Tag Archive: rumour shed


1482760_10152470476699251_1199696131_nGuess what folks? I’m back. Did you miss me? No? You fickle bunch, a new, younger writer comes along and you forget all about me, typical. I can’t say that I’m not hurt but will attempt to work through my pain by jumping straight into what is happening this week on the music front.

 

Of course the big event coming up is that evergreen explosion of music and good vibes that goes by the name of Riffstock. Yes, those lovely folks at Riffs Bar will be filling the bank holiday weekend with the best local talent beginning on Friday with the regular acoustic slot. It will be an open mic. session as usual but with some special guest slots from the hirsute Shaun Buswell, the blonde bombshell that is Bren Haze and other big names on the local acoustic scene.

 

Saturday is the start of two days of full band music, A Way With Words and Rocket Box cover the rockier end of the spectrum neatly, and there is shimmering lo-hi indie from Sahara Heights, pop-punk from Starlight City plus the classic ska and reggae sound of The Nomarks.

 

The following day again covers a lot of musical bases, from the pastoral acoustica of Rumour Shed and the harmonious Americana of The Shudders to the drum’n’bass punk of 2 Sick Monkeys stopping off at all points in between. Points as diverse as the mad scientist of indie-pop, Nudybronque,(pictured) high-octane ska from The Interceptors and the emotive psychedelia of Sister Morphine. The Monday afternoon is “Kiddstock” a kids and family day. There is a plethora of great music, more than I have room to cover here so check out their website for full details.

 

And if you decided not to join in the fun over at Riffs Bar then here are some other serving suggestions for you. Tonight punk fans will want to be at The Victoria for covers and originals with a first wave Brit-punk feel from Useless eaters and 50 Shades of Punk. If the idea of a psychobilly/R’n’B band is more your musical poison then The Beehive is the place to be to catch TNT, a band made up of ex-members of Screaming Lord Sutch and The Meteors as well as current members of Josie and The Outlaw.

 

Fans of tributes are in luck on Friday as Kins of Leon play the music of those pesky Followill siblings at The Victoria and Metalhead re-run the best bits of the metal and hard rock genre at The New Inn. If however you want something original then get yourselves to The Castle for some big riffing, infectious rock with 8 Minutes Later plus post punk informed Indie from King in Mirrors.

 

So what would happen if The Dixie Chicks and The Pogues joined forces? Well, visually it would look pretty weird but musically it would probably sound a lot like Flash Harry. These stalwarts of the Bristol scene liberally plunder the best bits of Celtic folk, new-country, blues-rock, Cajun and gypsy jazz to create outstanding and original songs. Catch them at The Rolleston. Stiff competition comes from The Beehive as The Eddy Allen Trio take an improvisational jam attitude and bend everything from folk to reggae, flamenco to rock, afro-beat, Celtic and a lot more to their will with stunning results.

 

Saturday, as is the norm, is mainly about tried and tested sounds, Peleton play covers from across the modern musical eras at The Victoria and The Rolleston plays host to Powerslaves, an Iron Maiden tribute no less. Original music can be found at The Regent in the guise of Ethemia, so if meaningful and optimistic lyrics, lush harmonies, exquisite guitar work and humorous rambling interludes are your thing, then that is the place to be.

 

SN Dubstation blend dub (naturally), reggae, hip-hop, pop and ska together into wonderful new shapes at The Victoria on Sunday whilst at the Beehive Charlie-Ann offers up some acoustic treats.

 

The final mention of the week is Louise Parker who is at Baker Street on Tuesday. Playing this show as a quartet, Louise has been lauded by critics (including the late great Humphrey Lyttleton…and if Humph’ says it’s good then you know it is) as the new, great voice in British jazz combining elements of funk, gospel and scat styles. Just what the jazz doctor ordered!

