The Return of Wilding; Falling Dreams

It doesn’t hang about, it doesn’t drift dreamily as some previous tracks on the Soul Sucker debut EP, unbelievably near-on a couple of years ago, but it is unmistakably Wilding, this beguiling new tune from George Wilding, back with his band after lockdown. As a frustrating era for all creative groups, it feels as if with “Falling Dreams” they concentrated all their het-up energy, impetus and vigour, directed it into a trunk, padlocked it for a few months, then smashed the deadbolt and channelled it direct into an adroit three-and-half minute explosion.

Excellence is a watermark of Bristol’s Wilding, what initially began as a backing band for our homemade favourite lead singer, George Wilding’s prodigious young solo career, I expected no less. Though, while it’s not excessively upbeat it rocks steady, but Falling Down is a grower, appeal increases with every listen. It fits their self-penned label, psychedelic Britpop, but what is more, unlike Hendrix and Joplin it’s not psychedelia lost in time, similarly with Britpop darlings Oasis or Blur, which are somehow suspended in nineties nostalgia, a more apt comparison would be the Doors, a band with jazz and classically trained elements, and wild frontman poet, their sound is timeless.

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If Soul Sucker received regular rotation on BBC Radio 2 from Graham Norton and burgeoning interest from major labels, here is a natural progression and a multi-layered detonation, compacted into one song. Writer and frontman George, multi-instrumentalist Perry Sangha, bassist James Barlow and drummer Dan Roe have shattered expectations and produced something here to refine their style. If this is a glimmer of what is to come, you had better watch out.

Why? Because, as I said to George, there’s so much good music being released during this troubled time for musicians, if they can get some writing and production out to help fill the shortfall, it’s all good. “I suppose that’s been the upside,” he replied, “everybody has so much time on their hands to create.”

The theme of Falling Dreams is ambiguously defined, as any strong songwriter should allow audience interpretation. To me it feels bitterly like a broken romance theme, but George jests, “they’re usually about girls, but ‘Falling Dreams’ is just about being fucking cool,” adding, “it’s about me…” Herein requires some prior knowledge to his character to fully appreciate, as far from egotistical, George’s charisma lies with tongue-in-cheek witticisms shadowing a selfless good egg. But yeah, he is fucking cool too! They all are, this song verifies it.

To see what I mean, hold out for its release this Friday, 23rd October. If you’re used to George providing entertaining covers on our pub circuit and his sublimely succulent solo EP’s of dreamy indie, this will be a wonderful surprise, but as I said, its skill and catchiness is neither unexpected or unmistakable.


On the Climbing Frame with Gecko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, While Washing Up!

Who says men can’t multitask? I’m washing up and reviewing this forthcoming musical extravaganza…..

Ruling in my household, being the better-half does the majority of cooking, I therefore wash-up. And on sporadic occasions I cook, I still do the washing up. I know what you’re thinking; under the thumb, Worrow. I beg to differ, family are watching some revamped eighties game show; squeamishly sickening the first time around, or else a bronze lady of all teeth and earrings, in a buttery summer dress is assisting affluent chavs to relocate to a Mediterranean costa.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing my chore. First task is not to clear the drainer of previously cleaned utensils, that comes after I Bluetooth my phone to the soundbar. Firmly of the belief washing up should be done to music, and such a law should be implemented nationally.

Those completed, time to fill the sink with hot water and Fairy. Cheaper varieties a no-brainer, you use twice as much for the same effect. Much like my choice of music, others don’t have the same clout. For retrospective genres, such as rock n roll, today largely consists of wishy-washy tributes and anodyne honours of a once dicey outrageous bravura. Else there’s a disturbing scene fusing techno with swing to revamp classics which really don’t need or desire the wonky attention.

Let me be the first, I suspect, to compare Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue to Fairy washing-up liquid. But if you want the job of recreating the true spirit of bygone blues styles done properly, accept no substitute. Add equal amount of Fairy as needed with a cheaper alternative and you’ve got an Ibiza foam party in your kitchen.

I’ve got an advance copy of their instrumental album, ‘The Instrumental Sounds Of…’ not due for release until 6th December, but ready for pre-order; I strongly suggest you do. Because here’s a Bristol-based rockabilly/blues trio, with three-piece horn section, who encompass everything once rousing and electrifying about musical styles ranging from jazz to rock n roll, originally, and with a benchmark of contemporary quality.

While Ruzz’s singing is passable, the guitar is his true calling; Gretsch agrees and endorses this, if you don’t take someone chained to the kitchen sink’s word for it. In genres such as these, where one imagines and perceives the vocals to hold a deep Mississippi accent, to hear his Bristol enunciation is novel, but unusual. Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue have the astounding ability to stretch a song to the proportions of a space-rock band like Pink Floyd, but retain the frenzy of traditional rock n roll, which would once be over within three minutes. At that point, though, it’s nice to simmer it with occasional vocals, but it’s not their forte.

Here then, is what they do best; concentrated instrumentals, a collection of musical styles, based within the blues, that have influenced Ruzz throughout his career. A project Ruzz has been wanting to do, and lockdown has provided the time. I’m strutting across the kitchen, shoving plates and utensils roughly back in the cupboards they belong in, while contemplating how I didn’t fully appreciate my dad’s obsession with the Shadows. For their instrumental goodness may’ve gone over my adolescent head, at the time. But this is a blinding upbeat opening tune, Hold Fast, with remnants of The Shadows’ slide-guitar. Yet it’s blaring horns make it like Hank, et al were in a big band.

Now to the main task, wrist-deep in foamy water I’m timely scrubbing with brillo-pad, like the ivory of a boogie-woogie piano. Swing Thing maintains big band, but slides neatly into swing. It’s spectacularly captivating.

Three tunes in and it’s mellowed to a sax ballad with Hawaiian guitar riff. Longing to See You drifts, as I causally dip dinner plates into their foam bath, and caress them as if they’re sun-kissed skin of a beautiful señorita! The Instrumentals Of album strides jazzily, continuing with a slight nod to that tropical guitar on the fourth track. But this is shrewdly quirky and experimental, Ruffled Up is as if Miles Davis joined a big band.

So many influences but so meshed it’s hard to pick it apart and balance washed up items on the draining board. Men can multitask, believe it. Now I’m striding, Clint Eastwood style, to obtain a tea towel dumped on the breadbin like it was a six shooter. Duel at High Noon is as perceived by title; Ennio Morricone influenced Shadows.

Heating up back at the sink with some fiery jump blues to make Louis Jordan blush. Jump In does what it says on the tin; I’m doing Chuck Berry legs, rattling those pots and pans like glam rock never happened.

Mambo takes a hit next, Ruzz-style, added funk. Spag Mambo is like Starsky & Hutch doing the Charleston on a Cuban vacation. Gotta go barehand; I’d look stupid doing jazz hands with marigolds, but Swing G-String is swing firing on all cylinders. Dishes done; I’m jitterbugging the sides down, soggy J-cloth in hand.

Opportunity to clear waste from the plug hole, never an appealing part of the process, nevertheless I’m cool; Soulful Blues made it so. It’s equably soul-blues, Ruby Turner could drop vocals, but it never strays from its ethos, yet saunters wonderfully between the variety of jazz and blues from 1940 to 60. There’s one more tune, but the job is completed.

Hammer Down polishes with dirty, deep Mississippi jump blues with a clunky rock n roll double bass. Like the rest of this sublime album, it’s irresistible and beguiling. It can’t end early; have to extend the task for five minutes. The floor may look wooden, but it’s lino really; ask Turbo B, or any break-dancer the value of lino; the kitchen is my dancefloor. Time to watusi with broom; the Mrs will be delighted. Even bending to get every last fallen crumb into the dustpan was a pleasure with this album playing in the background; blooming marvellous stuff.

Click to pre-order; gorgeous Christmas pressie!

Will Lawton and the Alchemists’ Live Stream Album Launch

While Andy has fondly mentioned the Malmesbury combo of frontman and pianist Will Lawton and drummer Weasel Howlett a few times in the past here, I’m still yet to witness them live. Such is the restrictions of today, could be a while.

Still, both are the backbone of Will Lawton and the Alchemists, formed in 2015 when Will and Weasel started to jam, record and perform their celebrated debut album, Fossils of the Mind three years later. The sound, the band, and their following, is constantly growing and evolving. Now a four-piece with Buddy Fonzarelli on upright bass, Ami Kaelyn on guitar and vocals, and Harki Popli with tabla, they have a live stream next Sunday 11th October to launch their second album, Abbey House Session, which is available now.

This is a six-track part-studio, part-live recording which was all captured in the library at Abbey House in Malmesbury. They describe their music as “beautiful, musical daydreams, with forays into jazz with drum and bass beats.”

The show promises interviews with the band members, and kicks off at 8pm, filmed live from Pound Arts. Tickets are £5 with ALL money going to Changing Tunes, a Bristol based charity who work in prisons using music and mentoring to help people lead meaningful lives, free from crime.

Ticket link: http://livelounge.tv/show-will-lawton-and-the-alchemists…


A Thrashing Surprise, with Typhoidmary’s Death Trans

See, I like an ordinary cuppa like the next Englishman, but there’s lots of varieties of tea, some I’m impartial about, others I outright don’t like. To say it “isn’t my cup of tea” doesn’t mean it definitely tastes like shit, to others it might be the best thing they’ve drunk.

It’s far harder to review something “not my cup of tea,” then something which is. If you think my reviews have been flattery recently, you’ve strayed from the ethos; there’s been lots of timelessly brilliant music released, most agrees with me. Yet, what if it doesn’t?

The evaluation is simple; on my opinion anyone producing original music outside the safety-zone of the commercial industry deserves a medal of bravery, I make a point not to outright slag something off, rather not review it at all and provide constructive criticism directly to the creator.

First impression of the newly released debut album independent Cheltenham-based record label, Screamlite kindly sent, Typhoidmary’s “Death Trans,” was borderline. Pragmatic about the name choice; throughout her life, Mary Mallon fiercely denied she was the cause of infection, and consequently hated her nickname. Who, in their right mind, would deliberately label themselves Typhoid Mary? Perhaps that’s the point, there’s an unparalleled clandestinely dark, clinically insane tenet to this album.

This, coupled with my initial revulsion to the substantial thrashing guitars and accomplished but screeching yells which explodes within six seconds on this album, I predicted drafting a reply explaining why I wouldn’t review it. The fact I didn’t, and the review is here, means something changed my mind.

To confine my eclectic tastes to particular genres, see, gets kicked in the teeth when something defined under my few detested pigeonholes impresses me. Metal and grunge are a couple of my off-putting genres, yet when Motörhead blast the Ace Of Spades, or I catch Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit I understand their worth, and while I might draw the line at stagediving a mosh pit, I rock the fuck out! If it does what it says on the tin, points are bestowed.

Given director Chris Bowen stated, “it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year,” I decided to throw caution to the wind; it deserves a really closer listen. For its production is quality, with eminence in the delivery. What I discovered was an emotive outpouring of tension and anguish like no other, the very reason why I’m reviewing it after all.

It drifts between ambiance to these thrashing guitar executions of temper, expelling strains of interrogative quandaries, discharging a bruised wreck of an authentic character, angry and confused at their sexuality and orientation, and the relationships which develop, or fail to, from it.

While gothic outcries of depression and anxiety are not my thing, this is accomplished in a manner fiercer and more emotional than anything I could contemplate to compare it to. Be it the post-punk of Siouxsie And The Banshees, commercialised gothic of Fields of Nephilim or Bauhaus, the battering metal of Slayer of thrashing hardcore skater sound of The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, they all pale in compassion to the appetite and antagonism displayed by Typhoidmary, and Death Trans takes anguish to a whole other level. It spat in my tea, then smashed my cup; spilt boiling fucking tea on my lap! And for that alone, I award it full credit.

With distant soundscapes separating these ten tracks of haunting annotations, resonating desperate pleas and cynical cries over driven, hard-edged gothic-come-thrash metal riffs, Death Trans is not for the fainthearted. It’s a musical equivalent of Nabokov’s Lolita or Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, in so much as it takes you to a place you’d rather not be, but intrigue suspends you there.

Typhoidmary has released this spellbinding album for streaming and on her Bandcamp page, Screamlite aims to distribute it to all major digital stores on 16th of October. Fans of such goth and grunge will be bowled over with its exquisitely dark portrayals, yet if, like me, you’re a window shopper of such shadowy and adversative genres, this might be the album which drags you inside with your purse open.

Myself, I confess, I pretended to like Robert Smith in order to get off with pale, sorrow-filled rich chicks with black hair-dye and a chip on their shoulder, which, I might add, rarely paid off! Perhaps then, the younger me is the archetypal predator this album wedges a knife into, but it drove even me on an emotional roller-coaster ride, caused me to regret, and changed my preconceived ideas about the genre. Sod it, I’m off to get my nose pierced!


The Revelation Games of Phil Cooper

Crouching beside me at our IndieDay outing last month, one third of our local folk trio, The Lost Trades, Tamsin Quin explained she’s slowly working toward her second album but a lot of time is spent concentrating on progressing the Lost Trades. I supposed here is an advantage to DIY projects, as if The Lost Trades were signed to contract it’d likely be an order to focus entirely on the group.

In pop we’ve seen the pressure put on bands to collaborate equitably, and the result usually causes a split in the end. Major record companies in tough competition don’t do enough to discourage this. Note drama sells in Simon Cowell’s ‘show-me-how-easy-it-is-to-manufacture-a-pop-star’ dressed-up karaoke television show, and hear the boos as he obstinately and impassively divides a prearranged group. He sells the tears of the rejected and the tension as young friends split. You could blame Yoko Ono, if you must, but bands breaking up is, sadly, no new thing.

Hence the accord and friendship between unsigned bands is a delightful contradiction to the harsh realities of the music industry, and I sense an unequalled unity in The Lost Trades, and deep respect for each other’s solo work. Cue another third, Phil Cooper, the binding, organised element of the Lost Trades, and his new solo album, These Revelation Games due for release by Infinite Hive on 30th October. It’s great, I’d expect no less, and Phil’s fanbase too, but it’s varied content would also serve as a taster for newcomers to his repertoire.

Historically it’s been over a couple of years since he sent me his Thoughts & Observations album to review, which does what it says on the tin, largely acoustic-based annotations and judgements. But I focus on a particular night down the Southgate when Phil was accompanied by his Slight Band. Man, he was on fire, loudly and proudly rocking our legendary live music tavern with unsurpassed esteem and passion.  Make no mistake, These Revelation Games contains many a track comparable with Thoughts & Observations, they’re observational and sometimes quirkily humoured. But this new solo album takes no prisoners, and blasts its doors clean off their hinges from the off.  

Yeah, while so the opening tune, House of Mirrors explodes rock, and dare I say it, has that impact of the sixties Batman theme, it shouts the riff at you, second up Phil returns us to the mellowed aural breeze we’re more accustomed to with his recorded material. So, it’s a mixed bag of astutely written and perfectly executed songs with Phil’s joyful aura and defining style.

Eleven songs heavy, the early tunes creep us slowly back to the up-tempo as it progresses. Without a Sound particularly adroitly manages to raise that notion, and Keep Your Hands on the Wheel is a prime example of how Phil ingeniously twists metaphors of the simplest of everyday things. Leading us onto the quirkiest song, I am a Radio. Akin to Robots on the Lost Trades EP, Phil makes a heartfelt connection to an inanimate object, yet here using sound effects to create the idea his voice is operating on shortwave. It’s by far the most interesting and experimental, also absorbing his electronica work under the title BCC.

For marvellously prolific and diversified is our Phil, performing as solo, as The Slight Band, his electronica side-project, or what it’s now concentrated on, the outstanding folk harmonies of The Lost Trades with Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin, Phil never slacks off or confines himself to one sound. “I wasn’t planning a new album this year,” Phil expressed, “but then, all plans for 2020 went out the window six months ago. So, I spent my time in lockdown writing and recording a whole load of songs that explored influences I’ve never explored before.” Therefore, as a solo album, bought about by lockdown, don’t expect it to remain in one place.

It rocks without reference to this folk avenue, for sure, but stretches to every corner of rock. There are surprisingly heavy guitar riffs. Fervent ballads like the particularly adroit Into the Void, whisking Lennon-like. And there’s ardent electric blues, Changing Times perhaps best example of the latter. It polishes the experience off with a Clapton-fashioned smooth blues finale called The Horseman Rides Tonight.

With a plethora of new music being produced, lockdown it seems did have one benefit, and These Revelation Games in a varied taster of a concentrated Phil Cooper at his peak. I look forward to the progression of the Lost Trades, but love this aforementioned freedom to produce solo work too. I mentioned my chat with Tamsin to Phil, about the time and effort dedicated to the Lost Trades, but the joy of the flexibility of freely venturing off to work solo, thoroughly supported by the other members of the trio. “You’re far from the band in the Commitments film,” I noted!

“Yeah,” Phil responded, “having a record label release it has helped keep the balance between solo and Lost Trades stuff. The Lost Trades has always been built on mutual respect for each other’s work, so we’ll always support each other.” Which kinda wraps it up aptly, the ethos of the trio is like this album, nice. Nice one Phil, nice one, son!

Details on Phil Cooper and These Revelation Games, here.


Daydream Runaways and their Crazy Stupid Love

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

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

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

Image by Van

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

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

Image by Van

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

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

Image by Van

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

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

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


Atmospheric Country Goodness Fits Kirsty’s Shoes.

Subscribe on YouTube to local independent country, singer-songwriter Kirsty Clinch and you’ll receive a selection of wonderful pop-driven covers with a country feel, lots of chat videos where she explains her thought processes and announces news, provides advise and even beauty tips. Catch Kirsty live and she’s unplugged, expressing the same dedication to her music but as an acoustic performer. Either way, she is a pleasure to hear, a smooth silky voice and accomplished guitarist.

It is also the very reason I’ve been in anticipation of this debut single, to hear which way Kirsty will take it, lean more on her matured live acoustic sets, perhaps, or the pop-inspired subtlety of her videos. I’m pleased to say, Fit the Shoe balances both equally. Though far from bubble-gum, it uses a sublime bassline behind her country guitar-picking to create a wonderful and emotive sound. This is contemporary country, combining pop’s ambient-influence of William Orbit and blending it with the vocal range and narrative of classic Dolly Parton, enough to make Madonna blush.

Yet there’s another side to Kirsty, a fervently astute entrepreneur with clear direction on how to market a vocation through projecting the perfect appeal and disposition. Yet none of these reasons, I suspect are the sole reason why Fit the Shoe, is shooting up the streaming sites after being released only today, rather an amalgamation of them all, but mostly, because it’s gorgeous and immediately lovable.

Our fiery redhead instinctively knows where the goal is, shoots and next thing you know the net is pulsating with the shock. “My main goal is to touch the hearts of many though my art and spread awareness that a positive attitude leads to better paths,” she explains. “I already achieved my first goal by travelling and performing in Nashville at venues such as the BlueBird.” Nashville is something Kirsty regularly brings into conversation, who wouldn’t. But it’s here, in collaboration with Peter Lamb, providing bass and mastering, in the atmospheric splendour of this single that we see a true star shining.  

“As an independent artist,” Kirsty Clinch speaks her motivation, “you must have 100% faith in yourself and your worth, you must work hard to gain all your goals and dreams you desire and I have a lot of energy to still give to the world, so I’m going hard or I’m going home.”

Stick this on your playlist and freeze in awe.

Emma Langford Sowing Acorns

If I’m majorly disappointed by all the planned events and gigs this year done gone cancelled, probably the biggest of all was when I badgered Devizes Arts Festival into booking Limerick’s folk singer-songwriter Emma Langford. It didn’t take much convincing, just a song or two, and if you hear her new album Sowing Acorns, released yesterday, I guarantee your arm will be twisted too.

Sowing Acorns is everything I’d expect and much more. A spellbinding composition of intelligent lyrics reflecting on past, a place or observation, Emma’s mellifluous vocals and enchanting folk melodies. A magnum opus for this award-winning emerging artist who I’ve followed the progress of for many years.

It’s an album which will transport you to an Irish coastal path, a gentle zephyr as you peer out to the ocean. Port Na bPúcaí perhaps the prime example, with its chilling cello merging into the drifting poetic title track. It’s a whisk of untamed Andrea Corr blending Clannad to Mari Boine, yet somehow completely inimitable. Yet there’s astute honesty within these pieces of musical jigsaw, tales of family woe or enriching scrutiny of a lifecycle. There’s enough going on here to pull to pieces and discover alternative angles with each listen, but allowing it to drift over you is recommended, like waves upon said ocean.

But while Sowing Acorns opens acapella and drifts into traditional acoustic folk, it doesn’t rest, rather merges styles, and by the time you get to Ready Oh some nine tracks in, there’s a blithe soul pop feel, teetering do-wop, similarly the Latino marketable feel of Goodbye Hawaii. Towards the end it returns to the thoughtful prose of Emma’s sublime acoustic and feelgood Irish charm, and it ends with an ambient trance remix of the title track by Avro Party. But each and every segment, every journey this album takes you on, darker or uplifting, is expressively awe-inspiring, as if Emma pushed everything she has into this release; the definitive Emma Langford.

It is, in a word, utterly gorgeous, a definite contender for album of my year, and one I’ll be submerged in its mesmerising portrayals for a long time yet.

Click to download from Bandcamp

Hew Miller; Does Something!

When I started Devizine it was an exploration, knowing next to nought about local performers and artists. Nowadays I consider venturing further afield, figuring I’ve successfully mapped our region of musical talent. But whenever I do, I find an area of unchartered territory, a Devizes resident lurking undetected in a dusty shed. Literally this month, it’s Hew Miller, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mix engineer living among us.

Upon hearing his uplifting and breezy pop-rock latest release, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) I figured, I’m going to hassle this guy for an article and expose any inhibitions he might have about his talent, as it’s common for an artist to shy away from shameless self-promotion. I warned him what we do here, and how scrupulous we are. He replied he’s a reader but “the reason you haven’t heard of me is that I’ve been pretty backwards in coming forwards!”

None of that matters, you see, backwards or forwards is all the same to me because I never know which way I’m going. It’s not so much about allowing me to spread wild gossip about him, rather I haven’t seen Hew listed for a gig locally either. Does he like playing live?

“I haven’t played live for quite a long time. I tend to focus on writing, producing and recording,” he explained.

Hew Miller

Hew has three singles released on Bandcamp, the earliest, Upside Down World (We’re fine in here) was this April. It’s a stomping Peter-Gabriel-fashioned pop-rock observation on the tranquillity of lockdown. And in the middle, it’s not over yet, causally breezes with equal skill, a trumpet and quirky romantic reflexion. That one was released in July, but you’ve only got to listen to the competence in song writing and production to assume Hew’s must have been making music long before that.

“I played in bands when I was younger but then moved down to Devizes for work and never found the time or musicians to start up a band,” he tells. Hew’s been in the Vizes since 2002, moved from Nottingham.

“I’ve been a recording and mix engineer mainly as a hobby for many years; it was an underground thing but I’ve been wanting to get more exposure for my own music and to expand on the producing, mixing and mastering sides.” Hence his nom-de-plume, Hew, “because there are loads Matthew Millers and the name has already been taken on Spotify.”

Ah, story checked out. I found a Hungarian one on Bandcamp, among others, who by his profile pic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley.  “Definitely not me!” he expressed, as did the rest of our chat retain a witty and light-hearted angle. Flicking through his Facebook page I paused on an image of an amazingly plush tree-house styled studio, and given he’s called his studio Dusty Shed Studios, I figured this was it. “No,” he owed up, “I wish…. I went there for a weekend! Mine is less grand…. it literally is a shed!”

“It was in the middle of a fields away from everyone. No-one to complain about the volume of the drums,” Hew enlightened, but I changed the subject, fearing it might get like a Monty Python sketch continuing discussing his shed! “Yes,” he agreed, “well when I was young, we lived in a cardboard box…”

On the subject of boxes, Let’s Do Something was recorded at Real World Studio in Box, and his own studio, said Dusty Shed. “I’m open for mixing/mastering and recording projects,” He informed. Hew works a DIY ethos, all instruments and production are his own. I like this, freedom of creativity an all; judging by these singles, he knows his way around those buttons and switches.

“You said you were in some bands back in Nottingham,” I asked, trying to unearth a possible heady past of thrashing metal or punk, “what kind of genres?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I guess it hasn’t changed that much; its indie pop/rock.” No juicy gossip there then, I thought I’d inquire about Hew’s influences. “They range from David Bowie to Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian to The Psychedelic Furs to The BareNakedLadies.” Hew seems at ease with where he is with his music, a quiet hidden gem, and as the tranquillity of lockdown subject of his first single, Upside Down World, might suggest, he’s happy mixing and producing in his dusty shed; it’s a guy thing!

Just as lockdown tore down borders of what we’ll feature here, Hew found it a rather fruitful period, “as everyone is getting into playing music,” and continued to say about some tunes he’s mixed for some American rappers and another international artist, “which I probably wouldn’t have done without lockdown. Hopefully we can now get back to some normality and live music can flourish with more musicians.”

True, for his easy-going amiable sound would be great for a Sunday session at the White Bear, or an afternoon in the Southgate’s garden, but even if we cannot prise Hew from his dusty shed, you should check out his discography. On Bandcamp, here. And his latest, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) is released on the streaming services on 25th September.


Blank Pages of an Atari Pilot

This extensive belter of eighties-fashioned high-fidelity pop waits for no man, a sonic blast opens it, and the riff wouldn’t sound alien appearing in a John Hughes coming-of-age eighties movie. Visualise Jud, Molly, Emilio et all, dancing around a school library to this latest track from Swindon’s Atari Pilot.

After our glorious appraisal of their previous single Right Crew, Wrong Captain in July, they reckon I’m going to be fair on them again, but really, there’s nothing to dislike about Blank Pages. A review in which they quoted me suggesting, “this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie.” Here though, save the strong bassline, the space-rock element is lessened and retrospective synth-pop chimes in a racing beat, twisting this into a real grower on the ears.

Press release aptly cites “everything from Springsteen to Daft punk, Kathleen Edwards to Love,” as influences. As if Daft Punk would work with Springsteen, but if they did, I’d imagine something rather like this. And that alone, makes for an interesting sound, again akin to what Talk in Code are putting out locally, perhaps more so for this single. While we could hinge on an inglorious comeback from an eighties pop star and be thoroughly disappointed by their timeworn platitude and fame induced narcissistic attitude, nostalgia has never been so energetic and fresh when it’s channelled as an influence rather than comeback or tacky tribute act.

There’s a backstory about Atari Pilot, I may have mentioned before but worth reminding. After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle for Onze. But getting a second chance at life gave him the inspiration to get back to writing, and Atari Pilot reformed in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. Reforming the band was actually planned from his hospital bed.

With this in mind, Onze describes the thinking behind this great song, “Blank Pages, like the other songs for the struggle, were inspired by being diagnosed with and recovering from cancer. The songs reflect the highs and lows of life and the struggles we are faced with and have to overcome to reach where we want to be.”

There’s a heartening theme of struggle in the face of change, “it’s also about trying to recognise that we can’t escape ourselves, and asks whether we can use our history and baggage to fire a brighter future,” Onze explains.

It’s a DIY production, recorded and mixed in Onze’s home studio by using Logic Pro X, but sounds stunningly professional. Atari Pilot are Onze (vox,) Paj (bass,) Frosty (guitar) and drummer Andy, and we look forward to hearing more from them. I even managed to review this one without mentioning retro-gaming:


The Bighead!

“The Truth is Hard to Find celebrates their unique but retrospective style with a passion for pop-reggae, an uplifting beat, chugging ska riff and beguiling two-tone vocal harmonies….”

Far from what the name suggests, and common generalisation of the genre, I found Northampton’s six-piece reggae/ska band, The Bighead, not in the slightest egotistical and very approachable! Thus, I’ll be spinning their tunes on Ska-ing West Country on Friday, and for the foreseeable future.

That said in this era where a plethora of bands like the Dualers and Death of Guitar Pop have breathed renewed energy and a fresh approach to the UK two-tone scene, which otherwise risked falling into a diehard cult of seniors on Lambrettas who spent their pension on a pair of cherry Doc Martins!

Though nothing with Bighead is as the frenzied ska blended with delinquent-filled punk of yore. They tend to flow maturely, with rocksteady and roots reggae, while attire the fashion akin to the two-tone era. I’ve no issue there, through the furious ska thrashings of The Specials, the downtempo Ghost Town is likely cited foremostly, and on the island of origination, the short rocksteady age between ska and reggae was undoubtedly the most creative musical period in Jamaican history.

Seems while previous decades hugged youth cultures which devoted to a sole variety of Jamaican music, newly formed bands, like Bighead in 2008 by Da Costa, follow a similar ethos as what we discussed when Trevor Evans’ Barbdwire came to Devizes Arts Festival. They select the benefits and choosiest elements of ska, rocksteady and all subgenres of reggae, and fuse them with sublime results.

There’s a plentiful gap to fill, and it’s all trilbies and shades for Bighead. Their May single, The Truth is Hard to Find celebrates their unique but retrospective style with a passion for pop-reggae, an uplifting beat, chugging ska riff and beguiling two-tone vocal harmonies, signifying an optimistic new era for the old genre. In contrast, the other two brilliant tunes Da Costa kindly emailed me, Step Up and Try Me Again, rely on roots reggae and doo-wop rocksteady respectively.

The Bighead are no strangers to the festival and club circuit, have headlined and supported original 2-Tone acts such as the Beat, The Selector, Bad Manners and a 2013 show with Madness. They’ve played over Europe and are regulars on the Berlin Reggae scene.

So, polish your boots, snap on your braces and follow Bighead; not that I should really be flattering a band who are already self-confessed big heads!


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A Modern Reggae Classic: Wonderland of Green

On first hearing Wonderland of Green, I was like, yeah, that’s as sweet as a sugarcane field. But it’s moreish; every listen it approves all elements, everything I love about reggae, and why I love it.

Fruits Records may be based in Switzerland, but their dedication to authentic Jamaican roots reggae is paramount. This latest release featuring the Silvertones is a prime example, a sublimely balanced one-drop riddim with all the hallmarks of reggae’s golden era; the roots sound of the seventies, Black Ark, the legendary studio of Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the Roots Radics rub-a-dub riddims of the early eighties. These traditional styles echo through this 7” EP; the heavy bass, the offbeat guitar riff, and the traditional female backing vocals as passed into mainstream by the Wailers’ I-Threes.

Yet it also pounds contemporary at you too, fresh sounding, with a version, Living In A Wonderland, toasted by Burro Banton, an incredibly gritty-voiced DJ popular in the late eighties and nineties dancehalls of Jamaica. Even the subject matter of Wonderland of Green is timeless, as it suggests, it’s earthy and ecological, a tenet inherent in Rastafarians long before it became trendy.

The band behind the riddim is the 18th Parallel. Produced, composed and arranged by Antonin Chatelain, Léo Marin and Mathias Liengme, and recorded at Geneva’s Bridge Studio by Liengme. There’s an instrumental on the flipside, and an extra killer dub mix by French wizard Westfinga, who retains the retrospective ethos using the traditional dub values set by King Tubby.

Burro Banton

But what makes it so thoroughly beguiling is the vocals by The Silvertones. A legendary vocal harmony trio from the early ska era, originally, Keith Coley, and Gilmore Grant, with Delroy Denton joining early in their career. Delroy’s individual baritone and guitar skills saw him quickly become the frontman. Though he migrated to the States and was replaced by Joel “Kush” Brown.

Though the only remaining member is Keith, who takes lead, that’s just technicalities, as the modern line up rests with Norris Knight and Nathan Skyers on harmonies, both of whom have solo careers in their own right.

Westfinga & The 18th Parallel’s Wonderland of Dub

Recording at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One, they interestingly triumphed in Jamaica with their debut single, a ska re-creation of Brook Benton’s “True Confession,” a track producer Duke Reid would also have the early Wailers record, but the Silvertones is indisputably more poignant. They also recorded under guises The Gold Tones, The Admirals, but most popularly as The Valentines, prevalent with the skinhead’s ska revival era was a tune called “Blam Blam Fever,” denouncing the rude boy’s gun culture.

The Silvertones

Through the late sixties they enjoyed success recording for Reid’s Treasure Isle label and Clancy Eccles, as vocal harmonies became more significant during the rock steady era. Yet their dominant period was the early seventies when they stepped into the converted carport which was Black Ark.

The eccentric amplifier genius, Lee “Scratch” Perry is renowned for getting the best out of any artist, he shaped the way we view Bob Marley & The Wailers. With penchant for outlandish, heavyweight psychedelic sound testing, he was the experimentalist who would pave the way for dub pioneers like King Tubby.

Historically then, Wonderland of Green slips right in as if it’s been there all along, but prominent now with its environmental subject matter, it’s gorgeous. I look forward to blasting it on my Boot Boy Radio show this Friday, maybe blending versions together, even if they’re live from the Skinhead Reunion, and who’s punters would favour boss reggae!

Wonderland of Green is newly released this week, as download, or on regular black wax 7” vinyl and on a beautiful limited and numbered picture sleeve edition with opaque dark green vinyl; how apt!

Streaming: http://hyperurl.co/wonderlandofgreen

Vinyl records: https://fruitsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wonderland-of-green


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Our IndieDay at Brogans!

Images by Gail Foster

Coming from Essex where shopping is religion, you’d think I’d be impartial to the duty. But no. To be bluntly honest, as I believe I mostly am, I find nothing entertaining or enjoyable in sauntering a continuous stream of mundane chain stores aimlessly, other than to spend money I haven’t got on crap I didn’t want or need in the first place. Blessed we are then, in Devizes, with an array of original, charming and interesting independent shops, which make shopping endurable for whinging cronies like me! An ethos celebrated, kind of, this Saturday by the group Devizes Retailers and Independents who, in order to return commerce to our wonderful and lively town, held an “IndieDay.”

MP Danny Kruger opened the event, I missed that, loads of shops got involved and opened their doors to a festivity-fashioned celebration, missed that too. Donkeys and more, I missed. Far better for me to contribute by loitering outside Brogans café, munching on a bacon roll and taking credit for Mike J Barham’s hard work!

I arrived late, The Devizes Rotary Club arrived long before to lend us a grand gazebo, and Mike too, he set up a PA, he managed the PA, he hosted the event with his charming and entertaining charisma, and everyone came up to me and thanked me; result!

Honestly, as I’ve said, I have to give a massive thanks to everyone involved for making it such a special day, and in this day and age it was indeed even greater. Mike Barham for one, aforementioned contributions, but two, for rocking both the opening and finale with a plethora of his own work, such as the lively Bowser’s Castle, and thoughtful prose through downtempo blues, to the thundering satire of a west-country-styled Top Gun theme, Danger Zone! The guy is a one-man machine, the best of the best, of the best.

So yes, breakfast to a late lunchtime at Brogans got lively, as people filled the plot outside and the carpark, in the sunshine. It was something until late last night I feared would fail, with gapping gaps between the confirmed acts. Sadly, and for various reasons, Archie Combe and Tom Harris had to cancel, and our opening act, Pewsey singer-songwriter, Cutsmith was also unable to attend. The worry took me until 10pm when I unleashed a masterplan; Tamsin Quin cropped up on the book of face, to thank me for reviewing the new Lost Trades single, and so, whammy, I dispatched note of my concern and asked nicely if she would be able to grace us with her presence, and naturally, sing us a song or three.

I highly suspect they’re secretly superheroes, Tamsin, Jamie and Phil, and if not, they certainly saved my skin, more than once before. Tamsin dragged Jamie R Hawkins along, and as their alter-egos with no need for superhero costumes, they did it again. Thank you both so, so much. Tamsin gave it her all, which needs no surprise, her confidence and professionalism doesn’t preside her charming grace and skill to entertain. Jamie accompanied her brilliantly on cajon, claiming to be “getting into it now!” after just two songs in.

Then Cath and Gouldy rocked up on their way to the Southgate, to play as their folk duo Sound Affects, which was, as ever, blindingly awesome. All originals and finishing on Mr Blue Sky and Come on Eileen covers, it was superb. So, a massive thanks to them.

The finale then, was rocked by Mr Michael J Barham, which I’ve said already, but needs another mention. Thanks to everyone who turned up and made it really special day, including our photographers, Ruth, Nick and Gail, writer Andy and all the supporters. Thanks to Brogans for having us, I trust we behaved, least it could’ve been worse, believe me! It’s times like this which make Devizine feel more than me clonking on a keyboard, and rather a thing of community, of spirit and substance. Though now I’m back clonking, vainly bigging up our own gig, which I justify by noting it’s not about me, or my bacon roll, and more about the good folk who regularly contribute to make this website function, the musicians, writers and photographers, and supporters. Here’s to more, I want more!

This is not an act of vanity, but a condition Gail set forth in order for me to get permission to use them! Thanks Gail, it takes a highly skilled photographer to capture me smiling!

Two Man Ting Bring Sunshine to the Southgate Today

Winding up their “mini tour,” after last night’s gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, world/reggae duo, Two Man Ting appear at Devizes Southgate for an afternoon session from 4 to 6pm.

Midlands Jon Lewis and Sierra Leonian Jah-Man Aggrey, are a branch of world dance collective Le Cod Afrique, who play a cheerful combination of multicultural roots-pop. A welcome addition to the Southgate’s continuing mission to provide a diverse range of live music to Devizes; and a grand job they’re making of it!

With Aggrey’s bright, chatty vocals and bongos, and Lewis’s acoustic guitar picking, this promises to be something great and wholly different around these waters. They’ve done the festival scene from Womad and Glasto to the Montreux Jazz Festival & Glastonbury, and their acclaimed album “Legacy” has been much featured on BBC Radio 3 & BBC 6 Music.

Should be a good ‘un!

The Lost Trades on Cloud 9

New song from our local purveyors of the perfect folk vocal harmony trio, The Lost Trades. Out for another Bandcamp Day, today, Friday, where the website drops it’s fees and gives the artists 100% royalties; and darn it, if this isn’t worth a quid when it constitutes a mere quarter-cup of coffee from a posh café these days, I dunno what is.

The origin of the idiom, cloud nine is largely debated. Explanations relating the US Weather Bureau of the 1950s denoting fluffy cumulonimbus type clouds, or the penultimate stage of the progress to enlightenment for a Bodhisattva, are mostly debunked. But who needs a debate when you’re in a definite state of blissful contentment anyway?!

All you need know is this tune will land you on said cloud as if you were the monkey-god Sun Wukong on a mission. We are blessed with all the hallmarks of a Lost Trades signature tune; the calming tingle of xylophone, the gentle sway of acoustic guitar, the heavenly vocal harmonies, and uplifting lyrics to boot.

As Pink Floyd, around the Meddle era, after a bout of heavy space rock, when it suddenly drifts into thoughtful acoustic mega-bliss, this song just drifts akin, without need of heaviness, of Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps, meandering along a river on a gondola, thinking; hey man, let’s, like, sing; and it’s gorgeous, as we may’ve come to expect from this Trowbridge-Devizes trio. I wonder if we’re looking at a track from the highly anticipated album, yet, even if no, it’s the perfect display of progression for the newly-formed trio, who’s exceptional solo careers combine to create just as the title suggests; sitting on cloud nine.

With Tamsin advancing with her album, and Phil some way in front, teasing us with a cover design for his, titled Revelation, it’s clear the solo side projects will continue, but as a trio they bounce perfectly off each other, though it’s hardly a shove, more mooch.  Download it here.


Devizine’s IndieDay Outing!

Well blow me down, cover me in peri-peri sauce and call me Natisha if we’ve had a Devizine event recently. Understandable all things considered. Annoying though, being I passed on the idea of holding a second birthday bash last autumn thinking we’d host or co-host something better in the summer.

Crystal ball smashed, see? Face bothered? Yeah, a bit, y’ know. Hits to the website has taken a blow, yet that informs me just how many people were using it as a what’s on guide in times prior to lockdown. And anyhoo, for me it’s a hobby, like trainspotting, just without the trains….and spots. I still don an anorak for formal appearances! For businesses and performers alike though, it’s been a rough ride.

What was waffling about before a class 55 diesel locomotive chugged past me? Oh yeah, events. Well, you may/may not be aware town centre will be alive on Saturday, 5th September, when the Devizes Retailers and Independents group hold their Indie Day, celebrating our array of independent shops and cafes. There’s fun to be had, shopping and eating and stuff, with lots of prizes to be won, etc. Original idea was to have buskers around and about, but I believe that’s not so easy to do with current restrictions.

So, we plan to be in presence, centred in the rear garden of Brogans in the Brittox, purveyors of a fine breakfast, nice tea or coffee and scrumptious lunches and cakes. In which we will have some live acoustic music running throughout the day from, I dunno, 10ish till 3ish; that sound good?

Check dis out; Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake @ Brogans, say no more!

Rather hastily put together at short notice, due to getting approval on our proposal to observe social distancing, so if you come along, it’s essential you abide by them. We will track and trace, advise you to wear a facemask if wandering outside of your “bubble,” and Brogans has measures already in place too.

I think it’s important, the day as a whole, being local business have been hit hard by the lockdown. Yet equally is our side-stall, gigs were the bread and butter for musicians, sadly missed by the punter, desperately reducing performer’s revenue. That said, the budget I’m working on is zero and I’m asking the acts to come for the love of it. I sincerely hope if you come along, you can show your appreciation when I badger you with a bucket, thank you.

I also encourage them to bring their wares, CDs and any merchandise they have for sale on the table; and this goes for anyone passing by also, who may have a creation for sale. Make sure you drop past by 3pm to pick up any earning. Any earnings are 100% yours, I might get my arm twisted if your offer me a bacon butty, other than that I’m asking for nothing!

