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.


Monday, 19 January 2015

Chordblossom Kickstart 2015


Although The Metaphorical Boat has been taking things relatively easy in 2015, that's not to say that other haven't. Our good friends over at Chordblossom, Northern Ireland's premiere local music website have kicked into gear their annual competition to support Northern Irish musicians, Kickstart. Press release below -


We are pleased to announce that Chordblossom's annual Kickstart competition is returning for 2015. Previous winners of the competition include SOAK (recently longlisted in the Blog Sound of 2015), Those Ghosts (just released their debut EP, "Delays") and In An Instant (released an acclaimed debut EP and are selling out shows across the province).

Aimed at giving Northern Irish artists the chance to Kickstart their year, the prizes include a single recording, music video and a slot at a local music festival to name just a few.

Kickstart is open to any musicians or bands from Northern Ireland interested in pushing themselves in 2015. All genres and ages are welcome, the only restrictions are that you are originally from NI and that you haven’t released a full length album.

Once all the entries are received, the Chordblossom team will decide who will initially be shortlisted. These shortlisted acts will be subhect to a public vote to decide the final four musicians in contention. These final four acts will perform at a showcase gig in The Bar With No Name after which a collection of local music industry experts will decide the winner of Kickstart 2015!

Editor of Chordblossom, Robert Brown had this to say, “Yet again we're delighted and extremely grateful that a host of great organisations are willing to join us in nurturing and developing the wonderful talent we have in Northern Ireland. The winner of this year's Kickstart will have all the necessary tools and backing to ensure they have a successful 2015. We can't wait to unearth some hidden gems."

Prizes:
 
- Professional Career Advice – Courtesy of Third Bar Artist Development
Before you begin collecting the rest of your prizes you will sit down with Third Bar Artist Development, a joint enterprise between Davy Matchett & Gary Lightbody to decide which song you should record as a single and develop a plan for taking your career to the next level.

- Single Recording – Courtesy of Millbank Studios
You will have the privilege of recording a single at the prestigious Millbank Studios. When you consider that artists like Rams’ Pocket Radio, The Rupture Dogs, A Plastic Rose and Malojian have all recorded here, you know your release is going to sound sumptuous.

- Video for your Single – Courtesy of Dog Kennel Productions
To accompany your single you will work with Dog Kennel Productions to produce a stunning video. 2014 was a busy year for the company as they produced videos for Escobar, Owen McGarry, Amanda St John & LORIS to name but a few.

- Festival Slot – Courtesy of Stendhal Festival of Art
2014 played host to the best Stendhal Festival of Art yet. Combining established artists from overseas like Turin Brakes, Frightened Rabbit with the cream of Northern Irish music, you will join the bill of this Limavady festival in 2015.

- First Play of your Single – Courtesy of Electric Mainline
To ensure your single gets some much needed radio airplay, Stephen McCauley of BBC Radio Foyle’s Electric Mainline will play it live on air as soon as it has been recorded.

- Graphic Design for a Poster along with Printing – Courtesy of Alice Kearney Design
Our own in-house graphic designer Alice Kearney will design you a spectacular poster for your single launch and will kindly cover the printing costs as well.

- CD Duplication – Courtesy of Botanic Media
So you’ve recorded your single now you just need to get it to the masses. Botanic Media will provide you with 50 copies of your new single for you to distribute how you see fit. Previous clients have included Ben Glover and The Bonnevilles.

- Single Artwork – Courtesy of DSNT
There is no point in having a stunning new single if you don’t have some spectacular artwork to grace the cover. Never fear as DSNT have kindly agree to design your single sleeve. They are a multi-disciplined creative company based in Belfast and have worked with the likes of Ryan Vail, Ghosts and Unknwn.

- Professional Photoshoot – Courtesy of Ciara McMullan Photography
You’ll find Ciara McMullan at hundreds of local music shows across Northern Ireland every year and quite a few of our bands use her images as promotional material. Lucky for you, she’ll make sure you have your own quality images as part of a professional photoshoot.

- Single Launch Gig in Belfast - Courtesy of Chordblossom
Not only are we offering you all these wonderful prizes but we will also host your illustrious single launch. In 2014 we hosted EP launches for the Wood Burning Savages and LORIS, so have a fair idea how to put on a memorable show.

How To Enter -
You must be a musician or band originally from Northern Ireland and have not released an album. If you meet this criteria please send an email to kickstart@chordblossom.com with the following information:
- Band/Musician Name:
- Hometown:
- Influences:
- A Social Media Link
- An MP3 of your best track (if you entered in 2014 please send in a different track)

Timeline For The Competition  -
- Monday 18th January 2015 - Competition announced and entry opens
- Sunday 1st February 2015 - Entries Close
- Sunday 8th/Monday 9th February 2015 - Top 20 Announced – Voting Opens
- Sunday 15th February 2015 - Voting Closes
- Monday, 16th February 2015 – Final 4 Announced
- Friday 27th February 2015 – Showcase Gig & Winner Announced


So if you're a Northern Irish purveyor of fine music, you should definitely get involved with this. Here's a brief taste of the sound of previous years' winners -







Friday, 2 January 2015

Blog Sound of 2015 - The Winner


And the winner of the Blog Sound of 2015 poll is Låpsley.

Liverpool's Holly Lapsley Fletcher has been named the winner of the Blog Sound of 2015, a poll of 62 UK based music bloggers. Each blogger was asked to vote for their 3 favourite emerging artists.

Låpsley was the clear winner of the poll with double the number of points than any other act on the 15 strong long list.

The producer and songwriter became an instant hit with music bloggers when she uploaded her song Station to Soundcloud towards the end of 2013. She subsequently signed to XL Records in 2014 and releases her debut EP for the label on January 5th.

Låpsley continues a pattern of female vocal acts topping the poll. Previous winners are Banks, Marika Hackman, Haim and Friends.

The Blog Sound of Poll was set up as an experiment to see if music bloggers would choose different emerging acts to those on the ubiquitous BBC Sound of Poll. However as bloggers vote around the same time as those voting for the BBC poll vote there is no way of knowing if they will choose the same artists or different ones. This year 3 of the 15 acts on the BBC list were also on the Blog Sound list. (Låpsley, Shura and Soak).



The 15 most voted for acts which formed the full Blog Sound of 2015 longlist announced in early December 2014 were: All We Are, Black Honey, Chloe Black, Coasts, Deers, Fickle Friends, Flyte, Halfrican, Honne, Låpsley, Prides, Shura, Soak, Sophie Jamieson, Tei Shi

The blogs that voted for the Blog Sound of 2015:

17 Seconds, A New Band A Day, A Pocket Full Of Seeds, A World Of Music And Madness, Across The Kitchen Table, Alphabet Bands, Beat Surrender, Beat2aChord, Both Bars On, Brapscallions, Bratfaced LDN, Breaking More Waves, Brighton Music Blog, Daisy Digital, Dots And Dashes, Drunken Werewolf, Echoes and Dust, Electronic Rumors, Even The Stars, Everything Flows, Getintothis, God Is In The TV, Hearty Vibes, Hitsville UK, I Love Pie, Just Music That I Like, Kemptation, Like 1999, Lipstick Disco, Little Indie Blogs, Love Music : Love Life, Music Broke My Bones, Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt, My Day By Day Music, Never Enough Notes, Not Many Experts, Notes For A Road Sign, One Album A Week, Popped Music, Queen Beetch, Rave Child, Scientists Of Sound, Some Of It Is True, Song By Toad, Sounds Good To Me Too, Sound Of Now Music, Spectral Nights, Sweeping The Nation, The Blue Walrus, The Devil Has The Best Tuna, The Electricity Club, The Evening's Empire, The Mad Mackerel, The Metaphorical Boat, The Paper Penguins, This Must Be Pop, Thoughts On Music, Three Beams, Too Many Blogs, The VPME, What If I Had A Music Blog.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Not Squares - Oops Said Hi


It seems like it's been an age, but after five long years, Belfast trio Not Squares are finally going to release their follow-up to 2010's "Yeah OK" this year. They've given us a few nuggets since then, including "Fall Far" in 2012 and "Simpler Vibe" the next year (both of which one assumes will feature on the upcoming album), as well as the occasional remix every now and then. But with the new album only a few months away, the band have started to tease the release with a new song to be taken from the album, "Oops Said Hi".

The song follows in the footsteps of their more recent singles by bypassing the more rocky elements of their debut album in exchange for a purer electronic-dance vibe, complete with vocoded vocals and synth yumminess, although that doesn't stop them throwing in a bass solo just for fun. If "Oops Said Hi" isn't enough to whet your appetite for their new album, then unfortunately your palette is beyond redemption.

"Oops Said Hi" is taken from Not Squares' 2nd album "Bolts", which will be released in April.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #32

It's always great doing the annual round-up of this blog's favourite releases of 2014, however one thing it means is that we focus all our attention towards it, and a result there might be some great songs that we may have written about but didn't get around to due to our laser-focused attentions being elsewhere. So to remedy this, here's a few tracks from Northern Ireland that we've been rather taken by in the past few weeks that we think will float your Metaphorical Boat
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Viola Dust - Trick

Having featured on this blog on several occasions throughout 2014, you'd think that Newry band Viola Dust don't need any introduction, but I never let that stop me.

Viola Dust have built up a stellar reputation, and a little bit of blog lovin', with their rather intelligent take on electronic-pop. As of today, "The Big Hop" has racked up over 25,000 streams on Soundcloud, which is pretty fantastic going for a band who've only being a going concern since May. Their latest single to made available is "Trick", a fantastic single with a monster of a chorus. It would not surprise me if Jay-Z nicked it as the main hook of his next hit single. It's available to download for free, which is a steal if I ever saw one.


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Lauren Bird - Goodbye, Good Luck

Last month, I went down to Dawsons in Belfast city centre to watch a friend of the blog who was taking part in a singer/songwriter competition that they were running. As part of the competition, they had to perform two songs, one original song and one cover. Although most of them were okay, I was completely blown away by one performer in particular. Armed with a ukulele, she broke into one of the most downbeat songs ever made, "No Surprises", and turned it into a thing of beauty. I joked on Twitter at the time that I refuse to listen to that song unless it's played by a girl from Strabane on the ukulele, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with myself.

I later learned that her name is Lauren Bird (having spent hours searching for her music in vain after mishearing it as Byrne), and discovered that she released a self-titled E.P of her own songs a few months ago, which is available on a pay-what-you-want basis. Taken from the E.P is "Goodbye, Good Luck", which was the song that she performed alongside "No Surprises" when I saw her last month. It's a heartfelt ode to a relationship gone awry, which calls to mind a more acoustic version of Kate Nash.


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Aspen Pales - Blue

And finishing off the round-up this month is Rostrevor band Aspen Pales. The track "Blue" premièred on Chordblossom earlier this month, taken from a recently released self-titled album. It's a deceptively simple song that ebbs and flows throughout, whilst burying itself deep under your skin without you realising it. It's one of those songs that seems to have existed in a time bubble, as if it has always been ever-present in the background, like cosmic radiation.