Sheer Music to Host Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls UK Tour at Bath Forum

Featured Image by Clair McAllister

Little doubt Frank Turner is the top of his game, the prolific indie-rocker’s ninth studio album, “FTHC” is highly anticipated….

The previously released lead single, “The Gathering” only gives a small insight into the new direction of the record. Though Frank is not only able to feature guest appearances from Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Biffy Clyro and more, the supporting tour allows him to cherry-pick venues and promoters.

Frank will be doing a unique tour playing all thirty-nine English historic counties, plus nine districts of Scotland, eight counties in Wales, six in N. Ireland and a further eight counties in Ireland. The ambition is to reach all of his fans with his new record and play where most artists will not go.

Sheer Music is the obvious choice for the west country, and promoter, Kieran J Moore is delighted to have been asked. Frank has chosen The Forum in Bath for his Somerset date, which will be Friday 18th February 2022.

The beautiful art-deco Forum gave Frank one of his last shows from his previous album tour, just prior to lockdown. The venue remains a firm favourite with artists and fans alike. It will be Sheer’s first show at the historic venue, Mr Moore says, “it’s an opportunity we’re truly honoured and excited about being given!”

Image: Clair McAllister

Given the nature of the show and the current climate, (it’s as if no one was allowed out for a year or more!) tickets will be snatched quickly, so a heads up for Turner fans, that tickets will be available in the following structure;

Album Pre Order for Pre-Sale: Tuesday, 21 September @ 5PM BST

Album Order Pre-Sale: Wednesday, 22 September @ 12PM BST – Friday, 24 September @ 12PM BST

Promoter Pre-Sale: Thursday, 23 September @ 12PM BST

General On Sale: Friday, 24 September @ 12PM BST


WIN 2 TICKETS HERE

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Scott Lavene’s Milk City Sweethearts

We’ve had a spate of comical albums coming in for review, what with Death of Guitar Pop, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and now this, which is by far the darkest, consequently most poignant. Songwriter and raconteur Scott Lavene returns this Friday (17th September) with Milk City Sweethearts, an album of new material…..

There’s intelligent and thought-provoking arch-beat poetry chatted here, an amphetamine-induced self-evaluation of an ordinary Essex boy, delivered passionately with a witty edge you cannot ignore. Something of an oddity at times, random prose seemingly slotted erratically fall into place with a running theme of this hopeless romantic, as the album progresses.

Behind a variation of backbeats, often being post-punk, as is Scott’s roots, yet fluctuating through new romantic electronica and eighties mod revival, are honest and blunt chronicles of love, loss, coming of age, in effect making for a memorable kind of album, border-crossing Ian Dury with Sleaford Mods; a Mike Skinner of The Streets in the Bowie or Jam era, or a psychedelic Gecko.

Humbly wry, the observations of his imprudent past come back to haunt him, as he retells heartfelt autobiography. The Ballad of Lynsey being the particularly touching example, telling of a potential everlasting love, but lasting only year due to differences, with the revealing chorus, “I choose amphetamines over you.”  

If I’ve made this sound despondent and somewhat depressing, while yeah there is that, Scott’s witty charisma teeters atop at even the gloomiest synopsises with clever wordplay and metaphors. And besides, not every track is quite so melancholic. In fact, it begins very much with the aforementioned mod revival style. Upbeat opening tune, Nigel, is especially comical, expressing the strangeness of individual’s choice of “kicks.” Likewise, The First-Time reels off an amusing list of first experiences with the annotation, “one day there’ll be a last.” It’s all very Essex lad Talking Heads, Phil Daniels chatting on Blur’s Parklife, etc.

Art-pop carries over when the mod revival moves over for a new wave electronica feel as the album progresses, by the third tune, The Earth Don’t Spin, it’s very much more Stephan Tintin Duffy than Weller. For all the credentials and comparisons mentioned, there’s no cliché, everything here is uniquely composed and written originally, and Milk City Sweethearts isa listener, not the sort of long-player you can pause and pick up again, you’ll be impelled to digest it one sitting.

A master storyteller astutely aware of when and how to evoke the correct emotions, and find unusual thoughts to everyday scenarios. The farewell to deceased finale, Say Hello to Zeus, is as Bowie, simply inimitable and inducing. Whereas halfway through gives us the laugh-out-loud Walk Away is Essex humour at its very best.

Closest you’ll get to see him to here is Bath’s Komedia on the 12th December, for now this masterful album, out via Nothing Fancy Records, is interesting, to say the least, an essential item for enthusiasts of the quirky and unusual, making the world seem that much smaller, and amusing, for lonely hearts.

I’m quite happy, thank you, but loved it nonetheless, cos it ain’t always been that way. And that’s it, right there, I figure it’s not only my association Scott is from my motherland, but there’s something I think anyone with a heart will identify with here, and that’s something really rather special.


WIN 2 tickets HERE

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Longcoats Get Dancing

Opps, near-on delayed a month due to the amount of work involved with promoting our Julia’s House album, other stuff going on, and generally slacking off in my garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts, I’ve a backlist of music to tell you about, hopefully, before you visualise me slacking off in the garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts.

To begin, Bath’s indie-pop favs, Longcoats have an official new bassist, Will Vickery. The band claim he was “a stray man we found on the street and august-rush style he could just hear the music and play it.” Proof in the pudding, I’ll double-bet ya you’ll going to love their new belter, “Get Dancing,” which is, incidentally just what we all need right now.

Will Vickery

Probably why it’s blossoming attention and airtime from the likes of BBC Bristol, Target, Soho Radio, Sheppey FM, New York’s New Visions Radio Network, and even Australia’s Valley FM, and seeing them bookings at Moles, Brighton’s Pipeline, and supporting The Rift at Swindon’s Rolleston.

Just as Pretty in Pink did, which incidentally Longcoats kindly donated to our aforementioned and plugged charity fundraising compilation, (which I’m not going to shut up about until you buy it) Get Dancing is symbolic of the band’s ability to compose such a beguiling and catchy riff it feels like it’s always been in your life after just one listen.

It’s lively, carefree, resides bopping over hopeless romantically conversing, as it says on the tin, encouraging to dance in both sound and theme. And with that, I should take heed, stop writing how great it is and just add the Spotify link so you can hear it for yourself and I can revert back to the building mountain of new music I’ve yet to explore. But rest assured, this one is a keeper, and perhaps true to the word; I should get dancing if I’m ever going to work off this belly hanging over my khaki shorts!


OUT NOW! Various Artists 4 Julia’s House

As a nipper I’d spend days, entire school holidays, making mixtapes as if I worked for Now, That’s What I Call Music! In the era before hi-fi, I’d sit holding a microphone to the radio’s speaker, adventurously attempting to anticipate when Tony Blackburn was going to talk over the tune, and just when In the Air Tonight peaked with Phil’s crashing drums, my dad would shout up the stairs that my tea was ready; eternally caught on tape, at least until my Walkman screwed up the cassette.

Crude to look back, even when I advanced to tape-to-tape, I discovered if I pressed the pause button very slowly on the recording cassette deck, it would slide into the next song, and with a second of grinding squeal Howard Jones glided into Yazoo!! Always the DJ, just never with the tech! Rest assured; this doesn’t happen on this, our Various Artists compilation album, 4 Julia’s House. And oh, have I got some news about that?!

Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….  

We did it! Thanks once again to all our fabulous contributing artists, our third instalment of detailed sleeve notes will follow shortly, but for now, I couldn’t wait another day, therefore, I’ve released it half a day early, this afternoon!

Now all that needs to happen is to get promoting it, and you can help by sharing news of this on your social media pages, thank you. Bloggers and media please get in touch, and help me raise some funds for Julia’s House.

I’ve embedded a player, in which you should be able to get a full try before you buy, I believe you get three listens before it’ll default and tell you to buy it. I hope you enjoy, it has been a mission and half, but one I’d gladly do again.

Please note: there are many artists giving it, “oh no, I was going to send you a track!” Fear not, there is still time, as I’ll causally start collecting tunes for a volume 2, and when the time is ready and we have enough songs, we will do it. It might be for another charity, I’d personally like to do another raising funds for The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, but that’s unconfirmed as of yet.

You know, sometimes I think I could raise more money with less effort by trekking down through the Market Place in a bath of cold baked beans, but I wanted to bring you a treasured item comprising of so many great artists we’ve featured, or will be featuring in the near future on Devizine. Never before has all these artists been on one huge album like this, and look, even if you don’t care for a particular tune, there’s 46 of them, check my maths as I pride myself on being exceptionally rubbish at it, but I make that 22p a track, and all for such a worthy cause!


Click for info on Julia’s House

“We are so grateful to Devizine and all of the local artists who are taking part in the charity album to raise funds for Julia’s House. We don’t receive any government funding for the care we give to families in Wiltshire, so the support we receive from our local community is so important.”

Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House

Devizine Proudly Presents Various Artists 4 Julia’s House; Here’s the Track Listing!

Sleeve Notes for our Album 4 Julia’s House

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I hope! The track listing and details of all our wonderful songs presented on our forthcoming album, Various Artists 4 Julia’s House. Read on in awe….

Pre-order album on Bandcamp here!

Released: 29th June 2021

1. Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie

2. King Dukes – Dying Man

3. Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey view

4. Timid Deer – The Shallows

5. Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone

6. Strange Folk – Glitter

7. Strange Tales – Entropy

8. Paul Lappin – Broken Record

9. Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved

10. Jon Veale – Flick the Switch

11. Wilding – Falling Dream

12. Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo

13. Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station

14. Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow

15. Will Lawton – Evanescence

16. Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True

17. Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us

18. Richard Wileman – Pilot

19. Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?

20. Kier Cronin – Crying

21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)

22. Mr Love & Justice – The Other Side of Here

23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road

24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time

25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark

26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That

27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink

28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children

29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup

30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark

31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue

32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down

33. The Boot Hill All Stars – Monkey in the Hold

34. Mr Tea & The Minions – Mutiny

35. Cosmic Shuffling – Night in Palermo

36. Boom Boom Bang Bang – Blondie & Ska

37. The Birth of Bonoyster – The Way I Like to Be

38. The Oyster – No Love No Law

39. The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show – Ghosts

40. Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves – This Time

41. Cutsmith – Osorio

42. The Tremor Tones – Don’t Darken my Door

43. Big Ship Alliance – All in this Thing Together

44. Neonian – Bubblejet

45. First Born Losers – Ground Loop

I’ll tell you what though, kids. This has been a lot more work than I originally anticipated! Yeah, I figured, just collect some tunes, let the artists do all the hard work and take the credit! But no, mate, wasn’t like that at all. The most important part for me, is ensuring the artists are properly thanked, so, just like those Now, That’s What I Call Music albums, I wanted to write up a full track listing with sleeve notes and links. Please support the artists you like on the album by checking them out, following and liking on social media and buying their music.

But to list all 45 tunes in one article will blow the attention span of the most avid reader, and if, like me, you’ve the attention span of a goldfish, find below the first twenty, and then the next 25 will follow as soon as my writer’s cramp ceases! Just putting them onto the bag was tedious enough, but worth the effort.


To all the artists below, message me if links are incorrect or broken, or if there’s any changes to the details you’d like me to edit, thanks, you blooming superstars.

1- Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie

Not so much that Julie is similar to Julia, there could be no song more apt to start the album. Something of a local musical legend is Pete Lamb, owner of The Music Workshop, producing and recording local, national and international artists. His career in music stretches back to the sixties, creating such groups as The Colette Cassin Quintet and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats. Yet it is also his aid to local music which makes him a prominent figure, Kieran J Moore tells how Pete lent him equipment for the first Sheer Music gigs.

Pete Lamb

A wonderful rock n roll ballad with a poignant backstory, Julie was written in remembrance of Pete’s daughter who passed away in 2004 to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was featured on an album for the charity Hope for Tomorrow. The song also features Cliff Hall, keyboardist with the Shadows for many years, playing piano and strings.

Cliff Hall

2 – The King Dukes – Dying Man

Formed in Bristol in April 2019, a merger of a variety of local bands, including Crippled Black Phoenix, Screamin’ Miss Jackson and the John E. Vistic Experience, The King Dukes combine said talent and experience to create a unique, authentic sound, dipped in a heritage reuniting contemporary slices of British RnB with a dollop of Memphis soul.

Dying Man is a prime example, taken from the album Numb Tongues which we fondly reviewed back in the October of 2019. The brilliance of which hasn’t waned for me yet, and isn’t likely to.

The King Dukes

3- Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey

One cannot chat about reggae in Swindon without Erin’s name popping up. Keyboardist in the former ska-revival band, The Skanxters during the nineties, Erin now operates under various guises; the rock steady outfit Erin Bardwell Collective chiefly, experimental dub project Subject A with Dean Sartain, and The Man on the Bridge with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, to name but a few.

(Like the Reflection on) The Liffey is an eloquently emotive tune, staunch to the ethos of reggae, yet profoundly unique to appeal further. It is taken from the album Interval, one of two solo ventures for Erin during lockdown.

Erin Bardwell

4 – Timid Deer – The Shallows

My new favourite thing, after noting Timid Deer supported the Lost Trades debut gig at Trowbridge’s Pump. Though self-labelled indie, I was surprised how electronica they are, with a nod to the ninety’s downtempo scene of bands like Morcheeba and Portishead, hold the trip hop element. This Salisbury five-piece consisting of vocalist Naomi Henstridge, keyboardist Tim Milne, Tom Laws on double bass, guitarist Matt Jackson and drummers Chris and Jason Allen have created such an uplifting euphoric sound, hairs stand tall on the back of your neck.   

Taken from the 2019 album Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 1, I’m so pleased to present this.

Naomi Henstridge


5- Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone

Yes, enthralled to have the song frontman Robert Hardie of Duck n Cuvver refers to as “his baby.” This is Salisbury Celtic roots rock band so aching to film part of their video for Henge of Stone inside Stonehenge, they’ve campaigned for the funds to do it, ending with Rab breaking into the monument to promote the campaign!

With references to the importance of solstice and the pilgrimage to Stonehenge, what other song could be so locally linked?

Duck & Curver

6 – Strange Folk – Glitter

A dark west country folk band in the realm of a beatnik time of yore, with a serious slice of gothic too, Strange Folk came to my attention playing the Vinyl Realm stage at the Devizes Street Festival. Hailing from Hertfordshire, band members also now reside in Somerset, Strange Folk is comprised of four songwriters; vocalist Annalise Spurr, guitarist David Setterfield, Ian Prangnell on bass and backing vocals, and drummer Steve Birkett. Glitter features cello by Helen Robertson, and is a name-your-price gift to fans during lockdown, a wonderful teaser which if you like, and I can’t see why you wouldn’t, you should try the 2014 mini-album Hollow, part one.

Strange Folk

7 – Strange Tales – Entropy

With singer Sally Dobson on the Wiltshire acoustic circuit and the synth/drum programming of Paul Sloots, who resides in West Sussex, catching this duo, Strange Tales live would be a rare opportunity not to be missed. Though their brilliance in melodic, bass and synth-driven goth-punk is captured in the 2018 album Unknown to Science, in which our track Entropy is taken.

Their songs relate baroque cautionary tales drawn from the murkier corners of the human psyche, while retaining a pop sensibility and stripped-down, punk-rock approach. Fans of the darker side of eighties electronica, of Joy Division and Depeche Mode will love this. You can buy this album at Vinyl Realm in Devizes.

Strange Tales; Paul Sloots & Sally Dobson

8- Paul Lappin – Broken Record

Imagine George Harrison present on the Britpop scene, and you’re somewhere lost in Lappin’s world. Paul hails from Swindon originally, but resides mostly in the Occitanie region of the south of France, where he wrote and recorded the mind-blowingly brilliant album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, released in October 2020. Our chosen track, Broken Record was a single just prior, in August, and features Lee Alder – bass guitar, electric guitar, Robert Brian – drums, Jon Buckett – Hammond organ, electric guitar, Paul Lappin – vocals, synths, Lee Moulding – percussion, Harki Popli – table.

Music & lyrics by Paul Lappin ©2020. Recorded at Earthworm Recording Studio, Swindon. Produced & Mixed by Jon Buckett. Mastered by Pete Maher.

Paul Lappin

9- Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved

Now Devizes-based, Bill Green was a genuine Geordie Britpop article, co-creating the local band Still during those heady nineties. Today his band on the circuit, Billy Green 3 consists also of Harvey Schorah and Neil Hopkins, who’s talents can be witnessed in the awesome album this track comes from, also titled Still. Mastered and produced by Martin Spencer and Matt Clements at Potterne’s Badger Set studio in 2020, it’s wonderfully captures the remnants of the eighties scooter scene in reflected in Britpop.

I’m sure you can buy the album at Vinyl Realm, Devizes; I would if I were you.

Billy Green 3

10- Jon Veale – Flick the Switch

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, Flick the Switch, also illuminated Potterne’s Badger Set studio in August of 2020, and it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for the first lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals. Glad to have featured it then, even more pleased Jon contributed it to this album.

Jon Veale

11- Wilding – Falling Dream

What can be said which hasn’t about Avebury’s exceptionally talented singer-songwriter George Wilding? A true legend in the making. Now residing in Bristol, George has the backing of some superb musicians to create the force to be reckoned with, Wilding. Perry Sangha assists with writing, as well electric guitar, loads more electric guitars, acoustic guitar, organ and weird synth things. Bassist James Barlow also handles backing vocals and cous cous. Daniel Roe is on drums.

The debut EP, Soul Sucker knocked me for six back in November 2018, as did this here latest single recorded at the elusive Dangerous Dave’s Den, mixed and mastered by Dan Roe, during October last year.

Wilding

12 – Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo

One good thing about preparing this album is to hear bands I’ve seen the names of, kicking around, and added to our event guide many times over, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see at a gig. Marlborough-based Barrelhouse is one, and after hearing Mainline Voodoo, I’m intending to make a beeline to a gig. Favourites over at their local festival, MantonFest, headlined Marlborough’s 2019 Christmas Lights Switch-On, and right up my street!

Formed in early 2014, Barrelhouse offer vintage blues and rock classics, heavily influenced by the golden age of Chicago Blues and the early pioneers of the British blues scene, staying true to the essence that made these tunes great and adding their own style of hard-edge groove. Overjoyed to feature Mainline Voodoo, title track from their 2020 album, which broke into the UK’s national Blues Top 40.

Barrelhouse

13 – Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station (R. Davies)

Absolutely bowled over, I am, to have Swindon’s road-driving rock band with a hint of punk, Richard Davis & The Dissidents send is this exclusive outtake from the Human Traffic album, out now on Bucketfull of Brains. We reviewed it back in December. Recorded at Mooncalf Studios. Produced by Richard Davies, Nick Beere and Tim Emery. If the outtake is this amazing, imagine the album!

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

14 – Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow

Lockdown may’ve delayed new material from Devizes-based progressive-metal five-piece Kinasis, but frontman Tom Harris has sent us something solo, and entirely different. Ebb & Flow is an exclusive track made for this album, a delicate and beautiful strings journey; enjoy.

Tom Harris

15 – Will Lawton & The Alchemists – Evanescence

Wiltshire singer-songwriter, pianist and music therapist Will Lawton, here with his group The Alchemists. A weave of many progressive influences from jazz to folk, Will recently surprised me by telling me drum n bass is among them too. The latest album ‘Salt of the Earth, Vol. 1 (Lockdown)’, is a collection of original poems embedded in meditative piano and ambient soundscapes. But we’ve taken this spellbinding tune from the previous release, Abbey House Session.

Will Lawton

16- Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True

Hailing from Essex but prevalent on our local live music circuit, with some amazing performances at Devizes’ Southgate, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective offer us this uplifting country-rock/roots anthem, which, after one listen, will see you singing the chorus, guaranteed. It is the finale to their superb 2020 album, Do What you Love.

Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective rocking the Southgate last year

17 – Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us

If we’ve been massively impressed with Wiltshire’s country sensation, Kirsty Clinch’s new country-pop singles Fit the Shoe, Around and Around, and most recently, Waters Running Low and anticipating her forthcoming album, it’s when we get the golden opportunity to catch her live which is really heart-warming. This older track, recorded at Pete Lamb’s Music Workshop, exemplifies everything amazing about her acoustic live performances, her voice just melts my soul every listen.

Kirsty Clinch


18- Richard Wileman – Pilot

Incredibly prolific, Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman is known for his pre-symphonic rock band Karda Estra. Idols of the Flesh is his latest offering from a discography of sixteen albums, which we reviewed. Along a similar, blissful ethos Richard Wileman served up Arcana in September this year, where this track is taken from. While maintaining a certain ambiance, his own named productions are more conventional than Karda Estra, more attributed to the standard model of popular music, yet with experimental divine folk and prog-rock, think Mike Oldfield, and you’re part-way there.


19 – Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?

Bristol’s Nigel G Lowndes is a one-man variety show. Vaudeville at times, tongue-in-cheek loungeroom art-punk meets country folk; think if Talking Heads met Johnny Cash. Who? is the unreleased 11th track from his album Hello Mystery, we reviewed in March, and we’re glad to present it here.

Nigel G Lowndes

20 – Kier Cronin – Crying

Unsolicited this one was sent, and I love it for its rockabilly reel although a Google search defines this Swindon based singer songwriter as indie/alternative. Obsessed with the music and the joy of writing, Kier told me, “I once had a dream Bruce Springsteen told me to give it up… So, this one’s for you Bruce!” Crying was released as a single in March, also check out his EP of last year called One.


Nothing Good, Longcoats; I disagree!

Have no worries, Ollie, you’re a spring chicken, mate! Out this Friday, another dynamite single from Bath’s indie-pop trio, Longcoats, and this time it considers age. Subjective, isn’t it? I mean my boss calls me “young Darren,” but my daughter constantly reminds me I’m as ancient as ye gods. I have to wonder what Bruce Springsteen thinks of his nostalgia-related single Glory Days, written at the tender age of thirty-five comparably to his age now, seventy-two. Worse for the Who, they hoped to die before they got old, Daltrey still rocking at seventy-seven.

Similarly, this track, available across streaming sites from Friday 28th May, Nothing Good, reminisces of the golden teenage years, under the pretence “there’s nothing good about getting old.” What about a free bus pass, eh?! It’s as long-a-road as your coats, lads, enjoy it while it lasts, it doesn’t get any better than this. Think of a time when you’ve got more hair in your ears than on your head.

But if you should wish to look me up in my nursing home decades from now, and then let me know how you feel about the connotation of this track, it would be interesting to hear!

I thought I should clear that up, as the song title is ironic against the melody; everything is good about that, better than good, it’s pretty much fantastic. Filled with nostalgia though is the mainstay of this beguiling sound. The shift towards the classic eighties pop-rock sound complimented the previous single, Pretty in Pink, and continues here with this one.

Yet retaining that fresh, current vibe, I’m relishing in this trend, produced by the Longcoats, and other local bands such as Talk in Code, Daydream Runaways and Atari Pilot, I’m virtually contemplating getting my Now albums out to compare, volumes one to ten. As if you’d have heard this in that day of Rubix’s Cubes and Sinclair C5s, it would be astounding. Today, it’s just as great, as if time bypassed the comparatively melancholy indie vibe of the nineties.

It’s how to capture that uplifting, danceable sense within the gloomy theme that we’re not getting any younger, which somehow Longcoats just nail here. A highly enjoyable, layered track with a killer riff. Check it out on Friday. Me? I’m off to get some of those slippers with zips on the side….


Trending…..

The Lost Promises of Sam Bishop

Five years on from Devizes six-form boy band 98 Reasons, we find vocalist and keyboardist Sam Bishop studying music in Winchester, while former Larkin partner Finely Trusler continues working with cousin Harvey as The Truzzy Boys and has become fresh new frontman for local mod heroes, The Roughcut Rebels.

Last week we were able get a valuable insight into Sam’s portfolio and progress, as he releases a five-track EP of new material across streaming platforms; Lost Promises. Seems education pays off; this is a dynamite of powerful pop, and showcases Sam’s vocal range with much more intricate and often daring arrangements.

But perhaps, what is more, there’s matured themes on show. Opening tune, Below the Surface is evidence enough, an emotionally-driven social issues context of two characters, firstly a young single mum thrown out of the family home and a motherless son turning to drug abuse. The haunting piano gathers a peek to courage against the face of misfortune, and it stings.

Relevance is key in a convincing performance of this style, personal reflection on your own words pulls the heartstrings. “I’m so proud of each and every song on it,” Sam says. “They all relate to a significant point of my life, when I was feeling a certain way. it’s the rawest and most explorative I’ve been as a songwriter.”

Image: Nick Padmore

Fallen Sky we’ve reviewed as a single last year, a dark, moody ambience, backed with a deep bassline, sonic piano and ticking drumbeats; as if William Orbit took boyband to dubstep. It characterises dejected teenage anguish and echoes the passion in early romantic interactions. While it’s a bromide subject at the best of times, Sam rests on it well, as was a time when we wanted Phil Collins to have a broken heart, so his reflection on it would be so powerfully crushing and relevant to our own life.

The back riff of Decide trickles, reminding me of the deep South American riffs of the Graceland shadowed Paul Simon sequel The Rhythm of the Saints, but its pace and catchiness makes it perhaps the most beguiling. As the title suggests there’s a romantic dilemma, again cliché subject, but you know Sam’s vocal penitence has it covered to perfection.

We’re lucky enough to have an acoustic version of the fourth track for our forthcoming charity album; I know, yep, I’m working on it, okay! Largely guitar-based, Wild Heart gives prominence in particular to my observation about trialling in Sam’s vocal arrangements, there’s some complicated measures to handle, and he does. Trust is a continuing notion, which makes a running theme, I guess where the title developed from.

The trick is the balance, and Sam’s a magician, but not without friends he thanks for assistance, “this EP wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of some of the best musicians I’ve had the pleasure to work with,” Sam continues, “Toby, Ellie, Martin, Robbie, Woody and Stephanie.”

As it suggests, The End is the perfect finale, a ballad of missing someone, praying fondness will prevail and it’s not the end. In this track, and in all, there’s a poignant concept, the mainstay of all good pop. Hey, teacher, Sam deserves top marks for this, it’s highly listenable and hauntingly deeper than anything previous, yet retaining freshness of memorable pop. Progress is sweet, and to prove it here’s Sam in his early days with a drumstick up his nostril. Something he’ll annoy for me adding, but honestly bud, you can’t unsee it now!


Song of the Day 36: Daydream Runaways

It’s those guys again. Yes, we’ve reviewed the song before, but this our quick song of day feature, which usually requires a video, and it’s the vid which is new…. and marvelous.

“Something Anerican Pie about it,” Ollie of the Longcoats suggests on Instagram, and I tend to agree. Due to lockdown the Daydreamers haven’t managed to produce a video for it, so photographer Vansessa Paiton made it using stock footage. And what a grand job, it looks fantastic and apt for the tune. Makes feel young again, but I’ll say no more!

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..


Pretty in Pink Longcoats!

Bath’s young indie-pop favourites, Longcoats has a forthcoming belter of a single, with a generous slice of retrospection; you may admire them again today.

As one who usually supports the underdog, I favoured the originally intended ending of the John Hughes cult, Pretty in Pink. Although it’s all in the past, Duckie deserved his promqueen for the overtime he put in. I mean, don’t get me wrong, boyishly I wouldn’t have chucked Kirsty Swanson out of bed, but by the final cut, the Duckster failed at the goal he set. And I liked him, rooted for him against the dweeby snob Blane. Though it was never about the guys fighting, Molly got what she wanted, I suppose, and Duckie learned not to cross the friends barrier; c’est la vie.

But I’m not here to rap eighties coming-of-age romcoms, less you’ll never hear the end of it. Windows down driving music we are here for. Out this Friday (16th April) I’m backing this will be an instant indie-pop anthem, with the same name as that movie.

Frontman Ollie Sharp confesses, “John Huges is a big inspo for us, always loved Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.”

Bath’s Longcoats rocking the summertime vibe with a beguiling riff, and feel good factor. Pretty in Pink has to be the best we’ve heard of this promising indie three-piece, to date.

Akin to recent tunes we’ve reviewed from the likes of Talk in Code, Daydream Runaways and Atari Pilot, here’s a fresh indie track, retaining the contemporary yet with that sublime nod to eighties pop-rock, which, as precisely as the title suggests, wouldn’t look out of place on a John Hughes soundtrack any more than the Psychedelic Furs’ title theme.

It’s an upbeat wah-wah scorcher, fading to emotively driven verses, powerful as anything you might hear on such a film score, with a popping an earing in and punching the sky ending.

Since last October’s awesome EP, named conveniently after the month, things have progressed in a direction I’m liking for the Longcoats, being a Thatcher’s child and all!

This is a grand job, find it on Spotify on Friday. Pre-sale link here.


Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!

It’s not just me, is it? Eighteen seconds into the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, you know, when it breaks, and you’re like, that’s it, right there. It matters not what youth culture you were into, at the time, or even now, it doesn’t give a hoot about your favoured genres, haircut, colour of anorak, age, gender or race, it just does it, and you, you’re like, as I said, that’s it, right there.

Something similar happens with this Cult Figures album Deritend, out last week; heck, if they haven’t even got a comparable name. Perhaps not so nostalgia-filled, as these are all originals, though the sound harks back to an era or yore, when cookies were in a biscuit barrel rather than your web browser, Tories were governed a demoness made from iron rather than a clown made of teddy bear stuffing, and a wet wipe was when your mum spat into a handkerchief and wiped it over your Space-Dust covered chops.

Mind, as happens when I’m sent files not numbered, it lists them alphabetically rather than in the running order, so the opening track is actually the penultimate Camping in the Rain, but it makes the perfect intro into the world of these London-based masters of retrospection. From its off, it’s, well, off, leaving me to reminisce about those classic post-punk new wave bands of the eighties. At times though, as it’s a mesh of this and reflective of the scooterist mod culture of same period, I’m thinking of the likes of the Jam and Merton Parkas too. Contemplate the musical differences are subtle, though worlds apart at the time, and this sits comfortably somewhere in-between.

To add to their perfection of authenticity, one must note this is the second album from Cult Figures, and is comprised of tracks written in their earlier incarnation between 1977 and 1980, just recorded more recently.

The real opening tune, Chicken Bones, has the same impact, something beguiling and anthemic, setting the way it’s going to go down. Donut Life, which follows, sounds like carefree pop, the Chords, for a comparison. In fact, as it progresses the guitar riffs of next tune, Lights Out, is sounding more pre-gothic, Joy Division, yet with a catchy whistle more akin to The Piranhas. Things get really poignant with Exile, almost dub Visage meets the Clash, and Omen extenuates the seriousness of a running theme.  

“Deritend draws a line under the past,” they explain, “all eleven tracks composed and recorded since our 2016 comeback, simultaneously reflecting a maturity gained in 40 years of life experience, whilst still embracing the accessible three Ps of the early days; punk, pop and psychedelia.” The album’s title owes to a historic industrial area outside Birmingham’s centre, “a few miles from where Gary and I grew up.”

The mysterious iconic name was a bus route terminus and has a strong emotional connection to the band, “evoking the nervous excitement of those long rides into town on our way to Barbarellas. But it conveys so much more: Deritend is an album that reflects on the past, speculates on the future, but for the most part is fairly and squarely a comment on the lives we are living now.” They convey this well, for through its retrospection, subject matter, growing up with the dilapidation of a working-class industrial chip, could equally apply to then, or now.

A timeless piece of art within a captivating musical style which embraces the traditions of generation X, just curled up at an edge like an old poster on the congregated iron fence of a closed factory. I mean Silver Blades and White Noise crave you dive back into punk; there’s a definite Clash feel to the latter. As girl’s names for titles generally do, Julie-Anne is archetypical upbeat but themed of desire, and the sound of it is particularly challenging to pin down, there’s Weller there, but a drum roll you’d expect Annabella Lwin to surface from (of Bow Wow Wow if you need to, Google it, youngster!)

Most bizarre and experimental is the brilliantly executed talky sound of Concrete and Glass. Cast your mind back to 86, if poss, remember Jim’s tune, yeah? Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial, and you’re not far from the mark.

The aforementioned Camping in the Rain which could’ve been the opening track, is next, and it’s the epithet of all we’ve mentioned. This combination is not juxtaposed cumbersomely like a tribute act, rather the genuine article lost in time, and it, well, in a nutshell, absolutely rocks. The finale, Privilege is plentiful to summarise; Clash-styled punk rock, themed on the expectations of irritated propertyless youth, akin to Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.

But, unless all you want is a zig-a-zig-ah and to spice up your life with commercialised bubble-gum pop, nothing here is oven-ready for criticism, just relish yourself in a bygone era, and rock.


The Lost Trades Live Stream their new album on Friday; tickets here

Trending……

Crossed Wires with a Timid Deer

OMG, and coming from someone who refuses to use OMG on principle, rather than its blasphemous connotations, that old dogs, new tricks, I don’t usually conform to trending words or abbreviations. I just don’t get the irony. I mean, kids use the word sick to mean something that’s good. Why can’t they just use wicked like we used to do?

Anyway, it’s my third music review of the day, and while I may be knocking them out, tangents tend to creep in without apologies. But here’s my new favourite discovery while washing the dishes, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, a band I’ve seen listed here and there, supporting our Lost Trades, a track I loved on Screamlite’s New Hero Sounds NHS fundraising compilation, et all, but had yet to delve fully into. And the result is the reason I used OMG despite all I said about it.

Ah yeah, at the Lost Trades launch at the Pump!

All I will say is, if our mission is to seek out new local music, new bands and boldly go where no blog has blogged before, Captain Kirk needs a crew therefore so do I. Mind you, my own daughter suggests I look more like Suru on Discovery, which I beg to differ; the guy walks like the back end of a donkey while I’ve got the more Charlie Chaplin swagger, and I excuse another tangent. Why didn’t someone least hint, oi, Worrow, I reckon you’d like Timid Deer, reckon its right up your street?

Before I’d even put the fairy liquid in the sink, I’m warmed to these mellow electronic and soulful vibes. Akin to Portishead and Morcheeba, without the need to be locked in the nineties trip hop era, Timid Deer is a blessing in the indie-fuse of euphoric keys by Tim, with Tom on double bass, guitarist Matt, drummer Chris, and the mind-blowingly gifted vocals of Naomi, who has the vocal strength of Mayyadda, but with the childlike uniqueness of Bjork.

The name-your-price single Crossed Wires came out end of last month, unbeknown to me. An uplifting piano three-minute masterwork, engulfing your soul and building layers with smooth electronic beats. Evocative as Enya without the orchestrated strings, as expressive as Clannad without the folk roots, and closer to Yazoo via electronica, rather than the aforementioned influences of Portishead and Morcheeba. Ticks all my boxes.

There are two gorgeous previous albums, Mountains stretches back as far as 2012 and Melodies for Nocturnal from 2019, and there you go, see, I’m nocturnal, why didn’t someone nudge me further towards this great band? I dunno, if a jobs worth doing…..


Trending….

The Space Between Mike Clerk Ears….

My teenage daughter’s banter knows no limits. Upon noting I was wearing a logoed T-shirt the Swindon sound system “Mid Life Krisis” kindly sent, she responded thus; “you can’t wear that, you’re too old for a midlife crisis!” There comes a time in life when you have to cut your losses, realise there’s no longer a point in assessing prospects and goals, and getting upset you failed to reach them. The anguish of youth is but a fleeting memory, and you’re numb to life, rather than wallowing in self-pity you’re neither here nor there on achievements and failures, simply plodding on worrying more about earwax or teeth issues.

It’s the reason I absorb indie-rock with a squint, but then I’ve never felt like barging through pedestrians like Richard Ashcroft, ignorant to the fact others have issues far outreaching my own. I cannot abide themes of despair and downright dark subject matter without reasonable motive; they do nothing to cheer me up. Music from my childhood spat rebellious notions that the world was shit, then electronica came and we went off into the fields and warehouses waving our arms in the air, throwing our troubles away. There was never despair on the rave scene, no woeful self-analysis and no political tirade, until they came for us.    

Yet to expect a thoroughly negative review from me is rare, and for the debut album of Mike Clerk, The Space Between my Ears, I have to confess it does what it says on the tin, and does it very well. There’s thoughtful prose, if rather negatively, but it doesn’t trudge on as my niggling criticisms over much indie; at times there’s uplifting riffs, but the theme is unfortunately despondent. Has Mike never heard of the “every cloud” idiom?  

Many, say younger people, will love this with bells on, though, and for that much this is a damn fine album, if not my cup of tea. See, I like it when our George Wilding does melancholy in a pub, because he does it so well. Heck, the guy even bought me to reconsidering the worth of Radiohead! And similarly, there’s a tinge of euphoria in the way this former frontman of The Lost Generation, plays this out, musically. Lyrically I was left waiting for the silver lining, which simply doesn’t arrive, and this does nothing for maintaining my interest.

The proficiency and skill on show here is top dollar, Clerk has a blinding pedigree of experience in the music industry; the band played exclusive gigs for the NME, Alan McGee’s Death Disco club nights, and Clerk had a close call with guitar duties for Primal Scream. A GoFundMe campaign put the ball in motion for his solo career, The Space Between My Ears was the result, released yesterday (26th March.)

Written and recorded almost-entirely by Clerk at his own home studio, additional drum sessions took place at the local YMCA in Kirkcaldy. With contributions from sound-engineer Alan Ramsey, the album was mastered by Pete Maher of whom has the likes of The Rolling Stones, U2, and Paul Weller on his résumé. This stamp of professionalism shows through in the rewarding sound.

I’m supposing lockdown has bought a natural movement towards misery. Clerk’s words inspired by isolation and the endless roll of apocalyptic news, flow aptly into these themes of redemption, mental health and addiction. If here’s alt-rock’s mainstay, the desolation of unhappiness, I’m going to criticise it. Yes, The Space Between My Ears delivers an acute and perfected mind-set of the human psyche, but like watching a perpetual boxset of EastEnders, it does nothing to turn that frown upside down. And for me, there’s a crucial element to life sorely missing here. Laughter is the best medicine, even if it’s insane giggling like The Joker.

Yet I confess, I like the blues, I like how every morning Muddy Waters wakes up his woman is gone and his dog has died, I crave his misfortune. There’s something beguiling in that authentic twangy guitar sound, which the electric drone of cantankerous indie or alt.rock doesn’t appeal in quite the same manner. Not for me at any rate, but if it does for you, I would ignore the bleating rant of a grouch who’s watching fifty rush over a mountain swiftly towards him, as this album divinely flows and clearly has perfected the art of it!


Trending……

Andy J Williams; Buy all his $tuff!

I’m sure it’ll shock you to hear, I made a technical hitch, best described as a cock-up. It seldom happens, blame my masculinity; the wife often reminds me men cannot multi-task. We featured the indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter Andy J Williams last month, as part of our Song of the Day feature, and I promised to review the whole album “Buy all the $tuff,” which was released at the beginning of February.

Musicians you wait for like buses, then two come along at the same time, and accidently I mind-merged them. Even joked in our Song of the Day post not to confuse Andy J Williams with his namesake senior easy listening giant, then mixed him up with someone else, whose name is nothing remotely similar. The only parallel is they’re both from Bristol, though many are, but being as the other artist’s album involved in this cock-up isn’t released until next week, both got put on the backburner. My virtual to-do-list saved the day; acts as my brain.

Extend a short story longer, here’s an apology to Andy, and a belated review of “Buy all the $tuff,” which is very worthy of not being missed out. To begin with his cohesive band firmly behind him, there’s a Britpop feel, I sensed, vocally, a similarity with Trowbridge’s finest, Phil Cooper, if Phil was aiming for pop. But there’s a lot going on here, influences are wide but mould into each other exceptionally well; a tad tongue-in-cheek at times too. It’s indie on the outer crust, but with a dynamite mantle blending of layers which incorporates funk, new wave post-punk, art-pop, and contemporary electric bluesy-folk, all with equal measure and passion.

Reminisces flood my neurons upon initial listening, of how eighties electronica fused funk into pop, a kind of “funk-lite,” avoiding the substantial seventies untainted funk vibe, and through post-punk new wave, rewrote the club-pop formula. Bands like Duran Duran and Roxette spring to mind, I’d even go as far as Michael Jackson meets Huey Lewis, but while I’m aware there’s a bizarre subgenre called “funk metal,” pleased to report Andy doesn’t get that heavy! This is more like musical cubism, with a skilful composition akin to King Tubby’s mixing board, and it comes out the other end as extraordinarily unique beguiling pop.

Don’t take the opening Britpop track as red, the next, Post Nup, opens up this funk riff, but no matter where it takes you, lyrically this well-crafted too, written with thoughtful prose. There’s topical subject matter amidst the archetypical romance, including the referendum and social media, but no theme distracts from the overall musical presentation. Night Terrors, for example, works opposite to Jon Amor, who uses Elvis Costello pop to create a more frivolous blues, Andy maintains pop by adding elements of electric blues. Then, piano solo, layered with subtle percussion. Andy rinses a fine ballad, undoubtedly the most evoking track on the album, Stay.

Buy This $tuff reaches an apex immediately after, Something to Believe in is masterfully danceable, bathed with handclaps and a funky riff, it is to Andy what Superstition is to Stevie Wonder. From here on, the album takes to this upbeat terpsichore concept. It’s highly entertaining.

Ballads follow, Celia and Now She’s Gone are particularly adroit, but you know Andy isn’t going to end this with melancholy. Be Mine returns to rock as it’s mainstay. Radicalised equally comes in hard, with an electronica feel. And Your Truth Hits Everyone is anthemic, concluding there’s a need to ponder what the Beatles would sound like if still around today, with Britpop, new wave electronica, and clubland techno at their disposal. Through this, I might provide a suggestion.


Trending….

Song of the Day 23: Nigel G. Lowndes

Nigel writes to confirm he’s from the “Devizes side of Bristol!” Had to laugh about the perceived strictness of an obnoxious aging school teacher, and feel I should explain. While Devizine does offer local news subjects, since lockdown we’ve blown up our border control and now rampage internationally when it comes to featuring arts and music. So, it makes hide nor hair what side of Bristol you come from, or even if you come from Bristol Connecticut, if I like it or I think my readers will, I’ll mention it, and despite the title, Boring, yeah, I do.

Seems we’re alike, Nigel, least in the concept don’t judge a book by its cover, because this nugget of quirky art-pop reminds me of Talking Heads and is far from boring. Nigel explained the meaning, “[it’s] written after spending time with people who only seem to like the sound of their own voice – warning, I may be one of them!” Yep, me too. But if we’re not one of them, we all know one who is.

“The song started off as a Stones/Pistols rant,” he continued, “and has developed into a soft indie rock stomp, with an added lyrical twist at the end.”

It’s the first single from a forthcoming album, Hello Mystery, which I think we need to review nearer the time. Until then, that’s my song of the day, very good, carry on….


Song of the Day 21: Andy J Williams

Ever just float around your favourite social media site with no objective in mind, to unexpectedly find something which pounces on you as utterly brilliant, and wonder why you’ve not heard about it before?

Took a second of watching this to establish it’s one of those rare occasions, and not just a pointless scrolling exercise for your index finger. You know the kind, where you only see your mate’s unappealing dinner, a wonky, windup political opinion, or video of a young prankster posing as a magician hoaxing eye candy on a Florida beach.

Took a further second to confirm it’s not to be confused with senior easy listening giant, Andy Williams, rather an indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter namesake, but with an added middle J, a penchant for a funky riff and eye for a beguiling tune.

Check this cracking danceable video out, where one could ponder if the middle J stands for “Jacko!”

Not that I’m usually one to allow a cracking video convince me, even with dancing stormtroopers. So, you should note, he’s on his third album “Buy all the $tuff,” of which you can, here. I’m reckoning I need a window to review this fully in the near future. For now it came as big as a nice surprise as spotting an unidentified circular yellow object in the sky this morning, for a near halfhour! Amazing.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on…..


Song of the Day 20: Darling Boy

Self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer and actor, Darling Boy, aka Alexander Gold adds reminisces about his game childhood with this video for his new single “Tea Drinkers of the World.” An unusual move for this brand of indie-pop, but a colourful and entertaining 16-bit retro game fashioned video; enjoy.

And that’s my song for the day. Stream it here. Facebook here. Very good. Carry on….


Song the Day 10: Summit 9 Studios

Funkin’ for Devizes. This lockdown project from Tom Harris, Dan and Ross Allen and Rich, Summit 9 Studios has just been given a funky lift with this blinder, Change Change Change, bang on cue for me hunting for a song of the day.

Saucy effort guys, love it!

Very good. Carry on….


Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!

The last thing Robert Hardie wants is to be portrayed as villainous, or condoning mass trespass, though he accepts some might interpret breaking over the fence at Stonehenge as such. Chatting to this veteran on the phone this morning, he described the exhilaration and sensation of wellbeing, wandering between Wiltshire’s legendary stone pillars, but expressed he doesn’t wish to encourage others to follow his example, only to raise awareness of his crusade.

Frustration with English Heritage was the prime motive for taking the leap, displayed in his video doing the rounds on social media. But one half of Salisbury folk-rock indie duo, Duck n Cuvver has been fundraising for over three years to be able to shoot the final part of a music video inside the stone circle. “Initially,” he said, “English Heritage said it would cost £750, then they suddenly upped it to £4,500.” I asked Rob if they gave an explanation, a breakdown of what the costs involved to them would be. He replied they hadn’t.

My musing wandered over the occasion two years ago when local reggae band, Brother from Another pulled a publicity stunt recording themselves atop Silbury Hill, to wide criticism, but how The Lost Trades recently played around Avebury stone circle without trouble. Rob and Ian cannot call a compromise though, being the subject of the song, Henge of Stone, is as it says on the tin. As he explained to the Salisbury Journal back in 2019, “This video will make history – singing about Stonehenge in Stonehenge.”

Clearly enthusiastic about covering our ancient local landmarks as song themes, Rob told me he’d written about Avebury too, and how he played them to the solstice crowd there. This part of our conversation ended with him reciting a few verses in song, and expressing the feeling of joy as the crowds sang them back to him.

While he didn’t rule out this was a publicity stunt too, we discussed the necessities of the project. Rather than being a colossal movie production, with the atypical entourage, trailers and crew, all that’s needed is his partner in crime, Ian Lawes, and possibly the accompanying musicians, Chris Lawes, Jamez Williams, Louis Sellers and Paul Loveridge, a cameraman and a few instruments. The mechanics of shooting the footage would be simple, it’s unplugged, being there’s no electricity on site, and Rob explained how mats would be provided to protect the grass. Besides, if EH’s concerns were for the welfare of the site they’d simply say no, surely, not put a price on it.

There’s therefore no justice, in my mind, really, on the exceptionally high price tag. Only to assume English Heritage is out to profit. Contemplating on recent outcries concerning activities around Stonehenge; the solstice parking debacle, closing for winter solstice and of course the tunnel, which we mutually dismissed as ludicrous on the grounds excavating there would obviously turn up some ancient findings and archaeological digs, and protection rights would whack the project way over budget, it feels the quango run agency is not the best method to protect our heritage sites, if the conservative ethos is revenue driven rather than insuring it’s splendour is for all to enjoy and savour. As Rob points out in the film, “Stonehenge belongs to fucking us!”

Ah, story checks out; even English Heritage states similar on their website, if not quite so sweary! “The monument remained in private ownership until 1918 when Cecil Chubb, a local man who had purchased Stonehenge from the Atrobus family at an auction three years previously, gave it to the nation. Thereafter, the duty to conserve the monument fell to the state, today a role performed on its behalf by English Heritage.” It’s basically one extortionate babysitter, calling the shots.

I enjoyed chatting with Rob, even if my plan to record the dialogue backfired due to my poor tech skills! I apologise to him for this improv article.

I’m surprised to not have previously heard of Duck n Cuvver, we tend to get vague coverage of the Salisbury area; something I need to work on. We did rap about our mutual friend, the pianist prodigy, young Will Foulstone, among other things.

The duo are sound as a pound, though, real quality folk rock come indie sound, the song is cracking, proper job. Which is why they’ve supported the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and The Feeling, and recently performed at the National Armed Forces Day. Ardent about his music, this veteran explained his service inspired the band name, and continued to express his passion for this particular song, something which has been evolving over five years, and it shows. He described it as a “celebration of life,” dedicated to a friend who passed away, from cancer.

Both members of the duo are good, charitable folk, and if Rob did climb the fence at Stonehenge recently, note he lives within the restricted range of it to constitute it being his daily exercise. From our phone call alone, I could tell they’re not the sort to abuse the trust, if it was given to them, to perform at Stonehenge, that’d be a magical moment, and, well, we could do with a magical moment right now. So, if you can help fund their campaign, you’ll find a link to do so here.

I’ll pop the song which is kicking up all the fuss below, and leave with a thanks for the natter, Rob, and I wish you all the best with the crusade; Stonehenge or bust!

    


ScreamLite’s New Hero Sounds for NHS Charities Together

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?!

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/various-artists-new-hero-sounds

1. Jonah Matranga: Everyday Angels (OG Home Demo)

Written, Performed & Recorded at home by Jonah Matranga

http://www.jonahmatranga.com https://jonahmatranga.bandcamp.com/

2. Spice & The Readies: Sway A Little Closer

Written & Performed by Tom Spice, Becky Doyle, Tomasz Williams & Jack Quance

Recorded at University Of Gloucestershire

https://www.facebook.com/tomspicemusic

3. Clayton Blizzard: Sad Music Is Uplifting

Written & Performed by Clayton Blizzard

Taken from One, Two, Three, Home

https://claytonblizzard.bandcamp.com/

4. Chris Webb: Blind

Written by Chris Webb

Performed by Chris Webb & Jack Cookson

Taken from Bungalow

http://www.chriswebbmusic.co.uk http://www.chriswebb.bandcamp.com

5. Venture: This One’s For You

Written & Performed by Lucy Burrows, Miles Burrows, Thom Mutch, Josh Fairhurst & Mike

Hargreaves

Recorded at Jaraf House Studios & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRRCDS003

Taken from This One’s For You

https://www.facebook.com/VentureMusicOfficial

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/track/venture-this-ones-for-you

6. 1 In Five: Evolve

Written & Performed by 1 In Five

Taken from Evolve

https://www.1infive.com/ https://1infive.bandcamp.com/

7. Grandmother Corn: Brighton Mule Blues EXCLUSIVE

Written & Performed by Grandmother Corn

Recorded at Haukivuori, Finland

https://www.facebook.com/grandmothercorn/ https://grandmothercorn.bandcamp.com/

8. Alien Stash Tin: The Man In The Tin Foil Hat

Written & Performed by Jon Wisbey, Jon Gould, AJ Pearse & Bruce Morgan

Taken from Bonfire Of The Sanities EP

Recorded at Attic Attack Studios, Bristol

https://www.facebook.com/alienstashtin https://alienstashtin1.bandcamp.com/

9. Anhfren: Nefoedd Un Uffern Lall

Written & Performed by Anhfren

Published by Rhys Mwyn Publishing

Released on Anhfren Records, 1985

10. Stolen Dead Music: Raison D’Etre

Written & Performed by Jimi Trimmer, Issak Patterson, Lewis Patterson & Keith Halpenny

Recorded at Heart Studios, Gateshead & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRRCDS011

Taken from Raison D’Etre

https://www.facebook.com/realStolenDeadMusic

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/stolen-dead-music-raison-detre

11. GagReflex: Facedown

Written & Performed by Stuart Hawkins & Seb Goffe

Taken from What We Owe To Each Other

https://www.facebook.com/gagreflexmusic https://gagreflex.bandcamp.com/

12. Grief Ritual: Dysphoria

Written & Performed by Grief Ritual

Taken from Moments Of Suffering

https://www.facebook.com/griefritual https://griefritualmusic.bandcamp.com/

13. Panic Switch: Lethal Intent

Written & Performed by Panic Switch

Taken from Lethal Intent

https://panicswitchofficial.com/ https://www.facebook.com/officialpanicswitch

14. Alkanes: Death Or Glory

Written & Performed by Alkanes

Taken from Death Or Glory

https://www.facebook.com/Alkanesband

15. Lemonade Kid: Deep Velvet Red EXCLUSIVE

Written by Dom Lack, Performed by Dom Lack & Jarrod Jones

Recorded in Shrewsbury & Rushden

https://www.facebook.com/LemonadeKidMusic https://lemonadekid.bandcamp.com/

16. Timid Deer: The Shallows

Written by Naomi Henstridge & Tim Milne, Performed by Naomi Henstridge, Tim Milne, Tom Laws,

Matt Jackson & Jason Allen

Taken from Melodies Of The Nocturnal Pt. 1

https://www.facebook.com/TimidDeerBand https://timiddeer.bandcamp.com/

17. Forgotten Garden: Broken Pieces (Natural Mix) EXCLUSIVE

Written & Performed by Danny Elliot & Ines Dias Rebelo

Recorded at Braeriach Studios, Grantown On Spey

https://www.facebook.com/ForgottenGardenBand

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/forgotten-garden-broken-pieces

18. Jack Louis Cooper: Bite Too Big

Written & Performed by Jack Louis Cooper

Taken from A Slow But Sure Corner

https://www.facebook.com/jacklouiscoopermusic

19. Roger Gomez: I Will Call Heaven Home

Written & Performed by Roger Gomez

Taken from Behind Cloud Nine

Recorded at Soundfield Studios, Perth, Australia

https://www.facebook.com/rogergomezmusic

20. The Twitchers: Nothing In Particular

Written & Recorded by The Twitchers

Recorded at White Beart Studios, Manchester

https://www.facebook.com/TheTwitchers

21. Mr. Bewlay: Her Name Is Juniper

Written & Performed by Mr. Bewlay

Taken from Her Name Is Juniper

https://www.facebook.com/mrbewlay

22. MadaMercy: Animosity

Written & Performed by MadaMercy

23. Down Not Out: Wild

Written & Performed by Jo Oliver, Char Lewis, James Maxwell & Ryan Stewart

Recorded at Sound Shack Studios, Cheltenham & Release by ScreamLite Records SCLRPEP006

Taken from Worse For Wear

https://downnotout.co.uk/ https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/down-not-out-worsefor-wear

24. Lightblue: Far Gone

Written & Performed by Lightblue

Recorded at The Ranch Production House, Southampton

Taken from Paradise Lost

https://www.facebook.com/lightbluecru

25. Curse You Damn Kids: Breadline

Written & Performed by Chris Bowen, Annie Kelleher, Hallam Crafer, Jenny Ollerenshaw & Ross

Ollerenshaw

Recorded at Dockside Studios, Bristol & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRPEP001

Taken from Sorta Like An Epiphany

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/curse-you-damn-kids-sorta-like-an-epiphany

26. Blacklist: The Replacer

Written & Performed by Saul Blease, Elliott Tottle & Joe Webb

Recorded at Factory Studios, Bristol

Taken from

https://www.facebook.com/blacklistukband

27. Homer Junior: Short Term, No Anchor

Written & Performed by Jack Higgins, Thomas Muddle & Sam Roberts

Taken from Short Term, No Anchor

https://www.facebook.com/homerjrband https://homerjrband.bandcamp.com/

28. Franklin Mint: Greta’s Sweater

Written & Performed by Franklin Mint

Taken from Bristle

https://www.facebook.com/franklinmintband https://franklinmint.bandcamp.com/

29. Me & Munich: Toxic Wings

Written & Performed by Jan Petersen, Marco Bøgehøj & John Nicholas Marx O’Sullivan

Recorded at Output Lydstudie, Denmark & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRREP005

Taken from Knives Of The Sun EP

https://www.facebook.com/meandmunichband

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/me-munich-knives-of-the-sun

30. Midnight In England: Two Hands

Written & Performed by James Chuster, Sam Caswell-Midwinter, Daniel Lowen-Grey & Sam Morgan

Taken from Real Cinema

https://www.facebook.com/MidnightinEngland

31. Borrowed Body & Abstract Man: Smokescreen EXCLUSIVE

Written by Niall Hill & Tom Johnstone, Performed by Niall Hill, Tom Johnstone & Phil Howell

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/borrowed-body-the-rising-sea

32. Lightleaver: Close To You

Written & Performed by Emma Saxon

Taken from Close To You

33. Tom Spice: Life’s Breath EXCLUSIVE

Written & Performed by Tom Spice

https://www.facebook.com/tomspicemusic

34. Marie Virginie Pierre: I Will Try Again (This Christmas)

Written & Performed by Marie Virginie Pierre

35. Joe Buckingham: James’ Song EXCLUSIVE

Written by Joe Buckingham & James Holliday, Performed by Joe Buckingham

36. Howlin’ Anton Bleak: His Mistress’s Voice

Written by Howlin’ Anton Bleak, Performed by Howlin’ Anton Bleak, AP Clarke & “Belter” Jim Lacey

Released ScreamLite Records SCLRRA004

Taken from Stranger Country

https://www.facebook.com/howlinanton

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/howlin-anton-bleak-stranger-country

37. The Slow Pianos: In The Right Place (Featuring Petravita)

Written & Performed by Oliver Weikert & Brandon Landis

Taken from In The Right Place

https://slowpianos.bandcamp.com/ https://www.facebook.com/PetravitaMusic

https://petravita.bandcamp.com/

38. Greengage: I Wanna Be Near Trees

Written & Performed by David-Gwyn Jones

Taken from I Wanna Be Near Trees

GKXpGnlL4

39. Grownuplife: Don’t Look Back In Manga

Written & Performed by Charlie Baxter

https://www.facebook.com/charliebaxtermusic https://grownuplife.bandcamp.com/

40. Cut Throat Francis: I’m Not Ready

Written & Performed by Cut Throat Francis

Recorded at Stage 2 Studios, Bath & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRFEP002

Taken from Ghosts (Extended Edition)

https://www.facebook.com/cutthroatfrancis

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/cut-throat-francis-ghosts-extended-edition

41. Longcoats: October

Written by Ollie C Shape & Performed by Ollie C Shape, Arthur Foulstone, Norton Robey & Kane

Pollastrone

Recorded at Riverbank Studios, Chippenham & Released by Wise Monkey Music

Taken from October

https://www.facebook.com/longcoatsband https://longcoatsband.bandcamp.com/

42. The More You Know: Bridging The Gap (Featuring Sakura Mei-Sasaki Spice) EXCLUSIVE

Written & Performed by Chris Bowen, Claire Mitchell-Brown, Julio Da Mata, Jo Oliver & David

Richards. Additional Piano written & performed by Sakura Mei-Sasaki Spice

Recorded at University Of Gloucestershire Studios, Engineered, Mixed & Mastered by Tom Spice

https://www.facebook.com/tmykband

43. Around7: Breakthrough

Written & Performed by Around7

Produced at Strait Up Studios, Dundee

Taken from Breakthrough

https://www.facebook.com/Around7UK

44. Burning Memories: Ignition

Written by Annie Kelleher, Performed by Annie Kelleher, Hallam Crafer & Nick Holder

Recorded at Stage 2 Studios, Bath & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRRCDS001

Taken from Ignition

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/burning-memories-ignition

45. Typhoidmary: bobbi EXCLUSIVE

Written & Performed by Mary Lovatt

https://www.facebook.com/typhoidmaryuk https://typhoidmary.bandcamp.com/

46. Slow Down World: Promised Land

Written & Performed by June Stevenson, James Dishart, Twig Mayhew, Olly Peters & Woody

Woodson

Recorded at PMC, Plymouth

Taken from Promised Land

https://www.facebook.com/SlowDownWorld https://slowdownworld.bandcamp.com/

47. Zobb: Scrapheap Generation

Written & Performed by Jon Wisbey, Nick Hurley & Brice Herve

Recorded at L’Abri D’Argen, Bristol

Taken from Scrapheap Generation

https://www.facebook.com/zobb.punk

48. Clay Gods: Cabin Fever

Written by Gavin Jones, Performed by Gavin Jones, Tom Saunders, Charles Paxford & Max

Ganderton

Recorded at 340 Studios, Cheltenham & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRRCDS004

Taken from Cabin Fever/Looking For Jerusalem

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/clay-gods-cabin-fever-looking-for-jerusalem

49. All To No Avail: The Call

Written & Performed by All To No Avail

Taken from The Call

https://www.facebook.com/AllToNoAvailOfficial/

50. Bleak: Ebb & Flow

Written & Performed by Howlin’ Anton Bleak, Rachel Woodworth & Yvonne Okoduwa

Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRRA002

Taken from Dig Two Graves

https://www.facebook.com/BleakBlues https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/bleakdig-two-graves

51. George Royale & The Snowflake Band: That’s When The Tears Start Rolling Down

Written & Performed by George Royale & The Snowflake Band

52. Holding Tides: Paraffin

Written & Performed by Chris Bowen, Annie Kelleher, Hallam Crafer, Ben Dalton & Rob Blake

Recorded at Dockside Studios, Bristol & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRREP001

Taken from Last Of The Small Town Heroes

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/holding-tides-last-of-the-small-town-hereos

53. Das Speculoos: Crowdsurfer (grimALKin Mix)

Written & Performed by Das Speculoos

Taken from Crowdsurfer

https://dasspeculoos.bandcamp.com/

54. NFU: In The Details

Written & Performed by Jeremy Pitcoff, Dan De Filippo, Rob Masterson & Frank D’Agostino

Recorded at Suffolk Recording Studio, New York & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRREP003

Taken from Treason

https://www.facebook.com/NYNFU https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/nfu-treason

55. Foxpalmer: Forever EXCLUSIVE

Written by Fern McNulty, Performed by Fern McNulty, Mat Dal Pos, Andy Payne & Pauline

https://www.facebook.com/foxpalmer.band

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/foxpalmer-locked-in-memory

56. Darklight Horizon: Oxide EXCLUSIVE

Written & Performed by V. Celso, R.C. Paxford, J. Waterman & J. Twinning

https://www.facebook.com/DarklightHorizon

57. William Mawer: Take Me To A Time

Written by William Mawer, Performed by William Mawer, Jazzy Lily Heath, Ryan Nicklin, Ed

Livingstone & Dominic Watton

Recorded at University Of Gloucestershire Studios

Taken from Take Me To A Time

https://willmawer.bandcamp.com/

58. Joshua Kinghorn: Party Queen

Written & Performed by Joshua Kinghorn

Recorded at University Of Gloucestershire Studios & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRFEP003

Taken from Bits & Pieces

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/joshua-kinghorn-bits-pieces

59. Gypsy Pistoleros: Soho Daze, Just Another Friday Night

Written & Performed by Gypsy Pistoleros

Taken from The Mescalito Vampires

http://www.gypsypistoleros.com/ https://www.facebook.com/GPistoleros

60. Connor Begley: Comedown

Written & Performed by Connor Begley

Recorded at University Of Gloucestershire Studios

61. EllJay Goldstone: Putting On That Smile

Written & Performed by EllJay Goldstone

Recorded at University Of Gloucestershire Studios & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRFEP001

Taken from Long Time Coming

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/elljay-goldstone-long-time-coming

62. Chameleon: It’s Not Quite Me Now

Written & Performed by Chameleon

Recorded at Platform Studios, Reading

Taken from What Are We Waiting For?

https://www.facebook.com/bandchameleon https://bandchameleon.bandcamp.com/

63. Conal Kelly: In My Head

Written & Performed by Conal Kelly

Taken from In My Head

https://www.facebook.com/conalkellymusic

64. Spoons & Saucepans: Sing With Thanks

Written by Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon & David Gwyn-Jones, Performed by Spoons & Saucepans

Taken from Sing With Thanks

65. Afterlite: Below The Lights (Reprise)

Written & Performed by Luke Beesley

Recorded at Ruby Studios, Bristol & Released by ScreamLite Records SCLRMA001

Taken from Eden Abandon

https://screamliterecords.bandcamp.com/album/afterlite-eden-ab

Beans on Toast Knee Deep in Nostalgia

If growing up in Witham meant Braintree appeared to be Shelbyville to our Springfield, I should go no further. The Prodigy are undoubtedly Essex’s finest musical export in the last three decades, next to Colchester’s Blur, and what did Witham give us? Olly Murs, that’s who.

Though if Jay McAllister’s hometown evokes my own childhood memories, his forthcoming album, Knee Deep in Nostalgia will for all. It’s released, as all his annual studios albums are, on his birthday, the 1st December. Yet whereas Braintree’s Prodigy were sovereigns of progression, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about Jay, from the same Essex community, who’s tongue-in-cheek stage name, Beans on Toast suggests. But it makes up for it in highly entertaining folk songs which doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

As with Frank Turner, who incidentally guested on and produced previous Beans on Toast albums, I jumped on the chance to review this on the endorsement from Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore, and just as before, perhaps more so, he didn’t let me down. For as a folk singer-songwriter I’d evaluate Beans on Toast isn’t Tammy Wynette, or Willie Nelson, of whom he takes a nod to in a song on this album, but he is the best thing at least since the sliced bread in his namesake. He is Beans on Toast, indefinitely, and I love beans on toast. you can add cheese, you can add little sausages, but as it remains, none matter, simplicity is key; just beans, on two slices of toast, it works.

Aptly, just as the dish, his style is simple but effective and immediately likable. He drafts songs from the heart, served with a side-order of cheeky Essex humour, the reason why he’s played every Glasto since his first, and Boomtown, recorded with and shared the stage with many legends, recorded in Kansas with Truckstop Honeymoon, opened for Kate Nash and Flogging Molly, and aforementioned Turner on his sell-out Wembley show. Why haven’t I cottoned on about his brilliance before? It’s an age thing; old dog, new tricks. But that, in a nutshell, is the theme for this album, as the name suggests, but not without both sentimental and humorous prose.

For this whippersnapper contemplates his looming fortieth, which, if I get the honour of you reading this, Jay, I’ll confirm it gets no better. And with it reminisces his past. One concerning the thrills and pitfalls of gigging in Camden, but most poignant are those which go back to childhood; being frightened on Halloween, inspirational teachers, family discos at a village hall, and one which ingeniously sums up the whole shebang of daydreaming about the past.

Knee Deep in Nostalgia isn’t going to wow you with technological advances in sound, it isn’t going to whisk you to a fantasy world. I’d even say there’s sometimes cliché with the subject matter, but when done it’s done uniquely, insightfully reflective. There’s ingeniously uncensored meagre material here, offering a range aside the general theme of nostalgia, particularly the upbeat and carefree Coincidence, which rings almost on a level of Madness for fairground joy.

The gem is precisely in its simplicity, Beans on Toast reflects and rebounds onto the listener, acknowledging their own life in his words. You may have known a crazy Australian dude, as depicted here, you may giggle at your own fondness for Finder’s Crispy Pancakes, or when the streetlights coming on was a signal to go home, and the other everyday juvenile cultural references. And for this, and more, I bloody love this album.

There is a particular nugget which knocked me head-over-heels, and it’s when Beans on Toast get sentimental. Reminiscing often spawns from watching your own children, and interacting with their joy and innocence at discovering the world again. Tricky to pinpoint why having kids is overwhelmingly fantastic, being they poo on your hand, launch their dinner in your face, cost you a king’s ransom, belittle you and grow to ignore your every word, but with a simple leitmotif Beans on Toast nails it. Again, even when semimetal, nothing is psychologically challenging, it’s just the premise of The Album of the Day, which touches the heartstrings; sharing a moment with his daughter, as with alongside other memorable doings, he temps her musical taste with choices from his record collection. It sounds sickly, but I promise you, as I did earlier, this guy can pull it off with bells on.

That said, kids grow, and the fragile years, when they’d take heed and listen to Bob Marley, Dire Straits, Paul Simon, or whoever inspired you, are too short. They’ll find their own way, and you have to allow them to, as your house turns into a bass funnel and you metamorphize into your own misunderstanding parents; it’s unavoidable no matter how you might think when they were inspired by your likes, and in this, is the brilliance of the song.

I mean my offspring, they don’t even like beans on toast, right, which I think is abnormal; all kids like beans, it should be enforced! Such should this album. And it comes with an accompanying album, The Unforeseeable Future, which I could only speculate about, as the title suggests, as they didn’t send that. On the basis of this one though, I’m musically smitten.

Knee Deep in Nostalgia is out on 1st December; Pre-order it here.


Dreamlands; New EP from Daydream Runaways

In fairness to you readers, I’ll come clean, the new EP from Daydream Runaways, Dreamlands, is a collection of three pre-released singles, Fairytale Scene, Light the Spark, and the latest, Crazy Stupid Love. Each of which if you click on, you’ll see I’ve reviewed already, here on Devizine.

So, what do those demanding guys want from me this time?! Except to say I can’t praise the band or these songs enough. Making the opportunity to announce the release imperative, suppose, but forgive me for not running back over the same notions in said reviews.

So, I figured I’d catch up with them, harass them for few more questions I overlooked when we interviewed them last. Notably, when Cameron Bianchi enlightened us that, “we brought back two older songs and reworked them, as they fit really well next to the lead single Crazy Stupid Love.”

Ah, cool ,this progressive young band have reworked them. I supposed it’s good to have the singles on one EP. “And those three are among our oldest songs so it felt right to release them,” Cameron continued. “Then Brad had an opportunity to record us for his Final Year Project at Uni and an EP seemed like a great project to take on.”

Out on the 13th November, the release’s title I was asked to keep it under my hat, for a ‘guess the name of the EP’ competition was to be announced. The title got me to pondering the name Daydream Runaways. So, I asked them how they came about it.

Frontman Ben Heathcote replied, “Cameron came in with the name suggestion after numerous discussions and almost instantly we knew that was it. It seemed to describe us and have a connection immediately to our sound. We all daydream and get lost running away in our minds, our dreams…”

Cameron added, “We spent quite a while trying to work out a name that suited us, actually. We were looking for something that sounded hopeful and had a sense of escapism about it. Ben remembers that I brought it to a practice one evening, I think I’d been reeling off loads of names that the boys didn’t love. Then one day my fiancée had been playing lots of Ben Howard and he used those two words in a few of his songs and I just liked the way the sounded when merged together.”

Shame, I adopted the guesstimation Cameron was the sort of kid at school who would rather stare out of the window daydreaming than pay attention to the lesson. “I know I was!” he confessed, “procrastination is my second favourite hobby…next to playing guitar!”

An apt name it is though, it relates to the band’s brand of dreamy, nostalgic and acceptable indie-rock, which has found them glowing reviews elsewhere. James Threlfall of BBC Introducing in the West, said of Fairytale Scene, “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band absolutely smash it live.” They’re favourites on Sue Davis’ show on Wiltshire Sound, but I was drawn in particular to a quote by Dave Franklyn on his Dancing About Architecture website, a man who does similar to what we do here, only better. He said Crazy Stupid Love, “has got that great Alt-USA feel to it; Fountains of Wayne style and early 00’s vibe.”

Coincidently I mentioned Fountains of Wayne yesterday when pondering the new EP from End of the World, Calne’s skater-punk five-piece. Here’s where I tip my hat to Freewheelin’ Franklyn, always able to view another angle. For in the way of comparisons, I spent nearly all my effort reminiscing classic eighties bands such as Simple Minds, perhaps U2. I wrote paragraph upon paragraph suggesting the Daydream Runaways songs would slip neatly into a John Hughes coming-of-age movie, when really, I needed only to rewind twenty years; it’s an age thing.

I asked them for their thoughts on this comparison to noughties US bands, all a bit skater punk. As all I know of Fountain of Youth is the one tune, and while the Daydreamer’s material has a coming-of-age type content, I couldn’t imagine them knocking out something as quirky as a song about fancying their girlfriend’s mum.

Nathaniel Heathcote confirmed, “yeah, it’s definitely reminiscent of skater punk, very 2000s with baggy jeans, spiky hair and a skateboard in hand!”

Cameron also clarified, “it’s kind of a weird blend of Indie meets Country meets 00s rock. Not that it started out that way. I think I was trying to write a riff like The Smith’s Girl Afraid.” Ah, mention of a band I know! Heaven help me, are we due a noughties comeback, I pondered, I guess it’s time, despite I’m still living in 1991.

“They seem to be!” Cameron figured, “I was listening to Machine Gun Kelly the other day and his sound is very 00s. We obviously inspired him…”

From here I teased about the possibility of getting a rapper in, if that’s the case. But Daydream Runaways has spent their few years really nailing a uniformed style, I hoped I wasn’t rocking the boat. There’s a question developing in that though, how far they’re willing to diversify?!

Cameron admitted, “Ben has floated that idea about actually, we always say we don’t want to write the same song twice or be bound to one genre. And I think that comes across in our music. It helps that each of our individual musical influences are quite different so that makes the song writing process quite fun and the songs are always a bit unexpected.”

“This is something we differ on in my opinion,” Ben interjected, “Cam enjoys the idea of a more consistent sound and style that is familiar, whereas I strive for an ever changing/evolving sound, dipping into varying genres.”

“So,” Cameron replied, “I think we balance each other out?”

Ben Heathcote got deep, “the world can’t exist without Ying and Yang.”

But I often rock their boat, probing their thoughts of an album, and they have differing opinions on it, but I’m always impressed how they stabilise it mutually; I do hope it’s a solid band, as this EP rocks and I always look forward to hearing some new from them. They even went as portentous to hint at an album’s possibility, but rather concentrate on the idea of a sequential set of songs on a running theme. There you go, Mr Franklyn, I surmise they’ll be writing the next soundtrack to a John Hughes rework!

If so, I get first dibs on the actress playing Molly Ringwald’s part, but probably not, though with this blinding new EP, it is fair to assume it’s only just the beginnings for The Daydream Runaways. The peak will be unimaginably awesome.


Johnny Lloyd’s Cheap Medication

Coming from a more Tribe Called Quest angle than Johnny Lloyd, Dan White, Jim Cratchley and Miguel Demelo’s three-year stint under the banner Tribes, I’m trying to like Johnny’s new solo album Cheap Medication, but there’s no hope in forcing me to commit to say it’s more than mediocre. Soz, intent to say something, certain many readers will disagree with me.

I’ve had nothing but praise for the “indie” I’ve been sent recently, there’s been some great stuff, particularly on our local scene. There’s only a tenacious local link, being Johnny is going out with Swindon’s nineties teen heartthrob Billie Piper. This isn’t Hello magazine, though, least not the last time I checked.

The bulk of Cheap Medication is produced to a high standard, to be expected, but feels overall pretentious. Affluent celebrity blues amidst tunes like Oh Lord are unidentifiable to us commoners, ballads to his newfound love are somewhat conceited and wishy-washy. The tempo drags, sentiments are middling. Though Johnny has a key to winding emotion in his vocals and tunes, like Better Weather, which drifts like Radiohead, dreamy like Spiritualized. Not that I’m too keen on them, truth be told! Guess you could summarize, it’s not for me. Or am I just having a bad hair day?

I like the cover, given the brilliant Gecko used a photo from his childhood for his recent outing, a kid Johnny proudly shows off his Batman uniform in a Christmassy regular looking home. I like this approach, especially from someone already in the spotlight. Perhaps there’s more meaning in the image of a once proud superhero, from this rock luminary than there is hidden in the songs, or they’re too intricately hidden.

Tabloids quote smitten Johnny declaring he was lost before he met Billie, and in so much as hope and love, this album is personal and openly frank, though through the often too private bulk I couldn’t identify with where it wanted to take me. It’s like that infatuated associate who speaks of nothing else.  

In this World carries the twangy guitar of a country classic, acoustical goodness presides with Based on Real Life, an upbeat Simon & Garfunkel-eske tune, downbeat Heaven Up Here comes over all Morcheeba; credit where it’s due, it’s not all dull. There was one magical nugget, an uplifting track called Suze which breezes akin to Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talking, so who knows, it might grow on me if I gave it time, but I’ve got to push on with lots more to review. For indie aficionados and leaden adolescents, this may agree with you; it’s out now, give it try.


Longcoats in October EP

Further to their couple of singles since forming last year, Longcoats, Bath’s self -proclaimed indie pop “for nerds,” four-piece, released a four-track EP last week, pertinently titled The October EP. As launched at Moles last week. Not that there’s an EP in any other month, named after that month, and uncertain if there will be. Let’s move on and give it a listen, shall we? As I fondly plugged the singles within a piece centred around their frontman, Ollie Sharp’s social networking group, The Indie Network.

As said group’s name suggests, Longcoats are the youthful embodiment of gratifyingly saccharine indie, if indie is a genre rather than a favoured shortening of the word independent. Darn, too vague, sweetie? Okay, by saccharine I didn’t mean cloy, there’s nothing bubble-gum pop on offer here. I meant sentimental in themes, and the title track, October is the perfect example, with its hopeful romantic chronicle. The chiming backing vocals also arm it with amiability and all-round nice vibes.

But while there’s no fear of Longcoats going all Rage Against the Machine on us, it’s not drippy either, and I’d argue their own “nerd” label diminishes it’s worth, even if tongue-in-cheek. It comes over agreeable and congenial, and that’s coming from an indie window-shopper. That’s good though, isn’t it? Good it will satisfy non-devotees of the genre too.

The majority of indie jilted the rougher elements of its underground origins long ago, leaving any bitterness behind in hope to impress a mainstream, ergo I stand by my Longcoats are the embodiment of gratifyingly saccharine indie statement, just don’t take it as a negative in any hardy hooligan fantasy your ego might invoke. Find your yang rather than yin.

Last year guitarist Arthur Foulstone and drummer Kane Pollastrone added to frontman Sharp’s lone act, which bridged the gap between band and solo artist. The final piece of the puzzle came upon recruiting permanent bassist Norton Robey. With the assistance of producer Jack Daffin, Longcoats have created a beguiling and entertaining, instantly recognisable sound to wide appeal.

Prior to the title track the two singles start the EP off, there’s a trudging guitar riffin Used to Being Used, a blueprint of indie-pop with its theme of dejected ardour, yet it’s done with skill, catchiness and promising aptitude. The latter single, Drag, which came out in March takes a similar tempo, and cool attitude. But I think they left the best to last.

Plasticine is a beautiful song, taking an arbitrary metaphor like a heart of plasticine, it’s a tune of hope. In a nutshell it wraps up the direction of the EP, flowing and uniformed, subtle but uncommercial. Yeah, it’s a nice debut from we young band we look forward to hearing more of.


Paul Lappin Wants to Fly

Tad snowed under with the plethora of great new music at the moment, but delighted to hear Swindon’s breezy Britpop fashioned artist, Paul Lappin has progressed from the few singles we’ve reviewed fondly in the past, to release an album of all new material, this week. So, yeah, apologies for lack of advance notice, The Boy Who Wants To Fly is out now, and very worthy of our attention.

It binds all the goodness of the singles into something you can nourish extensively, there’s a real concentration of composition here as each track drifts adroitly. It’s astutely written pensiveness, nicely implemented, with the expertise likened to our own Jamie R Hawkins; I’ve made this comparison before. This moulds what could be great acoustic into a full band experience, handsomely; As Billy Green 3 are accomplishing this side of the M4, but let’s not get all road map. Best way, imagine George Harrison present on the Britpop scene, and you’re somewhere lost in Lappin’s world.

Not a lot standout in theme, Paul mostly takes on the classic subject matters, sometimes optimistic romance, often uplifting reflections on past observation, such as the title track which Paul clarifies, “it was originally written for my young nieces and nephews, but listening to it now I can also hear a lot of my younger self in there.” But there’s a nod to current affairs, such as the citation towards the refugee crisis in the wonderfully executed Song for Someone.

I’m getting shards of Tom Petty’s Freefalling, particularly with the title track. Story behind the album reaches back six years, when Paul was looking after an isolated farmhouse in the Occitanie region of the south of France, coinciding with a particularly motivated period developing song ideas. “Most of the songs on the album were written within the first few months of arriving at the house,” he explains, “the melodies came during long walks in the surrounding hills and vineyards, the lyrics were penned in local cafés.”

Haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Paul yet, but through the openness of his songs you feel like you know him already, and that constitutes an exceptional song-writer.

Ten tunes strong, optimism drops by the eighth, The Eye of the Storm, and darker, heavier elements ensue, if only for a track. “Eye of the Storm was a reaction to how helpless and frustrated I felt to all the crap that was going on at the time,” Paul elucidates. Life was Good is critically observant too, but retains the feel-good factor, and that sums the general ambiance of the entire album. Common with creative geniuses, they shy, and this self-indulgence uneasiness I see in Paul. “Entering the For The Song competition in 2019 changed all that,” he expressed when he won with the song Life Was Good, boosting his confidence, which has ultimately led to this worthy and proud album; as he rightfully should be. I urge you to take a listen.


Talk in Code’s Secret

New single from Swindon’s indie-pop darlings, and, as foreseen, it’s blinking marvellous, Gloria.

“Eighties,” I yell, but my daughter corrects me. It’s a tune from Miley Circus, apparently. Story checks out, searched YouTube for it. Now I’m distracted from reviewing Talk in Code’s new single, Secret, by her suggestive gyrations in a black studded swimsuit and equally studded elbow-length gloves. Only from a health and safety perspective, you understand. Metallic studs are unsuitable for swimwear, gloves would fill with water; I should warn her PR.

When behind the wheel of Dad’s taxi, my daughter plays DJ; curse that built-in Bluetooth function. Least I can pretend I’m hip with the kids by distinguishing my George Ezras from my Sam Fenders. “Ah,” but I clarify, “I didn’t mean that, I meant it sounds like something from the eighties.” She agrees, tells me they’re all inspired from the eighties. “Like, Blondie,” I add, she’d have to Google that, but she watched The Breakfast Club and Uncle Buck, she is aware of the style of sound demarcated by eighties electronica pop.

Refrained from telling her about these guys though, some things are best left in the past.

If a retrospective inclination influenced by the decade of Danny Kendal v Mr Bronson, Rubik’s cubes and skinhead Weetabix characters is good for you, ok, look no further than upcoming local bands like Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways. I’ve often grouped these two on this very notion, and I’m delighted to note via my comparison, the Daydreamers are supporting the Talkers at Level III in Swindon on November 20th, my only annoyance is that it’s a Friday and I can’t make it.

To differentiate, Daydream Runaways take a rock edge, the like of Simple Minds, but Talk in Code seem to strive for the electronica angle of bands like Yazoo and The Human League. They do it far better than well though, and if I branded it, “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle,” their last single, Taste the Sun, back in July, embodied this more than anything previous. So, here we are again with another belter which adds to this uniform style, though the climate may not be so clement, Secret sparkles too.

It snaps straight in, this aforementioned feel-good 80s electronica guitar pop sound, and it’s so beguiling and catchy it’s certain to appeal wide, agelessly. If I was attending a local festival and Talkers took the stage, I’d imagine my daughter and I would dance together, and right now with her tastes directed to my odium, calculatingly sweary modern pop R&B, this would be a miracle! I do not twerk.

Secret is right out of a John Hughes movie then, a stuck record comparison I say to near-on every release by them and Daydream Runaways too, but this undeviating style is consistently cultivating and improving. Lyrically it’s characterised by the same simple but effective theme of optimistic romance, and a bright, catchy chorus, as every classic pop song should.  

The band cite pop classics such as King of Wishful Thinking, How Will I Know and Alexander O’Neal’s Criticise as evaluations. I can only but agree, but add, those can be cringingly timeworn, whereas, this is not Dr Beat, no need for an ambulance sound effect, and the Talker guys don’t got no hairspray, this is renewed and exhilarating for a modern generation.

You can pre-save TALK IN CODE’s brand new 80’s infused indie pop belter, on the platform of your choice and listen in full, but it’s not released until November 16th. Yeah, I know right, I’m so lucky to have these things in advance, but with Secret I can guarantee by the time it comes your way, I’ll still be up dancing to it, perhaps my daughter too. Care to join me on the dancefloor? But oi, watch the handbag, Miley, and don’t yank my diddy-boppers, I’m no that kind of guy; saving myself for Gloria Estefan.


On the Climbing Frame with Gecko

If our last music review from Ruzz Guitar impressed me for its exploration of traditional blues styles, note I’m not conventional and you need not rewind progress to appease me; I love Climbing Frame, the second forthcoming album by London-based Gecko, equally, but for completely opposite reasons.

Partly, it reminded me of the time Louis Theroux rapped for one of his “Weird Weekend” episodes. In the mockumentary Theroux was advised by the US rap producers to “keep it real,” yet upon drafting lyrics about eating cheese and driving a compact car, sardonically citing as that as what is real to him, they contradictorily sniggered it off and recommended he rapped on cliché subject matter; bling, hoes, cold cash, etc.

If commercial US hip hop has lost its direction, UK rap thrives and remains faithful to the origins by pushing new boundaries. But if you feel the midway “cocknee” chat-come-singing style, the likes of Lilly Allen and Kate Nash, has come of age and flatlined for being samey, Gecko is a refreshing breeze of originality, and so multi-layered it’s difficult to pin it down and compare. Fact is, I’m uncertain defining it as “rap” is a fair shout, as hip-hop fashioned beats here have been left to the bare minimum and what we have is intelligent chat, often thought-provoking or comical, which slips into song over either acoustic indie guitar or retrospective electronica pop; as if Scritti Politti met the Streets.

If you’re contemplating, sounds rather geeky, I’d reply ah, it could head one of two ways, and in the hands of many it’d be bad news, but I’m happy to report Gecko accomplishes it in a proficient and highly entertaining way.

Awash with sentimental or witty verses reflecting on all manner of unique themes, the bulk of Gecko’s thoughts are honest observations, whole-heartedly personal, often retrospective anecdotes. Gecko does not uphold the ego or bravura of prominence; rather like Jarvis Cocker, there’s a contestant notion he’s opening his soul and depicting his innermost feelings, but is never without a punchline, and never afraid to show compassion. After a spoken word intro, for example, the opening song, “Can’t Know all the Songs,” is an upbeat riposte which any live performer could identify with; the annoyance of an audience shouting requests he doesn’t know. It’s ingeniously droll.     

But if the opening tune cites Gecko’s mature issues, the title track follows on this juvenile running theme, reflecting on childhood. The climbing in frame in question is a fallen tree, an amusing photo of Gecko estimated age of eight as the cover design reinforces this notion. Gecko perceives the unusual and expresses it inimitably, here, a reference to an age where we once recycled nature’s way for childlike kicks. Hope that the youngest people in this world will turn the apocalyptic hand that they’ve been dealt into something positive that we have not yet seen; “they weren’t trying to be symbolic, they were just having a laugh, but where most saw an obstacle, they just saw a path.”

Soaring does similar, but reverting to a simple acoustic guitar riff, it highlights the awe of childhood innocence in discovering something they think is exclusive, only to be knocked back by their parent’s clarification. I can’t detail it anymore without it being a spoiler, but believe me, if you don’t see yourself in this song and laugh out loud, you must’ve been born an adult. However, Gecko twists the narrative with genius writing akin to John Sullivan, and completes the track with a sentimental and virtuous moral. Hence my concern of my comparison; UK rap is not nearly multi-layered enough; don’t know why I even mentioned it really, only in desperation to pigeonhole this unique sound.

After this other recollection, Gecko proceeds to explain the theme of the next song, and performs a sublimely sentimental tale of Laika, a Moscow stray used to send into space, from the point of view of the dog. Perfect example of what I’m getting at with my originality angle; who dreams up a theme for a song on this subject? Gecko is part songwriter part author, Jack London in this case, and a damn good one to boot.

Furthering the childhood theme and his unpretentious tenet, he takes it to the next step with a real recording from his childhood, displaying the roots of his talent.

It’s a chockful album of twelve tunes, Breathe maybe the most commercially pliable with uplifting eighties synth-pop goodness. Yet Always and Pass it On plod like nineties indie anthems, Stereo MCs fashion. Whereas there’s a piano-based ballad, All I Know, and whoa, back to acoustic splendour with an immature narrative called A Whole Life. Here, Gecko writes from the perspective of a child just started primary school, giving a speech to a reception class about his experiences in ‘big school.’ This is, quite simply, ingenious writing and played out with sentiments so ultrafine and intelligently placed, you could listen to Climbing Frame over and over and still pick out elements you may’ve missed.

Best start then, as it’s released this Friday, 23rd October. It’s so multi-layered and original I’d highly recommend it to anyone, loving any genre, with an open mind, and perhaps a twinkling for nostalgic dreams.


Daydream Runaways and their Crazy Stupid Love

There’s no fooling me, no quixotic baseball-wielding delinquent is going to sway me in giving my honest opinion on Daydream Runaway’s forthcoming single; it’s just a drawing, guys!

It might well be coming a cliché on Devizine, that Daydream Runaways send me over their latest single, tell me they think it’s their best yet, I agree and tell you it’s their best single yet. But I’m at a stalemate, because I’m likely to say once again, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet, for the simple reason, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet!

Ah, sure sign of natural progression from a young band always striving to improve, Crazy Stupid Love is out on Friday 2nd October on streaming platforms and it will be the first single from their upcoming EP. Given this strength of this song, and inclining it’ll have a running narrative, I’m highly anticipating the EP, with bells on. Meanwhile I have to concoct some words on why I think it’s their best single yet, rather than just repeating the same sentence. Well, technically I don’t have to, but I will because I want to.

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I wouldn’t have to if you could hear what I’m hearing, that’s the fluky bit about doing this. While it’s not always this seamless; I occasionally receive tunes which make me shudder, though delight when these guys message me as I can guarantee it’ll be a non-shudder experience.

So, if I called their second single Fairy Tale Scene, “catchy melody, pop-tastically, with slight eighties, pre-indie label overtones,” Closing the Line as “a progressive step into local topical subject matter. An emotive and illustrative indie rock track akin to Springsteen’s woes of factories shutting,” and I said Gravity, “pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division,” then Crazy Stupid Love is the counterbalance, calibrating the best elements of their previous singles and weighing them equally. In this feat, it defines a forming style, a signature, I reckon, in which to base future releases.

Image by Van

Inspired by characters in a hit Hollywood film of the same name, which I’ve not seen, the guys claim “the song is set to be the sound of a Post-Lockdown world.” I hope so, but it fondly reminds me of a time of yore, pre-nineties indie and Britpop, back to the days of Simple Minds and U2; no bad thing. For, just like the moment Judd Nelson sticks Molly Ringwald’s earing in his lughole, these bands were beguiling, memorable and emotive. Crazy Stupid Love is like them, infectiously uplifting, and with a coming-of-age narrative, articulating moods of a youthful, verboten romance, it suits.

Surprisingly dicey too, it also creates a mysterious character within the narrative, namely Chad, intended to market the single with a hashtag #whoischad. We can’t see his mug on the cover, but the likelihood it’s Brad’s alter-ego, just because he rhymes with Chad and he’s wearing the same baseball jacket in the accompanying photoshoot is slight. With a penchant for fireworks he carries a baseball bat to a fairground, and anyone who does such is surely asking for trouble. But, I dunno, Brad just doesn’t seem the type!

Image by Van

This self-produced nostalgic nugget has those swirling harmonies, chiming guitars and an infectious chorus hook, to compare it to those eighties greats. But akin to what Talk in Code are putting out, it retains the modernism and freshness, acting as a nod to influences rather than a tribute.

In mentioning this to the Talkers they hadn’t heard of Daydream Runaways, but now I’m pleased to hear they’re supporting Talk in Code for an exclusive gig at Swindon’s Vic in November. Did I connect this, guys? Because if so, it makes me proud, sound wise I believe it’s a perfect match. Though BBC Wiltshire’s Sue Davis also has taken a big shining to the Runaways, asking them back on the 3rd October. Just, you dark horse, you, leave the baseball bat at home, Brad, I mean Chad. In my experience the Beeb pay for your parking if you ask, so no need to get nasty. Tut, always the quiet ones!

Super single, guys and look forward to catching up with you soon.


Bill Green’s Still Lost Demos

Spent a recent evening flicking through old zines I contributed cartoons to, relishing in my own nostalgia. Not egotistically admiring the artwork, or even laughing, rather cringe at most of it. More so because every publication has a backstory; where I was, what the hell I was up to, and thinking, if at all, at the time. It’s like Gran’s photo album, to me. But I guess reminiscing is symbolic of this pandemic year, nought else happening.

With that in mind, Bill Green of local self-titled Britpop trio Billy Green 3 has a great story to tell, ending with a retrospective release on the streaming platforms. He met Simon Hunt at a party, they liked each other’s jumpers, shared a love of music from the Beatles to the Stone Roses, and hung out on the guest list with Chester’s indie rock band, Mansun on their ’96 tour.

Billy’s mate John ‘Jimmy’ Burns “simply wanted to be in a band and dressed well.”  Never having played their instruments before, let alone in a band, one night they decided to form one with another of Billy’s friends, Mark Molloy. “We” Bill explained, “jumped about to ‘The Jam’ and had often spent nights drumming along on bars and tables.”

With Mark on drums, Simon on Vox, Jimmy on bass and Billy on guitar, Still was forming. Yet I guess Bill was reminiscing this foundation when deciding upon a name for his debut album as the trio, back in January, which we cordially reviewed, here.

“I’d written a few songs,” Bill continued, “so we set up second-hand instruments in Marston Village Hall, and banged out a few tunes, no covers mind.”  He had been DJing the ‘Vroom!’ Club, at the Corn Exchange. “Ian James was kind enough to put us on that Christmas and New Year’s, and people actually came to watch, a band was born.”

Still played the local circuit and even had a dalliance with Virgin Records, having spent a day travelling around London knocking on doors and dodging receptionists and PAs. They booked studio time with Pete Lamb’s studio in Potterne, followed by more studio time at Holt Studios, where a personnel change saw Andy Phillips join on drums and later, James Ennis on guitar.

As a five-piece they played into early 1999, before calling it a day and believing the recordings were lost. Simon Hunt recently unearthed the cassette, much to Bill’s delight, and the demos have been remastered “and tidied up a bit,” with the help of Danny Wise. Returned to Bill, who has enthusiastically released it as an album called Destruction at the beginning of the month. “And here they are,” he excitedly called, “as a permanent record of the biggest indie band ever from Devizes…. called Still!”

“I’m just shocked that Marston has, or had a village hall,” I expressed.

“Rubble when we finished playing!” Billy kidded, possibly.

These are raw demos, but brilliantly echo a time of yore when Britpop was in the making and a newfound generation of garage bands were spawning like a wart on the bottom of commercialised pop. What is great about this album, aside the backstory, is it represents all those early influences of the scene and mergers in a way we might today take for granted, but were, in essence, different scenes and youth cultures divided by decades, at the time. Yes, these may have been bought together by his more defined recent album, Still, but this is essential history for fans of that album, as it opens the casing and shows the very workings of it. Similarly, it works more generally than that, as an insight for fans of the genre.

For if influences of Britpop’s ‘big four’ are represented here, in the jaunty attitude of Blur, the maladroit studiousness of Pulp, the euphoric ballads of Oasis, and the brashness of Suede, there’s also arty punk rock and psychedelic reprises, like Elastica’s affection for Wire, even the Beatles.

There are echoes of Britpop inspirations, ‘Respect Now’ feels like it’s drawn from the genre’s eighties influences; the Jam, up to the Stone Roses. Yet tracks like ‘Happier Now’ ring drum-based upbeat riffs, but slating postpunk vocals, and the sobering drone of The Smiths. Whereas, ‘Pale Impression, Man’ is closer indie enthused from post-punk gothic, rather the end of the era anthems, like the track ‘Catch,’ which rings Suede or The Verve.

‘Lady Leisure’ just rocks, simple; this was produced at Pete Lamb’s, along with the other first bout of garage-style rock, ‘Happier Now’, and ‘Superstars,’ the latter savouring the sound of the Kinks. Perhaps the most poignant are two the love ballads, which along with ‘Catch’ were recorded at Holt. Bill informed me, “‘Gav4Saf’ was a fledging love song written for a friend’s wedding.” But the beautifully crafted ‘LoveSong’ is a missing piece of Oasis, and as a stand-out ballad is the only track rightfully to be reworked for Billy Green 3’s modern album Still. The finale is the title track, with a sublime rolling bass guitar, Who-like.

 “We hope there are some people who will listen and remember those heady days as fondly as we do,” Bill expressed, “it’s basically demos but such good memories!” It may help, but is not, I reckon, essential. I reason, quite regularly, that finding the early recordings of any artist is often more worthy than the celebrated later releases, when eagerness overrides rawness and economical recording sessions. They brought out the original enthusiasm, the roots to greatness. I favour ‘The Wild, Innocent and E-Street Shuffle’ rather than Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA,’ for example. Even delve into bootlegs of Steel Mill, where despite the boss not being frontman, you can hear a distant echo of genius harking from the background. ‘Destruction’ is out now, as well as the single, ‘Catch,’ across the streaming sites, (Spotify) a notable antiquity of the local music scene.


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Paul Lappin’s Broken Record

A cracker of a single from Swindon’s Paul Lappin this week, a Britpop echoing of Norwegian Wood, perhaps, but tougher than that which belongs on Rubber Soul. Broken Record is an immediate like, especially the way it opens as crackling vinyl and the finale repeats the final line into a fade, as if it was indeed, a broken record.

Shrewdly written, the venerable subject of a passionate breakup metaphors the title, “ignore the voice of reason, leave the key and close the door, do you think you’re ready, to become unsteady, like a broken record, you have heard it all before.” Paul does this frankly, with appetite and it plays out as a darn good, timeless track.

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It’s head-spinning rock, intelligent indie. Harki Popli on tabla drum and Jon Buckett’s subtle Hammond organ most certainly attributes to my imaginings of a late-Beatles vibe. Yet if this is a tried and tested formula, as I believe I’ve said before about Paul’s music, he does it with bells on.

For less than a chocolate bar, download this track from Bandcamp, it doesn’t disappoint.


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Sunset Remedy with JAY

Is it still fashionable to be late for a party, or are we conversant enough to realise this refined art is solely perpetrated by egocentrics pretending to be too popular to be punctual? Rather, I’m am obsolete slob who can only apologise to Jay and Wise Monkey for my delay in reviewing his debut single featuring the vocals of Ben Keatt, but what excuse can I give? Here’s where fatherhood comes in handy, being too candid to be vain, least I can blame it on my kids and their perpetual school holiday! That said, I’ve gained some experience on Minecraft and, if I really try, I can do more than two keep-me-upsies.

Sunset Remedy is the track, released last Friday. Jay, Bath’s first external artist of Wise Monkey Music is a producer and instrumentalist, defined as “a bright shining light in the future of DIY and Bedroom Pop,” and I can only but agree. In the fashion of the classic neighbouring Bristol downtempo sound of Massive Attack and Portishead, it came as a surprise to note the soulfulness beats of this sublime track, as it melodically traipses with funky guitar, poignant lyrics and an uplifting air.

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If Pink Floyd came after Morcheeba, they might have sounded a little something like this; neo-soul, the kind of song you wish was physical matter, so you could pluck it out and give it a cuddle! It’s breezing with nu cool, with a melancholic plod and would blend between tracks on Blue Lines unnoticed, save for perhaps this backdrop guitar riff, providing scope of multi-genre appeasement. Ben’s vocals are breathtakingly touching and accompanies the earnest lyrics and smooth beats perfectly. Yeah, this is a nonchalant chef-d’oeuvre, crossing indie pigeonholes and one I’m going to be playing until I hear more from Jay.

And don’t run away with the idea I’m singing it’s praises simply because of the delay in getting to reviewing it! So not me. You trust I speak my fractured mind, and anyway, time is an illusion to this aging hippy. If punctuality was money I’d be happily broke; procrastination rules, ok. No, I urge you grab this beauty, and show some love to Jay’s Facebook page.


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Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain

Only gamers of a certain age will know of The Attic Bug. Hedonistic socialiser, Miner Willy had a party in his manor and wanted to retire for the evening. Just how a miner in the eighties could’ve afforded a manor remains a mystery; but that erroneous flaw was the tip of the iceberg. In this ground-breaking ZX Spectrum platform game, the Ribena Kid’s mum appeared to guard Willy’s bedroom, tapping her foot impatiently. Touch this mean rotund mama and she’d kill you, unless you’d tided every bit of leftovers from the bash. Turned out, months after the game’s release, one piece, in the Attic, was impossible to collect. Until this glitch became public knowledge, players were fuming as an intolerable bleeping version of “If I was a Rich Man,” perpetually looped them to insanity.