Said tip bucket will be shared between all participating performers at the end. Shutdown is around 3pm, giving us time to finish up and head to the Southgate where the amazing Absolute Beginners will play from 4pm, and I’m getting a round in for all the performers. That’s the plan anyway, subject to change as ever. In fact, I’m delighted to say Cath and Gouldy of Absolute Beginners are pencilled in to drop by around 1pm, before the gig at the Gate, so you can see for yourself how damn good they are.

Everything is in pencil at the moment, just wanted you to give you plenty of notice before you start planning a shopping trip to the Greenbridge retail park, or anything wildly hedonistic like that. Colour pencil though, rainbow; on the cards we have the one-man army, Mr Mike J Barham, who’s kindly to offered to setup a small PA while I rub my stubble, and pretend I know the technicalities he’s referring to.

Also, hopefully dropping by will be our brilliant Tom Harris of the Lockdown Lizards, Pewsey’s finest Cutsmith, and London-based Archie Combe, a classically trained jazz pianist, composer and musical director. I’ve not given them timeslots as of yet, but we’ll play it by ear, which will be a beautiful thing given the wealth of talent. There might be room for one more, if you’re up for it, let me know, or just drop by with a guitar on the day and I’ll try fit you in; can’t be any vaguer than that! But vague is my middle name (actually, it’s Lee, but c’est la vie, Lee.)

So yes, it only leaves you to browse past and enjoy the day. Danny Kruger is coming, and if he can make it so can you; don’t believe the hype! Let us know you’re coming on the book of Face.


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Jon Veale Flicks the Switch

How long does it take to take to put together a single, and how much longer during the lockdown?

I dunno; don’t ask me, I just write about this stuff, and don’t make a great job of that! I suppose you’ve got pull in all the elements, y’ know, paste together drums and vocals and stuff like that, and y’ know; okay, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about. But they do down at Potterne’s Badger Set.

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, “Flick the Switch,” is flicked on tonight. As the name suggests it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals.

Jon Veale

Patience paid off, with a speedy vocal harmony intro, this song packs a steady rock punch, yet none too metal. It appeals wide, as a driving, rolling-stone-themed belter, and Paul’s vocals are stimulating, reminding me of a grinding Jamie R Hawkins. Yet, for what it’s worth, it’s the composition which makes this a winner; a couple of listens is all it takes to be singing the chorus, allowing the drums and guitar combo to wash over you like a warm wave crashing on a tropical beach, or, something like that, (apologies, I need a holiday.)

As well as this supportive team, the distribution through Emu Records, Jon also thanks Christine Hurkett who has produced “an insane” lyric video and cover for the song. “In case you’re wondering what did I do on this song,” he jokes, “I wrote the music, the lyrics and played all the guitars!”

I’m intrigued to hear more now, for if this was a track on an album it’d be a title track, unless Jon has something else up his sleeve, there’s already a previous tune featuring the vocals of our Sam Bishop on the iTunes link, so yeah, I dunno, don’t ask me, I just write this stuff!

Spotify Link

iTunes Link


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Bill Green’s Still Lost Demos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective Do What They Love, at The Southgate

He’s a fast learner, that Keanu Reeves; think how he progressed to “the chosen one” in little over an hour and half, while his superiors barely advanced at all; comes with the chosen one job, I suppose. Think cat scene, for example, where this novice presumed déjà vu, but twas a glitch in the Matrix.

Had a touch of déjà vu myself on Sunday, chatting with Essex’s Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective; alas I’m not the chosen one, until it’s time to do the washing up. Barefacedly had to check my own website, suspecting they’d been mentioned before. And I was right, Andy wrote a part-review back in July; I was briefly there too. Blame it on a glitch, rather than memory loss; this is 2020, glitches in the Matrix are abundant.

Regulars at the Southgate in Devizes, Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective are as the name suggests, but don’t do run of the mill. Cowboy hats and chequered shirts held a clue, but arrive excepting unadulterated county & western and you’ll get nipped. While there’re clear Americana influences, here’s an exclusive sound unafraid to experiment.

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Jamie’s abrasive vocals are gritty and resolute, perfect for this overall country-blues sound, but it progressively rocks like Springsteen or Petty, rather than attempts to banjo twang back to bluegrass. It also boundlessly exploits other folk and roots influences, with a plethora of instruments and expertise to merge them into this melting pot. And in this essence, they are an agreeable rock band, appealing to commonalities; but do it remarkably, with upbeat riffs, tested but original material, and passion.

Not forgoing, I still need to be careful, and it was but a whistle-stop to the Gate, to wet my whistle. As current live music restrictions being the way they are, it’s unfair to use a gig review as a base for an act’s entirety. For starters, they’re missing bassist Jake Milligan, and drums deemed too loud to bring, James “the hog” Bacon made do with a cajon and bongos. The remaining two, Jamie and Dave Milligan, cramped in the doorway of the skittle ally with acoustic and electric guitar, respectively. Which, in a way, proves this band’s aforementioned adaptability and desire to experiment. The proof is the pudding though, and battling through the restrictions of the era, they came up with a chef-d’oeuvre.

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Professionally, they scorched out a great sound nonetheless, mostly original, but a rather fitting Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, with Jamie’s grinding vocals apt for a later Dylan classic. But this downtempo cover was the exception to the rule, their originals upbeat and driving.

To pitch a fair review, though, is to take a listen to their latest album, Do What You Love. The cover of which is unlike your cliché Americana tribute too; highly graphical splashes of colour akin more to pop, or a branding of fizzy drink. The songs match, a popular formula of cleverly crafted nuggets intertwining these wide-spanning influences. One track they did live from their album was accompanied with an explanation the recorded version used a brass section and even a DJ scratching, yet they made do with Jake joining James for a hit on the bongos.

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They certainly enjoy what they do, and appear relaxed in the spotlight. This doesn’t make them tongue-in-cheek, like, say Californian Watsky & Mody, who blend hip hop into bluegrass for jokes. Rather Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective has evenly balanced said collective’s influences and conjured this celebrated, danceable and fun sound, flexible for a standard function, like a wedding party but would also liven up the day at a mini-festival.

As an album though it encompasses all I’ve said above, there’s cool tunes like Lazy Day, the orchestrated reprise If I met my Hero, and rather gorgeously executed ballad, Held in Your Glow, but also frenetic tunes, driving down the A12 with the windows open music, Red Hot and Raunchy being a grand, light-hearted example but I’m A Stone as my favourite, with its clever pastiches of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, it rocks.

You need not visit the Oracle, waiting with spoon-bending broods, Keanu Reeves, for her to tell you Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective are not some “chosen” livid teenagers trailblazing a new sound and striving for the spotlight, but a collective of passionate and talented musicians loving every minute of performing, and this comes across as highly entertaining.


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Open Music Venues, or Do They Hate Art?

The Smart E’s “Sesame’s Treet” bleeped through the hills of a west country location in 1991. There was an air of delight and mirth when someone pointed to the ridge yonder. “Look,” they chuckled, “the pigs are dancing!” Story checked out, I turned my head to witness a couple of police officers jumping and waving their arms, mocking the fashion of a dancing raver. Imitation we never took to heart, ravers were tongue-in-cheek about their chosen music; repetitive beats over a children’s tv theme was comical nostalgia, and not supposed to be taken seriously. As for the police, seemed as individuals observing, they saw the simple truth that there was no harm in what we were doing. Yet there was always hate in the establishment they took orders from, and we were months away from being grounded by force.

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Hysterical measures by a desperate conservative government, who failed to see the value we held for something they couldn’t understand, an electronic art movement, principally, a modern folk music.

Authoritarians detest art, least the progression of art, seems to me. And it has been plaguing my mind of recent. Freedom of expression, they fear, encourages liberation, unrest and consequently, rebellion. Munich, 1937; Third Reich leaders combined two opposing art exhibitions into one, the “Great German Art Exhibition.” The first hall featured art which Hitler considered suitable, orthodox and representational, lots of flaxen folk gallantly posed like Roman deity sculptures, and local idyllic rural sceneries.

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The second displayed what Hitler deemed “degenerate art,” contemporary, progressive and mostly abstract. But they ensured it was demoted, through exhibiting it callously, with disorder, and bestowing dissuading labels on it, describing “the sick brains of those who wielded the brush or pencil.” Hitler pushed stringent boundaries onto German artists, because he figured art was key to the rise of Nazism and his vision for the future.

Damn, he hated the Bauhaus. Forced the art school to close in 1933. Their angular designs which would herald the most efficient revolution of modernist architecture, were deemed communist intellectualism by the Nazi regime; give them an archaic Spalato Porta Greek arch, or be shot!

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I see humour as my art, my aim is to make you laugh, whenever possible. In a week where a keyboard warrior reported me to Facebook for an ironic slate at Boris Johnson, yet a grammatically atrocious meme, stating they need not pay for a holiday, when purchase of a dinghy from Argos will see them put up in a hotel, is hailed as hilarious, I receive a message of eternal doom for the grassroots music industry, from a professional musician.

Gone, it seems, are the days of eighties “alternative comedy” of the Footlights, of Ben Elton and Rick Mayell scornfully ridiculing Thatcherism. Gone is the echoing mantra of Joe Strummer demanding “a riot of our own.” Today the art of comedy, and music, barely touches political matter, and never takes risks. Humour is subjective, as is all art, I accept this, but art enriches our lives, provides joy and entertainment, and should never be curbed or censored. Yet we find a consistent urge by blossoming traditionalists to dampen the spirit of artists.

The Trump administration eliminated the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. An annual $150 million is a devastating blow to the industry, yet hardly major cost-cutting as it weighs in at only 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Akin to the ethos of the “Great German Art Exhibition,” history is peppered with examples of right-wing philosophy opposing art. The Stalinists enforced stringent principles of style and content, to ensure it served the purposes of state leadership, methodically executing the Soviet Union’s Ukrainian folk poets, according to the composer and pianist, Dmitri Shostakovich. Just as Chile’s coup of 1973, when Augusto Pinochet tortured and exiled muralists. Singer, Víctor Jara was murdered, his body presented publicly as a warning to others.

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In the UK, the reopening of lockdown restrictions despite the pandemic still mounting, where it seems perfectly acceptable to travel to foreign lands on a luxury holiday and return without quarantine, where we are encouraged to shop till we drop and eat out in restaurants to save the food industry, and it’s commonly accepted our children will be used as lab rats in a herd immunity experiment, a government, who let’s face it, should have imposed a lockdown sooner, as was the example of every other developed nation worldwide, rather than fail to attend meetings with the World Health Organisation, and use unreliable companies to supply software and PPE to help combat the virus, simply because they are mates of theirs, will not allow us to have a sing-song in a pub.

Now, at first, I accepted the possible threat, but in light of recent lessening of restrictions, I fail to comprehend the logic in this, in continuing the restrictions on art and music. Given the historical facts surrounding the authoritarian’s apparent hatred of art, I am beginning to fear the virus is a being used as a convenient excuse to suppress and suspend creativity. Oi, loony leftie, shut up, stay in your home and watch the celebrity Pointless special.

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I suggested, didn’t I, art is subjective? If Hitler liked the conventional, representative of Renaissance tradition, it was his prerogative, but there was no need to kill everyone simply because he couldn’t draw horses very well. Since the invention of photography can duplicate precise imagery, artists seek expression, inimitability and design according to their own mind. If it constitutes liberal or reformist ideals, why should it be devalued by opposing attitudes? The problem arises when oppression is enforced, freedom will return the fire, and will be back, refreshed, to bite them on the bum!

Just as the Jamaican JLP party of the right, battled burgeoning Rastafarians into the Wareika Hills in the 1950s, and labelled them “Blackheart Men,” or bogeymen, yet the surge of reggae and the popularity of Bob Marley today sees Rastas accepted in Jamaican society for the tourism it attracts, The Battle of the Beanfield in 1985 did nothing to control travellers in the UK. Less than a decade later the free party scene metamorphized into a rave generation which saw youths rally to support them. You cannot curb progressive movements in any art without risking a wave of rebellion. Ironically, the very thing they’re trying to prevent.

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We’ve seen a return of the rave, police fearing a riot if they try to prevent them, but they reflect nothing of the magnitude of the nineties, yet. Unless grassroots music venues and pubs who were regularly supplying live music are reopened, even if that means social distancing measures are in place, it is inevitable you will open a gapping underground and future generations will strike back. This does nothing for the values conservatives uphold, or their vision of a totalitarian future, but furthermore severely punishes every professional in the arts industry from rock star to sound engineer, every prospering new performer in an era formerly to lockdown, I see equivalent to those swinging sixties; a time I suspect most baby boomers of tory ethos hold dear. An era where every youth was in a band, and focused on music rather than belligerent misdoings.

Yet still, gammons, I believe is the modern terminology, if the left is snowflake, persist in whinging about how youths have no respect, how they were flaunting rules in the park, gathering, conspiring, they so suspect, against them. What if they are, though probably just socialising as they likely once did in their younger years, what if they’ve some masterplan to overthrow this Tory charade; they surprised by this? How egocentrically imprudent, how selfishly insular. This is people’s livelihoods they are toiling with. As Bob Marley once said, “a hungry man is an angry man.”

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Paul Lappin’s Broken Record

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

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

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

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


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Sunset Remedy with JAY

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

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

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

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


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Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties!

Relished in your own nostalgia or, if you’re too young to have lived it, curiously influenced by a bygone era, no one can deny the eighties was a decade of musical progression in a similar manner to the sixties. From the beginnings of the decade, pop showcased a legacy of youth cultures, from glam to rockabilly, from punk to two tone, from the refurbished mod to ironic ethos of the skinhead, and from frilly-sleeved new romantics to jogging-bottomed breakers. The pioneering genres of electronica and electro saw hip hop become the new rock n roll, but it would take some time to find a niche in the UK. Naturally, by the end of the decade, a new driving force via electronics would saturate the underground, as acid house exploded, and we stomped into the following decade with whistles and white gloves.

While it developed, there was a period, a kind of no-man’s-land of youth culture, a void in creativity in which the hit factories strategically bounded out of the trenches and perpetrated a full-scale attack. Make no mistake, pop crime is wrought in every decade, manufactured atrocities occurred throughout every era since pop begun, but never on this scale. It was mass genocide with diddy-boppers.

“It was mass genocide with diddy-boppers.”

Maliciously, the target was aimed younger than ever before, the demographic was 10 to 14-year olds. The commanders were specialists in the field, making Simon Cowell seem like Beethoven by comparison. Three in control of the fiercest battalion, one Mike Stock, the other Matt Aitken and last, but by no means least, Pete Waterman. Fortunately, I had just surpassed their target audience, and thanks to Zeppelin, Hendrix, and others, our generation rewound to previous eras for protection against the shelling, eagerly awaiting rave. But prior, when I was the right age, I fell hook, line and sinker; most pre-teens do.

This is why it’s important to note, Stock Aitken Waterman may’ve redefined pop crime to an all-time low, but not until near the ending of the decade did the crimewave truly flourish. Plus, they did not offend alone, many tried before, no matter how petty the crime, they committed them. SAW’s first singles, Divine’s “You Think You’re a Man,” and Hazell Dean’s “Whatever I Do,” only charted at numbers 16 and 4, respectively, in 84, their first number one, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive the following March, but all were petty compared with the carnage of their perpetual recidivism during the decade’s second half, dubbed an “assembly line.”

“Petty compared with the carnage of their perpetual recidivism during the decade’s second half, dubbed an “assembly line.”

I tried not to choose the obvious then, the classically nauseating novelty songs which slayed for humorous effect. From the only way we Tweeted in the 80s for example, the Birdie Song, to ethnic stereotyping for kicks; shaddap your own face, Joe Dolce. Or randomly pushing pineapples, shaking trees, and wishing you could fly right up to the sky. Never forget, there’s no one quite like Grandma.

Neither have I selected the memorable later evils of Stock Aitken Waterman et all, where the naive befell to their despicable set formula, from Bananarama to Cliff Richard, and a showcase of new recruits, many from Ozzy soaps. No, I favoured to concentrate on the period just prior, when I was susceptible to pop crime, an accessory to murder; for actually buying these 7″ monsters, and, at the time, loving them. We tend to block the worst parts of our memories and focus only on the highlights, so to buy a “best of 80s” 16-CD boxset for a fiver from a supermarket is deflecting the whole truth. These are the commonly cited worst songs of the period, Europe’s Final Countdown, Rick Astley, and so on. But to list the renowned offenders would be to simply copy and paste SAW’s discography; the truth being, we had some other serious pop crime in the mid-eighties, which went largely unpunished.

“To list the renowned offenders would be to simply copy and paste SAW’s discography.”

See, credit where credit is due, Vanilla Ice deserves some recognition for not only publicly apologising for his wrongdoing but elucidating the reason for pop crime. “They waved a massive cheque in my face,” he later explained, “What would you have done?” We could do with the staff of the TV show New Tricks to reopen these case files and investigate. The only problem I foresee with that is Dennis Waterman, who was partially guilty himself.

Here then I present evidence to the court, in hope pleading guilty by circumstance may lessen my sentence. Forgive me Marley, for I have sinned. Yes, the pop crimes which I naively involved myself with, the ones I played over and over, and live to regret my foolish immaturity. I warn you now, this was no simple to task to access the archives of my memory, it was dangerous to both mind and ear, musically akin to regenerating Frankenstein’s monster. But do not fear, fear will only lead to the dark-side, and you might just permanently injure yourself mentally by the horror of these video nasties, or even, open the closet to some skeletons you had long forgotten about. Tobacco needs a government health warning, if these tunes resurfaced, it would be advisable to do likewise. You have a lot to answer for, YouTube.

 

1: Five Star: System Addict

I confess, I loved Romford’s would-be-Jacksons siblings, period. My uncle lived in Romford and driving to visit, I’d keep a keen eye out in hope to catch a glance of them, until the Daily Mirror reported they moved to a plastic palace in Berkshire.

Buster Pearson, their Jamaican-born father and manager had an impressive résumé, working with soul and reggae legends Otis Redding, Jimmy Cliff, Wilson Pickett, and Desmond Dekker. From “All Fall Down” their debut single, unconcerned if I fancied Doris or Denise, I loved everything about them, until their flopped hard-edged dance comeback in 1988.

I loved their style, their soulful harmonies, and choreographed moves; ask me my favourite album in 85, it would’ve been Luxury of Life. I was 12, my only defence. I had some years before comprehending the crime of manufactured pop; today I can only cringe. This video for 1986’s System Addict says it all, a warning, I think, about the over usage of computers. Maybe they should’ve been warning about the over usage of shoulder pads.

2: Jermaine Stewart: We Don’t Have to Take our Clothes off

The junior disco at Pontins, Camber Sands in 1986, I didn’t know what to do next, but I knew I’d reached first base with a husky-voiced brunette with zips on her sleeves. Then this song came on, which I liked, but would be the stinger in any chance of ever taking the relationship further. Maybe for the best, the song was commenting on the AIDs pandemic and probably lessened the funky Jackson-a-like Jermaine Stewart’s chances of copping a shag too. I imagine the girl saying, “but you said, in the song….” as she holds up some cherry wine suggesting they danced all night instead. And an infuriated Jermaine replying, “I know what I sung, baby, but that’s not my words, just a song, come on….”

Sadly, and perhaps ironically, though, Jermaine died of aids-related liver cancer in 1997. Still, a foul pop crime, though only a single, first time offence.

3: Falco: Rock me Amadeus

Someone, somewhere thought it would be a good idea to rap in Flemish, and, fortunately for Falco, it was. He is the best-selling Austrian singer of all time. But here’s a massive selling pop crime single which time doesn’t do justice to.

At the time, 1985, I couldn’t get enough of this avant-garde trash, and the plush video of powdered-faced Germanic bourgeoisie busting out of their corsets. More so when I mistook a line, thinking he used both the F and C swear words, which was actually, “Frauen liebten seinen Punk,” “women loved his punk.” But the follow-up “Vienna Calling,” didn’t do it for me, and two things I learned from Rock me Amadeus, if anything, Mozart didn’t rap and the wonder of the one-hit-wonder.

4: Sam Fox: Touch Me

Interesting video portraying Samantha Fox as an established rock chick when the truth was, I always thought, she was famous only for getting her tits out in the Sun newspaper. Hers were, undoubtedly, the first pair of knockers I’d ever seen, and for that I’m truly grateful. But reinventing herself as rock star was a step too far.

Though, it was her mum who sent photos of her in her under-crackers to the tabloids, while the same year, a sixteen-year-old Samantha struggled with a pop career. In ‘83 “Rockin’ With My Radio” was her first single, produced by Ray Fenwick formerly of the Spencer Davis Group. Makes you wonder; mum distracts daughter from the depravities of the music industry my encouraging her to get her tits out for the newspapers. A lesson learned, never trust your mum if you want to be a pop star.

Me, I don’t care, I never wished to wallow in my brother’s obsession with Sam Fox, not because I was a prude, just more of a Linda Lusardi kind of kid, and, secondly, this title track from Jive Records’ 1986 album “Touch Me,” is horrifically criminal, and, nice tits or no, that is all.

5: Trans X: Living on Video

As with poor ol’ Sam Fox, Trans X is listed here due to assumption. Research again proves me wrong. As I figured, here was a mid-eighties single which desperately harked back to the synth-pop sound of the early eighties, rather than took the progressive stance with music technology other similar bands were. In actual fact, the 1985 version I had of it, which I thoroughly loved at the time, was a remix, the original dating back to 1982, bang on time for its style.

Trans-X were from Montreal, their only defence, passing the buck to the DJ for his remix is akin to getting your mum to take your speeding points. Even for 82 it sounds unpleasantly tacky. Mud sticks, it’s barbarism by today’s standards, in a manner Blue Monday doesn’t; I rest my case.

6: Nick Berry: Every Loser Wins

Wicksy, you wet blanket. If promoting your slushy song through your soap opera character isn’t cringeworthy enough, the character dedicated it to mismatched couple, Michelle and Lofty, and labelled it “their song,” only for Michelle to jilt Lofty at their wedding; such is EastEnders. For Berry though, this mawkish crime against pop swashed in enough sentimental sludge for it to hit number one in the charts for three weeks, the second biggest selling single of 86, and helped him ditch his contract with the soap.

Yeah, I bought this one, sucked in under false Disney-esque pretences that every loser does win. In reality of course, they don’t, else they’d be called winners instead by the terms of the word’s definition; idiot. Please, let’s never speak of it again.

7: Huey Lewis & The News: Stuck with You

There is no honour among thieves with pop crime. Huey Lewis cried “Ray Parker Jnr started it, sir!” When he did blatantly nick from Huey’s track “I Want a New Drug” for the Ghostbusters theme, and they settled out of court, but Lewis blabbed, so Parker hit back, a violation of the agreement to not discuss the settlement publicly. They both should’ve been slimed.

It was the reason why Huey Lewis got involved with rival movie Back to the Future, the reason I got into the group. It sure was a captivating moment, Marty McFly avoiding 1955’s bullies on a self-made skateboard with Huey Lewis and the News blasting The Power of Love in your face.

Yet, I cannot think of a better example of a band who got progressively worse as they went on. Someone must have known, and did nothing to stop them. Fore, they called their 1986 album, it destroyed any shards of creditability, foreskin more appropriately, and one which should’ve been circumcised because of the build-up of cheese. I only choose this pathetic pastiche of doo-wop barbershop over Hip to be Square, as that was at least upbeat, that is all

8: Maria Vidal: Body Rock

Graffiti artists might fancy the idea of telekinetic spray cans as featured in the video for Maria Vidal’s Body Rock, but while I supported the commercialisation of hip hop, at the time, this was step too far.

Agreed, left up to the comparatively documentary film, Wild Style in 1983, we may never have heard of hip hop in eighties Britain. Though Beat Street, the following year, was commercial, it had clearer narrative and higher production values. Beat Street was boss, but movies on the subject flowed thick and fast, and increasingly wrecked the reputation of the genre. Breakin’ kicked it off, and its sequel followed within the year, Body Rock took it to a whole other level.

Here is a song which advises one to move out of the way rather than stand up for yourself; hardly “street.” But what is more, it’s a template for the crimes of the hit factory, this and eurotrash, which is why we mention the next pop crime.

9: Spagna: Call Me

Ivana Spagna took it upon herself to assume she was famous enough to mononymous her name, and through her work with Italo disco duo, Fun Fun in her native Italy it might have been true. We didn’t know of her until this monster of a pop crime, Call Me.

Euro-pop would never regain the success of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons upon the UK charts without manufacturing a revolting formula. It’s catchy but empty of content, verses do not matter, just repeat the chorus, spray enough hairspray to bore a hole in the o-zone above you and jump into a stranger with headphone’s Suzuki and you’ll be fine. The criminal aspect so widely attractive to Pete Waterman went unpunished and, still at large, she continues to offend.

10: Peter Cetera: Glory of Love

Nothing wrong with fighting for honour and being the hero, they’ve been dreaming of, but, put a bit of umph in it for crying out loud. Peter Cetera was from acclaimed seventies band Chicago, it was sentimental slush but with grace. Take his song “If You Leave Me Now”, a song he wrote for their tenth album and gained Chicago its first Grammy Award. Begging the question then, what went so terribly wrong in the mid-eighties?

It seems the pop crime pandemic was at large and no one was safe; the soft rock power ballad proves it. This mullet-driven monstrosity is so nasty, so corrupt if you hear it through to the end, you’ll puke, Karate Kid or not. Wax on, wax off, sweep the leg, yes, this didn’t do anything for the sequel expect cause the audience stomach upsets. Yet, as with all these songs, at the time, I thought it was great, I thought it was a romance advise line, and ultimately resulted in years of hurt and anguish; no one was ever this romantic in 1985, not even Chris de fucking Burgh!


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Three Times Better; The Lost Trades @ The Southgate

From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads to bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson, there’s so many Americana mythologies and folklore veracities apropos in the Cohen Brother’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” I could draft a lengthy essay. One I’m reminded of last Sunday down our trusty Southgate, was the scene depicting the Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” at a governor’s election rally. Reason; there’s something simplistically bluegrass about The Lost Trades, matchless vocal harmonies, ensuring the circle is unbroken, even in a distant Wiltshire.

It was only a whistle-stop to wet my whistle, and when I did arrive the trio I’d came for where on their break. Tamsin was selling handcrafted spoons and lesser original band merchandise such as t-shirts and CDs, Phil was lapping the pub chatting enthusiastically and Jamie was having a pint with his family. None of this really matters, as individuals, we’ve rightfully nothing but praised these marvellous local musicians. When they formed a more official grouping and the Lost Trades were born, we broke the news. Neither did it matter, at the time, that I would be unable to attend their debut gig at the Village Pump. I had my new writer Helen offer to take my place, and what is more, I knew I’d be catching up with The Lost Trades in due course; couldn’t have predicted the impending lockdown the following week.

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Yet prior to Sunday I had ponder if there was anything else to write about these individuals we’ve not covered in the past, but I was wrong. The angle can only be the difference between them as individuals or periodically helping one another out at a gig, to the trio The Lost Trades. Because, when they did everything was very much adlib, with the Lost Trades three minds are working closer than ever before, and if two brains are better than one, three is not, in this case, a crowd.

It wasn’t long before they resettled, and huddled in the doorway of the skittle room playing to the crowd in the garden, as is the current arrangement for these brief acoustic sessions at the Gate. They joyfully toiled with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” This was followed by my favourite track from Tamsin’s album Gypsy Blood, aptly, “Home.” Topped off with a sublime version of Cat Stevens’ “Moon Shadow.” But I did say it was a whistle stop.

In consolation I picked up their self-titled debut EP, something I should have done months ago. With this beauty in hand I could take a little of The Lost Trades home with me; it’ll play perpetually through those thoughtful moments. Recorded in session at The Village Pump, “because we really like the acoustics in there,” explained Tamsin, here is a recording oozing with a quality which, despite predicting, still blew me for six. As I say, it’s the combination of these three fantastic artists in their own right, as opposed the jamming we’ve previously become accustomed to, which really makes the difference.

Five tunes strong, this EP equally celebrates these three talents and harmonises them on a level we’ve not heard before. The acapella beginning of the opening tune, “Hummingbird” glides into stripped back xylophone and acoustic guitar, and is so incredibly saccharine, it trickles like some beatniks performing on a seventies Children’s TV show. Yet, it works. In true Simon & Garfunkel manner, it’s not mawkish, just nice.

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Hummingbird serves as a great introduction, but is by no means the template. As is commonplace, from the Beatles to The Wailers, The Trades, I detect, conjoin the writing effort but the lead singer seems to be the one who plucked the idea. “Good Old Days,” then, screams Jamie at me, who leads. It has his stamp, ingenious narrative centred around thoughtful prose. “Wherever You Are,” likewise is a Tamsin classic, wildly romantic and wayfarer.

“Robots,” follows, the quirkiest and perhaps erroneous after an initial listen. Yet through subtle metaphors the satirical slant charms in a manner which nods Phil Cooper, and why should one stick to a formula in subject matter? Because the sound is authentically Americana of yore, Robots superbly deflects the notion it’s lost in a bygone era and cannot use modern concepts, and Robots ruling the world is, however much a metaphor, still fundamentally sci-fi, and that makes for an interesting contrast. With that thought in mind, this could be the track which stands out for originality.

As in this review, we’ve returned to the unbroken circle. In full circle the final song, “Wait for my Boat,” is a sublimely cool track, casting a direction the trio are clearly heading. For although Jamie leads, there’s elements of all three middle tracks combined in this sea shanty sounding song. It’s metaphorical, romantic, with sentimental narrative. It wraps up the EP perfectly, leaving you hanging for the album they’re working on.

Yes, the Lost Trades is a live group you need to see in person, but this EP really is way beyond my already high expectations. It’s combination of talents is honest, bluegrass-inspired acoustic gorgeousness you need in your life.

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Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain

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

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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.

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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.

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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!


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Ben Borrill Takes A Little Time

Bobbing around the St John’s corner of Long Street, trying to act important, and sober, I had a message for Ben Borrill, Pete was looking for him, he was on next; ah, gave me something to do. It was the fantastic Devizes Street Festival, made that much more fantastic by Vinyl Realm organising a second stage, showcasing local talent. You must’ve heard about it, even if you weren’t there, I’ve harked on about it enough!

Mission accomplished, he was loitering the doorway, and equably replied with an “oh, okay.” There’s a casual air around Ben, perhaps the most altruistic and modest musician, and, oh, skateboarder too, on the local circuit. It was this way when I first met him during an acoustic jam at The Southgate. Yet there’s a magnetic sparkle when he performs, which captivates. Other than friendship, it’s probably the plausible reason he supports Daydream Runaways recurrently.

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I never held out for something recorded from Ben, content as he seems to roam the local circuit performing live, yet with the current climate surrounding gigs, time and effort is channelled into getting studio time down, for everyone. Sometimes this transmits the talents of a live performer, occasionally not, and I happily report it’s far from the latter.

Groovy, in a word; there’s something pleasantly sixties Merseybeat-come-beatnik about Ben Borrill’s debut single, Take a Little Time; not in a tacky tribute kind of cliché but in a nonchalant, progressive way. Particularly in the intro, the reference of seasonal change, shifting leaves and blossom of a fading spring, balances into romantic ditty, and spanning just over two minutes too; it’s short but sweet.

While it doesn’t go off down a completely psychedelic sixties formula, it’s no Mammas & Papas, the riffs do lean heavily on all that’s golden about that golden era, of Kinks or Hollies, with a fresh tinge of modern acoustic. Here’s a smooth ride into an intelligently grafted, but easy-going song, reflecting Ben’s charismatic and breezy attitude. It is, blinking marvellous, and leaves you yearning for more… jump to it Ben, equably I’d imagine he would reply with an “oh, okay!” Spotify link here.


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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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The Big Yellow Bus Rocks The Gazebo

Two things former humble truck driver Gerry Watkins is a natural at, plucking an ingenious idea and putting it into action, and putting on a gig to fund it. In 2017 Gerry raised four-grand to buy a double-decker bus, which he converted into a homeless shelter in Cirencester. Since he’s launched a similar plan in Swindon, and continues to raise funds for this amazing homeless project. The Big Yellow Bus project is innovative but simple, and Gerry works tirelessly to keep it running.

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With live music teetering on return, it still maybe a while before some venues are ready to reopen, despite yesterday’s sudden given date of August 1st. The following weekend, 7&8th, sees a grand restart for The Big Yellow Bus, to get funds rolling once again. The Tavern Inn in Kembleplays host to this glorious two-day mini festival, which is free, with collection buckets for the Big Yellow Bus doing the rounds.

Music plans to kick off at 7pm on Friday 7th August with our good friends, Absolute Beginners. I know, like most, Cath, Gouldy and the gang will be itching to get back to live music. While there’s still a few gaps in the line-up to confirm, The Roughcut Rebels will be a welcomed act, introducing their new frontman, the one and only Finley Trusler; an awesome unification we look forward to hearing. Mick O Toole is also on Friday’s header.

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Saturday 8th though is an all-dayer. Paul Cooper (Martin Mucklowe) from the twice BAFTA award-winning BBC tv series, This Country, will be opening up the event at midday. Shaun Peter Smith will be the Compère for the day, as Miss Lucy Luscious Lips, he’s certain to add a little bit of glamour and sparkle. There’s a number of faces I know to this busy line-up, and plenty new to me.

An interesting Opening at midday, Ascenda are a four-piece, playing smooth music with a rock edge and thoughtful, theatrical vocals. Their current collection of songs ‘Celeste,’ forms a love story that explores conflicts; solitude versus companionship, and spirituality versus practicality.

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Acenda (image by Eric Hobson Photography)

Cath, Gouldy and the gang return as The Day Breakers at 1pm, with their irresistible blend of Celtic and mod-rock covers, it’s guaranteed to go off! Swindon’s all-girl rock and pop covers band, Bimbo follow at 2pm. Dirty and filthy punk is promised to followed with The Useless Eaters, a band who accurately recreate the iconic sound of late 70’s British and American punk.

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Six Lives Left

Cirencester’s masters of high-energy classic eighties rock covers, Loaded Dice are on at 4pm, followed by a mesh of Britpop, new wave and ska with SkA’D Hearts at 6pm. Era-spanning soul follows with Joli and The Souls, and rock restarts in style with Six Lives Left. Sticking with six as the magic number, the finale will be from Calne’s fantastic misfits of Britpop and new wave, Six O Clock Circus, who are always up for a party!

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Joili & The Souls

Yeah, it’s all slightly out of our usual jurisdiction, but with a line up like this, all for such a great cause, and with limited events these lockdown days, this is highly recommended and worth the effort. Kemble Railway Station is right opposite The Tavern Inn so it’s easy to find.

Note, putting such an event on so early after lockdown will not be without expected guidelines, everyone must abide by. Gerry urges social distancing and that you respect those around you. “This is all done so you can enjoy yourself and have a great time watching and dancing to great live bands and performers, thank you for all your support and together we can have a great time.” I’m sure they will, Gerry. If anyone is heading off from Devizes, gimmie a lift, pal, because this sounds unmissable!

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Talk in Code Taste the Sun

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.

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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!


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Jamie at The Southgate; first live music review for a while!

Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Even if, it’s pathetic to lose your shit over the lessening of restrictions and go on an all-out bonkers spree of drunken foolishness, playing into the media’s hands creating a drama from a crisis. It is understandable isolated folk fear the idea of venturing to pubs when carefully selected images of hordes of pissheads scrapping outside some chavvy chain bar are spread across social media, just as a few weeks ago a trip to the beach would’ve been scorned at.

For me, a relative good, aging boy, who’s been looking forward to the prospect of an unpretentious pint down the Southgate all morning at work, to return home and regrettably check Facebook to notice a local post claiming sixty-plus youths were last night causing havoc in town, and extend the horror to hear similar events occurred in the Sham too, it’s discouraging. Will I be held up as a hooligan, because I desire life to return to a time when going to the pub was normality?

It’s a matter of being selective. If it was up to me, I’d encourage a mass boycott of Bojo’s philistine bum-chum, Tim Martin’s shamelessly uncultured shithouses, but each to their own. They lead by example, a bad one. If you want to pour your hard-earned pounds into the pocket of this billionaire who treated his staff with such utter disrespect, perhaps you’re the kind of insensible sociopath who enjoys a punch-up. Not me, I went to the Southgate for an afternoon pint and report back a decidedly lack of hooliganism from rampaging shirtless knob-jockeys; don’t believe the hype.

Going to this pub was safer than shopping, and the delightful experience it always was, if not more being it’s been a while.

I actually got what I anticipated all along; a warm welcome, orderly queuing for the bar, a bottle or two of hand sanitiser and a slight gathering observing social distancing, able to contain their excitement at being let off their leash. But what is more, some breezy live music; what I’ve been holding out for. Yay! I’m not writing to slag off some corporate monopoly, but wanted to compare and contrast, plus get the rant off my chest. Rather it is, our first live music review for seemingly eons, and who better to grace the step of the Southgate’s garden than Jamie R Hawkins? Okay, I know I’m asking too many questions in this piece, but that was rhetorical.

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Perched in the doorway of the skittle alley, slighter of beard and longer of locks, Jamie was every bit the icing on the cake. Predictable, could be said, but welcoming to see the many faces admiring over his ambiance of acoustic goodness. In faith too, of the gradual phase-in for live music, the session wasn’t intended to be long; just a few songs from 4-6pm. Enough though to get a taste, and Jamie looked to be enjoying it as much as the crowd.

There were some new ones, Walking into Doors (?) one I arrived for, one perhaps called “Speechless.” Jamie did one cover, Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecelia, and went through some of his benchmarks, the wonderful Capacity to Change, the remarkably sentimental Not Going Anywhere, and being it was a family affair, the ukulele-driven “Welcome to the Family,” aimed at his restless toddler in her pushchair. Yes, an intimate setting, but with words crafted so beautifully and perceptible as Jamie’s, one cannot see the relevance in your own life.

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It was also a notable notion that Jamie was the last person to perform at our splendid Southgate, prior to the lockdown, so fitting he set the ball rolling in reopening. Though, with the unification with Phil Cooper and Tamsin Quin as The Lost Trades, a band formed in just enough time to play a debut, Jamie and the gang are really gathering acclaim further afield. They are promised at the Gate, but again, we have to be patience; this was a teaser under certain restrictions. A band, a late night outside may not be feasible for this humbling pub, yet, but time will tell.

Here then, was a lovely teaser afternoon, and proof above all media hype surrounding this ease of restrictions, that it can be done sensibly and responsibly, and the Southgate is on top of the movement towards normality; when it does, it’ll be something wonderful. Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Not really, it’s always been this good.


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The Unforgettable Film Scores of Ennio Morricone

Ever seen those videos where some clever-clogs takes out the music to a film clip and it immediately loses all clout? It makes one realise how dependant the film is to the music, how, without it, there’s hardly any emotion, and in turn is symbolic of how music can emotionally move us.

None so much when evoking emotions such as fear or suspense, when the creepy music starts you’re edging on the sofa, feeling for the protagonist, you are beside the sacred little girl in the haunted house, or the cop seeking out the hiding villain in the disused warehouse, dreading what might be around the next corner. Take the film score out and you’d be like, yeah, whatever.

Saddened then to hear of the passing of Ennio Morricone yesterday, the Italian composer and conductor, best known for his work on Sergio Leone’s great westerns, The Dollar Trilogy. Though the films this prolific composer scored the music for are too many to name. Born in 1928 in Trastevere, Rome, when Italy was under fascist rule, Ennio’s father was a professional trumpet player and consequently, was the first instrument the young Ennio picked up. At just six he began writing his first compositions.

By the early 1950s he was composing pieces for radio plays, incorporating American influences, and also playing jazz and pop for the Italian broadcasting service, RAI. From Paul Anka to the Pet Shop Boys he has orchestrated many a pop song, but Ennio’s first love was film scores. After several, his association with Sergio Leone begun in 1964. Hard to imagine now he created those masterpieces of grandeur and suspense with a limited orchestra, the budget wouldn’t stretch to a full one. He used effects such as gunshots and cracking whips, and the new Fender electric guitar. Yet they will never be forgotten, and his work here expanded the possibilities and paved the way for progressive techniques in film scores.

Spaghetti Westerns would never be the same again, but neither would the benchmark for all film scores. Yet Ennio never left Italy, and never learned English, but still went onto working with hundreds of directors, including John Boorman, John Huston, Terrence Malick and Roland Joffé, even Roman Polanski and Quentin Tarantino.

 

 

 

NervEndings For The People

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!

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“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.

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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.

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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.


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Jon Amor is Cooking

Last time I saw Jon Amor he was queuing for Sainsburys. Sign of the times I suppose, would’ve much preferred to say we were in a pub or hall, and Jon was doing his thing. Capers, was what, he explained, he went in for. Those Mediterranean pickled berries, I figured; Jon is as epicure with his tucker as he is with his music. A new single, Peppercorn, expands the hypothesis; he’s cooking alright.

A contemporary blues performer with an established diverse repertoire, I was surprised upon reviewing his 2018 album, Colour in the Sky, of a distinctive and quirky fashion akin to late-seventies pop-rock in the more beguiling tracks; a drainpipe-suited Elvis Costello, of type, and songs as good to match. I’m thinking of the tracks Red Telephone and Illuminous Girl in particular, they don’t follow the archetypical modern bluesman manner, they’re upbeat, zany and define a certain panache emerging with Jon. I’m pleased to say Peppercorn doesn’t just correspond with this notion, but expands upon it.

Accompanied by video of crazy antics around his home, presumably recorded over his many entertaining lockdown live streams, with not only a rather perfected Ministry of Silly Walks tribute in snappy blue winkle-pickers, but an amusing puppet sequence to scream Sledgehammer at you. This is a quirky, catchy little tongue-in-cheek number. From Shanks & Bigfoot’s Sweet Like Chocolate to, more appropriately, The Soul Leaders’ boss reggae classic, Pour on the Sauce, food innuendo is no new thing in music; Louis Jordan nailed it in the thirties. Still with his demarcated and inimitable stylishness, here’s Jon’s own take on it.

