Archive | August 2011

soundCHECK 113 – August 25th 2011

Much like those jumpers you can buy with shirts already stitched in to the insides, some things instantly seem like eminently bad ideas. And I’m probably wrong, but I may’ve found another to add to the list.

Now forgive me if my brain has limbered up with too much vigour to jump to its rampantly ill-conceived conclusions, but when I found out about Fishstock in Brixham my suspicions were instantly raised.

I love this beautiful county with all of my heart. But Devon is one of the only counties you’ll find a festival called ‘Fishstock’. It hardly sounds like something you’d impress your girlfriend with, does it? ‘Guess what? I had to refresh my browser every nanosecond, but I’ve managed to score two tickets to Fishstock!’

The festival’s modus operandi is to fuse the worlds of fish and music to raise awareness of oceanic diversity and good seafood recipes. It is the brainchild of Jim Portus, father of Niki Portus – who organises Aeon Festival, one of Devon’s most widely respected weekend musical events.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for bands in fields and that. But do the curators of Fishstock not realise that small festivals are sinking like stones to the seabed? They are being rocked by the tsunamic wave of austerity that was created by the sound of the nation tightening its purse-strings in unison. Can Fishstock remain afloat? Let’s hope so! But I’ve taken the liberty to construct a contingency plan, just in case. It’s sure to bring the punters rolling in.

Now, Fishstock have missed a golden (battered) opportunity when it comes to the bands they have booked. This year, Morning Rush, Dodgey Practice and Southern Comfort all take to the stage. Fine. But for future festivals they should only invite bands who fit the fishy theme. That means call ups for Fisherman’s Friends, The Seahorses, Noah And The Whale, The Eels and Fish from Marillion. At a push they could even book Laura Marling, if they get someone to Tipp-Ex out the ‘g’ in her name from the programmes.

For the fringe stages they could assemble a line up of tribute acts. You know, like Cod Stewart, Fleetwood Mackerel, Sky Sharkin, Bombay Pike-cycle Club, Catfish Stevens, Pretty Girls Hake Graves and Badly Drawn Coy. And let’s not forget OK Roe, Rage Against The Sea Bream, Salmon Sparro, Coy Orbison and The Trouthere Brothers. Naturally, all performers would be contractually obliged to dress in fishy fancy dress. I know it would work.

Fishstock is scheduled for Saturday 10th September at The Fish Quay in Brixham. Aeon takes place this weekend (26th – 28th) at Shobrooke Park. You can find out all of the details at www.fishstockbrixham.co.uk and www.aeonfestival.com. I’m off to draft my proposal to curate next year’s Fishstock – an idea for which I am hook, line and sinkered.

Fishy band pun me (#fishybands and #soundcheck) and band news me on Twitter @testforpulse.

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soundCHECK 112 – August 18th 2011

You know when you get something stuck in your eye? You rub and you rub but you just can’t get it out. It’s annoying. So annoying, in fact, that sometimes extreme measures must be taken. Like moving to Bristol.

Yes, the ambition to spread their music to a wider audience was lodged so deeply in the sights of local band Spectres that they quit their jobs, crammed their scything guitar lines and butchering rhythms into their travel bag, and scarpered to Bristol to wash their red raw peepers in the refreshing fountains of new musical opportunity.

Since they made good their escape in February of this year, they have quietly set about asserting their potential on the Bristol circuit. Although, truth be told, to say they’ve done it ‘quietly’ is a gross understatement, as anyone that’s been to one of their cochlea-pummelling, feedback-soaked, wall-of-noise gigs will readily testify.

They’ve tested the structural strength of some of Bristol’s best underground venues: The Louisiana, Bunch Of Grapes and The Croft. They’ve even played a couple of local showcases at legendary Brizzle venue The Fleece, in doing so taking to the same stage once strutted by Radiohead, Bloc Party, Jeff Buckley and Los Campesinos! to name just a few.

So it’s fair to conclude that their eldritch, haunting sound has been creeping up on Bristol’s musical lugholes. And Spectres are now ready to scream mayhem right down whichever aural canal leads to Bristol notoriety. To help that process along, the four-piece have announced they are releasing a new EP, which they recorded with ex-Testicles man Rory Attwell in London earlier this year. The EP, entitled ‘Family’, has been attracting hugely positive reviews from all the right blogs and underground music mags, which bodes well for its official release on 26th September.

And the label that this EP will be released on? Their own, of course! Yes, ill-contented with the rigours and responsibilities of being in a band, Spectres have set up their own label to help amplify their music as well as that of some of the other bands making waves in Bristol’s underground scene. The label is called Howling Owl and you can find out more at www.howlingowlrecords.tumblr.com. You can sneak a listen and read reviews of the ‘Family’ EP at www.wearespectres.tumblr.com and you can pre-order a copy at www.howlingowlrecords.bigcartel.com. You’ll also find limited edition t-shirts and tapes and other good stuff there too.

Expect news of a nationwide tour soon. In the meantime, rub that faineance out of your eyes and get your click on.

Any gigs you want mentioned? Any shards of musical news you want to throw my way? Do it by emailing jharper@northdevonjournal.co.uk or Tweet me @testforpulse.