Sheer Music’s AOTY 2019

I’ve put absolutely no pre-thought into writing this, it’s coming out in a spew right, now.

10 – DZ Deathrays – Positive Rising #1 (Alcopop Records)

A much more understated album than their last outing, which was an absolute banger, this was a more controlled version of the beast we knew. Their atmospheric & anthemic sound were still in place and the album did drive and punch in equal measure, but it clocked in at 9 tracks, so felt a bit quick.

 

9 – The Real Cheesemakers – Grated Hits (self release)

Wiltshire’s finest silly song writers finally delivered their debut after nearly 20(?) years in the making. Certainly, in the decade I’ve known them. It’s strongest attribute will probably be their biggest hold back from reaching potential fans. People just don’t like silly songs, despite the musical prowess backing it up, and there was plenty of muscle flexed on this record. However, if you enjoy songs about cheese, giant squids, dinosaurs and guest appearances from chap-hop stars, then this record really, really delivered, and crucially, it stood up to repeated listens. Support slots to Creed Bratton, Goldie Lookin’ Chain & Professor Elemental on the way tell their own story. Almost certainly ones to look out for, as they will be hitting that circuit hard in 2020.

8 – Hysterical Injury – Life Death Life (self release)

I was slightly worried this came out in 2018, given it was released so early in 2019. The band played a single release show for us at the Komedia in Bath at the tail end of 2018, and this album followed shortly after. It was quite different sonically from their debut. Less pedal to the metal bass riffs and balls to the wall drums, and instead were more noisy soundscapes, programmed drums and dancy bass beats. This departure was rewarded with a UK tour opening for BEAK>, which is the only review you need.

Friendly Fires - Inflorescent.png7 – Friendly Fires – Inflorescent (Polydor)

In what is probably a wild card from me, big-budget, big label, pop-dance crossover indie disco outfit, Friendly Fires came back finally with their 3rd studio album. They did not reinvent anything of their history, they just continued to release dance floor friendly indie bangers. Not a lot else needed to be added, except to say, if you wanted a feel-good dance record, this was it.

A hand-drawn globe against a white background, with an orange border on the left-hand side. The words "FATHER+OF+THE+BRIDE" encircle the globe, with "Vampire Weekend" and "Sony Music" printed above and below the globe respectively. 6 – Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride (Columbia)

A stunning return to form, after trailing off since their debut (in my opinion), probably in part due to the introduction of 3 new members. This was an album of short, sharp songs (something of a theme in my list this year), spiked with their usual sun-bleached tunes. All destined to feature on a film 4 film in the future, obviously.

 

5 – Chris Farren – Born Hot (Big Scary Monsters)

If you’re not familiar with Chris’s sound, rest assured that if you picked this record up, you’d be delving in at his very best. His voice just tells stories, and I want to hear him lilting them to us. He doesn’t reinvent himself, but he did reinvent his advertising campaign, which had us all hooked on Twitter for the course of the record.

4 – Brand New Friend – Seatbelts For Aeroplanes (Xtra Mile Recordings)

OK, so not technically released this year, but I picked it up this year at their Swindon show, opening for Sean McGowan. And fuck me, the only reason this isn’t top, is because I got the  year wrong, because THIS is the sound of the funnest band out there right now. Brand New Friend are the natural successors to Ash. Infectious sub-3 minute pop tunes, all power and glory at being barely 20 something. They were my favourite set at 2000 Trees & they tour the UK in 2020, and I will be down the front, singing my heart out.

Image result for gender role prang3 – Gender Roles – Prang (Big Scary monsters)

Haha, now this was a fun album. BSM always find the band that epitomize the underground at that precise moment in time, and with Prang, Gender Roles delivered 2019’s snapshot of the state of the scene. They looked goofy, the wrote goofy and they played goofy. I have a live recording of the opening date of the album tour, in Chippenham. It was a wicked fun show, for a wicked fun band. When Weatherstate played Trowbridge a few weeks ago, these were the band everyone was buzzing about.

Image result for tom jenkins misery in comfort2 – Tom Jenkins – Comfort in Misery (Self Release)

Now here is an album.  Arguably the best-crafted collection of songs released in 2019, only missing my number 1 because of the repeated plays Indoor Pets got, because their’s came out earlier! Each song is an example of utterly perfect execution song writing. Even the shorter link tracks are perfectly weighted. No song grapples with another, the flow of the record was perfect, the weight of each track tempered expertly, none outstay their welcome – It’s a stunning record from start to finish. Tom took us on a journey, and it was beautiful.

1 – Indoor Pets – Be Content (Witchita)

After catching them for the first time since the name change (they played for us as Get Inuit, opening for Ash) at 2000 Trees, their performance was forever etched in my memory, not just because of the company, but because of the passionate delivery of the best collection of indie rock songs since The Pixies (for me at any rate). Their set was brief and faultless, and this album just got repeated and repeated. I’ve not seen them since, but I need to. I drove my family up the wall repeatedly playing Pro-Procrastinator. They hate it now. Oops.

A free gig, festival additions and a new merch item…

LOADS of announcements here… Please shared & tag your friends so everyone sees it!

First up… OUR AXES SHOW IS FREE ENTRY.

In light of the recent Wiltshire Times article about the future of Town Hall Arts (summery – Victim of their own success, require “35k to survive, 60k to thrive” in funding) we decided that the line up of AXES (multi-nationality & gender) some what reflected the diversity that the Town Hall Arts is all about, and thus have made our event FREE ENTRY in an attempt to fill the venue to bursting with like-minded individuals. 

Re-cap on what the show is all about, Axes are signed to Big Scary Monsters, whose roster has a long and beautiful relationship with performing our shows. The band themselves are an art rock band, with crazy time signatures, structures and dynamics all over the place. Real fun, feel good, dancy, indie rock noise, with silly song titles (Wet Wet Wet Wet or Rainbow Bacon or Fleetwood Math etc).

Support comes from Wiltshire’s own art rock band, Hoggs Bison, who is none other than Tom Mallard from Chippenham’s Riverbank studio. The band have put out their own debut album on vinyl, titled “Aeons” and last year performed at math-festival “Arc Tan Gent”. Following in the footsteps of previous Wiltshire outfit, Thought-Forms, it’s fair to say we have a strong history of producing this sort of quality & long may it continue!

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

ALL ROADS LEAD TO fROME! still… That’s right, Somerset council haven’t changed any of the sign posts around, so indeed all roads do still lead to Frome. 

We, very quietly announced last week that, Scout Killers, All Ears Avow, Drew Bryant, She Makes War & Rob Lynch were added to our line up – In case you missed that announcement, and many of you did, here’s the new again. 

I cannot stress how difficult it was to tie up some of these sought-after acts. Rob Lynch is a slippery salmon, but credit to Rob Dahl for chasing him like some sort of 90s pop fan. He didn’t manage to scare Lynch away, like say, Dan Buckingham would have, and instead agreed to come play instead. 

It’s also with great admiration that we include Scout Killers on the bill. The band recently sold out successively larger shows at Village Pump in Trowbridge, followed by The Nest in Bath. We’re predicting big things for the band, who only inked a deal with American band Soil’s Ryan McCombs management agency & are set to make a further leap when their album is recorded in June, and released later this year. It’s great to see some of our talent breaking out, so do keep a lazy eye on this band. 

I’m tickled pink that Laura She Makes War has also agreed to the gig, joining her friends Barry Dolan aka Non-Canon and Ben Marwood on an already excellent bill. 

Rob & I have been very lucky over the past two years that the bills do get better, fingers crossed this year we’ll beat out previous records. The line up speaks for itself. 

CHUCK HAY TO RETURN.

OK, so you kinda get it by now, Chuck SJ Hay is great. They’ve done some amazing gigs for us, and they’re someone we really believe in. But we can’t simply keep giving the same show over and over, at some point something has to give, so we’ve made the decision to add Chuck to the Justin Sullivan show at The Vic in Swindon. Much like the recent Grace Petrie gig, Chuck will play an early set, which won’t affect the other acts or times. 

