This may not be the busiest week for music but it is certainly one that pound for pound (can we still say pound and not be fined by the grey suited autocrats of Brussels?) carries a lot of clout. So we will start as we mean to go on with a band all the way from Milwaukee, a city famous for good beer, a life-sized statue of The Fonz and Direct Hit! who play The Furnace tonight. Part Ramones, part Andrew WK it’s raucous punk pop at it’s finest. Who better to support such an act as our own ska-punk superheroes, Slagerij, the almost unpronounceable Priceduifkes from Belgium and intense local hardcore super group, Scythes.
And if you think that’s good, wait till you get a load of what’s going on further up the hill. The Victoria plays host to a band who seem to be quickly rising through the ranks and it’s easy to see why. SkyBurnsRed (alloneword!) manage to mix the majesty and sweeping grandeur of the violin with raw alt-rock guitar and complex, eastern vibed rhythms. If that isn’t enough then support comes in the guise of The Naturals, up from Bristol and sounding like a collision between My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros, if you can imagine such a thing and The Playmakers who also have more than a touch of the post punk guitar swagger about them and who will be a playing a lunchtime gig at Rise Records before kicking this all off.
Middle Earth comes to The Beehive with the story telling meets folk-prog strangeness of Ash Mandrake.
Pun of the week must go to Fridays Beehive booking, the legendary Alan Clayson and the Argonauts…geddit? a strange and quintisentially English mix of John Otway style R’n’B, Tom Robinson song crafting and the camp and quirk of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
A bit out of town but a gig so good it really deserves a mention, The Bell on The Green in Devizes has a great slice of old school rock, headed by ex-Terrorvision man Danny Lamberts current musical vehicle, Hellbound Hearts, a three piece forged of an industrial strength rhythm section and buzz saw guitars. Support comes from White Knuckle Bride, a band who I can’t recommend highly enough and Burnthru.
Saturday has something for every one. Back at The Victoria and Cheltenham’s finest alt-country punks Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun who sit somewhere between the agit-folk of Frank Turner and the anthemic rock of The Gaslight Anthem breeze into town. If that wasn’t enough, Support comes in the shape of the haunting and haunted, sweeping and cinematic Old Colours and new kid on the block Mike Bezzer.
Teenage Kicks at The Furnace will cater for the young pop-punksers in town with a cracking line up headed by Beyond The Break and Hands Down with Year of The Thief and Post 12. For the really heavy serving suggestion however, the place to be is at The 12 Bar. South West Hardcore celebrate their first anniversary of running the heaviest sounds in town and as is only fitting they have an all-dayer where you can experience Rising From Death, Lifeline and Sleepwalkers to name just a few.
For the laid back Sunday lunchtime vibes, you can either head up to The Arts Centre to catch Mr Love and Justice and their blend of retro-pop melodies, folky vibes and socially aware lyrics or The Beehive for Cole Stacey, who not only matches skilful folk arrangements with heartfelt soaring lyrics, but who also comes with Steve “Show of Hands” Knightley‘s seal of approval. More rootsy music can be found that evening at The Rolleston with the welcome return of ex-Alarm guitarist, Dave Sharp and his brand of blue-collar bluesy Americana.
In a week of originality, the best is left to last. Detroit popsters, Johnny Headband (pictured), blend synth driven space pop jams with soaring atmospherics and alluring warped disco grooves. It’s as much about the theatricality as it is about the dancebility and if one of the guys on stage at The Victoria looks familiar it’s because he used to be in Electric 6, though for some reason has changed his name from the very reasonable Smorgasbord, to the more unlikely Keith Thompson. Hardly the stuff of rock and roll!