Tag Archive: sn dubstation


16807137_10155794267854056_5740058919034121743_nWhilst most of the music on offer this week is more concerned with reliving past favourites, of offering sonic comfort zones and reminding you why you fell in love with music in the first place, the week does start out with some strides being made into new musical pastures. One such band is Lewis Clark and The Essentials who can be found at The Beehive tonight.

If you have not yet seen this regular visitor to the local circuit, I can assure you that this is band you really need to check out. Although on paper you would have to describe them as an acoustic folk and blues fusion, in reality they are much more than that. They are soulful, dexterous, effortlessly cool, and musically economical, they make every note and lyrical line count and are the perfect band to restore your faith in creativity and originality.

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548800_428930193833165_1291860355_nYou may well remember him from The Hoax. You may have seen him playing with Joel Fisk or as part of the four guitar super group The Boom Band. You may have even seen him as a member of DVL or fronting his own titular blues outfit. Well, tonight at The Victoria you can catch Jon Amor (pictured)playing as the Gods of Music intended it. Solo, acoustic and intimate. So expect something a bit special as one of Britain’s best blues players comes to town. Support comes from Mike Barham who will regale you with tales of cider swilling student days and Jack Moore opens the night.

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13442180_888099744649311_3475199604914760277_nIt’s very encouraging to see the run of bigger acts coming through this parish continuing. And if last weeks offerings were acts that have already made a name for themselves, tonight at Level III you can catch a band still riding a fast, upward trajectory.

Lake Komo (pictured) mixes dynamic indie-pop with melodic rock, is soulful, commercial and yet will appeal to those who don’t wander the mainstream paths. Gorgeous, soaring sonics mix effortlessly with chilled pop grooves to create music which wanders the same pastoral paths as Bon Iver, only with a bit more musical meat on the bone. The support slot sees two of the best local indie bands line up to get the night underway in the form of Yves and Misfires.

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10712773_10152293780256876_355188488816819957_nI think we have pretty much everything covered this week generically speaking, everything from solo roots players to big ska-dance ensembles, from old school bar bands to forward thinking musical fusions. I can’t see any cause for complaint unless you are into Tibetan free jazz or a fan of the Inuit hip-hop scene, but you can’t have everything. After all where would you put it? Anyway, on with the task at hand.

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11058357_883787594990372_2158507813950646365_nIt’s another busy week in no small part due to the antics of a snake-hating, dark age cleric but which has left tonight with plenty of musical options. If you are feeling up for a St Patricks shindig then you might want to catch Mick O’Toole at The Rolleston. Okay, they are not Irish, but if you check the history books you will find that neither was the man himself, but their clash of furious folk and cider-punk, has all the hallmarks of an infectious and hi octane, celtic party soundtrack.

 

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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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1607111_577491689022522_3860118839849066474_nI will apologize in advance for the Shuffle-centric nature of this weeks scribbling but when over 40 music acts line up to play across 3 major venues and a host of additional bars, cafes and public places, it is inevitable that it will take up most of the space. So, The Swindon Shuffle is back for it’s ninth year and it seems only a blink of an eye that I was sat in the Winners Lounge (before it’s Legendary upgrade) on a Thursday night waiting for The Unforeseen to play the first ever slot. Tempus does indeed fugit! So, the first fringe events took place last night but as of today Shuffling begins in earnest.

The Victoria has long been one of the cornerstones of The Shuffle and so it is apt that we begin there. This session is one for those with a penchant for heavier music and is headlined by a band that have had a meteoric rise over the last year or so, A Way With Words. Other alt-rock acts on the bill include All Ears Avow and the dystopian vibes of Ghost of Machines. Between these you can catch the punk onslaught that is 2 Sick Monkeys and something with more of a blues spin from The Harlers.

Baila Coffee and Vinyl has always been a cool place to hang out during the day (where do you think I am writing this?) but now with the addition of a evening drinks license they have become part of Old Town nightlife with craft ales, a well selected wine cellar and quality spirits available and they join in the festival with sets from Matilda (minus drummer Emily who is probably doing headstands on a mountain in Outer Mongolia,) young, groove driven Indie from Polar Front and the captivating and heartfelt songs of Charlie Bath.

The Victoria second contribution comes on Friday, this time with a more eclectic and intriguing bill headed by the drifting ambience and trippy grooves of Colour The Atlas (pictured). Theo Altieri provides some effortlessly cool indie-pop and Super Squarecloud will be doing what ever it is they do – I’ve been writing about their mercurial, genre-hopping music and flagrant disregard for convention for 4 years now and I still haven’t found the adequate words! The early part of the night sees the welcome return of a couple of out-of-towners, Cursor Major who prove once and for all that kookiness is next to godliness and that blend of delicacy and dynamics that is Familiars.

Within easy shuffling distance of that (hence the name) is The Castle and their first session has a bit of a blues edge to it. Although main man Ian Doeser has long been a fixture of the Shuffle as a solo player this is, I believe, the first time that the full Hamsters From Hell have graced the event, so expect the usual sweary, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy humour set to an R’n’B backdrop. And if The Hamsters are a nod to the ghost of blues past, then The Greasy Slicks are very much about the ghost of blues future; slick, incendiary deliveries and killer riffs and acting as a sign post for where the genre is going. Also on the bill are Coasters, a punk vibe injected into Americana but whose songs trade Route 66 for the M4.

Elsewhere, The Locomotive, part of the Shuffle Fringe due to it’s outlying location in relation to the main focus of events, nevertheless plays a blinder by hosting Yves, one of the front runners of the new Indie crop of local bands and at The Rolleston you can catch Beatles tribute The Pre Fab Four.

On Saturday the music starts at midday at The Central Library where various acoustic acts including Neil Mercer and Stuart Marsh can be found playing throughout the afternoon.

Saturday also sees The Beehive, the only venue to have been involved in all nine years, get involved with a folk slant to their bill. Southern Harmony bring their wonderful blend of Celtic, English and Appalachian folk to the party and Ells and The Southern Wild throw in some darker folk vibes. Plummie Racket and Nick Felix will be adding a more singer-songwriter feeling to the evening.

Up the hill at The Castle, the younger set have their moment with Balloon Ascent’s accessible indie-folk creations, the shoegaze and post-punk referencing Sahara Heights building to a night of ska, reggae and infectious dance grooves from SN Dubstation, not a band that you want to miss, believe me. At The Locomotive, The Roughnecks will be blasting out their incendiary R’n”B and old-school rock and roll to entice and astound the Fleet Street crowd.

Non-Shuffle related gigs can also be found at The Victoria with Going Underground, Strictly Dan a tribute to Steely Dan at Riffs Bar, classic rock covers at The Rolleston from Bad Obsession and all your favourite songs from a new line-up Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees The Shuffle round off at its now traditional last day party at The Beehive. A string of solo players, Mel Hughes, Tamsin Quin and Steve Leigh get things underway before Bruce St. Bridges, the socially aware, psychedelic folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice and the sonic pick’n’mix of auralcandy move things up a gear. Last year The Shudders almost destroyed the venue with their final set of the festival and they have been given the task of attempting to do the same this year with another headline slot.

If you want something to help easy you out of the festival, the perfect gentle step back into normality comes at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with those dapper jazz aficionados Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz.

426330_472706166084333_342403751_nThere is a lot going on this week so I’m going to cut to the chase straight away but let you into a little secret that there is a theme running through this piece, the prize for spotting it is the knowledge that you have sound musical taste, which is better than any prize I could afford to offer up anyway.

Starting at the top of the hill, at The Victoria good music and worthy causes go hand in hand as bands gather to raise awareness, not to mention money, for Sue Ryder and the great work they do at The Leckhampton Hospice. Although known for a big, alt-rock sound, A Way With Words will be all stripped down and playing an acoustic set and are joined by local troubadour Ben Wiltshire and the chilled musical vibes of The Dirty Smooth.

At The Beehive the monthly Acoustic Buzz night continues to bring together the best of folk and roots music, this time featuring Boss Caine, who conjures up Tom Waits singing Ryan Adam tunes and Iron and Oak who blend vocals, guitar and violin into wonderfully melancholic folk music. Your host Blind River Scare get the night underway.

Level 3 has a night called Beats and Bars, a hip-hop showcase with DJ’s and live sets from Los Angeles resident Esko plus support from the best home-grown talent the genre has to offer, including DJ Triksta, Citizen Kane and BGenius.

Friday gives you the chance to catch another set from A Way With Words, this time in full, unchecked rock show mode as they play Riffs Bar and are joined by reggae, dub and ska fusion experts SN Dubstation to raise money for Goldenhar and Swindon Women’s Aid. Ska is also on the menu at the Castle with The Nomarks and other options are power pop, mod and soul with Peloton at The Victoria, soul and funk standards from The Heist at The Beehive and some stomping folk rock at The Rolleston courtesy of Flash Harry.

And so we head straight into the heart of Saturday night and one of the most unique bands you will ever see. Dirt Box Disco (pictured) are a blend of trashy garage rock, and glam punk who’s chaotic, theatrical and often bizarre stage show is something to behold, so head over to Riffs Bar and catch them along with local punk stalwarts Charred Hearts plus Borrowed Time and The Setbacks.

More raucousness can be found at The Castle with those riotous rhythm and blues boozers, The Hamsters from Hell. Expect uncompromising music, sweary interludes, beards and general mayhem.

If you are looking for something a little mellower, less likely to give you a heart-attack and fine (you must have got the theme by now surely?) for general consumption, maybe a night of vintage reggae and ska from The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive is a more palatable option.

For a live take on modern ska and reggae, Level 3 is the place to be as Brixton based Mangoseed blend funk guitar, rock bass and hip-hop deliveries to create a fresh and eclectic new direction for the genre. Joining them are the infectious, dance floor fillers Conway, ska-punksters The Larry Fish Experiment, inventor of opera reggae and soul ukulele aficionado Nakisha Esnard, plus another chance to catch SN Dubstation. Bop till you drop and tango till they’re sore.

Jamie Thyer brings his Worried Men to The Rolleston for some high-octane blues-rock, it’s rock, punk and pop covers at The Swiss Chalet with The Hyperbolics and Bon Giovi play at The Victoria.

Finally a last mention for Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey and the featured artist, Joe McCorriston. Joe spends all his time on the road and whether supporting the likes of Gaz Brookfield, playing big festivals or intimate gigs like this one, his brand of genre hopping folky-pop-punk always goes down a storm with the audience.

So there is more than enough there to keep the most demanding of music consumer satisfied. And that’s closing time.

NB: This week’s column was held together by plundered Tom Waits song titles. And why not…

10670149_797173463677367_5437058675838074984_nIf you cut Swindoners SN Dubstation with a rusty Stanley knife they would bleed walking basslines, upbeat tempos and horn jabs. These young lads epitomise modern Dub, Ska and Reggae – three genres increasingly melded together. Taking these historical musical foundations they blend them with modern moments like whip smart rap deliveries and contemporary lyricism to deliver a great meeting of old and new. Very much does what it says on the tin, it really gets you up and wanting to dance like you were the King of Skank.

first published in The Ocelot Feb ’15