Catching up with more stuff on a quiet(ish) Sunday, this got pushed towards the bottom, I’ve no valid excuses. Taking you back to April 2017, Brighton’s misfit leftist comic poet-acoustic performer performed at Trowbridge’s Town Hall for Sheer Music. It would be a gig on his last ever tour. After twenty years Chris announced he was giving up his music career, and finalised it with an autumn farewell concert in London.
Since 2014 the registered charity MVT, was setup to protect the UK live music network by focussing its support on grassroots venues, but since lockdown it’s understandably become essential. Grassroots venues play a crucial role, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills. We need them back; we need them open. Hearing this album helps you to understand why, makes you remember what you’re missing.
It’s easy to hear the influence of upcoming artists like Gecko, as Chris weaves unrelated subjects like an observational stand-up comedian, and also, with the same comical timing. His guitar picking is quality and together it makes for a highly entertaining show. Stabs at the establishment come thick and fast, songs randomly seriatim through motorways, anti-hunt rants, gorilla gardening, his own self-worth and musical talent, even a jab at Trowbridge’s political demographic in Love me, I’m Liberal. There’s a beautifully played out winter portrayal, Tunguska, and more intelligently drafted thoughts to boot.
This is folk upfront, with woven narrative and amusing rudiments, chronicles the now, and highlights the passion of the simplest gig, man with thoughts and guitar.
On the night he was supported by Phil Cooper, and Kyle D Evans, the show recorded by Bromham’s Owl’s soundman Gareth Nicholas. Makes me wish I was bobbing about on the scene at the time, but Devizine was a year behind in the making. Still, albums got a picture of Trowbridge on it, any monies you can give helps a charity, but most of all, this is just the enjoyable and proficient performance we’ve come to expect from Sheer.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises in music reviews for me this year was Typhoidmary’s Death Trans back in October. Genre-wise, everything about it suggested it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, but realigning myself, I delved deeper into its emotive and distressing ambiance, and found fondness in its exquisitely dark portrayals, as it progressed thrash metal, gave it a newfound edge of sentiment.
It was released by Gloucester-based unprejudiced universal rock, metal, punk and folk label ScreamLite Records. And now they’ve sent us news of a colossal compilation album which will drop on their Bandcamp page as soon as Big Ben hits midnight on New Year’s Eve, likely making it the first new release of 2021. Better say a few words about it now, then. Constructing words into comprehendible sentences is tricky enough for me at the best of times, let alone New Year’s Eve.
While it’s going to be one long runaway review to critique it track by track, being it’s a mahoosive 65 tracks strong, it’s worth mentioning some key facts about New Hero Sounds. Most importantly this album will be a varied range of the genres and styles on offer at Scream Lite, and their friends, being as it’s 50% made up of artists signed to the label, and the other half independently contributed from upcoming artists under parallel genres. Thus, making it the perfect sampler to open you up to the world of contemporary punk, nu-metal and folk-punk. Though, there’s much more on offer here and certainly too much to pigeonhole.
PLUS, as well as introducing you to a truckload of upcoming talent, there’s a worthy cause it fundraises for. ScreamLite Records’ Director Chris Bowen said, “we’ve all had a tough year, and we decided we should give something back to the frontline NHS staff that have been tirelessly working this year to keep us safe and well.” New Hero Sounds is a charity album in aid of the NHS Charities Together, and all artists have contributed freely.
Broadminded with one eye focused on variability is what you’re going to need to take this one on, even my eclectic self was bowed by the assortment on offer here. MadaMercy gets as trip hoppy as Morcheeba, yet is a rare genre on offer. In addition to an aforementioned Typhoidmary track, ScreamLite’s roster offers nu-metal and punk, such as Stolen Dead Music, or Burning Memories, which can be in your face at times, but at others smoother, like the Clay Gods and Foxpalmer, both of which I enjoyed. Taking the rough with the smooth there’s something for everyone with a taste for indie; which is nice.
Giving credit to upfront festival boom of Venture, the flamenco folk style of Cut Throat Francis, acoustic rockabilly of Joshua Kinghorn, and the delicate angelic vocals of Forgotten Garden. There’s eighties electronica indie with Conal Kelly, post-punk with Jack Lois Cooper, and Gypsy Pistoleros are described as “flameco sleaze glam” revealing multi-genre in just one tune. But, there’s too much to sum this compilation up easily; a Now That’s What I Call Music for misfits, but for a good cause too.
Here’s the track listing with links, then, so you can make up your own mind and follow the ones you like…..once you’ve sampled them from this crazy and full compilation, which is coming on New Year’s Even, here, remember?!
Gaining rave reviews and a new European audience, particularly in Spain, I confess I’m a little late for the party. How can I excuse myself, turkey-stuffing, abundance of toy packaging, putting batteries in gadgets and other Christmassy eggnog shenanigans? Nevertheless, Bucketfull of Brains Records released this album, Human Traffic by Wiltshire-based Richard Davies & The Dissidents back in June. I’ve only just caught wind of its timeless rock n roll splendour, anthemic and emotive, and I’m letting you guys know, if you didn’t already.
Not to be confused with a movie about welsh clubbers, Human Traffic is pure road-driving rock. Maintaining a regressive, tried-and-tested rock formulae it never strides into experimentation but rides the eternal recipe with bells on. I’m getting UK-Americana crossover, the classic smooth eighties rockers, of Steve Winwood, Springsteen in all his Darkness/Born in the USA glory, Traveling Wilburys and particularly, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
There’s also a subtle hint of English punk, Heartbeat Smile exemplifies this though upbeat and jubilant, one cannot ignore a rawness of the Clash. My valuation overall comes to a head with Way of The Wild, probably the most beguiling, but this ten-track strong album rarely comes up for air, and never diverts off its chosen path. Ergo, if confident, driving, ageless rocking out is what you want, it’s double-strength concentrate.
If cliché abound doesn’t matter, lyrical subjects matches the music, with long road to hearts, wild ways, getting under one’s skin etc. Yet maintaining the fashion is good, and they do it so, so well; it worked for Clapton, et all. This is why I think you, you with your black band t-shirt in the loft and memories of friendship bracelets up the arm, will love this album, perhaps even more than me. Because it flows, doesn’t jolt metal unexpectedly at you, or push an unwanted genre down your throat with that one oddity, tentative track.
There’s deffo something moreish about this, we want guitarist Richard Davies front and centre again, after years as a collaborator, gun for hire and band member, most notably with London bands The Snakes and Tiny Monroe, this is debut as lead vocalist and principal songwriter, but his background paid off. Also, the perfect band-gel of these “dissidents,” the backing of Davies’ friends, drummer Chris Cannon of Mega City Four and The Snakes, and bassist Tim Emery of Case Hardin and Last Great Dreamers, of whom I’ve not met since our schooldays. Fortuitously, it’s nice to be reviewing something inspiring with a local connection, that’s the principal reason for blogging here.
“Recording this album was something that I’d always wanted to do but never really got round to doing until now,” Richard explained. “Some of the songs are about me, some of them are about other people, but they all capture reality as I see it. I wanted to record an album that was about real life and with all the highs and lows that go with it”.
Richard began his career playing guitar for indie band Tiny Monroe in the 90s, recording several singles, an EP and an album for London Records, touring with The Pretenders, Radiohead and Suede and appearing at the Glastonbury, Reading and T in the Park festivals along the way. Following this, Richard recorded three albums with The Snakes: Songs From The Satellites, Sometime Soon and The Last Days of Rock‘n’Roll , as the band became major players on the UK Americana scene, picking up mainstream national airplay from the likes of Bob Harris and Mark Lamarr.
You’d be excused for thinking COVID19 restrictions would mean a peaceful Boxing day in Britain’s countryside. Unfortunately while townsfolk and villagers might not have seen them blatantly displaying their pomposity and cruelty with the usual parade through the streets, some still shamelessly ignored the regulations and went ahead and hunted anyway.
The Country Alliance website doesn’t hold its head in shame, freely admitting with pride hunts occured up and down the country, stating “activities on Boxing Day remained much the same as they have done all season.”
Wiltshire Hunt Sabs said, “many hunts have had to cancel their planned meets, and Boxing Day parades through village or town centres as a result of Covid.
Many of them simply decided to make alternative meets away from the usual crowds of cap doffing sycophants, including the Avon Vale.”
Though there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, Swedish billionaire and owner of H&M Stefan Persson, who owns Ramsbury Estates covering 19,000 acres across Wiltshire and Hampshire stopped allowing hunts on the estates at the beginning of the month.
The sabs agree the land upon which hunts are allowed to meet is becoming somewhat smaller, “thanks not just to Covid but also because of the leaked webinars which has seen many landowners withdraw permission for hunts to hunt on their land.”
The landowner of Crown Estate still permits hunts on its land. Recently sabs from Wiltshire and Bath sabbed a meet of the Avon Vale Hunt. The sabs claim “a subsequent assault by the Huntmaster and his friend on two sabs,” occured during the day, as they walked along a public footpath across a field.
The sickening loopholes must be closed, and police should act, as the trail hunt is proved to be a “smokescreen” for illegal hunting. We live in the country, we know it happens, the Countryside Alliance has little to do with any other rural issue, else it would focus also on rural poverty, racism and social isolation due to the pandemic which elderly folk are suffering in our villages, least spare a thought for them over the season of goodwill.
But no, they have to risk virus spreading to fulfil their passion for bloodsport, and in attacking anyone who might be offended by it, surely proving their barbarism, yes? But with a clown prime minster who’s only response to the issue being it gives him a boner, what chance does the fox have, really?
Here’s a short story which I wrote all on my own for Christmas, such a brave boy. I’d also like to take this opportunity, before the drinks start flowing and I lose the capacity for words, to wish you all a very merry Christmas!
The young officer sighed as he scanned the scene. Alone at junction eight of the M3, he called for backup. “Two car collision,” he dolefully reported over his radio, “requesting backup.”
PC Waite didn’t need this; he was an hour short of shift completion. Sixty minutes of peace he longed for, and then he could go home. Home, where his wife would be prepping tomorrow’s feast. Home where his two children were excited about Santa Claus paying them a visit. Home, away from his duties, from all the hassle, for two whole days he needn’t worry about other people’s problems.
He worked the motorway patrol, usually with a partner, but Callum called in sick; skivalitis. He was instructed to continue, but should a situation arise he should immediately call for assistance. Such a thing did, “bloody typical,” he vexed as he slid his finger over the mouthpiece of his radio to mute it and avoid detection of his annoyance from HQ. He approached the first car, a small Volkswagen over-decorated in tinsel, fairy lights and bells. He clocked the driver at a mere ten miles an hour, with the window rolled down. He had observed the elderly male leaning out and peering down at the road below, as if he was frantically looking for something.
Even at this slow speed the multitude of bells attached chimed. Just when PC Waite considered pulling him over, as driving so slowly, without due care and attention was a twofold offense and dangerous, but lesser so than the distraction to other drivers caused by the bells ringing. However, as he pulled out, a, what can only be described as sleek, black, personalised, custom-built heavily armoured tactical assault vehicle hurtled up behind him, lost a wheel for want of braking, and crashed into the rear of the Volkswagen.
If PC Waite hadn’t seen such an oddity in all his years as an officer, which were few, the icing on the cake was the third vehicle, a clown car of all things, of which the assault vehicle appeared to be in pursuit of. This car though, had raced off.
The old gent in the Volkswagen looked dazed and confused, still frantically searching for something, now checking the glovebox. “Please sir,” Gavin tapped on his window, “take your hand out of the glovebox and put them where I can see them.”
“Oh,” the aged driver stumbled on his words, “I….I’m erm, I’m sorry, officer. I was, well, I was looking for my, erm, something. I erm, yes, that man in the black, erm, car, he’s a maniac! He crashed into me!”
