Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Rukhsana Merrise - Money

Having held out on it for several years, just after Christmas I finally bit the bullet and subscribed to Spotify premium. For ages I'd barely even used Spotify, even at the cost of 0 per month, preferring iTunes/Apple for listening to music on the go and in the house, and YouTube as my go-to for tracks that I didn't own.

However, after several computer issues that left my iTunes virtually unable to be updated, I took the plunge and subscribed to the system, and I've barely looked back since. Being able to download playlists to listen to offline is brilliant (especially when on long walks far away from any access to the internet), and the playlists on offer to download are wonderfully diverse (although admittedly our first port of call is usually the 6music Playlist - it's barely let me down yet). As a consequence of moving over to Spotify, the amount of music that I've downloaded from iTunes has decreased exponentially, although that's a discussion for another time.

Perhaps my favourite feature of Spotify since I've started using it more often has been the Discover Weekly playlist. It looks at the music that you've listening to on Spotify and picks a playlist of 30 new tracks that it thinks you will like, in theory becoming more attuned to your musical taste the more you listen to. From personal experience, it's definitely got much more intuitive over time (in the first week I used it, 29 of the 30 tracks consisted of gospel music, which is a little bit too much for my liking), and I have discovered some genuinely fantastic songs that I would not have come across otherwise.

Which leads me, after three paragraphs of long and winding foreplay, into "Money", the latest single from London based artist Rukhsana Merrise. She isn't an artist who I would have heard about had her music not ended up on my Discover... playlist (her music appears to be very popular in Holland, if her Spotify stats are anything to go by), and I'm not entirely sure what songs I listened to that gained it admission to my list, but I'm very glad that it did. "Money" is a song that mixes elements, of pop, soul, trip-hop and Indian music into one brilliant, cosmopolitan package.

"Money" is out now.

The Metaphorical Boat Spotify Playlist - March/April 2016

For those of you who like your musical recommendations in playlist-able Spotify form, on a bimonthly basis The Metaphorical Boat is going to post a selection of songs that we have been enjoying over the prior eight weeks or so, containing songs that we've written about, new songs that we haven't written about but are enjoying nonetheless, and a few older but fantastic tracks that are currently floating our Metaphorical Boat.

Below is our playlist for March & April, and contains songs from local acts like Wood Burning Savages, Silences & Son of The Hound, newer tracks from acts such as Courtney Barnett, Catholic Action & James, as well as a classic from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Because why not?

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Stop The Wheel - Shape Up

If you'll pardon the rather clumsy pun, the song "Shape Up" by Stop The Wheel really stopped us in our tracks when we heard it on Across The Line this week.

Stop The Wheel is the solo project of Francesco Candura, who was previously the guitarist in Italian psychedelic band Jennifer Gentle, and signed to Dublin based label Little Gem Records. The project is described as "R&B played at a campfire", and I don't think there's a better way to describe the sound of their debut single, "Shape Up".

The song is built around a simple acoustic guitar and handclap rhythm, which give a much earthier flow to the vocals than you might expect compared to the more electronically driven modern day R&B. However, the moment you truly realise that Stop The Wheel have something very special on their hands happens 1:39 into the song, when a wonderfully warm yet unnatural, higher pitched counter melody comes in, like something taken from the Alan Lomax field recordings, which juxtaposes the more harshly delivered main melody perfectly.

"Shape Up" is a wonderfully understated banger of a song, one that sounds like nothing else being recorded at the moment. Here's hoping that more people pick up on its unique sound.

"Shape Up" is taken from Stop The Wheel's debut E,P, "Too Old For This S***", which is released in May 20th.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Pleasure Beach - Magic Mountain

It's been nearly a year since Belfast 5-piece Pleasure Beach first grabbed us by the thingies with their debut single "Go". Now 12 months and with an E,P under their belt, things are looking rather swimtastic for them. They've been streamed a ridiculous amount of times on Soundcloud & the like, and they found themselves on the longlist for the Blog Sound of 2016. They've got a busy schedule over the next few months, with the band seemingly booked for every festival going, including a gig at The Great Escape in Brighton on May 20th (where your humble captain hopes to see them live for the first time, something which is well overdue).

But before all that, the band have just released their first new song of the calendar year, "Magic Mountain". If you've heard Pleasure Beach before, you'll know what you're getting, their sound is a little bit Bruce Springsteen, and quite a bit of The War on Drugs as well.

Which leads to the obvious question, which is that if their sound is so much indebted to those artists, why listen to Pleasure Beach when you can listen to The Boss or WOD instead? It's a question that we've been pondering for some time, but I think we've finally got an answer - joy. There's the old cliché that no-one gets a happy ending in a Bruce Springsteen song, whilst the sound of the War on Drugs tends to be very inwards looking. When you listen to a Pleasure Beach song on the other hand, its extroverted sounds makes you feel like you can take on the world, rather than succumb to it, and there's a feeling of hope within their words, even if it doesn't always appear that way at first. And sometimes that's just what we want from music.

"Magic Mountain" is another strong entry in Pleasure Beach's already strong arsenal of tunes. Let's see what other heights they can climb to for the rest of the year.

"Magic Mountain" will be released on 22nd April.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #36

It's been quite a while since we've done a round-up of a few songs from Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland that we haven't featured on the blog before that have floated our Metaphorical Boat, so there's no time like the present to fix said predicament - 

Brand New Friend - I Was An Astronaut

We've mentioned Taylor Johnson, Northern Ireland's answer to the Duracell Bunny, on TMB on several occasions, both in relation to the music blog he runs, the fabulous Encore NI, as well as his music ventures (he was the lead singer of Paper Man, a band whom we briefly featured in a Round-Up in 2013).

Now firmly back in the musical saddle, at the tail end of last year he formed Brand New Friend with his sister Lauren. In the short few months that 2016 has been a thing, they've started to make a mark for themselves. They were the winners of Chordblossom's Kickstart competition (previous winner have included blog favourites such as In An Instant, Lauren Bird, and most notably, SOAK), and were featured on Tom Robinson's Mixtape on 6music.

"I Was An Astronaut" is their debut single, and although it's a little bit rough around the edges, you can really hear the potential of the group coming through. It's an enjoyable indie-rock song filled with youthful exuberance and pleasant interlocking vocals from the Johnsons.


Dandelion Tea  -The Crystal Dawn

The debut single from Belfast 4-piece Dandelion Tea, "The Crystal Dawn" seems to be a constituent of a sub-genre that we like to dub 'floaty cloud music', i.e music so relaxing and therapeutic that it's like a aural equivalent of floating across the sky on a massive cloud. It's a lovely mix of glacial synths, acoustic guitars and the right amount of heart. It's due to feature on their first E.P "A Picnic In Limbo", and if "The Crystal Dawn" is anything to go by, it'll by a luscious release indeed.

Bisous - Lie After Lie

There's not a lot of information floating around the interwebs about Belfast's Bisous. We're not even entirely sure as to whether it's just one guy or a group. Either way, the single "Lie After Lie" has got us enthralled with its sunny lo-fi synth pop aesthetic. I expect that there's a lot more to come from him/them as his/their sound develops, but it's an interesting beginning nonetheless


Strength - Northern Ireland Yes

And we finish off this month's round-up with perhaps the most bizarre band from Derry that we've had the pleasure/opportunity (delete as appropriate) to see in the past few years. We saw Strength a few months back after they were the support act for Beauty Sleep's debut gig. The band appeared to be more of a performance art project than just a band, with the group mixing esoteric spoken word, synths that appeared to be taken from the soundtrack from Age of Empires, and interpretive dance. Their bassist also has the most ludicrous haircut we have ever seen in our life.

Still, they definitely made an impact, at least to the point of wanting to check out more of their music after the gig. Check out their most recent single, the deliciously nutty "Northern Ireland Yes", as well as the video for said single, and keep in mind that live, they are at least ten times more stark-raving bonkers.