Tag Archive: coco esq


11244578_1668237160071991_5434254339853004958_nSo there is good news and bad news. I was just reading about a new national radio station, Radio X, which is being launched dedicated to new music and particularly guitar-based bands. Great, but surely there has to be a catch. Of course there is and that catch is that spearheading the programing will be not only Vernon “absolutely amazing” Kaye but also Chris “let’s just talk about me rather than play any music “ Moyles. So if you like the idea of twenty-minute ramblings about his celebrity mates at an award show before the indulgence is broken by the latest attempt by Kasabian to sound like a Primal Scream studio outtake, then this is the station for you.

But if you really are looking for emerging, guitar-based bands then look no further than The Victoria tonight as Yves play with Coco Esq in support. Both bands represent the frontline of a current local creative upsurge plying a trade in tight and melodic indie and proving that the future of local music and hopefully beyond, is in safe hands.

The Beehive plays host to one of its regular favourites. Whilst normally fronting his own eponymous blues-rock band, Keith Thompson as a solo act is just as impressive, the stripped back, raw and honest sound making for a vary intimate connection between player and audience.

And talking of blues, Friday sees the first outing for Level 3 Live, a regular blues night and this inaugural session features the man who none other than Alexis Korner described as “ The best white blues harmonica player in the world, ” Rod Garfield and his band. High praise indeed. Blues is also on the cards at The Beehive, this time with Bob “famous in Swindon” Bowles, a soulful voice, effortlessly slick, bluesy tunes and a bagful of great songs.

Although mainly a venue for cover bands The Castle occasionally takes a punt on trying originals and you can’t get much more original than Kid Calico and The Astral Ponies. Variously described as a “Mercurial and biscuit obsessed blend of lilting, music hall Americana and psychedelia” and “If I’d kidnapped Radiohead or the Floyd & forced them to work as a mid-west American Circus band during the 1970’s, they’d sound just like this.” I’ll just leave it at that then.

For those who already know what they like, there is a wide range of more familiar options available. Classic punk from the iconic to the underground can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of The Useless Eaters, Dire Streets at Riffs Bar who pay tribute to Mark Knopfler and his band who helped launch the CD/MTV age, as well as Peloton playing mod, soul and power pop at The Victoria. At The Locomotive, Don’t Speak cover pop and rock but seem to have a very select ear for music, so expect The House Martins, The Beautiful South and Natalie Imbruglia in place of some of the more usual selections.

The big event for the weekend can be found at The Old Town Bowl on Saturday in the form of this year’s Reggae Garden. Top names such as Channel One Soundsystem, 10 piece nu-wave roots/reggae band Roots Ambassadors, Dubwiser and The Tribe provide the music plus there will also be stalls and soul food all combining to make this the party of the year. If you want that party to continue into the evening then re-locate to The Victoria for the official after party with Jah Jah Sounds and guests spinning reggae, dub, lovers rock, ska, rocksteady and everything in between.

Continuing it’s mission to bring new and original bands to an area infused with nightclub culture and more mainstream tastes, The Locomotive really pushes the boat out with IDestroy (pictured), a Bristol all girl three piece who reference Riot Grrrl, grunge, garage rock and straight out rock ‘n’ roll and who are gearing up to support ex-The Runaways singer Cherie Currie shortly. Support comes from the no less uncompromising Molotov Sexbomb a band that is in many ways their male equivalent.

If you fancy some dirty, sweary R’n’B then a trip out to The Globe in Highworth will deliver just that in a Hamsters From Hell shaped package and at The Rolleston, French blues band Nico ZZ play originals and standards and show why they have made such a big impact on the blues circuit.

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, Jamie R Hawkins plays emotionally charged, poignant and witty acoustic pop-rock that reminds you of Crowded House or even Del Amitri, which is fine by me.

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16761_431631416987699_3056823681859735426_nI did my musical basic training in the early eighties (yes, I’m that old) a time of amazing musical progress as the barricades that had been kicked down by punk were truly trampled into the dust. Now they say that music is cyclical, I believe them as a lot of the sounds that made up my record collection from back then can be heard in a new crop of Swindon bands.

 

I guess young musicians often find music that is new to them in the record collections of their parents, one of the advantages of the aging process is that, being a similar age, the bands of my youth are being referenced once again.

 

The obvious one is Sahara Heights, an ambient drifting sound anchored with just enough backbeat to give it structure and reminding me a lot of Power of Dreams, a band I was fanatical about as the eighties came to an end. White Lilac (pictured) has been an interesting band to watch develop. Faye Rogers, in a brave, year zero attitude, has turned her back on her previous pastoral, innocent, folk-pop sound, re-launching her band under the new name and delivering a brooding raft of ethereal beauty, chiming guitars and Cocteau Twins style atmospherics.

 

Coco Esq similarly incorporate sonorous washes of guitar as textures behind the more solid building blocks of their music. Dynamically clever, broodingly post-punk in their references and a wonderfully passionate stage presence means that they are another to watch out for.

 

Music is sometimes like a Rubik’s cube, turn it in the right sequence and all the colours line up and suddenly you have your own little scene of associated bands and ideas. Welcome to the new, nu-gaze revolution.

originally published in The Ocelot March ’15

937 FamiliarsA wonderful review of the recent Songs of Praise show by musical archivist and gig-goer extraordinairre David Rose can be found at the link below.

David Rose Gig Diaries

 

251026_474397722648292_1275993545_nRock fans should be fairly happy this week with a higher than average quota of gigs coming from their favoured genres, but that is not to say that between the louder and more shouty selections there aren’t a few other styles being well represented and at least one iconic act crossing the parish boundary as well.

 

We The Deceiver lay generically midway between Post-Hardcore and Djent (which I have to admit I thought was a small town in Tunisia, but which is actually a gnarly, muted, low-end guitar driven style) so expect their set at The Victoria tonight to be filled with thunderous grooves, intense riffs and bombastic beats. Local support comes in the form of Roads To Nowhere, a similarly uncompromising onslaught of extreme and brutal sounds.

 

As if to balance the extremes of that gig, Keith Thompson plays The Beehive in solo mode. Rootsy, southern fried blues blending effortlessly with more homegrown influences to great effect.

 

Friday at Riffs Bar sees rock on the menu, this time from Clay Gods, a band who weave dark atmospherics, gritty grooves and lyrics equally at home delivering rock standard street sleaze as they are thought-provoking philosophizing. Joining them on the bill is The Dirty Smooth, who write tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out to, but sweet enough for the girls to dance to, and the blues fuelled alt-rock of Four Dead Crows.

 

More solid rocking options can be found at The Rolleston as Hot Flex deliver classic heavy rock and metal covers and the mercurial Bruise make a welcome return to The Beehive. Imagine the song writing sensibilities of Joni Mitchell, the dynamics and production values of Genesis and the epic pop of The Eurythmics and you only start to get a feel for what this amazing duo have to offer.

 

A Songs of Praise occasional Friday show is also to be found at The Victoria where White Lilac headline. They may look familiar, having evolved from Faye Rogers and her band but the sound is a whole quantum leap into new musical territory. The pastoral folksiness has been swapped for chiming guitars, brooding cello, distant crashing percussion, sonorous saxophones and a whole wash of gothic beauty and post punk edginess. It’s a musical transformation that you need to hear…and indeed see, to believe. Joining them is the sweeping dynamic soundscape of Familiars (pictured), a more chilled, piano driven White Lies perhaps and the shoegaze referencing but up to the moment indie of Coco Esq.

 

Saturday sees the icon I mentioned hit the stage as multi-million selling recording artist and award-winning actress, Barbara Dickson plays The Wyvern Theatre.

 

Beans on Toast may be seen to be an icon to some, albeit in a more niche and under-the-counter-culture sort of way. He brings his incisive and hung-over musical take on modern life to The Victoria before heading off to the States to play with Irish punk-folk exiles Flogging Molly. He brings with him someone you will all by now be familiar with (if not why not?) Gaz Brookfield, our very own slice of poor boy makes good and purveyor of charismatic, heartfelt and infectious songs. Ben Wiltshire and Sophie Brown get the night started.

 

Explosive, raucous, boozy, sweary and unpredictable music can be found at The Rolleston as The Hamsters From Hell celebrate their 30th Birthday Bash, probably not what your significant other had in mind as an option for St Valentines Day, but certainly a real test of a relationship. Support comes from 2 Sick Monkeys.

 

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions hosted by Mr Love and Justice are now being held at The Central Library and this month they have a couple of very special acts for you. Local roots collective S’Go mix up folk, blues and country styles with more eclectic gypsy jaunts, shanty shindigs, café jazz and everything in between. Also appearing are Lightgarden a band whose celtic jigs and eastern vocal tones are a beautiful mix of orient and occident.

 

Finally, The Roaring Donkeys Wednesday offer to break up the working week comes with a stripped back show from Kitchen Sink Dramas; poignant social comment meets infectious musicianship, wit and wisdom all in one place.

4180_79993902739_2766341_nI have to start this column by way of an apology. Last week there was some confusion as I omitted to mention the actual venue for the Tom Hingley gig and it seemed to have suggested that it might have been taking place at a different location. I was alerted to this mistake early last Thursday when the distant, yet audible, clamour of keyboard warriors (none of whom actually went to the gig, presumably) rushing to be the first to comment online could be heard and a distant glow of their eyes lighting up made for an unusually bright morning. Obviously I apologise for any confusion caused, but here are a few phrases that might help next time. “Everybody makes mistakes,” “ It’s no good crying over spilt milk” and “It’s just a gig guide people, not a proposition from Socrates.”

 

Anyway, onwards and upwards. The Victoria begins a run of wonderful diversity tonight with a headline show from Delta Sleep. Complex layers of guitar driven melody, fluid and hypnotic bass lines, jazz tinged percussion and left field electronica are the order of the day. Support comes from two stalwarts of the local alt-rock scene, All Ears Avow and The Damned and The Dirty.

 

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and pondered that big question, are we alone in the universe? I would suggest that you are looking in the wrong place and that answers are more likely to be found in The Beehive as the Zetan Spore mother ship docks there tonight. Communicating through the medium of industrial strength psy-trance, euphoric, psychedelic waves of energy and trippy tribal beats – is this proof of alien life? Who cares, just dance.

 

The big one for Friday can be found at Level 3 as South West Indie Music present a fist full of young acts for your delectation. Sahara Heights have already made quite a name for themselves with their shimmering psychedelia and chiming shoegazey meanderings but this is a show that promises headline quality acts all night. Coco-esq skirt around similar territory but are anchored to a more conventional indie delivery and The Primeveras aim straight for underground pop cult status. Yves manage to harness that timeless alt-pop jangle that has fuelled everything from The Byrds to The Paisley Underground movement to current bands such as Desperate Journalist ad Field Mouse and they do it so well. Opening the night is Josh Wolfsohn who does a neat line in accessible and witty acoustic indie-pop.

 

The second Victoria offering of the week comes in the shape of Songs of Praise first ever, monthly Friday show. This step up to hopefully a wider platform sees the welcome return of puzzle-pop wizards Super Squarecloud who showcase some of their new material. They are joined by garage-electronica, post-punkers Candy Darling – if anyone is old enough to remember Suicide then you might want to check them out and the band name is an obvious reference to another seminal New York band. Opening the night are dream pop soundscapers Wasuremono. Indie rock covers are one the menu at The Rolleston with Vice Versa.

 

I make no bones about the fact that I prefer original bands to tributes, but I have made a few detours into their world in the past. Three of their ilk have left me nostalgic for my early musical education, The Dayglo Pirates (Jethro Tull,) Limehouse Lizzy (Thin Lizzy) and Saturday night’s headliners at The Victoria, Still Marillion. Not only do you get a set of Fish-era songs delivered to perfection, this show will also feature the complete Fugazi album, which I have just realised is about 6 weeks short of its 31th anniversary. Blimey, how to feel old. This is an absolute must for fans of not only the neo-progressive movement which spawned the band, but I urge all those with discerning taste to check it out.

 

High octane, electric blues doesn’t come much more authentic than Innes Sibun (pictured), not only a powerhouse guitarist with a great band behind him but a voice that seems to channel the heartache and anguish that blues was born from. Fans of Rory Gallagher in particular should make this Rolleston show.

 

In the “if you like that, you’ll like this” department multi-award winning mainstays of the British Blues scene Joel Fisk and Jon Amor (The Hoax) play a stripped back mix of their own songs and standards at The Beehive on Sunday Afternoon.

 

The week rounds off with be-hatted, Latin-jazz aficionados, Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

1908007_709700309072398_6221285779546836118_nI have to start this week with a bit of an apology. In last weeks article I mentioned that the players in prominent local folk band, Noah’s Ostrich, were all members of The National Front. Obviously what I meant to say was that they were all members of The National Trust. I apologize for any inconvenience caused and hope that the cost of the replacement windows wasn’t too expensive. Moving swiftly on…

 

Tonight sees local boy made good, Gaz Brookfield, return to his musical roots at The Victoria for Songs of Praise. He brings with him The Company of Thieves to make this a full band show that features a few familiar faces amongst its ranks. Expect the usual display of wit, panache, poignancy and brilliant, observational lyrics. Joining him on this great bill is Lonely Tourist who describes himself as trading in Beard-pop, Pub-step and Malternative music…well, why not? Opening the show is the dark and lush tones of Luke De-Sciscio.

 

Level 3 has a rare musical treat for you on Friday, a cornucopia of young, emerging Indie bands, no less. Sounds will range from the soaring, slightly post-rock informed sounds of Sahara Heights to the street-punk indie of The Corfields and from the bedroom psychedelia turned indie-thrash of The Illustrations to the eclectic sound mix of The Primarveras. I would like to tell you more about Coco Esq but their on line presence is decidedly vague.

 

If you are not one of the skinny jeaned young groovers with complicated hair, there is still plenty of music to be had. At The Victoria everything heads a bit south of the border as Pignose and The Blue Trees channel the sounds of the bayous, desert highways, illicit stills and truck stops, the former through a dash of old school rock and roll and the latter through a more bluesy medium.

 

Riffs Bar Acoustic Session features Salisbury based troubadour Sue Hart, a charming mix of wit and wisdom put to folky Americana tunes and she is joined by Nick Tann who does a neat line in soulful and introspective, late night jazz tinged acoustica. For a more frantic folk sound catch Grubby Jack at The Beehive; fast fiddling, blinding banjos and great guitars. (I can’t think of a suitable alliteration for vocals…vibrant maybe?)

 

If you are going to The Rolleston then grab your brogues, Fred Perry shirts and set your Pork-pie hat to a jaunty angle as The Nomarks will be serving up original ska and reggae with a distinctly old school feel.

 

As is often the case classic rock is well catered for on Saturday with Shepherds Pie playing an Iron Maiden tribute set at The Victoria and Broken Image being much more adventurous and covering a whole gamut of rock music from Judas Priest to The Scorpions at The Rolleston. If NWOBHM era rock isn’t your thing then why not head next door to Level 3 where Echo will be playing covers ranging from Lady Gaga to The Kaiser Chiefs.

 

Original music can be found in spades at this month’s GW Hotel Acoustic Showcase in the form of A.Koustics, Daniel Seath, Emmy Fearon, GPS, Barney Kenny, Aiden Page and Dylan Q.

And if you liked The Blue Trees earlier in the week, you may also want to catch Barney Newman at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon. His is a sound that channels the blues of the Mississippi shoreline and blends in the warm folk tones of the likes of John Martyn to make for a wonderfully traditional roots guitar sound.

 

The town may be sorted for rock covers but if you want to know where the genre is heading then The Victoria is the place to be on Monday as Fox and The Law (pictured) roll into town from Seattle. Part fresh faced punks, part old soul songwriters, part incendiary blues, part Sabbath-esque heaviness, this is a band who both kick-arse and cut the mustard. And as if that wasn’t enough, opening the show is The Greasy Slicks a mix of Zeppelin’s grunt and Burning Tree’s panache. Gig of the week for me and it’s a Monday!