Archive | March 2011

soundCHECK 92 – March 31st 2011

I’ve never wrapped my lips around the end of a saxophone. But I’m fairly sure it’s a pretty difficult instrument to play. Which makes the talents of that chap who arbitrarily plays in Barnstaple Pannier Market all the more awesome.

Who is that charismatic rogue, anyway? I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I used to see him at stupid o’clock in the morning, riding around town on his bike shouting out all kinds of craziness. Now he seems content filling the empty market with dulcet notes from his sax, which are charmed from their brassy abode with no slim degree of skill.

Yet sure as the sax therapist brings a sprinkling of New Orleans spirit to the streets of North Devon, local artists Ellie Campbell and The Confused have perfumed our region with the sweet smell of success. Yep, they’ve only gone and qualified from the Regional Finals of Live & Unsigned in Plymouth. Top work. The next round is the Area Finals, which take place in Portsmouth on May 21st – just one step away from the Grand Final at the O2 Arena in London.

The Confused are looking for sponsorship to help get their fans to Portsmouth. If any local businesses want to step in, getting themselves a nice bit of exposure in local press and radio in the process, email You can hear their sumptuous indie scuffiness at

Fellow North Devonians Glyn Davies and Chris Millington failed to make the cut. And while they may still be reeling from the wretched rancor of disappointment, they too have reasons to be cheerful. Because no matter how scathing the judgement or cruel the injustice, they can sleep easy knowing that their musical output will never be vying for the title of Most Hateful Song In The World. Thirteen year old Rebecca Black is streets ahead of all competition. And it’s made her a YouTube sensation.

Her song, ‘Friday’, is a barrage of two-bit backing track nastiness and cochlea-grating autotune. But it’s her foam-headed ramblings that really steal the show. Evidently not one to shy away from life’s most urgent duties, Rebecca muses of her morning routine: “Gotta go downstairs / Gotta have my bowl / Gotta have cereal,” before addressing the seismic issue of whether to take the bus to school or get a lift with her friends by crooning “Which seat do I take?” Crikey. And they say young teens lack responsibilities?

I’ve often wondered what feckless thirteen year olds do with their time. And now I know. Because according to the song’s accompanying video they like to get giddy on joy and smile loads before driving themselves to huge outdoor parties. Then they join their heroine in a middle eight so lyrically inspired that it renders the sonnets of Shakespeare little more than toilet door graffiti: “Yesterday was Thursday / Today it is Friday / We so excited / We gonna have a ball today / Tomorrow is Saturday / And Sunday comes afterwards.”

Go to YouTube and watch the video if you want to laugh. Before killing yourself. Or take the edge off by watching Lunacry at The Olive Branch in Barnstaple on Saturday (2nd).

In a band? Got a gig you want mentioned? Email me at or tweet me @testforpulse.

soundCHECK 91 – March 24th 2011

Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday.

Few are those who actively embrace the end of the weekend and the beginning of the working week. Yet this coming Monday (28th) shall usher a whole new raft of challenges as much of the sane world and most of the insane world turn into a drooling, sycophantic mess to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Lucif…I mean, Lady Gaga.

People are often asking why I dislike Lady Gaga so much. So let me clear it up, quite categorically.

My bilious contempt for her is hard to understate. She doesn’t stand a chance. I hate everything about her: the way she looks, the things she sings about, her voice, her brain-grating songs that are so damn unforgettable, and her stupid forays into politics – er, excuse me, love: you lost the right to a credible opinion the moment you danced around with a telephone on your head.

But what I really hate is how she’s become so desperate for attention. Before she launched her solo career she busied herself – with clear diligence, talent and musical credibility – writing songs for pop behemoths like Britney Spears and Pussycat Dolls. Have you seen photos of her from that stage in her career? She was just a normal-looking young professional – who went by the name of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.

What the hell happened?

I’ll tell you what. She turned in to nought but a hyper-hedonistic piece of shameless flesh-waste whose ‘notice-me’, meat-wearing antics have reached such stratospheric levels that her soul has emptied its bowels all over itself to become nothing more than a flaccid sack of nothingness.

In real news, there’s a new North Devon promotions outfit. They’re called Black Hole Promotions and they’re looking for bands. Black Hole are run by the ever-industrious Tobias Matthews, frontman of The Dead Betas and curator of the bi-annual Beta Fest music festival. They’re hosting regular gigs and a monthly residency at The Palladium in Bideford as well as gigs at The Royal in Appledore and Shan’s Barn in Torrington.

The last three shows at The Palladium have all sold out. They also recently hosted a fundraising gig to raise money for a young girl from Bideford with cancer. It raised £700. Black Hole’s intention is to give younger bands the chance to play live, regardless of their genre. If you’re in a band and want a slot, make Tobias an email and post it to

The Black Hole future looks bright. Interviews with their headline bands will be available to stream from their facebook page ( as well as exclusive videos from the bands’ rehearsal spaces. And, of course, you’ll find all the photos from the gigs themselves. A website is on its way too, where you’ll be able to keep on top of the latest gig news as well as news and bios from the bands Black Hole get involved with. North Devon’s been crying out for something like this, so expect to be hearing a lot more.

Black Hole’s next night is on Friday (25th) at The Palladium. The Julies and Dolly Dagger Experience play before headliners Jackdaws take to the stage – the most exciting, talented and balls-out young live band I’ve seen in North Devon for some time. Doors are at 8pm. It costs £3. Enjoy.

I’ll be the one in the corner praying for a Gaga gulag.