26170782_914630398738455_5843566105616402098_o 2Sadly it is time to morn the passing of another musical great. Mark E. Smith, the glorious leader of The Fall may not have had the mainstream success that other recently departed icons were known for, but he was an icon nonetheless. An icon of otherness, of belligerence, of the anti and the other, of subversion, things which are by and large missing from todays music. He walked a line between the brilliant and the bizarre, shows were as likely to be terrible as transcendental, lyrics were confrontational and strangely poetic and gigs were your own little secret. He could have steered the band towards stadium success but instead preferred to play above pubs in Bethnal Green or decrepit ex-discotheques in Wythenshawe! Wether you got him or not, loved him or loathed him we can all guarantee that the world will be a less interesting and more conformist place without him. Anyway…to horse, well, musically speaking.

Maybe something of the Fall frontman non-conformity can be found at The Victoria tonight with the launch of Grasslands latest release. Mixing old school guitars and cutting edge samples, rock muscle and clinical electronica, sweeping cinematics, wings and prayers, Grasslands takes many forms, often shifting even within songs and always underpinned by an environmental and often existential thought process. Beguiling, mercurial, exploratory and amusing…be charmed, be challenged and buy a CD on the way out!

Tonight also sees the return of the ever popular Acoustic Buzz session at The Beehive, a well established evening of all things folk, country, Americana and roots music, tonight spearheaded by Jessica Lee Morgan (who music trivia buffs will be aware is the daughter of none other than Mary Hopkin and Tony Visconti). Expect slick and upbeat, acoustic folk reminiscent of the likes of Thea Gilmore. A more bluesy tack is taken by Joe Kelly and completing the all Welsh line up is your host Tim Manning and his country folk musical machinations.

At The Queen’s Tap, The Rock Bottoms host their regular open mic. night, not just any open mic. night, one hosted by two guys who honed their trade as members of Merrymouth and Ocean Colour Scene and who are more than happy to advise and support new artists.

On Friday those awfully nice chaps at Destination Anywhere have secured the return of Big Boss Man to The Victoria, a modern band blending the sounds of sixties soul and funk, Hammond lead power pop and retro R&B, effortless groove, energy and the coolest underground vibes. Another returning Swindon favourite can be found at The Beehive with Lewis Clark and The Essentials,(pictured) folk and blues with a rootsy retro twist, old soul for new souls, intricate acoustica and so much more besides.

Going down the more pre-loved and familiar roots, those incorrigible Hawkins boys, Tim and Jamie, aka Son of David, play acoustic covers at The Castle but do so in a way that combines music and harmony in a way that only siblings are able to do.

Elsewhere The Thieving Magpies lay out a similar stall at The Windmill, People Like Us take things down a fuller but no less subtle and intricate musical pathway at The Bakers Arms and Broken Silence play accessible rock and highly charged pop at The Groves Company Inn. There is a reason why Penfold are regarded as one of the premier party bands on the circuit and now with an augmented line up and an even wider repertoire you can find out why that is at The Queen’s Tap.

Just when you thought that it was safe to go out, Saturday sees those serial rhythm’n’boozers, purveyors of musical mayhem and soundtrack to a rollicking night out, The Hamsters From Hell unleashed on the unsuspecting clientele of The Castle.

The Hog Wild Scooter Club has its annual shindig at The Victoria, not just a night for those to get together and share their love of all things scooter related but also a great night out for anyone wishing to party the night away to a mix of Northern Soul, Ska, 2-Tone, Brit-Pop and New Wave courtesy of their very own DJ’s. Indie and rock classics courtesy of those fine gentlemen Vice Versa is to be had at The Queen’s Tap and Emergency Banter supply a sprinkling of rock gems from across the ages at The Groves Company Inn.

And the options don’t end with the weekend as The Victoria has a couple of musical offerings to see you through the week. Firstly on Tuesday, The Blinders bring their poetic and literary fuelled punkadelic sounds to town and the following day you will find authentic American blues, delivering old school vibes courtesy of contemporary players Josh Smith and Ariel Posen.