The Lost Promises of Sam Bishop

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

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

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

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

Image: Nick Padmore

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

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

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

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

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


Who Remembers our First Birthday Bash?

Proof you don’t know what’s around the next corner, I put off doing a second birthday bash last year as we’d run a few fundraising events, in favour for doing a mahossive one this year. As it stands any third birthday celebration for Devizine would constitute me, with a cup of tea, sitting at the computer. Two years ago, though, to the day, our birthday bash was monumental, personally, as it made Devizine feel actual, a real “thing,” so much more than me, with a cup of tea, sitting at the computer!

Still, I can reminisce and remember how so many of us come together at Devizes Conservative Club, made it such a fantastic night, and raised close to four-hundred smackers for the Devizes branch of Cancer Research. But it was down to a Facebook messenger chat with Dean Czerwionka, who now organises Devizes Family Club at The Cavalier. If memory serves me right, unusually, I was unable to draft anything, suffering a hangover. Rapping with da man, I merely suggested the possibility of putting on a charity event, and before I knew what was what, tickets were being sold online.

Such was the nature of the evening, throughout. Dean and Cons Club staff worked hard to make it such a great event. Those fantastic Daybreakers arrived early despite being the grand finale, and set up the system, organised the other acts. My wife prepared a buffet and son helped arrange it on the table. Ben Borrill’s mum Beverly, who had told me about her famous hamsters but neglected to tell me of her musically talented son, made a Black Forest gateau. Local poet Gail Foster entertained intervals between acts. Matthew Hennessy and Nick Padmore snapped the photos and Nick’s wife Joy made an effective bouncer on door duty! Even Resul of the Turkish Barbers gave me a free trim, and Tamsin Quin’s niece Erin rounded up everyone’s loose change for the bucket collection. All the while I swanned around talking toilet, propping up the bar and taking all the credit!

It should be bought to attention, now time has passed and any argument could be condensed to water under the bridge, that it wasn’t really Devizine’s birthday at all! I started it back in the September the previous year, it just took us a while to sort it out and get news out there. In that, it taught me a hell of a lot about putting an event on, all of which I now have…. erm, forgotten.

But it makes me proud to look back at our acts. Lottie J was only fifteen at the time, is now a star, off to music school, and producing some amazing pop. She jammed with the next act, the sadly disbanded Larkin, despite never having met. Sam Bishop of Larkin is studying music in Winchester, and has produced some great singles, solo, and with a new band. Martin of The Badger Set tipped me off he has something new up his sleeve. Then musical partner, Finely Trusler has since worked on solo projects, with his cousin as the duo The Truzzy Boys and now donned a Fred Perry and fronts the ever-awesome Roughcut Rebels.

We had, of course, our darlings, The Lost Trades, collaborating with each other, long before they were the Lost Trades. Jamie joined after an eleventh-hour cancelation, which I was overjoyed to have fit him in. Tamsin wasn’t feeling so good, but still performed to her usual higher than high standard anyway. Cutting her slot short, as things became quite a squeeze, Phil Cooper followed and really shook the place up. Still performing solo, but ever helping each other out, as The Lost Trades they’ve set a precedence on a national scale despite debuting just a week prior to lockdown.

Everyone’s favourite, George followed, with added Bryony Cox for a few numbers. After a move to Bristol, Mr Wilding set up a highly accomplished namesake band, Wilding, of which talents are boundless. Bryony continues working as a fine artist, with a penchant for landscapes.

Aching to get on and get everyone dancing, The Daybreakers did their lively covers thing. A change in line-up, they continue to do so today, composing their first original song recently. Yet really, they’re no strangers to writing and composing, Gouldy and Cath as an original duo are Sound Affects, and they sneaked in a slot at our Birthday Bash too.

It really was a great night in the end, if there was an end, I cannot recall, and I’m eternally grateful to everyone for their help, particularly proud to hear how much they’ve progressed and how far we’ve all come. It’s a crying shame we cannot yet replicate it, but I sure would like to when we reach that better day. So, look at for our fourth birthday bash, all things well by that time. Here’s some photos to get me teary-eyed.

Sam Bishop and the Fallen Sky

Ex-Devizes boyband and half of Larkin, Sam Bishop is away studying music in Winchester. He posts about his latest single, Fallen Sky with the thought, “I really do think this is the best song I’ve ever made.” You do always say that, Sam, tee-hee, but it’s no bad thing! I think it was legendary underground cartoonist, Hunt Emerson, who once told me, “never put anything out you’re not confident to say it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.” It suggests Sam is always striving for better, but the proof is the pudding, and this is a Michelin star sundae. Yeah, I believe you’re deffo right with this one.

