Tag Archive: manic shine (the)


11081418_10152764261624290_7985975332801455801_nIt’s easy to forget, especially when a whole music genre seems to have developed around trying it’s damnedest to be Frank Turner, that one man with a guitar does not have to result in bullish angst or political and social calls to arms. Neither does it have to follow the Damien Rice/Jake Morley model of minimalist melancholy and wistful, fragile thoughts put to music. Between the two extremes there is a whole industry built on pop aware, chart smart, accessible acoustic music and Ben Montague fits right in the heart of it. Emotionally charged and honest but delivered in a fairly commercial package, Montague gently plucks heartstrings whilst laying out songs that have a romantic yet broad appeal and you will find him at The Victoria tonight.

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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.

Gig of the Week – Vic-Fest

149371_10152435420009290_5033964773938942595_nNot so much a gig of the week but a whole mini festival. Over the Easter weekend The Victoria will be running four days of original music, a perfect blend of local and out of town, that showcases the emerging talent and circuit stalwarts in a number of genres, as chosen by a variety of local promoters.

 

Thursday is curated by Songs of Praise and is typical of their alternative and slightly underground slant on things. Having played about a year ago as a solo performance, She Makes War, the musical nome de plume of Laura Kidd, returns with the full band show. Her wonderful DIY ethic and offbeat style mixes gloom-pop with a punk spirit and her song writing shows just why she is sought after by the likes of New Model Army, The Levellers and Viv Albertine. Her tour support, Forgery Lit, add a wonderful slab of dirty, grungy blues to the night and opening are local rising stars, Coasters, with a blend of punk-acoustica meets alt-country that is reminiscent of the likes of The Gaslight Anthem.

 

Day two, Friday, and Fairlight Promotions provide a walk through reggae territory with festival favourites, Backbeat Soundsystem, Dub The Earth and King Solomon Band all offering contemporary takes on the traditional sounds of the genre and The Nomarks get things underway with a more ska based party.

 

Saturday is when the big guns are brought out. The Manic Shine (pictured) has been building up a reputation for alt-rock anthems that are based on amazing musicianship, an embracing approach to technology and infectious riffs. The fact that they can deliver all this whilst leaping around the stage like things possessed is an added bonus. The main support is from Vault of Eagles a three-piece hybrid of P J Harvey and The Bad Seeds who offer up a strange sort of primal beauty wrapped up in thunderous tunes. Also on the bill is The Graphic, new to me but having checked out their recent video, The Kid, I can tell you that you are in for a punk-metal fusion treat. The local end of things is provided by Ghost of Machines and The Starkers.

 

The last night of the event is the heaviest, thanks to Dredded Vyrus Promotions and sees post-hardcore and metal bands Skreamer, Antoinette, Belial and Ursus providing an onslaught of brutal beats and razor wire riffs.

 

1 venue, 4 nights, 16 bands. Sounds good to me.

Live and Local on Swindon 105.5

swindon105_5logo-300x186This week we have Bren Haze who came down from Hereford to chat and play some songs and wicked guitar. Also music from Shrine, Laimi Bite, Jittery Jack, Sam Bates, Manic Shine, Yellow Fever, Wire Birds, Beneath the Reef, Antoine Archteuthis, The Corfields

 

Listen to the edited podcast version here

1795764_10151912627284290_2105492537_nIt’s not often that Songs of Praise night at The Victoria hosts heavier line-ups, having built its current reputation largely on indie, pop, folk and alternative sounds. But one of the bands they have been championing for a number of years now is The Manic Shine and their appearance on any local bill should be enough to make any discerning rock or metal fan take heed. Whilst we do get a lot of bands termed “classic rock” playing in town, what The Manic Shine do is take the hallmarks of that genre – big riffs, tight and dexterous playing, energetic delivery (not to mention a wonderful array of beards) and use those key elements to push the genre forward.
By adding an array of technology, samplers, I-pads and more pedals than you would find at the Tour de France, they blend in a myriad of incidental soundscapes, electronic washes and additional layering which when added to the byzantine heavy drives and infectious nature of their songs, rejuvenates the often tired ghost of rock and roll and drags it kicking and screaming into, not only the here and now but towards an altogether brighter future.
It’s the sound of virtuoso playing meeting the possibilities that modern technology offers, it is the sound of past musical high points being imbued with future possibilities, of man meeting machine. But at no point do they use all of these clever additions as a crutch to lean on, strip  it all away and you still have some of the finest rock players and one of the most charismatic bands on the circuit today. Put the two together though and you quite simply have the future of rock music. My only question is…where were all you rock and metal fans who have recently been very vocal about your preferred genre not being represented in this town?

 

No more Sleep deprivation

1511361_855619354464586_1007114649_nTomorrow’s Songs of Praise show sees the night venture into heavy rock territory, something that it doesn’t normally do that often. But when the bands are this good then you would be foolish not too.Headlining are Sleep Inertia, a band made up of most of the former members of The Dead Lay Waiting but a new front man and a new set of songs mean that you get not only the familiar musical dexterity and virtuoso playing that you expect from such players but you get a more mature and fresh take on it.

Up from London The Manic Shine make a welcome return, a band that Songs of Praise has been championing for some time now. Mixing heavy rock riffs, murderous melodies and infectious songs with one of the liveliest and most charismatic stage shows around they are a band that you need to catch.

Opening the night are Mind Museum, Bristolian alt-rock who recently released their new e.p. on Swindon based Secret Chord Records. A great show all round and if you like your music hard and heavy but tastefully tuneful then this is the place to be.

 

More information, music and blurb here  –  CLICK

1511361_855619354464586_1007114649_n

Library - 187So sang Justin Currie on Del Amitri’s finest musical moment. Well Justin, this time you were wrong  (though the line “American businessmen snap up Van Gogh’s for the price of a hospital wing” is genius.) I suppose it’s bad enough that our neighbouring towns, Bristol and Oxford, like to think of Swindon as a musical backwater, but it’s so much worse when the people of this town seem to be taken in by that self-fulfilling prophecy. Well this little musical musing is just to draw your attention to the brilliant musical odyssey I have been on over the last couple of weeks in an effort to restore your faith in the artistic capabilities and achievements of this town. Not my faith, I’m totally aware of how far above our image we metaphorically punch, and if you go to a few gigs you will be as well.

Chapter I – The Secret Chord

 

It all started a couple of weeks ago at Riffs Bar, where I had been asked if I would be interested in running a couple of shows a month along the lines of Songs of Praise, a well established night at The Victoria. With more out of town bands asking for gigs than ever, I saw this as a great opportunity to bring even more new music into town and so The Secret Chord was born.

As a bit of a launch party before the gigs started in earnest a bill of local singer-songwriters was put together, start with something familiar to get peoples attention. First up was Plummie Racket, a great front man when in full punked up- indie trash mode but in my opinion even better solo where his songs get breathing space and can be better explored and appreciated. Even by his own admission being slightly worse for wear and opting to take the opening slot, he played a blinder.

Si Hall used to be a stalwart of the music scene, from early punky days with Buzztone and later with one of the best band names ever “Blind Dogs For The Guides,” it was great to have him back playing again.  Still sporting an exceptionally powerful voice, well crafted songs and an easy stage presence it was like he had never been away.

The phrase “silenced the room” is banded about too often but let me tell you when Faye Rogers played one guy was thrown out for dropping pins, the noisy sod. Ethereal is also an over used word, mainly by me, but that is also a suitable description. Spellbinding, fragile…I could go on, but I need to save some of those descriptions for later on in the article.

All that was left was for Nick Felix; someone who I must admit has only just appeared on my radar (well you can’t be everywhere can you) to weave his intricate guitar style around his cleverly penned words and the night was done. A good turn out, considering the geographical hindrances of the venue and the appalling weather, a good time was had by all and a bit of money was also raised for Strummerville, the chosen charity of these new nights. As of April there will be two nights of new, unsigned and off the radar bands so check the usual places for details.

Chapter II – Praise Be!

Just under a week later and it was the turn of my regular night, Songs of Praise, to supply the goods. Only two bands instead of the usual three but quality certainly made up for quantity. Opening the night were Nudybronque, a band more normally found in the headline slot, such was the strength of the line up. They are a band that I have watched with interest, not to mention amusement, occasionally amazement and often for all the wring reasons. Having grown from an also-ran pop band they have flowered into a much more interesting proposition. Fuelled by underlying post-punk influences they now weave a darker thread through their music without losing the power, effective delivery and stage presence of their former selves. Infectious, addictive, charismatic and self-deprecating, all elements that will stand them in good stead.

Headlining were the awesome Black Hats, a band that I have been bringing into Swindon for shows for a couple of years now and gradually we are seeing a bit of a increasing turn out for this Witney three piece. Imagine if The Jam were still going, had embraced the technology and changes in musical fashion but had held on to that fire that lay at the heart of their songs. That is Black Hats. Punchy, atmospheric and able to throw amazing hooks, grooves and powerchordery (that is a word honest) in equal measure.

Chapter III – But Where Were You? (Incorporating supply and demand for the undemanding)

One band that played Songs of Praise last year that I couldn’t fit into this years schedule was The Manic Shine, the logical thing to do was to find them another venue in town to play so the following night I found myself at The Furnace in the capable hands of that awfully nice chap, Gig Monkey, and a four band line up of no small merit.

Through the turn out wasn’t great, but that is the lot of original music at the moment, all four bands played as if they were at Glastonbury. Tides of Change played an animated set of alt-rock, and I mean animated. There were moves going on there from bassist Doug Statham that I hadn’t seen attempted since Hanoi Rocks called it a day. Up from Salisbury, middlenamekill play a hard hitting, consistently solid set that seems to defy any obvious pigeon-holeing, except to say that it is great. Even better is their attitude towards marketing themselves. Wandering the audience giving away free albums is a great way to get your message across, not only do you put your music into the CD players of people who might not have otherwise bought the album, it’s the sort of thing people remember.

Being an out of town band, The Manic Shine played next and delivered a lesson in how to put a show on. A complex rock sound that incorporates funky grooves, Byzantine heavy deliveries, prog workouts and more riffs than you can shake a Jimi Hendrix at, all underpinned by triggered synths-sounds and chaos boxing. And they never miss a beat, entertain and enthral in equal measure and have a stage presence that is mesmerising. Young, talented and having the time of their life, it would be easy to hate them if they weren’t such lovely people to be around. Follow that SkyBurnsRed.

Somehow they did. I did initially feel a bit guilty putting SBR on above The Manic Shine but in an effort to avoid the usual “I’m only here to see my mates and not sticking around for the bands I’ve never heard of” scenario it was an obvious way to play things. SkyBurnsRed always seem to up their game when you put them on a big stage and tonight was no exception. They seemed to grow in all aspects, more sweepingly classical, gruffer and grungy, more bass and beat driven, a perfect way to round up the night.

One foot note comes with stopping for a couple of drinks in The Rolleston upstairs. Having struggled to get a significant numbers in for new and original music, it is slightly disheartening to see the place rammed and singing along to Queen covers. And before the usual defenders of the faith try to hoist me with my own words, let me lay it out one more time. It’s all about supply and demand, give the audience what they want and that is exactly what the Rolleston do, and do well. I’m not in anyway having a go at their policy; it’s a business after all. I think I just wish people would be more demanding of their music, but that said and done I doubt if any of the people currently fist punching to We Are The Champions are the target audience for the gigs I’m putting on, so I will leave it at that. Accept to say that people who support cover and tribute bands at the exclusion of original music remind me of people who go on holiday to wonderful overseas destinations and instead of embracing the local culture, instead hunt down the place that does English breakfasts, has the big screen TV showing the England game and try to order a pint of Tetley’s at the local bodega. Rant over…brace for verbal impact.

Chapter IV – Ladies and Germans I give you The Driftwood Fairytales

 

It was lovely to witness the return of Rich Millin, local drum legend, music teacher, friend and twit! His reason for being here was in the role of stand in drummer for a wonderful Berlin based band called The Driftwood Fairytales (pictured), a band I had the please of witnessing at The Beehive one Sunday afternoon. Theirs is a blend of folk-rock and anthemic Gaslight Anthem-esque big singalong choruses. So enthralled was I by their music that I immediately purchase both of their albums, which I can’t recommend highly enough and a t-shirt (which obviously I took a pair of scissors to – too many sleeves for my liking.) After the gig, drink and tour stories flowed and international relations were put on a solid footing.

Chapter V – Some Enchanted Evening

 

And so we come to the final gig in this wonderful musical odyssey a night at The Victoria of rare outings by less testosterone fuelled bands than what had largely gone before. Opening the night was Emily Sykes fronting a band that provided bass and sumptuous backing harmonies to her fragile and vulnerable songs. Not the most ubiquitous of musicians these days, it was great to see her fronting her own music again, her previous band, The Julia Set, seems a long time ago now.

Matilda came next, a lovely blend of laid back lounge jazz, Amy Hedges clarinet often giving it a sort of chilled, New York klezmer edge, Alison Kraus style country, dream-pop and folk. Upping the stakes slightly in the area of punch and dynamics came Emily and The Dogs and enchanting and seemingly effortless blend of jazz, folk and rock and skirting around the realms normally inhabited by the likes of Ani De Franco and Polly Harvey.

Have you ever tried to get a dozen people to leave one pub at the same time? Impossible. So once the decision had been made to head down The Beehive to round the night off, all I could do was make my way there and see who actually followed in my wake. Surprisingly everybody, I think, and the night continued onwards to a sound track of lilting folk and fired up Celtic rock courtesy of Missin’ Rosie. I would tell you more about it, but my memory goes a bit hazy at that point. Suffice it to say stocks of Nurofen are in short supply in Swindon this morning.

Chapter VI – That was the (2) week(s) that was.

 

So, nothing ever happens in Swindon. Do me a favour!

Why have X-factor, when you can watch and meet real musical heroes, why have Facebook friends when you can spend time in the company of actual friends.  You can keep reality TV, I’ll stick to reality.

Library - 176Another one of those musical embarrassments of riches weeks, so it’s straight on with the show for a change.

Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight plays hosts to two of its favourites. Headlining are Witney’s Black Hats and if you have ever wondered what a band like The Jam would be doing today given the new musical fashions and technology they would have absorbed and embraced, then these guys might just be the answer. Support comes from chaps of the moment Nudybronque who make the sort of disposable underground pop that you will want to keep forever.

More rootsy offerings can be found at The Beehive where duo, Two Man Ting, an offshoot from Afro-dance favourites La Cod Afrique, mix bright, looping guitar with djembe rhythms to make wonderous world-pop creations. If blues is your thing, young electric blues rockers, Retramantic are at The Rolleston.

The word legend is banded around far to readily these days, but in the case of The Victoria’s Friday night booking it really does apply. Still regarded as the number one sixties soul man, Geno Washington (not a tribute, your actual, real Geno Washington) still knows how to put on a great show, and anyone who inspired a Dexys Midnight Runners song has got to be a legend in my book, even Jocky Wilson, who also heavily influenced the band Darts. Possibly.

The Furnace is playing hosts to a group of bands who are shaping the current face of rock. SkyBurnsRed don’t even have time to type the spaces between the words in their band name but play grunge meets alt-rock with a classical sweep, raw, emotive, aggressive, elemental, dark and sensuous. The Manic Shine also return armed with a second album just brimming over with great tunes and infectious grooves, think classic rock guitar icons being mixed with sub-prog, indie-dance and techno and all delivered with an intensity that has made their live shows legendary. Middlenamekill and Tides of Change kick the night off.

Elsewhere The Great Nothing offer The Rolleston a different take on retro-rock classics or you can opt for old-school rock and roll with Josie and The Outlaw at The Beehive  – miss this show and you can catch them at The Rolleston on Sunday.

Something to shout about again on Saturday at The Furnace as Old Colours bring their gorgeous, cinematic pop-folkiness to bear and if their last show there is anything to go by then it is going to be a real treat. Dub vibes come courtesy of Salisbury’s Badrat and opening the night are Armchair Commitee and Charlie Bath.

I’m resorting to using the “L-word” again as new-wave pioneer Wreckless Eric rocks up at the Rolleston aided and abetted by his wife Amy Rigby (pictured). The combination of the Stiff Records stalwart and the New Yorkers effortless pop (just check out Dancing With Joey Ramone from her back catalogue) makes for a finished sound that is as wonderful as it is unexpected.

It’s covers at Riffs Bar with the Hi-fidels, but my tip is get out there early enough to catch support act NewQuay Times who mix covers and originals in a set that conjures the likes of Lone Justice, Tom Petty and even Throwing Muses.

It’s Sunday and its time for: Warning, warning, gross nepotism alert!! Right you have been warned. At the Beehive afternoon session Driftwood Fairy have popped all the way over from Berlin to deliver some quality folk-rock. The nepotism bit comes when I tell you that none other than Rich Millin, ubiquitous drummer, tutor, connoisseur of three for a tenner wines, friend and twit is at the kit. Not only will you get some great music, I’m sure it is going to be a messy sort of re-union.

Fans of more traditional folk music will want to keep Tuesday night free as Jamie Smiths Mabon bring original Celtic folk to the Arts Centre. On Wednesday there is a bit of a tussle going on for the acoustic fans. The ever-popular Running Horse Sessions will be playing host to Ethemia, a brilliant duo, with an effortless stage presence reminiscent of the recently defunct Civil Wars. Meanwhile, almost every other acoustic act in town is at The Furnace for Teenage Kicks Acoustic Spring Break, no space left to list them all, I’ll leave that up to you.

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Right folks, a busy time for Green Man Music with three gigs in one week. Tonight is the launch of our new night out of Riffs, I have already spammed the internet into submission on  that one so I will say no more but to give you the link –

https://www.facebook.com/events/429231417151486/?ref=22

On Thursday it is our regular Songs of Praise at The Victoria, this time with two of our favourite bands – Black Hats and Nudybronque, brilliantly executed energetic indie and pretty much a master class in live showmanship.

https://www.facebook.com/events/160572044066590/

Finally, though not listed on our regular page, we have combined forces with Gig Monkey and The Furnace to bring together a host of top rock bands. Local legends (both musical and alcoholic consumption) SkyBurnsRed top the bill and the real coup is that we have managed to bring The Manic Shine back into Swindon. If you want to know where rock music goes from here, check these boys out. With Middlenamekill and Tides of Change also on the bill it is set to be a brilliant night.

https://www.facebook.com/events/495781747134158/