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SPIRES o x f o r d c u l t u r e # 0 0 3 OCTO B ER 2 0 1 2

CONTENTS: Issue #3: October 2012

Music 04 fashion 07

art 08 film 12

14 The front cover of this Issue was provided by Joe Davis. Joe likes drawing everyday situations using a single line - a bit like an etch-A-sketch, but better. Elsewhere in his art, he's created giant steel sculptures and screenprints of oversized schoolbook doodles. Check out his work at: // @spiresmagazine


Since the last issue of Spires, I have spent five weeks travelling between various points in North America with one of my best friends. Starting in New York City and travelling a winding route to the west coast that took us through Toronto, the Niagara Falls, Chicago and Austin (all on public transport), we finally reached sunny San Diego and took a few days out in a small beachside community before hiring a car and making our way up the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. Why am I telling you all this? Well, partly to make you super jealous, and partly because it's the reason that this issue is later than usual. Sorry about that. This magazine is still only a baby, and as such there's not a lot that can be done when things like life get in the way of timely appearances. By way of an apology, let me give you some advice: go travelling while you're young and full of adventure. Make the most of every opportunity you get, meet brilliant people and explore further than Lonely Planet books tell you to. You'll have the time of your life, and things like a temporarily empty bank account will seem worth it in the nostalgic haze of 'whooah, I really did that!' you'll experience upon your return home. SO, back to business! It's October, which means the students are back in town. Hello students, nice to meet you, do you like our magazine? It's quite new, we hope you like it. We've included one of our most ambitious features yet to get you back in the mood of Oxford enjoyment: a comprehensive guide to the ultimate Oxfordian pub-crawl. From Cowley

Road to Jericho, you won't be short of unique and eclectic watering holes to make your drunken home away from home... away from home. For those who prefer to kick back with a film, we haven't forgotten you. The Phoenix Picturehouse in Jericho is a brilliant place to fulfil your cinematic cravings, regularly showing a wide range of new indie releases, the occasional anticipated blockbuster and reruns of cult favourites at their beloved late night showings. Find out more on page 12, including a number of free (yep, free) screenings that you could be in attendance of. There's loads more besides to get excited about: if you haven't tried one of Byron's mouthwatering burgers, you'll definitely want to after reading our review. And if you're finding yourself entering the new academic year with a frustrating lack of funds and worn-out threads, read our tips on how to update your wardrobe with a few affordable mouse clicks. Creative minded folk will want to check out newly renovated OFS, one of the best venues in town for modern art fixes. Autumn's in full swing, so we do hope you stay wrapped up warm indoors and take a bit of time to research some toasty culture stops with Spires this month! Have a good'un!

Matt Ayres (Spires Editor)


Album Reviews

LUCY ROSE - LIKE I USED TO // SONY // This tender-voiced singer-songwriter from London has proved with her debut album that she’s deserving of much more than a side-spot in a band that’s already made its niche in the British music industry.

LOWER THAN ATLANTIS - CHANGING TUNE // ISLAND // Easily one of the coolest bands to like in South England at the moment, Lower Than Atlantis really struck a (power) chord with new listeners last year when they released World Record, a cockily titled but cracking rock album that took the hardcore attack of previous effort Far Q, married


Alongside the sentimental, lyrical focus you might expect, Lucy Rose manages to fit in a number of tracks on Like I Used To that feel more like the collaborative work of a band. Perhaps it’s the amount of time she’s spent on the road with Bombay Bicycle Club, one of our country’s most original talents in recent years, or her ethic of working with likeminded musicians in the recording process. Either way, numbers like ‘Red Face’, ‘Bikes’ and ‘Lines’ have a richness to them that goes beyond the territory of solo hollowbodied strumming: drums boom with reverb, harmonies are multi-voiced. Most of Lucy Rose’s music is still of the acoustically rendered variety, though (see 'Middle of the Bed', 'Shiver', 'First'), a genre admittedly saturated by young, attractive women in thick-knit jumpers and a fringe. There’s always the argument that something very similar has been done before, that it lacks a certain stroke of uniqueness, but that argument is missing the point. Lucy has taken a beloved, tried and tested style back to its roots – somehow this is warmer, more welcoming and kinder to the everyday listener than the efforts of her contemporaries. Really, it’s definitive of how acoustic music should always be: recognisably honest and stripped of the pretension that seems to have spread like wood rot across fret boards worldwide. Instead, listening to Like I Used To feels like an incredibly talented friend playing you songs about her life, being lucky enough to sit in her bedroom while she showcases her incredible talent and pushes some emotional weight out the door. MA it with basement-busting singalong choruses and took the rock scene by storm. Since then they’ve signed to a major label; this is supposed to be their Nevermind, a chance to take the signature aggro-rock sound they’ve mastered and blast it into the mainstream with the backing of real money and influence. Certainly, Changing Tune is in keeping with the feedback-laden, grungey brand of melodic rock that LTA have made their signature. It's a safe continuation for them, and a better produced interpretation of the sound tailored on World Record, most notable on single ‘Love Someone Else’ which contains an opening segment straight from the grave of Kurt Cobain and the double guitar assault last demonstrated on sophomore favourites ‘Deadliest Catch’ and ‘(Motor) Way Of Life’. It’s not going to take the world by storm though, because the majority of the album isn’t this good. Almost as if the band plugged into their Marshalls, played with distortion pedals and big sounding riffs for a while, decided to re-record the whole thing in an expensive recording studio with a top notch producer and name it their difficult third album. Moments of genius shine through occasionally, undeniably: album closers ‘I Know A Song That Will Get On Your Nerves’ and ‘Showtime’ are two of the better ones, as if LTA want you to remember the good bits when it’s all said and done. As a whole, though, Changing Tune is a disappointment when you consider its title: their tuning remains drop-D, and their status in the grand scheme of UK music doesn’t look like it’s changing much either. MA

Constellation Guide: = BAD //

= AVERAGE // = DECENT // = BRILLIANT // Reviews by: Charlotte Krol, Dave Reynolds, Matt Ayres

Bat for Lashes - The Haunted man // Parlophone // The album cover for The Haunted Man is rather misleading. Here we have a stark-naked, fiercely determined Natasha Khan with an equally naked man draped around her shoulders, shot in stunning black and white. It’s brave and (quite literally) stripped back. But is the music as assured? ‘Lilies’ is good news for fans of Bat For Lashes’ trademark hippy-chic imagery and ambient sound. Pastoral lyr-

Freelance Whales - diluvia // Mom + Pop/Frenchkiss //


ics, splurging synths and hardened strings decorate the track, which is an early indication that she hasn’t abandoned the fantasy lands that populated her previous efforts. It’s a promising start. Muted, pentatonic guitar chords run through new single ‘All Your Gold’, threading disparate elements of music together at its infectious chorus. It’s a brilliant piece of writing and proves that Khan has not completely fallen victim to the writer’s block she experienced of late. Some of the album’s best tracks lie at the centre, from the downtempo, Cocteau Twins-inspired sludge of ‘Marilyn’, to the energetic brass and male plainchant found on ‘The Haunted Man’. Lead single ‘Laura’ differs the most from the other songs on the album, a lilting, gorgeous piano ballad carried by grave cellos and melancholia. It really shows off Khan’s natural songwriting ability. But its neighbour, ‘Oh Yeah’, is all the more appealing. Brainwashed bodies throb to the robotised “oh yeahs”, kittens run frantically across keys and marching drums roll gently beneath ghostly synths. Khan delivers, but leaves you wanting more. ‘Horses of The Sun’, ‘Winter Fields’ and ‘A Wall’ are stagnant and forced, insensitively spread evenly across the album which makes it nigh-on impossible to forget they’re there. The tracks aren’t bad, they’re just uninspiring and a bit safe – the opposite of the album cover’s statement. It is this safety net of sound that envelopes The Haunted Man throughout. There are countless moments where the dazzling creativity of Fur and Gold and Two Suns shines through, but not enough to squeeze it onto the same podium. Lyrically, Khan is obsessed with running away from things, metaphorical creatures in the forests, out on the meadows and in the dark. It’s about time she stopped and faced the demons that have hindered her creativity. CK A band definitive of the online generation, Freelance Whales simply would not exist if it weren't for the Internet that you're reading this on. Forming through friends of friends (Facebook style) and ads on Craigslist, it's no wonder that these New Yorkers sound so whimsically disjointed in their fusion of banjo plucking, glockenspeil chiming and synth twiddlng. Like the abandoned lovechild of Stornoway and The xx, they begin here with 'Aoleus', a gloriously uplifting choral number that introduces the dreamlike sci-fi lyrics of Diluvia through 'circuit boards and spaceships', 'fluorescent gods.' This is ambitious songwriting for a collective still in its infancy, and the Whales pull it off with style on numerous occasions: notably, the female led 'Spitting Image' could send festival crowds into a frenzy with its orchestral onslaught of Shins-esque pounding and palm-muted, effectsoaked guitar. It's also an album that rewards the most on repeat listens, being that its vast montage of sounds, surreal lyrics and challenging run-time (52 minutes) can easily overwhelm the uninitiated. Were it a five track EP ending where the trumpets victoriously sound at the end of 'Locked Out', Diluvia might have been destined for more mainstream recognition, but the downfall of diffusing big ideas across eleven tracks is that they begin to lose their impact around the halfway mark. MA


