Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory Can’t Come Home

It’s not every day we hear a quintessentially hip-hop track with the magnitude of enriching classic rock riffs, say, as Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street or Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky.

Agreeably the nineties downbeat and trip hop era unleashed some masterful acts, particularly of the Bristol scene. And there’s shards of precisely this too, of Massive Attack and Portishead, in Can’t Come Home, a new Wise Monkey single from Stockwell featuring Storm Jae and Nory.

If I retain through rose-tinted specs, a passion for those naughty nineties it’s fuelled by nostalgia; I was young, once! Can even recall some bits of it. But rather than the drifting layers sluggishly building of aforementioned trip hop, the wailing guitar here hits you full in the face, more akin to said enriching classic rock tracks.

Stockwell

Even all this said and done, there’s nothing content to rest in a time of yore here, as the alignment of beats, astute male rap and uplifting female vocals of Can’t Come Home is fundamentally fresh and contemporary. Enough, I feel, to cross the barrier from myself to my teenage daughter’s musical taste, and that rarely occurs! This combination makes the song especially unique and substantially epic.

Storm Jae

With the attitude and gumption of Stevie Nicks, and the mezzo-soprano range of Joni Mitchell, Storm Jae is a jolt in the right direction for an enveloping new era of singer-songwriters. Nory seems more elusive, I can’t find any information on! But teaming up with the trailblazing hip-hop-come-rock crossover musician and producer Stockwell is a match made in heaven, a heaven you can hear for yourself.

It’s agelessly sharp, emotionally elevating and an impactful grower, which will tease the palate of rock and urban adherents alike. If I make you wince to note Run DMC walked this way with Aerosmith some thirty-five years ago, or if you have to ask Siri what I mean by that, neither matters, this tune will appease either.


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Brainiac 5’s Other Dimension

And it is precisely that. Cornish psych-punkers The Brainiac 5 release this mind-blowing album of both reflective new tunes and lost archived tracks, today. Another Time Another Dimension bursts the cliché term genre-breaking to compose scattered influences, with this kind of low-fi garage style, which while loans to punk, even reggae, has the nod to acid rock of a previous psychedelia era. Most befitting a title, this is a tricky nugget to nail down, but it’s grower.

The band stress this is not a lockdown album, the impetus came from two other sources, namely a digging through the archives for unreleased material, and secondly, the passing of a long-time friend of the band, Martin Griffin. A supportive engineering assistant to the band in its earliest days, allowing them extensive use of his Roach Recording studio. Both reasons sparked the writing of some new songs, in this fifteen-track bundle of era-spanning and mind-expanding goodness.

I confess I was dubious at first, it’s as if The Beatles came after punk, but still recorded in a garage. It made me ponder the Clash singing “phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust,” and in turn the target audience, presumably a fairly eclectic bunch. As I said, it’s a grower, and I suspect I’ll be digging bits of “oh yeah, I get it now,” for many listens to come. But time has got the best of me, got to get this review out tonight.

“The four albums released during our second coming have all garnered many reviews noting our continuing desire to experiment and expand while still maintaining the basic psych/punk ethos,” they say, “Indeed, the three new tracks here do continue this tradition of experimentation. However, although it is clear that the band has grown and developed over the years it is remarkable just how much we were experimenting right from the band’s inception.”

The bulk of Another Time Another Dimension, then, are memoirs, lost archives from 1976-1980, in what the band name “our initial Cornwall period.” Taking John D. Loudermilk’s Tobacco Road to Hendrix proportions, yep, sure is blues to be found here, and the rough and ready cover of Move’s Do Ya revels in low-fi garage rock.

But it’s loud, proud and sonic trialling, denoting a path through dubby seventies roots reggae, with a few tracks which offbeat, such as I Call Your Name and though Our Devils is another, it reeks of avant-garde, a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band-come post-punk Talking Heads. Then I return to thinking, definitely punk, I Feel Good a prime example. And then, wham, there’s freaky drunken Jim Morrison weirdness in tracks like Khazi Persona.

Though the ground here is bumpy at the best of times, your head doesn’t smash on the top; it may be raw, but blends with a flowing refinement of proficiency. “There is a lot of ground covered here,” they rightly explain, “hang on and enjoy the ride.” And there’s the very thing; once you’ve found your footing, it’s a fantastic, adventurous ride, just lacks suspension!

But, with the third eye being squeegeed so succulently as this, suspension is for losers, anyway. Another Time Another Dimension encompasses a past with a present, as if neither really happened, and that’s refreshingly effective against pigeonholing.


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Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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The Lost Trades Live Stream in Advance of Album Launch

April 1st is All Fools Day, the day after you’d be a fool to miss this. Much I hark on about local folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades, even before they were united as such, but only for good reason. It was always a win-win when the three singer-songwriters officially formed, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin all excelled on the local circuit as solo artists and regularly appeared together for gigs.

Together this force to be reckoned with has formed a definite style akin to a corporate identity, and uniformed they move towards a debut album with all new, original songs. Based on their EP, which we fondly reviewed, the album launch is rightfully highly anticipated.

 The album’s name has been revealed by the trio, “The Bird, The Book & The Barrel,” and will be released on 4th June. Though the band want to make the most of the Bandcamp Friday before that, where the platform-based music site kindly site waivers their fees, giving the artists full royalties. Therefore, The Lost Trades will be taking pre-orders on 2nd April and 7th May. There will be a live stream, something the Trades have always been on the top of their game with, on 2nd April, to celebrate.

The trio promise the full sound system, concert-style at live stream, scheduled at 7.30pm, will present everything from the album, including brand new, never before heard songs. The live stream will be broadcast from their Bandcamp page, and is ticketed at a very reasonable £2.50, with Bandcamp also waiving their fees on all live stream tickets sold until the end of March.

Best of luck, Tammy, Jamie and Phil; sounds like a virtual cake kind of occasion to me, but then, any occasion sounds like a cake one to me! Get your tickets HERE. Follow the event on Facebook.


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Eighties Mod Revival Lost Gem: The Direct Hits

If I waffle positively here, and yes, I do waffle, about retrospection and a trend in sounds trying to be authentically from a time of yore, this one doesn’t need to try. The Broadway Recording Sessions thrusts you rearward into the eighty’s mod revival scene, whether you want to go there or not.

Battersea trio, The Direct Hits may only be remembered by the connoisseur of mod, having one-shot at charting in ’82, when TV presenter Dan Treacy released their song, Modesty Blaise on his Whamm! imprint. The music press hailed this as not just another Jam, crash-bang-wallop mod revivalist tune, and their explosive live shows avowed them pioneers of a “Battersea Beat.”

Whamm were financially struggling to fund an album, so the band pooled their limited resources and booked the cheapest studio time they could find, Tooting’s Broadway Sounds. By the afternoon they had knocked out nine songs, the other three on this album were recorded a fortnight later. It would be two years later when they re-recorded some of these songs for their debut album “Blow Up.”

Now remastered, these lost recordings have surfaced finally, and, with warts and all, show the uncooked spirit of a hopeful mod garage band. I’ve had this playing for a few weeks since it’s late February release, and it heralds the hallmarks of a post-punk return to the basics, which sixties groups like The Kinks and The Small Faces mastered. To expect this yardstick is pushing it, but through all its rawness there’s some beguilingly adroit songs to make you wonder why they wasn’t as their namesake suggests, direct hits!

Perhaps it was that bit too retrospective for the progressive eighties. Because, elements capture neo-psychedelia, rather than soulful eighties mod assigned via The Spencer Davis Group and into bands like The Merton Parkas. That era where the beatnik style was teetering on influencing the pop sound, but Merseybeat was still riding the high ground. There’s a delicate balance here, avoiding things getting too cliché Mamas & Papas, these upbeat three-minute-heroes never fails to kick ass.

Consistently high-spirted and energetic garage sound, yet psychedelically enhanced; think if Syd Barrett’s days spent at Pink Floyd would’ve been spent with The Who instead, and you get the idea. There’s even a bike song, just like on Relics. Lyrically there’s unassuming stories with clear narratives and characters to challenge the Beatles.

A polished rerecording of a track from the album.

Overall, though, you’ve got twelve mind-blowing rarities which perfectly capture a raw moment of youthful optimism for an inspiring band, in an era where everyone felt encouraged to pick up an instrument and give it bash; and they’re good, really good. In a funny kind of way, I see similarities to the now; the forgone passing of DJ culture in a rave new world and tasteless manufactured pop, to an imminent inclination of online DIY indie, I see hopefuls taking to a guitar and giving it a go. Perhaps then, there’s no time like the present for this to resurface.

Buy The Broadway Recording Sessions Here


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Make Headway for Ariel Posen

Try this: think of some tunes of the decade you were born, songs which you like but don’t know why, songs which, for some reason, ring alarm bells at you as characteristic of the era. Your taste screams no, you shouldn’t like these, but you do. Then check the year they charted. I wager many of them were in the year you were born, the previous or following.

I remember liking, at the time, and I’m not proud but in the name of science I’m going to confess, Brotherhood of Man’s Save All Your Kisses for Me! Oh, while we’re there, Abba’s Dancing Queen too! Thing is, I know why. They were in the charts in 1976, when I was three, the sort of excruciating pop mush anthems a toddler graduates to after the Wheels on the Bus. However, I cannot put my finger on why I’m engrossed with glam rock songs, such as Gary Glitter’s I’m the Leader of the Gang, The Sweet’s Blockbuster and Slade’s Cum Feel the Noise, when the genre makes me generally quiver.

Any doubt I was born in the 70s cleared up with this family photo; I’m the baby!

Why flower-power sold out and hippies took to wearing kipper ties and platform shoes with goldfish in the heel is beyond my understanding of youth culture vicissitudes. Still, when I hear the aforementioned glam rock screeches, they stir something vague inside, indications of a life obscured by cognition. Coincidence they all charted in 1973, the year I was born? Or could the sounds around you, as a baby, implant permanent scars?! If so, I’ll be dammed, deeply archived Little Jimmy Osmond’s Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool!

Though you should never condemn an entire decade for its pop chart. Given you’ll throw Sonia, Jason & Kylie, even Blacklace at me, and tell me to shaddup my face. Despite the lack of technological advances of the seventies when compared with the eighties, there was numerous classics. I’m drawn to the cherished saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, but surprised to note, it broke my theory and wasn’t until ‘78.

The research was stirred by Canadian singer-songwriter, Ariel Posen’s forthcoming album, ‘Headway,’ released on 5th March. Oh, yeah, I am coming to an eventual music review, excuse my waffle. There’s something retrospectively seventies about it, my mind sees a Ronco record label revolving on the turntable of a seventy’s mahogany music centre. A quick flick through the tracks suggested motives not to like this are manyfold. Yet, akin to why I cannot put my finger on why I like those glam tunes of my birth year, I’m finding it tricky to reason with this too, but I do like it, a lot.

With magnificent guitar riffs which nods subtly to country and heartland rock & roll, combined with smooth, blue-eyed soul vocals, there’s something very Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, or Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever about this potential electrified Americana rock classic.

The harmonious and tenderly sensual soul of Coming Back, against the folksy- blues guitar picking of the single Heart by Heart suggests there’s a vast melting pot, but Posen meticulously stirs it into one seriously chilled groove, David Soul styled, which will leave you causally drifting through till the end. Hence my reasons for pondering my little science experiment while listening. Again, comparisons to seventies music, here’s an album to listen to complete, afar from youthful trend of flicking through Spotify playlists like time is against them.

Upon first impressions I was dubious about a Springsteen comparison, contemplating the subjects are generally of romance, and perhaps simpler than the Boss’s interweaved wordplay, yet again humbler Beatles’ pop formulas clearly influence it greatly too. Harder listening conjured a progressive prose of evolution in life, love, and all points in between. They’re poignant and beguiling, combined, you just have to dive a little deeper.

Two years in production, Posen began recording Headway in December 2019, a week after wrapping up an international tour in support of his acclaimed debut, How Long; the effort shows. The gigs received standing ovations, and Rolling Stone dubbed him “a modern-day guitar hero.” Music Radar listed him as a fan voted top 10 rock guitarist of the year, and the Western Canadian Music Awards nominated him for Breakout Artist of the Year.

So, yeah, this is worthy of your attention, and if I attempt to lambast the seventies again, remind me of the current sate of my lockdown coiffure; I’ve got the big hair of a middle-aged Caucasian from 1976. I’m going out on my Raleigh Chopper now, mum, call me when my mince in gravy is ready!

Artic Roll for pudding? Hunky dory!

Pre-order Headway HERE


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And There it is, Araluen

Ever considered Jolene might’ve been an innocent victim of circumstance? Dolly’s husband was obsessed with her, talked about her in his sleep. But there’s no evidence in the song to suggest she enacted, nothing to say she consciously encouraged it or made the first move. Dolly persecuted her, could’ve been jealously. There’re two sides to every story and we never hear Jolene’s.  

Sounds rather conservative to me, Dolly blames anyone but herself. Rather, Araluen’s song In the Arms of Another, offers a liberal angle on a similar premise. The singer admits and regrets her part in pushing him into the arms of another, by not seeing the significance of those tell-tale signs.

Credit: Music Closeup

Arguably, its notion is more provocative than Jolene, but it’s certainly the most poignant tune on this captivating album, And There it is, released last month. Araluen being the project of Australian-born, (hence the name,) but resident in the UK, Paul Lush, known for his contributions with Rockingbirds singer Alan Tyler and Danny And The Champions Of The World. With a repute on the UK Americana circuit, guitarist and award-winning songwriter, Paul, has been plying his trade as a fleet-fingered gun for hire and now sets up his own project.