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With a little slide-guitar intro, after thirty seconds it’s having it; immediately enticing and definingly why Jon Amor sets the local live music bar high. Though he is, the hybrid between man-about-Devizes-town and blues legend. At a quid from Bandcamp, this shiny example of why is a winning dish.


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From The Specials; Neville Staple Band in Lockdown

Photos by John Coles
Artwork by Sugary Staple

If last year’s fortieth anniversary of Two-Tone Records saw an upsurge of interest in this homegrown second-generation ska, it shows no sign of flawing anytime soon. Perhaps you could attribute parallels to the social and political climate of our era, or debate intransigent devotees are reliving their youth, but I’d argue it’s simply an irresistible sound.

One thing our eighties counterparts didn’t have to contend with was the Covid19 pandemic, and musicians of every genre are reflecting on it. Ska is of no exception, we’ve seen many contemporary performers releasing new material on the subject, but here we have a legend doing his thing, topically.

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The Neville Staple Band releases this timely single, Lockdown. A dynamic modern-sounding reggae track, yet encompassing all the goodness of the Two-Tone era of yore. Understandable, original rude boy Neville Staple is conversant with this, a founder member and co-frontman of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Special Beat. Those influences shine through here. There’s something very Fun Boy Three about this tune, with a slice of poetically-driven Linton Kwesi Johnson to its feel.

As true as the song suggests, in lockdown Dr Neville Staple has teamed up with wife Sugary Staple, to pump out this relevant single, commonly reflecting on the feeling of many concerning the virus and staying safe. “Sugary came up with the idea to write a song about the lockdown,” Neville explains, “which, at first, was a very fast-stomping ska track. We then realised that it was too fun and happy a tune for the theme. Most of us have been quite down about the whole virus thing, so we decided to take it on a more sweet but moody 2Tone reggae route, in a similar vein to ‘Ghost Town’, with some music we had worked on previously with Sledge [Steve Armstrong.]”

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While I detect echoes of Ghost Town, this tune also breathes originality and present-day freshness, confirming progression of the genre rather than a frequently supposed nostalgia. Being a local site, some may recall his visit to Melksham’s ParkFest last year, where an unfortunately damp evening didn’t stop the revelling, and Neville stole the show with an assortment of Two-Tone classics. I was backstage with the wonderful support band Train to Skaville. A chance meeting with Neville, when he popped out of his tent for pizza, humourlessly failed to engage long enough to explain who I was, and ended with him pointing at his pizza-box and saying “yeah, I’m going off to eat this.” I should’ve known better than to harass a legend when their pizza is chilling in drizzle! I nodded my approval, knowing I’d have done the same thing.

Neville was awarded an honorary doctorate from Arden University last year. With a tour, and so many international shows and festivals postponed, the couple decided to do a lot of extra charity work as well as new song writing. DJ recordings for people sick in hospitals or in isolation, personally dedicated to them, was just the start. Sugary and Neville wanted to highlight the work of Zoe’s Place, a charity run for terminally ill babies and toddlers. As ambassadors for this charity, Sugary expressed, “charities like these really do suffer at a time like this, as the focus is on other things. But the work they do at Zoe’s Place is like one of a kind and so very special. They step in when families really do need the support, providing 24-hour high quality, one-to-one palliative, respite and end-of-life care for children aged 0-5 years. A heart-breaking time for anyone involved. We must not lose a charity like this – it is too important and so we will be supporting this, along with other charities we are patrons or ambassadors to, with this single.” And the duo dedicates this song to all those who have been affected by Covid-19.

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Shared to our Boot Boy Radio DJs, you can expect we will be spinning in for the foreseeable future, but you can get it here:

7″ vinyl order https://bit.ly/2NeeoUA

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/1s2wuLNQ3q4wsvq7tOUfVh

iTunes https://music.apple.com/gb/album/lockdown-single/1515072018

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lockdown/dp/B0894K4G1Q


SPECIAL NOTICE – FROM THE SPECIALS, NEVILLE STAPLE & SUGARY:

A MESSAGE TO YOU..! The Legendary Neville Staple (Dr), Sugary Staple & the Band, need your help please.

Can you wonderful people please donate just £3 towards this project (which will also get you 2 signed exclusives pics), or any random amount, or check out the mega exclusive vinyl 45 & CD gift set offers (these are going really well, and are extremely rare limited edition items, so grab them while you can). You just click this link and choose your reward, to then register your donation.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fromthespecials/lockdown-ska-2020-from-the-specials-neville-staple-and-sugary/   


If you like a bit of ska and reggae, catch me on www.bootboyradio.co.uk Fridays from 10pm GMT till midnight!

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A Cracked Machine at the Gates of Keras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Ska! Hugo Lobo teams up with Lynval Golding and Val Douglas

If I penned an all-purpose article a week or so ago, about ska in South America being as prospering now as it once was in England, I follow it up with this grand example….

Argentina’s Dancing Mood trumpeter and producer Hugo Lobo made history this week, releasing “Fire Fire,” a skanking upbeat cover of a Wailers rarity, by calling in international troops. Throughout this prolific career, Hugo endeavours to encourage legendarily collaborations, exalting the international genre and keeping the flame of Ska and Rocksteady alive.

Dancing Mood staggeringly sold over 200,000 albums. Hugo Lobo presented his debut solo album ‘Ska is the Way’ in 2017. This renowned trumpeter not only performed and produced for many of the south American ska and reggae bands I mentioned in my previous piece, but transcends to international acclaim, working with Rico Rodriguez, Janet Kay, The Skatalites, Doreen Shaffer, and Dennis Bovell. With Jerry Dammers, Hugo paid tribute to Rico Rodriguez in 2015 at the London International Ska Festival.

In a transcendental meeting, three generations of ska artists from the corners of the planet combined to recreate this 1968 musical nugget from the Wailers’ homemade label “Wail’n Soul’m,” where Peter Tosh leads. Jamaican-born British rhythm guitarist and vocalist Lynval Golding, of the Specials and who later founded the Fun Boy Three with Terry Hall and Neville Staple, is central to the single, yet he always is central to something ska! Lynval appeared on Glasto’s Pyramid Stage with Terry Hall backing Lily Allen, and the Park Stage where Blur frontman Damon Albarn and beatboxer Shlomo knocked out Dandy Livingstone’s “Message to You Rudy,” a popular cover for the Specials.

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Lynval Golding

With a generation-spanning résumé, Lynval Golding continues with current group, Pama International, undoubtedly the UK’s most celebrated contemporary ska outfit who we were the first new band in thirty years to sign to Trojan Records. Yet through this huge portfolio, Hugo Lobo proudly announces his presentation is Lynval Golding’s first solo material.

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Lynval with Jerry Dammers and Jools Holland

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, Hugo also called upon the current bassist of The Skatalites, Val Douglas to add to the enthralling sound. Check the bass on Bob Marley’s “Wake Up and Live” if you want a shining example of Val’s talent. Though Val is a multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer and producer, working with just about any reggae legend you could name; Toots & The Maytals, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Ernest Ranglin, The Abyssinians, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown, Ken Boothe, Lloyd Charmers, as well as contemporary ska artists the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble.

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Val Douglas

All this considered, it could go one of two ways, overloaded with ego and fighting for centre stage as would many legends of other genres, or simply a sublime sound. Bear in mind this is SKA, collaborations are more frequent and common than rock and pop, and unlike the often-pugnacious insolence of ska bands, there’s never anything narcissistic about legendary collaborations. Glad to announce it’s the latter of the two ways, this sound leads the way. It holds all the catchiness we expect from ska, it heralds tradition but sounds fresh and innovative; the hallmark of the scene I love.


© 2017-2020 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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Catch me Fridays at 10pm to Midnight for a west country humoured ska, reggae and anything goes show!

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Virtuous Violence of a Clock Radio

If the name Clock Radio suggests an irritating box by your bed you simply want to lunge at in the morning, the casual “Talking Heads” fashion of local purveyors of self-proclaimed “deluded jangle rock,” entice no such violent action; they’re smooth and arty. Though, ironically describe themselves as “easily triggered, dishonest, cryptic yet flirty,” and violence is likely the disingenuous subject of a new tune, virtuously. Talking Heads though, Psycho Killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?

Idiosyncratic irony and intellectual self-satire, isn’t it? Regulars at Devizes Southgate, Clock Radio threw their retrospective namesake to the wind a year ago, and joined the download generation, as far as distributing their wares. “Throw out your vinyl grandad,” they call ageistly called to order, “Clock Radio just went digital!”

Their enigmatic sound though is much the same proficient “new wave” formula you’ll hear live; if it ain’t broke. They brand themselves through posters using snippets from cringeworthy seventies catalogues or Gilliam’s Python animation-styled images; all very pop art. Their sound reflects such an epoch, so such ageist jests can be nothing more than the elemental tongue-in-cheek bravura which will aptly see them billed alongside Calne’s Real Cheesemakers.

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Out this week,“Virtuous Violence” is their fifth virtual release, following two singles and two EPs. With a spooky clocktower chime introduction, a gothic guitar riff flows through this otherwise poetic and smooth tune. It’s melodic retrospective post-punk goodness, would be avant-garde if appropriated its era. Yet if that Brian-Eno-slipping-on-The-Pixies kind of causal and breezy ambience is the fashion Clock Radio seek through their previously releases, they’ve nailed it with this one.

For while I’ll flitter with the genre, a tune has to “pop,” for me to take hold of it, and Virtuous Violence transcends the boundaries of their previous releases for catchiness and in capturing the imagination. Don’t run away with the notion they achieved this with the ease of synth-pop, for that’s an element of new wave they steer away from, keeping it traditionally analogue. No, this is just, well, nice on the ears. Another one for post-lockdown “must do” hitlist.


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Mr B & The Wolf come out of The Mist

On our promise, via The Indie Network Facebook group, and generally a growing cognisant inside me, for Devizine to musically venture outside our local area, geographically, here we go with a starter for ten. Though it’s no new thing, in the past we’ve mentioned many, from Cosmic Rays in Shropshire, to Mayyadda from Minnesota; I invite this pandemic to officially crash our borders….

One request recently came from one Vince Henry, who’s digitally-adapted Facebook profile pic makes Doug Bradley in his Pinhead guise from the Hellraiser films look like a bedtime Care Bear, and led me to assume the band he manages, Mr B & The Wolf was about to unleash some thrash death metal or psychobilly peculiarity unwillingly into my aging eardrums. I prepped myself accordingly, one ear in the headphone, paracetamol within reach, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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As a function band based in my motherland, Essex, Mr B, and his wolf too, are lively, true, but present a flowing range from blues-based rock and Americana to “throwback” pop and soul, and do it with the finesse of a contemporary Fleetwood Mac. It’s a zephyr blowing your locks, the single I’ve been sent, Out of the Mist archetypal of the band’s bravura. I liked it and now have the album, LazyDay to give a fuller appraisal.

With echoes of driving rock Mr B and the Wolf keep a balance, there’s no tearing off metal as I preconceived, no angry underscores, rather a commercially viable equilibrium of uplifting rock radio stations cannot excuse for not spinning. Second tune, Rise Up, a great example of this breezy and enriching chic. Yet in the acceptance lies an aching sensation eighties power ballad bands, like Huey Lewis and the News should’ve been striving for a sound more like Mr B & The Wolf.

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Three tunes in then, and Crazy Town strips the style back to a deeper blues riff, vocally gritty, vocalist Dean Baker handles it very well indeed. Out of the Mist combines the two and stands out, for both catchiness and composition. Chestnut subject matter, yeah, but it doesn’t sway me when it’s performed so well.

What we find here is a bonded, proficient band with stains of all rock has produced before but boy, do they know how to wear it well. They being, Ben Pellicci on lead and backing vocals, Jason Bird on bass and backing vocals, George Wallis on rhythm, and Jason Chown on Drums; unconfirmed which one is the wolf!

Phoenix ballads us to the finale, harmoniously and mellowly. I couldn’t go as far to compare it with the way Morrison would direct the Doors through an audience-mesmerising voyage, but it does equate the great soft metal bands of yore’s more magically rousing moments. I nod to Heart and of course, Bon Jovi, but they’d be knocking on the doors of Floyd or Cream, see if they’re coming out to play.

The finale though, belts back the blues riff and takes us full circle. In conclusion then, Mr B & The Wolf certainly don’t drift from blues-rock formulae, though it’s a damn fine established blueprint anyway, and this Chelmsford band do it with style. LazyDay would refrain you from road rage in traffic and compel you to turn it up when you hit the open road, Mr B & The Wolf would be a gig you’d return from with fond memories.


Mr B & The Wolf Website

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Don’t, Ryan!

Okay I confess, in my last article I did, didn’t I, state there was a trend of indie music taming to mass appeal? And yeah, I suggested this is no bad thing. There will, however be exceptions to the rule, and rock will, and should always retain its hard edge; we have room for all here. Swindon’s Ryan Webb, for instance, who’s just dropped a new single, “Don’t,” takes no prisoners.

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This is militantly metal, with spikes. It rocks with edge, it doesn’t hang around with an ambient intro, stop for a melodic break, the bridge is reached in seconds, the rolling guitar riff perpetually quivering your bones. A one-man red-hot chilli pepper, Ryan wrote, produced, sang, wailed his guitar, recorded and mixed the track in his studio. The only collaborator being Dave Collins, the mastering engineer for Metallica’s last album, who mastered this too.

It must be said, this not the template of Ryan Webb, who quotes influences ranging from Pink Floyd, Joe Satriani, and Zeppellin, to Coldplay, Muse, and Kings of Leon. He has the range encompassing any rock avenue, and projects all with comfort and competence.

“Don’t” though, whoa there Ryan, I’m inclined to put my frayed denim jacket over my AC-DC t-shirt and head-bang my way to the highway from hell, and I’m not usually one for all that; haven’t even got an army surplus bag with badly grafted pictures of Eddie the Head and Megadeath logos!

So yeah, if I like it, you iron maidens will love it! What is more, the track is “a plea to anyone contemplating suicide to take a step back and see that they have a lot going on for them in the world. Even when times are really bad, it’s important to talk to those around you.”

Ryan has chosen All Call Signs as the beneficiary for any sales from the single. All Call Signs is a UK organisation set up by two veteran soldiers, Dan Arnold and SJ James, in order to help other vets/serving military personnel who may be finding life difficult. They have also created an app which helps locate those reported missing and in need of urgent support.


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Indie Networking and Long Coats

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!

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Keep on Running with Joe Edwards

Joe Edwards has his debut solo album, Keep on Running released this week, here’s my tuppence on it…..

Under the “write what you know,” philosophy, if I’ve been critical in the past regarding local Country-fashioned artists using cultural references alien to their natural environment, i.e. a band from Wotton Bassett crooning about boxcars and wranglers, I have to waive the argument in the case of Keep on Running, the debut solo album by Joe Edwards, of Devizes. Not because Joe is well-travelled to apt locations and it was recorded and produced at Henhouse Studios in Nashville, though he is and it was, or it’s so authentic it’s more authentic than the authentic stuff, but because, in a word, it’s so absolutely gorgeous.

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I’m going to be hard-pressed to find a different album of the year, as if this was a new Bob Dylan release the headline would be “Dylan Back on Form.” But it isn’t, and if one can rebuke Dylan as eaten by wealth and the machine he once repelled against, here, with freshness, is Highway 61 really revisited. The characters here can be akin to Dylan’s, questioning romance, bittersweet with humanity’s cruelty. Keep on Running never faulters nor diverts from its mellow method, if the tempo raises it’s only slight, and if it slips a toe under the door of rock, shards of both folk and blues roots are methodically preserved with finesse.

“…if this was a new Bob Dylan release the headline would be “Dylan Back on Form.”

When preacher Casey picks up hitchhiking Tom Joad, recently paroled from the McAlester pen in the Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck paints a picture with his words so immaculately precise you’re in that pickup with them, sensing the raw sting of the dustbowl and the smell of the dying cornfields of Oklahoma. With every banjo riff, or twangy guitar, Joe paints a similarly genuine image of the Southern American states.

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The writing is sublime, acute blues. Characters are often despondent, impecunious and dejected. Yet this is not Springsteen’s Nebraska, somewhere they’re thrown a curveball and the air of melancholy is introverted, altered to positivity in the face of all things terrible. You may be riding their train of pessimism, yet it’s not discouraging on the ear, rather selfless muse executed with such passion there’s an air uplifting, best compared with Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.”

You sense a running theme; yes, life is shit but I’m dammed if I’m going to let it piss on my chips. A feeling Joe nurtures as the album continues, reaching an apex with a track called “Don’t Let the Bastards Get you Down,” and continuing to the title track. Hereafter you understand the metaphor to “Keep on Running.” If not, the cover is a meek lino-cut akin to labelling of a Jack Daniels bottle, with a road heading off to the mountains, just to make sure.

“Yet this is not Springsteen’s Nebraska, somewhere they’re thrown a curveball and the air of melancholy is introverted, altered to positivity in the face of all things terrible.”

After the title track, there’s a road ballad in true Americana style, the venerable symbolism for changing your life, which is never a negative notion. If the finale then spells the most adroit blues tune, “Mine oh Mine,” the beginnings, “Beth’s Song” and “Cross the Line” herald the better country-inspired ones, but between them, an insolvent blues tune, “Capital Blues,” as a beguiling teaser for what’s to come. In contrast the achingly poignant, “Gambler” is perhaps the most accomplished bluegrass, filled by a tormented soul pouring his heart out for want of an extra six dollars.

It flows so incredibly well, George Harrison well, though, like a concept album of the 1970s it’s a single unit to be heard complete. This doesn’t prove a problem; you’re engaged throughout and wouldn’t dare press pause.

Nothing is tentative about Keep on Running; you get the sense Joe is deliberate in where he wants to take you. Despite remaining faithful to the formulae set by Guthrie and continued by Dylan, Segar and Lynyrd Skynyrd, where nothing is experimental, nothing is cliché either. One listen and you’ve entered a grimy western saloon, biker citizens pause shooting pool to glare, and a cowgirl in daisy dukes and a red chequered shirt tied at the waist welcomes you, piercingly.

“It flows so incredibly well, George Harrison well.”

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There is no in-your-face blast of sound, it traipses mellowly, and Joe executes his vocals with a whisper, as though he’s pouring a heartfelt secret to you alone, and for that you’re honoured; you should be. This is sweltering Sunday morning music, preferably slouching in a rocking chair on the veranda of a log cabin, sipping whiskey and rye, plucking a banjo. Though the least I can do right now is watch Oh Brother Where Art Thou!

Keep on Running is available now, here, and on Joe’s Bandcamp page, here.


© 2017-2020 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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Falling with Tone and Cutsmith

Since the jazz era, musical genres start covert and underground, and with popularity they’re refined to mainstream acceptability, packaged into a new pop wave, and eventually fall into a retrospective or cult hall of fame. I first stood aghast at the selling-off of our adolescent anthems when I heard Leftfield’s Release the Pressure in an advert for Cheese Strings. When this happens to you, you’re officially past your sell by date!

When my daughter is in the car it’s paramount, she controls the stereo, at least it is to her. I’m indifferent, the bulk of contemporary pop irritates my senior ears, but occasionally there’s a something interesting hidden. There was one, once, don’t expect me to root through her playlist to tell you what one, pop, but with the backbeat undeniably inspired from drum n bass.

My attention was drawn to a tune this week, Falling, from Devizes’ drum n bass outfit SubRat Records via Gail Foster, who shot the video for it. Listening took me to the aforementioned moment; how drum n bass was now part of the “norm” rather than primarily an underground genre. If it has come of age and entered the realm of acceptable pop, though, there’s still room for experimentation and the fusing of styles, which is no bad thing, and precisely what Falling is. Chris, hereafter known as Tone, has set up SubRat, and Pewsey’s Cutsmith is the vocalist on this particular track.

Cutsmith is current, using hip hop to inspire his acoustic compositions, so it melds effectively. In the way David Grey produced Babylon, Suzanne Vega did with Tom’s Diner or the entire catalogue of Portishead, fusing up-to-date dance styles with acoustically driven tunes is a winner, if done correctly. If not, it’s a howler, but I’m glad to say, this one really works wonders. Falling has a sublime ambient texture and glides causally through a mass-acceptable drum n bass riff. Cutsmith’s smooth vocals complements it perfectly, breathes mood into it and gifts it with meaning; the combination, a match made in heaven.

Though this may not be an entirely ground-breaking formula, I’d like to train spotter a nod towards a lesser-known tune on A Guy Called Gerald’s revolutionary album Black Secret Technology, where through splinters of drum n bass, an unknown Finely Quaye covers Marley’s Sun is Shining. But if you’d rather me example recognised tunes of singers who launched a career from featuring on a dance tune, from Seal to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and renowned artists who regenerated theirs, like the day William Orbit got a call from the queen of pop, here’s two local artists collaborating for each other’s good, rather than one tossed a rope to the other.

I wanted to probe the mind of producer Tone, about this concept, as what he’s got here is something very marketable, as opposed to something which would only appease the drum n bass fans. I asked him if this was the intention with this tune, yet I didn’t want him getting the wrong idea; I meant this in the best possible way. Even if, Bohemian Rhapsody, for example, is timeworn and cliché, it’s popular because it’s a bloody amazing song. Pop doesn’t necessarily have to be a sell-out, cast yourself away from Stock, Aitken Waterman.

“You’re definitely right about this particular track sounding more marketable and commercial than your everyday underground D&B piece,” he expressed. “I had no intention of making it sound acceptable to the masses but I’m glad it is like that. I think more people should be able to enjoy drum and bass for all different backgrounds. I’m not really trying to make what everyone wants; I just make what I like the sound of, and quite often or not it’s easy on the ear for everyone.”

I wanted gage the story behind this belter. “When we worked on this piece,” Tone replied, “I started out making the entire track without having any intention of putting vocals on to it. I sent it over to Josh (Cutsmith) and he said he’d love to do something over it, which is when we started recording. It turned out really well even though throughout the production I didn’t think I’d be making anything that sounds like this. My roots are actually firmly with the rave scene and I absolutely love sub-heavy underground vibes.”

Is this a debut single from Sub Rat, I asked him. “This is the first free release off of our label, SubRat Records, by myself, Tone. In a hope to bring people in and start a fan-base.” So, does Tone consider himself a DJ and producer? “I’m based in Devizes and solely a producer right now. I haven’t DJ’d for a long while. I produce a lot of drum and bass, but often step into other genres like Hip-hop, dubstep, grime, modern rap and more commercial stuff etc.”

If our local music scene is blossoming, it can be limiting regarding genres, so I welcome this with open arms. To assume such genres are generally confined to a municipal environment you’d be mistaken. Prior to our chat delving into rave memories, as the typecast urban raver always excluded the rural counterparts since day dot, I tried to keep current and ask Tone if future releases will follow a similar pattern, and where he saw SubRat heading.

“Aside from my solo journey I take pride being in the background for vocalists/rappers and providing the music/instrumentals for them,” he explained, “I want to see people succeed off of my tunes!” I hope so, this is promising and like to see other local singers benefit from an electronic dance music makeover, and if so, judging by this excellent tune, through SubRat, drum n bass is the key component.


© 2017-2020 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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Courage (Leave it Behind) New Single from Talk in Code

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…”

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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.


© 2017-2020 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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The New Local Blues

Had a nice chat with Sheer Music’s Kieran about acts, live streaming, future plans, and gardening this week… what am I on about? It’s always nice to chat with Mr Moore….

If the beginnings of Devizine was a learning curve in which I realised I’d bitten off more than I could chew, one might be mistaken to think now we must’ve covered every musical talent in Devizes, if not Wiltshire. Not so, as a post from Kieran J Moore of Sheer Music incited me to shudder. Why have I not heard the name Joe Edwards before?

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Joe Edwards

Name does ring a bell, must have posted about the cancelled album launch at the Wharf which would’ve happened this week. Well-travelled, Joe has been touring through Europe as a drummer for Australian band The Wishing Well, plus his debut solo album Keep on Running was mixed in Nashville and mastered in New Jersey with Grammy nominee Kim Rosen; might explain it, and if I have encountered the name I had no idea how renowned and awesome he is.

Hoisted in the help of Kieran for this then, to insure I’m bought up to date; there is a new cool in Devizes, and I’m going to prompt him about it. The initial message on any chat window these days is enquiring of wellbeing, understandably. Mr Moore is positively beaming, “[I’m] getting so much done and achieved,” he explained.

I replied with a question, “Like the gardening?!”

A boundless list of household chores followed which included, “how to programme moving head lights, learned how to live stream, learned how to record and edit videos.” Bless, that’s our Kieran, dedicated to fetching us the best live music and promoting local artists, no matter what the era brings us; you have to tip your hat to the man. Seeking permissions to release sets Sheer recorded from 2012-14 and bootleg them onto Bandcamp being the latest venture.

What of the live stream though? My Virtual Festival started with good intentions, but there’s been so much of it it’s hard to keep up, some may not be appreciative my sharing of their stream; it’s a close call. In these frustrating times, I asked Mr M if he felt “people are going to get bored with the live stream.” I often feel it doesn’t make up for the real thing and enforces my sadness that we’re missing out on live music. Yeah, I know, right; then I apologised for my despondent attitude.

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It’s a close call because artists earning from a live stream is problematic. Some have found methods of a pay-per-view stream, but many rely on a PayPal donation option. While I sympathise with the artists, also I ponder if charging for a live stream is justified when Wi-Fi can drop out, be overloaded, etc. “So,” Kieran added, “live streams have become a necessary evil, in the sense that everyone is doing them, and it’s really difficult to earn from them. Let’s be clear, live streams will never replace the real thing. No need to go into detail, we all know why, it just won’t.”

He believes they have a place in the future, though, after lockdown has ended. “You’d be a dolt not to recognise it! Whilst it may be difficult and lacking for most of us, these streams have enabled many people who wouldn’t usually be present, be it social anxiety, disability, or a myriad of other reasons, be able to take part and fell part of something.”

I gave mention to a stream-festival by Swindon Shuffle, it doesn’t have to be geographically grounded, organisers said people attended as far away as Mexico, and this increases the fandom of the performers to international levels.

In these few short weeks, we’ve seen musicians getting more creative with the concept, nice to see Benji & Hibbs sitting around a fire rather than indoors,Jon Amor climbed onto his roof last night, and Phil Cooper is getting tech with green screens for a Lost Trades stream on 1st May. “A lot of people have invested in the technology,” Kieran expressed, “so why would it stop after? It’s just daft, of course it won’t. Also, the reality is that venues won’t be back and open before 2021. The possibilities are currently being peddled by MVT,” He continued, “and it’s being taken seriously.”

I felt the need to apologise for my grumpiness, it had been a long day at the diary. I would, however, like to see artists getting some releases out rather than live stream, but accept that’s not easy either, for a band, with social distancing. Talking blues though, surely some the most poignant music, particularly blues, comes from feelings of isolation, depression and disappointment; from teenage anguish or working on the chain gang! The lockdown should deliver some interesting content.

“Be prepared for an avalanche of Coronavirus and lockdown blues songs,” Kieran suggested, and yep, seen a few emerging myself and played the “Corona Blues” by The Ragamuffin All-stars on my radio show last week.

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Little Geneva

Talking local blues, though, on top of Joe Edwards, who after a listen to I’m liking to a raw George Harrison or Clapton, what else has Kieran got for me? “Jon Amor likens Joe to JJ Cale, which is nice,” he compliments. “Then we have Little Geneva, who actually do covers, but they’re so obscure, people don’t know them. I actually like that slant.” Ticked that box some time ago, Little Geneva playing the Cellar Bar was knockout, and I’ve nothing but praise for their authentic blues sound.

This said, Little Geneva have since recruited female singer Mariam Maz to add to their already talented gang, and this I have to witness.

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Will Blake

“Then we have Will Blake in Bromham, a honky-tonk 12-bar type of guy,” but I’ve recently bookmarked Will too, sharing this soul cover multi-instrumentalist’s Isolation Sessions, which see him on piano in the middle of a Bromham field giving us a marvellous rendition of Man in the Mirror et all.