Tag Archive: kid calico and the astral ponies


12279087_999483660093982_8296826872183162800_nTo quote the venerable Sir Noddy of Holder…”It’s Chriiiistmaaaas!” ‘Tis the season that conjures up so many wonderful images, clichés roasting on an open fire, TV adverts featuring useless dads, stressed mums and heart-tugging sentimentality set to a minor key rendered indie classic. It is the season that sees Barry from Human Resources on his yearly trip to the pub in his wacky matching tie and socks and his desire to show everyone else how to have a good time. But thankfully it is also a season when live music is in the ascent and very little of it is playing the seasonal card, thankfully. So with more to fit in than a (insert Christmas cliché here) it’s on with the snow….I mean show.

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12248048_1667345523549403_8356385418316102374_oBut why is Lee doing an Eric Morcame impression?

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November 29th  SWiNE are holding a multi-disciplinary event at The Victoria, set to challenge, inspire, provoke and fascinate from 4:30 for absolute no entry costs at all – and for ages 14+.

The bill thus far:

4:45: Josh Wolfsohn – a dynamic and charismatic singer-songwriter; who blends alternative, folk and pop elements in with his strong songwriting abilities and natural musicianship.

5:20: Promo

5:45: Loopey & Honey – an avant garde musical duo who specialise in modernist influenced composition as well as noise-rock and electronica, they base their pieces around improvisation and strange sets of instructions to create challenging and incendiary live sets that are never the same.

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11244578_1668237160071991_5434254339853004958_nSo there is good news and bad news. I was just reading about a new national radio station, Radio X, which is being launched dedicated to new music and particularly guitar-based bands. Great, but surely there has to be a catch. Of course there is and that catch is that spearheading the programing will be not only Vernon “absolutely amazing” Kaye but also Chris “let’s just talk about me rather than play any music “ Moyles. So if you like the idea of twenty-minute ramblings about his celebrity mates at an award show before the indulgence is broken by the latest attempt by Kasabian to sound like a Primal Scream studio outtake, then this is the station for you.

But if you really are looking for emerging, guitar-based bands then look no further than The Victoria tonight as Yves play with Coco Esq in support. Both bands represent the frontline of a current local creative upsurge plying a trade in tight and melodic indie and proving that the future of local music and hopefully beyond, is in safe hands.

The Beehive plays host to one of its regular favourites. Whilst normally fronting his own eponymous blues-rock band, Keith Thompson as a solo act is just as impressive, the stripped back, raw and honest sound making for a vary intimate connection between player and audience.

And talking of blues, Friday sees the first outing for Level 3 Live, a regular blues night and this inaugural session features the man who none other than Alexis Korner described as “ The best white blues harmonica player in the world, ” Rod Garfield and his band. High praise indeed. Blues is also on the cards at The Beehive, this time with Bob “famous in Swindon” Bowles, a soulful voice, effortlessly slick, bluesy tunes and a bagful of great songs.

Although mainly a venue for cover bands The Castle occasionally takes a punt on trying originals and you can’t get much more original than Kid Calico and The Astral Ponies. Variously described as a “Mercurial and biscuit obsessed blend of lilting, music hall Americana and psychedelia” and “If I’d kidnapped Radiohead or the Floyd & forced them to work as a mid-west American Circus band during the 1970’s, they’d sound just like this.” I’ll just leave it at that then.

For those who already know what they like, there is a wide range of more familiar options available. Classic punk from the iconic to the underground can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of The Useless Eaters, Dire Streets at Riffs Bar who pay tribute to Mark Knopfler and his band who helped launch the CD/MTV age, as well as Peloton playing mod, soul and power pop at The Victoria. At The Locomotive, Don’t Speak cover pop and rock but seem to have a very select ear for music, so expect The House Martins, The Beautiful South and Natalie Imbruglia in place of some of the more usual selections.

The big event for the weekend can be found at The Old Town Bowl on Saturday in the form of this year’s Reggae Garden. Top names such as Channel One Soundsystem, 10 piece nu-wave roots/reggae band Roots Ambassadors, Dubwiser and The Tribe provide the music plus there will also be stalls and soul food all combining to make this the party of the year. If you want that party to continue into the evening then re-locate to The Victoria for the official after party with Jah Jah Sounds and guests spinning reggae, dub, lovers rock, ska, rocksteady and everything in between.

Continuing it’s mission to bring new and original bands to an area infused with nightclub culture and more mainstream tastes, The Locomotive really pushes the boat out with IDestroy (pictured), a Bristol all girl three piece who reference Riot Grrrl, grunge, garage rock and straight out rock ‘n’ roll and who are gearing up to support ex-The Runaways singer Cherie Currie shortly. Support comes from the no less uncompromising Molotov Sexbomb a band that is in many ways their male equivalent.

If you fancy some dirty, sweary R’n’B then a trip out to The Globe in Highworth will deliver just that in a Hamsters From Hell shaped package and at The Rolleston, French blues band Nico ZZ play originals and standards and show why they have made such a big impact on the blues circuit.

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, Jamie R Hawkins plays emotionally charged, poignant and witty acoustic pop-rock that reminds you of Crowded House or even Del Amitri, which is fine by me.

10610718_10204028129436153_5315881325549068002_nWith a couple of major music gatherings taking place this week, we shall go once more unto the breach, without further ado.

The big one for your musical diaries is that stalwart of the local listings, Riffstock. Taking place throughout this weekend and raising money for a heap of charities and worthy causes, this iconic event has too many bands playing to list them all here, so I have just given you a taster to pique your interest but the full picture can be found on the venues website. Friday night ranges between the mercurial, progressive sounds of The Listening Device and the more direct punk machinations of 2 Sick Monkeys, with a special mention going to the anagrammatic Wes Bull a set where literally anything could happen. Saturday features a rare outing for cavernous sounding art punks, Sea Mammal, the incendiary punk-Americana of Coasters and the shimmering shoegaze referencing of Sahara Heights. Sunday is billed as the family day and perennial favourites Nudybronque, The Shudders and The AK Poets are all worth checking out.

The other major gathering is to be found at The Swiss Chalet on Sunday, who will be raising money for The Prospect Hospice via raffles and auctions, stalls and food, the musical line up features all the venues favourite cover bands and original solo players, such as Broken Image, Cover Junkies, Drew Bryant and Charlie Anne. Again get the full picture at their Facebook page.

So that’s this week’s specials board, now on to the regular menu (note to self, don’t write when you are hungry, it effects the language you use.)

This weeks main Songs of Praise show, tonight at The Victoria, is a bit of a roots music goldmine with the wonderfully named Kid Calico and The Astral Ponies(pictured) delivering a combination of lilting folk, rustic Americana and psychedelic workouts. Support comes from the ever-popular, ever-chilled, underground country vibes of Case Hardin and infectious folk-pop pixie Tamsin Quin.

Weird musical explorations are on the cards on Friday, firstly with the proggy-psychedelia, instrumental meanderings and retro references of The Automaniacs at The Beehive but also from Electric Sheep whose Zappa-esque experimentations can be found at The Rolleston. Former Ocean Colour Scene man Andy Bennett brings his solo work, which leans heavily in the direction of classic English songwriters such as Ray Davis and Paul Weller, to The Swiss Chalet. Fans of cover bands can opt for classic rock with The Ray Jones Band at The Castle or indie and rock with Vice Versa at The Victoria.

The Hamsters from Hell’s work rate moves between the positively glacial to the almost frantic, currently they seem to be in the latter mode and hence popping up at venues all over the place. If you want to catch their unique brand of R’n’B then get yourself up to The Victoria on Saturday. The Rolleston is the place to be for Rockabilly Rumble, authentic rockabilly with a twist and I have yet to decide if their cover of Echo and The Bunnymen’s finest hour, The Killing Moon, is brilliant or sacrilegious. I think it maybe both!

Elsewhere it is a scattergun of genres and era’s covered by Angel Up Front at The Woodlands Edge, Alter Chaos at The Swiss Chalet and Echo at The Castle. Not that I’m an expert on such things, but if I was going to go the tried and tested route I would head to Level 3 for Kova Me Badd who place tongues firmly in cheeks and destroy many of the favourite songs of your youth. Childhood memories will be ruined, the cause of music will be put back at least five years, and somehow it will still be brilliant.

Sunday is more of the same with The Tin Shack Band at The Rolleston and Juicy Acoustic, a duo who add loop pedal and percussion into the mix and push a few boundaries along the way, at The Castle.

The final musical call to arms comes on Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey with Ed Hanfrey Et Al. This three-piece outfit explore the traditional folk experience, blowing the dust off of timeless pieces and re-interpreting them for a modern audience.

10349094_566351956803162_3626054594936056313_nAnd so the “Kanye at Glastonbury” debate trundles on with an army of armchair Foo Fighters fans getting outraged on our behalf and trying to find ever more convoluted reasons to justify the fact that they simply don’t like his music. So? Maybe they are forgetting what a festival, especially one the size of Glastonbury (no Glasto…never Glasto!) is all about. Take a road trip to the heart of the West Country, be part of a temporary city of music fans, meet some interesting people, have a drink, get a bit …err…merry (that’s code by the way but this is a family paper,) take in some Cuban Jazz, a 1940’s Swing Band or a Canadian comedian (aren’t they all these days?) head out to the fringe events and learn to juggle. The options are endless. With literally 1000’s of acts to choose from why worry about one act, on one day, on one stage! That said, I stopped going when people in designer wellies from Kent began putting picket fences around their camping area to demarcate their own suburban plot from their neighbours.

 

And our own music week kicks off in fairly eclectic style as well. Level 3 has a wonderful slice of alt-rock spearheaded by Maidenheads Hindsights, a melodic, riff driven, energetic young band and the more abrasive growl of Hereford’s Richa. Slightly at odds with the headline sound, the more wistful indie-folk of Bad News (no, not that one…a different one) play the middle slot and local bands Dreamcatcher and Sahara Heights add an element of moody indie and shimmering shoegaze to the night.

 

At The Victoria Talk In Code will be throwing stadium tunes, euphoric vibes, accessible dance-rock and a spade load of pop sensibility into the mix to deliver their trade mark cross genre fusions. They are joined by the similarly anthemic Echotape and the pop rock of The Fuse.

Meanwhile at The Beehive, The Sitting Tenants offer up English garage band psychedelia, power-pop and modish rock.

 

On Friday, again Level 3 provides the big draw of the night. The Green Gig is a fundraiser on behalf of the Swindon Green Party, but politics aside it’s a fantastic line up. The Headliners, Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies are a supergroup with ex-members from Belarus, Good Things Happen in Bad Towns and Sunday Dogs, to name a few and a neat line in Americana, music hall and raggle-taggle folk. Joining them, conjuring reflective dreamscapes and indie, pastoral sweetness is Colour the Atlas (pictured). Ian Doeser and Neil Mercer get the night underway.

 

After that original music gets a bit harder to find, though fans of classic rock and metal covers will find a lot that they like from either Kok Rok at The Rolleston and Shepherds Pie at The Victoria. All styles, eras and genres can be found at The Liden Arms courtesy of Penfold.

 

Similarly, Saturday continues to cater for the denim-jacketed brigade with more classic rock covers from Broken Image at The Swiss Chalet. If you are fans of rock and rolls most successful survivors, then The Victoria is the place to be for The Rollin’ Clones.

 

Barrelhouse will be playing vintage blues with a hard edge that takes in Chicago’s heritage and the sound of the early English blues-rock movement at The Rolleston and Riffs Bar is the place to be for something with more of a bucolic vibe to it. Rob Richings deals in vocal harmony driven folk that uses indie and pop borrowings to keep it fresh and contemporary. Joining him is Ethemia, a duo renowned for the timeless quality and sensitivity of their songs and the inspirational Leon Daye. Getting the night underway The Southern Harmony, a band featuring three ex-members of Bateleurs, will be playing their debut show.

 

Jim Reynolds takes the afternoon slot at The Beehive on Sunday, filling the room with music that taps into everything from blues to ragtime, music hall to folk.

 

If something a bit more energetic is your sort of thing then The Victoria that evening is the place to be. Stillbust give a new twist to the hardcore genre and Foxpunch blend gritty punk, ska and a thrashier edge into what they adequately describe as speed grunge. Opening that show are Strength In Blunders.

 

And finally, Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the wonderfully upbeat and infectiously soulful acoustica of The Real Raj.