Archive | December 2009

soundCHECK 27 – December 31st 2009

It’s the last day of the decade. And as we cling to what have been uncomfortably donned ‘the noughties’ by the skin of our collective teethies, it feels appropriate to skim through a few of the most memorable musical happenings of 2009.

Like the tear jerking demise of brutal synth-pop gadabouts LOAD.CLICK.SHOOT!. The resulting musical fortunes of the five ladies that comprised North Devon’s bestest contemporary outfit is for 2010 to decide, but I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of them.

Elsewhere, Generator Promotions embarked on ever-deepening financial gambles to help put North Devon on the musical map by attracting high profile bands like Elephants, The Xcerts, and 4 or 5 Magicians to Barnstaple. Their year culminated a fortnight ago with a particularly festive evening and a visit from Newcastle’s Little Comets with whom it seems North Devon has begun a bit of a love affair. With their perfectly crafted, shimmering indie-pop, it’s a long-distance relationship that I hope works out.

And then there’s the bands like North Devon’s own Fen Tigers and Chasing Lions, who made 2009 their own by, well, by being awesome really. Fens delivered tenfold on the potential that they have promised for so long and released an EP on iTunes and a curious music video featuring a 5 inch high lady jumping into the singer’s shoe while he fought a wolf.

Chasing Lions, meanwhile, found their sound, one of spiky and rousing guitar melodies patrolled by airtight rhythms, and became one of North Devon’s most exciting and watchable live bands, prompting attention from BBC Introducing and performances alongside the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses who, incidentally, are amazing.

So, gigs. Let’s talk about gigs. For those of you ambitious enough to stare down a two day hangover, Tequila Rockin’ Bird are showcasing their strident guitar rock at The Swan in Bideford on Saturday (January 2nd). And if you like them, Jonny:Black should be right up your street, so it’s lucky for you that they’re playing on The Square in Barnstaple tonight as part of the New Year celebrations. After that, the rascals are packing their guitar solos into a travel bag and heading north to launch a 4 day aural assault on Edinburgh. Brrrr.

Finally, has anyone noticed Sam Dowden’s ( festively decorated MySpace page? It’s beautiful, and unveils admirable commitment to the Christmas spirit. Nice one, Sam!

However you’re seeing in the New Year, I wish you huge dollops of man-sized fun.

Happy New Year!

soundCHECK 26 – December 24th 2009

This Father Christmas character everyone’s talking about better be a creative problem solver.

For not only must he gently lower himself into my soot-laden chimney (not a euphemism), but he must also carry my loot (not a euphemism) with him. This won’t be easy. It’s a narrow chimney by the most generous appraisals, and my letter to him stipulated quite clearly that I wanted him to bring me two guitars (a Telecaster and a Jazzmaster).

Then there’s the fireplace to contend with, which is both small and sealed. It means his only exit into the house is through the narrow gap between the back of the fire and the wall it stands against. And being the portly, Christmas pudding of a man that he is, this could pose a bit of a problem.

Regardless of his unquestionable supernatural powers, I can’t help but think that the notion of Santa Claus delivering his presents down the chimney is a fallacy made up by parents looking for a get out clause that enables them to avoid upsetting children who have Christmas wishes that are a little too grandiose.

“You couldn’t have everything you asked for, darling. How would Father Christmas fit it all down the chimney?”


Regardless, new guitars are definitely not something that Little Comets need ask for. Their typically brilliant performance at Inn On The Square in Barnstaple last week featured a Gretsch guitar sound that was spangly and pretty and damn near perfect for their joyously mesmeric and intelligently delivered indie-pop.

Casting a cursory glance forward reveals more gig action for the re-energised Breaks Collective. If you’re stuck for plans in that always-awkward week between Christmas and New Year, head to Timepiece in Exeter on Tuesday (27th) to see them in action.

My parting thought is the hope that I don’t wake up on Christmas morning to a fireplace full of trapped and contorted St Nick. Still, with two guitars for company at least he could make the most of his time by writing some new Christmas songs to unleash upon us next year.

Happy Christmas.