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Reviews

 

"Colonel Bastard struck the right balance between bludgeoning the songs and letting the tunes come through: they still got a thrashing, but they withstood it and sounded all the better, bar the vocals being a tad too low. I presumed they'd had a good practice, hence the deft handling of the set; Martin professed afterwards to have been totally unrehearsed, which does at least explain how he managed to forget the opening of Cup of Tea, which was nontheless one of the highlights. It was a hits-heavy set, notwithstanding the technical absence of hits; but Martin was stationed on vocals the whole time, mixing Peter Sissons and Bubblegum Bears with songs that are so old they would seem new to a Cambridge audience. The collapse at the end was delightfully handled. I got a text a few days previously saying "No john don't see them! They're not very good at all" (I'll leave the author nameless) - I can't see what's wrong with a well-crafted pop song personally, and I think it's a great shame that Bastard gigs are likely to be a lot less frequent in future, with Chris moving abroad and Martin likely to spend much of the next year overseas as well. Bummer. Still, never mind: they put together a top-notch line-up this evening that worked supremely well. I hope a repeat at some time in the future is not too beyond the bounds of possibility."
Live review (8th July 2006) - John Kell, The Unpredictable Same Fanzine
www.kingofquiet.co.uk



"... Headliners Colonel Bastard earned their billing, delivering grade-A Indie pop that could, if they decided to take the band more seriously, be on Top of the Pops giving the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs a run for their money, but the fact the four-piece don't is a big element to their appeal. The band consists of two sets of brothers, Martin and Chris White who went to Cambridge University and Ben and Russell who went to APU, thus uniting a gapping Cambridge divide and producing the creative success that uniting diverse sources usually brings (African and French influences in New Orleans gave us Jazz, Indian and English influences gave us the Tikka Masala). Sing-along-able songs include "I Think She Thinks I Fancy Her", a happy confession about this oft-felt by rarely-expression dilemma, the irreverent (or should that be revered?) Peter Sissons and the potential smash single Phone Box in which drummer Chris takes lead vocals and Martin and Ben support with an effective round of "phone phone phone, box box box."

Karmadillo (Hawaiian beach resort entertainment gone wrong), MJ Hibbett (working men's club band gone right) and Colonel Bastard (Britpop babies) differed in style but were united in their lack of pretension, infectious enthusiasm and knowledge of what a paying audience really wants: to be uplifted. The gig room in the Portland Arms always seems to put an audience at ease, but with three such feel-good bands, the crowd was positively beaming."
Live review (8th July 2006) - Local Secrets
www.localsecrets.com




"Colonel Bastard are fun, clever and uplifting with a VENGEANCE!!! I will sell them anytime!!! I so wasn't expecting what i got when i turned up at the Loft tonight. I found Joy! not just a smile, but a bunch of musicians and writers who offered uplifting, cheery and daring sounds, alongside with interesting texts; and such enthusiastic and quality energy! they had such pleasure sharing it that it made me feel privileged to be here and be a part of it. So thank you guys! I'm still smiling...and now longing for more. xxx"
Live review (16th May 2006) - We're all neighbours message board
www.wereallneighbours.com



"Headlining the evening were the behatted Colonel Bastard - one of the best local band names we've heard in a while. This indie-pop four piece specialise in catchy, upbeat, humour-filled numbers, and are one of those bands that look like they're having a really good time on stage, which is infectious! All this for an entrance fee that amounted to a pound a band, and some homemade biscuits offered round too: another great night from the wonderful R*E*P*E*A*T folks."
Live review (11th May 2006) - Rhythm Online
http://www.rhythmonline.co.uk




"In third were Col Bastard, the brilliantly eccentric hat-wearing indie boys who sing about Hollyoaks and randy bears (I think). They deserved more - the highlight for me was a fantastically awkward looking jumping about sequence at the end. They got my vote."
Live review (15th March 2006) - We're all neighbours message board
www.wereallneighbours.com



"Keen supporters of chirpy three-piece Colonel Bastard clustered around candlelit tables as the band took to the stage. Their name might evoke an image of a band trying to be deliberately offensive, but Colonel Bastard set the tone for the rest of the set by beginning with a song about a conversation with an actor from Hollyoaks. A set of simple chords jangled crisply over some marvellous castanet slapping and a bassline that echoed the vocals, pushing the sound towards a kind of catchy British guitar pop that could have been made thirty-five years ago. The songs are easy to listen to, impressive falsetto and harmonies giving a little complexity to what at base are simple comic ditties. Some moments of genuine lyrical wit shone through, particularly in the songs penned by guitarist Chris. Yet such moments did not hide the fact that Colonel Bastard's material was never emotionally engaging and for the most part washed over me without mustering the power to puncture my consciousness."
Live review (9th February 2006) - Local Secrets
www.localsecrets.com




"Opening group, Colonel Bastard, are a strong favourite of ours; their witty, punchy songs echoes greater things, a band which often describe themselves as being inspired by Only Fools and Horses are always going to be an enjoyable listen and the well-sized audience at the Loft caught the band in fine form."
Live review (14th January 2006) - Hunts Post
www.huntspost.co.uk




"Unfortunately due to the magical logistics of Stagecoach buses, I arrived at the Portland Arms slightly later than I would have liked to. I walked in just as Colonel Bastard had been given the '3 songs left' signal. Still plenty of time to absorb some music, though I would've liked to have seen Badwell Ash's set as well as the first half of the 'Bastard's.

First impressions then. Colonel Bastard looked fairly presentable, and they seemed relatively somfortable onstage and I was ready to hear what they were capable of. They launched into a song the singer described as a 'tale about his jury service', which I never did pick up the title of. The sound had lashings of Indie but still retained a sinister vibe throughout a cracking chorus, and by the end of the song I found myself nodding along to a tune I couldn't help but enjoy. The band ambled their way through the remainder of the set, with a distinctly more 'Libertines' shade to the festivities, though a tad more orderly. Overall the band were not overly spectacular but the Cambridge crowd lapped up the easy-to-dance to rythms and I was not overly dissapointed."

Live review (18th November 2005) - Cambridge Bands Review Forum.
www.cambridgebands.com



" Colonel Bastard : Halcyon Days -
Just listening to the music of this, you'd think that the name Colonel Bastard was horribly inappropriate; this is very pleasant indie with very strong tunes and gorgeous vocal harmonies. However it's the lyrics that make this band stand out; to be honest I can't beat the review from the Cambridge Evening News so here it is; in the time I've saved writing my own I'm off to book them for another gig!"
Halcyon Days album review - R*E*P*E*A*T Fanzine
www.repeatfanzine.co.uk






Halcyon Days album review - Cambridge Evening News (3rd November 2005)


"As being as I am slightly malicious, I'm just gonna come out and say that the other suppport band, 'Colonel Bastard' were the biggest pile of badger turds you can imagine, and it wasn't pleasant. The lead singer was a 7ft gimp with stupid hair and a stupid voice and a stupid hat, and probably shouldn't be fronting a band. They played the most unoriginal crap you can imagine, think Blink-182 without the catchiness, yes kids, it really was THAT bad. *hey guys, if you're reading this, go back to being TV salesmen, sorry and all, but that's the way it is."
Live review (27th October 2005) - Last.fm
www.last.fm



"Things change quite dramatically with the next band Colonel Bastard. I'm not sure what to think about these guys - taking cues firmly from early 90's Blur with some of the more pop elements of XTC, I'm a little confused as to where these guys fit in. They seem a bit more of an obvious choice for supporting Architecture - they're fun, upbeat and sing songs about their love of tea. The crowd also seem to really like them too and I think I'm in the minority of dissenters. "
Live review (27th October 2005) - CD Times.
www.cdtimes.co.uk




"The second band on were called Colonel Bastard and, if truth be told, weren't quite as dire as I made out at the time. Regardless, they were positively dripping with mediocrity. We withdrew to sofas and clandestine cans of Strongbow while they played."
Live review (27th October 2005) - Last.fm
www.last.fm




"At last - a proper album from these very fine quirky popsters from Cornwall via Cambridge. Wisely, it gathers together most of the band's live favourites into a brilliantly concise, immediately appealing collection. In Martin White and Ben Garnett, the band possess two gifted songwriters with neatly contrasting styles. White's songs brim with energy and exhuberance, whilst Garnett's, sometimes more refective and subdued, require a few listens before they work their magic. Both have a mastery of infectious melody and the combination results in an album that is much more than the sum of its parts.

Were anyone to offer Colonel Bastard a sizeable advance, it's conceivable that they could be lumped in with the current Britpop revival alongside the Kaiser Chiefs and their ilk. They certainly have an unmistakeably British sensibility informing their work (an American band would surely never rhyme 'lager' with 'aga'). They are better than our current chancers though, and the influences are more subtle. Whilst there are hints of Blur and Supergrass here, the band seem to possess something of the alchemical talents of the likes of The Boo Radleys and Teenage Fanclub (relatively underrated bands at the margins of the original Britpop explosion) for infusing 60s-tinged, summery pop with a quirkier, spikier edge.

It's clear that a number of these songs have been kicking around for a while, at least judging from the band's choice of cultural references. Internet porn no longer seems like a particularly cutting edge subject for a song, but somehow 'Surf The Sexx.Net' manages to sound like a fresh discovery. Peter Sissons is hardly the BBC Newsreader of choice these days, yet his name provides the title for Martin White's hilarious tale of crime and misfortune. Ben Garnett's 'The Day I Met The Bloke From Hollyoaks' might be a little behind the times too - isn't it all The OC and One Tree Hill these days? A US teen soap would seem inappropriate though - far too glamorous and glossy for this band's closer-to-home concerns. The songs are smart and engaging enough to transcend their references. 'Peter Sissons' benefits from a spiky, angular guitar riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Franz Ferdinand single, whilst '...Hollyoaks' seduces with its truly irresistible chorus.

The lyrics are witty and incisive throughout. There's no Dylanesque verbosity here, but there are plenty of pithy, humorous couplets. My personal favourite is the fantastic opening line to 'Bubblegum Bears' - 'Well she's a honey and I'm Winnie The Pooh/I wanna get my paws on her 'fore the other bears do'.

They're not afraid of a good guitar solo either, but the musicianship is instinctive and thrilling rather than studied or virtuosic. The production is suitably under-polished, with well-arranged harmonies, but a gritty drum and guitar sound that captures the spirit of the band's live performances. Perhaps even last year, I might have described this as endearingly unfashionable, but with guitar pop rapidly squeezing out the pure pop market, I can't think of a better time for Colonel Bastard to make a bid for success."
Halcyon Days album review - In League With Paton
http://inleaguewithpaton.blogspot.com



Review of Halcyon Days album launch night - The Fly magazine (October 2005)





Band of the Week feature - Ely Standard (29th September 2005)



"Colonel Bastard were launching their new CD Halcyon Days and essentially played the CD. The tunes are good and catchy and the two main vocalists work well together - the drummer chips in with some extra vocals - as well as swapping lead vocals they also swapped between bass an rhythm guitars. With the two guitars and harmony vocals the songs have a slightly American sound - though the lyrics are definitely grounded in British life. It was good catchy music that deserves a better audience - some of the early punters had drifted away and I guess there were about thirty people left in the hall.

I was lucky enough to win one of the three copies of the CD that Colonel Bastard were giving away - so I am now officially a private in the CB army. However, if I hadn't I would have stuck my hand in my pocket and forked out the 4 they were asking for it - though I understand the regular price will be 5. I recommend that you check out their next gig and pick up a copy."
Review of Halcyon Days album launch night - Cambridge Bands Review Forum.
www.cambridgebands.com



"...The Validators put in an excellent performance, both tight and powerful. So, could Colonel Bastard follow that? How would they even go about trying? By being bloody loud, to the point of ferocity in fact. This and their Proper Indie Guitar Solos (Knopfler it ain't) may have disguised their sheer pop brilliance to the uninitiated - though happily many of the audience seemd acquainted with their line of things. Martin topped and tailed the set on lead vocals, with a switch-round part-way through to allow Ben to take us through some of his equally marvellous numbers, allowing me to observe, "I met a bloke from Hollyoaks once," and add it was the same day as I met Elvis Presley's cousin. Company opened and Whitley Grange closed, the latter with a beautifully OTT ending. Early on, Martin, having a middle initial "j", proclaimed, "We are MJ White and the Vindicators," adding they had also thought of being "MJ White and the Vehicular Manslaughterers." The Bastard seemed pretty well-rehearsed as well; I know Dan Paton aspires to arrange a return gig for them in London, maybe even replicating this evening's line-up, and I hope it will turn their recent drive towards a higher profile into something tangibly successful."
Live review (13th April 2005) - John Kell, The Unpredictable Same Fanzine
www.kingofquiet.co.uk



"Headlining were the superb Colonel Bastard, who played many songs I remembered from my student days, but in considerably more polished and impressive versions. I don't think it would be overstating the case to say that this is some of the best indie guitar pop I've heard in recent months - so much more distinctive and enjoyable than most of the po-faced tripe in the pages of the NME. It's music with zest, intelligence and charm to boot. Martin White also has a great sense of humour - "I'm MJ White" he says, "so for one night only we are MJ White and The Vindicators!"

There are classics in abundance - the hilarious 'Peter Sissons' and 'Boring Gordon' are songs which revive the great British tradition of character and narrative in songwriting (and in this respect, Colonel Bastard hark back not just to the power pop of XTC, but also to Ray Davies and The Kinks). They end with a gloriously ragged version of their 'punk rock opera' 'Whitley Grange' which has lodged itself in my consciousness and now refuses to go away. They also looked great in their suits and hats, and had energy and enthusiasm in bucketloads."
Live review (13th April 2005) - In League With Paton
http://inleaguewithpaton.blogspot.com




"Colonel Bastard's long-awaited drive to move up a few rungs on the indie ladder continues with this second demo. While January's CD contained three of Martin's songs, here we have three of Ben's. And it's the kind of release that makes you proud of this country's glorious indie heritage. Opener The Day I Met The Bloke From Hollyoaks is less obviously Supergrass-y than Martin's contributions, and instead can best be described as jangly Britpop, which it's easy to forget was actually a might form of pop music. (Incidentally, I met a bloke from Hollyoaks about a year ago - whether or not this song is based on a real life event I know not) The "I don't want to be famous" trope has been tackled before, but originality is not a prerequisite of good pop, and this works. The more gentle-paced Little Red Spiders at first seems harmless enough, except that the spiders of the titled end up getting squashed repeatedly, before a guitar solo guides us through the outro. Presumably both of these tracks are culled from the APU show as with the first CD, as the third track, Are You Still Afraid Of The Dark? is listed as a home demo, and has a lot more in the way of oozy synth sounds and orchestrated (and lightly electronically-treated) backing vocals. It has a quality not unlike the Pure Reason Revolution track, come to think of it, with more of an electronic edge. In fact the more I listen to it, the better-produced it sounds. I heard talk of an album to follow later this year, and if it has the same quality of this it will be superb."
Review of Promo CD (March 2005) - John Kell, The Unpredictable Same Fanzine
www.kingofquiet.co.uk



"Colonel Bastard have been a going concern since the later 1990s, but only now are they beginning to seek out some momentum, as student dispersal - and possibly student laziness - militated against regular gigs, and though there were some, the closest I ever got to seeing them was the excellent ska side-project Skadust. They are now stabilised as a four-piece in Cambridge with Martin on vocals, guitar and bass, his identical twin brother Chris on drums, plus long-term collaborators Ben and Russell Garnett on other bass / guitar duties. All three songs here are from Martin's pen and in at least two instances go back to the band's late '90s origins, one being a home demo and the other two being culled from a gig at Cambridge's Anglia Polytechnic University.

So, what has it all come out like? How does a bunch of intelligent young men (NB older than me) manage to come up with something distinctive within the four-piece guitar band format which, as so much NME-championed pap demonstrates these days, is starting to look a bit tired? The simple answer is: great tunes. No guitar band has enjoyed massive success by actually having tunes and proper songs with words since the decline of Britpop, to the point where people approaching their twenties have no idea what a guitar pop band actually sounds like and get so sewpt away by pale imitations like Snow Patrol, who are reasonable, but no more than that. For instruction, they could do no better than listening to Colonel Bastard.

I've always thought that, while I have an open attitude towards music, I have rather conservative tastes and really want a nice tune above all. The three songs here particularly recall Supergrass in their tunes, and opener Peter Sissons has a minor-crime-caper-gone-wrong lyric that Ver 'Grarse could easily have taken into the charts, as could Madness, come to think of it. Second track Whitley Grange recalls the same trio's more psychedelic moments, with what sounds like some inventive stereo mapping going on, but might just be my imagination. Closer Company is perhaps the strongest song of the three, and has a slightly wistful quality threaded through it that cannot be traced back to any stated influence. Indeed, the Supergrass comparison is neat, but slightly misleading; these songs are more genuinely eccentric than anything that band has ever released, and while tracing the influences is quite fun for me, it doesn't quite do the music justice."
Review of Promo CD (January 2005) - John Kell, The Unpredictable Same Fanzine
www.kingofquiet.co.uk



"Colonel Bastard are like the Cambridge University pseudo-version of The Jam. They look posh. The bass player especially. And the annoying thing is that you know they sing in mock-er-ney accents but they actually speak like the well mannered young men they really are. That didn't bode well. But they have a few catchy tunes and if you fancy a bop and something of a Britpop revival, then definitely check them out. Got my toe tapping anyway."
Live review (30th March 2004) - Anna Claxton for R*E*P*E*A*T Fanzine.
www.repeatfanzine.co.uk