Tag Archive: cook and the case


11081418_10152764261624290_7985975332801455801_nIt’s easy to forget, especially when a whole music genre seems to have developed around trying it’s damnedest to be Frank Turner, that one man with a guitar does not have to result in bullish angst or political and social calls to arms. Neither does it have to follow the Damien Rice/Jake Morley model of minimalist melancholy and wistful, fragile thoughts put to music. Between the two extremes there is a whole industry built on pop aware, chart smart, accessible acoustic music and Ben Montague fits right in the heart of it. Emotionally charged and honest but delivered in a fairly commercial package, Montague gently plucks heartstrings whilst laying out songs that have a romantic yet broad appeal and you will find him at The Victoria tonight.

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10628059_765161323523366_7975140535020360117_nIt was quite a busy week for checking out music, but it also revealed just how difficult it is to find a receptive audience. Saturday found me at The Victoria for a “two birds, one stone” type of approach. As a tribute to the late Ian “Jock” Kerr who was not only to be found on either side of the bar there but who was also a great musician and supporter of local music, there was a bill of bands which like the man himself ranged from the genially boisterous to the just plain silly. I had enough time to catch the first two bands, British Harlem turning in a cool as you like and fashionably of the moment set of instant modish indie classics and The Racket following with their trashed Brit-Pop ways. Sadly I could stick around for the tribute band parody that is Kova Me Badd as it was time to head next door to Longs Bar for the debut outing for The Tribe.

 

I must admit, it isn’t a place I really venture into, the odd lunchtime snack maybe, but I’m certainly not really part of their target demographic, but that said, apart from it being busy as hell and taking ages to get served, it works pretty well as a live music venue. The Tribe are a collection of already established musicians who mix reggae vibes and hip-hop beats into a brilliantly accessible dance groove and you can tell by the performance that they are all masters of what they do. Not only a brilliant delivery but the music seems to cater for the whole dance scene with elements of pop, rap and even the odd disco back beat finding it’s way into this heady mix.

 

And so going from a couple of nights that were wonderfully supported to the flip side of the musical coin. Wednesday night at The Roaring Donkey is becoming a slow building acoustic session, but geography and its mid-week time slot means that it is still a very hit and miss affair especially when it vies for punters with The Victoria’s Wacky Wednesday Karaoke, still horses for courses, as they say. This week’s artist was David Marx, normally found fronting AK-Poets but here in solo mode. David’s charm is a combination of his on stage banter with the audience, his ability to turn out memorable original tunes and the literary eloquence of his words and subject matter. As people and places as diverse as Caravaggio, Times Square, Augusto Sandino and Sarajevo are brought to life the mix of elegance and old school rock and roll provide two interesting extremes from which the songs are crafted. Sadly the audience for this numbered only a handful and this wasn’t helped by the fact that the second set was marred by a new intake of drinkers who found it necessary to shout over the music and even play back what appeared to be their friends doing karaoke on their phones. Not good.

 

The next day was the regular Songs of Praise show, a night that I have a vested interest in, but I will try to stay objective. Bringing original and largely unknown bands into town on a Thursday night can often be a hard sell, but I think deep down people want something more than an Iron Maiden tribute band every weekend or the usual acoustic circuit players that seem to be the easy option a lot of promoters take. First up was Cook and The Case, a London quartet who sort of defy description. With an amazing dynamic that takes the songs from pin-drop atmospheres to wailing walls of guitar sound they seem to channel Damien Rice as it does Bright Eyes heavier moments. If Paper Rose isn’t the most heartbreakingly romantic song you have ever heard (check it out before reading further – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hTK2IkSprM) then there is something wrong with you. If it had the aforementioned Rice’s name on it then it would have been a Rom-Com sound track being downloaded in its millions. And 15 people watched it being performed live, upfront and personal.

 

The middle slot was taken by local band Kitchen Sink Dramas, lyrical poignancy and social comment put to music and by now we are down to ten punters. By the time headliners The August List(pictured) took the stage the remaining 6 people just pulled their chairs across the front of the room and were treated to a very personal performance. This Oxford two-piece delivered a rousing set of old-time Americana; stompy Appalachian folk and back porch country tunes and did it with grace, humour and panache. It is a testament to how good they were that out of the small remaining audience 50% bought albums.

 

I know it isn’t always convenient to support midweek music but one day, soon, you will be looking for some new, exciting and original music to go and see and you will realise that it doesn’t actually bother coming to Swindon anymore. A sobering thought.

 

originally published at Swindon Link

 

 

 

 

10628059_765161323523366_7975140535020360117_nI was going to do my usual introduction based on musings and procrastination but I have even decided to put that off until another time and just as well looking at how much there is to fit in this week. Okay, lets do this.
Starting, as I usually do, with Songs of Praise at The Victoria, tonight you can catch lo-fi, roots duo The August List (pictured). Variously described as “backwards country” and “porch folk” this is a band that invoke the bleak, gothic, southern soundscape of The Handsome Family and the bucolic folk/rock of The Decemberists.  The local talent is supplied by Kitchen Sink Dramas, the musical vehicle for Steve Leigh’s hard-hitting, thought-provoking, incisive, romantic and humorous lyrical outpourings. Also on the bill are Cook and The Case a band who whether crafting gossamer thin musical atmospherics or soaring post-rock deliveries still have the ability to break your heart.
 
Meanwhile down the hill at The Beehive, the regular Acoustic Buzz night hits its 25th show in style. Hometown Show provides old time Appalachian bluegrass and Joe Kelly contributes harmonica soaked country folk. Shoot The Duke play sweet folk-pop and your host, as always, is Tim Manning from Blind River Scare with his wonderful country/folk blends.
 
The big noise for Friday takes place at Level 3 as those wonderful folks at The Reggae Garden have put together a great night. Dubwiser are a dub, hip-hop, reggae collective who mix their quirky English heritage with Jamaican influences that suggest Syd Barrett meeting The Specials in a parallel dimension. Also appearing are The Tribe, a funk, reggae, dance act drawn from familiar faces on the scene and having witnessed their debut show at Longs Bar last week cannot recommend them highly enough.
At Riffs Bar Josh Wolfsohn launches his new e.p. Dirty Concrete aided and abetted by Over To You, Break Glass To Open and Sammy Sangha and there is a second chance to catch Kitchen Sink dramas at The Beehive.
The Victoria is the scene of The Monkey Dolls 3rd Charity Bash, raising money for Uplands School and The Alzheimer’s Society. Joined by The Cover Addicts and Albatross Landing it is a night of all your favourite songs from the whole of the rock and pop history book and a worthy cause to boot.
Fans of tribute bands have the options of the music of Steely Dan at The Rolleston on Friday and on Saturday can either relive The Who at The Victoria with Who’s Next or catch Bootleg Floyd at Riffs Bar. At The Swiss Chalet, Syntronix will be tapping into the synth pop end of the eighties, so set your shoulder pads to stun, slip on a pair of legwarmers and dance the night away to the sounds of Gary Numan, Ultravox, OMD and the like.
For the full comedy/music experience then head to Level 3 for the strange world of Kova Me Badd.  More a surreal parody of a covers band than a serious attempt at the genre they will be either the best or worst band you see this year depending on how you judge such things and foregoing the usual cover band selections brace yourself for a night of murdered boy band tunes (that’s the tunes being murdered not the…well, you know,) cheesy rock and nothing less than the wholesale destruction of music as we know it. Still, could be worse.
Original music does show its face here and there. The Worried Men play incendiary rhythm and blues, mixing standards and originals at The Rolleston. If you are a fan of the likes of ZZ Top and The Hamsters then this is the band that completes the unholy electric blues-rock trinity.
But before all of that kicks off you can catch a more sedate afternoon at VuDu with music from Tom Stark and Shaun Barry but more importantly great coffee and cake on hand as well.
More acoustic offerings to end on. The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is the place to find the delicate blend of blues, ragtime, music hall and folk traditions; intricacy and intimacy in the style of Nick Drake and John Martyn. And finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday features the jazz tinged folk of Nick Tann who will be playing a totally unplugged set of soaring, expressive vocals, heart on sleeve poeticism and pin drop atmospherics.

10568792_671452159600192_7578462626234394886_nIn an effort to keep this column hip and groovy I have adopted a new tactic. I could have grown a beard that makes me look like an American Backwoodsman, bought some plaid shirts and started drinking espresso out of a jam jar but that wouldn’t make much difference in the medium of print. Instead I thought I would get on board with the parlance of a Buzzfeed type article to really show that I’m down with the kids. (Do people still say that?) So….

 

This music journalist sat down to write a gig guide and what happened next will blow your mind. No? How about…Here’s 11 gigs that only real music fans will attend. Or, When I saw what this guy had written I cried. Nah, it’s not really me, is it? What about, get off your sofa, turn that TV off and go and support some real live music before I send a cultural hit squad round to sort you out! That’s more my style.

 

And for all of you concerned that the rotation of the same few bands around town is getting a bit predictable, Riffs Bar have a real treat for you tonight. All the way from San Diego, Black Market III mix soulful blues with red hot Americana, Clash style street punk with old school rock ‘n’ roll and are touted as a real “one to watch” band on the international circuit. Support comes from the doom-rock and art-punk experimentation of Sea Mammal and the soaring, grunge-scapes of D.I.R.T.E.

 

 

More hard, electric blues can be found at The Victoria in the shape of John Fairhurst whose band freely mix music traditions from the Mississippi shoreline to The Ganges Delta with bottle neck blues and psychedelia sitting cheek by jowl with Indian Raga and exotic eastern flavours. Think Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits jamming in a Kolkata teashop. Also on the bill are Cook and The Case and personally it has been amazing to watch them evolve through solo singer-songwriter and chilled indie folk genres into a band of unbelievable dynamic shifts and extremes of light and shade. Their music is both reckless and refined but always beautiful. At The Beehive you can catch the Afro-pop and roots sounds of Two Man Ting.

 

By Friday original music gets harder to track down but you can catch Tin Spirits at The Victoria who channel the sound of 70’s progressive rock with their current writing but often treat the audience to some of guitarist Dave Gregory’s XTC back-catalogue. Support comes from Steve Grimmett’s fundraising, classic rock side project Sound Bites.

 

Tributes can be found aplenty going into the weekend, Beatles fans should head for The Rolleston whilst next-door in Level 3 Jilted Generation return to evoke the glory days of The Prodigy. On Saturday you can catch the music of The Stranglers at The Victoria and Iron Maiden at The Rolleston whilst out at Riffs Bar Hot Flex play a range of classic rock covers with support from rock parody outfit Vinyl Matt.

 

A nice slice of punk history rolls into Level 3 on Saturday as ex-Adverts front man TV Smith (pictured) joins the bill for this years Mick Love Memorial Gig. Since the demise of The Adverts, Smith has carved out a highly respected solo career as well as touring with Amen and Die Toten Hosen, anyone who has heard of either of those bands needs to catch him live. The night opens with the Nu-wave, Bowery street punk from Strength in Blunders and goes out with a bang from Charred Hearts, over thirty years in and still fighting the punk wars on their own terms.

 

Sunday has some great acoustic offerings. The Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Arts Centre Café features Light Falls Forward a band whose EP Sleeptalkin’ I can honestly say is one of the most gorgeous new musical offerings I have heard in a while. They manage to capture a very emotive vocal sound and layer it over a cinematic soundscape that combines a lush ambience with enough drive to keep it in the realms of reflective and dreamlike rather than melancholy. The equally elegant Faye Rogers and your hosts Mr Love and Justice are also to be found there.