Tag Archive: mr hello and his honesty club


In this world of immediate musical gratification, instant single track downloads, radio banality and dumbed down, disposable pop, it’s worth remembering that not all music has to be easy access, mainstream and spoon feedable for mass consumption. In fact music often moves forward because of, rather than in spite of the likes of Schoenberg, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Can, Cale or Zappa. And if you want a night that largely challenges the concept of music as an easy ride, that is both provoking and ultimately rewarding, then tonight’s Songs of Praise at The Victoria is the place to be.

Mortdelamer headline with a luscious mix of dark alt-rock and slightly prog-stained flights of fancy and openers IX manage to take slow burning, heavy, instrumentals and turn them into sweeping cinematic sonic architecture. But these bands seem to act as a buffer zone to contain the madness of the middle act, Mr. Hello and His Honesty Club ft. Kid Jamaica. Think Kyuss playing with The Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard jamming Black Sabbath, The Fall in a fist fight with Zappa…just don’t think about it late a night else you probably won’t sleep.

Something a bit saner can be found at The Beehive. Matt Woosey plays blues exploring all the usual themes, hardship, alcohol, women, but does so in a uniquely British fashion. The Red, White and Blues perhaps? Okay, perhaps not.

Back up the hill on Friday and a night of alt-folk, anti-folk, agit-folk…call it what you will at The Victoria.  Gaz Brookfield is the main draw playing songs from his new album “Tell It To The Beer” as well as old favourites and with Marky Thatcher on the bill as well, I’m sure there will be some of the usual end of show shennanighins. But it’s not all about the local lads as Glasgow’s Lonely Tourist throws in blends of rockabilly driven acoustica.

More singer songwriter types at The 12 Bar on Saturday courtesy of Daylight Promotions in the shape of the contemporary acoustic meets 60’s folk revival sound of Ali Finneran and Racket front man Plummie, plus acoustic duo Talking Timber and adding a somewhat eclectic quality to the night, the lush, atmospheric synth driven indie of With Felix.

If you are a fan of all things big, brash and brutal, Riffs Bar has a Heavy Metal all-dayer. A host of serenely named bands make up the bill including, Acts of Brutality, Suicide Watch, Blood of Ash and Fluffy Bunny Slippers. Okay, I made one of those up but it does definitely feature an appearance by the legendary Vynal Matt.

You can also get a good dose of quality rock music with the incendiary blues of Innes Sibun at the Rolleston. And if after that you still have the energy to party, Reboot Club Night at The Furnace is hosting a collection of Indie, New Wave and Electronica into the wee small hours.

Another does of exquisite blues at The Beehive Sunday afternoon, this time from extremely young and extremely talented Anglo-Norwegian six stringer Krissy Matthews.  The evening gives you the option of virtuosic lap guitar playing from Hip Routes Jim Blair at The Rolleston or head down the 12 Bar to be part of powerful alt-rockers, Beyond The Break’s e.p. launch.

The middle of the working week is nicely broken up with two great shows for Wednesday or Swindependance Day if you like. If you fancy something to smooth the week through it’s The Running Horse for you where Sam Eden and Dylan Qioniwasa will be laying down some wonderfully original and chilled music. For a more charged experience catch Young Blood (pictured) at The Victoria and expose yourself to some great, of the moment indie, the soaring, My Bloody Valentine-esque sonic dream sequences of Archimedes plus a band that I have already gushed far to much about recently, Old Colours.

And if you think that my columns have been getting much less controversial of late, I have been saving it all up for this, a final paragraph of home truths and no holds barred opinion…that’s if it gets passed the editors exacting standards.

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The first two big local festivals of the summer may have come and gone, both to great success I might add, but that doesn’t mean that things are going to quieten down just yet. Far from it as there is still a lot of brilliant music to check out over the next seven days.

 

Kicking off tonight in our usual starting point and it’s time for another intriguing line up from Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Continuing their theme of acquiring great out of town acts, tonight headliners I’m Designer are something pretty different. Mixing up semi-stoner riffs, swamp rock sleaze and a punky garage vibe, these guys make an amazing sound. If that wasn’t enough, down from Derbyshire to add to the onslaught are The James Warner Prophecies, a band whose blend of eclectic pop-metal with all the trimmings I cannot recommend enough. Local bands are represented by the raw, raucous, cranked up blues of Adepto Futui –  and it’s all free.

 

If you drew a Venn Diagram that included Nick Drake, Jimmy Page and Davy Graham, it would be hard to imagine many people who would form the group where all three intersect. Robert Brown is one such person and his exotic blend of chilled rock meets acoustic folk can be experienced at The Beehive tonight.

 

On Friday, the two biggest venues in town go head to head. The Oasis has pulled off a bit of a coup by securing Biffy Clyro who use this as a warm up gig for a string of summer festival appearances. This Scottish three piece blend slightly progy-alt-rock with post-hardcore drive, if you can get tickets for this, do so, I guarantee that it will be your gig of the year. “Mon The Biff” as their fans are given to chanting. The MECA are appealing to a totally different audience by hosting an 80’s themed roller disco, so truly something for everyone there.

 

Falling in between these two extreme parameters are a host of other great gigs. At Riffs Bar, for instance, the younger bands get their chance to shine, headed by the slightly angular, slightly staccato indie vibes of The Fixed as well as one of my favourite bands of recent times, The Street Orphans.

 

Something a bit more laid back comes in the form of a three-piece Kangaroo Moon at The Beehive.  Trancey, dancey, chilled, joyous and richly melodic, this is the perfect sound track for these gentle summer evenings. At The Victoria a brilliant line up has been assembled as a teaser for The Field View Festival, the local music event success story of recent times. It is headlined by ska-reggae-skank party band, The 360 and also featuring a welcome return to Swindon for the awesome Motherload, but I recommend that you get there early enough to catch the opening acts as well. Sam Green was last seen at The Victoria playing a tribute to Robert Johnson at The Dead at 27 show but is back playing his own set that ranges from heart on the sleeve folk to punk barn dance stomps. Weatherstorms is the brilliant new musical vehicle for ex-Old School Tie’s Cameron brothers and I can tell you from experience that this is a band that you need to experience.

 

The Furnace is playing host to a band being hailed as the start of a grunge revival, Fighting With Wire. Successors to the likes of Silverchair or Pearl Jam rather than Nirvana and occasional straying into the same territory as Mr Grohl’s current concern these guys put on an awesome live show both visually and sonically. Support comes from the self-proclaimed spearhead of post-music, Mr Hello and His Honesty Club plus The Starkers and Oxygen Thief. (You can tell something about a line up when someone as great as Oxygen Thief is merely the opening act!)

 

Also highlighting the coming SOLAM festival as well as raising money for a recent fire at the hosting Roves Farm site, The 12 Bar has an all-dayer including Bateleurs, new band Albion, SkyBurnsRed, Missin’ Rosie, The Vooz and Aural Candy.

 

Following in the footsteps of American bluegrass and country influenced bands such as The Lovell Sisters, Larkin Poe and even The Dixie Chicks, you may be surprised to learn that the Toy Hearts who play The Arts Centre are not from Austin, Nashville or somewhere in The Appalachians, but are actually from Birmingham, England such is the authenticity of their luscious sound.

 

Before I run out of space, a few quick mentions go to Gaz Brookfield who is the Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive and Swiss band November 7 at The Victoria. If a mix of old school metal riffs with dark gothic overtones is your cup of Darjeeling, then you know where to be.

 

 

So, last week there may not have been too many gigs going on, but this week, you can’t move for tripping over some earnest young chap thrashing a guitar, a laid back blues dude grooving the night away or a band of frantic folkies jigging and reeling their hearts out. And what has caused this tsunami of live music that wil play havoc with my carefully scrutinised word count? It’s only the first of the season’s indoor local festivals. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Riffstock! Running from Friday to Sunday the “Biggest Little Music Festival in the West” at Riffs Bar (the clue is in the name) will be raising money for three very worthy causes.  Over the course of the weekend you can experience music as diverse as the, in your face punk, drum and bass of 2 Sick Monkeys, the long awaited return of pirate fixated alt-folkies, The Shudders, effervescent, fired up pop from Nudybronque, the warped, musical terrorism of Mr Hello and His Honesty Club, The Fixed, Emily and the Dogs ( a real must see), Guitar Stools and Cigarettes, Vynal Matt and so much more. For the full story go to their website or Facebook event page.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there is still plenty to choose from musically back in the less rural venues.  Dance music for the 21st century will be on the menu tonight as the Zetan Spore mothership descends on The Beehive for a night of psy-trance, hard dance grooves and alien beats.

More conventional music can be found at The Rolleston in the form of Sam Eden, a singer-songwriter whose style occasionally borders on the likes of Brian Kennedy and David Gray but who mainly creates unique and delicate musical structures from intricate playing and brilliant vocal deliveries.

At the Victoria, there is a showcase for Bath College’s HNC music students, featuring the insanity of Maribou Stalk, the soul power of Tallis and The Pride, the hi-octane loops and sax of Mossyband, the voodoo tunes of Dr Elephonte and much more besides.

Friday is built around a triumvirate of great gigs…. err, that means three for you non-classical scholars. The Furnace sees a rare hometown outing for the southern groove, biker metal of Eye For An Eye. Expect industrial strength riffs, thunderous beats, growling vocal attacks, hair, beards, blood, sweat and beers. If young bands need a lesson in how to put on a rock show…let this band be your guide.

At The 12 Bar, Out of Towner’s is a night showcasing, as it says, out of area bands headlining with the contradictory Doll Rats – powerful yet ethereal, raw but delicate, raucous and enigmatic. Sounds pretty good to me. Other visiting acts are Peyote who sound like the Jim Jones Revue writing the sound track for a David Lynch road movie and the one I’m looking forward to, The Peasant Kings, historically aware and with one or two old school Celtic rock ghosts looming large over their music.

Talk in Code has undergone a major change in the last year or so. They are no longer the band that your dad might listen to, now their new dance fuelled vibe means they are more the CD that your sharp-dressed, musically savvy, cool older brother refuses to lend you. However you can catch them at their CD launch show at The Victoria. Three Letter Agency and Oli Hill support.

Creatures of the night will find something to raise a rare smile at The Furnace on Saturday as Sarah Jezebel Deva rocks into town. Best known as long-serving backing singer in Cradle of Filth, she has also graced such bands as Mortiis, Therion and The Kovenant. Expect well-executed,  dynamic, dark, sweeping, symphonic metal.

At the opposite end of the musical spectrum, The Warsaw Village Band will treat the Old Town Bowl to music that is both ancient and hauntingly pagan in its folksy form yet as driven and trancey as any modern “dance” music. More roots music, though this time of a delta-blues nature with helpings of country, swamp-blues, jazz, soul and folk, can be found at The Rolleston in the form of Gwyn Ashton.

My tip for Sunday is catch the afternoon session at The Beehive courtesy of the blues grooves, jazz vibes, soulfulness and sheer energy of The Fraser Tilley Trio…(yes they are a four piece but lets not get into all that again) and end up at The Rolleston that evening for the acoustic delights of Ben Fletcher. Well, you don’t have to but it’s just a thought.

Not all music has to be easy access, mainstream and spoon fed for mass consumption. From Schoenberg’s classical revolutions to Lou Reed’s almost unlistenable Metal Machine Music, it can be challenging, thought provoking, sometimes uncomfortable, but that is all part of the sporadic evolution of the art. Whether consciously or otherwise, Mr Hello and His Honesty Club are meandering down that musical path less travelled.

Theirs is a world of strange, psychotic and almost hammed up vocals, hung out on byzantine heavy bass riffs, swathed in dissonant, angular guitar violence as relentless tribal beats drive it on to its illogical conclusion. More poetic terrorism that conventional musical delivery. The music lurches and shudders from one thought to another in unexpected fashion, a sort of post-rock, post-genre, post-music, post-mortem… looking for the cause of death of the mainstream  and then providing the sound track at its wake. 

Their musical touchstones are more likely to be The Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard, early Sabbath and The Fall, but even then after those influences have gone through the blender; it is unlikely that you will find anything derivative about them. In short this is not music you take home to met the parents, this is music you elope with, run wild with and just hope it doesn’t drive you insane along the way.

