Archive | August 2013

soundCHECK 214 – August 29th 2013

The daily grind is one hell of a bore. When it comes to puncturing that bubble of tedium so keen to ensnare everyday life, tools don’t come much more fitting than watching a live band. It’s catharsis, fun and escapism all rolled into one gloriously sweaty package. And now you can get your gig fix gratis, compliments of The Factory in Barnstaple.

For those of you yet to make acquaintance with The Factory, know simply that it’s among the most modern, well kitted-out venues in Devon. Its technical facilities attract talented musical-types from up and down the country, while local bands are handed the luminously valuable opportunity to rifle through their catalogue on the kind of stage that would be the envy of many signed touring bands.

Bottom line: you can expect some stellar artists to sashay through the doors of The Factory over the next twelve months. The chance to watch them perform without paying so much as a penny should be one that arouses the curiosity-tentacles of any local music fan. And all you are required to do is a little flacking, which sounds as unintentionally kinky as fracking.

Thankfully the similarities end there. Rest assured you will not be required to release natural gas by smashing through hundreds of metres of shale rock with a hydraulic drill. Unless some maverick bigwig at The Factory dreams up a truly groundbreaking (honk!) campaign to market an upcoming gig. But the chances are you will be fine to leave your hard hat at home.

You see, to flack is to promote. And The Factory is desperate for you to help flack them into rapture by joining their street team. That means handing out flyers around your demesne, putting up the odd gig poster in places where hip types will see them and using those burgeoning social media skills of yours to whip up a buzz on Facebook and Twitter about upcoming Factory events. Easy, right?

In return you get free entry to gigs at The Factory. Not just one or two, but oodles of them. It’s something extra to add to your CV too. God knows I can’t be the only one in need of urgent assistance in that area. The ideal candidates are enthusiastic music fans aged sixteen or over. If you think you fit that profile then email thefactory@petroc.ac.uk asking for a street team application form.

Bye, bye boredom bubbles. Hello helping the local music scene.

CONTACT: Give me a reason to get out of bed by sharing your local music news. jharper[at]northdevonjournal.co.uk | @testforpulse

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soundCHECK 213 – August 22nd 2013

For most humans, nothing sets the brow to perma-furrow quicker than trying to understand the magnitude of the universe. For me, identical results are bequeathed by the world’s corpus of music. It’s just as mind-bogglingly vast, overwhelming and adept at making you feel microscopic. The only difference is you don’t need a rocket to explore it.

Spotify puts a library of 20 million songs at your fingertips. With other on-demand digital music services like last.fm and Pandora, yet more music-banks are mere clicks away. If, on this very day, a global cessation of songwriting were enforced, it would still take longer than the rest of your lifetime to listen to the multitude of artists out there. Yet new music seems to be growing exponentially. Day, by day, by day.

No doubt new bands have their work cut out when it comes to attracting new listeners. Not that it’s phasing Jack Brown, singer and guitarist from new Barnstaple-based post-punkers Framework. “Personally I think a lot of bands spend too much time thinking about what they aim to achieve in the future, rather than the steps of how they’re going to get there in the first place. Our schedule is to finish writing/recording our debut EP, then tour that EP. I want as many people to hear what we’re doing as possible and see where that takes us.”

He’s rightly eager to spread Framework’s gospel. Their debut track Arsonist hints at songwriting that outthinks the less creative stock of an increasingly bloated post-punk genre. It’s a sombre, stripped-back and wonderfully restrained reminder that creating something compelling isn’t just about stamping on the distortion pedal and thrashing your guitar with blind abandon. Arsonist’s measured power chords are paired with beautiful slacker riffs as the song blooms to its triumphant conclusion; Brown spinning a narrative of battling a long distance relationship while fighting off depression. “Pretty deep stuff!” he jokes, shrugging off the kind of lyrical sincerity that becomes totemic to legions of disaffected youth.

Named after a song by The Story So Far, Framework are completed by Nathan Cook (bass) and George Walker (drums). “I’ve known Nathan since I was about 8 years old from Woolsery School and I met George at North Devon College,” explains Brown. “I wanted a similar mindset shared between all three of us, which there is. We listen to the same stuff, we grew up on the same music, we don’t take each other or many things seriously and it works. We’re just 3 best friends.”

The early signs suggest Framework should have their sights trained beyond North Devon. But Brown is quick to speak fondly of his band’s musical roots. “It’s nice to see that there are more and more bands coming out of the North Devon music scene. Some of the bands we’ve got around are great. I personally believe Oh Captive are the band to watch in Devon right now. Then you’ve also got Scott Xander Linn & The Broken Bottles, The Dead Betas and more. It’s really cool.”

And while Framework may be reluctant to talk about their future, don’t expect them to tiptoe into their aural assault on the region’s lugholes. “We’re obviously new to the game but, we didn’t want to creep into it, you know? I didn’t want to start out playing gigs doing cover upon cover and then maybe dropping in one original song, I really can’t stand it when people do that. I think we’ve alerted the people of Barnstaple that we do have something cool in the works, but we need to show them and constantly raise that bar.”

As far as musical manifestos go, that ain’t a bad one.

Download Arsonist for free at frameworkbanduk.bandcamp.com.

CONTACT: Making music in North Devon? I want to know about it. jharper[at]northdevonjournal.co.uk | @testforpulse