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.
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.
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…..
After fondly reviewing the single Falling from ReTone’s homegrown drum n bass label SubRat last May, the Pewsey-based vocalist featured, Cutsmith, who also runs the … Continue reading “Osorio With Cutsmith”
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!
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.
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….
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…..
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.
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.
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!
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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 titledThe 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.
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 Flyis 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I swear, if I hear that tune, even some forty years on I cringe; the haunting memory of my perseverance with the impossible Jetset Willy. Music in videogames has come a long way, thank your chosen deity. Yet in this trend of retrospection I terror at musical artists influenced by these cringeworthy clunky, bleeping melodies of early Mario, or Sonic soundtracks; like techno never happened, what are they thinking of? It was with caution, then, when I pressed play on the new single from Swindon band “Atari Pilot.” I had heard of them, but not heard them. I was pleasantly surprised.
For starters, this is rock, rather than, taken from the band’s name, my preconceived suspicion I would be subject to a lo-fi electronica computer geek’s wet dream. While there is something undeniably retrospective gamer about the sonic synth blasts in Right Crew, Wrong Captain, it is done well, with taste and this track drives on a slight, space-rock tip. Though comparisons are tricky, Atari Pilot has a unique pop sound. No stranger to retrospection, with echoey vocals and a cover akin to an illustration from Captain Pugwash, still this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie. Oh, and it’s certainly loud and proud.
A grower, takes a few listens and I’m hooked. Their Facebook blurb claims to “change the rules of the game, take the face from the name, trade the soul for the fame…I’m an Atari Pilot.” After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle. But Atari Pilot returned in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. The full band gathered once again the following year with live shows and a new set of “Songs for the Struggle.” This will be the title of their forthcoming follow-up album, “When we were Children” being the first single from it, and now this one, “Right Crew, Wrong Captain,” is available from the end of July.
Its theme is of isolation, “and defiance, after the ship has gone down,” frontman Onze informs me. There’s a haunting metaphor within the intelligent lyrics, “you nail yourself to the mast and you pray that everything lasts, you just want to know hope floats, when the water rises, coz it’s gonna rise, take a deep breath and count to ten, sink to the bottom and start again.”
There’s a bracing movement which dispels predefined ideas of indie and progresses towards something encompassing a general pop feel, of bands I’ve highlighted previously, Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways, Atari Pilot would not look out of place billed in a festival line-up with these acts, and would add that clever cross between space-rock with shards of the videogames of yore, yet, not enough to warrant my aforementioned fears of cringeworthy bleeps. Here’s hoping it’s “game over” for that genre. That said, thinking back, when you bought your Atari 2600, if you recall, oldie, you got the entire package of two joysticks and those circler controllers too, as standard; could you imagine that much hardware included with a modern console? Na, mate, one controller, you’ve got to buy others separately.
So, if decades to come we have a band called X-Box or PlayStation Pilot, I’d be dubious, but Atari gave us quality, a complete package; likewise, with Atari Pilot!
Back in January 2019, I was dead impressed with Talk in Code’s debut album Resolve, and labelled it “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle.” I offered the track “Oxygen,” as best example of how, like classic pop anthems should, its instantaneous catchiness gets stuck in your head. To compare and contrast that favourite from the album with the upcoming release from this Swindon indie-pop four-piece, it’s clear they’ve come an incredibly long way to enhancing and refining that fashion.
Reflecting back, Resolve has the definite “indie” sound of the nineties, only dipping a toe in the pool of eighties synth-pop. I felt this coming, each track they release sounds more like an iconic mid-eighties sugary hit, and Taste the Sun dives right in. It supplements my “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle” label much more.
Recorded just before lockdown at Studio 91 in Newbury, the band define the theme as “about waking up and smelling the coffee, a feeling that change is coming and the relief when that change is made for the greater good.” Nothing wrong with that inspiring concept, but perhaps nothing original; writing style they stick to a model template, but the sound is invigorating. In a word, it’s refreshing, like the zest of a sparkling iced fruit drink on a humid holiday afternoon, it encompasses all that is glorious about pop. Blooming with good time, summery vibes, Taste the Sun is the sort of lively “Wham” anthem a younger you would’ve retained from a holiday camp disco, and evermore evoke a fond memory of a fleeting romance.