 

 

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SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186This week we have Simon Hawkins from Party on the Rec in Shrivenham and Jennie Rainford from Lechlade Festival. Music from Aural Candy, Jimmy Moore, The Shudders, Rumour Shed, Bateleurs, The Black Hats, Absolva, Rachel Gittus, Babylon Fire, Three Minute Tease, Port Erin.

play the broadcast here

Case Hardin do Songs of Praise

1505204_814810295212159_1591501756_nTime to start sharing this one around. This week at Songs of Praise we welcome back the slick Americana sounds of Case Hardin, a great live band and a lesson in the craft of song writing. The local scene is represented by the cool and majestic sounds of Rumour Shed and Salisbury newcomers Timid Deer open the night with some timeless folk. It’s all free and for the first time there will be a limited bottle bar in the venue, so no need to keep nipping upstairs to refill you glass. It is also your chance to buy Secret Chord Records releases. Spread the word, help support some great original music and lets put the local music scene back on the map.

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February at Songs of Praise

February at Songs of Praise

4594960091_299x196I have to start this week with an apology. A couple of weeks ago I used this column to try to make a point about the amount of easily available gig information when trying to compile a guide such as this. Although the nature of the comments were intended to be tongue in cheek hyperbole, exaggeration used to make a point, it has been pointed out to me that I may have pitched the article slightly unfairly. In the case of Baker Street I agree that my comments were inaccurate and any lack of information in this column regarding gigs taking place at the venue is a failing on my part and not the venue itself or the promoter who arranges those shows. I therefore apologise for the comments made and any upset they have caused to those involved with these bookings. Right humble pie eaten, down to business.

 

At The Victoria tonight is a band whose return seems to have created a bit of a buzz around the online hangouts of the discerning music fan. The headline act at tonight’s Songs of Praise show features Case Hardin, a brilliant Americana five piece that match the emotive song writing of Springsteen with the alt-country authenticity of Whiskeytown. Support comes from the wonderfully atmospheric, delicate tones of Rumour Shed and emerging new band Timid Deer open the night with their timeless folk sound.

 

Other rootsy offerings are also available in the shape of Hiproute who bring their fired up and funked out, acoustic blues to The Beehive. However if rock is more your thing then you may wish to head out to Riffs Bar for some high octane rock and low-fi punk with Shock Hazard and Diagonal People respectively.

 

The big name for Friday is The Brompton Mix (pictured) , a melting pot of classic 60’s melodies, punk spirit, Weller-esque style, a dash of early Oasis and a whole bunch of stage presence and charisma. They are at The Victoria. For something more tripped out and leftfield, head to The Beehive where you will be treated to the psychedelic blues, progressive song structures, old school rock and roll grooves, modern sampling, spoken word and manic shoegazy guitar wig outs of The Automaniacs. What’s not to like?

 

The Rolleston has The Pre-Fab four…a tribute to the Beatles, obviously, and out at Riffs Bar, the Acoustic Sessions feature the warm folk sounds of Ethemia with support from Rob Richings.

If you are looking for original music on Saturday then it is back to Riffs Bar with Talk in Code’s blend of stadium synth and anthemic guitar sounds, dance grooves and pop sensibility. They are joined by the low sung Americana of Newquay Times, the brash alt-rock of Away With Words and the acoustic duo, The Consuelas. They all play in aid of Animal Asia charity.

 

Elsewhere it is tributes to Green Day at The Victoria, Ian Dury and The Blockheads at The Rolleston and at The Swiss Chalet Broken Image play a selection of iconic classic rock numbers.

 

With the day of rest, that’s Sunday to you and me, comes some more relaxing musical moments. The Lazy Sunday afternoon at The Arts Centre, the regular fixture curated by Mr. Love and Justice, is host to two great players. Ed Hanfrey, once of the ubiquitous Lavington Bound, is now ploughing a very traditional folk furrow of storytelling lyrics and shanty stylings, whilst Tamsin Quin plays a more contemporary folk music often with a bluesy edge. Your hosts for the session offer their usual mix of social comment and slick pop folk.

 

Culture vultures should note that on Tuesday, Baker Street open their doors to Balanca Quintet, a Latin Jazz outfit of some renown led multi lingual singer and percussionist, Cathy Jones. The band also features the talents of tenor saxophonist Kevin Figes, best know for his work with big band Resonation.

 

The week rounds off with two options on acoustic music on Wednesday with Dick Cadbury appearing at The Roaring Donkey and The Crown offering Charlie Anne and Ben Cipolla.

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So we made it then? Here we are at another last round up of the year, another year older, not necessarily wiser.  According to my loosely kept records this is the two hundred and tenth column I have written suggesting and promoting live shows around town. Add to that a few additional album reviews and the like and I make that about 150,000 words fired off into the ether hopefully to catch peoples attention and get them along to gigs. This is starting to sound like a resignation letter, fear not, it isn’t (or sorry, it isn’t… depending on your view point) I was just reflecting on how much of my musing and lyrical waxing had been sent out into the big wide world. Too much? Quite possibly!

Naturally this is a quieter week in the live gig department as people are off doing the family thing, work outings, reunions with out of town friends and the like, but t

here are still a few things that I would like to draw your attention too.

The Victoria, the venue that never seems to miss the opportunity to put on a gig or throw a party, will be moving it’s regular Wacky Wednesday to Boxing Day for the usual karaoke madness with a Christmas theme. Cheesy it maybe but the alternative is watching Len Goodman’s Perfect Christmas or re-runs of Miranda! That should put things into perspective.

More silliness continues to be on offer at The Victoria on Friday with the Kova Me Badd annual end of year extravaganza…and I use the word extravaganza quite wrongly. The best way to describe Kova Me Badd is as a parody of a cover band, think of all of the worst songs ever to feature on a “Now…” album, add bad jokes and worse costumes and you have a rough idea what to expect. Never have a band carried the tag “so bad it’s brilliant” so well.

Two nice slices of nostalgia are on offer the same night. At The Rolleston, The Hamsters from Hell will be unleashing their trade mark rhythm ‘n’ booze; words such as raucous, bawdy, chaotic and booze-fueled are sure to appear in any review of the show. Meanwhile The Beehive are offering up Gray Roots, a one off jam session featuring the stalwarts of the local scene, including – Pete Cousins, Brendan Hamley, Rob Beckinsale and Paul Henry.

Something a bit more of the moment can be found at The Victoria in the guise of SN Dubstation a band who blend trippy synths, skanking guitars and pulsing, infectious back beats into a cocktail of reggae, dance, ska and dub. More traditional fare comes from a rare outing to The Beehive by Simplee Simon, “a singer of these ageless times, with kitchen prose and gutter rhymes” as the quote goes.  Expect folk tunes, country ditties, sing-alongs, silliness and audience participation.

Those still looking for some tribute band action can have their thirst sated at The Rolleston with a bit of dual guitar classic metal as Powerslaves bring you the music of Iron Maiden.

If, by Sunday, you still are up for a bit of a Christmas shindig then the afternoon session at The Beehive is the place to keep the musical momentum going. Rumour Shed (pictured) will provide the chilled and majestic calm before the storm before The Shudders crank it up a few notches with their energetic fusion of indie infused country rock.

Later that evening The Victoria is hosting a John Lennon tribute night with a host of local bands paying homage to the man wrote some of pop music’s most iconic songs….and Imagine.

Finally, if you are still at a loose end what to do on New Years Eve, there are probably parties everywhere but of a musical note are Breeze at The Victoria,  Riffs Bar Winter Ball, (Black Tie dress code) featuring the Hi-Fidels, Echo and Riffs Traveling Dance Band and  Snatch It Back at The Rolleston, heavy psychedelic blues featuring the original Groundhogs drummer.

And finally on a personal note, thank you to everyone who takes the time to read this column, and comment on it (positively or otherwise) plus a very  special thanks to all the bands, venues, punters and promoters who have kept music alive in Swindon….and thus me in a job. Here’s to an even better 2014.

1069239_10151727020735498_1537498607_nThere have been some really awful band names throughout history. After a local disaster left a band’s rehearsal space a watery mess, the inspired name change didn’t result in something eloquent, such as Missouri River Flood but instead the god awful Puddle of Mudd! The pretentiously named The The sounds like an up date on that classic Abbot and Costello routine and then we have The Sultans of Ping F.C. I mean, what sort of a name is that and who cares where their jumper is?

 

There have been some great names too, such as Camper Van Beethoven, Mary Tyler Morphine and the brilliantly named Kathleen Turner Overdrive. Aside from being clever, some are just wonderfully evocative… The Velvet Underground, Drive By Truckers, Throwing Muses and you can add to that list Troubadours of Divine Bliss pictured) who play at The Beehive tonight. This lusciously titled duo fall roughly into the Folk Americana genre, with all the camaraderie and vocal harmony of The Indigo Girls but with a neat sideline in weird Vaudeville and sultry narratives. A more English take on similar vibes can be found in the top bar of The Victoria in the shape of Elliot Hall and Rapunzel and their alt-country meets boho-folk.

 

If prog-rock is more your thing then a trip out to Riffs Bar is on the cards. Credo take the classic sounds of the eighties neo-progressive bands such as Marillion and IQ and blend it with the more peripheral sounds of the genre such as Magnum and Asia and drive the whole lot kicking and screaming into the modern age.

 

Friday sees the return of Anglo-Swedish wunderkinds We Ghosts to the Beehive, taking elements of pop, jazz, folk and blues and blending them up into eerie and atmospheric songs.  The Victoria has it’s semi-regular gathering of roots bands, spearheaded by local funky, lap guitar bluesmen, HipRoute and the return of a band that last time really impressed me, The Sam Green Band. Opening the night are Grizzly and The Grasshopper who sound like a funky take on Del Amitri. Always a winner in my book.

 

The Rolleston takes the brave step of hosting a fairly controversial act who’s name is even too risqué for such a newspaper as this. Let me just say that this act has the perfect billing alongside 2 Sick Monkeys and Ian Doeser and you should get an idea as to the nature of the beast.

 

On Saturday, David Marx’s brings his current musical vehicle to Riffs Bar. Marx has a long history of making music in this town but has been away for a number of years, so the chance to catch him on his current tour is recommended. The songs neatly blend depth and delicacy with high octane rock and roll and explosive melodies. Support comes from acoustic balladeer, Billyjon and all the way from Toronto and normally found fronting indie-punks Dead Letter Dept. Rob Moir steers his first solo tour your way.

 

Something a bit different can be found at The Wootton Bassett Academy with a “Later with Jools Holland” style show featuring the best in roots genres with Ian O’ Regan, Blues Reviewed, Vapor, Alan Pettifer and Hilary Pavey Mills, all helping to raise money for worthy causes.

 

 

At the Victoria the Four Fighters pun and perform the music of The Foo Fighters, The Starkers will channel the music of Nirvana and at The Rolleston Bad Obsession play classic rock and metal covers.

 

The big show for Sunday can be found at The Victoria. Spectres are a wall of noise extravaganza, pneumatic guitars and pounding bass all put to relentless beats, if you like to see where rock music is going, this is one possible destination. Support comes from those mad scientists of pop, Super Squarecloud and band of the moment, Dead Royalties fire off an opening salvo of Seattle grunge meets post punk art school dynamics.

 

Over at The Sun inn, Crows Parliament pay a visit, an amazing sounding band a bit like The Pixies doing scuzzy Americana after spending to long listening to Doors albums. Do check these guys out.

 

The rest of the week still has some great music on offer, particularly the soulful, dream pop of Jazz Morley at The Victoria on Tuesday and Sebastian Craig at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the Acoustic Session in it’s new home of The Rat Trap (formerly at the Running Horse) features the dulcet tones of Rumour Shed and the americana/folk blends of Bateleurs.

