Monday, 3 April 2017

Step Rockets - Money

Goodness gracious, has it really been three years since we last wrote about Minneapolis trio Step Rockets on the blog? Apparently so, although thee of "Kisser", "Phantom Flower", and many other groovy songs have been keeping busy these last few years, including compiling their best singles into a consolidated release, "Future Nature", last year.

They've a new single out, which given that it's been released right in the middle of the tax season, is rather aptly called "Money". It is a song that is very much in the style of Step Rockets, in taking the rock format and tweaking it slightly to make it more palatable for the current audience - once again, we think that Imagine Dragons would be the closest musical comparison. Unfortunately its rather liberal use of profanity does preclude it from being the alt-rock radio hit that it has the capability of being, but I'm sure there's a less cuss-y edit of it out there if needs must.

"Money" is out now.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

BRØR - Something New

Last night, the winner of Chordblossom's Kickstart competition was announced, and after much deliberation among the judges (full disclosure - your humble captain was part of the panel), it was decided that the winner of the competition was BRØR. They will receive a raft of support to help them in their musical career, including recording time, CD duplication, and a number of supporting slots at gigs and festivals over the next couple. The runners up on the night included Glass Wings, Claire Louise and Sam Wickens, and although they didn't come out on top, we have a feeling we will be covering them on the blog in the future.

So who are BRØR? They are an Armagh based duo made up of brothers Ben & Johno (Hence the name BRØR, which is Swedish for brothers). They were previously members of HOW (a band that we covered on the blog three years ago), and are purveyors of driving rock of the alt and noise variety. "Something New" is their first single, and the song by that won many of us over to their sound. Both their band line-up and sound call to mind Japandroids, with its heavy, bass-absent sound, yearning lyrics and rocky harmonies. They've got a lot of other great songs waiting in the wings, so we are looking forward to what they're going to do now that they've got a bit of traction behind them.

"Something New" is out now.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Sullivan & Gold - Guatamala

The first album by Sullivan & Gold, "For Foes", was well received on its release, being nominated for the Northern Ireland Music Prize and spawning great songs like "Jigsaws". Since then, Sullivan & Gold has gone from being a duo to being the solo project of Ben Robinson, who has now left the North Coast to relocate to Durham. He's spent some time in between travelling to places a far flung as Uganda, and Guatemala, the latter of which has inspired his first single in quite a while.

"Guatemala" is a song that twists the personal and the political into one package, with its soaring strings and tender vocals underpinning a song filled with both pain and hope. It's a strong song with a soaring melody, and quite possibly the strongest single that Sullivan & Gold has given us to date. A wonderful return.

"Guatemala" is out now, with an album to follow later in the year.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Banfi - Rosedale House

Three months in to 2017, and we at The Metaphorical Boat have already enjoyed what will be our favourite gig of the year - Bear's Den at the Limelight in Belfast. A fantastic mix of their older folksy songs and their newer, more synth-pop inflected tunes, alongside some moments which you wouldn't get at any other gig, such as when the entire band came off stage to perform "Isaac" completely unplugged in the middle of the crowd. Plus, "Auld Wives", this blog's favourite song of 2016, nearly reduced us to tears, something that we don't usually allow to happen to ourselves in public places.

The support act were pretty decent as well, a London based trio who go by the name of Banfi. We enjoyed their set, with two songs in particular standing out. The first one was "June", a catchy as heck song that reminded us quite a bit of The Police in places. Alas, that song hasn't been released as a single, but the second song that caught our attention, the song they closed their set with, has.

That song is "Rosedale House", a driving piston of a song in the mold of Bruce Springsteen, or Ten Fé at their more rocky. The band are currently signed to Communion Records, the same as their tour buddies Bear's Den, so should expect to hear more from them over the next few months.

"Rosedale House" is out now.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Little Lapin - Wake Up With The Sun

Cornwall based singer-songwriter Lucy Hill, aka Little Lapin has picked up quite a bit of love across several different releases, picking up airtime on 6music, Amazing Radio, and getting played on Radio 2 by Bob Harris. She has a new album coming out next month, and one of the tracks featured within has really tickled our fancy.

"Wake Up With The Sun" is the kind of folk-tinged music that we absolutely love, a Joni Mitchell-esque track that mixes the beauty in Lucy's voice with the bright and optimistic lyrics to great effect, like a folk version of "Walking On Sunshine" with an earworm activating melody.

"Wake Up With The Sun" is the title track to Little Lapin's 3rd studio album, which is released on 14th April.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Hot Shorts - metaphor for [something]

We haven't written about Manchester band Hot Shorts since the release of their "Web Design" E.P three years ago. Although they have been keeping themselves busy, releasing an album near the end of 2016, and recording sessions on 6music for Mark Riley.

They've also just released a new single, which as good a time as ever to venture back into their world. "metaphor for [something]" sees the band mix Guided By Voices-esque slacker-rock with sardonic, stream of consciousness lyrics, tackling issues such as hair loss, teeth pulling, and trying to make money from blogging (the latter of which is something we would know absolutely nothing about). It's a great, tickling song of scuzzy loveliness.

"Metaphor for [something]" is available as a postcard single through Art Is Hard Records.

Monday, 13 March 2017

WASPS - Future Endeavors

The members of Belfast duo WASPS (not to be confused with the similarly monikered American metal band) decided to form a band together when Danny McClelland (ex-Born Only Yesterday) and Charlie Cairns (formerly of Lost Avenue) realised that they both had tattoos of And So I Watch You From Afar, which anyone who has ever watched Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny can tell you is the only way you are allowed to start a rock band.

They created an early buzz* with the single "Godzilla Is Dead", and they are following it up with "Future Endeavours", and from the sounds of it, they do wear the influences on their sleeves, both literally and metaphorically. There's the DNA of ASIWYFA throughout the song, with its intricate guitar playing and ever-shifting rhythms and time signatures, although its impassioned, emo vocals do allow it to be a good entry point for people who may find other math-rock to be a bit too inaccessible for them. It's a great song from a band whose music has a real sting** to it.

"Future Endeavours" is released on March 17th.

*I am not sorry. I am not sorry in the slightest. 
**I apologize for nothing.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Good Water - Mansaid

It was the opening rhyming couplet that really drew us in to "Mansaid", the latest single from Birmingham duo The Good Water. After hearing it for the first time, "Now is the time to be intelligent, that's what the man said to his elephant", we found ourselves chuckling internally at its unexpectedness. It's a great blues-rock song, underpinned by a simple yet effective guitar riff, wryfully humorous lyrics, and the occasional slip into psychedelic moments.

"Mansaid" is out now.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Confidence Man - Bubblegum

Normally, when we write about new songs and bands that we like on The Metaphorical Boat, we very much hope to see the band do very well, very quickly, and that the band in question end up becoming a much bigger deal over the coming months. However, for our own selfish reasons, there is a reason why we don't want band responsible for the song we are writing about today to become massive, at least for the next few months or so.

We'll get on to that later, but for now it's time to introduce to you the Australian four-piece Confidence Man. They've already captured hearts Down Under, being named a One To Watch by Triple J off the back of their single "Boyfriend (Repeat)". However, it is their latest single "Bubblegum", which came to our attention through our friend at Breaking More Waves, which has got us really excited indeed.

Why? Because it the kind of bonkers, hyperactive, cut & paste pop that we absolutely love to pieces. As well as calling to mind artists mentioned elsewhere, like The Go! Team, and Deee-Lite (it's been called by some as a modern-day updating of "Groove Is In The Heart), it also reminds us very much of The Asteroids Galaxy Tour in how its constituent parts slip and slide out as the song progresses. We are also convinced that the song's chorus samples "Hello" by fellow Antipodeans The Cat Empire, another pop song that we really love, although this is mere speculation on our part. It's a joyously fun song, and one that stands a fairly strong chance at being our #1 song come the close of 2017. We very rarely listen to songs on repeat, but "Bubblegum" is a very welcome exception.

So in spite of our love of "Bubblegum", why do we not want to see Confidence Man to hit the stratosphere in the short term? Simple - they're playing The Great Escape this year, and given how incredibly infectious their sound is, we're worried that if they get too big too soon, then we won't be able to get in to see them in Brighton in May. A bit selfish, we know, but when you've got a sound as fun as this, you really want to see it at the earliest possibly opportunity. So Confidence Man, if you do intend to becoming the biggest band in the world, could you possibly wait until around June time, pretty please? If you continue to grace us with boppers like "Bubblegum", there's a great chance it could happen.

"Bubblegum" is out now on Heavenly Recordings (the home of St Etienne & Hooton Tennis Club, among others)

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Public Service Broadcasting - Progress

We have been fans of Public Service Broadcasting almost as long as this blog has been running, ever since we heard the multicoloured sounds of "Roygbiv" five years ago. Famed for their re-purposing of old vocal samples from public information films, the band have taken a somewhat niche concept and become a big deal off the back of it, with two albums that smashed right in to the albums chart (including one album, "The Race For Space", which has been certified Silver by the BPI), and selling out Brixton Academy. It's been a pleasure at The Metaphorical Boat watching the band going from humble beginnings into the stratosphere, and it has been a real pleasure to be able to write about it every step of the way.

The band are now gearing up for the release of their third album, which for the first time sees them expand into a trio, with JF Abraham joining the original core line-up of J Willgoose Esq. and Wrigglesworth (the latter of whom we really should have entered into our auto-correct by now). The first single to be taken from the album is "Progress", a song that for the first time in a PSB single, features a guest vocalist, with the main vocal hook being provided by Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura (although this isn't the first PSB track to feature guest vocals, with "Valentina" from their previous album featuring Smoke Fairies).

As of yet, it is not clear what the theme is for the band's 3rd record, as the band claim that it is a "closely guarded secret", although based on "Progress", we have three potential theories.

1. This is going to be an album about Public Service Broadcasting - this is the least likely of our theories, but we're going to run with it anyway. The use of samples in "Progress" could be interpreted as being an updating of the operating statement from their first album track "Theme From PSB". Also, the use of the sample stating "These men look the same as they have always looked...but before your eyes they are changing" could be interpreted as a statement introducing JF Abraham as a full-time member to the band. However, as the band don't strike me as the sorts who would be into navel-gazing, this is very unlikely to be an album all about themselves.

2. The album is going to be about the assembly line, manufacturing, and/or Henry Ford - The song has a somewhat mechanical feel to it, with the use of vocoders leading to some comparisons to Kraftwerk, and given that the samples seem to reference the creation of machines, the idea that the album is centred around manufacturing seems to take shape.

Furthermore, as someone pointed out on Twitter earlier this week, "Why I Believe In Progress" is the title of a book by the forefather of the assembly line, Henry Ford, this theory gets a little bit stronger. We could even read into the colour of the single sleeve for the song and take it as a reference to the famous misquote from Ford about only selling cars that were black, but then we're probably taking this deeper than we intended it to go.

3. The album is going to be a political one - although Public Service Broadcasting's music to date hasn't been overtly political in tone, in the past year the band have been much more vocal about their own political leanings. As well as citing the Manic Street Preachers as an influence, the band recently played a gig for the Corbyn-affiliated People's Assembly, and J Willgoose has been a lot more vocal on Twitter on his own political leanings (and woe betide anyone who tries to tell him that musicians should shut up about politics). Giving the title has echoes calls to mind "progressiveness", perhaps this album could be an overview about the artist's political beliefs, or perhaps an album about the history of progressive politics, which given the current upheaval on the world stage, would make this quite timely.

Tangentially, before this track was announced, we had a feeling that the album would be about the European Union, although given that this track doesn't give any indication of this, German musical influences aside, we're going to bury this theory for the time being.

But whatever the third album happens to be about, we're just glad to see Public Service Broadcasting back, and we are confident we are going to really love what they have to offer.

"Progress" has an impact date of 5th May.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Owen Denvir - You Don't Want To Love Me

It's been a few months since we last talked about Belfast singer-songwriter Owen Denvir following the release of his "Green Light" single. As well as continuing to please local crowds with his live performances, he also enjoy a mini-blitz of media attention when a music video he made of himself playing a mash-up of Coldplay songs went viral after the band themselves tweeted about it.

Owen recently released a music video E.P, "Motion Picture Soundtrack", with each song on the record being accompanied by a live video of the track. The E.P seems to have gone down well, and one track in particular has been so well received that it has been promoted to full single status. "You Don't Want To Love Me" has been described as his tribute to "Eleanor Rigby", and you can hear why, with strings being brought to the forefront of an Owen Denvir single for the first time. It's a really lovely, heart-tugger of a song, and the triplicate of violas really give it that extra level of pathos.

"You Don't Want To Love Me" is released as a single on 10th March.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Metaphorical Boat Spotify Playlist - January/February 2017

For those of you who like your musical recommendations in playlist-able Spotify form, on a bimonthly basis The Metaphorical Boat posts 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 you can find our playlist of songs that we really enjoyed in January & February 2017. If you like what you hear, or just want another playlist to add to your growing list of playlists, then we really hope that you'll take the time to visit the playlist on Spotify and give it a follow. You never know, your new favourite song of all time could be somewhere on this playlist!

This month's playlist feature songs from established artists like London Grammar, Elbow,  Japandroids, Goldfrapp & Imagine Dragons, songs from newer bands such as The Mysterons, Ten Fé, The Shimmer Band, OUTLYA & Childcare, plus local acts like PATHS, Tiernan, Pleasure Beach, Jealous of The Birds with Ryan Vail & Callum Stewart. Plus just for the heck of it, we've added "City of Stars" from the not-winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture. Lots of great music from lots of great people for your ear-based amusement.

In addition, as of 2017 The Metaphorical Boat has started a rotating playlist of songs, which we will update on a regular basis. We've had it in the side-bar of the site for a few weeks now, but this is our official acknowledgement of its existence. Yay!

 As soon as we come across a new song that we like, it will automatically go to the top of this playlist, and we will remove a song from the playlist as soon as it has been on it for 2 months, so if you give it a follow, you will always have a fine conveyor belt of fantastic music courtesy of us at The Metaphorical Boat. You can find the playlist as it stands as of now below -

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Bokito - Better At Getting Worse

The first time I came across the name of the band Bokito, I automatically assumed they were Japanese. I saw their name on the website for The Great Escape, and based on my incredibly rudimentary knowledge of the syllable structure of the Japanese language, assumed that was where they were from.

However, it turns out that I am wrong, as Bokito are in fact based in London, with their lead singer hailing from Kilkenny. In fact, I am now even less sure that bokito is in fact a Japanese word still in use. I've found a dictionary that seems to suggest that it's an onomatopoeic word for the snapping of fingers or a radish. However, as that dictionary dates from 1892, I cannot be sure if it is still in use in contemporary Japan. If you know better than me as to whether that is indeed the case, please let me know, for I am genuinely curious.

But back to Bokito the band. They describe their sound as a "tropical indie", which straight away means you're likely to get instant Vampire Weekend comparisons. "Better At Getting Worse" is the first track to come across our radar, and it's a decent introduction to the band, filled with organ sounds , unconventional Afro-beat rhythms, and vocals that sound surprisingly close to those of Marcus Mumford. It sounds like they'd be great fun to see live, which hopefully we'll get the chance to do at The Great Escape in May, now than I know who they are.

"Better at Getting Worse" is out now.

Friday, 24 February 2017

PATHS - Right Beside You/Last One Standing

It's barely been a month since we first wrote about PATHS, the electronic solo project of Northern Irish music mainstay Jules Shaw. Her first single, "Neoprene", has gone down incredibly well, picking up a smorgasbord of love right across the spectrum, getting played on Radio 1 and being picked up by some lovely other blogs.

Since then, we've had the pleasure off seeing PATHS' first gig, which took place during the Output Festival in Belfast at Aether & Echo. The music comes across really well on stage, with the loops and guitars complimented by a visually impressive light display (which we later learned took several months to program in anticipation of this gig), and it seemed to go down well with the crowd, which is always a good sign on a debut gig.

Given the warm reception received since its debut, it looks as if PATHS is hoping to strike whilst the iron is hot by released a brand new A/B side single mere weeks after her first single debuted. It's a bold move, but given the strength of the songs to come out of it, a pretty nifty one.

The A-side of the single is "Right Beside You", a song that PATHS says is about 'digital distraction'. The song is built around an off-kilter woodwind sample (or possibly string? We're not 100% certain), which is complimented by layers upon layers of harsh synth sounds over a triplet-beat.

However, it is the B-side of the single that we are most excited about, "Last One Standing". When we saw PATHS live, it was the song that really stood out in the set, and we're really glad that a full recording has come out so quickly, as we believe that it's going to be the song that's going to help PATHS make the next big breakthrough in her career.

Why? Because it's so darn infectious, that's why. When we find ourselves humming the main riff of a song for hours after we hear it for the first time, we know that we're on to a winner. There's a few tropical-house elements floating around "Last One Standing", and as well has having a few 80s influences thrown into a modern sounding production (those drum rushes at 2:49 are to die for). It's a pity that it's being classed as the B-side of this release, as it is our favourite release from PATHS to date, but we're confident that once a few more people catch wind of "Last One Standing", it is going to blow up in a massive way.

Both "Right Beside You" & "Last One Standing" are available to download/stream now from all the usual outlets.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Childcare - Kiss?

We're well aware at The Metaphorical Boat that many of the artists that we write about on this site don't derive their income solely from their musical exploits (although if we had our way, we would ensure that was the case, but that's another story), and that many of them work in other jobs to either subsidize or pay for the music that they create.

What is less common however is for said artists to put the fact that they work in another career at the front and centre of their musical work. That's what Ed Cares, who outside of music works full time as a nanny, did when he formed the band CHILDCARE. They've released a few singles over the past few years, and have supported Bastille on tour, although it is with their latest single that they've really grabbed us.

"Kiss?" was written after an incident Ed experienced whilst picking up the children he looks after from school, when an attempt to greet one of the waiting mums didn't go exactly the way he planned. The song features a great male/female vocal interplay over a poppy indie-rock beat, a great song about a moment of sheer awkwardness.

"Kiss?" is out now, and the band are due to play at The Great Escape in Brighton in May.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Jon Solari - Sistine Chapel

Having followed the local Northern Irish music scene for some time now, it is not rare for us to see bands come to their natural conclusion, before splintering off into many numerous different projects, many of which of a solo nature. We've written before about the band New Ancestors, and more recently about how one of their members turned his music towards recording as Brash Isaac.

Now, another member of that band has gone down the solo route, although in Jon Solari's case, he's decided to record under his own name. "Sistine Chapel" is the first song released from him, and it's a great little introduction. It's not a million miles away from the raucous folk-rock that he was making whilst working with The 1930s many moons ago, but with added polish and with a really strong chorus to boot.

"Sistine Chapel" is taken from the E.P "Guilt Trip", which is out now.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

OUTLYA - The Light

We at The Metaphorical Boat were fans of the group Port Isla from the moment that a "Sinking Ship" first appeared on our radar in 2012. They released a few great singles after that, as well as impressing us at The Great Escape in 2014, but in recent times the band went quiet, and for all intents & purposes, Port Isla have been permanently docked on the Bay of Musical Break-Ups.

Thankfully, it looks as if a few shoots have sprung out of its carcass, as Will Bloomfield has formed a new band, the trio OUTLYA. They've got some weight behind them already, sharing the same management company as James Bay & George Ezra, and have just released their debut single, "The Light".

The song shows their intent right out of the gate, with its expansive sound sounding like Coldplay at their most anthemic ("Violet Hill" would be the nearest touchstone in our heads). It's a great opening statement of intent, and given its early buzz (the song made its way onto a rather influential Spotify playlist on its day of release), it could see OUTLYA achieve the success that Port Isla never got to enjoy.

"The Light" is out now.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Chordblossom Kickstart Competition 2017

Our good friends over at Chordblossom have launched their annual Kickstart competition, which is open to Northern Irish bands and artists, and has a great smorgasbord of prizes up for grabs for acts who are starting off on their career. If you're eligible to take part, we would encourage you to submit an application, as we have seen how beneficial it has been for those artists who have taken part.

Press release follows:

We are pleased to announce that our highly anticipated competition for local bands and musicians across Northern Ireland is returning for 2017.

As usual, we will be offering the eventual winner of the competition, the opportunity to "kickstart" their year with an impressive package of prizes including a single recording, music video and festival slot up for grabs.

For 2017, we are pleased to be partnering with Help Musicians NI to launch the competition. Help Musicians UK is the leading UK charity for professional musicians and offer support and advice to musicians at different stages of their careers. They launched themselves in Northern Ireland last year and we feel that their expertise will be of a real benefit to the musicians taking part in Kickstart. 

Our winners from last year, Brand New Friend, went on to have an incredibly successful year with their music being played on Radio One and BBC 6 Music, their debut EP receiving critical acclaim and obtaining a number of significant support slots throughout the year. Other notable winners of the competition include SOAK, Lauren Bird and In An Instant.

Prizes ► 

 Professional Career Advice - Courtesy of Third Bar Artist Development

► Single Recording - Courtesy of Millbank Studios

►  Video for your Single - Courtesy of Dog Kennel Productions

 Festival Slot - Courtesy of Stendhal Festival of Art

 First Play of your Single - Courtesy of Electric Mainline

 CD Duplication - Courtesy of Wilson Creative

 Single Artwork - Courtesy of Studio McCooke

 Professional Photoshoot - Courtesy of Ciara McMullan Photography

 Single Launch Gig in Belfast - Courtesy of Chordblossom

 Support Slot in Portrush - Courtesy of Atlantic Live Lounge

 Support Slot in Derry/Londonderry - Courtesy of Bennigans Introducing

How To Enter ► 

You must be a musician or band originally from Northern Ireland and have not released a full length album. If you meet this criteria please send an email to with the following information:

- Band/Musician Name
- Hometown
- Influences
- A Social Media Link

- An MP3 of your best track

Timeline For The Competition ► 

- Monday 6th February 2017 - Competition announced and entry opens
- Sunday 26th February 2017 - Entries Close at 8PM
- Monday 6th March 2017 - Top 20 Announced
- Monday 13th March 2017 - 4 Finalists Announced
- End of March (TBC) – Showcase Gig  & Winner Announced

Monday, 6 February 2017

Superfood - Double Dutch

Now here's an unexpected delight from a group that we weren't sure we'd hear from again.

We were first taken in by Birmingham band Superfood back in 2013 when we were taken in by their self-titled single, and having had the chance to catch them live, and having seen the band sign to the respected Infectious Records, we were hopeful that they would be the band that would help lead the Britpop revival. Alas, their debut album "Don't Say That" came and went without much of a fuss in 2014, and having not heard much from them in that time, we'd assumed that the band had fizzled out.

Well, imagine our surprise to learn that not only are Superfood very much a going concern, but there have been many developments, some of which of an exciting nature, within the group. First, the band has paired back to a core duo of Dom Ganderson & Ryan Malcolm. Secondly, the band have signed a record deal with Dirty Hit, the label who have enjoyed success in recent years with The 1975 & Wolf Alice among others.

And lastly, the band have released their first single in three years with "Double Dutch", a song that marks a radical departure for the band. As the song is built around a jump-rope vocal chant sample, you might immediately be prone to comparisons with The Go! Team. However, the group instead use it as the basis for a groove-laden, Balearic-ish tune that may be more suited to a Ministy of Sound Chill-Out compilation album than a Shine one, although the use of guitar still harks back to the Superfood of yore.

Pulling off a re-invention isn't the easiest trick to pull off, but on the strength of "Double Dutch", Superfood appears to have just done it. Whether they can draw in new fans whilst still pleasing their existing ones though will be the big task for them in the next few months.

"Double Dutch" is out now.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Paths - Neoprene

Paths is the new solo project of Julianne Shawe, a name that may be familiar to followers of local Northern Irish music over the past few years. She was one half of electro-rockers Nakatomi Towers, a favourite of ours who predated this blog (a few of their songs can still be found online), and more recently was a member of Go Swim, responsible for one of our favourite songs of 2014.

Having now gone solo as Paths, her debut single gives us a great insight into what music we can expect. Produced by Rory Friers from And So I Watch You From Afar, "Neoprene", which we have since learned is a synthetic rubber, which among other things is used for making wetsuits, sees Julianne move back in a more electronic direction, with pulsating drum & bass beats melding with her vocals effortlessly, with elements of Jamie xx, Grimes, and New Portals firmly in the mix. It's a starkly striking debut, and one that could see Paths stand out of one of the most exciting new local acts of the year.

"Neoprene" is out now. Paths' first gig will be on February 16th at Output Belfast.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #37

It has been quite a while since we've done one of these, but we've been absolutely inundated with interesting new songs from Northern Ireland in the past few weeks that we couldn't just leave them floating around on the interwebs unloved, so we have pulled some great songs together in one lovely post. Enjoy - 

Invaderband - Not Alan Rickman

Invaderband is the project of Derry based Mancunian artist Adam Leonard (formerly of The Owl Service), and features a host of local musicians in the band, including Chris McConaghy of Our Krypton Son.

Their self-titled debut album has just been released, and is a great collection of garage-rock tunes with a spiky, off-kilter sense of humour. Our highlight from the album is most definitely "Not Alan Rickman", a song build around a deceptively simple yet effective guitar riff which pays homage to four of the late actor's most famous roles in under 2 minutes.


Porphyry - Rip Current

And we stay in Derry for Porphyry, the near unpronounceable project of self-professed freak-folk & synth lover Daryl Coyle. His debut single "Rip Current" is a bit of a cerebral one, and one that very much defies characterisation, being very difficult to tie down to just one style. There's elements of Zero 7's chilled-out acoustronica, there's bits of post-grunge self-appraisal, and the outro goes into full electronic noodling mode. It's an interesting combination of styles, although one suspects that it might be somewhat of an acquired taste. It precedes a debut E.P, "Ursa Minor/Coming Home", which is due to be released on March 1st.


Oisín ó Scolaí & The Virginia Slims - Intoxicated Waitress

The Derry-based folk collective Oisín ó Scolaí & The Virginia Slims have just released "An E.P Full of Water", a collection of songs that cover many different facets of the folk spectrum in all its forms. Our favourite track from the E.P is "Intoxicated Waitress", a tender, string-swept acoustic tune that seems to be something of an homage to fellow Derry musician Soak. A lovely little tune.


Electric Octopus - Disenchanted Creative Response

And finishing us off this week is something a bit different. Electric Octopus are a Belfast based trio psychedelic-blues band, and have seemingly became something of a big deal among aficionados of the sub-genre over the past 12 months, even if they remain under the radar in their hometown. Their debut album "This Is Our Culture", has been a surprise success, with over 700,000 streams of the album on YouTube, and a horde of supporters on Bandcamp.

Such has been the success of the album that a new pressing of the album came out a few days ago, so there's still some steam in it yet. Taken from that album is the stoner-rock opener, "Disenchanted Creative Response", which although it is nearly 20 minutes long, is a very rewarding listen if you've got the patience for it.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Shimmer Band - Jacknife & The Death Call

Here's a band we've been following for quite a while but haven't had the chance to write about on the blog to date, although if you follow our bi-monthly Spotify playlists, you'll have come across them a few times.

Bristol group The Shimmer Band first came to our attention last summer after hearing their song "Freedom", a song that contains everything we love about about early 90s British indie in one easy-to-swallow single, on Steve Lamacq's show on BBC 6music. We also liked "Sunkick" which they released at the tail-end of last year. Although it didn't have the same immediate impact as "Freedom", it showed the band relying less upon paying homage to the past, and more towards carving out their own sound.

This leads us nicely onto their latest single, "Jacknife & The Death Call", a song that combines the immediacy of the former with the more personalized sound of the latter. It's a heavy electro-rock indie track, with elements of hip-hop production, which calls to mind the sound of Kasabian, Does It Offend You, Yeah?,  and perhaps most surprisingly to these ears, a more fuzzy, darker, frenzied version of Elbow's "Grounds For Divorce". They're on tour with hotly tipped mischief-makers Cabbage at the moment, so the future does look bright for The Shimmer Band.

"Jacknife & The Death Call" is out now.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Tiernán - Overthinkin'

We come across the music that we write about on The Metaphorical Boat from a wide range of sources. Since we began, we have written about music that we've discovered through our emails, seeing a band live, being played on the radio, on social media, being recommended by a friend, through "accidentally" overhearing the mother of a member of a band bragging to a security guard in work about the awesome band her son is in playing their first ever gig and about how great they are*, a recommendation from other music blogs, scouring Bandcamp/Soundcloud, and coming up on our Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

And to that list, we can now add one more source - my mother. After hearing a song on Ralph McLean's show on BBC Radio Ulster, my mother (whose favourite musical acts, for context, are Daniel O'Donnell & The Bay City Rollers) insisted that I track down the song and listen to it, as she thought that the song was really good, and something that I would enjoy.

Well, having tracked down the artist and song, she might have been on to something. The artist in question is Antrim based 17-year-old singer/songwriter Tiernán Heffron, who records music under his first name. He's been recording YouTube covers since he was 12, and has recently branched out into original compositions.

"Overthinkin'" is the song that my mother loved from him, and is a jaunty little acoustic-pop song with jazzy overtones about spending too much time pondering, which seems to have been influenced by Ed Sheeran & Bruce Hornsby among others. It's a nice little song, and although we still think Tiernán's got a bit more work to do before he's fully formed, there's enough here to get us excited at what he does in the future. Thanks mum!

The "Overthinkin'" E.P is out now.

*This actually happened.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Ten Fé - Twist Your Arm

We are barely a week into the brand new year, and already out of the starting blocks we have a song that stands a really great chance of being our favourite song of 2017. Although that's probably not too surprising, as it a song that comes from the artist responsible for our favourite song of 2015 (and our current ringtone), Ten Fé.

The song in question is one that we've been looking forward to for some time. Having seen them play the song live at The Great Escape, we had a feeling that when they finally released a studio version of "Twist Your Arm", it would become a real favourite, and gosh darn, those boyos went and made sure we kept that promise to ourselves.

We've said before that given their versatile sound and live presence, we imagine Ten Fé to be a modern day successor to Primal Scream, and "Twist Your Arm" is one of those songs that helps to cement that belief, as its dancey, droozy sound sounds like it owes a debt to songs from their "Screamadelica" album, "Come Together" in particular due to its use of a gospel choir. We're also getting some David Bowie "Memories of a Free Festival" vibes, and for some reason that we can't put our finger quite on, a little bit of Simple Minds as well.

"Twist Your Arm" has everything we wanted from the studio version of the song, and it has really whetted our appetite for the album when it lands next month. With such a long list of great songs that we've loved from them over the last 2 years, Ten Fé are going to have a real classic on their hands.

The debut album from Ten Fé, "Hit The Light", is out on February 3rd.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Maggie Rogers - Alaska

Today's artist and song comes highly recommended from Robin of our favourite non-us music blog, Breaking More Waves, who put it at #1 in his favourite songs of 2016, although given the artist in question has been so highly tipped on many "Ones To Watch" lists, it may end up cropping up on quite a few 2017 lists as well in 12 months time.

Maggie Rogers is a Maryland singer/songwriter who started out as a folk musician, but eventually started to explore dance music following a sojourn to France, the capital of repetitive beats. She then eventually won over "Give It To Me" hit-maker Pharrell Williams, before spending the rest of the year winning over just about everyone else with her sophisticated pop sound. She's on the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist, and although at the time of writing the top 5 haven't been announced, her name is very likely to feature.

But let's get straight to the song in question, the song that shares its name with a state that many people erroneously believe that your humble captain spent a year living in, "Alaska".* It is a song in which you can hear how the synthesis of folksy origins melds with the more electronic elements with a certain level of grace. It calls to mind the music or Lorde, albeit with a more organic sound. She's made a video for the song as well, which is pretty engaging.

Although "Alaska" hasn't grabbed us at first as much the hype may have suggested, it's still a rather nice song, and there's no doubt we will be hearing quite a bit from Maggie Rogers in 2017.

*As touched upon fleetingly on this blog before, prior to starting this blog, I spent a year living in the state of Nebraska. However, whenever I tell anyone of this fact, the first question I always get asked is "isn't it cold up there"? At this point, I normally have to point out that Alaska and Nebraska are in fact two separate states about three thousand miles away from each. Although how much of this is down to ignorance to the existence of Nebraska and how much of it is due to my refined Belfast accents' mangling of American state names is not something I have yet tested to date.