“Yes,” Gavin replied dutifully, “I observed the incident. But I must conclude, you were driving extremely slowly, under ten miles an hour on a motorway, sir, I should inform you is highly dangerous, and against the law.”
“I was, looking….”
“Yes, you told me,” Gavin interrupted, “can I ask exactly what it was that you were looking for?”
“I’d erm, rather not say.” The man added embarrassed to his emotions, on top of the flustered he already displayed. “It’s, erm, rather personal.”
“I see,” Gavin replied, looking over the exterior of the car in astonishment. “Furthermore, you realise the masses of tinsel, fairy lights and bells you have attached to your vehicle is extremely distracting to other road users?”
“But,” the odd fellow pointed out, “it’s Christmas.” At this point he looked up at Gavin as if to plea his innocence. Recognition suddenly struck the driver, “Gavin? Gavin, is that you?”
PC Waite did not recognise the suspect and raised an eyebrow. The driver continued; excitement glowed in his tone. “Well, your dad told me you joined the force, well I never, you’ve grown up so fast.” The driver noted the policeman’s confusion. “I’m his brother, William!”
Gavin gasped, “Uncle Billy?!”
“Yes,” the man smiled. Gavin couldn’t believe it; he hadn’t heard of his uncle for so long, not since the operation. Yet he knew he must act professional. “Please, sir, stay in your vehicle, I need to check on the others involved in the incident. In the meantime, erm, William, I suggest you consider telling me what it is you’ve lost, on the motorway, as it may harm your defence if you later rely on something you didn’t inform me of at the time, okay?”
“It’s kind of hard to say,” the officer’s uncle confessed, and with a deep embarrassment he looked soberly at his own lap.
Gavin turned on his foot, knowing this would take some paperwork. He had heard rumour about the nature of his uncle’s painful operation, but never wished to believe it. Evidence would suggest his older brother was not lying. He approached the second vehicle and crunched something underfoot, nearby its rear door. He lifted his boot and observed yolk, with confusion. “An egg?”
The driver of the unknown personalised assault vehicle sat at his steering wheel dressed in a tight black bodysuit, cloak and facemask. At least he observed COVID-19 regulations, Gavin figured. Though when he put his head through the driver’s window, he was sent reeling backwards by his sense of smell.
There was a funk about this mysterious chap which owned a universe by itself. It was a pungent stink of body odour which overpowered the junior officer. The man inside detected the issue by facial expression alone.
“Part asbestos, part nomex,” the driver said in an irritated, husky tone.
“Excuse me?” PC Waite queried.
“The reason for me smelling,” the fellow expanded. “My costume is polyester-based, part asbestos, part nomex covered body-armour; a little body odour is normal. If you had to run around chasing bad guys with as much ferocity and exertion as me, wearing this getup, you would smell equally as bad.”
“I see,” PC Waite snorted, although he didn’t.
“Whatever it is you want, officer, I must inform you that you have allowed a principal criminal mind get away,” the man spoke in a deep tone.
“Were you alone in the vehicle at the time of the impact?” Gavin asked, as he thought he saw a strange character dressed in a red waistcoat, green tights and a yellow cloak flee the scene.
“My assistant was with me,” the driver explained with a sigh, “we’ve been through this so many times in the past; some say he flew away; others suggest he laid an egg.”
Gavin looked perplexed, though it might explain why there was indeed an egg under his boot. “He is a bird,” the stranger elucidated, “you see?”
After much deliberation Gavin responded. “I think I see what is going on here. I am in touch with modern culture, you know.”
“In which case,” the driver retorted, “allow me to fix my wheel and attend to capturing the assailant, which, if you were a better policeman, you would be assisting me with.”
“Please wait, sir,” Gavin insisted, “I need to report back to my base.”
“I only talk to chief commissioner Gordon,” the driver informed Gavin.
PC Waite moved away from the vehicle, and called in on his radio. The voice was his direct superior. “Ah, PC Waite, any progress down there? I mean, have you established the cause of the crash?”
“Yes sir. But you’re not going to believe me.”
His chief replied, “try me.”
“Very well sir,” Gavin explained, “jingle bells.”
There was a momentary pause, “jingle bells, are you sure, jingle…?” The chief sounded astonished.
“All the way,” Gavin added nervously.
The voice over the radio sounded part alarmed, part concerned. “I am sending backup, PC Waite, are there any dangers on the scene your fellow officers should be made aware of?”
He didn’t want to, but Gavin replied, “Batman smells.”
“I see,” came the reply, “any witnesses?”
“Robin, flew away, or he laid an egg,” PC Waite replied. “Can’t be sure at this early stage, sir.”
“And the condition of the vehicles?”
“The Batmobile lost a wheel,” Gavin sighed with embarrassment.
“And anyone else involved?”
“The Joker, sir, but he got away.”
The sound of his chief scratching his head with worry concerned the young officer. After a cold silence his radio spoke once more. “I think you should relieve yourself of your duty with immediate effect, PC Waite. Either you are under a lot of stress, or your idea of work banter is beyond what is expected of an officer of the law. Is there anything you’d like to inform me about the incident, I mean, what about the other person involved?”
Gavin sighed and took a deep breath, “it’s my Uncle Billy, sir, I erm, I believe he’s somehow managed to lose his willy, on the motorway.”
Thinking of going vegan? Maybe after your turkey and pigs in blankets?! I have a chat about the possibilities, lifestyle and, you know me, a number of silly tangents, with Wiltshire foodie blogger Jill; to see if she can convert me!
I dissented my daughter’s culinary request on peculiar grounds; two everyday objects, sausages and bacon, when the latter is wrapped around the other, are, for some outlandish reason, a treat retained for Christmas dinner only, and to have them on our mid-December roast dinner would spoil the magic of the imminent feast. But once served, I ate ‘em anyway!
An oddity, why certain things, like Brussel sprouts are attributed only to Christmas dinner and eating them at any other time is like swearing at a vicar. Absorbed by the explicit naming of pigs in blankets too, like a hog-roast or rabbit stew, and unlike venison or beef, they don’t attempt to disguise the notion you’re munching on dead animal. Rather celebrate pride in the fact.
Such is my allure for something in blankets, if not pigs, I was intrigued by a recipe for a vegan alternative on a local based website, Especially Vegan. The site’s creator, Jill, uses parsnips wrapped in vegan bacon. I quiver at meat alternatives, but love a good parsnip; becoming vegetarian is something although I consider pursuing, I never attain. I blame pigs in blankets; oh, the smell of bacon cooking, chicken and numerous other dishes of god’s creatures great and small.
However much I preach about environmental issues, I find the idea we all must go vegan the hardest pill to swallow. On principle I agree, but the reality, the golden aura of a roasted chicken, just overrides my carnal appetite and I cave helplessly like the carnivorous beast I am. If it was going to happen, you’d have thought my years working at a butcher, skinning rabbits and watching turkeys meeting their maker might have dissuaded me.
Can Jill help? Especially Vegan is a fantastic website, chockful of hints, tips and recipes. Can Jill convince someone as thick skinned as me to turn vegan? No, not really, she’s not the pushy type. “That’s the thing,” she explained, “I am not trying to change your mind. I would like a happier world, you know, world peace,” she laughed.
“I am not trying to change your mind. I would like a happier world, you know, world peace.”
Rather stereotypical of vegans, they rarely preach or thrust their ideas down your throat. Perhaps this is the undoing, I need the direct approach, a seven-foot skinhead vegan to order me to give up hotdog-stuffed pizza, or else!
I put it to Jill I could meet her halfway, reduce my meat allowance by 50%. Environmentally if everyone did, we’d reduce carbon emissions from 18% to 9%. “I feel we should all make our own choices about what we eat,” Jill clarified, “but obviously, the more those choices are based on the environment and health and, for me personally, animal welfare, the better.” A dislike of meat-eating is perhaps the most common reason, Jill wrote a post on the blog explaining why she became a vegan; “in recent years it’s more about health for a lot of people. For me it’s always been about animals.” I was still keen to gage her on her feelings about the environmental impact of not turning vegan.
“Absolutely,” she replied, “it has a big influence now. But not when I ‘turned’ back in the nineties! I feel any reason that people eat less meat is a good thing. It is fact now, regardless of what the meat industry says, less meat will help the planet. But there are other things we could all do that will also help.” Jill continued on recycling and the supermarkets cutting down on packaging. “I also know that cost is a big factor. When low-income families can buy cheaper meat due to the way it is farmed, they may have no choice. I think the government should make well-bred and cared for animal meat affordable for all.”
But if you know the methods, I figured, most of the recipes on Especially Vegan wouldn’t break the bank. It was Jill’s husband who came up with the idea for Especially Vegan, in May, and the blog was launched in August. “So,” Jill enlightened, “it’s still quite small but growing weekly.”
Jill still cooks meat for her friends and family, “that’s their choice,” and was keen to point out her blog is not just for vegans. “I take the meat, etc, out of recipes I like, so there’s no reason why people can’t add meat to my recipes. The hope is that they will try it my way. So, try parsnips but with your bacon!”
“There’s no reason why people can’t add meat to my recipes. The hope is that they will try it my way….”
Jill was direct when I asked if she felt there’s a lot of misguided information, “meat propaganda” which ridicules or gives incorrect facts about vegans? “Yes, I do. I haven’t researched it fully myself because I do not preach about being vegan, my choice! However, I do belong to some Facebook groups and see posts about industry starting rumours about vegans and it being a dreadful, non-healthy diet. I am pleased to say, I have thrived on it for over twenty-two years and have never taken a supplement, which is another area for misguided influence from the drug companies who sell supplements.”
I did read the blogpost on her not taking vitamin supplements; it’s necessity to is a given stereotype, isn’t it? “Yes, a stereotype!” Jill replied, “however, not everyone can absorb vitamins naturally and do need help. But, not just vegans. There are a couple of things that are a little more difficult to obtain as a vegan. B12 – I get from marmite and fortified cereals and milks. And the new one is Vitamin D. Which can be an issue, but if you are careful and research your dietary needs well, then it can be overcome. However, I am not saying there is not a need, but that need could be for anyone whose body needs it, non-vegans too!”
If I was going to consider this, is it a good idea to dip my toe in the water, you know, try being a vegetarian first, or diving right in to vegan?
“Way back when,” Jill elucidated, “I didn’t really know much about veganism, so vegetarianism was the way for me. It was only later as I learnt more about vegetarianism that veganism crept into what I was reading. No internet to hand back then, like it is today. And cheese was the hardest for me to give up when I turned vegan. I think with all the info there is today, and you are really sure it’s what you want, then, yeah, head straight in. But otherwise, take it slow. If it’s your end goal, the importance is getting there, not how fast you get there.” Meat was Jill’s favourite thing on her plate, growing up, and said she couldn’t stand vegetables. Internet or not, though, I wasn’t put off by Iceland’s chicken tikka lasagne; it’s surely too late for me!
“Cheese was the hardest for me to give up when I turned vegan.”
The internet is an information minefield. I typed into Google: “do we need to go vegan to…” intending to add “environment,” but a more popular choice suggestion freaked me out. It was “…to get into heaven?!” Seems people use the word of god to encourage their own opinion on it. There’s some shocking stuff suggesting you’re on your way to hell for not eating meat! But equally there’s many who say, and I’d agree, if I wasn’t an atheist, you’d be a higher tier in heaven for not eating God’s creatures.
“Say no more!” Jill agreed, even as a bellringer, “I have to honestly say, what a load of rubbish. But that’s what happens with everything, there will always be people out there who say stuff like that. I’m sat here with a G & T so I must be heading downwards, surely; but it is vegan!”
