Tag Archive: real raj (the)


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

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10349094_566351956803162_3626054594936056313_nAnd so the “Kanye at Glastonbury” debate trundles on with an army of armchair Foo Fighters fans getting outraged on our behalf and trying to find ever more convoluted reasons to justify the fact that they simply don’t like his music. So? Maybe they are forgetting what a festival, especially one the size of Glastonbury (no Glasto…never Glasto!) is all about. Take a road trip to the heart of the West Country, be part of a temporary city of music fans, meet some interesting people, have a drink, get a bit …err…merry (that’s code by the way but this is a family paper,) take in some Cuban Jazz, a 1940’s Swing Band or a Canadian comedian (aren’t they all these days?) head out to the fringe events and learn to juggle. The options are endless. With literally 1000’s of acts to choose from why worry about one act, on one day, on one stage! That said, I stopped going when people in designer wellies from Kent began putting picket fences around their camping area to demarcate their own suburban plot from their neighbours.

 

And our own music week kicks off in fairly eclectic style as well. Level 3 has a wonderful slice of alt-rock spearheaded by Maidenheads Hindsights, a melodic, riff driven, energetic young band and the more abrasive growl of Hereford’s Richa. Slightly at odds with the headline sound, the more wistful indie-folk of Bad News (no, not that one…a different one) play the middle slot and local bands Dreamcatcher and Sahara Heights add an element of moody indie and shimmering shoegaze to the night.

 

At The Victoria Talk In Code will be throwing stadium tunes, euphoric vibes, accessible dance-rock and a spade load of pop sensibility into the mix to deliver their trade mark cross genre fusions. They are joined by the similarly anthemic Echotape and the pop rock of The Fuse.

Meanwhile at The Beehive, The Sitting Tenants offer up English garage band psychedelia, power-pop and modish rock.

 

On Friday, again Level 3 provides the big draw of the night. The Green Gig is a fundraiser on behalf of the Swindon Green Party, but politics aside it’s a fantastic line up. The Headliners, Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies are a supergroup with ex-members from Belarus, Good Things Happen in Bad Towns and Sunday Dogs, to name a few and a neat line in Americana, music hall and raggle-taggle folk. Joining them, conjuring reflective dreamscapes and indie, pastoral sweetness is Colour the Atlas (pictured). Ian Doeser and Neil Mercer get the night underway.

 

After that original music gets a bit harder to find, though fans of classic rock and metal covers will find a lot that they like from either Kok Rok at The Rolleston and Shepherds Pie at The Victoria. All styles, eras and genres can be found at The Liden Arms courtesy of Penfold.

 

Similarly, Saturday continues to cater for the denim-jacketed brigade with more classic rock covers from Broken Image at The Swiss Chalet. If you are fans of rock and rolls most successful survivors, then The Victoria is the place to be for The Rollin’ Clones.

 

Barrelhouse will be playing vintage blues with a hard edge that takes in Chicago’s heritage and the sound of the early English blues-rock movement at The Rolleston and Riffs Bar is the place to be for something with more of a bucolic vibe to it. Rob Richings deals in vocal harmony driven folk that uses indie and pop borrowings to keep it fresh and contemporary. Joining him is Ethemia, a duo renowned for the timeless quality and sensitivity of their songs and the inspirational Leon Daye. Getting the night underway The Southern Harmony, a band featuring three ex-members of Bateleurs, will be playing their debut show.

 

Jim Reynolds takes the afternoon slot at The Beehive on Sunday, filling the room with music that taps into everything from blues to ragtime, music hall to folk.

 

If something a bit more energetic is your sort of thing then The Victoria that evening is the place to be. Stillbust give a new twist to the hardcore genre and Foxpunch blend gritty punk, ska and a thrashier edge into what they adequately describe as speed grunge. Opening that show are Strength In Blunders.

 

And finally, Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the wonderfully upbeat and infectiously soulful acoustica of The Real Raj.

 

Library - 68The one gig that everyone seems to be talking about is talking about is Pete Doherty’s show at Riffs Bar tonight. Always a divisive figure, the marmite man of under the counter-culture music has been the source of much debate amongst music forums and bar room banter. To some a flawed genius to others just a normal guy who got lucky. Well, for me he’s both, neither and everything in between, but all this controversy does beg the question, what do you want from your musical heroes? That the Libertines debut album contains some real musical gems goes without saying, but had the band that put him on the map not been born of such chaos, would the music press had given them the coverage that brought them to mass attention? No.

 

Also imagine if you threw out all the music you own that was made under the influence, by mavericks, wasters and hedonists, you’d be left with a Donny Osmond album at best, not even The Bay City Rollers would survive that purge. I like my music icons to be contrary, articulate, dumb, genius, obtuse, broken and unpredictable and they don’t come more so than Pete Doherty. That said, if you don’t already have a ticket, then you have lucked out.

 

If you prefer something a bit more sedate then maybe The Victoria is the place for you to be. After much to-ing and fro-ing (such is the fickle and mutable nature of live music promotion), the night is now headlined by Nick Tann and The Real Raj who will be mixing and matching their individual styles into a wonderfully unique performance. Due to logistical constraints Emily Sykes and Friends will now take the middle slot so make sure you get there early enough to catch her sumptuous and sensuous music. The elegant creations of acoustic troubadour Nick Felix will get the night started.

 

Stiff competition comes from Violentango at The Beehive. Back in their South American homeland this band deliver their tango/progressive rock fusion to audiences of 20,000 and upward, to catch them in the compact and bijou environs of such a quirky back street pub is something of a steal.

 

On Friday fans of tributes in general and Thin Lizzy in particular will want to be at The Victoria as not only do one of the finest re-enactors of Irelands most famous rock and roll sons take the stage, but also the quite brilliant Port Erin (pictured)  and their trippy, funky workouts, chilled jazz vibes and rock drives open up proceedings. At the Rolleston, Celtic folk picks up a baseball bat and delivers tunes with menaces as Missin’ Rosie rock out like an English Flogging Molly or a punk Levellers.

 

The Big noise on Saturday will be coming from The Victoria as those awfully nice chaps at The Ocelot invite all and sundry to The Ocelot’s 7th Birthday Bash. Not only can you come along and meet the team that put together this strange little magazine, you also get the forward thinking, backward looking, pop craziness of Nudybronque, the intense punk and rock collision of The Vooz, the shimmering post rock of Deer Chicago and the orchestral tinged alt-rock of SkyBurnsRed (no spaces.) And as a bonus if you go up to Jamie Hill and say, “you are The Ocelot Editor, I demand my prize” he will probably just look at you oddly, but it might be fun.

 

Other options are blistering electric blues from the young and far too talented Krissy Matthews at The Rolleston or some Stones action courtesy of The Rollin’ Zones at Riffs Bar.

 

And as if you hadn’t had good reason enough to go to The Victoria so far, on Sunday I honor of the fact that local folk/alt-country legends Bateleurs and the bearded, blues and sandals king, Jim Blair are playing Glastonbury this year, The Gig Monkey has arranged a bit of a celebratory show case. Joining them will be those purveyors of smooth Americana, Case Hardin,’ the exquisite folk of Charlie Bath and singer songwriters Luke de Sciscio and Tamsin Rosie Quinn.

 

The week comes to its logical conclusion at The Running Horse on Wednesday with Leon Daye and Ben Cipolla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Library - 91Had Good King Wenceslas looked out of my window, far from seeing snow that was deep and crisp and even, he would have seen un-gritted roads and snow sculptures that either look like something out of a Tim Burton movie or designs that are too unsavoury to be discussed here. And looking at the snow it got me thinking that unlike the cheesy results when Christmas is used as the subject of a song, the topic of snow has generated some wonderful results. Underground classics such as Driven Like The Snow by obtuse grumps The Sisters of Mercy, the hauntingly beautiful Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow by Nick Cave (although the underlying message is about something far darker of course) and in typical humour Frank Zappa’s, Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow.

 

Well hopefully the snow related chaos that has caused so many gig cancellations over the last week are behind us, especially as one of the bands playing Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight are coming all the way up from Cardiff. Spyglass mix up heavy alt-rock grooves with a melodic grunge density and will be playing the support slot to SkyBurnsRed, a band who incorporate classical grandeur, raw, dark and emotive rock, sensuous violin and an aggressive delivery. Also taking their chosen genre to new heights is opener Adepto Futui, a band that captures the feeling, vibe and voice of traditional blues but who manage to twist it into interesting, Byzantine heavy and original shapes.

 

Meanwhile down at The Beehive an interesting local proposition is taking place. Having grown out of the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Sessions at the Art Centre, Fieldfare is the combined acoustic guitar and vocal arrangements of local stalwarts, Steve Cox, Paul Griffiths and Tim Sawyer reworking each other’s songs.

 

There are a few big shows at The Furnace this week; the first comes in the form of Cheltenham’s Young Kato on Friday. Pop may be a dirty word these days but along with LAB label mate Portia Conn, they will be proving that there is a lot more to the genre than dance routines and auto-tuners. Pop beats, warm atmospherics and infectious melodies collide with confident guitar-work to re-establish the credibility of the genre. Also on the bill Old Colours continue to ply their trade of fragile, cinematic, otherworldly indie creations and Salute the Magpie open the show. If something more raw, lewd and beardy is to your taste then check out The Hamsters From Hell in The Rolleston next door.

 

Back at The Beehive and another Cheltenham band, Stressecho indulge the venue with a wonderful angst-folk set, beautiful, understated music to accompany poignant and open story telling.

 

More big noises at The Furnace on Saturday, this time taking a much more aggressive format with hard edged pop-punk from south coast trio, Hold The Fight and local, upbeat, post-hardcore champions When Words Fail. Back upstairs in The Rolleston there is a bit of a paradox. Metal Gods claim to “try and bring something fresh to the scene” which is obviously commendable but then state that they play classic rock covers from the 80’s/90’s. Not sure what to make of that, still that’s not to say it won’t be a good night out for those still proudly holding on to their patched denim jackets and Let It Rain tour shirts.

 

 

Riffs Bar play the acoustic card and have a collection of acts both local and otherwise  playing in a very stripped down fashion, including the 50’s rock and roll vibe of Josie and The Outlaw, the wonderful harmonies and intricate guitar blends of Ethemia and the joyous and upbeat creations of The Real Raj.

 

Missin’ Rosie seem determined to invoke the wrath of the folk police (they do exist, I checked with the Home Office) by taking folk music and rocking it up to a point where those people who denounced Dylan for going electric in ’66 would be jumping off of tall buildings. Catch their mix of standards and originals at The Sun Inn on Sunday.

 

And so we end in our usual mid week oasis of music and two options. If you haven’t had enough of the loud and shouty, then Teenage Kicks at The Furnace has a Headbanger Special on Wednesday with music and neck ache courtesy of Twisted State of Mind, Dissolute, Wreckoning and Stands To Reason.  A more mellow listening experience can be had at The Running Horse with the wonderful Rosellys whose British-American ranges from acoustic country to stomping bluegrass, from gentle balladry to barn dance hoedowns. Not what you expect from the M4 corridor on a chilly midweek evening.

 

And now the News. In light of recent events I now find my position as writer of Sounds Around Town no longer tenable and have therefore decided that the only proper course of action is to step aside and spend more time with my record collection and re-runs of Time Team. As a replacement I have appointed myself to the position of Acting Dave Franklin as an interim solution until the matter is resolved. So as to avoid any lengthy negotiations I have also asked the paper to consider me for a £450,000 golden handshake but have, as of yet, received no reply. Apparently questions have been raised in the House about the situation, not my house, you understand, someone else’s house, but the windows were shut and I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

 

So on with the show. It’s Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight again the tables and subdued lighting is out to welcome the dulcet tones of Emily and The Dogs. Mixing jazz, folk and rock and coming off somewhere between Polly Harvey and Ani Di Franco, this trio of highly experienced musicians are something a bit special. A slight change to the plans sees historically aware, baroque-pop stalwarts Mr Love and Justice take the middle spot with Nick Felix opening up the evening. Meanwhile jazz is on the menu at The Beehive with the guitar and vocal combo Ruba Tempo.

 

Friday night is all about the Children in Need show out at Riffs Bar. Burnthru bring their rock hybrid – part metal, part sleaze, part grunge to the party and joining them are The Dark Sinatra’s, a band whose ability to mix groove driven bass lines, rocked out jazz junkie drum fills and Byzantine heavy guitar work into something dark, experimental yet accessible and danceable is unprecedented.  Scud Penguin and 5 Lives Left are also helping this most worthy cause.

 

Over at The Furnace it’s all about old school rock. Out of the flatlands of the windswept east, otherwise known as Lincolnshire, come Nightvision, blistering classic rock, razor wire riffs and thunderous rhythms will be the order of the day. Dead By Friday? and Wreckoning provide more of the same, but if you like your rock a bit more Sunset Strip, a bit more sleaze-boogie and street-smart, then make sure you catch Rough Cut.

 

In a week with an already heavy rock bias, then The Victoria will provide a roots music oasis on Saturday night. The funky grooves and lap guitar blues of Hip Route are the musical destination of the evening but first you will have to negotiate a wonderful journey through soulful acoustic jazz vibes of The Andy Grant Trio and the smorgasbord of southern sounds that tumble from Pignose (pictured).