311557_10150922275243207_1996043764_nAs most of you will be aware by now, the shock news of the last week is that Basement 73, the newly re-vamped, re-named, re-launched Furnace, has closed and the future of The Rolleston pub above it is still very uncertain. Whilst I can’t speak about the specifics of what brought this about, as I just don’t know the facts, I can make this very general statement. Any club, pub or music venue only exists by selling drinks and only thrives by doing so in large numbers. That obviously requires punters turning up to gigs. So every time you have taken the option of Saturday night TV or said “I’ll catch them next time” was actually a metaphorical brick knocked out of the support structure of local music, i.e. the venues themselves.  So now we find ourselves with no medium capacity venue at all in town, so for all those first album bands, rising stars and next big things, it’s a trip to Oxford, Bristol or further afield for you all.
 
That said, if you venture up to The Victoria tonight, you will be able to see a band who may very well soon be found filed under “next big thing” The Lovers. Four seasoned musical veterans of the female persuasion join forces to make enchanting and sophisticated, indie pop, drenched in sumptuous harmonies. Support comes from the alt-country and rock blends of The Blue Trees plus the welcome return of Mel Hughes to the live arena.
 
Something decidedly different is to be found at The Beehive. Alan Clayson, devoid of his usual musical backing, The Argonauts (gedit?) puts on a show of Chanson, a  lyrical French song form and something that fits neatly with his recent authorship of a Jacques Brel biography. Whilst Time Out thought his performance was one of “cult status”, The Independent had to admit, “it is difficult to explain to the uninitiated what to expect.” Make of that what you will.
 
Two big names arrive on Friday, those pioneers of dub, reggae and folk fusion, Dreadzone, are at The Victoria, if you haven’t already got a ticket or know someone you can mug to get one, then best opt for the second option as the show has sold out. The second option is to be found at Riffs Bar in the form of Soft Ground. Who? I hear you cry. Well they are only the current musical vehicle for organist Verden Allen of Mott The Hopple fame. But more than that the band also features former Tigertailz drummer Matthew Blakout and Jamie Thyer, normally found leading The Worried Men.
 
Staying with Riffs Bar and Saturday sees another Secret Chord gig, this time featuring The Shudders pictured) in the headline spot. This eight legged groove machine mix up alt-country, lo-fi pop, folk and rock into the perfect party soundtrack. In support you will find the wonderfully subtle playing and hushed vocal tones of Rumour Shed and opening up is Stead, a London based troubadour of the old tradition whose songs are filled with an understated intensity and musical economy.
 
 The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive will be filled with the sound of vintage acoustic music and echoes of The Great American Songbook. Lisa Wiship and Andy Mathewson specialise in pre-war blues and ragtime, pop along for your own musical time machine.
 
Fans of jazz will want to get a good seat at Baker Street on Tuesday as The Craig Milverton Trio set out their musical stall. Craig is one of the countries top jazz pianists, often rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul Jones and Scott Hamilton and he even played with Van Morrison and Buddy Guy…not a bad pedigree you have to admit.
 
And finally we come to our usual jumping off point, The Running Horse on Wednesday which features Drew Bryant and Michael Hennessy.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon – Volume 1

Library - 61Despite the Councils increasing departure from supporting anything remotely cultural in Swindon (the loss of Big Arts Day, price hikes on room hire etc), there is still a small band of people who with a labour of love work ethic make good things happen. A classic example of that is the monthly Lazy Sunday Afternoon shows that have been taking place at The Arts Centre Café, thanks to Steve Cox and Mr Love and Justice, and which alongside the acoustic shows at The Running Horse, has become the major showcase for acoustica, folk and roots music. This compilation brings together the acts to be found at those shows and represents the pick of the crop from that part of the local scene.

The album kicks off with a band that I am already a major fan off, Rumour Shed. The River, take from their wonderful e.p. Postcards For Mother is a song that displays their essence, despite since evolving into a full band.  Sensual and hushed vocal tones mix with delicate guitar work as a mournful cello wanders through the background, the result is a song that is poetically rich, dreamlike, ethereal and quietly majestic.

Ethemia offer a cleaner limbed though no less evocative approach, more traditional to the acoustic folk genre. Fingerprints  On Me works so well because the duo knows how to combine two vocals and two guitars without getting in each other’s way. Imagine if The Civil Wars instead of being seeped in the lore of Nashville and the music of the deep south  were instead forged of The West Country and a more idealized pastoral tradition and you then have a useful handle on this duo.

One band that manage to effortlessly wander between Celtic, Americana and the English folk theme is Bateleurs, though this track, Go React, sees them at very much west of the Atlantic shore and  south of the Mason Dixon line. Steel pedal guitars and simple country rhythms define the song, which combines space, groove and accessibility in one neat little package.

Also in some way informed by a background American vibe, albeit a psyched out west coast wash, Mr Love and Justice’s contribution, Watching Water, is a chilled, psychedelic underground pop classic. There are times when the band immerses themselves in left wing politics, historical themes and a social awareness that seemed to have been lost in modern music. Here though they are happy to use more vague imagery and more subdued tricks to paint their musical picture. What a great picture it turns out to be.

Taken from an album that is described as a“dancers take on life…for lovers of words, rhythm, roots, rhyme and reason” Run Away To Extinction is perhaps the most experimental of all the tracks featured here. Kim Coupland delivers spoken word over a minimal Cajun or chilled zydeco musical backdrop where the pattern of the words seems to define the shape of the song. The hypnotic musical cycles coupled with the maritime descriptions that overlay them make for a very different yet fascinatingly memorable experience.

Having evolved from a pickup band into a stable and permanent line up, aural candy are more or less a pop band, but a pop band that follows a heritage that links bands such as XTC, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock even the later Beatles outputs rather than anything the term suggests today. Down, Down, Down is a slice of chilled pop-rock that combines accessible music with a dark lyrical message. Nice.

Blake is the one act on the album that is truly new to me and one that I will definitely be checking out further. Lush vocal harmonies and chiming guitar rhythms seem to be the hallmark, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Too Dark, Too Deep is built of layers of lush instrumentation, accordions take the lead breaks as the sound of balalaikas add an exotic air to this wonderful slice of soulful folk-pop.

Sweet William by Jess Vincent is probably the most authentic folk piece on the album, by authentic I mean it’s the one piece that would conform to the stringent rules and regulations set down by that shadow outfit known as the  Folk Police. In a Kate Rusby sort of fashion it takes a timeless sounding song and gives it a contemporary production, the result is a song that could have been written anytime in the last three hundred years but with the benefit of modern instrumentation and studio techniques, so the best of both worlds really.

The album bows out in the hushed manner with which it kicked off. Tim Graham understands the meaning of space and is not afraid to use it, which he does  to glorious affect on Too Good To Burn. The song seems as built as much on anticipation and atmosphere as it does on vocal delivery and music and the overall affect is fantastic. Again delving into an English folk tradition and reminiscent of the likes of Nick Drake or Bert Jansch, this is a song that really explores the less is more concept and a perfect swansong for the album.

As an overview of the roots and acoustic scene that forms a significant part of Swindon’s musical activity, this is an essential album and showcases just what a great pool of bands we have to work with. Aside from  it’s showcasing qualities, it is also simply a great collection of songs and as is says Volume One under the title, I am looking forward to the appearance of a second selection of bands. Well done to Homeground Records, Steve Cox and all concerned.

Library - 48So, it’s coming to that time again, the race for the coveted Christmas number one spot is upon us, or as it should be known, the inevitable public pedestal for Cowell’s latest crooning cash cow. You almost feel sorry for Joe McElderberry, being usurped by those nasty Rage Against The Machine fans and their shouty, sweary anarchist sentiments. You could argue that all these “let’s stick it to Simon” campaigns designed to overturn his god given right to be the Christmas number one puppet master, is just as orchestrated and convoluted as the thing it is protesting against. Maybe, but this year there is a really good alternative.

 

Gaz Brookfield has released a special version of his song Diet of Banality in an attempt to add a bit of spice to the race for the top spot. Imagine if this years Christmas number one was a rant against all those previous style over substance tunes and their dance routines, skimpy outfits, gimmicky rap-middle eights and the like. Oh the irony! Well if you all head over to Gaz’s website, Amazon or iTunes you could be part of the best piece of seasonal satire and festive japery the charts have witnessed in a long time. Do it!

 

Talking of japes, The Victoria has three less than serious acts for you tonight. Dole queue hero and anti-PC rapper Devvo headlines with the boy racer Chip Daddy and the best/worst cover band of them all, Kova Me Badd, also on the bill.

 

The Beehive hosts Sophie’s Xmas (as opposed to  + vent Sunday or E-ster, I suppose) Charity Bash which in the usual eclectic style of the venue will feature fire jugglers, street magic and music from Doeser, Missin’ Rosie, Erin Bardwell Collective to money for Swindon Sands.

 

Younger fans are being catered for at The Furnace in the form of Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 1), which has a wonderfully experimental undercurrent. Tides of Change deliver alt rock with a pop punk vibe, Sasquatch Walk does a neat line in jazzy punk disco and With Felix adds in some ambient electro-indie. Make sure you check out openers The Weekend Effect, I was really impressed with their rapped up indie groove. Interestingly enough there isn’t going to be a Teenage Kicks Christmas Special (part 2) but then I guess if the world is ending there really isn’t much point.

 

To celebrate our imminent doom on Friday (unless the Mayans got it wrong…my, won’t we look foolish?) There are a couple of Apocolyto-parties going on. At The Victoria, party band Breeze will be providing the soundtrack whereas The Furnace has one amazing line up for you. Briefly it goes like this, The Racket – elegantly wasted gutter anthems, Nudybronque – intelligent, intense and fired up pop, The Rhubarbs  – The Beatles on Speed, The Street Orphans – slick, sophisticated indie, SkyBurnsRed – searing and dark alt-rock with a classical sweep and The Fixed – exuberant indie.

 

Other parties come in the form of Slagerij’s very messy Christmas at TP’s; ska-punk mayhem from one of Swindon’s success stories and taking Hell Death Fury, Escape From ’98 and The Useless Eaters into oblivion with them.

 

The Beehive goes down a slightly more sedate path with the fiddlesome roots rockers State of Undress. If our are a fan of The Albion Band, Fairport Convention or even The Strawbs then this is for you.

 

Saturday brings along the annual musical curveball at The Victoria, The 12 Bands of Christmas. Each band gets to do two covers; the more out their usual comfort zone the better. Previous years have seen the Blowbacks turning Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman into a feedback-drenched tribute to Sonic Youth. Matt Kilford abandoning his usual restrained approach and screaming, “Lick my legs!” when covering PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’ and Si Hall somehow matching the stratospheric range of La Roux. Need I say more?

 

 

After the bizarre offerings of that you may want to find some nostalgic, late night comfort at The Furnace when DJ Dust will be hosting one of his irregular Level 3 reunion nights. Party like its 1993 all over again, Kurt is still alive and Strictly Come Dancing is still eleven years in the future.

 

Finally Sunday afternoon at The Beehive brings a wonderfully pairing of bands and not just because they share a drummer. Rumour Shed plays music that is wonderfully chilled, reflective, richly poetic and quietly majestic. Accompanying them are The Shudders, a band just beginning to get back into their stride after too long away and guaranteed to make you want to bop, boogie and booze in equal measure. And it’s all free.