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

I feel old ears will nod in memory, but Sam’s defining style speaks volumes to younger generations. This is heartfelt stuff, as ever with Sam, but this time, in particular, the production on Fallen Sky envelopes that atmosphere so brilliantly.

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You know what I’d like to hear? And call me old-fashioned if you will, I’ve been called worse, but I’d like an amalgamation of songs filling a complete narrative, as the parable ends like an open-ended short story, leaving you wondering the next decision Sam’s character in the song will take. Like a chick-flick plot, he sings, “does it feel like it’s the end of our lives?” While this is great, I’m left yearning to know if they get back together or not, so, just a suggestion, but an intertwined set of songs spanning a complete fictional relationship, like, dare I say it, a concept album. This may not be the modern way to go with distribution I know, but here is Sam Bishop at his best, and a development worthwhile expanding.

Yeah, alright, I hear you, I’m old, yeah, thanks a million! Check this Fallen Sky out here.


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Sam Bishop in a Cold Kingdom

Streaming killed the download star; you have to be of a certain age to get that joke. Feeling my age today, I remembered standing in a record shop in awe at this heavyweight 10” silver disc and being told it’s read by a laser rather than a needle. Laser, beyond cool, like Star Wars.

Yet where this futuristic “laser-disc” failed, the compact disc was literally a year away. I think our Dad tried to work out what was the A-side and what was the B with our first CD! Spurring this memory was when I had to pop upstairs and launch my phone at my daughter, as I know we’ve got her this spotty-fly app, or whatchamacallit, and within moments confusion was over, I was lent her phone to take a listen to this new EP I was sent. Now all I have to work out is how to Bluetooth it to my speaker!

Notwithstanding, leaving a near teenager without a phone in the house for over ten minutes is a highly dangerous risk, you can blame local singer/songwriter Sam Bishop for my senior moment. If I’ve told him to send me a simplified method of listening to his tracks once, I’ve told him a thousand times (there’s a pun to follow there.) Still he sends me this baffling set of streaming website links, and I feel like my perplexed father staring muddled at his own reflection in a CD.

Four tunes in length, Cold Kingdom presents Sam’s latest material. The first tune, A Thousand Times (there’s the pun, see what I did?)I reviewed as a single back in June. Likewise, with the third tune, Cry For Help, which was in September. In June Sam explained, “This song is hopefully the first song of many under my own name. I already have another two completely finished, which hopefully will be released as a double over summer. There may be an EP before the end of the year, but we’ll have to wait and see.” So, Cold Kingdom comes in the nick of time to conform.

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I said of A Thousand Times, at the time, “a breezy indie-pop affair it is, dour and atmospheric with that theme of heartbroken youth so apt for Sam’s hauntingly distinctive vocals. With slice of maturity, this is nice work, but akin to his work with Finley Trusler as Larkin, almost a natural progression.” And I stand by that, a great opening.

Although I was slightly more critical of Cry For Help. Sam claimed it to be “the most heartfelt and vulnerable song I’ve ever penned.” And I commended and concurred, it was lyrically one of Sam’s best to date. Yet I had to say, compositionally it wasn’t my cup of tea, when compared to A Thousand Times. While through the atmospheric temperament it reigns more pop ballad than perhaps indie. Hence why I mention the age thing, as I’d contemplate this single isn’t aimed at me; my daughter saved it on her playlist. I only teeter on that, it has scope to grow on me.

The EP has a balance. Eternity, with its modest up-tempo guitar riff is both clever and catchy, more my thing. Yet if it only reaffirmed my admiration for Sam’s voice and songs, the finale, Broken Mirror, I think knocks it out the park. Here’s a direction I can identify with, encapsulating all which has gone before; a four-year journey from Devizes Sixth-Form boyband 98 Reasons to the divide, a duo with Finley Trusler as Larkin, to hopes for a solo career through his current music studies. Broken Mirror spurts it back at you with a progressively defining track which in my opinion, could be the magnum opus we’ve been waiting for from Sam, at least to date.

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Sam & Finley back in the Larkin days

Fans of Sam and/or Larkin will not be disappointed, indie-pop admirers should take heed; Cold Kingdom is melancholic yet enriching, and it reaches to a place in the soul, particularly the youthful abyss of yearning, misunderstanding and a quest for passion. A grand effort, Sam. Do check it out here.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Sam Bishop’s New Single; Cry For Help

Commencing with a captivating piano which takes me back to the swashed soft metal surge of eighty-seven, and Heart’s Alone, I’ve Sam Bishop’s new single “Cry for Help” rolling. Sam hasn’t the big hair for soft metal, neither was around to swagger in the school disco, slurping the drunkest floosy to this endearing power-ballad finale, praying the teacher doesn’t notice the bottle of Cinzano hanging from his back pocket. This meagre comparison stops at the opening, it doesn’t explode with wailing guitar, no hairband needed. Suffice it to say though, this release of passion has a similar craving in its narrative, and the comparison itself perhaps just an excuse to relive my school disco days!

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The heartache of saying goodbye to a summer romance is a theme used before in Sam’s songs, particularly in his duo Larkin, though Sam claims this to be “the most heartfelt and vulnerable song I’ve ever penned.” In line with this, skip a decade to the boybands of the nineties, and you have yourself a more justified assessment, yet lyrically is one of Sam’s best to date.

Talking of goodbyes, it’s a shame to hear Larkin’s gig last Saturday at the Pilot was the last for some foreseeable time. Sam and Finley announced this week they’ve a “multitude of other projects and focuses that means keeping the band going at the minute is something of a struggle.” While Fin is enjoying local gigs as one-half of his family duo, The Truzzy Boys, Sam is studying music at college and exploring and pushing the confines of his talent as recorded music.

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We spoke to Sam exclusively on the dawn of his previous single, A Thousand Times, in which I described it as, “a breezy indie-pop affair, dour and atmospheric with that theme of heartbroken youth so apt for Sam’s hauntingly distinctive vocals.” Cry for Help is similar in said atmosphere, even theme, however reigns more pop ballad than perhaps indie. I wonder if it’s harking back to 98 Reasons, his school boyband days, adding maturity but aiming for emotive commercial pop. Given the choice, I’d favour A Thousand Times, but I appreciate I’m not within the target audience of this new single, and if I cringe at pop mush overkilled on Heart FM, this single has much more clout than the archetype.

Upon hearing this, I consider many teenagers swaying to it at an under-18 holiday camp, saddened by the parting of weeklong friendship made, and fading memories of a sugar-coated snog behind the laundrette block. Yet without the cliché of Careless Whisper, without the slush of Wet Wet Wet, Sam, I reckon has made a brave and bold attempt to cross this border, a genre which sells like a bucketload of hot cakes.

Cry For Help by Sam Bishop is out this Friday, 13th September.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow/Nick Padmore)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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We see Same Days

Extensively featuring Devizine’s friend, Finely Trusler, half of Larkin and The Truzzy Boys, a new single from Same Days, a twenty-year-old London born Swindon performer is out for streaming today. Real name, David Whelpdale is cousins with Fin. He’s built an audience since a debut single in April, trying his hand at producing too. With Funked Up Dad, Martin, and Fin’s other cousin, Harvey, making up the other half of The Truzzy Boys, I had to ask Fin if he has any non-musical relations.

“Not many, mate!” was his answer, simple but to the point. Though this is something altogether different, as Same Days adopts that prevalent merger of singing with rap, popularised by the likes of R. Kelly. Yeah, alright, I’d need to speak to my daughter for more present comparisons! Still, old fart or not, I like it; “You See Me” offers a smooth and confident rap which oozes in and out of adroit boyband vocals. With natural ease this slick contemporary composition lustres authenticity with Fin’s acoustic component, harmoniously breathing air away from any unethical stereotype of rap fuddy-duddies may wrongfully spurt!

The accompanying video also assists with this acoustic measure, taking to the woods and other natural landscapes for locations rather than the banal urban scene. See for yourself, and all the best with it guys!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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Mike and the Local Area Invasion Descend Upon The Swan

It was over a couple of years ago I stepped cautiously into the Black Swan, only to receive the pleasant surprise at its renovation and complete change of style. Since this time Devizes takes the alteration as red, and it thrives with eccentricity, vintage chic, quality tucker and music. However, its future is now uncertain as it closes its doors for a refurb and Waddies bring new landlords in.

We hold out for a silver lining, but for the time being, the Black Swan’s current incarnation ends next week. To celebrate its time at the helm of all things unconventional in town, the landlord has requested the presence of the big man, Mike Barham, whose prolific raw dynamism currently reverbs throughout our great county.

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His giant steps certainly get him around, playing the London Road Inn in Calne on Saturday 7th, he’s at the Hare & Hounds in Corsham on the 12th and on the 14th he crosses the border to Frome. In between though, he returns to his hometown for this closing gig at the Black Swan, but he’s inviting a self-labelled “Local Area Invasion,” with him, an amalgamation of our finest local musicians who’ll get to play a couple of songs each, prior to Mike blasting the place with oomph.

 

Yeah, save the date, Wednesday 11th October, where you’ll find at the very least, Jamie R Hawkins, Vince Bell, Larkin, Jack Moore, George Wilding, Jordan Whatley and Tamsin Quin; incredible line-up, for a school night, a virtual who’s who of the Devizes pub music scene sampler; Free!

Here are the details, the rest up to you: https://www.facebook.com/events/282938928863398/

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