Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain

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

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I swear, if I hear that tune, even some forty years on I cringe; the haunting memory of my perseverance with the impossible Jetset Willy. Music in videogames has come a long way, thank your chosen deity. Yet in this trend of retrospection I terror at musical artists influenced by these cringeworthy clunky, bleeping melodies of early Mario, or Sonic soundtracks; like techno never happened, what are they thinking of? It was with caution, then, when I pressed play on the new single from Swindon band “Atari Pilot.” I had heard of them, but not heard them. I was pleasantly surprised.

For starters, this is rock, rather than, taken from the band’s name, my preconceived suspicion I would be subject to a lo-fi electronica computer geek’s wet dream. While there is something undeniably retrospective gamer about the sonic synth blasts in Right Crew, Wrong Captain, it is done well, with taste and this track drives on a slight, space-rock tip. Though comparisons are tricky, Atari Pilot has a unique pop sound. No stranger to retrospection, with echoey vocals and a cover akin to an illustration from Captain Pugwash, still this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie. Oh, and it’s certainly loud and proud.

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A grower, takes a few listens and I’m hooked. Their Facebook blurb claims to “change the rules of the game, take the face from the name, trade the soul for the fame…I’m an Atari Pilot.” After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle. But Atari Pilot returned in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. The full band gathered once again the following year with live shows and a new set of “Songs for the Struggle.” This will be the title of their forthcoming follow-up album, “When we were Children” being the first single from it, and now this one, “Right Crew, Wrong Captain,” is available from the end of July.

Its theme is of isolation, “and defiance, after the ship has gone down,” frontman Onze informs me. There’s a haunting metaphor within the intelligent lyrics, “you nail yourself to the mast and you pray that everything lasts, you just want to know hope floats, when the water rises, coz it’s gonna rise, take a deep breath and count to ten, sink to the bottom and start again.”

There’s a bracing movement which dispels predefined ideas of indie and progresses towards something encompassing a general pop feel, of bands I’ve highlighted previously, Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways, Atari Pilot would not look out of place billed in a festival line-up with these acts, and would add that clever cross between space-rock with shards of the videogames of yore, yet, not enough to warrant my aforementioned fears of cringeworthy bleeps. Here’s hoping it’s “game over” for that genre. That said, thinking back, when you bought your Atari 2600, if you recall, oldie, you got the entire package of two joysticks and those circler controllers too, as standard; could you imagine that much hardware included with a modern console? Na, mate, one controller, you’ve got to buy others separately.

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So, if decades to come we have a band called X-Box or PlayStation Pilot, I’d be dubious, but Atari gave us quality, a complete package; likewise, with Atari Pilot!


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Courage (Leave it Behind) New Single from Talk in Code

As predicted, the void where live music reviews used to sit will be filled with an abundance of releases from our local music circuit. I’ve a backlog building at Devizine Tower; here’s the first this week, from Swindon’s indie-pop four-piece Talk in Code, and much as we’ve enjoyed watching streams of Chris in his car, yeah, this is more like it, cool.

Some pensive prose swathed in the upbeat eighties-fashioned synth-pop we know Talk in Code have mastered. Courage (Leave it Behind) offers a “wake-up call,” as the press release defines, yet does so with all the hallmarks of another catchy anthem. This lockdown-themed leitmotif hails what you’re probably questioning yourself, “it’s that feeling of realising something is not right and has to be changed. But, knowing what needs to happen and taking action are two very different things…”

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The world will undoubtedly be the different after this pandemic, the unity binding us could potentially tear us apart; did Joy Division predict this?! If not, there’s a ghost, least an inspiration from those early eighties new romantics fused into this contemporary tune, and again, just like the previous singles, while Talk in Code songs sound as if they’d slot into the background of a John Hughes coming-of-age movie, listen again, they also ring modernism in both production and subject.

From its inaugural piano, through its beguiling beat to this cliff-hanging finale which leaves the question open to interpretation, this is an uplifting song; I expected no less though. “Finding the strength to make a change and every bit relevant to these challenging times,” as the blurb continues, is surely up to us, pop doesn’t preach as it once did, rather stages the dilemma for you to solve, and that, in a way makes it that bit up-to-date, rather than a retrospective eighties tribute.

