Category Archives: Music Reviews

Reviews of gigs, albums and all that kind of thing

Two Thousand Trees 2013 – A Review

This review is a touch late (by about 6 months), but here goes anyway.

It’s now February, and, after one of the wettest starts to the year on record, my memories of 2000Trees Festival last summer have faded into a happy, hazy blur.

2012’s festival was defined by mud. Mud, mud, mud. Mud in rivers throughout the site. Oh, and rain. That’s not to say we didn’t have a good time, but the weather made most things a struggle. Last year, however, was like some mystical force had decided – for the first time in the festival’s history – that it was about time that Trees didn’t have any rain at all. In blazing Gloucestershire sunshine; 2013 would be defined by heat.

But the weather isn’t the main reason you go to a festival; Two Thousand Trees prides itself on lining up the best underground UK bands, and that pride is not misplaced. Over the years I’ve seen a few bands play here who have gone on to enjoy greater success, Frank Turner being the obvious example.

The line-up this year included two sets from Frank on the Thursday Early Entry and Friday nights, but as a firm favourite here, he popped up unofficially too and for each performance was greeted like a returning hero. Thursday night’s solo performance was a personal highlight for me, especially as I missed his ‘secret’ set* over at Camp Reuben on Friday. There was a good reason for this though – wandering round the site, we’d bumped into Dave McPherson trying to find his way up to the new secret garden area, accompanied him up there and stuck around to watch him play his own secret set. Which was awesome.

Other weekend music highlights included InMe in the Cave (which left me with moshpit bruises, but was so much fun – and loud… really loud!), Stealing Sheep’s impressive and innovative set headlining the Leaf Lounge, which ended in an outdoor un-amplified performance with their marching band (a joyous thing indeed), Stornoway on the main stage (despite sound issues that delayed the start of their set) and an emotional Ben Marwood playing to an adoring crowd at the Treehouse.

Ben Marwood at 2000Trees 2013

Ben Marwood at 2000Trees 2013

And let’s not forget eating icecream from the Split Screen Icecream Company, basking in the shade of the tree with cider, playing on the busk stops scattered through the site, and the delicious freshly-made pizza.

There were one or two negatives – the heat over the weekend was intense (the temperature in our tent was 50°C at one point! Phew) and hard to cope with at times (not that I am knocking the sunshine, just not being able to take a break from it), the sound on the main stage had a few more issues than it has in previous years, and a few people that we spoke to reported problems with security.

For me though, 2000Trees is still a fim favourite festival and I am definitely going to return again this year for more of the same – great line-up, great food and great times.

———————————

*I seem to have a habit of missing Frank’s unofficial appearances at Trees – the first year we went, hubby and I woke up to singing in the middle of the night, thinking ‘that sounds like Frank Turner…’. Too tired to get up and investigate, we discovered in the morning that it was indeed Mr Turner, resulting in a now-legendary campsite sing-along, which we missed.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under It's My Life, Music Reviews

Album Review: Bateleurs, A Travelling Band

Bateleurs Album Cover

A Travelling Band is the second album from stalwarts of the Swindon music scene, Bateleurs. Formed around the songwriting talents of Daryl Ball and Sean Amor, this new album sees a more settled line-up for the band with drummer  Chris McCormack joined by Nick Wall on bass and the addition of Anna Wall on fiddle and backing vocals.

It’s clear that this is a band that have developed their sound from their début All in the Past, released in 2011. The overall sound is more coherent, and the songs, although still tinged with pop influence, are more clearly focused on Americana and folk. It’s a successful blend, as the songs are instantly accessible and will have you singing along in no time.

Strong harmonies and foot tapping rhythms drive the album along at a bouncy pace, starting with opener Temptation and moving through up-beat numbers such as Firecracker (Ryan Adams cover), while the catchy melodies and well thought out arrangements will keep your head nodding throughout. The track list is rounded off nicely with the slower paced tones of Timelines.

This is a really strong album – quality songwriting, well performed and well produced. Stand-out tracks are the aforementioned Temptation, Barriers, and Wayfarers Daughter.  Highly recommended.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Music Reviews

Natural History, Gigs, Friends and OMFG I’m Tired…

Friday the 13th, and we packed up early to head for London.

The main reason for our trip? A chance to see Frank Turner headlining Wembley Arena. The reason for the earliness? Dinosaurs! Specifically, an opportunity to go the Natural History Museum while we were in the area anyway.

Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum, London

We rocked up (see what I did there…?) at the museum in the early afternoon, expecting it to be busy but perhaps not queue-for-30-minutes-to-get-in-to-the-dinosaur-exhibit busy. Never mind: we’re British; we can queue with the best of them – and it was totally worth the wait. We spent hours wandering through throngs of people, taking in skeletons and fossils, birds and beasts preserved for posterity, and even the building itself, which is an impressive maze of exhibits and ornately decorated with all sorts of cool panels. The more modern Darwin Centre was really interesting too, with lots of interactive displays and stuff for kids (and big kids like me) to play with.

Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum

Ornate Pillar at the Natural History Museum

On to the big gig: I won’t ramble on about how awesome I think Frank Turner is – I’ve already done that many a time on this here blog – but I will say this: if anyone deserves to sell out a Wembley show, it is Frank. The man works hard, I tells ya.

Hubby and I were seated up in the rafters where we could hear the crowd almost as much as the band – and it was seriously the biggest sing-along I have ever heard. Almost every person knew almost every word to almost every song. And as much as I would have loved to have been jumping about down in the pit, hearing that from where we were was pretty fucking cool.

Support from Beans on Toast, Dan le Sac & Scroobious Pip and Billy Bragg was all good too – even if Beans on Toast did only manage to finish one song (he was charming enough to get away with it)!

The morning after, and the journey back was broken up only by a brief stop in Reading for an over-due catch up with our good friends Hayley and Mel over tea and hot cross buns. Which was nice.

A short stop at home, and we were off again – this time over to Cheltenham to catch some of the Trees on Fire Spring Fling mini festival at The Frog and Fiddle.  By this point I was a bit too tired to really pay attention to band names (getting old, see… and the cider may not have helped), so I can’t really point out my highlight sets other than Andy Oliveri and Ben Marwood, both of whom I’ve seen and met before (yep, favouritism, I admit it). There was a ska-type band that I liked early-ish in the afternoon, and the last band we saw (Arcane Roots, I think) were excellent – hard, heavy and dynamic.

Didn’t have a camera with me, but here’s DominicMeason’s photos of the event.

And then just like that it was Sunday, which I probably should have spent resting but decided instead to try to dig over some of my garden, and then fell asleep at just the right point to prevent me from sleeping at a sensible bed time.

I may have nearly fallen asleep at my desk today, but it was totally worth it. It’s been a hell of a weekend.

Leave a comment

Filed under It's My Life, Music Reviews

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Part 11: Days 27, 28, 29 and 30

Before I disappear from the blogosphere for a Christmas holiday time break, I thought it would be good to finally finish the 30 day song challenge… So, in a slightly extended post, here are the last four songs from the challenge:

Day 27: A Song That You Wish You Could Play : Hey Joe, Jimmi Hendrix


I mean, who wouldn’t want to play that riff? Actually, I might have a crack at learning it… I suspect the solo parts may be a bit beyond my basic guitar skills, but who knows, it might just work.

Day 28 – A Song That Makes You Feel Guilty: Friendly Fire, Ben Marwood


Why this song invokes a vague feeling of guilt and sadness I’m not sure. But it does, in a slightly regretful nostalgic way. I guess it’s because the lyrics ring true, although they don’t directly apply to any situation I’ve been in personally, and that, my friends, is the key to excellent lyric writing.

Day29 – A Song From Your Childhood: The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps


We all grow up listening to the music our parents liked. My folks like The Beatles, Carole King, Fleetwood Mac and Mike Oldfield.. you know, that kind of thing… While My Guitar Gently Weeps was and still is one of my favourites from that selection. I love it.

Day 30 – Your Favourite Song at This Time Last Year:  Many of Horror (When We Collide), Biffy Clyro


I was kind of happy when Matt Cardle covered this song last year… I thought, well at least he’s singing a good song and maybe that will draw attention to the original artists Biffy Clyro, who are great (although I was annoyed when they didn’t call it Many of Horror). But then, wondering around a supermarket one day, I actually heard it – a startling example of how sickly sweet over-produced pop-i-ness can decimate a song. S**t.

Oh well, here is the original version in all its glory. ‘Mon the Biffy!

See you all after Christmas!

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 Day Song Challenge

Review: All in In the Past, The Bateleurs

I haven’t written an album review for a while, and it’s about time I did! So, seeing as I kind of promised, I’m starting with a band who I’m glad to say I have met and worked with on several occasions – and who are thoroughly nice to boot…

Swindon band Bateleurs have been making waves on the local music scene with the release of their EP, New Day Rising last year and now with the follow-up, their first full-length album, All In The Past released in August 2011.

Their sound is up-beat and accessible folk-rock with a hefty pinch of REM, a touch of Americana and a smidge of Dylan mixed in for good measure. Their two front men, Daryl Ball and Sean Amor are the song-writing core of the band, weaving vocal harmonies and instruments with the solid rhythms of bass and drums.

The tone of the album is set with the first track, the catchy New Day Rising, a reflective but optimistic  song of new beginnings, underpinned with an ear-catching folk-guitar hook.

The up-beat country feel is continued through Ghosts, the tone turns more serious with the slower Hello Girl before picking up again for Two Steps Back and stand-out tracks The Girl With Cartoon Eyes and Rainy Days – both of which show the more indie influences of the band.

The album draws to a close with the instantly accessible And It Feels Like and harmony laden Ordinary Day, which rounds off the record nicely with a poignant good-bye song.

Overall, this is a very likeable piece of work and I definitely recommend giving it a listen.

You can find out more about the Bateleurs at their official website: www.bateleurs.co.uk

Leave a comment

Filed under Music Reviews

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Part 10: Days 24, 25 and 26

Time for another dose of the 30 Day Song Challenge. The Challenge is coming to an end… although it has taken way more that 30 days to complete so far, and has been trickier than I expected! I will finish though. This is the penultimate post, so we’re nearly there.

Day 24: A song that you want to play at your funeral – Vital Signs, Frank Turner

So, that’s a pretty morbid question from the 30 Day Song Challenge creator… Up until this point I don’t think I’ve ever considered my funeral in as much detail as to choose the music for it. With the lyrics of this song, Frank Turner reminds us that we need to keep on living and that we should try to make the most of our time even after a loved one has gone. I think that’s a pretty positive thing to say at your own funeral.

Day 25: A song that makes you laugh – Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros, Flight of the Conchords


Because this is funny – and what kind of rapping name is Steve?

Day 26: A song that you can play on an instrument – Colourblind, Counting Crows

I love this song! And to prove it here I am playing it at Malmesbury Acoustic Sessions at The Three Cups on the 5th November.

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 Day Song Challenge

The 30 Day Song Challenge, Part 9: Days 21, 22 and 23

So, it’s time to go back to the 30 Day Song Challenge – it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, so I thought it about time I got on with it. Then we can all go home.

Day 21: A Song That You Listen To When You Are Happy – Insomnia, Feeder

Feeder are a great band to jump around to when you’re in a good mood. Their music also makes me drive faster… that is probably a bad thing.

Day 22: A Song That You Listen To When You’re Sad – Street Spirit, Radiohead

Lots of people have told me that Street Spirit is depressing, but I find that if I’m ever sad this song is actually a good listen. That little section at the end where Thom Yorke sings “immerse your soul in love” gives it an uplifting ending that leaves you feeling more positive as the song closes.

Day 23: A Song That You Want To Play At Your Wedding – Better Together, Jack Johnsonn

This is kind of a moot point – I am already married. Hubby and I have done the first dance thing, and this is what we danced to. I’ve since heard from a DJ friend that this is one of the most common choices among couples (and he thinks it’s a pretty tacky song), but you  know what – I stand by my choice.

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 Day Song Challenge