Archive | November 2015

soundCHECK 325 – November 19th 2015

The other day when I was playing Mortal Kombat on my Sega Master System, sipping Um Bungo and wondering whether the percussive qualities of an empty Pot Noodle would be sufficient for it to be used as a drum to use for attracting girls, I got to thinking something: nostalgia is a nice thing. It’s why photography was invented.

So, nostalgia being nice and all, it’s darn handsome news that Reef are returning to Barnstaple following their sold out show earlier this year (back when 2015 was still fresh and full of hope and optimism and you really, truly believed you were going to join the gym). The band are reacquainting themselves with The Factory on 4th March 2016 as part of their UK tour.

Listening to Replenish and Glow era Reef is like a hug from an old friend – without the need for physical contact and awkward smiling. The feral, furious guitars of Kenwyn House; the riotous bass stomp of Jack Bessant; the boisterous cymbal-smashing of (Barnstaple boy) Dominic Greensmith; the rasping, guttural howl of Gary Stringer – it’s all blinkin’ marvellous. In their headiest moments Reef create a blinding inferno of noise – the sound of a band delighting in giving it both barrels.

Peppered among their oeuvre will be offcuts from the new album – the first since 2003’s Together¬ – due for release next year. And obviously you don’t need to be endowed with MI5 levels of deduction to assume that they will play Place Your Hands – the song you can hear hunkering out of the speakers with irrepressible predictability on Friday and Saturday night in every average pub, club and student union right across the UK. I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that it’s actually a pretty average bit of music, not least compared to the other songs they were writing at the time. But whatever.

Tickets went on sale last week (Friday 13th) and will sell out pronto. So if you’re into it, type into Netscape and double-click the please button. You will be doing the future version of yourself a pleasant favour, which will be a nice thing to look back on.

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

soundCHECK 324 – November 12th 2015

If like the rest of the world you think history is boring, it’s because you’ve been taught the wrong kind of history. On the 21st November 1871, 144 years ago, a man named Emilio Onra dressed up as a woman, spent the day getting hammered in his favourite London pubs and then climbed feet first into a cannon and waited to be fired skywards. In doing so he became the world’s first ever human cannonball.

Young people are often castigated for spending all their time mindlessly pawing at their smartphones as they search for the meaning of life on Facebook and Tindr. But at least these modern vices keep Generation Y from using themselves as heavy artillery. (Truly the devil makes work for idle thumbs.)

Having said that I can think of at least 37 people who I’d like to watch being pelletted towards the stratosphere as a heavy cannon lurches forward to purge its bowels of unwanted human – starting with the tragically hip, thin-haired, middle-aged megamoron who zips past me every morning on my walk to work riding a child’s scooter. Hell, jam his scooter in the cannon as well. And his kids. As he arcs across the sky it will be an interesting sociological experiment to see which he clamours to shield from the inevitably bumpy landing: sprogs or scooter.

Anyway, I can’t think of a better way to toast Emilio Onra’s sacrifice – without coaxing the wrath of your regional newspaper’s editorial team – than to go and sup a pint at Golden Lion Tap in Barnstaple while watching a bunch of talented local bands. Yep, on Saturday 21st November TripToTori celebrate the long-awaited launch of their debut EP with a headline performance supported by fellow North Devoners Limiter and The Stolen Page ( Bristol band The Garage Flowers are also garlanding their way down the M5 to perform (

TripToTori are currently one of the most exciting bands in North Devon. Their sound stands at the apex of post-rock, shoegaze and indie rock; there’s a frosty widescreen beauty to their melodies as the kind of spiky-jangle of Antidotes-era Foals glissades across the deeply atmospheric soundscapes of hushed keys, prominent bass and morose, understated vocals of Josh Danks. Do your ears a favour and point your internet to and take in the stirring stampede of Lowlands and Breathe.

This band can write songs.

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