Archive | September 2014

soundCHECK 268 – September 25th 2014

“High chance of passing out from intense levels of sexy.”

That’s what it says here, daubed across a little word-splurge promoting The Dead Betas’ upcoming tour. Forgive me, but I’m unconvinced. You see, going on tour is about fifty times less rock and roll than you imagine it to be. Unless you belong to one of the few bands that actually makes money these days, going on tour means waving goodbye to personal hygiene while you shack-up in a van for a week with the rest of your bandmates. By the end of day-three your transport/mobile home smells like an ungodly miasmata of dead cats, wet socks and stale beer. Cilla Black I am not, but I’d wager there are more potent aphrodisiacs.

No, you’re not going to pass out from the ‘sexy’. But what could have your head hitting the deck is The Dead Betas’ frenetic live show, which is like being stuck in a washing machine on a fast spin with a bunch of snarling guitars, off-kilter melodies, fizzing synths and snotty vocals. By the time The Dead Betas have finished one of their sets, you’re not entirely sure what’s happened – but you have a feeling it was fun. Bideford’s messy electro-punkers wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Our last tour was great fun,” trumpets frontman Tobias Kennedy-Matthews. “This time there will be more dancers, more make-up, more bad shirts and more friends.” Ah yes, the dancers. Topless boys writhing around demonically, clad in anonymity-preserving masks, gyrating and fist-pumping as if their very existence depended on it. Not quite what you’re used to seeing on Strictly Come Dancing – and as far as I’m concerned that’s the BBC’s loss.

Joining The Dead Betas on this eccentric sojourn are Barnstaple’s Oh Captive (, whose hook-splattered post-punk races down the cochlea and implants itself firmly in your memory-chamber. Super catchy. Also joining the tour – and going all antipodal in the process – are Brisbane’s The Red Paintings (, who will be offering acoustic renditions of their orchestral art rock.

The eight-night tour begins 29th October and takes in Kingston, Portsmouth, Crawley, Norwich, Plymouth, Bristol and Swansea. You can catch the antics in The Palladium in Bideford on 14th November. The Bristol and Swansea dates offer free admission; tickets for the other shows are £5 maximum and can be purchased from Find out more and do listening at

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

soundCHECK 267 – September 18th 2014

The discomforting low of the alarm clock is particularly unforgiving on Mondays. A piercing cackle, bursting the bubble of freedom that used to be your weekend. You lie in bed, brain besieged by an optophobic fug of resentment, and realise that everything about you is Sahel-dry: mouth, face, sense of humour. Your head throbs from the innumerable gallons of low-grade, high-proof Liver Destroyer you quaffed at the weekend. (If you’re lucky, you’re still drunk.) You hate yourself. Your charisma went to sleep in its make-up. You feel about as sharp as a puppy whose bones have been replaced by custard.

Yes, it’s one of the few clichés that has genuine substance in reality. Mondays are the pits.

This is because, for most people, Monday delineates the border between weekend liberation and weekday domination. Doing what you want and going where you want is replaced by doing what you need to and going where you have to. School. College. University. Work. And as soon as our feeble, fickle brains feel forced instead of free, they get snarky. This is the price of liberty and The X-Factor and benefits and the NHS and gastric bands and Jeremy Kyle.

Happily there are simple remedies for the Monday mulligrubs.

One of which is a trip to The Palladium in Bideford. Next Monday (22nd September) local acoustic outfit The Tuesday Syndicate hop stagewards – and will most likely bolster their growing reputation as North Devon’s band du jour. Earthy acoustic soundscapes form the backdrop for the disarmingly soulful vocals of Sam Mayo, who wields impressive authority over a kitten-limber larynx. Great voice. As you will discover when you point your intermajiggles at and wrap your lugholes around the outstanding and bewitching One Of Those Days. (“Well I fell out of bed this morning / With a headache and starry eyes”, croons Mayo. Betcha he’s referring to a Monday.) This lot be talented.

The Tuesday Syndicate support annoyingly catchy melodic indie-rock types Return To The Sun, who, being from Edinburgh, probably don’t even know what the sun looks like. Catch them on Spotify or for a primer. Entry to the gig will cost you £3, a small price to pay for some sorely-needed musical escapism, right? You should go. Next Monday (29th September) there’s a music quiz. You should go to that too.

Your choice though, of course.

CONTACT: Bands, fans, venues, promoters: I’m ready for your music news. Give me your best shot. jharper[at] | @testforpulse