North Devon is home to all kinds of releases: gin-fuelled emotional releases in Wetherspoons on a Friday night; methane releases from cattle intent on accidentally destroying the planet; and beak-squawking releases of feathery-terror from pterodactyl-sized seagulls trying to make off with some poor fella’s fresh pasty.
To that list you can now add album releases.
North Devon’s plaintive, husky-voiced acoustic muser Jim Jones has only gone and got his album out. ‘Freight Ships’ is released internationally on Monday (16th July) on At The Helm Records. You should be able to find it wherever you can find any other CDs on the high street. And that means Solo in Boutport Street, Barnstaple. It’s also available on iTunes and Amazon and all the other digital behemoths.
This is the same Jim Jones (performance name Small Town Jones) that used to be the frontman of Carbon 14 and Small Town Mentality. The same Jim Jones that perennially chipper hug-machine Dermot O’Leary called ‘annoyingly good’. Glossy music mag Q gave the ‘Freight Ships’ album four stars. You can get your listen on at reverbnation.com/smalltownjones. He plays Devon’s Beautiful Days Festival on Sunday 19th August.
Not to be outdone by his North Devonian musical compatriot, Peter Bruntnell has revealed that his ‘Black Mountain UFO’ album is to get a US release in August this year. ‘Black Mountain UFO’ was released on this side of the Atlantic last year and featured in The Guardian music critics’ top albums of the year. Peter Bruntnell plays the Boardmasters Festival in Newquay on 10th August.
In this week’s gig news, alt-rockers Captal (listen at captal.co.uk) hurl themselves stagewards at The Palladium tomorrow night (13th July) to warm the crowd up for the puntastically titled These Reigning Days. The headline act’s fusion of light rock and electronica has been picking up plaudits in all the right media places. And the Daily Mirror. (A tabloid rag famed, as everyone knows, for its vanguard musical commentary.)
Finally, for those of you spurred by the successes of North Devon’s musicians mentioned above, remember there’s a jam night at The Palladium on Tuesday (17th July). There are few things better than jamming out a rough and ready mish-mash of melodies and rhythms with your mates; chiselling away until you fashion your version of the aural spectacular.
It’s one of the very best releases in the world.
Imagine if you loved music. You loved it so much you started a band with your friends.
Then, imagine if one of your favourite bands of all time got in touch with you asking your band to go on tour with them around the UK. That would be pretty mind-blowing, right?
Well that’s exactly what has happened to North Devon promoter Tobias Kennedy-Matthews and his band, The Dead Betas, who have been asked to support cult-heroes Mindless Self Indulgence on their forthcoming tour. You can understand why Tobias, Dead Betas frontman, is in excitable form.
“This is an unbelievable dream come true! It’s so huge for us!”
Okay. Let’s backtrack. How on earth did The Dead Betas land themselves a slot supporting one of New York’s best-loved exports since pretzels and being cool?
“I noticed MSI were touring the USA so had been hoping for some UK dates, checking back on Facebook regularly,” explains Tobias. “I was having a little look one day and they had changed their profile picture to a Union Jack. I knew what it meant. Within five minutes of the picture going up, I had emailed their booking agent, manager and fanmail addresses telling them all about The Dead Betas and how we’d love to do the tour. I even messaged Jimmy Urine’s [MSI frontman] wife on Facebook!”
That, people of North Devon, is called being committed to a cause.
“A month or so passed and suddenly in my inbox, an email with the subject ‘MSI UK Tour.’ I opened it and it told us we had been selected as one of the bands forwarded to MSI for consideration. Then we waited two months with no word. We had given up hope and accepted that no news was probably bad news.”
They had no need to worry. A glorious moment was on the horizon. A moment that must have felt like the emotional equivalent of basking in the rays of twin suns.
“As I was heading to bed one night, there it was again: an email with the subject ‘MSI UK Tour’. I opened the email and it said that we had been chosen to do the tour. I shot to my feet and spent the next 10 minutes pacing around the house chanting three words ‘Oh my god oh my god oh my god’ until I finally became calm enough to tell the rest of the band.
“Ever since myself and Aidan formed the band in late 2009, we’ve always said, ‘one day, we’re going to tour with them.’ It was nothing more than a hopeful little joke really. We were two oddballs with a microphone, a guitar and laptop making music and getting really, really drunk. We never in a million years believed it would actually happen. MSI play the kind of electronica-punk that we’ve always loved and they have been a huge influence on our sound. Every band dreams of touring with their inspiration, we are one of the very lucky few who actually get to do it.”
It’s no more than The Dead Betas deserve. Their industriousness is fearsome, relentless and brilliant. They enjoy what they do. And they work hard to do it. And true to form, it doesn’t take Tobias long to find matrimony between the success of his band and the success of the North Devon music scene at large.
“I’m really happy knowing that bands from down here can actually achieve something pretty cool. We’re not exactly buzzing with musical opportunities and contacts down here in North Devon, we’re often a little forgotten, so to be able to get out there, play some pretty big shows and spread the word of the epic little music scene we have down here is awesome!
“This is the best opportunity we’ve ever had to get people to listen to us on a large scale. I know last time MSI toured their supports were reviewed in some pretty big music mags, so that’d be a nice little bonus. Regardless, it’ll be one epic life experience!”
Mindless Self Indulgence and The Dead Betas hit the road in October, taking in dates at O2 Academy Birmingham, O2Academy Manchester, HMV Forum in London and The Garage in Glasgow. You can listen to The Dead Betas at facebook.com/thedeadbetas.