That said in the best manner possible. Talk in Code is a well-oiled machine, refining that classic sound for a new generation and, most importantly, extracting and binning any cliché or cringeworthy elements. You know the sort, listen to any eighties pop now and wince at a particularly ill-thought out component, be it a castoff sample, badly grafted rap or, worse still, a “talky” part; “I thought I told you, Michael, I’m a lover not a fighter!”
Yet I find similar with today’s pop, and hold my daughter accountable! “Why they doing that bit?” I grumpily whinge. “What bit?” she retorts. It’s like a repetitive synthesised single word, or randomly placed high-hat making me shudder. Talk in Code use the acuteness of “indie” to eliminate said pop crime, use pop for catchiness and throw something back at you with universal appeal. It’s true, I concern myself at the prospect of taking my daughter to a pop festival, be it I’m cowering at her modern taste, or she’s dragging me away from something I like the sound of. Talk in Code is something we could both agree is great, and throughout reviewing their singles, Taste the Summer is perhaps the prime example of this notion.
Released on Monday 27th July, on digital download at http://www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms. Go on, you have a listen, and I challenge you to find something bad to say about this sparkling, uplifting nugget of pop; because I can’t!
More clout than Ocean Colour Scene I’d expected after hearing frontman Mike Barham’s prior thrashing solo releases and drummer Luke Bartels previous band, but more roaring blues than Reef was an angle I didn’t see coming when I first checked our local purveyors of loud, NervEndings.
We’re countless gigs in now, the band, with bassist and secondary vocalist Rob McKelvey, still tight and raucous. I’m glad there’s a six-track album doing the rounds on the streaming sites, as by way of a meanderingly drunken tête-à-tête with Luke down the Gate, an album in the pipeline was one of the random topics breezed over, but so was the debatable aggression levels between Welsh and English badgers too, so I only held hope it’d see the light!
“For The People”they’re calling it, then, out last week. It’s got the kick I now predicted, with that surprising blues element to boot, particularly in the opening track, Infectious Groove. Yet the Muddy Puddles single we’ve reviewed in the past follows, and sets the ball really rolling; it takes no prisoners, yet, for its catchiness, contains a slither of something very sixties; imagine pre-Zeppelin metal.
Emo, to audaciously use an unfamiliar genre, I’d best describe Colour Blind; smoother, drifting indie rock. And in that, Fighting Medicine is more as I’d supposed, guitar riff rocking like a driving song and Mike’s brainy lyrics, with added profanity to describe the drunken hooligan spoiling for a rumble. You know the bloke, there’s always one.
With themes of non-pretentious indie, Chin up continues this ethos, forget the attempts to conform to expectances, it’s a be-yourself song. Best, in my humble opinion, though, is Dark Dance; as it says on the tin, teetering on crashing punk, it’s upbeat and danceable, in a throwing-your-head mosh-pit kind of way, which isn’t my way, usually, but it reaches a bridge of mellow romance-themed splendour. Here’s Jimi Hendrix covering Blur’s Song Two, as the blues is retained in all these contemporary rock tunes, and for a dude indifferent to the cliché indie sound, it works on my level too.
Nicely done, and, double-whammy, Mike has forced upon me this streaming inclination which defies all my generation stood for when collecting music. Our parents called us by name when shouting up the stairs to turn the music down, not “Alexa!” Ah, it needed to be done and I’m grateful, in a sense. “Send me a download or something,” I pleaded, “I don’t understand this Spotty-Fly thing!” But it only met with the reply, “it’s on all the streaming sites….” I’m of the generation who tried to turn over the first CD they got, to listen to the B-side, and only just got the hang of downloading. Now I’m causally informed downloading’s sooo millennial.
I dunno, all moving too fast it; seems so unphysical, not to have a record collection, rather a playlist. You can’t skin up on a Deezer playlist. At least downloading had a file, nearer, somewhat, to owning a record. But I’ve persevered and found the Spotify app on my PC more user friendly; I didn’t harass my daughter for assistance once, as I regularly do with the phone.
So, cheers, Mike. Hopefully this will help me surpass the “noob” label my son has tied to me, which, I’m told is a word for both a novice and an insult in one. Honestly, I feel like my grandad, who, when he came over once, stood staring at our new LCD television and asked, “where’s your tele?!” For the People needs to include the older people too, as I reckon many would either love it, or give this trio a ruddy good clip around the ear, which is maybe what they deserve for being so damn good; they’d have me talking emoji next.
If social media is the rearguard in music’s battle against the Coronavirus lockdown, there’s plenty of battalions networking at this last stand, and physical location is no issue. A virtual realm is borderless, and for this reason, while Devizine is concentrated on content local to Wiltshire, there are many avenues worthy to waiver the rule for. So, expect us to cover some bands and artists without borders, ones I’ll connect with through social media, such as the Facebook group I’m here to mention, as is the group’s tenet.
That said, Ollie Sharp is a young performer from within our geographical catchment, Bath, who recently set up said Facebook group for indie music, called, aptly, The Indie Network. Its welcoming and dynamic attitude is gaining attention. I joined, they cast a thread of introductions; made me feel old! Funny cos it’s true, pipsqueaks by comparison. Young enough to have to Google my antiquated phraseology, like cassette tapes and Danny Kendal. Some poor guy confessed he was older, at 43, at which he faced compassionate reassurances such as, “it’s only a number.” I knew then to keep my gob shtum, so I stated I was “old enough to know better, too old to care.” Least it’d do no good for our Kieran from Sheer Music, who also joined, to grass me up as an old skool raver, historical to those barely an itch!
Though we’ve jested before about the era of yore where never the twain would indie kids and ravers mingle, Mr Moore and I, and come to the conclusion I’m exempt on account of my eclectic taste. Let it be known now, I like the sound of Ollie’s recently formed band The Longcoats, and it’s just the sort of thing which allows Kieran to win the genre argument! It’s breezy, placid indie, acceptable on a larger scale than predecessors, much least my aging preconceptions, bit like what our Daydream Runaways and Talk in Code are putting out; and I like them. I even refer to them as “our,” see, like a northern working-class family. Shoot, pass my Smiths tee Mr Moore, I’m an indie kid! (kid used here in its most unlikely definition.)
Anyway, I digress. We’ve reached the part of the show where the artist mumbles “is this codger going to actually review my single?” Apologies for my Uncle Albert moment, ha, there was me thinking Boris had made arbitrary tangents trendy. There’s no telling some, he’s a bastard. However, we’ll never get going if I branch into politics.
“Used to Being Used” is the single I was sent, the earlier one of two on their Bandcamp page. It follows a blueprint of indie-pop, there’s a trudging guitar riff, a 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; there is no need to be angry in an era which accepts the genre, so ever with edge but only enough, The Longcoats create a beguiling and entertaining sound to appeal wide.
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, The Longcoats have created a defining sound which is appealing and instantly recognisable.
There is nothing about this Bath four-piece indie-pop-rock band here, I’ll be honest, which will act as their magnum opus, but an auspicious start dripping with potential. Here’s one to watch, with their debut EP ‘October’ in the pipeline, here’s hoping it’ll reach us before the month of its namesake.
But it’s not so much about the individual band here which maketh this article, rather the conscious efforts to unite and network, thus creating a scene. Even through this era of wishing for a live gig, the networks thrive, perhaps even more so. Ollie also created Wise Monkey Music, a multi-media music and events promotion company based in the Southwest, of which we look forward to hearing more of; attention, the like Facebook group The Indie Network is likely to bring. They even let this aging raver in, dammit; though my white gloves and whistle must be in a box in the loft somewhere, it’s a deceased stereotype, of which I’m glad.
I do find though, as someone who glued and photocopied zine after zine, aside the mass media driven pop tripe, the underground thrives as it ever did, the internet only creates an easy route in. Just like the bands of the now, such as The Longcoats and others rapidly joining the group, what’s not to like about it?
How professional of me to create a to-do-list of outstanding subjects for articles, but then spoil said professionalism by dithering to the Daydream Runaways boys about the nineties rave-indie divide and becoming a grandad. The sensible members of the band promptly left the group chat, save guitarist Cameron Bianchi who stayed to endure my inane waffling up as far as the Madchester scene.
Prior to this though we had a great heart-to-heart early in the week, but if the title of this article is misleading, I should add the subject of Sir Isaac Newton never came up, rather Gravity is their latest single, hot off the streaming sites yesterday. It’s quality, as expected, going on their three previous releases, blinding reviews and an appearance on BBC Wiltshire.
