Illingworth Celebrate Their 100th Gig!

Salisbury-based acoustic rock duo John Illingworth Smith and Jolyon Dixon play The High Post Golf Club, between Amesbury and Salisbury this Friday 2nd December, and celebrate that it’s their 100 gig.

Although the duo had been collaborating musically for over three decades, gigs dried out proir to 2019, and they stopped, as Jolyon vaguely explained, “for one reason or another!”

He told of how around the Christmas peroid of that year, “John and I were chatting about how we missed doing gigs, wondering if we should maybe get a set together and have go at performing again as a duo.”

We wasn’t certain if anyone would want to listen,” Jolyon continued, “if we could actually get any gigs at all, or even how to get the songs working with just the two of us playing.” Today it’s still a wonder to us how they manage such a gorgeous sound as a duo, but they do! At Bishop’s Cannings’ CrownFest this summer they stole the stage following two heavy rocks bands, and to see Illingworth stamp their mark on a cover as technical as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or The Beatles’ Hey Jude, is something really special.

To maintain a pub circuit, Illingworth have mastered the cover scene with a plethora of memorable and sing-along rock classics, but neither are they strangers to creating originals, knocking out two breathtaking albums to date. This is where their relationship with Salisbury’s Tunnel Rat studio producer, Eddie Prestidge, comes in handy.

Our good friend Eddie encouraged us to give it a try,” Jolyon said, “offered to become our manager and handle the bookings. So, we gladly accepted and sure enough we got our first booking in February 2020, with several more following soon after. Of course, early in March the lockdowns started and we couldn’t go out and play. We were gutted, but, undeterred we used the time to make a new album of original songs and we did gigs whenever the restrictions allowed.”

Well, this weekend will be our 100th gig, So we would just like to say thank you so so much to all the excellent venues that have booked us, the weddings, parties, festivals, celebrations and absolutely everyone who has come to see us along the way! It’s been an absolute blast getting to this point. We still love doing what we do, and hope to make it to our 200th gig!”

With the trajectory these guys are flying on, I estimate that’ll be around spring! What more of an apt venue name, then, for their 100th gig than the High Post?! But seriously, these guys could bring joy to punters and provide a cracking night to any pub. I’d wager they could even raise the morale of the Queen Vic in Eastenders given half a chance!

Congratulations to John, Jolyon and Eddie, and hope to catch you again soon, guys.


Nothing Rhymes Orange, Fact

Oh, for the enthusiasm of emerging talent; new track from Nothing Rhymes with Orange is a surprisingly garage band delight……

My dad never revealed his feelings about being in an amateur teenage band. Though I knew he was, he played down its importance. Sacrificing his guitar for parenthood, he’d shrug and tell me they were never any good, anyway, then explain it was the trend of the era, everyone tried picking up a guitar. A tendency succumbed to electronica and the pop machine of my youth; we grew up hailing the DJ and the sound system. Yet the DIY ethos of swinging sixties is very much revitalised these days, and if there’s lots of current notable young bands on Wiltshire’s circuit, one to watch are called Nothing Rhymes Orange.

But, if it’s fact nothing does rhyme with orange, I confess to know little else about this emerging talent, save they’ve a Devizes connection, recently rocked up Lavington’s Churchill and supported Carsick at The Pump, as Sheer’s incentive to promote upcoming locals never fails to spot greatness. And greatness it is, if raw and somewhat undercooked; such is the delight of discovering a garage band, as they come out of Martin Spencer’s Badger Set studio with a blinding original track this week, Chow For Now.

Garage is an appropriate blanket term, I was pleasantly surprised not to hear some expected grunge-inspired thrash, rather the balance of indie-pop akin to the Coral, with occasional nod to post-punk, when fitting. This sounds garage, yeah, basslines of early Jam, even, which rings out a beguiling riff of contemporary sparkle, not forgoing an original concept for theme. Ah, Scouting for Girls, or more; taking on local favourites like Longcoats and Daydream Runaways.

Immediate like from me, guys; one to watch. Aside another two tunes in the works, you can find Nothing Rhymes Orange supporting Harmer James and Chasing Kites at a Freaky Friday down St James Vaults, Bath on 11th November. Link-tree is here, go figure.

This is what picking up a guitar is all about, albeit to suggest it takes perseverance; likely where my dad’s Who-like wannabes failed, but Nothing Rhymes Orange seem to excel. Guess I’ll never be sure about the first, but I’m certain of the latter.  


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Talk in Code: The Big Screen

Talk in Code’s second album has been out a while, overdue to mention it……

January 2019, and I find myself making several eighties cultural references in reviewing Resolve, the debut album by Wiltshire’s own Talk in Code. A band which turned my aged preconceptions of the “indie” pigeonhole on its head.

For me, wedged in the nineties, imaginings of that somewhat depressing outlook of the riot-grrrl, the post-gothic period of indie my rave fixation required an abhorrence of by default. Though it was hardly mods and rockers in that era, as in we didn’t fight, “ravers” and “indie kids” simply didn’t recognise each other until the remerging of the crossover, through the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy, yet, reflecting, it was always there with Madchester and the progressive Primal Scream’s Screamadelica.

So, who’s up to debate it, does any of it matter now? I likely chewed the ears off of guitarist Alastair Sneddon on the most memorable occasion of a road trip with the band last March! We’re in a period where the trend is to cast-off that nineties flavour in favour of citing influences like U2 and Simple Minds, and I’m game for that, even if the band tend to name more modern inspirations.

The point is, Talk in Code build on this ethos, their sound ever strives towards it, ergo, everything after Resolve increasingly adds to this method, of its standout single Oxygen and its gorgeous dreamy emotions akin to a John Hughes soundtrack, and gradually onward. Yet somehow this panache isn’t regressive, forgive the eighties references, it’s retaining freshness in the contemporary, just allowing a serious nod toward early to mid-eighties feelgood pop.

It’s a fashion which Talk in Code hooked me onto bands like Longcoats, Daydream Runaways and Atari Pilot too, and a scene has developed to the point Swindon’s pop darlings are now Talk in Code; they played the Coleview Music Festival this weekend, entertained crowds during the interval of the Wildcats ice-hockey game at the Link, and generally, the excitement is consistently blossoming for them, and deservedly so.

Back on our outing to Portsmouth they stressed the importance of both gigs and recording, and since their connection to Regent Street Records, there was a keenness in the band to grab wider appeal in anticipation of the forthcoming album, The Big Screen. The release of it was pushed back to accommodate this collaboration but has been up-for-grabs since last month. Having already reviewed many of the tracks of singles I’ve been biding my time, apologies to Talk in Code, but here it is….

To begin, The Big Screen has had nearly as many singles coming off it as Jacko’s Bad, yet the comparisons end there. The opening title-track though, is exclusive, and it rings as the perfect intro as all the shaping I’ve described above. Illogical chronologically follows, their last single released, which I defined at the time as summing up “their undeviating style, upbeat and optimistic,” and suggested it was more danceable than the previous singles.

One of my personal favs follows, Talk Like That, came out back in January 2020, of which I suggested would “blow your diddy-boppers off!” Track four is Hindsight, an album track, perhaps, least one I haven’t heard of, but again, listening to it everything just falling so neatly into place. Talk in Code are so stylised, this flows as an album rather than a collection of singles, and nothing here will disappoint.

April 2020’s single Courage (Leave it Behind) is followed by a cooling new song, Someone Else’s Shoes, which takes on the Wham boys at their earlier best. This is a drifter, but yeah, I said Wham, I don’t know about you, but it got me reminiscing the greatness of Everything She Wants, a hidden gem of their discography often obscured by later hits.

But Save It returns to paced euphoric, and one can’t go wrong towards the finale, as the last three tracks are recently celebrated singles. The Molly Ringwald moment of Young Loves Dream, autumn during lockdown’s neon song Secret and ending on the summery Taste the Sun, dripping in fun, and sunshine…. club tropicana’s drinks are free, y’ know? And in that, a certain moreish finesse we’ve come to accept as standard from Talk in Code shines on.

In all, despite reviewing the singles as and when they were released, it’s worth revisiting as together in the compilation of The Big Screen, you can hear what I’ve been waffling on about with each and every single review, about the tightness of the band to create this uniformed joyous chic of universal pop appeal. Honest, in a Tardis, feels like you could pull out a Smash Hits poster of Talk in Code and blu-tac it to your wall, and your dad will approve. Whatever did happen to Terrence Trent D’Arby?!

Get the album here, s’ only seven quid.


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The Best He Could Do at The Time, Joe Hicks’ Debut Album

A little late for the party, as ever, I’ve been procrastinating, and my computer is equally as listless; failing to save my original words on this. Meanwhile Newbury good guy, but welcomed regular on our circuit, Joe Hicks has been busy with a debut album launched yesterday, worthy of a rewrite……

Titled The Best I Could Do at The Time, Joe is seriously playing it down, like the nerd at college who tells you they “haven’t done much” for their assignment, so you follow suit only to find them offering a feasible cure for all known diseases in a presentation with U2 providing the soundtrack, while the best you can offer is a scribbling of your pet cat, which you did on the bus journey there.

The opening tune, Sail Away, for example, is far punchier than David Gray’s appellation of the same name, and we won’t contemplate sailing down the Rod Stewart route. Though it’s best pigeonholed like Gray’s, as folktronica, there’s a whole lot more going on here from this stalwart who could just as easily fit comfortably into a blues dance as he could a folk festival, and does.        

The blurb suggests The Best I Could Do at the Time is “a journey through many of the emotional peaks and troughs we go through as humans,” Joe explained, “and more specifically me as a musician in such uncertain times. It’s about acknowledging them, living in those feelings for a while and ultimately finding the hope we all have within us to take control and rise above the worst of them. It’s about doing the best we can with the tools that we have.”

The first thing to hit you is the sheer production quality, a euphoric yet upbeat anthemic joy from the off, Sail Away, sustains the timeless pop formula, making him balance on the edge between aforementioned folk and blues, and allowing this album to flow tidy, but traverse any given pop subgenre at will, while retaining originality and stylised inimitability.

If One More Step, the timeless pop second track is a prime example, it builds on layers like a contemporary hit of say a George Ezra-Bruno Marrs hybrid, Maybe When It’s Over follows, and this stretches back further, reeking of unruffled seventies soul, like Curtis Mayfield.

Four tracks in and you’re safe in knowledge to accept anything, Pieces is sublime acoustic fluff, and there was a line in the subtle skank of Lost in Love, “oh, such a reckless emotion,” where I paused for thought on a comparison which I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until it came to me; the velvety vocals of Paul Young, especially when he sang Come Back and Stay.

Mirror Mirror reflects an indie side-order, while Out of My Mind surprisingly nods of township jive, designating a hint of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Hand in Hand settles the pace once again to this euphoria, so that even if the narrative traverses the downhearted at times, it’s always a musical ride with the glass half full. And herein is my point; this is ageless pop goodness, borrowing from what went before, but fresh and contemporary throughout, which is the even balance of magnitude.

The final trio of tracks on this eleven-strong album returns to the early eighties pop formula with, Alive, folktronica goodness with the inspiring Make It Home, and Weightless polishes it off with the pop roll of The Corrs, or something along those lines, though the whole shebang holds itself in its own pocket.

It’s a wonderful album, deservedly to be considered a remarkable achievement; The Best I Could Do at The Time huh? Well, the time is nigh. Having made a name for himself as a session guitarist, Joe Hicks was ‘BBC Introducing Artist of the Week’, directly from his first solo single in 2017. Since he’s built up a sizable online following, touring the UK and Europe, appearing at CarFest, The Big Feastival, Are You Listening? Festival, Pub in the Park, over thirty Sofar Sounds shows and slots supporting Sam Fender, James Walsh and Starsailor.

Here in Devizes, he’s regularly appeared at Long Street Blues Club and Saddleback, and is always a delight to chat with; just a genuine modest talent, of which this album truly blows the lid off his cover. I got your number, Hicks; bloomin’ amazing album, my son!

Link-Tree to Buy


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Sheer Music Grand Return to Devizes

Ah, it’s on the grapevine alright; godfather of Wiltshire’s millennial live indie scene, Kieran Moore isn’t sneaking in the back door with his tail between his legs like the prodigal son, rather he’s returning to Devizes, the origins of his promotional stamp Sheer Music, in a blaze of heavy rock glory.

Not content with setting the soul of live music in the bright light city of viva Trowvegas on fire, or getting those stakes up higher at Komedia in Bath and legendary venue the Vic in Swindon, he’s
just a devil with love to spare…. for his roots!

It’ll be loud and proud, that much is for sure, when Sheer takes the Corn Exchange on Friday 7th October, and, hold your breath, it’ll be a free gig, yes I said free. When was the last time you got in the Corn Exchange for nought? Obviously as chief blagger I’m not at liberty to answer that question myself, but you catch my drift I hope!

They’ve got that kick-ass skater punk collaboration of Trowbridge, Devizes, Westbury and Wotton Bassett, Start The Sirens as support. A promising upcomer we handsomely reviewed their debut “Just the Beginning,” back in June.

Next up is two-thirds homegrown purveyors of noise NervEndings, who should need no introduction locally, abielt to note the boys are creating quite the stir forever further abound, headlining this Saturday at the very same Victoria, for the Swindon Shuffle.

Plus hard-rocking contemporary punkers Lucky Number Seven, which I’ll confess is a new one to me, but they certainly sound like a belter, featured alongside NervEndings at the Shuffle, and who tore Bristol’s Fleece apart at the beginning of the month.

Kieran labels his promo posts with “shit the bed, Devizes,” leaving me pondering; are you sure you’re ready for this, Devizes? Stage diving all the way to Chick-O-Land?!


Really Got Me Now; The Roughcut Rebels Storm the Three Crowns

Prince Akeem of Zamunda, that’s the bugger, least the fictional character played by Eddie Murphy in Coming to America, who walks over a shower of rose petals; that’s the Roughcut Rebels gigging in their hometown right now, but replace the petals with “party!” Yes, they dance over a bed of party, waltzing the crowd with them, and punch above their weight for the mod covers championship belt.….

For a band that know they can switch from the Beatles’, Hard Day’s Night, to Jack Bug’s Lighting Bolt, a local crowd will lay the petals for them. More so, they bring the party, as they saunter through them with a breeze of confidence. Confidence in their younger frontman, Fin, but also in the tightness of the knowledgeable band; it’s one not to be missed, as it was in the Three Crowns last night.

In pub with a McDonald’s-paced drinks service, due to its cashless agenda, there’s a marvellous outside venue completely covered with sparkling canope. The boss here knows his customers as he flicks me through his diary; The Three Crowns pays particular attention to accomplished local live cover acts it knows will bring the party, such as People Like Us, Illingworth, Paradox and, as clearly evident last night, those Roughcut Rebels.

They push the boundaries of eras, spanning in comfort any anthem with a mod tinge, and saunter from sixties to eighties, from Rolling Stones to The Jam, yet slide equally as neatly and timelessly as a Fred Perry shirt into Britpop and into contemporary indie sing-a-longs.

Polishing the evening off with the Stereophonics’ Dakota, it’s a scooter rideout through time, from The Who to Oasis, and everything in between. This equates to a highly entertaining show, akin to a Now, That’s What I Call Mod Music compilation album, but live and with Wiltshire hint; I honour Fin doesn’t attempt a cockney accent when reenacting Phil Daniels’ Parklife monologue, because it’s a little west country thing, and it rocks!

With a extensive gourmet burger type menu, The Three Crowns is a golden nugget on our pub circuit, and Finley and Mark of the band are the next stop musically, playing the bank holiday Monday in support of The Reason.

The Roughcuts can be seen again at The Barge in Seend Cleeve on September 2nd, and appear at the highly anticipated Party For Life fundraiser at Melksham Town FC on the 10th September.


Talk In Code Return to Swindon for a Homecoming Show & Album Release

We love ‘em here at Devizine, and Swindon-based indie pop quartet, Talk In Code are set to return to The Victoria in Old Town Swindon on Saturday 23rd September for a massive homecoming celebration show following a packed summer of festival appearances at Lechlade Festival, Minety Festival, Home Farm Festival, Taunton Pride, Box Rocks, Great West Fest and many Foodies Festivals all over the UK…..

The band have spent the summer playing to packed audiences across Wiltshire and all over the UK, supporting esteemed names such as Jesus Jones, Cast, Scouting For Girls, My Life Story, Blue and The Feeling.

Talk In Code, recently signed to London based Regent Street Records, released their instantly danceable, upbeat single “Illogical” in June of this year, playing a headline set at Pimms In The Park at Lydiard Park on release day.

Image: Helen’s PolarPix

The gig at The Victoria on 23rd September will also see the release of the bands new single “The Big Screen” and also their third album of the same name which will be available to purchase on CD on the night.

Chris Stevens, lead vocalist said “Swindon is our home, and it feels so right to be returning to The Victoria, which is one of our favourite venues to play.. Darren and Violet from The Victoria have been incredibly supportive of Talk In Code over the years and we cannot think of a better place to showcase our new album than The Vic! We are proud to be Swindon!”

Join Talk In Code for what promises to be an incredible night of live music, with support from Riveria Arcade and Tom Moore.

Tickets are just £6.00 in advance from https://www.seetickets.com/event/talk-in-code-riviera-arcade-tom-moore/the-vic/2319587 Listen to Talk In Code here.

Ah, my road trip with Talk in Code!

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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Flowers in the Snow; Paul Lappin’s New EP

For want of content during lockdown I broke borders and publicised about music worldwide, gradually crawling Devizine back to its original ethos of focussing on local happenings. Pardon me if I don’t get all Royston Vasey on this EP, recorded in the South of France, for the reasoning is twofold; Paul Lappin originates from Swindon only partially significant, mostly it’s because for music this good I’m willing to break any rules about content I might’ve once made!

Through the album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly, if in October 2020 I raved about the Britpop goodness of Paul and his band, the Keylines, a following live unplugged and largely acoustic release Christmas last year, Live at Pink Moon Studios simply knocked it out of the park for me. Stripped back and set within an intimate lockdown performance, Live at Pink Moon Studios not only reinforced the absolute brilliance of Lappin, it earmarked its place in my all-time favourites, outside the confines of what we review here.

No pressure then, Paul, if I don’t compare this new release to other items currently in review, rather provide assurance to our readers, this again dreamy, mostly acoustic new EP Flowers in the Snow, is immediately enchanting, best paralleled with John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, or Nick Drake, the latter of whom I’d imagine Paul to cite, being the studio name refers to a Drake album.

Though, I feel at times, aforementioned comparisons are somewhat lost in their own era, Paul reflects this too, his work never retrospective, it sounds fresh for the now, as Britpop comes of age, this is matured indie, favourably over a beechwood fireplace in a cabin recollecting times past, with a customary glass of wine.

Three average-length tunes make up this EP, though as suspected, that’s all which is average here. A tale of better times on their way begins the proceedings, a best served acoustically title track. It smooths the soul, quite literally. Moodier soundscape introduction of subtle guitar riff following for track two, Blue and Gold, brings out the best in Johannes Saal’s drums and bass, and Thomas Monnier’s subtle congas.

“The rest of my band were busy with other projects,” Paul explains of springtime, “I spent a week at Pink Moon residential studios in the south of France working on some new ideas with producer and recording artist Saal.” The result is this EP; three songs loosely linked by the theme of the seasons and mixed on a beautiful 1980’s GDR era broadcast desk. “The download includes a 14-minute bonus track of all three songs linked together, as was originally intended.”

Okay, so I’m guessing spring on Flowers in the Snow, dead reckoning Blue and Gold is summer, but the last tune confirms, it’s winter; Not Hiding Just Sliding is perhaps the most experimental, such a beguilingly unassuming melody, holding you out to dry in want for more. This is an exceptional set of flowing songs, no two-ways about it, if the seasons really came and went as smoothly as this, I’d still be wearing a t-shirt and khaki shorts through the bleak midwinter!


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Broken, with Billy Green 3

Rain after a heatwave can be “refreshing” rather than its normal, “annoying.” Save drizzle, though forecast, we’re still waiting for the storm. If it’s refreshing you want in the meantime, local Britpop trio, Billy Green 3 paid a visit to Potterne’s Badger Set studio, and the result is Madchester in Ibiza….

Melancholically drifting over a subtle Latino riff, Broken is the surprising new single, out tomorrow (Friday 22nd July,) and it’s gorgeously chilled, like lounging on a porch-swing with a touch of bourbon, while mizzle rejuvenates the charred grass. It’s the morning-after pill from a heady beach party, yet don’t rush off with the idea Bill has done gone turned into a bossa nova star or anything rash like that!

Thankfully more air-conditioned Santana than gold bikini-clad Shakira, we’re some way even off what Oakenfold might spin at some Balearic archipelago chillout zone, because Broken retains the model Verve-Embrace come new wave mod indie sound of Billy Green’s past tracks, just with a subtle nod to something retrospectively Latino, akin to Morcheeba’s Big Calm, or Screamadelica; something like that. “Think Cafe Del Mar…in Newcastle,” our Geordie frontman Bill pitches it to me, rightfully.

Phone speaker listening never does a song justice, I must break the habit, but it took me seconds to fall in love with this tune, despite lack of amplification. Fond of this, because it works, key is the simplicity against overthinking, at least with such a style, I put to Bill.

“I think so,” he replied, “I had an idea that I wanted to have a two-chord structure, and the emotion would come through the story in the lyrics, I’m not really had any songs with a complete narrative arc, so that was the very loose plan, once I had that we just build the instrumentals around the lyrics and that ebbed and flowed…” And it has itinerant romantic narrative, as tranquil as the sound, working as a cruising solo song, or maxing-relaxing with a loved one… just don’t try the aforementioned gold bikini-clad Shakira look in an accompanying video, Bill, it’s only going to lower the poignant nuance of a superb tune; well done, guys, very summery!



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Hooch on Streaming

Once a cover band, east Wiltshire’s rootsy four-piece Hooch have moved to writing and recording original material. Their discography goes onto music streaming sites today (Sunday 3rd July,) and if you like your country-rock breezy and uplifting, with a subtle touch of psychedelia and surf, then it’s worthy of your attention…..

The instrumental Eagle Ray is particularly awash with this aforementioned surf-rock style, while all tracks have this sunny-side-of-the-street, retrospective feel about them. Slowburn, for instance, is good time mid-era-Beatles in nature and Voodoo Hair is outright groovy.

Well even if you don’t do the streaming platforms you can get a listen direct from their website.Ten tunes on offer here, enough for an album, guys? An album of ten jumpy, anthemic ballads like Sweet Maria would see us fine, this one in particular is a beguiling peach I could imagine fans chanting back at them after only a few listens.

Live is a bigger part to Hooch, I’m certain you’ll make a beeline for a gig upon hearing these well crafted tunes, they’re at the Seven Stars in Bottlesford Saturday July 16th, tickets are a purple one, I believe this includes a barbecue thrown into the bargin, and a summer mini-fest at the Horseshoe Inn, Mildenhall July 23rd.

Expect “unusual” covers choices, they say, but I’d argue the cited Depeche Mode, Space and The Coral are apt, this upbeat melodic blend from Martyn Appleford, Nesh Thompson, Simon Dryland and Matt Ryan reflects this, with a dash more roots than perhaps, new wave mod, but with a move to electrification enhacing their acoustic roots, they weave perfect pop simplicity into their lyrics, and that’s where it is to pinning an imitatble, memorable style.

If the name derives from the late 19th century abbreviation of Hoochinoo, a North American tribe in Alaska renowned for brewing booze, this is certainly fun time drinking music, but the sound is far more matured than its commonly associated brand of alcopop. Ha, whatever happened to that, do they still sell it? It certainly took the brunt of the blame for underage drinking in the nineties, as if they invented the concept and no kid ever tried alcohol before their ingenious bottle of wobbly lemonade came onto the market!

Sickly sweet though, wasn’t it? Precursor to the Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice, but try the tune Aluna for size, and you’ll see, though there’s elements of the Kinks at their most comical, or subtle Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band at times, it’s a choice for grownups, with no immature persuasion; I love it, and hope they’re encouraged to perform their own tunes live, rather than an all-covers set; the difference between buying spirits and mixing it to your own taste or letting mainstream brewers decide on your sugar levels!


Talk in Code get Illogical

The only person who isn’t going to love this is Mr Spock! Swindon’s Talk in Code released a new single today, Illogical, their first release on Regent Street Records, since signing at the beginning of the year……

Only seconds of a Tangerine Dream fashioned intro elapses before the boys’ flare that uniformed indie-pop at you; the kind they’ve grown into and we’ve come to love them for. Again, Illogical sums up their undeviating style, upbeat and optimistic, each new title shimmeringly fresh and more astute to the “code.”

Built-in euphoric backing consecrates this imitable style; yeah, there’s tinges of eighties pop while retentive of the contemporary knowhow, so to have discovered it on an “Hits Album” of the era would’ve likely caused a seizure of excitement for the listener, and a technical enquiry call from Kraftwerk for the band.

Recorded and produced with Sam Winfield and Tom Millar at Studio 91 (Amber Run, The Amazons, Fickle Friends), the ‘guilty by design’ theme connotes relationship complexity, contradiction and confusion. Yet, as with universal pop formula, their leitmotifs pale by the energetic beat, until the bridge which winds down and highlights subtle narrative. Talk in Code find that perfect balance, which I why I tip them one of the very best on our local circuit. More so, the theme of the song seems to suggest this.

But their strive for wider appeal is deservedly paying off independently amassing 170k streams and over 600 Spotify playlist adds, radio airplay from Amazing Radio and BBC Introducing, and thriving festival appearances.

If you’re expecting covers at their gig, you might be disappointed, but Talk in Code’s beguiling singles are immediately palpable by effect, and will have you thinking you’ve heard them before; “catchy” is a word I try to avoid, but is apt. Illogical is perhaps more danceable then their power-pop previous single, Young Love’s Dream, and more akin to 2020’s Talk Like That. With such an amazing discography gradually building, probably best now to compare Talk in Code singles with Talk in Code singles rather than cite influences. Progression is the only issue here is, each one seems to better the previous and each new one binds this aforementioned uniform style.

“Analysis please, Mr Spock……”

“Given variables, Captain, it would be illogical to find fault with this new Talk in Code single!”    

Showing off the day I made a rubbish roadie on the road with Talk in Code!

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Cobalt Fire’s Butterfly

In the words of the great Suggs, “but I like to stay in, and watch TV, on my own, every now and then,” after three gigs on the previous weekend, I opted a weekend off, albeit I was with the family, and succumbed to Britain’s Got Talent for my entertainment, one little part of me wishing I’d headed down the Southgate.….

To rub salt in the wound, Swindon-(I think)-based Cobalt Fire, who were providing the sounds at Devizes most dependable pub for original music last Saturday, also released a debut album called Butterfly, so naturally I wanted to hear what I missed.

Self-defined as a fusion of “the retro sound of 90’s grunge and post-punk with a modern take on folk,” I can see where they’re coming from, and it’s no new thing for them, formerly known as Ells and the Southern Wild, the band developed their fresh sound from acoustic roots, and yes, there’s tinges of this still in them. Though their bio suggests they formed in 2103, I gather there’s either a typo or a gothic timelord in there! But in their switch to electric they strive to retain the core features of the songs, “creating a more muscular beast in the process,” they put it.

And they’ve certainly achieved this, Butterfly, usually more bug than beast, is a boom of emotional overdrive, as grunge commands, with echoes more of Evanescence than Nirvana, what with Ells Chadd’s haunting vocal range. It packs punches from beginning to end, the finale of which, Another Round, particularly poignant to this nod to acoustic roots, middle tracks like His Words Lie Heavy breath an air of eighties post-punk, ah, goth tinge, Siouxsie Sioux style, while it begins strictly grunge, with those rising and falling echoes of emotive authority.

The magnum opus, though, is three tracks in, Crimson Red summarises everything great about this potent four-piece, it’s dynamitic, driving.

It’s basically ten professionally executed, blindingly touching three-minute heroes, in a fashion not usually my cuppa. But if I sing praises for a genre more me, that’s easy work, for music to make me consider oh yeah, I like this though pigeonholing obligation says I shouldn’t, the result is even more impressive, and with Butterfly I’m near to breaking out some multi-belt buckle platform boots, growing my hair and dying it black!

This is a powerful and emotive creation, indulgent of all rock subgenres, yet beguiling grunge, and it never strays from its unique sound. See now, I’m sorry I missed you guys, another time and I’m beeline; embarrassingly for BGT too, though I’ve given my best cat ate my homework excuse, and though I doubt you’ll turn Simon Cowell’s frown upside-down, going on this album, you’d have got my golden buzzer.

Ah, it’s all lies, anyway; not sure my hair will grow back!


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Billy Green’s Garden

To deal with my forgetfulness I have a to-do-list. The only issue with my to-do-list is I forget I started it; Billy Green released a new single last month, it’s a poetic stonker of indie-rap, with his usual nod to Britpop, and still it fell through the floodgate. Apologies to Bill, but it’s a convenient time to bring it up, as he gigs at Trowbridge’s Pump next Friday, May 27th, for Sheer Music.…..

What makes it even more exasperating for me, is that I was gossiping about the man himself, with Pip Phillips of People Like Us at Long Street Blues Club, what was it, just last week?! All good things, reminiscent of when they were in the nineties indie band, Still, together. Because Billy Green has a history, and it’s savoured in a nimble and accomplished style of the time; zip your tracksuit jacket up to the chin and hide your swirly pupils under a Kangol bucket cap!

The impression of Still remains a forefront for Bill, who named his 2020 album after the band, and followed it with a preceding collection of lost demos, made with the band mid-nineties. Tales of musical happenings in times of yore, before I landed on planet Devizes, always fascinate me, and I never tire of hearing about the blues bands of an era long past, with good folk like Exchange-owner Ian James. Yet Billy echoes out his antiquity, The Pump gig will incorporate his songs from the Still album, which relish in this bygone fashion, adroitly.

Billy Green @ Still

Surprised I was to note the quasi-rap poetry of this new tune, Garden, but twas a pleasant one. Teetering with his Geordie mockery it holds an ironic slate against the charade of social media embodiment, “people posting inspirational memes in one post, and ruining people in the next,” Bill describes it to me; I know that sentiment, probably a smidgen guilty myself, Bill, you bloody stickler!

Though hints of the everyday rap style of The Streets, it’s wrapped rather in the upbeat jaunty attitude of Blur, awash with Britpop influences of acts like James, for example. But don’t take my word for it, ere, have a listen yourself mate, and you’ll be mad-for-it too; sorted.


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Daydream Runaways, with Butterflies

Daydream Runaways have released their first single for a while, and it’s got superpowers!

Being a little over four years old, Devizine has grown up with a number of young bands and acts on the local circuit and it’s always nice to hear back from them. I overuse the word “matured” to describe the progression they’ve made since we first met, but it’s not a word I’d use today, as part Swindon-based part Devizes-based indie-pop fourpiece Daydream Runaways, release their first single since their amalgamation EP Dreamlands in November 2020.

Benjamin Heathcote, Nathaniel Heathcote, Cameron Bianchi and Bradley Kinsey promote the new single, Butterflies with images of them head locked into golden age American comics. I spammed the social media post with a selfie of me reading an antique Dandy, one nearly as antique as me!

It’s not the first time the band have used imagery conveying what some might deem nerdy or adolescent pop culture references, from childlike depictions of fairgrounds, cuddly toy mascots etc, and though, in some ways the retrospective nods to the eighties power-pop of a John Hughes soundtrack and youthful themes of unrequited love and romantic obsession might return us to our coming-of-age era, there’s nothing technically in this new song to suggest they’ve matured necessarily, because that air of ripened quality and proficiency in their sound has been there since day-dot.

Akin to Robert Johnson, did they sell their souls to the devil at a crossroads to be, like, automatically this good?! Doubt it, it takes time and dedication, two elements really on show here.

So, I put them on a pedestal and they knock it right over, Butterflies is an absolutely awesome song, I expected nothing less. I’ve called them one of the most underrated bands around these waters, I stick by that. Again, it’s this delicate balance between sounding fresh and replicating a fond era, fused with a sturdy appetite and palpable passion which creates these eternally sublime indie-pop belters, the like I praise Talk in Code, The Dirty Smooth and the Longcoats with too. Ah, it’s like the eighties never ended, just got better, cos, as with their others, perhaps even more so with Butterflies, you could fit these on an eighty’s movie soundtrack, or Now compilation and they’d blend perfectly with the likes of Simple Minds, U2, Echo & the Bunnymen, et al.

I hope you catch my drift, Butterflies certainly is skilfully progressive, the band seem tighter than ever before, the timeless subject of unrequited obsession has been used to full efficiency, and it just works on all levels, but Daydream Runaways always had that in them, ergo it’s not worthy of the term matured. Beguiling via hook-laden layers, building and crashing drums and guitars, it drives with optimistic emotion and screams authority till the point it’s impossible to deem this anything other than anthemic.

It’s also embracingly DIY, sticking with their indie roots, they release Butterflies completely independently. Recording, mixing and mastering was the task of drummer Bradley Kinsey, and the artwork designed by frequent collaborator and friend ‘Ezra Mae Art’.

The band suggest the lonely heart theme, has a twist; the lyrics are written from “the perspective of the titular superhero, Butterfly Boy.” Wanting to write a song fit for a comic book hero, they created their own rather than “going the route of existing meta-humans from the likes of comic giants Marvel & DC.” Maybe I need to align my spidey-senses, or just give it a few more listens to see the connection, but that’s easy to do with a track so invitingly good.


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On The Road With Talk in Code!

You know that millennial movie, Almost Famous, set mid-seventies, where Rolling Stone Magazine mistake a nerdy teenager for a music journalist and send him on the road with an outrageous prog-rock band? It was nothing like that. Neither did it resemble 200 Motels, where a man dressed as a vacuum cleaner convinces you Ringo Starr is actually Frank Zappa in some freaky acid flashback. But I did have an awesome adventure yesterday, on the road with local premier indie-pop favs, Talk in Code.…..

There were no campervans with CND slogans painted on the side-door, no sign of Goldie Hawn’s daughter unfortunately, and though my bubbles of anachronistic pre-imaginings burst, it allowed me to chart the regular labour of a touring band, rather than my usual practise of slouching up halfway through a performance with lame excuse. For if I’m going to write on the subject, I need to comprehend the inner workings, and the thoughts of a band going to a gig; even though I’m far from teenage music journalist with an advance from Rolling Stone!

So, by dinnertime I’m lone with guitarist Alastair Sneddon at the steering wheel, hereafter referred to as “Snedds,” with an amp case knocking in the rear of his car, and distracted by my inane waffling, weaving between musical subjects, badly following his sat-nav to Portsmouth.

Likely the eldest of this four-piece band, Snedds is a family man with a wealth of musical experience. He fondly recalls playing in cover bands, jazz and blues groups and our chat swifts across his past, musical influence brushing off on his children, current past gigs and local venues, to the importance, or insignificance of pop culture, the mainstream music industry and current trends of listening to music from streaming platforms to amplification to listening through phone speakers; we could’ve chatted all night on his passionate chosen subject, least it perceived to reduce the travel time.  

Before I knew it, we were awkwardly parked on a busy street in Southsea. Awash with cheesy club type pubs, restaurants, kebab houses and chippies, lies an equally misplaced theatre to our right, and a more traditional looking city tavern, The Lord John Russell, which will be our venue for the evening. Like a true roadie I felt a sense of haughtiness as I assisted lugging equipment through the already bustling pub; make way, yes, I’m with the band, ladies control yourselves!

But nothing felt ostentatious for the band as they amassed their kit in a corner, greeted each other and the promoter; here’s a tight working team despite the geographic distance between them. Talk in Code are part from Swindon, Reading and Devizes, but here they are with an excited air of anticipation brewing. There’s a trio of bands on tonight, Talk in Code are second on, while the first are already sound checking, locally based to Portsmouth, Southerlies are a seven-piece covers band, fusing Americana with punchy hooks into contemporary pop; they proficiently delivered their set with good male-female vocal harmonies, and being local I observe they attracted a fanbase.

Quite eclectic then, to switch to Talk in Code’s more electronica indie-pop, which as I discussed in the car with Snedds, perpetually seemed to fuse conventional nineties indie sound to a more inimitable eighties synth-pop style with every new tune. Yet tricker still was the notion the Talkers insist to play only their originals, which would be unknown to this rather heterogenous crowd. Besides, frontman Chris gets his fill of covers with the Britpop Boys.

Seems Friday live music nights are relatively new-fangled for the Lord John Russell, with a promoter keen to create the venture, the pub also adhered to cater for the pull on it’s street with screens showing sport and archetypical club music between acts. As much as market town pubs like Devizes’ Southgate work here, with a penchant for original live music and solely that, it wouldn’t work in this busy city location judging by the footfall. But a splendid, convivial and dynamic pub it was with a wide demographic.

One thing I was keen to gage from Talk in Code, the priorities and feelings towards playing a gig outside their usual stomping ground as opposed to returning to a venue like Swindon’s Victoria where a fanbase would be welcoming. They stressed the importance of both, and being their recent connection to Regent Street Records, there’s a keenness in the band to grab wider-appeal in anticipation of the forthcoming album. The release of which has been pushed back to accommodate this collaboration.

Still, all the band are united in praising recent local gigs, particularly Trowbridge Town Hall where they supported The Worried Men, and were keen to pick out the importance of the many locally-based festivals they’re booked at, from Minety to Live at Lydiard and IWild in Gloucestershire. And with appearances at places like Oxford’s HMV, things are really looking up for them post-lockdown.

And it’s easy to see why when they bounced on stage last night at the Lord John Russell, after their virtually nail-biting eagerness while the Southerlies launched into their final song, Chris already polishing his guitar and Snedds confessing the waiting game is a pet hate. A technical issue with leads to the backing tracks solved, the band applauded the previous and proficiently executed their thing, introducing themselves and delivering their songs with panache.

For me it was a blessing, being I’m aware of much of their discography, to finally get to witness them do it live, and had to stop to ponder their stage presence is as exhilarating as their recorded work. Yet, my view of the performance differed from the crowd as the band were likely new to them. Still, they got the place jumping, sprightlier, and louder than the previous band. They confessed a spirit of fair competition was unavoidable in them, yet affirmed their ethos to never do their set and bunk, in respect for other bands; Talk in Code come off as outgoing throughout and it was an honour to be welcomed into their web.

Also present, I spent time chatting connections, her background as music journalist and her fanzine making past, with manager Lyndsey. From Milton Keynes she avidly followed the group in their early years, falling in love with their sound it seemed only natural to mutually agree for her to manage. And part-time freelance photographer Helen, whose PolarPix Facebook page is dominated with Talk in Code shots. I put it to her she seems to have another band photographed then a Talk in Code one, then another Talk in Code one, then another random band. She acknowledged most of the other bands were on the same bill as TIC! A true “Talker,” as is their fanbase appellation.

Percival Elliott

A pleasant change from trudging the local circuit, as the finale was a euphoric rock band named Percival Elliott, who, with barefoot frontman on keys, executed a sublime set, the like you’d want Coldplay to achieve. In many ways here was a band apt for our own fond venues such as aforementioned Southgate and Trowbridge Town Hall. Without boast, coming highly recommended by yours truly occasionally has some clout, though there was part of me who, if in control of this triple-bill, would’ve put Talk in Code as the final band, being more upbeat popish.

We give no more review of The Lord John Russell for the sake of it being outside our boundaries, but if you’re Pompy bound this would be an ideal pub to consider, offering a variety of free live music dates on Fridays. Now I’m home, unpacked my Peppa Pig bucket and spade, but while I unfortunately didn’t see the seaside, or Kate Hudson, I was in good company with a band which goes from strength-to-strength.  


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A Gecko in Trowbridge Town Hall

It’s always a warm greeting as you enter Trowbridge Town Hall, even if, like me on this occasion, you’re running late…..

Prior to my arrival I digested the fact I’d likely forgone the supposed support act, Gavin Osborn, but was dammed if I’d miss Gecko, as since reviewing his sublime second album Climbing Frame back in October 2020, I’ve been aching with the understandable desire to see him pull it off live.

Mellowed piano song oozed from the humble hall ahead, oh no, I figured, Gecko has already begun. Such it is that Gavin recently resigned event coordination at the hall to the capable hands of then sound engineer, Kieran Moore, I assumed he was billed as a kind of farewell to his previous position, unmindful I’d emerge from the Hall a Gavin Osborn fan too. Even by the evening’s culmination I was also dubious of suggestions the two were collaborative, or if it was just banter between them.

But it seems a tag-touring-team is a reality, and given I’d mistaken Gavin for Gecko in the vestibule, who could be more apt to work with for the reptilian-named poet-esque singer? For luckily, Gavin was still on the subtle stage, virtually stripped bare of instrumentation save a banjo, microphone, music stand and randomly placed hardback chair.

Yet a guy looking remarkably like photos I’d used of Gecko accompanied him on a piano, tucked away by a side door. After the song I’d made my stealth entrance to was over, the pianist sat behind me. Uncertain glances behind affirmed, if there was a gecko in the room it was undeniably him, giggling at Gavin’s witty prose. I suppose this, coupled with their styles so similar I mistook the pair, should’ve been damming evidence this was more than a headliner and support act thrown in for sentiment, but what can I defend myself with, naivety caused by surviving on powernaps?!

In this, is the delight of the communal venue too. If there’s a stage green room it’s unused every time I visit; awaiting performers merge into the audience. This is no venue for egotistical celebs, and with barely raised stage and modest lighting, it’s a non-gimmick venue which bases solely on performance rather than dazzling affects. Professionalism and proficiency given, if you can hold an audience spellbound with such minimal affects and props.

Both did with bells on, and while I suspected the case with Gecko, Gavin was the surprise element. Akin to Gecko, Gavin is more storyteller than singer, though splices of prominent points were executed through great folky vocals, and highly amusing prose. Unlike Gecko, Gavin’s baseplate is folk, who through exceptionally crafted verse reminded me of the sentimentality of our own folk hero, Jamie R Hawkins.

Perhaps more akin to Beans on Toast, lacking Ozzie tinge, through observational narratives he weaved through subjects with spellbinding accuracy, hinging on familiarisation; I identified with many, particularly the amusing banjo led ditty of an aged fellow sneaking out to gigs while his wife seemed blissfully unaware in her slumber! But with heart-melting twists, Gavin wraps them up amusingly, either echoing retrospective contemplation or hinting at his political stance.

Time for Gecko’s opening song; could be anything less than the hilarious start of his album, Can’t Know all the Songs, which counteracts those who shout requests. Virtually unplugged he executed highlights of the album acoustically, and gave us unheard of tunes too, passing off his lack of backing as witty repartee. Such as pausing the song to switch from singing to kazoo during an amusing and uplifting tale of the Tamworth Two pigs, Butch and Sundance, who escaped their fate at a Malmsbury abattoir in 1998.

On this note it’s appropriate to highlight the major reason Gecko is so utterly entertaining, for not through particular quality of musician, though he is a natural, rather his choice of content and subject is so original, and his method of metaphorically weaving it into a more general point. Who writes a song from the POV of escaping pigs, or a dog sent into space? But better still, who can bend such narrative into a point you identify with? It’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, in song.

It’s a classic formula attributed to authors rather than songwriters, and Gecko reigns as either, acting with pseudo-confidence, encouraging audience participation to save him hiring a gospel choir, planning out a cliché encore by hiding behind the piano, even submitting profit margin differences between buying his CD here and streaming his music.

I think I put too much emphasis on hip hop in my album review, as his rap-fashion tendency contradicts his indie-pop overall, making it his unique style, part nerdy, part too cool for skool, but through stripped back live performance it is clear his devotion is with the latter, indie-pop acoustic goodness. A fashion with ageless attraction. But whatever pigeonhole you opt for, it’s undeniably entertaining.

If I’ve an only criticism the show was too short, the comeback is both Gavin and Gecko can suck you into their stories so time passes unnoticed, coupled with my late arrival of which I’ve only myself to blame!

Another wonderful evening at Trowbridge Town Hall, building a reputation for introducing a variety of interesting and upcoming acts, affordably; you need to be putting future dates in your diary.


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Three Crowns and Some People, Like Us

Red level weather warning, they said, only make essential journeys they said, but fail to define the terms of what is essential. Is helping an elderly relative essential, getting to work, or a doctor’s appointment? What about People Like Us playing the Three Crowns, Devizes?!

To those hunting original live music, perhaps not, for this local trio covers is their game, fully aware what will rouse a standard pub crowd, and they do precisely this with such uniqueness and deliver it with such passion, for everyone else it is, totally essential!

To catch Nicky, back on two legs after an injury which I might add, failed to prevent her performing, and behind that faithful scarlet keyboard, Dean at the strings, switching lead to bass guitars, and now skinheaded Pip, (shaved his head fundraising for our Carmela, but seems to like it,) who, even not best postured for delivering vocals, slouched over a cajon, still somehow manages to professionaly grace the moment, is, in the words of the great Yogi Bear, smarter than the average pub covers group.

Putting a finger on why opens a Pandora’s Box, aforementioned drive, skill and professionalism evident in many a covers band. Still, People Like Us submits all these qualities as if a sponge cake, then they add icing. Observing the demographic of the crowd at the Three Crowns holds a clue, every landlord desires a cross section of punter and the repertoire of this trio truly caters for them all.

Short notes I make to jog my gradually degrading memory mystify me this morning, as one simply read, “new song” adding my daughter’s name; she knows it! Silly to have thought it useful at the time, but relevant to my point. Expect a few contemporary among their plethora of pop hits, but an also era-spanning setlist to leave you guessing.

Yep, walked in to an Oasis cover, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, and The Stereophonics’ Dakota particularly adroitly enacted modern indie tearjerkers followed, with eighties electronica power pop such as Together in Electric Dreams, or even The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, blended with this balanced collection. Yet with similar dedication Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters got the breathtaking PLus makeover.

Yet I believe, for People Like Us, no decade within the crowd’s indivdual most cherished era is as off the cards as genres are. They will take you back to the seventies with ELO, Fleetwood Mac, even a possible Abba(?!) covers, and with similar assertion slip in nineties britpop and indie anthems too. Tonight saw plenty of this, wonderful was Take Your Mama, by the Scissor Sisters, but particularly captivating was their rendition of the Cranberries’ Zombie, with perhaps a little too “lite” on riotous version of the Kaiser Chiefs’ classic, but Nicky wowed with authority upon covering Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.

Bottom line is, it makes zero odds what the tune they’re covering is pigeonholed as, they add their stamp, and with banter between songs often verging on near tiffs, they represent reality, comfortable being what’s written on their tin; people, just like us.

Zero multiplied by anything is zero, and that should be a landlord’s percentage of doubt in considering booking this trio, if they wish their punters to return home satisfied they had a fantastic night, for that’s precisely how I’m certain the crowd at the Three Crowns last night feel this morning, perhaps with a shadowing hangover!


Talk in Code; Young Loves Dreamers

Set to release their new single ‘Young Loves Dream’ on Friday 11th February across all digital platforms, Talk in Code are rinsing their inimitable and uniformed sound with anthemic pop goodness; it’s to be expected……

Coincidently, three years and one day ago Devizine reviewed this Swindon indie-pop four-piece’s album, Resolve, with the retrospective angle of eighties power-pop rock, yet subtle nods to indie shifts through the heady nineties. Though as the band progress through four further singles we’ve seen the latter dwindle and this take on a classic eighties sound coming through more and more.

Though Talk in Code is no tribute, this is progressive, refreshingly contemporary and exclusively perfected, a hi-fidelity ambience where instruments simply meld as flawlessly as those eighties’ gods of pop. An era of one-hit-wonders, accepted, but those who succeeded beyond this point did so by creating a defining sound, so no youth would confuse their Spandau Ballet with their Human League, and this is precisely where Talk in Code now stand; nowadays we compare their singles with their previous singles rather than cite influences, because their uniqueness is peerless.  

The reason why, I consider, the band strive with matchless momentum on the local circuit, having headlined three of Wiltshire’s largest music events last year, the big named bookings of pop-fused Mfor at Lydiard Park, the memorable rock for cancer Concert At The Kings and Swindon’s homegrown talent showcase, the Shuffle. Also, it is why Talk in Code have shared billings with Scouting For Girls, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Craig David, SAS Band, 10cc and Lindisfarne, why devotees are dubbed “talkers” and they’ve accumulated 180,000 Spotify streams, or added to over 700 Spotify playlists.

So, this new single, ‘Young Loves Dream’ is of no exception, it gloriously follows the formula, which is, as suggested, key to their brilliance. It booms straight in, breaks when it needs to and reaches an undefinable bridge, flowing nicely with steady BPMs, and a bright, uplifting vibe. As suggested by the title, it’s romantically themed, exploring the hopefulness of youth; an ode to the potentials of initial infatuation, prior to the twists and turns life throws at you. In that, the mood of the enriching instrumentation reflects the vocals sublimely, and will have you pondering that butterfly moment of early romance, you know the kind of emotion which will make you hug the pillow in their absence, as their scent lingers, or, oh, was that just me?!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, all the previous singles we’ve fondly reviewed can be found on this here Spotify link, and with this progressive new track, will make up part of ‘The Big Screen,’ Talk in Code’s second album, due on Friday 15th April, playing the launch at Swindon’s Level 3, Swindon, on Saturday April 16th 2022.

Just prior, I’m hopeful we can set up an interview with Chris and the band, one crucial question will be what’s in a name, as Talk in Code’s style is never cryptic, you need not untangle painstaking poetic wordplay, it is good, honest pop kept simple, and they do it so well it’s mainstream in the making. Love’s Young Dream takes this pattern and truly celebrates it, projecting positive evolution for this radical band.


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Paul Lappin & The Keylines Live at Pink Moon Studios

If you need a breather from the perpetual cycle of cliche Christmas song mush, do yourself a favour; Paul Lappin & The Keylines released a live EP last week, it’s as “name your price” on Bandcamp, and I’ll wager my Christmas stocking and all of its contents, you’ll eternally thank me for the advice.….

On the 12th November 2021 Paul Lappin & The Keylines invited a few close friends and family to Pink Music Studios in France for a chilled evening of wine, food and live music. This EP is a recording of five of the songs performed during that session. For a tenacious link to our ambiguous local rule, note while now residing in France, Paul is originally from Swindon.

Back in October 2020 we fondly reviewed his studio album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, celebrating its vibrant Britpop rock, immersed in some astute and genius song writing prose. And in turn, we were allowed to use the outstanding single Broken Record for our Julia’s House charity compilation. For which, you might suggest, I’m duty bound to sing the praises of everyone who contributed, to which I’d reply, yeah, only partly but unnecessary, just shut up and listen to this; Live at Pink Moon Studios is utterly gorgeous.

If Broken Record packs a punch, and The Boy Who Wants to Fly meanders between forthright rock and tenderer acoustics, this little piece of wonderful revels in the latter. So much so, it smooths out of the restrictions of a label like Britpop, though subtle shards of it remain, and is comparable to acoustic folk rock from way beyond the subgenre, say, as steady and emotive as Nick Drake.

In the past I’ve made comparison to our own song-writing local legend Jamie R Hawkins, in their shared ability to twist a narrative so deeply into sentiment, tears will well; this EP comes closer to my point than I’ve ever heard from Paul. It’s so wonderfully placed subjects, wistfully glides your mind away, on the journey with Paul, like all good acoustic should.

The first two tunes, After the Rain, and Lying Awake in the Dark both come unplugged versions from The Boy Who Wants to Fly, Slow and Steady featured on his 2018 album, Move On, and I’m uncertain of the last two, Seeds of Doubt and Set in Stone, perhaps they’re new, or exclusive to this EP. I’m far from all out intending to research their origin, as it’s just to easy to be set adrift on the songs, relishing in the moment.

Morish simplicity, man and guitar composition you’ll crave it never ends, and I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve hit the replay button with such haste before! Paul is at his dreamiest, fluffiest and virtually subterranean in his deliverance of these masterpieces.

Subjects not so unusual but handled with the proficiency to wow, of lost or found love, picking up with a bongo drumbeat and wailing electric backing guitar at track three, Slow and Steady, with a chorus dripping of anthemic Britpop, of Oasis or Verve in their prime, yet maintaining that spellbinding acoustic goodness.

And for the last two tunes of mysterious origins, are perhaps my favourites, Seeds of Doubt, is a self-analysis theme, mind-bogglingly passionate, and the parable soulful finale, Set in Stone, as is with a live album, there’s a wholesome rawness about it, echoing honesty and scrupulousness throughout, you feel like you’re a guest into a secret meeting, you feel a part of it, and that, is simply, beautiful.


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Running with a Timid Deer

An absolutely spellbinding new electronica jazz-blues single out this week, of which I’d expect nothing less from what I believe to be one of Wiltshire’s most underrated bands, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, and produced by the brilliant Jason Allen.

With a grand piano opening, their evocative part-indie-part-trip hop ambience is accomplished to a new standard here, with Naomi Henstridge’s both soothing yet haunting vocals embracing howling strings and, wow, this rolling piano. It’s reflective of nineties nu-cool, the brilliance of Morcheeba or Portishead, yet without so much inspired of acid jazz or trip hop to make it cliché, rather it’s owning this refreshing edge to appeal to the more guitar-laced indie fans, too.

Run, their first single since February’s Crossed Wires, and they never cease to amaze me. This is cooler than the climate outside, just beautiful. “Here’s something we’ve been working on for what feels like an age,” Timid Deer say, finishing by saying they’re aiming for a new EP early in New Year, and for some Salisbury gigs, but I say no, please gig organisers, let’s get these guys aiming much further afield too; we need to see you in Devizes (Deborah Bufton Barnett, Ian Hopkins and Phil Moakes, I’m talking to you, make my Christmas wish come true!) Trowbridge, (Mr Moore) too!


And yes, Find Timid Deer with 45 other amazing artists on our 4 Julia’s House Compilation by clicking here!

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Survival of the Friendliest with Beans on Toast

Another year, another birthday for Jay McAllister, aptly codenamed Beans on Toast. Staying true to his birthday tradition, he’s opened a new tin, and this one has little sausages of optimism in it.…..

Aptly named, because I like Beans on Toast, as much as I like beans on toast, and I really like beans on toast, for the tastiness in its simplicity. There’s a poignant message here, without overthinking. Nothing on Survival of the Friendliest, his new album released this Wednesday via Bot Music, is indulged with riddles and cryptic clues, the motives are clear and precise.

Just as the title of last year’s album, Knee Deep in Nostalgia, summed up the running theme of parenthood and reminiscing on your own youth, so does this abridge. Survival of the Friendliest is Three Little Birds, or Don’t Worry, Be Happy throughout; in the face of depressing times, the simple but effective prose is not to let problems get you down. The result is indie-folk goodness, with sunny side of the street vibes. Beans on Toast presents a charming premise, and executes it perfectly, leaving you uplifted and smiling no matter what the weather might throw at you.

Beans on Toast

The boundless negativity of social media, political grandstanding, scandal and undesirable news are mentioned, but tossed aside in favour of eternal hope and optimism, peace and possibilities. It’s filled with environmental references, trees, stones on a beach, endangered species, yet advocates the notion the planet is naturally rejuvenating, and man’s effect can be reversed by the will of human kindness.

Taking its title from Humankind by modern thinker, Rutger Bregman, the book’s positive philosophies play a pivotal influence in shaping the course of the record. If this Always Look on the Bright Side of Life thought might be this long-established protest singer changing his tune, it suits. The Commons the only exception to the rule, even this track has cheery and carefree undercurrents, through the banjo riff. Written earlier in the year, with old friends Blaine Harrison and Jack Flanagan of the Mystery Jets, Survival of the Friendliest is the wonderful and entertaining ride I’d expect from Beans.

Delightfully carefree, the opening song, A Beautiful Place sums the premise as well as the album title, Stones is simply stunning, and the conservation theme runs until Tree of the Year. Not Everyone Thinks We’re Doomed projects the aforementioned faithful sanguinity, so, so cleverly it’ll give you goosebumps.

Even the album’s love song advocates the allure of marriage, as he charmingly chaunts “Let’s Get Married Again.” Garnished in sentiment perhaps, but there’s reality driven into his words, “It’s something we’re now going to do” Jay grinned. This is honest song writing, delivered with cheeriness, buoyancy and effervescence, but more importantly it rubs off, leaving you in high spirits; musical Prozac!

Get the album HERE


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