Archive | March 2012

soundCHECK 143 – March 29th 2012

Yes, April’s here. Get over it.

So what if 2012 appears to be flying past? Moaning about time is one of the most self-defeating exercises possible. It’s given a run for its money by moaning about aging, mind you. But at least you have some control over that. These days you’re only £5,000 and a signed disclaimer form away from the chance to go under the knife to turn an aged human face into an aged non-human face. A face that gives you the permanent and irreparable countenance of a startled carp.

But no. Complaining about the passing of time is pointless. And I know people do it because I’ve heard them in ASDA. What does it matter if the first quarter of 2012 has fizzed past, anyway? That means we get to festival season quicker. Devon’s Beautiful Days has announced the first acts that will appear at this year’s knees-up. And Public Image Limited are to headline the Saturday night (August 18th), assuming anarchic Lydon isn’t busy raising hell elsewhere by appearing in self-immolating butter adverts. You can also see Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, The King Blues, Reel Big Fish, Inspiral Carpets, Alabama 3 and Midlake. Oh, and The Levellers of course. It is their festival, after all.

2012 marks Beautiful Days’ tenth anniversary and since last year the annual event has won Best Family Festival at the 2011 UK Festival Awards. Presumably then the atmosphere at Beautiful Days 2012 will be laced with an extra dollop of celebration. Hopefully that just means people will be extra happy and won’t translate into an increase of dignity-phobic cretins who think that going to a music festival is about being festooned in ridiculous fancy dress. Keep an eye on line up developments and ticket information at

In other news, local singer songwriter Amy Newton is teaming up with Dominic Greensmith (who is probably weary of having ‘ex-Reef drummer’ in brackets after his name) to perform alongside StringerBessant (vocalist Gary Stringer and bass guitarist Jack Bessant from Reef). The StringerBessant shows will take place at The Godney Gathering in Somerset and the JAMROCK festival in the Czech Rebublic. You can catch Amy performing a little closer to home with fellow North Devon singer songwriter Jenna Witts at a gallery gig in Queens Theatre on June 6th.

That’s the most notice I’ve ever given for a gig in soundCHECK. Which should appeal to the more time-conscious of my three readers.

Got local music news? Email or tweet @testforpulse.

soundCHECK 142 – March 22nd 2012

It’s a sad fact that ‘Place Your Hands’ by Reef has for the last five years been the sound not of a rousing pop song, but of parochial DJs scraping their nails along the bottom of a music-barrel that’s long since careered down Hackneyed Hill.

Such is the profligate preference for ‘Place Your Hands’ that it’s almost as if the consensus is that Reef only managed to record one song in their decade-long career. That’s clearly not true. As is made luminously clear with the imminent release of ‘Reef 93 / 03’, of which special promotional copies should be tied to bricks and thrown in the face of every student union DJ in Britain.

‘Reef 93 / 03’ is a boxset made up of nine CDs. It features every commercial song ever recorded – including ‘Place Your Hands’, their very first demo ‘The Purple Tape’ as well as b-sides, demos, live tracks, rarities and all manner of previously unreleased and unheard aural joy-nuggets. There’s also a DVD. On it you shall find promo videos, television appearances, interviews and home videos. That’s not all. The boxset also features a 64-page booklet featuring rare photography, a 12” vinyl of their newly arranged fifth album (‘Lucky #5’) and a poster.

It’s basically the ultimate Reef compendium. And it’s released on Monday (26th March).

Now, for those of you bemoaning a lack of local music news – know this: Reef are from Somerset. But they were more than a little fond of a surf in Croyde and a beverage in The Thatch. Further, drummer Dominic Greensmith was schooled at North Devon College – an institution that he presumably, like the rest of sane-thinking Devon, now laments has been rebranded as ‘Petroc’. Further still, the next paragraph is as local as an unfathomably large seagull hatching a vicious plan to swipe a Warrens pasty from a powerless toddler.

Rabid post-punk juggernaut SEVEREZERO have fashioned themselves (another) new website. They are North Devon’s best, so you could do worse than taking a look. And if you join the mailing list at you’ll get a bunch of free MP3s. Their time will come…

Finally, Noah & The Whale play at Plymouth Pavilions next Wednesday (28th March) – proof if it were needed that singer Charlie Fink has recovered from having his heart savagely and unfairly broken by Laura Marling.

Damn you, Mumford & Sons! Take your hands OFF!