Chuck really is someone coming into their own. Confidence seems to grow in the performance and there is a real message there. So far the gigs have managed to turn new people on to their music and things are definitely coming together for this Brighton based artist! A couple of high-profile supports and we could see Chuck develop into a real regular on this circuit. I predict that they’ll be opening Gaz’s Xmas shindig in Bristol in 2019. I’m calling it now. 

OH and one last thing… 

After recently seeing some wicked enamel pin badges, I’ve decided to produce some Sheer ones. Very simply, they say “Sheer Music est 2004” round the outside, and #GigFamily on the inside & will look amazing! Rob Escott (who does most of our posters) is mocking us up a design (when he get 5 minutes for my slave driving…) 

I did hope they would be ready in time for the Axes show, but alas the turn around is 4 weeks, so I’m way out. However, they will be beautiful and a perfect summery of what we’re about – a big family of gig lovers and friends. Defying age, gender, religious or sexual barriers, live music and our shows are joyous spaces where we come together to have fun together & I can’t think of anything more beautiful than that. So this is a pin badge to celebrate that! 

You invented the #HashTag, I just ran with it! 

So there you have it – big update……. 

SEE YOU ALL AT THE AXES SHOW & don’t forget to pick up tickets for All Roads Lead To Frome (please!) 

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The Ocelot come to Devizes to review a show…

Ed Dyer aka Gig Monkey – the thoroughly entertaining and informative column in hilarious monthly Arts & Music magazine, The Ocelot, will be present at this Sunday’s “Mega Front Man Tour” when it hits The Lamb on Sunday 16th September.

It’s the first time I’ve had pre-warning The Ocelot will be in town… the other stretching back yeeeears when they turned up, unannounced and reviewed my Devizes Festival Battle Of The Bands, as it was back then… It was a good review 😉

What’s fantastic is, that this show really taps into the underground, and has the opportunity to make Devizes look good locally and nationally – so if you’re going to choose one event this Autumn, make it this one!

Support act on the night, Someone Died is Alan Welsh from Colour / Tangled Hair. Just a few days after this tour Alan fly’s to Japan to tour Tangled Hair. Fantastic to be dealing with such acts.

Head liner is Big Scary Monsters act, SHOES & SOCKS OFF, embarking on his final UK tour under this guise, so we must have notched up some scene points some where… come out and be cool!

Last ever Shoes & Socks Off! tour starts in Devizes.

I am very proud and humbled to be involved, neigh, kicking off the “MEGA FRONT-MEN” tour, the last ever set of “Shoes & Socks Off!” performances.

Tobias Hayes, former helmsman of techy-mathy act Meet Me In St Loui, is bringing to a close another chapter in his musical career, whilst opening the door to his future project, “Love Among  The Mannequins

The aptly named tour, is because Tobias will be sharing the stage each night with Alan Welsh, former head honcho of mathy-indie & BSM band “Colour” and now front man of the superb, “Tangled Hair”. Do you see the theme here?

Main billed support of our Devizes leg, on Sunday 16th September, will be Russian Blue, our heroes who have recently been seen supporting the likes of, techy-mathy-arty-indie bands including This Town Needs Guns, Calories, Delta/Alaska, Tubelord and Tall Ships in the past 12 months. They will be performing their début acoustic, stripped back set.

The dates as follows…

16 – The Lamb – Devizes
17 – The Pav-Tav – Brighton
18 – The Grey Horse – Kingston
19 – Nation of Shopkeepers – Leeds
20 – The Bell – Manchester
21 – The Pilgrim – Liverpool
22 – The Chameleon Arts Café – Nottingham
24 – The Old Blue Last – London (with Ross Secondsmile)

 

Doors 7pm – £5 – 16+.

7.45 – 8.15 – Someone Died (Tangled hair / Colour)
8.30 – 9 – Russian Blue
9.15 – 10 – Shoes & Socks Off!