Archive | October 2015

soundCHECK 322 – October 29th 2015

You know what happens this weekend. All Hallows’ Eve. Halloween. Beggars’ Night.

Your nearest town centre will be crawling with grown adults who have attempted – with wildly varying degrees of success – to festoon themselves in creepy costumes and ghoulish furbelows. Pint-size vampires will descend on your doorstep as part of the rampaging community quest for sugar, each child more eager to lob as many e-numbers as possible into their gaping maw. As for you? You will sink deeper and deeper into a nervous, palpitating despair as the withdrawal from a gazillion pumpkin spice lattes across the course of the last four days imposes an ever-tightening grip on your physiological wellbeing. Fancy dress, doorstep sugar raids and panic attacks. You’ve got to love Halloween.

Here to make all three a little easier to cope with is Ryan Martin and his latest compilation of local music. Each year the North Devon independent filmmaker and music fan invites local artists to contribute a track for a record that Martin compiles, promotes and gives away for nuffink. For the bands who contribute, it’s a decent slice of free promo. For everyone else it’s an opportunity to wrap the lugholes around a snapshot of the North Devon music scene. (Full disclosure: some of the bands aren’t from North Devon – but the majority are.)

This year is no different, with tracks from – deep breath – Beach Talk, Jax, Ebony Grace, Johnny Sharp, The Fallen State, Halley’s Apparition, Eaten By Sharks, Miles I. Hamer, One Man Boycott, The Verbals, Kiera Osment and more.

“First off a BIG thank you to all the artists that sent in tracks for this year’s album,” says Martin. “Devon is a goldmine of musical talent and the album features plenty. When Super Sick Records sent me six tracks off the label, it was like Crimbo come early. Steve B knocked out a track in one take whilst wrapped in a towel fresh out the bath. And Cancer by The Artful Codger will bring a tear to your eye if you know anyone affected by the disease. There’s just so many great tunes this year.”

The album is called SKULL CRUSHERS. Mostly due to Martin’s travails at the gym. (“It’s funny how much weight you can put on when you eat 4+ pizzas a week,” he deadpans.) SKULL CRUSHERS is Martin’s rebellion against the insipid workout music his ears are affronted by at the gym. “Now I have 28 tracks to get me through my session. There’s even a Heart Attack cover; sometimes it feels like I’m going to have one.”

You can download SKULL CRUSHERS for free online at from Halloween.

No trick, all treat.

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 321 – October 22nd 2015

E-tickets. What a swindle. What a scurrilous swiz. What an infuriating waste of time.

If my corporal existence ends prematurely, it will be solely attributable to the oscillating death-balls of stress that have accumulated in my brain from buying e-tickets. Which aren’t even e-tickets. Because precisely 0.00001 milliseconds after you purchase an e-ticket, the e- is shorn off, crumpled up and flung into oblivion. Electronic, you say? Pah! What you have actually purchased is a plain old regular ticket. It’s up to you to turn an email attachment into the physical manifestation of an email attachment – and you get to pay the ticket vendor a £2.50 booking fee for the privilege. ROCK AND ROLL, YEAH?

Ever tried getting into a gig where you are refused entry because you “haven’t printed off your e-ticket”, despite presenting the booking confirmation email on your smartphone? Selling an e-ticket that cannot actually be accepted electronically is surely a contravention of the Trade Descriptions Act, no? But – speaking from personal experience – protestations don’t get you very far, regardless of how far you threaten to jam your smartphone down the promoter’s oesophageal tract.

Where is my printer anyway? Oh yes, I remember. It’s at the recycling centre. It’s down the scrap yard. It’s on the bone-heap along with my fax machine, MiniDisc player, tamagotchi, Victorian fire bellows, feather quill and set of handmade hunting spears. Tell you what – let me go to the library to pay £1 to use their computers and then 20p to use their printer. I had been meaning to not live my life for a bit anyway and it will give me an excuse to get stared at by old men.

How is it that we live in an age where you can book a flight, check-in at an airport, scan your boarding pass and fly around the world using a mobile app, but you can’t show a promoter an email on your smartphone to gain entry to a gig? Sure, some e-tickets are different. Maybe the tide is turning. But for now most e-tickets lead to stress, hassle and distinctly un-electronic paper cuts.

No such woe if you go to The Thatch in Croyde. Their gigs don’t cost a dime and there are no tickets to worry about. The transaction is as simple as: 1) enter venue; 2) buy pint; 3) watch band. Next week (Friday 30th October) two genuinely fabulous North Devon artists head stagewards: delay-laden, melodically-limber, post-rock-cum-shoegazers TripToTori, supported by prodigious acoustic singer-songwriter Sophie Sutton. Sorted.

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse