Tag Archive: ghost of machines


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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news-0416-antinowhereleague-900x600It may be cold and wet out there enough to make you think twice about heading out to a local gig, but the answer to that dilemma is to immerse yourself in a show that reminds you of warm summer festivals and escapist music. Zetan Spore at The Beehive tonight is perfect for that with their high octane psytrance sound and music breaking in huge waves of energy and positivity, tribal breaks and searing guitar riffs. 

And if that all seems quite futuristic, Friday offers something a bit more old-school as Anti-Nowhere League (pictured) scream into town to hit the stage at The Victoria. Some punk from back in the day sounds a bit thin and mild with the passage of time but ANL’s mix of Motorhead-esque rock and heavy end punk sounds as raw, wild, obnoxious and exciting as it did when they first hit the scene nearly forty years ago. With the infectious ska-punk of Slagerij and the incendiary sounds of Borrowed Time kicking things off. This is a night that proves that at least some punk music did stand the test of time.

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22814063_367569767018693_8620686301216884608_nMusical pairings often seem like odd partnerships when you look at them a bit more closely. Take Days of Thunder, a green-fingered, eco-academic and musical avant-gardener and a creature of the night, rock and roller don’t seem to be the obvious collaborators but music is all about celebrating the common ground rather than worrying about the bits that fall outside the central part of the collective Venn Diagram.

If anything is being celebrated here, it is certainly the post-punk pioneering ethic, that adventurous and questing spirit that saw ex-punks and Blitz Kids ditch the trusty guitar and rewire keyboards to their will to create a new sound, a new style and new genre. But it is no mere pastiche of the past, no nostalgic, rose tinted spectacle moment, because it sounds very much of the here and now and also looks to the future.

Most interestingly though, is given the rock drama that often swirls around Billy Jon Bingham’s Ghosts of Machines and the experimentalism of Thomas Haynes’ Grasslands(though this is a lot closer to his work with No Side Effects) there is a real understatement at work here, a grandeur built from the atmosphere and anticipation which comes from allowing space to be one of the key components. As debut singles go….okay, you have definitely got my attention.

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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12771521_505280549673444_5585277270321832928_oSome weeks I get to wax lyrical about bands with weird names that most of you have never heard of, from far flung realms and exotic sounding places that your average reality TV star or Republican party nominee couldn’t point to on a map. This week, however, it is much more about the home team as many of the gigs slots feature frequently returning and popular bands. In other words, tried and tested, solid, dependable bookings. And why not?

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12654486_10153972441136757_7705425637639042490_nAnother busy week ahead for our music venues so I will get straight on with things, stopping only to mention that this is my 300th gig guide for the paper. Ballpark figures make that about 250, 000 words (if you include the extra reviews I throw in) a high percentage of them the likes of “ethereal,” “effervescent,” “fruition” and “plethora,” …blimey, no wonder I get called pretentious!

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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.

11040172_827700267312775_341274658678156230_nThirty-one years ago today, one of the biggest and most misrepresented albums in history was released; Springsteen’s Born in The USA. Although on the surface the title track seems to be a gung-ho anthem to the American dream, ironically misappropriated by Reagan’s Republican party, it is actually an indictment of American foreign policy and deals with the disillusionment and heartache of a returning Vietnam veteran trying to fit into a society that has rejected him. It was the song that truly made The Boss a global phenomena but if this is your only point of contact with his music I would urge you to delve into his earlier back catalogue for a series of albums about small town hustlers, blue collar scepticism, shattered dreams and the quest for a better life.

But, if your musical slant is one for the big anthemic rock sound, tonight’s Songs of Praise show at The Victoria has everything you need in the guise of Ghost of Machines (pictured). Currently pushing their second single, Fall of Empires, this local four piece meld a progressive edge with sky-scraping, dystopian alt-rock and have the image and delivery to back it up. Joining them is the stoner rock meets swamp blues of Armchair Committee and the rampant melodicism of Kernow’s finest, Even Nine.

Seemingly always the venue thinking furthest outside the box, The Beehive, brings you the gloriously named Garance Et Les Mitochondries who seem to need to invent their own unique labels to describe themselves, such as tramp-jazz, progressive gypsy and dirty tango and who sound like the music to a long lost fairground ride or an otherworldly cabaret act. I urge you to check these guys out.

Friday shows the lack of communication that hampers the cause of music in this town as two very similar bands vie for the same slice of the audience. At The Queens Tap, The Erin Bardwell Collective will be blending reggae, ska and rocksteady into a wonderful celebration of Jamaica’s musical heritage via original compositions. Train To Skaville at The Rolleston will be covering the same territory via all of the iconic songs from those genres. One audience into two bands doesn’t go, or doesn’t go far at least!

Remember a time before mainstream music became the bastion of auto-tuners, dance routines and a fast track to TV panel show fame? Well, you can re-live such an era at The Arts Centre tonight with the still gorgeous Judie Tzuke and her incredible vocal talents. (If anyone uses the term “poor mans Stevie Nicks they will have me to deal with!)

There are more rustic, rootsy revelations at The Beehive with State of Undress, a “fiddlesome” band who run the gamut of folk music from mellow and thought provoking to shamelessly riotous and do so with passion and a theatrical bent. Rorke’s Drift will be treating The Victoria to a night of classic rock from AC/DC to ZZ Top.

On Saturday the problem of more careful programing raises it’s head again as Broken Image at The Rolleson and Whole Lotta DC at The Victoria will be splitting the classic rock audience. The former play everything from AC/DC to Iron Maiden and the latter AC/DC to….well, that’s it; just AC/DC really, the name sort of gives it away I suppose.

58 Shakes bring a mix of standards and originals to The Queens Tap, specialising in 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, swing, surf and pop and guaranteed to have all you “hep” cats getting down, flipping your lids, cutting a rug and other such vintage phrases…Daddy-o! Meanwhile Karl Brookes will be taking a more acoustic indie-pop route up at The Castle.

On Monday The Academy of Music and Sound students will be raising money over at Riffs Bar for The Donkey Sanctuary charity with a night of live music that goes under the puntastic title of Slam-Donk!

And finally, talking of Donkeys, Mark Chilvers brings his wonderful blend of folk and acoustic pop to The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. (I wasn’t implying Mark was a donkey!)

149371_10152435420009290_5033964773938942595_nWith a record number of, mainly, original music gigs taking place this week, I am going to forego the usual meandering introduction and just jump straight in. And I’ll start at The Victoria, the main cause of such a glut of new music descending on the town. Tonight is the first night of Vic-Fest, a four-day celebration of original bands, each night curated by a different local promoter and varying in its target audience.

 

Laura Kidd aka She Makes War played for Songs of Praise as a solo act getting on for a year ago and now as part of her national tour she brings the full band show back into town. Her breathtakingly honest gloom-pop, distils a creative punk spirit and is the perfect headline for this night of alternative sounds. Tour support, Forgery Lit add a dirty, grunge blues to the night and the alt-country punk of Coasters will be lapped up by fans of such bands as The Gaslight Anthem.

 

Whether you catch Robert Brown fronting Smouldering Sons or solo, as he is tonight at The Beehive, there is so much to enjoy in the blends of Americana, blues rock and folky vibes that dance around this musical creations.

 

Friday at The Victoria and Fairview Promotions take us down a reggae path. Backbeat Soundsystem take a traditional reggae vibe, inject it with funk, dub and ska and then kick it up into a higher gear to create a bass driven party groove. Festival favourites Dub The Earth and King Solomon Band deliver fresh takes on the genre and openers The Nomarks offer a more ska based set to kick off the night.

 

Back at The Beehive and the folk ‘n’ roll of The Model Folk, a beautiful cacophony of wheezing harmonium, scratchy washboard, throbbing double bass and various acoustica, create a very different, but just as brilliant, party soundtrack. Midway between those two venues, some wonderful singer-songwriter sets can be had at The Regent courtesy of Drew Bryant and Nick Felix and if classic rock and metal standards are more your thing, then Bad Obsession at The Rolleston is the gig for you.

 

Day three at The Victoria, or Saturday as the rest of us call it, really steps things up a gear and showcases the best new bands at the harder end of rock. It’s always a pleasure to watch The Manic Shine (pictured) not just for their technical expertise and the sheer infectiousness of their songs, but also because they manage to give a lesson in stage performance than many bands would be wise to take note of. They are joined by Vault of Eagles who play a wonderfully primal brand of twisted rock that falls somewhere between The Bad Seeds and P J Harvey. Punk and metal fuse together in The Graphic’s warped art attacks (check out their video The Kid….do it now!) and local support comes from local rising stars, Ghost of Machines and stalwarts The Starkers.

 

It is quite apt that in a week that marked 15 years since we lost the lyrical genius, singer, artist, actor and madman, Ian Dury, that The Blox, a tribute to his years fronting The Blockheads, are playing at The Rolleston. Expect all the caustic wit and kitchen sink wisdom, not to mention exceptional musicianship that made the original band so…well, original.

If you are after something altogether more funky then, Funk’daMental play funk and disco classics at The Swiss Chalet and the after party tunes can be found at Level 3 as Beats and Bars mixes live acts with DJ’s to showcase the best of the current wave of hip-hop acts.

 

Sunday at The Victoria rounds off with a night of metal courtesy of Dredded Vyrus. Main act Skreamer manage to combine the grandeur and pomp of classic metal with the primal growl and speed of its current direction whilst Antoinette offer a more contemporary post-metalcore sound. Belial and Ursus open the night’s proceedings.

 

It’s blues and R’n’B (the boogie guitar sort not the lip synched, dance routine sort) all the way with Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and punk, ska and new wave covers are to be found at The Swiss Chalet with Operation ’77.

 

At The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday hosts ex-Haiku frontman Phil Cooper and his Neil Finn comparable musical earworms with a rare, short set from the mercurial Adam Crosland to kick the night off.