Maybe writing an article high on the influence of night nurse and paracetamol might not be the best idea, but it is interesting to see what thoughts are allowed through when the normal inner quality control is off its guard. Although my reasons for such a state are fairly mundane (trying to shift a particularly virulent chest infection) it’s interesting to note that Lester Bangs seems to obtain his best insights when wacked out on cough medicine and Shelley was at his most poetically otherworldly when running on sleep deprivation and Laudanum. Not that I would dare to rank myself alongside such literary choirs of angels, but it’s interesting to note none the less.

 

It seems that every time I open Facebook, someone is posting a banner to tell me to Support Live Music, often with a reference to Simon Cowell or some music reality show. Blaming lack of support for live music on Cowell is like attacking Dan Brown for not being Truman Capote. Cowell makes popular entertainment shows that have the veneer of musical trappings but in reality is about ratings, any short-lived music deal with successful contestants is an added bonus. His programs are very addictive to the feebleminded and fashion-fickle, but if you are staying in to watch these programs when you could be out supporting something more worthy, then that says more about you that it does him. If I became addicted to sniffing glue, would I then be justified in blaming my local hobby shop for supplying the stuff in the first place? And if you object to the wave of TV shows that are taking over peoples lives, then the answer is simple, it’s called the “off” button, or at least the remote control that can take you to the Arts channels or BBC4 and the like. TV shows are ratings driven and low ratings are the only thing that they fear. You have the power to induce that fear; you have the power to induce change. You have the power.

 

Facebook – the place that has turned the worthy cause and the political statement into a dichotomised world of like and dislike. Has anyone ever changed their habits or lifestyle because of something that has been suggested on a social media site? I doubt it, so the banner is more about the person posting it than it is about any solidarity amongst music fans. Look at my banner, how worthy am I?

 

But the term “live music” is a phrase weighted by expectation and probably has many different meanings to different people –  classical renditions, original bands, covers, tributes, marching bands, buskers, brass bands, living room jams,  guerrilla gigs, etc…all live music. I suspect that the intention of these banners is to imply that the poster is advocating switching off the TV and going and watching music performed by people with instruments in the traditional format –  a very worthy propositon, but I think it doesn’t go far enough. I suspect many of those posting these instructions spend much of their time reading Q magazine, watching “Later with…” playing old Who albums and watching their mates stodgy cover band run through someone else’s creations and then feel like they have the moral high ground on supporting music.

 

As regular readers may know, I don’t really advocate cover bands or tribute acts. For me music performance is at its best when it is creating something new and original. The performance is a moment in time, a sacred half hour or so where miracles and wonders can be conjured up, a moment of spontaneity, surprise, energy and communication. A half-baked rendition of a song that had its time of originality 30 years ago is selling the moment short. Tribute bands are even worse. Why try to be someone else when you have the opportunity to be something else?

 

I’m going to advocate a new, slightly altered instruction. Support new music. Music that isn’t driven by expected payment or a pre-determined familiarity with the material,  as covers and tributes largely are, rather bands that strive to get noticed through their performance and songs, bands that are genuinely bringing something new to the party is where I advocate your loyalty should lay. And like I say, it’s all about the performance, that interaction between performer and audience, music as art, music as communication. If the cover bands pander to people too content to exist solely within their comfort zone, then maybe those people would benefit from being taken from that bubble and experiencing something totally new to them. Offer them an unexpected and truly unique experience, offer them something that they don’t get from their regular musical experience, after all the best performances are those that offer entertainment and confrontation in equal measures.  Bands like Crash and the ‘Coots and Super Squarecloud, who have the ability to baffle and amuse, sculpt new musical shapes and warp prior expectation or take it further still and you find bands that are truly confrontational such as Mr Hello and His Honesty Club who crucify convention and live on the edge of poetic terrorism. Welcome to the T.O.M.Z. – the Truly Original Music Zone. It’s not a place or even a movement in the conventional sense, more an attitude or state of mind, a backlash against convention and the lack of imagination in the mainstream, a terpsichorean revolution akin to Ontological Anarchy, Situationism, punk ethics but above all original thought.

 

I’m not trying to tell you what to like, I’m just trying to interest you in the idea of true originality. It is when the bands that make up the true original movement are supported that you begin to have a real live musical movement. Try something new, pick a band that you have never heard of and go and check them out. What’s the worst that can happen? You find you don’t like it and you leave, but you may just find something that challenges, fascinates and entertains in equal measure, trust me I have been there and it’s an amazing place.