Hot off the press, my main review article for The Ocelot, November 2012
Swindon pub The Beehive is one of those venues that soldiers on doing what it does without any fuss and bother, providing a platform for some amazing music. Concentrating mainly on the rootsy end of the spectrum the place has built a real niche for itself in the local scene. And as it is tiny it has the ability to conjure up instant atmosphere as any more than 10 people means it is packed!
Tonight’s band were a touring Canadian outfit called Picture The Ocean. This was the last date of their UK tour, but far from being tired and jaded from life in a small van they seemed as up for a laugh as anyone, sharing stories of the mad landlady at that night’s accommodation and her obsession in asking her dogs advice before making any decision. All the banter is well judged, funny and an impressive effort considering the size of the audience.
Musically their sound is based around an Americana roots heritage, a very traditional North American sound that big sellers like Springsteen, REM, Neil Young and Tom Petty have mined to good effect. But then using this as a foundation layers of other styles get piled up – dreamy rock, country and western, psychedelia, folk and harmony pop, making a unique and rather hypnotic whole. Main songwriters Jesse and Jacqui are an impressive duo with some fantastic vocal harmonies that don’t blend but still work well. Tour bassist Aurora Jane gives everything a funky platform for the band to really work their magic on, drummer Blackie is an understated player but incredibly good and they are supremely tight and well drilled. And the cherry on top of this musical cake is tour organiser Jez playing harmonica on some tunes (he does a mid-session folk set on acoustic guitar as well, which was also fantastic) despite being totally hammered.
The final song climaxed in a brilliant and mad improvised wig-out that was all spacey and Pink Floyed-esq, so well played it sounded rehearsed. Honestly, it is mad what you can see and hear in a Swindon backstreet boozer! This was a real slice of down home “Canadiana” that conjured images of the prairies, forests and mountains of their home and my only regret is that there were not more people there to share it with. But, I know normally (when not raining biblically outside) it gets very busy for music nights, so take the plunge and discover something new and rather wonderful.