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Having a sartorial image that falls somewhere between the guy who drove the van for The Waterboys in the late 80’s and All About Eve’s roadie around the same time, I tend to do most of my clothes shopping on-line or in charity shops. Today, as the sun beat down on Railway Town I braved the heart of the metropolis for coffee, cake and a rummage through the second had book shops. On the way back I thought I’d have a look through some of the mainstream outfitters for perhaps an interesting shirt or a new pair of suede boots.

I came away not only empty handed but wondering when exactly did the powers that be decide that we should all dress like a prep school twat from a medium sized town in Iowa? I don’t want chinos. I don’t want a fitted check shirt. I don’t want a pair of daps!* I certainly don’t want a pair of big shorts and a baseball cap! Why is it with apparently more shopping choice than ever on the high street we are becoming increasingly more conformist and unadventurous in our fashion?

*showing my age there.

 

 

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56730687_2207978619283075_2894034240620462080_oAre you ready for an unforgettable night of rock, prog and freakish twists and turns – from three bands making big waves on the international rock scene? If so then all discerning music fans need to make sure that they catch CIRCU5, I Am The Manic Whale and Let’s Swim, Get Swimming at LEVEL 3 in Swindon on SATURDAY 21 SEPTEMBER.

CIRCU5… imagine rock and prog poured into a blender, mixed with a dash of 60s vocal harmonies and lashings of hard-driving rhythms. But while certain influences spring to mind, CIRCU5 exists in its own world of adrenalin-rush anthems, addictive choruses and goose-bump melodies. CIRCU5 is the project of Steve Tilling – multi-instrumentalist and guitarist/vocalist for TC&I (the band of Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers from XTC).

I Am The Manic Whale are unashamedly a progressive rock band. While evoking many of the great progressive artists like Genesis, Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard and Neal Morse, the band brings something new to the table. Their intelligent lyrics touch on unusual and interesting subjects – from science fiction to the history of printing, the decay of a derelict swimming pool, and the artistic creations of Dutch artist Theo Jansen (Strandbeests).

Let’s Swim, Get Swimming are an instrumental math rock band hailing from Surrey, UK. The band consist of drummer Thomas Shrimpton, bassist Andrew Stokoe and guitarist Paddy Towner. Paddy is a new addition to the band as of July 2017, replacing the incredibly talented Will Lancastle. The three remaining members all studied at The Academy of Contemporary Music.

Debut record Islands brought the band immediate attention and landed them support slots with well established acts such as Totorro, The Physics House Band, And So I Watch You From Afar, Strobes, Tangled Hair and more. On the back of this success, Lets Swim, Get Swimming organised and embarked on 3 tours around the U.K, one consisting of a headline tour of 10 shows in 10 days.

Get your tickets (£6) HERE

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New directions of travel

funny-musicians-in-car.jpgThis site was mainly a vehicle for the Sounds Around Town column that I used to write for the Swindon Advertiser a way of finding it online when it had been relegated to the print only copy or hidden in a dark corner of the digital version akin to Arthur Dent’s infamous search for plans that were “on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

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0015047577_10All good things come to an end and this is my last time waxing lyrical on behalf of local live music. It’s been a fascinating trip, one lasting almost a decade and the circuit is as full and diverse as when I first picked up this virtual pen, perhaps even more so. Hopefully the role will be taken on by some younger, cooler scribbler, but for me I’ll just say thanks to all of the bands, venues and particularly the punters who ensured that I had something to write each week and to this august paper for giving me a platform to air my thoughts for so many years. It’s been a blast. So for one last time, I’m going in….

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51682737_2331387376912848_8750105669203394560_nThe curse of original music, in Swindon at least, means that most gigs I want to check out generally happen only on a Thursday. So with two gigs scheduled I headed out into the bracing night air. A quick pint at Baila provided a gentle start to the night before heading to The Tuppenny and my mate Tom doing a last minute acoustic slot in place of the unwell Emily Jane Shepherd.

Grasslands is often a sprawling musical affair involving guitars, synths and effects pedals   all being operated by our musical hero and always teetering on the edge of chaos. That’s half the fun. The acoustic sets are normally more focused and the quality of the songs is allowed to shine through. The charm of Grasslands is that between songs, Tom, who during the day works in environmental surveying, engages the audience in conversations in all things green with a particular relish for mosses. Somehow the banter turned darkly in the direction of Croatian attitudes towards badger culling, I may have been responsible for that but by and large it was a set of wonderfully affected, textured acoustic with sonic hints of early post-gabriel Genesis, surprisingly.

A wander down the hill to The Beehive and Matt Boulter has already on and for the next 40 minutes he delighted the modest crowd with his spacious and delicate songs. Aided and abetted by a fellow Lucky Strike on upright base the songs were as impressive as ever and I detected a lovely Paul Simon lilt in his voice that I hadn’t noticed before. The night rounded off with a nice chat before he had to pack the car up for the journey home.

Matt was playing as part of Tim Manning‘s Acoustic Buzz night, a monthly spot he has at this compact and bijou boozer. Always good to catch up with him too and before long I was wandering back through the night to a warm bed.

imgID137127048.jpg.galleryI’m sure most people aren’t interested in my bar related wanderings but as I want to keep this blog as a sort of diary of my activities, both scribbling and non scribbling, you are going to have to put up with my ramblings.

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1957678_404715793024462_9220940296262886703_oAs is often the way, we have to skip over tonight’s options, or lack thereof, and head straight on into Friday and to make up for such a gap in the calendar let’s start with something pretty special as Level III sees one of my favourite alt-rock bands of recent years hit the stage. Rewire The Time Machine (pictured) is a hard-hitting four-piece, weaving desert-blues and grunge intensity through dynamic and constantly shifting rock music. Doesn’t sound a bad way to start the week if you ask me.

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44355478_2024555787567157_6243720230233702400_o.jpgThat marvellous chap Jim Blair kicks off this week’s live music menu, a tasty starter blended from groovy acoustica and funky blues to whet your appetite and found at The Beehive, this very evening. 

If original acoustic music is your thing then you might also be interested in a neat little show this Friday at Darkroom Espresso, that wonderful little oasis of coffee, culture and craziness, and as is their wont the show is typically left field. It sees Ravetank’s wonky coming of age stories and scuzzy tunes spearhead the night with By The Day’s similarly warped deliveries acting as the perfect companion. Opening the night is Mat Caron and his intense and often downright bleak gothic folk meets sparse acoustic-noir narratives. If you want to support alternative venues trying something very original and unique then this is one to get behind.

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