Sheer Music #AOTY 2017

It’s that time of the year again, #TeamSheer run through their favourite albums of the year. Turns out after reading last years top 10 again, I’ve listened to a lot more music this year, and I’m much happier for it. You can head over to TheColourOfVinyl to see the run downs, but here’s my list, with explanations… Let’s get cracking.

10. Gnarwoles – Outsiders (BSM)

My first listen of the album was “difficult second album” after Chronicles of Gnarnia simply bolted the first EPs together, before their self titled debut proper, both absolute belters. So this was always going to be a tough ask, but after repeated listens the album not only stood up, but became a bit of a fav. 10 tracks, 30 minutes and a Placebo parody.

Their set at 2000 Trees was absolute killer too. A band hitting their stride.

 

9. Kamikaze Girls – Seafoam (BSM)

This duo came out of nowhere for me. I hadn’t bothered with the earlier EP (you can’t listen to everything) but I found myself with some spare cutter burning a hole, and decided to pick it up, and from the off I loved it. First listen, I loved the tones, the songs, the message. For me it was pure, as I knew nothing else about the band, so it was with subtle intrigue I also caught their set at 2000 Trees, and they were superb.

They have promised to play for us at some point too………..

 

8. Heartwork – Things I Wish I’d Said (Aaahh!! Real Records)

Dan O’Dell crowd funded this debut album, and in no small part that came form a lot of the regulars that come to our shows in both Devizes and Swindon. Dan has done a lot of shows for us, supported some great acts and really built himself a nice niche in our local scene. Heartwork’s last EPs were more than splendid so finally having an album to really express himself on, Things I Wish I’d Said, was a huge step up and step forward, which is hugely encouraging of things to come. 

Whisper it… there may be a second album, and a full band show in 2018. 

 

7. And So I Watch You From Afar – The Endless Shimmering (Sargent House)

Now on their 5th album and no real reinventions of their sound here, this album is still a glorious cacophony of noise. I recently caught them at Bristol’s Thekla, supported by Gallops, and it was a fantastic show. The best parts of this album easily stack up with their back catalogue. 

 

6. Paul Draper – Spooky Action (K-Scope)

I was a HUGE Mansun fan. Apparently not as crazy as some, but crazy enough to pledge to vault recordings being pressed up. A looooong time ago Paul, Mansun’s front man admitted that he had material for a solo album, and that it would be called Spooky Action. I waited patiently for it’s release, and finally this year it saw the light of day.

To be honest, I struggled with it to begin with. The singles were excellent, but first impressions of the album didn’t instantly satisfy me. After speaking to the only other Mansun freak I knew, Phil Cooper, I stumbled across the reason why. I kept wanting it to sound like Mansun, and obviously it doesn’t. There’s no Chad. Once overcoming this obstacle, I “got” the album, and I loved it. Perhaps not quite as much as I loved Mansun albums, but certainly up there. Shortly after, I managed to catch Paul Draper on his solo tour. A tour that was mired by ill-conceived comments on social media before it even started, gave me an internal tussle over how I felt about art and artist, but I managed to settle that with myself, and enjoyed the gig. Hearing those Mansun songs made me pine for the band soooo bad, but hearing his own material made me realise all was good. After that tour Paul announced another solo tour and a live performance for the debut Mansun album, forgoing any support slots. Amazing idea, and dream come true for super fans.

I’m going with Phil, and we will have a whale of a time.

 

5. Gallops – Bronze Mystic (Blood & Biscuits)

Ahhh, now this is a band. I first caught Gallops at the International Bicycle Convention at the Barbican. They were performing in the foyer, and they were utterly awesome! A live drummer, syncopated guitars and keys, a beast of a drummer, a wall of noise. Epic. I bought the EP, 7″ and double LP, and then they split in 2013. Fast forward 4 years, and the band have reformed, recorded a new album, and then toured with ASIWYFA. The 4 year gap was worth it, as they’ve lost none of their power, despite a line up change.

