Tag Archive: kid calico and the astral ponies


532525_10151752635811804_1749102226_nIt’s funny how the different strands of past musical activity, the bands, the people, the places and of course the songs themselves, seem to weave in and out of your life, like a maypole lacing together ever tighter so that ever more tapes are running cheek by jowl with their neighbours. I noticed it today when two scheduled posts over on Dancing About Architecture popped up side by side and reminded me of how history follows you around.

Completely out of the blue, a new Black Hat‘s record came my way for reviewing. They were a band who I used to help get Railway Town gigs for, with my erstwhile colleague Gimli the tallest dwarf in Old Town, under our Songs of Praise promotional umbrella. And what a fine band they were too, a wonderful blend of Jam-esque punk edge, reggae back beats and indie chops all coming together to forge incendiary and most memorable anthems. But before the Black Hats, there was Chamfer, and that was where I first saw frontman Nick leading a band making beguiling orient meets occident sounds.

I first saw them at Level III supporting Space Hopper, a band who would shortly evolve into Belarus, produce one near perfect indie-pop album and fade out, though I would get to know some of them through subsequent bands, namely Dave Corrigan’s raggle-taggle roots outfit Good Things Happen in Bad Towns, whose music would later be the starting point for the brilliant Astral Ponies…also featuring Belarus’ mainman Lee Alder.

But I mention this because also crucial to the Space Hopper/Belarus story is Rich Millin, someone who was the tub-thumping better half to my bass lines in a couple of later bands, particularly for the red wine fuelled, folk frolics of Sweet Plums and for a couple of gigs, pig-town, country-punks, Black Sheep Apprentice. And this is where the other review comes in to play. Siamese Youth are a new outfit, based in Berlin and heavy on the 80’s synth=pop groove and they are being helped along their way by none other than my good friend Rich, who has made his home there for many a year now. Hence the review and the serendipitous timing of which prompted this nostalgic wander.

It’s a small world and every now and then something comes along to remind you just how closely knit and global village-like it truly is.

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Musical Musings – May ’19

37782747_1883184831702720_7235865247637045248_nIt seems only a few weeks ago that the heating was on full blast, we were eating our tea in the dark and there was still a few of the Christmas Quality Street rattling about in the bottom of the tin. And in the blink of the eye here we are the other side of the bi-annual chronological re-alignments, summer is girding its loins and there’s more music to be had than unexpectedly heightened but tenuous analogy. Let’s do this….

A frequent visitor to the parish returns to The Victoria on 2nd May. Lewis Clark and The Essentials lace together deft acoustic threads, bluesy grooves and jazz jauntiness to create accessible tunes that link timeless singer songwriter sounds with European folk traditions. 

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newpromo_b 11.15.37For obvious reasons many of the gigs this week are touting a Halloween theme, though it seems odd that a Celtic occasion of remembrance should be marked largely by the playing 80’s classic rock covers but that is the world that we find ourselves in.

Tonight there is, as is Thursday’s role in things, a plethora of original music to be had. The Basement Club can be found at The Victoria doling out their weaves of infectious indie and deft pop and joining them is the much talked about China Bears a band who have already caught the ear of many radio movers and shakers with their anthemic indie sound. Kaleido Bay open the night.

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iu.jpegThis week begins with a wonderful slice of emerging indie talent as Modern Age Music bring Dirty Orange (pictured) to The Castle. This London based trio play jolting, energetic and raw guitar anthems that sees them advancing the same sonic qualities that put Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes on the map. The night also sees a wealth of local talent lined up before them, GETRZ provide an array of euphoric, serrated-edged indie, The Harlers provide searing, blues-infused garage rock and Xadium bring an eclectic mesh of grunge, post-hardcore and funky-punk to tonight’s show.

If you are looking for something less testosterone driven and revelling more in the songs that you already know and love then The Queen’s Tap is the place and the sonic shenanigans of Toxic Girls is the soundtrack for the evening.

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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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13407096_10153662274891463_6649436038957675124_n.jpgIn a world which seems ever more divided along political lines, knowingly supporting cash over climate issues, payola over peace and where a small very small sector of society pull the strings and calls the shots, wouldn’t it be good to have someone come along and make sense of it all. Not some dry political hack or firebrand orator but maybe a guy with a bass guitar, a hat and a bag of songs which point fingers, neatly satirises and gently ridicules the state of the world. It might not fix the problems but it sounds like a fun night out to me. Oh look, Grant Sharkey is at The Tuppenny tonight, what a co-incidence!

Meanwhile down at The Beehive, that excellent fellow Tim Manning is hosting his Acoustic Buzz night, a session dedicated to all things rootsy and this time around Boss Caine headlines the night, imagine Tom Waits singing Ryan Adams …if they had both had the good fortune to grow up in Yorkshire that is. Chris Webb is also on the bill, a finger-style folkie par excellence and your host will kick the night off with his song-blends of country and folk.

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14468193_10153789195910025_4105194703030807599_oIt’s nice to see another week where Swindon continues to embrace original and often out of town bands, if nothing else it gives me nothing to moan about as the length of this introduction attests to.

Thursday

Flight Brigade, George Wilding Band and TriAmi @ The Victoria

If some of the recent big names have hailed from a slightly earlier time, Flight Brigade (pictured) is a band bang on the moment. Festival favourites, beloved by bloggers and journalists and adored by the more adventurous side of the national radio posse and tonight you get to see why. If the idea of a folk heartbeat wrapped in layers of indie cool, rock drive and pop sensibility and then delivered with energy and style doesn’t get your blood pumping then you may as well give up on music and go back to your Stephanie Meyer novels and your collection of vintage manhole covers as it doesn’t get much better than this.

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13116233_1147335191965449_4162624693147308179_oI’m happy to see that the autumn dance card of bigger, out of town acts is continuing with some pace. Tonight, Songs of Praise bring you the first of four gigs they have scheduled around town, beginning at The Victoria for some highly accessible alt-rock fusion.

Flight Brigade sit in the same place as the likes of Imagine Dragons or early Arcade Fire, blending lush indie soundscapes with radio friendly melody, elements of folk sit at its core but get wrapped in swathes of energy, passion and panache. Also on the bill is George Wilding who continues his journey from nostalgia tinged troubadour to forward thinking textured pop icon and TriAmi, a fantastic folktronic trio who have the ability to say more in the atmospheric spaces within their songs than most bands can with actual chords and words.

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12801474_967430416685843_7496377762084199365_nMusic has long been used as the focus of events seeking to raise money and awareness for good causes. Tonight at The Victoria you can experience that altruistic nature as a whole bunch of familiar faces line up in support of Alan McGee’s brilliant Musicians Against Homelessness project. Echoing his same maverick spirit the bands playing represent the more challenging, creative and leftfield end of the spectrum. Anyone who saw Tripdress’s last outing at this very venue, probably 8 years ago, (tempus does indeed fugit) will be aware just how great their urban-boogie-blues fusion is, those who missed it should rectify that immediately…you never know when this very occasional band will be back.

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