It does indeed, as the press release states, “deliver on their brand of retro-modern indie rock,” but while maintaining an emerging signature panache, it pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division. A hasty grinding atmospheric intro with a pause, then the spiralling sonic guitar takes no prisoners. If the last tune, Closing the Line bore topical sentiment with a theme of the town’s Honda Plant closing, Gravity is perhaps more general, but even more powerful. This imminent Swindon-Devizes four-piece really have dug into an emotional slant with Gravity.
The combination of Ben Heathcote’s idiosyncratic vocals, said sonic guitars and class production value, this belts across as a rock anthem to not only scare The Darkness but fight a Foo. They say it comes from “a time of turbulence and explores the burden of life’s toughest decisions.” If I predicted the air of gloom surrounding the era would produce some intensely expressive songs, here is the all the proof you need, if indeed it’s a product of the pandemic. I’m going to find out.
So, I’m wondering, if the recording was done at a distance, or prior to the lockdown. Drummer, Brad Kinsey informed, “it was done in February, in Swindon, with an engineer from Westbury.”
I explained my reasoning, “it sounds heavy, rather darker than usual. So, I wondered if it was a result of the lockdown. Is there a drive to take it that route, I mean slightly darker and heavier, or is just the mood of this particular track?”
Cameron replied “I think it was just the mood of the track. Everything kind of centres around the experience Ben’s lyrics are speaking about. In fact, Ben’s probably the best person to about the story behind the song. But we definitely made a conscious effort to push ourselves on this on to do the song justice.”
It certainly does. “It doesn’t hang around,” I pointed out, “and the vocals are more powerful than before. Seems like a natural progression, a maturity. Not that I’m calling you immature, you understand?!”
Bradley responded, “nah, I get that. I think we gained confidence and are more unified about this sound.”
Cameron interjected, “I think it’s important to all of us to keep pushing ourselves with each release and not churn out the same number. I’m not saying we’re the Beatles or anything, but you know give it some time. We’re still young!”
Bradley bantered, “are you, Cam?!”
Cameron added, “well, some of us are still young…” Laughing emojis are added, but I’m getting paranoid.
“Okay,” I opposed, “spring chickens; don’t rub it in!” But even with any such change, such as the edgier component of Gravity, there’s a distinct signature maintained in all their tunes and this, I feel, sets them apart from many a local band. I could have guessed it was them before knowing it. “Is that important,” I questioned, “to be instantly recognisable?”
Cameron said, “I think it helps that Ben has got a very distinctive and powerful voice. I suppose we’re starting to find our sound as well. Ben & Nath wanted to go a bit heavier with this track but I’m not a massive fan of heavy guitar. So, I opted for a more chimney yet overdriven guitar style that suits me, but also packs a punch. Plus, I got to flex my inner Graham Coxon/Jonny Greenwood with the effects heavy solo part!”
Brad covered this shot too, “I would say so, yeah. It’s good to build a sonic trademark, all the greats have that! It’s a good thing when people can still recognise you, even when you change things. Shows that you’re using that style but without losing the integrity of what you are.”
At this early stage, Daydream Runaways call a good compromise between them, witnessed when they tuned for our Waiblingen Way Fire fundraiser. “There’s always going to be differing opinions,” I pondered, “Bit like marriage!”
Cameron replied, “no relationship comes without some disagreements, a band included. But we’re all good at finding a compromise, which is good!”
Throughout the interview I’m concerned if I should bring the idea of a possible album up, as when we did the fundraiser I asked, and it met with varying opinions between them. However, with the topic running on compromise, it’s now or never! “I wasn’t sure, though wanting to ask, if I should bring it up again!”
Cameron delegated, “Bradley…over to you on the album talk!”
I interjected with the proposal before he did, “I think you should, but accept I’m not thinking about current climate in the music industry, rather an old fashioned ideal.”
Bradley answered, “there was a plan. However, the coronavirus has impacted that. Not going to say it’s completely gone but we’ll wait and see what happens. You can’t really make any plans at the moment.”
Cameron expressed, “it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when is probably all we’ll say for now!”
Brad added, “I’d say doing an album is all dependent on what genre you’re doing. Rock music fans are still very defiant and keeping the album alive. So maybe with this Gravity sound we’ll go down that route.”
It did bring us onto these strange times, and my deliberations on what’s the best approach for artists on how to continue, continues. “What’s best for musicians,” I asked them for their tuppence, “the live stream is simply not the same as a gig, and while charging for it is a bit cheeky, it’s difficult to know where to go to get some revenue for the work you put it. In short, must be a bitch. Let’s not say the word again!”
I couldn’t argue with Brad’s comment, “some bands I follow have rejected the idea and directed people to supporting more pressing causes.”
Meanwhile, Cam elucidated his feelings about the lockdown. “Whilst you really miss that immediate response from a crowd, and the fact you’re in a room where you can play loud and really get into it, they’re still fun to do! We were lucky enough to do one right before the lockdown was enforced. Probably one of the first bands to do it, then Chris Martin came along after with his solidarity sessions. We still haven’t forgiven him for that!”
“Springsteen did one! But not before you!” I supplemented.
Bradley was proud to say, “we were the first UK band to do a self-isolation livestream. There, I said it; Let the feud with Chris Martin begin!”
The topic continued for a while, this dilemma between fan etiquette and revenue for artists. But I wanted to notify how much I enjoyed theirs, “yeah, good it was too. Saw that! Right now, I guess, it’s all we have. That’s the point I cleared with Kieran at Sheer. It’s never going to be the best plan. I think it’s time to get down and write some killer songs, agree?”
Cameron agreed with a feel-good quote, “definitely, but now is also the time to look out for each other, even though we’re all apart. If we can reach out to people with our music or it helps them get through their day, then that’s amazing.”
Bradley approved too, “yeah, and there’s never been a better time to write. Technology’s made it so accessible now to bounce ideas. Who knows, we could even release a song in lockdown without even meeting up.”
It always amazed a younger me, that Paul Simon could collaborate with the South African musicians on Graceland, back in the late eighties, and it sounded like they were playing in harmony in the same studio. It is possible to edit parts and stitch together. Must bugger up the flow of it though, make it sound mechanical or manufactured.”
Bradley replied, “well, if the band records the parts individually themselves and lays off the editing it’s possible to get that organic feel. I wouldn’t be surprise if we start seeing artists jump on this idea and release original tracks.”
It was at this point Ben Heathcote joined us. “It seems like the boys have covered the questions quite well! As Cam said, Gravity comes from a place of uncertainty and pain from circumstances and the decisions triggered from them. A crossroad of the mind. And yeah, lockdown wise we’re hoping it makes people see the value in their freedom before and hopefully will bring out further support when pubs, clubs and entertainment reopen.”
I see Ben’s clarification reflected in the cover art too. With a kind of “stairway to heaven concept,” an impressionist character is looking lost, pondering which road to take. It’s apt for the song.”
Ben welcomed this, “you got it. And again, the artwork is something were really proud of. Provided by ezra.mae.art. We also enjoyed working with Reloopaudio on the production, a friend who we will be working with again. We love this song and we’ve loved the whole creation, writing and everything about it. It’s nice to have developed it from the live sound too.”
For Ben’s benefit, we found ourselves back on the subject of Gravity’s edgier side, “I think it will please the hardcore indie fans, and those which come from a heavy rock side, which is good, there’s a majority of them locally.”
Ben replied, “as you mentioned earlier, with the style sounding fresh, but still us. This is something I’ve always been hot on since the band formed. I’ve never wanted us to be doing the same thing every time. The aim was, and continues to be; to write and produce fresh sounds with hints of varying styles that is still recognisable as us, allowing it to not be boring or repetitive; kind of inspired by many of our favourite artists who keep developing their sound.”
I take off my hat to this, “I might come across pop or soul-ish but I had my day, and do still listen to bands like Zeppelin and Floyd etc. I think Gravity will be boss with that crowd.” With which I asked for their influences, and if they mutual.
Ben reacted, “I’d say our choices are not miles apart, but to pin a group favourite would be impossible as we all have our firm favourite influences.”
Cam agreed, “yeah, I don’t think there was a particular band or artist that inspired the track as such but we all agreed what the sound was we were aiming for. Making sure that each of us brought our own thing to it.”
Laughing emojis made a reappearance, when I teased, “Ed Sheeran it is then!”
Keen to take it back, Brad nods at my sixties psychedelic citations, “Floyd and Zeppelin are timeless though. Prefect example of bands that pushed themselves overtime.” And the Daydream Runaways can relate to that with this progressive new release.
Ben said, “I think before we produced the track, we all knew in our head how it should sound.” It’s definitely a belter. I thank them for their time, with one last question before we headed into our tangent about the rave-indie divide of the nineties! Where do the Daydreamers see themselves in five years?
Ben suggested in five years’ time he would like them to have a steady schedule, “playing to crowds who know our words, filling sold out venues as well as intimate gigs, which we can always remember.”
Cameron felt they’d have “an album or two under our belt, playing to crowds in our favourite venues. Having a slot on The John Peel Stage at Glastonbury is a bit of a dream of mine!” Ah, there’s the source of my waffling, started with seeing Oasis at Glasto but, unbeknown to me at the time, I paid them little attention.
Daydream Runaways though, worthy of your attention, here’s the Spotify link to Gravity, like them up on the book of face, and cross your fingers and toes we’ll be seeing them live soon, if not the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury!
As predicted, the void where live music reviews used to sit will be filled with an abundance of releases from our local music circuit. I’ve a backlog building at Devizine Tower; here’s the first this week, from Swindon’s indie-pop four-piece Talk in Code, and much as we’ve enjoyed watching streams of Chris in his car, yeah, this is more like it, cool.
Some pensive prose swathed in the upbeat eighties-fashioned synth-pop we know Talk in Code have mastered. Courage (Leave it Behind) offers a “wake-up call,” as the press release defines, yet does so with all the hallmarks of another catchy anthem. This lockdown-themed leitmotif hails what you’re probably questioning yourself, “it’s that feeling of realising something is not right and has to be changed. But, knowing what needs to happen and taking action are two very different things…”
The world will undoubtedly be the different after this pandemic, the unity binding us could potentially tear us apart; did Joy Division predict this?! If not, there’s a ghost, least an inspiration from those early eighties new romantics fused into this contemporary tune, and again, just like the previous singles, while Talk in Code songs sound as if they’d slot into the background of a John Hughes coming-of-age movie, listen again, they also ring modernism in both production and subject.
From its inaugural piano, through its beguiling beat to this cliff-hanging finale which leaves the question open to interpretation, this is an uplifting song; I expected no less though. “Finding the strength to make a change and every bit relevant to these challenging times,” as the blurb continues, is surely up to us, pop doesn’t preach as it once did, rather stages the dilemma for you to solve, and that, in a way makes it that bit up-to-date, rather than a retrospective eighties tribute.
For that reason, Talk in Code are pushing boundaries rather than dwelling, and the reason which found them on BBC Introducing In The West, on The OFI Monday Show, The Premium Blend Radio Show, Swindon 105.5 and Frome FM. It is the reason why the Ocelot, Dave Franklyn of Dancing About Architecture, The Big Takeover, and oh yeah, us, are singing their praises.
Providing optimism as a theme to this single is a biting reality, and Talk In Code still hope to play some of the fifteen festivals that were booked into this year, including M for, Daxtonbury, Concert at the Kings and Newbury Beer Festival along with a showcase for Fierce Panda/Club Fandango, to be rescheduled for later in 2020; hygienically rinsed fingers crossed, and toes.
COURAGE (Leave It Behind) will be released tomorrow, 30th April, on digital download at www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms.
Introducing Shrewsbury’s five-piece rock band, Cosmic Rays. With a new album proving they’re Hard to Destroy….
As my daughter shoves her phone to my ear with her home-made eighties’ music quiz playlist, memories she will never know of blissfully return. “If I could be like Doc Emmett Brown and whizz you back to my era,” I think aloud, but maybe not such a good idea, she’d never survive; no Wi-Fi. What is apparent with the classic pop from my time she has picked is that it spans genres unconditionally, because she hasn’t lived it to confine her to one viewpoint, to guide through that era, where the categorical conflict for top of the pops changed overnight; what side did you fight for?
Pigeonholing divided the early-to-mid-eighties into alienated youth cultures, unique from one another and only alike for being experimental and innovative. While there may be nothing particularly ground-breaking about Shrewsbury’s five-piece rock band Cosmic Rays, what they do have is a dexterous ability to weave these genres back together in an original and affable way. I have their March released album Hard to Destroy to snoop upon, and I like it; pass my black hair dye and metallic leather high boots.
Initial reaction was thus, partially gothic with nu-metal wailing guitar and archetypical dejected romance as a running theme, and while it’s not my cuppa, it’s produced lo-fi and agreeably subtle. So elusive indeed you don’t pre-empt the changes, though may yearn for it. Post-punk and new romantic are lobbed into the melting pot by the second tune, tickling my personal taste buds better.
With the sensation of jaggedly Velvet Underground, in parts, its retrospective nods soon confine to aforementioned eighties genres. I’m now left contemplating everything from The Cult to Depeche Mode, and The Dammed to Blancmange. For which they are, just nods, as the all-encompassing sound is something original and exclusive, in so much as the combination of influences fuse so unexpectedly well. Perhaps no more adroitly composed than a central track called Lost Paradise, as while it mirrors synth-pop electronica, it also explodes midway with a wailing guitar solo akin to Slash’s contribution to Jackson’s Beat It.
The Bandcamp blurb explains new guitarist Rob McFall is a major factor to this album being a whole new direction, though while I ponder what the old direction was being I’m new to the band, I have to tip my hat to the guitar sections, but like I say, it’s the placement of them too, unpredictably located. That, I think, makes it more exciting than a band simply replicating a particular sound from a bygone era.
Just when I’m expecting it to rest there, a tune called Me & Jimmy bursts out upbeat joyful vibes. Unquestionably the most pop-tastic track on the album, it smiles House Martins or even the Fine Young Cannibals at me. Though the last two tunes finish by reminding you this is indie, Seeing Green with a winding goth ease and Walk on Water, where a sombre electronica beat rises again. If you’ve heard such a fusion tried before, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this could be encumbered and muddled, yet I feel you need to listen, for the juxtaposition works on all levels, making Cosmic Rays interesting and defiantly one to watch. By the way, my daughter’s eighties pop quiz, I nail it every time!
After a hushed couple of months for Daydream Runaways, they return with a topical smash single, Closing the Line……
I observed in awe the multitude, at least for Devizes, squeezed between the Town Hall and Vinyl Realm. Ah, what with the perpetual drizzling, wish it could be summer again; street festival time. The highlight for me was undoubtedly Pete and the staff at Vinyl Realm’s second stage; what a totally awesome job.
I did one of my live, wobbly Facebook vids of a band I held in anticipation to finally catch, which earned a comment, “who are they?” Coupled with loitering local musicians inquiring, I was astounded that this dynamic indie Swindon-Devizes four-piece were still fairly obscure. But as the sun shone, I think this photo captured perfectly that the moment of elation was communal, and confirmed everyone present will not forget the name, Daydream Runaways.
Just to make certain, they rocked the Southgate at the end of August, and what with appearances on BBC Wiltshire Radio and It’s All Indie Spotify playlists, their Facebook page has been quiet recently, save a swanky new logo. On a separate note, the threat of closure at Swindon’s Honda plant looms over its employers. I don’t want to argue the toss, and I think neither does the band, let whatever bias newspaper you believe squabble if this is the result of Brexit, or not, it’s not going to help those losing their livelihood. Such is the passionate subject of Closing the Line, the Daydreamer’s forthcoming single.
Here then is a progressive step in their building discography, which is already teetering with quality, into the realm of local topical subject matter. Personifying the shockwaves felt by a community, this emotive and illustrative indie rock track is akin to Springsteen’s woes of factories shutting. Closing the Line kicks off with an industrial noise effect, which abruptly ceases and this striking riff explodes post-haste. Vocals wail eloquently, questioning if you’ve ever tried with all you’ve got, and you’ve given up with ardent prose, continuing the leitmotif of pending gloom. It’s all very U2, but this street has a name, it’s the Highworth Road out of Swindon.
If it’s not the dejected subject of a current and local topic which drives this potently catchy tune, what fills me with enthusiasm about Closing the Line, due for release this coming Friday (25th October,) is it matches the excellence of their previous singles and wiggles towards a maturity in sound and production. In an era where pop shies from the expression of political and social stock, favouring to warble about bad relationships and who has the tightest buns, it’s an advancement the band should be very proud of achieving.
For just a year into their journey, self-recording, producing and mixing their singles, Daydream Runaways are never fearful to experiment with different production and song writing techniques. I reckon with this one, they’ve just found a niche. I hope this could encourage an album which would be as characteristic as Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever. Yet amazed, pondering what took Petty ten years of playing with the Heartbreakers to achieve, the diligence and motivation of Daydream Runaways means they could nail this less than a quarter of the time. Then, the world is ready for these kids, and bloody good luck to them.
Swindon, next week (21st Feb) a bright young punk wordsmith will visit Level III. The talented Sean McGowan signed to the Xtra Mile label, and frequently tours with buddy, Billy Bragg, as well as The Levellers, Skinny Lister, Frank Turner. Louder Than War Mag praisied Sean as a ‘unique talent’ when reviewing his debut album ’Son of The Smith’ last year.
Sean McGowan cruises into a headlining UK tour with “Auto Pilot,” his new single (HERE.) You can catch him with a full live band during Feb and March.
This title track taken from Sean’s warmly-received debut album of last year, “Auto Pilot” is another prime example of the perfectly preened and poetic indie-pop that made ‘Son of The Smith’ such a rewarding listen.
Brim-full of Sean’s distinctly wry social observations and set in vividly relatable situations, “Auto Pilot” tells a tale to lost loves and the pitfall-strewn pathway that lies beyond a bitter break up.
“And I can’t hack it any more, I smash up the wall… yet it doesn’t cure, the shame, the guilt, regret and all the dread in the morning and the next few days,” sings Sean, in a track that stands as one of the singer’s most emotionally complex and endearingly confessional outings to date.
Weaving interloping guitar lines around a driving motoric beat, “Auto Pilot” is an adrenaline-racing rush that testifies to the tight-knit musical mentality of his trusty backing band, who, fittingly join him on the road for this extensive run of UK shows.
It kicked off at Brighton’s The Hope & Ruin on the 7th. Sean and band will be travelling the length and breadth of England and Wales for a whopping 21 live dates that culminate in Bournemouth’s The Anvil on 3rd March 2019. Full dates and details, as follows.
The upcoming UK tour directly follows Sean’s biggest headline show to date, a Christmas homecoming in Southampton at the 1865 as supported by friend and labelmate Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly; the cherry on top of what was a monumental year for the ascending singer-songwriter.
So, yeah, broke my 2019 hibernation and ventured out last night. I know right, but Calne-based, Six O’clock Circus blasted an otherwise mild night at the Southgate with some passionately executed mod, punk and indie covers; right up my street and kicking down my door.
Loud and proud, regardless of the five-piece squashed into Devizes’ answer to the O2 arena, singing toward the wall, plus having gigged the afternoon in Boughton Gifford, and Friday evening with Devizes-based, Burbank, for a Big Yellow Bus fundraiser at the Bug & Spider, they never waned, pulling a fine ensemble of indie covers out of their bag, for the first half, but not before an introduction of the Kinks and Who.
Six O’clock Circus, started at nine o’clock, but despite poor punctuality of their namesake, and lack of clowns, I loved the starter, then it went a bit Britpop; Travis, Stereophonics, James and Shed Seven representations. Yet I nodded through with appreciation, their precision awarded even my non-favs with worthy magnitude. Though I personally like my indie served, as they did towards latter section of the first half, with Primal Scream and the Coral, and overall would favour more mod, of the Jam, which ended the first half, Six O’clock Circus delivered them all feverously, and favourably, with ardent appreciation of their influences.
A quieter night at this haven for live music allowed me to notice the cloudy cider tariff on the wooden beam, where at least one hairy hippy usually leans, obscuring the menu. So a double-whammy for me, securing a love for the Southgate I’d joyfully shout to the hills and back.
Undoubtedly, said cider played it’s part but I supposed the band tightened with every tune. A swap of instruments, promising a “seventies love-song,” they completed by knocking out a genuine “Pretty Vacant” before the break. It was clear Six 0’Clock Circus had no intentions of delivering us a ballad at all, neither attempt something experimental, as the second section banged in with The Buzzcocks’ classic, Ever Fallen in Love, and slipping nicely into London’s Burning by the Clash.
So, the evening’s entertainment leaves me now stamping a thoroughly deserved recommendation on Six O’clock Circus, perfect for the thirty-forty-fifty somethings function or pub circuit, and with that said, I’m off to make a bacon butty.