For that reason, Talk in Code are pushing boundaries rather than dwelling, and the reason which found them on BBC Introducing In The West, on The OFI Monday Show, The Premium Blend Radio Show, Swindon 105.5 and Frome FM. It is the reason why the Ocelot, Dave Franklyn of Dancing About Architecture, The Big Takeover, and oh yeah, us, are singing their praises.

Providing optimism as a theme to this single is a biting reality, and Talk In Code still hope to play some of the fifteen festivals that were booked into this year, including M for, Daxtonbury, Concert at the Kings and Newbury Beer Festival along with a showcase for Fierce Panda/Club Fandango, to be rescheduled for later in 2020; hygienically rinsed fingers crossed, and toes.

COURAGE (Leave It Behind) will be released tomorrow, 30th April, on digital download at www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms.


© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Cosmic Rays are Hard to Destroy

Introducing Shrewsbury’s five-piece rock band, Cosmic Rays. With a new album proving they’re Hard to Destroy….

As my daughter shoves her phone to my ear with her home-made eighties’ music quiz playlist, memories she will never know of blissfully return. “If I could be like Doc Emmett Brown and whizz you back to my era,” I think aloud, but maybe not such a good idea, she’d never survive; no Wi-Fi. What is apparent with the classic pop from my time she has picked is that it spans genres unconditionally, because she hasn’t lived it to confine her to one viewpoint, to guide through that era, where the categorical conflict for top of the pops changed overnight; what side did you fight for?

Pigeonholing divided the early-to-mid-eighties into alienated youth cultures, unique from one another and only alike for being experimental and innovative. While there may be nothing particularly ground-breaking about Shrewsbury’s five-piece rock band Cosmic Rays, what they do have is a dexterous ability to weave these genres back together in an original and affable way. I have their March released album Hard to Destroy to snoop upon, and I like it; pass my black hair dye and metallic leather high boots.

Initial reaction was thus, partially gothic with nu-metal wailing guitar and archetypical dejected romance as a running theme, and while it’s not my cuppa, it’s produced lo-fi and agreeably subtle. So elusive indeed you don’t pre-empt the changes, though may yearn for it. Post-punk and new romantic are lobbed into the melting pot by the second tune, tickling my personal taste buds better.

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With the sensation of jaggedly Velvet Underground, in parts, its retrospective nods soon confine to aforementioned eighties genres. I’m now left contemplating everything from The Cult to Depeche Mode, and The Dammed to Blancmange. For which they are, just nods, as the all-encompassing sound is something original and exclusive, in so much as the combination of influences fuse so unexpectedly well. Perhaps no more adroitly composed than a central track called Lost Paradise, as while it mirrors synth-pop electronica, it also explodes midway with a wailing guitar solo akin to Slash’s contribution to Jackson’s Beat It.

The Bandcamp blurb explains new guitarist Rob McFall is a major factor to this album being a whole new direction, though while I ponder what the old direction was being I’m new to the band, I have to tip my hat to the guitar sections, but like I say, it’s the placement of them too, unpredictably located. That, I think, makes it more exciting than a band simply replicating a particular sound from a bygone era.

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Just when I’m expecting it to rest there, a tune called Me & Jimmy bursts out upbeat joyful vibes. Unquestionably the most pop-tastic track on the album, it smiles House Martins or even the Fine Young Cannibals at me. Though the last two tunes finish by reminding you this is indie, Seeing Green with a winding goth ease and Walk on Water, where a sombre electronica beat rises again. If you’ve heard such a fusion tried before, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this could be encumbered and muddled, yet I feel you need to listen, for the juxtaposition works on all levels, making Cosmic Rays interesting and defiantly one to watch. By the way, my daughter’s eighties pop quiz, I nail it every time!

Hard to Destroy by Cosmic Rays is available to sample and buy from BandCamp here.


© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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