Archive | March 2014

soundCHECK 242 – March 27th 2014

Just as scores of working women have for decades had to face the grim reality of being pressed up against a glass ceiling, able to see the upper positions in their place of employment but unable to get to them, crafting a decent April Fool requires a level of lucid imagination that I’m aware of in other people yet tragically incapable of harnessing in myself. My brain’s just not designed for Fools’ Day. I’m too lazy to spin fancy webs of deceit, too gullible to avoid getting caught in those of others. (An ex-girlfriend once convinced me over text message that she had shaved all her hair off because her brother had accidentally set it on fire.) These days I just spend April 1st alone in my bedroom, crying in to my pillow. It’s easier for everyone.

In acceptance – if not celebration – of this fact, this week’s soundCHECK is a fool-free zone; concerned only with piping-hot fact-nuggets ready to be washed down with a glass of truth-juice. If you’re in search of the Machiavellian I suggest you accept my apologies before lunging for your nearest red-top.

We start with The Verbals ( They are a band. A good one. From North Devon. And they’re plying their snarling, scratchy lo-fi indie-punk at Lilico’s in Barnstaple tonight (Thursday 27th March). Oh and hey, you could even treat your mate to a bowl of olives while the crunchy guitars and rambunctious drama of The Verbals makes its disarming journey along optic nerve and aural canal, because entry to watch the gig at Lilico’s is as free as the air you breathe. Alternatively you could spend your money drinking pints in search of a pang of creativity that might help you sculpt the mother of all April Fools. Decisions, decisions. Either way, watch The Verbals.

Also this week, prime the reverse of your favourite hand to be inked by The Palladium’s door-stamp. North Devon’s airtight, brooding and eminently likeable rock five-piece The Fallen State will be showcasing their towering riffery and bone-shaking rhythms for their EP launch party on Saturday (29th March). The new EP was recorded with David Jones (formerly of Heaven’s Basement) and you can pick it up for £4 at the show. Doors open at 8:30pm, which is significant because the first 50 people through can get entry (normally £3), an EP and a bunch of Fallen State promo stuff for a fiver. Support comes from capable local punk-rockers Pretend Happy, who until recently went by the name of Framework.

And that’s a matter of fact.

CONTACT: If you’re making music in North Devon I want to know about it. jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 241 – March 20th 2014

Bleeding nipples. Burning calves. Dislodged toenails flapping around in your sock. That’s the physiological thanks you get for running a marathon. A body that hates you. Not that I’d know from personal experience. But it doesn’t take longer than a few nanoseconds of internet trivia-hunting to confirm that pounding the streets for 26-miles, non-stop, inflicts a terrifying hell on your body.

Less heroic but a million times more appetising is a gig marathon. A gigathon. And by jingo you’ve been invited to one.

If you have thrust your pupils across Journal2 with any regularity over recent weeks you may already be familiar with the North Devon Gigathon, which is taking place at The Factory in Barnstaple on Saturday 26th April. Bringing the noise are twenty-four local bands during twelve hours of uninterrupted live music across two stages. You will need endurance, sure. But the only real threat to those lollipops you call legs is a mild loss of circulation caused by standing in skinny jeans for too long. And even that affliction of fainéant limb can be quelled with a medicinal beer or two. Or fifty.

You should move heaven and earth to attend. It’s a triumphant, fist-pumping, flag-waving celebration of the North Devon music scene, which will be displaying its full colour. Hoisting themselves stagewards are soundCHECK favourites like Scott Xander Linn & The Broken Bottles, The Verbals, Framework, Kiera Osment, Small Town Jones, One Man Boycott and Roughnecks. Each of them are a credit to the local scene, each of them worth the inevitable tinnitus the following morning.

Tickets cost £25, for which you get to watch 24 bands in North Devon’s best venue. Oh and the benevolent philanthropist in you will be pleased to know that all the money raised is being donated to The North Devon Hospice, whose vital work for the families of those with no distance left to run needs no introduction.

The North Devon Gigathon takes place on Saturday 26th April. Find out more and reserve tickets at

CONTACT: In a band? Got a gig? Made a video? Invented a new musical note? I want to know about it. jharper[at] | @testforpulse