“Araluen is the vehicle that I use to record my songs,” explained Paul. “It’s an idea more than anything, that allows me to use whoever I want without having to stick to a set band line-up. I’ve written and recorded a lot of songs but have never done anything with them. So, once I started this project, it was with the idea to finally release something – get it out there.”

Occasionally here, the sound slips skilfully into folk-rock, and there’s an electric slide guitar instrumental decidedly rock, but for the bulk, it’s uplifting country, graced by the alluring vocals of Angela Gannon from Magic Numbers. Also important to note this flows between changing styles with acute precision, rather than jumps in and out of styles.

Credit: Music Closeup

Maybe my mum’s insistence we listened to her Tammy Wynette cassette in the car as kids, prepped me for my newfound affection for country, projected within our local circuit, our Tammy, Quin, Jamie R Hawkins and Dean Czerwionka’s invitations to attend his Americana club nights, but I must say, I actually prefer the string-bending country ballards on And There it is more than the rock ones; or is it an age thing?!

I could speculate till the cows come home, but it’s likely the style suits Angela’s voice more. It is, by its very essence, hypnotically divine, and amatory too, in a kind of chequered shirts with tassels and Daisy Dukes fashion. Virtually all romantically themed in small-town matters and secrecy, I found myself drifting into its gorgeous, effectively unpretentious narratives, as thirteen of them roll off the ears like waves on a tropical ocean.

Such is the alluring vocals, my mind contemplated the classic Simpsons episode, where Homer is near-tempted by the advances of country singer Lurleen Lumpkin, incidentally voiced by actress and singer Beverly D’Angelo, who as well as being Ellen Griswold in the National Lampoon’s Vacation films, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her role as Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter, so it’s a fair credit.

Credit: Music Closeup

“I’d admired Ange’s vocals for a long time, so one night while we were talking over a drink I asked if she was interested in singing on my new album,” Paul elucidated. “We went through the songs a couple of times and then recorded them. She blew me away. I had never heard her sing like that. This was the first time I’d heard her sing as the main featured vocalist for a whole album and she’s fantastic.”

And she certainly is. Lush by name, Paul has created a cross-bred masterpiece here to appease both country aficionados and those merely window-shopping into the genre via rock n roll avenue. This is a keeper.


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Song of the Day 25: Strange Folk

I know, I accept your question, and let me just say, I think it’s a very good question, one which I fully intend to answer in the fullness of time, but first, let me just say this, and this alone, and let us be totally sure that this is the correct time to, indeed, as you ask, for me to answer that question, one which I think is a very good question, as I may or may not have said and I really feel it is a question which needs answering….and so on, and so forth….

Think I’ve got what it takes for national politics?! I can waffle shit for Queen and country, and yes, I promised a Song of the Day feature everyday, and I haven’t delivered on that promise for a few days now, and any excuse I could provide wouldn’t be fully truthful. That’s why I believe I’ve got what it takes, my capacity to lie is acute, and my moral responsibility is pretty much shot, besides I couldn’t possibly mess it up further than it already is anyway, so yeah; I might stand.

The fact you’re probably all watching real politicians waffling about the easing stages of lockdown, is neither here nor there. I’m going to slip our song of the day in now, when you least expect me to.

And it’s wonderful, earthy folk outfit Strange Folk, with a track called Glitter. You may recall them playing the Vinyl Realm Stage at Devizes Street Festival, you may not. But enjoy, it’s gorgeously fantastical, the kind of escapism we need right now.

Back to reality, why they gotta keep calling it a “roadmap,” for crying out loud? Boris navigating for real and you’d end up driving headlong into a lake.

Strange Folk they might be, but not as strange as those leading us, I might add. The announcement will be on all night, while the Daily Mirror managed to sum it all up, hours prior to the conference, in one neat graphic.

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


Song of the Day 21: Andy J Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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


Song of the Day 12: Darla Jade

Even portions of expressive contemporary pop, the ambience of post-goth and downtempo electric blues of trip hop makes this Staffordshire singer, Darla Jade really someone to watch. With a haunting uniqueness about her voice and style, there’s shards of Evanescence fused with Beth Orton. It’s somehow individually chartable but would also appease alternative rock or goth aficionados alike.

Subscribe to her YouTube channel, hear her own stamp on Radiohead’s Creep, and realise, her talent is so very special.

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


Song the Day 10: Summit 9 Studios

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

Saucy effort guys, love it!

Very good. Carry on….


Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    


Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.


  • Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory Can’t Come Home

    It’s not every day we hear a quintessentially hip-hop track with the magnitude of enriching classic rock riffs, say, as Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street or Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky.

    Agreeably the nineties downbeat and trip hop era unleashed some masterful acts, particularly of the Bristol scene. And there’s shards of precisely this too, of Massive Attack and Portishead, in Can’t Come Home, a new Wise Monkey single from Stockwell featuring Storm Jae and Nory.

    If I retain through rose-tinted specs, a passion for those naughty nineties it’s fuelled by nostalgia; I was young, once! Can even recall some bits of it. But rather than the drifting layers sluggishly building of aforementioned trip hop, the wailing guitar here hits you full in the face, more akin to said enriching classic rock tracks.

    Stockwell

    Even all this said and done, there’s nothing content to rest in a time of yore here, as the alignment of beats, astute male rap and uplifting female vocals of Can’t Come Home is fundamentally fresh and contemporary. Enough, I feel, to cross the barrier from myself to my teenage daughter’s musical taste, and that rarely occurs! This combination makes the song especially unique and substantially epic.

    Storm Jae

    With the attitude and gumption of Stevie Nicks, and the mezzo-soprano range of Joni Mitchell, Storm Jae is a jolt in the right direction for an enveloping new era of singer-songwriters. Nory seems more elusive, I can’t find any information on! But teaming up with the trailblazing hip-hop-come-rock crossover musician and producer Stockwell is a match made in heaven, a heaven you can hear for yourself.

    It’s agelessly sharp, emotionally elevating and an impactful grower, which will tease the palate of rock and urban adherents alike. If I make you wince to note Run DMC walked this way with Aerosmith some thirty-five years ago, or if you have to ask Siri what I mean by that, neither matters, this tune will appease either.


  • Wiltshire’s Most Expensive Laugh; Seedy Out of the PCC Race!

    Two opinion pieces from me in as many days; you lucky, lucky people! What I wouldn’t give to have two lofty opinion pieces from Devizine thrown at me once in a while!

    As the news circulates that hunting bonkers Conservative PCC candidate for Wiltshire, Johnathan Seed is out of the race, we all can have a belly-laugh, especially Basil Brush. But rules are rules, and at this stage, seems WC will need to hold a second election, rather than the obvious, just pick the second-place candidate and roll with that.

    I mean, if a horse falls out of the race, the race continues. You wouldn’t stop the race, pick another horse and rerun it, would you?

    Without quoting sources at this delicate time, word on the street is another election will cost a cool million squid; who picks up this bill, the taxpayer?

    Hinging on two conflicting allegations as to how this story came to light, one being Seedy declared his drink driving offence and suddenly decided he should pull out because of it, and the second that he was ousted when the offense came to light, one could argue if the latter, he, or the Conservative party should be liable for the bill, whereas the first means the electoral roll should’ve picked this up before running the election. Being Wiltshire Council is Tory run, you can bet your bottom dollar, the dollar is coming out of your pocket. In essence, it’s Wiltshire’s most expensive laugh.

    Whatever, this does mean there’s time for the Conservatives to draft in a new candidate, which they can do. One who without even having to campaign, will, by current trends walk the show without the slightest insight or experience of the roll. So, if you thought every cloud has a silver lining, no, not in our Tory haven. But I must stress, that’s speculation.

    Boom Boom!

    If the race is yet to be won, there’s as much convincing as I can to be done, to sway you to consider voting elsewhere. We’ve interviewed Lib Dem Liz Webster, and we’ve interviewed independent Mike Rees. We ran out of time to chat to Labour’s Junab Ali, for which I apologise, but with this news, and depending on the date of the election, perhaps this is still on the cards, and I welcome Junab to chat with us.

    Anyway, tonight will see the news break the local social media sites, where’s there’s a general feeling of relief. Johnathan Seed’s campaign has not been particularly popular. And if that has reflected in the current polls, who knows, we may not have to go through all this again.

    Here’s what some people are saying online, which is what the Gazelle & Herod do for a quick article, I know, and if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us!

    “I’m sorry, but I’m losing no sleep over this one!”

    “Apparently they’re going to put up a garden gnome with a blue rosette on it, they’re still convinced it will win.”

    “It’s very frustrating, especially as it’s nothing new. He doesn’t seem to have been a popular choice so fingers crossed he doesn’t win and we can bypass another vote.”

    “Good. Will Wiltshire Council send him the bill for having to rerun the poll?”

    “This will give him more time to spend with the hunt and hounds..”

    Right, that’s enough of that, this isn’t a public forum! Go figure!


  • A Trowbridge Kitchen Sink Drama; Sitting Tenants

    Wednesday, racing down to the newsagent on the corner on my Rayleigh Tomahawk, fifteen pee in sweaty palm. Pick up my Beano, six pence left for halfpenny sweets. The lady stood irritated behind the counter holding a small paper bag, as the kid front of the queue rubbed his chin pondering the crucial quandary. “You’ve got four pee left,” she’d calculate, while the boy finally opted for another flying saucer rather than a fruit salad chew.

    If there’s something delightfully everyday about the subjects on Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants lockdown album, A Kitchen Sink Drama, none more retrospectively thought-provoking than the fifth tune, the Newsagent, which encouraged the placement of this archived memory to my frontal cortex.

    Unlike many a lockdown inspired project, this lives on the sunny side of the street, no matter how working-class notion of destitution. A semi-acoustic concept album, all from a shed in Trowbridge, as folk, as best pigeonholed, it’s acutely observational and mostly sentimentally mellow, perfect lazy Sunday afternoon music. Yet it never escorts you down a dark alley. Of people-watching in a back street pub, of a welcomed arrival of a letter from an old friend; subjects are ordinary, with an optimistic air of market town affairs. Even the album sleeve is a line drawing of Trowbridge town centre.

    Released on 208 Records, usually reserved for garage mod-revival, still it retains something of that period in sound and particularly subject. Rob himself polished his skill fronting Swindon mod band Roundabout, some twenty-five years past. A band I do recall fondly. But even if you don’t, here is something indie-folky, with a taste of local excellence.

    Revived since lockdown this garage-folk band’s fifth album was recorded in Rob’s garden shed, with only bassist Geoff Allwright, and using Ian Hunter’s lyrics. It’s beautifully peculiar, a mite psychedelic in as much as McCartney vaudeville moments on Sgt Pepper, engrossing as Nick Drake, quirky as Pentangle or The Pretty Things. It’s the Kinks jamming carefree on a Sunday, especially on the most upbeat Lincoln Green. It nods to Lionel Bart on the Austerity Street, John Martyn on The Tin Man, and incredibly on the captivating eleven-minute finale, Falling Backwards, where things do get acute, Ralph McTell.

    Like a Ralph of Trowbridge, it’s like, why is this down the road but new to me? Why didn’t it post a leaflet through my letterbox instead of a pleading politician?


  • Wiltshire Lays all its Eggs in the Same Basket

    You’ve done it now, it’s too late for reason. My reaction to the local election results coming in; you really want to hear it?!

    It’s not really news, and altogether unsurprising to see early results to the local town/village elections coming in, proving generally the majority population of Wiltshire is unable to consider change, and doesn’t much care for their neighbours. Yep, if you proudly tow the national party line, or if you waffle how the sheer ignorance, dishonourable and incompetent of the Conservative Party nationally doesn’t reflect your own opinions and views, if you painted your election leaflet blue, you more than likely won it by a country mile. Did we seriously expect anything less?

    Face it, any other party, or independent candidate wouldn’t have stood a chance even if they offered everyone a free fish finger sandwich for every vote, and everyone, tory or sensible, loves a fish finger sandwich. To those who lost, it’s not a reflection on you, rather the ignorance of the silent majority. Not even mayo on the sarnie would’ve worked.

    As impartial as I get, I offer my congratulations to the winning candidates, but it is with great concern for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable, the youth, the working class and usual victims of this totalitarian regime. Even if many themselves fail to see past their Daily Fail, fail to comprehend the buck stops at the top, and their neighbours, or their mass-media driven forged enemies are not to blame for the current balls up this country finds itself in, it is, nonetheless, proof Wiltshire loves to lay all it’s eggs in the same basket.

    It’s not even a shiny new basket, it’s the aged wrecked one, where guaranteed the eggs drop out of the bottom and an expectant fat cat waits to lap them up.

    I cross my fingers and toes that this sheer stupidity will not elevate to the Police Crime Commissioner role, due to be announced on Monday, but reflecting on today’s results, I’m not holding my breath. The most controversial and malevolent of all tory candidates standing has raised interest in this debatably inconsequential job. It all hinges on what we want from a PCC; a dedicated experienced man in the field, a politically-minded victim’s mother of a callous and brutal attack with an argument to boot, or a one-policy suspected criminal themself, with the financial backing of the wealthiest felons of blood sports in order to encourage police to turn a blind eye to brutally attacking wildlife for twisted kicks. Seriously, you think you’ll get justice for a burglary, an assault or theft, from a fellow whose only objective for the role is to turnaround the hunting act and roam the countryside on horseback yelling tally-ho and smearing the blood of slaughtered foxes on their face? Is that really the future prospective for policing in the county you crave?

    Give me strength. There’s a level of blind folly which astounds my tolerance, it really does. Yet historically it’s a given thing, Wiltshire is Tory, always has been since the Cavaliers whipped the Roundheads; you face it head-on and bite your lip, or you follow suit, opt for the selection which takes no brainpower, and place your cross where you always do. Unreasoning contemporary alterations is a dangerous game, having an opposition is vital to democracy. I’m no politician, don’t pretend to be, don’t wish to be, but that much I do know.  

    As this reflects national trend, I hope every successful candidate adheres to the lofty pledges and promises of change, rather than submits to the corrupt ethos of the current cabinet. Okay, so you used the blue platform to get to this point, despite bits of Bojo’s rash and forbidding outbursts, like the watermelon smiles, the post boxes, and now the bodies piling higher, don’t match your sentiments, but the motivation is surely to climb further up the ladder, that’s the philosophy of modern conservatism, and for which you need to kiss the rings of those in charge, and they do not accept a midrange, centre-right standing; you watched them get ousted in favour of far right and nationalists from other parties, remember? You are buying into oppression, whether you want to, or not, like it, or not.

    There’s nothing wrong with Conservatism per say, as a theory, and one, possibly two Tories I can stomach, for they seem to have morals on the surface. Yet, it’s when there’s a, whatever the collective noun for self-centred arseholes is, they tend to bounce inconsistences to what’s righteous around, garnish them with wonky and selfish agendas, and generally, fuelled by expensive tax-free wine from daddy’s collection, conjure a plan to maintain the wealth for the wealthiest without concern for the trickling down of any leftover faeces for the common man to lap up.

    This is good news for most of us here, this is an affluent area. But I urge you, when you next roll your 21reg Land Rover Discovery off your extensive loose chipping track and drive into the real world, stop to observe not everyone’s silver spoon is quite as polished and orally positioned, and everyone who serves you in Marks and Sparks, everyone who delivers your bespoke Lexington four-draw chest for your next refurb, or collects your recycling bin surely warrants a better day too. Enough to go round, isn’t there? Monkeys live in this jungle too, not just organ grinders.

    Ah, same shitshow different day. For me it’s a no news day, and I’m waffling. I can’t even raise my optimism for the news the controversial head Wiltshire councillor Phillip Whitehead has resigned, for it’s easy to suspect another one will be along shortly, equally as vexed. I’m more flabbergasted, and slightly upset the sequel to my fictional story series needs a new thinktank, as those comical and sensitive Tories say!


  • Brainiac 5’s Other Dimension

    And it is precisely that. Cornish psych-punkers The Brainiac 5 release this mind-blowing album of both reflective new tunes and lost archived tracks, today. Another Time Another Dimension bursts the cliché term genre-breaking to compose scattered influences, with this kind of low-fi garage style, which while loans to punk, even reggae, has the nod to acid rock of a previous psychedelia era. Most befitting a title, this is a tricky nugget to nail down, but it’s grower.

    The band stress this is not a lockdown album, the impetus came from two other sources, namely a digging through the archives for unreleased material, and secondly, the passing of a long-time friend of the band, Martin Griffin. A supportive engineering assistant to the band in its earliest days, allowing them extensive use of his Roach Recording studio. Both reasons sparked the writing of some new songs, in this fifteen-track bundle of era-spanning and mind-expanding goodness.

    I confess I was dubious at first, it’s as if The Beatles came after punk, but still recorded in a garage. It made me ponder the Clash singing “phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust,” and in turn the target audience, presumably a fairly eclectic bunch. As I said, it’s a grower, and I suspect I’ll be digging bits of “oh yeah, I get it now,” for many listens to come. But time has got the best of me, got to get this review out tonight.

    “The four albums released during our second coming have all garnered many reviews noting our continuing desire to experiment and expand while still maintaining the basic psych/punk ethos,” they say, “Indeed, the three new tracks here do continue this tradition of experimentation. However, although it is clear that the band has grown and developed over the years it is remarkable just how much we were experimenting right from the band’s inception.”

    The bulk of Another Time Another Dimension, then, are memoirs, lost archives from 1976-1980, in what the band name “our initial Cornwall period.” Taking John D. Loudermilk’s Tobacco Road to Hendrix proportions, yep, sure is blues to be found here, and the rough and ready cover of Move’s Do Ya revels in low-fi garage rock.

    But it’s loud, proud and sonic trialling, denoting a path through dubby seventies roots reggae, with a few tracks which offbeat, such as I Call Your Name and though Our Devils is another, it reeks of avant-garde, a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band-come post-punk Talking Heads. Then I return to thinking, definitely punk, I Feel Good a prime example. And then, wham, there’s freaky drunken Jim Morrison weirdness in tracks like Khazi Persona.

    Though the ground here is bumpy at the best of times, your head doesn’t smash on the top; it may be raw, but blends with a flowing refinement of proficiency. “There is a lot of ground covered here,” they rightly explain, “hang on and enjoy the ride.” And there’s the very thing; once you’ve found your footing, it’s a fantastic, adventurous ride, just lacks suspension!

    But, with the third eye being squeegeed so succulently as this, suspension is for losers, anyway. Another Time Another Dimension encompasses a past with a present, as if neither really happened, and that’s refreshingly effective against pigeonholing.


  • Sheer Reveal Frank Turner at Cheese & Grain

    To celebrate the release of his new single “the Gathering,” featuring Jason Isbell and Muse’s Dom Howard, multi-award-winning Frank Turner, one of the UK’s most successful solo artists of the past decade, selling over one million records worldwide and playing to over two million people from small venues to a sold-out show at London’s famous Wembley Arena, announces a UK tour. The good news for Turner fans is, Sheer Music nabbed the man himself for two dates at the Cheese & Grain.

    Out via Xtra Mile Recordings of Polydor Records, The Gathering is his first new solo music in nearly two years. That said, we did review his Buddies sequel album with Jon Snodgrass not so long ago.

    Launching today, The Gathering is available to stream now across all platforms, alongside are the exciting details for a series of nine live show ‘Gatherings’, headed by Frank and Xtra Mile Recordings and running over summer 2021. Tickets for all shows on sale from 10am BST on Friday May 7th.

    It’s said Frank Turner didn’t want to write a lockdown song. Over the past year he’s written and rewritten songs, trying to steer himself away from the subject that will no doubt dominate the charts for years to come. But for a man whose life and career are so intrinsically linked to live music, not referencing the dearth of festivals and gigs started to prove impossible. Not least since Turner himself has spent much of lockdown playing virtual shows from his living room, raising over £250,000 to support endangered grassroots venues up and down the UK, many of which might not have otherwise survived the pandemic.

    So, it’s fitting that Frank’s new single ‘The Gathering’ is an upbeat, Glam-esque stomp. It puts a positive spin on things, anticipating a return to normality. “It’s about that moment when you come together in a room full of people, and you lean on a stranger and sing along with the chorus and get the words wrong,” explained Frank.

    Produced by Rich Costey (Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters), who Frank worked with on 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, ‘The Gathering’ features pile driving drums courtesy of Muse’s Dom Howard and a triumphant guitar solo from Jason Isbell, who recorded remotely from Los Angeles and Nashville. The new track follows a number of huge life changes for the star, who left his beloved London for the Essex coast, also getting married after the release of 2019’s No Man’s Land. “The biggest thing for me about the lockdown experience was about identity,” he says. “I am the guy who tours, this is who I’ve been since I was sixteen. This is the longest period of time I’ve slept in the same bed continuously since I was seven.”

    Set to change this summer, when, in celebration of the ethos behind ‘The Gathering’ Frank and label Xtra Mile Recordings will present a run of outdoor shows, helping to kick start the return of live music. It’s been a catastrophic year for the Industry as a whole, with the Covid pandemic dealing blow after blow for everyone in the sector. In true punk rock style, Xtra Mile and Turner want to take matters into their own hands with a set of versatile events that can either be socially distanced or full capacity depending on the maximum safety of the audience, performers and crews and in accordance with any national restrictions in place at the time of the event. Frank says; “At a time when the pandemic has wreaked havoc all across the live music industry, I feel like it’s important to get back to the basics – playing live music to entertain a crowd. This summer, with Xtra Mile and friends, I’m taking the punk approach – do it yourself, find a way. I can’t wait.”

    2021 UK ‘Gathering’ Live Shows include Bideford in June, and Frome’s Cheese & Grain on both Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June. The tour continues through July with dates in Liverpool and Gloucester, August at Manchester and Hull will need to wait until September.

    The Guv’ of Sheer, Kieran Moore is keen to point out the Sunday is his birthday, so if you are going, take him a cake. I dunno, good question; add about 50ish candles I reckon!


  • Save Furlong Close Campaigners Protest in Rowde

    Rowde villagers joined for a socially distanced and peaceful protest today, in the centre of the village to show their support for the Save Furlong Close campaign.

    More show of solidarity than protest, if “protest” is now a dirty word and standing up for your rights is to be considered illicit. It was good to meet those heading this campaign to deflect the closing of Furlong Close, home to 36 vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and epilepsy.

    Reflecting on a thought I’d said in previous articles on this campaign, campaign leader Trish specified how the residents of Furlong Close were a big part of the village community and would be missed if it was to close down. We also discussed that while the red tape between Wiltshire Council and the owning charity HFT continues, the opinions of both locals and residents are being ignored.

    We’ve covered the tragic plans on Devizine at length, in the past; hearing direct from Mark Steele, a member of the campaign’s steering group, who has family at Furlong Close. The Gazette & Herald ran an edition with a wrap-around page campaign, and over a staggering 44,000 have signed the petition, therefore I do not wish to go over the same ground. We know this is a terrible decision, we are aware the residents do not wish to be dispersed and move into isolated and lonely single accommodations they’re unfamiliar with, we only need a workable solution.

    Yet with the backing of many local councillors, Anna Cuthbert and Lib Dem candidate for Bromham, Rowde and Roundway, Mark Mangham in attendance today, the backing of the media, and in particular, the local people, I sincerely hope we can turn this around and end on a feel-good story. The show of hope and solidarity today proves this is possible. Mark said it was, “humbling to be among the campaigners, many related to residents and from beyond Wiltshire. Many Rowde residents are volunteers. This is what community feels like!”


  • Salem Announce National Tour with Sheer Hosting Swindon’s Vic Gig

    There’s something indefinitely old school punk about Salem, with nods to pop-punk, goth and rockabilly, hoisting them to the absolute top of their scene. No one in the UK are delivering this genre better right now.

    This side project of Will Gould from Creepers and Matt Reynolds of Howards Alias is loud, proud and spitting; dripping with Siouxsie and the Banshees, laddered fishnet stockings and Robert Smith influences. Quite honestly, Kieran’s right, again; it’s knocking deafeningly at my front door!

    They described their self-titled debut 2020 EP as “spooky, silly, romantic punk rock songs.” Yeah, figures.

    Today they announce their October UK tour, with Oxford’s Bullingdon, Frome’s Cheese & Grain, and Bristol’s Exchange included, and nestled between them, on October 16th, Sheer Music & Bandit present them at Swindon’s grandstand music venue, The Victoria.

    Support for the Salem’s tour comes from a new solo project from Welsh former Holding Absence bassist, James Joseph; James and the Cold Gun. A playful twist on his name, James and the Cold Gun is named after a Kath Bush song. They promise to be something of a rock n’ roll blues revue, akin to former British rock n’ roll heroes The Computers. They signed to Gallows label Venn Records for the release of their debut album.

    Tickets go on sale Thursday (6th May.) £10 adv. / £13 OTD for the Vic.


  • Can You Help Calne Central Youth & Community Centre Raise Funds to Keep it Going?

    Calne in Tune stated their activities in 2013. In 2015 a handful of Musicians, Artists & Crafters at Calne in Tune decided they needed a Music Arts & Crafts Centre in Calne to collaborate in creative activities and encourage the young and people of all ages and abilities in the wider Calne area.

    They looked for an appropriate space and found that all Youth Centres were gradually getting closed down. They were not meeting the needs and interest of the young people of today. There were no central Community Centres where they could fully operate from, to provide a broad range of Facilities and Services, 24/7.

    They decided the centre of Calne needed a Youth & Community Centre where any Community Group could operate cheaply, spreading the costs. Community facilities were far too divided and too expensive for each group to be able to get premises of their own, only to use a couple of days a week.

    They first looked at the old Priestley Grove Youth Centre and put in a bid to take it over, repair and refurbish it themselves (many of our members are in the building trades) and set it up as a Music, Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre. The plan was rejected by Wiltshire Council at the time.

    Not going to give up, in 2020 the opportunity became available to hire the old FM Furniture store at 20 Church Street, Calne. They approached the developers (Stibbard Properties) about the possibility of renting the building while plans were being considered for its development (it is now up for sale.)

    Andrew Stibbard was in the process of getting development permissions and agreed to allow them to hire it on a 3-month rolling basis at temporary advantageous rent, with an option to purchase at an advantageous price.

    They moved in over February 2020, installed donated furniture, music and computer equipment and opened to the public by the end of the month. They called it Calne Central Music; Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre.

    “We first kicked off with the Music, Arts and Crafts activities and used the Centre as a base from which to go out to our various Music, Arts and Crafts Venues around Calne Town and across Wiltshire,” explains organiser Terry Couchman.

    “We set up an Arts & Crafts Window Display and decided to include Trade Crafts in our Brief. Our walls and shelves were prepared for Artwork and Crafted good of all kinds and we fitted out a Music Practice Room and a Performance Space.”

    “We, at last, had somewhere where we could encourage local people of all ages and abilities (and disabilities) to engage in any creative and recreational activities. We were also able supplement our Calne in Tune and Calne Community Hub volunteers with further Community Volunteers to help run the place as an integrated Youth & Community Centre. Slowly people began to come through our doors, just as the Covid Lockdown started.”