 

4. Alpha Male Tea Party – Health (Big Scary Monsters) 

This was another stab in the dark, having had some extra moula in my pocket I decided to plunge for this, and I’m glad I did. More in the vein of ASIWYFA, Gallops, That Fucking Tank etc style, a sound that could only have been made by a northern band, Alpha Male came with sounds and tones never heard before, and a penchant for tunes.

There wasn’t a single duff track on the album, and the epic album closer, complete with repetitive vocal line was just glorious. I even managed to sneak a live show in Trowbridge in as a warm up to their Arc Tan Gent performance. What make the whole shabang even better is that they are thoroughly, thoroughly bloody lovely people.

 

3. Ben Marwood – Get Found (Xtra Mile) 

Ahhhh Ben & I go waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy back, to just after his first EP (that upon checking has been white washed from his history!), right back to the beginning of Sheer Music some 14 years ago. We met on a band forum (remember those?) and I fell in love. Skip forward 14 years and without doubt we are listening to a musician that’s fully & comfortably grown into his sound, but still hinting at more to come. Stand out track of Ben’s year is arguably “Safe Mode” and that wasn’t even on this excellent 3rd album!

 

2. Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (Anti-)

The album opens with the stunning line “she kissed me like a chorus” and doesn’t let up over their standard 8 track records. Another band not to reinvent their sound, but instead focus on delivering quality and a distilled perfect version of what they are. To me this is inspirational road trip music, that equally soundtracks a night time city-scape as it does a daytime desert drive. This record makes me want to ditch everything, pick up my car keys and find an adventure. Powerful stuff.

 

1. TALL SHIPS – IMPRESSIONS (FatCat Records) 

I pre-ordered this album the day it was available. 2x LP with etching on side 4. Super-uber limited edition vinyl! It’s an investment! This is a band that will go down cherished in the annuals of British rock. A bit of a grower on me, as it took a number of listens to get under my skin (a familiar theme this year… maybe you need to try a little harder to get better rewards?). At times I wanted more bombast, at others I wanted the songs to get going quicker, but upon repeated plays I realised that each song was just perfect in it’s own way. I’m literally still spinning this album daily, along with a few others above and it still sounds fresh. 

 

 

Special mentions to Tellison for their re-issue of their debut album Contact! Contact!, and to Oceansize for their re-issue of Effloresce. UBER special mention to Mark Morriss for his 3rd solo album, “Look Up” that I rightly couldn’t include in the top 10 because I’m on it. Hand claps and oohs & arrs, and you know, that would be bias. 

Some awesome EPs released this year, certainly being lead by Southampton’s Sean McGowan. His vinyl EP Graft and Grief was a belter.

So that’s it. What does 2018 hold in store? You know, with everything else going on, I have no idea what’s due…. but I’m sure I’ll catch up.

See you at Xmas x x 

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Solemn Sun make their belated Swindon bow.

 

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Continue reading “Solemn Sun make their belated Swindon bow.”

The last 3 months in a quick review…

It’s been nearly 3 months since I last updated, sorry for the lack of information as I was off gallivanting.

June saw Devizes Festival ( 3 weeks in June) hit town, and I did 23 ish events in 21 days. Highlights included Howard Marks, the ejection and subsequent slating in the Gazette & Herald. (Can’t please them all, some good points in your review, you kinda missed the point though and I managed to ruffle a few feathers in a conservative town.) Mr B (awful sound but great venue and performance). And that crazy Mrs B Nice who was on another planet. Great comedy, and those 3 previous acts all had similar names, which caused chaos.

Ian Hopkins went sick, as you all know, but is back on his feet and rejoining the Festival committee after this years Wash Up meeting next week. Hooray!

I managed to prove myself with a few events, and have much grander, exciting plans for next year. Watch this space come September, and I’ll start to roll out a few hints. It’s going to be proper exciting.

 

The shortest of breaks was filled with  a complete surprise party for both Matthew Adams and I, (Late June) reaching our 30th & 31st birthdays respectively. Thrown by Nicky Stalham and Zoe Moore, it included an El Mariachi Mexican band, loads of Tequila, Mexican’s and Mexican’ts, friends and family, and then someone being sick in a pub toilet, which I waited around drinking coffee until 3am sobering up enough to drive home, because a taxi wouldn’t allow a sick person in the back. EPIC.

 

Then came 2 huge Swindon shows, The Computers & Gnarwolves. (early July) Both shows really brought the good times back to Swindon. I don’t like to blow my trumpet, but these were my biggest shows in terms of finance ever, and it really paid off. Great to see some big bands back in town, and I’ll be looking to continue doing more, provided we get the right offers. Check out the video below of Gnarwolves, along with these two awesome reviews. Especially the comment about the sound at Gnarwolves, which was done through a fog of sickness, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol. ThisIsWiltshire review & Hit The Scene review.

 

After that was a weekend of no sleep, continued sickness, paracetamol and 2000 TREES. (Mid July) My first ever full weekend at Trees (yes, really – I’m normally working at venues as it clashed with Fieldview in the past, OR doing warm up shows for this very festival!) was glorious. The Thursday saw the best bands of my past 6 months of promoting. Retrospective Soundtrack Players, Oxygen Thief and Ben Marwood all having played Swindon’s Victoria for me prior, and all sharing the same backing band was quite special. TRSP’s managed to reduce me to tears, and Ben Marwood also managed e tear. Later that evening saw JoFo play a proper indie rock racket, which made me smile more than their Bath show I managed to rescue after Moles burnt down. Gnarwolves finished off my affiliation with that day in proper style – If it wasn’t for the fact this day alone is the returning bands from the previous year, their set would guarantee them a place on next years bill. Ace.

Zoe, Rob, Meelie and I caught Dan Le Sac for the first time, since I missed them at the Frank Turner support at Wembley, instead opting for the Kingston instore show with Jim Lockey (hardcore). They didn’t disappoint, but it was also announced that they will be parting ways soon, so it was probably my one and only time of seeing them. Fiddlesticks.

The next two days followed in the same routine, late nights, busking slots, Dave McPherson popping up everywhere, AWESOME sets from The Bronx, The Computers and finished off in style with Crazy Arm. Jim Lockey announced their name change into Solemn Sun – I met all the rad dudes from across the country I rarely get to see, Adam Boucher, B-Sydes, Anthony Barlow, Lonely Tourist, Felix Hagen, Barry Dolan, Rick Marwood, Ben Marwood, Kevin BSM Records, and Jack Alcopop, Drop Out Dan etc and I spent time with Steve Hooper and his Mrs and the excellent Jodie from Bristol / Live Music Scene, to seemed to know even more people than I.

Shout outs to the Devizes massive (Luke, Dan and Alex) and all the Swindon crew (too many to name… but special mentions to Jake and Samuel)

Upon our return, and after a shower (or two) Rob Escott of The Colour Of Vinyl (link on your right) and I got down to reviewing the festival, via his session on Melksham Town Sound, which you can listen again via this link on Mixcloud, or check out our Pictures of our adventures on the Sheer Facebook page.

Proper excellent weekend, that gave us the post festival, festival blues. Hate returning to work and longing for it all to kick off again.

Which didn’t take long as PROFESSOR ELEMENTAL hit Devizes, in the amazing surroundings of St Mary’s Church / Arts Centre. The Prof’ went down extremely well, loved the town and the venue and what we are trying to achieve. Visually the place was arresting – Pictures on the Sheer facebook page – We had people travel from Swansea, Gloucester, Guildford, Poole and Bournemouth for the show(!) and our electro-swing DJ went on later than Devizes premier pub/club The Crown.

Check out this video, taken by an audience member…

 

In the mean time, I’ve had in the 10 year anniversary t-shirt image in. Designed by young, fledging graphic designer, Sharna Mollett – It will be available to purchase / pre-order very soon, with an ETA of late September for printing. Check out the design below. Mock up was created by Alex Fruen of Original Glory, who is also handling the digitalisation of a hand drawn image. Skills.

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FINALLY, the first job I had after all that had blown over, was to announce the first of the September shows, in the shape of KUNT & THE GANG. (links on the gigs tab, to your right, if you’re viewing this on the website!) and our final show of the Summer at the Stratton Stroll this Saturday.

Then it’s a genuine 6 or 7 week break from all things musical and organisational, whilst I write the promotion plan for Devizes Festival 2015, have a summer off with friends, start the first of the Bad Film Nights, give the in-laws a thank you curry for all the child minding and perhaps a wee late minute holiday away too.

See y’all in September’

KIERAN J MOORE

STOP THE PRESSES!

Imagine my shame when, scrolling down my iTunes only to realise that BEN MARWOOD‘s BACK DOWN was released this year?

So scrap all my lists, as THIS was my album of the year.

Some acts who explode come undone on the “difficult” second album, but not our Ben. Here we see him flourish into the dark little song writer we kinda knew he was, but were a little afraid to admit. 

Maturity is an almost clichéd thing to say, so I won’t, I’ll say composed instead. His second album was a composed account of his fragility, honesty and impeccable taste of influences. Little had changed from the previous outing, ie. there was still a bit of slide + steel guitar and there were a few full band numbers, but this album just had an extra, inexplicable element to it, that made me deeply love it. 

I confess, without meaning to sound “oh look at me” about it, that I had this album last year, when Ben came and played The Lamb and stayed over with Jay Beans, that’s why it felt like I’ve owned this for ever. I have listened it to an alarming regularity since! Incidentally, it’s up there with the Retrospective lads on my most played records this year, despite both being released last year, what’s with that? 

To celebrate my ridiculous oversight, I have booked the Ben Marwood and Retrospective Soundtrack Players co-head line UK tour in February 2014, you can find out more about that, over on TOWNTALK. & pick up cheap advance tickets HERE

I’m looking forward to that tour poster too! http://www.benmarwood.com.

RIGHT, that’s me over and out until after Christmas, I hope you celebrate it in your own special way, and I’ll be back to spam you all about all things Musically Wiltshire in the new year!

THANKS to everyone who has given a damn and supported their local scenes, come to shows, hung out and generally been cool – You’re the real deal! 

Take care

Kieran x

Ben Marwood and I.

Ben Marwood has a new album out, and I love it – Here’s why. 

It’s not because he comes from my family home town of Reading, or that we met through a mutual appreciation of the band Jetplane Landing, or that we took that “meet someone off the internet” risk, which panned out nicely, rather than a bloody and viscous death rape.

No, I love Ben, because from the first instant I heard his music, I believed in it.

Listening back to the first EP I heard, his second “Give Up“, I’m still struck that this songwriter, appears to be writing songs straight from my own heart. I literally felt like, YES! I’ve Felt Like THAT, or I Believe That! (and listening back now, and comparing with the new album, his voice has improved too)

His honesty, not only in his music, but when we spoke about stuff was always genuine, it was like meeting a musical kindred spirit.

It was exactly all that, that led me to invite Ben to perform on a bill with Small Town America‘s (STA)  indie-Scot’s Fickle Public in Devizes. STA are a label run by the previously mentioned Jetplane Landing.

I loved how even in his early stages still, Ben had a dedicated fan base, who would travel long distances to watch him – one such fan, Jacqui Sadler, actually filmed his performance and gave me a copy. These days were my formative promotion days too, at only my 4th or 5th gig, I was already meeting all kinds of good and honest person, the kind of people that help foster and inspire  my love for putting on live music.

To this end, I grabbed the first chance I could, to give Ben a significant support slot – Opening for personal favourite musician, Frank Turner. Frank was similar to me in a sense that I related to, or was inspired by his style, his words and his whole genuine approach.

Ben and Frank hit it off right away. A few more supports for me down the line, and they are firm friends. Frank actually wrote a song called PASS IT ALONG, in which he name checks Ben and states “Here’s to the ones, who have to take the stage,and sing the truth”. Frank clearly saw what I saw, and had a much better way of expressing it. I can only express it, by my love for that song and Ben’s own music.

Other people saw it too, and Ben has since got the title of nicest man in music, a thoroughly deserved one.  The only reason Mr Grohl has the edge, is because his fans haven’t met Ben.

Fast forward a few years, and Ben’s on his 2nd full length. He’s played some amazing shows, toured some fantastic tours and seen some incredible sights. He’s been able to release music he believed in, bringing Barry Dolan AKA Oxygen Thief and Jim Lockey to my attention. Two further acts I’ve since fell in love with and given shows to.

His new album BACK DOWN, for me is some of his best and most important music, the culmination of nearly 9 years work – which has seen Ben perform over a dozen times for me in Devizes alone. 

I don’t need to waste too much time telling you it’s an album really worth checking out. The sleeve notes did that within 30 seconds, stating that he canned the first batch of songs. Literally nothing short of brilliance made it through. 

It comes in under 40 minutes too, another sure fire sign of quality. It flies past and you instantly hit play again. It has comedic moments and some dark bits, chucking in some glockenspiel and pedal steel guitar for giggles too. It’s the sound of someone having fun and making music, and frankly, It Rocks. 

10/10. Sheer Music.  

Here’s a nostalgic video of my first Lamb shows (The room has changed A LOT since!)

Ben Marwood unveils “Back Down”

I love Ben Marwood. He played like my 3rd or 4th ever gig. I’ve given him so many shows it’s ridiculous, and I’ve watched him go from random forum bother-er, to shy international acoustic troubadour and he is still the same great guy I fell in love with. 

Excellent, witty lyrics, which often make you wince or smile and an almost uncomfortable performance style renders him fucking genuine and cool. 

His new album is due to drop through Xtra Mile again, one of my favourite indie’s – home to Chris TT, Jim Lockey, Frank Turner, Future Of The Left et al, and will be called BACK DOWN. I don’t yet know what the title means, I’m sure I’ll ask him at some point. 

The album features 12 songs, which follows on rather nicely from his first album, Outside There’s a Curse. Only this time he feels more comfortable in his own skin, appears to have confident idea of who he is and what he sounds like. More of that american steel guitar, which sounds ace. A smattering of full band, but still the dark undertones. It’s just rad. 

Check out this Ben Morse, directed video for single, UNDER LOCK & KEY, as an example…

You can pre-order the album, like I have >>HERE<< and catch him live at the album launch party at the Rising Sun Art’s Centre in Reading on Saturday May18th, with the excellent Oxygen Thief in support!

MAY
18 READING Rising Sun Arts Centre

JUNE
LEICESTER Cookie Jar @ Crumblin’ Cookie

YORK The Black Swan
DUNDEE Cerberus Bar
5 EDINBURGH Pivo
CHELTENHAM Frog and Fiddle
BRISTOL Louisiana

 

Quick round up……

Again, sorry for few posts recently, but there isn’t a lot going on… I have announcements on shows, but for the time being – do check what I can shout about over >here<

VIDEO SHOOT – Yes we’re attempting to make a video for Ben Marwood, and his awesome new song “Don’t Call It A Come Back” – lifted from his new album, we’re going to have a wee bit of fun this Sunday, at The Lamb, in our Sunday best. Please come, get in on the video action and have some fun! >Facepage info<

FIRST SHOW OF THE YEAR – Friday 25th January, we have the wonderful BOB BOWLES. If you like blues, and haven’t had too much of it in Devizes recently, pop along to The Lamb, for this free entry show. Jamie Cullum says “Bob must be the best blues guitarist in the country”. Now I’m not one to argue, but has Jamie met our very own Jon Amor?

FANTASY INTRODUCES – Cheeky name, but Thursday represents our Wiltshire-wide music session – tune in and catch up on the local scene and gossip… 97fm,  7pm-9pm or online at Fantasyradio.co.uk.

