Archive | October 2013

soundCHECK 223 – October 31st 2013

Holing out pumpkins is boring and smells weird. Similar to what sharing lunch with BBC Spotlight’s Justin Leigh in a car full of heavily sedated wet dogs would be like. Be that as it may, Halloween’s spectral presence is upon us and countless families have been crafting jack-o’-lanterns. An exercise which conjures a neat visual metaphor for the way I feel after watching an episode of Made In Chelsea: keen to lop off the top of my head and scoop out my memories with the nearest tablespoon; while my face assumes a countenance of dysmorphic horror.

Irrespective of how fatigued your arm is from gouging pumpkin flesh, this week’s soundCHECK has an additional duty for your favoured limb to perform.  And it involves finding an internet and bravely navigating the digital ocean. Your destination?

Each year local filmmaker Ryan calls on North Devon’s musical talent to submit a track for a compilation. “I made the first album as a thank you to all the people who joined me in the Zombie Parade in the 2008 Barnstaple Carnival,” reveals Ryan. “North Devon had a really good music scene so it was a way of showing off the local talent.”

Ryan has made a subsequent compilation every year since. And now 2013’s instalment is upon us. “There’s some amazing talent on this year’s album with a collection of new and old tracks.” Numerous soundCHECK favourites make the cut, such as Eaten By Sharks, The Verbals, Kiera Osment, One Man Boycott and Oh Captive. It’s an aural snapshot of what’s happening musically in North Devon; a local mixtape for the modern age – well worth your attention, not least because it’s free to download.

This year’s compilation is also endowed with additional sentiment too. “The album cover is in memory of Adam Startup, a school friend who passed away this year. The ‘AS woz ere’, the dancing monkeys and yellow-looking bleeding ear all relate back to stories from our time at school together. And the title ‘Good To Go – No Dramas’ was suggested by his mum as they were two of his favourite sayings.”

Good To Go – No Dramas is available to download for free from today (Thursday 31st October) at Get on it.

CONTACT: Share your local band news. Tell me about a gig. Send me a decent recipe for pumpkin soup. jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 222 – October 24th 2013

Congealed Tangfastics. Haggard chocolates. Squishy biscuits bereft of crunch. For some cunning rogues, Halloween presents a glowing shard of opportunity to liberate forgotten sugary morsels from the darkest corners of kitchen cupboards. You know the type of food I mean. Its acquisition remains ongoing mystery. It has become part of the fabric of your household. You are a bit terrified of it. Perfect trick or treat fodder.

It seems audacious for trick or treaters to expect anything more than unwanted victuals. It’s just an odd transaction, isn’t it? Using sweets as a currency to avert some non-descript ‘trick’ threatened by pint-sized strangers is weird. It’s weird, okay? And don’t pretend otherwise. These ghoulish bambinos, freshly anonymised by costume and face paints, descend on your doorstep and enforce their wicked manifesto, their e-number-fuelled ideology, unchallenged. The temerity. They should be thankful they are not forcefed regurgitated cat food. And when I myself were a tot, I harboured a furtive scorn for these kids that sauntered away from my home, grubby fingers groping treats reluctantly gifted by my mum and dad. It left a sour taste in my mouth, while theirs were sweetened.

Still, most civilised humans grow up to be a little less bitter. And if you are among them you will perhaps be open to indulge the tongue-in-cheek gaiety of All Hallows’ Eve. In which case a trip to The Old Bus Station this Saturday (26th October) should intrigue. Here you shall find Barnstaple’s standout Halloween party. Hard Wire Fist, Drenched and The Verbals hulk stagewards – the latter of whom have been causing a stir online recently with the Infidels video, which notched up 5,000 views within the first few days of release. (Search YouTube for ‘The Verbals – Infidels’.) The North Devoners’ muscular indie-punk is definitely worth catching live. And of course there will be grisly, ghostly fancy dress a’plenty. Entry is just £3 on the door from 9pm.

Of course, fancy dress is not to everyone’s taste. Happily, your wish to avoid mysterious spectres, brain-mangled zombies and gruesome werewolves need not render you housebound. Watch Devon’s finest hip-hop/soul/jazz fusion The Breaks Collective ( at The Jack Russell’s Cider Festival in Swimbridge this Saturday (26th October). And, if you must, you can catch them at The Westward Arms in Westward Ho! on Thursday (31st October) too, though presumably your chances of encountering fancy dress are exponentially increased. Thursday also brings the chance to watch precocious North Devon songstress Kiera Osment ( stun her audience while supporting wistful Torrington folk outfit Roholio at The Plough.

Attendance will put paid to your kitchen cupboard purge. But hey, what’s another twelve months?

CONTACT: Tell me about your bands, gigs and personality malfunctions. jharper[at] | @testforpulse