 

The Royal Oak plays host to The Erin Bardwell Collective, old school ska, reggae and rocksteady all go into the mix and whilst you are there make sure you pick up a copy of their cracking new album, Bringing The Hope.

 

Back into the maelstrom of the heavy sounds that are dominating this week and a perfect pairing washes up at The Furnace. Both Godsized and Eye For An Eye revel in thunderous riffs and colossal beats without losing their ear for melody. The result is a biker metal mix of the best of old school British such as Sabbath and the southern swagger and groove of ZZ Top turned up to eleven. From Ruin play the role of the perfect opening act.

 

The 12 Bar also get in on the act as Newquay hardcore outfit, Envy The Fallen play a tribute set to Australian metalcore band, Parkway Drive. More metal is also forthcoming from Make No Mistake and the modest Dissolute who’s website states that they are “way ahead of their time in terms of talent.”

 

Sunday afternoon is a bit more chilled out. When they cried Go West! one native of Tulsa, Oklahoma came east, and you can hear the anglicised, alt-country and Costello-esque delivery of Bob Collum at The Beehive for the  afternoon session. Alternately you can head for the Arts Centre and another outing for the west-coast jangle meets West Country lore of Mr Love and Justice. They are joined by Albion, a folk duo in the Greenwich Village coffee shop style.

 

Wednesday evening has it’s usual musical barrier against mid week boredom. Missin’ Rosie deliver rocked out Celtic folk at The Running Horse, a wonderfully charismatic and joyously upbeat support comes courtesy of The Real Raj. There is a Bluegrass jam over at Riffs Bar or you can catch the new line up of The Blue Trees at The Victoria.

As the same old arguments of “have guitar bands had their day” and “is electronic music the way forward” continue to be discussed in the dark corners of venues and around the water coolers of music magazines publishers, it is worth noting that whilst it is an interesting argument, it makes no account for the rise of a new musical passion. The ukulele! Not only are so many indie/folk cross over bands taking to the instrument like a sacked girl band singer to a premiership footballer, but we have also witnessed the emergence of the first ever ukulele super group and you can catch them at The Beehive tonight.

 

The Rinky Dinks (pictured) are wall-to-wall brilliance. Taking songs of all genres, from every decade of contemporary music and giving them a uke-over the result is as side-splitting as it is unique and until you have heard Led Zeppelin rendered unto the ukulele, you haven’t heard anything.

 

If that doesn’t quite tick enough boxes for you, there are a couple of other chilled out serving suggestions for you to consider. Riffs Bar has “Folk in The Bar” hosted by local duo, Albion, a night that endeavours to capture the spirit of the Greenwich Village folk revival movement of the 60’s. At the Victoria, Songs of Praise has moved into the top bar for a more laid back show, Nick Tann and The Real Raj are solo performers as well as a duo whose mix and match style takes in everything from folk- pop, Americana and soaring acoustica to John Martyn style ballads. Forget Wacky Wednesday welcome to Tremendous Thursday. Okay, maybe not.

 

A worthy collection of local bands is to be found over at Riffs Bar on Friday, with The Rackets’ chaotic yet mesmerising gutter indie leading the way. SkyBurnsRed will be bringing a taste of violin driven alt-rock, The Porn Issue help funk the place up and Empire will be the opening salvo.

 

Teddy White will be teaching the Rolleston a thing or two about the meaning of the letters R and B, whilst down at the 12 Bar is one of the strangest line ups I have seen in a while. Not that there is anything wrong with the bands, it’s just I never thought I’d ever see all these on the same bill. Between Dead By Friday? The Fixed, Not George and Charlie Anne you have old school dynamic rock, slick, staccato indie, anthemic acoustic and an ethereal voiced solo singer. If you look up eclectic in the dictionary it actually has a picture of the flyer for this show.

 

Metallica fans will want to be at The Victoria, ‘nuff said, and if you are still up for some after hours music The Nightshift at The Furnace will be playing Industrial, Darkwave and Electronica into the wee small hours.

 

 

Saturday is it’s usual bastion of tributes and covers. Shepherds Pie at The Victoria are a tribute to every air guitar anthem ever written and at The 12 Bar The Useless Eaters are a tribute to the sound of the early punk movement, though original music can be found with support bands The Porn Issue (they get around don’t they) and the new wave punktronica of Last Exit Saints.

 

Doors tribute bands are ensuring the survival of the old bus analogy with The Strange Doors at Riffs Bar and The Floydian Doors at The Rolleston, although to be fair with the latter band you do get 2 tributes acts for the price of one.

