Archive | May 2010

soundCHECK 48 – May 27th 2010

My foray into music journalism began when I started working on album reviews instead of geography coursework at the age of 16.

It’s a hobby of mine that continues to this day. When I was asked to review Athlete’s fourth album last year, my opening paragraph consisted of just six words: “Athlete need to find their balls.”

It was a review that lamented the fact that with their fourth album, entitled Black Swan, Athlete had sold out. The bite, excitement, and leftfield originality that defined their first album (Vehicles & Animals) depleted with their second. And their third. And by the time their toothless fourth offering had limped across the finish line they seemed a sombre shadow of their former selves. At least in the creative department.

Despite this, they are still a band that can argue a fiercely successful career. They’ve sold over one million albums, received Mercury Prize nominations, won a coveted Ivor Novello award for their song Wires, appeared at the top of the UK singles and album charts; the list goes on.

So it’s hard to gauge whether their appearance at a small Devon festival this summer represents a huge coup for the organisers, or the extent to which Athlete have self-harmed their career into obscurity.

Athlete have indeed been announced as the headline act for 2010’s instalment of Ivylive – a festival held on the outskirts of Ivybridge taking place on the 10th and 11th of September. Magic Numbers and Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly also appear on the bill for the Devon weekend-festival, now entering its third year.

That Ivylive is attracting such high profile bands in its infancy is hugely encouraging and bodes well for future line ups. Tickets are selling quickly but are still available via

Refocusing a roving eye on matters local, this week’s most noteworthy gig occureth on The Strand in Barnstaple. Generator are hosting a one-off open-air gig with bands playing from 6pm-11pm on Sunday 30th May. At the time of writing, confirmed artists include Jonny : Black, Sam Dowden, The Sonix, and Live Like Lions who are gambolling down from London especially for the event. Go and have a gander – it only costs £4.

Elsewhere, Central Casting take their charming acoustic folk to Lilico’s tonight (27th); revered local songstress Amy Newton plays at The Old Barn in Fremington tomorrow (28th); Tequila Rockin’ Bird slay lugholes while walloping pots at the Potwalloping Festival in Westward Ho! on Saturday (29th); and Jonny : Black take their rock revival to Taunton’s Perfect 5th on Wednesday (2nd).

I’m off to listen to Vehicles & Animals. You know, the good one.

soundCHECK 47 – May 20th 2010

Summer’s coming.

Happily, this means the weather should be able to muster something warmer than the feeble temperatures we’re used to. If the ‘cold hands, warm heart’ dictum holds any sway then my throbbing core must be hotter than a thousand suns; that which rhythmically beats my existence possessive of the same searing temperatures normally found in the molten core of a Greggs Sausage & Baked Bean Melt. Either that or I’m the most compassionate bloke since Dale Winton, or Gandhi.

But this inevitable changing of the weather guard heralds news more salient than the thawing of my frozen digits. It also means Marisco in Woolacombe reopens, once again ready to provide a sweaty summer sanctuary for boozed-up, loud-music loving funsters.

Whether it’s live gigs or DJs banging out indie floorfillers and colon-rumbling house music, Marisco has cultivated a legendary reputation locally. And it wasn’t until I indulged in a thin slice of last-minute research that I discovered Marisco snuggles down for its winter hibernation with the knowledge that it is the longest running nightclub in the UK. Not bad for a tiny room holed away in the middle of Woolacombe. Although, given its popularity with surfers, unfamiliar customers can probably plot their way to the front door by following the sandy trails from beach to bar.

Apparently not content with keeping North Devon’s skate community fully clothed, this Saturday (22nd) sees the fine gentlemen from Beats Workin’ curate a one-night takeover of Marisco’s hallowed confines. Expect a fiery night of dubstep and reggae from DJs I’ve never heard of like Standard Procedure, Irie Selecta, and Blazinstein. I’m boyishly naive when it comes to dubstep. I shall immediately curtail this paragraph to avoid embarrassment.

This week also sees The Yum Yums take their effervescent comic-punk to The White Horse (Friday); Jim Jones play Boston Tea Party (Friday); Jonny : Black hit The Aggi with Rooster Shotgun Damage (also Friday); and Trips play at Bar 35 in Bude (Saturday).

The Xcerts are also making the trip from Aberdeen to Exeter on Saturday (22nd) to headline a free show at The Cavern in Exeter. Will the Cavern offer enough room to accommodate The Xcerts’ growing fanbase? I clasp hands heavenwards and hope for the best. If nothing else it might make them warmer.