The Especially Vegan website has hosted events and cookery courses, and offers a free tapas recipe eBook on signup. I asked Jill what was next, if a paperback was an option. “I will try to grow it and, yes, would love to have some books in print, alsolooking to develop a YouTube channel, but for now, I will just keep developing and adding recipes to the blog. It would be lovely to have friendly people subscribe as that’s an incentive to keep going.”
Our chat drifted on tangents hereafter, ending with me waffling. I cannot believe I bought up the subject of Douglas Adams’ ironic “Amegluan Cow,” with a vegan; an animal which wants to be eaten. Served live it offers the diners its rump or its organs, and they’re horrified, save for the alien Zaphod Beeblebrox, who offered to Arthur Dent that he would gladly eat a creature which didn’t want to be eaten. Furthermore, the Ameglian Cow added many vegetables were “very clear” on the point of not wanting to be eaten!
Mind you, Jill bought up a horrible scene in The Waking Dead, where they ate a horse, likened it to Tesco’s burgers, and suggested she hoped she never meets an Ameglian Cow.
But she was an endearing and interesting person to chat with, and Especially Vegan is a well-written, personal styled foodie blog, you should check it out. I noted my sad hypocrisy, given the horsemeat refraction, as I wouldn’t eat nice and fluffy animals. But perhaps my hypocrisy is my reason for an interest in veganism.
Jill mentioned how horrified she was by shark catching fishermen who put big hooks through live dogs’ jaws. She can be horrified, but I’m a hypocrite for being equally horrified, does she think?
“No,” she replied, “just the way we are.” See, a genuinely nice person, and she left pondering her next recipe post, orange zest cake. Nice, in my mind I’m there already!
I decided some time ago to construct our westward boundary at Bath, as far as events are concerned. Reason being, Bristol is so vast in culture there’s not enough hours I can dedicate to comprehensively cover it. We do however review and feature Bristol acts, because it’s impossible to ignore the wealth of talent, burgeoning since the nineties downbeat triphop era.
So, Bristol hip hop outfit, The Scribes gained a mention recently when they played Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, and consequently they sent their EP The Totem Trilogy pt1 which I fell hand-over-heels about.
In a little under four hours time, The Scribes are going to unleash a new tune, Stir Crazy on YouTube, a link I’ll embed below, and encourage you to return here when it goes live. There’s not a second to lose, You. Need. To. Hear. This. Because If UK hip hip is taken with a pinch of salt over the pond, The Scribes will be the ones they cannot ignore.I’ve given justified praise of the Totem Trilogy, but Stir Crazy goes beyond what constitutes good local sounds, and I’d tip The Scribes to be the international breakthrough act of the decade.
Released on Get Down Records, Stir Crazy is a collaboration between Finland’s own boom bap beatsmith extraordinaire J-Boom and The Scribes.
This forthcoming track, which I’ve sneakily previewed is, without doubt, seriously dope, in the hip hop jargon, and emotivly powerful without! There’s an air of the Fu-Schnickens about the techniques of The Scribes, experimental and diverse adaptations abound in their lyrical play on, not just words, but sounds and emotions.
The Fu-Schnickens could amusingly deal out classic Warner Brothers’ cartoon characters as if Mel Blanc was Schoolly D, and in turn tracks like Visions (20-20) were nervingly concerning, borderline frightening. Stir Crazy adopts this tenet with bells on. It’s uncompromisingily edgy, and as unsettling as a musical Stephen King’s Shining.
Dealing with psychosis under lockdown this wrecks a schizophrenic nightmare, and is as psychologically disturbing as its theme, the way the rappers roll their vocals to suit the mood is as Edvard Munch used colour. Hence why I’m saying forget the southwest connection, I’m tipping them the best hip hop act I’ve heard since Pubic Enemy.
Anyway, I’ll drop the link here, and add some pasted details from the press release. Soz, but I gotta hit the hay. If I can sleep after watching that video!
The single will be available exclusively through The Get Down Records bandcamp page from December the 11th as a digital download (With instrumental) and as a limited edition double A-Side transparent 7” vinyl with second collaboration track “Haunted House Party”. The video for “Stir Crazy” will then be launched a week later on December the 18th before the single is made available on all online streaming services/retailers from the 15th of January.
“Stir Crazy” showcases J-Boom’s trademark MPC production at it’s effortless finest, pairing a haunting piano loop with hard hitting drums to create a moody, atmospheric soundscape fitting for these strange times. The incisive vocals, provided by The Scribes alongside dark alter-ego Mr Teatime, talk candidly about the feelings of isolation and helplessness brought on by the various lockdowns of 2020, documenting the artist’s creation of an imaginary friend who goes on to take over his mind.
The accompanying music video, with clothing provided by The Scribes’ sponsors Aekor Apparel and Bones Clothing, is a strikingly bleak visual telling the story of the track across a day in the life of The Scribes. The sinister presence of Mr Teatime gives the video an edgy b-movie horror feel, perfectly suiting the vibe of the project as whole.
Together the release provides a perfect and entertaining summary of the year 2020 and the claustrophobic environment that the world has suffered throughout the year and is certain to find fans both in the hip hop scene and beyond.
Following the release of Chilly’s new album ‘A Very Chilly Christmas’, platinum selling UK producer Toddla T has put his very own spin on the record, The Coldest Crimboout today (16th Dec.) Featuring help from friends Nadia Rose, Serocee, Coco and Deli OneFourz, and even Jarvis Cocker features, Toddla T and Chilly Gonzales delight with this tongue-in-cheek hip hop “very festive mixtape.”
It’s an amusing quarter-of-an-hour of naughtiness seasonal rap, like a nativity gone bad. Chilly Gonzales may revisit old carols and the new pop standards on his album, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without friends and family, so Gonzo has assembled his gang to celebrate the holidays in his playful and intimate style.
A Very Chilly Christmas Special gives old-school TV Christmas variety shows a 2020 makeover. “Santa Claus, like all of us, has had a challenging year,” Chilly says, “and has decided to go to therapy.”
A very chilly christmas special, with guests Feist, Jarvis Cocker and more, streams December 23. Details and tickets here.
Not to be confused with Howard Rosen and Jerry Gordon’s American jazz and blues record label of the same name, Evidence Music is a prolific contemporary reggae label with their recording studio in Geneva, Switzerland, but franchising and presenting many upcoming Jamaican artists. Ergo, while I’ve mentioned before the Swiss valuing archaic origins of reggae, with ska, rock steady and roots subgenres through labels like the fantastic Fruits Records, Helvetia also has a penchant for modern styles of Jamaica’s musical outpourings.
A decade prior to Bob Marley & The Wailers playing Zurich as part of their final Uprising tour, the presence of reggae was oven ready, in the seventies popular Swiss band Rumpelstilz produced Kiosk, with a definite reggae influence. Nowadays, the international market blends their own brand and traditions into reggae, and the Swiss are of no exception. Local artists Dodo and Jo Elle perform in the native tongue, and Zurich’s Rote Fabrik club plays a key role in promoting reggae.
Still though, back across the ocean reggae is never stagnant and rarely dabbles in retrospection. It’s progressive. I look now to Wellington Smart, aka selector Freddy Kruger’s Boot Boy Radio show after my own, to hear the latest trends via his label, Drop Di Bass and what I do hear is similar to Evidence Music’s DJ and producer 808 Delavega, on his self-titled debut album.
In tune with said progression, we’ve come along way from the nineties divide between dancehall and lovers, through the millennial cross-over inclination to include dancehall toasting in US RnB and hip-hop tracks, and we find ourselves today with a sound almost void of offbeat and one-drop riddims antiquatedly associated with the reggae of Marley’s heyday. An era where Damien Marley’s anthological dancehall is more important than his father’s. 808 Delavega embraces this, he’s passionate about hip-hop as well as dancehall, and founded Derrick Sound in the 2000s.
With Nicolas Maître and Nicolas Meury of Little Lion Sound, Derrick Sound was the mainstay for the formation of the Evidence Music label and it fast become Switzerland’s leading urban label. There the team involve themselves in a multitude of projects, 808 Delavega produces popular Jamaican artists such as Sizzla, Capleton, Morgan Heritage and Danitsa. Reflecting back on his excursions to Jamaica, he focussed on the innovative subgenres of afrobeat and trap to produce this fresh debut, and it’s certainly that.
I’m not going to suggest this is for everyone, our retrospective preconceptions of reggae persist, I’m suggesting forward-thinking youth, maybe already partly allied via current pop trends in dancehall which seen Sean Paul featured on a Little Mix track, et all. But in essence this is diverse, experimental, and underground, pulling the boundaries of RnB grind and dancehall even tighter. There can even be intros here which ring of eighties electro and electronica, and relics of garage house; imagine David Morales producing dancehall and you’re somewhere in the light of this interesting blend. How I think this works so well is the splinters of afro-beat, a beguiling genre I’m personally hot under the collar about.
Always held a penchant for dancehall too, though accepting the sparseness of the beats and uncompromising patois can sound alien to European and American audiences. 808 Delavega plays this down. The jargon is not misconstrued, and once the beat kicks in you’ll hear nothing of the of scarcity of millennial dancehall, but riddims which ride along smoothly, like RnB. Dancehall artists established and upcoming feature, yet even when legendary Beenie Man toasts on the subject of election violence, it adopts this ambiently slick tenet. It may be rather glossy but this breaths wide-appeal, beyond reggae aficionados.
Charly Black offers possibly the sparsest track, Eesah perhaps the most sensual. Throughout though it never frenzies and takes it mellowly and euphorically. So yeah, I like it (despite it makes mi waistline feel old!) for its innovativeness, and freshness.
Make no mistake, we love Swindon folk-rock duo Sound Affects here at Devizine. Ergo I’m prepped with some fond words and in high expectations prior to listening to their new album out today (13th Dec) Ley Lines. It’s been over two years since reviewing Everyday Escapism, their previous nugget of wonderful. And if I praised them for the honest folk songs then, Ley Lines is an immense enhancement for acute subject matter, and is lyrically grafted with more passionate prose. The result is sublime, as I anticipated, but that smidgen more.
From the off Gouldy and Cath compose with significance, and these eleven tunes don’t simply drift over you aimlessly with acoustic goodness, though they have that. They stand as testaments to the tenet of injustices of modern social and political issues. Upon faced with the political reformist opening song, One Man Army, you know there’s an aim to reinforce the lost ethos of political standing in a song, as is the direct influences they often cover as their band, The Daybreakers; of power-pop, new wave post-punk, eighties garage and mod. Though as a duo, Sound Affects are strictly folk-rock, only maintaining the ethos of their inspirations in lyrics.
The second tune projects like a musical of an Alan Bleasdale play, there’s certain bitterness in the broken dreams and prewritten fate of folk in the decay of modern poverty, and Gouldy nails it akin to Ken Loach, with No Means to Pay. What follows is a Kafkaesque, revolutionary dream, but if you felt this is all liberal point-scoring, King for a Day has more acquitted associations similar to the drifting and euphoric sounds of Everyday Escapism.
Windmills drifts similarly, gorgeously, and is naturally Edenic. While shards of the aforementioned bitterness are subtle now, replaced with an idyllic moment, you consider if they’re losing the edginess of the opening tunes. Then Cath’s flute takes us back to a tender era with Giving Something Back, and Gouldy sings, perhaps the most simplistic chorus, but genius song here, it opens a clear nod to his love for the narrative of Irish folk; it’s a working-class ideology, and you can effectively visualise the labours leaving for home on a dark winter’s eve, with the backdrop of a cold red-bricked factory. There’s something acutely Levellers, but a sprinkling of Springsteen’s Nebraska about it.
Typically, romance with a twist is a not forgotten subject, but played well, in Say it to my Face, and it returns with ponderings of conspiracy and dogmatic hierarchy. Unanswered Questions has overtones of a missing girl, without mentioning the McCann family, there’s connotations of a similar tragedy, and it’s heartbreakingly candid. Yet throughout any dejection in theme, Sound Affects always ascertain a joyful euphoria through the sublimeness and effortlessness of their sound; acoustic guitar and flute, fiddle; tried and tested formula to hold a pub gig spellbound, as they recurrently do.
Together what you have is a numinously uplifting, wandering and softened euphoric album which drifts on rancorous and sometimes acrimonious subjects many modern musicians might steer away from. It’s folk alright, but with a bygone bite and righteous morals. More importantly, it’s so damn good, it’s essential.
Fashionably late for the party, this Oxford duo’s self-titled debut EP was released on White Label Records at the beginning of the month; what can I say for an excuse? Glad to catch up though, as Skates & Wagons are well worth it.
There’s retrospective grandeur on offer here; even down to the bracketed song titles, as was common at the time, of these four diligently composed tunes of sixties-fashioned mod psych-pop. It’s as if we’d not progressed from the era of The Kinks or Small Faces, The Spencer Davis Group and The Troggs at all. And to hear this makes one wonder if it was ever progress anyway.
Yeah, the dawn of the beatnik epoch, developed from the blues and soul inspired pop of Merseybeat is formulated, tried and tested, and anyone who mimics it is dependant on the only element left to ensure it’s respectable, the quality. Skates & Wagons set such a benchmark, taking a big chunk of the influence from this aforementioned style, but with a fresh approach rather than a shoddy and aged tribute, paling by comparison to its original.
We’ve seen this youthful blast of retrospection recently with the awesome blues detonation of Little Geneva, least to suggest this is more the pop of the fab decade, it also expands to classic electric rock, and is immediately beguiling via its wonderful musings. Skates & Wagons have long established themselves on the live circuit in Oxfordshire and beyond, but the EP is something precured over time like a fine wine. Initially they started working on it as far back as 2011, and completed it earlier in 2020, a testament to that old adage, you can’t rush art.
Opening borderline glam, Just Because you Can (Doesn’t Mean you Should) is possibly the most progressive, early Genesis fashioned, and vocally there’s harmony parallel to Gabriel and Collins. It’s as if Skates & Wagons regress through time as it goes on. Spin my Wheels is decidedly backdated in sound from the opening song, mid-Kinks period of their ‘66 album, Face-to-Face.
A nuanced approach to sixties-indebted structures, all four songs drip with instant fascination, as if you may’ve heard them on a classic radio show. The third tune is perhaps the most sublime, Tender (is the Night) is affectionate acoustic guitar-led emotive mellowness, to slip into a Who rock opera unnoticed. It’s an epic, seasonal-spanning romance themed masterpiece.
Yet, the final tune, Law As I Am True plays-out with the thump of pre-psychedelia sixties pop, but it’s got the kick of how The Jam re-enacted the sound, and it’s catchy because there’s subtle hints and swirls of the imminent next move to flower-power. Together here’s four memorable tunes which would have undoubtedly sailed to the Top of the Pops during that golden era, yet somehow completely original and uniquely fitting for the now.
If we’ve seen a relived trend with scooterists and mod culture recently, these guys are a hot contender to front such a movement. Though I caution them, there’s often a dispelling, or more, overlooked aspect with the current trend, in the interesting and natural progress to the late-sixties beatnik and flower-power movements, and while there’s nothing so “way-out” as Zappa on offer through Skates & Wagons, it does reflect those initial, optimistic changes of the mid-sixties. And in this notion, is what divides the duo from the bulk standard; yeah, fab, love it!
It was Christmas Eve moi lover, outside Carpet Right, an old man without facemask said to me, won’t be seeing another one, and then he yelled a song, Shaky Steven’s Merry Christmas Everyone, I turned my face away, and puked all over you……
Okay, I’ll hold my hands up, that’s all I’ve got when it comes to writing a Christmas song. Time to call in the pros, because without venues many of our local musicians are so bored, they’ve produced some great Christmas songs! As ever I’ll list them alphabetically, not to prove I know my a, b, c, but because whenever I do these “listy” type articles some of you assume it’s a top ten countdown. This isn’t Top of the Pops, but we do have some nice tunes for you:
Ben Borrill – (untitled?)
Colm McCarthy – Christmas Time – 2020 Remix
Gecko – Last Christmas’ sung by a sad bird
Illingworth – Yes It’s Christmas!
Peloton – Father Christmas Won’t Be Long
Pete Lamb & Colette Cassin – I Remember Christmas
Sound Affects – Taking Back Christmas
Splat the Rat – 2020 you Arse (Ho Ho its Xmas)
Will Lawton – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Did we miss you out? I’m sorry, tell me quick and I can add it!
No, looks to me like, from the front cover picture, the monkey does indeed have a bum, albeit it quite small and the motion lines suggest it’s shrinking. No matter the outcome of the debate, it cannot be good news for this monkey called Charlie. I could ask the author Asa Murphy why, but we don’t need spoilers. All you need to know is Charlie has either no bum or an incredibly shrinking bum, and that’s plenty of background, cos, kids like the word bum, and I don’t blame them. I like the word bum, and intend to use it as much as possible here today.
If this Liverpudlian now children’s author’s name rings a bell, it’s because he loves Devizes and in honour of our late local fundraising musician, Bruce Hopkins, he staged his most prestigious performance at the Corn Exchange, a self-penned musical about the life of Buddy Holly.
Asa just glows with the charm and entertaining charisma of a one-man Ratpack. With sell-out shows at Ronnie Scotts, topping the bill at the famous Liverpool Empire, he also has a decade under his belt with a popular BBC Radio show up in Liverpool. Last year he turned to writing, the intention being stage musicals, of which he’s crafted three shows, Buddy Holly Lives, Mack The Knife and Irish Annies.
But if you think changing from musical writer to children’s author is tenacious, think again. Asa plans to launch a children’s musical from his debut book, and will be at the Corn Exchangein 2021. For now, though it’s self-published book (Murphy-World Books,) that tale of monkey with no bum, and was taken from a story Asa told to his nephew, and continued to tell to my own children. “I wanted them to be aware that in my eyes,” Asa explains, “they were perfect in every way. The story developed into an idea that I felt all children should hear, so I sat down and wrote the story with the dream of it being turned into a children’s illustrated book.”
