Archive | April 2013

soundCHECK 197 – April 25th 2013

Good news for fans of linguistic japery!

There may come a time, in the future, when bands’ inspiration expires, when all the notes and melodies and beats and rhythms run out, when music’s creative ovaries shrivel up and stop releasing ideas. You could be forgiven for thinking the aftermath of this musical menopause will feature a soundscape as barren as Gary Barlow’s charisma. But you’d be wrong. There will be a huge surge in tribute bands. And, by extension, joyfully dodgy puns as band names.

Maybeohead, Razor-lite, Queens Of The Stone Ape, The Whom – they’ll be everywhere. Seriously. The NME will treat its two readers to interviews with artists like Hamstein, The Slight Stripes, AboutKast and The Sucks Pistols. Your unborn progeny’s own pubescent offspring will start bands like Billy’s Idol, Wrong Jovi, The Jesus & Mary Claim and The Shaming Lips. Nearhunter. The entire catalogue of modern music will be revisited and reinterpreted, really, really badly. Bet you can’t wait.

It’s why I admire bands like The Script. Their songs are like flaccid sighs; colourless empty Sundays. They are like wet ham concealed in a lost-property cardigan. The Script’s selfless devotion to the middle of the road is admirable, shunning creativity in a valiant bid to preserve it for other bands to discover. Hats off to them. But such efforts are simply delaying the inevitable; temporary respite from modern music’s impending doom. The revolution has already begun.

Set your coordinates for the Beggars Roost in Barbrook on Saturday 22nd June and your ears will be accosted by the slithering riffs of Quitesnake. Yep, Quitesnake – a brutish Whitesnake tribute band who are among the first performers to be announced for Calvertstock 2013. This one day musical jolly will feature live bands, booze, food, stalls and fair rides. Entry is free. Which means you can witness the beginning of the musical end without spending a penny.

If, like me, you adopt a blinkered world view and actively enjoy living in denial, it might be wise to swerve the Quitesnake gig in a bid to stave off thoughts of the musical apocalypse. That doesn’t mean you should miss Calvertstock, if only to catch the genuinely very promising Ilfracombe band Digital Natives, who peddle pretence-free, emotionally redolent songs that are immediately engaging – largely due to the beautiful vocals of their frontman. They’re on Facebook if you care to find them. Other local bands on the line up include Chris Millington and Falling Apart. Find out more at

Elsewhere, if you have an insatiable hankering for some live traditional Irish folk, head for Riley’s Bar in Bideford on Saturday (27th April) at 9pm and watch one-man-band Wilderland thrust himself stagewards. The end is upon us. You may as well have some fun in the meantime.

CONTACT: Send me local music news, I will do words about it. Email jharper[at] or tweet @testforpulse.

soundCHECK 196 – April 18th 2013

Next Friday, Adam Ant takes to the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple. 680 humans will gather to watch him stand. Can he still deliver?

Even bigger question marks hang over the support band. Everest-sized question marks. Question marks that block out the sun. Don’t be surprised if you see New Killer Shoes, said support band (your guess is as good as mine), booking emergency manicures on arrival in North Devon, such is the ferocity with which they’ve been scraping the bottom of the indie-rock barrel. The same barrel that was plundered and punted toward landfill by the rock-flops and guitar-toting Radio 1 rejects of the mid-noughties.

New Killer Shoes, a self-proclaimed ‘grit-pop’ four-piece, are from Redditch. That’s a curious thing. Because in February a message was posted on “Adam knows how hard it is to get your first break in the music industry,” it deadpanned. “He would therefore like to support some of the best up and coming new bands on his tour of the UK. Adam is offering local bands in each area he plays the chance to support him.”

A geography genius I am not. But to class a band from Worcestershire as North Devon locals is something of a truth-embellishment. I don’t mean to slight New Killer Shoes. Regardless of how their creativity manifests itself they are clearly very capable musicians – even if track titles like Snakecharmer and Love Rocket suggest a cringingly thin veil to their lazy innuendo. But why wasn’t a local band chosen as support? I know at least one that applied.

No matter. Local artists have been plated-up another chance to win a spot on stage, this time at the Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink (a title that is, appropriately, something of a mouthful). Winning acts get the chance to support the Mama Stones House band at the After Dark Party on the closing night of the festival (Saturday 27th April) at Northernhay Gardens in Exeter.

Want to enter? Ready your action-tentacles to whip-up feverish social media support at the double. Entry closes on Saturday (20th April) – by which time you need to send a video of yourself performing to bianca[at]  Each video will be uploaded to YouTube and the five with the most positive votes will be invited to play at Mama Stones (Exeter) on Monday (22nd April). Judges will then pick the winner to perform at the festival. Hurry. No, really.

In other news, two of North Devon’s most exciting upcoming bands head stagewards at The Palladium tomorrow night (Friday 19th). Expect musically articulate garage-punk from The Verbals ( and scuzzy blues-rock from The Silk Offenders. Brighton’s Loose Lips also perform. Doors are at 9pm, entry is a snitch at £3.

Well, blow me.

CONTACT: Throw your truffles of local music news into my forest by emailing jharper[at] or tweeting @testforpulse.