Saturday, 22 February 2020

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #39

It's been a while since we've did one of these round-ups of songs from Northern Ireland that have really taken our interest, but there's been a few songs that have grabbed us over the last few weeks that we felt were very much worth bringing to your attention - 

Mark Hegan - Love, Wait For Me

We've been fans of Mark Hegan on the blog for a number of years, both in his former band and now through his solo material - his song "Skyward" made the top 10 of The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2019.

His first release of the year is "Love, Wait For Me", which has all the characteristics of his solo material - the melding of the electric and rock elements, with a high level of pathos running through it. If you're looking for a less heavy Gang of Youths, then you'll enjoy this one.


Conchúr White - Bikini Crops

Conchúr White is an artist that we first came across as frontman of Silences, whom we've had much love for over the years. He's now recording under his own name, and having released the great "Daisies" last year, and having come off an Irish tour with Villagers, he has released his first single of 2020.

"Bikini Crops" sees White taking on a more surreal quality to his lyrics - Father John Misty & Alex Turner have been cited as influences  - which shows a development in his songwriting since his band days. It's also got a blissfully powerful chorus, it's the most infectious one he's done since "The Sea", and if it's any justice, it will be the song that firmly establishes his solo credentials.


Dark Tropics - Badlands

The one thing we love about music videos from Northern Irish artists is that their music videos tend to be shot in places we are very familiar with, which always gives us a little sense of satisfaction. Watching the video for "Badlands" by Dark Tropics, we were convinced from the get-go that it's filmed in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, which we had a great affection for growing up. It's funny how it's the little things that give us a lift.

But anyway, "Badlands" is the debut single from duo Dark Tropics, made up of singer/songwriter Rio and producer Gerard Sands, who's been involved in a few artists we've enjoyed over the years. The song is a slice of dark pop-noir that pulls you in from the get-go. One of fans of Lana Del Rey.


The Florentinas - Stay

Still in their teens, our interest in The Florentinas was piqued when we saw that Gary Lightbody had been quite complimentary about them. Off the strength of their single "Stay" (which was recorded live in Start Together Studios), we can see that they're a group with a lot of potential in them. It's an atmospheric, hypnotic track that will stay in the back of your head for a while after you've heard it.

They've got a few support gigs coming up in the next few weeks, opening for The Maine and Brand New Friend, so we must make a note to see them live when we can.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Scott MacKay - Half of Everything

It's Valentine's Day this week, so what better time to have on the blog a song about divorce? Our timing is always impeccable.

"Half of Everything" by Canadian singer-songwriter Scott MacKay is a country-inflected song that takes the idea of splitting everything 50/50 after a romantic split, and taking it to its most logical, ridiculous conclusion. The song's got a classic singer-songwriter county feel to it, sounding something a bit like Jake Bugg, if he had a sense of humour.

"Half of Everything" is out now.

Monday, 30 December 2019

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2019 - The List & Spotify Playlist

For those of you who like things in list and/or Spotify playlist form, here are The Metaphorical Boat's Top 50 songs of 2019 in full (note that out #3 song is not currently available on Spotify):
  1. Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall
  2. Sean McConnell - I Could Have Been An Angel
  3. The Radar Station - Zanzara
  4. UVERworld - Touch off
  5. Vampire Weekend - This Life
  6. Mark Hegan - Skyward
  7. Maps - Just Reflecting
  8. Billie Eilish - bad guy
  9. Blossoms - Your Girlfriend
  10. EGOISM - What Are We Doing?
  11. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Fishing For Fishies
  12. King Hannah - Crème Brûlée
  13. Son of The Hound - You Are Alive
  14. Parker Bossley - Lifted
  15. Pi Ja Ma - I Oh I
  16. Catfish and the Bottlemen - Longshot
  17. White Lies - Tokyo
  18. Tom Williams - It's Dark Now
  19. wojtek the bear - a long wait for bad news
  20. Bear's Den - Laurel Wreath
  21. TeamRKT - Working Sundays
  22. Fjokra - Sugarface
  23. Allez Allez - Sean Connery
  24. Dominic Fike - 3 Nights
  25. Sports Team - M5
  26. Sundara Karma  - Higher States
  27. Junodream - Odd Behaviour
  28. CamelPhat ft Jake Bugg - Be Someone
  29. Buí - Something Else to Talk About
  30. Barns Courtney - You And I
  31. Freya Ridings - Castles
  32. Alcabean - Tsukuyomi
  33. Matt McGinn & Ciara O'Neill - Bubblegum
  34. Blanco Brown - The Git Up
  35. Broods  - Hospitalized
  36. I Was A King - Hatchet
  37. Nai Br.XX&Celeina Ann - Hold Me Now
  38. Dean Maywood - Jane
  39. Swim Deep - To Feel Good
  40. Runabay - Dig
  41. AJR - 100 Bad Days
  42. Kitten - Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  43. Husky Loops - Let Go for Nothing
  44. Jamie Johnson - Christopher
  45. Peter J. McCauley - Pony on the Fare
  46. Foals - On The Luna
  47. Ferals - The Low
  48. Drop The Shadow - Other Voices
  49. Cheerbleederz  - cabin fever
  50. Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town Road

Saturday, 28 December 2019

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2019 - Number 1

1. Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall
And the stone walls of Harmony Hall bear witness
Anybody with a worried mind could never forgive the sight
Of wicked snakes inside a place you thought was dignified
I don't wanna live like this, but I don't wanna die

And so our favourite song of 2019 is the comeback single from one of this blog's favourite artists. There was a six year gap since Vampire Weekend's last album, and given the passing of time & reconfiguration of the band (with Rostam Batmanglij no longer being a permanent member), we weren't sure that the band would be able to re-spark our interest in the way that their earlier material did.

Well, along came "Harmony Hall", the first single of Vampire Weekend Mk II, which blew away all our doubts on one fell swoop. The song is miles away from the indie-rock sound that first attracted us to them, but still feels like it's a natural progression for the group (especially given that the main lyric also features on the song "Finger Back" from their last album). 

The lyrics have layered meanings, with inspirations coming from the White House, slavery & Jewish identity, with the music taking inspiration from roots music, baroque, baggy, and even a little country twang in there, as well as a production that both mimics and plays with the lyrics. From the moment we heard the song back in January, we had no doubt in our mind that it would be The Metaphorical Boat's favourite song of 2019, and 11 months later, no other song this year could top it.

So enjoy our favourite song of 2019, "Harmony Hall", in all its glory - 

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2019 - 5-2

We're getting closer to finding out which song has clinched the top spot in our favourite songs of 2019, but before that, let's see the still-fantastic songs that just fell short at the final hurdle -

5. Vampire Weekend - This Life

Like another song in our top 10, "This Life" was a song that was all over the radio during the summer months without translating into a bona fide hit in its own right, mores the pity. The song is perhaps the most straightforward pop song that Vampire Weekend have recorded to date, a jaunty-sounding track that we've seen compared to "Brown Eyed Girl", whose lyrics belay a mournfulness that juxtaposes the sunny melody.

4. UVERworld - Touch Off

Japanese alternative-rock band UVERworld's song "Touch Off" rose to prominence in 2019 through its use as the theme to the critically acclaimed Japanese series The Promised Neverland. It's perhaps one of the few heavy-rock songs that manages to use a saxophone prominently throughout without sounding a bit weird.

3. The Radar Station - Zanzara

This song first came to our attention when the Belgian band in question were known as Sun Gods, although due to legal reasons the band are now known as The Radar Station.

"Zanzara" (which is Italian for mosquito), is a tender electro-stomper of a song that calls to mind the production of Prides or Bear's Den circa "Red Earth & Pouring Rain", with a songwriting style that draws fond comparisons with The Waterboys.

2. Sean McConnell - I Could Have Been An Angel

And just missing out on the top spot is "I Could Have Been An Angel" by Massachusetts country-folk singer-songwriter Sean McConnell. It's a song built around two separate narratives of two people who have taken the wrong turn in life, and trying to rationalise why they didn't have the power within themselves to be good. There hasn't been a song that has affected me emotionally in the same way in 2019, even now I get a little bit bleary eyed whenever the guitars swell up in the post-chorus.