Tag Archive: new model army


vinyls1There have been a few things happening lately that have caused me to reflect on old records and the songs of my formative days. I guess one of the advantages of getting to such a veritable age is that there is more to look back on, more memories to juggle and probably a bigger record collection to jog that memory. And as you get older the more sensory stimuli for joggin’ the noggin,’ the better.

A few weeks before the lockdown came into effect I had decided to weed through my vinyl collection and see if any of it was of any value and pop it onto Discogs and e-bay and perhaps make a bit of extra cash on the side. I’m glad I did as my main income is from writing promotional material for the music scene…so that sort of went south quickly…and picking up a few quid here and there whilst I scrabble around for alternative scribbling work has made all the difference between buying the sort of cheddar which could be used as pungent, industrial building material and the sort of comestible which at a push might be okay for temporary grouting.

And so sorting through these records, many of which I have carried with me from house to house for almost 40 years, has been a wonderful experience. There are some bands which I know I will never part with, The Waterboys, Blyth Power, Thin Lizzy, Sisters of Mercy, music which has been around me for so long it has sort of become part of my DNA. And some I forgot you even had, The Boys Next Door, who later coalesced into The Birthday Party who in turn became Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and I even found a few long forgotten Lilac Time albums which I have been playing incessantly.

And since the lockdown, in an effort to keep each others spirits up, there has been a rash of music sharing, top 10s and influential artist type posts, and, under the orders of David Rose, serial gig go-er, blogger, unashamed dad dancer and all round good egg, I have dived into that too with my first two influential albums being Ghost of Cain by New Model Army and Alnwick and Tyne by (“the mighty”) Blyth Power.

And I guess all of this proves one important thing. Music isn’t really about what other people think about your tastes, it’s about what works for you. I can be the most elitist person going when it comes to judging others music tastes but then just because I favour listening to The Alarm’s anthemic, windswept wail and unnecessarily big hair (which you can sometimes hear on record due to it being so tall it was picking up Radio Wales) whilst you prefer Nicki Minaj singing about …well, god knows what…doesn’t mean I should judge you unfairly. I mean, I will because I am an imperfect being and totally set in my ways, but the point is I shouldn’t.

As L. P. Hartley famously said in The Go-Between …oh, another cool band reference…The past is a foreign country…but my own particular past is littered by some great music and no-one can take that music nor the memories of people, places, gigs and parties that goes along with it, away.

vice_squad.pngOkay, I’ll get this out of the way first off and talk about a show that I have been pretty excited about since it was first announced. Those who know me are aware that I’m pretty fanatical about New Model Army and have been listening to and watching them play since the mid 80’s…yes I’m that old! But in all that time despite front man Justin Sullivan’s numerous side projects and solo ventures, somehow I have only ever seen him play as part of the full band experience. 

That all changes tonight as he plays The Victoria. Sullivan is a mirror for the trials and challenges of life, more social commentary than truly political, tales of ordinary people making their way through the world but also threaded through with optimism and a celebration of this strange and beautiful world we live in. Support comes from two of the finest acoustic players on the circuit, the engaging stories of Jake Martin and the deft and dexterous songwriting of Chuck SJ Hay.

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28809005430_90f3c4af09_cJustin Sullivan, singer, frontman, song writer, protagonist and only consistent member of New Model Army since their inception in 1980, will play an incredibly rare & completely one off, intimate solo show at Swindon’s Victoria on Thursday 16th August as a warm up to his bands performance at Beautiful Days Festival the following evening.

 

Justin will draw from his back catalogue, perhaps including some of his solo work as well as drawing from his canon including many other side projects along his 37-odd year career, as well as all the classic NMA material.

It’s safe to say this is a spectacularly special show, following in Sheer Music’s strong recent form having already racked up shows for Frank Turner and Ginger Wildheart in Swindon this year.

As such, this show is likely to sell out well in advance! Support for the gig comes in the shape of long standing Sheer & Swindon regular Jake Martin, who gets a killer show, his gigs and performances deserve, and we have no doubt you’ll love him if you’re not already familiar.

We had been asking for this show for 5 years, since New Model Army performed for us at Devizes Festival, and finally it made sense & Justin relented to our asking and approached us as it’s on route to Beautiful Days. We’re delighted to bring him to Swindon, and continue to put some great shows in a great town.

Tickets are priced just £15 from WeGotTickets, or direct from venue. In the event there are any left, they will be more expensive on the door.

 

Thursday 16th August 2018
@ The Victoria, Swindon
Doors 8pm.
Sheer Music & The Colour of Vinyl present…

8.45 – 9.15 – Jake Martin
9.30 – 11pm – Justin Sullivan
18+

 

**** PHOTO CREDIT – Ken Harrison Photograhy ****

eFestivalsI’m not sure if it is just a Swindon thing but it does seem that every other gig you see advertised these days features some earnest young acoustic guitar wielding wannabe aiming to be the next Frank Turner or Laura Marling. It may seem like an easy way to get into music; low overheads, no egotistical band mates to fight with, the ability to tour the country in a broken down Fiat Uno etc but the problem with so much of it going on is that for every soon to be discovered darling of 6music or Wychwood Festival there are a dozen chancers waxing not so lyrical about their recent break ups over a rudimentary knowledge of the key of A minor and clumsily rhyming June with moon.

Thankfully if you want a master class in how it should be done, all you have to do is head to The Victoria tonight when the prodigal son returns, sort of. Songs of Praise is being headlined by Gaz Brookfield, aided and abetted by his fiddle-wielding associate, Ben Wain. Fresh from another jaunt supporting The Levellers and about to share a stage with those emotionally battered, wind swept rock gods, New Model Army (yes, I’m a bit of a fan), I suggest you catch him whilst he is still cheaper than a pint of beer, because it won’t last much longer. Also on the bill is Joshua Caole, who brings a chilled Elliot Smith meets Gram Parsons feeling to the proceedings and kicking things off is the soulful, funky vibe that is Benji Clements.

Two of the musical genres that people have most problems identifying are “world” and “roots” music. If you go to The Beehive tonight you will see both genres colliding head on. Mambo Jambo are an amazing duo that mix Latin styles with bluegrass, jazz and Eastern European sounds – raw enough to sound authentic, virtuosic enough to be mesmerising.

Punks will find much to like over at Riffs Bar on Friday as legendary, urban rail punks Eastfield make a rare visit to this neck of the woods. Three chords, catchy tunes, an often tongue in cheek story and lots of smiles. What’s not to like? The Useless Eaters will be mixing up covers and originals in a tribute to the first wave punk era and opening the night with unforgettable hooks and despondent satire is Strength in Blunders, featuring a guest bassist in the form of Pete Monkey. Nice.

The other big name in town that night is former InMe front man Dave McPherson (pictured) who can be found at The Castle. At a turn uplifting, mournful, calm and soothing, whilst often being a world away from his previous musical vehicle, here is an artist that delivers something very special indeed.

At The Beehive a collection of familiar faces from the local scene, who go by the name The Sitting Tenants will be blending power-pop, new wave, psych and soul into wonderfully original creations, whilst at The Rolleston, The Dylegans take skiffle, country and old school rock and roll as their chosen musical weapons.

Saturday is all about roots music at The Victoria, as Hiproute will be laying out their trademark funked up, acoustic blues stall. Support comes from the quirky, harmony fuelled, folky, surf vibe of Willowen, who I can only describe as being what Noah and The Whale sound like in their own heads, though fall way short of in reality. Delta-esque rockers The Blue Trees and Alex Roberts also add value to the deal. More blues can be found in the guise of Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and it’s slick contemporary covers with Toxic over at The Swiss Chalet.

If you have a craving for electronic music, DJ Dust hosts Digital at Piri Piri, a night of music and videos of that ilk featuring everything from the likes of New order to Chase and Status.

If you want your final fix of music before the working week pulls you back then there are a number of options on Sunday. The afternoon session at The Beehive is taken by The Racket main man Plummie and his new solo venture,  support for that one is The Black Sheep Apprentice himself, Skiddy and the original Sweet Plum, Cat Jamieson. Old school rock’n’roll and rockabilly riffs are to be found at 20 At The Kings with Josie and The Outlaw and if gargantuan slabs of rock with grunge overtones are more your cup of tea (or should I say Seattle Coffee) then the place to be is The New Inn for Vanarin.

Rounding up on Wednesday at The Running Horse you will find bluesman Ian O’Regan and Rhys Bury providing the entertainment.

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I read with some amusement today that “Nasty” Nigel Lythgoe has come out of retirement to host a new show. In keeping with the current trend of making everything into reality TV, he travelled to Birmingham with the Archbishop of Canterbury and famous born again Catholic Tony Blair to judge Popestars, a competition designed to decide the next pontiff. Thousands of hopefuls queued at the door, including Fiona Brat-Actress whose experience extends to having appeared in Cliff Richards Mistletoe and Wine video. The audition tasks will include singing Ave Maria, Tarmac Kissing and Meeting Bono and pretending to know who he is. One hopeful, Derek Cleanliness, 89 from Rugby, has already caught the judges eye, “He’s definitely got the look we are after” said Lythgoe, “It’s a sad fact that in the cut throat world of the Vatican, image does matter”

Still, enough pontificating and on with the show. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight features a mix of both old, new, local and from further afield.  The Starkers are a collision of grungy density and Libertines-esque melodies, whilst up from London, Hitchcock Blonde take the form of an explosive, raging alt-rock beast, laced with accessible melodies that both kick arse and cut the mustard. Opening the night, The King in Mirrors are a new band made up of familiar faces and if you get their titular reference then their rough and ready, post-punk, underground pop will be right up your street.  By contrast you can catch the superb acoustic folk guitar and sun kissed vocals of the far too young to be this talented, Jenna Witts.

Loads happening on Friday, The Furnace being a great place to spend it with a wonderful line up of younger indie types. Chaps of the moment Nudybronque headline, a band on a wonderful trajectory that has so far taken them from innocent, speed-freak pop to bittersweet, underground indie and are poised for a future that looks even more beguiling. Support comes from The Two’n’ Eights, The Racket and The Rhubarbs.

Whatflag at The Beehive are a fascinating world rock, jazz band with its roots in Gaza and Tel Aviv and a drive to break down borders and unite communities through their music. The Victoria goes for a night of acoustic acts. These days despite rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Levellers and New Model Army, which in my world is about as good as it gets, Gaz Brookfield still finds time to play his old haunts and his mix of wit and wisdom set to infectious tunes is not to be missed. Support comes from alternative folk duo, Julesbury, musical magpie Jimmy Moore and the soulful stylings of Benji Clements.

Blues fans have a hard choice to make, torn between Larry Miller at The Arts Centre and Innes Sibun at The Rolleston.

The big one for Saturday is at The Furnace with top tribute The Faux Fighters. Personally I have never really seen the reason that Grohl and the gang are held in such high regard, after all if Sean Moore had jumped ship from The Manics in 1995 and returned with an inoffensive, mainstream version of the same, would anyone have batted an eyelid? Still if The Foo Fighters are your thing, this is the place to be. Other things that might take your interest are The Nomarks playing ska at The Castle and 1000 Planets doing choice cuts of classic rock, industrial, goth and punk at The Rolleston.

Some lovely acoustic comes your way on Sunday. In the afternoon you can catch Beehive favourite Juey and her gentle blends of folk, country, bluegrass and Cajun, after which heading up to The Rolleston will enable you to revel in Rumours of Spring who bring a vast array of instruments to bear on a set forged from rock, blues and folk.

The Running Horse on Wednesday has two amazing acts for you. Louise Latham (pictured) combines honest, heart on the sleeve emotions with room silencing vocal delivery that resonates with beauty and wistful reflectivity. The other half of the bill (that really should be considered as a double headline show) is The Black Feathers, an acoustic duo that combine English folk, Celtic traditions and Americana into what is almost this country’s answer to The Civil Wars.

Also on Wednesday, Teenage Kicks takes us out in fine styles at The Furnace with a riot of indie and alt-rock with The Fixed, City Lights, The Eberdeens and Written in Words (errr….as opposed to?)

So when exactly did promoters, journalists, media and PR types lose the ability to string rational meaningful sentences together? It seems to me (and please bear in mind that I’m a grumpy old bastard) that the eloquence of language is being lost from the music sector. Admittedly few people are going to match the beauty of the writing of Paul Morley, the aggressive and brutally honest gonzoism of Lester Bangs or the view from the underworld as documented by Nick Kent, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop trying. With social media becoming the main way of promoting local gigs I suspect the spiralling demise of literacy was inevitable, so we find ourselves subjected to promotional devices and phrasing that would have even got the red pencil at script meetings for 2 Broke Girls or Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

I can’t be the only one who looks at a post for a local show that follows the lines of “OMG, this is going to be awesome, I can’t wait” and thinks if the person that they trust to do their PR appears to be a semi-literate, 14 year old who has had too much Tartrazine, it’s probably not the band for me. “Awesome” is a word that is probably better saved for watching your first child being born, watching the sun go down over the Serengeti or snorkelling in the Red Sea, not because a bunch of 16 year olds played a reasonably good show using all 4 chords they know. Good or great, even brilliant…. but probably not awesome. (This does not apply to New Model Army who actually are awesome!)

Similarly every show that takes place seems to be “rammed” rather than well attended, every band that plays seems to “destroy the place” rather than turn in a good account of themselves,  “burning, scorching or blistering” makes you sound like Beavis and /or Butthead and worst of all “groundbreaking” – if in 30 years time they have a string of releases that have spawned whole musical movements then maybe, just maybe.

And if you can defend the average on-line post for probably being the work of the friend/fan/mother of one of the band members, printed journalism has fewer excuses. Just because it’s “local” journalism isn’t an excuse for it being poor quality. Headlines that would even face rejection by the Sun for their lowbrow punning scream out at every opportunity. Bands are always “on song…” or “hit the right note” and if I see one more “bad weather doesn’t dampen the spirits…” I will probably drown myself in protest.

And it gets worse when you get into the article itself. Bands aren’t breaking, new or emerging they are always “up and coming,” I’m not  sure that I know what that even means! And Jazzy is one that irritates me. Journalists who know nothing about jazz will often use this one too freely when they hear a chord progression with flatted 5th, 7th, and 13 chords, basically anything more sophisticated than 3-chord rock. Sorry to break it to countless rock journalists, but there was nothing “jazzy” about the Grateful Dead. Just because you improvise on a pentatonic scale past the twenty-minute mark doesn’t make you a jazz player, just self-indulgent, really stoned, or both.

I must admit that I’m guilty of this one – hauntingly beautiful or indeed beautifully haunting. These words together make more sense in terms of silence or a description of a really attractive stalker or an apparition. A song, an album, a performance, or even a note can of course be beautiful, too.  But if it’s haunting you, talk to your shrink. (I freely admit that my quota of “other-worldly” and particularly “ethereal” is used up for the next 7 years to come, but lets not make this about me.)

Other annoyances in no particular order. “Catchy” – should be reserved for measles, “lush soundscape” – the music you hear when buying bathroom treats, “latest outing” or “latest effort” in referring to a new album, mentioning how your cat reacted to hearing it for the first time and worst of all….”songsmith.” It’s like referring to an author as a “wordsmith” (arrrrgggghhhh!) or politician as a “bollocksmith”, hang on…that one actual might have some mileage.

Also why are the phrases “all girl” or “girl fronted” used so much but not its male equivalent, which seems to be some sort of default setting. Do we still need to live in a world where if a female is involved it is noteworthy just for the mere fact?

The comparison thing is a bit over-played as well. “ Like (Insert seminal post-punk band here) crossed with (another post punk band) with a twist of (yet another band from 1978-1980)

This phrase became extremely popular when the new wave of post-punk sound-alike bands started proliferating indie music around 2003. These bands can name the following five bands as their influences in press interviews: Joy Division, Public Image Limited (First Issue to Flowers of Romance only), Gang Of Four, New Order and perhaps maybe Wire. Usually the newer band doesn’t really sound like any of these more legendary bands, except they have album covers which sort of look like things Peter Saville would cook up, and they really dig using jagged-glass guitars with melodic bass lines while singing about death, sex, and socialism.

For example – “sounds exactly like ‘Death Disco’ by Public Image Limited if they were married to Joy Division, with a twist of the poppy, fun sounds of Heaven 17.”

Back on the local level you also know when you read such iconic bands being cited as references it means that the band in question wished they sounded like that, but as they are not old enough to shave they actually sound like a bad Oasis/Strokes/Libertines/White Stripes rip-off. Never write your own blurb, it stands out a mile.

Local writing itself often seems to miss almost every opportunity to really examine the work in front of it, hold it up to the light and look at the inner workings and raison d’etre of a piece. Anyone can describe what a bit of music sounds like. We don’t need to know how each song sounds in building block terms, hippy metaphors have very little mileage when comparing the music to thunderstorms, crashing waves or summer breeze. The good writer, for my money, is one that examines why the band exist in the first place, what they are trying to say and more importantly, how does the music make you feel, how does it speak to you and if the band didn’t exist in the first place, would there be a need for them. The philosophy of music is an important aspect, the fact that the song is “really well played” isn’t. Without getting all Blade Runner on you, isn’t the emotional reaction more relevant than the technical workings?

Anyway, enough ranting from me, I need to get these things off my chest and I know it will make little difference but it helps me sleep at night. And anyway, in a world were your average celebrity (another over used word) is regarded as some sort of philosopher if they are seen reading a book, maybe these things needs to be said.