Archive | December 2010

soundCHECK 79 – December 30th 2010

Given the weeks and weeks of build-up as well as the pressure retail and the media place on one and all to have the perfect Christmas, it’s amazing anyone actually has any fun on Christmas Day. If annual pre-Christmas hyperbole continues on its current trajectory, we’ll all be spending our Christmases in a terrified stupor by 2015; preferring to spend Christmas morning in a wide-eyed hypnosis rocking back and forth in the bed sheets rather than risking the shame of taking part in a ‘celebration’ that is anything less than The Best Ever Christmas Ever. EVER!

But Christmas has now passed. We can all exhale in unison a sigh of relief as we get to grips with trying to be normal again, right?


Sure, the main event may have been and gone, but there’s still plenty of Christmas left to celebrate! Twelfth night is but a speck on the horizon! So recalibrate that fun-o-meter and return that sullied Santa hat to that beautiful brain of yours. And if your festive fire really is in its dying embers, make use of the flammable properties of that ‘special drink’ you’ve no doubt got earmarked for tomorrow night and rekindle that Christmas spirit, damn it!

Proving with admirable stoicism that celebrating Christmas is indeed all about staying power are North Devon-based independent filmmakers, RAMUK69. To mark the build-up to Christmas they made a new song available for download from their website every day. A kind of MP3 advent calendar, I guess. All for free, of course.  And in true indie style, nearly all of the bands featured were local.

Now, not only is each of the songs still available to download for free, RAMUK69 have zipped up all the songs into one great big compilation. And guess what? That’s a free download too. Featured local artists include Jim Jones, Peter Buffery, Tequila Rockin’ Bird, Shade Valley and Rural Jazz Alliance. Eclectic mix then! They’re joined by bands such as Serpico, who played at Download Festival in 2009 as well as artists from as far away as Brazil and Canada.

Ryan Martin, founder of RAMUK69 said of the free songs: “It’s like a Christmas present for site visitors. It gives the bands some publicity and opportunities for networking too.” There you go. RAMUK69: the gift that keeps on giving. You can snaffle up your free copy at

Happy New Year.

soundCHECK 78 – December 23rd 2010

Not all Father Christmas impersonators are good.

We’re all aware of the limply-animated imitators that fill high streets and office parties all over the land at this time of year. You know the ones I mean. Those who radiate an aura that is less suitable for a globally celebrated bringer of merriment and cheer, and more fitting of someone who’s been spiritually deadened by a charisma-sapping midlife crisis.
Some can pull off an admirable Father Christmas impression, throwing themselves into the role with inspiring gusto. But sadly, Santa Flaws is all too common.

Imagine then my dizzy joy when, the other week, amid a flurry of noisy commotion outside my house, I gently pulled back my bedroom curtains and peered out to see a Santa so convincing I would have believed him to be the real deal had it been Christmas Eve. Okay, he was being pulled by a bright red 4×4 and not Prancer and Dancer, but the authenticity was still exciting.

Lo! Santa actually looked really jolly! As he inched his way up my road he was soundtracked by the Christmas songs everyone says they hate (but secretly love) being belted out at a volume purposely intended to disturb the neighbours.

You might have seen him yourself. Because this Santa has been doing the rounds in order to raise money for the Rotary Club. It was magical; a random act by local gadabouts wanting to stoke a little community spirit; a display of guerrilla celebration by festive renegades intent on spreading Christmas cheer!

Why doesn’t that happen more often?

If like me you like to wrap up snug in arbitrary displays of festive spirit then here’s your chance to do just that. Rock ‘n’ roll Christmas cheer will be abundant at Generator’s Christmas party tonight. Of that, you can be sure. They’ll be good bands too; five of North Devon’s best taking to the stage for whirlwind 20 minute slots. You’ll see Jackdaws, Pickpockets & Skyrockets, Baltic Sirens, Chasing Lions, and Jonny : Black. There’s DJs too. And knowing Generator, they’ll be a festive surprise or two in store.

So don’t miss it. It’s on tonight (Thursday 23rd) at Inn On The Square in Barnstaple. 16+. And it only costs £4.

If that invite reaches your peepers too late, let a little free music console you. At the time of writing, North’s Devon’s Breaks Collective are offering their recent single, Great Britain, as a free download at It’s a tip-top hip-hop treat for your ear bits. Get on it.

Happy Christmas.