Tag Archive: albion


28922_10150174875560344_135658_nIt’s not often that you get the offer to time travel, well, a Delorean and a mad scientist are hard to come by these days. Okay not time travel more like nostalgia surf as a friend of mine was trying to persuade me that the idea of an 80’s retro party might be something I might like. There was then a description of how they would all be in day-glo garments, jumpsuits, shoulder pads, leg warmers and the like. I may be of the right age but that really isn’t the eighties that I lived through. Whilst  the denizens of such a gathering may have a rose tinted hankering for Wang Chung’s Everybody Have Fun Tonight or Chic’s Boogie Wonderland, I spent a lot of that time in muddy fields and Student Union bars surrounded by people in donkey jackets, DM’s and Cole Not Dole T-shirts! I suspect that the DJ on the night wouldn’t take kindly to requests of Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead or The Specials dystopian classic, Ghost Town.

I don’t get this odd recollection of the eighties being about throw away pop and brash costume.This was a decade when The Smiths had 15 top 30 hits outgunning the quintessentially 80’s acts like Go West four times over. Bands such as ABC, Bananarama, Ultravox and Toyah all failed to hit the number one spot, a feat achieved by a quartet of socialist oiks from Hull called The Housemartins. Nostalgia isn’t what it use to be…quite literally.

Okay, enough of the past, lets bring it bang up to date with what live music you can experience this week. Tonight the Beehive have something that couldn’t be more “of the now” in the shape of Fatmagic, a band who make electronic music and mix it with the usual live instruments but also cello and violin. The result is an ever shifting sound that meanders through pop, dance and dubstep but with folky hooks and classical phrases. Now that’s how you move music on.

More traditional but equally great music can be found also in the top bar of The Victoria with Albion and their new take on timeless English folk music.

Roots driven music also features on Friday as Batelers grace the stage of The Rolleston with their joyous blend of celtic rhythms, pastoral folk and old time americana but elsewhere fans of the noisier end of the spectrum are well catered for as well. Firstly over at Riffs Bar, The Secret Chord is offering up a line up of the best noise merchants in the business. Gloriously ranty, often offensive and superbly tight 2 piece punk band, 2 Sick Monkeys is the main draw but added muscle comes in the shape of Headcount, a punk-metal collision who channel the raw and confrontational energies of the likes of Therapy? and Killing Joke. The night opens via the welcome return of GagReflex,(pictured) who have been described as  “ A two headed punk rock machine – small enough to tour in a car; big enough to take your face clean off.” Charming!

Other noisesome options are 1000 Planets playing punk, goth and alt-rock covers at The Beehive and a double header tribute at The Victoria to the music of Rammstein and Metallica. Retro-pop fans will find what they are looking for at The Arts Centre as Voulez Vous relive the heady days of Abba.

Saturdays contribution to original music is best found at The Victoria with The Blue Trees and their rootsy americana with a distinctly southern feel, Jon Trowbridge and his driven yet soulful piano grooves and back on the scene after a bit of a hiatus, Marky Thatcher. Fans of classic rock and metal covers will be congregating at The Rolleston for Shepherds Pie.

Sundays offerings will take you to more formal venues. You can catch Whole Lotta Led  (Led Zeppelin) at The Wyvern Theatre though culture vultures might want the more chilled experience of the saxophone and piano of Sarah Markham and Paul Turner kicking of the 20th Anniversary Season of The Swindon Recital Series at The Arts Centre.

Wednesday rounds the musical week off with a David Marx in solo mode, minus his fellow AK-Poets at The Running Horse and those latin jazz legends Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at The Roaring Donkey.

Library - 62So, the big noise this weekend seems to be coming from up the hill, as the Old Town Festival reaches it’s climax in fine style. Of particular interest to the culture vultures and gig goers alike is the big finale at The Lawn on Saturday with an afternoon of performing arts in all it’s forms by the various local schools and academies, followed by an evening of acoustic music from the likes of Hiproute, Albion, Ethemia, Coach and more besides. Make sure you check their website for the full menu that includes a parade, dog show, running events and a cornucopia of other activities.

Also watch out for the 105.5fm Late Gig boys who are running a tongue in cheek awards ceremony on Friday in that very same location. I repeat, this is just a bit of fun so please don’t get upset if your band didn’t get nominated, look on the bright side, it means that you won’t be obliged to talk to “The Andys” or to use the title of their new, Channel 5 sketch platform, The Mitchell and Pett Show.  Every cloud and all that!

Back in the usual haunts and back into chronological order, tonight, The Victoria  has one of it’s regular Band and Burlesque shows, this time it takes as it’s theme the Carry On films, so nothing at all risqué there you will be pleased to hear, and music is from the stalwarts of skiffle, Ode and the BeBops who will be endeavouring to find out the answer to the age old question, does your chewing gum loses it’s flavour on the bedpost overnight? Or not.

More serious music is afoot at The Beehive with this month’s Acoustic Buzz. Some call it roots-blues, some call it country or rough around the edges folk, but Canadian singer songwriter, Lynne Hanson describes her music as “porch music with a little Texas red dirt.” Call it what you will, just don’t miss it. Especially as support comes from that harmonious celtic-folk-americana duo, The Black Feathers and as always Blind River Scare main man, Tim Manning, hosts the night. Fans of more mainstream music might wish to head for Baker Street for the acoustic pop and soulful tones of Kieran Cox.

Friday sees the return of a band that I have been looking forward to for a long time. The place is The Beehive, the band is The Snakes (pictured). Having just released their third album, The Last Days of Rock and Roll, the band return to the town that featured heavily in their formative years to show you just why they count Bob Harris and Mark Lamarr amongst their fans. If the sound of Whiskeytown colliding with Mott The Hopple sounds like your thing, be there and then buy the album.

Younger fans will be pleased to know that Teenage Kicks takes up residence in it’s new home at Riffs Bar and this inaugural show takes the form of a pop-punk showcase with Disclosure (no, not that one, the other one,) Not My Finest Hour, Save The Dinosaurs, Written In Words and The Hourglass Has Turned. Elsewhere it’s classic rock covers at The Rolleston with guitar Gandalfs Metalhead and the brilliant Interlight at The Victoria who basically play anything that takes their fancy and with wit, style, panache and matching suits.

Saturday sees R’n’B pop giant, Billy Ocean come to The Old Town Bowl and support comes from another eighties pop sensation, Hazel Dean. Those folkies out there may opt to travel a bit further afield to catch either Grubby Jack at The Waggon and Horses in Wootton Bassett or if you can manage to track down a ticket, Show of Hands at The Great Coxwell Barn. Either way you are in for a treat.

Sunday sees those awfully nice chaps from Mr Love and Justice take their Lazy Sunday Afternoon gig to The Old Town Bandstand where they will be joined by the Cajun vibes of Kim Coupland and the wonderfully elegant acoustica of Nick Felix.

Tuesday jazz at Baker Street comes courtesy of vocal and piano led Paul Buck/Catherine Sykes Quartet and acoustic music is well represented as always at The Running Horse on Wednesday by the powerful and melodious songs of Ben Maggs and the off beat sounds of Salisbury duo, Child of Imber.

And now the News. In light of recent events I now find my position as writer of Sounds Around Town no longer tenable and have therefore decided that the only proper course of action is to step aside and spend more time with my record collection and re-runs of Time Team. As a replacement I have appointed myself to the position of Acting Dave Franklin as an interim solution until the matter is resolved. So as to avoid any lengthy negotiations I have also asked the paper to consider me for a £450,000 golden handshake but have, as of yet, received no reply. Apparently questions have been raised in the House about the situation, not my house, you understand, someone else’s house, but the windows were shut and I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

 

So on with the show. It’s Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight again the tables and subdued lighting is out to welcome the dulcet tones of Emily and The Dogs. Mixing jazz, folk and rock and coming off somewhere between Polly Harvey and Ani Di Franco, this trio of highly experienced musicians are something a bit special. A slight change to the plans sees historically aware, baroque-pop stalwarts Mr Love and Justice take the middle spot with Nick Felix opening up the evening. Meanwhile jazz is on the menu at The Beehive with the guitar and vocal combo Ruba Tempo.

 

Friday night is all about the Children in Need show out at Riffs Bar. Burnthru bring their rock hybrid – part metal, part sleaze, part grunge to the party and joining them are The Dark Sinatra’s, a band whose ability to mix groove driven bass lines, rocked out jazz junkie drum fills and Byzantine heavy guitar work into something dark, experimental yet accessible and danceable is unprecedented.  Scud Penguin and 5 Lives Left are also helping this most worthy cause.

 

Over at The Furnace it’s all about old school rock. Out of the flatlands of the windswept east, otherwise known as Lincolnshire, come Nightvision, blistering classic rock, razor wire riffs and thunderous rhythms will be the order of the day. Dead By Friday? and Wreckoning provide more of the same, but if you like your rock a bit more Sunset Strip, a bit more sleaze-boogie and street-smart, then make sure you catch Rough Cut.

 

In a week with an already heavy rock bias, then The Victoria will provide a roots music oasis on Saturday night. The funky grooves and lap guitar blues of Hip Route are the musical destination of the evening but first you will have to negotiate a wonderful journey through soulful acoustic jazz vibes of The Andy Grant Trio and the smorgasbord of southern sounds that tumble from Pignose (pictured).

 

The Royal Oak plays host to The Erin Bardwell Collective, old school ska, reggae and rocksteady all go into the mix and whilst you are there make sure you pick up a copy of their cracking new album, Bringing The Hope.

 

Back into the maelstrom of the heavy sounds that are dominating this week and a perfect pairing washes up at The Furnace. Both Godsized and Eye For An Eye revel in thunderous riffs and colossal beats without losing their ear for melody. The result is a biker metal mix of the best of old school British such as Sabbath and the southern swagger and groove of ZZ Top turned up to eleven. From Ruin play the role of the perfect opening act.

 

The 12 Bar also get in on the act as Newquay hardcore outfit, Envy The Fallen play a tribute set to Australian metalcore band, Parkway Drive. More metal is also forthcoming from Make No Mistake and the modest Dissolute who’s website states that they are “way ahead of their time in terms of talent.”

 

Sunday afternoon is a bit more chilled out. When they cried Go West! one native of Tulsa, Oklahoma came east, and you can hear the anglicised, alt-country and Costello-esque delivery of Bob Collum at The Beehive for the  afternoon session. Alternately you can head for the Arts Centre and another outing for the west-coast jangle meets West Country lore of Mr Love and Justice. They are joined by Albion, a folk duo in the Greenwich Village coffee shop style.

 

Wednesday evening has it’s usual musical barrier against mid week boredom. Missin’ Rosie deliver rocked out Celtic folk at The Running Horse, a wonderfully charismatic and joyously upbeat support comes courtesy of The Real Raj. There is a Bluegrass jam over at Riffs Bar or you can catch the new line up of The Blue Trees at The Victoria.

My ongoing quest for new music got me thinking the other day about just how original, original bands really are. I know I have a bit of a reputation for giving cover bands a difficult ride, so maybe it is time to look at the other side of the coin. Most of the previous decades have had their own iconic movements, the psychedelic sixties, the punk/post punk seventies, the hip-hop eighties and the rave nineties. Since then it’s been more difficult to identify any new defining movements. The last ten years or so seems to have been more about a nostalgic recycling of former glories. Ironically, retro seems to be the way forward, bands seem destined to be born of their parents record collections. Modern scenes worship at the temples to past movements, be it garage-punk, vintage soul, synth-pop or what ever, it still begs a few questions for the future of music. Where is the next musical frontier to be broken? Will pop eat itself? Does rock music end not with a bang but with a boxed set whose fourth disc you never get round to playing? Food for thought!

 

If you are going to mix up recognisable genres into interesting new musical shapes, then you should take note of James Warner Prophecies (pictured) who play The Victoria tonight.  Alchemising everything from hard rock to ska, music hall to grunge, punked up folk to out and out pop; familiar building blocks maybe but brilliant new interpretations nonetheless. They are supporting The Street Orphans who do similar sterling work re-treading the musical tires of the indie-rock vehicle. Also on the bill is Go Lazarus who fashion a neat line in atmospheric alternative rock.

 

Unapologetically playing that nostalgia card I mentioned earlier, Count Bobo and The Bullion tap into an authentic ska vibe reminiscent of The Skatelites or the legendary Prince Buster. They can be found at The Beehive.

 

Folk is on the cards over at Riffs Bar.  Albion host their monthly outing that aims to recreate the same vibe as the sixties revivalists who created the Greenwich Village scene in New York. If you are looking for somewhere to try out your songs, immerse yourself in the folk scene or just chill out and hear some good music then this is the place to be.

 

The stand out act for Friday is appearing at The Beehive and again create unique songs from recognisable building blocks. Bruise are a strange art house folk rock band with the shadow of The Eurythmics looming large over them and a hint of prog throwing wonderful spanners in the works. And that is only the half of it.

 

The Riffs Bar website announces a “ A new monthly metal night showcasing the best in original metal from around the country.” Sadly it fails to list any of the bands that are being showcased so I can’t really say too much more on that one.

 

After that originality is a bit thin on the ground though I must just mention that The Victoria is playing host to a Stone Roses tribute, not because I am necessarily enthralled with tribute acts but because even after all this time these particular Mancunian candidates remain high up in my estimation. If you don’t believe me just check out my “I am the Resurrection to replace the National Anthem” Facebook page.

 

I can’t seem to find one band for Saturday that pushes any envelopes, or even nips down the post office for a book of stamps for that matter. (Okay I know it’s not that sort of envelope…I’ve read Tom Wolfe thank you very much) So lets fast-forward to Sunday afternoon at The Beehive.

 

Peter Jagger mixes up finger picked folk, Americana and blues with some wonderfully poignant and political lyrics. His view on the whole originality thing can be summed up in his quote “ I can’t see the point of driving 200 miles to sing Losing My Religion to people who will only listen if you sing Losing my Religion.” I know what you mean sir.

 

The Art Centre on Monday has rock and roll survivors Wishbone Ash. Just to avoid confusion this is the Andy Powell fronted version of the band rather than the Martin Turner fronted band that are also currently touring. Blimey, it’s like Yes all over again.

 

And finally a mention for The Stripped Back Sessions at The Victoria on Tuesday, a mixture of music in its simplest and purest forms plus the artists themselves explaining the meanings behind and reasons for their songs. This time featuring War of Roses, Reg Meuross and Ali Finneran.

As the same old arguments of “have guitar bands had their day” and “is electronic music the way forward” continue to be discussed in the dark corners of venues and around the water coolers of music magazines publishers, it is worth noting that whilst it is an interesting argument, it makes no account for the rise of a new musical passion. The ukulele! Not only are so many indie/folk cross over bands taking to the instrument like a sacked girl band singer to a premiership footballer, but we have also witnessed the emergence of the first ever ukulele super group and you can catch them at The Beehive tonight.

 

The Rinky Dinks (pictured) are wall-to-wall brilliance. Taking songs of all genres, from every decade of contemporary music and giving them a uke-over the result is as side-splitting as it is unique and until you have heard Led Zeppelin rendered unto the ukulele, you haven’t heard anything.

 

If that doesn’t quite tick enough boxes for you, there are a couple of other chilled out serving suggestions for you to consider. Riffs Bar has “Folk in The Bar” hosted by local duo, Albion, a night that endeavours to capture the spirit of the Greenwich Village folk revival movement of the 60’s. At the Victoria, Songs of Praise has moved into the top bar for a more laid back show, Nick Tann and The Real Raj are solo performers as well as a duo whose mix and match style takes in everything from folk- pop, Americana and soaring acoustica to John Martyn style ballads. Forget Wacky Wednesday welcome to Tremendous Thursday. Okay, maybe not.

 

A worthy collection of local bands is to be found over at Riffs Bar on Friday, with The Rackets’ chaotic yet mesmerising gutter indie leading the way. SkyBurnsRed will be bringing a taste of violin driven alt-rock, The Porn Issue help funk the place up and Empire will be the opening salvo.

 

Teddy White will be teaching the Rolleston a thing or two about the meaning of the letters R and B, whilst down at the 12 Bar is one of the strangest line ups I have seen in a while. Not that there is anything wrong with the bands, it’s just I never thought I’d ever see all these on the same bill. Between Dead By Friday? The Fixed, Not George and Charlie Anne you have old school dynamic rock, slick, staccato indie, anthemic acoustic and an ethereal voiced solo singer. If you look up eclectic in the dictionary it actually has a picture of the flyer for this show.

 

Metallica fans will want to be at The Victoria, ‘nuff said, and if you are still up for some after hours music The Nightshift at The Furnace will be playing Industrial, Darkwave and Electronica into the wee small hours.

 

 

Saturday is it’s usual bastion of tributes and covers. Shepherds Pie at The Victoria are a tribute to every air guitar anthem ever written and at The 12 Bar The Useless Eaters are a tribute to the sound of the early punk movement, though original music can be found with support bands The Porn Issue (they get around don’t they) and the new wave punktronica of Last Exit Saints.

 

Doors tribute bands are ensuring the survival of the old bus analogy with The Strange Doors at Riffs Bar and The Floydian Doors at The Rolleston, although to be fair with the latter band you do get 2 tributes acts for the price of one.

 

It’s all about the blues at The Beehive for the Sunday afternoon session, with The Sons of The Delta. Both electric and acoustic blues, Americana and roots vibes or as one wise soul put it…Raw, righteous, the real Delta deal. More great music can be found at The Rolleston that evening with Irish pop-folkstress Polly Barrett who has more than a touch of Cara Dillon about her, which is obviously a very good thing indeed.

 

The Running Horse, as usual, provides the mid week Euterpean oasis to rejuvenate and revive you from the slog of the real world, this week with the soulful world music vibes of Coach and the dulcet tones of Rhiannon Elliot.

The first two big local festivals of the summer may have come and gone, both to great success I might add, but that doesn’t mean that things are going to quieten down just yet. Far from it as there is still a lot of brilliant music to check out over the next seven days.

 

Kicking off tonight in our usual starting point and it’s time for another intriguing line up from Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Continuing their theme of acquiring great out of town acts, tonight headliners I’m Designer are something pretty different. Mixing up semi-stoner riffs, swamp rock sleaze and a punky garage vibe, these guys make an amazing sound. If that wasn’t enough, down from Derbyshire to add to the onslaught are The James Warner Prophecies, a band whose blend of eclectic pop-metal with all the trimmings I cannot recommend enough. Local bands are represented by the raw, raucous, cranked up blues of Adepto Futui –  and it’s all free.

 

If you drew a Venn Diagram that included Nick Drake, Jimmy Page and Davy Graham, it would be hard to imagine many people who would form the group where all three intersect. Robert Brown is one such person and his exotic blend of chilled rock meets acoustic folk can be experienced at The Beehive tonight.

 

On Friday, the two biggest venues in town go head to head. The Oasis has pulled off a bit of a coup by securing Biffy Clyro who use this as a warm up gig for a string of summer festival appearances. This Scottish three piece blend slightly progy-alt-rock with post-hardcore drive, if you can get tickets for this, do so, I guarantee that it will be your gig of the year. “Mon The Biff” as their fans are given to chanting. The MECA are appealing to a totally different audience by hosting an 80’s themed roller disco, so truly something for everyone there.

 

Falling in between these two extreme parameters are a host of other great gigs. At Riffs Bar, for instance, the younger bands get their chance to shine, headed by the slightly angular, slightly staccato indie vibes of The Fixed as well as one of my favourite bands of recent times, The Street Orphans.

 

Something a bit more laid back comes in the form of a three-piece Kangaroo Moon at The Beehive.  Trancey, dancey, chilled, joyous and richly melodic, this is the perfect sound track for these gentle summer evenings. At The Victoria a brilliant line up has been assembled as a teaser for The Field View Festival, the local music event success story of recent times. It is headlined by ska-reggae-skank party band, The 360 and also featuring a welcome return to Swindon for the awesome Motherload, but I recommend that you get there early enough to catch the opening acts as well. Sam Green was last seen at The Victoria playing a tribute to Robert Johnson at The Dead at 27 show but is back playing his own set that ranges from heart on the sleeve folk to punk barn dance stomps. Weatherstorms is the brilliant new musical vehicle for ex-Old School Tie’s Cameron brothers and I can tell you from experience that this is a band that you need to experience.

 

The Furnace is playing host to a band being hailed as the start of a grunge revival, Fighting With Wire. Successors to the likes of Silverchair or Pearl Jam rather than Nirvana and occasional straying into the same territory as Mr Grohl’s current concern these guys put on an awesome live show both visually and sonically. Support comes from the self-proclaimed spearhead of post-music, Mr Hello and His Honesty Club plus The Starkers and Oxygen Thief. (You can tell something about a line up when someone as great as Oxygen Thief is merely the opening act!)

 

Also highlighting the coming SOLAM festival as well as raising money for a recent fire at the hosting Roves Farm site, The 12 Bar has an all-dayer including Bateleurs, new band Albion, SkyBurnsRed, Missin’ Rosie, The Vooz and Aural Candy.

 

Following in the footsteps of American bluegrass and country influenced bands such as The Lovell Sisters, Larkin Poe and even The Dixie Chicks, you may be surprised to learn that the Toy Hearts who play The Arts Centre are not from Austin, Nashville or somewhere in The Appalachians, but are actually from Birmingham, England such is the authenticity of their luscious sound.

 

Before I run out of space, a few quick mentions go to Gaz Brookfield who is the Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive and Swiss band November 7 at The Victoria. If a mix of old school metal riffs with dark gothic overtones is your cup of Darjeeling, then you know where to be.