Devizes’ Cellar Bar to Reopen

Ding dong! Glad to hear new owners of The Bear Hotel plan to reopen it’s glorious landmark Cellar Bar on Saturday March 5th, and to celebrate the fact DJ Andy Saunders will be on his wheels of steel, spinning retrospective seventies and eighties tunage.

It’s a free disco-tastic night from half seven till midnight, so zip up your boots and just keep rockin” but not too much pushing pineapples or shaking trees, please, Mr DJ.


Make Headway for Ariel Posen

Try this: think of some tunes of the decade you were born, songs which you like but don’t know why, songs which, for some reason, ring alarm bells at you as characteristic of the era. Your taste screams no, you shouldn’t like these, but you do. Then check the year they charted. I wager many of them were in the year you were born, the previous or following.

I remember liking, at the time, and I’m not proud but in the name of science I’m going to confess, Brotherhood of Man’s Save All Your Kisses for Me! Oh, while we’re there, Abba’s Dancing Queen too! Thing is, I know why. They were in the charts in 1976, when I was three, the sort of excruciating pop mush anthems a toddler graduates to after the Wheels on the Bus. However, I cannot put my finger on why I’m engrossed with glam rock songs, such as Gary Glitter’s I’m the Leader of the Gang, The Sweet’s Blockbuster and Slade’s Cum Feel the Noise, when the genre makes me generally quiver.

Any doubt I was born in the 70s cleared up with this family photo; I’m the baby!

Why flower-power sold out and hippies took to wearing kipper ties and platform shoes with goldfish in the heel is beyond my understanding of youth culture vicissitudes. Still, when I hear the aforementioned glam rock screeches, they stir something vague inside, indications of a life obscured by cognition. Coincidence they all charted in 1973, the year I was born? Or could the sounds around you, as a baby, implant permanent scars?! If so, I’ll be dammed, deeply archived Little Jimmy Osmond’s Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool!

Though you should never condemn an entire decade for its pop chart. Given you’ll throw Sonia, Jason & Kylie, even Blacklace at me, and tell me to shaddup my face. Despite the lack of technological advances of the seventies when compared with the eighties, there was numerous classics. I’m drawn to the cherished saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, but surprised to note, it broke my theory and wasn’t until ‘78.

The research was stirred by Canadian singer-songwriter, Ariel Posen’s forthcoming album, ‘Headway,’ released on 5th March. Oh, yeah, I am coming to an eventual music review, excuse my waffle. There’s something retrospectively seventies about it, my mind sees a Ronco record label revolving on the turntable of a seventy’s mahogany music centre. A quick flick through the tracks suggested motives not to like this are manyfold. Yet, akin to why I cannot put my finger on why I like those glam tunes of my birth year, I’m finding it tricky to reason with this too, but I do like it, a lot.

With magnificent guitar riffs which nods subtly to country and heartland rock & roll, combined with smooth, blue-eyed soul vocals, there’s something very Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, or Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever about this potential electrified Americana rock classic.

The harmonious and tenderly sensual soul of Coming Back, against the folksy- blues guitar picking of the single Heart by Heart suggests there’s a vast melting pot, but Posen meticulously stirs it into one seriously chilled groove, David Soul styled, which will leave you causally drifting through till the end. Hence my reasons for pondering my little science experiment while listening. Again, comparisons to seventies music, here’s an album to listen to complete, afar from youthful trend of flicking through Spotify playlists like time is against them.

Upon first impressions I was dubious about a Springsteen comparison, contemplating the subjects are generally of romance, and perhaps simpler than the Boss’s interweaved wordplay, yet again humbler Beatles’ pop formulas clearly influence it greatly too. Harder listening conjured a progressive prose of evolution in life, love, and all points in between. They’re poignant and beguiling, combined, you just have to dive a little deeper.

Two years in production, Posen began recording Headway in December 2019, a week after wrapping up an international tour in support of his acclaimed debut, How Long; the effort shows. The gigs received standing ovations, and Rolling Stone dubbed him “a modern-day guitar hero.” Music Radar listed him as a fan voted top 10 rock guitarist of the year, and the Western Canadian Music Awards nominated him for Breakout Artist of the Year.

So, yeah, this is worthy of your attention, and if I attempt to lambast the seventies again, remind me of the current sate of my lockdown coiffure; I’ve got the big hair of a middle-aged Caucasian from 1976. I’m going out on my Raleigh Chopper now, mum, call me when my mince in gravy is ready!

Artic Roll for pudding? Hunky dory!

Pre-order Headway HERE


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A Cracked Machine at the Gates of Keras

Don my headphones, chillax with a cider, and prepare my eardrums for a new album from our local purveyors of space-rock goodness; Cracked Machine is a wild ride….

There are few occasions when mellowed music truly suspends me in the moment, when it just exists in the air like oxygen and totally incarcerates and engulfs my psyche. Jah Shaka and ambient house rascals the Orb both achieved this a couple of dusks at Glastonbury, but the same with likewise happenings, I confess I was intoxicated on matter maturity caused me to long leave in my past!

The issue for any reborn psychedelic-head is pondering the notion, will it ever be the same again, will music and art tease my perception to quite the same degree. The sorry answer is no, unless your intransigent mate slips something in your drink. Yet it’s not all despair, with a sound as rich and absorbing as Cracked Machine, it’s doable without drugtaking shenanigans.

They proved this at the most fantastic day in Devizes last year, which was that bit more fantastic, when what was intended to be a bolt-on feature became the highlight of DOCA’s Street Festival. Funded and arranged by Pete and Jacki of Vinyl Realm, the second stage highlighted everything positive about local music; a historic occasion we’ll be harking on for some time yet. I nipped away briefly after Daydream Runaways stole the early part of the day. But where the lively indie-pop newcomers had roused the audience, I returned to witness a hypnotised crowd and a mesmerising ambience distilling the blistering summer air. Smalltalk was numbed, as if the area was suspended in time. A doubletake to confirm we were still perpendicular, sitting in deckchairs or slouching against a wall on the corner of Long Street and St Johns and not slipped through a time vortex to a Hawkwind set at a 1970 free-party love-in. I was beyond mesmerised, but not surprised.

For this is how it was with their impressive 2017 debut album, I, Cosmonaut, the soundscapes just drifted through me, as I causally drafted the review, reminding me of a smoky haze of yore, giggling in a mate’s bedroom, listening to Hawkwind’s Masters of Universe. Youth of my era though, were subjected to electronic transformation in music, which would soon engulf us. Rave culture cut our space-rock honeymoon short, though, Spaceman 3 were a precursor to the ambient house movement of the Orb, Aphex Twin and KLF, others changed their style, like Frome’s Ozric Tentacles merging into Eat Static, and a perpetually changing line-up for Hawkwind appeased the older rock diehards.

I love I, Cosmonaut, it manages to subtly borrow from electronica and trance, only enough to make it contemporary, but keep it from being classed as anything else other than space-rock. I felt their second album, The Call of the Void avoided this slice of Tangerine Dream, and submerged itself totally in the hard rock edge; bloody headbangers! Therefore, it’s a refreshing notion to note newly released Gates of Keras bonds the two albums and sits between them perfectly.

Again, there’s little to scrutinise as it rarely changes, it meanders, trundles me to a world beyond wordplay, as these completely instrumental tracks roll into one another, gorgeously. A Deep Purple styled heavy bass guitar may kick it off, yet the opening track Cold Iron Light takes me to the flipside of Floyd’s Meddle, with seven and half minutes of crashing drums and rolling guitar riffs. Temple of Zaum continues on theme, Ozrics-inspired funkier bassline, and we’re off on the drifting journey, splicing subtle influences. The Woods Demon, for example, stands out for particularly smooth almost Latino guitar riff, making it my personal fave. Yet Move 37 is heavier, upbeat, like the second album. Low Winter Sun is sublime blues-inspired, imagine Led Zeppelin created Satisfaction rather than the Stones, if you will.

Recorded back in November, this is eight lengthy soundscapes of pure bliss, and will guarantee you a safe trip. A signature album for a lonely lockdown of dark, yet emersed in a time of Tolkien-esque vibes and mandelbrot set fractal posters. If this was released in the mid-seventies-to early-eighties every spotty teenager would be inking their army surplus school bag with a biro-version of Cracked Machine’s logo. As it is, age taking its toll and all, I have no idea if this still happens, but doubt it. None of that matters, here is a matured era of the genre, only with a glimpse of how it once was. Nicely done.

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