Tag Archive: roads to nowhere


1278861_573888912660792_1813647107_oNot many musicians deserve elevation to celebrity status. In fact celebrity is a word so devalued by its application to reality TV chancers and inflated pop dross egos that we need a new label for the likes of David Bowie. Maybe Icon is a better fit. 25 of the most influential albums of all time, film and theatre roles and untold creative innovations; he embodied art, androgyny, contradiction, mystery, elegance and eloquence and even his death and final musical statement seem like a work of art.

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10644504_849034398474545_1266507282074302395_nIt might seem that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket this week, or worse…Hull, but at least you have a whole raft of great, original live music to console yourselves with. And as always Thursday does the perfect job of easing you into the weekend with more than its fair share of the gigs.

 

Thursday

Josh Kumra @ The Victoria

It’s great to see Josh back with a hometown show. It’s been an interesting journey for him from accessible Americana-indie influenced local shows to managing to get a foot in the bigger leagues, releasing an album and even finding himself sat at the top of the charts with a co-written song. With all that behind him it is easy to see why his stock has risen so much since those early days when I used to see him playing in the back room of pubs to a handful of people. His songs are great and his voice is surprisingly mature so it is bound to be a great show.

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13346778_10153427066772127_7056879790797654139_nObviously I am writing this in advance of the US election result but I’m sure by now there has been a tsunami of debate, opinion and analysis not to mention disappointment/anger/relief (delete as applicable) banded around. One man who has a fantastic way of taking political themes, wrapping them up in bundles of thought provoking satire and delivering them as song-bites can be found at Baila Coffee and Vinyl.

Having set himself the task of making 40 records over 20 years, armed only with his trusty upright bass, Grant Sharkey (pictured) brings a bag of social commentary, wit, wisdom, his eighth album and his secret bread recipe to Swindon. It is very likely he will have an opinion or two about the presidential election too. Support comes from the always-excellent Emily Jane Sheppard.

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251026_474397722648292_1275993545_nRock fans should be fairly happy this week with a higher than average quota of gigs coming from their favoured genres, but that is not to say that between the louder and more shouty selections there aren’t a few other styles being well represented and at least one iconic act crossing the parish boundary as well.

 

We The Deceiver lay generically midway between Post-Hardcore and Djent (which I have to admit I thought was a small town in Tunisia, but which is actually a gnarly, muted, low-end guitar driven style) so expect their set at The Victoria tonight to be filled with thunderous grooves, intense riffs and bombastic beats. Local support comes in the form of Roads To Nowhere, a similarly uncompromising onslaught of extreme and brutal sounds.

 

As if to balance the extremes of that gig, Keith Thompson plays The Beehive in solo mode. Rootsy, southern fried blues blending effortlessly with more homegrown influences to great effect.

 

Friday at Riffs Bar sees rock on the menu, this time from Clay Gods, a band who weave dark atmospherics, gritty grooves and lyrics equally at home delivering rock standard street sleaze as they are thought-provoking philosophizing. Joining them on the bill is The Dirty Smooth, who write tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out to, but sweet enough for the girls to dance to, and the blues fuelled alt-rock of Four Dead Crows.

 

More solid rocking options can be found at The Rolleston as Hot Flex deliver classic heavy rock and metal covers and the mercurial Bruise make a welcome return to The Beehive. Imagine the song writing sensibilities of Joni Mitchell, the dynamics and production values of Genesis and the epic pop of The Eurythmics and you only start to get a feel for what this amazing duo have to offer.

 

A Songs of Praise occasional Friday show is also to be found at The Victoria where White Lilac headline. They may look familiar, having evolved from Faye Rogers and her band but the sound is a whole quantum leap into new musical territory. The pastoral folksiness has been swapped for chiming guitars, brooding cello, distant crashing percussion, sonorous saxophones and a whole wash of gothic beauty and post punk edginess. It’s a musical transformation that you need to hear…and indeed see, to believe. Joining them is the sweeping dynamic soundscape of Familiars (pictured), a more chilled, piano driven White Lies perhaps and the shoegaze referencing but up to the moment indie of Coco Esq.

 

Saturday sees the icon I mentioned hit the stage as multi-million selling recording artist and award-winning actress, Barbara Dickson plays The Wyvern Theatre.

 

Beans on Toast may be seen to be an icon to some, albeit in a more niche and under-the-counter-culture sort of way. He brings his incisive and hung-over musical take on modern life to The Victoria before heading off to the States to play with Irish punk-folk exiles Flogging Molly. He brings with him someone you will all by now be familiar with (if not why not?) Gaz Brookfield, our very own slice of poor boy makes good and purveyor of charismatic, heartfelt and infectious songs. Ben Wiltshire and Sophie Brown get the night started.

