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 - 
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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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 -