Tag Archive: oxygen thief


Ginger Wildheart albumMaybe not the best known band name in the music world, but to many The Wildhearts are simply rock and roll legends. Creating a sound which felt like The Beatles crashing head first into Metallica, they rocked harder and played harder than most and have often paid the price for their full throttle lifestyle. Front man Ginger (pictured)has led a varied musical life between and since the bands regular breaks, playing with the likes of Michael Monroe, guesting in place of Jason Ringenberg in The Scorchers and over a decades worth of albums under his own name.

Tonight he brings the musical fruits of his latest album, the country and folk inspired Ghost In The Tanglewood, to The Victoria. Today’s Ginger is more reflective than before and the songs deal with many of the challenges he has personally faced, though universally relatable ones, but you know that even with the foot off the pedal somewhat, Ginger is a brilliant and engaging live act.

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10711063_897224513623132_5812722890028045815_nPossibly the final leg of my gigging travels around Swindon for this year took me to my usual haunts, a creature of habit I guess but some interesting sounds where encountered along the way.

 

Last Wednesday found me at The Roaring Donkey for my usual mid-week slice of acoustic music and this week it was the totally unplugged charms of Nick Tann providing the entertainment. Even though the night is billed as Songs of Praise (unplugged) like most acoustic sessions that normally implies a stripped back yet minimally amplified set up. Not so Nick, he has a theory. A pub gig is divided into two sets of people, those who want to listen to the music and those who just happened to have found themselves in the vicinity. The latter are probably going to talk over your set no matter how loud you play so why try to compete. By playing totally unplugged, those that want to listen gravitate to the front so they can hear and those that don’t…well, don’t. And to be honest I think he has a point, as that is exactly what happened.

 

Those that made the effort to be part of the gig were then treated to a wonderful set of jazz inflected, acoustica that also graced genres as diverse as Latin, folk, blues and a whole lot of unique crossover sounds. Nicks voice ranges from warm yet solid vocal salvos to quite unexpected soaring falsetto and the between song chat with the audience is both engaging and humorous. This really was music played as god intended, in it’s natural state with a roaring fire and a good beer as company.

 

Sheer Music have a reputation for bringing great music into town and their close ties with alt-Americana label Xtra Mile, the home of Solemn Sun and Frank Turner enabled them to bring two great acts to The Victoria on Sunday. Opening the night were two local supports. Charlie Bath is an artist I have enjoyed watching develop over the last, well, almost a decade. Gentle acoustic guitar forms the core but it is her voice that really demands your attention, a sensuous and evocative blend delivering honest, heart on her sleeve lyrics, I just find it amazing that in a world that hands out music awards to Ellie Goulding at the drop of a hat that we still have Charlie around to play local gigs. Surely that will all change soon.

 

Si Hall recently went into a studio to record a solo e.p. and emerged out of the other end as a fully formed band, Coasters. They blasted through a set of brilliant agit-folk and punked acoustica and left crowd in no doubt that they had just watched the best new band on the Swindon circuit. Energy and stage presence alone isn’t enough to build a career on, you need the songs, and thankfully the band has the ability to write punchy, accessible songs. Look out for these guys.

 

Next up was Oxygen Thief, tonight playing a solo set but wrenching sounds from a guitar that defy the laws of acoustics. Skewed, off-kilter, spikey soundscapes backed up an agenda of social comment and he came off like a one man New Model Army, no complaints here.

 

Finally The Retrospective Soundtrack Players walked out to their headline spot. These guys are sort of a multi media vehicle as they write songs about their favourite books and films. Having already released albums based on Cool Hand Luke and Catcher in The Rye, their current, timely, album is called It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol and provided most of the material for this show. And what a show. All genres were visited as they conjured guardian angels, Christmas ghosts and all the seasons’ images. A tight set and a great performance.

 

So, a few more gigs to attend before the big day, I’ll be back to tell you about it in the New Year, have fun with whatever you are doing, musical or otherwise.

(originally published at Swindon Link)

318761_473799535965634_658808314_nThere was a time when, according to the song, all people wanted for Christmas was two front teeth, but those simpler times seem to be long gone. I blame Mariah Carey. She really raised the stakes by famously declaring that all she wanted was you. Yes, YOU (and you and you and you!) Blimey, not asking for much. It’s also a time when people “ironically” slip into novelty knitwear, words such as ‘tis and ‘twas make an annual outing and everyone suddenly thinks that Elf is the new It’s a Wonderful Life. (Over my dead body!)

 

It’s a time of year when TV sets overflow with adverts featuring stressed mums, useless dads, penguins, puppies, Christmas tables heaving under thousands of pounds worth of food, soppy, faux-indie soundtracks and perpetual snow, even though a white Christmas happens about one in 6 years and half as frequently in “that London” where these adverts are dreamed up. All I want for Christmas is some decent live music to experience; thankfully Santa seems to have delivered.

 

The Victoria has the first of two heavy rock shows, firstly tonight in the shape of Manchester trio Absolva, a band who have taken the core sound that informed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the eighties and brought it bang up to date. Support comes from equally hard hitting classic metallers Die No More and Control The Storm.

 

At the other end of the musical spectrum Claude Bourbon returns to The Beehive to weave an intoxicating acoustic web from a fusion of classical, jazz, folk and Latin guitar styles.

 

Friday has plenty to choose from, the big one being a fund raiser for I.A.R. that’s International Animal Rescue, not the World War Two Romanian fighter plane manufacturer. Anyway, more about that can be found elsewhere on this page. Funk and soul fans are well catered for by Felix and The Funk at The Moonrakers and blues fans have two options. Soul, Rhythm and Blues and rock all go into the mix at Riffs Bar with Bob Bowles and the Dansette Tones and at The Rolleston there is a tribute to that stalwart of American music, Bonnie Rait.

 

Fans of heavier music get a second slice of the pie with ubiquitous Iron Maiden tribute Powerslaves playing Level 3 whilst Metalhead offer a selection of classic rock and metal at The Victoria.

 

Roots Reggae gets a look in on Saturday at The Victoria with Urban Lions the new musical vehicle for classic UK roots artist Donette Forte. Also on the bill are DJ’s Bambi (aka Miss Reggae Reggae Sauce) and Stu Green (aka Mr Pop Art.) If, however, something a bit more raucous is to your tastes then The Roughnecks at the Rolleston might be more to your liking. Made up of band members from Josie and The Outlaw, The Meteors and Screaming Lord Sutch, their blend of old school rock ‘n’roll and psychobilly has been described as a Dr Feelgood meets The Meteors sound clash. A more wide-ranging musical experience can be had with the pop and rock covers offered up by Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

 

Sunday may be the day of rest but something a bit special takes place at The Victoria in the evening as those awfully nice chaps at Sheer Music offer a chance to experience the brilliance of The Retrospective Soundtrack Players (pictured). This is a band who make albums about their favourite books and films and having already dealt with Cool Hand Luke and The Catcher in The Rye, their just released 3rd album goes under the fitting title of It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol. So it’s folk-pop with a literary bent, sounds intriguing. Also on the bill are the intense aggro-acoustic sounds of Oxygen Thief, the agit-folk of Coasters plus the mellower and captivating musical charms of Charlie Bath.

 

Rounding the week off and providing two gigs that really do offer something totally unique are Kick Ass Brass and Skins and Strings. The first is a soul-funk outfit combining steaming hot brass, an amazing rhythm section and outstanding vocals and can be found at Baker Street on Tuesday. The second is an instrumental two-piece that combines exotic eastern tabla beats with the more pastoral guitar of a western folk tradition which is to be found at The Roaring Donkey.

 

 

532545_10151021089353608_1116543083_nI seems that Twitter has gone into melt down today as a shocking new video has revealed that One Direction hunk, Harry Styles, actually mimed singing Happy Birthday at band mate Liam Payne’s recent party. Not only was Styles, real name Harry Styles, contractually obliged not to sing, it turns out that his fellow band mate was similarly breaking contract by turning 19 in the first place. Styles is expected to shave his head and apologise on YouTube later this week. “Miming is a serious offence in the music world” said NME spokesman Norman Fictional, “First Beyoncé admits to miming at Osama Bin Ladens inauguration and now this!”

 

Still you won’t find any of that sort of thing going on in the local scene this week and what a wide-ranging selection of music there is for you to wrap your ears around.

 

Tonight, at The Victoria, are a band with all the right credentials, cited as the hottest band since the Ramones and with an album produced by Steve Albini, Barb Wire Dolls are the new face of punk and fronted by a singer who sounds like Patti Smith channelling Johnny Rotten…. there is nothing in the description of band that to me doesn’t sound awesome. Add support from 2 Sick Monkeys and it gets even better.

 

A more sedate night out can be found at The Beehive with the regular Acoustic Buzz Session. This week it features Gary Hall, a Gram Parsons infused player and quite possibly the future of British Americana; the poetic and almost spiritual folk of Benita Johnson and Blind River Scare main man and host for the evening, Tim Manning.

 

 

The big news this week is the arrival of a new Hip Route album, which is being launched on Friday at Basement 73. With a cast of thousands…well, a fair number anyway, consisting of additional musicians, not least The Barefoot Horns and support from Jimmy Moore and Best Laid Plans, plus the fact that it is free entry there are so many reasons to pop along and join the fun.

 

Other big names are to be found at The Victoria with the original Rude Boy and Specials singer, Neville Staple bringing his full band to town and support coming from one of the most eclectic, surprising and truly unique bands I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a few, Flipron. Get there early and do not miss an invitation to their weird world of whimsy and wackiness.

 

 

If something a bit more rootsy is your thing then you can either go for the excellent Pignose at The Beehive and their alchemical blend of rock, blues and country, a highly recommended noise or the soundtrack to a smoky Chicago blues bar that is Built For Comfort at The Rolleston.

 

Saturday offers the usual slices of tributes in the form of the hilariously titled Sgt. Peppers Only Dartboard Band not only playing the whole of the Revolver album but also a set of the Fab Fours greatest hits. The Rolleston offers Going Underground who play a mixture of punk and new wave classics. Fans of Status Quo will be heading for Riffs Bar to catch original drummer John Coghlan and his band play all the Quo classics.

 

If you want some soothing music to help the digestion of your Sunday roast then The Beehive is the place to be for the welcome return of Juey an artist who will find favour with fans of the likes of Gillian Welch.

 

A couple of nice midweek options both come courtesy of The Victoria, on Tuesday with the big, crunching guitars of 8 Minutes Later with support from The King In Mirrors, a wonderful seam of post punk pop that I urge you all to explore.

 

And finally Wednesday sees the return of Barry Dolan – a.k.a. Oxygen Thief pictured), this time backed by a full band. If ever you though the man was loud and ranting enough as a solo acoustic act, imagine what he is going to be like at full power. Actually you don’t have to imagine, go to the show. Support for this comes from 2 piece noise merchants Boss Cloth and the soaring guitar work of False Gods. In a week where there are lots of great things on offer, this one still wins gig of the week.

Beans on ToastWell, after a couple of weeks of gig listings that were quite literally an embarrassment of riches, things have calmed down a bit, but there is still a decent selection to be found on the musical menu this week.

 

Starting in our usual kick off point, the entrée on our acoustical a la carte offer, if you want to take the restaurant analogy to its illogical conclusion, Songs of Praise at The Victoria has a wonderfully intimate, seated show. Known the length and breadth of Old Town, Emily and The Dogs have been cooking up a veritable broth (enough of the culinary references now. Ed) infused with folk, gypsy jazz, blues, emotional resonance and late night reflections. Not a bad way to kick the weekend off. Joining them will be Hennesea –  imagine an acoustic Fleetwood Mac turning on to dream pop and Oliver Wilde who blends acoustica with shimmering technology to make wonderfully woozy experimental pop. And to think I used to play support to his dads band back in the day. Small world.

 

Rustic delights of the Americana variety can be found at The Beehive with this months Acoustic Buzz, featuring home grown bands Blind River Scare and The Open Secrets and all the way from San Antonio, Texas, is Rachel Laven touring her debut album, Unwind.

 

On into Friday and our good friends at Sheermusic are putting on a bit of an alt-folk treat. These days Beans on Toast (pictured) may rub shoulders with nu-folk royalty like Emmy the Great and Olympic warm-up act Frank Turner, but you can catch the man along with Oxygen Thief and Jimmy Moore at The Victoria.

 

Something a bit special at The Castle, all the way from Italy come The Sunny Boys, part Beach Boys part bubblegum punk though not to be confused with the Sydney post punk outfit of the same name. Theirs is a sound that will appeal to fans of Blink 41, Sum 182 and any number of North American bands with long shorts and numbers after their name. Jokes aside this is one of the slickest bands you will hear in town this year.

 

And that last sentence would carry a lot more weight if Dave Gregory’s current musical vehicle, Tin Spirits, weren’t also playing that night over at Riffs Bar. Dave, once part of the cutting edge of new-wave underground pop with XTC, these days revels in the myriad sounds of progressive rock.

 

Saturday at Riffs Bar is still about the rock, but this time, something less subtle, more primal. Anyone who hasn’t experienced Lord Bishop Rocks before really should do themselves the favour of catching this brilliant trio who alchemise Beatles melody, Sabbath’s oppressive weight and James Browns funk, the man is a musical shaman, you have to see it to believe it. Support includes the grunge-metal of Burnthru; trash rockers White Knuckle Bride and Latvian metal crew Burned in Blizzard.

 

Pop Quiz: What do Jay-Z, One Direction, Taylor Swift and Dizzee Rascal have in common? Answer: They have all had their songs ritually murdered by Kova Me Badd. If you want to witness the antithesis of good taste, musicianship and decorum, but do enjoy watching people who should know better make fools of themselves whilst brilliantly ruining chart covers, get up to The Victoria. A more serious offering comes with Grubby Jack and their upbeat and vibrant Celtic and American folk at The Tap and Barrell.

 

If a mix of alt-country, rock and folk sounds like your sort of thing, then Bob Collum and The Welfare Mothers at The Beehive is the place to head to, later that same day the voice of Dr Hook, Dennis Locorriere can be found at The Arts Centre and the jazz-heads will want to be at Baker Street for the potent and graceful piano led Dave Newton Trio.

 

More jazz on Tuesday, again at Baker Street this time with the gratuitous sax of the Kevin Figes Trio and Wednesday, The Running Horse plays host to singer-guitarist Ben Cipolla.

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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.