You can’t stay on the sunny side of the street; you’ve got to cross over at some point. But if the blurb I’m sent for Talk in Code’s latest single Hindsight suggests they’re showing “a darker side,” don’t run off with the notion they’ve come over all Radiohead.….
Taken from their second album, The Big Screen our single of the week is out on Friday 31st March, but you know how it goes, you can pre-save on the streaming platforms. And do, because yeah, so it’s perhaps a cliché theme of biblical teachings; penitent, should-have-known-better sentiments returned unto you with a cold, hard slap in the chops, but wake up, we’ve all been there, and Talk in Code project it with finesse, as ever, and of course it’s cradled in the uniformed indie-pop synth style. A chic instantly recognisable and beguiling, every Talk in Code single is ageless and unhindered from pigeonholing, it’s darn good pop, dammit!
Atmospheric thumper describes it best on the publicity, anthemic soundscape with swirling synths, shimmering guitars and soaring vocals. Recorded with Sam Winfield at Studio 91, Newbury (Amber Run, The Amazons, Fickle Friends) and out on Regent Street Records, continuously ascending, Talk in Code go from strength-to-strength and Hindsight exhibits precisely this.
The Full-Tone Orchestra have released details of the 2023 line-up for their annual extravaganza, The Full-Tone Festival on Devizes Green, August bank holiday. It’s all on a rather smashing looking poster, unalike darker past posters with neon text, this time with a fresh use of pastel colours on white background, all very Degas I must say. While rain drizzles down our windows, let’s have a nose at what it says on there, shall we, and think of summer?!
A couple of years ago I published one of many list-type articles on the topic of forthcoming local festivals. Ah, phooey, it sparked a debate on social media because I didn’t include Devizes-own Full-Tone Festival, though the event did receive a sovereign preview of its own. My argument at the time was my definition of a festival was of multiple activities happenings across multiple sectors, therefore classing Full-Tone Festival, despite being named Full-Tone Festival, more in line with the word concert.
A technicality I’ve since altered my perspective of, and aside pigeonholing, for recent similar articles I’ve adopted the more causal, universal, and a smidgen double-entendre tagline, “Big Ones,” to encompass largescale events without categories, precisely so we can include things like Pewsey Carnival, and of course, The Full-Tone Festival. And in this, here’s the thing, who wants their event to be typecast and categorised? The Full-Tone Festival is what it is, and that “is” is something spectacular, annually happening now on our very turf, but mostly for point of this argument, something totally unique.
And of my technicality, Full-Tone acts as both sides of the debate, yes it shows off the incredible talent and togetherness of the Full-Tone Orchestra, an ensemble which will voyage to impressive venues like Wells Cathedral and Bath Abbey this year, but also showcases diverse local and national acts. Their social media posts boast “it’s going to be SUCH an amazing weekend of music! 50 musicians and singers, over 100 rotating over the weekend, plus some pretty amazing guests!” If you got it, flaunt it, darling! But honestly, it’s a highly impressive weekend, and they’ve every right to show it off!
Full-Tone Festival opens on the Saturday, for example, showcasing a set of classical proms, and features Full-Tone chief organiser Jemma Brown with her new vocal quartet, The Four Sopranos, consisting of Lucia Pupilli, Tabitha Cox, and Teresa Isaacson too.
Local rock n roll legends and regulars at Full-Tone, Pete Lamb and The Heartbeats are the first guests, followed by the orchestra taking off again for the ever-popular “big TV and movie themes” section, of which I always look forward to Jurassic Park the most, don’t know why, just do. Any comments on social media suggesting it’s because I’m a dinosaur will be deleted!
If, so far critics could cough up the “samey” tosh, I’d argue possibly, but certain elements of this event have become welcomed stalwarts, and why change it just to please them? We love it just the way it is! Besides, here’s a totally new one on me, The House Iguanas promises “massive bonkers brilliant sax, DJ and bongos,” and with that, could you ask for anything more diverse?
Saturday night closes with the reappearance of the orchestra’s The Ultimate Dance Anthems, which being they only scootered around last year with nineties pop hits, for me, personally, and literally from the sheer eruption of enthusiasm of the crowd of previous years, I’m sure will be a very welcomed return, with glowsticks.
If Saturdays showcases the orchestra foremost, I must say it’s more diverse this year, and, Sunday tends to focus on other acts more, anyways. Though the orchestra opens the day with the “Big Sound” section of this remarkable concert manifold, North Wiltshire big band 41 Degrees take over straight after. They’re the wedding function band of the wedding you’d never forget, with a spanning repertoire from Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller, through Rat Pack and Weather Report, to the Killers and Oasis. There’s nothing like big band pop covers, often showing shame to the originals, and this sounds cool as.
A highlight of last year’s Devizes Street Festival, those funky mavericks of Mardi Gras and New Orleans jazz, The Brass Junkies revisit our soil, and remember; brass is class.
Time for the Full-Tone Orchestra to finish off their pizzas and get back onto that notable stage for a section of West End Musical hits. It must be exhausting, blowing into that brass, precisely plucking those strings and whatever else they need to do to create these massive sounds, not forgoing conductor Anthony Brown must be at risk of repetitive strain injury over the weekend.
Wowzers, and I’ve not got to the best bit, least what I think is the best bit, because this info was leaked to me by the band, but sworn to secrecy I couldn’t even blow my own trumpet and act all smarmy about, until now, so I will, thank you; Talk in Code play the finale guest set. A mighty local indie-pop band which, if you don’t know you must be new to Devizine, and I urge you pay more attention in future! Yes, forgive my plug, but they are coming to my birthday party at the Three Crowns on March 4th, and YOU are all welcome, but again, and in summary to the Full-Tone Festival as a whole, playing up on that breath-taking stage, with matchless acoustics is something else, and well worth the ticket stub. There’s nothing else quite like it in Devizes.
If Talk in Code have that stylised knack of capturing something decidedly eighties within their original material, Sunday aptly closes with the orchestra one final time, giving it whooping eighties bangers, which by then if you’re not completely satisfied, I suggest you urgently seek professional medical attention!
Early bird tickets are HERE, or at Devizes Books. Kids under 14 go free with a paying adult, £45 for the weekend (£35 before the 31st January), £35 for the day. And there it is, apologises for waffling, but it is all terribly exciting!
Talk in Code’s second album has been out a while, overdue to mention it……
January 2019, and I find myself making several eighties cultural references in reviewing Resolve, the debut album by Wiltshire’s own Talk in Code. A band which turned my aged preconceptions of the “indie” pigeonhole on its head.
For me, wedged in the nineties, imaginings of that somewhat depressing outlook of the riot-grrrl, the post-gothic period of indie my rave fixation required an abhorrence of by default. Though it was hardly mods and rockers in that era, as in we didn’t fight, “ravers” and “indie kids” simply didn’t recognise each other until the remerging of the crossover, through the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy, yet, reflecting, it was always there with Madchester and the progressive Primal Scream’s Screamadelica.
So, who’s up to debate it, does any of it matter now? I likely chewed the ears off of guitarist Alastair Sneddon on the most memorable occasion of a road trip with the band last March! We’re in a period where the trend is to cast-off that nineties flavour in favour of citing influences like U2 and Simple Minds, and I’m game for that, even if the band tend to name more modern inspirations.
The point is, Talk in Code build on this ethos, their sound ever strives towards it, ergo, everything after Resolve increasingly adds to this method, of its standout single Oxygen and its gorgeous dreamy emotions akin to a John Hughes soundtrack, and gradually onward. Yet somehow this panache isn’t regressive, forgive the eighties references, it’s retaining freshness in the contemporary, just allowing a serious nod toward early to mid-eighties feelgood pop.
It’s a fashion which Talk in Code hooked me onto bands like Longcoats, Daydream Runaways and Atari Pilot too, and a scene has developed to the point Swindon’s pop darlings are now Talk in Code; they played the Coleview Music Festival this weekend, entertained crowds during the interval of the Wildcats ice-hockey game at the Link, and generally, the excitement is consistently blossoming for them, and deservedly so.
Back on our outing to Portsmouth they stressed the importance of both gigs and recording, and since their connection to Regent Street Records, there was a keenness in the band to grab wider appeal in anticipation of the forthcoming album,The Big Screen. The release of it was pushed back to accommodate this collaboration but has been up-for-grabs since last month. Having already reviewed many of the tracks of singles I’ve been biding my time, apologies to Talk in Code, but here it is….
To begin, The Big Screen has had nearly as many singles coming off it as Jacko’s Bad, yet the comparisons end there. The opening title-track though, is exclusive, and it rings as the perfect intro as all the shaping I’ve described above. Illogical chronologically follows, their last single released, which I defined at the time as summing up “their undeviating style, upbeat and optimistic,” and suggested it was more danceable than the previous singles.
One of my personal favs follows, Talk Like That, came out back in January 2020, of which I suggested would “blow your diddy-boppers off!” Track four is Hindsight, an album track, perhaps, least one I haven’t heard of, but again, listening to it everything just falling so neatly into place. Talk in Code are so stylised, this flows as an album rather than a collection of singles, and nothing here will disappoint.
April 2020’s singleCourage (Leave it Behind) is followed by a cooling new song, Someone Else’s Shoes, which takes on the Wham boys at their earlier best. This is a drifter, but yeah, I said Wham, I don’t know about you, but it got me reminiscing the greatness of Everything She Wants, a hidden gem of their discography often obscured by later hits.
But Save It returns to paced euphoric, and one can’t go wrong towards the finale, as the last three tracks are recently celebrated singles. The Molly Ringwald moment of Young Loves Dream, autumn during lockdown’s neon song Secret and ending on the summery Taste the Sun, dripping in fun, and sunshine…. club tropicana’s drinks are free, y’ know? And in that, a certain moreish finesse we’ve come to accept as standard from Talk in Code shines on.
In all, despite reviewing the singles as and when they were released, it’s worth revisiting as together in the compilation of The Big Screen, you can hear what I’ve been waffling on about with each and every single review, about the tightness of the band to create this uniformed joyous chic of universal pop appeal. Honest, in a Tardis, feels like you could pull out a Smash Hits poster of Talk in Code and blu-tac it to your wall, and your dad will approve. Whatever did happen to Terrence Trent D’Arby?!
We love ‘em here at Devizine, and Swindon-based indie pop quartet, Talk In Code are set to return to The Victoria in Old Town Swindon on Saturday 23rd September for a massive homecoming celebration show following a packed summer of festival appearances at Lechlade Festival, Minety Festival, Home Farm Festival, Taunton Pride, Box Rocks, Great West Fest and many Foodies Festivals all over the UK…..
The band have spent the summer playing to packed audiences across Wiltshire and all over the UK, supporting esteemed names such as Jesus Jones, Cast, Scouting For Girls, My Life Story, Blue and The Feeling.
Talk In Code, recently signed to London based Regent Street Records, released their instantly danceable, upbeat single “Illogical” in June of this year, playing a headline set at Pimms In The Park at Lydiard Park on release day.
The gig at The Victoria on 23rd September will also see the release of the bands new single “The Big Screen” and also their third album of the same name which will be available to purchase on CD on the night.
Chris Stevens, lead vocalist said “Swindon is our home, and it feels so right to be returning to The Victoria, which is one of our favourite venues to play.. Darren and Violet from The Victoria have been incredibly supportive of Talk In Code over the years and we cannot think of a better place to showcase our new album than The Vic! We are proud to be Swindon!”
Join Talk In Code for what promises to be an incredible night of live music, with support from Riveria Arcade and Tom Moore.
The only person who isn’t going to love this is Mr Spock! Swindon’s Talk in Code released a new single today, Illogical, their first release on Regent Street Records, since signing at the beginning of the year……
Only seconds of a Tangerine Dream fashioned intro elapses before the boys’ flare that uniformed indie-pop at you; the kind they’ve grown into and we’ve come to love them for. Again, Illogical sums up their undeviating style, upbeat and optimistic, each new title shimmeringly fresh and more astute to the “code.”
Built-in euphoric backing consecrates this imitable style; yeah, there’s tinges of eighties pop while retentive of the contemporary knowhow, so to have discovered it on an “Hits Album” of the era would’ve likely caused a seizure of excitement for the listener, and a technical enquiry call from Kraftwerk for the band.
Recorded and produced with Sam Winfield and Tom Millar at Studio 91 (Amber Run, The Amazons, Fickle Friends), the ‘guilty by design’ theme connotes relationship complexity, contradiction and confusion. Yet, as with universal pop formula, their leitmotifs pale by the energetic beat, until the bridge which winds down and highlights subtle narrative. Talk in Code find that perfect balance, which I why I tip them one of the very best on our local circuit. More so, the theme of the song seems to suggest this.
But their strive for wider appeal is deservedly paying off independently amassing 170k streams and over 600 Spotify playlist adds, radio airplay from Amazing Radio and BBC Introducing, and thriving festival appearances.
If you’re expecting covers at their gig, you might be disappointed, but Talk in Code’s beguiling singles are immediately palpable by effect, and will have you thinking you’ve heard them before; “catchy” is a word I try to avoid, but is apt. Illogical is perhaps more danceable then their power-pop previous single, Young Love’s Dream, and more akin to 2020’s Talk Like That. With such an amazing discography gradually building, probably best now to compare Talk in Code singles with Talk in Code singles rather than cite influences. Progression is the only issue here is, each one seems to better the previous and each new one binds this aforementioned uniform style.
“Analysis please, Mr Spock……”
“Given variables, Captain, it would be illogical to find fault with this new Talk in Code single!”
Contrary to popular belief, particularly my kids, I was young once, and back in that iron age I used to live in a motte-and-bailey hillfort in Marlborough; not a lot of people know that, except for the one’s who know that, and even they’ve probably blocked it from their memories.
Yes, Merlin-Borough, famous for a wide high street, a mound and a fair about mops, just fifteen miles from Devizes but a six hour bus journey with two changes, somehow perceived being on another planet for Devizions. But I promise you, it’s a lovely town and the only reason I left was because I found said bus stop.
Back then, you either risked shopping in Somerfield or waited for the final seconds of Waitrose’s hours of business to nip in and blag whatever they had duly reduced; every night was like Ready, Steady Cook, and you were Ainsley Harriott.
Entertainment was the pub, which I had no quarrels about. My regular watering hole was The Green Dragon, until I matured enough to upgrade to The Lamb, at about 18. It has been a mainstay in Marlborough life for as long as I know, a welcoming and dependable tavern run by the only recently retired Vyv.
Sporadically we’d have free live music, and it was there us crafty little ravers perchanced to become fans of Swindon’s legendary Two-Tone band The Skanxters. So popular the sound that Marlborough formed it’s own ska band, Ska Trouble. But if there’s one unforgettable homegrown band it was Pants, as they were as the name suggests. Heavy metal covers of current pop songs came to a head with a thrashed version of the Mr Blobby song; man, we’ll never get that magic back.
Or will we? Pants are still on the circuit, and they’re still shit but proud, recently making me bath up toast commenting on social media at a G&H journalist’s report on Vyv’s retirement in which only frontman Moose Harris got a mention, like the others, whoever the fuck they are, had deserved some credit.
You can see for yourself, as The Lamb announce LambFest today, with Pants on the washing line and a whole host of others. Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June is the dates, it’s free but in aid of men’s mental health, and as well as Pants they promise Swindon’s premiere indie-pop darlings, Talk in Code, the one and only Gaz Brookfield, and Marlborough’s popular Kova me Bad. Interestingly, Mark Colton’s new Ian Dury tribute make their first appearance outside Swindon too.
Inside there’s acoustic acts, including the bearded third of the Lost Trades, Jamie R Hawkins. Heck, it continues Sunday with said Pants and Swindon’s punk ensemble Navago Dogs.
By the state of this fantastic lineup of local talent, dammit, this one’s calling me, tugging on my raw appetite for live music and cider. Which is a shame, because my pass for the glorious Mantonfest just came through and that’s in June too. Marlborough folk are going to assume I’ve moved back, and that terrible fake news bulletin could be just the one to push them over the edge of Merlin’s Mound.
You know that millennial movie, Almost Famous, set mid-seventies, where Rolling Stone Magazine mistake a nerdy teenager for a music journalist and send him on the road with an outrageous prog-rock band? It was nothing like that. Neither did it resemble 200 Motels, where a man dressed as a vacuum cleaner convinces you Ringo Starr is actually Frank Zappa in some freaky acid flashback. But I did have an awesome adventure yesterday, on the road with local premier indie-pop favs, Talk in Code.…..
There were no campervans with CND slogans painted on the side-door, no sign of Goldie Hawn’s daughter unfortunately, and though my bubbles of anachronistic pre-imaginings burst, it allowed me to chart the regular labour of a touring band, rather than my usual practise of slouching up halfway through a performance with lame excuse. For if I’m going to write on the subject, I need to comprehend the inner workings, and the thoughts of a band going to a gig; even though I’m far from teenage music journalist with an advance from Rolling Stone!
So, by dinnertime I’m lone with guitarist Alastair Sneddon at the steering wheel, hereafter referred to as “Snedds,” with an amp case knocking in the rear of his car, and distracted by my inane waffling, weaving between musical subjects, badly following his sat-nav to Portsmouth.
Likely the eldest of this four-piece band, Snedds is a family man with a wealth of musical experience. He fondly recalls playing in cover bands, jazz and blues groups and our chat swifts across his past, musical influence brushing off on his children, current past gigs and local venues, to the importance, or insignificance of pop culture, the mainstream music industry and current trends of listening to music from streaming platforms to amplification to listening through phone speakers; we could’ve chatted all night on his passionate chosen subject, least it perceived to reduce the travel time.
Before I knew it, we were awkwardly parked on a busy street in Southsea. Awash with cheesy club type pubs, restaurants, kebab houses and chippies, lies an equally misplaced theatre to our right, and a more traditional looking city tavern, The Lord John Russell, which will be our venue for the evening. Like a true roadie I felt a sense of haughtiness as I assisted lugging equipment through the already bustling pub; make way, yes, I’m with the band, ladies control yourselves!
But nothing felt ostentatious for the band as they amassed their kit in a corner, greeted each other and the promoter; here’s a tight working team despite the geographic distance between them. Talk in Code are part from Swindon, Reading and Devizes, but here they are with an excited air of anticipation brewing. There’s a trio of bands on tonight, Talk in Code are second on, while the first are already sound checking, locally based to Portsmouth, Southerlies are a seven-piece covers band, fusing Americana with punchy hooks into contemporary pop; they proficiently delivered their set with good male-female vocal harmonies, and being local I observe they attracted a fanbase.
Quite eclectic then, to switch to Talk in Code’s more electronica indie-pop, which as I discussed in the car with Snedds, perpetually seemed to fuse conventional nineties indie sound to a more inimitable eighties synth-pop style with every new tune. Yet tricker still was the notion the Talkers insist to play only their originals, which would be unknown to this rather heterogenous crowd. Besides, frontman Chris gets his fill of covers with the Britpop Boys.
Seems Friday live music nights are relatively new-fangled for the Lord John Russell, with a promoter keen to create the venture, the pub also adhered to cater for the pull on it’s street with screens showing sport and archetypical club music between acts. As much as market town pubs like Devizes’ Southgate work here, with a penchant for original live music and solely that, it wouldn’t work in this busy city location judging by the footfall. But a splendid, convivial and dynamic pub it was with a wide demographic.
One thing I was keen to gage from Talk in Code, the priorities and feelings towards playing a gig outside their usual stomping ground as opposed to returning to a venue like Swindon’s Victoria where a fanbase would be welcoming. They stressed the importance of both, and being their recent connection to Regent Street Records, there’s a keenness in the band to grab wider-appeal in anticipation of the forthcoming album. The release of which has been pushed back to accommodate this collaboration.
Still, all the band are united in praising recent local gigs, particularly Trowbridge Town Hall where they supported The Worried Men, and were keen to pick out the importance of the many locally-based festivals they’re booked at, from Minety to Live at Lydiard and IWild in Gloucestershire. And with appearances at places like Oxford’s HMV, things are really looking up for them post-lockdown.
And it’s easy to see why when they bounced on stage last night at the Lord John Russell, after their virtually nail-biting eagerness while the Southerlies launched into their final song, Chris already polishing his guitar and Snedds confessing the waiting game is a pet hate. A technical issue with leads to the backing tracks solved, the band applauded the previous and proficiently executed their thing, introducing themselves and delivering their songs with panache.
For me it was a blessing, being I’m aware of much of their discography, to finally get to witness them do it live, and had to stop to ponder their stage presence is as exhilarating as their recorded work. Yet, my view of the performance differed from the crowd as the band were likely new to them. Still, they got the place jumping, sprightlier, and louder than the previous band. They confessed a spirit of fair competition was unavoidable in them, yet affirmed their ethos to never do their set and bunk, in respect for other bands; Talk in Code come off as outgoing throughout and it was an honour to be welcomed into their web.
Also present, I spent time chatting connections, her background as music journalist and her fanzine making past, with manager Lyndsey. From Milton Keynes she avidly followed the group in their early years, falling in love with their sound it seemed only natural to mutually agree for her to manage. And part-time freelance photographer Helen, whose PolarPixFacebook page is dominated with Talk in Code shots. I put it to her she seems to have another band photographed then a Talk in Code one, then another Talk in Code one, then another random band. She acknowledged most of the other bands were on the same bill as TIC! A true “Talker,” as is their fanbase appellation.
A pleasant change from trudging the local circuit, as the finale was a euphoric rock band named Percival Elliott, who, with barefoot frontman on keys, executed a sublime set, the like you’d want Coldplay to achieve. In many ways here was a band apt for our own fond venues such as aforementioned Southgate and Trowbridge Town Hall. Without boast, coming highly recommended by yours truly occasionally has some clout, though there was part of me who, if in control of this triple-bill, would’ve put Talk in Code as the final band, being more upbeat popish.
We give no more review of The Lord John Russell for the sake of it being outside our boundaries, but if you’re Pompy bound this would be an ideal pub to consider, offering a variety of free live music dates on Fridays. Now I’m home, unpacked my Peppa Pig bucket and spade, but while I unfortunately didn’t see the seaside, or Kate Hudson, I was in good company with a band which goes from strength-to-strength.
Set to release their new single ‘Young Loves Dream’ on Friday 11th February across all digital platforms, Talk in Code are rinsing their inimitable and uniformed sound with anthemic pop goodness; it’s to be expected……
Coincidently, three years and one day ago Devizine reviewed this Swindon indie-pop four-piece’s album, Resolve, with the retrospective angle of eighties power-pop rock, yet subtle nods to indie shifts through the heady nineties. Though as the band progress through four further singles we’ve seen the latter dwindle and this take on a classic eighties sound coming through more and more.
Though Talk in Code is no tribute, this is progressive, refreshingly contemporary and exclusively perfected, a hi-fidelity ambience where instruments simply meld as flawlessly as those eighties’ gods of pop. An era of one-hit-wonders, accepted, but those who succeeded beyond this point did so by creating a defining sound, so no youth would confuse their Spandau Ballet with their Human League, and this is precisely where Talk in Code now stand; nowadays we compare their singles with their previous singles rather than cite influences, because their uniqueness is peerless.
The reason why, I consider, the band strive with matchless momentum on the local circuit, having headlined three of Wiltshire’s largest music events last year, the big named bookings of pop-fused Mfor at Lydiard Park, the memorable rock for cancer Concert At The Kings and Swindon’s homegrown talent showcase, the Shuffle. Also, it is why Talk in Code have shared billings with Scouting For Girls, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Craig David, SAS Band, 10cc and Lindisfarne, why devotees are dubbed “talkers” and they’ve accumulated 180,000 Spotify streams, or added to over 700 Spotify playlists.
So, this new single, ‘Young Loves Dream’ is of no exception, it gloriously follows the formula, which is, as suggested, key to their brilliance. It booms straight in, breaks when it needs to and reaches an undefinable bridge, flowing nicely with steady BPMs, and a bright, uplifting vibe. As suggested by the title, it’s romantically themed, exploring the hopefulness of youth; an ode to the potentials of initial infatuation, prior to the twists and turns life throws at you. In that, the mood of the enriching instrumentation reflects the vocals sublimely, and will have you pondering that butterfly moment of early romance, you know the kind of emotion which will make you hug the pillow in their absence, as their scent lingers, or, oh, was that just me?!
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, all the previous singles we’ve fondly reviewed can be found on this here Spotify link, and with this progressive new track, will make up part of ‘The Big Screen,’ Talk in Code’s second album, due on Friday 15th April, playing the launch at Swindon’s Level 3, Swindon, on Saturday April 16th 2022.
Just prior, I’m hopeful we can set up an interview with Chris and the band, one crucial question will be what’s in a name, as Talk in Code’s style is never cryptic, you need not untangle painstaking poetic wordplay, it is good, honest pop kept simple, and they do it so well it’s mainstream in the making. Love’s Young Dream takes this pattern and truly celebrates it, projecting positive evolution for this radical band.
Bag yourself some of our recommended long players for your friends, family or even yourself this Christmas and help a local musical talent.
Look at him, Grumpus Maximus, slouching on his sofa-throne investigating the inside of his y-fronts with one hand and clasping a tinnie with the other. He’ll need Google maps to find his local watering hole when things return to normal, and if he has to endure Kirstie Allsopp for one more half-hour episode he’ll threaten to relocate to his shed for the yule. What do you get for someone like pops this Christmas, or anyone who’s lost the will of independent thought due to the modest inability to enjoy the odd fellow and guitar down their pub of choice, for that matter?
How about this suggestion; buy a CD from a local hero? Because not only will you cheer the old bugger up enough for him to consider shaving once a week, but you’ll be putting your hard-earned shekels into the hands of a local independent creative sort, who, without revenue from standing in a draughty pub alcove singing the blues, really needs some pocket money right now.
It’s not my idea, I say let them scavenge for dead flies on their filthy windowsills while insanely mumbling a ditty about minute pixies invading grassroot venues. Thanks to our reader, George for this suggestion. Of course, this is the 21st century, or so I’ve been informed, and nowadays next to nothing is physical. Much as we find the online format or download accessible, you can’t wrap an online stream up with a pretty bow and put it under your tree. So, our list is restricted to the ones putting out a CD copy; that’s a compact disc to youngsters, or even, dare I say it, vinyl, you know, some archaic listening format.
But how, ye cry. I’m going to provide links where I can, but another shot is your local indie record store; for if they care one iota for music, they’ll stock a range of locally sourced sounds. If they don’t tell them to, without swearing.
Here’s an ideal template to use: “the brilliant, one and only Vinyl Realm Music Store in old Devizes town stocks many local artist discs, so I suggest if you want to be half as good as them, you’d consider it.” And that, is one good place to start; open the yellow door on Northgate Street, turn to your right and by the window there’s a stand with some local outpourings on. If you get lost ask one of the owners, they bite but not hard. I know, shopping is beneath you, be aware they have an online service and will deliver, cos they’re nice like that.
Am I waffling now? I tend to tangent, like to, did you come here for that, or are you looking for some music options? Very well, sit quietly, or stand noisily if you like, and I shall begin…. hopefully before Boxing Day. But oi, bear in mind this isn’t a top twenty countdown, I just used that as the title for clickbait. I’ve not put these in any kind of hierarchy or rank, just listed alphabetical by artist name, to prove I know my A, B, C!
Billy Green 3: Still
Released at the beginning of this year, Devizes post-Britpop trio produce a beguiling sound that could’ve come straight from indie’s finest hour. It’s scooterist, with a taste of mod and soul, but it’s passionately scribed and delivered proudly. Review. Buy@ Vinyl Realm.
Chris Tweedie: Reflections
Affectionately reviewed at the beginning of the month, Melksham-based monarch of chill, Chris Tweedie has produced a mind-blowing album. If you like Mike Oldfield, Crosby, Stills and Nash, or George Harrison, you need to check this one out. Review. Buy.
Cracked Machine: Gates of Keras
Hometown space-rock has never been so good. This is the outfit’s second album, and its journey of spacey rock like no other. Fans of Pink Floyd or the Ozrics will relive every minute of their misspent youth and clamber to the loft to find their fractural posters and chillum! Review. Buy.
Erin Bardwell: Interval
This year, without his Collective, Swindon’s rock steady keyboard virtuoso blessed us with this unique lockdown inspired bundle of distant memories over sparse two-tone and reggae beats. If you think this genre can be samey, you’ve not heard Erin Bardwell. This album is one of a kind. Review. Buy.
George Wilding: Being Ragdollian
Let the arguments begin, this 2013 EP is the definitive George Wilding. One not to collate tracks to an album, the EP may only contain three songs, but their brilliance makes up for at least ten mediocre ones. You can grab this at Vinyl Realm.
Joe Edwards: Keep on Running
Whilst it’s had glowing international reviews, locally I feel this is severely unacquainted. Though I did say at the time of review I’ll be hard pressed to find another ‘album of the year,’ back in May, this still stands. This is melancholic Americana played out with utter perfection, and I will never tire of its authentic and sublime stories. Review. Buy.
Jon Amor: Colour in the Sky
Though we fondly reviewed Jon’s latest album just yesterday, like I said, that’s one which is only on download at the moment. Take his 2018 masterpiece of quirky electric blues as red, red as his telephone; this is the must-have album for every fan of local music. You can buy this in Devizes Books as well as Vinyl Realm, or you can buy online. Here’s a review from all those heavenly years ago, when Devizine was funny.
The King Dukes: Numb Tongues
Out in 2018, if you like your music with a taste of old-timey soul and blues, The King Dukes of Bristol do this with bells on. Numb Tongues is lively and memorable. Review. Buy.
Little Geneva: Eel Pie
Freshly produced and lively sixties mod-blues-rock done supremely, Little Geneva are Bristol-based but the Docherty brothers have the Devizes connection, enough to debut this down the Bear’s Cellar Bar a few years ago, and boy, was it a sweaty and memorable night! Buy.
Mr Love & Justice: Watchword
Mr Love himself, Swindon’s Steve Cox’s 2009 album is a must, a classic, even though I haven’t reviewed it, because it’s dated, its gorgeous acoustic goodness extends beyond atypical country-rock sounds and branches into many genres, even bhangra at one point. You can find this in Vinyl Realm for a mere fiver.
Mr Tea & The Minions: Mutiny!
Oh my, this chunk of energetic Balkan-ska influenced Bristol folk is breathtakingly good. I reviewed it last year, haven’t gotten over it yet! Review. Buy.
Paul Lappin: The Boy Who Wants to Fly
Breezy Britpop acoustics shine throughout this ingeniously written debut from Swindon’s Paul Lappin. Highly recommended and all-round good vibes. Review. Buy.
Phil Cooper: These Revelation Games
Trow-Vegas legend, Phil Cooper really gives it some with his latest offering, rocking out the lockdown. Review. Buy.
Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue: Live at the Louisiana
No list would be complete without a bit of Ruzz Guitar and the gang; guitar by name and nature. This album captures his skill where he does it best, live. Rock n roll the night away as if you were there; this is a must have album for blues and rock n roll fans. Review. Buy.
Sound Effects: Everyday Escapism
Self-penned Irish-fashioned folk at it’s most divine, Swindon duo Cath and Gouldy classic here. This is sweet and thought-provoking. Review. Buy.
Strange Tales: Unknown to Science
I’m unsure how old this is, but I do recall Pewsey singer Sally Dobson running back to her car to get me a copy at the long-lost Saddleback Festival. With Paul Sloots, Strange Tales are a wonderful if occasional electronica gothic-rock duo, and Unknown to Science is a spookily glorious album. Review. Buy or at Vinyl Realm.
Talk in Code: Resolve
True, Swindon’s darlings of indie-pop have come along way since this 2018 album, fashioned closer each time to retrospective eighties electronica, Resolve stands as a testament to their dedication, but more importantly highlights their roots in indie-rock. Review. Buy.
Tamsin Quin: Gypsy Blood
Man-about-Devizes, surely, you’ve a copy of this already? Tamsin Quin’s debut 2018 debut album is something kinda wonderful, eight self-penned nuggets of goodness introduces you to the now one third of the Lost Trades and personifies anything that was awesome about our local music circuit. A local classic. Review. Available in Vinyl Realm, or online.
The Lost Trades: EP
When three of our most loved local musicians officially bonded, debuting at the Pump just prior to lockdown, it was clear all their talents combined into this one project and could only ever be a winner. We highly anticipate the debut album, but for now, this five track EP will whisk you to a better era of folk harmonies. All original songs, there’s a taste of Phil, Jamie and Tamsin’s song writing talents, though each track wouldn’t look out of place on the Oh Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Review. Buy.
Ya Freshness & the Big Boss Band: Knockout
Boots and braces time, get skanking to the loud and proud ska sound of Ya Freshness and the Big Boss Band. This is joyful, fun and chockful of ska and rock steady riddims from 2018. We eagerly await a new double-album promised from these Bristol misfits of ska, but for now, this is great. Review. Buy.
No way is this list exhaustive; I’ve basically run this off adlib and will no doubt suddenly think, “oh bugger, I forget this or that.” But I’ve nailed it down to twenty, which was tricky. Do feel free to add a comment on something I might have overlooked, and apologises if I did. Remember, it should be available as physical copy. This is an interactive article!
Message my advice line if you’re still in the dark for a pressie for Dad. Helpful hint, look through his old records. If you see one of a pig floating above Battersea power station, or a plain black album with a spectrum shining through a triangle, try Cracked Machine. If you see lots of black and white chequered patterns or a naked girl’s torso with Tighten Up written across her abdomen, try Erin Bardwell or Ya Freshness. And if you see a rather splendidly busty woman carrying a hosepipe and various decorating equipment, try The Lost Trades; best of luck!
New single from Swindon’s indie-pop darlings, and, as foreseen, it’s blinking marvellous, Gloria.
“Eighties,” I yell, but my daughter corrects me. It’s a tune from Miley Circus, apparently. Story checks out, searched YouTube for it. Now I’m distracted from reviewing Talk in Code’s new single, Secret, by her suggestive gyrations in a black studded swimsuit and equally studded elbow-length gloves. Only from a health and safety perspective, you understand. Metallic studs are unsuitable for swimwear, gloves would fill with water; I should warn her PR.
