Monday, 28 July 2014

Hentai Babies - Day One Daydream/Pop Is My Prozac

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since this blog wrote about Isle of Wight based duo Hentai Babiesthey of 27th best song of 2013, "One Potato Two", fame. Not that they've been quiet, mind, having released a slew of singles in the intervening 12 months and playing at Blissfields earlier this month. What prompted them to our attention again however is the band's latest artwork, which you can see above. Depicting the band in drawn in a chibi manga style (or super-deformed as it's sometimes referred to), it is several different types of wonderful. If they ever got it printed on a t-shirt, one would be very tempted to make a purchase.

They've been busy writing and recording a lot of new material recently, and to accompany their wonderful artwork, here's two of their best new songs. "Day One Daydream" is a punky little number that drives straight to the point, whilst "Pop Is My Prozac" is a poppier 90s alt-rock inspired tune, dominated by a discordant yet rather great guitar riff.

They surely must have enough material gathered by now to get an album on the go, and based on the singles they've released to date, it is bound to be a solid release. I'm guessing that they've already got their album cover sorted...

"Day One Daydream" and "Pop Is My Prozac" are available to download for free.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Waylayers - Take Hold

The last time we wrote about London band Waylayers last year, we said that the band sounded like Coldplay had gone all dance on us. Based on that, you might think that Chris Martin himself has been reading this blog, seeing as this his band went the way of four-to-the-floor with the release of "Sky Full Of Stars".

It perhaps in retaliation to that that Waylayers have distanced themselves from those comparisons on the release of their new single, "Take Hold". Gone are the heartfelt-techno vibes of  "S.O.S", instead to be replaced by something that could best be described as dark-disco. The song is filled with pulsating basslines and somewhat sinister backing vocals, whilst their vocals are much less Chris Martin-ish than they have been in the past.

We said last year that we wanted to hear something less indebted to other bands and more of the band's own sound, and it looks like with "Take Hold", Waylayers are on the right track.

"Take Hold" will be released on September 15th.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Metaphorical Boat is 3 years old today

Get out the party poppers, uncork the champagne, and get the oversized Batternberg ready, for today is a monumental occasion for your humble Captain, for today marks The Metaphorical Boat's third birthday. It's been an absolute pleasure writing about lots of wonderful music over the past few years, and I have personally enjoyed every minute of it.

A lot has happened for myself in the 12 months since this blog turned 2 years old. I was really humbled to be a member of the academy who helped to judge the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Prize (deservedly won by Foy Vance). I hope will come back even stronger when the next one is awarded later this year - it's great to see some of the talent we have here get some recognition.

In addition to this blog, I have also been honoured to write for some fantastic other websites for the first time in the past year -

  • I've interviewed two of my favourite artists, Public Service Broadcasting and Wonder Villains, for the brilliant local music website Chordblossom. The guys behind the website are genuinely some of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure to get to know, and the Northern Irish music scene is incredibly lucky to have such passionate people championing their music. They're not too bad at football either...
  • I've also been writing album reviews for one of the best UK music websites, Drowned In Sound. I have been an avid reader of the website for many, many years, and has probably influenced the development of my taste in music more than any other music publication, so being able to write for the website is a real honour. 
  • And last but not least, I've been a moderator and Fresh Faves reviewer for the wonderful Fresh On The Net. It was the shows that Tom Robinson hosts on BBC 6music championing new and under appreciated music that inspired me to set up this blog all those years ago, so it's an absolute pleasure to get involved with the website.
Here are some notable posts that have appeared on the blog since our last birthday - 

Bora York - Let Loose - the most popular blog post of the past 12 month.

Album Review: Kitsuné Maison 15 - the most read album review in the past 12 months.

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #19 - the most popular NI round-up of the past 12 months was this one from October last year.

Album Review: Wonder Villains - Rocky - An album I have been anticipating for many years, and goodness, did it deliver.

So it's been a great three years here for The Metaphorical Boat. However, for the first time since we've hit a yearly milestone, I am not sure whether we will still be afloat this time next year. The last year has also seen me make the transition from underemployed graduate to full-time work, which does take a chunk of time away from this blog. However, as I have said before, the moment this blog stops being something I love doing and instead feels like a chore, I will stop running it. For the time being, I have no intention of stopping any time soon, and I'm hardly the only blogger who juggles work with writing about wonderful music. However, as we all know, reality can be a cruel mistress. 

But that negativity can hold for another day, so let's end this on a positive note, like this music video of Wonder Villains getting to meet their hero, Gianfranco Zola - 

Thank you to everyone who's read this blog, and to all makers of fine, fine, music. If if weren't for all you guys, this blog would never have made it past the first week.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Blog Collective - Drunken Werewolf

Over the next few months, The Metaphorical Boat, alongside Drunken WerewolfThe VPME, The Blue Walrus & God Is In The TV, will be looking at some of the music that our fellow music bloggers have been raving about as part of the Blog Collective. Each month, we will be focusing on one of the music blogs in the Collective and picking out a few artists from said publication that we think you will enjoy.

This month is the turn of Drunken Werewolf. Edited by Tiffany Daniels, the blog has been running since 2005, during which time it has expanded from a one-person LiveJournal site into the sleek, multi-person, multi-faceted, respected website it has become today. It has also expanded beyond the website, with the monthly publication of a free digital magazine that offers a Bristol-centric outlook on music (although that doesn't mean that you have to be from Bristol to enjoy it - it's a cracking read, whether you're from Belfast, Baltimore or even Brittany).

With such a wide range of music being featured on the website, it's quite a task to highlight just five great discoveries from it, but in the end, these are the five which we've gone for -

Native Birds - Five Lanes of Traffic

Drunken Werewolf - It' if Kele from Bloc Party decided to go chill-wave, and really nailed it.

TMB - If you can get over the fact that their vocalist really does sound like Kele from Bloc Party, then you will fall instantly in love with these Londoners. "Five Lanes of Traffic" is such a lazy, hazy, dreamy, chilled out wonder of a track. It's surprising that they haven't maxed out the bandwidth of every blog in the country yet.

Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting

Drunken WerewolfUltimate Painting’s sound...(combines) West Coast rock with a lazy but nevertheless infectious guitar riff, inspired by the Drop City scene of 1965 America.

TMB - The band is a side project between members of Mazes and Veronica Falls, yet doesn't seem to sound much like either of them. It's a little bit like the Beach Boys without the overwhelming vocal harmonies.

COMPNY - Begging Me To Come Back

Drunken WerewolfIt's a song whose mournful vocals are at odds with fun music, and let's be honest, all the best songs are like that.

TMB - I don't know why the people behind COMPNY are choosing to remain anonymous. If I wrote a song s great as "Begging Me To Come Back", I would be shouting about it from the rooftops. A fantastic little moody pop number.

Shorts - Berlin 1971

Drunken Werewolf - Melbourne’s Mikael Caterer had just the right idea when he formed his new venture Shorts. Not simply about showing some skin, Caterer ensures that what he exposes has a decent bit of colour behind it.

TMB - "Berlin 1971" is almost everything you'd ever want in an dream-pop song - sumptuous harmonies, jangling guitars, and sounding like it could have conceivably been recorded in a tin can. Lovely, lovely stuff.

STÅL - Keep Moving

Drunken Werewolf - Danish band STÅL do little to prepare their audience for the humongous onslaught of pop charge they omit from their two pairs of hands.

TMB - "Keep Moving" is a funky little number, a great reminder that there's much, much more to Danish pop than Aqua.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Death of Pop - Mirage

Last month, this blog introduced Bournemouth jangle-gaze band The Death of Pop with their spectacular single, "Whenever". So taken was I with the song and the band that I instantly purchased the accompanying E.P, "Fifths", which wasn't due to be released for a few weeks yet. Well, yesterday the E.P arrived, which came in the form of a download code, a fanzine which features the lyrics and chord sequences of every song on the E.P (the former being very useful for music like this, where the vocals are usually buried 20 feet in the mix), and a physical copy of one of the E.P's tracks, "Mirage", in a very special format -

For the uninitiated, that's a Flexidisc, which is about the thickness of a piece of paper, with grooves that allows it to be played on a record player. The format was popular up until the 80s, as its size allowed it to be easily included as a giveaway in music magazines, before it fell out of favour as CDs, and later MP3s, took over. However, in recent years the format has started to reappear alongside the revival of vinyl, for reasons of not just nostalgia and novelty, but also economy (it is about three times cheaper to print a Flexidisc single than a comparable 7", "solid" vinyl). The one drawback of the format is that due to its slightly flimsy nature, the sound doesn't usually come out right, with a tendency to skip uncontrollably.

So, how does the Flexidisc of "Mirage" fare? There's only one way to find out -

Actually, there were several, but the option
 I went for was this one.

The good news is that the song managed to make it all the way to the end without skipping once. The even better news was that the sound quality was comparable with a standard, "solid" vinyl, with only a slightly more noticeable crackling sound.. If I hadn't bought the thing myself, I would never have known the difference. 

And the best news? The song on the Flexidisc by The Death of Pop, "Mirage", is a ruddy fine song indeed, very much reminiscent of the best shoegaze-y tunes that Ride ever recorded. You can listen to the song digitally below, but if you are able to, I very much recommend tracking down a copy that you can play on a record player, as the warmth and depth of the song is much better than in the stream. It's available to buy now from Art Is Hard Records, but given that it's a limited edition of 250, if you want to get it, you'd better be quick.

So, is Flexidisc the format of the future? It does have its limitations - music can only be pressed on one side of the disc, and although "Mirage" has held up well, other singles I've used on the format have been rather temperamental. Also, the use of the format could be seen as a gimmick which can detract from what should be the most important aspect - the music itself. 

However, it's a light and easy transportable product, and it is more affordable nature over "solid" 7" singles would make it handy for an artist on a budget to get their music onto record. Even so, we're probably not going to get an onslaught on artists releasing on the format in the foreseeable future, although if that did happen, I for one would not complain.