Since its very first week, the aim of soundCHECK has been to cast dizzy linguistic riddles that subconsciously trick you into dreaming about pink guitars that squirt heart-shaped unicorn tears.
Okay, that’s not true. The more grounded reality is that soundCHECK has always tried to discuss the local contemporary music scene. Yes, it’s prone to wandering nomadically off-topic. But after 147 weeks, the main objective remains as (reasonably) clear as ever: to help give the local contemporary music scene the commentary it deserves.
But that won’t be happening this week. Not exclusively anyway. Instead, you and I are going to tuck in to a word feast about the fortunes of former luminaries from the local scene. First up, lustrously-locked pomp-rockers The Spinlords.
During the mid to late noughties, they played regularly to a small army of local fans under the name The Spinlords Of Spintania. Today they’re based in Brighton. And they have just unleashed a feisty slab of fidgety devil-horns rock called ‘Spirit Fire’. It was mastered by Ace – the former guitarist in Skunk Anansie – and it’s the first fruit borne since the four-piece became a three-piece last month. You can literally put their sounds in your ears at www.reverbnation.com/thespinlordsband.
Now, do you recognise the name Super Indie Soundtrack? How about These Dirty Shoes? Tied Loose? They’re all bands that performed regularly around North Devon. And they’re all linked by Tom Hitchins, who at one point seemed hell-bent on thrusting his fleet-fingered bass riffs into as many local bands as possible.
He’s now at university in Plymouth. But that hasn’t tempered his wanton musical aspirations. Why would it? His new band is called Hydranaut. They fashion angry, dark, energetic riff rock. But you’d already know that if you’d downloaded their free EP. Do it now at www.hydranaut.bandcamp.com.
Gig of the week this week is Black Hole Promotions’ battle of the bands at The Palladium in Bideford. Battle commences at 7.30pm on Saturday (28th April). The entry fee is £4 and the money raised is going towards a new studio for North Devon’s best and brightest bands to record in. That’s worth supporting, right? Plus, you’ll get to watch loads of bands while drinking delicious beverages. What more do you need? Visit facebook.com/blackholepromotions for details.
Finally, and in a move that is in no way deliberately related to wonky-eyed comedic scamp Russell Howard, I’m going to leave you with some good news. After a one year hiatus, Llama Festival is back for 2012. The family-friendly music-and-arts-themed-knees-up will take place at the same beautiful seaside site in Lynmouth that has made the festival so popular in recent years. Read up, bag your ticket and keep ahead of line up announcements at www.llama.org.uk.
No matter how stoically loyal you are to Torrington, it’s fair to say that the small town falls somewhat short of prolific when it comes to generating musical talent. I’d wager it’s always been that way. And always will be. But that’s not to say that Torrington doesn’t contribute its fair share of skilled musical types to North Devon’s rock pool. Not at all. Just ask Sam Kinsella.
Sam hails from the town and is the singer and guitarist in a band called Casino Trap, who formed last year on a music course in Bristol. They have just released a single called ‘Let You Go’, which was recorded by Chris Sheldon, who has worked with such musical heavyweights as Biffy Clyro, Feeder and Foo Fighters.
As you’d expect, the results are tasty from a production point of view. It’s full, it’s clean and it’s crisp. But to harp on exclusively about the production is to do Casino Trap a disservice. The songwriting is solid too, boasting the same cherubic, FM-friendly rock aesthetic as that which made McFly very, very rich. It seems destined to soundtrack the middle-distance staring of an emotionally butchered, pubescent halfwit mewing over unrequited love in one of those wet-the-bed American teenage dramas. You know. Like the OC. I mean that in the nicest possible way. The song’s fine and the guitars sound great. I just hate those programmes.
Then there’s Rhi Write Rebellion. They’re from Torrington too. Their helter-skelter, pirate-folk-meets-jazz-meets-Pablo-Honey-era-Radiohead sound is inspired. Not least for the gorgeous vocals of Rhiannon Write, who sounds a dead ringer for Juanita Stein of Howling Bells. They’re worth a listen. The drummer plays with brushes, the guitar work is melodically astute and they’re one of the most original and cohesive North Devon acts I’ve heard in ages. I’d recommend the sultry, sassy balladry of ‘Under The Weather’, the spectral stargazing of ‘Wicked Ways’ and the soulful, menacing ‘Lies’. You can listen to all three for free at www.rhiwriterebblion.co.uk. Ones to keep tabs on, for sure.
In other news, the North Devon blues band turned YouTube sensation I wrote about in last week’s soundCHECK are looking for a vocalist so they can get out and get gigging. So if you’re interested in doing a bit of sing for a local band, you’d better call Steve White on 07863 826 521 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, a note to the Twitter users among you. Barnstaple’s Solo Music has joined the binary behemoth. Stay ahead of all the announcements leading up to Record Store Day (Saturday April 21st), which should already be in your diary, by following @SOLOMusicUK.