When behind the wheel of Dad’s taxi, my daughter plays DJ; curse that built-in Bluetooth function. Least I can pretend I’m hip with the kids by distinguishing my George Ezras from my Sam Fenders. “Ah,” but I clarify, “I didn’t mean that, I meant it sounds like something from the eighties.” She agrees, tells me they’re all inspired from the eighties. “Like, Blondie,” I add, she’d have to Google that, but she watched The Breakfast Club and Uncle Buck, she is aware of the style of sound demarcated by eighties electronica pop.
If a retrospective inclination influenced by the decade of Danny Kendal v Mr Bronson, Rubik’s cubes and skinhead Weetabix characters is good for you, ok, look no further than upcoming local bands like Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways. I’ve often grouped these two on this very notion, and I’m delighted to note via my comparison, the Daydreamers are supporting the Talkers at Level III in Swindon on November 20th, my only annoyance is that it’s a Friday and I can’t make it.
To differentiate, Daydream Runaways take a rock edge, the like of Simple Minds, but Talk in Code seem to strive for the electronica angle of bands like Yazoo and The Human League. They do it far better than well though, and if I branded it, “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle,” their last single, Taste the Sun, back in July, embodied this more than anything previous. So, here we are again with another belter which adds to this uniform style, though the climate may not be so clement, Secret sparkles too.
It snaps straight in, this aforementioned feel-good 80s electronica guitar pop sound, and it’s so beguiling and catchy it’s certain to appeal wide, agelessly. If I was attending a local festival and Talkers took the stage, I’d imagine my daughter and I would dance together, and right now with her tastes directed to my odium, calculatingly sweary modern pop R&B, this would be a miracle! I do not twerk.
Secret is right out of a John Hughes movie then, a stuck record comparison I say to near-on every release by them and Daydream Runaways too, but this undeviating style is consistently cultivating and improving. Lyrically it’s characterised by the same simple but effective theme of optimistic romance, and a bright, catchy chorus, as every classic pop song should.
The band cite pop classics such as King of Wishful Thinking, How Will I Know and Alexander O’Neal’s Criticise as evaluations. I can only but agree, but add, those can be cringingly timeworn, whereas, this is not Dr Beat, no need for an ambulance sound effect, and the Talker guys don’t got no hairspray, this is renewed and exhilarating for a modern generation.
You can pre-save TALK IN CODE’s brand new 80’s infused indie pop belter, on the platform of your choice and listen in full, but it’s not released until November 16th. Yeah, I know right, I’m so lucky to have these things in advance, but with Secret I can guarantee by the time it comes your way, I’ll still be up dancing to it, perhaps my daughter too. Care to join me on the dancefloor? But oi, watch the handbag, Miley, and don’t yank my diddy-boppers, I’m no that kind of guy; saving myself for Gloria Estefan.
There’s no fooling me, no quixotic baseball-wielding delinquent is going to sway me in giving my honest opinion on Daydream Runaway’s forthcoming single; it’s just a drawing, guys!
It might well be coming a cliché on Devizine, that Daydream Runaways send me over their latest single, tell me they think it’s their best yet, I agree and tell you it’s their best single yet. But I’m at a stalemate, because I’m likely to say once again, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet, for the simple reason, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet!
Ah, sure sign of natural progression from a young band always striving to improve, Crazy Stupid Love is out on Friday 2nd October on streaming platforms and it will be the first single from their upcoming EP. Given this strength of this song, and inclining it’ll have a running narrative, I’m highly anticipating the EP, with bells on. Meanwhile I have to concoct some words on why I think it’s their best single yet, rather than just repeating the same sentence. Well, technically I don’t have to, but I will because I want to.
I wouldn’t have to if you could hear what I’m hearing, that’s the fluky bit about doing this. While it’s not always this seamless; I occasionally receive tunes which make me shudder, though delight when these guys message me as I can guarantee it’ll be a non-shudder experience.
So, if I called their second single Fairy Tale Scene, “catchy melody, pop-tastically, with slight eighties, pre-indie label overtones,” Closing the Line as “a progressive step into local topical subject matter. An emotive and illustrative indie rock track akin to Springsteen’s woes of factories shutting,” and I said Gravity, “pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division,” then Crazy Stupid Love is the counterbalance, calibrating the best elements of their previous singles and weighing them equally. In this feat, it defines a forming style, a signature, I reckon, in which to base future releases.
Inspired by characters in a hit Hollywood film of the same name, which I’ve not seen, the guys claim “the song is set to be the sound of a Post-Lockdown world.” I hope so, but it fondly reminds me of a time of yore, pre-nineties indie and Britpop, back to the days of Simple Minds and U2; no bad thing. For, just like the moment Judd Nelson sticks Molly Ringwald’s earing in his lughole, these bands were beguiling, memorable and emotive. Crazy Stupid Love is like them, infectiously uplifting, and with a coming-of-age narrative, articulating moods of a youthful, verboten romance, it suits.
Surprisingly dicey too, it also creates a mysterious character within the narrative, namely Chad, intended to market the single with a hashtag #whoischad. We can’t see his mug on the cover, but the likelihood it’s Brad’s alter-ego, just because he rhymes with Chad and he’s wearing the same baseball jacket in the accompanying photoshoot is slight. With a penchant for fireworks he carries a baseball bat to a fairground, and anyone who does such is surely asking for trouble. But, I dunno, Brad just doesn’t seem the type!
This self-produced nostalgic nugget has those swirling harmonies, chiming guitars and an infectious chorus hook, to compare it to those eighties greats. But akin to what Talk in Code are putting out, it retains the modernism and freshness, acting as a nod to influences rather than a tribute.
In mentioning this to the Talkers they hadn’t heard of Daydream Runaways, but now I’m pleased to hear they’re supporting Talk in Code for an exclusive gig at Swindon’s Vic in November. Did I connect this, guys? Because if so, it makes me proud, sound wise I believe it’s a perfect match. Though BBC Wiltshire’s Sue Davis also has taken a big shining to the Runaways, asking them back on the 3rd October. Just, you dark horse, you, leave the baseball bat at home, Brad, I mean Chad. In my experience the Beeb pay for your parking if you ask, so no need to get nasty. Tut, always the quiet ones!
Super single, guys and look forward to catching up with you soon.
Back in January 2019, I was dead impressed with Talk in Code’s debut album Resolve, and labelled it “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle.” I offered the track “Oxygen,” as best example of how, like classic pop anthems should, its instantaneous catchiness gets stuck in your head. To compare and contrast that favourite from the album with the upcoming release from this Swindon indie-pop four-piece, it’s clear they’ve come an incredibly long way to enhancing and refining that fashion.
Reflecting back, Resolve has the definite “indie” sound of the nineties, only dipping a toe in the pool of eighties synth-pop. I felt this coming, each track they release sounds more like an iconic mid-eighties sugary hit, and Taste the Sun dives right in. It supplements my “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle” label much more.
Recorded just before lockdown at Studio 91 in Newbury, the band define the theme as “about waking up and smelling the coffee, a feeling that change is coming and the relief when that change is made for the greater good.” Nothing wrong with that inspiring concept, but perhaps nothing original; writing style they stick to a model template, but the sound is invigorating. In a word, it’s refreshing, like the zest of a sparkling iced fruit drink on a humid holiday afternoon, it encompasses all that is glorious about pop. Blooming with good time, summery vibes, Taste the Sun is the sort of lively “Wham” anthem a younger you would’ve retained from a holiday camp disco, and evermore evoke a fond memory of a fleeting romance.
That said in the best manner possible. Talk in Code is a well-oiled machine, refining that classic sound for a new generation and, most importantly, extracting and binning any cliché or cringeworthy elements. You know the sort, listen to any eighties pop now and wince at a particularly ill-thought out component, be it a castoff sample, badly grafted rap or, worse still, a “talky” part; “I thought I told you, Michael, I’m a lover not a fighter!”
Yet I find similar with today’s pop, and hold my daughter accountable! “Why they doing that bit?” I grumpily whinge. “What bit?” she retorts. It’s like a repetitive synthesised single word, or randomly placed high-hat making me shudder. Talk in Code use the acuteness of “indie” to eliminate said pop crime, use pop for catchiness and throw something back at you with universal appeal. It’s true, I concern myself at the prospect of taking my daughter to a pop festival, be it I’m cowering at her modern taste, or she’s dragging me away from something I like the sound of. Talk in Code is something we could both agree is great, and throughout reviewing their singles, Taste the Summer is perhaps the prime example of this notion.
Released on Monday 27th July, on digital download at http://www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms. Go on, you have a listen, and I challenge you to find something bad to say about this sparkling, uplifting nugget of pop; because I can’t!
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…”
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.
If family-friendly festivals these days are two-to-a-penny, and you pop with the kids, like you are a kid, one thing is certain, and cool, you don’t gotta trek miles to catch one. Swindon has two upcoming I’d like to mention, if I may?
Firstly, a massive congratulations to Talk in Code, Swindon’s own indie-pop outfit rising to fame through excellence and dedication, we will be hearing a lot more from them methinks. They open the main stage at M is for Festival in Lydiard Park on 27th July. Alongside a plethora of contemporary pop acts such as Years and Years, Ella Eyre, HRVY, Becky Hill, Phats & Small, Jahmene Douglas and another BBC Music Introducing in the West upcoming band, She Makes War. Oh, not forgetting Top Loader will be dancing in the moonlight.
Tickets start at thirty quid, under fives go free, which isn’t half bad for such a grand line up, in such a nice setting too.
But if you’re all like Phats and who now, or years and years too far back, you could rustle up some hairspray and don your old leg warmers for Red Sky Promotions may just have the family festival for you, like as early as next week; I don’t think I’ll find my diddy-boppers in time, they’re in the loft somewhere.
Throughout the day until 6pm all kids can have festive fun with everything from hair braiding, 80’s neon face paints and glitter designs, hair sparkles and hair chalk colouring, temporary transfer and glitter tattoos to neon nails and more, free of charge. Relax, you’ll even get to create your own T-shirt memento of the day.
There will be stalls, food, drink and a host of other activities to accompany the musical time machine that the festival promises to be.
The day offers a range of 80’s music delivered in unique ways; opening with Sonore String Quartet rendering classic songs into lush classical sounds, 80:Three deliver two sets of pop gems, Emily-Jane Sheppard will bring her solo singer-guitarist set of classic covers and the headline act is the awesome Ghetto Blasters, a lively brass ensemble popping and rocking their way through the decade. DJ’s will be spinning all the tunes you love from the era; big chart favourites to half-forgotten gems will play between the main acts.
Your ZX Spectrum may not load this page, but tickets are here; £25 for adults, £15 for the nippers, and a price range for groups of four or more. Wham!
Beginning of January, I reviewed Swindon indie popsters, Talk in Code’s second album, Resolve; blinking catchy it is too. Now, they’ve announced they’re heading out on the road for a RESOLVE Tour.
“Talk in Code write throwaway pop songs you’ll want to listen to forever – how cool is that?”
-Dave Franklin, Swindon Advertiser
The February and March tour to promote Resolve will be stopping off at The Cellar Bar in Devizes on Friday 1st March.
The four-piece, who have supported names such as Catfish & The Bottlemen, Jesus Jones, Embrace, My Life Story and Toploader, are making waves in the indie music scene, having been featured on BBC Introducing, BBC 6 Music, Q Magazine Track of The Day, The Premium Blend Radio Show, and BBC Radio Wiltshire, with a session booked on Swindon 105.5FM later this month.
Talk in Code released Resolve in December 2018, with a homecoming show at Swindon’s Victoria. Now the band are talking their own unique blend of shimmering synth-led indie pop out on the road with a string of dates in the South, and a number of festival bookings throughout the summer all over the UK: