Archive | June 2014

soundCHECK 255 – June 26th 2014

Unless you’ve been living in a bat cave, it won’t have escaped your attention-tentacles that we are currently in the throes of a major international football tournament. World Cup mania is everywhere. Clogging up the television schedules. Infiltrating your favourite pub. And giving you luminous opportunity to laugh at over-zealous England supporters.

You can find them in any pub whenever the Three Lions take to the pitch. The frenetic jingoism is a thing to behold. The hoopla. The chest-thumping machismo and alpha posturing. These are the proper men I was warned about. And as a guy with long hair and the arms of a seven-year-old girl, it’s hard not to feel a niggling disconnect – even if our cause is united; irrevocably entwined around the fates and fortunes of the men in white. But seriously. Some people need to chill out. Or perhaps take less cocaine.

Here to help with at least one of those is North Devon classical-crossover singer-songwriter Jaden Cornelious, who has written a wonderfully therapeutic England World Cup song. The peculiarities of writing to print deadlines are such that by the time you read this you will know more than I know now about England’s hopes of tiptoeing out of Group D. But after the lily-livered debacle that was the Uruguay match, the chances are slim. Had the players aped the gusto of Cornelious’s performance then England might not have been so toothless.

The song is called Lion’s Roar, obviously a call-to-arms for Roy’s boys but in fact more apt as a description for Cornelious’s note-perfect operatic howl. Thank God it didn’t become the official England World Cup song. If Cornelious sung this out in Brazil he would bring the nation’s hastily-constructed, rickety stadia to the ground with his bellowing ululations. Search YouTube for ‘Jaden Cornelious – Lion’s Roar’ for compelling testimony.

Of course, not everyone’s into football. If you’re looking for temporary respite from the lunacy, head for The Palladium on Wednesday July 2nd to watch three of North Devon’s finest support Max Raptor. Pretend Happy, Oh Captive and The Dead Betas take to the stage in what will be an evening of genuinely forward-thinking punk-rock and synth-punk to kindle your faith in the local music scene. Three bands who know how to go out and attack with passion.

A refreshing sight for any sore-eyed England fan.

CONTACT: Let’s be having your local music news. jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 254 – June 19th 2014

Stand-up comedians regularly roll in to North Devon. But they are way off the mark when they start working through the predictable bingo card of cultural clichés, casting locals as pasty-scoffing, cider-quaffing folk betrothed twelve fingers by the sordid sexual liaisons of their forefathers. If comics did their research they’d know that there’s one thing that North Devoners love above all else. Not pasties, not scrumpy, not incest. Real North Devon folk moan about traffic.

Back in the 90s it was fashionable to display public servitude to this notion. 25% of cars in the region hosted a quasi-ironic bumper sticker that read “Barnstaple: home of the traffic jam”, affixed by someone who clearly didn’t understand that i) by driving their car they were part of the problem; ii) if you choose to live in a remote part of the country that has a tourism-based economy and is famed for its natural beauty, the roads are likely to get busy when the sun comes out.

Today the majority of the bumper-stickers have disappeared. But the fury remains, usually reaching its cyclical zenith during the school summer holidays as a snaking motorcade of ‘grockels’ invade – each of them clutching guide books in their sweaty mitts that romanticise the freedom, escapism and tranquillity of good old North Devon.

Of course freedom, escapism and tranquillity is exactly what can be found in abundance among the bucolic hills of the North Devon countryside. But all that remoteness isn’t much good if you like going to gigs.

Here to address the rural live music imbalance is CalvertStock, a one-day music festival returning for its third year this Saturday. The festival is organised by (and raises money for) the Calvert Trust – and this year the festival is trumpeting two stages and a new location: The Old Station House Inn, Blackmoor Gate. (A nice alternative if you are opting out of joining the pilgrimage to Croyde for Oceanfest this weekend. CalvertStock is free too.)

The line up is mixed. Saints Of Sin ( are a sickeningly over-confident, painfully contrived four-piece on a self-professed crusade to bring back hair metal – although negotiating those indulgent guitar licks can’t be easy when you’re lacquered with a greasy layer of hubris. Picture a godless mash-up of Spinal Tap, Towers Of London and Bon Jovi. Then take away any element of irony, humour or charm. This is Saints Of Sin.

Also on the bill are a trio of bouncy teens called The Kaos, who sound like what would’ve happened to McFly had they spent less time in the studio and more time necking sambuca and getting tattoos. They have a song about waking up in bed with your best friend’s mum. And I’ll bet you that when they play it live in their home-city of Oxford, floppy-fringed kids start pogoing about like maniacs. Are The Kaos ready for the dead-eyed stares of Devonian strangers? It’ll be fun finding out!

There’s a total of sixteen artists playing across the two stages, including local lad Julian Langer ( and annoyingly good-looking Manchester singer-songwriter Robbie Cavanagh ( But the pick of the bunch is Kiera Osment, whose haunting piano ballads and bewitching voice are utterly captivating. She sounds like Rae Morris sans trite. Oh yeah, and she’s thirteen. Prodigious. Listen at

CalvertStock takes place this Saturday (21st June) at The Old Station House Inn in Blackmoor Gate. Entry is free. Or you can camp overnight for a tenner. Find out more at As well as the music there’ll be food, fair rides and plenty of booze – not to mention a notable lack of stand-up comedians.

CONTACT: Feed me truffles of local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse