Tag Archive: crash and the bandicoots


59575_817453441614511_312049589_n“Songs of Praise at The Victoria, this Thursday, is a bit of a deconstructed, alt-pop, leftfield, difficult to describe…thingy, of a show. Vienna Ditto is a two-piece outfit that veer between mesmerising sci-fi blues and dance-rock riffs with added atmospheric and ambient electronica, a bit like Portishead writing a Tarantino soundtrack. Also on the bill are Super Squarecloud, purveyors of warped pop and strange adventures in time signatures, plus The Clementines a newish musical vehicle driven by a whole bunch of people who used to be called Crash and The (Bandi)Coots.”

 

 

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There is a bit of a coup up at The Victoria tonight when none other than Jazz Morley (right)  is the headline act. For the uninitiated, Ms. Morley is an amazing vocalist who manages to mix strength and control with sensuality and fragility whilst getting comparisons ranging from Dusty Springfield and Regina Spector to more recent artists such as Eva Cassidy and Duffy. Definitely one of those acts that the lucky few will be able to proudly say “I saw her when….” Support comes from Moths, Drew Bryant and The Little Dylans.

 

With a name like Tattie Jam, you may have an inkling of what The Beehive have to offer tonight But if the thought of Scottish traditional folk music might sound uninspiring, then you haven’t seen this brilliant duo. Plundering their Celtic roots they use cello, guitars and voice to playfully reinterpreted that heritage from dark ballads and protest songs to jigs and reels and even the odd a Capella number.

 

Not to be out done, The Rolleston offers some serious competition in the shape of Doll Rats. Mixing raucous but intelligent stadium rock with otherworldly washes this is a band whose music is both big and clever!

 

Staying at The Rolleston, Friday sees them do it again as another hot property, Natural Tendency, will be paying a visit. Dynamic alt-rock is a good starting point but that has to be qualified with terms such as “ euphoric”  “classically informed” “powerful” and well, just brilliant. Definitely a band to catch lives.

 

Bloodstock Battle of The Bands over at Riffs Bar goes into its last heat, this time with Tempestora, Blood of Ash and Black Sanctuary going head to head for the last places in the Semi-finals. At the other end of the musical, not to mention geographical, extreme Minky G (She’s “sunny, fun and looks like an excitable sock puppet on stage” apparently!) and Roscoe (no quotes available) are over from their native Western Australia to delight you with their brilliant brand of jazz-pop.  Up at The Royal Oak, Blackwaters will be treating the crowd to a mixture of covers and original songs in their own inimitable style.

 

On Saturday you can catch great music and do your bit for charity. Raising money for Diabetes UK there is a rather special line up at the Victoria. Two of the bands that I have been championing recently are featured here, both brilliant exponents of musical non-compromise and both artisans of strange, warped yet addictive music that oozes between dream like pop and sonic surrealness.  Those avant gardeners at the oasis of originality are Crash and the Bandicoots and Super Squarecloud. Also on the bill is a rare outing for Black Sheep Apprentice and a full band line up version of the ethereal and wonderfully chilled Rumour Shed.

 

At the 12 Bar the charities in question are The Naomi House Hospice and Jack’s Place and Mathias Hair Design have arranged a fashion show, raffle and live music by bands that are so good they cannot be announced to the general public on health and safety grounds. Over at the Swiss Chalet, Oxfords finest punk-popsters, Disclosure will be delivering their trademark punchy yet accessible tunes.

 

If Blues is your thing keep Sunday evening free. If by the age of 17 you have already shared the stage with Bernie Marsden, John Mayall and Jeff Healey, it’s safe to say that you are an act with a bright future. Krissy Matthews is the act in question and the fact that he is playing a free show at The Rolleston is a reason to drop everything and head along.

 

Tuesday’s Jazz slot at Baker Street is filled by The Dave Newton Trio, piano led chamber jazz known for it’s classical feel and dreamy introspection.  And finally last mention of the week is Bateleurs at The Running Horse on Wednesdays. Always a great set of jaunty european folk meets eastern Americana and with romantic troubadour Billyjon in support certainly a good way to shake the mid week doldrums.

There had been much chopping and changing in the opening slot of this Songs of Praise night with bands Imageas diverse as Atari Pilot, Nudy Bronque, Blackwaters and Headlights being briefly pencilled in only to have things change. The best laid plans of mice and…music promoters? So it was with a great relief that SkyBurnsRed jumped into the slot at the eleventh hour.

SkyBurnsRed are just one more reason for me to keep banging on about what a brilliant local music scene we have at the moment. In the cyclical world of highs and lows, we are definitely heading up to a high point with bands such as this, as well as Crash and The Bandicoots, The Racket, Super Squarecloud, Old Colours, Young Blood and the aforementioned Nudy Bronque forming the vanguard of the younger bands.

Testament to their popularity, they played to the busiest room I have seen for an opening band at Songs of Praise, opening bands playing original music kicking off at nine o’clock on a damp Thursday are always going to have their work cut out. Having recently coined a phrase for their music, I think I shall give it a bit of a test drive –  SkyBurnsRed play Gypsy Metal. To clarify, dynamically intelligent alt-rock, laced with dark almost gothic overtones, peppered with eastern grooves (I’ll say it again, I love Paralysed Lullabies) and violin that wanders between lilting gypsy riffs, punchy staccato jabs and classical washes. And live they really put on a show. Whilst the drums and guitar take the music down the rock route it is the four stringers, the bass and violin, who add a lot of the flavours with clever interplays and arabesque vibes. It’s rock meets classical with out the pomp and pretensions of what that has meant in the past.

Up from Bristol, the Chimerical are a much more straightforward affair. Matching the power of grunge with the immediacy of Brit-pop they ran through a set of charged songs that played around with ska rhythms, post rock onslaughts and slightly Libertines inflected sleazed out indie. If the vocal side of things did let them down to a degree, their rhythm section coupled with the nonchalant guitar style and a lively show more than made up for it.

There are only two types of person in the world. Those who believe that The Black Hats are the next big thing and those who haven’t seen them play live.  Tonight they proved exactly why I know that to be true. A couple of years ago I vowed that I would continue setting up gigs for The Black Hats in Swindon until the punters started to get it. Tonight there were the first signs that the town is finally starting to see the light.

The most obvious thing about this band is the simple truth that they know how to write a good song, songs that pop back into your head days later and find you unexpectedly singing “we write things, we write things down…” for no good reason, to the amusement of the other people in the bank queue. Once that is quickly established it is followed up by their consummate musicianship and understanding of song structure. Effortless beats and intricate bass grooves allow the guitar to weave high end riffs or drop out all together without there being a hole in the music. To paraphrase front man Nick, they sound like The Jam might if their career had continued unabated to the present day. They share the same energy and passion, have a slightly modish punk edge to what are essentially melodic yet fairly aggressive indie-pop songs and they remain quintessentially English.

Whilst comparisons to The Young Knives and Stars of CCTV era Hard–Fi are conclusions also easily jumped to by the younger listener, I think that The Black Hats have enough of their own musical identity to brush such observations aside. As their PR campaign builds towards the release of the forthcoming album, Austerity for The Hoi Polloi, I think this is one band that are going to find themselves hot property as the year progresses.

There is a sad tendency to view music as if it was an obituary. We celebrate the long gone bands of our youth, use their output as a benchmark for what follows, latch on to bands that pay clear homage to those fallen icons and on a local level embrace the backward viewpoint of tribute and cover bands who seem happy to peddle someone else’s wares to a narrow minded audience. What we should be doing is celebrating the births and baptisms of new creative forces, new torch bearers, flying different flags maybe but fired by the same spark that first drew us to the bands of our formative years.

Maybe one of the reasons my own attempts to rally around new music often get criticised is the over enthusiastic nature of my self appointed mission. Where some people see my words as being overly praising, critically imbalanced and avuncular, I see support, enthusiasm and optimism for the future. Anyone can use words to describe music, I think it is more important to use them in more vague ways to inspire, mythologize and champion.

Three bands have stood out in recent months as being the start of something interesting, something worth adding literary fuel to their fire, worthy of nurturing and promotion in whatever small way I can.

Generic musical scenes may only be the construct of lazy journalism, purposeful handles that can only be seen from a great distance or in chronological hindsight, but these three bands seem to form the core of something that may just seek to inspire and form the initial momentum of a creative wave and one that seems to be centred on the M4 corridor and more specifically Swindon of all places.

These three bands that I urge you to check out, may not necessarily be very closely related in musical terms but they do all seem to be taking the age old building blocks and shaping them into new and interesting sonic structures.

Super Squarecloud are probably the most adventurous of the three, pushing quirky, off beat indie sounds into a void vacated by free-jazz and resonating with Dadaist inspired pop that is elegantly warped, purposefully complex and impossible to dance to for any creature with an even number of limbs. Not just conceptually, but musically compelling too.

At the other extreme lay Nudy Bronque standing on a line between the Buzzcocks pop-punk drive and the distant echo of 80’s guitar jangle, somewhere between infectious fun and a perfect understanding of their place in recent music tradition. They are also in danger of writing a throw away pop song that is destined to become a timeless classic.

Between the avant-garde stance of the former and the childlike innocence of the latter you find Crash and The Bandicoots, Brecht meets Beck, lo-fi meets hi-brow, contra-flow and contradiction, angular, spiky and slightly uncomfortable music.

Musical movements often evolve as a protest to something, hence post-punk, post-rock, post-industrial and the like.  I’m not sure that we are necessarily in the wake of anything identifiable enough to cause a response; maybe these bands are just post-predictability, post-mainstream, post-boredom. Maybe it’s the obvious response to the dross, powder-pop of the celebrity age. The low octane, cheap labour, greedy, anti-thought product of a decaying music industry that does not have to rely on original talent and offers no complicated or complicating depth.

I may not have found the answer to that, but I may have found at least a small part of the answer or possibly just even more questions, which is probably better anyway. But for now, there is something worth championing and that’s all I need.