Archive | December 2011

soundCHECK 130 – December 29th 2011

So then. New Year’s Eve is here: an annual celebration of Britain’s fancy dress makers; a paean to the fortitude of the human liver; the lucent opportunity to battle your worst hangover of the whole year on the very first day of it.

At the time of writing, the organisers of the official New Year’s Eve celebratory events in Barnstaple and Bideford are keeping their party cards close to their chests. But head to Barnstaple Square from 9pm and at some point you’ll be treated to music from Nikkita and the wistful acoustica of the prodigiously talented Pete Buffery. Seriously. He’s a great guitarist with a great voice. His songs are delivered with charm and are immediately engaging. That’s important when the amount of Mood Enhancer you’ve consumed has rendered you logorrheaic and drawn to anything that even minutely tickles one of your senses. Put him in your ears at

If you’re searching for an alternative you could always visit the Masquerade Ball at Toko in Barnstaple – a night where they should really crank the synthesized stupendousness of ‘Masquerade’ by Skids at hourly intervals, but probably won’t. “Let’s see NYE.11 in with a BANG!” battle cries their website. You can do your own jokes. Presumably a pitch of such prurience was not their intention.

The romance of the turning of the year has even rekindled a tiny flame of nostalgia in soundCHECK’s ashen spirits.  130 weeks ago to the day, the very first soundCHECK nervously tip-toed onto The Journal’s crisp page, trying desperately not to attract attention from either readers or the more established features around it. Against all odds, it has been published every week since.

I have made a web-thing where you can read every soundCHECK ever. These are the full-fat versions too, published with all the little bits of badness that The Journal’s editors have deemed unacceptable over the years. It gives you the chance to chart the evolution of soundCHECK, from wide-eyed adulation for the local music scene to misguided, cynical rants mixed awkwardly with barely literate commentary on North Devon’s bands. It’s like watching a toy train derail itself.

You’ll be able to read LOAD.CLICK.SHOOT!’s obituary, find out what happened when The Saturdays’ street team started an online smear campaign against me, and learn how I ended up writing about a metaphorical guitar that sprays pink confetti into the air whenever its wielder plays a solo.

Take a look at

Thanks for reading in 2011. Happy 2012!

soundCHECK 129 – December 22nd 2011

The most important thing that could possibly be written about the anniversary of Jesus’s birth is that, this year, Christmas Day straddles the midpoint of The Journal’s weekly release schedule. This is not ideal. To whom should this week’s soundCHECK be pitched? Those of you reading this before the big day will be all giddy and drunk with frenzied anticipation of festive merriment. But many others will have already devolved from Christmas dinner to a state of primal existence, where all that really matters is maintaining core bodily functions long enough to make it to the next planet-sized portion of food.

Happily, this week’s news is a funbag capable of serving music fans in both audiences a treat that leaves the cheeks as rosy as an awkward kiss under the mistletoe. Yes, we’re making like the last day of term and watching videos! Those in the pre-Christmas camp (CAMP A) will be given artillery to excitedly fire lyrical praise-bullets at all within earshot in celebration of the glorious matrimony of sound and vision. Those already operating from inside a food coma (CAMP B) simply have to oafishly club at a laptop til the funny internet screen makes pictures come up. YAY! Now be quiet.

There are two videos to watch and we have time for both if you’re good. But first, heed these instructions: CAMP A: Hark at the glossy visual production and dulcet melody! Make notes on how you would be even cooler than the main subjects given the chance to be in your own music video. CAMP B: Try to remain conscious. Dropping the laptop could ruin Christmas for everyone. And watch out for excess food-dribble falling onto the screen. In fact, keep a towel nearby at all times.

Okay. First up are SevereZero. North Devon’s most brazen post-punkers have released a video for ‘Defences’, available for your peepers at It’s a hook-splattered triumph of a song that hints at a band growing evermore assured, unveiling an anthemic, FM-friendly sheen to the sonic blitzkrieg that has forever been their hallmark. They remain North Devon’s most-likely-to band. The video – which sees the band brandishing their multi-storey musical muscle against that holy grail of music video backdrops: Green Lanes Car Park – was shot and edited by fellow North Devonist Sam Brown, currently studying film and media at uni in Hereford. It’s proper good. Cracking viewing. Cracking band. Their earth-scorching new EP, ‘No Such Thing As Normal’, is ready for your ears now at

Next, Auction For The Promise Club, from Cornwall by way of Bideford, and their video for ‘Under China’. It sounds like what would happen if you dragged the intoxicatingly saccharine vocals of Megan Thomas from Thomas Tantrum kicking-and-screaming into the apocalyptic instrumentalism of Maybeshewill, having taken said band off the boil and acquainted them with traditional pop song structure. It’s another fine video from another fine band. Feed your senses at CAMP A: How do you think they managed to shoot her trapped underwater like that? CAMP B: IT’S GOT A PRETTY GIRL IN IT!

Happy Christmases!