WHITE KNUCKLE BRIDE – Having more balls, than your Wimbledon ball girl, the local classic rockers, have announced a HUGE show at The COrn Exchange on Friday 30th March – check out the gig page for more info >Facebook<

Got loads of great shows to announce, some festival warm up for big bands, and so seriously sick underground noize for you – keep checking back from time to time!

Oh, and if you’re a like time subscriber to the local scene… Adam Byard has returned from his South London adventure, and is looking for a new band to sing in………

BE IN A VIDEO – Help needed…

On Sunday 13th January, local resident and scene dude, Simon Goodman, will be filming a “fan video” that I have requested for a new Ben Marwood song, titled “Don’t Call It A Comeback”. I’m hoping it’s good enough for Ben to actually use it for his new album’s press campaign – we’ll let him be the judge of that!

Simon has a very specific idea in his head, and it requires people of all ages, dressed in their Sunday best, to come and sing along to Ben’s song at The Lamb in Devizes. 

Our video idea is inspired by Godley and Cream’s video, CRY, which you can see on that link… We’re going to attempt to update that technique using our modern Mac technology, making it slicker with with Simon’s creative licence. 

We need lot’s of different faces, lot’s of different ages, young to old – so if anyone out there want’s to be in the video, click “attend” on this here Facebook group.

We also require a MAKE UP ARTIST, for make up and stuff…… Please get in contact! 

You can see some of Simon’s handy work below…

MY 2012 “best of” list…

Here’s my run down of my favourite records of 2012 – Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong, and submit your own best of’s…

1. runWALK! – “Health” (Holy Roar)

2. Japandroids – “Celebration Rock” (Poly Vinyl)

3. You Slut! – “Medium Bastard” (Stressed Sumo)

4. Tall Ships – “Everything Touching” (Big Scary Monsters)

5. Maps & Atlases – “Beware And Be Grateful” (Fat Cat)

6. Hysterical Injury – “Dead Wolf Situation” (Self release)

7. Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun – “Death” (Xtra Mile)

8. Future Of The Left – “The Plot Against Common Sense” (Xtra Mile)

9. Straight Lines – “Freaks Like Us” (Xtra Mile)

10. She Makes War – “Little Battles” (Self release)

I have to add into this list, the fact that I loved the, Fighting With Wire, Hold Your Horse Is, Minus The Bear and Retrospective Soundtrack Players records too!

EP’s of 2012…

1. Little Leagues – “A Problem Solved” (Self release)

2. Decade – “Decade” (Self release)

3. Gnarwolves – “Cru” (Big Scary Monsters)

4. The Naturals – “Concrete Sea” (Howling Owl)

5. Russian Blue – “Etiquette (Self release)

Favourite Gig Of The Year

1. Frank Turner @ Wembley Arena – April 

So there you have it, I could go on, like all of us with various lists, but it would be tedious. Except to say, well done to all the local bands who produced great EP’s (Salute The Magpie, Nathan Detroit, Homeland etc) to all the great shows (All of yours Abe) and a huge thank you to all of the touring bands who came and made Devizes a slightly better place. 

2013…

Next year already looks rad, with new records from Thought-Forms and Ben Marwood (I’ve heard them both, and they’re both corkers!). I have some great gigs lined up, including Josie Ghost (The King Blues) so keep your eyes peeled on this here web-blog. 

THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR COMING TO THE GIGS AND VOTING WITH YOUR FEET – IT MEANS EVERYTHING. 

Beans On Toast poster!

Julie Morris been designing me posters for a few years now, and she always comes up with bespoke illustrated designs, which show off her very individual style. She has delivered here, a poster inspired by Frank Turner’s lyrics in the song “I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous”

Check out the Beans On Toast show in Devizes in December >>here<<  – Beans aka Jay, opened for Frank Turner at Wembley earlier in the year in front of over 10,000 people – he comes to our tiny intimate venue, in front of a strict 70. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance!  >>>We Got Tickets <<< Or behind the bar, direct from venue.

>>>>> Julie Morris Website <<<<<