Local Releases reviewing oxford's latest musical offerings...

A Silent Film - Sand & Snow // CMI // Impressing the brightest sparks in Oxford's significant but small music scene evidently wasn't enough for A Silent Film. They've been busy touring the US and bombarding American ears with their dynamic, tightly honed piano rock for the past year, and, having drummed up significant support, released this album in the states before unleashing it over here. Cheeky buggers. Whatever happened to home is where your heart is?

Bordeauxxx - Only fiction // keep pop loud // Only Fiction is the new minialbum from Bordeauxxx. With boy-girl harmonies recalling the likes of Johhny Foreigner and gang vocals a la early Los Campesinos!, at first glance it seems effortlessly easy to pigeon hole them as somewhere in between these two contemporaries. However, occasional flashes of originality help to rescue them from such accusations. A late-September release for an album described as “sounding like it has been written by summer itself” seems a little odd, but Bordeauxxx’s brand of upbeat indie-pop will always sound this way. It chooses to focus lyrically on elements such as wasted weekends ("Come Around") and pitfalls of holidays ("Every Holiday Is A Disaster"). The highlights come when they step away from this, albeit briefly. "All That’s Left" shows off a gentler side with a twee glow filled with strings and a hint of sadness. It offers a welcome respite from the relentless cheeriness that surrounds it. Perhaps this sounds like the lament of a grumpy reviewer cursing the passing of summer, but the arrival of a bleak winter is not something to be ignored, both meteorologically and musically. DR


We'll let them off, because Sand & Snow was recorded in Arizona and those pesky Americans have clearly managed to cotton on to what a great band they are before the rest of Britain. Reportedly 'living and breathing' the roadworn culture of Kerouac and Dylan, their wanderlust has also helped them to write an album that mixes skyscraper-sized choruses with their previous penchant for deep and distinguished songwriting. It would be easy to write them off as Coldplay clones, what with vocalist Robert Stevenson's impressive range and the entire band's obsession with reverberated keyboard-led balladry, mellow and maginificent at the same time. The likes of rightly titled album opener 'Reaching The Potential', radio single 'Danny, Dakota and The Wishing Well' and live favourite 'Love Takes A Wrecking Ball' showcase something more idiosyncratic, though - stadium sized, perhaps, but matching fellow Oxforders Jonquil for intelligence and creativity. More, still. than clever cloggs pop rock, Sand & Snow is euphorically uplifting. Tinkling synth arpeggios and pedalboard powered riffs effect accent a behemoth of a rhythm section, one that seems broader than any single song. It's this cohesive element that binds the album together and makes it such a joy to listen to - the quiet, introspective parts of the album signalled by a drop in the otherwise omnipresent murmur of bass, made all the more poignant in their solitude. It's no more apparent than in 'Stepping Stone', a late-album highlight showcasing almost everything good about this band. It may not be as innovative as what Spring Offensive or Fixers are doing, but A Silent Film are still welcome to fly the Oxford flag with a sophomore album that's tough to knock. MA

North bay - Demos // SelfReleased // North Bay is the moniker of one Tom Jenkinson, a young musician who creates gorgeously refrained instrumental soundscapes, sewn from melodic patches of guitar, synth and distant vocal repetition. This collection of seven tracks seems to draw heavily on the ambient, post-rock influence of Explosions In The Sky and This Will Destroy You. It hits the nail on the head in most musical aspects, albeit more succinctly: each number spans an average length of about three minutes, in comparison to the usual quarter-hour epics associated with this genre. He does well to keep things short and sweet. The longest track here, 'Echos', suffers for being too repetetive, and lacks the slow build-up to pack a final punch in its later stages. Faring better are 'Breath' with its stuttering take on a classic guitar chord progression and 'Patter', a trancelike vocal composition that belongs in an indie film soundtrack. The biggest pitfall North Bay faces is the omission of drums, which would certainly bolster the impact of his songwriting. The echoey thumps and claps featured on 'Golden Years' aren't quite the same, but at least give an idea of the percussive ambition in mind for future recordings of these demos. MA

In the age of online, thrifting has never been so easy... It's all too easy to get caught up in the rush of impluse buying this time of year. With summer leaving as quickly as it arrived, the necessity to update an outdated winter wardrobe is on the forefront of many shoppers minds, leading to mass high-street splurging and regretful purchases aplenty. With the internet at our fingertips, however, one needn't always face the blustery assault of October for the sake of questionable new threads. A bit of knowledge, consideration and searching will get you classic fashion items that you've sought for months, at a decent price to boot. These tips should provide you with the means to save a load of cash whilst you kit yourself out in a fresh range of autumnal attire.


It sounds patronisingly obvious, but knowing whether an item of clothing will fit you is essential when shopping online. Fits vary from brand to brand, so this is easier said than done: even buying a basic graphic tee can prove a mindfuck when you know you're an American Apparel medium but can't remember whether Fruit of the Loom prints are smaller or larger (for the record: AA is smaller). Use IRL shops to try on highstreet garments you've seen online, but for less common brands, a trusty tape measure and sizing chart are essential for happy shopping.


With an infinite number of possible purchases at your mouse-clicking disposal, it can be tough to focus on what you were looking for in the first place. Knowing what you're after when browsing for clothes online will ensure that you don't regret clicking the 'purchase now' button in weeks to

come. This is especially difficult when online stores like Topshop and Urban Outfitters are designed so irresistably, but stay strong and use the tempting items in your periphery as inspiration for future fashion hunts: you're bound to remember the ones that really make an impression.


Without the tactile perk of testing product quality yourself, risks are amplified in the online search. User reviews will help you to make informed decisions about which brand will best suit your needs. It's often worth paying that bit extra for an item you know you'll wear, particularly with durable, long-lasting staples like coats and jeans. In a pinch, condider vintage: quality brands can regularly be found second hand for dirt cheap prices on Ebay.


Ebay is undeniably 'the world's marketplace', making it an enviable Aladdin's cave for vintage fashion finds. Whilst one man's trash is another man's treasure, no one wants to end up paying money for clothes that should have been chucked years ago: be smart and check for notes on the quality of second hand goods. Falsely advertised threads are subject to bad feedback and full refunds.


Lastly, whilst getting caught up in the excitement of an online auction is easily done, these can quickly escalate. You may end up paying more for that initial 'bargain' than it was ever worth. Set yourself a limit, and stick to it.

Fashion 07


arts @ old fire station It has been nearly a year since the redeveloped Old Fire Station opened. The building, situated in George Street, Oxford, is now the home of two organisations: Crisis Skylight Oxford, a charity which offers training, education and employment services to homeless people, and Arts at the Old Fire Station, a charity aiming to support emerging artists and bring a range of performances and exhibitions to the public. The two charities work together in the space to fulfil their joint vision of producing a centre for creativity in Oxford that will bring about change. Arts at the Old Fire Station is certainly fulfilling this vision with their vast calendar of events at the theatre and gallery, and their shop full of original artworks. The theatre delivers live music, plays, dance and performance art. Alongside this there are also regular events such as live poetry from Hammer and Tongue, collaborative arts event Playground, performance platform Theatre Scratch Night and live readings at Short Stories Aloud. Arts at the Old Fire Station also hold classes and workshops for people of all abilities to support and inspire people’s creativity; they range from dance classes to dress making courses. The gallery, although small in comparison to many galleries in Oxford, is a very exciting space showing contemporary artists working in a vast array of mediums, and holding regular artist talks. The exhibitions also have a quick turnover, with each one lasting around two or three weeks. This means viewers are able to return more often and see the constantly changing variety of art, from ceramics to video art, established artists to emerging artists and recent graduates. The current exhibition titled A Nervous Encounter runs from the 6th to the 20th of Oc-

tober. The exhibition displays the results of interactions between scientists at the University of Oxford and artists studying the MA Art and Science programme based at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The artworks created based on these interactions are visually appealing, including ink drawings, printed glass slides, silver jewellery and an interactive piece using a microscope. However, this is the type of exhibition that most definitely benefits from the viewer having an understanding of its context and back story. The information that accompanies the exhibition explains the insights gained from the interaction between science and art, and how this influenced the final artworks. This information takes the art from interesting to fascinating, creating a compelling exhibition. Attached to the gallery is the Shop at the Old Fire Station. This is not your typical gallery shop selling books and branded pencils; it feels like another gallery displaying unique creations made by artists and designers. The products on sale include zines, note books, prints, illustrations, cards, fabric crafts, ceramics and much more. The shop showcases creations by artists in the UK and particularly Oxford, and they welcome proposals from anyone hoping to sell work. Arts at the Old Fire Station is a great addition to the art scene in Oxford, enabling people to engage with art, drama, and other creative practices on many different levels. The sheer variety of events and ways people can participate means the Arts at the Old Fire Station is a hub of creativity in the city centre.


Neuroelectricity, mixed media sculpture by Christiana Kazakou

An Emerging View, multiple-screen printed glass slides by Agnieszka Tamilola


"The information accompanying A Nervous Encounter takes the art from interesting to fascinating"

OFS gallery space, exhibiting A Nervous Encounter

Art 11

Freshers + Films =


Attention,students!Evenifyou'vealreadyspentall your book money on booze and blocked out memories, we're sure that our first choice picturehouse The Phoenix will be showing something to suit your budget. Look at all these amazing offers they've laid on for you! Welcome to your new FAVOURITE CINEMA!

Picturehouse cinemas have teamed up with E4 especially to let students see some of the most anticipated new film releases before they hit cinemas nationwide, for free, every month. All you need to attend is a valid student card: empty wallets are no problem here! Recent Slackers Club screenings at the Phoenix have included The Watch, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Hit & Run. Next month's will be announced soon! Check out for more details.

Phoenix After Dark is all about dusting off the reels of cult classics for the enjoyment of true movie lovers. These are special, one off events celebrating great cinema: expect fancy dress, exciting drinks promotions, DVD giveaways and an electric atmosphere. As a student, you'll be able to enjoy discount admission with your NUS card. Things kick off with The Big Lebowski on October 20th (get your white russians in at the bar), followed by notorious video nasty The Evil Dead on November 2nd for a spooktacular Halloween/Day of the Dead special.

FREE student MEMBership *

Aft er Dar k This incredible deal won't last long, so get yourself down to the Phoenix and ask about it if you'd like to benefit! For no cost you'll get your very own membership card, which'll get you awesome discounts on the cinema's daily showings. On top of that, you'll be generously looked after on your first visit with a free drink from the bar (beer included!) and a medium popcorn to munch on. All well worth asking about - the Phoenix show some of the most varied filmmaking around, from arthouse to world cinema, new Hollywood blockbusters to reruns of cult favourites. It's located in the super cool suburb of Jericho, at 57 Walton Street.

12 * First year students only.

On The Road

Director: WALTER SALLES Cast: GARRETT HEDLUND, SAM RILEY, KRISTEN STEWART, TOM STURRIDGE, KIRSTEN DUNST No piece of creative work quite pens the ideologies of the Beat generation like Jack Kerouac's On The Road. It may come as a shock to some that no adaptation of this novel had ever been made until now: numerous notions for the screenplay had been thrown back and forth between visionaries over the years, with Kerouac's own idea featuring himself as Sal Paradise and Marlon Brando as Dean Moriarty. Evidently, it never happened. Brando failed to reply to a letter sent by the author himself. The 21st century compromise is Sam Riley as Paradise and Garrett Hedlund as Moriarty, two relatively obscure actors (by Hollywood standards) whose performances are bursting with an uncommon ambiguity - rarely do we feel so attached to characters with such obliviousness to their innermost wants and desires. Of course, we get that they're angsty, overflowing with creative energy, the desire to be something more, the urge to express themselves with utterly unfiltered actions and no regard for the consequences. It would have been easy to make these characters clichĂŠd (ok, let's temporarily forget about Riley's cringeworthy voiceover and focus on the diegetic, here), but they're daringly unpredictable and, on many occasions, potently unlikeable. The film is far better for it. Stewart, too, is brilliantly brash. Reminiscent of her performance as Tracy Tatro in Into The Wild, she plays Marylou, a

vibrantly self-destructive sixteen-year-old with a frightening libido and, despite it, an obvious longing to conform with social order (in stark opposition to her sexed up, drugged up partner). The trio are episodically joined on their journeys by a mishmash of absurd characters and performances - notable cameos are Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee and Steve Buscemi as 'Tall, Thin Salesman'; the latter's appearance leaves one retchingly grossed out, a cold bucket of water in the face of hyperbolic liberal hipsters who might boast of living out Moriarty's hedonistic ideologies. The harsh contrast between indoor and outdoor settings works well to encapsulate the affectation of wanderlust that resonates throughout this story. For all his beatnik debts, Sal seems to really hit his stride between cities rather than within them, sharing sketchy truck rides with strangers and months with mysterious females, instead of the randy flings and shortlived but passion saturated encounters embodied by Dean in the jazz clubs, brothels and derelict bedrooms that comprise most of the mise-en-scene. It's the act of moving from place to place in which Sal/Kerouac finds his liberation, his inspiration, and it's a real shame that the titular roads don't feel like a primary focus of this adaptation. As such, it's hard to shake the feeling that something important is missing; we don't feel quite as submerged in the journey as we ought to. The film is enjoyable indeed, and if it weren't overshadowed by such remarkable base material then perhaps it would read differently. As it is, Walter Salles interpretation of On The Road isn't what made Jack Kerouac's so alluring.

The verdict:

Despite some beautiful camerawork and dynamic performances, this long-awaited adaptation doesn't quite live up to the hype.



The Ultimate Oxf The City Arms is located on the east end of The Cowley Road. It is a popular haunt for students, attracted by cheap drink offers (for £1 you can buy a ‘yellow card’ that entitles you to discounts in all Scream pubs for a year). Its proximity to the O2 Academy and its residential location give it a diverse clientele. Fitted with large TV screens and a pool table, it probably makes most of its profits selling beer and burgers, but that’s all students need, right? If you like your quiet drink in a characteristic pub this won’t be the place for you.

The Hobgoblin is conveniently located a stone’s throw from the O2 Academy. It tends to get very busy here pre and post gig. Punters are attracted by the cask real ales, especially their very own Hobgoblin from the local Wychwood Brewery. There are generous student deals, too. The heated outdoor patio is a great place to gather for a drink and watch people go by. There is nothing special about the decor; however, the dinginess and run down look enhances the authenticity of this pub. It’s the perfect place to meet before a gig or a night out and is always bustling with people.

The Star is hidden away, just a stone’s throw from the bustling Cowley Road. It retains the feel of a proper English pub with a slight modern twist. Try your hand at some retro video games while you’re waiting for your drink at the bar. It always feels busy here, as it’s so small and cosy, matching its location.

The Cape of Good Hope sits right on the junction of the Iffley and Cowley roads, overlooking the picturesque Plain and Magdalen Bridge. You won’t get any student discounts here, but it is still popular with students. It generally appeals to an older crowd due to its speciality beer range. Wednesday nights are a free open mic night, and Thursdays feature local bands. It is great last stop before walking (or stumbling) along the High Street to the city centre.



ford Pub Crawl The Victoria is located on Walton Street, which is the main artery of Jericho. It mixes an antique feel with modern twists. It is divided into inviting, snug little sections such as The Lair and Terrace Room. It boasts two heated outdoor seating areas, including a front terrace that looks out on to Walton Street.

The Jericho Tavern is the landmark pub of Jericho. It has a rich musical history. Radiohead played their first ever gig here in 1986 under the name of ‘On a Friday’. On the 3rd October 2012, a blue plaque was unveiled here honoring Brit-pop band Supergrass, who consider the Jericho Tavern their spiritual home. The decor and atmosphere in here is amongst the best in Oxford. Run by the same company as The Cape of Good Hope, it too has a great range of speciality beers. Although summer is a long way off, it has a magnificent, tranquil garden to enjoy a beer in the sun. Gigs are held in the small room upstairs, which makes the perfect setting for witnessing live music. Recent performers include Charlotte Church and King Charles.

Jude the Obscure is one door down from The Jericho Tavern. It is a very traditional pub, where Oxford University students and locals meet. This is a pub for everyone. It has a great range of cask ales available. From September 28th until October 31st there is a cask ale festival.

The Duke of Cambridge is situated on Little Clarendon Street. It sounds like a pub, but it is in fact Oxford’s leading cocktail bar. It has been open for over 30 years and is very popular with the mature generation of Oxford’s nightlife. It is a little gem, hidden away behind an old public house fascia. Early drinkers can get the majority of cocktails for £3.95 each. Happy hour runs from 5pm to 9pm Sunday to Thursday and 5pm to 7.30pm Friday and Saturday.



Congratu ...You didn't think we w

The Chequers is down a narrow alley just off of the High Street. It is very easy to walk past without noticing. It is a traditional pub, with premium beers, lagers and ciders. Furnished with sofas and open fires, it is the perfect place to warm up as the summer becomes a distant memory.

Maxwell’s is an American diner by day and a bar by night. It is squashed between Paperchase and Barratt’s on Queen Street. This is like no other place in Oxford. Dance the night away while a DJ plays music from a booth above your head. Don’t like dancing? Relax in one of the booths and drink a cocktail from their impressive menu, such as the hugely popular ‘Oxford Blue’. Maxwell’s appeals to everyone: this is a great place to go early and pre-drink, especially during happy hour, or to forget you are in Oxford and pretend you are in an American dive bar.




ulations! were done yet, did you?

The Living Room is situated within the Oxford castle heritage site. It is a modern, upmarket bar popular with young professionals. Its strict no fancy dress policy gives you an idea of the kind of clientele it attracts. It offers a premium range of bottled beers and cocktails. The Living Room perfects the balance between a bar and a club; you could happily spend your entire night here.

The Turf Tavern is probably the hardest pub to find in Oxford, and this adds to its charm. Located under a bridge, down an alley and round a corner, this pub is in the heart of historic Oxford. It has been here since the 13th Century and is bordered by one of the only remaining sections of the old city wall. As you sip on your ale you will feel like you’re in an episode of Inspector Morse. Serving local ale and premium lagers, this place is particularly popular with students and professors of Oxford University. If you want to wallow in history and see where Bill Clinton and Stephen Hawking, amongst others, have had a pint, this is the place for you.



Byron Burger, a British chain, was established in London in 2007 by Tom Byng with the aim of serving simple and decent hamburgers just like he had eaten during his four years in the USA.

to have because most of the ones featured on the menu are craft beers which we had never heard of. We decided to go with a Hawaiian lager called Kona Longboard on recommendation from our waiter, and it was delicious!

The Atmosphere

The Food

With its large windows you don’t need to go in to see what awaits you at Byron Burger. It’s simple, stripped back vintage-esque decor means all the focus is on the food, exactly how a simple burger joint should be. We visited late afternoon on a Saturday but there was still a buzz about the place with people enjoying their ‘post-shop’ burger. A friendly waiter sat us down and asked what we would like to drink. We wanted a lager but had no idea which one

The menu isn’t vast, but that’s the whole point of it: a menu structured around their classic 6oz hamburger cooked medium (unless otherwise requested), topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise and served in a bun*. My friend and I started with the ‘proper olives’ (£2.75) and tortilla chips with homemade guacamole and salsa (£3.50). If I had to judge the meal on that alone then it would have got 10 out of 10! The Tortilla chips are

You can’t beat a decent burger. Having become a well established London based chain, Byron opened its first Oxford branch on George Street in July... served warm and are a million miles away from the covered in processed flavouring top brand. The guacamole and salsa was perfect too: a great start to our meal. After this came the long awaited burgers. I went for the Cheese with Monterey Jack (£7.75) whereas my friend chose the Classic, with avocado as extra (£6.75 + £1.25). We ordered a side of French Fries (£2.95) and Courgette Fries (£3.25). The burger was served with a side of pickled gherkin, and it was incredible! The beef was cooked to perfection, just the thought of it now makes my mouth water! Courgette fries were a great accompaniment to our burgers: perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. If we had not had the extra side of French Fries we may have just found room for dessert, but sadly we could not find that extra bit of space for something sweet.

Final Thoughts Byron Burger is a welcome addition to Oxford’s George Street. It serves simple, well done food at a decent price in a comfortable, unpretentious setting. The service is friendly, efficient and helpful. Everything about it fits the ethos, from the beer to the appetizers. If you don’t eat here at least once you’re missing out! *veggie options available.



Next Issue... marina & the diamonds interview: Love, lies and electra heart on her latest UK tour PLUS! loads more going on in the exciting cultural crevices of oxford-based music, fashion, art, film and food

Available this November! S F T S




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Issue #3: October 2012  

Welcome to the third issue of Spires, Oxford's best culture magazine! Featuring a guide to the ultimate Oxford pub crawl, a visit to creativ...