 

It’s all about the blues at The Beehive for the Sunday afternoon session, with The Sons of The Delta. Both electric and acoustic blues, Americana and roots vibes or as one wise soul put it…Raw, righteous, the real Delta deal. More great music can be found at The Rolleston that evening with Irish pop-folkstress Polly Barrett who has more than a touch of Cara Dillon about her, which is obviously a very good thing indeed.

 

The Running Horse, as usual, provides the mid week Euterpean oasis to rejuvenate and revive you from the slog of the real world, this week with the soulful world music vibes of Coach and the dulcet tones of Rhiannon Elliot.

Laid low by a mystery bug over the weekend I found myself lifeless, crashed on the sofa and in my less than lucid state, watching Britain’s Got Pop Factor, or whatever the current re-hashing of Opportunity Knocks is called. Whilst the acts themselves left little impression, I seem to have picked up one of the most annoying habits of the modern TV age……The Unnecessary Dramatic Pause. You know, when they pause for no reason before delivering their verdict, to heighten the tension and/or lengthen the show. I have been trying to shake it off but will apologise in advance if it creeps into this weeks run down. Right……on with the column. (Sorry.)

Tonight at The Victoria is a show for all the fans of upbeat and intricate indie with the return to Songs of Praise of Bristol’s Hello Lazarus. Merging pop-punk, indie and math elements, they are seen by many as a worthy successor to Biffy Clyro and with support from Russian Blue, which contains ex-members of Sailors, and Lucy T it’s sure to be a night of great music. For those after something funky, bluesy, laidback and groovy, then Hiproute are just the band you are looking for and they can be found down at The Beehive.

One band that I have been meaning to catch for ages  is……(tension, tension, tension) …..False Gods, so I shall probably be making my way up to The Victoria again on Friday. False Gods exist in a swirling generic whirlpool fed in equal measure by torrents of punk, indie, rock and grunge, the fact that they have more than a hint of early Manics about them is just an added bonus. Support comes from the euphoric dance fuelled rock aficionados, Atari Pilot and the eclectic Oscillator.

For the big, and slightly risqué, rock show, then it’s over to Riffs Bar for New York’s infamous Lord Bishop Rocks. If groove driven, funked out, sleazy and suggestive, rock and roll is your sort of thing then arrange an audience with the big man.

More sedate sounds wait for you at The Beehive. If you remember Ross Darby from his occasional solo shows some years ago, you may be interested to know that he is now out and about with a full line up. The Fallows are a great sounding band that manages to fuse quintessential English folk, Celtic fringe vim and Appalachian vigour. Nice. Meanwhile at The Arts Centre, Buddy Whittington will be putting on a show of contemporary blues and showing why he was named as one of Guitarist Magazines top 100 unsung heroes.

Saturday has much on offer in the way of original music.  At The 12 Bar, The Racket continues to spread their beautiful cacophony, imagine grunge mugging Britpop in a back alley, whilst Madchester holds its coat. (Don’t worry; I don’t really know what that means either). Something truly unique takes place out at Riffs Bar as Jenny Haan and Dave Pushon play chilled and re-interpreted versions of songs by the band that made them famous in the seventies, Babe Ruth.

Great guitar work is two-fold; you can either go for white-hot blues from Lewis Creavan at The Rolleston or folk legend Martin Simpson at The Arts Centre. Nostalgia trippers and alt-scene freaks will be heading down to The Furnace for a tribute to it’s former days as the infamous Level 3 and a chance to recapture their youth, or more simply put, hip music and hip dancing probably resulting in hip replacements. I can hear the opening bars of a certain Soul Asylum song even as I type. Is this going to be a winner…… a million percent yes!

The big gig for Sunday is rapper Example at The Oasis and at the time of writing this, tickets are still available.

As usual Baker Street has the Jazz fans interests at heart, this Tuesday with The Alexander Hawkins Quartet whose improvisational leader manages to evoke past masters such as Theolonius Monk as easily as he beats a path into a jazz future horizon.

On Wednesday, A&T Live bring their eclectic funky, brassy, hip-rock, jazzbeat sounds to The Victoria but the one I’m excited about takes place at The Running Horse. Up from the south coast are two songwriter guitarists I got acquainted with last year. Amongst Nick Tann’s (pictured) vast and versatile vocal range, elements of Colin Verncombe, Chris Difford and many others are hinted at, whilst The Real Raj has a hushed majesty that immediately conjures thoughts of John Martyn.

Is this a great week for music?……it’s a yes from me.