Tag Archive: sheer music


60143892_2839638536062648_1394331329868333056_oWe all see those articles about the fate of music venues, about how they are closing down at a speed normally only reserved for Brexit related U-turns, how they are under-supported and under threat from gentrification. As someone who has spent more than 35 years watching live music in such places, it is sad, the music world is changing and perhaps not for the better. Progress and technology are of course the way forward but you have to be aware of the cost, the more aesthetic qualities and more emotive factors that get lost along the way. I’m sure that I will recall the first time I played my older brothers old rock vinyl or first saw The Icicle Works live, for the rest of my life, I expect that the feeling of excitement at downloading Wilco’s All Lives, You Say? single lasted slightly less time than it did perform the action.

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Musical Musings – May ’19

37782747_1883184831702720_7235865247637045248_nIt seems only a few weeks ago that the heating was on full blast, we were eating our tea in the dark and there was still a few of the Christmas Quality Street rattling about in the bottom of the tin. And in the blink of the eye here we are the other side of the bi-annual chronological re-alignments, summer is girding its loins and there’s more music to be had than unexpectedly heightened but tenuous analogy. Let’s do this….

A frequent visitor to the parish returns to The Victoria on 2nd May. Lewis Clark and The Essentials lace together deft acoustic threads, bluesy grooves and jazz jauntiness to create accessible tunes that link timeless singer songwriter sounds with European folk traditions. 

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13255980_496504200558302_4254652198824349989_nSome nice little global offerings start the musical week, firstly at The Beehive, a venue whose size belies its importance to the worldwide, underground touring community. Within its art and literary decked walls I have witnessed Nashville Americana, Australian tribal rave, New Zealand anti-folk, Scandiwegian jazz-folk dark, indie rock from Germany, Californian acid-pop and everything in between. Tonight you can catch 2-piece musical hobos, Hymn For Her, itinerant stateside wanderers who mix backwoods country blues with desert rock psychedelia into what they describe as “Hell’s Angels meets The Amish.”

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Sheer brilliance!

tourflyerwebI just wanted to draw your attention to a wonderful article written by that awfully nice chap Kieran Moore of Sheer Music and possibly Maoam adverts fame (okay it isn’t him but it makes me laugh) about the state of the local music scene at the moment. Take a minute or two to read it, take on board what he is saying and get involved.

 

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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)