"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Hinkley Veltones

I’m just back from a top gig; the album launch for The Hinkley Veltones new album “Moths” at The Cube, here in Bristol. It was just two years ago that the Veltones launched their amazing debut album “Tied To The Mast” and tonight’s gig was a repeat of that brilliant night; the line up was the same; the packed venue was same with standing room only; and I had a really good time, again.

I had just parked the car when Richard Pitt, my old broadcasting buddy and still the presenter of BBC Bristol Introducing, pulled up in his car. Nice timing. He had arranged for me to be on the guest list, always nice, and as soon as we got into the venue we were meeting people from the Bristol music scene that we both know. This always happens to us at gigs as we are lucky enough to know so many of the bands from this fine city.

Darker Dogs were gathered together and we joined them, so I talked to Caroline Martin & Ben Goode about their upcoming nuptials and my maybe doing the artwork for Caroline’s new album. I think I might finally have an idea for it, so I need to get started on that pretty quickly.
Then we take our seats for tonight’s opening band, the tremendous twosome known as Bucky who do fast, short, loud songs on subjects that most other bands just wouldn’t think of. “Horses And Cars” for instance is about the ill-fated Ford Edsel and that in the late 1950’s early 1960’s some car retailers offered a free horse if you bought the car. This is true and Bucky have a great song about it. They were really on form tonight and the crowd loved them. They reworked a couple of their own songs to pay tribute to The Hinkley Veltones too which of course went down very well.
Next up was Howlin’ Lord. Mark Legassick is Howlin’ Lord and he is a real Lord, having bought a title off the internet. He used to perform as a one man band but these days has someone else playing drums for him and also a bass player.  It’s country blues and it kicks arse. I liked what he did as a one man outfit a few years ago but he has improved and matured over the last couple of years and is really rather good indeed.
Then it’s the main attraction, The Hinkley Veltones. When they launched the first album two years ago they were a three piece, Steven Marr, Harry Santer and James Marlow. Recently they added Matt Blackwell on bass to the line up and on this new album and for tonight’s launch they’ve extended the line up to include Toby Field on keyboards (who also presents Bristol Introducing with Richard now and is keyboard player for the excellent Roger Tarry/ Darker Dogs); Chipper Nicholls on cello; Mark Legassick on harmonica; plus Tom Fennell and Luke Spanton, one on trumpet the other on accordion but I don’t know which does which. Anyway, the overall effect of all these extra musicians is quite something to behold, even at The Cube with its notorious sound problems.
I’d heard an unmastered version of the album last year when it was called “A Sleeping Curse”. It’s now called “Moths” which I think is a better title, and is named after one of the tracks. I’ll listen to the new album this week, I haven’t had time tonight, but I don’t suppose it’ll be much different to the unmastered version I already know and love.
Tonight playing live with their extended line up The Hinkley Veltones were magnificent. I think they did all the tracks from the new album plus the two Veltone classics “Man Of My Intentions” and “Baby Don’t Leave Me” off the first album. There are loads of great tracks on this new album but this band have already left their mark on the music lovers of Bristol and beyond with those two tracks. “Man Of My Intentions” would have to be in my top ten of tracks and “Baby Don’t Leave Me” is right on its heels.
But I don’t want to take anything away from this new album. Like the previous Veltones offering, it’s atmospheric and haunting, full of emotion and depth, and it rocks. If you don’t know what they sound like then I urge you to go to their Myspace site and check them out. It’s dark, country tinged, alternative rock, at least I think it is, it’s quite difficult to place it in a genre. It has its own genre really and it’s what the guys in the band call “nuclear and western” which makes perfect sense once you hear it. I bloody love this band and I really want everyone else to love them too. So go get yourself a copy of “Moths” and “Tied To The Mast” because you’ll be doing yourself a big favour.
Suggested listening: “Moths” and “Tied To the Mast” by The Hinkley Veltones

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