Sea Of Faces

Posted on 31st January 2020

So what is this monthly blog post idea I had. Well, over the years I've happened upon some wonderful music, and some amazing musicians and songwriters. Some have gone on to great things, others have left their mark, but not necessarily found their audience. It has always frustrates me that record labels turn their back on some of these great bands and artists, until they are a "success". Social Media has really helped over the last 10 years or so, but I thought it might be nice to highlight some really interesting bands and artists that I come across. Some might have been around for a while, some are fairly new, a few are either on hiatus or have split, but all are still worthy of spreading the word, as someone else may discover and enjoy it as much as I have.

 


So who is first up?

I very recently came across this band while looking through bandcamp. The band are Code Ascending, who have been performing since around 2015, releasing two EPs, and more recently an album. They are 3-piece hailing from Crawley, West Sussex, where a certain other band started as a 3-piece, and went on to major world wide success.

The first EP, What I Choose To Forget, was released in April 2016, and showcases a band that are slightly rough around the edges, which personally I love, but still have at their core a very focused sound and identity. The second EP, Pre-emption, released in March 2017, takes a step forward in the production, and brings more of the band's character to life. With their first album, Dark Taxa released in December 2019, comes a much more polished production with an audible step up in song-writing, and some wonderfully brooding soundscapes.

The band remind me to a degree, of some of the indepentdent bands I picked up on during the early to mid 90s. In particular, some elements of Prolapse, Thrum, and Ride are in there, but overall Code Ascending have brought ahard driving background to their songs, thanks largely to a great bass sound and some solid drum work, with some delightful riffs and solos weaving between them. The vocals fit the music perfectly, and in many ways are a subtle accompaniment to the music, rather than necessarily being the focal point. All this belies their ambient and showgazing tags, as there is so much more to them that this. Not quiet sure what tags I would include though, as they are the kind of band that touches on the fringes of several genres, without establishing themselves in any particular one.

I'm really hoping that they get to make it to the midlands for some gigs in the not too distant future, as I have no doubt they must be formidable live. In fact, I really hope they get interest from promoters to take them up and down the country, as I have no doubt that they could easily take their sound from small clubs to major arenas, given the chance. 

Favourite songs so far have been, Blink, Black Ink Ocean, and By My Side, but the rest are no slouches either. This band will be on my playlists for a long time to come.

For more information see their bandcamp pages: codeascending.bandcamp.com

File Under: music
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Reanimator

Posted on 30th January 2020

So it's been a while since I posted, and there are several reasons for that. Mostly the fact I have been busy with real life, including family and work, and haven't had the time, inclination and/or ideas to put thoughts down in this blog. However, I'm going to try and change that this year, and start a series of blog posts with themes, that I can pick up in parts over the course of the year. The aim being to post at least once a month.

This month you'll get this post, which is mostly an apology, but I have another that I have planned as the beginning of a regular once a month post. 

As you can probably tell if you've read my blog posts, my main interests are music, gaming, Perl and exploring. I've done precious little of that last one over the past few years, but hopefully that will change. Perl is still my focus at work, but my OpenSource projects have largely taken a notable backseat. That is something that will be definitely changing this year, with maybe even the occasional blog post, as I want to update a lot of the code that has been sitting around on my old laptop, waiting to be released. 

I'll take an aside here, briefly, as back in 2015 I bought a new Linux laptop, but sadly I dropped it, and damaged the screen. At the same time, work gave me a brand new laptop, so the impetus to get the personal laptop sorted fell by the way side. And by the time I thought to get it fixed, it had just passed it's warranty. I couldn't use the work laptop for my OpenSource projects, so they got put off, with minor fixes here and there, by using my webserver as a dev box. It kind of works, but not ideal for how I was used to editing, commiting and deploying to test environments. So they have languished a bit. Ok a lot! 

However, Gaming and Music have both had somewhat of a resurgence in my interest these last few years. 

Music never really went away, but my gig attendance had dropped off during the earlier part of the decade. That kind of changed when a lot of the bands I hadn't seen in a long time, or had never seen, all happened to start touring. This year I have several already booked throughout the year, so expect the odd review now and then too.

My gaming exposure, aside from board games and mobile gaming, has seen a lot more of me watching and enjoying the current retro gaming community. Many of the games I've never heard of, and those I have, I haven't played since the 80s, so it's been wonderful to see that era of gaming, a time that saw me get more into programming, come to life again. I'll never be a streamer, but I'll quite happily watch the fun of someone else playing those games now. The retro gaming community that I've discovered, also happens to have some of the loveliest people around. It's the kind of gaming community I wish I had been a part of back in the 80s ... even though there wasn't really one like there is now.

With the lack of writing over the last few years, I've been out of practice with blog writing, so you'll have to forgive my rambling for a while. I might get there one day!

Any road up, expect some music posts, Perl posts and maybe other rambling, notes and rantings. 

File Under: games / life / music / perl / rant
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Nomzamo

Posted on 19th May 2012

Earlier this month, on the 5th May 2012, The Paul Menel Band, stripped down to Paul and Steve, together with special guest Martin Orford, provide support to Pendragon at The Assembly in Leamington Spa. They may have been the supporting band, with an early time slot, but word had got out that doors were opening early, as nearly half the venue was full by the time the guys took to the stage. A great turn out, as even the Assembly staff noted.

Paul and Martin came on stage first for a rousing rendition of the Piano/Vocal Version of No Love Lost. A great start to the set, and got everybody eagerly awaiting the other delights from the Nomzamo 25 Years Anniversary Tour. This tour was a celebration of the release of Nomzamo, the album Paul and Martin first joined forces on, when they were in IQ back in 1987. 25 years later, the songs are as classic as they were back in 1987. Paul then welcomed Steve to join the two on stage. The Nomzamo set then continued with one of the best live performances of Promises (a personal favourite) and Nomzamo, the title track of the album.

To break the set up, the band added a few surprises throughout the set. The first surprise was a track from Martin's latest solo album, The Old Road, with Paul and Steve doing a fantastic job of Ray Of Hope. Common Ground began with Steve sitting on the floor with the acoustic guitar, having forgotten to arrange to have a stool on stage, and ended with some great electric guitar fret work, much to the appreciation of the audience. The next surprise, of sorts, was the Paul Menel Band song She's Up On The Chair Again, taken from the forthcoming album. Then on to the final song from the Nomzamo part of the set, Still Life, with yet more amazing guitar solos from Steve.

As so to the final song of the night. Although I knew ahead of the set what it would be, I hadn't seen the rehearsals, so wasn't quite expecting the result. As Steve stepped forward to the mic I was just expecting some backing vocals, and was just as surprised and impressed as everyone else when he took on the Roger Waters vocals for Comfortably Numb. Paul and Martin handled Dave Gilmour's vocals to great effect too. It was an unusual song for the set, but an absolute delight too.

Seeing Martin on stage again after so many years, was great, to see him playing and singing was fantastic, to see that he and Paul sounded as good as they did 25 years ago, if not better, was a joy. The following weekend they repeated the performance at De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland, to just as much applause. Hopefully, this won't be the last time we see Paul and Martin on stage together, as there is already talk of an Are You Sitting Comfortably 25 Years Anniversary Tour in 2014 :)

If you missed the gig, fear not we recorded the whole event, and you can now watch the full set on YouTube. You can either watch via the playlist, or by clicking the links below to view the individual song performances:

Photos coming soon.

File Under: gigs / menel / music
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Things Don't Mean What They Used To

Posted on 26th March 2012

Back in the '90s a young band touted themselves round the Midlands and sometimes further afield. Unfortunately I never got to see them, but did acquire a cassette tape at some point and remember being impressed. I was later told that the keyboard player was my mate Pete Spoz, who I'd got to know as one of the Jellyheads, who used to come along to many of the early Ark gigs. The tape is now somewhere in the loft in one of many boxes og hidden gems.

A few months ago, Pete told me that Giovanni (Pete's brother) was reforming The Sordid Details with Mick Couch, Rick Cox and himself. Here was my chance.

Sadly due to other commitments, of the three Re-Onion dates, Bromsgrove is the only one I could make. So on the 18th March, over to The Hop Pole in Bromsgrove I went for my first Sordid Details gig. Full of friends and family, the night was set for a top gig.

The band began as The Sordid Details, with a great selection of their own classics, along with a couple of covers, the first of which, Wish Away, they were joined by their good friend Ash on vocals. After about an hour they closed the first set with The Stranglers classic No More Heroes.

The second set began with a selection of songs from their days as Stereogram, when they played as a three-piece after Pete left. Pete rejoined them on stage for a run through a selection of covers, and a few more of The Sordid Details classics, before Dave from Jam DRC peformed some guest vocals with the band.

The night ended all too quickly, even though the band had been playing for over two hours! A fantastic night and I'm only sad that I won't be able to see them play The Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham on Saturday 31st March. If you happened to be in town on Saturday and fancy a great night out, you'll not be disappointed with The Sordid Details. Hopefully they'll come out retirement again some day, so I see if my bootleg tape recorder still works!

File Under: bromsgrove / gigs / music / photography
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If You Think About It

Posted on 6th November 2011

It's been a while since I posted some gig photos, and last week Nicole and I attended a rather fun gig. Our friends the Superficials were playing The Actress & Bishop in Birmingham, and as usual I took a long my trusty camera.

Alas I didn't realise that the batteries need charging so only managed to capture half the gig. Still for me that was still 600 photos! Thankfully I did manage to get some decent photos among those 600, and you can see a selection of them at the link below.

Being the weekend closest to Halloween, unsurprisingly the venue was full of the traditional vampires, ghouls and zombies ... including the staff :) However, the most surprising was a guest appearance by Andy Pandy! I can only assume the costume hire shop had run out of scary monsters.

Superficials were great as always, and deserved the top of the bill. They far and away showed off their quality of musicianship and song performance to be the better band of the night. Featuring many songs from their debut album as well as many as yet unrecorded songs, the band played a fine set. To honour Sir Jimmy Saville, the band dedicated Pushing Daisies to the great man who sadly died earlier in the day. With them playing so many great songs that weren't on the debut album, Surface, though, I am really looking forward to hearing their second album. A great band and a great night.

And should you now wish you'd been there too, another reason for posting the set now is also to highlight and promote a very special gig the band are doing this weekend at The Rubery Social Club, New Road, Rubery on Saturday 12th November.

It's a charity event and all the proceeds go to an extremely worthy cause. If you're in or around Rubery or Birmingham on Saturday and are looking for something to do, your support and attendance would be very much appreciated.

Superficials along with Black Bears and The High Commisioners will be playing the night away, to pay tribute to a young boy called Owen Evans, who sadly died last year from a very rare disease called Aplastic Anaemia. The gig aims to raise awareness for Aplastic Anaemia as well promoting 'A Trek For Owen'.

The whole of Owen's school, Beaconside Primary & Nursery School, have been raising funds by way of charity runs and other events and now Saturday's big event Live Band Night. There will be a raffle during the night too with some special prizes. Tickets are £5 for Adults and £2.50 for Children (Under 12′s).

On 12th May 2012 Owen's mum Sue, his headteacher Paul and family friend Lexi will be walking along The Great Wall of China to help raise £10,000 for Team Owen.

If you can't make the event on Saturday, you can still help Team Owen reach their £10,000 goal by supporting them at JustGiving or buying the special A Trek For Owen wristbands. It really is a worthy cause.

File Under: charity / gigs / music / superficials
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