    Calne in Tune now works with Community Service Charity ‘Heart of the Community’. This is an organisation which brings individual volunteers & community groups together to run Calne Central and provide the wider Community Service.

    “We are now a ‘Community Hub’,” Terry continues, “supporting any group that wants to join us in the building itself, use our facilities to promote itself, or provide equipment and volunteer assistance for their events and activities.”

    “Giving Birth is painful enough without the challenges, frustrations, and stresses of feeling trapped and restricted in our movements. Part of our commitment was towards encouraging people who are variously disabled, those with mental health challenges, the lonely, isolated, and disaffected.”

    “We knew from years of common experience how important Music, Arts and Crafts (of all kinds) benefit people naturally and therapeutically. Sharing these experiences together proved even more beneficial. That remains our main focus for trying to meet all community needs.”

    “We decided that that we were doing was far too important to simply shut down for the duration of the emergency. With the help of increasing numbers of Volunteers and the involvement of Calne Men’s Shed, Calne Community Hub and others, we opened fully, 6 days a week 10-6 and provided access every evening and all weekend for Creative and Essential Community Support activities.”

    “Our Volunteer group grew and through the painful process of any birth, we established enough support to spread the load a little. With the encouragement and funding from Calne Town Council, Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Community Foundation, and other generous donors, we remained open, including throughout two lockdowns.”

    “We continued to provide our usual Music Arts & Craft Exhibitions & Showcases when we could. People can still come in to practice as individuals and we expanded our Community Activities to include service like the 24/7 Community Fridge & Larder and the Community Café.”

    “We also dedicated ourselves to re-cycling, taking in disused Bikes, Microwaves, Kettles, Irons, Computers TV’s, DVD’s CD, Books, even the odd fridge, washing machine and furniture, to refurbish and sell on at affordable prices.”

    “The Bicycle sales and services became a major income generator, and we became popular for kids to pop in to get their biked made safe and do small repairs for free. This was another valid reason for us remaining open throughout lockdowns.”

    Not everyone was happy though and there was to be more pain to come. There have been a small number of “petty jealousies, bogus complaints and unfair criticisms” of the volunteers and the fact the Centre remained ‘legitimately’ open.

    Some of these were personally abusive and slanderous. Terry said, “we survived all this though, and we are still open and have just enough to get us through to July this year. We will be seeking more Funding but we hope that we can now start to generate a bit more income for ourselves as we come out of lockdown.”

    “As I keep reminding people, in terms of our community facilities. ‘Use it or Lose It (Don’t Abuse It)’. That was our mantra since the beginning.”

    A Youth & Community Centre’s only has a chance in the long-term is when people work together, as a team, in inclusive and diverse ways that are ‘Enabling and Empowering’ for all. People need to speak up for what they need and then seek to protect what they have for everyone’s benefit.

    “There is no room for Superior Egos within Community Services,” Terry continued, “we all make an important contribution, according to our skills, means, interests and the time available outside our family and work lives.”

    “We’ve demonstrated that working together, appreciating each contribution, with mutual tolerance and understanding, is the only way to succeed and grow, without getting too big for our boots.”

    Part of providing a Youth & Community Space is to ensure it remains safe, adaptable and accessible, with enough volunteer contribution and assistance from the members of the community that use it and benefits from it. “There is no room for those who would seek to undermine, disrupt or in any way distress those who provide the services or use them. Such actions will be (and must be) confronted.”

    They now need to review the first year of operation and find ways to fund it through the rest of the year. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity to buy the current building at a very advantaged price.

    Terry said, “we know we can renovate the building ourselves. We will be conducting a survey of all our members, volunteers and users looking an option for the purchase of the building.”

    The fundraising effort can be found on Facebook here; please don’t let Calne lose this important facility.


  • State of the Thing; a Monthly Guide to Last and This Coming Month of Devizine

    Particularly crucial at this point, in the midst of this “roadmap” out of lockdown, for me to consider writing a monthly post outlining where we’re at, what we’ve been doing, and looking forward to the next month. A two-part article then, the second half on what’s happening locally during May particularly important.

    But first, I have to say, despite the lack of events causing the lowering of hits annually, stats for April hit a record-breaking high, a staggering 132% higher than March. This is fantastic and I thank our readers for their support. Generally, April is a good month, All Fools Day being our bread and butter. This year’s was exceptionally accommodating, when I convinced thousands, Devizes was to get a McDonalds! This prank was in the pipeline long before April, and I suspected it would spread like wildfire, but only issue now, is how to top it next year.

    Other popular articles this month have been political, when Tory Wiltshire Councillors were instructed by head councillor, Philip Whitehead to block correspondence with the Stop the Closure of Furlong Close campaigners, particularly prevalent. So too has been the interest of the Police Crime Commissioner election, with our interviews of Mike Rees and Liz Webster. And we’ve played impartial, allowing all council candidates an untainted paragraph in which to pitch the reason while we should vote for them.

    Such is lockdown, when another seemingly popular doing, was my satirical fictional story serial, The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead; honestly, I don’t know where these ideas come from! I think serials might be good addition to Devizine, and I’ve a new, wholly different approach to the next one, a personal account celebrating thirty years since the blossoming of the rave scene. So, wave your hands in the air for that one, if I find the time to write it!

    Yet, proving our stomachs are more important than our politics, the best hitting articles, second only to the April Fools, have been when the Naan Guru opened, and my visit to the Feisty Fish. Proof of what I say, time and time again, but few owners of eateries listen; throwing me a luncheon voucher will boast your sales! We published our Feisty Fish review Wednesday, by Friday they sold out at their pitch in Littleton Pannell!

    And I thought our mainstay was music and arts. But without live music reviews, it’s been no walk in the park. The live streams continue, but I cannot justify reviewing them in the same manner, only drawing your attention to them, and all other online events. This is why, and I can’t stress this enough, because I spend eons adding to it, our event guide is crucial, the coming months doubly so.

    Our Song of the Day features continues, if slightly more sporadic than previous months, and we’ve covered reviews of Erin Bardwell, The Horses of Gods, Longcoats, Fruits Records and Black Market, with more to follow. But, with fingers crossed, and it’s looking rosy, May is the month live music is returning, so let’s muck about now more, wallowing in the past, and bang straight on with what’s happening over May.

    Not forgoing, before I get onto this, my efforts this month will be focussed on our forthcoming compilation album, For Julia’s House, which I hope to be released later in the month or early June.   The list of contributors now looks like this, all of them I’d like to thank eternally: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, The Oyster, Nigel G. Lowndes, The Birth of Bonoyster, Revival, Room 101, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Cutsmith, Big Ship Alliance and Knati P. What a line up!

    And I’ve more promised in the pipeline, possible tracks from Clock Radio, the Horse of Gods, Cutfish, The Lost Trades, and so many more; how utterly fantastic is that? I just have to pull my finger out and get on the case!

    So, to what’s happening in May!

    Events, remember them, that’s the kiddy, that’s what we’re looking forward to. And with positive feedback from the Liverpool clubbing experiment, stuff is being arranged and events organised, and everyone is undoubtedly as excited as a kid at Christmas.

    May is the month which will, hopefully, keep on giving. I’ve a mega-task trying to keep up with changes and added events, updating our new look event calendar. You can help, by letting me know about your event, rather than expecting me to go digging. Thanks. Oh, and people, this preview is not exhausted, take heed, the calendar is going to explode with updates, so keep on top of it. Plus, the notion events will often be under usual capacity due to social distancing, and ticketed, so keeping ahead of the game is vital, if you want to head on out with a destination in mind!

    For the now though, events remain online, but not void. Do check out the Wylye Valley Arts Trail, running until next Sunday, 9th May, and the Online Swindon Festival of Literature starting tomorrow until the same Sunday the 9th.

    Later today, I’d recommend you check out the Kyla Brox Band stream, or for banging clubland, the Midlife Krisis has it’s Sunday Session. Tomorrow, Monday 3rd, head down to Hillworth Park in Devizes, where there’s a fundraising books and toys stand in Hillworth Park, for Wiltshire Air Ambulance. 10am till 2pm.

    But on Saturday 8th the Prestbury Sports Bar in Warminster is the first I’ve noted to open their doors to a live gig, and the fantaboulouso People Like Us will kick it off. Good luck to Nicky, Pip and the Scooby gang!

    The first to brave the water on mass, though, is our brilliant Big Yellow Bus co-ordinator, Gerry Watkins with a Gloucestershire VW Bus Meet and Chill, a free event on 15th May at Cirencester Town Football Club. “It’s just that,” Gerry explains, “meet up with old and new friends that share the same passion for the VW bus, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rusty old shed or a sparking bran new one it’s your pride and joy and we are here to enjoy and have fun, it’s also to help raise funds for The Big Yellow Bus Project a homeless shelter.” Bands playing include: Six O Clock Circus, Loaded Dice, The Daybreakers, and The Roughcut Rebels. Sounds super, but like I said, all events this early need booking, and once all 85 spaces have been filled that’s it; which it might already be. Just leaves me to say, have a great time, guys, and I hope you raise some serious funds for the Big Yellow Bus project.

    But it’s the following weekend when shit really hits the fan. Swindon’s Victoria kicks off the return of live music with Awakening Savannah on Friday 21st, and Thin Lizzy tribute, The Lizzy Legacy on the Saturday, I wish you all the best for these gigs, Darren Simons and the team at the Vic.

    Both Pewsey and Devizes kick off live music too, on the Saturday. As for a fiver a pop, the Barge at Honeystreet offer Paul Ruck paying his tribute to legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, and at our trusty Southgate in Devizes, the long awaited return of live music will be supplied by the band who finished off at the last live music session prior to the lockdown, I believe, Swindon’s fantastic Sound Affects, who will double-up as the Daybreakers; something I’ve been looking forward to since I dunno when, and hope to see many faces I haven’t seen for ages, perhaps lockdown hair!

    The Daybreakers pop up again the following Friday at Swindon’s Vic, while Honeystreet’s Barge offers you their favourites Jassy and Ted, aka SwingleTree, a wonderous folky duo with songs of the sea, lost loves, the ol’ canal, heart-warming harmonies, luscious squeeze boxes, and toe tapping tunes.

    Saturday 29th The Barge has the Dryadic collective, The Southgate have Leon Daye, and there’s few tickets left for an Attitude Is Everything fundraiser with Longcoats and Tangled Oaks at Bath’s Moles. But in general, the fantastic news is, slow and few in between, live music is returning to Wiltshire this month, and if everyone bonds, taking care and adhering to the restrictions set out, by June, we could have ourselves a mini summer of love!

    Apologises if I’ve missed your event here, it’s most likely because you didn’t tell me about it! But it’s never too late to let me know. For fun-seekers crawling out of the woodwork, as I said, this list is not exhaustive, and over the coming weeks you must take a peek at our calendar, as it will continuously blossom with stuff to do. I mean, take a look at June, when festivals begin; oh, my lord, remember them?!


Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April

Probably the most diverse single around spring though was an epic drum n bass track produced right here in Devizes, featuring the vocals of Pewsey’s Cutsmith. Though while Falling by ReTone took us to new foundations, I ran a piece on the new blues sounds locally, as advised by Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore. Sheer, like all music promoters were, understandably, scrambling around in the dark for the beginnings of lockdown, streaming stuff. It wasn’t long before they became YouTube presenters! The Sheer podcast really is something special, in an era leaving local musicians as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flop, they present a show to make ‘em moist!

Spawned from this new blues article, one name which knocked me for six, prior to their YouTube adventures, was Devizes-own Joe Edwards. I figured now I was reviewing internationally; would it be fair to local musicians to suggest a favourite album of the year? However, Joe’s Keep on Running was always a hot contender from the start, and despite crashing the borders on what we will review, I believe it still is my favourite album of the year.

Other top local albums, many inspired from lockdown came flowing, perhaps the most sublime was Interval by Swindon’s reggae keyboardist virtuoso, Erin Bardwell. The prolific Bardwell later teamed with ex-Hotknive Dave Clifton for a project called Man on the Bridge.

Perhaps the most spacey, Devizes’ Cracked Machine’s third outing, Gates of Keras. Top local singles? Well, George Wilding never let us down with Postcard, from a Motorway, and after lockdown reappeared with his band Wilding, for Falling Dreams and later with a solo single, You Do You. Jon Amor was cooking with Peppercorn, which later led to a great if unexpected album, Remote Control.

There was a momentary lapse of reason, that live streaming was the musical staple diet of the now, when Mr Amor climbed out onto his roof to perform, like an ageless fifth Beatle. Blooming marvellous.

Growing up fast, Swindon’s pop singer Lottie J blasted out a modern pop classic with Cold Water, and no one could ignore Kirsty Clinch’s atmospheric country-pop goodness with Fit the Shoe.

Maybe though it wasn’t the ones recorded before, but our musicians on the live circuit coming out with singles to give them some pocket money, which was the best news. I suggest you take note of Ben Borrill’s Takes A Little Time, for example.

I made new friends through music, reviewing so many singles and EPs; Bath’s Long Coats, and JAY’s Sunset Remedy. Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman, guitarist Ryan Webb, and unforgettable Paul Lappin, who, after a couple of singles would later release the amazing acoustic Britpop album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Dirty and Smooth and Atari Pilot too, the latter gave us to cool singles, Right Crew, Wrong Captain, and later, Blank Pages. To Calne for End of Story and Chris Tweedie, and over the downs to Marlborough with Jon Veale’s Flick the Switch. I even discovered Hew Miller, a hidden gem in our own town.

May