Tag Archive: all ears avow


maxresdefault.jpgT. S. Eliot wanted us to believe that April is the cruelest month but then he was never spotted down the front of a gig, lost in the rapture that only comes from experiencing a good live band. Had he done so he might have cheered up a bit and written naughty limericks rather than long, epic poems about cultural depression. Anyway, enough about him and on with the recommendations…

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41840665_1830663387012009_2535535369122742272_oGreat to see that with the merest of breathers to get over the busiest season for live bands, the local circuit is once again brimming with musical options and it starts tonight with a bit of a gem especially if you are a big fan of country music. Katy Hurt (pictured) is a 20 year old resident of Long Island yet she sounds as if she has been deftly combining commercial country with pop, blues and southern musical charm for decades. Forget all the alt-this and post-that generic wordplay this is unashamedly feel-good country music with all the glitz and glamour left in and it is at The Beehive tonight.

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706278_10151048704753039_833851308_oThe big noise this week, quite literally in this case, has to be that it is Easter Bank Holiday which mean’s that it is time for this years VicFest. As always this celebration of local and regional, cutting edge original music takes place over four generically themed sessions and tonight The Victoria presents a wonderful array of young and happening Indie bands.

Getrz lead the charge with their brand of high octane and deftly delivered wide screen indie, Sweet Tooth head up from Bristol to deliver some eclectic and wonderfully soulful indie-pop and We Are Parkas are a trashy take on the Manchester sound. Opening the night is the sweet sound of The Basement Club.

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1935162_454261378032105_6602445270487649865_nThey say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. 35 years ago I was a thin, nerdy, bespectacled college kid unaware of the wealth of post-punk creativity which was about to wash over me during the next ten years but most importantly XTC’s seminal English Settlement had just hit the shops. Blimey, tempus does indeed fugit and creativity is indeed the watchword this week, as quantity and quality are both present in spades.

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1796959_1497749917115309_5306381136964104986_oBefore the year plunges into the more predictable waters of Christmas parties, reindeer head gear and those seasonal matching tie and sock combo’s that prove just how wacky you really are, the year still has a few musical treats in store. Three of them can be found in town this week.

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13246174_672093756262043_7295479845484515225_oI find it odd that people still can’t grasp the fact that just because I’m writing a gig guide it doesn’t mean that every single band playing in town that week is going to be included. I do write another, more extensive guide for one of the local papers, one with a wider brief and even that has the usual limitations of word count as well as the difficult task of extracting the factual blood from the apathetic promotional stone. But this is not that column.

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12279087_999483660093982_8296826872183162800_nTo quote the venerable Sir Noddy of Holder…”It’s Chriiiistmaaaas!” ‘Tis the season that conjures up so many wonderful images, clichés roasting on an open fire, TV adverts featuring useless dads, stressed mums and heart-tugging sentimentality set to a minor key rendered indie classic. It is the season that sees Barry from Human Resources on his yearly trip to the pub in his wacky matching tie and socks and his desire to show everyone else how to have a good time. But thankfully it is also a season when live music is in the ascent and very little of it is playing the seasonal card, thankfully. So with more to fit in than a (insert Christmas cliché here) it’s on with the snow….I mean show.

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Musical Box!

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10443993_10154647244665037_4127167166014113507_nI’ve been thinking, as I often do, about the support for local music and have realised that there is actually a very sound political argument for supporting live shows. Grassroots events are clearly on the wane as seen by the amount of venues closing or moving into more obvious incomes such as food, DJ’s and karaoke nights. Imagine if local level gigs dried up altogether? All you would be left with is a music monopoly made up of large festivals and over priced arena shows that would then be in a position to charge what they want due to total control of the game. As the prices are hiked up, the man in the street would be bumped out of the equation and music, like much art, would only be accessible to the moneyed minority. As I see it keeping local music operating is nothing less than a political act, part of a class struggle and to support this movement all you have to do is take in a show. Simple yet subversive… a bit like an old punk friend of mine.

And talking of subversive, The Vibrators were at the forefront of the first wave of British punk and you can catch their guitarist John Ellis at The Victoria tonight. Mixing drone acoustica, psychedelic meanderings and electronica; John’s current music path reminds us that he has had a very varied musical career before and after his well known punk days.

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1607111_577491689022522_3860118839849066474_nI will apologize in advance for the Shuffle-centric nature of this weeks scribbling but when over 40 music acts line up to play across 3 major venues and a host of additional bars, cafes and public places, it is inevitable that it will take up most of the space. So, The Swindon Shuffle is back for it’s ninth year and it seems only a blink of an eye that I was sat in the Winners Lounge (before it’s Legendary upgrade) on a Thursday night waiting for The Unforeseen to play the first ever slot. Tempus does indeed fugit! So, the first fringe events took place last night but as of today Shuffling begins in earnest.

The Victoria has long been one of the cornerstones of The Shuffle and so it is apt that we begin there. This session is one for those with a penchant for heavier music and is headlined by a band that have had a meteoric rise over the last year or so, A Way With Words. Other alt-rock acts on the bill include All Ears Avow and the dystopian vibes of Ghost of Machines. Between these you can catch the punk onslaught that is 2 Sick Monkeys and something with more of a blues spin from The Harlers.

Baila Coffee and Vinyl has always been a cool place to hang out during the day (where do you think I am writing this?) but now with the addition of a evening drinks license they have become part of Old Town nightlife with craft ales, a well selected wine cellar and quality spirits available and they join in the festival with sets from Matilda (minus drummer Emily who is probably doing headstands on a mountain in Outer Mongolia,) young, groove driven Indie from Polar Front and the captivating and heartfelt songs of Charlie Bath.

The Victoria second contribution comes on Friday, this time with a more eclectic and intriguing bill headed by the drifting ambience and trippy grooves of Colour The Atlas (pictured). Theo Altieri provides some effortlessly cool indie-pop and Super Squarecloud will be doing what ever it is they do – I’ve been writing about their mercurial, genre-hopping music and flagrant disregard for convention for 4 years now and I still haven’t found the adequate words! The early part of the night sees the welcome return of a couple of out-of-towners, Cursor Major who prove once and for all that kookiness is next to godliness and that blend of delicacy and dynamics that is Familiars.

Within easy shuffling distance of that (hence the name) is The Castle and their first session has a bit of a blues edge to it. Although main man Ian Doeser has long been a fixture of the Shuffle as a solo player this is, I believe, the first time that the full Hamsters From Hell have graced the event, so expect the usual sweary, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy humour set to an R’n’B backdrop. And if The Hamsters are a nod to the ghost of blues past, then The Greasy Slicks are very much about the ghost of blues future; slick, incendiary deliveries and killer riffs and acting as a sign post for where the genre is going. Also on the bill are Coasters, a punk vibe injected into Americana but whose songs trade Route 66 for the M4.

Elsewhere, The Locomotive, part of the Shuffle Fringe due to it’s outlying location in relation to the main focus of events, nevertheless plays a blinder by hosting Yves, one of the front runners of the new Indie crop of local bands and at The Rolleston you can catch Beatles tribute The Pre Fab Four.

On Saturday the music starts at midday at The Central Library where various acoustic acts including Neil Mercer and Stuart Marsh can be found playing throughout the afternoon.

Saturday also sees The Beehive, the only venue to have been involved in all nine years, get involved with a folk slant to their bill. Southern Harmony bring their wonderful blend of Celtic, English and Appalachian folk to the party and Ells and The Southern Wild throw in some darker folk vibes. Plummie Racket and Nick Felix will be adding a more singer-songwriter feeling to the evening.

Up the hill at The Castle, the younger set have their moment with Balloon Ascent’s accessible indie-folk creations, the shoegaze and post-punk referencing Sahara Heights building to a night of ska, reggae and infectious dance grooves from SN Dubstation, not a band that you want to miss, believe me. At The Locomotive, The Roughnecks will be blasting out their incendiary R’n”B and old-school rock and roll to entice and astound the Fleet Street crowd.

Non-Shuffle related gigs can also be found at The Victoria with Going Underground, Strictly Dan a tribute to Steely Dan at Riffs Bar, classic rock covers at The Rolleston from Bad Obsession and all your favourite songs from a new line-up Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees The Shuffle round off at its now traditional last day party at The Beehive. A string of solo players, Mel Hughes, Tamsin Quin and Steve Leigh get things underway before Bruce St. Bridges, the socially aware, psychedelic folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice and the sonic pick’n’mix of auralcandy move things up a gear. Last year The Shudders almost destroyed the venue with their final set of the festival and they have been given the task of attempting to do the same this year with another headline slot.

If you want something to help easy you out of the festival, the perfect gentle step back into normality comes at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with those dapper jazz aficionados Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz.