria on the very same evening offer some jaunty indie tempered with some solid rock riffs. A newish local band, so go along and support your scene why don’t you?

And moving along into February, Still Marillion return to Level III on the first of the month. Okay, I don’t normally talk about tributes in this column but I spent my formative years watching the real deal and still have a soft spot for their proggy ways.

Finally on 6th Feb head along to The Tuppenny for a stripped back take on Raze*Rebuild’s usually soaring punky Americana. They say that the true test of whether a  song is any good is if it sounds okay on an acoustic guitar. Let’s find out shall we? Support comes from the ubiquitous Charlie Miles and a musical cohort who go by the name of New Bedlam Asylum…which sounds perfectly ambient and reserved…dontcha think?

80049445_2753975768001450_2790020960323895296_nOver the last year or so I have found myself musing on the thought that surely in such a dark age, in the face of widening social divides and entrenched, broken political debate that there would be more music being made echoing the thoughts of those looking to kick back. I often point out that rock ‘n’ roll, punk, hip-hop and the like were all born out of frustration and social change, disaffection and rage. I would have written something on the matter for this site bit I have just read an elegant and eloquent post by that splendid chap Scott Rowley and so thought I’d post his words in full instead. Thank you for putting into language what is confusing my small brain these days.

“It’s impossible to imagine the world of December 14th, 1979, when London Calling was released but let’s give it our best shot.

Imagine if you will a Britain where right wing politics is on the rise. Where the rock revolution you were a part of has become insular, hell-bent on repeating itself and recycling the past. Where the charts are full of novelty pop and the TV full of Yankee detectives.

A world where the working class are under attack: the victim of right wing policies designed to take from the poor and give to the rich. Where they’re either denounced as knuckle-headed thugs or romanticised as noble savages living in squalor, and the political choice offered them is between England-for-the-English nationalism or up-the-workers socialism. A world in which immigration is blamed for all our ills and families who’ve lived here for decades – whose culture (language, music, cuisine) has totally influenced, informed and improved “British culture” – are under attack.

Their sons and daughters represent our country in sports – they are our greatest football players, but still there is racism on the terraces. The Labour Party is split – low in the opinion polls after their last time in government and riven by internal conflicts. Anew controversial figure has become Prime Minister. Scotland wants independence. There is civil unrest.

That was 1979. It’s a world so radically different to our country today you can scarcely imagine it, right? But c’mon, give it yer best shot.

London Calling is the sound of The Party At The End of the World. The title track itself looked at a forthcoming environmental apocalypse (“the ice age is coming”) – and said, “Fuckin bring it on.” (‘London is drowning and I live by the river…’). Joe Strummer later said that he was most proud of the fact that The Clash weren’t “Little Englanders”. The dirty punks wanted Oi! The Clash gave them soul, reggae, rock’n’roll, R&B.

Encouraged by producer Guy Stevens (as head of Sue records, he’d introduced the likes of Ike and Tina Turner, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Inez and Charlie Foxx to the UK. He’d produced Free, named Procol Harum and formed Mott and he produced like Jurgen Klopp manages – the boys just wanted to play for him.

He generated team spirit. They literally played football every day. Stevens would play war films in the background while they recorded and smash chairs jubilantly.

Train In Vain grooves like classic soul. Guns Of Brixton conjures up genuine London reggae. Rudie Can’t Fail was ska-punk in excelsis. The Right Profile, Revolution Rock, I’m Not Down – the songs on London Calling are a righteous, raucous rave-up.

We need music like that more than ever.”

With great thanks to Scott Rowley.