"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
"... 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
Live review (8th July 2006) - Local Secrets
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
" 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
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
"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.
"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
"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
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
Review of Halcyon Days album launch night - The Fly magazine (October
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.
"...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
"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
"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
"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
"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
Live review (30th March 2004) - Anna Claxton for R*E*P*E*A*T Fanzine.