Category Archives: Surrey

ACM SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, Surrey has announced the launch of their first ever SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP.

The recipient of this prestigious award will receive a fully funded place on one of the academy’s reputable degree courses, worth up to £27,000.

All applicants that have successfully auditioned and enrolled for Degree programmes in Bass, Drums, Guitars, Keys or Vocals at either ACM Guildford, ACM London or the group’s newest campus, ACM Birmingham, will be eligible to apply.

The recipient of this prestigious award will receive a fully funded place on one of the academy’s reputable degree courses, worth up to £27,000…

Those applying will submit a video performance for screening by ACM’s world class teaching faculty, with a shortlist delivered to Skunk Anansie for a final decision to be made.

The award winning British rock band has been recording & touring for over 20 years, and have sold over 6 million albums and comleted many sold out world tours.

They’re the perfect role models for ACM’s students. In between studio recording and touring with the band, guitarist Ace works at ACM as Head of Creative Industry Development and drummer, Mark Richardson, is a Wellbeing Coach for the academy students.

Ace said “I’ve been honoured to be working with ACM for a very long time now, booking top industry guests, sourcing real world work opportunities, setting up networking events and advising students on a one to one basis. For three months of the year I pause my work on-campus so that I can tour with the band – bringing back the freshest knowledge directly from the industry back to the students. The music business has been very good to us over the years and it feels incredible to give back and make someone’s dream of studying music a reality.

Skunk Anansie vocalist, Skin, said “We are so excited to be able to offer such a life changing opportunity in partnership with ACM. Starting out in music can be tough financially, so being able to take away that burden for someone who is at the very beginning of their journey is incredibly rewarding. We love the fully immersive experience that ACM offers its students and are so excited to see the shortlist.”

Applications are still open for September 2017 study at ACM Guildford, ACM London and ACM Birmingham.

To book an audition or visit the Academy for an open day go to www.acm.ac.uk or call the admissions team directly on 01483 500 841.

To apply for the SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP or one of ACM’s other scholarship awards (including the Freddie Mercury Award and the BASCA Scholarship), visit www.acm.ac.uk/scholarships

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Weyward Chile – at the ‘Wey Will Rock You’ event – The Star Guildford

Weyward Chile possesses that kind of cock-rock insolence and sweaty strutting charm that actually swoops the gals off of their feet and sets the men a-jigging. And that’s exactly what occurred at The Star Inn, Guildford on 9th Sept at the boys’ regularly hosted rock night ‘Wey Will Rock You’ (planned for the last weekend of every month.) The guys and girls were dancing and grinding  – and hollering along to the best, biggest and most bruisingingly boisterous bad ass blues rock this side of the Smokies.

Frontman lead vocalist Karl looks very much like ‘Donovan’ but he possesses the seriousness and the rustle of Robert Plant. He is as bold as he is beautiful. On the sweet lead guitar we have chancer and chief mojo-maker Korush, on the smouldering rhythm guitar we have Jack and on the power-house percussion we have Alex showing off a tantalizing new kit, with James on finger-lickinginly good bass.

Starting with an onslaught of power and strength that shakes the roof tiles off the mossy ole ‘Star, the band smash into a blistering set that can only be described as ruthless classic rock. Delivered in dollops so big, you will need an excavator and a pile-driver to make sense of the chords and chops. With songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and Jimi’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” you know what you’re going to get.  Yes, exuberant classic rock and blues.

But their own songs are also full of promise and contagious, good time, rock-ability. From their gas-bottle necking grassband country twanging, feverish ‘Go Go’  to ‘Clouds Start To Rain’ which has an elegant chord structure and a tuneful verse together with nagging guitar ripples from Korush- lightly feathering the pattering rhythms. I can’t wait for their studio album.

There was a lot of low-down, yard-dog, dice rolling type numbers, like ‘Mike’s Song’ created with roostering roistering buoyancy. And ‘I Went Down’ which is their truest ‘Bad Company’ number. It’s like running down the strip with a desolation angel on your arm, trying to get to the liquor store & grab yourself a bottle of Gentleman Jack before the big game. It’s like sluice-juiced rock-daddy headymen Aerosmith before their big-hair dandy days. When they played true honest-to-goodness rock, blues and metal.

Huge sound and energy is created by Karl as he prances the boards and teases the audience with his wild shirtless holier-than- f * ck arrogant swagger. Yes, Weyward Chile are now truly ready for stadium stardom. I can imagine these boys making a success of a West-coast tour anytime now.

Hard place dominant rock and blues for the wise and the ready…

© Neil_Mach
September 2011

Links:
http://www.weywardchile.com
http://www.myspace.com/weywardchile
http://www.youtube.com/user/WeywardChile

Cow live at Bed Bar, Woking – July 2011

“Cow” are an acoustic 4-piece soul and pop band with a California sound and a kinda sixties-style kookiness concealing a modish edge, flavoring both their sound and their image. This band would not seem out of place supporting The Mamas & the Papas  on the Ready Steady Go! show circa 1966…

The band has already ably supported the Woking ‘Modfather’ Paul Weller and has created quite a lot of buzz and excitement on the music scene. I went to see the band as they launched their superbly packaged “Sunrise” E.P at the sumptuous Bed Bar in Woking.

The band is seated in a half-circle and play acoustically, without drums. Female vocalist and guitarist – Maxine  – is located in the centre of the group, looking relaxed and regal. She provides the warmth and depth to vocals, but Mark and Ben (on guitars) provide some interesting harmonies and generally descanted sounds. Michael is twanging the bass guitar. They reminded me of the kind of band that would be warmly appreciated on the Val Doonican show! But their insightful lyrics and creative compositions, and the constant intertwining, reminded me more of songs by  Loves  Lee Arthur in Los Angeles in the 60’s … together with the delicate air of mystery that lies beyond every song, and the vaguely uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize that you are being  taken up the-garden-path by the lyrical sub-texts and the arrangements.

“Sunrise” the ‘Side A’ on Cow’s new E.P. is like a sixties fruit-cup of love. Not unlike anything by the Mamas & the Papas in aspirations or moodiness. At first glance, this could be put down as a light pop song, but by rubbing its delicate surface, it reveals darker secrets. There is a flourishing yet controlled burst of chukka-chukka rhythms set amongst a profusion of squelchy guitars, but the flamenco style beats and the pervasive chords get heads nodding and feet tapping.

“New Day” ( this song went town well at Wembley Arena when Cow supported Paul Weller) is a foam-wrapped eerily haunting song, shrouded in mysterious folksy froth. And ‘One in B’ sounded like a less funky ‘Long Train Runnin’ (‘Dooble Brothers’).  This song evoked (for me) memories of joss sticks, turtle-necks and snuggling up in your Afghan, on quilted cushions, listening to Jefferson Airplane.

“Get To Luv You” sounds every bit as dippy and preppy as anything by the Partridge Family – a saccharine sweet and high-pitched jaunt. If the haunting emotions bring a tear to your eye and a slight ache to your heart, never mind, because the songs are joyful and  tender enough to lighten your mood and put a shake in your hipsters. Perhaps I could have done with some keyboards to ‘flesh the sound out’ – it felt a little like a watercolor wash at times. But, nonetheless, enjoyable.

“Fragile Foundations” has lustrous autumn gold vocals from Maxine against mellow chords and feel good bass lines.  ‘leaving ain’t no good when you’re misunderstood‘ she sings, while lofty harmonies provided by Ben tend to lift you to a higher place.
Gentle ‘Donovan’ style sweet sixties vibrations linger long after in your mind, even once the sweet chorus finishes…

Passionate, inspiring, folksy, Amercican style sixties soul – from this intimate and creative group. For your gentler side!

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

Links:

http://www.cowmusic.co.uk
http://www.twitter.com/cowuk
http://www.reverbnation.com/cowuk

Redfest Festival Report – 22nd-23rd July 2011

Now in its fifth year, Redfest is fast becoming one of the best ‘smaller’ festivals in the UK , and has built up an enviable reputation for bringing breakthrough artists to the fore- last year the headliners were Enter Shikari  and Hadouken – this year The Futures, Modestep, We Are The Ocean , The Qemists and The Skints wowed and wooed the crowds.

I cannot pile on enough praise for the organisers of this superb festival. It is intimate, relaxed and quintessentially, fun. It attracts a lively, youthful and attractive crowd. It is set in a gorgeous location at Robins Hill Farm, near Redhill Surrey. Good healthy food stalls line the event area, and friendly efficient staff / volunteers are helpful and charming. A superb chill-out zone, a great bar, a dance tent and some thrilling  ‘side-shows’ also add to the fun.  I can also confirm that the bookers for this festival are right on the money- this year’s festival sensation was Ed Sheeran – who is currently riding high in the charts – and yet was an early booking for Redfest.

The weather held up for the duration and even became balmy at times.The music and atmosphere was, as usual, perfectly sublime. The smaller venue – the red and white tent ‘introduction’ was hot and hectic … a lot of energy and fizz for all those involved. One of the standout acts at this stage were, for me, the high kicking antics of Lecarla –  tense, tight and trend-setting!

Some great DJ sets were available for the sweet and easy party-goers in the chill-out tent and these included Mike Chadwick and Matt Weeks.

Up on the main stage Modestep on Friday night blew away the reveller’s cobwebs and bounced the bones. Before them Brighton’s ‘Floors and Walls’ played a generous and vibrant set to the jubilant Surrey crowd.

Festival goers were in for more treats on Saturday as Ryan Keen stepped up to the stage- he is supporting Ed Sheeran this season and has been granted a valuable residency at Ronnie Scott’s. Ryan’s rich comortable tones helped warm and wake up the crowd.

Then ‘Hold Your Horse Is’ pounded our eardrums with their fierce yet controlled sound attack  – Redfest was one of three fests for this hugely popular band over the weekend. And milk, honey and mellow fruitfulness were provided by the delightful Pearl and the Puppets.

Qemists - Redfest 2011

Incredibly talented reggae/ska band ‘The Skints’ played a truly awesome set and got the party rolling in the green fields. The pure energy of this band was incredibly contagious as the crowd skanked and ska-voovied to the volatile vibes and those heady beats. Lead man Joshua Waters Rudge complemented the festival crowd for the most magnificent mosh-pit he had witnessed all season.

Heavy hitters Hampshire based band ‘Canterbury’ put on an incredible show, turning up the volume and turning on the audience with a thunderous kapowing, rolling performance.

Then ‘The Qemists’ created chaos in the fields with their happy vortex of musical madness-  as they charged through the kind of set that made everyone wanna boing and pronk like springboks  on the loose. Specializing in heavy chords, majestic and magnificent arrangements, and urban vibes set against a flurry of relentless crusading dance-floor beats on drum and bass. The resulting sounds were over the top- but elegantly powerful in scale and ambition nonethelesss.

All these acts created the buzz and energy necessary for the barn-storming climax of this festival, with carrot-topped  Ed Sheeran, who came onto the stage and almost immediately created a spectacle of fire and daring – and the massed audience went mad-for-it.  ‘Futures’ topped off the weekend with a triumphant and resoundingly successful show…   I literally cannot wait for next Redfest!

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

Avenge Vulture Attack at The Hobgoblin

The Hobgoblin in Staines has hosted many amazing bands over the last year and has a truly terrific line-up this spring too- with live music every Thursday and Saturday.

So we went down to the Hob to see one of the most promising bands of 2011 – the 4-piece punk/reggae act known as Avenge Vulture Attack. The band consists of singer Ella Grace, with Drew and Joss on guitars and vocals and Ben on drums.

Ella is as shameless and cheeky as a French saint, St. Amélie perhaps, gamine and absolutely delectable. And the funky interludes from under used guitar, dribbles of oily bass and just-so percussion add depth and soul to her sparkling voice.

This band is armed to the teeth with clean melodies and expressive musical tricks. And their combined energy is unforgiving.

Take for example the song ‘Run Around’. There is a background of fat reggae bass notes and jagged spiral arrangements. Across this horizon comes those startling yet anodyne cries from the heart-  from Ella.  Tuneful vocal harmonies and ambitious and creative guitar sounds, along with reliable percussion, all build up to a hesitant chorus that concludes with an anthemic flourish.

‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is like torn pieces of pure energy, lightly Prit-glued together to create a pastiche of pop punk sound.

Electric licks eel their way into your cortex, playing havoc with your innards, and leaving you panting for more.  It’s a sure thing that you are gonna be humming this yum-yum song for days to come.

This is a band that plays reassuringly fun music. They look and sound polished to perfection and their songs shine like the spring-time morning. I urge you to get them now while they are still fresh!

© Neil_Mach
February 2011

Link:

www.myspace.com/avengevultureattack

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A Word Like Attack – Hoboblin, Staines

If you prefer your metal to be post-punk post-apocalyptic and rhythmically complex then A word like.Attack is for you. This Southampton based five-piece post-hardcore band played the Hob, Staines last week bringing all their sounds from the school of foundry steel with them.

There is no lack of drama or feeling in A word like.Attack’s hammer and tongs attitude and carefully welded songs. ‘Move the Still Life’ fairly trips along, getting under the skin like an alien bloodsucker. The song even has a hummable verse and a clean vocal style from frontman David Berner. But the dissonant guitars veer around the central themes, creating an infestation of loopholes in the rhythm and building up undue pressure before spewing out ice cold shardlets of pain.  Softer touches such as breathy supporting vocals from Joe Edwards (also programming) appear thrillingly fleeting before a frenzy of sleepless night growls and those harmful inner voices raised as a dangerous black magic by Rich Berner on guitars.

‘He’s Going Through a Lion Phase’ is as hot and as dark as a blacksmith’s apron – contaminated with iron filings and fierce white-hot chips of swarf. Shards of steel poke through and fly around the soundscape – fluttering dangerously close to the candlelight of your sensibilities before burning your heartstrings. This is a hammering, thundering onslaught of a song – cemented together by the technical prowess of Adam Guest on bass guitar and the start-stop rhythms, harsh beats and power noise components from Alex Urch on percussion.

The crowd at The Hob, Staines enjoyed negotiating the factory gates of this doomy darkly brooding band and carefully populating their world of gray and black, ice and cold.  Incongruous rhythms add to the anguish and the vocals from Dave seemed like they are squeezed out through a tortuous mincing machine. But the band is bursting with creative energy and has a factory grade stage presence to match their technical mastery and guitar based instrumentation.

‘Good Luck in Your Future Endeavours’ features all those same progressive rhythms, dark cold metal chords and cemented dark metal strings all cold-hardened together to form the kind of melody that pierces your heart like a stiletto. This exciting band creates more tension and release than one of  Beth Ditto’s suspender belts.

Technically brilliant this band deserves to go far. May the God of luck be with them all the way.

© Neil_Mach
March 2010

PS:  Since this gig the band has announced that they have ‘broken up’ – they say they have taken the music as far as they can…

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/awordlikeattack

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Weyward Chile – Hob, Staines 21st Feb

Weyward Chile – Get it Done

On the cusp of brilliance, this band just need to increase their reserves of chutzpah, audacity and shameless life sparkle to achieve the kind of stellar success that they dream of.

Looking like Sacha Baron Cohen with Anthony Kiedis’s hair and Marc Bolan’s makeup, singer and feisty frontman Jason Guy leads his team into battle – but he needs to grasp that nettle (and shriek with the pain of it) if he really wants our hearts to sing and our crotches to smoulder.  I bet you he really screams out one helluva dynamic performance, if he puts his mind to it – but tonight the arrogance and the attitude is somehow missing.  A flattish ‘Get it On’  (T.Rex)  was, however, fun and welcoming and the punters at The Hob Staines lapped it all up.

Weyward guitar comes from the nimble fingers of Korush Mahdavieh, and his savagely cruel,  slinky,  splashing she-cat guitar sounds. Licks are  so cool yet so fiery that they put flames into the bone and freeze-dry the balls all at the same time.  The mouths of the excited audience froth with enjoyment as the band plays superb little numbers like the new Stonesy stoner “I Went Down’ with its architectural blues, or ‘Mikes Song’ with its refreshing slices of teasingly acidic guitar over a bluesy thumping rump of a bass/drum back-beat.  Maybe the sick coyote-howls of guitar could have been smarter  – wilier –  but generally the quality of blues guitar from both Korush and Mike Magnussen (on rhythm) was fine and dandy.   Bass (James Collyer) was also formidably good – with its muddy roots and sooty dark soul  firmly planted in those damp Mississippi banks.  One could almost smell the catfish gut.  And drums (Alex Gray) were crisp, bright and sinful.

My only criticism is that this kinda music – perched midway between the rock blues of The Black Crowes and the sleaze of Rattlesnake Remedy – must be performed with more sneer … more arrogant rut. In fact, it ought to be performed with a hell-bent attitude leading towards growling hysteria.  But, that said,  driving tunes like “Go Go”  with those thrumming drilling rhythms and gummy guitars licked with a hot pepper paste of slimy,  sinewy vocals or that crowd pleasing conclusion to the gig – a right royal slug of brilliant “T.N.T.” –  made for an enjoyable and lucid experience and the crowd just loved it.

A bit later Jason later told me he was fighting a bad attack of influenza – so that is may be why the performance lacked a bit of lustre.

Weyward Chile is an exciting band from those muddy groves of sleazy Southern Rock. Best after a double dose of Southern Comfort and a hot chick in a string-vest at your side. Tasty!

© Neil_Mach
February 2010

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/weywardchile

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