 

Explosive, raucous, boozy, sweary and unpredictable music can be found at The Rolleston as The Hamsters From Hell celebrate their 30th Birthday Bash, probably not what your significant other had in mind as an option for St Valentines Day, but certainly a real test of a relationship. Support comes from 2 Sick Monkeys.

 

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions hosted by Mr Love and Justice are now being held at The Central Library and this month they have a couple of very special acts for you. Local roots collective S’Go mix up folk, blues and country styles with more eclectic gypsy jaunts, shanty shindigs, café jazz and everything in between. Also appearing are Lightgarden a band whose celtic jigs and eastern vocal tones are a beautiful mix of orient and occident.

 

Finally, The Roaring Donkeys Wednesday offer to break up the working week comes with a stripped back show from Kitchen Sink Dramas; poignant social comment meets infectious musicianship, wit and wisdom all in one place.

It’s that time of year again, the time to eat, drink and be scary, yes, Halloween is upon us. It’s a confusing time really; we spend all year telling kids not to take sweets from strangers and then for one night a year actively encourage them to go out begging for treats. How odd. Sadly the age-old traditions of guising and party games have been replaced by the veiled threats of trick or treating. But if you want to avoid yet another corporate Americanisation of our heritage the solution is easy. Instead of being besieged in your own home as hordes of pre-teen terrors demand sweets with menaces, just head off out to the sanctuary of a gig, this week there is no shortage of them.

Tonight for instance we have a cornucopia of acoustic acts for you delectation, or otherwise put…. there are shed loads of acts to watch. The usual Songs of Praise night at The Victoria sees the welcome return of Charlie Bath, think Dallas Green meets Carole King, aided an abetted by her regular City Marshall collaborator, Simon Law. Up from Cardiff is minimalist troubadour Joshua Caole, who ploughs a furrow that runs from contemporaries like Ryan Adams past Gram Parsons and Hank Williams right back to the sounds of the Jim Crow South of post Civil War emancipation. Opening up the night is romantic balladeer Billyjon.

The Rolleston plays host to three acts that graced the stages of this years Swindon Shuffle Festival. Anyone who missed Antonio Lulic then should catch him tonight. Sounding like a solo Brian Fallon or even Bruce Springsteen, only from England’s fashionably impoverished North-East, this is an artist who has the songs, the stage presence, the banter and the charisma, it is only a matter of time before he is being hunted down by the industry bigwigs, trust me. Support comes from Racket front man Plummie and the musical ethereality of Faye Rogers.

For something completely different, Three Minute Tease rock back up at The Beehive. Backed by the rhythm section that made The Soft Boys and Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians the icons of underground music, psychedelic pop warrior Anton Barbeau’s brings the soundtrack to his crazy world back into town. Think Cope, Partridge and Barrett and you get the idea.

Apart from the macabre, carnivalesque, gypsy folk of Buffo’s Wake at The Beehive on Friday, everything else gets a bit loud and shouty, that’s a good thing right? At the Rolleston, Control The Storm (pictured) will be delivering atmospheric, dynamic, melodic metal where their concentration on song crafting doesn’t come at the expense of power and aggression. Support band, Endeavour go for the more frantic technicalities of progressive metal.

Over at Riffs Bar and there are more big and Byzantine sounds courtesy of Acts of Brutality, the oddly named A Fist Full of Foozy, Back Pocket Prophet and Harmony Disorder. What normally happens is the line up changes drastically by the time this goes to print and all the new bands on the bill moan at me for getting the facts wrong, so check the website every fifteen minutes for updates.

You can round your evening off with The Nightshift at The Furnace, where DJ Dust and Tom Himself will be spinning Industrial, Goth, Electronica, Darkwave and other strangeness, so it will probably look like the nightclub scene in Blade II!

On Saturday The Victoria has quite a line up. Headlining, Josie and The Outlaw are all about the 50’s rock and role vibes, whilst The Racket bring their usual blend of wonderfully punked out indie chaos to the stage. With the big sound of SkyBurnsRed and the strange quantum-glock and even stranger time changes of Super Squarecloud, it’s a brilliantly eclectic mix.

Elsewhere it is all about the Halloween party proper. The 12 Bar is being taken over by South West Hardcore with a Pirate vs. Ninja theme and music from Under Godless Skies, Kill The Conversation, Deliverance and Without Consequence. The Furnace, meanwhile, has gone for a Burlesque Metal night with music from In The Absence of Light and The Hotel Ambush.

I urge you all to be at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon for a band that I can’t recommend enough, Port Erin – imagine if Radiohead toyed with jazz and folk as well the usual rock dynamics – these guys are just great. Also falling into the highly recommended category is the show at The Victoria later that same day. Alice Offley launches her latest album spearheading a night of wonderful harmonies and delicate sounds from Jazz Morley and The Black Feathers.

As the week peters out there is still some great music to be had. On Tuesday it comes in the form of Canada’s blues icon Frank Cosentino with support from The Graveltones and The Peace Pirates at The 12 Bar and on Wednesday it’s Teenage Kicks Halloween Party at The Furnace with Roads to Nowhere and Days of Juno.

One of the things I love about the more serious and creative side of music (as opposed to the famous for fifteen seconds, in it for the quick buck, types) is that it’s interesting to chart the family trees and watch the complex career paths of musicians who inspire you, if you are some sort of music geek that is. Well, around nineteen eighty, this particular music geek would have been listening to a certain bunch of psychedelic punks called The Soft Boys and wouldn’t you know it, in the blink of an eye, a mere 32 years later, two of them surface to play a gig in Swindon.

Tonight at The Victoria, Three Minute Tease, featuring cult rhythm section Morris Windsor and Andy Metcalfe and led by Sacramento loon Anton Barbeau, will be spearheading an assault of warped space rock, trippy psychedelic pop, wit, wisdom and sheer strangeness. Jon Ouin from Stornoway is also rumoured to be amongst their ranks. Bristol’s Schnauser joins them, a band recently described to me with brilliant succinctness as “like the Wombles on Acid” and quantum rockers Super Squarecloud fire off the opening salvo…probably in 7/8 time if they get their way.

Riffs Bar meanwhile bow down to the gods of cacophony and raucousness as Twisted State of Mind, Eleros and Aethara go head to head for a place in the semi-final of Bloodstocks Battle of the Bands.

If you are looking for something a bit less loud or mind-boggling then head for The Beehive where The Acoustic Buzz session will be able to soothe you with the dulcet tones of Southern Folk, Jim Evans and Blind River Scare. If you prefer your acoustic music laced with a bit of punk vigour then The Rolleston is the place to be as ex-Tiryth guitarist Daniel James heads off down new musical paths.

On Friday, at Riffs Bar it’s a question of “who let the progs out” as The Dark Sinatra’s make a triumphant return. Summing up their music in a sound bite isn’t easy, prog it may be, but this is a groove driven, heavy prog more akin to Muse or even Rush. And when they say that sometimes Nigel Kennedy appears with them, don’t get your hopes up, although last time they did have the awesome Tallulah Rendall in rock chick mode helping out, which is much the better option in my book.

Teenage Kicks at The Furnace continues to deliver the best of the younger crop, this time The Fixed headline, with Bratpop madmen (yes I’m trying out a new generic moniker, just indulge me) Nudy Bronque, The Debuts and The John Does all filling the night with indie goodness and complicated waxed hair styles, no doubt.

Upstairs in The Rolleston is The Floydian Doors. As brilliant as they are, I have never quite got my head around being a tribute to two fairly diverse bands. I’m worried that it might be the thin end of the wedge and the next thing you know there will be posters up for The Yes Pistols or worse….The Collinsian Clash! Still at least the by-line is obvious … “From Genesis to Revolution.” Oh, come on you must have seen that one coming?

The Beehive is opting for a melting pot of blues with The Mestizo Blues Collective; all styles from the Delta to Chicago’s urban backstreets are succinctly alchemized into intelligent, quintessentially English song writing styles plus a touch of self-deprecating humour.

Saturday is the night for rock fans to indulge their various sub-generic passions. Younger fans will be heading for The Furnace as globetrotting local lads made good, The Dead Lay Waiting (pictured) return to their home patch to dish out some furious alt-metal to eager ears. They are joined by Scarred by Beauty, Frozen Affliction and Roads to Nowhere.

The Rolleston is being visited by powerhouse blues guitarist, Innes Sibun and at the Victoria, Snaggletooth and Earl Jam play tribute to Motorhead and Pearl Jam respectively.

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is filled by Pete Jagger, so expect the usual deft mix of folk, blues and ragtime. That evening at The Rolleston is a real cosmopolitan mix. Terhi is a native Finn, living in Chippenham and playing rock flavoured with country and calypso and the odd ballad thrown in for good measure. You almost feel like you need an up to date passport to watch that show. Support is from the Ghoulies an exotic blend of folk, rock and Hammer horror. They describe themselves thus “Jim has Delta blues roots and Daniel is a green creative soul” so expect something….turquoise?