I asked Asa if there was more to come, whether Charlie might be back, with or without his bum! “It’ll be a series of five books, all featuring Charlie the Monkey, and with valuable lessons for children.” Might make a great Christmas pressie for the young ones, or anyone, I like saying bum, and I think, if we’re honest with ourselves, we all do!
If you saw and read my insane ramblings yesterday concerning my experiments in WordPress, ah, forget it. Wasn’t it the great philosopher Homer Simpson who once said, “Kids, you tried your best, and you failed miserably; the lesson is never to try?!”
If we are to run a podcast series it is something you would need to pay a monthly subscription for, therefore it will take a higher tog of beanie thinking cap. Not ruling it out, but for now, the DJ mix I tried to punt to you for a quid to Carmela’s fundraising didn’t function as I hoped it would. Therefore, there’s a lot of therefores in this article, but more importantly we’ll conjure up a different fundraiser as soon as possible, even if it means getting my Spiderman onesie out of the washing basket!
All’s fair in love and war, here’s the mix, you can have it for free; think of it as my Christmas present to you all. Don’t ask for anything else, that’s it; bar humbug. You can listen online, or click the three little dots and download it. Enjoy!
London’s Tankus the Henge’s third studio album is released today (4th Dec.) Tis a quixotic rock’n’roll fable, a utopian realm of wonderment with ingenious prose and the composition of a variety performance….
Picked on this new release to scribe a few words about based upon Devizes Arts Festival organiser Margaret Bryant’s thrilled expression when she leaked booking Tankus the Henge for the 2020 line-up, that sadly never was. Yet, sadder is the reality of the era, where so other many events didn’t happen either, and the decline of live music venues. Such is the subject of this inimitable London-based group’s Luna Park, an album out today.
If the pandemic has been a catalyst for music production, and often the theme too, from all I’ve heard it generally focuses on the virus itself. Although Luna Park centres around the decline of music venues, an allegory for what is happening on London’s Denmark Street and all across the UK, one should note while it may resonate of lockdown fever, it was actually recorded during the winter of 2019.
Though nothing comes across melancholic with Tankus, it’s all clouts of glam-rock and funk wrapped in a showy, big top magnificence. They describe their sound as “five-wheeled, funk fuelled, open top, custom paint job, rock ‘n’ roll jalopy that comes careering around the corner on a tranquil summer’s day, ruining the silence and disturbing the bats.” While rock n rolling songs blast, there’s refined moments, as with The only Thing that Passes Here is Time, but it’s gawdy big band fashioned horn-blowing. Picking it apart there’s so much on offer here, like a variety performance in one album, and for this, despite I’m grinch for glam, it’s ingeniously composed and addictive.
Glitterlung, is borderline downtempo “Portishead” triphop, for example, while the incredible Susie Sidewinder comes across as if Lloyd Cole and the Commotions wrote Sgt Pepper. Of course, it relies heavily on the glam side of rock n roll, but there’s rudiments of everything; Deacon Blue to Zappa is showing a bit shoulder here. Each influence it throws into the melting pot is taken with a pinch and is wholly fun. Particularly noted for the amusing element, Staying on the Side of the Dirt was the tune which swayed me, it’s terribly Dennis Waterman theme tune fun, and I mean this is a good way! Chas n Dave are legends, given electric guitars and told to work with Noddy Holder, you might get something along similar lines.
During listening I pondered if this rock opera, and decided more on rock circus. I usually reserve that fairground comparison for the two-tone sound of groups akin to Madness, but it applies here too. It’s not a concept album as such, more a vision. A fantasy of a realm where creativity is celebrated and live music thrives. A place where venue closures are a thing of the past, and corporate gentrification is a non-entity. A refuge from greed and capitalism, and the salvation of independent music, free thought and good-times, packaged in dark, wry satire with a neon glow.
Speaking about the underlying themes at play, frontman Jaz Delorean said, “I don’t think the public knows the entire truth when it comes to the hardships and thin margins of running a venue, and most of the time we don’t want them to. They go out to have a good time and forget about life for a while. Thousands of people work all hours to keep venues, and festivals alive, and at the moment all of it is under threat. The ripples will be felt in every household eventually… We learned and started honing our skill in Denmark Street, in clubs like 12 Bar Club and Alleycat, both of which have closed. Jamboree, Passing Clouds, The Peel, 14 Bacon Street, Madame Jojo’s. All these venues were haunts of ours and are now closed permanently too. We need to support these small venues so much more.”
Yet Luna Park is more then the sum of its parts, there’s gorgeous portrayals and the well-grafted, thoughtful characters of a novel, in disordered or decisive situations. If anything twisted my opinion on flares and glitter it’d be this very entertaining scrapbook of sounds.
It was one of my most memorable days following a story for Devizine, when I attended an Arts Together workshop in a sheltered accommodation hall in Bowerhill, last February with the artist Clifton Powell. I found out these sessions meant so much more than “art therapy” to the folk there, and it was delightful to talk to them about what they were doing. You can read about it here, and the amazing work this charity does locally.
This Christmas, Arts Together are hoping to raise up to £5,000, to enable them to continue supporting isolated and lonely older people in the community. Several of the thirteen accomplished artists who help, and many others, have donated artwork for an online auction. The auction is currently running and will last until 13th December.
You can take a look all the beautiful paintings, prints, photographs, ceramics and crafts on show, and make your bid to own one, by clicking here and browsing the images. All the proceeds are going to Arts Together to help them continue our support for older people during this winter.
If you are an artist and would like to donate a piece of small artwork, Arts Together would be delighted to add it to the online auction. Plus, alongside your work they will add a link to your own website and social media.
Please give this some attention if you can, such a brilliant charity, plus you could bag yourself a piece of fine original art for Christmas. Here’s a look at some of the variety of offer: