Tag Archive: matilda


Library - 192Review by PfalzDxii

Well I remember the day I clutched a few shillings and climbed up the stairs to see my first band. I remember the sense of anticipation and awe.

I was nearly late on Thursday for the evening’s entertainment; I hurried into the Vic and bought myself a drink. As I clutched my £3 and descended the few steps into the darkness, I was surprised, yet gently pleased, that I once again felt that same sense of anticipation and awe, I had felt, so long ago.

The reason for this strange and unexpected emotion was that fact that I was again to see “Emily and the Dogs”. This band could so easily have be called, “The Emily Drake Trio”. In my day, they would have been. Emily was once in “The Sunday Dogs”, as were both Lee Moulding, and Cinzano Taylor. I like your style, Em.

“Emily Sykes and Friends”, started off the evening’s revelries. Emily S. played rhythm-guitar whilst singing, with Phil on bass-guitar. Amy, Polly, and Rebecca, sang harmonies most wondrous to the ear. All four ladies sat together in a row. Phil, once more, sat behind and to the side. The stage was beset with strings of colourful petals. Were they perchance, artificial? Regardless, the effect was magical. So was this group of friends….. magical.

“Matilda” were on next. Phil left the stage. The four ladies went to their instruments. Emily Sykes to the drums. Amy, sax. Polly, bass-guitar. Rebecca to the keyboard, and her role as main singer. The other three, too, sang harmony as well as playing. The audience was enjoying themselves, as indeed was I.

“Excited-Nervous-Excited-Nervous-Excited-Nervous-Excited-Nervous……” quote from Emily Drake, the morning of the gig. It warmed my heart to read it. When an artist of Em’s abilities is that anxious, it means they intend to give their all. Emily Drake always does. This band of hers is still relatively new. They have played a few gigs together, and they have matured into a band to be reckoned with. Lee Moulding on drums and Cinzano on bass-guitar are a wonderful rhythm section. They compliment Emily; playing and singing to perfection. They have all been friends for a very long time, and know each others’ musical talents, intimately. And what singing! Razor sharp lyrics of much intelligence. Em uses her voice, at times, as an extra instrument, bending them to her will. It seemed to me that as each song finished, the applause grew ever louder. Yes, some of that was due to me, but I was certainly not alone. “Emily and the Dogs” appear to be a musicians’ band. The Vic was full of wonderful musicians. This added to the occasion. They seemed as awed by Emily’s pure talent and quality, as was I.

Emily, I love your art, all of it. For those that don’t yet know, Emily Drake is also an artist of fantastic imagery and imagination. The evening had been beautiful, and so full of warmth and love. Many did not want it to end. After-gig celebrations moved on to another local music pub, where a marvelous band was still playing, even I went. I too simply wanted the magic to continue. In a crowded pub near midnight, with a band in full flight, I ordered, and was served with, a cup of tea. Sometimes, I just love Swindon.

One thing is for certain. I love “Emily and the Dogs”.

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 - 185The world of music was stunned this week after the shock announcement that Girls Aloud have split up the day after their tenth anniversary tour ended (almost as if it had been planned that way). And worse than that they have fallen out with Nadine Coyle who publicly tweeted that the split was nothing to do with her, giving rise to speculation of rifts and backstabbing in their ranks. Surely not, they seem so mild mannered and balanced and not at all hungry for media attention. The group who rose to fame after a successful punch up with a washroom attendant have left a string of timeless hit, the name of which escapes me at the moment. I for one hope that the girls make it up, as the thought of them being angry at one another is too much for me to bear.

Anyway, from the ridiculous to the sublime, as The Victoria tonight has a female bias in its running order. You will be able to catch a rare live outing by Matilda, a wonderful cocktail of country, classical and dreamy lounge jazz, an even rarer solo outing by Emily Sykes who does a neat line is seductive acoustica and Emily and the Dogs who I must warn you contains a hairy, all male rhythm section, but they do scrub up nicely.

Out at Riffs one of the truly unique musical visitors to these shores, Bob Log III (pictured), pops over from Tucson, Arizona to subject the place to a lesson in trash blues, helmets, scotch drinking and assorted naughtyness! Another blues offering comes in the more normal form of Bob Bowles at The Rolleston and if you have a hankering for fired up Celtic folk, then head to the Beehive for some high octane shennanighins with Missin’ Rosie.

