Thursday, 28 January 2016

Beauty Sleep - The Dark

Having written about them more or less since the blog began, and enthusing about them at every possible opportunity, I think by know you're all aware of the total love that this blog has for Wonder Villains and everything Wonder Villains related (fun fact - they're the only band that have their own specific label on this blog). They've been quiet as late, save for a Stiff Little Fingers cover for the soundtrack of Shooting For Socrates, but now half of their members have started a new, interesting project.

The Beauty Sleep trio are made up of Villains Ryan McGroarty & Cheylene Murphy (who's also spent the last year involved with Go Girl and Blog Sound of 2016 nominees Pleasure Beach), in addition to Aimee Williamson, and eschews more straightforward pop in favour of something a little bit more atmospheric, but just as enjoyable. "The Dark" is an irresistible mixture of dream-pop (quite apt, given their name), Balearic dance and synth-pop, all tied together by luscious interlocking boy/girl vocals. Top marks for the oceanic-sounding guitar solo in the outro too.

"The Dark" is a great introductory single for Beauty Sleep. Does the involvement of 50% of the Wonder Villains mean that that band have been dissolved? We hope not, but if Beauty Sleep can deliver more great songs like this, then we won't be too disappointed.

"The Dark" will be released on February 19th. A launch gig will be held in Bar Sub, Belfast on Friday 26th February.

Tuskany - Better Time

In the past week, a lot of people locally have been getting rather enthusiastic about "Better Time", the debut release from Belfast trio Tuskany. Although like many "new" bands from Northern Ireland that pick up a lot of steam from the get go, it should be noted there's some familiarity within the project - Owen McGarry has been recording well-received solo material for some time.

"Better Time" is a great fun slice of day-glo synth-pop which has 'Kitsuné compilation album candidate' written all over it, and whilst their description as sounding like "Earth, Wind & Fire meets M83" might not be entirely accurate, you can kind of see where they were coming from. They're an interesting sounding act, with a lot of promise from the get-go.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Hurdles - Dusk & Dawn

Hurdles really do like taking their time, don't they?

We first featured the band way back in 2012 following the released of their first single "Pictures". They then released one of our favourites tracks of 2013 with "Kaleidoscope", as well as a first E.P. to boot. They then took things relatively quietly in 2014 until the very last month, when they unleashed "France" upon us, and now more than a year after that, the quartet are releasing their second E.P, of which "Dusk & Dawn" is the title track.

If you've been familiar with Hurdles in the past, then you'll know exactly what you're getting with these guys, but if not, then you're in for a delicious little treat indeed. Finely crafted, tropical, sleek and polished indie-pop very much in the Phoenix mode. Welcome back guys. Now let's not leave the follow-up waiting too long this time, please?

"Dusk & Dawn E,P" is released on February 1st.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs/Albums of 2015 - The Lists (+ Spotify Playlist)

For the benefit of those who like cold, hard data, here is The Metaphorical Boat's top albums and songs of 2015 in easy to digest list form.

Top Songs of 2015:

  1. Ten FĂ© -  Make Me Better
  2. All Tvvins - Thank You
  3. Cheerleader - The Sunshine of Your Youth
  4. Enya - Echoes in Rain
  5. The Chemical Brothers - Go
  6. Suede - Outsiders
  7. Silences - The Sea
  8. Public Service Broadcasting - Go!
  9. Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian At Best
  10. The School - All I Want From You Is Everything
  11. Beck - Dreams
  12. C Duncan - Garden
  13. Carly Rae Jepsen - I Really Like You
  14. Blossoms - Charlemagne
  15. Foals - What Went Down
  16. Galantis - Peanut Butter Jelly
  17. Destroyer - Dream Lover
  18. nano.RIPE - Kotae Awase
  19. Pleasure Beach - Go
  20. In An Instant - Come the Night
  21. Daveit Ferris - This is Your Captain Speaking
  22. Jane Weaver - I Need a Connection
  23. Swim Deep - One Great Song And I Could Change The World
  24. FFS - Johnny Delusional
  25. Hooton Tennis Club  -  Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair
  26. The Weeknd - Can't Feel My Face
  27. Malojian - Communion Girls
  28. Father John Misty - Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)
  29. The Wood Burning Savages - Premier League
  30. The Bohicas - Swarm
  31. Eagles of Death Metal - Complexity
  32. Chris Tall - Time Of Your Life
  33. THE DLX - Let Go
  34. Wonder Villains - Alternative Ulster
  35. The Cadbury Sisters - Sarah
  36. Lauren Bird - Goodbye, Good Luck
  37. Titus Andronicus - Dimed Out
  38. Format:B - Chunky
  39. Moumoon - Hello, shooting-star
  40. Tame Impala - ‘Cause I’m A Man
  41. Kassassin Street - Radio Silence
  42. Walk The Moon - Shut Up and Dance
  43. Best Boy Grip - Sharks
  44. Peter Cat - Keeping Up With Jacob
  45. Peixefante - Por Baixo da Blusa
  46. The Corner Laughers - Fairytale Tourist
  47. The Emerald Armada - This House
  48. Flemmings - Get Away From Me Right Now
  49. Pure Youth - New November
  50. Gengahr - Heroine

Top Albums of 2015:

  1. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit & Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
  2. Public Service Broadcasting - The Race For Space
  3. Cheerleader - The Sunshine of Your Youth
  4. Enya - Dark Sky Island
  5. nano.RIPE - Nanairo Megane no Himitsu
  6. Best Boy Grip - Best Boy Grip
  7. Malojian - Southlands
  8. Lotus Land - Lotus Land
  9. C Duncan - Architect
  10. Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool

And for the first time this year, here is a playlist of our top songs for 2015 which are on Spotify, plus a track from the top 10 album on our list that didn't make it on our top songs list (songs by nano.RIPE, Moumoon & Flemmings were not on Spotify):

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Albums of 2015: 5-1

5. nano.RIPE - Nanairo Megane no Himitsu

So for the second year in a row, Japanese rock band nano.RIPE make our year-end top 10 album list, this time with the wonderful "Nanairo Megane no Himitsu" (English translation: "A Secret of Colours in a Kaleidoscope"). Vocalist Kimiko's high-pitched vocals may still be quite a bit of an acquired taste, but if you can get over both this and lyrics entirely in Japanese you'll find a wonderful and varied album, be it the folksy opener "Kotae Awase", the fizzy pop of "Toumei na Sekai, or the experimental "Apollo". 

4. Enya - Dark Sky Island
(Warner Brothers)
For a full explanation of why "Dark Sky Island" is one of the best albums of 2015, please read my review of the album on Drowned In Sound, but in short, it's another stunning album of songs that could eminate from no other artist bar Enya herself.

3. Cheerleader - The Sunshine of Your Youth
(Bright Antenna)

Never has nostalgia sounded to fresh on Cheerleader's debut album "The Sunshine of Your Youth". The band produce a sound that seems like it's been beamed in directly from the early 90s pre-Britpop indie scene, yet with a widescreen production that is very much of the here and now. There's shades of Lightning SeedsThe Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Foster The People over the course of the ten tracks on the album, full of hazy love for the past.

2. Public Service Broadcasting - The Race For Space
(Test Card Recordings)

Public Service Broadcasting were responsible for our #1 album of the year back in 2013 with "Inform - Educate - Entertain", and now in 2015 they find themselves ranking highly again with their follow-up album "The Race For Space". 

Unlike their debut album, which mined a whole smorgasbord of eras and subjects for inspiration, "The Race For Space" tackles one unified subject, namely the exploration of space by the USA and the Soviet Union between the late 50s and early 70s. That doesn't mean that the music on offer isn't as diverse as ever though, with the album taking in everything from Aphex Twin-esque electronica ("Sputnik"), superhero funk ("Gagarin"), and Eno-ish ambiance on "Tomorrow". The album also sees the band incorporating live vocals for the first time, with the choir on the title track, and the involvement of Smoke Fairies on the ethereal "Valentina". The album sent Public Service Broadcasting into the stratosphere in 2015, and rightly so. 

1. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit & Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
(Marathon Artists)

Australian Courtney Barnett has found herself on top of nearly every Best Album of 2015 list this year, and now she can be pleased in the knowledge that she's also topped The Metaphorical Boat's year end list with her somewhat clunkily titled "Sometimes I Sit & Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit".
The main strengths of "Sometimes..." are twofold. Firstly, Barnett's finely observed poetic lyrics, which are filled with wit and hilarity, yet can also be venomous or tender depending on where the mood takes her, be they on tales of mistaken identity ("Elevator Operator"), moving house ("Depreston"), environmentalism ("Kim's Caravan"), or even just going swimming ("Aqua Profunda!"). But great observant lyrics mean nothing without great music to accompany it, and the wonderful rock arrangements on "Sometimes..." marries the two to such a perfection that we haven't seen in many years, quite possibly since the days of Sleeper in the Britpop era.

So congratulations to Courtney Barnett on topping our list for 2015. Here's a track from said brilliant album to enjoy: