Tag Archive: harlers (the)


10407052_774034392662307_1668943267993678268_nAs regular followers of my scribbling will be more than aware, tribute bands are not really my cup of tea, but there is one aspect to them that I find fascinating. The band’s name. It’s an area that can lend itself to acts of creative genius. After all why call yourself the Real Smiths, when you can be The Iain Duncan Smiths and why be the plain old Bowie Experience when you can be Camp David. It’s an art form in itself. Others that smack of sheer brilliance include J’Amy Winehouse, Motorheadache, Sean Connery’s favourite band Oasish and the total honesty of Kaiser Thief’s (“I just nicked a riot?”) Mentioned in dispatches are – Repeater Gabriel, Husker Don’t, Surely Bassey and vegetarian nu-metallers – Quorn!

And if you are into odd band names then you might be interested in Oui Legionnaires at The Victoria tonight. Odd name, odd music, odd people. Take a dose of angular indie, throw in warped pop melodies and punk energy, pile it all up into a heap and stand on the top. From there you may just be able to catch a glimpse of the genre that the band fall into. Best you just go along and work it out for yourself. Support from punk s Rebel Station and two-piece blues outfit The Harlers makes for a very eclectic bill.

Friday delivers the first of four Songs of Praise shows over the coming week. Staying at The Victoria, a line up of cinematic indie and dream pop vibes courtesy of the welcome return of Wyldest (pictured) a band with its formative roots in Swindon but now making waves on the national circuit. Fans of Warpaint will want to check out the same sort of musical furrows being ploughed by Cat Bear Tree and the night is kicked off by the brilliant White Lilac, a blend of post punk drive and Cocteau Twins like atmospherics.

At the other extreme, The Rolleston plays host to an act that is lewd, crude, “ Life-affirmingly puerile” according to no less than Charlie Brooker, hilarious and offensive in equal measure and it is brilliant. Mr K and The Gang (even the name has to be edited for general consumption) bring the UK tour to Swindon in the company of local drum and bass noise-merchants 2 Sick Monkeys and comedic punk from Mike Gibbons.

But fear not, less challenging options are also available. The Locomotive, for example, has more familiar offerings via funk, blues and soul played in a very improvisational way, old songs with new twists from Chameleon. Syntronix at The GWR are riding the 80’s nostalgia trip, not the one were you are stood in a muddy field watching The Wonder Stuff wearing a Coal Not Dole t-shirt drinking overpriced lager out of a plastic beaker (i.e. mine) but one that sounds more like the Top of The Pops version, synth-pop at it’s finest from Kraftwerk to Depeche Mode, New Order to Ultravox.

The big one for Saturday happens at The Castle with the long awaited return of The Pagan Fringe. There are so many reasons to go to this. It is 25 years since their album Gathering Light was released and you can now pick it up on CD. Proceeds will go to the Swindon-Calais Link Refugee Aid Charity, reason alone to support the gig and buy the CD. Maybe go along as a way of honouring the much missed Steve Carvey, the bands original drummer. On top of all of that go along for great music and to catch up with people you last saw propping up the bar of The Monkey Club and other long forgotten, half-mythical venues.

At The Locomotive, the sad news is that Colour The Atlas have pulled out of the Songs of Praise gig but you can still catch the brilliant Balloon Ascents, a rising Oxford band who mix dreamy wooziness, pop hooks and darker undercurrents.

Tributes are also flooding in, as it were, The Rolleston have The Doors of Perception which ticks the 60’s box, The Victoria has Lizzy and The Banshees, so that’s the late seventies sorted and Riffs Bar has the next decade covered with Hot Rox playing an 80’s set.

The third Songs of Praise offering can be found at The Beehive on Sunday with Case Hardin’s fantastic blend of haunted country meets lo-fi rock and roll and support from The Incredible Disappearing Boy who sound like Wilco writing underground Americana classics for a late night drive along the M4. Two bands about which I just can’t say enough nice things.

Gig four from Swindon’s seemingly busiest promoters is at their usual pitch at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with the politically astute Steve Leigh from Kitchen Sink Drama’s and a rare set from Graham Mattingley. Blimey, that’s quite a week.

10407052_774034392662307_1668943267993678268_nAs regular followers of my scribbling will be more than aware, tribute bands are not really my cup of tea, but there is one aspect to them that I find fascinating. The band’s name. It’s an area that can lend itself to acts of creative genius. After all why call yourself the Real Smiths, when you can be The Iain Duncan Smiths and why be the plain old Bowie Experience when you can be Camp David. It’s an art form in itself. Others that smack of sheer brilliance include J’Amy Winehouse, Motorheadache, Sean Connery’s favourite band Oasish and the total honesty of Kaiser Thief’s (“I just nicked a riot?”) Mentioned in dispatches are – Repeater Gabriel, Husker Don’t, Surely Bassey and vegetarian nu-metallers – Quorn!

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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.

10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nTomorrow is one of those days that resonate throughout history. On May 8th, 70 years ago, the world woke up to a Europe finally at peace after the ravages of war. Sixteen years before that The St Valentines Day Massacre made world headlines and more latterly, completing the cycle of world shaking deeds, in 1972, Ian “H” Watkins of Steps infamy was born, so it is obviously a date which is tied in with important historical events. Also tomorrow we will wake up to learn the fate of the next five years in the running of this country. But tonight we party. Thankfully, this weekend whether celebrating the result or drowning your sorrows there is no shortage of great sounds to do it to.

 

Those opting for a bit of a shindig should look no further than The Victoria tonight as Bite The Buffalo bring their “stomping, coffin blues” to town and show just why recent years have seen them play such festivals as SXSW and supports to none other than Robert Plant. Fresh out of the box, 2 piece The Harlers continue to re-connect with dirty blues-rock memories and openers The Johnstown Flood add grunge and warped guitars to the blues template.

 

At The Wheatsheaf, Darren Hodge deals in a gentler but no less mesmerising take on the same genre; an ear for tradition and some outstanding finger-picking dexterity are the order of the day and he is joined by the loved-up folk harmonies of Ethemia plus the elemental imagery and sounds of Drew Bryant. Sitting between the two, a funky blend of acoustic and gritty blues is Jim Blair who can be found at The Beehive.

 

And if Thursday had a heavy blues undercurrent, Friday takes a folkier stance. Firstly at The Beehive with Calico Jack (pictured), a band whose distinctive canal boat-folk blends gypsy jive, carnival chaos and shanty shenanigans to create twisted fairy tales and worlds of dark enchantment. For a punkier take on the genre, Mick O’Toole can be found at The Rolleston. Theirs is a howling banshee of a show in the tradition of Flogging Molly or Greenland Whalefishers, so if the idea of a sonic wall of aggressive accordion, mutilating mandolin lines and belligerent banjo forming the front line of a folk-punk onslaught sounds like your cup of cider, then this is the show for you.

 

At The Victoria, Buswell’s brand of indie-pop meets chamber folk will be providing the venue with sweeping majestic sounds not to mention some logistical headaches as the orchestral wing of this band often pushes the stage set up into double figures. Support comes from the lush dynamics and dark atmospherics of White Lilac and opening the show is the man known as Last Box of Sparklers and his hushed and fleeting, Nordic indie sounds. Incendiary blues-rock classics are delivered with spellbinding dexterity at The Queens Tap courtesy of The Lewis Creaven Band.

 

As usual, Saturday is the bastion of nostalgia, reminisence and the tried and tested (all of which could actually be names of cover bands themselves) but that doesn’t mean that they rock any less. In fact, out at Riffs Bar, the hardest partying band in town take the stage. Enjoy their set of rock, pop and indie classics, just don’t try matching them drink for drink at the bar afterwards.

 

Also rocking out like a good ‘un, The Sex Pissed Dolls, pun their way into level 3 to deliver a set of rock, ska and punk standards and at The Brookhouse Farm (moved from The Woodlands Edge) it’s the last chance to catch The Beat Holes before they return home to Italy. Imagine if The Beatles had formed out of the punk melting pot of 1976’s London squat scene and also liked to listen to heavy metal. Intrigued? Check them out, they are brilliant.

 

Other options are 1000 Planets punk, goth and alternative sounds at The Rolleston, power-pop, mod and soul from Peloton at The Swiss Chalet and vintage classic rock from Mid-Life Crisis at The Queens Tap.

 

There is just enough room to mention Peter Jagger and his political tinged folk songs at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon and David Marx’s poetic and poignant music at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.