Friday sees the MECA get on board the music scene with an under 18’s Popcorn and Chocolate Party. Those of a slightly older persuasion, or with chocolate allergies might like to try the following. There are a couple of tributes in town; nineties kids might want to experience a bit of grunge nostalgia with Earl Jam at The Rolleston, those who appreciate the “Man in Black” should walk the line up to The Victoria for Cash, a show that I can’t recommend enough.

Original music can, however,  be found in abundance at Riffs Bar with the fairly odd pairing of Cold In Berlin’s delay drenched, bleak, brooding and animalistic musical shamanism and The Shudders melodic lo-fi indie meets country rock, a tapestry threaded from Crazy Horse, Bright Eyes and Wilco for those weaving enthusiasts out there.

Originality takes a bit of a back seat on Saturday, so you might want to opt for classic rock covers at The Rolleston with Lonesome Crow, though if Burlesque is your thing, then head out to Riffs Bar, with music from Ghost Trail.

Sunday sees the best/worse cover band in history take the stage at The Victoria. Kova Me Badd are local legends who should really know better but if you imagine a live parody of every Now… compilation album ever made, that’s at least a starting point.

Washboards and shakers at the ready at The Rolleston for a bit of skiffle madness and audience participation courtesy of Ode and The Bebops who may once and for all be answering the age old question about the lasting flavour properties of chewing gum left on bedroom furniture. Aiden Moore will be playing a mix of covers and originals at The Sun Inn at Coate Water and the Beehive afternoon session features Jim Reynolds who taps into blues, ragtime, rhythm and blues, music hall and folk. That’s followed by the Soul Box dj’s and a selection of Soul, Tamla and Ska tunes to see the weekend round off with a nice vibe.

Last but not least, the regular Wednesday session at The Running Horse sees none other than Nick Tann return to its hallowed domain. Nick not only does a neat line in slightly jazz edged, acoustic folk but also is a blogosphere hero, podcaster and promoter and as such deserves your support in return. With him this time is Anna Neale, whose songs explore and resonate from such depths as Roman Literature and ancient religious texts through mediums as diverse as gentle ballads, arabesques, frantic acoustica to slow burning anthems. I’d say that ticks all the boxes.

It sometimes seems that these days there are as many sub-genres of rock music as there are bands themselves, as a music writer it takes a lot of keeping up with. To know your Gypsy Punk from your Krautrock, your Doom Metal from your Shoegaze or your Riot Grrrl from your Neo-Prog requires no small amount of homework. Tonight’s Songs of Praise show at The Victoria, however, can be summed up very simply, old school rock and roll, a trio of bands that both kick arse and cut the mustard. White Knuckle Bride revel in the sort of street rock that you associated with The Sunset Strip of the mid 80’s, big riffs, big choruses and a live performance charged with aggression and attitude. They are aided and abetted by current tour buddies, Burnthru and coming down from Derby to join them are sleaze merchants Bury the Ladybird (pictured). Rock and Roll it would seem is back on the menu.

 

If that doesn’t take your fancy then maybe some tongue in cheek country and/or western, for The Badass Cowboys play both types, might appeal. This ever-popular band will be at The Beehive and rather than try to describe the band I will let their album titles speak for themselves. Take Me Home Randy Rhodes; Born in the KFC and the truly inspired Portaloo Sunset, I think you get the idea of what they are about.

 

Friday can be summed up in the phrase “ from the sublime to the ridiculous.” For the sublime you should head up to the Arts Centre where violinist Miranda Dale and pianist Paul Turner will be performing not only that most quintessentially English piece, Vaughn Williams The Lark Ascending, but also music by this country’s other big names, Walton, Britten and of course Elgar.

 

At the other end of the spectrum we find ourselves back at The Beehive for Bill Smarme – king of the social club crooners, love guru, connoisseur of fine wines and marmalades, building contractor…apparently.

 

On a more even keel, The Victoria has a cracking line up featuring three of the bands to watch at the moment. The Icarus Youth do a neat line in alchemizing rock, urban and alternative sounds into a slick and quite brilliant final product and if bands such as The Post War Years or Two Door Cinema Club are your thing, then this is the place to be. But as if that wasn’t enough The Blood Choir bring their atmospheric and bleak soundscapes to life and the cinematic folk meets indie pop of Old Colours kicks the night off. Now that is one hell of a line up.

 

The big event for Saturday takes place at The Running Horse where they have gathered together their favourite acts from the past sessions to create The Acoustic Garden Festival, which does pretty much what it says on the tin. There are far too many bands to mention them all but with Faye Rogers, Alice Offley, Bateleurs, Coach and Billyjon on the bill, you can get an idea of the pedigree involved here.

 

Rock fans are going to be like kids in a sweet shop, as they have to choose between, original Status Quo drummer, John Coghlan at Riffs Bar, tributes to Muse and Iron Maiden at The Victoria and The Furnace respectively and some good old R’n’B at The Rolleston with Dickie Reed.

 

The Sabbath kicks up a couple of more chilled options. The aptly named Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Arts Centre is hosted by Mr Love and Justice, probably one of the most popular bands of the thriving “historical, socio-political, agri-folk, jangle- pop” scene. They are joined by the Jansch-esque Tim Graham and the soothing and ethereal tones of one of my favourite bands of the moment, Rumour Shed.

 

Other laidback serving suggestions are available at The Beehive under the enigmatic title of Incarnations of Matilda. Presumably this will be not only the usual Matilda display of harmony driven blends of folky piano jazz, but after a quick game of musical chairs will feature songs by Emily Sykes and Friends also. Two bands for the price of one, what a bargain.

Review by PfalzDxii

I know some stalwart Shuffle goers who did their utmost best to be everywhere over the three day shuffle, they are heroes. I know of one musician now resident in Berlin who on being asked if he felt like a drink, jumped on a plane, and was at the shuffle. He is a legend. I though, had mainly highlighted “Matilda”, and “Emily and the Dogs” as two bands not, not to be missed. I have seen them both before and was very happy they didn’t clash with one another. Where does time go? As I write this, I realize that the Shuffle was two weeks ago. But the memories!

Where indeed does time go? I am from the generation that thought punk should have been given its own BBC programme rather than invade The Old Grey Whistle Test. Not to be too prejudiced however, I went with my then wife (yes I did have one) to see XTC at the Oasis. This was in about 1978 when Barry Andrews was still in the band, and before Dave Gregory joined. Standing at the front though was a mistake. Gobbing was still in full swing. This was the quaint custom of the band spitting from the stage, onto the heads of their fans below. I was not enamoured of this, but do remember that the music was excellent. For one reason and another, I stopped going to local bands and became a cultural recluse. Thirty years later, friends and relatives dragged me against my will to the Vic. I treasure that act of kindness. On stage that evening (13/11/08) were the Sunday Dogs and Matthew Kilford. What had I been missing? That was the first time I saw Emily Drake, she was playing violin in the Sunday Dogs, and singing vocals. Such wonderful music. I very soon discovered many other fabulous bands including “Matilda”. It was all such a revelation. I had lost thirty years.

A buzz went around the Beehive, one of “Matilda” couldn’t make it and they weren’t coming. Well, yes and no. Just as we got this piece of sad news, Emily Sykes walked in with guitar. She is the drummer in “Matilda”. Amy and Polly came in without any instruments. So it was Rebecca (singer and keyboard player), who was missing. Emily and the others found stools. Phil Hamer (with electric bass guitar) sat as far back in the corner of the room as possible with his head down, he had joined an all girl band. Except that now the line-up was “Emily Sykes and Friends”, a new and exciting line-up in which Emily is the lead singer. Someone shouted out “what’s the name of the band?” Emily replied with “Matilda mark II”. Phil did his best to hide. Emily has such a wonderful voice for folk and for harmonizing with the others, and did this whilst playing rhythm. Phil was playing the softest bass possible. There were songs accompanied only by clapping and seated stomping. This was all so harmonious and beautiful. As with Matilda, the humorous banter and laughter, was joyous.

“Emily Drake and the Dogs” were up next, I was glad I didn’t have to change venues. Emily Drake having turned the tables, now has some of the same musicians she played with in The Sunday Dogs. This time it was Ian Taylor on bass, and Lee Moulding on drums. This band is another newly formed wonder. They play Emily’s songs with such vitality and love. The songs are superb. Threatening, poignant, sharp, loving. Emily was playing rhythm guitar, will her talents never end? I stood next to her husband during their set, he was taking photos. Emily introduced new material. Songs that held me spellbound. I became aware that the audience was filling up with the great and good of the local music scene. “Emily Drake and the Dogs” are rapidly making a name for themselves, and rightly so. Afterwards, outside on the pavement, Emily Drake’s music was a subject of much conversation, all of it good. Some were surprised just how good she is. I though, already knew that. She is brilliant! As I walked away from the Beehive, a badger ran across my path. A rare and memorable evening indeed!!

It would seem that the booking of bands is a very tricky business, the slippery little devils. Often getting a confirmed and stable line up for an evening of music can be like trying to stuff a string bag full of freshly oiled eels. Still, if it was that easy, I guess everyone would be at it. Tonight’s show at The Victoria is a classic example of this. Having succumbed to more chopping and changing that a choppy changey thing and bearing little resemblance to the advertised gig, Songs of Praise still offers you some cracking, if fairly unexpected bands. The one constant in the whole maelstrom of changes is headline act The Racket. Delivering a riot of attitude and swagger, gutter anthems and punked out indie cacophony, it’s easy to see why they are becoming regarded as the musical rough diamonds of the local scene.

Support comes from slick Bristolian alt-rockers Mind Museum and not the Rhubarbs as originally billed and jumping into the opening slot at the eleventh hour are Quantum rock, jazz junkified, music warping, Super Squarecloud. Turned out all right in the end then.

At the Beehive it’s the welcome return of The Roving Crows.  They may look like just another folk band but in reality they are a much more interesting prospect, taking a Celtic folk musical core and flavouring it with everything from blues to jazz and ska to kleizmer and delivering it with infectiousness, energy and blinding virtuosity.

Friday has a very eclectic range of musical offerings. In fact if you look up eclectic in the dictionary you will see a photograph of this very paragraph. (No, I don’t know how they did it either!) Anyway, over at Riffs Bar those lovable buffoons nudy bronque, Nudybronque, Nudy Bronque…whatever (no ones sure of the exact grammatical form, not even the band!) steer their seemingly constant touring schedule towards Riffs Bar. This band have been one of the real success stories of local music over the past eighteen months and it has been a joy to watch they grow from a tentative band of musicians with rubbish dancing into a slick and confident, punky-ska-jangle-pop band…with rubbish dancing. Support comes from The Debuts and relative newcomers, The Starkers, but again not The Rhubarbs as originally advertised.

A great treat for progressive rock fans awaits at The 12 Bar in the guise of Tinyfish, one of the bands responsible for updating the face of the genre, from the flaky, fantasy fixations of the past into something relevant and cutting edge, from Genesis to revolution, if you like. Ok, maybe not. The Furnace is playing host to Swindon Academy of Music and Sounds Charity Show. As well as students showcasing their not inconsiderable talent, the night will be rounded off by the brilliant reggae/funk/hip-hop ten-piece A&T.

Having reformed for a one off gig at last years Shuffle festival, Big Casino decided to stay together and will be playing at The Beehive with the promise of new material.

The big event for the weekend happens on Saturday and though it is a little way out of town, I thought it deserves a mention. After the success of the recent Avebury Rocks, the Love Hope Strength Foundation has added another date to help raise money for local charities. The daytime itinerary includes walks around the area and refreshments and the evening boasts a show featuring an acoustic set by punk-folk legends, The Levellers (pictured) , one time Alarm front man Mike Peters, local lad Nick Harper and more besides. A stunning line up – if only there was a venue in Swindon capable of securing acts of this calibre!

Meanwhile, high-energy folk garnered from Celtic and American traditions will be on the menu at The Running Horse courtesy of Grubby Jack and the hardest working local punk-pop outfit, Disclosure can be found at The Royal Oak. Cinematic vibes, dance grooves and soulful jazz-folk can all be found at The Victoria with Matilda, Atari Pilot and Old Colours.

It’s not often a genuine living legend hits town, but on Tuesday, Louisiana blues king, Lazy Lester will be playing at Riffs with support from Good Things Happen in Bad Towns. And finally Wednesday sees Diversion, The Screaming Gypsies and Mike Bezzer play Wacky Wednesday at The Victoria.

OLD COLOURS – This is the first outing for the band that grew from the ashes of Anchor & The Wolf. If ‘Cinematic Folk-Pop’ makes you think of the latest Vodaphone advert, be prepared to think again. Old Colours mix Zoe Mead’s gossamer-like vocals with cello, …washes of noise, gang vocals, piano, found sounds… It’s a bit like Laura Marling playing a house party with MBV rocking in the next room. Sure to follow scene contemporaries like Daughter onto big things this year.CHARLIE BATH & THE CITY MARSHALLS – Charlie Bath is a Wiltshire-based songwriter with a fantastic take on the great American songwriting tradition. With a powerful voice, backed up by a really stunning band, Charlie will be introducing tracks off her soon-to-be-released EP ‘The Good Fall’. If you dig James Taylor, Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes, Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris, you’ll like this.

MATILDA – A beautiful mix of four-part harmony, intricate piano, delicately-crafted songs and an ear for a catchy melody, these ladies are truly unique. Taking cues from such diverse acts as the Be Good Tanyas, Joanna Newsom, The Supremes, The Beatles and owing not a small amount to the classical sounds of Chopin and Mozart’s chamber music, missing this band would be a very silly thing to do.

ABOUT THE CHARITY – Action for Blind People is a national charity with local reach, providing practical help and support to blind and partially sighted people of all ages.Working closely alongside other charities such as RNIB, Action reach over 30,000 visually-impaired people each year, providing support, advice and equipment as well as arranging events. More info can be found here: http://www.actionforblindpeople.org.uk/about-us/

Door charge £3, doors approx 8pm.See more

After a couple of weeks experimenting with different stylistic approaches to this column, an attempt to appease various critics, I have come to rather a startling conclusion. Irrespective of whichever criteria I use to determine its content, the old adage about pleasing all the people all of the time still holds true, so I might as well just write as I see fit, forget democracy and take whatever flak comes my way. So with that in mind here are my undemocratic musical musings and biased nominations for this week.

 

Those of a certain age, my sort of age in fact, will probably remember a group of spiky haired, Celtic rockers called The Alarm who exploded in a blaze of glory (see what I did there?) from North Wales in the early eighties. Well believe it or not guitarist Dave Sharp plays a free top bar gig at The Victoria tonight, having swapped fist in the air, charged anthems for a smoother blend of bluesy-folk rock. Support comes from the incomparable Rob Beckinsale.

 

The Rolleston continue to hit high standards with their original band bookings and tonight play host to Wires who excel in lusciously harmonious indie creations; make sure you pick up a copy of their latest e.p. Shadows whilst you are there.

 

Tonight also heralds the return of Minneapolis muse Courtney Yasmineh (pictured) who manages to squeeze in a visit to The Beehive between gigs in London and Amsterdam to dish out feisty rock that lies somewhere between Blondie and Sheryl Crowe  and  guitar brilliance comes courtesy of Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at The Wheatsheaf. Big name options come in the shape of McFly at The Oasis and Chas (but no Dave) Hodges and His Band at the Wyvern.

 

Friday night sees a host of young bands at Riffs Bar headed by pop-punksters Beyond The Break, The John Does and the currently ubiquitous Sasquatch Walk (who seem to be on a short tour of Swindon postcodes over the next month). The Rolleston goes psychobilly as The Graveyard Johnnys and Cowboy and The Corpse go quiff to quiff.

 

The shoegazing, dream pop of Reading’s Tripwires, will be the highlight of the night at The Victoria; imagine Warpaint teaching Sonic Youth to play lullabies, The Jess Hall Band take on the role of the perfect support band and I’ll say it again, Play Shy is nothing short of a perfect pop song. A DJ set from the Young Blood guys is also on the cards.

 

The big noise of Saturday night is The Hoosiers at The MECA; originally describing themselves as “odd pop” they have since re-invented themselves as a more conventional electro-tinged pop band. The Furnace will be revelling in what it does best, a swift, brutal sensory overload courtesy of metal bands Romeo Must Die, My City Burning and Karrion.

 

Elsewhere it’s tributes to Pink Floyd at the Victoria, Ozzy at The Rolleston and punk and new wave covers at Riffs Bar with Operation 77.

 

If you like the idea of a Lazy Sunday afternoon with some chilled music, then head up to The Art Centre to take in the intelligent folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice. The evening may bring one more tribute experience, this time Bon Jovi at The MECA, but it also brings some great original music. Hotly tipped to be one of the next big things Billy Lockett is at Riffs Bar along with a support act so exciting, it can’t even be named on the website.

 

One of the most exciting gigs of the week takes place at The Victoria with the first time out for Old Colours who rise out of the ashes of Anchor and The Wolf to keep the “cinematic” banner flying. Any band described as “a bit like Laura Marling playing a house party with My Bloody Valentine rocking in the next room” has got to be worth checking out. Charlie Bath and The City Marshals will be show casing songs from the soon to be released The Good Fall e.p. and opening the night is a rare outing for chilled, folky lounge-jazz darlings, Matilda.

 

Tuesdays dose of jazz at Baker Street is courtesy of keyboard virtuoso Alex Steele and Wednesdays Running Horse Sessions features the wonderfully named John Shillibeer and a welcome return for Sumita Majumdar.