Tag Archive: illustrations (the)


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31760151_1227166777386457_3318506893571260416_nLots to get through this week so with an introductory paragraph as brief as one of Cheryl Cole’s relationships, let’s get on with the show.

Scott Lavene makes a sort of quintessentially English rock and roll, infectious tunes mixed with jittery new wave tension and uniquely humorous narratives that Messrs. Difford and Tilbrook would be proud of and you can catch him at The Beehive this very evening.

Two helpings of rock are to be found on Friday with The Lizzy Legacy and Stat-X at The Victoria and The Rolleston respectively. The former, as the name implies, pay tribute to the music of Thin Lizzy and associated acts, no wigs, costumes or gimmicks they just let all of those classic tunes speak for themselves and the latter offer rock music in all its forms from the obvious iconic choices to some more pop-rock selections.

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16807137_10155794267854056_5740058919034121743_nWhilst most of the music on offer this week is more concerned with reliving past favourites, of offering sonic comfort zones and reminding you why you fell in love with music in the first place, the week does start out with some strides being made into new musical pastures. One such band is Lewis Clark and The Essentials who can be found at The Beehive tonight.

If you have not yet seen this regular visitor to the local circuit, I can assure you that this is band you really need to check out. Although on paper you would have to describe them as an acoustic folk and blues fusion, in reality they are much more than that. They are soulful, dexterous, effortlessly cool, and musically economical, they make every note and lyrical line count and are the perfect band to restore your faith in creativity and originality.

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0012107889_10In a bigger story The Illustrations would be that mythical band that everyone pretends they were into and trades anecdotes about in a real “Pistols play The Lesser Free Trade Hall sort of way.” If either of its main protagonists make it big, it could still happen. But for now the band are a wonderful piece of local musical history, the sound of young men learning their musical trade and creating some bedroom band, lo-fi gems along the way. I remember being impressed with the song 18th Century Romantic Poets when it was sent out into the wide world, possibly as much for the wonderfully pretentious title as anything else. I’m a big fan of knowing pretension, when done right it can be a lot of fun, not that there is anything pretentious about the music, except perhaps the tongue in cheek nod and wink of the use of the words greatest hits in the title.

I saw the band play a couple of times but sadly all the things that make this collection of songs so great seemed to be drenched in walls of indie guitar and musical trend, everything that this record is not. So it seems that the best way to experience The Illustrations and what they could have been is to listen to Two Parts. Great music normally reminds you of other music you like and the threads that spin out of The Illustrations are more about things other than music. There is a wonderfully collection of attitudes at work, the effortless, lo-fi cool of Nikki Sudden, the avant gardening of Neutral Milk Hotel, another band whose legend was much more than the sum of their actual career parts and any number of 80’s new wave/new pop explorers.

It’s great to imagine what might have become of the band had these songs found live traction but the music industry is littered with such stories, it’s a world of what ifs and maybes, that is what makes it so exciting. It could be that on the success of subsequent musical vehicles that either Sam or Matt are involved in people will look back and claim retrospective ownership, its the way of the world, but for now the songs remain our wonderful little secret.

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!

1001847_10151555930943635_1223282823_nThere is no getting away from it; this week is all about The Swindon Shuffle. I won’t dwell on it in full, there has been a fair bit of coverage already in this august (and indeed August) publication and a quick search under the obvious terms will find all the details listed up on their website. But here is a very brief walk through (or Shuffle through I guess.)

 

Following last nights opening event at The Queens Tap, the focus tonight turns to Old Town which sees the regular Songs of Praise night at The Victoria become a temple to all things mercurial pop and alt-rock (Super Squarecloud, Dead Royalties and the return of SkyBurnsRed), whilst The Roaring Donkey is the haven for culture vultures, providing a mixture of intelligent acoustica (David Marx and Steve Leigh) and poetry readings. Also happing in the vicinity is some lovely Psytrance (tribal beats meets alien dance vibes) from Zetan Spore at The Beehive and Baila, that wonderful coffee house meets old school vinyl emporium is joining the fray with music provided by hand picked DJ’s. Artist might like to note that those awfully nice people at Cradle Contemporary will be running a Sketch Crawl; artists will be wandering the venues capturing the inspiration and the spirit of the night on paper for a future exhibition.

 

Friday not only stays around Old Town with The Ocelot curated Indie night at The Victoria (incorporating the now traditional Doza opening slot plus Nudybronque and British Harlem)), the first of two mellower nights at The Castle (Familiars, Wildest Dreams) and Riffs Bar’s wonderful acoustic night joins in the fun with an open mic. night and headline slots from The Black Feathers and The Cadbury Sisters, which is a coup in anyone’s book.)

 

Saturday is a tsunami of music. The big daytime session is to be found at The Rolleston from midday, courtesy of The Academy of Music and Sound who showcase their students’ talents before the rest of the afternoon and evening mixes all genres of music from the delicate tones of Charlie Bath to the wild musical machinations of Sea Mammal, the blues infused Armchair Committee and goes out with a bang courtesy of The Ak-Poets.

 

Through out the afternoon, The In-Store Sessions sees music in Billabong, Baila, That’s Entertainment and The Central Library.

 

An eclectic mix is also to be found at The Beehive that evening (Cartoon Heroes, Swindon Samba) and another chilled session at The Castle includes an acoustic Port Erin and Colour The Atlas.

 

Sunday has a family fun day at Riffs Bar, so take the kids along and mix music and shenanigans in equal measure whilst if you are in town The Beehive is the place to be as it plays host to the Shuffle wrap party. If you have made it this far, you may as well go out in style.

 

Right, that is The Shuffle well catered for lets look at non-Shuffle related options.

 

Riffs Bar on Thursday has a great little fundraiser for the Prospect Hospice that features the slightly funky indie of The Primaveras plus The Illustrations, a band who have evolved out of a warped acoustic bedroom duo into a sharp edged outfit that both channels the past and predicts the future. Also on the bill are Abi James and Brinliegh Gallagher. Great music, great cause.

 

The bottom corner of Commercial Road comes up trumps on Friday as The Rolleston plays host to Replica, which as the name suggests are pop and rock cover band, whilst downstairs at Level 3 you can catch Floydian Doors, the only band in existence paying tribute to Cambridge progressive and LA hedonistic psychedelic rock simultaneously. Saturday’s non-Shuffle events are a tribute to Rammstein at The Victoria and Indie and rock covers from Happy Accident at The Swiss Chalet.

 

As if to prove the power of musical networking whilst playing the Mostar Blues and Rock Festival in Bosnia, members of Innes Sibun’s Band found themselves playing alongside and befriending Texas old country/blues troubadour Keegan McInroe (pictured) to the effect that he will be playing at The White Hart in Wroughton on Sunday…not normally on the direct route back home but it’s great when these things happen.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday those acoustic classical meets Latin meets jazz maestro’s Gilmore and Jaz can be found enchanting the crown. Why not join them?

1394432_639689642740457_554281832_nAnother quiet week in the Grand Duchy of Swindon, I guess the good weather means that many people are opting for back garden barbeques or at least the back garden of a pub rather than being confined to dark, sweaty, side rooms to watch bands play. Good news for those who want to work on their tan: bad news for working bands. Bad news for Goths for that matter.  You have to feel sorry for the old school goth in this weather… not the modern, nu-metal evolved contemporary goth who still thinks that Marilyn Manson and The Crow is the alpha and omega of the genre. I’m talking about the early eighties survivors. The ones in DMs and drainpipe jeans, Interview with a Vampire style frilly white shirt, eyeliner and Max Factor Porcelain face foundation for that recently deceased look. It must be difficult playing five a side football with your Ray-Bans on in an attempt to look like Wayne Hussey. I always think that if the temperature gets too high they will spontaneously combust or go into the whole “I’m melting” routine like the Wicked Witch of the West. Still, full marks for effort.

 

Sadly nothing remotely of that genre on this week, but there is a clash of great original music on the northern slopes of Old Town tonight. At The Beehive, Bruise (pictured) will be regaling the crowds with their wonderful cross-pollination of Joni Mitchell-esque folk, Eurythmic power-pop and a whole bunch of strange prog-rock meanderings. Believe me it will be like nothing that you have heard before.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, are Weatherstorms; atmospheric, sensual, dance tinged vibes and tonight performed stripped back and acoustic by main man James Cameron, a face you will recognise from such great acts as Old School Tie and Sam Green and The Midnight Heist. That’s at The Victoria.

 

And talking of acoustic sets, The Rolleston has Boot Led Zeppelin Acoustic, a band that none other than Sharleen Spiteri from Texas described as sounding “amazing.”

 

Friday’s big offering is seminal doo-wop group The Drifters at The Wyvern Theatre. Known for iconic songs such as Up On The Roof and Under The Boardwalk the band have survived through many incarnations but the reason for their longevity (61 years and counting) will be obvious from the first note.

 

And if the sound of 50’s New York is not to your taste, how about the timeless sounds of The Delta as The Blue Trees evoke haunting blues and a southern fried rock groove at The Beehive. More Americana at The Victoria with Cash, a tribute to the man in black himself and even speaking as someone who is not big on country music or tribute bands, this band are amazing.

 

At The Rolleston Lewis Creavan and his band will be firing off a salvo of songs from such icons as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz and many more.

 

A full day of music is on offer on Saturday at The Swindon Town Football Club Legends Lounge to raise money for The Prospect Hospice and Ruby’s fat Cow Fund.  Acts include A Way With Words, Sahara Heights, 8 Minutes Later, The Illustrations and many more so check their website for full details.

 

The rest of Saturday is in the hands of standard bearers and those offering tribute. At The Victoria Felix and The Funk play floor fillers from Daft Punk to Chic and from James Brown to Jamiroquai. It’s old school ska, punk and new wave at Riffs Bar with Going Underground and at The Woodlands Edge it’s The Shoo Flies who describe themselves as a “unique covers band” which to me is quite an ironic turn of phrase, but that’s just me.

 

Bit of a treat at The Victoria on Tuesday as Brian Hogan brings Preachers Son to The Victoria. Not only does the band draw comparisons to early Thin Lizzy and the demented approach of The Jon Spenser Blues Explosion but also Brian has worked with everyone from Irish folk giants Kila (one of my highlights of a dim and distance Womad Festival) to Gavin Friday, Sinead O’Connor and even U2.

 

And as if one great Irish band isn’t enough for you, a more traditional offering from the Emerald Isle comes in the form of Patrick Street at the Arts Centre which features former members of The Bothy Band, De Dannan, Planxty and Van Morrison’s Band.

swindon105_5logo-300x186This week we have Tim Manning from Blind River Scare in session. Music from: Ali Finneran, Cavalier, Lighterthief, Blake, James Daubney, Mr Love and Justice, The Illustrations

 

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1374371_626819517396714_494436571_nIf you type the letters S M E and L into Google the first thing that is returned as the most common search in the world is Smells Like Teen Spirit, a song that is just about 23 years old. Why do I bring this up? Well, it is twenty years ago since Kurt Cobain took his own life but still he is all around us. In many ways Nirvana, and the grunge scene it was part of, was the last musical style that seemed to really change the musical landscape. Like hip-hop, punk and rock’n’rock before it, the impact was immeasurable, but what have the last twenty years given us? Whilst great music has continued to be made, why haven’t we seen the radical changes in music that previous revolutionary movements would suggest?

 

If you are waiting for answers, I don’t really have them. Maybe it is the fact that music is so “on-demand” it’s like Christmas everyday and you can have whatever music you want, when you want it, largely for free. Maybe it’s time to fight back and make a scene, it all it’s meanings. Grunge, Hip-Hop, rave, baggy, punk all grew from small acorns, maybe it’s time to get behind live music again, storm the barricades of apathy and make something happen…maybe even in Swindon.  Still, enough of the rhetoric.

 

Starting out at Riffs Bar, tonight is one for the rock fans and All Ears Avow lead the musical charge. Having risen from the ashes of progressive metal maestros Mortdelamer but now with an eye on a snappier alt-rock delivery, the band elegantly blend the dexterity of their previous incarnation with the accessibility of the latter. Support comes from pop-punkers Highly Personal and

Cavalier, a band that with just a few shows under their belt are already sounding on a lot of the right peoples radars.

 

The Beehive will be hosting the dustbowl era Americana of The Open Secrets who will make you feel like you are sipping whisky in a bar in North Carolina with Ryan Adams jamming Carter Family tunes in the background. Reginald Road will be playing roots rock reggae at The Queens Tap and The Beaujacks come all the way over from Eindhoven to treat The Victoria to everything from Led Zeppelin to The Rolling Stones to ZZ Top.

 

Fans of psychedelic blues and highly charged R’n’B will want to be at The Rolleston on Friday for Snatch It Back and if a further reference point were needed the band features original Groundhogs drummer Ken Pustelnik so you will have some idea what to expect. At the Royal Oak, The Cover Addicts will be playing hits from the 50’s to the present day.

 

Out at Riffs Bar Acoustic Sessions Jenny Bracey and Sadie Fleming feature, though as usual any details of the show are a closely guarded secret so I suggest you contact the venue for further information.

 

What I can be a bit more certain about is the event that they have at the venue on the Saturday. In an effort to help fund a trip to Kenya for the Younite Outreach Project and continue it’s objective of helping improve the lives of those less fortunate, there is a fund raising show featuring British Harlem, a  wonderful blend of punk infused, quintessentially English indie with soulful transatlantic vibes. Also on the bill are Theo Altieri, Bianca Polizzi, The Primaveras, The Debuts and The Illustrations. Great music and a worthy cause.

 

More great original music is to be had at The Castle with the return of The Racket (pictured). Back out as a five piece, the band known for their uncompromising, last gang in town attitude, punked up indie cool and cocky live swagger will come as breath of….sweaty, cigarette fumed, booze soaked air.

 

The Victoria has a tribute to Texas groove-metallers Pantera and at The Rolleston The Dark Eyes “bridge the gap between rock and pop with originals and covers.” Their words not mine. More covers are to be had at The Woodlands Edge with Switch.

 

Sunday sees Ezio return to The Victoria a band that specialize in emotive, deep and meaningful music and lyrics that are honest and which will strike a chord (pardon the pun) with the audience.

Library - 82Does Swindon need another young Indie band? Probably not, but anyone who cites Neutral Milk Hotel as one of their influences is going to grab my attention any day of the week. It shows that whilst fellow bands were trying to out cool each other with references to Arctic Monkeys or Blur and making sure their complex hair style was just right and they had the right brand of ironic knitwear on, others were discerning enough to explore some far more interesting sources. With the release of a three track e.p. Different Colours, the full extent of The Illustrations musical deftness and their eclectic pool of influences make for a wonderful statement of intent.

 

It’s a blend of lo-fi pop meets psychedelic folk fashioned into a strange retro indie sort of sound, a sound that probably owes a lot to the fact that it was recorded at Homeground Studios, the spiritual home of Mr Love and Justice, but that is not to take anything away from the songs themselves, it’s just that right from the off you get the same whiff of late sixties counterculture vibes and low tech studio treatment.

 

The title track is probably the most accessible of the three songs but in many ways says the least about their potential, but still a great freak-folk song, edging towards a slightly frantic, slightly warped Nick Drake. Creation’s Not Meant To Be throws a bit of a spin on this formula wandering between full-blown guitar wig outs that wobble on the edge of chaos before being drawn back into sanity. But in my opinion they save the best till last. December Rain is a piano driven ballad that shouts loudest through a quiet, simple, understated beauty.

 

So does Swindon need another young indie band? Probably not, but Swindon does need The Illustrations.