‘Tis the season, apparently. Unless you are reading this as soon as it hits the streets, in which case ’tis not quite the season yet. And, of course, if you find this magazine still kicking about in January and are just reading it now…’twas the season. Hang on. I’ll start again.

Welcome to the last Musical Musings of the year. And, before I start, finding information about original music up to a month in advance (which, due to printing deadlines, I must do) is getting tough. So, if you are a venue putting on original music, please ensure that your listings are ahead of the game; otherwise, I can’t mention them here. And, if I can’t find them, it probably means that your prospective punters and gig-goers can’t either.

Hook-heavy, melodic and full of alt-rock energy is an excellent way to describe Kotonic, who plays at The Victoria on the first day of the month. Joining them will be Sebastian & Me, who are sonic siblings and Bottle of Dog will be kicking the night off in fine style.

Also, on the 1st, you can catch B-Sydes returning to The Tuppenny for more acoustic anthems and troubadour tunes, much more than just “another bloke with a guitar,” and one not to miss, especially as he has the excellent Old Man Boom along for the ride.

Level III plays host to XSLF on the 2nd. As you can probably work out, the band is based around ex-members of Irish punk legends, Stiff Little Fingers and have now evolved to include new material. (It’s a shame that they aren’t playing up the hill, Alternative Old Town would have made for a great pun.) Support comes from the local stalwarts Charred Hearts, and opening the night is Borrowed Time. Top stuff!

And like buses, you wait for one groundbreaking, Northern Irish band to come along and two to turn up. So, you will find Therapy? on the 3rd at the same venue bringing their 30th/32nd (depending if you count the covid downtime) anniversary tour to town. Expect a mix of the nostalgic and the new buzzsaw guitars, depth-charge bass lines and thunderous drums.

Next door at The Rolleston is Jamie Thyer and The Worried Men, the natural successor to such blues and rock virtuosos as Moore, Johnson and Thorogood.

If you want something more mellow, you can opt for SGO, who bring their raggle-taggle, folky-bluesy-singalongs to The Hop on the 7th. Support for that one comes courtesy of Canutes Plastic Army. Also in the same part of the musical Venn Diagram is Oxbowlake – fun, upbeat, eclectic, emotive and unmissable. Catch them, and the always excellent Shedric, at The Tuppenny on the 8th.

Also on the 8th, Bare Knuckle bring high-energy rock to The Victoria, previously a covers band, now penning their own tunes and joined by More Human Than Human and Haul. And talking of cover bands, I know this is usually an originals-only column, but I must mention The Chaos Brothers at The Rolleston on the 10th. Incendiary, clamorous, energetic and droll are just a few words they don’t know the meaning of. Nevertheless, if you want the best night of punk and rock guaranteed, head along.

If you like the idea of live house music, vibrant beats and sensational vocals, head to The Tuppenny on the 15th for The Kairo Beats Collective. And get there early enough to catch Chloe Hepburn opening up the musical proceedings.

Those with long enough memories to remember Samson (originally featuring a young Bruce Dickinson) may remember one of his successors, Mick White, who brings his band to The Victoria on the 15th. Classic rock with a whiff of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound supported by Derailer’s punked up, rhythm and blues and the soulful rock of Sunkats.

And, of course, on the 17th, The Victoria plays host to the centrepiece of the Swindon Christmas calender, The 12 Bands of Christmas. Bands, you know well, playing covers they have just learned, plus booze, no sound checks and lots of borrowed gear. What’s the worst that could happen? I’m joking. It is a brilliant night because of, rather than in spite of, such obstacles.

If you missed Matt Owens supporting Thea Gilmore at the Art Centre last month (shame on you), then you can catch him leading the excellently named Delusional Vanity Project at The Tuppenny on the 22nd. If you come along expecting Noah and The Whale (his previous band) part 2, you will be disappointed. If you are after deft Americana in an understated Springsteen or Petty style, he will tick all the right boxes.

And finally, Here Come The Crows take us well and truly into Christmas with a gig at The Rolleston on the 23rd, a dexterous blend of soulful rock, funky moves and dirty blues.

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Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.

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