Sunday, 29 March 2015

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #34

Just when you think you've covered all the fantastic Northern Irish tunes that you can for the month, your attention is immediately drawn to another fantastic bunch of songs that you have no choice but to write about. As far as problems go, it's relatively minor, but still something worth rectifying.

So here's another bunch of great songs from here we hope float your Metaphorical Boat this month - 
Malojian - Communion Girls

I've mentioned before how my passion for local Northern Irish music stems largely from a Los Campesinos! gig that I went to see in July 2008, for which the band were ably supported by three great local bands - Two Door Cinema Club (whatever happened to them?), Kowalski, and the duo who opened the night, folk duo Cat Malojian. The band released two great albums (the latter of which, "The Dawn Chorus", I heardedly recommend checking out if you can track down a copy) before they went their seperate ways.

Stevie Scullion continued on the act under the simpler name of Malojian, and having released one album under the name ("The Deer's Cry), is lining up #2, "Southlands", in the next few months. The first track to be taken from the album, "Communion Girls" has already picked up a lot of love from Radio Ulster and BBC 6music. The music video's pretty great too, a dark yet charming animation which is well worth your attention.

New Portals - Standing Over Here

"Standing Over Here" might be the first single from the band, but New Portals aren't exactly a new act, more one made up of old friends, given that they're the new project of Ruth & Michael Aicken, who we've written about in the past under the name The Jepettos. "Standing Over Here" sees the band exchange the "lullaby-folk" that they've become known for over the past few years for sleek, futuristic electro-pop. It's an interesting new direction for the duo, and although one hopes it doesn't mean that they've retired their Jepettos moniker, it'll be interesting to see where they go with this one.


Patrick Gardiner - I'm Your Creation

County Down born Patrick Gardiner is lining up to release his first E.P in three years, "Carcassone", on April 1st, and if that news doesn't immediately excite you, then the lead track from the E.P, "I'm Your Creation", surely should. The song is a loving ode to his parents, wrapped up in an 'everything up to, and including, the kitchen sink' approach to percussion, with its vaudevillian charm calling to mind a more embryonic version of Duke Special. There's also a video for the song, inspired by Frankenstein, which is available now for your oracular pleasure.

He's launching the E.P in Voodoo, Belfast on Thursday April 9th.

Jealous Of The Birds - Goji Berry Sunset

We came across Jealous of The Birds, the moniker of 18 year-old Portadown native Naomi Hamilton, after local super-producer Rocky O'Reilly brought her to our attention on Twitter. Needless to say, her debut E.P "Capricorn" should be enough to understand why she's already received praise in high places. The entire E.P is a stunningly lo-fi collection of tunes, and if we could bring your attention to just one of them, it would be the opening track, "Goji Berry Sunset". It's a charming little song, underpinned by the earwormiest of whistling hooks.

If you're looking to see her live, thankfully you won't have long to wait, as she's going to be supporting Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly's Sam Duckworth in The Bar With No Name, Belfast on Thursday 9th April.

Comrade Hat - One Of Them

And concluding things this week is Comrade Hat, the moniker of Derry producer Neil Burns. Inspired by his time writing in the cold, dark depths of the Canadian rockies, he produces icy electronic music with deep atmospherics. "One Of Them" is taken from his E.P "The Winter Takes It All", which sounds like a cross between Air and Lorde, as fronted by Vampire Weekend. It's a song that's best suited for repeat listens, as you discovered something new hidden within the song's intricacies every single time.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Kassassin Street - To Be Young

The last time we wrote about Portsmouth band Kassassin Street, we were getting very excited about their wonderful Top 20* hit "Centre Straight Atom". With yet another sold-out gig in their home town forthcoming, the band have just premiered a brand new single, for which they have enlisted the assistance of Frank Turner's producer (Tristan Ivemy) and Beck's sound mixer (Dan Grech).

"To Be Young" follows the example of their last single in its propulsive energy and its harsh, yet rather infectious rock style. It reminds us a little bit of The Maccabees in places, which is of course very rarely a bad thing. Although it hasn't hooked us in the same way that "CSA" did when we first heard it, "To Be Young" is still a very strong and very enjoyable addition to Kassassin Street's musical arsenal. One can only hope that they can start selling out venues outside of their current abode off the back of it.

"To Be Young" will be released on March 30th.

*well, by Top 20 we mean the top 20 of our favourite songs of 2014. But it still counts.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #33

It's been a while, but it's time for another round-up of some great tunes which have emanated from Northern Ireland over the past few weeks. There's been so many that it's not been possible to include them all here, but hopefully there's a little something for everyone in the six that really floated the Metaphorical Boat this week - 

Best Boy Grip - Sharks

Eoin O'Callghan, aka Best Boy Grip, has built his reputation over the past few years with his sincere yet subversive piano-pop tunes. This is why hearing his new single, "Sharks" for the first time took a lot of people aback, given that it ditches the ivories altogether and takes his sound in a rockier, slightly punkier direction. There's a Best Boy Grip album on its way in a few months time, and it will be interesting to see if there's a few more curve balls like this in store when it's released.


Lilla Vargen - This Is Love

For reasons we've talked about before, with a few minor exceptions, Northern Irish acts haven't usually tended to make that much of an impact on the wider blogosphere, so when an artist does pick up a lot of traction online especially with a debut single, it is always a positive sign. When Belfast based singer/songwriter Lilla Vargen released "This Is Love" a few weeks back, it immediately won favour with lots of bloggers, picking up lots of love on the Hype Machine. It's hard not to to be won over, mind you, with this sparse, piano ballad which puts pure emotion heart and centre.

Runabay - Moon Turns Blue

Of course I'm going to love a song that name checks the Cave Hill, Belfast's own Mount Everest. "Moon Turns Blue" is the new single from Antrim based sextet Runabay, which is a great modern folk tune filled with wonderful harmonies, and more fiddle than you can shake a stick at. There's a great lot of fantastic folk bands coming through in Northern Ireland at the moment (such as Emerald Armada and New Ancestors), and if looks as if Runabay are going to make a real impact over the next while as well.

Rebekah Wilson - Nothing (Me & You)

After charming us several months ago with one of her early demos, Belfast singer/singwriter/local music enthusiast Rebekah Wilson has just released her first official single, "Nothing (Me & You)". Produced by Michael Mormecha of Mojo Fury fame, not only delivers on the promise that her earlier songs shown, but smashes right through it. The song is a soaring rock anthem in waiting, the kind of song that you can easily imagine being used at the end of an episode of one of those American teen dramas where the main character is making an overwrought declaration of love. It's a fantastic (official) debut from Rebekah Wilson, and given that she's still only 17, there's bound to be even more great gems like this to come in the future.

Ciaran Lavery & Ryan Vail - The Colour Blue

Folk troubadour (and one of local music's most successful artists on Spotify - his track "Shame" alone has racked up nearly 5 million streams) Ciaran Lavery and electronic wizard Ryan Vail have come together to release "Sea Legs" a mini-album which will bring together both artists' very disparate styles over seven tracks. The first track to be released from the project is "The Colour Blue", which mixes the acoustic wistfulness of Lavery with ambient soundscapes courtesy of Vail. If you enjoyed the collaboration album between Jon Hopkins and King Creosote, one imagines you will find something to like in this, and if you want to get more involved, then they are currently crowd funding the release on Pledge Music.

Chase The River - Everything's Ok

And closing us out this week is Belfast duo Chase The River, who were recently finalists in Chordblossom's Kickstart competition (and congratulations to Lauren Bird, who was crowned the winner). "Everything's Ok" is a great introduction to the group, which is a jaunty folk-pop duet between Lauren Malloy and Stuart Lunn.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Pure Youth - New November

As you've probably noticed, we've been taking things a little slower on The Metaphorical Boat in 2015 for various personal reasons. That being said, there's still plenty of great music new music being released, and although I'm not able to write about as much of the great stuff as I would like to, if there is something really special that deserves to feature on these pages, then I will do my utmost to ensure that it does.

Like this one here - "New November" by London based 4-piece Pure Youth. I'd previously written favourably about the track a few weeks ago on Fresh On The Net after it was voted amongst the best songs submitted that week, and the more I've listened to it, the more I've come to realise how wonderful a song it is. It's a sleek, electro-pop song which comes across like a more guitar-heavy version of Bastille, as well as not sounding a million miles away from current 'going to be massive' group Prides. Plus, it does something that few songs in its genre tend to do, by culminating in a roaring, epic, skyscraper of sound.

"New November" is the sort of song that sounds like its destined to smash the Top 40 sometime next year, given that it sounds like something that belongs there, if not necessarily at this moment in time. Here's hoping that the song, and of course Pure Youth, manage to get the traction needed to put this tune in its rightful place.

"New November" is taken from the E.P "On Our Way" (which, surprisingly, swings more towards traditional indie-rock), which is out now.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Soak - Sea Creatures

We've been waiting for this one for a while now, but we've finally reached the point of no return - this is the moment where Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, becomes the bona fide star she was always destined to be.

Having ended 2014 with two incredibly well received singles with "Blud" and "B a noBody", as well as being one of the few artists to make both the BBC Sound of 2015 and the Blog Sound of 2015 lists, it seemed inevitable that the next song that she released would have to be a pretty special one to keep the momentum going, and by gum, she's smashed it.

"Sea Creatures" was the song that made everyone in her native Northern Ireland fall in love with her when she released it back in 2012, including this blog (it made my Top 20 songs of the year), and I've grown to love it even more since learning the meaning behind the song - the song's about finding strength after being bullied (and goodness knows I could have used some of that growing up), with the titular sea creature being the name that she gave the tormentor.

The song has been re-recorded for her upcoming debut album, and my goodness, is it stunning. The sparse instrumentation of guitar, piano and percussion of the 2012 has been built upon with layers of lush strings and ambient noise. If there's a better breakthrough song released this year, I will be very surprised - by the end of the year I fully expect to see one lyric in particular ("I pray for you, and you know I don't like Jesus") to be one of the year's top Reddit flairs.

"Sea Creatures" is the moment that SOAK will soar straight to the stratosphere. If this song does not storm the UK Top 40, not being dislodged for months on end, then I will be a very sad captain indeed.

"Sea Creatures" is released on March 16th.